Thursday, 18 May 2017

Yeshu, Theraputae of Asclepius - a Jewish Physician in Egypt

Philo of Alexandria (Hebrew: ידידיה הכהן‎‎, Yedidia HaCohen; c. 20 BCE – c. 50 CE), also called Philo Judaeus, was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher who lived in Alexandria, in the Roman province of Egypt.

According to Philo, the Therapeutae of Asclepius were widely distributed in the Ancient world, among the Greeks and beyond in the non-Greek world of the "Barbarians", with one of their major gathering points being in Alexandria, Egypt in the area of the Lake Mareotis:

" Now this class of persons may be met with in many places, for it was fitting that both Greece and the country of the barbarians should partake of whatever is perfectly good; and there is the greatest number of such men in Egypt, in every one of the districts, and especially around Alexandria; and from all quarters those who are the best of these Therapeutae proceed on their pilgrimage to some most suitable place as if it were their country, which is beyond the Maereotic lake. — De Vita Contemplativa
They lived chastely with utter simplicity; they "first of all laid down temperance as a sort of foundation for the soul to rest upon, proceed to build up other virtues on this foundation" (Philo).

They were dedicated to the Contemplative Life, and their activities for six days of the week consisted of ascetic practices, fasting, solitary prayers and the study of the De Vita Contemplativa, para. 28
scriptures in their isolated cells, each with its separate holy sanctuary, and enclosed courtyard: the entire interval from dawn to evening is given up by them to spiritual exercises. For they read the holy scriptures and draw out in thought and allegory their ancestral philosophy, since they regard the literal meanings as symbols of an inner and hidden nature revealing itself in covert ideas. — 

In addition to the Pentateuch, the Prophets and Psalms they possessed arcane writings of their own tradition, including formulae for numerological and allegorical interpretations.
They renounced property and followed severe discipline: These men abandon their property without being influenced by any predominant attraction, and flee without even turning their heads back again. — De Vita Contemplativa para.18

They "professed an art of healing superior to that practiced in the cities" Philo notes, and the reader must be reminded of the reputation as a healer Saint Anthony possessed among his 4th-De Vita Contemplativa, para.70) and sing antiphonal hymns until dawn.
century contemporaries, who flocked out from Alexandria to reach him. On the seventh day the Therapeutae met in a meeting house, the men on one side of an open partition, the women modestly on the other, to hear discourses. Once in seven weeks they meet for a night-long vigil after a banquet where they served one another, for "they are not waited on by slaves, because they deem any possession of servants whatever to be contrary to nature. For she has begotten all men alike free" (

The term Therapeutae (plural) is Latin, from Philo's Greek plural Therapeutai (Θεραπευταί). The term therapeutes means one who is attendant to the gods although the term, and the related adjective therapeutikos carry in later texts the meaning of attending to heal, or treating in a spiritual or medical sense. The Greek feminine plural Therapeutrides (Θεραπευτρίδες) is sometimes encountered for their female members. The term therapeutae may occur in relation to followers of Asclepius at Pergamon, and therapeutai may also occur in relation to worshippers of Sarapis in inscriptions, such as on Delos. See Therapeutae of Asclepius

Asclepius (/æsˈkliːpiəs/; Greek: Ἀσκληπιός, Asklēpiós [asklɛːpiós]; Latin: Aesculapius) was a hero and God of Medicine in ancient Greek religion and mythology. Asclepius represents the healing aspect of the medical arts; his daughters are Hygieia ("Hygiene", the goddess/personification of health, cleanliness, and sanitation), Iaso (the goddess of recuperation from illness), Aceso (the goddess of the healing process), Aglæa/Ægle (the goddess of beauty, splendor, glory, magnificence, and adornment), and Panacea (the goddess of universal remedy). He was associated with the Roman/Etruscan god Vediovis and the Egyptian Imhotep. He was one of Apollo's sons, sharing with Apollo the epithet Paean ("the Healer"). The Rod of Asclepius, a snake-entwined staff, remains a symbol of medicine today. Those physicians and attendants who served this god were known as the Theraputae of Aslepius whose symbol is the Serpent wrapped around a pole.

This Symbol is linked to the Nehushtan, a sacred object consisting of a serpent wrapped around a pole mentioned in the Bible in the Book of Numbers (Numbers 21:5–9). The section in the Book of Numbers reads as follows:

5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. 6 And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. 7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent

had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.[15] — 

King Hezekiah later destroyed the bronze serpent, which, by that time, had existed for 700 years, because it was being worshiped (2 Kings 18:4).

This is consistent with the claim in the New Testament of the Bible that Jesus also delivers believers from eternal death in the passage found in John 3:14

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up:  That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:14

The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged

The Temple of Asclepius at the Borghese Gardens in Rome by Pope Paul V - Camillo Borghese. In 1605, Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V and patron of Bernini, began turning this former vineyard into the most extensive gardens built in Rome since Antiquity. The vineyard's site is identified with the gardens of Lucullus, the most famous in the late Roman republic. In the 19th century much of the garden's former formality was remade as a landscape garden in the English taste. The Villa Borghese gardens were long informally open, but were bought by the commune of Rome and given to the public in 1903. The large landscape park in the English taste contains several villas. The Spanish Steps lead up to this park, and there is another entrance at the Porte del Popolo by Piazza del Popolo. The Pincio (the Pincian Hill of ancient Rome), in the south part of the park, offers one of the greatest views over Rome.

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