World History (1) - the Talmud begets!

yeshuawept By yeshuawept, 20th Oct 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>History

This is the beginning of what I hope to be a series of world history pages. With the help of encyclopedias (the Encyclopedia Judaica being the old stand-by) and a magazine, I put before you what strikes my fancy, mingled with worldwide consensus, with a touch of American elitism. You might find the dateless chronology to be refreshing. I set before you a mixture of common knowledge and unpopular knowledge.

Talmud, Black Death, Renaissance, Ming Dynasty

Talmud = 'study'. The collection of writings called the Talmud basically refers to the opinions which disciples acquired from their predecessors in order to explain them. To others, Talmud is the whole body of one's learning. I do not think it mere chance that the Jewish words Talmud and talmid (disciple) are so close in meaning.

Talmud is most commonly used to denote the bodies of teaching consisting largely of the traditions of the amoraim organized around the Mishnah. The amoraim were Hebrew (Jewish) teachers active after the fall of Yerushalayim's 2nd Temple until the time the Roman Empire fell off its high horse. The Mishnah is the 1st section of the Talmud.

About 700 years after Rome's last emperor fell off his high horse, the Talmud got into the local news in Paris when a Hebrew by the name of Nicholas Donin submitted a memo to Pope Gregory the 9th, listing 35 charges against the Talmud. This spiraled into a committee of inquisition condemning the Talmud, and so 24 wagon loads of books were handed to the killing man for burning. Other burnings occurred in history, but the only other 1 to match the impression of this 1 was in Rome about 300 years later.

I don't think Jah was very happy with Donin's promotion of Talmud burning, because a little over 100 years later the Master of the universe sent along an epidemic of various contagious diseases, all causes by the same bacillus - pasteurella pestis. For, you see, Paris and Rome were not the only cities guilty of hating the Jews without a cause. Hatred of the Jews was popular in Europe. And so the plague spread across Europe, sweeping from the islands just west of Italy northward, then stretching broad from Spain to Kosovo (which today is a tiny republic tucked nicely between Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia). Then the plague - the Black Death - hit England, stretching all the way to Serbia. The spread of it continued.

The impact of this had a profound affect on the population's behavior. Feelings of helplessness and the urge to react against the destruction concentrated the force of the population onto the Hebrews. Did the non-Hebrews put aside their nonsensical feelings during this time of want? No. They kicked into high gear and forced the Hebrews, via torture, to confess to creating the plague. The 1st such occasion of injustice occurred in the Castle of Chillon on Lake Geneva. 'Confessions' were sent to cities in Germany.

The Black Death resulted in the destruction of thousands of Hebrews (by the hand of hatemongers, not the plague). The Black Death caused the legal status of Hebrews to deteriorate almost everywhere in Europe. In France, the massacres connected with the Black Death struck the Hebrews throughout the southeastern and eastern regions, notably in Alsace, Franche-Comte, Dauphine, Savoy and Provence. In Franche-Comte, Hebrews were expelled. Charles the 5th authorized their return for a period of 20 years in order to use the taxes to enable him to pay his father's ransom.

Charles the 6th took over. After his death, the Hebrews were no longer welcome in France. But this was not a true expulsion; it was more a refusal to renew the Jews' right of residence. To this, I am sure the Church Lady of Saturday Night Live would have said, 'How Conveeeenient.'

But there was the sunrise of a movement going on at the same time. It is called the Renaissance, a huge cultural movement which started in northern Italy and spread to England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain, just to name the big hitters. Renaissance is the French word which comes from the Latin renascor, referring to rebirth. God knows Catholic Europe needed to get born again, and this time the Jewish way! But though the spirit of the movement was Jewish, it seemed to be an awakening of Gentile minds toward a life better than the standard which had prevailed for too long.

European scholars and artists wanted to recapture the spirit of the Roman and Greek cultures - perhaps this was Europe's aha moment, wherein they said, 'Where did we go wrong?' The movement became known as the revival of antiquity and learning. They threw Stupid out the window! The Middle Ages was finding its bitter end.

The beginning of this transition period gave rise to a certain family in Italy. It happened thusly: the Visconti's governed Milan; the Sforza's took control of Milan; the government form established was called signoria (principality), and the ruling prince was known as signore. (For me, when finding this out, I thought of the Spanish senor.) And here is a fun-fact: In the government of Florence, about 800 of the richest families made up the ruling class.

Humanism was the most intellectual series of actions which took place during the Renaissance. The humanists sought to master the tongues of classical antiquity. This led to the search for manuscripts, statues and coins. Petrarch and Giovanni Boccaccio led the way among the humanists. The study of Plato was urged. Niccolo Machiavelli developed a new political philosophy, contained in his book The Prince. Ideas about the conduct of courtiers developed - courtiers were noblemen who lived in a royal court. The Book of the Courtier was published by Baldassare Castiglione.

In the realm of fine arts, painters and sculptors wanted to portray people and nature realistically. Giotto became the 1st artist to portray nature realistically.

Desiderius Erasmus and Thomas More were the leading humanists who named the name of Messiah. Erasmus was a Dutchman of Rotterdam. In his In Praise of Folly he shows the blind Vatican its self-deception, madness and superstitions which created abuses. More was an Englishman of London. He was 1 of the go-to men of the founder of the Church of England.

Florence, Italy was the place where scholars believe the Renaissance began. The Commune of Florence allowed Hebrews to practice banking in Florence, and so the Hebrews settled there. Representatives of Italy's Hebrews assembled in Florence to obtain a protection letter from Pope Martin the 5th.

While the West was sorting out its differences, the Ming Dynasty in the East was shaking things up too. The Mings had just showed the foreign Mongols who was boss. Ming rulers restored traditional institutions and Chinese authority extended outward into the lap of its neighbors. Ming = 'bright' in Chinese.

Joan of Arc, Ottomans

While China was busy trying to restore itself, a French heroine appeared in the West. Joan of Arc was a peasant girl who could not write or read, growing up Catholic. At age 13 she was known for her religious visions and her hearing of saints' voices. I have a feeling it was the voices of those who had died that she was hearing, not the saints who are on earth. If it was dead saints she was hearing, then I should think it was demonic in nature, or else the voices were actually God's voice. It is evident from Scripture that Jah does not allow heavenly saints to speak to us, except in the case of the witch of Endor (as per the scroll of Shmuel).

'Saints' in Joan's context is obviously a definition by the Vatican. Nevertheless, these voices convinced her that Jah had chosen her to help King Charles the 7th of France drive the English from France. A commander gave her her wish. Victory led to capture.
The English, her captors, saw her as the devil's agent. A tribunal of French clergy, who were sympathetic to the English, sentenced her to death. I must say, that sentencing was all kinds of wrong. Anyone in their right mind cannot help but feel sorry for Joan.

And so the young woman who rescued France from defeat in 1 of the darkest periods of the 100 Years' War with England was now to be burned at the stake. She became a burnt offering and her ashes were thrown into the River Seine.

About 22 years after Joan's death, Constantinople was captured by Mehmed (Mehmet) the 2nd. He changed the name of this city to Istanbul; after all, Constantine's name smacked too much of the Vatican, Christianity, and hypocrisy. Immediately after the conquest, Mehmed started a policy of transfer, by bringing Hebrews, Christians and Muslims from various regions of the empire. All the transferred Hebrews were Romaniot and were called surgun by the Ottomans. Surgun is from the Turkish word meaning 'those who were exiled', to distinguish them from Hebrews who hailed from cultures like Spain, Portugal and Germany (who were named kendi gelen = 'those who came of their own free will'). Keep in mind that Mehmed took over Constantinople just before Spain's monarchy gave their Hebrews the ultimatum to convert to Messiah or die. God, as usual, was setting up a safe haven for his chosen people.

The name Romaniot is used to define the original Hebrews of the territories of the Byzantine Empire, encompassing Constantinople, Asia Minor and the Balkans. Romaniot had Greek family names, their shuln had Greek names, and they were enveloped by Greek culture and language. I have a feeling this is 1 big reason why Mustafa Kemal Ataturk would later on drive out the Greeks from western Anatolia.

Anyhow, the surgun (Romaniot) came and established shuln called kehalim (congregations). According to Nina Amir (, they now live in New York and Israel.

Gutenberg, Spain/Portugal, New World

About 2 years after Mehmet's victory over Constantinople, Johannes Gutenberg presented his moveable-type printing press. I have covered this extensively in an essay elsewhere, so I will not perform CPR on Gutenberg's works here. But, I must say, Gutenberg is worth discovering. He gave the West its 1st view of what it is like to publish many copies of a single work at 1 time. I must say, his Gutenberg Bible gave the Vatican more press than they deserved; the Church of Rome ended up making it their literary poster child.

Following the heels of Gutenberg's work was King John the 2nd of Portugal. His mariners charted the globe under his authority. It is said King John was eager to make his treasury larger, and that is why he restored the policies of Atlantic exploration. But to say such a thing only gives God half the credit: every human is Jah's pawn. To add: Portugal has always fascinated me by their wonderful geographic position.

Bartholomew Diaz (Bartolomeu Dias) was a Portuguese sea captain who was commanded by Portugal's eager king to try to sail to Africa's southern end. The king envisioned reaching Asia by sailing around Africa. Dias reached the River Orange in southern Africa and then a storm blew his 3 ships out to sea. The storm ended and he realized that his ships had been blown around Africa's southern tip. According to, by the time he reached the Orange he would have been going against the Benguela Current, so apparently the storm gave him an effortless shortcut to the South Atlantic Current, which presses eastward, allowing easy passage around the southern tip.

And so Dias continued onward, but the sailors were exhausted and food was running low. They persuaded him to return to Portugal. On their return, he sighted what is now called the Cape of Good Hope. They did end up returning to Portugal.

I get this funny feeling that Portugal began wondering if they could keep going east and eventually run into Portugal again. A 'round earth' idea was existent among those who used their brains. Perhaps brainpower among those who refused to be tied down by superstition is what caused people to start talking about going west instead.

Enter Columbus. What alot of people probably do not realize is that Christopher Columbus, America's discoverer, is thought by some to have been of Marrano extraction. I was pleasantly surprised when I 1st found this out, but it made sense, especially when one (like myself) has spent so much time reading various aspects and viewpoints about the Hebrews and their long history. Jah, throughout time, has always placed Hebrews at the forefront of all major breakthroughs, big or small.

When Columbus spoke of his origins, he was mysterious about it, as if having something to conceal. Marrano is a hateful term which was used to insult the New Christians of Spain/Portugal. One origin for the term refers to the fact that the Marranos were Christians outwardly, but Judaizers inwardly. Marrano is said to mean 'swine' in Spanish.

The term New Christians was applied to 3 groups of Hebrew converts to Messiah and their descendants in the Iberian Peninsula. The 1st group converted in the wake of the Spain massacres and the fervor of those who wished Messiah to be King over several decades. The 2nd group, in Spain, were 'baptized' following the decree of the royal jackarses called Ferdinand and Isabella: they expelled all Hebrews who refused to accept Messiah. The 3rd group appeared after Columbus' initially set sail, in Portugal, converted by force and royal decree.

Columbus boasted mysteriously about his connection with King David and had a liking for Hebrew/Marrano society. The name Colon (or Colombo) was not uncommon among the Italian Hebrews of the late medieval period.

Columbus began his account of his voyage with a reference to the expulsion of Spain's Hebrews. In 1 document he refers to Yerushalayim's 2nd Temple by the Hebraic term '2nd House'; he does not refer to the popular date of its destruction (the sum total of 7 decades and ends with the letter 'y') - instead, he dates its destruction according to Hebrew tradition, which is 2 numbers short of the popular number. He seems to have deliberately postponed his sailing day, in order to honor the fast day Tisha B'Av (which commemorates the Temple's destruction).

Columbus received the financial support of the Spanish sovereigns for his expedition in large measure due to the enthusiasm of a group of New Christians around the Aragonese court, persons like Luis de Santangel, Gabriel Sanchez and Isaac Abrabanel. Columbus used his on his journeys the nautical instruments perfected by Hebrews such as Joseph Vecinho, and nautical tables drawn up by Abraham Zacuto.

Columbus' crew member and interpreter - Luis de Torres - was of Hebrew birth; de Torres had been baptized before the expedition set sail. Luis de Torres was the 1st European to set foot on the Western Hemisphere (but according to Bob Dylan, the Vikings got to the WH way earlier).

Men have searched for Columbus' motivations for making these travels. He was interested in Franciscan-Joachimite traditions of the coming 3rd Age (one day I will find out what in the world that is). He delighted in biblical prophecies; he collected them before sailing and felt his discoveries verified his expectations. He saw Hebrews in a positive light, 'as part of the religious quest of humanity' (says Roni Weinstein).

Spain's social climate in the year of Columbus' initial sailing gives deeper meaning to Columbus' journey and the expelling of Spain's Hebrews. The last fortification of Muslim power in Spain fell with the entry of the Catholic monarchs into Granada in that same year. Granada was the southern region facing Muslim Africa (today Granada is a city and capital of the province of Granada). About 18 years before Columbus' initial sailing (1st voyage to the New World), Granada the city was the Inquisition court. It was also a city with a Hebrew community.

The entry of the Catholic monarchs into Granada encouraged the enforcement of complete religious unity of the kingdom. Since there were certain Hebrews (called Conversos) who remained true to the Judaism as taught by those called rabbis, the attitude was that they should be removed from Spain. This is what brought on the expulsion edict in the year of the 1st voyage, an edict ordered months before the voyage took place. The edict was signed in Granada. All Hebrews who were willing to accept Messiah were permitted to stay.

2 months after the signing of the edict, the exodus began and the majority found refuge in Portugal. The rest went to northern Africa and Turkey. A few found homes in the kingdom of Navarre, which was on the border of France. 2 months after the beginning of that exodus, the last Hebrew left Spain (I am quite sure the Hebrew mentioned here is the Hebrew who did not name Yeshua as Lord, since Jewish authorities say that a Jew who becomes a Christian has lost his Jewishness). What amazes me about the edict is that it was not repealed until over 400 years later (to be exact, it was repealed 3 years before my birthyear - I am 40 at this writing)!

I am not surprised to think that it was clear to the Spanish/Portuguese Marranos that the potential of the New World was inviting, compared to what they were dealing with at that time. And so they transferred themselves there. Some are even known to have come along with the Spanish adventurer Fernando Cortes and his conquistadores in the invasion of Mexico.


America, Black Death, Gutenberg, Joan Of Arc, New World, Ottoman Empire, Portugal, Spain, Talmud

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author avatar yeshuawept
I am an Afrikaner American and I have learned to embrace my role as an evangelist, writer and traveler. My writing is a reflection of my experience, journeys and theology.

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author avatar Retired
1st Nov 2011 (#)

There is certainly a lot of information there. Curious take on Columbus. Personally, I love it.

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