I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Davidic Exilarchs, Nesi'im and Temperaments


At the moment I am reading a couple of books on the Babylonian Exilarchs which are both fascinating in their own way. However reflecting on them I realised that the temperament of the author can play a large role in how a book is written and in how they interpret evidence. Melancholic authors are very good at detailed research but their interpretation can often miss the bigger context. Choleric writers are good at focus but often miss the bigger context in their need to only see one way of looking at the evidence. Phlegmatic authors can provide balance and an objective view but often miss the impact of the evidence and don't come to any definitive conclusions. Sanguines are able to see the wider context and big picture and interpret the evidence and present it to others in an entertaining manner but may neglect the details so beloved of the melancholics. The highly critical method of many modern writers and scientists seem to suit the melancholic choleric or choleric melancholic types.

As a sanguine I much prefer writers like Christopher Dawson or Immanuel Velikovsky who behold the broad sweep of history and learning rather than those limited to a narrow clinical approach to one small area of learning. In studying the history of the Davidic Exilarchs a broad brush is needed using a wide range of methods and sources of diverse genres. 

One of the books I am reading is "This Noble House: Jewish Descendants of King David in the Medieval Islamic East" by Arnold E Franklin. This book discusses in a fascinating way the role of Davidic status and genealogy in the Islamic era from about the 10th to 14th centuries. However one weakness is he doesn't seem to have a knowledge of how the Jewish Christian Davidic families honoured in the East may have influenced both the Jewish and Islamic concepts of honourable ancestors and the genealogical concerns of the medieval Islamic period. 

The other book titled "A Prince without a Kingdom: The Exilarch in the Sasanian Era" by Geoffrey Herman makes good use of the parallels between the roles of the Catholicos of the Christians of the Sasanian period to evaluate the evidence for the Jewish Exilarchs. However his approach is very hyper-critical and uses modernist methodologies in a very melancholic and choleric manner.

 The genealogies discussed in Franklin's book remind one of the genealogies in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke which also demonstrate Davidic ancestry. These genealogies use the father to son model where a son may be a son, grandson or great-grandson. Davidic Nesiim may be a Nasi through a maternal or paternal line though the earlier Exilarchs are believed to have come from a purely paternal line. However this is not always clear as a genealogy will not mention the female but jump from son to maternal male ancestor.

These Davidic Nesiim were not only influential among Jews but there were also influential branches among the Christians and Muslims that later generations influenced by anti-Semitism covered up. These aristocratic Davidic Lords often clashed with the Rabbis as they followed a less rigorous form of the Faith and considered the petty legalistic concerns of some of the Rabbis as worthless. However some of the Nessiim were also Rabbis and scholars. The Davidic sons in general had a more sanguine choleric temperament that loved storytelling, literature, music, song and dance. They were also more athletic and were born warriors and leaders like their ancestors King David, Hezekiah and Josiah. They were more "ecumenical" towards those Davidic Nessiim who had become Christians or Muslims and they maintained links and connections with them. Some of them even became leaders over people who followed pagan beliefs.

Herman discusses the origin of the Babylonian Exilarch but doesn't realise that the Exilarchy that appears full blown in the Sasanian era was that reestablished by the Scottish descendants of Joseph of Arimathea who descended from the earlier Exilarchs of the Persian era. These originally Jewish Christian Exilarchs were revered by both the Jews and Jewish Christians for their Davidic lineage in the Sasanian realms. It was these Davidic rulers that eventually led many of the other Jewish Christians of the East to reassimilate into Judaism rather than give up their Jewish traditions in order to assimilate into the Gentile Churches and become gentiles in practice. 

These crypto-Christians in the Synagogue were supported and protected by the Exilarchic families and many of their observances entered into Rabbinic Judaism and others were preserved in secret mystical circles.  It was the red headed Scottish sons Nachum and Yochanan of Nathaniel III Ahija the Rosh Galuta Scotti (Jewish- Christian Exilarch of the Scots) that re-established the Babylonian Exilarchy. According to Jewish belief King David was a red-head and many of his Davidic descendants also had red hair or strawberry-blonde hair though some branches had blonde hair especially among the Syrian and German Jews descended from the Davidic nesiim.

These Warrior Davidic Lords around 150 AD with the support of King Vologases IV were enthroned as Exilarchs and given control over the Jews of the Parthian Empire. Yochanan had formerly been the British Jewish Christian Exilarch based at Glastonbury before he joined his brother and their trip to the Middle East where they fought for Vologases IV in his efforts to reunite the Parthian Empire. Nachum was enthroned in the ceremonial of the Exilarchy which was based on the ceremonial of the coronation of the Davidic Kings of Judah. Part of this ceremonial included the Torah Scroll being presented to the enthroned Exilarch which also passed into the British coronation ritual when the king or queen is presented with the Bible or Gospels as the lively oracles of God on which he/she swears the coronation oath. This also led to the custom of the Exilarch having the Torah Scroll brought to him during the Synagogue service that he attends which upset some of the Rabbis who thought the Exilarch should ascend (aliyah) to the Torah like everyone else not the Torah ascend to the Davidic Exilarch.

The Davidic Exilarchs and the Nesiim often clashed with the Rabbinic establishment over what they considered the heavy legalism of the Rabbis. They also had a Davidic tradition where they also were very devoted to the poor which came from their Jewish Christian origins. The devotion and love of the Davidic descendants by ordinary Jews irritated the Rabbinic establishment as well as the respect given them by the non-Jewish authorities who respected their Davidic yichus (lineage) and gave them legal rulership over the Jewish communities.

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