Pool of Bethesda and the Red Sea Scrolls

The Bible mentions in John 5:4 the pool of Bethesda where the sick and dying would gather and wait for an angel to come down and trouble the waters. The first person into the waters would then be healed.

bethesdaJesus healing the lame man at the pool of Bethesda.

In May of 1967, sixty-one manuscripts dating back to Bible times were found near the Red Sea, hence the name the Red Sea Scrolls. These manuscripts and letters shed light on some of the events surrounding the pool of Bethesda. Below is an excerpt from one of the letters.

“A woman by the name of Eunice passed by the pool in the heat of the day, and she was fair to look upon.

Astonished by her beauty, a young man fell into the pool and troubled the waters. The people round about the pool believed that it was the angel of the Lord who had stirred the waters. The servants cast their lame, deaf, and blind masters into the pool to be healed.

The young man then stood in the pool and declared that it was he who had troubled the waters and not the angel of the Lord. Stricken, the servants mourned for their masters who had drowned.”

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The Real George Washington

Recent research has exposed that the Father of the United States, General George Washington, oversaw a vast network of spies during the American Revolution, but he was also one of the weakest field generals in American history. Even more startling, he was a master of lies and deceit.

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(Photo Copyright: The National Geographic Channel)

We’d love to, but we can’t take credit for these finds. Our fellow historians at the National Geographic Channel beat us to the story. The Real George Washington will air on the National Geographic Channel on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 9pm.

Alexander the Great’s Undoing: A Flat Earth

Alexander the Great, one of the greatest military commanders in history, conquered the majority of civilization after his ascendancy to the throne of Macedon in 336 BC. His men, however, would not continue into the relatively unknown region of present-day India.

Historians have often speculated why Alexander’s men refused to continue. Was the Ganges River was too formidable an obstacle? Did the men simply want to go home after over a decade in the field? No. The real reason is far simpler: His men believed the earth was flat.

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Alexander’s men had no intention of ending up like this.

Legendary Greek scholar and scientist Aristotle was Alexander’s personal tutor as a young man, impressing him with an appreciation for new ideas and a mind for scientific inquiry. Through this teaching Alexander had been convinced that the earth was indeed round. The average Macedonian soldier, however, was usually steeped in the superstition prevalent in most ancient cultures and knew only of a flat earth.

The men had seen far too much success with Alexander to rebel openly, but their mood changed as they proceeded further east toward unknown lands. The tipping point for the men came with the discovery of a cache of crude placards on which were engraved the words, “The world is flat like an open-faced gyro.” With no other choice, Alexander conceded and quietly ordered his army south, instead of further east.

picture-21Boy prodigy, military genius, scientific martyr?

The idea of a round earth was frighteningly new, and therefore, doubtless offensive to the gods of the Persian court, which had allied with Alexander several years earlier. Details of the Persian conspiracy against Alexander remain thin, but the fact remains that Alexander died unexpectedly on June 11, 323 BC in the palace of Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon, almost certainly by poison.

Captain Kidd’s Alliterations

Tales of Captain William Kidd often tell of his cruel deeds committed on the high seas during the late 17th century. Few tales, however, acknowledge his uncanny knack for speaking and writing in alliterations and rhymes.

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Captain Kidd – as he demanded to be called because of the alliteration – noticed signs of laziness among his ship’s crewmen in 1696, so he designed a series of linguistic exercises which we now know as tongue twisters. When recited these exercises sharpened the minds of Kidd’s men, helping them perform better while also lifting their spirits. One that was found in Captain Kidd’s diary went as follows:

The seething seas ceaseth
and twiceth the seething seas sufficeth us.

One of the most famous tongue twisters Captain Kidd wrote came after he relieved a ship of its precious cargo near Madagascar. He and a few of his men then took the treasure to a remote island where they buried the goods. Kidd would typically kill all of the men who buried the treasures, but this time a man got away from the murderous, yet poetic, captain. This event inspired Kidd to write the famous tongue twister that goes like this:

Round the rugged rock the ragged rascal ran.

A study in the life of Captain Kidd is entertaining, but ultimately it is a tragic study. He was hanged on May 23, 1701, at ‘Execution Dock’ in London for murder and five counts of piracy. His personal belongings were given to First Mate Peter Piper.

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For more about Captain Kidd, visit our friends at the National Geographic Channel. Kidd had abandoned the Quedagh Merchant ship loaded with valuables, and its location was left a mystery. Shipwreck! will be airing on Tuesday, November 18 at 9PM. (Photo courtesy of Indiana University)

This Week’s Caption Contest

Now one of the most visited pages of the TheHistoryBluff.com, the caption contest is back with a picture of President Richard Nixon. The person who submits the winning caption will receive a The History Bluff bookmark.

Last week’s winner, R. Todd, will be receiving his this week. He is to be envied.

Caption Contest Winner Announced

Fridays should be relaxed, and we honor that. It’s not often that we show our humorous side here, but we will today with our caption contest. This week’s winner was R. Todd. Below is his winning caption.

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Dude, seriously, does this look cancerous?

The Arrest of Helen Keller

By 1953, Helen Keller had attained nationwide fame as a celebrated author and the first deafblind person to graduate from college. Her celebrity earned her a visit to the White House to speak with President Eisenhower, during which she was arrested.

At the outset of her meeting with the President, Helen began a technique of communication she had learned at an early age: She touched the President’s lips and throat in order to communicate with him. However, the Secret Service agents assigned to President Eisenhower had not been notified of Keller’s communication technique; the agents rushed Helen and threw her to the ground. Before the President could stop the arrest, an agent rattled off the Miranda Rights which stated that Keller had the right to remain silent.

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Because of federal laws, Keller was taken to a holding cell after her arrest despite the pleas of Eisenhower and Keller’s companions. She spent the night and was allowed to leave the following afternoon after the charges of assault and battery were dropped.

In a letter to the White House staff, Keller forgave them for failing to alert the proper personnel of who she was and how she communicated. In the letter she displayed her wry sense of humor by saying, “…I will also forgive the agents who, for the lack of a better term, blind-sided me.”