Monday, March 7, 2016

Enigmas from Jesus and Cyrus the Great

There was once a fisherman, who wanted to see the fish in the sea dance.  Day after day, he would go to the beach and play the flute for them.  When at length he saw that the fish wouldn't jump out of the sea, he lost his patience, grabbed a net, threw it in the water and dragged the fish on shore. And then when they were flopping around on the beach, he exclaimed:  "See you would not dance for me when I played my tune, but you dance for me now." [1]

Spoken like a true noble, the above is what Cyrus the Great said to an envoy of Greek-Ionians who lived in on the eastern coast of Anatolia (Asia Minor or Modern Day Turkey), after they changed their minds about allying with Cyrus. Prior to Cyrus conquering wealthy and well fortified Sardis led by King Croesus, Cyrus asked the Ionians if they would ally with him and his army. They refused thinking that Cyrus would not be able to take Sardis.  Cyrus took Sardis in 14 days, and afterwards the Greeks came back asking if they could join him in which he replied with the above.

Interestingly, this sort of enigma is similar to what Jesus said in rebuke of the Jews:

But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplace, who, calling out to their companions, say: ‘We played music for you, and you did not dance. We lamented, and you did not mourn.’

The music represents the joy of Jesus preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom.  The lamentation represents the gravity of John the Baptist preaching repentance for the nearness of the Kingdom.  The lack of dancing and mourning represents the lack of response on the part of the Jews at the time, and by extension all times.  

[1] this anecdote is taken from Reza Zharghamee's lecture promoting his book Discovering Cyrus:  The Persian Conqueror astride the Ancient World.  He is the foremost Cyrus scholar in the world.

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