Sunday, August 11, 2013

Blasphemy in the First Century: Part Two Blasphemy in the First Century: Part Two Due to the size of this article, it is divided into two parts. Read Part One first. Then discover here why Yeshua (Jesus), Stephen and James the Just were killed for speaking the same Scripture verses Did Yeshua (Jesus) Ever Speak the Name “Yahweh”? A Study of Matthew 27:57-67 by Ed Nelson ( Did Yeshua (Jesus) illegally speak the unutterable Name? Likely, until Yeshua (Jesus) came to Jerusalem He never said the name of God publicly, at least where two or three hostile witnesses were in the group that could convict Him ahead of his time to die. When He drove out the moneychangers from the temple, he was in a hostile environment. What He said would be repeated in a hostile manner to the authorities. Perhaps the two eyewitnesses at the temple were false accusers, manufacturing the charge of blasphemy for revenge. Or perhaps Yeshua (Jesus) did say the name Yahweh to them in the phrase “temple of Yahweh.” We cannot be sure. We can be sure that Yeshua said something to the Sanhedrin that was clearly blasphemous according to their definition based on the “fence’ around the Torah and the Name. All you had to say was Yahweh, and that was enough to deserve the death penalty in the collective judgment of the court. The two witnesses were no more needed. The whole Sanhedrin had become eyewitnesses of blasphemy according to the Sanhedrin’s laws concerning the outlawed name of God. What did Yeshua say to turn the Sanhedrin against Him? What He said was loaded with biblical meaning to the Jewish society and reflected popular teachings in some of the apocryphal writings. He gave the high priest a statement that exhibited his apocalyptic self-understanding that only the true Messiah could say: You have said it: nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see “the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:64) The reply is a combination of Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 110:1. By looking at the broader text of Daniel 7:13-14, we understand that Yeshua (Jesus) was not just talking about just coming in the clouds of the sky, as wonderful as this, but was detailing to the high priest his ultimate authority given by Yahweh to rule all creation forever: I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming. And He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and [people of every] language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away. And his kingdom is one which will not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14) Yeshua (Jesus) was claiming to be the Son of Yahweh, just as Caiaphas said it in his question. Daniel’s words, of course, recall the prophet Isaiah (19:1) telling of the foreboding wrath of Yahweh upon Egypt. The imagery is not unlike that of the statement made by Yeshua (Jesus): Behold, Yahweh is riding on a swift cloud and is about to come to Egypt. The idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them. The concept of the divine/human Son of Man “riding on a cloud” was understood during the time of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) to be a divine attribute of Yahweh. Isaiah’s prophecy recalls Deuteronomy 33:26—“There is none like the God of Yeshurun who rides the heavens to your help and through the skies in his majesty.” The Jewish view that the Messiah, the Son of Man, would “come on the clouds of heaven” is further elaborated in the Fourth Book of Ezra (aka the Second Book of Esdras), an apocryphal text written about the time of the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70. The dating of this book shows the abiding influence of the Messianic vision of Daniel 7:13 during the first century. The view of the Messiah coming on the clouds was not lost for a moment on the esteemed Sanhedrin. And it came to pass after seven days that I dreamed a dream by night: and I beheld, and, behold, there arose a violent wind from the sea, and stirred up all its waves. And the wind caused the likeness of a form of a Man to come out of the heart of the seas. And this Man flew with the clouds of heaven. And wherever he turned his face to look, everything seen by Him trembled. And wherever the voice went out of his mouth, all that heard his voice melted away, as the wax melts when it feels the fire. And after this I beheld that there was gathered from the four winds of heaven an innumerable multitude of men to make war against that Man who came up out of the sea … And I saw that he cut out for himself a great mountain and flew up upon it … And when he saw the assault of the multitude as they came, he neither lifted his hand, nor held spear nor any warlike weapon. But I saw only how he sent out of his mouth as it were a fiery stream, and out of his lips a flaming breath, and out of his tongue he shot forth a storm of sparks … And these fell upon the assault of the multitude … and burned them all up … These are the interpretations of the vision: Whereas you did see a Man coming up from the heart of the sea: this is He whom the Most High is keeping many ages and through whom He will deliver his creation, and the same shall order the survivors … But He shall stand upon the summit of Mount Zion. And Zion shall come and shall be made manifest to all men, prepared and built, even as you did see the mountain cut out without hands. But he, My Son, shall reprove the nations that are come for their ungodliness … (4 Ezra 13:1-9, 25-26, 35-36) Centuries later, Rabbi Nachman ascribed to the Messiah the title Bar Nifle, Aramaic for “Son of the Clouds.’ In the Targum, Messiah is called ‘Anani—“He of the clouds.” In a Midrash fragment He is described as “riding on the cloud.” When Yeshua (Jesus) stood before the Sanhedrin, his Cloud Rider analogy sparked an immediate fire storm of resentment against Him within this august body of leaders. But He combined his statement with Psalm 110:1, describing Himself as the Son of Man “sitting at the right hand of Power.” Psalm 110:1 is shown below according to its Hebraic literary structure and style to show the weight of Yeshua’s (Jesus’) statement to Caiphas: Frame A Yahweh says to my Lord [Adoni]: Complex forward alternating symmetry with reverse concentric symmetry A “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” B A rod of might Yahweh will send from Zion. A¹ “Rule in the midst of your enemies. B¹ Your people will volunteer in the day of your power in splendor of holiness, A² from the womb of dawn to your dew of youth.” Forward symmetry A Yahweh has sworn and will not change his mind: B “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Frame A The Lord is at your right hand [i.e., at right hand of Yahweh]. Forward symmetry A He will shatter kings in the day of his wrath. B He will judge among the nations. C He will fill [them] with corpses. A¹ He will shatter the chief men over a broad country. B¹ He will drink from the brook by the wayside. C¹ Therefore He will lift up [his] head. Psalm 110 is a quintessential psalm anticipating the Messiah. Well known and discussed among the Jewish sages before the time of Yeshua (Jesus), it gave hope to Israel’s Messianic expectations. But there is a more—the clincher regarding blasphemy. “Sitting at the right hand of the Power.” The Greek manuscripts get this right, copying the original wording as “the Power.” Any euphemism for the name Yahweh as “Power” would be “the Power.” Of course, in Jerusalem and especially in the Sanhedrin, the language of record is Hebrew. The Greek terminology for “the Power” was not used. Only the Hebrew word for “the Power” was spoken. The word is hagburah, formed by the acquiescing of the article he (“the”) with geburah (“power”). To say hagburah—“the Power”—was one of several ways to speak in direct reference to Yahweh without saying his outlawed Name. Matthew records Yeshua (Jesus) as saying hagburah. But the writer was well aware of his need to follow the Jewish conventions of the day to distribute his Gospel. He attributed the euphemism to the lips of Yeshua (Jesus) and not the name “Yahweh,” what in all likelihood, is what He said. That Yeshua (Jesus) said “Yahweh” is most likely based on his combining Psalm 110:1 with Daniel 7:13. The original charge appears to be that He called the temple “the temple of Yahweh.” As deadly as this charge was, the witnesses became secondary to the trial. Yeshua (Jesus) confirmed the charge by saying the actual, outlawed Name of his Father and not the euphemism, “the Power.” Yeshua (Jesus) apparently wanted to fully pronounce the otherwise legally unutterable Name before the Sanhedrin. He called them to task for their selling out Israel for a new tradition not in keeping with the revelation of Yahweh to Israel through the Patriarchs and Moses. Remember what He told his disciples at Caesarea Philippi? He was going to Jerusalem where he would suffer from the hands of the Sanhedrin and their peers and be put to death. Matthew 16:21 confirms his objective in Jerusalem: From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. The manner of his death would be crucifixion. The cause of his death would be blasphemy for saying aloud the outlawed Name of his Father—Yahweh. To say it another way, the reason Yeshua (Jesus) was killed is different from the reason He died. He was killed for a nouveaux law that redefined blasphemy different from the Torah. He died for the lost sheep of Israel and the world. That He spoke the ineffable Name is further confirmed by the high priest rending his garments, an action reserved for pronouncing the name Yahweh. The Mishnah states that when blasphemy of the Name occurs—that is pronouncing it aloud—“the judges stand on their feet and tear their clothing.” The martyrdom of Stephen. Acts 7 gives the homily spoken by the evangelist Stephen that led to his immediate death by stoning, the common penalty for for pronouncing the outlawed name of God. Did Stephen give public voice to the forbidden Name? The story begins in Acts 6:8-15 where Stephen is charged for blasphemy “against Moses [i.e., the Torah of Moses] and God” by those associated with the Synagogue of the Freedmen. Arrested, he appears before the high priest and Sanhedrin: Then they [i.e., of the Synagogue of Freedmen] secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came up to him and dragged him away and brought him before the Council. They put forward false witnesses who said, “This man incessantly speaks against this holy place and the Torah. For we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Yeshua [Jesus], will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.” The high priest asked if these things were true (cf. Acts 7:1). Stephen answered with what is often called his homily or sermon. It was neither. Rather, it was his explanation for the faith of Israel in Yahweh, how his covenant people had turned against Him repeatedly even to his time, and how Yeshua (Jesus), whom they sentenced to death, was the Messiah sent to Israel to call the nation to repentance to receive the long-delayed kingdom of Yahweh. Two things incited the Sanhedrin: First, Stephen referenced the trial of Yeshua (Jesus) and the sentence of death issued by the Sanhedrin for his so-called blasphemy against God by pronouncing the name “Yahweh” in quoting Psalm 110:1 in combination with Daniel 7:13. Yeshua (Jesus) said: “I tell you, hereafter you will see ‘the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power [i.e., Yahweh] and coming on the clouds of heaven.’” Second, Stephen’s final statement was decisive for his martyrdom. Luke described the scene this way: But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Yeshua [Jesus] standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. (Acts 7:55-57) You readily see the offense that caused the Sanhedrin, to a person, to shout and cover their ears. This was their typical response to a person pronouncing the name of God. Such was blasphemy to their ears. What Stephen saw and declared was that Yeshua (Jesus) was, in fact, already at the right hand of Yahweh, even as He said He would be according to Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 110:1. Declaring this, he used the outlawed name of God—Yahweh. Like Yeshua (Jesus) was declared a blasphemer, so was Stephen. His stoning ensued. The killing of James the Just for blasphemy. After the departure of Yeshua (Jesus) to heaven, James the Just (Ya’akov HaTzadik), half-brother of Yeshua (Jesus), led the fellowship of believers in Jerusalem. He was killed in A.D. 62, about thirty years after Yeshua’s (Jesus’) death. According to the fragmentary writings of Hegesippus (A.D. 110-180) contained in his “Commentaries on the Acts of the Church,” Eusebius quotes in his Ecclesiastical History (2:23) the story concerning the murder of James the Just. Some scribes and Pharisees demanded James, the chief leader of the followers of Messiah Yeshua, to declare from an elevated place on the temple grounds that Jews believing in Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah were wrong and must recant. Basically, he was to recant his own faith in the Messiah to lead his fellowship of believers to recant. Instead, at his own peril he declared the gospel as true. He clinched his testimony by repeating the very statement made by Yeshua, his half-brother, before the high priest and Sanhedrin: “Hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” This was the same statement made by Stephen that provoked his martyrdom. In the unfolding tragedy, James was pushed off the elevation and fell to the ground, apparently without serious injury. He, thus, arose, knelt and began to prayer for his stoners, forgiving them. The high priest, Hanan ben Hanan (Greek, Ananus ben Anamus) assembled “a council of judges,” presumably the Sanhedrin, who condemned James “on the charge of breaking the law.” No specific charge of blasphemy is recorded. But the penalty of death was the same as demanded for blasphemy of the “fence” around the Name—pronouncing the name of God. Indeed, the high priest with his council of judges passed sentence in the same way that Yeshua and Stephen was sentenced to death for blasphemy. We do know that the act of pronouncing the Name Yahweh was forbidden, an act “of breaking the law,” with death the penalty, including stoning. Did James the Just say the name “Yahweh” instead of the euphemism, “the Power”? Presumably so, for he suffered the same punishment accorded the act of blasphemy—pronouncing the outlawed name of God. The New Testament writers used euphemisms. To pronounce or write the outlawed name of God was dangerous business. To speak it where it could be heard meant certain death. Common sense says that the writers of the New Testament favored euphemisms for the name Yahweh instead of writing it on parchment where it could be circulated and read aloud. After all, the legal force of the Great Assembly, followed by the Sanhedrin, had set precedence. This body of scholars and legal authorities determined it was permissible to erase the name Yahweh from the Bible in certain places and replace it with the word Adonai (“Lord”). The substitution occurred 134 times according to the eminent Hebrew scholar, Christian David Ginsburg (1831-1914), in his magnum opus, the critical study of the Masorah. Even the plentiful places where the Name remained intact in the Bible, it was never spoken. To read aloud the Scriptures required substituting the word “Adonai” for “Yahweh” under the penalty of death—no laughing matter. New Testament writers were well aware of the legal preference for the word “Adonai” as a replacement for “Yahweh” as well as for the familiar euphemisms for the Name. To violate the legal conventions and conventions would be certain death. Generally, they conformed to the binding laws of the “fence” around the Name in their writings to preserve the lives of their readers and their own lives as much as possible. Did the New Testament writers know and use the name “Yahweh”? Yes, of course. Did they speak the Name in their immediate associations within the fellowship of believers? We may not be certain, but it seems likely. Writing about it, though, could be a dangerous business. In their writings they were fond to quote the Hebrew Bible where the name Yahweh was used. Apparently, they were permitted to copy the Name, as long as it was a direct quote, into their writings without use of a substitute name or euphemism. These were simply common sense practices. But we cannot be sure that Yeshua did not say the name of his Father, Yahweh, publicly, especially in several instances during his last fleeting days in Jerusalem by quoting or making application from the Hebrew Bible (e.g., Matthew 21:42; 22:37; 23:39). What appears to be true is that the New Testament writers copied the name “Yahweh” in many passages from the Hebrew Bible into their original Hebrew or Aramaic writings. This would be in the ancient tradition of “transmitting” (mesarah) what they had received (qibel) of the Word of God. Of course, any New Testament writings originally written in Greek would not transmit faithfully the name “Yahweh” in Hebrew. Literary devices to copy the Name. A favorite literary device used by these Jewish New Testament writers was to copy the four-letter name “Yahweh” into their writings by quoting directly from the Hebrew Bible within literary frames. These quotes or paraphrases would be in keeping with the ancient tradition going back to Moses called “receiving (qibel)” and “transmitting (mesarah).” Some of these frames are: • “It is written,” “For it is written,” “As it is written,” “According to what was written,” “It is said” (e.g., Matthew 4:4, 7; 4:10; Mark 1:3; Luke 2:23; 3:4; 4:8, 12, 17-19; 20:42-43; John 1:23; Acts 2:17-21; 15:15-18) • “It is written,” “For it is written,” “As it is written,” “According to what was written,” “It is said” (e.g., Matthew 4:4, 7; 4:10; Mark 1:3; Luke 2:23; 3:4; 4:8, 12, 17-19; 20:42-43; John 1:23; Acts 2:17-21; 15:15-18) • “Have you not read the Scripture?” “What do you read?” (e.g., Mark 12:10; Luke 10:26-27) • “The foremost of all the commandments is” (Mark 12:29, 30) • “Thus was fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophet,” where the prophet’s name is specifically mentioned or generally stated (e.g., Matthew 3:3; 27:9; John 12:38; Acts 2:34-35; 3:22; Acts 4:25-26; 7:37) • “You have heard that is was said to them of old time,” “the prophet said” (e.g., Matthew 5:33; Acts 7:48-49) • “And the angel said” (e.g., Luke 1:17; 2:11) (Angels could not be held subject to the ban) • “Filled with the Spirit he prophesied” (e.g., Luke 1:67-68, 76; Acts 4:25-26; 13:9-10) • “Which was said,” “He [Yahweh] said,” “… saying, ” “the exhortation which speaks to you” (e.g., Hebrews 2:12-13; 7:21; 8:8-12; 9:20; 10:15-17, 30; 12:5-6) The same seems to hold true for allusions to the Scriptures (e.g., Luke 17:29) and any Scripture quotation from the lips of the common people or the believers in Messiah (e.g., Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9; 12:29, 30; Luke 19:38; John 12:13; Acts 4:24). James, the half-brother of Yeshua and writer of the letter bearing his name, was direct in his writing to fellow believers: “Take the prophets as an example, my brothers, for longsuffering with respect to your afflictions, those who spoke in the name of Yahweh” (James 5:10). Then he proceeded to quote from Exodus 34:6-7 saying, “Yahweh is merciful and compassionate.” James seems unafraid to write or speak the unlawful name of God. It would get him killed. He would die the death of a “blasphemer” in A.D. 62 at the hands of the high priest and Sanhedrin for pronouncing the Name at the temple in his presentation of the gospel of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). The apostle Peter wrote his letters with direct quotes from the Hebrew Bible as part of the flow of his letter without citations (e.g., 1 Peter 3:10-12 is a quotation of Psalm 34:12-16). He quoted Isaiah 8:12-13 when he wrote: “Sanctify Yahweh …” The full phrase reads: Sanctify Yahweh, the Messiah, in your hearts and be ready to make a defense to all who ask you a word concerning the hope of your faith, with gentleness and fear, having a good conscience. Jude (Judah), another half-brother of Yeshua (Jesus), quoted from 1 Enoch the phrase: “Behold, Yahweh comes with ten thousand of his holy ones.” The question arises whether the author of the book of Enoch wrote Yahweh or a substitute. John, in his Book of Revelation, frequently used the name “Yahweh Tzava’oth” (“Yahweh of hosts”) similar to the prophet Ezekiel et al. One of several examples is Revelation 19:22 where he wrote: “I saw no temple in it [i.e., the New Jerusalem], for Yahweh Tzava’oth and the Lamb are its temple.” What about the apostle Paul? He spent much time among Greek-speaking Jews and Gentiles. On one occasion in Achaia when Gallio was proconsul, certain unbelieving Jews, likely Pharisees as he was, brought the apostle before the judgment seat. They accused him of persuading people “to fear God contrary to the Torah” (Acts 18:13). What strikes our curiosity is the statement made by Gallio to the accusers as he drove them from the judgment seat, releasing Paul: If it were a matter of wrong or of vicious crime, O Jews, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you. But if there are questions about words and names and your own law, look after it yourselves. I am unwilling to be a judge of these matters. (Acts 18:14-15) The whole spin was about “words and names” and how they related to the Torah. “Words and names” was a phrase concerning the “fence” around the Torah and around the pronunciation of the name “Yahweh.” Apparently and unsurprisingly, Paul saw no problem in tearing down the “fence” to allow people access to Yahweh through faith in his Son, the Messiah Yeshua. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews, it is interesting to note, referred three times to the highly volatile Psalm 110:1 which contains the name “Yahweh.” He carefully guarded his words each time, not using the name “Yahweh.” Twice he wrote: “Behold, He sits in high places at the right hand of the Shekinah” (Hebrews 1:3; 8:1). In Hebrews 12, he quotes from Psalm 110:1 again, substituting “Elohim” for “Yahweh.” The reasons for doing so are easily grasped. He did it for his Jewish audience so not offend those immature in the faith—a problem he addressed in his letter. Second, and wisely, he avoided the destruction of the letter before it could be read. Last, he maintained his personal safety, at least for a time. Yet, the writer did follow conventions of other New Testament writers regarding quotations from the Hebrew Bible where the Name was written in original form (cf. Hebrews 8:8-12 where he quotes Jeremiah 31:30-33). What extra-biblical Jewish teachings indicate Yeshua spoke the Name? The Toldoth Yeshu, a Rabbinic parody hostile to the Gospel story in Matthew and Luke, asserts that Yeshua [Jesus] did speak the name “Yahweh.” The following, though a legend, may, indeed, have some essence of truth in it in this respect: After King Jannaeus, his wife Helene ruled over all Israel. In the Temple was to be found the Foundation Stone on which were engraven the letters of God’s Ineffable Name. Whoever learned the secret of the Name and its use would be able to do whatever he wished. Therefore, the Sages took measures so that no one should gain this knowledge. Lions of brass were bound to two iron pillars at the gate of the place of burnt offerings. Should anyone enter and learn the Name, when he left the lions would roar at him and immediately the valuable secret would be forgotten. Yeshu [Yeshua] came and learned the letters of the Name. He wrote them upon the parchment which he placed in an open cut on his thigh and then drew the flesh over the parchment. As he left, the lions roared and he forgot the secret. But when he came to his house he reopened the cut in his flesh with a knife an lifted out the writing. Then he remembered and obtained the use of the letters. He gathered about himself three hundred and ten young men of Israel and accused those who spoke ill of his birth of being people who desired greatness and power for themselves. Yeshu [Yeshua] proclaimed, “I am the Messiah; and concerning me Isaiah prophesied and said, ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.’” He quoted other messianic texts, insisting, “David my ancestor prophesied concerning me: ‘The Lord said to me, you are my son, this day have I begotten thee.’” The insurgents with him replied that if Yeshu [Yeshua] was the Messiah he should give them a convincing sign. They therefore, brought to him a lame man, who had never walked. Yeshu spoke over the man the letters of the Ineffable Name, and the leper was healed. Thereupon, they worshipped him as the Messiah, Son of the Highest. A similar legend about Yeshua [Jesus] appears in the Talmud (cf. Babylonan Shabbath 104b; Babylonian Sanhedrin 67a; Yerushalem Shabbath 11:15; Yerushalem Shabbath 13d.). Summary of the evidence. From the evidence gathered and cited, indeed, Yeshua (Jesus) did speak the name of his Father, Yahweh, but in a limited and controlled context. Publicly, he reserved the pronunciation of the Name until his last days in Jerusalem where he was tried for blasphemy for speaking the Name and was condemned to death. He became “the curse on the tree” for everyone who believed to remove their curse forever (cf. Galatians 3:13). His disciples, including the writers of the New Testament books and letters, preferred discreet and carefully controlled use. Psalm 110:1 coupled with Daniel 7:13 was the most highly volatile combination of words in the mouth of Yeshua (Jesus) and his disciples. Yeshua (Jesus), Stephen, and James the Just were all killed by sentencing of the court for using these two Scriptures in combination where it was clear the name of Yahweh was pronounced. In this dangerous environment, the writer of Hebrews cited Psalm 110:1 three times, but always used substitute words for Yahweh—Shekinah and Elohim. The final appeal of Yahweh to his people. In John’s vision of the end times, an angel announces the calamity of Babylon the Great. The end of the age of Gentile dominance is ending with a mighty collapse. The influence of the great city is crushed to the ground. Then a last cry from heaven is sounded, the voice of Yahweh to his people for them to make a profound redirection. “Get out of Babylon!” He cries. The appeal was not lost on many of his Jewish peers, especially those who had received the Messiah Yeshua. The apostle’s peering into the future showed that at the end times many of the people of Israel remained entrapped in the ways of Babylon. The ways of Babylon has taken a high toll on the covenant people of Israel. Yet the offer of Messiah’s offer remains. Listen again to the angel’s cry of the last hour of the last days: After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory. And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird. For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.” I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues. For her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. (Revelation 18:1-5)

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