Parable of the Patches and Wineskins

“…But the Romans were very joyful, since none of the seditious could now make sallies out of the city, because they were themselves disconsolate, and the famine already touched them also. These Romans besides had great plenty of corn… many of whom would stand near to the wall of the city, and show the people what great quantities of provisions they had, and so make the enemy more sensible of their famine, by the great plenty, even to satiety, which they had themselves. However, when the seditious still showed no inclinations of yielding, Titus, out of his commiseration of the people that remained, and out of his earnest desire of rescuing what was still left out of these miseries, began to raise his banks again.”

– Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 5, 12:4

“Hereupon some of the deserters {under the rebel leader John;}, having no other way, leaped down from the wall immediately, while others of them went out of the city with stones, as if they would fight them; but thereupon they fled away to the Romans. But here a worse fate accompanied these than what they had found within the city; and they met with a quicker despatch from the too great abundance they had among the Romans {like as if they were at a wedding or something;}, than they could have done from the famine among the Jews; for when they came first to the Romans, they were puffed up by the famine, and swelled like men in a dropsy {an old term for the swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water;} after which they all on the sudden overfilled those bodies that were before empty, and so burst asunder, excepting such only as were skillful enough to restrain their appetites, and by degrees took in their food into bodies unaccustomed thereto. Yet did another plague seize upon those that were thus preserved; for there was found among the Syrian deserters a certain person who was caught gathering pieces of gold out of the excrements of the Jews’ bellies; for the deserters used to swallow such pieces of gold, as we told you before, when they came out, and for these did the seditious search them all; for there was a great quantity of gold in the city, insomuch that as much was now sold [in the Roman camp] for twelve Attic [drams], as was sold before for twenty-five. But when this contrivance was discovered in one instance, the fame of it filled their several camps, that the deserters came to them full of gold. So the multitude of the Arabians, with the Syrians, cut up those that came as supplicants, and searched their bellies. Nor does it seem to me that any misery befell the Jews that was more terrible than this, since in one night’s time about two thousand of these deserters were thus dissected… But as for John, when he could no longer plunder the people, he betook himself to sacrilege, and melted down many of the sacred utensils, which had been given to the temple…”

– Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 5, 13:4-6

So the Romans had such a great abundance “even to satiety” while the rebels, lead by John, whom Josephus kept trying to instruct in the ways of God, were starving to death.  We find the exact same story in the canonical Gospels where Jesus gives us advice on how to not kill people suffering under a famine:

Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they  put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved {both the gold and the food;}.”

– Matthew 9:14-17 (same as Luke 5:33-38, Mark 2:18-22)

These two passages tell almost exactly the same story. In the siege of Jerusalem, John was one of the leaders of the rebellion. The people under him were undergoing an extreme famine and many were dying. Some of them escaped and went over to the Romans and got food. In the book of Matthew, the disciples of John came to Jesus and asked him why they had to fast so much, I guess they were hungry. If Jesus represents here either Josephus or Titus then these are so far exactly the same story because Jesus is on the side of the Romans so they were likely to see Josephus. But then Josephus tells us that those deserters who came over to the Romans met with “too great abundance among the Romans”, so Jesus compares that to a wedding, the main place where you have too great abundance and says “Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them?”, so still pretty much the same story, the disciples of John came to Jesus and were wondering why they had to fast while the Romans got to eat like they were at a wedding or something. Then Josephus tells us that those hungry Jews ate too much and “they all on the sudden overfilled those bodies that were before empty, and so burst asunder” and Jesus tells us about wineskins being over filled and breaking and the wine running out. These are still the exact same story! Then Josephus tells us that those who were able to resist their hunger and not over eat were “preserved” and so Jesus tells us that we should put new wine into new bottles and both will be “preserved”. These are the exact same story, just that the one in the NT never made any sense until just now. But once you understand that they are almost down to every single story detail the same story, then you can understand the fine differences which makes satire. For example, Jesus seems to be telling us that we should not put any wine in those old wineskins, it would be a waste to give it to those dying Jews. That is the hidden meaning to understand why Jesus tells the parable of the wineskins bursting exactly at the place where John’s disciples come over to Jesus and ask why they have to fast all the time but the followers of Jesus don’t. Since Jesus mostly represents Josephus, it seems to be suggesting that Josephus had that attitude of fuck those rebellious Jews just let them die. Which is a take-away message you get from Josephus all the time.

“Jesus said, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you. If you do not have that within you, what you do not have within you [will] kill you.”

– Thomas 1:70


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