Galilee and Jewish Mysticism
ReferencesLevine, L.I. (2005) The Ancient Synagogue; The First Thousand Years. New Haven; London
Loffreda, Stanislao (1985) Recovering Capharnaum. Edizioni Custodia Terra Santa, Gerusalemme (Jerusalem)
Galilee Became Center of Mystical Judaism after Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE
(July 9, 2022) The Magic Trail (fig. 1) ran through Galilee (image below). This trail was open on and off throughout the later Roman era depending on the state of hostilities with new versions of the Persian Empire called the Parthian Empire (247 BC – 224 CE) and the Sassinid Empire (224 to 651 CE)
After the Bar Kochba Revolt (132-135 CE) and the destruction of Jewish life in Judea, Galilee became the center of the Jewish culture which because of the magic trail caused Judaism to take on a more mystical, magical bias. This is where the multi-layer Kabbalah was invented to explain how a good God could create an evil world. Its many layers had the effect of isolating God from the evil material world. Additionally, some Galilean synagogues had zodiacs with an image of Helios in the center. For an overview of all these synagogues see https://synagogues.kinneret.ac.il/
Zodiac synagogues were found at Hamas Tiberius on the southwest coast of the Sea of Galilee and at Beth Alpha more to the southwest. The existence of this Helios image has been very confusing to scholars because the Hebrew scriptures have prohibitions against showing images and honoring other deities. So what is going on? The most likely explanation is that spiritual powers were not perceived as deities and that Helios represented a spiritual power.
Mosaic Floor at the Hamat Tiberius Synagogue in Galilee
Zodiac Close-up at Hamat Tiberius
Divine Gateway Close-up at Hamat Tiberius
Mosaic floor at Beth Alpha Synagogue in Galilee.
(July 9, 2022) This shows the Zodiac wheel circling around an image of sun power spirit Helios. The four corner powers of the seasons seem to be represented a bird women. This wheel begins with the summer solstice which begins the time of Cancer the crab at the top and goes counter-clockwise:Cancer - crab (June 21 - July 22) Leo - lion (July 23- Aug 22) Virgo - maiden (Aug 23-Sept. 22) Libra - scale (Sept 23 - Oct 22) Scorpio - scorpion (Oct 23 - Nov 21) Sagittarius - archer (Nov 22 - Dec 21) Capricorn - goat (Dec. 22- Jan 20) Aquarius - water bearer (Jan 21- Feb 18) Pisces - fish (Feb 19 - March 19) Aries - ram (March 20 - April 19) Taurus - bull (April 20 - May 20) Gemini - twins (May 21 - June 20)
Capernaum Synagogue in Galilee
Some of the first examples of Nature Pagan symbols like the Pentacle, "Celtic Knot," and Gateway Star (which became the Star of David when its lines are not intertwined) are found in the white synagogue at Capernaum (Capharnaum). This synagogue dates to 375 CE based upon Roman coins (Loffreda 1985) and it seems to be built upon an earlier one which could go back to the time of Jesus. This earlier building is built out of the local black basalt.
ReferencesLoffreda, Stanislao (1985) Recovering Capharnaum. Edizioni Custodia Terra Santa, Gerusalemme (Jerusalem)
Earliest Known Gateway Star is at Capernaum
The gateway star is the union of two doorways. The upside down triangle comes from the female pubic triangle which typically represents mother earth. The right-side up triangle represents the masculine Divine realm. Thus their union forms the gateway to the life-growth powers of the Ancient Pagan Paradigm. Yahweh belongs to this class. (contrast this to the Pentacle which is the gateway for the motion powers).
During the late 1600's the Gateway Star started to be placed on synagogue walls in Europe during a revival of Jewish mysticism. Only then did it start to be called the "Star of David" or "Shield of David" by those unaware of its mystic significance. In 1897, with the intertwining of its lines eliminated, it was chosen as the central symbol on a flag at the First Zionist Congress.
(Olmsted personal photo)