Hebrew Voices #31 – Josephus, Theocracy, and Devaluing Freedom

Nehemia Gordon voting in Texas 2016.

In this episode of Hebrew Voices, Josephus, Theocracy, and Devaluing Freedom, Nehemia Gordon speaks with Dr. Michael Kochin, an Israeli professor of Political Science at Tel Aviv University, about how to live a Torah-life when ruled by pagans. They look at the 1st Century Jewish historian Josephus Flavius who coined the term "theocracy" to describe the rule of Judea by a council of self-appointed Priests and Pharisees. After the Roman conquest, Josephus struggled with the collision of Jewish Torah values with Greek Philosophy that "deliberately and explicitly sets out to devalue freedom". Josephus ultimately argued that it was still possible to live by the Torah despite the tyranny of Roman rule. Looking forward to reading your comments!

"For God is King of all the earth…” Psalms 47:8[7]

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Guest's Bio
Michael S. Kochin is a political science professor at Tel Aviv University. and has held visiting appointments at Toronto, Princeton, and Yale. He is the author of “Five Chapters on Rhetoric: Character, Action, Things, Nothing, and Art, Gender” and “Rhetoric in Plato's Political Thought”, which won the Outstanding Academic Book award in 2003, and has written many academic articles. Dr. Kochin holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from Harvard University, a Master of Arts from the University of Chicago, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Political Science from the University of Chicago.

Further Reading
The article discussed in this episode is Education After Freedom. Dr. Kochin's other articles include Empire and Freedom in Josephus. Dr. Kochin has also written two books “Five Chapters on Rhetoric: Character, Action, Things, Nothing, and Art” and “Gender and Rhetoric in Plato's Political Thought”.

Josephus - The Complete WorksFive Chapters on Rhetoric Gender and Rhetoric in Plato's Poltical Thought

Verses Mentioned

References in Josephus

Other references

17 thoughts on “Hebrew Voices #31 – Josephus, Theocracy, and Devaluing Freedom

  1. Thank you Nehemia for bringing new information to us. I remember my grandmother talking about Josephus, but I was only taught that he was ‘a historian’ and had the understanding he was very thorough in the accuracy of his writings. The information you provide today helps me see that Josephus was like so many today… writing ‘history’ with an agenda, albeit,Josephus’ agenda was to present the Jews as totally pure, which of course they were not.
    Oh for a society/world that speaks the TRUTH even if it puts someone or some group in a bad light. Who knows but what truth spoken would be the catalyst to said person or group actually changing behavior to be more in line with Torah. Living life without accountability or going unchecked is what leads to people being so far away from Yehovah.

  2. Awesome, awesome, awesome, show!
    I would say in healing on the Sabbath story was made up myself, since Jesus challenged them…which is legal to do good or evil to save a life or take a life on the Sabbath? Surely someone woulda been like “nah! Of course you can do good and stuff what you thinking Jesus!?.”..but, eh who knows great show!

  3. Theocracy/Freedom audio was like sitting in at one of Benjamin Franklin’s philosophical junta gatherings. Great job.

  4. Jacob’s son Joseph and the prophet Daniel also had to practice their religion on a daily basis in pagan societies. What did they do and how did they do it? I’d like to hear more on this subject.

  5. Excellent.

    The topic of whether or not Jewish/Israelite officials were elected came up. I have always wondered how the various levels of judges were selected/affirmed to their post in ancient Israel, as I haven’t found anything yet explaining it.

  6. Thank you for such an interesting discussion.
    Two issues jump out. One about the healing on the Shabbat.

    Lk 14:5 And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?

    The emphasis must be on the word “straightway” Makes sense now! That is the reason, the Pharisees were silent. This means that the Pharisees were proactive when it concerned their animals, but did not permit Jeshua to be proactive with fellow humans?

    The other issue is “Josephus understood the prophecy about the Roman empire according to the book of Daniel”

    Interestingly, according to the book of Daniel, the Roman Empire has divided into two legs, by dividing into the Western and Eastern part, in other words into the Roman and Byzantine Empires..?

    • Dan 2:33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.

      Dan 2:40 And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all [things]: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.

      P.S.Are we at the toes in the history of things?

    • Yes! The gold head = Babylonian empire; silver chest/ arms = Medo-Persian empire; bronze belly/ thighs = Greco/ Macedonian empire; iron legs = east and west division of Roman empire; and iron/ clay toes = 10 nations in loose federation.

  7. Nehemia I love yah man.. Your ok. I don’t care what your parents say. ahahha or your family and old past friends. ahahha sorry,, i know how that is too.. ahah But You are the Most REAL Person I know next to Michael. ahaha Yup, I love every thing you do.. some things I had no idea of.. But I listen and learn.. Your a real blessing, No matter what your title is.. i know you belong to Yahovah, so your my brother… Hugsszz Bro.. Keep Up The Good Work..!!!

  8. I made up my mind quite some time ago that I will live Torah and if need be die for Torah because Yehovah’s Torah reigns and rules!!! And it is not just for the Hebrews but for the foreigners as well.

  9. Shalom, Nehemiah as always you have brought to our attention a topic of great importance and a expert to shed light on our paths before us as we examine the Long Road we have traveled and the study of our Hebrew roots will no doubt prove of great profit to guide us into the unseen future hidden at our backs.

    How many times have we been enslaved but then liberated, set free, redeemed by The Strong Arm of Yehovah our Father, our Strong Tower, our Great Eraser of our own footprints evidence to the trespass, and Yehovah His Highness has looked upon us with compassion.

    The Kettim (romans) are now long gone and no longer constitute a ha satan, that is a barrier to us in guarding and keeping the instructions of Yehovah our High Father, with great joy we should announce His name, His character, His Highness and greater will be our blessing if we clear the Temple Mount.

    As Yehovah lives, so should we
    Alberto Trevino

  10. Ya, Season 2! this is my favorite Pod cast! I love hard corps history, but, this for me is way better. I have in my brain, first sin. The ability to decide right and wrong for myself. Like the people of the bible, I am simple. Yehovah’s Torah gives me wisdom and understanding. I love getting other perspectives, It is like the very best bible study ever. Thank you Nehemia, for giving a platform for me to hear from other perspectives!

  11. Nehemia, sometimes you interview someone and I come away thinking (as I do about you, as well), “Gee, I’d like to inhabit that person’s brain for a while and absorb their understanding”. This was such an interview. Outstanding and fascinating!

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