The Kidron Valley is the valley on the eastern side of the Old City of Jerusalem, separating the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives. It continues east through the Judean desert in the West Bank, towards the Dead Sea, descending 4,000 feet along its 20-mile course; the ancient Mar Saba monastery is located in the lower part of the valley. In its upper part, the neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz bears the valley's Arabic name; the settlement Kedar, located on a ridge above the valley, is named after the valley's Hebrew name. The Hebrew Bible calls the upper course Emek Yehoshafat, the "Valley of Josaphat", it appears in Jewish eschatologic prophecies, which include the return of Elijah, followed by the arrival of the Messiah, the War of Gog and Magog and Judgment Day. The upper Kidron Valley holds Jerusalem's most important cemetery from the First Temple period, the Silwan necropolis, assumed to have been used by the highest-ranking officials residing in the city, with rock-cut tombs dating between the 9th and 7th centuries BCE.
The upper Kidron Valley segment north of the Old City was one of the main burial grounds of Jerusalem in the Second Temple period, where hundreds of tombs have survived until today, while the segment east of, opposite the Temple Mount, boasts several excellently preserved monumental tombs from the same period. Several of the Second Temple period tombs were used in time, either as burial or as shelters for hermits and monks of the large monastic communities which inhabited the Kidron Valley during the Byzantine period; the ancient tombs in this area attracted the attention of ancient travelers, most notably Benjamin of Tudela. A source of confusion is the fact that the modern name "Kidron Valley" applies to the entire length of a long wadi, which starts north of the Old City of Jerusalem and ends at the Dead Sea, while the biblical names Nahal Kidron, Emek Yehoshafat, King’s Valley etc. might refer to certain parts of this valley located in the immediate vicinity of ancient Jerusalem, but not to the entire wadi, not to the long segment crossing the Judean desert.
In Arabic every more substantial wadi has many names, each applied to a certain distinct segment of its course. The Hebrew name Qidron is derived from the root qadar, "to be dark", may be meant in this context as "dusky". In Christian tradition the similarity between the Greek word for cedar, κέδρος, the Greek name of the valley as used in the Septuagint, has led to the Qidron Valley being wrongly called "Valley of the Cedars"; the Hebrew Bible talks of the "Valley of Jehoshaphat - Emek Yehoshafat", meaning "The valley where Yahweh shall judge." Not all scholars agree with the traditional view that the Kidron Valley, as the valley situated between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives to the east, is the location of the Valley of Jehoshaphat. The Kidron Valley was not associated with the Valley of Jehoshaphat until the 4th century AD, making this identification somewhat uncertain since no actual valley of this name is known to pre-Christian antiquity. Biblical commentator Adam Clarke claims. In the times of the Old Testament kings, the Kidron Valley was identified with, at least in part, the King's Garden.
That the upper Kidron Valley was known as the King's Valley, in which Absalom set up his monument or "pillar", is problematic. The Bible does not make this identification explicit, the association can only be inferred as associated with En-rogel, farther down the Kidron Valley towards the desert; the name'King’s Valley' may be derived from its location just east of the palace of David in the City of David on the western slopes of the Kidron Valley and south of where the platform was built. The three monumental tombs on the eastern side of the Kidron Valley are among the most well-known landmarks of ancient Jerusalem; these are, from north to south, the so-called "Tomb of Absalom", which rises in front of the so-called "Cave" or "Tomb of Jehoshaphat", the Tomb of Benei Hezir, the so-called "Tomb of Zechariah", which could quite be the nefesh of the Tomb of Benei Hezir. Absalom's Tomb consists of two parts. First, a lower cube hewn out of the bedrock, decorated with engaged Ionic columns bearing a Doric frieze and crowned by an Egyptian cornice.
This part of the monument contains a small chamber with an entrance and two arcosolia and constitutes the actual tomb. The second part, built of ashlars, is placed on top of the rock-hewn cube, it consists of a square pedestal carrying a round drum, itself topped by a conical roof. The cone is concave and is crowned by an Egyptian-style lotus flower; the upper part has the general shape of a tholos and is interpreted as a nefesh or monument for the tomb below, also for the adjacent "Cave of Jehoshaphat". The "Pillar of Absalom" is dated to the 1st century CE; the word nefesh means'soul', but in a funerary context it is the term applied to a form of funerary monument. In descriptions of the tombs of the Jewish nobility, the pyramid shape is emphasized as the mark of a tomb; this would imply that pyramid were synonymous. The Jewish tombs in the Kidron Valley are the best examples of this form of nefesh, they ap
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was a Jewish itinerant preacher in the early first century AD. Other titles for John include John the Forerunner in Eastern Christianity and "the prophet John" in Islam. To clarify the meaning of "Baptist", he is sometimes alternatively called John the Baptizer. John the Baptist is mentioned by the Jewish historian Josephus and revered as a major religious figure in Christianity, the Bahá'í Faith, Mandaeism, he is called a prophet by all of these faiths, is honored as a saint in many Christian traditions. According to the New Testament, John anticipated a messianic figure greater than himself and Christians refer to John as the precursor or forerunner of Jesus, since John announces Jesus' coming. John is identified as the spiritual successor of the prophet Elijah. According to the New Testament John the Baptist was Jesus Christ's cousin; some scholars maintain that John was influenced by the semi-ascetic Essenes, who expected an apocalypse and practiced rituals corresponding with baptism, although no direct evidence substantiates this.
John used baptism as the central sacrament of his messianic movement. Most scholars agree that John baptized Jesus and some scholars believe Jesus was a follower or disciple of John; the New Testament texts in which John is mentioned portray him as rejecting this idea, although several New Testament accounts report that some of Jesus' early followers had been followers of John. John was sentenced to death and subsequently beheaded by Herod Antipas sometime between 28 and 36 AD after John rebuked him for divorcing his wife and unlawfully taking Herodias, the wife of his brother Herod Philip I. John the Baptist is mentioned in all four canonical Gospels and the non-canonical Gospel of the Nazarenes; the Synoptic Gospels describe John baptising Jesus. The Gospel of Mark introduces John as a fulfilment of a prophecy from the Book of Isaiah about a messenger being sent ahead, a voice crying out in the wilderness. John is described as living on locusts and wild honey. John proclaims baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin, says another will come after him who will not baptize with water, but with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus comes to John, is baptized by him in the river Jordan. The account describes how. A voice from heaven says, "You are my Son, the Beloved. In the gospel there is an account of John's death, it is introduced by an incident where the Tetrarch Herod Antipas, hearing stories about Jesus, imagines that this is John the Baptist raised from the dead. It explains that John had rebuked Herod for marrying Herodias, the ex-wife of his brother. Herodias demands his execution, but Herod, who'liked to listen' to John, is reluctant to do so because he fears him, knowing he is a'righteous and holy man'; the account describes how Herod's daughter Herodias dances before Herod, pleased and offers her anything she asks for in return. When the girl asks her mother what she should request, she is told to demand the head of John the Baptist. Reluctantly, Herod orders the beheading of John, his head is delivered to her, at her request, on a plate. John's disciples bury it in a tomb. There are a number of difficulties with this passage.
The Gospel refers to Antipas as'King' and the ex-husband of Herodias is named as Philip, but he is known to have been called Herod. Although the wording implies the girl was the daughter of Herodias, many texts describe her as "Herod's daughter, Herodias". Since these texts are early and significant and the reading is'difficult', many scholars see this as the original version, corrected in versions and in Matthew and Luke. Josephus says. Scholars have speculated about the origins of the story. Since it shows signs of having been composed in Aramaic, which Mark did not speak, he is to have got it from a Palestinian source. There are a variety of opinions about how much actual historical material it contains given the alleged factual errors. Many scholars have seen the story of John arrested and buried in a tomb as a conscious foreshadowing of the fate of Jesus; the Gospel of Matthew account begins with the same modified quotation from Isaiah, moving the Malachi and Exodus material to in the text, where it is quoted by Jesus.
The description of John is taken directly from Mark, along with the proclamation that one was coming who would baptise with the Holy Spirit "and fire". Unlike Mark, Matthew describes John as critical of Pharisees and Sadducees and as preaching "the kingdom of heaven is at hand" and a "coming judgment". Matthew shortens the account of the beheading of John, adds two elements: that Herod Antipas wants John dead, that the death is reported to Jesus by his disciples. Matthew's approach is to shift the focus away onto John as a prototype of Jesus. Where Mark has Herod killing John reluctantly and at Herodias' insistence, Matthew describes him
Jerusalem is a city in the Middle East, located on a plateau in the Judaean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, is considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions—Judaism and Islam. Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim Jerusalem as their capital, as Israel maintains its primary governmental institutions there and the State of Palestine foresees it as its seat of power. During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed at least twice, besieged 23 times and recaptured 44 times, attacked 52 times; the part of Jerusalem called the City of David shows first signs of settlement in the 4th millennium BCE, in the shape of encampments of nomadic shepherds. Jerusalem was named as "Urusalim" on ancient Egyptian tablets meaning "City of Shalem" after a Canaanite deity, during the Canaanite period. During the Israelite period, significant construction activity in Jerusalem began in the 9th century BCE, in the 8th century the city developed into the religious and administrative center of the Kingdom of Judah.
In 1538, the city walls were rebuilt for a last time around Jerusalem under Suleiman the Magnificent. Today those walls define the Old City, traditionally divided into four quarters—known since the early 19th century as the Armenian, Christian and Muslim Quarters; the Old City became a World Heritage Site in 1981, is on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Since 1860 Jerusalem has grown far beyond the Old City's boundaries. In 2015, Jerusalem had a population of some 850,000 residents, comprising 200,000 secular Jewish Israelis, 350,000 Haredi Jews and 300,000 Palestinians. In 2011, the population numbered 801,000, of which Jews comprised 497,000, Muslims 281,000, Christians 14,000 and 9,000 were not classified by religion. According to the Bible, King David conquered the city from the Jebusites and established it as the capital of the united kingdom of Israel, his son, King Solomon, commissioned the building of the First Temple. Modern scholars argue that Jews branched out of the Canaanite peoples and culture through the development of a distinct monolatrous — and monotheistic — religion centered on El/Yahweh, one of the Ancient Canaanite deities.
These foundational events, straddling the dawn of the 1st millennium BCE, assumed central symbolic importance for the Jewish people. The sobriquet of holy city was attached to Jerusalem in post-exilic times; the holiness of Jerusalem in Christianity, conserved in the Septuagint which Christians adopted as their own authority, was reinforced by the New Testament account of Jesus's crucifixion there. In Sunni Islam, Jerusalem is the third-holiest city, after Medina. In Islamic tradition, in 610 CE it became the first qibla, the focal point for Muslim prayer, Muhammad made his Night Journey there ten years ascending to heaven where he speaks to God, according to the Quran; as a result, despite having an area of only 0.9 square kilometres, the Old City is home to many sites of seminal religious importance, among them the Temple Mount with its Western Wall, Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Outside the Old City stands the Garden Tomb. Today, the status of Jerusalem remains one of the core issues in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, West Jerusalem was among the areas captured and annexed by Israel while East Jerusalem, including the Old City, was captured and annexed by Jordan. Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War and subsequently annexed it into Jerusalem, together with additional surrounding territory. One of Israel's Basic Laws, the 1980 Jerusalem Law, refers to Jerusalem as the country's undivided capital. All branches of the Israeli government are located in Jerusalem, including the Knesset, the residences of the Prime Minister and President, the Supreme Court. While the international community rejected the annexation as illegal and treats East Jerusalem as Palestinian territory occupied by Israel, Israel has a stronger claim to sovereignty over West Jerusalem. A city called Rušalim in the execration texts of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt is but not universally, identified as Jerusalem. Jerusalem is called Urušalim in the Amarna letters of Abdi-Heba.
The name "Jerusalem" is variously etymologized to mean "foundation of the god Shalem". Shalim or Shalem was the name of the god of dusk in the Canaanite religion, whose name is based on the same root S-L-M from which the Hebrew word for "peace" is derived; the name thus offered itself to etymologizations such as "The City of Peace", "Abode of Peace", "dwelling of peace", alternately "Vision of Peace" in some Christian authors. The ending -ayim indicates the dual, thus leading to the suggestion that the name Yerushalayim refers to the fact that the city sat on two hills; the form Yerushalem or Yerushalayim first appears in the Book of Joshua. According to a Midrash, the name is a combination of "Yireh" and "Shalem" the two names were un
The Bible is a collection of sacred texts or scriptures. Varying parts of the Bible are considered to be a product of divine inspiration and a record of the relationship between God and humans by Christians, Jews and Rastafarians. What is regarded as canonical text differs depending on traditions and groups; the Hebrew Bible overlaps with the Christian Old Testament. The Christian New Testament is a collection of writings by early Christians, believed to be Jewish disciples of Christ, written in first-century Koine Greek. Among Christian denominations there is some disagreement about what should be included in the canon about the Apocrypha, a list of works that are regarded with varying levels of respect. Attitudes towards the Bible differ among Christian groups. Roman Catholics, high church Anglicans and Eastern Orthodox Christians stress the harmony and importance of the Bible and sacred tradition, while Protestant churches, including Evangelical Anglicans, focus on the idea of sola scriptura, or scripture alone.
This concept arose during the Protestant Reformation, many denominations today support the use of the Bible as the only infallible source of Christian teaching. The Bible has been a massive influence on literature and history in the Western World, where the Gutenberg Bible was the first book printed using movable type. According to the March 2007 edition of Time, the Bible "has done more to shape literature, history and culture than any book written, its influence on world history is unparalleled, shows no signs of abating." With estimated total sales of over 5 billion copies, it is considered to be the most influential and best-selling book of all time. As of the 2000s, it sells 100 million copies annually; the English word Bible is from the Latin biblia, from the same word in Medieval Latin and Late Latin and from Koinē Greek: τὰ βιβλία, translit. Ta biblia "the books". Medieval Latin biblia is short for biblia sacra "holy book", while biblia in Greek and Late Latin is neuter plural, it came to be regarded as a feminine singular noun in medieval Latin, so the word was loaned as a singular into the vernaculars of Western Europe.
Latin biblia sacra "holy books" translates Greek τὰ βιβλία τὰ ἅγια tà biblía tà ágia, "the holy books". The word βιβλίον itself had the literal meaning of "paper" or "scroll" and came to be used as the ordinary word for "book", it is the diminutive of βύβλος byblos, "Egyptian papyrus" so called from the name of the Phoenician sea port Byblos from whence Egyptian papyrus was exported to Greece. The Greek ta biblia was "an expression. Christian use of the term can be traced to c. 223 CE. The biblical scholar F. F. Bruce notes that Chrysostom appears to be the first writer to use the Greek phrase ta biblia to describe both the Old and New Testaments together. By the 2nd century BCE, Jewish groups began calling the books of the Bible the "scriptures" and they referred to them as "holy", or in Hebrew כִּתְבֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ, Christians now call the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible "The Holy Bible" or "the Holy Scriptures"; the Bible was divided into chapters in the 13th century by Stephen Langton and it was divided into verses in the 16th century by French printer Robert Estienne and is now cited by book and verse.
The division of the Hebrew Bible into verses is based on the sof passuk cantillation mark used by the 10th-century Masoretes to record the verse divisions used in earlier oral traditions. The oldest extant copy of a complete Bible is an early 4th-century parchment book preserved in the Vatican Library, it is known as the Codex Vaticanus; the oldest copy of the Tanakh in Hebrew and Aramaic dates from the 10th century CE. The oldest copy of a complete Latin Bible is the Codex Amiatinus. Professor John K. Riches, Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at the University of Glasgow, says that "the biblical texts themselves are the result of a creative dialogue between ancient traditions and different communities through the ages", "the biblical texts were produced over a period in which the living conditions of the writers – political, cultural and ecological – varied enormously". Timothy H. Lim, a professor of Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism at the University of Edinburgh, says that the Old Testament is "a collection of authoritative texts of divine origin that went through a human process of writing and editing."
He states that it is not a magical book, nor was it written by God and passed to mankind. Parallel to the solidification of the Hebrew canon, only the Torah first and the Tanakh began to be translated into Greek and expanded, now referred to as the Septuagint or the Greek Old Testament. In Christian Bibles, the New Testament Gospels were derived from oral traditions in the second half of the first century CE. Riches says that: Scholars have attempted to reconstruct something of the history of the oral traditions behind the Gospels, but the results have not been too encouraging; the period of transmission is short: less than 40 years passed between the death of Jesus and the writing of Mark's Gospel. This means that there was little time for oral trad
The Tornabuoni Chapel is the main chapel in the church of Santa Maria Novella, Italy. It is famous for the extensive and well-preserved fresco cycle on its walls, one of the most complete in the city, created by Domenico Ghirlandaio and his workshop between 1485 and 1490; the main chapel of Santa Maria Novella was first frescoed in the mid-14th century by Andrea Orcagna. Remains of these paintings were found during restorations in the 1940s: these included in the vault, figures from the Old Testament; some of these can be seen today in the Museum of the church. By the late 15th century, Orcagna's frescoes were in poor condition; the Sassetti, a rich and powerful Florentine family who were the bankers of the Medici, had long held the right to decorate the main altar of the chapel, while the walls and the choir had been assigned to the Ricci family. However, the Ricci had never recovered from their bankruptcy in 1348, so they arranged to sell their rights to the choir to the Sassetti. Francesco Sassetti wanted the new frescoes to portray stories of St. Francis of Assisi.
Sassetti therefore moved the commission to the church of Santa Trinita, where Ghirlandaio executed one of his masterworks, the Sassetti Chapel. The rights to the chapel in Santa Maria Novella that were lost by the Sassetti were sold by the Ricci to Giovanni Tornabuoni. Ghirlandaio, who had the largest workshop in Florence, did not lose the commission however, because on September 1, 1485 Giovanni Tornabuoni commissioned him to paint the main chapel, this time with the lives of the Virgin and St. John the Baptist, patron of Tornabuoni and of the city of Florence, it is possible. Ghirlandaio worked to the frescoes from 1485 to 1490, with the collaboration of his workshop artists, who included his brothers Davide and Benedetto, his brother-in-law Sebastiano Mainardi and the young Michelangelo Buonarroti; the windows were executed according to Ghirlandaio's design. The complex was completed by an altarpiece portraying the Madonna del Latte in Glory with Angel and Saints, flanked by two panels with St. Catherine of Siena and St. Lawrence.
On the recto a Resurrection of Christ was painted. This work is now held divided between the Gemäldegalerie and the Alte Pinakothek, Munich; the cycle portrays on three walls the Life of the Virgin and the Life of St John the Baptist, the patron saint of Florence. The left and right walls each have three rows, each divided into two rectangular scenes framed by fictive architecture, surmounted by a large lunette beneath the vault; each side wall has a total of seven narrative scenes. The chancel wall has a large mullioned window of three lights with stained glass, provided in 1492 by Alessandro Agolanti after Ghirlandaio's design. On the lower part of the wall is a donor portrait of Giovanni Tornabuoni and his wife Francesca Pitti, while on either side of the window are four smaller scenes portraying Dominican saints. Above the window is another large lunette. In the vault are depicted the Four Evangelists; the first episode represents the expulsion of Joachim, the father of Mary, from the Temple of Jerusalem.
A ceremony is taking place. However, Joachim was banned from attending due to his alleged sterility. Ghirlandaio set the scene in a sumptuous loggia of Greek cross plan, with a sequence of arches in the background and an octagonal altar in the middle, where the sacrificial fire is lit; the characters are illuminated from above, as if by the natural lighting from the real chapel windows. Two groups of Florentine people, representing the populace, are shown to the sides of the scene, they wear contemporary fashionable clothes, unlike the main biblical figures, who wear the usual "iconographic costume". On the left, two figures may be identified as Lorenzo Tornabuoni, son of Ghirlandaio's patron, Piero di Lorenzo de' Medici, the former's friend. In the righthand group is a self-portrait of the artist with some of his relatives; the loggia in the background could be a representation of the Ospedale di San Paolo, under construction in the same square as Santa Maria Novella. The two buildings on the sides are examples of typical edifices of 15th-century Florence, characterized by rustication and an upper loggia.
The second scene portrays the Nativity of Mary, set in a luxurious room with inlaid wooden panelling surmounted by a frieze in bas-relief of music-making putti and a cornice of winged cherubs. The room is divided by piers decorated in relief. To the left, near the door at the top of the stairs is shown symbolically an early incident of the story, the embrace of Anne and Joachim at the Golden Gate of Jerusalem. To the right, St. Anne reclines in bed; the nurse, pouring water into a basin is the only figure in the room to be moving rapidly. Her flowing robes and swirling scarf make her an iconic motif to be found in many paintings both by Ghirlandaio and other painters and sculptors of the period. A preparatory drawing of this woman has been preserved in the Cabinet of Prints and Drawings of the Uffizi. Several well-dressed Florentine ladies have come on a congratulatory visit; the first in the procession of noblewoman, portrayed in profile, is Ludovica, daughter of Giovanni Tornabuoni. The rendering of the magnificent women's clothes is notable.
The scene is considered one of the best executed in the chapel. Unlike the prev
Massacre of the Innocents
In the New Testament, the Massacre of the Innocents is the incident in the nativity narrative of the Gospel of Matthew in which Herod the Great, king of Judea, orders the execution of all male children two years old and under in the vicinity of Bethlehem. Most modern biographers of Herod, a majority of biblical scholars, dismiss Matthew's story as an invention; the Catholic Church has claimed the children murdered in Jesus's stead as the first Christian martyrs, their feast – Holy Innocents Day – is celebrated on 28 December. Matthew's story is found in no other gospel, the Jewish historian Josephus does not mention it in his Antiquities of the Jews, which records many of Herod's misdeeds including the murder of three of his own sons. Most modern biographers of Herod dismiss the story as an invention. Classical historian Michael Grant, for instance, stated “The tale is not history but myth or folk-lore”, it appears to be modeled on Pharaoh's attempt to kill the Israelite children, more on various elaborations of the original story that had become current in the 1st century.
In that expanded story, Pharaoh kills the Hebrew children after his scribes warn him of the impending birth of the threat to his crown, but Moses's father and mother are warned in a dream that the child's life is in danger and act to save him. In life, after Moses has to flee, like Jesus, he returns only when those who sought his death are themselves dead; the story of the massacre of the innocents thus plays a part in Matthew's wider nativity story, in which the proclamation of the coming of the Messiah is followed by his rejection by the Jews and acceptance by the gentiles. The relevance of Jeremiah 31:15 to the massacre in Bethlehem is not apparent, as Jeremiah's next verses go on to speak of hope and restoration. Others admit the presence of the "New Moses" paradigm in the nativity story, but feel that the story of the massacre must have had some historical foundation: in the words of R. T. France, a leading Matthean scholar, "It is clear that this scriptural model has been important in Matthew's telling of the story of Jesus, but not so clear that it would have given rise to this narrative without historical basis."
Some scholars, such as Everett Ferguson, write that the story makes sense in the context of Herod's reign of terror in the last few years of his rule, the number of infants in Bethlehem that would have been killed – no more than a dozen or so – may have been too insignificant to be recorded by Josephus, who could not be aware of every incident far in the past when he wrote it. The story's first appearance in any source other than the Gospel of Matthew is in the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James of c. AD 150, which excludes the Flight into Egypt and switches the attention of the story to the infant John the Baptist: And when Herod knew that he had been mocked by the Magi, in a rage he sent murderers, saying to them: Slay the children from two years old and under. And Mary, having heard that the children were being killed, was afraid, took the infant and swaddled Him, put Him into an ox-stall, and Elizabeth, having heard that they were searching for John, took him and went up into the hill-country, kept looking where to conceal him.
And there was no place of concealment. And Elizabeth, groaning with a loud voice, says: receive mother and child, and the mountain was cleft, received her. And a light shone about them, for an angel of the Lord was with them; the first non-Christian reference to the massacre is recorded four centuries by Macrobius, who writes in his Saturnalia: When he heard that among the boys in Syria under two years old whom Herod, king of the Jews, had ordered killed, his own son was killed, he said: it is better to be Herod's pig, than his son. The story assumed an important place in Christian tradition. Coptic sources place the event on 29 December. Taking the narrative and judging from the estimated population of Bethlehem, the Catholic Encyclopedia more soberly suggested that these numbers were inflated, that only between six and twenty children were killed in the town, with a dozen or so more in the surrounding areas. According to Jewish extra-Biblical traditions, king Nimrod saw a sign in the skies predicting the birth of Abraham, ordered the slaughter of infant children to avoid it.
Nimrod was with his star-gazers on the roof of his palace, saw the strange display in the sky with his own eyes. "What is the meaning of this?" he demanded. "There can be only one explanation. A son was born tonight who would challenge the king's power, the father is none other than Terah." "Terah?!" Nimrod roared. "My own trusted servant?" Nimrod thought. Little did he know that it was not Terah's son, brought to die, but a servant's; the "Coventry Carol" is a Christmas carol dating from the 16th century. The carol was performed in Coventry in England as part of a mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors; the play depicts the Christmas story from chapter two in the Gospel of Matthew. The carol refers to the Massacre of the Innocents, in which Herod ordered all male infants two years old and under in Bethlehem to be killed; the lyrics of this haunting carol represent a mother's lament for her doomed child. It is the only carol that h
Islamic culture and Muslim culture refer to cultural practices common to Islamic people. The early forms of Muslim culture, from the Rashidun Caliphate to early Umayyad perioud, were predominantly Arab, Byzantine and Levantine. With the rapid expansion of the Islamic empires, Muslim culture has influenced and assimilated much from the Persian, Caucasian, Mongol, South Asian, Somali, Berber and Moro cultures. Islamic culture includes all the practices which have developed around the religion of Islam. There are variations in the application of Islamic beliefs in different traditions. Arabic literature is both prose and poetry, produced by writers in the Arabic language; the Arabic word used for literature is "Adab", derived from a meaning of etiquette, which implies politeness and enrichment. Arabic literature emerged in the 5th century with only fragments of the written language appearing before then; the Qur'an regarded by people as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language, would have the greatest lasting effect on Arabic culture and its literature.
Arabic literature flourished during the Islamic Golden Age, but has remained vibrant to the present day, with poets and prose-writers across the Arab world, as well as rest of the world, achieving increasing success. Persian literature comprises oral compositions and written texts in the Persian language and it is one of the world's oldest literatures, it spans over two-and-a-half millennia. Its sources have been within Greater Iran including present-day Iran, Afghanistan, the Caucasus, Turkey, regions of Central Asia and South Asia where the Persian language has been either the native or official language. For instance, one of best-loved Persian poets born in Balkh or Vakhsh, wrote in Persian and lived in Konya the capital of the Seljuks in Anatolia; the Ghaznavids conquered large territories in Central and South Asia and adopted Persian as their court language. There is thus Persian literature from Iran, Azerbaijan, the wider Caucasus, western parts of Pakistan, India and other parts of Central Asia.
Not all Persian literature is written in Persian, as some consider works written by ethnic Persians in other languages, such as Greek and Arabic, to be included. At the same time, not all literature written in Persian is written by ethnic Persians or Iranians, as Turkic and Indic poets and writers have used the Persian language in the environment of Persianate cultures. Described as one of the great literatures of humanity, including Goethe's assessment of it as one of the four main bodies of world literature, Persian literature has its roots in surviving works of Middle Persian and Old Persian, the latter of which date back as far as 522 BCE, the date of the earliest surviving Achaemenid inscription, the Behistun Inscription; the bulk of surviving Persian literature, comes from the times following the Arab conquest of Persia c. 650 CE. After the Abbasids came to power, the Iranians became the scribes and bureaucrats of the Arab empire and also its writers and poets; the New Persian language literature arose and flourished in Khorasan and Transoxiana because of political reasons, early Iranian dynasties such as the Tahirids and Samanids being based in Khorasan.
Persian poets such as Ferdowsi, Sa'di, Attar, Nezami and Omar Khayyam are known in the West and have influenced the literature of many countries. For a thousand years, since the invasion of India by the Ghaznavids, the Persian-Islamic culture of the eastern half of the Islamic world started to dominate the Indian culture. Persian was the official language of most Indian empires such as the Ghaznavids, the Delhi Sultanate, the Bengal Sultanate, the Deccan Sultanates and the Mughal Empire. Persian artistic forms in literature and poetry such as ghazals have come to affect Urdu and other Indian literature. More Persian literature was produced in India than in the Iranian world; as late as the 20th century, Allama Iqbal chose Persian for some of his major poetic works. The first Persian language newspaper was published in India, given that printing machines were first implemented in India. In Bengal, the Baul tradition of mystic music and poetry merged Sufism with many local images; the most prominent poets were Lalon Shah.
During the early 14th century, the liberal poet Kazi Nazrul Islam espoused intense spiritual rebellion against oppression and religious fundamentalism. Sultana's Dream by Begum Rokeya, an Islamic feminist, is one earliest works of feminist science fiction. From the 11th century, there was a growing body of Islamic literature in the Turkic languages. However, for centuries to come the official language in Turkish-speaking areas would remain Persian. In Anatolia, with the advent of the Seljuks, the practise and usage of Persian in the region would be revived. A branch of the Seljuks, the Sultanate of Rum, took Russian language and letters to Anatolia, they adopted Persian language as the official language of the empire. The Ottomans, which can "roughly" be seen as their eventual successors, took this tradition over. Persian was the official court language of the empire, for some time, the official language of the empire, though the lingua franca amongst common people from the 15th/16th century would become Turkish as well as having laid an active "foundation" for the Turkic language as earl