A Jewish Queen Helene of Adiabene

 

Sarcophagus of Helen of Adiabene - Israel Museum Jerusalem

Sarcophagus of Helen of Adiabene – Israel Museum Jerusalem

A few years ago, to my surprise, I was told that the sarcophagus of Queen Helen of Adiabene, which was in the Louvre Museum, would be lent for a few months by France to be exhibited at the Israel Museum.

She was the queen of a country called Adiabiene, which corresponds to the Kurdish territories of today. According to Flavius Joseph, Ananias converted her towards the year 30 AD before he became a high priest.

Known for her generosity and being a benefactress for the poor of Jerusalem, she brought constant support to the Jewish people of Judea and Galilee.

During a famine, she sent ships to Alexandria in order to bring wheat and cereals to the victims.

The Talmud tells us that she followed the Jewish laws rigorously and that she made numerous gifts to the Temple of Jerusalem, including a golden candlestick for its door.

Helen died in her territory of Adiabene in the year 56-58.

Her body was brought back to Jerusalem and buried in the pyramidal tomb she had built during her life time, north of Jerusalem.

During an excavation in 1863, the French archaeologist Félicien de Saulcy discovered a large limestone tomb near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. He was convinced that it was the tomb of the great kings of the Bible David and Solomon, which explains the name “Tomb of the Kings”,  but it turned out to be of Queen Helen.

This tomb was transferred to the Louvre in full agreement with the Ottoman archaeological authorities at the time.

This venerated Queen will remain forever engraved in the memory of the Jewish people.

 

Helene d'Adiabene Palace - Israel Museum Jerusalem

Helene d’Adiabene Palace – Israel Museum Jerusalem

 

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A room without a view

 Image result for photos of banksy hotel bethlehem

The original name is ” Walled off ” Hotel. Its owner is none other than Bansky the” graffiti ” artist, who set his sights on the West Bank and especially on the separation wall of Bethlehem to make a work of art.

Oddly enough the name reminds us of another luxury hotel on the other side of the wall, the      ” Waldorf Astoria Hotel”, which was built recently in Jerusalem.

Its ten rooms are decorated with Bansky arts, furnished with taste, humor, research and provocation. Very little light penetrates. The view, certainly the worst of all hotels all over the world, overlooks this famous wall of separation.

Numerous graffitis parade this wall and continue to recall the years of Intifada, the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, nowadays an entrenched population that lives with a feeling of abandonment and isolation while being administered by the ” Palestinian Authority”.

 

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Banksy's work is displayed in the The Walled Off Hotel in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Friday, March 3, 2017. The owner of a guest house packed with the elusive artist Banksy's work has opened the doors of his West Bank establishments to media, showcasing its unique worst view in the world. The nine-room hotel named The Walled Off Hotel will officially open on March 11.

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The seven species of the land of Israël

Due to the seven types of fruits and grains, the main products of the land of Israel, it is mentioned in the Torah as :

“A land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey.

WHEAT

This is the first element needed to build Personality, the Spiritual and Intelligent side of a person

Wheat field

Wheat field

BARLEY 

This provides animal feed, an important element for human existence.

Barley

Barley

 

 

 

 

 

 

A VINEYARD expresses Joy and Festivity

Life is made of moments of happiness which are celebrated by enjoying a good wine.                    ” The wine delights the hearts of humans ” Psalm 104-15

Grape vine

Grape vine

DATE HONEY symbolises a Good, Sweet, and Abundant life in the Land of Israel

In biblical Hebrew, the word for date palm is Tamar, a woman’s name evoking grace and elegance. The name is popular even today.

Palm Tree with date fruits

Palm Tree with date fruits

 

 

 

 

 

 

The FIG is the symbol of Celestial food

The fig tree is a Messianic tree and one of the first tree to bloom in February.

It has this peculiarity that none of its leaves are the same, like the image of Israel, or the Torah, where every biblical verse can have a different explanation.

Figs

Figs

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE POMEGRANATE  is the symbole of  Prosperity,  Fertility and Beauty.

It has many seeds. The children of Israël should feel inclined to perform as many good deed (Mitzvoth) as the number of seeds of the pomegranate.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate

The OLIVE tree is the symbol of a Blessed and Happy family life.

It is also that of Longevity, Hope and of Peace … and is reputedly to live forever.

Olive tree

Olive tree

                                                                                                                                                                                      

 

Beit She’an and the divinities

Beith Shean vue du Tell

Beit She’an ” Scythopolis ” is certainly one of the most beautiful archaeological sites in Israel.

It was one of the ten cities of the decapole located around the Jordan river, a strategic crossroads of 40,000 inhabitants in Roman times and destroyed in 749 CE by an earthquake, the beauty of its vestiges keeps impressing me at each of my visits :

  • His theater (still used for events and shows),
  • Its public hot baths (the most important found to date in Israel),
  • The Cardo ” Palladius ” largely restored main alley adorned with magnificent columns,
  • The ” Nymphaeum ” monumental public fountain, adorned with sculptures and water games.
  • The Temple of Zeus, the King of the Gods whose crushed columns remind us of the relentless violence of this earthquake and of course many mosaics, some of which are exhibited at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem,
  • The magnificent reconstructed mosaic of the goddess Tyche, the Greek goddess of Good Fortune, holding the Horn of Abundance. It was stolen a few years ago, but a reconstruction was made and is exhibited on the site.

 

  • Goddess Tyche

    Goddess Tyche

Dionysus was also the protector of Beit Shean, the God of grape harvest, vinification and wine, ritual madness and fertility.

Legend tells us that the nymph Nysa nourished him and raised him during his childhood.

 

An unofficial royal visit..

The funeral of the former President of Israel Shimon Peres was held on 30 September 2016 in Jerusalem.

Many dignitaries from all over the world made a final tribute to  this Great Man. Charles, the Prince of Wales, was among them.

At the end of the ceremony, which took place on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, Prince Charles went to visit the Russian Orthodox nuns of the St. Mary Magdalene convent on Mount of Olives, where they live in contemplation.

He brought with him a bouquet of flowers, picked from his Scottish residence’s garden, to lay on the grave of his grandmother, Alice of Greece, born Battenberg, mother of Prince Philip.

                                                         A visit of utmost importance…. 

But who was this Princess Alice of Greece?

Princess Alice de Battenberg

Princess Alice de Battenberg

She was a remarkable woman.

During the Second World War, she had hidden a Jewish family in her own home. In 1994 she posthumously received, for her bravery, the title of  :

                                                          “Righteous Among the Nations” 

For this occasion a ceremony was held at the Yad Vashem Holocauste Museum in Jerusalem, where the Prince Consort Philip was the guest of honor and he would
visit his mother’s grave on the Mount of Olives for the first time.

There is also a second Royal tomb to be found in crypt of the convent; that of the great-aunt of Prince Charles, the Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia, murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918.

Princess Alice of Battenberg was born on February 25th, 1885 at Windsor Castle.

Queen Victoria, Alice’s grandmother, felt very close to the little girl and soon realises that her granddaughter suffered from congenital deafness. She was taught lips reading and was able to speack correctly. even mastering several languages.

At the age of seventeen, Princess Alice met Prince Andrew of Greece for the first time, and fell in love. The respective families marked reluctance due to Alice’s young age however the couple will be united and their marriage announced. They got married and separated a few years later but have five children together.

The princess gives birth to four girls and a boy.

In 1911, further to the murder of Alice’s stepfather and the tension due to the war in the Balkan, the Greek royal family fled into exile and settled in Lucerne in Switzerland.

Eventually the Princess would return to Athens in 1938 to remain there until the end of the World War II, helping the Red Cross and dedicating her life to the poor and the sick in field hospitals. She converted to the Orthodox religion and became increasingly mystical to the verge of insanity.

In 1949, she founded an order of orthodox nuns, which was inspired by the one created by her aunt,  the Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia, born princess of Hesse.

Prince Phillip and his mother

Prince Phillip and his mother

The princess attended the coronation of her daughter in law Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, wearing the outfit of her religious order.

In December 1967, following the “Colonels coup d’etat” in Greece, she had to leave her country again. She came to live in Buckingham Palace, near her family.

She died in London on December 5th,1969. and was buried in the chapel of Windsor Castle.

Princess Alice’s last dying wish was to be buried in Jerusalem.

In 1988, her remains were finally transferred to the monastery of St. Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem, where she rests next to her aunt, Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia.

 

Monastery of St. Mary Magdalene

Monastery of St. Mary Magdalene

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An astounding story

 

The dismiss Grec Orthodoxe Patriarche - Irineos I

The dismiss Grec Orthodoxe Patriarche – Irineos I

Due to transactions of church property, made secretly with Israeli settlers, the former Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church Irineos I, is living behind locked doors in the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem since 2005.

His successor, Theophilos III, does not authorize his lawyer,  doctor or any visitor to enter the house ” prison ” of the former Patriarch.

He spends his days completely isolated, praying, reading and writing, always wearing the black traditional costume of the Greek Orthodox clergy. Irineos still considers himself the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church.

A Muslim Palestinian from the old city regularly brings him food in a basket, which he pulls up with a rope through one of the windows, overlooking an alley in the old town.

The allegations against the former Patriarch are based on the fact that he signed sales agreements with Jews wanting to increase their presence in the majority of the old Arab city of East Jerusalem.

Three important buildings in the Jaffa Gate were the subject of leases of 198 years and were sold to a group of anonumous investors…  the shops, the Imperial Hotel and the Petra Hotel are located in the Jaffa Gate at the intersection of Christian, Muslim and Armenian neighbourhoods.

According to the ‘Camp David’ agreement” of 2000, the Christian and Muslim areas, whose population is Arab, would remain under Palestinian control and become the new Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, whereas the Jewish sector would be Israeli.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate holds 20 percent of the old town.

In 1990 another scandal was revealed. The Hospice of Saint John, near the Holy Sepulchre, was acquired through a foreign company, but funds came from the Housing Ministry, which was headed by Likud Minister David Levy at the time…

Obviously, a lot of money was involved with these properties agreements, but not enough related documents could be found. The financial Manager, Mr. Papadimas, vanished with           $ 700,000, and claims from his exile that a proxy of sale had been signed by Patriarch Irineos I, who replied to this statement that the document was fake!

Some think that the Patriarch Irineos wanted to remain in good favor with the Israeli authorities. However, one cannot ignore the fact that that many criminal investigations are underway in Greece concerning the scandals, accusing the Greek Church to be involved in the antics traffic, and of rigged trials and sexual offenses.

This movement of acquisition of property in the old town and the new city of Jerusalem is an indisputable fact, which worries the local population, because the number of settlers implanted in Jerusalem is continuously growing.

Hotel Petra at Jaffa gate- Jérusalem

Hotel Petra at Jaffa gate – Jerusalem

Louis IX – King of France and the crusades

Saint Louis departing d'Aigues Mortes

Saint Louis departing d’Aigues Mortes

Every year at the end of August, the city of Aigues-Mortes in southern France celebrates the departure of Saint Louis for the Crusades.

This good-hearted and generous king never hesitated to invite the poors to his table. He vowed to cross himself after a long illness that many thought fatal.

While a relative peace and economic prosperity reigned in the Middle East, and diplomatic and trade relations were constantly increasing, an unwelcome alliance was made with the Prince of Damascus against the Sultan of Egypt. In 1244 the sultan took Jerusalem and destroyed the Christian army.

Pope Innocent IV then called for a new crusade and Saint Louis hasted to organise it.

The seventh crusade was to be the first one of the two crusades undertaken under the direction of Saint Louis – King of France.

In this southern city of France, construction work would be carried out, such as a port, a church called the ”Sablon”, and a tower to protect the port called ”Constance”, of which remains exist in the old town of Aigues-Mortes to this day.

This expedition regrouped 36,000 men committed to a new conquest of the holy places and the Holy Sepulchre, but also in order to found a colony in Africa. Therefore it was necessary to bring not only arms, ammunition and food, but tools as well.

A crusade in which no foreign sovereign was involved … strictly French !!

After receiving the papal blessing in Lyon, Saint Louis reached Aigues-Mortes the 25th of August 1248.

The cry of ” God willing”  accompanied the departure of these Fancs to the Holy Land.

Saint Louis remained in the Holy Land for four years in order to build the Kingdom of Jerusalem and to allow it to be capable of defending itself against a new threat: the Mameluks. The crusade ended in 1254 by the sudden return of the king to France after the death of Blanche of Castile, his mother who ensured the regency during his absence. Although this crusade did not reach the desired results, it was important for the survival of the Kingdom in the Holy Land.

Following the conquest by the Mamluks of the port City of Jaffa, Caesarea and Arsuf, Saint Louis decided to return for a new crusade.

While reaching the port of Tunis a plague broke out, and a large part of his troops became ill, as well as the king himself, who died in August 25th, 1270.

 

 

Saint Louis

Saint Louis