How the Roman Empire used opium to dominate Temple Judaism, the numismatic evidence....

March 27, 2019

 

     We can see the heavy influence of the Egyptian religion on Greco Roman thought. Remember Alexander the Great started thinking he was the Son of God after visiting the oracle in the deserts of Egypt. The above coin is from Ptolemy II who invited the Jews to Alexandria to translate the Hebrew Torah into the Greek Septuagint. In this coin Ptolemy II deifies his sister who was also his queen, Arsinoe II. The point is emperor worship crept into mainstream Greek thinking after Alexander the Great. This is important because now we have the Greco Egyptian Queens worshiped as gods as well. What is also incredibly important is that on this clearly preserved coin, we now see the contents of the cornucopia, an opium poppy. Arsinoe II ‘s personal symbol became this double cornucopia and is it filled with the mind altering “fruits of luxury,” barley( alcohol brewing)  grapes(wine) , poppy opium (seeds and latex). These fruits were likely given to the government as tribute and as an offering for worship of the king and queen at the death of Arsinoe II.

 

 

 

     The Greek Egyptian and Seleucid Kings believed they would become "gods" at their death and in some instances believed they were god incarnate, i.e. Antiochus IV. Why did these forces constantly hate and want to destroy Israel? Temple Judaism worshipped an unseen God and not a man. This concept would infuriate a king or emperor who believed he was going to be a god or was a god on Earth. Most of the pagan world would incorporate new gods into a pre-existing pantheon. Judaism was the exception. Even Tiberius refused to incorporate Jesus Christ into the Roman Pantheon because Jesus was viewed as being not tolerant to the worship of other gods.

 


     How does a good Greco-Roman worship their leader? Libations or drink offerings were a very common way to show your support, appreciation, and reverence to a man-god. We do this today with alcohol in many forms.

 

 

 Coin of Ptolemy III, wife Berenicke II on obverse , opium poppy , grapes , barley on reverse

 

Photo Athena Numismatics, Vcoins

 

 

 

     So now we know what the cornucopia symbolizes with it's contents. A mind altering brew with barley, wine and opium. A libation to the emperor. This is important because it is addictive. Also emperor gods would be viewed as healers and anything that took away pain would be viewed as healing in ancient society. Addiction is a way of population control today as it was in ancient times. Control an addictive substance and you will control a population. Hence we now see the power base of the Roman Imperial system.

 

     The Roman Empire was mainly based on deception. Julius Caesar was killed for being viewed as a dictator. Octavian managed to become the richest and most powerful man in known human history by portraying himself as the "first citizen." The "citizenship" gave way to deification and the Roman people in less than 50 years were worshiping a man and his wife as gods.

 

 

Empress Livia in Alexandria, Egypt.  Zurqieh V Coins

 

 

Note when the poppy is sectioned for its seeds it appears like this on the coins

 

 

 

 

 

     Livia is on the front and the same cornucopias under Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II are on the reverse. They contain the same assortment of poppies, grapes, and barley leaves. This combination is later seen on the coins of Alexandria, the Decapolis, Nabatea, and Paneas as well. These both represent real symbols of regional agricultural products and political and religious offerings to people and gods. The "arrow" at the end of the cornucopia may be used to score the poppy for opium extraction. We even see at the height of the Roman Empire, the Egyptian cobra snake god of the harvest was associated with opium. 

 Nero , Alexandria Egypt. Reverse with snake , poppies and grain leaves.

 

 

     Again this is important because this snake god of the harvest was also the personal protectorate of the Roman Emperor and his queen. Note the above portrait is Faustina II who was the wife of Marcus Aurelius. Emperor Aurelius was reported to be addicted to opium. Opium likely contributed to the insanity of the Roman Imperial households as it did to rebellious elements in the Jewish revolts.


     To be fair the Romans did not introduce opium to Ancient Israel but the levant was definitely an opium supplier to the Greco-Roman world. The symbolism starts with the Hasmonean Kings.

 

 John Hyrcanus and Alexander Janneaus

 Hasmonean Opium Kings of Ancient Israel

 

 

     Note that the Roman system was to enslave distant cultures to supply goods and people for the benefit of the Roman aristocracy and emperor. They would first try to appeal to the culture's leaders to "play ball" with the Roman system and if its leaders would, they themselves would benefit in the Roman spoils and plunder of their own civilization.

 

Herod the Great and the Roman Opium trade

 

Coin of Herod the Great advertising the opium trade to the Roman empire.

 

     The Jews were a special problem to the Roman Empire. They would not participate in libation offerings to foreign gods or emperors and therefore would not likely fall under the addictive nature of opium. Early Christians did the same.  I suspect most of the wealth of the Herodian Second Temple was due to the opium trade with Rome, but the Jews likely abstained from its use even though the despotic Roman puppet kings over them advocated for opium. The Romans were masters of conquest and took a great interest in learning the religion of other peoples. They sought the domination of others and wanted to incorporate the strengths of other cultures into their own. The Jewish religion did not have idols worshipped as gods which made it especially difficult to conquer them. Pompey the Great found this out as he rode his horse into the Temple in 63 BC.

 

     After the death of Herod the Great his son Herod Archelaus minted the above coin. Note how the double cornucopia symbolizes opium poppies and a bundle of grapes to the sides like on the coin of Ptolemy II. Augustus removed Archelaus from power for excess cruelty but we clearly see from the above coin what was tributed to Rome, i.e. opium, wine, and sailors for war galleys.

 

     Starting in AD 6 the Romans installed their own governors in Judea. This served a practical as well as spiritual purpose. As I have described Pontius Pilate's coinage shows many elements of the Roman religion. Namely drug use as an intermediary to the Roman gods and forces of nature. 

 Pontius Pilate and the evidence of opium in Ancient Israel

 

 

 

 Coin of King Herod Agrippa 1, poppies and barley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Coin of Tiberius from Commagene (20 AD) near Roman Syria. Close up of opium poppies and barley ear. Corn ear in other cornucopia. Photo Marti Classical Numismatics, Vcoins

 

 

 

 

     The ancient world would commune with the dead through drinking these opium laced libations. Tubes were even placed into graves and liquid was poured into the grave. Today people will bring objects to graves that once made people happy in life, i.e. a stuffed animal for a dead child. Opium libations must have created a level of addiction in society on a mass scale. Couple that with commerce and easily one can see the profit in this ancient industry. Note again the caduceus between the cornucopias, the symbol of trade in the ancient world.

 

 

     Throughout the coinage of the Greco-Roman Middle East , the two dots on either side of a barley leaf are likely representative of opium poppies on cornucopias. Here we see three poppies in a row instead of a central barley leaf. Titus may be offering a libation of pure opium latex for the suffering of the Roman army in the Jewish Revolt.

Sword Star over Jerusalem during the Great Jewish Revolt

 

     This coin is familiar from a prior post. Titus is celebrating his victory over the Jews in AD 73. It was minted in Gadara in mass numbers after the fall of Masada. Gadara has numismatic evidence of opium poppy production and collection on prior coins. Notice three opium poppy heads in each cornucopia. The sword star symbol over Jerusalem is between the cornucopias.

 

 Gadara opium producer of the Galilee 

 

 

 

     We see that opium was demanded in the worship of the Roman emperor and queen on many coins. Remember daily sacrifices were made to the Roman emperor in the Herodian Second Temple. I suspect the opium poppies were included. Unfortunately this thought entered some branches of Judaism early on as Israel underwent Hellanization. Alexander the Great’s visitation to the Temple likely started it. My prior posts show the numismatic evidence of opium poppyseed use during the Great Revolt against Rome. In Judaism opium use caused the objectification of God. In other words, God became an object of the human will. For the Romans, opium use made one more susceptible to the "will" of the Emperor. For Jews opium use made them susceptible to their own "self will." This is obviously not what God desires.

 

 

 Opium addiction as a cause for the destruction of the Temple

 

 

     Roman governors and corrupt Jewish priests and kings knew the power of opium addiction to control populations. The Romans were masters of observation and likely incorporated unwashed poppy seeds slowly into Jewish worship. What the Jews didn't quite understand was that Rome looked for and engineered "false flag" events as a means to plunder and enslave populations. "Just wars," were as important to Rome as they are today to modern societies.

 

 

     God also became a tool for rebellion against Rome and the political desires of the priests. Poppy seeds instead of becoming a means for control within Judaism resulted in its disintegration. This resulted in unreasonable hatred and infighting with the various factions within Judaism. Idolatry has been a constant source of weakness and failure in the JudeoChristian relationship with God. The snake appears again in the story advocating for the self will against God’s Will. Plants and fruit that affect the "willpower" of the individual are again present in the story. The residents and pilgrims in Jerusalem never believed the Temple would be destroyed. Just like Adam and Eve believed the serpent’s lie, the drug effects of opium poppyseeds would make the Jewish forces believe whatever their own “will” told them. In AD 70 this lie lead to the destruction of Herod’s Temple.

 

 Jewish revolt Opium poppyseed chalice


 

     We see opium symbolism on the Omer cup of the Jewish Revolt. But we see this symbolism continue with the communion chalices of Christianity, namely those which strictly adhere to the actual presence of Jesus in the communion host. The most desirous aspect of humanity is communion with God. Opium is the most desirous and fought over plant in human history. We see this symbolism present in the communion chalice which is now transferred to the experience of communion with God. Yep, opium makes you feel like a god or makes you think you can commune with Him.

 

     I believe there is a comparison of the cornucopia contents with the communion cup. Opium , wine, other alcohols have been used in pagan rites to alter the mind to aid in the worship of nature gods. This is not a discussion of the "transubtantiation doctrine." What it comes down to is what an individual believer thinks about Jesus Christ in their heart on this subject. Man and others have no place between the love of Jesus Christ and a believer. The problem as I talked about previously is domination by others. Wars have been fought and people have died over the above doctrine. Sounds a lot like the reasons people and countries fight over drugs, that is domination of others. In many ways Christ's message is to not sin and walk "with God." He restores the relationship, but we have to carry our cross in this life and follow Him. Don't sin by trying to dominate others. This was the exact opposite message of the Roman Empire.

 

     God always demands the free “will” choice of His Will over ours. Pain and suffering usually directs all but the most hardened souls towards God. Opium falsely takes away spiritual pain and enslaves people to the world powers.

 

     The promise of Jesus Christ is to follow Him in suffering and pain in this life for the promise of reward and communion with God in the next. Opium addiction and the desire for excess use goes against the fundamental teachings of Jesus Christ. Excessive comfort and luxury are the enemies of modern Christianity as they were for ancient Judaism. This is how Rome enslaved and destroyed Temple Judaism. Sound familiar today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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