Judaism and research

Judaism symbols

Judaism’s centerpiece is the oral law, not the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God.  It’s a long story, and many books and articles of research, but that’s what it takes to be a writer of Biblical fiction. Understanding the time and culture.is important, but then being selective about the books or articles is important. One of the books I bought turned out to be all about Judaism, not the way of life Jesus Christ said it should be. This makes research more of a challenge, which is why using the accounts in the Bible as a framework is important. So why write about Judaism? Because most sites giving information about early Christianity are, in fact, giving misinformation. Judaism was not what was practiced by the early Christians.

Judaism, the ‘traditions of men.’

That’s how Jesus described it, recorded in Mark 7: 7-9

They worship Me in vain; they teach as doctrine the precepts of men.’ You have disregarded the commandment of God to keep the tradition of men.” He went on to say, “You neatly set aside the command of God to maintain your own tradition…
Berean Study Bible.   https://biblehub.com/bsb/mark/7.htm

Judaism developed entirely from the teachings of the Pharisees; the ones to whom Jesus addressed His comment. Moreover, He warned His disciples about them, pointing out how the sect typically taught one thing, but practised another.

“But do not do according to their works, for they say and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and [those which are] hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of men; but they [themselves] will not move them with [even] one of their own fingers” (Matt. 23:3-4).


What does this have to do with research?

As mentioned in the last blog, https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/accuracy-in-biblical-fiction-important/ knowing the culture and the facts can be helpful. For example the Bible is a better source than some, even ‘important’ sites in the online world. Look at this for example… https://www.britannica.com/topic/Judaism

It’s a long article, but it is wrong. How could Abraham be the ‘founder’ of Judaism?

Judah, from whom the name comes, was the great-grandson of the patriarch.

Judaism from Judah

Judaism is where most research stops

A friend gifted me a copy of the Code of Jewish Law. I see what Jesus meant when He said,
“For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.”
Matthew 23: 4 KJV


One of my bought for research books, ‘Jerusalem in the time of JESUS’ is one such example. It is the Pharisaic Jerusalem. I wanted what it was really like, not only one ‘party.’



A friend gifted me a copy of the Code of Jewish Law. I see what Jesus meant when He said,
“For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.”
Matthew 23: 4 KJV

You will find more on this subject in a previous blog https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/is-judaism-the-law-of-moses/

Judaism is a part, but not the whole of Biblical history

It is important to know the difference in order to achieve accuracy in research, just as it is important to know other aspects of the culture. Our time and culture has changed since those days, and the meanings of words have changed. So has our understanding.


Betrothal or engagement

I heard a minister describe a betrothal as equivalent to an engagement. Not so. We can break an engagement, but a betrothal required a divorce. In those times a betrothal was equivalent to marriage, and marriage was binding.

There are many other words which no longer have the meaning the Bible writers intended.

Happy hunting


Father’s Day, Australia

Father's Day Australia in spring

Father’s Day in Australia is on Sunday 6th September. Well, this year it was. It falls each year on the first Sunday in September. Mother’s Day is on the second Sunday in May.

There are many ‘picky’ comments about why the day is celebrated on different days in the countries that ‘keep’ it, however, in this post, I will look at the origin. At the same time, I recognize that this is not a ‘happy’ time for many children, or fathers. Although it is another subject,  I wanted to recognize this fact.

Origin of Father’s Day

“In May of 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Wash., sat in church listening to a Mother’s Day sermon. She decided she wanted to designate a day for her dad , William Jackson Smart. Dodd’s mother had died in childbirth, and Dodd’s father, a Civil War veteran, had taken the responsibility of singlehandedly raising the newborn and his other five children.

The following year, Dodd wanted to celebrate Father’s Day on June 5th, her father’s birthday, and petitioned for the holiday to be recognized in her city.”
Read more

Father’s Day, Australia

There is no definitive explanation why Father’s Day is celebrated in Australia and New Zealand on the first Sunday in September, though it is clear that the custom of the September date began in the mid 1930s.

An article in the Western Herald in 1964 said the day was officially designated as the first Sunday in September across the Commonwealth in 1964 and that the date was chosen for commercial reasons to distance it from other celebrations. This is similar to the date selected in Scandanavia, where November was also chosen to maximise its commercial value.
Read more

Jumping back in time

Could this be the start?

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord God gives you.
Exodus 20.12

And in case you read over it without paying too much attention, as we are often prone to do… here is another way of looking at it…

God says in Leviticus 20 verse 9…

“For every one that curses his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be on him.”

Therefore it is clear that God’s instruction in the 5th commandment to honor parents was not a mere suggestion for children.


Fathers and children

Here is a recognition for you…


Happy Father's Day, Australia

Tread softly, and remember we are not wearing their shoes.


Bonfire Night


Bonfire night was celebrated when I was young in Scotland. As it took place on the 5th November the weather was not always conducive to burning wood, which at that time of year was often damp, if not wet. Therefore it entailed planning. On a suitable open space, and there were many when I was young, the ‘bones’ of the bonfire were set. Nearer the time, twigs were collected as kindling. Old clothing was also needed, and either straw or newspaper.

In those days we could also explode fireworks.

fireworks on bonfire night

There were sparklers, and penny rockets – which would be launched from empty pint glass milk bottles. Catherine wheels might be nailed to a fence, if there was one nearby. Then there were the ‘bangers.’ I think the only people who liked ‘bangers’ were the people who lit them, dropped them on the ground and watched people jump in shock.

Bonfire night was a community affair, although if your ‘community’ did not build a bonfire, you could still have your own family celebration with fireworks.

So, what is Bonfire Night

There are a number of ‘bonfire night’ celebrations or commemorations, but the one I remember as a child was also called Guy Fawkes Night. The clothes were ‘stuffed’ and someone made a ‘head’ to make an effigy called ‘the guy.’

There’s a ‘ditty’ we used to chant…

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

After that there are different verses that may be included. One goes:

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, ’twas his intent
To blow up the King and the Parliament
Three score barrels of powder below
Poor old England to overthrow
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match
Holler boys, holler boys, let the bells ring
Holler boys, holler boys, God save the King!

But Guy Fawkes was only one of the thirteen conspirators, and depending upon which account you read, Guy (or Guido) Fawkes was a mercenary they hired to set off the explosion.

Why did they want to blow up the British parliament?

Well, they were Roman Catholics and James 1 (or James IV of Scotland) was on the throne, a Protestant king.

The plot was centred around a group of Roman Catholic revolutionaries furious at the persecution of their faith in England.

(Lots of history and information here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes)

In short, they had hoped for better treatment from the new monarch James I after 45 years of hounding under the reign of Elizabeth I, and decided on drastic measures when things did not improve under his reign.

Warwickshire-born Catholic Robert Catesby and his friends planned kill the King, his ministers and scores of nobles by blowing up the Palace of Westminster during the State Opening of Parliament on November 5, 1605.

The plotters rented a house nearby and managed to smuggle 36 barrels of gunpowder – around 2.5 tons – into a cellar under the palace ready to blow it sky high.

The explosives were discovered with hours to spare after an anonymous tip-off warning one peer to stay away.

To this day the cellars under the Houses of Parliament are ceremonially searched before the annual State Opening.

Crispijn van de Passe the Elder [Public domain]

Although some would say Guy Fawkes was the ‘fall guy’ for the group, he is the one who is (or was) burnt in effigy on bonfires throughout Britain on the 5th November.

That is the Bonfire Night tradition I remember.

Execution of the plotters…

Had nothing to do with bonfires, or burning at the stake. The sentence was that they be hung, drawn and quartered. (Penalty for high treason in those days.)

“To be hanged, drawn and quartered was a punishment in England used for men found guilty of high treason. The full punishment was made up of the following – the victim was: Dragged, usually by a horse, on a wooden frame to the place where he was to be publicly put to death. This is one possible meaning of drawn.”


Well, tradition very rarely is truth. Sometimes there is a kernel of truth somewhere, but the tradition of burning a ‘guy’ on a bonfire because Guy Fawkes was blamed for something thirteen conspirators did is stretching the imagination.

But that’s tradition for you. It doesn’t need to make sense, you ‘do’ it because you always have.

The first in the tradition series started last week with Tammuz, but it only introduced it, didn’t explain it. Maybe next week.

Have a wonderful week,