A Giant and Some Zealots in Jesus Triumphant

Eleazar the Giant.

Eleazar the Giant.

There may not be mention of giants in the Gospels, but I did find a giant placed in the same time and approximate location of Christ’s ministry. One of my ancient resources has been the ancient Jewish historian Josephus. His rich text, Wars of the Jews, is the best ancient detailed source we have of the events that led up the destruction of Jerusalem and the holy temple in A.D. 70. Josephus is a non-Christian source that confirms Gospel details of Pontius Pilate, the Herods, John the Baptist, the apostle James, and even Jesus Christ.[1] Though his pro-Roman agenda is well-known, he nevertheless provides helpful factual information for the historical inquirer.

One of those interesting factoids is the reference to a 10 1/2 foot giant Jew named Eleazar who was presented as a gift to Tiberius Caesar in the presence of Herod Antipas, by the king of Parthia, Artabanus III in A.D. 33 or 34.[2]

“When Tiberius had heard of these things, he desired to have a league of friendship made between him and Artabanus… Artabanus and Vitellius went to Euphrates…And when they had agreed upon the terms of peace, Herod [Antipas] the tetrarch erected a rich tent on the midst of the passage, and made them a feast there. Artabanus also, not long afterwards, sent his son Darius as an hostage, with many presents, among which there was a man seven cubits tall [10 1/2 feet], a Jew he was by birth, and his name was Eleazar, who, for his tallness, was called a giant.”
[3]

Josephus doesn’t tell us if the Jewish giant was a servant or a captive, but he was certainly chattel of some kind to be traded as a means of diplomacy between the two empires. It occurred on the shores of the Euphrates in a tent constructed by Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee at the time. Antipas inserted himself into the negotiations in order to ingratiate himself to Caesar. All this, the reader will recognize occurring in Jesus Triumphant.

Vitellius, the king of Syria and representative of Caesar, brought the “gifts” of his son and the giant to Antioch, where they were presumably shipped to Rome.[4] But were they? Josephus doesn’t say. So, what if the giant Eleazar escaped? What if he found his short way down to Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus was during that last year of ministry? Thus the creative license of the novel applying to historical characters in a feasible scenario.

 

Jesus Bar Abbas. Zealot revolutionary leader of n insurrection in Jerusalem. Bet you didn't remember that.

Jesus Bar Abbas. Zealot revolutionary leader of an insurrection in Jerusalem. Bet you didn’t remember that.

Barabbas

But that is not all the novel drew from historical characters. Many Bible readers know the name of Barabbas as the one who the Jews chose to release at Pilate’s offer instead of Jesus (Matt. 27:15-26). But what many casual readers of the Bible do not know is that Barabbas was a leader of a failed insurrection around that time in Jerusalem (Luke 2:19). He was no ordinary criminal. He was a zealot warrior, as he is in Jesus Triumphant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Demas Samaris. A bestiaries who fights wild animals in the arena. He joins the Zealots to save his brother

Demas Samaris. A bestiaries who fights wild animals in the arena. He joins the Zealots to save his brother

The Thieves on the Cross

The two “thieves on crosses” next to Jesus are another case of commonly misunderstood identity. “Thief” or “robber” makes one think of common criminals or kleptomaniacs caught stealing camels or jewelry. But the Greek word for “thief” used of the two on the cross is lestai, the same word used by Josephus to describe the zealous Jewish brigands in revolution against Rome. Crucifixion was the punishment for such organized sedition and insurrection. The “thieves” on the cross were actually revolutionaries in the tradition of the Zealots.[5]

Gestas5b
Though the existence of bands of Jewish insurrectionists against Rome at the time of Christ is not in dispute, the exact nature and chronology of the infamous Zealots is. Some have argued they did not come into existence until around the fall of Jerusalem,[6] but others have shown that they originated in Judas of Galilee’s failed insurrection of A.D. 6.[7] He made famous the slogan “No king but God,” that came to mark the Zealot cause.[8] Judas of Galilee’s sons, James and Simon, went on to be executed as zealous rebels around A.D. 46.[9] Josephus also describes two Zealot-like leaders Eleazar ben Dinai and Amram, who were captured and banished around A.D. 45 by Roman procurator Fadus. Another brigand leader, Tholomy was executed.[10] Eleazar was captured again later and executed in Rome in A.D. 60.[11] This means that James, John, Amram, Tholomy and Eleazar had been rising within the ranks of the newly growing Zealot movement during the time of Christ. Thus, their presence in Jesus Triumphant.

For additional Biblical and historical research related to this novel, go to www.ChroniclesoftheNephilim.com under the menu listing, “Links” > Jesus Triumphant.


[1] His infamous paragraph describing Jesus Christ (Antiquities of the Jews 18.63-64) is controversial and some have argued that it is a later Christian redaction. But there remains solid scholarship for its legitimacy. For a balanced scholarly assessment see Steve Mason, Josephus and the New Testament,  (Peabody, MA Hendrickson Publishers, 1992), 163-174.
[2] In Antiquities 18.106 Josephus places the trade around the time of the death of Herod’s brother, Philip, who died in A.D. 33/34: Flavius Josephus and William Whiston, The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1987), footnote C.
[3] Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 18.101-105. Flavius Josephus and William Whiston, The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1987).
[4] Josephus, Antiquities 18.105.
[5] N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, Christian Origins and the Question of God (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1992), 178–180.
[6] Richard A. Horsley and John S. Hanson, Bandits, Prophets, and Messiahs: Popular Movements at the Time of Jesus (New York: NY, Winston Press, 1985).
[7] Martin Hengel, The Zealots: investigations into the Jewish freedom movement in the period from Herod I until 70 A.D. (Edinburgh: U.K., T. & T. Clark, 1989).
[8] Hengel, The Zealots, 108.
[9] Josephus, Antiquities 20.102.
[10] Josephus, Antiquities 20.4-5.
[11] Josephus, Antiquities 20.161. Under the procurator Felix.

Chronicles of the Nephilim For Young Adults

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New Young Adult Version of Chronicles of the Nephilim

Edited Age-Appropriate for Teens and Above

Chronicles of the Nephilim for Young Adults is a version of the original Biblical Fiction series that has been edited to be age-appropriate for Ages 13 and above, Grades 8 and above.

Fans of the Chronicles know that the original series is rated PG-13 (R in some places). But this version for young adults has edited the explicit descriptions of sin and toned down the violence to be rated G (PG in some places).

But it is the same rip roaring action adventure, romance and spiritual journey about Nephilim Giants, Watchers, and the Biblical Cosmic War of the Seed that will keep you on the edge of your seat and help you see the Biblical narrative with fresh perspective.

I have also taken out the theological appendices from each of the books that explained the Biblical and ancient historical research behind the fiction. If readers want to read these appendices, they can buy the book When Giants Were Upon the Earth that contains all the appendices gathered in one volume with extras. All volumes are available on Kindle and in paperback exclusively at Amazon.com.

See the website here for more information.

Buy Chronicles of the Nephilim for Young Adults at Amazon Here.

Brian Interviewed on Like Flint Radio: Jesus, Watchers, Nephilim, Demons

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LikeFlint Radio Show 37: Brian Godawa: Chronicles of the Nephilim: Jesus Triumphant.

Join GK, Cliff & Brian Godawa as they discuss Brian’s latest work. This wide ranging interview discusses both the fictional and factual concepts in the book including; The Book of Enoch, The Nephilim, The Watchers, The Giants and spiritual warfare.

Download the mp3 here: http://likeflintradio.com/lfrShow37.mp3

Visit our website here: http://likeflintradio.com/

Nephilim in the Gospel: Jesus Triumphant – Interview on View From the Bunker

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NEPHILIM IN the New Testament? Surely Brian Godawa has stretched his Chronicles of the Nephilim series at least one book too far!

But no! Brian joins us to discuss his latest novel, Jesus Triumphant: Chronicles of the Nephilim Book Eight, and makes the case that the giants who caused so much trouble throughout the history of Israel were still in the land for one last attempt at preventing the Messiah from completing his mission.

Please join Derek and Sharon Gilbert each Sunday for the Gilbert House Fellowship, our Bible study podcast. Log on to www.GilbertHouse.org for more details.

Jesus Triumphant Interview: He Came to Save. But First, to Kick Some Demon Butt

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Check out the newest episode of Omega Frequency! Ep. 36 – “Jesus Triumphant with Brian Godawa”. On this episode author Brian Godawa returns to the Omega Frequency podcast! We discuss his new best selling novel Jesus Triumphant. We dig deep into the themes of spiritual warfare, demons, the Nephilim, and most importantly Yeshua’s victory over Satan! We also discuss some of the Hebraic history behind certain key events in Yeshua’s ministry, and why it’s important to understand the ancient Hebraic narrative when reading portions of the Bible. Finally, Brian shares his heart on why he created these novels and why it’s important to him to tell these stories through the eyes of authentically written characters.

Take a listen here.

Of Myth and the Bible – Part 6: Satyrs and Centaurs and Demons, Oh My!

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In my novels, Joshua Valiant and Caleb Vigilant, I write about a tribe called the Seirim people of Banias at Mount Hermon. They live in caves at the foot of the mountains and are led by satyrs, chimeric beings with the lower body of a goat and the upper body of a human. But this mythopoeic imagery is not a mere assimilation of ancient Greek myths about Pan, the satyr deity of nature and shepherding. The notion of satyrs or goat deities predates Greek myth and finds a place in Canaanite lore, and therefore, the Bible as well.

Take a look at these prophecies of Isaiah referencing the destruction of Babylon and Edom.

Isaiah 34:11–15 (The destruction of Edom)
11But the hawk and the porcupine shall possess it, the owl and the raven shall dwell in it… 13Thorns shall grow over its strongholds, nettles and thistles in its fortresses. It shall be the haunt of jackals, an abode for ostriches. 14And wild animals shall meet with hyenasthe wild goat (seirim) shall cry to his fellow; indeed, there the night bird settles and finds for herself a resting place. 15There the owl nests and lays and hatches and gathers her young in her shadow; indeed, there the hawks are gathered, each one with her mate.

Isaiah 13:21–22 (The destruction of Babylon)
21But wild animals will lie down there, and their houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches will dwell, and there wild goats (seirimwill dance22Hyenas will cry in its towers, and jackals in the pleasant palaces; its time is close at hand and its days will not be prolonged.

The passages above speak of God’s judgment upon the nations of Babylon and Edom (symbols of all that is against Israel and Yahweh). A cursory reading of the texts seem to indicate a common word picture of Yahweh destroying these nations so thoroughly that they end up a desert wasteland with wild animals and birds inhabiting them because the evil people will be no more.

Nothing about mythical monsters like satyrs there, right?

Wrong. Because the English translations of the Hebrew word seirim as “wild goats,” obscure the full ancient meaning. If we look closer into the original Hebrew, we find a more expanded mythopoeic reference to pagan deities.

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