Hebrew Israelite Myth #15: The Hebrew Israelites believe that according to Jesus’ command to “flee to the mountains” in Matthew 24:16, that the Israelites understood those mountains to be in Africa.
Verse used to support:
- Luke 21:21Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
- Matthew 24:16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
Type of Error: Lack of Context
Category: 12 Tribes Chart
- When Jesus commands his follower in the time of trouble to flee to the mountains he was not referring to a far off land like Africa but to the mountains in the Gilead range on the east of Jordan, specifically a place called Pella. In early Christian tradition it was to Pella that Judeo-Christians from Jerusalem, known in Judea and Galilee as the Nazarenes and outside the Jewish homeland as the Church of God (Hebrew: qehal'el; Greek: ekklesia tou Theou), fled to escape the onslaught of the Roman army against Judea and Jerusalem during the First Jewish Revolt (CE 66-70).
- During the Roman advance, Christians seem to have taken Christ’s advice when the city was attacked by Costius Gallus, about 66A.D, some three or more years before the siege under Vespasian. Gallus had appeared before the walls, and apparently had every hope of taking the city, when, for some reason not certainly known (either owing to a supposed defeat, or ignorance of his success, or the advice of his generals), he suddenly withdrew his forces (Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 2:19, 6, 7).
- The Christians, took the opportunity of flight from the doomed city, and made their escape to Pella, a town of Decapotis, southeast of Bethshean, and the ruins of which are known now by the name of Fahil. Euschius, the Christian historian, refers to this migration, narrating that, owing to a certain revelation given to holy men among them, the whole body of the Church, before the war, removed across the Jordan to Pella, and dwelt there in safety during those troublous times.
- Eusebius, (CE ca. 263-340) a Christian theologian and historian. Bishop of Caesarea CE 315-340believed the church of Jerusalem fled before the war which is likely an anti-Judaic invention,
- In his book “The Church History” Chapter V.—The Last Siege of the Jews after Christ. He writes:
- “The whole body, however, of the church at Jerusalem, having been commanded by a divine revelation, given to men of approved piety there before the war, removed from the city, and dwelt at a certain town beyond the Jordan, called Pella. Here those that believed in Christ, having removed from Jerusalem, as if holy men had entirely abandoned the royal city itself, and the whole land of Judea; the divine justice, for their crimes against Christ and his apostles finally overtook them, totally destroying the whole generation of these evildoers from the earth”. (Eusebius, bk. 3, ch. 5.)
- This ‘fleeing to the mountains’ Jesus notes is not a new tactic for Jewish inhabitants and had taken place in the time of Jeremiah (compare Jeremiah 16:16; Jeremiah 50:6; Lamentations 4:19). David had also fled from Saul into the mountains with his men, 1 Samuel 13:6; 1 Samuel 22:1; 2 Samuel 23:13; Joshua 10:16. The mountains were ever a refuge from enemies and from invading hordes and never was it mentioned that the Israelites would go to Africa.
- This tactic is also documented in the Apocrypha,
- 2 Maccabees 5 27 But Judas Maccabeus and about nine others escaped into the barren mountains, where they lived like wild animals. In order not to defile themselves, they ate only plants which they found growing there.
- Also to note, mountains are frequently mentioned in the Bible because mountains dotted the true landscape of biblical regions. As a result, mountains and hills are mentioned over 500 times in the Bible. Mountains have a logical religious symbolism for biblical cultures since they are “closer to God” who was believed to dwell in the heavens (as in the sky). As a result, God often reveals himself on the mountaintop.
- In the Old Testament, the mountains of Sinai and Zion are most significant. Mount Sinai, of course, is associated with Moses and is the place where Moses received the gift of the Law, the Ten Commandments. Thus, Mount Sinai is a symbol of God’s Covenant with Israel. Zion, to the south, is the location of the Jerusalem Temple. In the New Testament (Mark and Luke to be precise), Jesus appoints the Twelve on a mountain. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus delivers the Beatitudes in his Sermon on the Mount, conjuring an image of Moses who received the Commandments on Mount Sinai. Matthew’s mostly-Jewish audience would immediately pick up on the comparison between Moses and Jesus. Matthew, in particular, has 6 significant mountain “scenes” in his gospel: Jesus’ temptation (4:8); the Sermon on the Mount (5:1); a number of healings (15:29); the Transfiguration (17:1); Jesus’ final discourse (24:1); and the commissioning of the Apostles (28:16). Perhaps the most significant mountain scene in the Gospels, however, is the Transfiguration of Jesus. Jesus is accompanied by Moses and Elijah, who themselves encountered God on the mountaintop in the Old Testament. Now, they encounter God through Jesus and Jesus, in turn, is seen as the fulfillment of the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah).
- Given this, when Jesus says flee to the Mountains the 1st Century Israelites would not have envisioned some far off land but the mountains that surrounded their native lands.