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Pontius Pilate and the Numismatic Evidence of Opium in Israel, the Bird and the Bong

Pontius Pilate placed Roman symbols of "Augury" on his coins. The Romans would have priests interpret the actions of birds to determine the best course of action in state affairs. The health and welfare of the Roman Empire could be determined by observing bird behavior , sacrificing the animal, and then interpreting its organs to determine the best course of action. The Roman civil wars, before and after the death of Julius Caesar had multiple sides with priestly implements on their coins. This was likely a sign of trying to determine the will of the Roman gods in a very "uncertain time."

Octavian, Priestly instruments to help predict the will of the Roman gods, simpulum, sprinkler, opioid jug and lituus. Photo Agora Numismatiek Vcoins

The lituus of Pontius Pilate, Photo Athena Numismatics, Vcoins

M. Junius Brutus and L. Plaetorius Cestianus, Brutus, Denarius, Traveling Mint, , Silver, Sacrificial axe for birds and simpulum Photo NumisCorner Vcoins

Chinese opium bong

Pilate became governor of Judea and appears to have had some problems compared with his predecessor Valerius Gratus. Compared with the coins of Gratus, Pilate's tenure starts in Judea with much uncertainty. Gratus does not have these priestly instrument symbols on his coins. Weeping barley leaves to the population would have been symbolic for drought. Tensions with Parthia and Nabetea may have been "calmed" by the perception of drought in the Middle East. Armies would never march in drought and the coin may have served to communicate this to Roman enemies and proxies to discourage military invasion. We know from Josephus, Pilate got into some trouble using Temple funds to for an aqueduct construction to Jerusalem. The communications from Christ are filled with allusions to water which was a constant problem in ancient Israel. Some have interpreted the weeping barley leaves as political insults to Herod Antipas and Philip from Pilate. This may also be the case, because the best symbols have a dual meaning, allowing the symbol maker to communicate without risking political offense. Rome would never have communicated weakness which would allow its enemies to infiltrate or have dominance over its affairs. It may be a cryptic message to Herod Antipas which resulted in the divorce of his Nabatean wife and marrying the wife of his brother Herod Philip. This would further solidify Roman economic and military dominance over Nabatea.

Roman simpulums or simpuli

Pontius Pilate , Athena Numismatics, Vcoins

The "simpulum" is quite common on early Roman Empire coinage. The above symbol has been called a simpulum but one must look closer to see that this is not accurate. A simpulum is a ladle used for offering "liquids or libations" to the gods. It has the morphology of an opium poppy. On some coins there is the faint outline of a bird facing right in the middle.

Photo Athena Numismatics, Vcoins

The bird has been seen on the coins of Pilate before. Please see the Menorah Coin Project website.

This means the Pilate simpulum is not a ladle based on size alone. The characteristics point more toward a device used for the vaporization and inhalation of opioids like a recent photo of Chinese opium bongs. Bongs are multi-chambered devices where drug laden smoke is humidified and inhaled thru a liquid layer to filter out large particulate debris.

Menorah Coin Project website showing funnel type device and additional opening to a burning chamber. The simpulum on the coins of Pilate is a water bong for the inhalation of opium smoke.

Chinese opium bongs

Augustus. Spain. Colonia Patricia / Apex and Simpulum, Photo Marc Breitsprecher, Classical Numismatist, Vcoins

The above "simpulum" has curved inhalation ports to inhale opium smoke. Bottom right. Curve ports would help filter large particulate debris from being inhaled. Remember smelling or inhalation is a natural progression in the senses. The ladle or simpulum would be the original prototype for the water bong. We may be viewing the evolution of the water bong in world history on the coins of Pilate.

The uncertainty of Judean and Roman politics is a key feature in the Gospels and directly affected the decision making of Pontius Pilate. Priests would use opium smoke in interpreting bird behavior and entrails to determine the course of the Roman state. Was Pilate inhaling opium smoke during the trial of Jesus Christ? How much has opium influenced the course of history? The bird and the bong likely had a profound effect on Roman thought. The Romans worshipped birds and their religion was "bird brained." The Jews would not worship birds. The Roman Eagle was worshipped by the legions on their Imperial Standards.

The Holy Spirt is the Christian "Bird or Dove" advocate, helping to change our self will into following the commandments and Will of God. Modern Christianity has become like first century Judaism. It is clear from the numismatic evidence that opium was involved in the First Jewish Revolt. Please see my prior posts at the bottom. The idolatry of drug use takes away our free will in choosing to follow God's commandments. The drug becomes the substitute for righteousness. Christ in modern Christianity now becomes our righteousness as we are not allowed to exhibit effort in our "Salvation." This is not biblical or Jewish. Jesus Christ is not a drug. Ancient Jews exhibited great effort in following God's commandments and Christ's sacrifice opened the door to eternal communion with God. We have to carry our cross thru this door. We all have to deal with the pain of life and drug use or Jesus cannot take it's place. Substitution theology wrecked Ancient Judaism. Opium poppy seed addiction likely affected real world decision making skills. Unreasonable hatred, egos and expectations related to drug use all contributed to the Jewish Revolts. Modern Christianity has degraded into an excuse for constant sin and breaking God's commandments while saying "Jesus did it for me." Did opium take away the pain of following the moral law in the first century? Is this how the Roman pagan drug culture became interwoven with Judaism. Note that Jesus refused wine before His Crucifixion. Jesus always advocated following the moral law and clearly said He was the fulfillment of it.

Agrippa I , Athena Numismatics, Vcoins

This is the next small prutah or "widows mite" after the coins of Pontius Pilate. The barley leaves were "up" and the reign of Agrippa I was likely at the height of the economic prosperity of Ancient Israel. The "parasol" could also be interpreted as the lid to a poppyseed amphora. The tendrils may be poppyheads that are hung to dry and have their seeds fall into an opium shaped amphora. See the below prutah of the First Jewish Revolt.

3rd year Jewish Revolt AD 68-69 Athena Numismatics, Vcoins

Opium Poppyseed Amphora without Parasol Lid, Athena Numismatics, Vcoins

See the detail of the poppyhead with crown at each end of the "parasol." A poppy is present in the "canopy" as well. This likely the "lid" to the poppyseed amphora of the Jewish Revolt.

Note that Herod Agrippa I died unexpectedly from "stomach and heart pains" (Josephus) and "being eaten by worms," Book of Acts. This is likely a description of death from an opium induced bowel obstruction. Agrippa was so enamored with his appearance that he failed to correct the audience in Caesarea for calling him a "god." Any Jew would be horrified that fellow Jews or pagans would call him a god. Opium would explain Agrippa 's actions and that's why the early Christians believed he was struck down by an angel for blasphemy. Note Jesus said he was "one" with the Father and that is why the Temple priests wanted Him crucified.

The pole in the parasol may be an opium pipe.

Chinese opium pipes

According to Josephus, Herod Agrippa I was so troubled by an owl appearance that the bird omen was integrated to explain his death after Passover in AD 44.

Note the epsilon in the Greek inscription has been changed to a partial solar eclipse symbol like the coins of Antipas. Putting an overt symbol of the heavens on his coins was checked by Rome. Only the Roman Emperor could equate divinity with the stars. Since Agrippa I put his portrait on his coins he probably wasn't afraid of the Temple priests with overt astronomical symbols. Graven images for the worship of heavenly bodies was forbidden by Jewish Law. It is interesting that the above coin was predictive of the solar eclipse in AD 45 as Agrippa died in spring of AD 44.

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