The Hearing Ear

May 16, 2019

Solomon said, “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, The LORD has made them both” (Pro. 20:12). The NLT reads, “Ears to hear and eyes to see–both are gifts from the LORD.” Much is said in the Bible about using one’s ears to hear, to truly listen, and in particular to hear God’s word; to hear words of wisdom.

Here are some selected texts, for example, from the Proverbs:

2:1 My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you,

3:3 My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands;

4:1 Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention to know understanding;

7:24 Now therefore, listen to me, my children; Pay attention to the words of my mouth:

8:6 Listen, for I will speak of excellent things, And from the opening of my lips will come right things;

8:32 ” Now therefore, listen to me, my children, For blessed are those who keep my ways.

13:1 A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

18:1 A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.

19:20 Listen to counsel and receive instruction, That you may be wise in your latter days.

23:22 Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old.

At Corinth, Greece, there is a museum on site with artifacts from the area. Included are some “offerings” to the healing god Asclepius (spelling varies) which were left at the god’s temple there at Corinth. The idea was that if one had been healed of his/her affliction they would then bring an offering in the form of that body part which had been restored.

Votive offering, an ear. On site museum at Corinth Greece. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Sign explaining the display. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

A fragment on display contains the name of the god. Greek letters transliterate, ASKL.

Sherd with Greek spelling of Asclepius. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

But it wasn’t Asclepius who made the ear, neither could he heal it. I’m put in mind of Paul’s referencing the former lives of the Galatians in their idolatry before they came to know the true God: “But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods” (Gal. 4:8).

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Sanctuary of Asclepius at Athens

January 31, 2015

In biblical times, Asclepius was widely worshiped as the god of healing. As we continue our view down the southern slope of the Athenian acropolis, we can see the remains of the sanctuary of Asclepius.

Athen's Sanctuary of Asclepius, the god of healing. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Sanctuary of Asclepius, the god of healing. Athens, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Fant and Reddish observe, “Above the Stoa of Eumenes, and to the left (west) of the Theater of Dionysus, can be seen the scant remains of the Asclepeion, a center for healing run by the priests of Asclepius. The sacrificial altar remains, but it is difficult to discern amid the various stones currently being stored there” (A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey, p.26). (We should note that when they say “left” it is from the perspective of one who is down from the acropolis. When you’re on the acropolis looking down, the sanctuary would be to your right of the theater of Dionysus–LM). 

We have previous written on Asclepius here and here  regarding the famous healing center at Pergamum. Even in Israel there was a temple devoted to this god.

Planetware.com has this info:

On a narrow terrace above the Stoa of Eumenes, directly under the steep south face of the Acropolis, is the Asklepieion, the sanctuary of the healing god Asklepios, whose cult – initiated largely by Sophocles – was brought to Athens from Epidauros in 420 B.C. The sanctuary is centered on two sacred springs.

The earliest part of the sanctuary lay at the western end of the precinct, where there are the foundations of a stoa and a small temple. A number of herms have been brought together in the stoa. At the west end of the complex is a rectangular system with polygonal walls dating from the same period. To the south is a later cistern.

The buildings in the eastern part of the precinct were erected about 350 B.C. Immediately under the Acropolis rock, here hewn into a vertical face, is a stoa 50m/165ft long, originally two- storyed, designed to accommodate the sick who came here to seek a cure. Associated with it is the cave containing a spring which is still credited with healing powers; and accordingly the cave is now used as a chapel.

Parallel to this stoa, which was rebuilt in Roman times, another stoa was constructed, also in Roman times, on the southern edge of the precinct; of this second stoa some remains survive.
Both stoas faced towards the center of the precinct, in which stood the temple. This was oriented to the east and had four columns along the front (prostylos tetrastylos). The foundations of the temple and the altar which stood in front of it are still to be seen.
In early Christian times a basilica was built over the remains of the temple and the altar, and some architectural fragments from this can be seen lying about the site.

(http://www.planetware.com/athens/asklepieion-gr-ath-askle.htm)

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Asclepian Adjacent to Pool of Bethesda

November 20, 2014

The god Asclepius, the healing god, was widely worshiped in biblical times, especially in Grecian and Roman periods. The Asclepian at Pergamum in Asia Minor was world famous. We’ve previously posted, click here and here on that one.

It may surprise you to know that there was a healing center devoted to this god in Jerusalem, just 100+ yards north of the Herodian temple adjacent to the pool of Bethesda.

Temple to the healing god  Asclepius at Pool of Bethesda. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Temple to the healing god Asclepius at Pool of Bethesda. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This temple dates back to Roman times, but after the ministry of Jesus.

We’ve posted on Bethesda here and here.

Asclepius is also associated with the Egyptian god Serapis (see here and here), Serapis having become one of the most popular deities in the Roman Empire. The yellow placard in photo the above photo in Jerusalem names both identifies this site as “Temple de Serapis” as well as “Asclepian Temple.”

Serapis, Egyptian god of healing, assimilated by Romans. Photo by Leon Mauldin. Metro Museum NY.

Serapis, Egyptian god of healing, assimilated by Romans. Photo by Leon Mauldin. Metro Museum NY.

Paul would write the Corinthians, “For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” (1 Cor. 8:5-6).

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At Pergamum, the god Asclepius

May 25, 2010

We have been looking at the biblical city of Pergamum, the city where one of the seven churches of Asia (Rev. 2-3) was located.  Our last post featured photos from the Asklepieion, where the god of healing, Asclepius, was worshiped. There were other famous temples dedicated to this medicine god at Epidaurus in north-eastern Peloponnese, also on the island of Kos, as well as Trikala, and Gortys.

This photo is a statue of  Asclepius on display at the Athens Museum.  Notice the serpent intertwined on his staff.

Asclepius. Athens Museum. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The museum at Pergamum, modern Bergama, displays a serpent, symbol of Asclepius, along with votive offerings left by those who traveled there for healing.

Serpent, symbol of Asclepius. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Here is a shot of body parts, left as votive offerings to the god Asclepius.

Body Parts, as Votive Offerings for Asclepius. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Temples devoted to Asclepius served a dual purpose, as not only a place of worship for the god, but also a luxury health spa of sorts, i.e., supposedly a healing center.

The patients would travel through the sacred passageway, seen in photo below.

Sacred Passageway. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

You see the openings which let in light.  Also it is suggested that “physicians” may have spoken down to the patients as they moved through the passageway, speaking encouragement with their incantations, etc.

Asklepieion Sacred Passageway, top. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

When Jesus wrote the church at Pergamum, He described the Christians there as dwelling “where Satan’s throne is” (Rev. 2:13).  Some see in that a specific reference to Asclepius, with his serpent symbol. Satan appeared in the Garden of Eden in the form of a serpent.  He is called “that serpent of old, the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world” (Rev. 12:8; cf. 2 Cor. 11:3).  Others suggest that Jesus is referring to the prominent worship of Zeus there at Pergamum. Still others would say that it is Pergamum’s position as a center for imperial worship that is under consideration.  Not to mention Bacchus, the wine god!  It is possible that Jesus had in mind specifically  one of these false systems, but it may well be that it is a combination of all of the above that gave rise to His description.

It is instructive to consider what Jesus does NOT tell the church to do.  He doesn’t tell them to pack their bags and move to some other location where it would be easier to live the Christian life.  He expected them to be faithful where they were, to be lights in that world of darkness, to do what was right, even when they lived next door to Satan!

Asclepius