300 and Nehemiah

I’ve been meaning to write something about this and make some comments about the latest Zack Synder movie - just out - 300: Rise of an Empire. Entire fictitious and fantastical, the movie describes a number of ahistorical battles and events that overlap and echo of historical ones. But behind the blood and gore and gratuitous sex lies a number of very helpful frames that should inform Bible reading. I thought I’d tease these out so that the movie informs the reading of Scripture. 

1. King Darius I of Persia, who is killed by Themistocles of Athens, is the same ruler mentioned in the Scripture - the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel, Haggai and Zechariah. Recall that after the golden era of Kings David and Solomon, the nation of Israel fractures into north and south which are taken away respectively by Assyria and Babylon (remember Nebuchadnezzer- Daniel’s diet Dan 1, the fiery furnace Dan 2 and going crazy Dan 4?). The Babylonian empire (last ruler being Belshazzar- who is overthrown by Darius the Mede - prophesied in Dan 5) soon gives way to the Medo-Persian Empire and in the book of Daniel, Darius is the one who throws him (reluctantly) into the lion’s den (Dan 6). In the movie, Darius launches an ambitious campaign against the Greeks since he hates their ‘freedom’. 

2. Xerses I, the son of Darius, refers to himself often as the god-king in the film, and believes that he is a divine figure (typical of Babylonian kings in the period).

3. This same Xerses is likely Ahasuerus in the book of Esther, before whom she is terrified to approach unless he shows her his royal ring to pardon her in his presence. Explains her fear and trepidation when you see this: 

In the movie 300, Xerses/Ahasuerus is the main antagonist battling against King Leonidas of Sparta (hero of the first 300 movie) at Thermopylae and then Themistocles (hero of the second 300 movie) and eventually withdraws after an unsuccessful naval campaign.

4. He is succeeded by Artaxerses, his son, who commissions Ezra return to Jerusalem (in the second wave) and commence rebuilding Jerusalem. He is the king in Nehemiah 1, and Nehemiah is his cupbearer. Subsequently, he allows Nehemiah to return as well, giving him safe passage and resources to rebuild the ancient wall of Jerusalem - the account recorded in the book of Nehemiah, marking the return from exile. 

This cartoon strip is rated with adult themes - but if anything is simply highlights the history of mankind steeped in idolatry - power, sex and money played out throughout the whole of our story as a race. If anything, this confirms the curse of Gen 3. 

"The true treasure of the church is the Holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God."

— Thesis 62 of Luther’s 95 Theses

"It was the faith of a faithless age. I had no idea, then, quite why so many of the older generation had set their faces so hard against religious belief. I was quite shocked when I later discovered the true state of affairs. They did not know half the things they claimed to know. Their faith in science was at attempt to replace the Christian faith, ruined by wars and disillusion, with a new all-embracing certainty."

— Peter Hitchens, Rage Against God

Lucis Creator optime


"Lucis Creator optime
lucem dierum proferens,
primordiis lucis novae,
mundi parans originem:

Qui mane iunctum vesperi
diem vocari praecipis:
tetrum chaos illabitur,
audi preces cum fletibus.

Ne mens gravata crimine,
vitae sit exsul munere,
dum nil perenne cogitat,
seseque culpis illigat

Caeleste pulset ostium:2
vitale tollat praemium:
vitemus omne noxium:
purgemus omne pessimum.

Praesta, Pater piissime,
Patrique compar Unice,
cum Spiritu Paraclito
regnans per omne saeculum.” 

Read More

"As he spoke, his voice grew more forceful; his forefinger stabbed the air; the dark room seemed to close in on him, until he seemed almost a specter, the spirit of Senates past, his almost fifty years in these chambers reaching back to touch the previous fifty years, and the fifty years before that, and the fifty years before that; back to the time when Jefferson, Adams, and Madison roamed through the halls of the Capitol, and the city itself was still wilderness and farmland and swamp"

— A well written paragraph by President Obama on Senator Robert Byrd from the Audacity of Hope

"Sometimes I imagined my work to be not so different from the work of the theology professors who taught across campus—for, as I suspect was true for those teaching Scripture, I found that my students often felt they knew the Constitution without having really read it. They were accustomed to plucking out phrases that they’d heard and using them to bolster their immediate arguments, or ignoring passages that seemed to contradict their views."

— Obama again on the overlap between constitutional law and studying scripture. Interesting thing he pulls out here. The Audacity of Hope.

"As he spoke, his voice grew more forceful; his forefinger stabbed the air; the dark room seemed to close in on him, until he seemed almost a specter, the spirit of Senates past, his almost fifty years in these chambers reaching back to touch the previous fifty years, and the fifty years before that, and the fifty years before that; back to the time when Jefferson, Adams, and Madison roamed through the halls of the Capitol, and the city itself was still wilderness and farmland and swamp"

— A well written paragraph by President Obama on Senator Robert Byrd from the Audacity of Hope

Tags: penn history

Here are the more fun ones I liked:


1. We fought independence, and independence won.
If Lee Kuan Yew is to be believed, then we are probably the only country that gained nationhood by not wanting it. Of course, the other founding fellows have been quoted as saying that leaving the Federation (of Malaysia) was the “best thing that ever happened to Singapore”.

5. Um… actually, we were independent once before.
On August 31, 1963, in agreeing to merge with the Malaysian federation, Singapore unilaterally declared independence, several weeks before the Malaysian government did so in September of the same year.


7. The national anthem was written six years before independence.
It was written to be played at state functions in 1959, and was later officially made the national anthem. The Malaysians had roughly the same history with theirs (Negaraku) - an anthem they adopted from the Perak state anthem, which was created because an aide to the Sultan, when asked by officials at the coronation of Edward VII what his state anthem was,  proceeded to hum the tune to an old French drinking song he had heard in the Seychelles.


10. Singapore is one of three surviving city-states in the world.
The other two being Monaco and the Vatican City.


13. The national flag was designed before independence.
It served as a State flag to fly beside the Union Jack, and then beside the Malaysian flag, before flying solo in 1965. Originally envisaged as an all-red background, white was added to the lower half to placate fears that the color might serve as a rallying point for the then rampant Communists, and perhaps, bulls.


15. If you’re Singaporean, you are also a citizen of the Commonwealth.
Technically, you are allowed to vote in British parliamentary elections.


22. Lions never lived in Singapore.
So the name Lion City, derived from the Sanskrit Singa Pura, is a misnomer. Sang Nila Utama probably saw a tiger, or was smoking something strong.


32. We may be small, but we have over 3000km of roads.
Singapore is only around 42km from east to west, but has over 3,000km of roads.


35. It is actually warmer and drier in the eastern part of Singapore.
This is due to a meteorological phenomenon called the rain shadow effect.


41. Bukit Timah Nature Reserve has more species of trees than the whole of North America.
Now, that is one big redeeming factor.

The actual 70 resolutions themselves, by Jonathan Edwards written in 1723, when he was only 19 years old.

The actual 70 resolutions themselves, by Jonathan Edwards written in 1723, when he was only 19 years old.

Interesting things about Ahasuerus (Xerses) from JewishEncyclopedia

  • Ahasuerus, also called Xerses, the Persian king of the Book of Esther, being identified by the rabbis with the one mentioned in Dan. ix. 1 as father of Darius, king of Media
  • The Xerses mentioned in Ezra, iv. 6, is counted as one of the three kings of Biblical history who ruled over the entire globe, the other two being Ahab and Nebuchadnezzar
  • He was wicked from the beginning to the end of his reign. Upon the slanderous report of the Samaritans he stopped the work, begun under Cyrus, of the rebuilding of the Temple (Ezra, iv. 6; Esther R. intro.). 
  • According to R. Gamaliel II., he was simply whimsical and vacillating (ib. 12b); according to another tradition which was handed down by Abba Gorion, he was so unstable that he sacrificed his wife to his friend, and his friend to his wife (Mid. Abba Gorion i. 1), probably meaning the emperor Domitian, of whom this statement was true (compare Bacher, “Ag. Tan.” i. 96 et seq.). 
  • In his ambition Ahasuerus wanted to sit on King Solomon’s wonderful throne, described in the Midrash and the Targum to Esther, but he could not. 
  • His “showing the riches of his glorious kingdom” to his princes (Esth. i. 4) was especially sinful, as he had all the sacred vessels from the sanctuary taken out of his royal treasure-house to the banquet in order to boast of these possessions, thus committing an offense against God and the Jews.
  • He heaped up great treasures and in his miserliness hid them. Cyrus, his successor, found them, and offered them to the Jews in order that they might rebuild the Temple therewith. These are “the treasures of darkness” promised to Cyrus in Isa. xlv. 3 (Esther R. i. 4). 
  • PirḲe Rabbi Eliezer, xi., in accordance with Targ. Sheni on Esther, at the beginning, counts ten kings as rulers over the entire globe: God, Nimrod, Joseph, Solomon, Ahab, Ahasuerus, Nebuchadnezzar, and Alexander the Great; then, as the ninth, the Messiah; and last, God Himself again. 
  • It is also said there that Ahasuerus was the wealthiest of all the kings of Persia and Media; that he is mentioned in Daniel (xi. 2), where it is said: “The fourth shall be far richer than they all”; and also that he set up couches of gold and silver in the thoroughfare of his capital to show all the world his riches; all the dishes and vessels he used were of gold, while the pavement of his palace was entirely of precious stones and pearls.

Eytmology of the word ‘foolscap’

Etymology of ‘foolscap’: cap worn by jesters,” 1630s; c.1700 as a type of paper, so called because this type of paper originally was watermarked with a court jester’s cap.

And wikipedia adds:

Foolscap folio (commonly contracted to foolscap or folio) is paper cut to the size of 8 1/2 × 13 1/2 in (216 x 343 mm) (for “normal” writing paper, 13” x 8”). This was a traditional paper size used in Europe and the British Commonwealth, before the adoption of the international standard A4 paper (the most common standard size in the world).

Ring binders or lever arch files designed to hold Foolscap folios are often used to hold A4 paper (210 mm × 297 mm). The slightly larger size of such a binder offers greater protection to the edges of the pages it contains.

A full foolscap paper sheet is actually 17 x 13 1/2 in (432 x 343 mm) in size, and a folio sheet of any type is half the standard sheet size or a subdivision of this into halves, quarters and so on. Foolscap was named after the fool's caps and bells watermark commonly used from the fifteenth century onwards on paper of these dimensions.[1] The earliest example of such paper that is firmly dated was made in Germany in 1479.

Unsubstantiated anecdotes suggest that this watermark was introduced to England in 1580 by Sir John Spielmann, a German who established a papermill at Dartford, Kent.[2] Apocryphally, the Rump Parliament substituted a fool’s cap for the royal arms as a watermark on the paper used for the journals of parliament.”

Tags: random history

"Geologists say Jesus, as described in the New Testament, was most likely crucified on Friday, April 3, in the year 33.
The latest investigation, reported in International Geology Review, focused on earthquake activity at the Dead Sea, located 13 miles from Jerusalem. The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 27, mentions that an earthquake coincided with the crucifixion:
“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open.”
To analyze earthquake activity in the region, geologist Jefferson Williams of Supersonic Geophysical and colleagues Markus Schwab and Achim Brauer of the German Research Center for Geosciences studied three cores from the beach of the Ein Gedi Spa adjacent to the Dead Sea.”
Source: MSNBC

"Geologists say Jesus, as described in the New Testament, was most likely crucified on Friday, April 3, in the year 33.

The latest investigation, reported in International Geology Review, focused on earthquake activity at the Dead Sea, located 13 miles from Jerusalem. The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 27, mentions that an earthquake coincided with the crucifixion:

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open.”

To analyze earthquake activity in the region, geologist Jefferson Williams of Supersonic Geophysical and colleagues Markus Schwab and Achim Brauer of the German Research Center for Geosciences studied three cores from the beach of the Ein Gedi Spa adjacent to the Dead Sea.”

Source: MSNBC