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80 A.D.:  Pre-Flood Knowledge Repositories? 

 

 

A bust of Josephus, a first century Israelite from the tribe of Levi, who was trained in the priestly knowledge and the history of both Israel and the known world by the greatest Jewish teachers of his day, and who was an outstanding intellect.  Though young, he was assigned to be the Governor of Galilee prior to the war with the Romans.  He became a Jewish general when the war broke out and did an extremely noteworthy job of supervising the defenses of a small walled Jewish city when the Romans besieged it, inventing numerous counter measures to the standard Roman siege weaponry, though in the end the city walls were breached.  He was treated to an honorary dinner by the grudgingly admiring Roman Generals prior to his intended execution.  At that time he told one of them - Vespasian - that God had given him a prophecy to convey to the general: that the general was about to be chosen as the leader - Emperor - of all of the Roman Empire, that even then a messenger was traveling to bring Vespasian the news.  Out of cautious respect for the 'god' that Josephus believed in and said he was speaking for Vespasian waited.  And soon, within days, a messenger arrived from Rome telling him that indeed the news was true.  Rome called for Vespasian to return and take up the crown as Emperor.  And so, as bringer of this good news from his God, Josephus became a celebrity prisoner, a well kept captive in the camp of the Roman Generals, going from battle site to battle site as his nation, Israel, was destroyed by the Romans.  He was essentially the only Israelite to give an eyewitness chronicle of the destruction of God's people in 66 - 70 A.D., especially the siege and fall of Jerusalem. 

  As Jerusalem fell he was allowed to save the Sacred Scrolls, and also a few certain friends, family, and acquaintances during the confusion.  Hated by his people who had seen him traveling with Romans, he ended up residing in Rome among the elite of the Emperor's court, and he was a favorite during the reign of several successive Emperors; after all, he was no ordinary intellect and was a known and proven prophet in Roman eyes.  And through him, the Romans learned much about Israel and the Jewish people's history, and became amazed and intrigued by stories of the true God Yahweh.  This helped prepare the ground for the Roman peoples' eventual acceptance of Christianity.  Intellectual, scholar, man of action, Governor, General, historiographer, courtier...whatever else Josephus was, he truly was used by God.        

 

  There is an interesting little statement in the nearly 2000 year old writings of the Jewish historian named Josephus (Flavius Josephus).  It is not such an important or significant seeming bit of information on its own, but once you think about it a while, it becomes a lot more interesting. Josephus' writings can be found online.  

   In his writing called 'The Antiquities of the Jews', which he wrote to explain the history of the Jewish nation, from the Creation until his own day, to a largely Roman readership, he happens to mention two intriguing monuments that were once made, monuments which were very ancient even in Josephus’ own time. (see Antiquities of the Jews 1.2.3) 

   He tells how, perhaps a thousand years before the 'Great Flood', you can't determine exactly, Adam received a vision and later related it to his son Seth (and perhaps to others.)  Nothing is spoken of this incident, if it really occurred at all, in the Bible.  But, in the purported vision that Josephus had been taught about, God had shown Adam that at different times in the future the world would be destroyed, once by water and once by fire.  Apparently the vision didn’t say which would come first.

   Josephus says that, believing the warning given by his father Adam, Seth (a pre-flood man who lived for 912 years per Genesis 5:5) set about making two monuments upon which, when they were finished, he then had important information and knowledge inscribed, in order to preserve that knowledge against the coming disaster.  It may have been especially fortified with knowledge of Astronomy, Seth's special interest, and that of Seth's sons also, per Antiquities 1.2.3 once again. 

   One of Seth's monuments was made of stone, and the other of brick.  This would probably have been done before Noah received word to build the Ark. Noah, the ninth generation after Adam, was born after Adam’s death, and so Seth could hardly have known of God’s instructions to Noah to build an Ark.  And also, Seth died before the Great Flood.  So simply placing a library on the Ark would have been easier, but it is possible that an alarmed Seth made these extensive preparations for the protection of human knowledge centuries before Noah was told to build an Ark.  

   Yet if this old legend is true, Seth at least cared enough about knowledge to have these two monuments built, hoping that they could be relocated by survivors that God might allow to escape after the forecasted disasters Adam had reportedly prophesied, and that they would be found with the inscribed information still intact.  It might be disaster by fire first, or water first.  Bricks would withstand fire better, as they had been formed in a fiery kiln, and stone lasts longer against the dissolving and eroding effects of water.  

   According to Josephus, the location of one of these pre-flood monuments was well known in his day, and it could be found within the borders of the geographic location known as  ’Syriad’ in his day.  You might guess that this means the land we call 'Syria' today, but not so.  What was called Syriad by Josephus is said to be one of the names for what we would today refer to as Egypt. 

   Josephus has proven himself a pretty reliable historian, well respected by many scholars today, and so I believe we can rest well assured that he believed this to be a true piece of information.  He may have only heard that it was true from misinformed sources.  That is a possibility.  He does not write that he has personally seen either monument, just that their locations are still known. 

   Yet there were other educated Jews and also historians from different nations in the Middle East that read Josephus's writings while he was still alive.  So far as you can glean from the historical record they appear not to have objected to Josephus' assertions about the pre-flood monuments, since Josephus never changed them or dropped them that I've found or heard of. So  the existence of these monuments was probably either a known fact or else the possibility of their existence was commonly known about in the 75 A.D. to 90 A.D. time frame in which Josephus would probably have written these words.  

   So what sort of things were written on these monuments?  It’s kind of exciting to speculate.  Using Biblical chronology the period before the Great Flood spanned about 1,650 years, if I remember correctly.  We don’t know exactly which point in their pre-flood development they were at when they chiseled the information into the stone or brick.  And the monuments might also have contained a depository, rather than having been just a stone surface to write on. 

   Yet it is extremely interesting to know that until only a few hundred years ago the Great Pyramid of Giza had smooth polished finish-stones covering all of its sides.  The famous historian Herodotus - 5th century B.C. - said it was so and that he had visited and seen it was so.  I have read that an Arab writer named Abd Al Latif wrote in 1179 A.D. that he visited the pyramid and that there were so many inscriptions on the smooth casing stones that they could fill '10,000 pages'.  In the nearer centuries, a man from Europe named William of Baldensal wrote in the early 1300's A.D. that he saw the inscriptions and that they were arrange in careful rows using mysterious symbols from an unknown writing. 

 

    The Great Pyramid as it stands today, with the white casing stones removed.  They once gave it a flat polished exterior instead of stepped.  No ancient voice speaks of there ever having been a capstone.  Some mention that there was none even in ancient times, and no one seems to know why. 

 

  It would be an exciting deciphering challenge for the linguists of our day to translate these intriguing inscriptions from the ancient past, but alas, it is not to be.  In the late 1350's A.D. a terrible earthquake struck Cairo and many of its buildings were destroyed.  In fact, the 'Lighthouse of Alexandria', one of the wonders of the ancient world, also succumbed to earthquakes during the 1300's after standing for over 1500 years.  There must have been some monster earthquakes in Egypt during that century. 

  During one of these severe earthquakes many of the polished white casing stones came loose from the Great Pyramid's sides and tumbled down, piling up around the base.  So, a regional local Arab Muslim ruler gave instruction to gather them up so that they could be used for construction of Muslim mosques and other such important buildings.  These fallen casing stones, brought from far away, were of a quality superior to what was locally available.  And so, they were cut down to more easily handled sizes and put to such uses as was then seen fit.  But, as mentioned, a number of ancient and not so ancient sources agree that the stones that were removed from the exterior surface of the Great Pyramid were inscribed stones.  They were covered with symbols - writing if you will - in some ancient and now lost language.   

 What the Bible tells us is that before the Great Flood the fallen angels - losers of a revolt in  some angelic realm in heaven - came down to live on Earth as rulers - tyrannizers - over humans, and mated with as many human women as they chose to, and their progeny were the 'mighty men of old'.  So, whatever intelligence and knowledge that fallen angels brought to the table might have already been introduced to the world, perhaps to the world of man as well as of fallen angel.  So there could have been some pretty interesting Math and Physics and Astronomy and Geometry equasions on a monument like that!  Angel math!  And wouldn’t it be interesting if a world history was included? A detailed world history from before the flood....that could be fascinating reading.

 It was Josephus’s understanding that Seth, Adam's son, had discovered that the stars have a repeating 600 year cycle in their motions, and that the long life spans of the pre-flood people allowed them to notice and track such things and learn of them.  He also notes that Astronomy was something that Seth and his righteous sons were interested in, or so he had been taught.

 So, this is the legend of the pre-flood monuments in a nutshell.  As I personally believe this legend is probably at least partially true, I wonder a couple of things:  Where are these monuments now, or if they are now gone, did anyone record the information for use? How much of our current knowledge was drawn from these monuments, if any?  Does this help explain how rapidly people got back to the business of building cities (architecture and engineering principles) and working metals, and writing, etc., after the flood?  Were there writings about things God had taught Adam that the Bible doesn't speak of? 

 Certainly Adam and his sons and their wives could have been very well educated people, and they may have brought 'books' along with them on the Ark.  The Bible doesn’t mention them doing that, but...they surely could have. 

 Yet as interesting as it is to speculate about it, a key point to make is that the ‘knowledge of the ancients’ had no power to save the ancients from disaster.  The Bible tells us that the time before the flood was one of wickedness and violence. Whatever men and women were capable of before the flood, mastering their egos and the darkness of their hearts was not among them.  At the end, Noah preached righteousness to them, but they would not listen. Josephus had been taught from some ancient source or another that Noah had quit trying to preach to the rulers of his day out of fear for his life - that he had removed himself from their vicinity to seek safety.  That's when he apparently was told to build the Ark, according to Josephus.  Maybe true, maybe not.  It's not scripture, but it doesn't clash with scripture, that I can discern. 

 Some people practice religions and belong to cults that claim to have or to know the ‘wisdom of the ancients’.  I can see where that might seem alluring to the young or the imaginative.  But a closer inspection of what the people of 2000 years ago believed about the people that lived 2000 or 3000 years before them always seems to reveal that man never is able to control his wickedness, and that power always tends to lead to tyranny, and that free will seems to always lead to an abandonment of the God who created and loves us, in favor of gratifying our baser impulses and wicked, glory hungry aspirations. 

 We were originally created as a creature meant to render due service to God, cheerfully and well, and in support of that idea we show ourselves ill adapted for rulership in every category in which we attempt to usurp that role of leader.

 We were given authority over the animals, and now a great many are going extinct, while many others are already gone. 

 We form governments or choose kings, and both are lucky to stay righteous for very long at all.  Our administrators seldom seem to avoid becoming our rulers, or at least trying to impose far more control over our lives and actions than their initial charters allow.

 Judges often become corruptible, some to money, and some to gain a name for themselves.  And it was often so in Biblical days. 

 Police in many instances are tempted to overstep their intended bounds and abuse their authority.  It starts with small things, and then can grow.

 The ordinary citizen can seldom prove a worthy steward of their wages.  Credit allows whims to be treated like needs.  We do not honor God in our thoughts and words for all that He does for us and provides for us.  We presume upon His generosity, His faithfulness, and His love.  We take itall for granted, and also live in ways that we know to be displeasing to Him. We often fail to teach our children to honor Him also. 

 Parents are sometimes abusive of their children, and the children too often rebel against being governed, even by reasonable parents.  They don't understand how very many of life's pitfalls can be avoided by listening to their parents. 

 Spouses are too often the same.  The husbands are often over bearing or neglectful, and the wives usually resent the husbands authority and are often self centered and materialistic.  In short, we are a creature that likes to have it’s own way, likes to govern itself.  Yet it’s obvious that we are not good at it, and really are better off serving a just and wise and gentle and understanding authority.  And we were given just such an authority in Jesus of Nazareth, who is our God-given Lord.

 Wisdom of the ages?  The only ones who survived those supposedly wise ages were the 8 people who listened to God, built a boat, and got out of there while the getting was still good. And I am certain that the people of some distant future will say the very same about our own present day; they will conclude that the only wise ones in our day were those who followed God and His Son Jesus, and layed down their God given chance to have a go at ruling themselves.                          

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