The Land Issue: South Africa 1652 – present: Part 2

Recapping

Flag of the Dutch East India Company svg In Part 1 – please read before reading further to obtain the proper context – we looked at the meticulous planning by the Dutch in the years 1649-1651 prior to Johan van Riebeeck and the designated parties sailing from Texel in the Netherlands on their voyage to the Cape of Good Hope to establish a refreshment station as undertaken by the VOC (Dutch East Indies Company).

Skip forward briefly to the 1970s and to just prior to the year 1994, the South African Schools’ Education Department taught the historical accounts of Jan van Riebeeck landing at the Cape, including the accounts of the Zulu kings Shaka and Dingane amongst others. However, since ‘the new 1994 democracy’ this part of ‘South African History’ dealing with the landing at the Cape in 1652 has largely been removed from the schooling syllabus.

Voyage from the Netherlands to the Cape [1]

We now take up the historical account once again and share herewith the entries that appear in the Journal of Commander Johan van Riebeeck commencing from 14th December 1651 to 7th April 1652 which record the events of the voyage to the Cape as the VOC Council insisted that a proper record be kept for the Company (see Part I: No. 3.—Instructions for the Officers of the Expedition fitted out for the Cape of Good Hope to Found a Fort and Garden There. 25th March, 1651). Hereunder are the extracts from the Journal regarding the sailing voyage south to Southern Africa:

JvR Pg1JvR Pg2 JvR Pg3 JvR Pg4

During the course of the voyage a Resolution was taken and recorded in Dutch on 30th December 1651 – another source records that this resolution was also read on board the Drommedaris by Johan van Riebeeck in Table Bay on 6th April 1652. Hereunder is the Dutch transcript of the said Resolution which is followed by an English translation:

Resolution 30 December 1651

RESOLUTIONS.

December 30, 1651.—Prayer. O merciful, kindly, loving God and Heavenly Father, inasmuch as it hath pleased Thy divine Majesty to call us to the management of the business of the General United Netherlands Chartered East India Company here at Cabo de boa Esperance, and for that purpose we have met with our Council of Assessors in order with their advice to adopt such resolutions by which the greatest interests of the said Company may be promoted, justice maintained, and (if possible) among these wild and brutal people Thy true reformed Christian doctrine in course of time may be planted and spread to the glory and honour of Thy Holy Name and the welfare of our Masters the Chiefs—whereunto we are altogether incapable without Thy gracious help we therefore pray Thee, O Most Gracious Father, that Thou mayest dwell with us with thy Fatherly wisdom, and presiding at these our meetings, so enlighten our hearts, that all wrong passions, misunderstandings and other similar failings, may be warded from us; that our hearts may be free from all human influences and our minds so constituted, that in our deliberations we may not intend or decide otherwise than what will tend to the magnifying and the glory of Thy Most Holy Name and the greatest service of our Lords and Masters, without in any way regarding our own interests or personal profit. This and whatever more may be necessary to carry out our ordained work, and for salvation, we pray and desire in the name of Thy well beloved Son, Our Saviour and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, Who has taught us to pray—Our Father, &c.

They came with a Reformed Christian faith to please God Almighty in all that they could to fulfil the will and purpose of God, and they accordingly recorded  unashamedly their submission to God, which testimony would be read down through the ages and by which testimony they would one day stand before God Almighty and give an account of themselves before the Judgment Seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we read,

10  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:10

Everyone is hereby reminded that we all must appear, and liars who have lied about history or deceived people will receive condemnation and an eternity in the lake of fire, for it is written,

8  But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. ~ Revelation 21:8

We will show that South African history has been distorted concerning the so-called ‘white-colonialists’ and their conduct towards the black African natives, the practice of ‘slavery’ and by who, for black Africans also had ‘slaves’, the freedom of movement of ‘slaves’ in the Cape, the education and Christian lifestyles of ‘slaves’ and much more. Hundreds, if not thousands of entries could be shared, but writer encourages the readers to search out these matters more fully, reading the actual documents and not believing the rhetoric that says, “Apartheid came to the Cape with Jan van Riebeeck!” (Jacob Zuma and Others). Writer dealt with this issue more specifically in a blog post titled, The Gospel . . . Racism and South African History, where it is mentioned, quote: “Apartheid “officially” only existed during the period from 1948 to 1994, a time period of 46 years. The term apartheid was introduced into South African politics in 1948 as part of the election campaign by D.F. Malan’s Herenigde Nasionale Party (HNP – ‘Reunited National Party’).” [End quote]

A satirical depiction of ‘blaming it on Apartheid’ is reflected in the photo hereunder; which original painting alludes to the landing at the Cape of Good Hope on 6th April 1652 without the ‘satire speech bubbles’:

Jan van Riebeeck satire ~ Satire ~

Jan van Riebeeck: What! You have been living here for 1000s of years and you have no ships, no roads, no houses, no bridges, no farms, no guns, . . . Why?

Khoikhoi: APARTHEID??

— ooo —

Journal of Johan van Riebeeck

We pick up at 9th April 1652 where the Journal makes reference to Riebeeck going on shore to mark the site of the fort. It also records the work that is undertaken into the next day (10th April 1652). We see that there was a friendly disposition between the European Dutchmen and the local natives, the Dutch even being a friendly buffer between the “locals” – the beach rangers and Saldanhars – as we read:

10.— . . . Arrival of 9 or 10 Saldanhars; defensive attitude assumed by the beach rangers (who daily with wives and children sit with us before our tents). We had enough to do to check their courage and fury, and despatched a body of Europeans between the parties.

We succeeded in establishing an armistice; keeping the combatants the whole day in peaceful conduct towards each other. The Saldanhars, making use of signs and many broken Dutch and English words (no doubt learned from the shipwrecked crew of the Haerlem), wished to explain that for copper and tobacco they would soon bring some cattle and sheep; which we urged them to do, by kind treatment. Skipper Davit Coninck, with two assistants and 2 soldiers, being on a fishing excursion at the Salt River, meets the 9 Saldanhars, who take him round the neck and promise cattle and sheep in exchange for copper and tobacco. These natives are described as fine fellows, dressed in prepared oxhide, and stepping like any dandy in the Fatherland who carries his mantle on his shoulder or arm, but their private parts were exposed; a little skin barely covering them. Skipper Coninck returned with four bags of mustard leaves, sorrel, 750 beautiful braems and four other delicate fishes of more delicate flavour than any fish in the Fatherland; one looking like a haddock and as good and fat.

Sketch of Khoikhoi milking As can be seen well into the Dutchmen’s fifth day at the Cape, a friendly exchange of communication and bartering of possessions were taking place between 17th century ‘black and white’ strangers; a far cry from what has been taught by the Marxist ANC government and Socialist EFF party with their political-rhetoric of the 21st century! The Dutch’s conduct is that as commanded in the Holy Bible, to love God and one’s neighbours (see Matthew 22:36-40). They also understood the principle that God ordered their steps when one reads the very next journal entry,

11.—Heavy South-Easter—the laden boat of the Reijger proceeding towards the shore, is compelled to lie at anchor midway the whole day; succeeded in the evening in reaching the ship, by the blessing of God.

On the 13th April 1652, more bartering with the natives is recorded, “Exchanged 3 plates of copper and 3 pieces of ½ fathom copper wire for a cow and a young calf—fairly divided both among the ships.” The next entry was a Sunday, and we see that even in a new land they still had their Church service,

14. (Sunday).—Fine weather. After service fresh meat and vegetables were given to the men—caught about 1,000 beautiful steenbraesems (braems) at the Salt River, each about 1½ foot in length.

Dutch ships in Table Bay Cape Colony From this entry it appears when people place God first He rewards them abundantly! Whilst all this was taking place we do not see any ‘slavery’ in any form, but that the Dutchmen were labouring themselves as we see in the entry of the 15th April 1652, “Slow progress of the works, in consequence of the small number of labourers and the number of sick.” On the following Sunday 21st April 1652 we read that whilst out on an exertion up the kloof of Table Mountain, about two Dutch miles, ground was found there which was compared to be as good and fruitful as anywhere in the world. However, it was also noted that due to a scarcity of hands to cultivate the same a record is made that “a few Chinese would be welcome as gardener”! This simple statement records that the journalist gave due recognition to a people for their ability to be of service. However, the Dutch are a resilient and hard working people as we read from the entries of 25th and 26th  April 1652,

25.—Skipper Hooghsaet lands to urge on his men, as usual.

26.—The work done at the fort and the zeal of Hooghsaet are described. Carpenters busy erecting dwellings and stores.

The next Sunday we read that after Church service some more observational work was undertaken in preparation to get the refreshment station to become productive, for this was the reason for coming to the Cape,

28. (Sunday).—After service and in company of Hooghsaet, Turver, and some armed soldiers, walked over the ridge to the South of Table Mountain—found everywhere fine garden ground —viewed the country all round—about 10 Dutch miles broad and long—watered by the finest fresh rivers—thousands of Chinese or other agriculturists would not be able to cultivate a tenth part of the country, which is so rich that neither Formosa nor New Netherland can be compared with it.

Compassion and empathy

The compassion and empathy of the Dutchmen are revealed in the entry of 29th April 1652 when we see the intent of the Dutch to bring ‘other’ to the Cape and in due course they too would “make a sufficient living” as we read, “The consequent necessity of importing Chinamen or other industrious people, who would in time make a sufficient living.” The Dutch mindset was educated advancements, not inept slothfulness.

This extract from the same 29th entry, reflects a love for one’s neighbours to feed them, as we read, “Observed no Saldanhars; only saw 4 or 5 of the beach rangers having lean bodies and hungry stomachs filled by us with barley and bread and sometimes wine; a large supply of rice therefore necessary, likewise arrack, to treat those who may off and on visit us, to gain their good will.” This is true love in action! The Dutch showed the authentication of their faith by works that followed, for we read, for it is written,

13  For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
14  What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
15  If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16  And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. ~ James 2:13-18

Their actions were merciful by showing their faith by works following! The Gospel of Jesus Christ was in action!

We now skip ahead, so we do not record every single journal entry for a copy of the same can be obtained where every other entry can be read – just as writer is doing –, and find the following entries from 8th through 11th May 1652 after two other Dutch ships the Walvis and Oliphant had arrived at the Cape from the Netherlands,

8.—The Commanders of the ships came on shore to inspect the works and obtain refreshments. No cattle obtained up to date,, the beach-rangers have nothing but hungry stomachs, often filled by us to gain their good will for the future benefit of the Company.

9.—Tent rigged for the sick of the Oliphant—two more have died.

10.—Nothing particular.

11.—Meeting of Council on board the Drommedaris. Slow progress of the works. Resolved to retain 50 sick of both vessels, who, when restored to health, may assist at the works and afterwards be sent on to Batavia. A Hottentoo was brought to our barber, badly wounded. We gathered from his friends that they had had a skirmish with those of Saldania and that two had been killed.

Van Oers fig 1 Map of Fort of Good Hope Besides labouring and feeding themselves, seeing to their own sick and dead from diseases on the ships, the Dutch were also feeding the beach ranger natives which would also strengthen their relationship and, now, in this instance, being requested to take care of a badly wounded ‘Hottentoo’ (beach ranger) who had a skirmish with the Saldanhars where two others were killed. The Dutch were now also helping out as a hospital for the locals!

Christian observances

On the next Sunday 12th May 1652 we read of the Dutch Church service,

12. (Sunday).—First sermon preached by Rev. Backerius of the Walvis, in the still unroofed house within the square of the unfinished fort. The Holy Sacrament was likewise celebrated.

The following Sunday we read that it was Pentecost, reflected with a simple entry,

19. (Pentecost).—Hazy weather.

Trials, sickness and deaths

The following daily entries reflect the work undertaken, the coming and the going of ships, and reports of fever and dysentery that not only lay men low, but resulted in many deaths that followed and thus reduced the effective work force of the Dutch. The workable man power was reduced from 116 to about 50 able men as of 10th June 1652. Well into this month the weather was also playing havoc at the Cape of Storms which was living up to its name. The entries reflect that their hope and trust were in the mercy of God! Also the planted gardens are being severely destroyed. There are hardships encountered by hurricane-type wet conditions! Whilst the Dutch people have been experiencing such hardships they have not seen the Saldanhars in a while and have not been able to barter with them to obtain meat as part of their diet. Only been able to eat vegetables from that which has not been destroyed by the severe weather experienced at the Cape with lots of heavy rain and even snow on the mountains being observed and the cold being felt!

Disciplinary actions for crimes

Throughout the abovementioned hardships, a few entries are also recorded where severe discipline actions were taken against Dutch crew members for crimes against leadership, as we read from July 1652,

8.— . . . Jan Planx, arquebusier on hoard the Goede Hoop, condemned for the crime of insubordination to fall from the yard arm and receive 60 cuts, which is more extensively described in the record of “ Sentences.”

9.—Many whales in the bay. Above sentence carried out. Gerrit Dirksz: van Elssen, Cadet, for molesting the skipper, is condemned to receive 100 cuts and to stand sentry the whole day with 6 muskets. Last night Nicolas Pietersz : Venlo, Cadet, died without a will and was buried this evening.

10.—Yesterday’s sentence carried out.

And in the beginning of September 1652 we read some more of what preceded,

3.—Weather subsiding—more sick.

4.—Fine weather. Plucked the first peas, and ate good carrots about the thickness of the little finger and sown after arrival—all the rest sown later are growing famously. The soldier Joost van der Laack, being drunk, used foul words towards the Commander and insulted him. He was apprehended.

7.—Wet. Van der Laack suspended from office because of his insolence, as the minutes will show more fully.

As of the 14th September 1652 there was still no sign of the Saldanhars.

On 18th September whilst Riebeeck and a carpenter were out surveying the backside and slopes of Table Mountain they came across some trees that had the dates 1604, 1620 and 1622 etched into them, but they did not know who carved them. This showed that the Cape had been visited at various times prior to 1652, and also no record is made of encountering the local natives. It appears that the land was not so densely inhabited as always mentioned by modern day gainsayers!

Deserting Dutchmen

On 25th September 1652, four Dutchmen absconded during the night; “Jan Blanx of Malines, boatswain of the yacht; Willem Huytjens of Maestricht, sailor; Gert Dircksx: van Eltsen of Maestricht and Jan Jansz; of Leyden, soldiers stationed on shore” whose whereabouts are unknown. A proclamation was also published warning against desertion and stating the punishments.

Eight days later we read in the month of October 1652’s entries that the deserters have voluntarily returned,

3.—Brackenier undergoes his punishment. The men sent to Salt River to cut reeds return in trepidation to the fort stating that they had seen many natives—that two had been left behind with the sloop who could not swim—soldiers sent to rescue them—discovered that there were only 7 or 8 native women digging for food, who had recognized the party and in their joy had dancingly approached and asked for tobacco. Return of the deserters, who all declare that they hoped to reach the Fatherland overland, but in consequence of the high mountains could not proceed further than 24 miles eastward, therefore resolved to return and beg for pardon. Jan Blanx declares that he and Jan van Leyen had formed the plan, and that the others had joined them, that some time ago he had dreamt in the yacht of a mountain of gold and such like frivolous things. All four put in irons apart from each other.

4.—Fugitives voluntarily state that they intended to proceed to Mozambique and thence home, that Jan van Leyen had advised them, likewise Jan Blanx, who understood navigation, and that after proceeding 24 miles across the mountains and forced by hunger they had decided to return. Found a journal written with red chalk kept by Jan Blanx as follows;—“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. 24th (September).—Left the Cape for Mozambique—the four of us—with 4 biscuits and fish—likewise 4 swords, 2 pistols and the dog. 25th.—Marched 7 miles—saw 2 rhinoceroses, which threatened to attack us. Jan Verdonck had to leave his hat and sword behind. A porcupine wounded the dog. Slept at a rivulet—saw two ostriches—had to avoid two rhinoceroses and took to the beach and slept on the downs. 26th.—Followed the beach towards Cape Agulhas—advanced about 7 miles—fed on 4 young birds found in a nest and three eggs—at night slept on the beach, where we obtained some ‘clipconten’ (? klipkous) 27th.—Proceeded along shore 7 miles—arrived at a very high mountain, where we rested. 28th.—Provided ourselves with clipconten, which we roasted and strung together, and with calabashes for water. 29th.—Commenced to ascend the mountain, thinking to cross in that direction, but not succeeding, Jan Verdonck began to repent, and likewise Willem Huytjens. 30th.—Proceeded until the following afternoon , when Gerritt also grew tired. Alone I could not proceed, so we decided to return, trusting to mercy in God’s name.” In the evening it commenced to blow hard from S. East, tearing the tents in rags, also on the
5th even harder. Had to secure the dwellings with stays—the crops all blown down.

One will see that the name ‘Herry’ will be made mention of on a regular basis as he was a Khoikhoi interpreter for the Dutch to communicate with the natives. We pick up with the execution of the sentences for the deserters as well as the reconnection of larger groups of Saldanhars, as we read,

10.—Herry arrives with 12 or 14 Saldanhars, who receive some wine and tobacco and promise to return shortly and inform their people of our presence, likewise that they will bring much cattle, ivory, musk or civet to be exchanged for tobacco and copper. They were most kindly treated. We are doing our best in the meanwhile at the fortifications, but labour is much retarded by sickness we trust that when cattle is obtained everything will improve. Amen. Jan van Leyen, condemned by the Council, having been reprieved from death, is to be bound to a post and have a bullet fired over his head. Jan Blanx is to be keelhauled and receive 150 lashes; both are to work as slaves two years in irons. Huytjens and Dirksz: van Eltsen likewise, and Adriaen and Cornelis discharged for want of evidence.

11.—Execution of the sentence.

12.—About 20 Saldanhars tell us that they are going to tell their mates about us, and to return together with their cattle and ivory, begging at the same time for tobacco, which we gave them with some wine, urging them to return soon—promises made—hope for success at last. Could give them no bread, as we are going on short allowance and expect no supplies for another 4 months to come. Gave them some tobacco. More bread, rice, and arrack should be at hand, as they draw the natives towards us, who continually say that the English gave them whole bags of bread, much tobacco, and whole cans filled with arrack and wine—we ought, therefore, to be better provided to outdo the English if we wish to draw the natives towards us, otherwise not an animal will be had, which may, if natives are humoured, cost so little that we could afford to add to the price some bread, tobacco, wine or arrack.

Khoi-TradersBartering with the Saldanhars

Picking up on 19th October 1652 the reader can see that a friendly relationship is existing between the Dutch and the Saldanhar natives and the manner of bartering that was unfolding, as one can read,

19.—. . . Came home at night and had prayers—the gate not yet in perfect order—Saldanhars arrive and ask for an interview with the Commander—twelve of them—they brought 3 cows and 4 sheep, also showed some young ostriches and three tusks, which on the morrow they wished to exchange for copper and tobacco, asking in the meanwhile for some tobacco, and stating that within 4 or 5 days all the Saldanhars, with wives and children and thousands of cattle, ivory, and musk, would arrive. Gave them, by way of encouragement, a glass of wine, when they left to sleep.

20. (Sunday).—Saldanhars before the fort with three cows and 4 sheep, 2 old and 2 young, which we bartered from them—the 3 cows for 9 plates of copper, each of 1 lb. weight, and 1 lb. tobacco—the animals costing 31 stivers and 12 penningen—the 2 old sheep for 2 do. copper plates and ⅛ lb. tobacco—each sheep costing 10 stivers and 5½ penningen—for the two fine delicate lambs we paid ½ lb. copper wire and ⅛ lb. tobacco, together 11 stivers and 4 penningen. Believe that we will in course of time get the animals cheaper, likewise tusks, haAung bought 3 for about ½ lb. tobacco, equal to 2 stivers and 13 penningen—likewise 2 young ostriches for ⅛ lb tobacco, to try whether they can be reared. Return of 4he yacht, reporting that it could not pass the point, and had nearly stranded on Robben Island—ordered to proceed to St. Helena and Saldanha Bays.

21.—Departure of tbe yacht and the Saldanbars, the latter with about ½ lb. tobacco,—promised to retmm in 2 or 3 days’ time with more cattle and tusks—urged them to do so by the kindest possible treatment. Another Saldanhar appears, stating that many were approaching with wives, children, and much cattle—got some tobacco for the news. Herry in the meanwhile, priding himself on having originated the incipient trade, proceeds to the Saldanhars, no good expected from it, as he proposes to have as brokerage a copper plate of 1 lb. for every animal bartered—will humour him to find him out. Hope he will do his best—can hardly believe that the Saldanhars will listen to him, as they have been so kindly treated, and will prefer to deal without him. Not knowing anything for certain, prudence is necessary—guards doubled—all who can handle a spade set to work to make the walls higher, and bring for a fortnight longer 20 additional loads of earth for the purpose, above the 130 required daily. Men paid in tobacco—bartered cattle slaughtered and everyone given a glass of wine—work pleasantly begun—two carpenters busy with repairing the wheelbarrows—commenced the kraal by digging a trench round it to contain the cattle at night, and sent for some manure found 1½ miles away for the gardens, mostly for the turnips.

22.—Heavy rains.

23.—Herry and some of the Ottentoos living here return from inland and present us with two eland heads with fine horns—killed by the Saldanhars, who had eaten the meat.

In the days that followed the workers are getting very weak as they do not have a proper diet and the food is running out. On 11th November 1652 we read, “Pray earnestly for arrival of natives with cattle—see their fires across the bay.” The Dutch have now been at the Cape for seven months and still no ‘slavery’ of the Khoikhoi, San, beach rangers, Saldanhars and/or Ottentoos (Hottentots).

Tribal natives habits and seal hunting

The interpreter Herry ate at the table of Johan van Riebeeck and his company and remained with them, together with his wife and children, as their interpreter, giving insightful information concerning the local tribal native groups and other information. The record hereunder also records an abundance of seals and skins that will be profitable to the Dutch settlers in the vicinity of Saldanha and St. Helena Bays, as we read the record,

13.—Mists seem to prognosticate fine weather. Herry dining at our table to gain his good will—by signs and in broken English told us that 3 kinds of people of the same customs and manners of life yearly arrived in Table Bay, viz., the beach-rangers, not numbering above 40 or 50, and called in their broken English Watermen, because living on mussels and roots—not always having cattle. The second were those of Saldanha or Saldanjamen, who yearly came hither with countless cows and sheep. The third were Fishermen, who after the departure of the Saldanhars also came with cattle but no sheep, catching fish from the rocks with lines—about 500 in number. Continual war between Fishermen on one side and Water and Saldanha men on the other, endeavouring to do as much mischief to each other as possible. Herry suggests that the lasting friendship of Watermen and Saldanhars would be secured by treacherously seizing and killing the Fishermen. Did not communicate our intentions, stating that we would judge for ourselves when that people arrived—in the meanwhile drawing him out with the semblance of being impressed with his proposals. Fishermen stated to be hiding before the Saldanhars; lighting no fires because afraid of being attacked; living beyond the mountains eastward of the Cape towards the Baya de Sambras. The Saldanhers dwelling towards the west and north in the direction of Saldanha and St. Helena Bays, where the yacht is for trading purposes. The Watermen live in this Table Valley and behind the Lion and Table Mountains. Herry remains with us with wife and children to serve as interpreter—his people subsisting behind said mountains on mussels and roots, the latter tasted like skirret and resembling the Japanese nisi but not tasting at all like it; otherwise we would collect a quantity for Batavia, where the nisi is in great demand and fetches good prices.

14.—Return of the yacht with 2,700 seal skins found on an inland in Saldanha Bay, finely packed on each other—apparently left behind by a small French vessel that had met the fleet of Mr. Van der Lyn at St. Helena, when Skipper Symon Turver was present, and had boasted that its cargo was worth a ton of gold. Skins beautifully prepared, and if the heavy winds had not scattered and the rains not damaged them double the number would have been brought; enough seals left, however, on Ilha Elizabeth or Dassen Island, but serviceable men required to kill them, hence return of yacht for clubs easily obtained in the woods and to be strengthened with iron rings at the ends. Knives to be made of hoops or staves, as we best can, until better ones are obtained, that we may be prepared for the return fleet for transmission of skins to the Fatherland, where they will fetch good prices. Apparently much profit to be derived from seal hunting—skins valued at a rixdollar or 3 gulden a piece—oil also valuable. Officers expect that a trade with the natives will gradually be established there; at present had only bartered 2 sheep and 3 harts, also a few ostrich feathers, from the natives, who in broken French and English stated that they would advise their people of the presence of the ship, some of whom had gone to the Cape, having heard of the settlement at which copper could be obtained abundantly. Plate copper preferred by them. Saldanha Bay is situated N.N.W. 16 miles from this, stretching about 5 miles inland; finely sheltered; has no good fresh water; land dry and poor and not to be compared with the Cape in any sense; do not know how it may be further inland. St. Helena Bay very dangerous, rocky, and hardly a bay; more like a creek; landing almost impossible in consequence of the surf, even in fine weather, hence will confine ourselves to Saldanha and the seal hunting there.

Old Map of the Cape Colony Saldanhar and Dutch hospitality

We notice that over time the hospitality of the Dutch is reciprocated by the Saldanhars, and vice versa. We read from an entry of 19th November 1652, that the Dutch “had met 40 or 50 Saldanhars with about 1,000 cattle and sheep, who would be here tomorrow to trade for copper—had treated our men very kindly and smoked a pipe with them.” A friendly and peaceful relationship existed between the white and black people groups, where kindness prevailed as we continue reading from the 21st November 1652,

21.—Wind less. Sent men for manure, who returned with a Saldanha Captain and reported that they had observed a large number of cows, sheep, &e., at the Fresh River and been kindly treated by the Saldanhars in their huts— receiving cows’ milk in abundance. The Saldanha Chief, who had been in the fort yesterday, sent us a fine sheep for the tobacco and food he received yesterday—to day he and wife with Herry were treated in like manner—the wife receiving beads and copper wire for the sheep—wish to make them by our good treatment well disposed towards us. They brought their own food, and milk in large leathern bags, which they took by means of a small brush or swab made of a kind of of hemp and curious to behold.

22.—Arrival of some Saldanhars with three sheep—bartered two, each for as much thin copper wire as the sheep was long, and weighing about ½ lb., adding ½ lb., tobacco—the value of the lot for each sheep eight stivers—would not buy the third as they charged for it double price because it was somewhat larger—should not be taught bad habits. Helm and Verburgh, provided with tobacco and some pipes, and holding in their hands each a piece of thick copper wire to do duty for a walking cane, they visit the Saldanha Captain without showing any inclination to barter, but only to find out to what extent their desire for copper went. Found them 1½ mile from this, and were most civilly welcomed—were taken about to look at his 15 houses, his cattle and sheep (about 15 or 1,600 in number), after that they were invited into his house, nicely made of mats and of fair dimensions, and treated with milk—the two spending their tobacco freely. Had taken with them a cup from which to drink the milk, from which the Chief and his wives also desired to drink, which they considered a great honour. Took a great fancy to the wire, for one of which, weighing ¾ lb., they offered a fat calf, and for three pieces of the same kind a cow. The two pretended that they did not wish to barter, but told the Captain that the Dutch Commander had a great deal of copper and they might treat with him. Promised to visit the fort with cattle—the Captain feared and honoured by his men—comported himself admirably—altogether there were about 250. The children drank from the udders of the sheep, being placed by the mothers between the legs of the animal—an interesting sight. The huts were situated in a circle in which the cattle were kept—intended to remain on that spot until all the grass was consumed, when they would move to the fort to pasture their flocks there as long as they could find enough to eat. They showed the two many fires inland of people approaching the fort with their herds, who would also he inclined to trade. Saw at night across the bay and on the mountains many fires—Herry told us they were of the Saldanhars, who had so much cattle that we would soon run out of copper—which God grant—Amen. To-day got the Skipper at last so far that he has sounded the bay, found that it was altogether without danger, as will he seen from the drawing—and declared that no ship on entering could he lost except by carelessness or stupidity.

23.—Some Saldanhars brought a sheep—bartered it for a copper plate and ¼ lb. tobacco—also a fine bull for the value of 2½ gulden in copper and tobacco from the Captain, who had come according to promise—he was kindly treated and left in the evening. Yacht’s crew report that much salt had been formed.

24. (Sunday).—Van der Helm, Verburgh and 16 armed men sent to the Saldanhars with pipes and tobacco to treat them and so coax them to come to the fort to trade, as up to date only 11 or 12 cattle and sheep had been obtained—necessary to provide more for the sick, as the natives have abundance of cattle. Well received by the Captain and regaled on milk—the jars very dirty, the offer consequently politely declined—presented them with pipes and tobacco to return their courtesy and coax them towards the fort. Gave us to understand that they had not that intention hut were going to the large wood about 7 miles from this, discovered by the two bookkeepers—did not show any desire for copper—disinclined to trade. Did not know what to make of it —afraid that Herry, formerly an enemy of the Saldanhars, but now very intimate with them, is brewing mischief, which, if discovered, will secure him quarters with wife, children and all the Watermen on Robben Island, to enable us to trade successfully with the Saldanhars and win their favour.

Deception by Herry the interpreter

From the previous entry and the one that follows Herry is not behaving himself in a friendly manner, bringing about a deceptive behaviour, a barefaced treachery that will work against the VOC and place them in a compromised position with the Saldanhars, as we read,

26.—Bartered an old and young sheep from some Saldanhars for wire, and a lamb for some tobacco. Whilst trading we saw them communicating with Herry, who seemed to urge them to ask more copper, thus greatly hindering us, as we offered pretty much for the sheep, having before this bartered the animals for tobacco according to the length of such sheep—-reserving the copper for cattle. Mate of yacht and Corporal had been here before, and traded with the Saldanhars, with whom Herry had never been seen, and who were consequently very manageable. Evident that Herry instead of good, is doing us harm, and observing his barefaced treachery, we communicated to them our displeasure, and told them that Herry was the cause of our not doing any business, and that they should behave differently if we were to continue our kindness to him, &c. Tried Herry by proposing that he should join our people going to the Saldanhars, believing that he would be afraid to do so. Did not refuse, as we believe that he knew that they had left, though a few days ago he did not dare to do so. Saw in the meanwhile some fires on the side of the mountain, and went further inland—met no one. Kerry did not dare to go with them, but returned and waited at the Salt River. Evident that to curry favour with them he has been trying to urge them to increase the price of their cattle—preventing trade, and no doubt doing more mischief. . . .

We can read on the 27th November 1652 that a “Barter went on smoothly until Herry came, showing that he is in our way and that some course must be pursued with him.” It is evident that Herry has become troublesome to the Dutchmen and the natives, attempting to hinder their friendships and cordial bartering!

On 2nd December 1652, trouble seems to be afoot, having been stirred up by Herry, for we read, “Commence to trade now in reality, though they part with their cattle with reluctance. In the evening saw many fires—told by Herry that there were thousands of natives in the neighbourhood—had watch kept vigilantly, though our intercourse is friendly.”

We come to learn that the Saldanhars’ attitude towards the colonial Dutch is changing from the friendly report that existed between them and that the journal entries are showing that the Saldanhars are becoming more ‘greedy’ for the copper and tobacco being paid in lieu of moneysomething worthless to the nativesfor the livestock required by the Dutch. For a very primitive hunter-gatherer people the Saldanhars have an ‘inflation-driven’ attitude, charging more than what the costs were previously agreed upon at what appears the insistence of the ‘middle-man’ Herry. We also read that the indigenous natives, instead of rebelling outright against the Dutch settlers, they are of their own accord being drawn to the settlement of the Dutch and moving their dwellings closer. With this drawing-in as close neighbours we can expect that greater security measures would have to be put in place as is confirmed as certain crimes are also now coming to the fore, first by some Dutch men and later to be seen by the local natives. Let us read the record, although lengthy, so we can grasp the magnitude of the events eight months after the Dutch arrived at the Cape. We continue reading,

3.—Bought 8 cows and 12 sheep from the Saldanhars for about 30 lbs. copper plate and wire and 8 lbs. tobacco, also some pipes—sheep at 6½ stivers and cows at 6 skillings the head.

4.—Saldanhars leave hurriedly after selling us 1 heifer, 1 calf and 9 sheep.

5.—Bought a cow and 11 sheep. Saldanhars approaching gradually nearer with their houses—teaching us to be on our guard. Our men not only asleep when on guard, but also stealing each other’s and the Company’s property—consequently found it necessary to appoint a Provost Marshal named Michiel Gleve of Stralsund (a very fit person) with the salary of 15 gulden per month, and the emoluments connected with the office as in India.

6.—Bartered 9 cows and 22 sheep for copper and tobacco. If we had no tobacco no trade would result, hence 1,000 lbs. of tobacco required annually, as often a cow has been withheld because of a finger’s length of tobacco. Will not take rotten tobacco—call it stinking tobacco. Among these Saldanhars were two new captains who wished to see our house, in which they were treated with three or four drinks and some tobacco. Saw in the meanwhile along the hill beside Table Mountain the country covered with cattle and sheep as with grass, the property of said chiefs, who intend to pitch their tents near to us and desire to see our mode of
living and our wives, to which we agreed, though we would like to see them further off, as our number is small and our means of defence slight. Saldanhars friendly—if a cow runs away they immediately fetch it for an inch length of tobacco and return the copper plate to us until they have brought the animal back to our pasture grounds—they only wish to be kindly treated, which costs nothing. Last night Martinus de Hase left his post as sentry and stole about 70 turnips from the garden below the fort—caught by the picket, and brought to the guard-house, but as soon as the gate was open in the morning he ran away, afraid of being severely punished, having at divers times committed thefts, but always in consequence of his respectable parents let off with light punishment. Jan Pietersz: Soenwater having stolen some of the Company’s wire whilst on guard (the wheels of the barrows having been tied with it through want of iron) is sentenced to be scourged.

7.—Burglary committed in the carpenter’s shop. Things stolen:—of the chief carpenter 1 pack of cloth clothing, 1 white pair of kersey pants, 4 shirts, 4 or 5 copper rings, some knives and 1 pair of shoes; of Willem Gabrielsz: ¼ piece guinea linen, 6 knives, 1 pair new shoes, 1 copper pot, ½ book of paper and pens; and of Frans Hendriksz: Van Vleute, a chisel. Thief supposed to be M. de Hase—Corporal and six men sent to look for him—supposed to be among the Saldanhars, who are about here in multitudes with about 2,000 sheep and cattle, within ½ cannon shot from the fort. Bought 1 cow, 2 heifers and 18 sheep for copper and tobacco—also bartered—taking what we can get—3 sheep for an old driver and some tobacco, which former they are as cold chisels—wish we had more of this old iron, as we bought last week a calf with the same. The Saldanhar captain recovered for us a young ox, which we had already considered as lost, for which he was munificently entertained. Jan Pietersz: Soenwater undergoes his sentence. Afraid that the wind will bring the sticks about our ears.

8. (Sunday).—Bought 11 cows and 29 sheep from the Saldanhars, among the latter some captains, one of whom we entertained yesterday. All treated kindly as usual. Grass set on fire by Saldanhars—requested them not to come so near us with their fire, upon which all immediately proceeded to extinguish the same, for which each received a finger’s length of tobacco—seem bent upon not injuring us but showing us kindness—this is reciprocated—we are nevertheless on our guard. Thousands of Saldanhars around us, but not trespassing on the pasture grounds occupied by us—seem to have great faith in us. Bought two fine partridges for a finger’s length of tobacco—told them to bring more, as they were very nice.

9.—Bought 9 cows and 36 sheep—cows at 35 or 36 stivers and the sheep at 6 stivers value. Martinus de Hase caught with the carpenter’s clothes on him—stolen things all found in a little bush where he had concealed them—freely acknowledged his theft made a full confession—had absconded because afraid of punishment—had expected to exchange the things stolen among the Saldanhars for food; they had, however, robbed him of the copper rings of the wheelbarrows and the knives, as he was alone—had in despair committed the crime hoping to be put to death, and begged to be shot and not hanged—had often robbed the gardens and the fowls’ nests. Decided to keep him confined until the arrival of the return fleet, and hand him over to the Commander, very likely an India Councillor. Gathered as much of the mustard seed on the side of Table Mountain as we could get, about a ton full; will sow them near the works to use the leaves for refreshing the ships. Drank for the first time milk of the cows and sheep, which nourishes the sick likewise.

10.—Bought 12 cows and 18 sheep for less than yesterday, each cow costing fully 26 stivers and each sheep 5½ do. The cadjangh sown some 6 or 7 days ago in a well manured plot appears above ground, also cabbages, carrots and peas. Collected a fair quantity of seed from the latter, also of the cabbage lettuce and chervil, though little of the last had grown.

11.—Wind and rain—latter welcome for the gardens—two sheep killed by the rain, also a young calf. Necessary to have sheds for sheep and young calves, but we are in want of the necessary materials. Only bought 5 sheep for about 5½ stivers each—Saldanhars in numbers at the Fresh and Salt Rivers. Took the soldiers from the works to be on guard continually in case of surprise—kept the sailors at work—present number of men as follows: Soldiers 30, sailors at work 24, carpenters and boys 7, masons 9, gardeners 8, cowherds 2, shepherds 2, pigherds 1, cooks and boys 4, surgeon and boy 2, gunner 1, hospital superintendent 1, provost marshal 1, besides the Commander, 1 sick comforter, 1 assistant, 1 butler, one cooper and 2 boys, 8 in all—total 100, also women and children and men of the yacht 26—grand total 125 drawing pay, among them some sick in bed and many lazy bones whom it would be better to di[s]charge.

12.—Sowed some Roman beans—bought 2 cows, 5 sheep and a tusk. Saldanhars very likely detained by the bad weather—squatting at the Salt River.

13.—Saldanhars come near to the fort with thousands of cattle and sheep obtained only 20 sheep, 2 cows and 5 calves, they being unwilling to part with their cattle—hard to behold so much cattle and not be able to get any, though we offered 1/3 more for every head than we were accustomed to do, and treated the natives as kindly as possible—perhaps they have enough copper or been influenced by a jealous rival—would like to know the first point, for it would have been easy, if proper, to have seized about 10,000 which—if ordered to do so—would be afterwards and now also very serviceable—the natives trusting us. Once well supplied, the number could be kept up by breeding, and there would be no fear that the English would spoil the traffic with the natives, who daily give us sufficient cause, in consequence of their thieving, for revenge on them or their cattle, and if their cattle cannot be obtained in a friendly way, why then suffer their thefts without making reprisals, which would be required only once, for with 150 men 10 or 12,000 cattle could be secured, and without any danger; as many of these savages could be caught without a blow, for transmission as slaves to India, as they always come to us unarmed; this, however, requires more consideration and wiser judgment than ours alone—-we have only by the way mentioned it but will reflect upon it after more experience gained and orders received. Heavy South-East wind.

14.—Bought 15 cows and 31 sheep—gave more and offered more than usual—each beast costing already about 6 skillings and each sheep 7 stiver—having before only paid for sheep 5 or 5½ stivers and for cattle 26 to 28 and 30 stivers a piece. Believe that the natives are gorged with copper—the more we offer the more they ask, returning at night with their cattle to the Salt River.

15. (Sunday).—Bought 4 cows, 1 calf and 11 sheep—could get no more—raising their prices—thought it advisable also to hold out a little, but if this does not answer, will have to spend more to obtain a greater number of cattle for breeding purposes—have at present only 88 head of cattle and 269 sheep, besides those killed daily for the men. A Saldanhar stole a copper plate—detected by a soldier—created a great sensation—Saldanhars ran away, but were called back by Herry and the chief told that we knew that he could not help it—-barter continued, but the fear remained upon them, as they drove their cattle away. A little while after found three cows driven by a Hottentoo, which we thought had been pilfered from our flock—sent three or four men to circumvent them, who approached near to their flocks, when they all ran away into the woods and up the mountain, leaving their cattle behind—our men called and made them understand that they had merely come to inquire whether the three cows belonged to the whites, but finding the contrary, did not desire their cattle, but civilly asked them to sell them for copper. A new friendship was created and at night some came to the fort with sheep, but if our four men had so willed it, having no weapon but a sword each, they might have driven 40 or 50 cattle to the fort, as all the Saldanhars had run away, showing a timid disposition. We consequently assured a certain chief who came to us in the evening of our good intentions and our readiness to give as much copper and brass for their cattle as they might fairly claim, requesting them to bring many, showing some copper and making them understand that we had brought it for that purpose, and that the ships would bring more—that we were not of the kind of people seeking to rob others but would grant them what they asked for what we required—we treated him kindly, so that he left quite contented, promising to return to-morrow.

16.—Saldanhars half a mile from the fort— only bought 1 cow and 1 sheep—taking 3 sheep back with them, though we offered more than before—believe that they are gorged with copper, having no use for it except as an ornament—consequently very little more cattle will be obtained unless other means be resorted to, but this is at present premature. Herry explained that after the departure of the Saldanhars the Fishmen would arrive with cattle only, and if we wished to oblige him and the Saldanhars we should kill the Fishmen and take their cattle, which would be easily done as they were a very weak tribe. Told him all were our friends who cared to trade, as we had come with copper and tobacco to buy cattle but not to injure anybody—wishing to live in friendship with all. This pleased him as regarded himself and the Saldanhars but not as regarded the Fishmen—the ruin of the latter would be too premature; as beforehand it will be necessary to inquire what profit could be secured from them for the Company. A fine ox and lamb died suddenly.

First comet sighting recorded from Southern Africa

History is recorded in history as the first comet sighting in Southern Africa to be recorded is seen and documented in the Jan van Riebeeck’s journal. If the Dutch had not been in the Cape at that very time, the sighting of the comet would never have been recorded; as the illiterate local natives had no ability to record this historical event in writing. Being a seafaring nation, the Dutch were accustomed to meticulously observing the heavens using the stars to plot their course and navigate the great oceans and seas of the world. They also observed the weather conditions by always looking heavenward at the sky. The record of the comet sightings appear on the 17th, the 18th, the 20th, the 21st and the 24th December 1652, ending with these words, “. . . its signification is known to the Lord.”

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[Comets in old Cape Records, at page 4, from 17th December 1652][2]

In the entries where Commander van Riebeeck makes reference to the “giant” it is observed from the document ‘Comets in old Cape Records’, at page 5 thereof, that this is in reference to Orion. An educated and learned navigational eye would have picked this out. This prominent constellation located on the celestial equator and visible throughout the world would be observed by seafaring explorers. Incidentally, Orion is also mentioned in the LORD’s Holy Word in the Old Testament, for it is written,

9  Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south. ~ Job 9:9 

31  Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? ~ Job 38:31

8  Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name: ~ Amos 5:8 [LORD is YHVH (YEHOVAH)]

Over and above the comet sightings, the record of the wavering of the Saldanhars in their bartering with the Dutch continues. The Dutch had considered to take livestock by force, but the record reveals that their God-given conscience and lack of orders from the Company kept them orderly and bartering in a friendly manner. Even when the Saldanhars urged the Dutch to kill the Fishmen and steal their cattle, the Dutch implored the Saldanhars to live in harmony with the Fishmen. Not so, the Saldanhars committed murder, as we read on,

17.—Bought one sheep though we paid more for it—natives raising their price and continually driving their cattle away after the sale of an animal—what this means is difficult to say, though we treat their chiefs handsomely—could get no more than 1 cow, 1 calf and 11 sheep—not easy to fathom this peculiar people—sowed some cadjangh, cress, cabbage, water-melon, melon and Indian beans, planted also orange and apple pips—those planted before not having come up. At night about 9 or 10 o’clock saw to the East-South-East, southward from the head of the giant, about 80° above the horizon, a strange star with a tail; the tail extending northwards right on the knees of the giant, and the head mostly to the south about 10° away. Jan Pietersz: Soenwater sentenced for theft ran away—apparently afraid of punishment for other thefts.

18.—Saldanhars in swarms with numerous cattle near the fort, almost rushing into the the gate and with difficulty kept away from the gardens—not inclined to trade—flush of copper and consequently cattle trade must diminish. Herry says that they have enough copper and will henceforth bring only now and then an animal. Natives make armlets and chains of the copper, and if there be no longer a chance to trade what harm would it be if they were deprived of 6 or 8,000 head of cattle—the opportunities are many, as they are weak and timid—3 or 4 men often come with 1,000 cattle within range of our cannon, who might easily he cut off. And as they are so confiding we continue to treat them kindly to gain their confidence, and still more so to see whether in course of time anything may be done with them in the shape of trade or otherwise for the Company’s benefit and likewise should we to-day or to-morrow receive the order, to be able on the strength of their confidence to take their cattle easily and without a blow, as it is miserable to behold so much cattle, which are so necessary for refreshments for the ships, but cannot he obtained by good treatment or barter. Saldanhars return to the Salt and Fresh Rivers beside Table Mountain, about a mile from this. Saw the comet on the same spot.

19.—Only eight sheep obtained—trade slackening more and more—their inclination for copper passing away.

20.—Jan Soenwater returns to the fort and receives his deserved punishment. The cadjangh sown on the 17th springing up, also the watermelons. Bartered four sheep from the Saldanhars, who had again drawn near to the fort with much cattle, for some tobacco—they no longer ask for copper. If we had no more tobacco we would hardly get a cow or sheep for copper alone—good that they are so partial to tobacco, with which we will succeed, very well, having to-day bought a fine milk ewe for its length in tobacco=¼ lb. weight=11 doits. Very cheap indeed. Saw the comet in the North-East, northerly from the belt of the giant, about 60° above the horizon.

21.—On this side N.W. and across the bay strong S.E. wind, which often happens. Sowed a good deal of salad seed, beans, and peas—commenced to cut some wheat and barley, which grew beautifully in spite of the strong winds. If the lands had been manured sooner we would have had earlier and better crops even. Our first season for experiments. Wonderful how well the things grow on a wild and otherwise uncultivated and unmanured ground—expect much from manure, for which the cattle are very serviceable, would, therefore, wish for more to have also milch cows besides those required as refreshments for the ships—but the native desire for copper has passed away, as appears from the conduct of a chief to-day, though we offer more. They inquire daily for the ships, especially the English vessels, which makes us suppose that Herry has been influencing them to hold out, as he no doubt likes the English more than he does us, having voyaged with them to Bantam, and expecting to have some profit from them. To prevent which we hope time and opportunity will offer us the means. Would like to have prompt orders to forbid him to trade with the natives or otherwise. Only obtained three sheep. Saw the comet this evening towards the North-East like yesterday.

22. (Sunday).—Bought five sheep—watermelons sown on 17th springing up—manure does them good apparently, as they would not grow in unmanured ground. Death of the sailor Switsert Teunisz: Pyl.

23. —Buried the sailor. Saw no Saldanhars near the fort, but our people fishing at Salt River saw them going inland with thousands of cattle and sheep. But Herry tells us that they will return when the after grass shall have appeared, the vegetation round about having been burnt for the purpose. Are only provided with 89 cattle and 284 sheep, from which the population is to be supplied. The Dutch food is exhausted, and no fish to be caught, which will diminish the supplies for the ships considerably. Hope for the best and trust in God, as the Saldanhars have enough copper.

24.—Sent Van der Helm, the provisional sergeant, and six musketeers to the Saldanhar camps about two or three miles from this, to inquire whether or not the natives had left, how strong they were, and whether they would prefer trading at their location to doing so at the fort. Took with them a good wooden box with cut tobacco and pipes to treat the natives. Returned in the afternoon with some Saldanhars driving 1 cow and 5 sheep, which we bought for copper and tobacco. Report that many had left with their flocks; had only seen two locations, the one having seven and the other eight huts, altogether not more than 80 souls, and of the number 40 men able to carry arms, not at all strong, and possessing 7 or 800 cows and 1½ thousand sheep—were frightened when they first saw our men, and drove away their cattle to the mountains—were called back and told we had brought tobacco and copper to trade with, and were anxious to be on a cordial footing with them—gave them a pipeful of tobacco and finally persuaded them to bring one beast and five sheep to the fort. Seemed to prefer to trade at their quarters—the reason we do not know, as often they came with their cattle near to the fort and found that we desired no more than to trade with them for copper and tobacco. Perhaps prejudiced by Herry, they are afraid of us, and now more so than ever. Herry likes the English more than he does us, being always full of them—no doubt he has persuaded the natives to keep their cattle back until the arrival of the English, as he seems to know pretty exactly when their fleet will be here from India. Saldanhars continually asking when, especially the English ships will be here—told them—if Herry truly interprets—that the copper of the ships will he given to us to trade with for cattle to be distributed among the vessels and that we still had sufficient copper and tobacco for the purpose. We doubt whether Herry interprets faithfully, as we often trade better without him—if the English arrive, we will be better able to discover what connection there is between them. Saw at night the comet again—having travelled to the North-North-West of us about 50 degrees above the horizon, its tail, which is now less bright than formerly, pointing to the East-South-East—its signification is known to the Lord.

25. (Christmas).—Bought eight sheep—last night one sheep was almost wholly devoured by a wild beast, notwithstanding the watch kept in and outside of the kraal. At night seven or eight wild beasts crossed over the canals, fully eight feet broad and four feet deep, into the kraal, so that the guards fired before they could be compelled to leave—eight persons henceforth to guard the cattle, two of whom shall together take a turn to keep watch and keep a fire burning to frighten the wild beasts. The square within the fort being too small to contain all the cattle, we intend to make a kraal —when the garden produce on that spot has been gathered—between the two points Drommedaris and Oliphant, with a front wall of sods eight feet high and a good canal inside to water the cattle, which may easily be done by locking the river, for which and other similar works the Commodore of the expected fleet will be asked to lend us some assistance with his crews, as we will never be able to finish with the hands we have now. The work is daily increasing, and much is to be done in trenching and digging up the garden ground.

26.—Arrival of the very oldest Saldanhars with their captain and four sheep—had not been here for some time—treated well to draw them nearer, and obtained in the afternoon two more sheep. Churned the first butter and from half an anker of milk obtained 2 lbs. good yellow butter—doing our best to make cheese—in want of many of the necessary utensils, which we have to find on the first opportunity, as success is fairly promising. Very severe South-East during the evening and night, so that the sentry could not walk on the ramparts. In the whole world it cannot blow as hard as the S.E. does here, which often surpasses the West Indian hurricanes and the Japanese typhoons.

27.—Bought a cow and seven sheep from the same natives.

28.—Wind still blowing violently, knocking the corn out of the ears, so that we hardly won a quarter of our crop. Found oats among the corn mixed up with the seeds of wheat and barley sown—carefully gathered—to be sown on a separate plot to grow in quantity, as we intend to do with barley also. Corn here extraordinarily beautiful, pity that it has been so much knocked about by the wind. Churned twice to-day with less milk than on the 29th, obtained 1½ lb. much finer butter than before—in course of time things will improve—thank God we are so far advanced that we can accommodate the sick with sweet and butter milk and eggs, fowls breeding finely, but the pigs and pigeons do not seem to prosper—pigs not yet having littered and only seven pigeons reared. Bought 5 sheep, 1 cow and 2 small calves, which we paid for at a dearer rate to entice the sellers—and to obtain a sufficient breeding stock. Saldanhars had been at the Fishmen, killing four and capturing much cattle—requested us likewise to attack the Fishmen, which would oblige them greatly, as the former were a pack of thieves, who would when here endeavour to steal our cattle. We replied that we very much liked the Saldanhars to live and trade with them amicably, and would see when the Fishmen came what people they were, but would always be attached to the Saldanhars, which seemed to please them.

29. (Sunday).—Bartered 4 sheep and 2 cows. Found 18 sheep wanting—herds acknowledged they had lost them through carelessness. Condemned the three principal herds each to pay two reals for six sheep, and told them to be more careful in future otherwise they would be punished.

30.—Wind having blown severely for 5 or 6 days, we found the gardens much injured—the peas blown to pieces, also the beans, which were beautiful—seed of the cabbage lettuce suffered, strange to say, no injury—collected it in this calm weather—likewise that of radish, spinach, endives, &c. Will in consequence of the drought not be able to sow again before February or March. The return fleet will find all our vegetables run into seed except carrots, turnips, radish and beetroot—cabbage also will be ready and in quantity—every day we eat mutton—the churn is fairly going, and we have set aside already 6 lbs. butter—the people receiving butter milk, which may also refresh the men of the coming ships. In want, however, of appliances to make cheese. Matters bucolic promising well—eating fresh butter at table, using the Dutch butter for food. Preparing to bake bread from the new wheat to have everything straight for the refreshment of the ships, which will seemingly henceforth be fairly possible—but from April to October the best refreshments in the shape of vegetables will be had, and for the ships in February and March the most cattle, carrots, cabbage, turnips, &c.—milk the whole year through, for which purpose cattle should be kept. Bought a cow and five sheep. Sent to search for the sheep between Table and Lion Mountains. The men also to go behind Table Mountain to discover how many Saldanhars there were—they remained away the whole night.

31.—Sheep not found—men reported that they had found about the Hout Bay six locations containing altogether about 500 souls and numberless cattle—natives much afraid of the whites, who showed them great kindness, so that some of them accompanied the six soldiers a great distance to show them the way for a little tobacco. Bought 12 sheep and 1 cow. The newly arrived Saldanhars report that many of them were at the Saltpan with much cattle, which they intended to sell—treated them kindly and informed them that we had much copper and tobacco—may some advantage result from this—God grant it, Amen.
N.B.—The wind and weather very carefully noted every day.

January 1, 1653.—Bought seven sheep before the sermon. Released from irons Gerrit Dirckz; Jan Blanx and Willem Huytjens, and reinstated in office the suspended corporal.

2.—Bought eight sheep. Died one Dutch pig—these animals do not seem to thrive here. Likewise died one sheep and one calf. Wind so heavy that no one could easily keep his legs, wheelbarrows not manageable on the planks, and the ground as hard as stone in consequence of the dry wind.

3.—Bought five sheep—wind as bad—no progress with the work.

4.—Sent the catechist with a corporal and six soldiers with copper, tobacco and pipes to the Saldanhars, to inquire whether they would like to trade at their place, as they no longer come to the fort with any large number of cattle. Bartered seven sheep in the meanwhile. The party returning brought 2 cows, 1 bull, 1 ox, 1 heifer and 1 calf with 11 sheep. Saldanhars more inclined to trade at their camp than at the fort. Will therefore try again on Monday. Also bought four cows, a calf and six sheep—God be praised for the blessing. On the other side of the bay—from the wreck of the Haerlem along the whole coast towards Saldanha Bay—numerous fires, belonging, as Herry states, to natives with much cattle, who may be expected here to trade; if they like copper the cattle barter may again look up. Would like to have more tobacco, which is running out, as without it bartering will be scarcely possible.

5. (Sunday).—Bought 12 sheep and 2 cows, 1 ox, a calf and heifer, for copper and tobacco—half of the last roll already used up.

The battlements of Cape Town's Castle of Good Hope - Mike Hutchings/Reuters In closing this the second edition of our look back into history, we find ourselves in January 1653 and will pick up again in Part 3 with the further examination of their bartering, the relationships between the Dutch and the local native tribes, and also life in general at the Dutch Cape Colony. Until then,

Soli Deo Gloria_____________________

Footnotes:

[1] Precis of the Archives of the Cape of Good Hope, December 1651 – December 1655, Riebeeck’s Journal – by H. C. V. Leibrandt, Keeper of the Archives. Part I. Cape Town : W. A. Richards & Sons, Government Printers, 1897. pp14-57.

[2] Comets in Old Cape Records by Donald McIntyre, Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society Past President, Astronomical Society of South Africa, Member of the British Astronomical Association, With a Foreword by C. Graham Botha, M.A., LL.D., Former Chief Archivist for the Union of South Africa, Cape Times Limited, Cape Town, MCMXLIX

Related Blog Posts:

The Gospel comes to South Africa (13 December 2012)

Answer to Sandile ~ Part 1 (3 June 2013)

The Gospel . . . Racism and South African History (8 March 2016)

365 Years Ago Today . . . (6 April 2017)

The Land Issue: South Africa 1652 – present: Part 1

Introduction

Flag of the Dutch East India Company svgThis report has gleaned information from written journals and historical documents that have been compiled by real people that scribed events for generations to come, so true facts of history can be known concerning past events. History records the past and warns of shortcomings so that generations later can know what actually did transpire, and hopefully they can learn from past events and never become victims of sinfully repeating them again.

It is because of the northern hemisphere cultural way of life that dictates recording written documents of events that took place, that we can come to learn of what truly transpired over the ages and not be presented with a ‘hearsay-rhetoric’ that alters historical events and leaves people groups believing prefabricated lies. This rhetoric presents a flawed ‘record of events’ as there is a lack of, or nonexistent, written account of events to substantiate what actually did take place.

Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC), Amsterdam HQ Symbol The original Journals of Commander Johan van Riebeeck that were kept by him in diary form for the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC – Dutch East-Indies Company) were translated by the Historical Society of Utrecht in the Netherlands and were published in 1884 through Messrs. Kemink and Son also of Utrecht. The resultant translated Journal of Johan van Riebeeck from 1652 to 1655 was edited by the venerable professor Brill of Utrecht. The writer of this blog posting has a copy of the Dutch translation of the original journals as well as a subsequent copy of the English translation of the prior Dutch translation, both in pdf format of the ‘original books’ obtained from the internet. [A copy of the same can be requested via email.] Writer requests you the reader to subscribe to this blog in order that you can receive notification of the follow-up parts by email. Writer also implores you to go back to the original documents presented to us in history to know the facts and not believe the lies peddled by 17th century plaque to Dutch East India Company (VOC), Hoornpoliticians for their own evil and selfish agendas and the deceiving of the South African population en mass. Other historical documents will also be cited and quoted extensively to bring the facts to the fore and these autographs, when referred to, will be revealed at those times they find reference accordingly.

This document is set forth to show how GOD orchestrates the placement and movement of men for HIS will and purposes. Writer will also show how South African history reveals that black and white people groups are all colonial in part and joint occupants of this wonderful land that belongs to all people groups. The land issue as to who it belongs to will show that it belongs first and foremost to GOD and secondarily that the South African land has been acquired by black and white through treaty, purchasing, sinful pillaging, laws, wars and VOC Headquarters, Amsterdamconflicts waged to acquire ownership. No one people group has sole and exclusive ownership or claim to the land as the ANC and EFF political parties think and advocate with their plans to promulgate a law “expropriating land without compensation” by amending Section 25 of the South African Constitution! The country of South Africa belongs to black Africans, white Africans and brown Africans. It belongs to African Africans, Colonial Africans, Asiatic Africans and the like. It is a land for the free although it has a bloodied chequered past, yet it will be shown that before and during the ‘civilised colonial age’ a ‘barbaric heathen age’ of customs and traditions also prevailed to the detriment of all inhabitants within the southern African region we have come to know as South Africa. Let the facts be presented, and the Truth be known, for GOD ALMIGHTY the Creator of humankind sets the boundaries of men’s habitations, as we read,

26  And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; ~ Acts 17:26

Johan ‘Jan’ van Riebeeck’s Journals [1]

Jan van Riebeeck Johan Anthoniszoon van Riebeeck (born 21 April 1619 – died 18 January 1677) was the son of a sea captain Antonius who died in the Brazils in 1639 and was buried at Olinda de Pharnambuco, in the Church of San Paolo. His mother was Elizabeth, a daughter of Govert van Gaasbeeck, who died and was buried in Schiedam in 1629. Their son Johan married Maria la Quellerie or Querellerius (born 28 October 1629 – died 2 November 1664) at Schiedam in March 1649. His wife was the daughter of a minister of Rotterdam. She followed her husband to the Kaap de Goede Hoop (Cape of Good Hope), where, besides other children she presented him in 1653 with a son, named Abraham, who in the year 1709, when 56 years old, rose to the high position of Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, following in the footsteps of his father being in the employ of the VOC.

Maria Quellerie or Quevellerius As an officer of the Company Johan van Riebeeck showed such ability and zeal in the interests of his masters, that the latter appointed him in 1651 as chief of the garrison to be despatched to the Cape, in order to establish a refreshment station there. Before that in 1648, The Resolution of the Chamber, Amsterdam, containing his appointment, read as follows: “The meeting accepts Johan van Riebeeck, with the rank of merchant and commander of the men now proceeding to the Cape of Good Hope in the ship Drommedaris, for a period of five years, and with a monthly salary of f.75 (guilders); and he is to remain there until the work has been brought to good order.”

We also see from letters and other documents dated from 1649 to 1651 that the survivors of the shipwrecked Haerlem, a Dutch ship, who had spent five months on land at the Cape of Good Hope, had been instrumental in Map of Haerlem wreck (?)reporting and recording their findings of the viability of setting up a refreshment post at the Cape. These documents reveal that the Dutch who were at that time, and still are, a civilised advanced people who planned meticulously and organised and recorded every detail in written form, looking at every advantage and countering every disadvantage, as well as also taking into consideration the cost and financial implications to the smallest detail of any undertaking to be had. They took cognisance of the resident natives, the soil and land, vegetation, water resources, animal life, climate, and the like. The Dutch being an advanced and powerful seafaring nation who were navigators and explorative in finding sea routes and better ways of dealing with long arduous sailing voyages where medical preventions of dropsy, scurvy and other illnesses could be alleviated, were true merchant colonial pioneers. A truly sophisticated, educated and civilised people.

Drommedaris replicaIt must also be noted that these Dutchmen were of the Reformed Christian faith, who were also from an era of religious persecution within the European context of the religious during the 17th century reformation, who were coming to establish a refreshment station with their hearts set on pleasing God as can be seen regularly in the manuscripts of their written records; they were also set on evangelising the world bringing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a land inhabited by then heathen unbelieving natives, a hunter-gatherer people, just as scripture commands, for we read how the Lord Jesus Christ commissioned his disciples,

15  And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
~ Mark 16:15,16

Greater justice will be done by recording here the contents of certain ‘original’ letters and documents and sharing them extensively in quoted form to present the Dutchmen’s meticulous planning ahead of their actual landing at the Cape on 6th April 1652. This will set the foundational context for the historical events that followed in South Africa’s rich history that we should safeguard, protect and be educated by learning from the past. We begin by reading:

LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS RECEIVED.[2]
No. 1. — A Short Exposition of the Advantages to be Derived by the Company from a Fort and Garden at the Cape of Good Hope.

26th July, 1649

Though some who have visited the Cape, but without paying attention to its resources, will say that the place is altogether unfit and will not repay the expenses incurred, as nothing is to be had save water and wild sorrel; and others that the Company have forts and stations in sufficient number to take care of, and therefore ought to make no more; we will endeavour to show according to our understanding, and with brevity and humility, how serviceable and necessary such a fort and garden will be for the convenience and preservation of the Company’s ships and men ; and also that they can be established with profit and no cost.

By making a fort and a garden adequate to the requirements of the crews of the Company’s passing vessels, in the Table Valley, protecting the whole with a garrison of 60 or 70 soldiers and sailors, and likewise providing the establishment with a proper staff of experienced gardeners, a great deal of produce can be raised, as will be shown further on.

The soil is very good in the valley, and during the dry season the water can be used for irrigation as required. Everything will grow there as well as in any other part of the world, especially pumpkin, watermelon, cabbage, carrot, radish, turnip, onion, garlic, and all kinds of vegetables, as those who were wrecked in the Haerlem can testify.

It is also beyond doubt that all kinds of fruit trees will thrive there, as orange, lime, apple, citron, shaddock, pear, plum, cherry, gooseberry and currant, which can be kept on board for a long time.

Daily experience teaches us what the little sorrel and sometimes 2 or 3 cattle obtained by the crews proceeding to India have done for the sick and healthy on board.

Please therefore to consider when all the fruit mentioned can be procured there in abundance, how many sick will be restored to health by God’s goodness; especially when a large number of cattle and sheep have been bartered from the natives for supplies, and which could be procured for a small amount. From the cattle butter cheese and milk could also be obtained for refreshment.

All ships could, whilst taking in water, be daily supplied with 3 or 4 cattle and sheep and all kinds of greens, and when leaving, also supplied with living cattle and sheep, cabbages, carrots, turnips, onions, garlic, watermelons and pumpkins, which when ripe would keep for 7 or 8 months and remain good. Also oranges, apples, limes and shaddocks, so that there would always be refreshments on board for the sick to the place of their destination, which would be a great comfort for all during the long voyage.

Pigs could also be successfully reared there and fattened on cabbages, carrots and turnips, and if once in abundance, each ship might take on board one or two sows which have littered or are near the time of doing so, and which, if fed on board one or two months, would be no small refreshment.

The water which is taken in there with great difficulty—the men however cold it may be, being obliged to go into the sea up to their necks—causing loss of time and great sickness, might then be carried along in wooden pipes, or drawn from a jetty and with half the number of men and half of the trouble now necessary.

It cannot be denied that St. Helena has hitherto been a very convenient place of call for the return ships, but in consequence of the negligence of the skippers and the boats’ crews (who are more inclined to ruin everything with which they come in contact than to plant or leave anything for their posterity) it has been so damaged that henceforth neither pigs nor goats will be obtainable.

Ere this, ships returning home when leaving St Helena, besides the pigs used during their stay, caught 70, 80, yea more than 100 alive to take with them. Last year the fleet under the flag of the Hon. Wollebrant Geleynsen (consisting of 12 ships) could hardly obtain 200 pigs, in spite of all the trouble taken; and it will be seen that every year the number will decrease, and in a short time nothing will be left. From the expected return fleet it will be gathered that less than last year have been caught. The cause has been mentioned above, viz.: The negligence of the officers and the bad disposition of the sailors, who are composed of all nations and have taken good care of themselves, but do not think of those who come alter them, as you have often heard them say, “Why should I care? A hundred chances to one that I will never again in my life come here.” Therefore they spoil everything which they approach.

For this reason they would take no trouble, after having obtained the required number of pigs, to take on board again or destroy the dogs with which they had hunted—a matter which the officers of the various ships and the commanders ought to have seen to. The consequence has been that some dogs and bitches have been left on the Island, and are multiplying to such an extent that in a short time, having nothing else to live on, all the cattle will be devoured by them.

Henceforth, therefore, nothing save some vegetables and sometimes a few apples and oranges will be obtainable which will often be unripe, and, as was the case last year, plucked by the English who arrive before we do.

From all this it is plain how necessary the said fort or garden has become, as it is well known how difficult it will be for the sailors to reach home without intermediate refreshment; and the Company’s ships would be liable to great peril from severe sickness. The Cape would be most convenient for all ships going to and coming from India, especially if the officers were ordered, whenever practicable, not to pass but to touch at the Cape for refreshments.

For that purpose the premium promised to those who reach Batavia within six months, might be altered in such a way that the half or a third, as you may think proper, shall be paid to those who arrive at the Cape within a certain time, and the rest thence to Batavia.

The officers of the outgoing ships, generally well provided in the cabin with everything, and more anxious to secure the premium (the good ones excepted) than to benefit the service, when not able to reach the Cape with ease, immediately resolve to push on straight for Batavia, and the crew in consequence of an inadequate supply of water, receiving no more than four or five glasses per diem, whilst the cook can provide nothing save salt meat and pork, must become sick, so that the hospital at Batavia is filled with patients, causing great expense and loss to the Company; said patients remaining there often for months without doing any work, and nevertheless drawing pay.

All this can be prevented by having a fort and a garden at the Cape. For the crews would be well refreshed there and provided with cattle, sheep and greens, and abundance of water, so that the cook would be able to provide the proper food, and the men obtain their indispensable rations, which would keep them strong and healthy on the voyage home or to Batavia, and always fit for service, and the Company would have no useless expense and loss.

In case any are sick or unable to go to sea they might remain at the Cape without any expense until they are restored to health, when they may be sent on with the following ships.

If it be asked by whom the garden is to be cultivated, we reply that if three or four gardeners from Holland are stationed there, enough men will be found among the sailors and soldiers to dig and delve; whilst from Batavia some Chinese, who are an industrious people, may be introduced who are well versed in gardening, and of whom there is always a sufficient number in irons.

Or it might happen which (God forbid) that again a ship (as lately happened twice) was wrecked there, and in that case I would leave it for you to consider of what service and advantage a garrison at that place would be. In order with the help of God to prevent all accidents and inconveniences two or three sloops may be stationed there to pilot the ships to a safe anchorage during darkness or calms, as many skippers and mates, because they come there so seldom, are ill-acquainted with the place.

Having shown what advantages the Company would derive from a fort and garden at the Cape, we now proceed to consider the expenses to be incurred on the one hand and the profits to be derived on the other.

The fort provided with 60 or 70 men, the monthly payments would annually reach the sum of f.10,000—provisions we shall reckon at f.3,500, and for ammunition f.500—total f.14,000. The guns required for the fort may be obtained from the wreck of the Haerlem, so that in this respect no expense will be required, except for the necessary appliances.

Let us now look at the profits.

Every ship on leaving Batavia receives 200 Reals of 8 to buy refreshments at that place, an order of long standing. This sum might be reduced to 50 or 100, so that for 10 ships the saving would be f,2,500.

At the Cape the crews will be able to refresh themselves in 7 or 8 days whilst taking in water, much better than they would do at St. Helena in ½ a month, for the pigs which have to be caught there with much trouble and labour are so to say the sweat of the sailors. On the other hand everything would be obtained in abundance and easily at the Cape, and the ships could be so well provided that they would carry with them fresh food for 8 or 10 days at sea, besides other refreshments long preservable for the sick.

Refreshed at the Cape the ships would not be required to touch at St. Helena, to remain there, as has been done before this, for a long time—so that the Company would be greatly benefitted as regards the wages of the crews and the earlier arrival of the valuable return fieets.

The fort having been established a year, the garrison would require no other supplies than bread or rice, oil and vinegar (abundance of salt can be had there). This we calculate at f.1,000, so that the expenses would be f.2,500 less, whilst the profits would be multiplied.

Everything could he procured there in sufficient quantity. There is fish in abundance, which if dried might be distributed among the ships. Further there are elands and steenbucks in numbers, whose skins would in course of time also bring in something. All kinds of birds are there by thousands, and may be caught or shot; and with which the garrison may be fed, an ox being killed now and then.

Annually a large quantity of train oil might be boiled, for at certain seasons Table Bay is full of whales, whilst the Robben and other islands are always swarming with seals, so that a boiler could be kept continually going.

But some inexperienced will say that no fuel is obtainable at the Cape for boiling oil, so that the carriage of the wood will be more than the profits derivable from the oil. We however reply that such people could not have been further than Salt River, paying more attention to their fishing than the resources of the country; for behind, and on the ascent of Table Mountain sufficient wood is to be had, but at first to be fetched with some trouble.

Others will say that the natives are brutal and cannibals, from whom no good can be expected, and that we will have to be continually on our guard, but this is a vulgar error, as will be shown further on. We do not deny that they live without laws or police, like many Indians, nor that some boatmen and soldiers have been killed by them, but the cause is generally not stated by our people, in order to excuse themselves. We are quite convinced that the peasants of this country, in case their cattle are shot down or taken away without payment, would not be a hair better than these natives if they had not to fear the law.

We of the Haerlem testify otherwise, as the natives came with all friendliness to trade with us at the fort which we had thrown up during our five months’ stay, bringing cattle and sheep in numbers—for when the Princesse Royael arrived with 80 or 90 sick we could provide it with so much cattle and sheep which we had at hand and so many birds shot daily, that nearly all the sick were restored to health, so that this refreshment was next to God the salvation of that ship.

Once the chief mate, carpenter and corporal of the Haerlem went as far as the location of the natives, who received and treated them kindly, whilst they might easily have killed them if they had been inclined to cannibalism. The killing of our people is undoubtedly caused by revenge being taken by the natives when their cattle is seized, and not because they are cannibals.

The uncivil and ungrateful conduct of our people is therefore the cause; for last year when the fleet commanded by the Hon. E. Wollebrant Geleynsen was lying in Table Bay, instead of recompensing the natives somewhat for their good treatment of those wrecked in the Haerlem, they shot down 8 or 9 of their cattle and took them away without payment; which may cost the life of some of ours, if the natives find an opportunity; and your Honours may consider whether the latter would not have cause for such a proceeding.

The fort being commanded by a chief treating the natives kindly and gratefully, paying for whatever is obtained for them, also filling some of the natives’ stomachs with peas or beans, which they are very partial to, nothing need be feared, and in course of time the aboriginals would learn the Dutch language, and those of Saldanha and the interior might through them be induced to trade, of whom, however, nothing certain can be said.

The refreshments to be obtained at the Cape would materially benefit the Company in economizing the provisions of the ships.

It is plain that the natives will learn Dutch, for when the chief mate Jacob Claesz: Hack remained 6 or 8 weeks on shore therewith sick people, they daily came to carry wood, and knew how to say, “first carry wood, then eat,” Those of the Haerlem they could nearly all call by their names, and likewise speak other words, besides proving that they were able to learn our language.

Living on good terms with them, some of their children may afterwards be employed as servants, and educated in the Christian religion, by which means, if Almighty God blesses the work, as he has done at Tayouan and Formosa, many souls will he brought to the Christian Reformed Religion and to God.

The proposed fort and garden will therefore not only tend to the advantage and profit of the Company, but to the salvation also of many lives, certainly the most excellent deed to magnify the name of the Most Holy God and the spreading of His Holy Gospel. By such means your work in India will be blessed more and more.

It is very surprising that our ordinary enemy, the Spaniards or Portuguese, have never attacked our return ships, as they could have found no better situated spot for that purpose than at the Cape, as the ships often leave Batavia, in two or three divisions, and though they remain in company like last year, such does not last longer than the moment when they have passed the Princes Island, when every one does his best to be the first at the Cape, so that the one arrives there to-day, the other to-morrow (all at different times). Our enemies lying in wait there with 8 or 10 ships and well prepared for battle, would easily capture our vessels, hampered and unprepared as they would be, one after the other, even if two or three were to arrive at the same time, which rarely happens. The same thing might also be done by the Turks.

We therefore suggest that you should command that all the return ships shall leave Batavia at the same time, in order to reach the Cape in company, and so be prepared for an enemy.

This is briefly what we had to say in the interests of the Company. If we have in any way offended, we beg that such may not be taken amiss, but that you may be convinced that it arises from our earnest wish to serve you. May God grant you wisdom and understanding not only in this matter but in all others, that God’s Holy Name may be magnified, the Church of Christ be built up, and likewise the private honour and reputation of yourselves.

(Signed) Leendert Janz,
N. Proot.

Amsterdam, 26th July, 1649.

_______________

No. 2.—Report of Van Riebeeck on the above “Remonstrance,” Addressed to the Directors of the General Company.

(?) June, 1651

I have read with great attention the matters brought forward by Jansen and Proot, and can but add little more, they having sojourned at the Cape a whole season and throughly observed its agricultural resources and the character of the natives. As you have referred them to me your servant, who, in 1648, when returning home in the return fleet of the Hon. Wollebrandt Geleynsen, likewise remained three weeks on shore at the Cape to ship the goods saved from the wrecked ship Haerlem (and brought in carts to the Salt River), I will subjoin a few additional points regarding the fortress and plantation in order to establish them on the most suitable spot; and to do so not in the form of advice, as you posses better information than I can give, but to communicate the results of my reflections and what service I might do the Company at that place.

The projected fort, whatever its size, could be erected at the Fresh River in order that its water might be led into or around it, but as in that case its situation would be rather low and in course of time become damp, and its prospect interfered with by the growth of the trees to be planted, and as the ascent on the back of the Lion’s Hill (which, if any memory serves me well, is very near the said river) would entirely command the fort, it would be more prudent to build the fort on the said ascent, where there is, as far as I remember, a convenient eminence and a hard foundation, and whence the command over the river and the whole neighbourhood would be secured, for the fort would not be further than a pistol shot from the river, and if properly managed, one of its points might abut on the stream, at the same time retaining a good view of the sea, and over all the plantations and trees which may be made to grow there in time, however high they might become, and which would also add to the strength and appearance of the fort, with very little cost indeed. The proper spot for the fort, however, can only be determined by local inspection, for which purpose I beg to offer my services to the Company.

Though “Sieur” Leendert does not seem to have any fear of the natives, I beg to state as my opinion that they are not to he trusted, being a brutal gang, living without any conscience. The fort must therefore be strongly defensive—as I have heard from many who have been there and who are trustworthy, that our people have been killed without any cause whatever—and prudence in consequently necessary in our intercourse with them; also as regards the English, French, Danes and especially the Portuguese, who are jealous of the enlargement and prosperity of the Company, and let no opportunity pass to hinder it as much as possible.

In order to strengthen our position there the more, close hedges of hawthorn might with little cost be planted around the establishment, as I observed, when at the Caribbee Islands, those of Barbadoes doing, and which are their best protection: broad passages exist between them so that the garrison can see everything approaching, and those coming on cannot reach them in consequence of the thickets. No one can land, for those of the fort can easily keep them away from the shore with their muskets, a very good plan which may easily be carried out at the Cape.

The plan of Sr. Leendert regarding the shipment of water could easily be carried out, and pilot boats for the vessels arriving would not be unserviceable, if a signal be adopted by means of which the garrison would be able to know whether the incoming ship belongs to the Company or not, lest the pilots fall into the hands of strange ships, hypocritical friends or enemies.

I fear the guns expected to be saved from the Haerlem and to be mounted on the fort are by this time so buried in sand that they will not be recovered. One or two long metal pieces or culverins which reach far and would command the Salt River would be serviceable, as they would protect the roads and the sloops at anchor.

I am also of opinion that all sorts of trees and other fruit would thrive well in the valleys, to the great benefit of the passing ships, the more so as I think that the Cape climate is very similar to that of Japan, and the northern portions of China, which places have abundance of all kinds of fruit and cattle, as you yourselves know and I have experienced. It would therefore not be unserviceable to send thither some people having a good knowledge of gardening and farm work.

Regarding pigs, also mentioned by Sr. Leendert, if it could be managed to make arrack there, those animals could easily be fed on the wash, as is done at Batavia. It is true what he says about the diminution of hogs and other refreshments at St. Helena; besides the water on that island, in consequence of its sulphurous elements, cannot be compared with that at the Cape, where, if the cocoanut be made to grow, arrack could be made, and from the arrack itself enough vinegar could be obtained. The cocoanuts would likewise be very refreshing, and oil could be drawn from them also. It is probable that, if a friendly intercourse with the natives be established, enough cattle would be obtained from them at a cheaper rate than if we had our own breeding stock; those animals excepted which would only be kept for milking. In all these matters experiments might easily and without expense be made.

If, as Leendert proposes, you order your ships to touch at the Cape, I believe that a great deal of preserved provisions would be economized on the outward voyage, and likewise wine; for if they pass without touching, they do so only for the sake of the premium; the consequence is that the crews are put on short water allowance, and the meat and pork are boiled in salt water. Very little fresh water is given to the crew to drink, but 1 or 2 glasses of wine are distributed to make up for it, and though the wine is a cordial and strengthening, the sailors remain not the less subject to scurvy and similar diseases in consequence of the staleness of the food. But refreshed at the Cape, the voyage can with God’s blessing be safely made to Batavia with the ordinary provisions and wine allowance, and sufficient fresh water, by which the Company would be greatly benefited, the health of the men secured and a great deal of preserved provisions saved, which are everywhere required in India, whilst now they are consumed by the crews with the least benefit to themselves.

It will also be easily seen that a great deal of wages will be saved by a speedy voyage of the homeward bound ships, besides salted provisions and wine, if the vessels are ordered not to touch at St. Helena.

Some profit might also be derived from the clothing sold to the garrison there on account.

I have also read in the statement that besides cattle and sheep at the Cape, a multitude of elands, steenbucks and other wild animals are to be had. If this be true, and a satisfactory intercourse established with the natives; in addition to the refreshments obtained, much profit might be derived from the skins of the beasts mentioned, which dried in quantity, and packed closely together, as is done in Siam, might be shipped into the outward bound vessels, which, having consumed part of their provisions and fuel, would have sufficient storage room, and by them taken to Batavia whence they could be sent on to Japan, where especially the steenbuck skins, which certainly would make the smallest parcels, are in good demand and will produce a good deal. In my time they were sold at 18 to 20 tail per hundred; eland hides from 56 to 58 tail and ox hides above 130 tail in Japan silver. The hides would therefore be serviceable in Japan, and if to be procured in such quantity as Sr. Leendert states, they might in time be easily bought from the natives to defray the costs of the residency there.

Rock rabbits and other small animals with soft skins are also to be had, and which are serviceable as furs. It might be investigated what profit the Company might derive from this source also, and whatever there might further be found on the spot.

Train oil would also yield a profit, as I have before this been in Greenland and seen how the industry is carried on there. The difficulty in the matter of fuel is of little weight, for if one kettle has been boiled, the greaves are used for fuel, and sufficient is at hand for that purpose.

The statement, that the natives or their children are able to learn the Dutch language is important, and a very good thing, but of greater moment is the furtherance of our Reformed Christian Religion about which he appears to be sanguine. In this a good minister would do good service, if you could submit to the expense whilst he would also benefit the garrison stationed there; but whatever you may do, if I receive the appointment, I will most zealously endeavour to carry out your instructions, praying that God may grant me the necessary prudence and intelligence to serve you well, that in course of time you may be inclined to our further advancement; especially when having completed the work mentioned, that I may be removed to India, where I hope to give further proofs of faithful service in order to be employed in such a manner as you or your Council there may deem fit. You may be confident that with God’s blessing I will not fail in my zeal for the benefit of the Company, and the personal honour of your servant.

(Signed) Johan van Riekeeck.

Amsterdam, June, 1651.

_______________

No. 3.—Instructions for the Officers of the Expedition fitted out for the Cape of Good Hope to Found a Fort and Garden There.

25th March, 1651

As by Resolution of the Council of Seventeen, representing the General Company, it has been deemed good to establish a rendezvous on the shores of the Cape, in order that the passing ships may safely touch there and obtain meat vegetables water and other necessaries, and the sick be restored to health, you shall when arrived at the said Cape, go on shore with a portion of your men, taking with you as much material as you may require for a temporary defence against the natives, who are a very rough lot, viz., a serviceable wooden building in which to lodge the people and likewise all the tools.

As a permanent residency is intended to be made of the Cape, as a refreshment station, a defensive fort shall be erected at the Fresh River, adjoining or near to it.

The wooden house being completed and placed in a proper state of defence, you shall inspect the locality of the Fresh River and decide on what spot the fort is to he erected in accordance with the accompanying plan—with this understanding, that in order always to have fresh water, the said river shall be led through or around the fort, as the plan shows—the fort to bear the name of the Good Hope.

Accommodation shall be provided for 70 or 80 men within the fort in order that the whole garrison may be lodged within it.

As soon as you are in a proper state of defence you shall search for the best place for gardens, the best and fattest ground in which everything planted or sown will thrive well, which gardens shall be properly enclosed; but on this point we give no precise instructions.

You shall also look out for the best pastures around the fort for depasturing and breeding cattle; for which purpose a good understanding with the natives will be necessary in order to make them in course of time accustomed to intercourse with you, and so attract them. In this great prudence is necessary, and you shall have to take especial care not to injure their cattle which they are herding or bringing on, as this would repel them from us, as has often been shown.

The cattle being in danger when left outside, shall during the night be temporarily driven into the fort, so that proper accommodation must be provided in it for that purpose, until in course of time the natives may be trusted, unless you have other means of keeping the cattle safely outside of the fort, a matter recommended to your especial vigilance.

As this fort will be principally established for all ships going to and returning from the East Indies, and in order that they may pass by St. Helena, you shall pay careful attention to all sorts of fruit which may grow there agreeably to the climate, and at what time of the year each kind is to be sown or planted; all which experience will teach you.

In order that good discipline may be maintained among the people, they have been sworn on the General “Articul brief” of the Company, according to which they shall have to conduct themselves, and do whatever their officers may command them, every one to be daily employed according to his capacity and no one to be left idle.

You shall keep a correct journal of all occurrences and from time to time examine whatever else can be taken in hand to defray the costs of the establishment, and to guide you, a copy of the “Remonstrance” forwarded to the Chamber of Seventeen is annexed.

The fort having been placed in a proper state of defence and provided with its necessary furniture, the ship Drommedaris shall with 40 men on board be despatched to Batavia—you retaining 70 men, and the sloops sent out in pieces on board, which are to be put together at the Cape for your service at all times, especially for discovering the going and coming ships and bringing them towards the best anchorage; for which purpose you shall have a wooden light-house or something of the kind on shore to warn and guide them.

To be well prepared for all enemies every wing of the fort shall be armed with 4 pieces of ordnance, which you shall land with everything required for it.

As we cannot enter into all particulars which we are unacquainted with, and which will mainly depend upon your experience and zeal we cannot give you instructions in full, so that what we have stated must suffice for the present to carry out the intentions of the Company. You are likewise ordered to correspond with the Company on all matters; and we wish you good fortune and prosperity on your voyage and the fulfilment of your trust, looking forward to the proper time when we shall be informed of your good success.

Resolved in the Council of 17 at Amsterdam, the 25th March, 1651.

Agrees with the original.—D. Pruys, Advocate of the Company.

_______________

No. 4.—Further Instructions for the Officers Proceeding to the Cape in the Service of the East India Company on board of the “Drommedaris,” “Reijger” and “Goede Hoop.”

12th Dec.,1651

As it is not stated in the general instructions how the officers commanding at the Cape are to conduct themselves towards foreign nations whose ships might touch there for supplies, the said officers are continually to be on their guard and in an offensive and defensive position, that they may not be attacked unawares; with this proviso, that the said officers shall not hinder any nation living in friendship with or allied to, or holding a position of neutrality towards the States-General in their desire to supply themselves; the Portuguese excepted, whom the Company has declared to be its enemies, and with whom it is at war in the regions falling within the limits granted by charter to the Company, in accordance with the Resolution of the 17.

If any nation in alliance with, or holding a position of neutrality towards the States-General should establish a station at the Cape, you shall take no notice of it as long as they select a spot beyond the limits selected by you for your safety, and such other places as you may take possession of, and defend for rearing the various kinds of cattle and produce.

For this purpose you shall after landing inspect the most convenient spots for lands and pastures, and erect signs of having taken possession.

As the Drommedaris and Reijger have been ordered to remain at the Cape until they have landed their cargoes for the garrison, and brought the fort into a proper state of defence, you shall despatch the Reijger as soon as possible before the Drommedaris to Batavia, to he employed there in the Company’s service, retaining the Drommedaris as long as yon deem necessary, but no longer.

From the accompanying extract you will see what strange rumours are about regarding the designs of Prince Robert, and though we do not credit them, it is necessary to be prepared for everything, and therefore yon shall warn the ships coming from India to be on their guard and prepared for battle; also not to separate from each other from the Cape to St. Helena, and finding other ships there to keep to windward in order not to be surprised, on which subject we have communicated with the Governor-General and Council of India. Amsterdam, 12th Dec., 1651.

_______________

No. 5. —Nomination of Riebeeck’s Successor in Case of Death, &c.

"Whereas J. van Biebeeck has been appointed Commander of the expedition fitted out for the Cape in Drommedaris, Reijger and Goede Hoop, the Company trusting that he will conduct himself to its satisfaction, but whereas he is likewise liable to sickness and death on the voyage, the Hon. David de Coninck, Skipper of the Drommedaris, is appointed to take Riebeeck’s place and carry out the instructions and works as mentioned above, all being ordered to obey the said Coninck.

(Signed) Z. D. Carpentier.
Hendrik Voet.
Hans van Loon.

Amsterdam, 15th Dec., 1651.

_______________

No. 6.—Extract from Resolution taken by the Directors of the Chamber Amsterdam, This Day, 4th Dec., 1651, Monday.

The Company wills that Riebeeck shall hoist his flag as Commander of the fleet about to leave, as far as the Cape, and that he shall be the Convener and also President of the Combined Council. The skippers to obey this order.

_______________

No. 7.—Peace made with Spain.

As peace has been made with 8pain, and the Company is at
present on friendly terms with all, excepting Portugal, with in the district of the East India Charter, all the commanders and officers of the Company are ordered not to molest any ships of the friendly nations sailing to or from the East Indies, unless they molest us first, in which case our officers are to defend themselves as they ought; excepting the subjects of the King of Portugal, who are to be attacked as enemies by land and sea within the East India district commencing at the East of the Cape. This order is to be carried out rigidly.— All offenders are to be punished as the case may require.

(Signed) Zacharias Roode.
Jan Munster.

Amsterdam, 13th Dec., 1651.

_______________

No. 8 .—Extract from the Letter of the East India Chamber at Middelburg, to that of Amsterdam, dated 5th Dec., 1651.

Captain Aldert has arrived at Flushing from the coast of Portugal, where he has been cruising. Heard from him that he had often met Prince Robert, who with 8 large ships was sailing about in that neighbourhood, and had prevented him from capturing a Portuguese with 4 or 500 cases of sugar. Had seen that Prince capture a Castilian ship from which he took a large amount of money by means of which he had obtained provisions for his crews, a large quantity of bread being baked on the Flemish Islands, and much cattle slaughtered. It is reported there that the Prince intends to proceed to St. Helena to intercept the English East India return ships. We could not withhold this publicly told story from you, as the said Aldert is an honest and respectable man. It is very unlikely that the Prince has such intentions, as he would, in our opinion, if he had, make more careful arrangements; however, we leave it for you to consider whether it would not be advisable to write with the vessel going to the Cape, in order to give information to the return ships.

Jan Van Riebeeck Statue Cape Town As one can see from reading the above written letters and documents prior to the undertaking of the voyage to the Cape of Good Hope in Dec. 1651, the intentions and preparations of the Dutchmen on behalf of the VOC reflects their godly intent to have peaceful and engaging relationships with the Khoikhoi and San natives and other nations at the Cape.

In the next edition, Part 2, we will look extensively at the exact writings to see a more clear and concise account of what transpired some 368 years ago (1651-2019) and following; as we do not want to detract or add anything to the written record, we will delve into the entries from the Journal of Commander Johan van Riebeeck and other historical writings.

Soli Deo Gloria _____________________

Footnotes:

[1] Precis of the Archives of the Cape of Good Hope, December 1651 – December 1655, Riebeeck’s Journal – by H. C. V. Leibrandt, Keeper of the Archives. Part I. Cape Town : W. A. Richards & Sons, Government Printers, 1897.

[2] Precis of the Archives of the Cape of Good Hope, December 1651 – December 1655, Riebeeck’s Journal – by H. C. V. Leibrandt, Keeper of the Archives. Part I. Cape Town : W. A. Richards & Sons, Government Printers, 1897. pp 1-14.

Related Blog Posts:

The Gospel comes to South Africa (13 December 2012)

Answer to Sandile ~ Part 1 (3 June 2013)

The Gospel . . . Racism and South African History (8 March 2016)

365 Years Ago Today . . . (6 April 2017)

The Night Before Christmas*

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and strange as it seems;

I wasn’t indulging in covetous dreams.

But reading my Bible, I searched for a clue;

Why Christians take part in this holiday too.

Word of God I plainly could see that it carried His name;

But the spirit behind it just wasn’t the same.

The songs spoke of wise men, of virgin and child;

Of shepherds, of God, and all men reconciled.

But nothing was said of the blood and the cross;

Of repentance, and faith, and of counting the cost.

They sang of the babe, His miraculous birth;

But not of the day when He’ll judge the whole earth.

Christmas tree My Bible said nothing of Santa, or toys;

Of Frosty the Snowman, and small drummer boys.

A reference to Rudolph not once did I see;

But it seems Jeremiah did mention the tree.

I sat and I pondered this curious matter;

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter.

That I knew in a moment he soon would be here;

So I prayed in the Spirit and stood without fear.

Santa Claus a.k.a. Satan Claws He slipped down the chimney, quick as a flash;

And stepped from the fireplace all covered with ash.

There stood St. Nick with his bag and his beard;

He looked at the Bible I held, and he sneered,

“Another fanatical Christian, I see;

No stockings, no holly, no pictures of me.”

I asked him if Jesus was God in the flesh;

He said that was something he couldn’t confess.

Krampus and St Nicholas He said, “I am Santa, I come from afar”;

I stood in the truth – “The Devil you are.

That suit and that beard doesn’t fool me one bit;

Your jolly deception is straight from the pit.”

“Beneath all your Ho Ho Ho’s, Lucifer lurks;

With your all-seeing eyes and your gospel of works.

Like a thief in the night you impersonate Christ;

Returning to judge the naughty and nice.”

Isis & Horus / Mary and "child" pagan worship “So call Christmas pagan,” he said, “That’s Okay.

‘Cause that’s what my sons at the Watchtower say.”

“You’ll look like a pagan or like a deceiver;

But none will suspect you to be a believer.”

I said, “I don’t care what your servants will say;

My loyalty lies with the Ancient of Days.”

“No matter how many abuses are hurled;

My Bible says be not conformed to this world.”

“You have no power, and no part of me;

So I stand on God’s Word, and command you to flee.”

Santa sleigh He squealed like a pig that was stuck with a knife;

He ran to the chimney and climbed for his life.

And I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight;

“Merry Xmas to all, and a long, dark night.”

~ Unknown ~Soli Deo Gloria

_____________________________

Footnote:

* The blog post “The Night Before Christmas” first appearing at this blog on 24 December 2016. The upgraded version with pictures subsequently first appeared on 27 November 2018.

The Day of The Vow

The Day of the Vow (a.k.a. The Day of the Covenant) was instituted on 16th December 1838 at the Battle of Blood River. Here is an article that appeared at this blog on 16 December 2011 titled 16th December The Day of the Vow.

THE DAY of THE COVENANT

By Dr. Peter Hammond

Sarel Cilliers statue To view this presentation with pictures as a PowerPoint on Slideshare, click here.

To listen to an audio presentation, as given at the Reformation Society, click here.

To view the video on our Vimeo page, as presented at the Reformation Society, click here.

An abbreviated translation of this message in Afrikaans is also available, click here.

9  Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; ~ Deuteronomy 7:9

The Battle of Blood River

For over a century and a half, throughout South Africa, 16 December has been observed as The Day of the Covenant. Marking the decisive Battle of Blood River, the Day of the Covenant has been recognised by many, not only as a victory for the Voortrekkers, but as a triumph for Western civilization and Christianity in Africa.

Spiritual Warfare

It should be noted that before the Battle of Blood River, 16 December 1838, there were no known Christians amongst the Zulu nation. Despite the dedicated spiritual labours of British and American missionaries amongst the Zulus for 18 years previously, so great was the hold of superstition, the reign of terror of the Zulu kings, and fear of the witchdoctors, that no Zulus were known to have responded to the preaching of the Gospel before the defeat of Dingaan’s Impis at Blood River.

Christianity vs. Witchcraft

One could similarly note that despite the strenuous labours of famous British missionary Robert Moffatt, and others, amongst the Matabele, in what became Rhodesia, there were no baptised Matabele converts to Christianity before the defeat of Lobengula’s Impis in the Matabele War of 1893. 

The Spiritual Liberation of the Zulu

Observing the significance of The Day of the Covenant is not in any sense anti-Zulu. I have many precious friends amongst the Zulu. Having read extensively on their history, and visited many of the strategic battle sites and museums in Zululand, I have to regard the Covenant made by the Boers, and The Battle of Blood River, as the beginning of the spiritual liberation of Zululand. Only after The Battle of Blood River did hundreds, and then thousands, of Zulus come to Christ. 

Love in Action

It needs to be noted that after their victory over Dingaan’s forces the Afrikaans Christians built a magnificent mission station and church at Mgundgundlovu (Dingaanstad) within sight of the massacre of the Trek leader Piet Retief and his 100 followers who were brutally tortured and massacred. The Afrikaans missionaries built a school for the blind, an evangelists training college, and many other expressions of Christian love for their former enemies. 

Zululand for Christ

After the final defeat of the Zulu military, in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, Zulus came to Christ by the hundreds of thousands. Today there are millions of Zulu Christians. 

Vikings for Christ

As a descendant of the Vikings, I look to our former enemy, King Alfred the Great, as one of my Spiritual forefathers. Although the original Hammonds would have been among the Viking invaders of England, I recognise that the conversion and discipling of the once brutal Vikings began with the military victory of King Alfred the Great and his Saxon armies over the Vikings. Similarly, I believe that our Zulu brothers and sisters in Christ can rejoice in the Spiritual liberation of the Zulu nation that began with the original Day of the Covenant.

Shaka and the Mfekane

Shaka had built the Zulu into a great warlike nation. He unleashed waves of destruction impi ebomvu (total war) that left enormous stretches of country uninhabited by people. The Mfekane unleashed by Shaka had led to the annihilation of literally hundreds of tribes. Known as "the Black Napoleon", Shaka had soaked Southern Africa in blood, devastating countless kraals, particularly between 1820 and 1824. Shaka was described as tall, handsome and a military genius. He moulded the previously insignificant Zulu tribe into a mighty war machine. He introduced new systems of fighting, abandoning the long throwing spears, and introducing the far more lethal short handled broad-bladed assegai. He compelled his men to throw away their sandals and to harden their feet. His regiments (Impis) would be compelled to dance on thorns and if anyone showed pain they were immediately executed. Instead of standing at a distance singing, and taunting the enemy, and ineffectually throwing their spears, Shaka trained his men to fight as a cohesive unit, in the shape of cattle horns. The most experienced troops were at the head to gore, and the younger warriors were put on the horns to encircle the enemy. The Zulu were trained to rush straight in for the kill. They overwhelmed every tribe they came across and annihilated them. Many of the young women and young boys from these defeated tribes were amalgamated into the Zulu tribe, but the older people and warriors were exterminated.

Mzilikazi’s Path of Blood

One of Shaka’s most effective generals, Mzilikazi, was a dynamic, and ambitious, man. (Mzilikazi was born in 1790, making him slightly the junior of Shaka who was born in 1787.) Mzilikazi was 34 when he fled Zululand with his Impi and founded Matebele nation. To avoid retribution at the hands of his king, Shaka, Mzilikazi led his men on a devastating path of blood through the Transvaal, the Orange Free State and Botswana, later settling in what became Rhodesia. Mzilikazi spared the most promising of the vanquished tribes to be incorporated into his army and tribe. He moulded his heterogeneous horde into a great nation using the best of Zulu military tactics. His path through the interior of Southern Africa was as devastating as a veld fire, as he slaughtered, captured, plundered and left destruction in his wake. Until his defeat at the hands of the Boers at Vegkop, the Matabele were operating out of Western Transvaal. Their defeat at the hands of Hendrik Potgieter’s trekkers led Mzilikazi’s men to flee across the Limpopo River to settle in Matabeleland (in what later became Rhodesia, and ultimately Zimbabwe).

Dingaan’s Treachery

On 22 September 1828, Shaka, the founder and King of the Zulus, was stabbed to death by his half-brothers, Princes Dingaan and Mhlangana. Missionaries and English traders who visited Zululand described Dingaan as "astute", "sly", "cruel", "temperamental", "brutal", "charming", "diplomatic" and "treacherous". Shortly after murdering his half-brother, Dingaan quickly arranged the assassination of his co-conspirator Mhlangana, and then systematically executed all aristocratic rivals and anyone else who could possibly be a danger to him, including the commander-in-chief of Shaka’s army, Ndlaka, who he had strangled.

Corrupt and Cruel

Dingaan was about 30 years old when he seized power. He began to build himself a new capital in Mgungundlovu (the place of the great elephant). Dingaan quickly accumulated over 300 wives and concubines. Traders and missionaries described Dingaan’s appetite as "voracious, sexually and otherwise" and he soon became extremely obese. Unlike his brother Shaka, Dingaan preferred to stay at his palace. He was not a warrior like Shaka. Instead of leading military campaigns, he sent out his Impis and remained at Mgungundlovu surrounded by a continual programme of feasting and dancing.

The Gullibility of Piet Retief

When the Trek leader Piet Retief came to Dingaan to negotiate the right for the Voortrekkers to settle in the depopulated territory between the Tugela and the Bushmans River (present day Natal) he was warned by the missionaries that one of the principle objectives of Shaka had been to totally depopulate all the surrounding territory as far as his soldiers could penetrate so that his followers, over whom he held such despotic sway, might have no asylum or refuge if they attempted to escape his murderous rule. Retief was also warned that the defeat of the renegade Zulu general Mzilikazi at the hands of the Boers in the Transvaal had sent shockwaves through Zululand. As Dingaan’s military expeditions against Mzilikazi had all been indecisive, he feared the power of the Boers. Yet, Piet Retief seemed supremely self-confident and brushed aside every warning about the danger of the dictator with whom he was attempting to negotiate.

Mgundgundlovu

Dingaan’s capital, Mgungundlovu, was described as an efficient military camp entirely fenced in with thorn bushes. The king’s quarters dominated the high ground, overlooking the two thousand huts to the sides of the main entrance and open arena. Each hut accommodated twenty warriors. Within the lines of the military huts were four strongly fenced in cattle kraals. Dingaan’s own quarters consisted of hundreds of beehive huts including huts for his enormous harem, and his counsel house and reception hall, both some 20 feet in height, with the roof supported by 22 pillars entirely covered in bead work. The floors were made of mud and dung, polished with blood and fat until they shone like a mirror. Mgungundlovu as a whole was arranged in ovals, circles and semi-circles, with thousands of beehive huts appearing like beads in a necklace. Facing the capital, on the other side of the stream below was the hill of execution (KwaMatiwane).

In the Presence of Dingaan

Dingaan required his subjects to throw themselves to the ground and crawl forward in the dust for about two hundred metres before coming to a halt a good distance from his throne. Piet Retief and the other white visitors refused to succumb to such an indignity, and stood in the presence of the king. They noted that Dingaan was entirely hairless. He was shaved every day and was described as having an abhorrence of human hair. He wore many ornaments on his head and his body was rubbed daily with fat to make him appear like polished ebony.

Warnings from the Missionaries

Acting as the king’s secretary was Rev. Francis Owen of the Church Missionary Society. Most of what we know concerning the meetings of Piet Retief with Dingaan come from Owen’s diary. Piet Retief first reached Mgundgundlovu on 5 November 1837. The king entertained him with war dances by thousands of his warriors. Owen warned him of the countless cruelties, tortures and executions that he had been forced to witness. However, Piet Retief seemed most impressed with the "sincerity", "graciousness", "intelligence", and "goodwill" of Dingaan.

After seeking to impress Retief for two days with parades of his regiments and herds, Dingaan informed Retief that he was willing to grant the Trekkers the territory his armies had depopulated across the Tugela, and around Port Natal – on condition that Piet Retief should return the cattle, which had been taken by Sikonyela and his Batlokoa people. As they had come on horseback and dressed in clothes, Sikonyela’s people had been assumed to be Boers. To prove that the trekkers were not in any way responsible for Sikonyela’s cattle raid, he required them to deal with this chief.

The CMS missionary, Francis Owen, warned Piet Retief that he was wasting his time, for Dingaan was utterly inconsistent and had already granted the desired territory to the English government through John Gardiner. However, Piet Retief regarded the expedition against Sikonyela as necessary for the vindication of their honour. Owen questioned how a man of Retief’s intelligence could attach any value to any promise made by a tyrant like Dingaan.

When Piet Retief later gave an enthusiastic account of the splendours of Dingaan, his kindness and boundless hospitality, American missionary Rev. George Champion declared: "I have known Dingaan for two years Mr Retief, and I know full well what a dangerous character he is. I can only see disaster should you visit him again." Rev. Kirkwood also warned Retief of Dingaan’s intention to have him put to death as "a wizard." But Retief brushed all their warnings aside declaring: "Have no apprehension on my account!"

Sikonyela and the Batlokoa

Chief Sikonyela was described as a man who always caused trouble. He was the son of a famous warrior queen Ma Ntatisa. He had done his share of devastating the country along the Caledon River. The remnants of the devastated tribes he moulded into the Batlokoa. Cattle raids were part of the African way of life and both Sikonyela and many of the trekkers questioned Retief’s actions as contrary to his own code of behaviour by interfering in inter-tribal affairs. However, Retief felt himself justified in taking action, if these people had indeed posed as Boers. Retief managed to avoid bloodshed by using a pair of handcuffs to restrain Sikonyela and then declaring that he was "under arrest" and they would only take the handcuffs off if he returned the stolen cattle. Sikonyela was kept prisoner for three days while the seven hundred cattle were rounded up and identified by the accompanying Zulus.

Failing to Heed Advice

A passing trader warned Piet Retief of Dingaan’s planned treachery against him upon his return. Fellow trek leader Gert Maritz repeatedly warned Piet Retief not to return to Dingaan declaring: “I do not trust Dingaan!” But, every attempt to dissuade Piet Retief was brushed aside. Maritz reminded him of the murder of Anders Stockenstrom in 1811 while having friendly talks with a band of Xhosas.

Gullible’s Travels

Piet Retief, with almost a hundred followers, arrived at Mgundgundlovu on Saturday 3 February. He was rebuked by Dingaan for having released Sikonyela unharmed. Dingaan was shocked that Retief had not executed him, or at least brought him to the Zulu capital for execution.

He then requested the Boers to make a demonstration of their war dances on their horses. The trekkers staged an impromptu charge on horseback in the royal arena, making the air resound with the sound of their muskets. Dingaan and his subjects had never seen anything like it and were plainly shocked at the speed and agility of the Boers on horseback and the deafening sound of their muskets. The missionary warned Retief that his display was entrenching the fear of Dingaan that he was a wizard and a threat that must be eradicated.

However, when Dingaan agreed to sign the document drawn up by Retief to cede the territory between the Tugela and Umzimvubu Rivers to the trekkers, Retief felt that all of his trust in the word of Dingaan was fulfilled. This document was placed in his leather briefcase with great relief.

However, the CMS missionary, Rev. Owen, was most disturbed that Retief and his followers had missed the Sunday morning church service on 4 February, for these formalities for the king. Retief later said that he had forgotten what day of the week it was.
On Monday the trekkers were treated to an endless display of war dances and military manoeuvres by Dingaan’s Impis. Dingaan was described as "a master showman" with his entertainment the most spectacular ever seen in the sub-continent. Dingaan again asked for a display of the Boers war tactics on horseback. The Zulus sat stunned at the speed and perfect control of the men with their rifles on horseback.

Defenceless Before Dingaan

Dingane_-_'Bulalani_abathakathi'_-_1897 On Tuesday morning William Wood, a young English trader fluent in Zulu, who was visiting the Owens, warned Retief that "your entire party will be massacred before the day is out." As the Retief party struck camp and were preparing to leave, they were invited to a final farewell display. For this they were requested to leave their firearms, bandoleers and powder horns outside the gates of the kraal. Incredibly, they acceded to this demand. Leaving their firearms outside the kraal, they walked defenceless into the arena of Dingaan’s kraal. After ominous war dances which increased in volume and intensity, Dingaan stood up and shouted "Babulaleni abathakathi!" ("kill the wizards!").

Cold Blooded Murder

From across the stream on the opposite hillside, Francis Owen was reading the New Testament when a messenger rushed up to inform him that Dingaan had decided to kill the Boers but he was not to be concerned. Owen looked with horror as he saw an immense multitude, "about nine or ten Zulus to each Boer were dragging the helpless unarmed victims to the fatal spot" on the hill of execution. Many of the Boers were impaled on assegais, and they were all clubbed to death. Piet Retief’s young son was killed before his eyes. Amongst the dead was their interpreter, Thomas Halstead, the only Englishman of the party. The various missionaries and traders who had warned Piet Retief repeatedly questioned how such an intelligent and experienced man as Piet Retief could have been so thoroughly deceived, even mesmerized, by the tyrant Dingaan. Soon, the sky above the hill of execution was black with vultures. The heart and liver of Piet Retief was brought to Dingaan, but the rest of the corpses were left out in the open on the hill of execution to later be discovered along with Retief’s blood-stained leather case containing the signed treaty with Dingaan. It was almost ten years since Dingaan had murdered his half-brother Shaka to assume the chieftainship.

Massacre at Midnight

About noon on that fateful Tuesday, 6 February, Rev. Owen saw Dingaan send out a huge army in the direction from where the Boers had come. There was no doubt that even worse was to come. In the early hours of 17 February, ten thousand Zulu warriors attacked the sleeping Voortrekkers between the Bushman’s the Blaauwkrants Rivers. There was no moon that night and it was pitch dark. Trekkers awoke to the sounds of their dogs barking. Wave after wave of Zulu warriors were stabbing men, women and children, wiping out whole families.

Fighting for their Lives

The followers of Gert Maritz were more cautiously laagered and better prepared to defend themselves. However, the followers of Piet Retief were spread out and most vulnerable. Sarel Cilliers and Gert Maritz led charges to rescue fleeing trekkers. Women and children, even as young as ten years old, fought tenaciously, selling their lives dearly. Marthinus Oosthuizen charged through the mass of Zulus to a wagon for ammunition and then back again to re-supply the beleaguered Van Rensburgs surrounded on a hill.

Devastation

Fighting continue until the afternoon of the 17th when the Zulu army retreated, taking over 25,000 cattle, and many horses and sheep, with them. Many hundreds of the Zulu attackers had been killed in the fierce fighting. As the Voortrekkers began to count up their own dead, they grieved over the loss of 185 of their children murdered. Of the women 56 were dead – this included even grandmothers – many with multiple assegai wounds. The murdered men numbered 40. Incredibly, some women who had been horribly stabbed were found alive amongst the piles of dead. Johanna van der Merwe and Margarita Prinsloo had each survived despite 20 assegai wounds, and Klasina Le Roux with 17 stab wounds.

Weenen

As Gert Maritz organized a mass burial of the slain trekkers, the sky was full of circling vultures and the sounds of weeping could be heard throughout the area. The Boers later founded a town at the site of the massacre which was named Weenen (The Place of Weeping).

Ambushed at the Buffalo River

On 6 April a counter-attack by a Boer commander led by the two rival leaders Piet Uys and Andries Potgieter was ambushed across the Buffalo River at Italeni. A British expedition from Port Natal rushed to assist the beleaguered trekkers, but ten of the Commando were killed, including Piet Uys and his brave son Dirkie who kept fighting by his father’s side to the very end. As this commando retreated it became known as the Vlugcommando (the fleeing commando).

Disaster

It was the darkest time of despair for the Voortrekkers. Death, disaster and dissention seemed to doom their ambitious enterprise.

Andries Pretorius Comes from the Transvaal

With the arrival of Andries Pretorius from the Transvaal, there was fresh hope. The widow of Piet Retief declared of Andries Pretorius: "This man has been sent by God. He will help us obtain justice." Andries Pretorius was a dynamic pistol packing farmer from Graaf Reinet. He was described as a tall, imposing figure in a well cut suit, with a pistol and a cutlass at his belt. He also came with 60 Transvaal volunteers for the Wencommando that he intended to organize. At an assembly of the Volksraad, Pretorius was elected Commandant General.

The Wencommando

Within a couple of days, he was heading out with 464 men, and 64 wagons, to engage the Zulus. Pretorius adopted the motto Eendragt Maakt Magt (unity is strength). (These words were to become the motto of the Transvaal Republic.) All in the Wencommando (The Victory Commando) were lectured on discipline, Christian conduct, decency, integrity, compassion and courage. As God’s soldiers their conduct had to be of a high standard. The chaplain, Sarel Cilliers, who was widely respected as a man of God, and who had proved himself in battle at Vegkop, ensured strict religious observance with daily devotions and prayer times where the men were required to kneel.

On the move the 64 wagons travelled in four rows so as not to make the column too long for the vanguards and rear guards to protect from ambush. Every night their laager was drawn up, sentries posted, inspections held, and defensive drills practiced. Scouting patrols were sent out every day to ascertain the whereabouts of the Zulu army, and to identify any potential threats.

The Covenant

As the Tugela River was flood, the Wencommando crossed near Spioenkop. At Waschbank, on Sunday 9 December, Sarel Cilliers stood on a gun carriage before the men had who assembled for worship and he proposed a solemn vow: "My brethren and fellow countrymen, at this moment we stand before the Holy God of Heaven and earth to make a promise. If He will be with us and protect us and deliver the enemy into our hands so that we may triumph over him, that we may observe the day and the date as an anniversary in each year and a day of Thanksgiving like the Sabbath, in His honour; and that we shall enjoin our children that they must take part with us in this, for remembrance even for our posterity; and if anyone sees a difficulty in this, let them return from this place. For the honour of His Name shall be joyfully exalted, and to Him the fame and the honour of the victory must be given."

All the English volunteers joined with the Afrikaans Voortrekkers in taking this Vow. From 9th December the Vow was repeated every evening, up until the night of the 15th, during evening services when Psalms were sung and prayers were offered.

Confronting the Zulu

There was a calm deliberation amongst the men of the Wencommando. They knew that they were going up against the most formidable force in Africa at that time. Up to that point, the Zulu Impis had never been beaten. They knew that Dingaan had over 20,000 warriors that he could throw at them. They were only 464, and this being 1838, they only had smooth ball muskets, which required 30 to 40 seconds to reload. And they knew charging Zulu warriors could cover a lot of ground in that time.

To the Ncome River

On Saturday the 15th of December the Commando crossed the Buffalo River and outspanned between the Buffalo River and the Ncome River. Two scouts reported that they had seen a huge Zulu army only half an hour ride away. Pretorius inspected the terrain for a suitable laager site and he sensed God’s guidance for there was a perfect spot on the other side of the Ncome. On its western bank there was a deep hippopotamus pool and a large donga, or gully. The laager was set up making use of these natural defensive features on two sides. The 64 wagons were firmly lashed together with two battle gates secured at the two openings where the canon were placed. The back of the D-formation was set against the donga, and the semi-circle faced towards the open plain. Candles were set out everywhere and lanterns suspended over the wagons on the long whip handles, to prevent the Zulus from approaching the laager unseen in the night. As Sarel Cilliers led the Commando in repeating the Vow for the last time, and then in singing the Psalms, the Zulus had moved within earshot and could hear their strange singing and see the eerily lit laager.

To Beat the Unbeatable Foe

It was a suspenseful moonless night. Two hours before dawn the trekkers were at their posts. A veil of mist lifted and a perfect day broke. There was not a cloud in the vivid blue sky and there was no wind. It was a day of crystal clarity. As the mist lifted the Boers saw the entire Zulu army seated facing them with their shields in front. The front row of the Zulus was only 40 paces away from the half-moon of wagons. Row after row of Zulu regiments were grouped according to the colour of their shields. There were between 12,000 and 15,000 Zulu’s surrounding the laager.

Fear God Alone

"Do not fear their numbers, we can deal with them", shouted Pretorius. As warriors were moving into position to attack from the donga in the rear, Commandant Pretorius decided to seize the initiative and he ordered his men to open fire immediately. Before the Zulus could even begin their intimidating war dances the roar of gunfire shattered the early morning peace. The day began in furious battle with Zulus yelling, hissing, smashing their assegais against their shields, thunderously stamping the ground with their feet, charging the laager at full speed. The two little canon cut swathes through the Zulu ranks, and the deadly aim of the Boer Commandos took their toll. As a mass of Zulus tried to scale the donga and assault the rear of the laager, Sarel Cilliers led his men to cut them down.

Taunting the Enemy
As the Zulus retreated out of range to about 500 metres, Pretorius sent out his brother and an interpreter to taunt the Zulus: "What are you doing, men of Dingaan? We have come to fight men, not women and children! Why don’t you attack?"

Facing the Zulu Tidal Wave

The Zulus leapt up to attack, drumming their shields, yelling, whistling, hissing and swept in a black wave down upon the wagons. This was the longest charge of the two-hour battle. Muzzles were becoming dangerously hot, wagons bristled with assegais, but the strategic positioning of the laager was frustrating the assaults of the Zulus. The closer they got to the wagons, the more they were funnelled and compressed by the river and the donga until they were tripping into one another and stumbling over their earlier casualties. Their losses were becoming enormous, yet without achieving anything. Never in the experience of their warrior nation had anything like this happened to them before.

Charging the Enemy

Andries Pretorius sensed a change in the tempo of the battle and ordered a charge form the laager. He had the two canon dragged out and fired from the front. Then he led a charge into the middle of the Zulu Impi. For the first time in history a Zulu Impi broke and fled. The cohesion on which the Zulu Impis was based was shattered. The Zulus began to flee across the Ncome River, many drowning in the process. As Pretorius fired on one Zulu his horse reared and threw him off. A Zulu lunged at him and Pretorius managed to ward off the assegai with his rifle. As the Zulu struck again Pretorius was thrust through his left hand. He pinned the Zulu to the ground and grappled hand to hand until the warrior was stabbed with his own assegai.

Pursuing the Enemy

On the other side Sarel Cilliers led a commando charge that put to flight the other section of the Zulu army. The mounted Boers pursued the fleeing Zulus, shooting at them as long as their bullets lasted, and firing pebbles when all their bullets were exhausted. Over 3,000 Zulu dead were counted around the laager. Yet not one Voortrekker had been killed, although several were wounded.

Thanksgiving

As the sun set the exhausted Commando members returned for a service of Thanksgiving and for their first meal of the day. Then they had to clean their muskets and cast bullets for the final push to track down Dingaan at Mgundgundlovu.

The Remains of Retief

By the 20th December the Zulu capital was sighted. It was ablaze from one end to the other. Dingaan had fled and set fire to his own capital. When the grizzly remains of Piet Retief and his 100 followers was discovered on KwaMatiwane they saw the legs and arms still tied with thongs, the impaling sticks still visible. Next to the remains of Piet Retief lay his water bottle and leather satchel which still contained Dingaan’s signed and witnessed agreement for the cession of Natal. On Christmas Day the remains of these victims were all gathered and buried in a communal grave at the foot of the koppie.

Reaping the Whirlwind

The Zulu kingdom fell into a civil war and Dingaan was overthrown by his half-brother Mpande.

Loving their Enemies

It is remarkable that, despite the treachery that the Boers had endured at the hands of the Zulu, and the massacres of so many unsuspecting women and children on the banks of the Blaauwkrans River, that no atrocities were committed by the Boers in retaliation. Instead, the Biblical injunction to love their enemies was fulfilled by the vigorous missionary work which was established by the Reformed Church in Zululand, establishing schools, hospitals, churches and orphanages, even within sight of where Piet Retief and his followers were so brutally murdered. In the century and a half since that original Day of the Covenant, many millions of Zulus have come to Christ and Zululand has been blessed by Revival. In a very real sense all of that began with the Covenant proposed by Sarel Cilliers, and enthusiastically adopted by the Wencommando.

Set Free to Serve Christ

Just as the descendants of the Vikings can look back to their one-time enemy King Alfred the Great as their Spiritual father who brought the first Vikings to the Lord after defeating them in battle, so the Zulus and the Afrikaners and English, with whom they had once been locked in deadly battle, are now united in Christ. With the defeat of Dingaan, and later Ceteswayo, the power of the witchdoctors was also broken and the Spiritual liberation of the Zulu people began. As the Lord promised in Genesis 22:17: "…thy seed shall possess the gates of his enemies…" Jesus Christ is building His Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Blessed in Order to be a Blessing

God’s promise to Abraham is being fulfilled to this day:

2  And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 
3  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. ~ Genesis 12:2,3

Dr. Peter Hammond
Frontline Fellowship
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Tel: 021-689-4480
Email:
mission@frontline.org.za
Website: www.FrontlineMissionSA.org 
 
Sources:
The Voortrekkers, by Johannes Meintjes, 1973, Corgi Books.
The Great Trek, by C. Venter, 1985, Nelson.
The Voortrekkers of South Africa, by M. Nathan, 1937, London.
Andries Pretorius in Natal, by B.J. Liebenberg, 1977, Pretoria.
The Washing of the Spears, by Donald Morris, 1966, Jonathan Cape.

This article has been adapted from a chapter in Sketches from South African History (now also available in Afrikaans: Sketse uit Die Suid Afrikaanse Geskiedenis) available from Christian Liberty Books, P.O. Box 358, Howard Place, 7450, Cape Town, South Africa, Tel: 021-689-7478, Fax: 086-551-7490,

Email: admin@christianlibertybooks.co.za,

Website: www.christianlibertybooks.co.za.

This message was presented by Dr. Peter Hammond to The Reformation Society. The audio CD and PowerPoint are available from Christian Liberty Books.

Soli Deo Gloria_________________________________

The Retief Massacre of 6 February 1838 revisited – events that lead to the Battle of Blood River on 16 December 1838.

Mitsuo Fuchida ~ From Pearl Harbour to Calvary

Today marks the 77th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbour (1941-2018). Here is an article worth reading written . . .

By Dr. Peter Hammond. This Article is available as a PowerPoint with pictures, viewable here.

Download this article as a printable A3 tract here.

Mitsuo Fuchida (1902-1976) is best known for leading the devastating air attack on Pearl Harbour, 7 December 1941. After Mitsuo Fuchidathe war, Fuchida became a Christian Evangelist, who conducted Evangelistic outreaches throughout Japan, the United States and Europe.

Japanese Naval Aviator

Fuchida was the son of the Master of the Primary School in Kashihara. His grandfather was a Samurai. Mitsuo Fuchida entered the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy in 1921, graduated as a mid-shipman in 1924, was promoted to Ensign in 1925, and sub-Lieutenant in 1927. He specialised in horizontal bombing and gained combat experience during the Sino-Japanese War, when he was assigned to the aircraft carrier, Kaga, in 1929. Promoted to Lieutenant Commander in 1936, he was accepted into the Naval Staff College and joined the aircraft carrier Akagi in 1939, as Commander of the Air Group.

Attack on Pearl Harbour

Take of to Shokaku In October 1941, Fuchida was made Commander. Under the command of Vice Admiral Nagumo, with 6 aircraft carriers, and 423 aircraft, Commander Fuchida was responsible for the co-ordination of the aerial attack on the US Pacific Fleet. He was in the first wave of 183 dive-bombers, torpedo-bombers, level-bombers and fighters, which took off from carriers 370 km North of Oahu and targeted the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbour. At 07:40 (Hawaiian Standard Time), Fuchida ordered "Tenkai!" ("Take attack position!"), slid back the canopy of his Nakajima Kate torpedo bomber and fired a green flare to signal attack. He then instructed his radio operator to send the coded signal "To, to, to" ("strike!").

Tora! Tora! Tora!

At 7:53, Fuchida sent the code words "Tora!

Tora! Tora!" back to the carrier Akagi, the flagship, to report that complete surprise had been achieved. Tora was the acronym for Tosugeki Raigeki (torpedo attack) and in Japanese Tora means Tiger.

Attack at Dawn

Japan attack When the attack on Pearl Harbour hit, at 7:55am, many American sailors, or soldiers, were on leave, or sleeping late. 7 Battleships were lined up on battleship row. The Oklahoma capsized. The West Virginia and California was sunk. The Nevada was damaged and beached near the mouth of Pearl Harbour. Tennessee, Maryland and Pennsylvania were damaged. 10 Other ships were sunk or seriously damaged. The Arizona sank with 2,000 sailors on board, after a stupendous explosion of its forward magazine. (Just 8 days earlier, the Americans had published a picture of the Arizona with the words: "It is significant that despite the claims of air enthusiasts, no battleship has yet been sunk by bombs." Pride goes before a fall.)

Attack on Pearl Harbour 7 December 1941 As the first wave returned to the carriers, Fuchida remained over the target to access damage and to observe the second wave attack. He returned to his carrier only after the secnd wave had completed its mission. 21 large flack holes were found in his aircraft, the main control wires were barely holding together and it is incredible that he survived so many hits to his aircraft. The Japanese lost 29 aircraft in the attack on Pearl Harbour. The US Pacific Fleet lost 21 ships including almost every battleship – 188 aircraft destroyed, another 159 damaged and 2,403 lives lost. In Fuchida’s Memoirs, he remarks being upset by the Admiral’s cancelling of the third wave attack, which would have destroyed Pearl Harbour’s fuel tanks and dry dock facilities. "I was upset and thought, ‘What stupidity!’ But the decision belonged to the Commander. It would not do any good if I complained.". Years later, Fuchida said that while he mourned those who died aboard the USS Arizona and other ships, he did not regret his role in the Pearl Harbour attack. It was war, he said. After the successful Pearl Harbour attack, Fuchida was granted an audience with the Emperor.

Wounded at Midway

Pearl Harbour bombing On 19 February 1942, Fuchida led the first of two waves of 188 aircraft in an air raid on Darwin, Australia. On 5 April, he led another series of air attacks against the Royal Navy bases in Ceylon. In June 1942, Fuchida was recovering from an emergency shipboard appendectomy, when he was wounded at the Battle of Midway. He was on the ship’s bridge during the morning attacks by US aircraft. As Akagi was hit, a chain reaction from the burning fuel and live bombs began the destruction of the ship. An explosion threw him to the deck and he broke his ankle.

A Hand of Protection

Captain Fuchida After recuperation Fuchida spent the rest of the war as a staff officer. Two weeks before the American invasion of Guam, Fuchida was ordered to Tokyo. When the Japanese failed to repel the invasion, Vice Admiral Kakuta and his staff chose Seppuku, the Samurai suicide ritual of disembowelment. "Again the sword of death had missed me only by inches." Fuchida declared. "What did it mean?"

Hiroshima Bombing

The day before the first atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, he was in that city to attend a conference. A long distance call from naval headquarters required him to return to Tokyo. As he ate breakfast in Yamato, 200km away, Fuchida learned that everyone he had been working with in Hiroshima had perished in the atomic explosion. The day after the atomic bombing, he returned to Hiroshima to access the damage. All of the members of Fuchida’s party died of radiation poisoning, but Fuchida exhibited no symptoms. Each of the Officers who had accompanied Fuchida, to investigate the devastation in Hiroshima, showed strange signs of illness. One by one they died through radiation poisoning. As Fuchida returned to Kashirhara, to help his wife raise their children, he was depressed: "Life had no taste, or meaning I had missed death so many times and for what. What did it all mean?"

War Crimes Trials

After the war, Fuchida was called to testify at the trials of Japanese military leaders. When General Douglas McArthur summoned Fuchida to testify in the Tokyo War Crimes trials, Captain Fuchida was disgusted and declared that everyone should know that "War was war" and that cruel acts occurred on both sides. The petty vindictiveness of the Allies infuriated him and he denounced the "victor’s justice."

Love For One’s Enemies

In 1947, he met his former flight engineer, Kazuo Kanegasaki, who he thought had died in the Battle of Midway. However Kanegasaki reported that a young Christian woman, Peggy Covell, had cared for them, in the prison camps, despite her Missionary parents having been killed by Japanese soldiers on the Island of Panay, in the Philippines. Peggy Covell’s parents were Missionary teachers in Japan until 1939. They then relocated to the Philippines. The Japanese conquered the Philippines in 1941. They beheaded both of Peggy’s parents on Sunday morning, 19 December 1943. To Fuchida, this love for one’s enemies was inexplicable as the Bushido code required revenge against the murder of one’s parents to restore honour. He became obsessed with trying to understand why anyone would treat their enemies with kindness and forgiveness.

Inspiring Example

The extraordinary example of Peggy Covell inspired Fuchida to know more about the God of the Christians. When Japanese Prisoners of War asked the young 18-year old Peggy Covell why she volunteered to help them, her reply was: "Because Japanese soldiers killed my parents." When Peggy considered her parent’s sacrificial service for the Kingdom of God, and their love for the Japanese people, she was convinced that she must continue their Mission, reaching Japanese for Christ. As Fuchida researched from every source in the Philippines that knew the Covells, he learned that they had been forced to their knees by their captors and they had prayed together as they were about to be beheaded. They had prayed for the Japanese!

Literature Evangelism

In 1948, as Fuchida was passing by the bronze statue of Hachiko at the Shibuya station, he was handed a pamphlet about the life of Jacob De Shazer, a member of the Doolittle Raid, who was captured when his B-25 bomber ran out of fuel in occupied China. In the pamphlet: "I was a Prisoner of Japan", De Shazer, a former US Army Air Force staff sergeant and bombardier, related his testimony of imprisonment, torture and awakening to God.

Doolittle Raid Bombers

Doolittle Jacob De Shazer was the bombardier of B-25 No.16. After taking off from USS Hornet and dropping bombs on Nagoya, Japan, they flew to China, but ran out of fuel over Japanese controlled China. They were captured after parachuting to the ground. De Shazer was imprisoned for 40 months, 34 of these months in solitary confinement. He was beaten, malnourished and 3 of his crew were executed by firing squad. The fourth member, Lt. Bob Meder died of starvation. After 25 months of hating his captives, a Bible came into his hands, for only three weeks, but it changed his life completely. He began to learn Japanese and to treat his captives with respect. He resolved to bring the Message of Christ to Japan. After returning to the USA, De Shazer attended Seattle Pacific College and returned to Japan to preach the Gospel. He established a church in Nagoya, the very city he had bombed years before. Fuchida became intrigued with the Christian Faith. The shocking examples of Christians able to forgive their enemies staggered Fuchida. "That’s when I met Jesus. Looking back I can see now that the Lord had laid His hand upon me so that I might serve Him."

The Power of the Printed Page

Fuchida read the tract on the spot and on the train he saw an advertisement for a book with the same title. When he disembarked, he headed for a book store and purchased it. De Shazer’s story engrossed Fuchida. Determined to understand what had motivated De Shazer, Fuchida bought a Bible from a Japanese man on the street. When he read "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:24), Fuchida realised that this was what the Covells had been praying before their execution.

Faith Comes From Hearing the Word of God

In 1949, Fuchida purchased a Bible at the same Shibuyu station where he had received a pamphlet. As he read the Gospels he came to understand the reason for the life of forgiveness and mercy that motivated Peggy and Jacob. It was the crucifixion of Jesus and His Words in the Gospel: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." On 14th April 1950, he surrendered to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour.

The Power of God

By the time he had completed reading the Gospel of Luke, Fuchida had become a Christian. He knew no Christians, but now he began to declare himself to be a Christian. As Christianity was considered the "occupation religion" in Japan, this brought him much reproach from his former friends and family. Pietsch and Glenn Wagner, of the Pocket Testament League of Japan met with Fuchida and encouraged him to join them in open air outreach.

Open Air Preaching

Open air preaching In the business section of Osaka, as the Americans stood to speak, fewer than 40 Japanese would stop to listen. But when Fuchida, Hero of Pearl Harbour, was introduced, the crowd swelled rapidly. Rush hour traffic stopped. Hundreds gathered, even the police listened in.

Japan for Christ

This was the beginning of Fuchida’s new career as an Evangelist. Soon he filled an auditorium in Osaka, 500 Japanese came forward at that rally. Almost every newspaper in Japan reported on it: He described his conversion as "It was like having the sun rise." He preached against Japanese-egocentrism and xenophobia. Like Paul on Mars Hill (Acts 17:16-34), he used Japanese cultural examples to communicate the Gospel of Christ. Captain Fuchida went from being a vital part of Japan’s military attack on the United States, to being a vital part of God’s Missionary offensive into the hearts, minds and souls of Japanese, and later Americans and Europeans too.

Fuchida and De Shazer

Fuchida and De Shazer In May 1950, Fuchida and De Shazer met for the first time. In May he visited De Shazer, knocked on his door and said: "I have desired to meet you, Mr De Shazer. My name is Mitsuo Fuchida." De Shazer recognised the name and said: "Come in! Come in!" The former enemies embraced as brothers in Christ.

War Author

Midway In 1951, Fuchida published an account of the Battle of Midway and in 1952 he toured the United States as a member of the Worldwide Christian Missionary Army of Sky Pilots. In February 1954, Readers Digest published Fuchida’sCaptain Fuchida story of the attack on Pearl Harbour. Fuchida wrote – From Pearl Harbour to Golgotha (later renamed – From Pearl Harbour to Calvary) and a 1955 expansion of his book: Midway The Battle that Doomed Japan, the Japanese Navy Story. His autobiography – For That One Day, The Memoirs of Mitsuo Fuchida, Commander of the Attack on Pearl Harbour, was published in Japan 2007 and translated into English and published in 2011.

The Turning Point

In Midway: The Battle that Doomed Japan, Fuchida wrote: "Five minutes! Who would have believed that the tide of battle would shift in that brief interval of time? … We have been caught flat-footed in the most vulnerable position possible, decks loaded with planes armed and fuelled for attack."

Courage and Self-Sacrifice

Fuchida turned down an offer from the Japanese government to organise their new Air Force, he faced down an angry pilot who pulled a knife and threatened to kill him. This man later came to Christ. Fuchida ministered in prisons and led people to Christ, even in the cells of condemned murderers. He formed Calvary Clubs in prisons.

The Blood of the Martyrs

The Covells Mitsuo Fuchida related the testimony of Peggy Covell and her brave parents all over Japan. He quoted her testimony: "But the Holy Spirit has washed away my hatred and has replaced it with love." The Covells had gone to their death singing hymns joyfully and praying for the conversion of their enemies. The Blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. Mitsuo Fuchida was one of the fruit of their Faith.

Fuchida spent the rest of his life as an Evangelist, taking the Gospel of Christ throughout Japan, the United States of America and Europe.

Dr. Peter Hammond

Reformation Society
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Tel: 021-689-4480,

Email: mission@frontline.org.za This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Website: www.ReformationSA.org

See Also:

Pray for Japan

Was the Use of Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Militarily and Morally Justified?

Soli Deo Gloria

Jesus Turned Water Into Wine, But He is Not a Glorified Bartender! Tract

JESUS

TURNED WATER INTO

WINE, BUT HE IS NOT A

GLORIFIED BARTENDER!

~ With Compliments ~

Repent and Believe South Africa

Gary Stephen Crous

Cell: +27 (0) 72 221 1233

E-mail: luke9.23evangelism@gmail.com

Website: http://www.luke923evangelism.wordpress.com

Introduction

When it comes to the issue surrounding whether a Christian may or may not drink alcohol, or whether a Christian can exercise his/her “Christian liberty” in drinking alcoholic beverages, the parties who are pro to alcohol consumption go instantaneously to the scripture where the Lord Jesus Christ was attending a wedding in Cana and He turns “water into wine”. This is one of two of the most referenced scriptures in the entire Bible; the other being “JUDGE not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1) or the simple exclamation: “JUDGE NOT!” Even unbelievers know these two scriptures, but whether Christian or unbeliever, whenever these scriptures are referenced to argue their point, 99.9% of the time the verses are taken out of their true context, the other 0.1% also! To bring this issue into its proper context, let us read the account as recorded in God’s Holy Word in the Gospel according to Saint John, for it is written,

1  And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 
2  And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 
3  And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 
4  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 
5  His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 
6  And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 
7  Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 
8  And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 
9  When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
10  And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
11  This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him. ~ John 2:1-11

Now according to these verses and especially where reference is made that the water was made into wine, but not just any wine, but “good wine”; this is used as their argument: “You see, Jesus turned water into wine! So we can drink alcohol!” Firstly, we must establish who is making the reference to “Jesus turning water into wine” – believer? or unbeliever? Secondly, if it is a ‘Christian’, why would a Christian want to partake of the “pleasures of this world”, when Jesus’ half-brother James says, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4)? And thirdly, why would someone who has been delivered from his/her sinful pleasures, that they readily indulged in prior to the Lord’s salvation and regeneration of their soul, would want to continue in the pleasures of old when the apostle Paul tells us that in Christ we are new, as we read, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). And lastly, we know that if an unbeliever makes that statement, “But Jesus turned water into wine”, we can assuredly know that they wish to continue in their sin for their point of argument is: “It is alright to drink alcohol as your God even makes it okay to do so!” However, the unbeliever misses the mark in their lost state for this explains their present situation devoid of wisdom and understanding: “How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?” (Job 15:16).

Explaining the miracle

From the portion of scripture under discussion in John 2:1-11, what must be remembered are the reasons behind Jesus providing the wine at the wedding and what it ultimately accomplished? We know that those attending the wedding “wanted wine” (verse 3). It would also appear from the text that Jesus and His disciples were initially not at the wedding, but “was called” (verse 2), and His mother Mary was present at the wedding (verse 1) and said to Jesus that, “They have no wine” (verse 3) – in other words, “Do something about it.” Jesus makes it very clear to His mother, even censoring her, but not out of disrespect, when He says, “Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come” (verse 4). Jesus used the same word “Woman” when speaking to her with affection from the cross, “Woman, behold thy son!” (See John 19:26).

We read on and see that Jesus instructs the servants to fill the “six waterpots of stone, . . . containing two or three firkins apiece” (verse 6) “with water” (verse 7). In order to work out how much is “two or three firkins apiece”, according to Smith’s Bible Dictionary: “The value of the Attic metrétés was 8,6696 gallons, and consequently the amount of liquid in six stone jars, containing on the average 2½ metrétæ each, would exceed 110 gallons.” This would equate to about 416.395 litres of water to be turned into wine! That is a lot of wine!

What we need to bear in mind is that whilst the Holy Bible does not outright ban the consumption of alcoholic wine, there is however severe warnings and restrictions placed on the consumption of intoxicating wine and strong drink. Hereunder are the Hebrew and Greek words that explain “wine” which also have a deeper and more expansive meaning and explanation (that will not allow for space here) than the English equivalent of the word “wine”:

H3196 יין yayin yah’-yin From an unused root meaning to effervesce; wine (as fermented); by implication intoxication: – banqueting, wine, wine [-bibber].

H4469 ממסך mamsâk mam-sawk’ From H4537; mixture, that is, (specifically) wine mixed (with water or spices): – drink-offering, mixed wine.

H6071 עסיס ‛âsı̂ys aw-sees’ From H6072; must or fresh grape juice (as just trodden out): – juice, new (sweet) wine.

H7941 שׁכר shêkâr shay-kawr’ From H7937; an intoxicant, that is, intensely alcoholic liquor: – strong drink, + drunkard, strong wine.

H8492 תּירשׁ תּירושׁ tı̂yrôsh tı̂yrôsh tee-roshe’, tee-roshe’ From H3423 in the sense of expulsion; must or fresh grape juice (as just squeezed out); by implication (rarely) fermented wine: – (new, sweet) wine.

G1098 γλεῦκος gleukos glyoo’-kos Akin to G1099; sweet wine, that is, (properly) must (fresh juice), but used of the more saccharine (and therefore highly inebriating) fermented wine: – new wine.

G3631 οἶνος oinos oy’-nos A primary word (or perhaps of Hebrew origin [H3196]); “wine” (literally or figuratively): – wine.

We should also bear in mind that the common wine that was commonly drunk in Palestine was the pure juice of the grape, the fruit of the vine. Jesus says in Matthew 26:29, “But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (See also Mark 14:25 & Luke 22:18). “It was not brandied wine, nor drugged wine, nor wine compounded of various substances, such as we drink in this land today. We use the word “wine” now to denote the kind of liquid which passes under that name in this country – always containing a considerable portion of alcohol not only the alcohol produced by fermentation, but alcohol “added” to keep it or make it stronger.” (Barnes). If Jesus turned the water into wine of the fermented intoxicating kind, Jesus, Who is God manifest in human flesh (1 Timothy 3:16), would be violating His Own Word by encouraging the intoxication and drunkenness of the Cana marriage couple, their guests, even including His own mother Mary and His disciples. We read in Habakkuk 2:15, “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!”

Therefore, if people try arguing the point that the wine was fermented and alcoholic in nature, then Jesus, the Son of God, was encouraging a violation of making His neighbour drunk! We are told to love our neighbour, not to cause his downfall! We are also instructed by God’s Word, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” (Ephesians 5:18). This scripture to the church at Ephesus warns: Be not drunk, but be sober in the Holy Spirit. Also in Proverbs 23:29-35 we read about the conditions of a person partaking in alcoholic drink that leads to drunkenness,

29  Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? 
30  They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. 
31  Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 
32  At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. 
33  Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. 
34  Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. 
35  They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again. ~ Proverbs 23:29-35

1  Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. ~ Proverbs 20:1

Did Jesus drink intoxicating wine?

We see from these scriptures that God warns against taking fermented wine and strong drink, yet there are many Biblical theologians who allude to Jesus drinking intoxicating wine, where they cite Matthew 11:18,19, for it is written, “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.” However, those scholars err in that the aforementioned verses are not making the distinction between John and Jesus as to one not drinking alcoholic wine and the other was drinking alcoholic wine, respectively. No, writer agrees with Matthew Henry’s Commentary (Vol. V. pp.154-155) where he comments, quote:

“In the explanation of the parable is set forth the different temper of John’s ministry and of Christ’s, who were the two great lights of that generation.

(1). On the one hand, John came mourning to them, neither eating nor drinking; not conversing familiarly with people, nor ordinarily eating in company, but alone, in his cell in the wilderness, where his meat was locusts and wild honey. . . .

(2). On the other hand, the Son of man came eating and drinking, and so he piped unto them. Christ conversed familiarly with all sorts of people, not affecting any peculiar strictness or austerity; he was affable and easy of access, not shy of any company, was often at feasts, both with Pharisees and publicans, to try if this would win upon those who were not wrought upon by John’s reservedness: . . . “[Unquote]

No, the Lord Jesus Christ was not a “glutton” and a “winebibber” as those statements were wicked accusations brought against the Son of man Jesus Christ by the religious order of the day, for they were always trying to discredit Jesus. We know this, for Jesus says, “. . . and they say . . .”

So then, what was the significance of the miracle of turning water into wine? The miracle was Jesus the Messiah (Christ) exercising His authority over His creation. Here Jesus also showed that by filling the waterpots of stone with water, He could turn the water into wine without going through the process of making wine – that would be by going to the vineyard to pick the grapes, by taking the grapes to the winepress, by getting into the winefat and treading the grapes for hours on end extracting the juices, then cleaning out the skins and twigs and other debris, by bottling the grape juice, and by bringing it to the wedding without first passing through a distributor and shopkeeper.

These processes could also have taken days, weeks or even months, but Jesus performed the miracle in a matter of minutes! We are told, “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” (John 2:11). The disciples believed Jesus to be the God-sent Messiah. And so is it with us. Jesus can change us from sinners into saints in an instant. It is more than just Jesus turning water into wine.

God’s warnings and man’s conduct

In Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary in respect of John 2:10, he writes, quote:

“Those that expect Christ’s favours, must observe his orders with ready obedience. The way of duty is the way to mercy; and Christ’s methods must not be objected against. The beginning of Moses’ miracles was turning water into blood, Exodus 7:20; the beginning of Christ’s miracles was turning water into wine; which may remind us of the difference between the law of Moses and the gospel of Christ. He showed that he improves creature-comforts to all true believers, and make them comforts indeed. And Christ’s works are all for use. Has he turned thy water into wine, given thee knowledge and grace? it is to profit withal; therefore draw out now, and use it. It was the best wine. Christ’s works commend themselves even to those who know not their Author. What was produced by miracles, always was the best in its kind. Though Christ hereby allows a right use of wine, he does not in the least do away his own caution, which is, that our hearts be not at any time overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, Luke 21:34. Though we need not scruple to feast with our friends on proper occasions, yet every social interview should be so conducted, that we might invite the Redeemer to join with us, if he were now on earth; and all levity, luxury, and excess offend him.”[Unquote] [i.e. DO NOT let Jesus be offended by your conduct!]

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, we read,

9  Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 
10  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 
11  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

These afore verses reveal that, among others, no “drunkards” will inherit the kingdom of God. All drunkards are headed for Hell, but the Word tells us in verse 11 thereof, “And such were some of you . . .” implying a change in nature having been washed and sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God. A new creature has come into existence. A new creature is one who is set apart from the norm, as we read:

3  For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 
4  Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: ~ 1 Peter 4:3,4

Do you find yourself different to what people expect? Or do you want to fit in with the crowd, “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly (Proverbs 26:11). These warnings are given to keep the disciple of Jesus Christ perfect in thought, word and deed. In Hebrews, we are warned, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” (Hebrews 12:4). Does your conduct meet the holiness requirement that God requires?

Earlier, reference was made to Matthew 7:1, “JUDGE not, that ye be not judged.” Persons often stop the verse there which is out of context, for if one continues reading then the full context will be known. You cannot judge a brother or sister of doing something unless you have examined yourself, and if you are right before God in a matter, you can now see the speck in your brother’s eye because the beam has been removed from your own eye! You see Jesus says that if you judge you must judge righteously, for we read, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). And to judge righteous judgment is to use His Holy Scriptures (See 2 Timothy 3:16,17). For we read, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17)

By way of writer’s testimony, before, when I was a slave to alcohol, I could not make righteous judgments, but when God delivered me from my bondage he made me free that I can testify of His goodness in setting me free. If I was still drinking alcohol, going into bottle-stores, shebeens, nightclubs, etc, and living a life of a drunkard (one who gets drunk) then how can I show a brother the error of his ways if I am doing likewise. That would leave the sinner justifiably calling the “preacher” a Hypocrite! And Jesus has a lot to say about hypocrites that will perish in hell and ultimately the lake of fire, for we read in Matthew 7:21-23,

21  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
~ Matthew 7:21-23

Conclusion

It is no secret that alcohol consumption causes major health problems, including cirrhosis of the liver and injuries in automobile accidents. These are not the only risks posed by drinking for researchers have linked alcohol consumption to more than 60 diseases. 12 of the more severe conditions are: Anemia, Cancer, Cadiovascular disease, Cirrhosis, Dementia, Depression, Seizures, Gout, High blood pressure, Infectious disease, Nerve damage, and Pancreatitis. Alcohol is also the tool of the Devil that has destroyed many families, with abuse of children and spouses an evil scourge, in some cases leading to murder!

Three times a year, at Easter, at Christmas and at New Year, these celebrations make the Pharisees’ accusations against the Lord Jesus Christ a reality in the lives of those revelling (i.e. to feast in a noisy manner). By way of an examination of your behaviour: Are you gluttonous and a winebibber? “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16)

The apostle Paul exhorts true Christians, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1). So let us take heed what Paul says about walking in charity (love):

13  Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. 
14  I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 
15  But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. 
16  Let not then your good be evil spoken of: 
17  For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. ~ Romans 14:13-17

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Footnotes:

* All Scripture is from the Authorised Version (King James Bible, 1611)

* Smith’s Bible Dictionary, by William Smith L.L.D. (1986 Thomas Nelson)

* Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible (e-Sword)

* Strong’s Complete Word Study Concordance, Expanded Edition

* Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Vol. V (Marshall, Morgan & Scott)

* Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary (e-Sword)

* http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/features/12-health-risks-of-chronic-heavy-drinking

Published by Repent and Believe South Africa

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2 December 2018

This tract may be copied for free distribution if it is copied in full

Should a Christian Celebrate Christmas?*

There is no Biblical warrant, precedent, nor precept for remembrance of the day of Christ’s birth as a day of special religious celebration. This is not to say that we shouldn’t remember Christ’s birth and its significance, but for religious commemorations or celebrations, we must have Biblical command or precedent! The fact of the matter is this — the early church did not celebrate Christ’s birth, but such celebration only came into the church with the “Christianization” of pagan rites as Catholicism was made the state religion by Constantine in the fourth century A.D. Since the Word of God does not support the tradition of Christmas, a Christian’s conscience ought not and must not be bound.

The following outline describes the origin of Christmas (with its associated pagan customs, symbols, and terminology), details the Scriptural support against celebrating Christmas, attempts to show that celebrating Christmas violates the spirit of every one of the ten commandments, attempts to demonstrate that celebrating Christmas does not fall in the realm of Christian liberty, and attempts to debunk eight of the major rationalizations Christians put forth for celebrating Christmas.

I. The Origin of Christmas

A. Long EvolutionChristmas customs are an evolution from times long before the Christian period — a descent from seasonal, pagan, religious, and national practices, hedged about with legend and tradition. Their seasonal connections with the pagan feasts of the winter solstice relate them to ancient times, when many of the earth’s inhabitants were sun worshippers. As the superstitious pagans observed the sun gradually moving south in the heavens and the days growing shorter, they believed the sun was departing never to return. To encourage the sun’s return north (i.e. to give the winter sun god strength and to bring him back to life again), the sun gods were worshipped with elaborate rituals and ceremonies, including the building of great bonfires, decorating with great evergreen plants such as holly, ivy, and mistletoe, and making representations of summer birds as house decorations. The winter solstice, then, was the shortest day of the year, when the sun seemingly stood still in the southern sky. Observing the slowdown in the sun’s southward movement, and its stop, the heathen believed that their petitions to it had been successful. A time of unrestrained rejoicing broke out, with revelry, drinking, and gluttonous feasts. Then, when the pagans observed the sun moving again northward, and a week later were able to determine that the days were growing longer, a new year was proclaimed.

B. Not Among the Earliest Christian FestivalsChristmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. It was not celebrated, commemorated, or observed, neither by the apostles nor in the apostolic church — not for at least the first 300 years of church history! History reveals that about 440 A.D., the Church at Jerusalem commenced the celebration of Christmas, following the lead of Roman Catholicism (see I.C.). [It was sufficient for the early Christians that Jesus, their Lord and saviour, had been born. They praised God that Jesus Christ had, indeed, come in the flesh. The day and the time of His birth had no relevance to them, because Jesus was no longer physically on earth. He had returned to heaven. And it was the risen, exalted Christ whom they looked to, and that by faith — not a babe laid in a manger. Jesus Christ is no longer a baby; no longer the “Christ-child,” but the exalted Lord of all. And He does NOT somehow return to earth as a baby every year at Christmas-time — though this is the impression given even in certain hymns sung in Protestant services.]

Statue of Emperor Constantine C. The Role of Religion in Ancient RomeSeemingly forgotten is the essential role religion played in the world of ancient Rome. But the Emperor Constantine understood. By giving official status to Christianity, he brought internal peace to the Empire. A brilliant military commander, he also had the genius to recognize that after declaring Christianity the “state” religion (Constantine forced all the pagans of his empire to be baptized into the Roman Church), there was need for true union between paganism and Christianity. The corrupt Roman Church was full of pagans now masquerading as Christians, all of which had to be pacified. What better way than to “Christianize” their pagan idolatries. Thus, the Babylonian mystery religions were introduced by Constantine beginning in 313 A.D. (and established a foothold with the holding of the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.). The Constantine-led Roman Church was more than willing to adapt and adopt pagan practices in order to make Christianity palatable to the heathen. Constantine used religion as a political tool, totally devoid of any true spirituality:

– Pagan rituals and idols took on Christian names (e.g. Jesus Christ was presented as the Sun of Righteousness [Malachi 4:2] replacing the sun god, Sol Invictus ).

– Pagan holidays were reclassified as Christian holidays (holy-days).

Solstice Saturnalia Celebrations

– December 25th was the “Victory of the Sun-God” Festival in the pagan Babylonian world. In the ancient Roman Empire, the celebration can be traced back to the Roman festival Saturnalia, which honoured Saturn, the harvest god, and Mithras, the god of light; both were celebrated during or shortly after the winter solstice (17th – 23rd December). To all ancient pagan civilizations, December 25th was the birthday of the gods — the time of year when the days began to lengthen and man was blessed with a “regeneration of nature.” All of December 25th’s Babylonian and Roman festivals were characterized by 5-7 day celebration periods of unrestrained or orgiastic revelry and licentiousness.

Mithras slaying a bull December 25th was particularly important in the cult of Mithras, a popular deity in the Old Roman Empire. Robert Myers (a proponent for celebrating Christmas) in his book Celebrations says, “Prior to the celebration of Christmas, December 25th in the Roman world was the Natalis Solis Invicti, the Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun. This feast, which took place just after the winter solstice of the Julian calendar, was in honour of the Sun god, Mithras, originally a Persian deity whose cult penetrated the Roman world in the first century B.C. . . . Besides the Mithraic influence, other pagan forces were at work. From the seventeenth of December until the twenty-third, Romans celebrated the ancient feast of the Saturnalia. . . . It was commemorative of the Golden Age of Saturn, the god of sowing and husbandry.”

Pope Julius I In order to make Christianity palatable to the heathen, the Roman Church simply took Saturnalia, adopted it into Christianity, and then eventually many of the associated pagan symbols, forms, customs, and traditions were reinterpreted (i.e. “Christianized”)  in ways “acceptable” to Christian faith and practice. (In fact, in 375 A.D., the Church of Rome under Pope Julius I merely announced that the birth date of Christ had been “discovered” to be December 25th, and was accepted as such by the “faithful.” The festival of Saturnalia and the birthday of Mithras could now be celebrated as the birthday of Christ!) The pagans flocked into the Catholic places of worship, because they were still able to worship their old gods, but merely under different names.  It mattered not to them whether they worshiped the Isis and Horus / Mary and the "child"Egyptian goddess mother and her child under the old names (Isis and Horus), or under the names of the “Virgin Mary” and the “Christ-child.” Either way, it was the same old idol-religion (cf. 1 Thes. 1:8-10, 5:22 — Paul says to turn from idols, not rename them and Christianize them). Roman Catholicism’s Christmas Day is nothing but “baptized” paganism, having come along much too late to be part of “the faith once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).

Isis nursing Horus D. “Christianization” of Pagan Customs, Symbols, and TerminologyChristianity had to undergo a transformation so that pagan Rome could “convert” without giving up its old beliefs and rituals. The actual effect was to paganize official Christianity. “‘A compound religion had been manufactured, of which . . .  Christianity furnished the nomenclature, and Paganism the doctrines and rights.’ The idolatry of the Roman world, though deposed from its ancient pre-eminence, had by no means been demolished. Instead of this, its pagan nakedness had been covered with the garb of a deformed Christianity” (W.E. Vine). Pagan customs involving vestments, candles, incense, images, and processions were all incorporated into church worship and continue today.

The following customs and traditions associated with Xmas all have pagan/heathen origins. (“Xmas” is the more preferable form for the day, since it at least leaves the name of our saviour out of the heathen observance.) Naturally, Christians would not keep these customs for such evil and perverse reasons, but the fact of their origins remain — “the customs of the people are vain” (Jer. 10:3), and should be carefully considered by all who know and love the Lord:

The blasphemous sacrifice of the mass 1. The blasphemous “Christ’s Mass” shortened to “Christ-mas” — The Roman Catholic “Christ’s Mass” is a special mass performed in celebration of Christ’s birth. In this mass, Jesus is considered both the priest and the victim, represented by the Catholic priest who offers Him as a sacrifice each time the mass is performed. In offering this “sacrifice,” the priest believes he has the power to change the bread and the wine of the Communion into Jesus’ literal flesh and blood, requiring the people to worship these elements as they do God Himself. This is obviously a denial of the gospel, and thereby, a false gospel (a re-doing of the sacrifice for sin — Heb. 9:12,24-26; 10:10,12,14). Yet, many who cry out all year long against the blasphemous Roman Catholic system, at year-end embrace Rome’s most blasphemous abomination of them all — Christmas!

A Nativity Scene 2. Nativity Scenes (tainted with paganism) — Nearly every form of pagan worship descended from the Babylonian mysteries, which focus attention on the “mother-goddess” and the birth of her child. This was adapted to “Mary-Jesus” worship, which then easily accommodated the multitude of pagans “converted” to Christianity inside Constantine’s Roman Catholic Church. [If anyone were to erect statues (i.e., images) of Mary and Joseph by themselves, many within Protestant circles would cry “Idolatry!” But at Xmas time, an image of a little baby is placed with the images of Mary and Joseph, and it’s called a “nativity scene.” Somehow, the baby-idol “sanctifies” the scene, and it is no longer considered idolatry!] (cf. Exo. 20:4-5a; 32:1-5; 9-10a)

An evergreen christmas tree 3. Christmas TreeEvergreen trees, because of their ability to remain green throughout the winter season, have long symbolized immortality, fertility, sexual potency, and reproduction, and were often brought into homes and set up as idols. The full mystical significance of the evergreen can only be understood when one considers the profound reverence the ancient pagans had for all natural phenomena — “To them, Nature was everywhere alive. Every fountain had its spirit, every mountain its deity, and every water, grove, and meadow, its supernatural association. The whispering of the trees . . . was the subtle speech of the gods who dwelt within” (W.M. Auld, Christmas Traditions). This is nothing but nature worship or Animism.

Adonis - Mazarin Louvre MR239 The custom of bringing the tree into the home and decorating it as is done today has legendarily been attributed to Martin Luther. In truth, the modern custom has been lost in obscurity, but almost every culture has some such tradition. For ages, evergreen trees would be brought into the house during the winter as magic symbols of luck and hope for a fruitful year to come, It may also be that the star with which many of today’s trees are topped did not originate as a representation of the star that the wise men followed, but rather a representation of the stars to which the ancient Chaldean astrologers looked for guidance.

Aesculapius snake The first decorating of an evergreen was done by pagans in honour of their god Adonis, who after being slain was brought to life by the serpent Aesculapius. The representation of the slain Adonis was a dead stump of a tree. Around this stump coiled the snake — Aesculapius, symbol of life restoring. From the roots of the dead tree, then comes forth another and different tree — an evergreen tree, symbolic to pagans of a god who cannot  die! In Babylon, the evergreen tree came to represent the rebirth/reincarnationAsherah of Nimrod as his new son (Sun), Tammuz. In Egypt, this god was worshiped in a palm tree as Baal-Tamar. (Heathen people in the land of Canaan also adopted tree worship, calling it the Asherah — a tree with its branches cut off was carved into a phallic symbol.) The fir tree was worshiped in Rome as the same new-born god, named Baal- Berith, who was restored to life by the same serpent. A feast was held in honour of him on December 25th, observed as the day on which the god reappeared on earth — he had Semiramis Nimrod Tammuzbeen killed, and was “reborn” on that day, victorious over death! It was called the “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun.” Thus, the annual custom of erecting and decorating evergreen trees was brought down to us through the centuries by the pagan Roman Catholic Church — the paganism of Tammuz and Baal, or the worship of the sun, mingled with the worship of Aesculapius the serpent. Whether erected in private homes or churches, decorated or not, the evergreen tree is a glaring symbol of this false god.

The Old Testament warns at least ten times against the practice of decorating evergreen trees for purposes of idolatry and false worship.

3  For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. 
4  They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. ~ Jeremiah 10:3,4

Wreath 4. Christmas WreathsIn pagan mythology, evergreen means eternal life and a never-dying existence. Made from evergreens, Christmas wreaths were most frequently round, which symbolized the sun (just as do halos in most religious art). Hence, the round Xmas wreaths stand for an eternal sun, a never-dying or self-renewing sun. In addition, the round form can also relate to the sign of the female, which stands for the regeneration of life. Because of these pagan associations, the Christian church was initially hostile towards the use of wreaths and other evergreen derivatives. But in the same way it  Christianized other pagan traditions, the South African wreathchurch soon found a way to confer its own symbolic meanings. For example, the sharp pointed leaves of the “male” holly came to represent Christ’s crown of thorns and the red berries His blood, while the “female” ivy symbolized immortality (Sulgrave Manor, “A Tudor Christmas,” p. 6). Such wreaths now not only adorn churches at Christmas time, but are also appearing during the Easter season.

Mistletoe 5. MistletoeThe use of the mistletoe plant (which is poisonous to man and animals) can be traced back to the ancient Druids. (The Druids were pagan Celtic priests who were considered magicians and wizards.) It represented the false “messiah,” considered by the Druids to be a divine branch that had dropped from heaven and grew upon a tree on earth. This is an obvious corruption of God’s prophetic Word concerning Christ, “the Man the Branch,” coming from heaven. The mistletoe symbolized the reconciliation between God and man. And since a kiss is the well known symbol of reconciliation, that is how “kissing under the mistletoe” became a custom — both were tokens of reconciliation. The mistletoe, being a sacred plant and a symbol of fertility, was also believed to contain certain magical powers, having been brought to earth from heaven by a mistle thrush carrying it in its toes (hence the name). It was once known as the “plant of peace,” and in ancient Scandinavia, enemies were reconciled under it (yet another reason why people came to “kiss under the mistletoe”). It was supposed to bring “good luck” and fertility, and even to protect the house in which it hung from witchcraft.

Victorian couples kissing under the mistletoe (Getty Images) A kiss is also something which is, at times, associated with lust. So the practice of “kissing under the mistletoe” also had roots in the orgiastic celebrations in connection with the Celtic Midsummer Eve ceremony. At the time the mistletoe was gathered, the men would kiss each other as a display of their homosexuality. (The custom was later broadened to include both men and women.) Kissing under the mistletoe is also reminiscent of the temple prostitution and sexual license proliferating during Roman Saturnalia.

St Nicholas of Myra6. Santa ClausSanta Claus or “Father Christmas” is a corruption of the Dutch “Sant Nikolaas.” (“Saint Nicholas” was the 4th century Catholic bishop of Myra in Asia Minor, who gave treats to children; he was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, “regarded as a special friend and protector of children.”  The red suit comes from the fact that Catholic bishops and cardinals in Italy wear red.) Santa Claus was also known as “Kriss Kringle,” a corruption of the GermanChrist Kindl— Christ Child. This has to be one of the most subtle of Satan’s blasphemies, yet most Christians are unaware of it.

Originally, the Santa Claus concept came from the pagan Egyptian god, Bes, a rotund, gnome-like personage who was the patron of little children. Bes god at Dendera Temple in Egypt Bes was said to live at the North Pole, working year-round to produce toys for children who had been good and obedient to their parents. In Dutch, he was called “Sinter Klaas.” Dutch settlers brought the custom to America. In Holland and other European countries, the original Santa Claus was actually a grim personage who traversed the countryside, determined to find out who really had been “naughty or nice.” Those who had been acting up were summarily switched. The association of Santa Claus with snow, reindeer, and the North Pole suggests Scandinavian or Norse traditions of the Yuletide season. [In Babylonia, also, the stag (reindeer) was a symbol of the mighty one, Nimrod. The symbolism of antlers worn on the head of a noble leader would demonstrate his prowess as a hunter, and thereby, influence people to follow him.]

Santa is the blasphemous substitute for God! He is routinely given supernatural powers and divine attributes which only GOD has. He is made out to be omniscient — he knows when every child sleeps, awakes, has been bad or good, knows exactly what every child wants (cf. Psa. 139:1-4). He is made out to be omnipresent — on one night of the year he visits all the “good” children in the world and leaves them gifts, seemingly being everywhere at the same time. He is made out to be omnipotent — he has power to give each child what each one wants. He is made out to be a sovereign judge — he answers to no one and no one has authority over him, and when he “comes to town,” he comes with a full bag of rewards for those whose behaviour has been acceptable in his eyes.

santa-claus-04

Santa Claus a.k.a. Satan Claws

Santa Claus has become one of the most popular and widely accepted and unopposed myths ever to be successfully interwoven into the fabric and framework of Christianity. It is a fact that Christ was born, and that truth should greatly rejoice the heart of every Christian. But the Santa Claus myth distorts the truth of Christ’s birth by subtly blending truth with the myth of Santa Claus. When Christian parents lie to their children about Santa Claus, they are taking the attention of their children away from God and causing them to focus on a fat man in a red suit with god-like qualities. All of this teaches the child to believe that, just like Santa, God can be pleased with “good works,” done in order to earn His favour. Also, they teach that no matter how bad the child has been, he will still be rewarded by God — just as Santa never failed to bring gifts. Even in homes of professing Christians, Santa Claus has clearly displaced Jesus in the awareness and affections of children, becoming the undisputed spirit, symbol, and centrepiece of Christmas.

7. Christmas Eve“Yule” is a Chaldean word meaning “infant.” Long before the coming of Christianity, the heathen Anglo-Saxons called the 25th of December “Yule day” — in other words, “infant day” or “child’s day” — the day they celebrated the birth of the false “messiah”! The night before “Yule day” was called “Mother night.” Today it is called “Christmas Eve.” And it wasn’t called “Mother night” after Mary, the mother of our Lord — “Mother night” was observed centuries before Jesus was born. Semiramis (Nimrod’s wife) was the inspiration for “Mother night,” and “Child’s day” was the birthday of her son (Tammuz), the sun-god!

Yule log fire 8. Yule LogThe Yule log was considered by the ancient Celts a sacred log to be used in their religious festivals during the winter solstice; the fire provided promises of good luck and long life. Each year’s Yule log had to be selected in the forest on Christmas Eve by the family using it, and could not be bought, or the superstitions associated with it would not apply. In Babylonian paganism, the log placed in the fireplace represented the dead Nimrod, and the tree which appeared the next morning (which today is called the “Christmas tree”) was Nimrod alive again (reincarnated) in his new son (sun), Tammuz. (Still today in some places, the Yule log is placed in the fireplace on Christmas Eve, and the next morning there is a Christmas tree!)

Today’s Yule log tradition comes to us from Scandinavia, where the pagan sex-and-fertility god, Jule, was honoured in a twelve-day celebration in December. A large, single log was kept with a fire against it for twelve days, and each day for twelve days a different sacrifice was offered. The period now counted as the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany was originally the twelve days of daily sacrifices offered to the Yule log. (What, then, are we really doing when we send “Yuletide greetings”? Are we really honouring Christ by sending greetings in the name of a Scandinavian fertility god? These are the same customs being practiced today as in ancient paganism! Only the names have changed.)

o-CHRISTMAS-CANDLES-facebook-1400x700 9. Candles Candles were lit by the ancient Babylonians in honour of their god, and his altars had candles on them. And as is well known, candles are also a major part of the ritualism of Roman Catholicism, which adopted the custom from heathenism. Candles approached the Yule log in ritual importance. Like the Yule log, they had to be a gift, never a purchase, and were lighted and extinguished only by the head of the household. Such candles stood burning steadily in the middle of the table, never to be moved or snuffed, lest death follow. The Yule candle, wreathed in greenery, was to burn through Christmas night until the sun rose or the Christmas service began (Sulgrave Manor, “A Tudor Christmas,”p. 9). Obviously, candles should have no part in Christian worship, for nowhere in the New Testament is their use sanctioned.

10. Giving of Gifts The tradition of exchanging gifts has nothing to do with a re-enactment of the Magi giving gifts to Jesus, but has many superstitious, pagan origins instead. One prominent tradition was the Roman custom of exchanging food, trinkets, candles, or statutes of gods during the mid-winter Kalends (the first day of the month in the ancient Roman calendar). This custom was transferred to December 25th by the Roman Church in keeping with the Saturnalian festival and in celebration of the benevolent St. Nicholas. [Is it not the height of ridiculousness to claim that giving one another presents properly celebrates Jesus’ “birthday” (not that there is anything necessarily wrong in giving each other presents)? But what are we giving Him, if indeed we are specifically celebrating His incarnation?]

Cooked goose 11. Christmas GooseThe “Christmas goose” and “Christmas cakes” were both used in the worship of the Babylonian “messiah.” The goose was considered to be sacred in many ancient lands, such as Rome, Asia Minor, India, and Chaldea. In Egypt, the goose was a symbol for a child, ready to die! In other words, a symbol of the pagan “messiah,” ready to give his life (supposedly) for the world. This is obviously a satanic mockery of the truth.

Cooked ham 12. Christmas HamHogs were slaughtered and the eating of the carcass was one of the central festivities of the Saturnalia. Each man would offer a pig as a sacrifice because superstition held that a boar had killed the sun deity Adonis. Hence, the tradition of the Christmas ham on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Stockings 13. Christmas StockingAccording to tradition, a poor widower of Myra, Turkey, had three daughters, for whom he could not provide a dowry. On Xmas-Eve, “Saint Nicholas” threw three bags of gold down the chimney, thereby saving the daughters from having to enter into prostitution. One bag rolled into a shoe, and the others fell into some stockings that had been hung to dry by the fire. Hence, the beginning of the tradition of the “Christmas stocking” or “boot.”

Cards 14. Christmas Cards The first British Xmas card can be dated back to 1843. The first cards featured pictures of dead birds! Evidently, the popularity of hunting robin and wren on Christmas Day made the dead bird image an appropriate one for “holiday” cards. Often the text of the cards would also have a morbid tone. Later, the cards displayed dancing insects, playful children, pink-cheeked young women, and festively decorated Christmas trees. The first actual Xmas cards were really Valentine’s Day cards (with different messages) sent in December. Mass production of Xmas cards in the United States can be traced back to 1875. Initially, the manufacturers thought of Xmas cards as a sideline to their already successful business in playing cards. But the “tradition” of sending cards soon caught on, leading to a very profitable business by itself.

Carol songsheet 15. Christmas Carols What do you suppose the reaction would be by a church’s leaders if its pastor were to propose that the following hymns be introduced into the church to commemorate the birth of Christ? The tunes are quite lovely.

Hymn #1 A hymn by a Unitarian (rejects the Trinity and full deity of Christ) minister that does not mention Jesus Christ and reflects the liberal social gospel theology of the 19th century.

Hymn #2A hymn by an American Episcopal priest, the fourth verse of which teaches Roman Catholic superstition about Christ coming to be born in people during the Advent season.

Hymn #3 A song, the words by an Austrian Roman Catholic priest, the music by a Roman Catholic school teacher, containing the Roman Catholic superstition about halos emanating from holy people, with no gospel message.

Perhaps you would expect the church’s leaders to be very upset. It might surprise you to learn that they were upset when they suspected that the pastor might somehow prevent them from singing them. You see, those three hymns were already in the church’s hymnals! The pastor did not have to introduce them. The three theologically incorrect “Christmas carols” referred to above are It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, O Little Town of Bethlehem, and Silent Night.

O Little Town of Bethlehem lyrics Silent Night lyrics

E. European Xmas Traditions In the early days of Christianity, as it moved north and west into Europe, many pagan celebrations were encountered. For example, in the late-6th century in England, the Angles and Saxons were found celebrating Yule. The Christian evangelists thought they would fail in any attempt to rival, suppress, or stamp out such long held customs, so they simply adopted popular dates for their own “special rituals and hallowed services.” In other words, it was easier to establish a festival celebrating the birth of Christ if it conveniently coincided with an existing popular feast day. In this way, the pagan peoples (albeit potential converts to Christianity), could continue with their usual celebrations at this time of year, but the reason for the merrymaking could be redefined and attributed to Christ’s birth rather than to pagan rituals. As paganism eventually died out and Christianity became widespread, Christmas became more associated with its religious foundations than any others (Sulgrave Manor, “A Tudor Christmas,” p. 2).

Christmas 1644 Rushwortha It was left to the Puritans to denounce everything. For them, Christmas was rightfully part popish, part pagan, and was forbidden to be kept as a holiday or feast day. The attack began in 1644 when the Puritans controlled the Parliament; December 25th was changed to a Fast Day. By 1647, even the Fast Day was abolished as a relic of superstition, synonymous with the Church of Rome. No observation on December 25th was any longer permitted, but the day was to be observed as a normal market-day. Christmas was accurately depicted by such names as the “Profane Man’s Ranting Day”, the “Superstitious Man’s Idol Day”, the “Papist’s Massing Day”, the “Old Heathen’s Feasting Day”, the “Multitude’s Idle Day”, and “Satan-that Adversary’s-Working Day”. In those days, any Christmas celebrations would be broken up by troops, who would tear down decorations and arrest anyone holding a service. Some who celebrated it in Europe were also thrown into prison. Because of the riots that broke out following the banning of Christmas, the celebrations and revelry were restored in 1660 by King Charles II, a Catholic (Sulgrave Manor, “A Tudor Christmas,” p. 3).

F. American Xmas Traditions America’s settlers (the “founding fathers” of so-called “Protestant America”) rightfully considered Christmas a “popish” holiday. In fact, it was only in the early 1800s that several founding members of the New York Historical Society “invented” Christmas. Before then, it was illegal in colonial Massachusetts to even take December 25th off work. Christmas was forbidden as “unseemly to ye spiritual welfare of ye community.” (It was banned in Massachusetts in 1659, and this law remained on the books for 22 years. In Boston, public schools stayed open on December 25th until as late as 1870!) It wasn’t until 1836 that any state declared Christmas a holiday (Alabama), and then there were no more state declarations until the Civil War. It was not until 1885 that all federal workers were given Christmas Day off. The so-called Xmas customs and traditions were later concocted more for commercial purposes than for religious.

Quoting from a 12/23/83 USA TODAY article about Christmas: “A broad element of English Christianity still considered Christmas celebration a pagan blasphemy. The Puritans, Baptists, Quakers, Presbyterians, Calvinists and other denominations brought this opposition to early New England and strong opposition to the holiday lasted in America until the middle of the 18th century.” Henry Ward Beecher, a Congregationalist, wrote in 1874 of his New England boyhood:

“To me Christmas is a foreign day, and I shall die so. When I was a boy I wondered what Christmas was. I knew there was such a time, because we had an Episcopal church in our town, and I saw them dressing it with evergreens, and wondered what they were taking the woods in the church for; but I got no satisfactory explanation. A little later I understood it was a Romish institution, kept by the Romish Church.”

II. Scriptural Support Against Celebrating Christmas — Unacceptable Worship

A. 2 Chronicles 33:15-17

5  And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. 
6  And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. 
7  And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: ~ 2 Chronicles 33:15-17

The Israelites had kept the old pagan form (the high places of Baal), but had merely introduced the worship of God into that form — a refusal to let go of pagan worship forms (i.e. God was to be worshiped in the Temple, not on the high places). This was unacceptable worship because the right object of worship was mixed with wrong forms of worship; i.e. the mixing of godly worship with ungodly form. [Likewise, is not the celebration of Christmas the taking of a celebration established by pagans and for pagans, and then introducing the worship of Christ into that pagan form?]

B. Deuteronomy 12:29-32

29  When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; 
30  Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. 
31  Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. 
32  What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. ~ Deuteronomy 12:29-32

God warned His people Israel to destroy all vestiges of pagan worship that they found in the “Promised Land.” Not only did God want to prevent His people from being enticed to worship false gods, but He specifically revealed that He did not want His people to worship Him in the same manner in which the heathen worshiped their gods. We know, therefore, that our Lord is displeased by practices which profess to honour Him, but which are copied from the tradition of false religions. The command here was to worship God only in His way, i.e. do only what God commands — not adding to God’s commands nor taking away from them. [Is not “putting Christ back into Christmas,” worshiping “the Lord your God their way”? Is there any command in the Bible to give special reverence to the Scriptural account of Christ’s birth more so than to any other Scripture, let alone even a suggestion to celebrate or commemorate His birth in any way whatsoever? God never intended for His people to be imitators of the pagan customs of the world, but has called us to be separate and set apart.]

C. Leviticus 10:1,2

1  And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. 
2  And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. ~ Leviticus 10:1,2

Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire to the Lord. [Is not the celebration of Christmas, with all its pagan symbols and forms, a “strange fire” unto the Lord, and is not this form of worship contrary to God’s commands?]

D. 1 Samuel 15:1-3,7-9,21-23

1  Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. 
2  Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 
3  Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. ~ 1 Samuel 15:1-3

7  And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt. 
8  And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. 
9  But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly. ~ 1 Samuel 15:7-9

21  But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal. 
22  And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 
23  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. ~ 1 Samuel 15:21-23

Saul disobeyed God’s prophet in order to worship God in his way. [Is not the celebration of Christmas one of man’s ways of worshiping Christ? There is no Biblical command to offer worship in this manner.]

E. 2 Samuel 6:2-7

2  And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the LORD of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims. 
3  And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart. 
4  And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark. 
5  And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals. 
6  And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. 
7  And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. ~ 2 Samuel 6:2-7

David attempts to transport the ark on a “new cart” instead of using the rings and poles as the Law required (Exo. 25:12-15). Additionally, the “transporters” of the ark were not even authorized to carry it (1 Chron. 15:2,13-15); i.e. the ark was not only transported in the wrong way, but was transported by the wrong people! [Is not the celebration of Christmas the wrong way (pagan forms and tradition) with the wrong people (the heathen of the world join right in with the professing Christians)?]

F. 1 Kings 12:26-33

26  And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: 
27  If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. 
28  Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 
29  And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. 
30  And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan. 
31  And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi. 
32  And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. 
33  So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense. ~ 1 Kings 12:26-33

In order to unify the northern ten tribes of Israel, ungodly King Jeroboam set up pagan idols, not in place of God, but as new focal points for directing worship to God. He even instituted a new festival on a new day; i.e. a new religious holiday of his own choosing. Even though the true God of Israel was still to be the object of worship in the new religious holiday, both the holiday and the worship were not authorized by God nor accepted by Him (1 Ki. 13:1-3, 15:29,30). Why? Because the concocted mixture of error with truth constituted false religion! [Is not the celebration of Christmas a religious holiday of man’s own choosing, replete with pagan symbols and forms, all under the guise (by sincere Christians at least) of worshiping the one true God and Saviour? But does not this worship form and system still constitute false religion, and thereby, make it unacceptable to God? And besides, where in the Bible do Christians have the right to add a new holy day to the so-called Christian calendar, any more than King Jeroboam had the right to add a new holy day to God’s theocratic calendar?]

G. 1 Corinthians 8:4-13; Romans 14:1-13; 1 Corinthians 10:14,18-21

4  As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. 
5  For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 
6  But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. 
7  Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 
8  But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. 
9  But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. 
10  For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; 
11  And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 
12  But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. 
13  Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. ~ 1 Corinthians 8:4-13

1  Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. 
2  For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. 
3  Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. 
4  Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. 
5  One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 
6  He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. 
7  For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 
8  For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. 
9  For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. 
10  But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 
11  For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. 
12  So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. 
13  Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. ~ Romans 14:1-13

14  Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. . . .  
18  Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 
19  What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 
20  But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 
21  Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:14,18-21

These passages concerning Christian liberty are discussed in more detail under Roman numeral IV. [Christian liberty can best be defined Biblically as “the freedom to engage in practices not prohibited by the Scriptures or denying oneself what is permitted (i.e. a moral choice of self-discipline) in order to be a more effective witness for God.” So the question must first be answered, “Is Christmas permitted?”] Briefly, some claim that Paul is teaching that the participation in pagan forms condemns no one, and therefore, participation in Christmas and its forms, even though arising out of pagan idolatry, is inconsequential. Paul nowhere approves participation in acts of idolatry, of which the participation in the pagan forms of Christmas comes dangerously close to doing. Instead, Paul is speaking of the liberty to continue in Jewish days of worship/festival that had been previously ordained under the Jewish law. There is certainly no liberty to bring outside pagan forms into the church’s worship services. Likewise, there is no liberty to Christianize Babylonian/Roman pagan holy days as special days.

Christians in the first century churches had the liberty to observe Old Testament holy days and feasts (days that had previously been revealed by God) if they were so immature as to do so. The weaker brother, Paul wrote, was at that time not to be censured for continuing to attach some importance to the Old Testament holy days, as a clear knowledge of their abolition in Christ was not yet given to him (the weaker brother). But to observe a pagan holy day is something this passage does not sanction. They certainly did not have the liberty to regard Babylonian/Roman pagan holy days (days that were invented by the devil) as special days. Again, that would have been idolatry, worldliness, and perhaps even a form of Satan worship on their part. Therefore, how can the observance of Christmas Day, or any other Babylonian/Roman Catholic holy day, be a matter of Christian liberty?

Yet when some of us refuse to regard the pagan holy days as special days, we are the ones often referred to as the “weaker brother” in this matter! Are we opposed to such days because we are “weak in faith”? Faith would be defined as believing what the Word of God says about a matter and acting upon it. It was by faith that we stopped regarding pagan holy days as special days. Would we be more mature Christians if we would start regarding such days again? It would certainly be much easier on us and our families.

III. Christmas and Violation of the Ten Commandments (reverse order)

10. Do Not Covet Children learn to covet the gifts of others, to drool over the Christmas catalogue, to drag their parents endlessly through toy stores, all in the name of “the Christmas spirit.”

9. Do Not Bear False Witness — “Jesus is the reason for the season!” is the Christian battle cry to “put Christ back in Christmas,” when in actuality, there is not only no Biblical warrant for Christmas, but its roots are in pagan worship systems. Nevertheless, professing Christians lie to their children about Santa Claus, the supernatural, sorcerous false “god” of Christmas, whose “gospel” is one of works salvation along with unconditional acceptance and rewards. Parents lie to their children for years about the god-like character of Santa Claus, in effect asking them to trust in a false god and a lie, and then don’t understand why later in life their children won’t believe and trust in the true God, Jesus Christ.

8. Do Not Steal Christmas spending patterns could never stand the test of Biblical stewardship; Christians “steal” the Lord’s resources by lavishly spending money on worthless and useless trinkets (in many cases); and withhold resources from those in need, while at the same time claiming to never have enough money to buy good Christian books, pay for home schooling, or buy Bible helps for their children. (Christians could also be helping the spiritually needy by giving them tracts, books, etc.) We “steal” from our families what they need and what we owe them in order to buy gifts for those who don’t need them.

7. Do Not Commit AdulteryAt this “special” time of the year, lustful thoughts are actually encouraged; e.g. teens are allowed to go to parties and stay out later, thereby having temptations put in front of them that otherwise wouldn’t be there. Christmas parties for adults also encourage evil thoughts through the use of the mistletoe, etc. (According to Matt. 5, such thoughts constitute adultery. At the very least, spiritual adultery is encouraged by the “season.”)

6. Do Not MurderEnvy and hate of my brother (which, according to Matt. 5, is equal to murder) because he has more than me or because he receives a larger Christmas bonus than me, is encouraged at Christmas time. We also tend to spiritually sacrifice our children to the “god of Christmas” via greed, selfishness, etc.

5. Honour Father & Mother Christmas gift-giving is not an honour to parents; the term “exchanging” gifts (i.e. giving in expectation of a return) is a dead give-away of the mockery associated with this tradition.

4. Remember the Sabbath & Keep It Holy Although we recognize that the Lord’s Day is not the “Christian Sabbath,” clearly the Lord’s Day is to be kept for worship and observed as such. Yet when Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or the day after Christ-mas falls on a Sunday, most churches adjust the Lord’s Day to accommodate Christ-mas, usually by cancelling the regularly scheduled Sunday evening service. Most of its members are too busy or too tired to attend services anyway.

3. Do Not Take the Lord’s Name in Vain “Christ” and “mass” are two words that are totally opposite from one another, and to connect the two is to blaspheme the name of Christ. By taking a pagan celebration, “Christianizing” it, and calling it a celebration of the birth of Christ, is most certainly taking the Lord’s name in vain. (A good example of the willingness of the professing church to profane the name of the Lord would be the title of a popular children’s Christmas concert production — The Divine Ornament. Imagine, identifying our Lord with a pagan ornament to hang on a pagan tree! What insult! What blasphemy!) In addition, some professing Christians use religion (“Christ’s birthday”) as a cloak to cover the evils of covetousness, idolatry, greed, immorality, etc. — all excuses to give vent to evil lusts.

2. Do Not Make Yourself Any Carved ImageNativity scenes, “pictures” of Christ, Christmas cards with “pictures” of Jesus, etc., all violate this command. God has given us His Word, not images, to teach us about Christ (1 Pe. 1:23; Dt. 4:12,15-19).

1. Have No Other gods Before MeThe “god of Christmas” is an idol! Looking to Christmas season for happiness, joy, and fulfilment, rather than through a pure, personal, and Biblical relationship with Jesus Christ, is idolatry.

IV. A Christian’s Decision to Celebrate Christmas – is it Christian Liberty?

A. Romans 14:1-13 (see II.G. above) This passage is speaking of Jews who were observing the Old Testament Jewish holy days/festivals and dietary laws even though they were now believers in Christ; but they were also judging their Gentile brothers-in-the-Lord who did not observe the Jewish customs. Likewise, the Gentile Christians were judging their Jewish brothers who were seemingly caught-up in ceremonial law. Paul was thusly saying, “To you Gentile Christians — leave the Jewish Christians alone, because they are not violating any Scriptural commands by their actions (i.e. it’s a “disputable” matter [doubtful or grey area] and not a moral issue). To you Jewish Christians — it’s okay for you to observe the Jewish festivals and dietary laws because they were given by God in the Old Testament, and thereby, are considered to be previously approved worship forms, but don’t judge your Gentile brothers because there is no Biblical command for either of you to continue to observe these things.” (Actually, it wasn’t “okay” [see IV.C. below], but Paul allowed it as an act of an immature/weaker brother [see II.G. above].) If a moral issue is involved (i.e. a practice that is covered in Scripture), then this passage and its application to Christian liberty (i.e. the freedom to engage in practices not prohibited by Scripture) would obviously not apply. The celebration of Christmas appears to be such a moral issue, because it is not only not from God, but is from ancient paganism itself!

B. 1 Corinthians 8:4-13 (see II.G. above) The Gentile Christians, who had been raised in an idolatrous system, were having a problem with the their Jewish brothers who were eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. (Apparently, this was the only “healthy” meat available.) Similar to the Romans 14 passage above, Paul says that eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols is not a moral issue, and thereby, is not prohibited. However, Paul does not say that it is okay to go into the pagan temple itself; in fact, in other passages (1 Cor. 10:14,18-21), Paul specifically prohibits getting involved with the pagan feasts. In other words, it’s not a moral issue to partake in the by-products of a pagan religious system (note, however, that there is no indication here that the Jewish Christians were using the “idol meat” as part of their worship), but it is not okay to partake in the religious system itself (because the corrupt character of the participants would be harmful for believers). Rather, we must be separate from the worldly system (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1). Therefore, when items (by-products) associated with a pagan religious system not only develop religious associations of their own, but have been integrated into what would otherwise be true Christian worship (as the celebration of Christmas has clearly become in our culture), then we should pull away from them so that there is no confusion over our allegiances.

C. Galatians 4:9-10; Colossians 2:16-17

9  But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? 
10  Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. ~ Galatians 4:9,10 

16  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 
17  Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. ~ Colossians 2:16,17

Both these passages of Scripture refer to the Jewish holy days under Old Testament law. If Christians were not even to observe the Old Testament holy days — days which did have divine sanction, for a time — they certainly don’t have the liberty to observe pagan holy days!

D. James 4:11

11  Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. ~ James 4:11

James is saying that Christians may only judge a brother on matters determined in God’s Word (i.e. moral issues). If a matter is not covered in the Word, then these are matters of Christian liberty (Rom. 14:1-13; 1 Cor. 8:4-13). He who judges in these areas of Christian liberty is judging and condemning the Word of God as being an imperfect standard to which the judge, thereby, refuses to submit. Since we have clear Scriptural precept that condemns the things that go on around December 25th in the name of Christ, the celebration of Christmas does not appear to be a matter of liberty, but one of moral conduct.

V. The Right Response

A. Quench Not the Holy Spirit (1 Thes 5:19-22)

19  Quench not the Spirit. 
20  Despise not prophesyings. 
21  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 
22  Abstain from all appearance of evil. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22

Test all things against the Scripture and line-up beliefs and actions with what is true (i.e. do not treat with contempt the Word of God). If one is convinced that to celebrate Christmas is sin, then he and his family must not compromise with the world or the church by participating in any Christmas celebrations (Rom. 14:23).

B. Avoid Traps of the Devil:

1. Lack of ZealOne who never considers why he does certain things, but he just does them because he always has or because his parents always have; one who acts on emotions rather than on facts.

2. Lack of TruthOne who does things for good reasons and right motives (i.e., plenty of zeal), but not in truth.

C. Realize that Christians Celebrating Christmas as the Day of Christ’s Birth Makes No More Sense than Adding Any of the Following Days as Special Days of Christian Celebration:(Remember, The Bible’s focus on the birth of Christ is for the sole purpose of documenting his virgin birth, his incarnation, and the fulfilment of His prophetic Messiahship. Like the tongue-in-cheek suggestions below, one must also remember that there is no Biblical warrant, precedent, nor precept for the remembrance of the day of Christ’s birth as a day of special religious celebration.)

1. Baptism CelebrationWhy not have three days of swimming parties in the summer in order to celebrate/symbolize Christ’s three days in the grave? We could even pick a time based upon our speculation of when John the Baptist baptized Jesus!

2. Ascension Celebration Why not have one day set aside every year for hot-air balloon rides in order to celebrate Christ’s ascension to heaven?

3. Miracle Celebration There is considerable Biblical focus on Jesus’ miracles (even more than on his birth), so why not have one day set aside every year to celebrate the first of Christ’s miracles? And since that was the turning of water into wine (Jn. 2), why not have “Christian” wine-tasting parties?!

D. Avoid the Rationalizations that:

1. “Christmas Provides a Festive Time to Share the Gospel” One cannot take something condemned in God’s Word and “use it” to spread the Gospel; neither will God bless it to spread His Word. Unacceptable worship and the “mixing-in” of unholy/pagan forms is surely not the normal means through which God blesses the faithful. Satan works to blend together his system with God’s system, because when unacceptable worship (paganism) is blended with true worship (God’s truth), true worship is destroyed.

In fact, any time one mixes pagan ideas and practices with the pure religion of Christ, it is condemned in Scripture as the heinous sin of idolatry! God has always detested taking those things dedicated to idols and using them to worship Him. [In fact, this “special time of the year” is probably more a hindrance to the receptiveness of the gospel message than a help. Much of the celebration observed by our contemporary society deludes people into assuming that God is pleased, when in reality, He is offended by false religion, pseudo-worship, and alien philosophies. The ecumenical spirit and counterfeit “love” under the guise of “peace and goodwill among men,” dulls one’s sensitivity to his desperate need to repent of sin and be reconciled to a holy God.]

2. “Christmas is Merely the Honouring of Christ’s Birth” Someone says, “I know Christmas is of pagan origin, but I still think it’s not wrong for a church to have a special time for honouring Christ’s birth.” But since when did Protestants believe that Christians have the right to add to the Bible? Is the church a legislative body? Are we to follow the Bible in our faith and practice, or the thinking of fallible men? If we have the right to add a special holy day to the Christian economy, then we can add 10,000 other things. Then we will be no better than the false cults and the Roman Catholics who follow heathen traditions! [Celebrating Christ’s birth is a form of worship. But since Christmas is a lie, those who celebrate it are not worshiping in “spirit and truth” (Jn. 4:24).]

3. “All I’m Doing is Putting Christ Back into Christmas” The modern conservative cry to put Christ back into Christmas is absurd. As detailed earlier in this report, Jesus Christ was never in Christmas. It’s a lie to say He was. He has no part in a lie. When anyone takes the truth and mixes a lie with it, they no longer have the truth. They have changed the truth into a lie. Neither is it possible to take a lie and mix enough truth with it to change the lie into the truth. You still come out with a lie. One may say, “Well, I know it’s not the truth, but I’ll put Christ back in Christmas and glorify God in it then.” No, you won’t. Christ never was in Christmas. You cannot change a lie into the truth. It should in reality be Baal-mass, Nimrod-mass, Tammuz-mass, Mithras-mass, or Mary-mass. Christ-mass is a lie. Why use a lie as a good time for a cardinal truth (the incarnation) of the Christian faith?

4. “I’m Using Christmas to Witness for Christ, Just Like the Apostle Paul Did”Some say that all they are doing is taking the “truth” from Christmas (i.e. the incarnation of Christ) and “cultivating” it as the Apostle Paul did (Acts 17/Mars Hill), taking the opportunity of the season to witness to a lost world. This would be fine if these Christians were actually doing only as Paul did. Paul, in addressing the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill, proclaimed to them that their “unknown god” to whom they had erected an altar, was none other than “the God who made the world and all the things therein.” Paul was not intimidated by the pagan surroundings and symbolisms, nor did he berate the Greeks for their error, but merely showed them the truth of the gospel of Christ.

But do Christians really use the “opportunity presented by the season” in the same way as Paul used the opportunity of the pagan altar? Do Christians personally stand in front of their home-town public displays of Xmas (Nativity scenes, etc.) and preach the gospel? To paraphrase Paul, do they say: “Men of Indianapolis, I see that in every way you are very religious; what you worship as something unknown, I am going to proclaim to you”? Do they come out of the public schools where they have just attended their children’s Xmas programs and preach to the attendees about the true God who has been grossly misrepresented in the program they have witnessed? Hardly. Even to most of those who understand the true origin of Xmas, this “unique time of year” means inviting unbelievers into their homes to gather around the Xmas tree, are only using pagan forms and the pagan festival season as an opportunity to witness. If Paul meant this in Acts 17, he would have met the people in the Athenian temple or in his or their homes, gathering around their idols which he had Christianized and was now using as a part of his worship.

Most of the people who decorate their homes and churches with Xmas trees, holly wreaths, Nativity scenes, etc., all supposedly to be used as “opportunities” via “Xmas coffees,” neighbourhood “grab bag” gift exchanges, Xmas concerts, etc., are convinced that they’re doing God a service. And since they are not involved in the crass secular “commercialization” that the world revels in, but have instead “put Christ back in Xmas”, they reason that all is Biblical and pleasing to God.

5. “It Doesn’t Mean Anything to Me”Many Christians who routinely make a habit of picking-and-choosing which Biblical commands they will obey or not obey, have likewise carried this practice over into a justification for celebrating Christmas. They claim, “but the Christmas tree, mistletoe, Santa Claus, etc., don’t mean anything pagan to me, so I’ll exercise my Christian liberty and partake in all of it.” Obviously, if one were to take such a cavalier approach to the physical world (i.e. “I can drink rat poison because I choose not to regard it as poison”), it would likely lead to a quick physical death. Why then do Christians think they can avoid spiritual harm by ignoring God’s spiritual warnings?

6. “The ‘Connection’ Has Been Broken” There are those who clearly recognize the pagan nature of the various Christmas worship forms and practices. Nevertheless, many of these Christians claim that because of the long passage of time from their pagan inception to the present (6000 years?), the “connection” to paganism has been sufficiently diminished to allow the adoption of these forms and practices into our Christian worship and celebration. While it may be true that most symbols have lost their original demonic meaning and significance in a modern society, it is strangely bizarre and ironic that Christendom seeks to commemorate Christ’s birth with the faded symbols of Satan. And even though some of God’s people may be naive and ignorant about the source of these things, surely God is not. Can such things please Him? And think about this — if it were possible to “disconnect” current practices from their pagan/occultic roots, why does Scripture not provide us any guidelines as to:

(a) how much time is necessary for the “neutralization” / disassociation process to occur; and

(b) which of the hundreds of ancient pagan rites would then be acceptable for adaptation into Christian worship (since some are obviously much more pagan/occultic than others)?

7. “There Are Hundreds of Other Items of Daily Life that Have a Pagan Origin”It is said, “Such things as the wedding ring, certain clothing customs, the modern division of time into hours and minutes, the names of the days of the week, etc., all have pagan connections in their origins, so isn’t it a contradiction on your part to say that their meanings have sufficiently changed while Christmas’s meanings have not?”

That’s not what we’re saying. We would ask the question back, “Which of these pagan items do we focus on to celebrate the birth of Christ? Or which of these is ‘Christianized’ and brought into our weekly worship of, or our daily devotion to, Christ, as you do with the pagan forms and traditions of Xmas?” The origin and meaning of a custom, tradition, or form does not take on significance unless it is somehow specifically incorporated into, or lined up with, our worship. As we have already detailed in the section on Christian liberty (Section IV.B.), these rings, clothing customs, etc. would be merely the by-products of paganism, not paganism itself, and they have developed no religious connotations or associations of their own, as have the Xmas customs and traditions.

8. “Baptism (and Circumcision) Have Pagan Origins and God Still Gave Their Use in Scripture, So What’s Wrong With Using the Pagan Forms of Christmas?” This argument is frequently made by pastors who say that to be consistent, those who would have us forbid the forms, symbols, and traditions of Christmas should also be calling for us to abandon believer’s baptism; i.e. shouldn’t the would-be banners of Christmas be saying, “Since the ancient mystery religions practiced forms of baptism, therefore baptism is a pagan custom and should be outlawed for the believer in Christ”? This is a strange argument for anyone to make (and, in our opinion, reveals a low view of Scriptural admonitions). If baptism were absent from the Bible, as using pagan forms and traditions to celebrate or commemorate Christ’s birthday are absent, there would then be no Biblical justification for baptism. God has not commanded us to celebrate or commemorate Christ’s birth. He has commanded us to baptize (Matt. 28:19).

E. Abstain From the Observance of ChristmasWhat, then, ought to be the Christian’s response to this and other pagan and Roman inventions? It cannot be denied that they are pagan pure and simple, from beginning to end. God gives us specific instructions in His Holy Word: Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen . . . (Jer. 10:2). These words are perfectly clear. What rational options does a Bible believing Christian have?

VI. Conclusion

The very popularity of Christmas should cause the Christian to question it. Anyone and everyone can celebrate Christmas without question — outright pagans, nominal Christians, and even Buddhists and Hindus. If, in reality, December 25th was a date set by God to remember the birth of Jesus, you could be sure that the world would have nothing to do with it. After all, God has commanded one day in seven — the Lord’s Day — to worship Him. Does the world observe it? Of course not. As expected, the world loves Christmas, but hates the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 15:18,23-25). It shuns anything pertaining to true religion. Shouldn’t the Christian be just a little suspicious of a celebration in which the whole sinful world can join without qualms?

One way to test the Scripturalness of our practices is to reflect on what we would expect missionaries to teach new converts in a foreign culture. With the Bible as their guide book they could start new local churches without importing American culture encumbered with Roman Catholicism, liberal Protestantism, and crass commercialism. Missionaries who have urged new converts to forsake all pagan superstitious relics have later been questioned about the apparent inconsistency of their own American Christmas customs. Nationals perceived them as idolatrous even though the missionaries were oblivious to that possibility!

When Christmas is exposed for what it really is, this angers people. It angers Protestant people! And there is reason why it does so. When the pagan celebration of Christmas is rooted up, and rejected, then what has become a Protestant tradition is, in effect, being rejected! And that is why people become angry. It began as a Roman Catholic holy day, and then it became a Protestant holy day. And if anyone dares show it up for what it really is, they face the wrath of the Protestant religious machine.

Christmas is a thoroughly pagan holiday — in its origin, in its trappings, and in all its traditions. Perhaps we should contemplate the words of the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon, delivered in a Lord’s Day sermon on December 24, 1871:

“We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Saviour; and consequently, its observance is a superstition, because [it’s] not of divine authority. Superstition has fixed most positively the day of our Saviour’s birth, although there is no possibility of discovering when it occurred. . . .

“It was not till the middle of the third century that any part of the church celebrated the nativity of our Lord; and it was not till very long after the Western church had set the example, that the Eastern adopted it. Because the day is not known, therefore superstition has fixed it; . . . Where is the method in the madness of the superstitious? Probably the fact is that the holy days were arranged to fit in with the heathen festivals. . . . We venture to assert that if there be any day in the year of which we may be pretty sure that it was not the day on which the Saviour was born, it is the twenty-fifth of December. . . . regarding not the day, let us, nevertheless, give God thanks for the gift of His dear Son.”

And from Dr. H.A. Ironside’s Lectures on the Book of Revelation (1920: p. 301):

“It is a lamentable fact that Babylon’s principles and practices are rapidly but surely pervading the churches that escaped from Rome at the time of the Reformation. We may see evidences of it in the wide use of high-sounding ecclesiastical titles, once unknown in the reformed churches, in the revival of holy days and church feasts such as Lent, Good Friday, Easter, and Christ’s Mass, or, as it is generally written, Christmas. . . . some of these festivals . . . when they are turned into church festivals, they certainly come under the condemnation of Galatians 4:9-11, where the Holy Spirit warns against the observance of days and months and times and seasons. All of them, and many more that might be added, are Babylonish in their origin, and were at one time linked with the Ashtoreth and Tammuz mystery-worship. It is through Rome that they have come down to us; and we do well to remember that Babylon is a mother, with daughters who are likely to partake of their mother’s characteristics . . . ”

And, finally, from Alexander Hislop’s The Two Babylons: Or the Papal Worship:

“Upright men strove to stem the tide, but in spite of all their efforts, the apostasy went on till the Church, with the exception of a small remnant, was submerged under pagan superstition. That Christmas is a pagan festival is beyond all doubt. The time of the year, and the ceremonies with which it is celebrated, prove its origin.”

We can summarize by saying that nowhere in Scripture are we commanded to commemorate the birth of our Lord, and God the Father evidently deemed it unwise to make the date known. Hence, it will always remain unknown and is not to be ceremoniously remembered and celebrated. (In fact, God has warned us about getting entangled with any special days [Gal. 4:10]). Notice though, that we are commanded to remember Him in His death (but no special day was specified for this either):

“Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; this DO in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:18,19; 1 Cor. 11:23-26).

To commemorate His death is Scriptural. Any day of the year will do. To commemorate His birth is non-Scriptural, even extra-Scriptural (Deut. 4:2, 12:32; Prov. 30:6; Rev. 22:19), whether one chooses December 25th or any other day. If God had desired us to remember Christ’s birthday, He could have left us the precise date. But if He had, He would have vindicated every astrologer in the past 2,000 years. In occult circles, the anniversary of a person’s birth is the most important metaphysical day of the year. The Bible recognizes no such significance. It is intriguing that there are only two birthday celebrations recorded in the entire Bible and they were both those of ungodly kings — and both resulted in an execution (Gen. 40:16-22 and Matt. 14:6-10/Mark 6:21-27)!

The Apostle Paul says: “God forbid that I should glory in anything except in the cross [not the manger] of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14). We find no salvation in the birth of the Lord Jesus by itself, for salvation was only made possible through His death (i.e., His shed blood) and resurrection. Our focus should be on the cross and our ascended Saviour, not in a cradle.

Those who love Jesus should certainly rejoice that He was born and lived amongst us as a man. But if we truly want to glorify Him and bear testimony of who He is, we must stop marrying that blessed gift with the debauchery of paganism. If we want to honour His birth, let it be done as He would have done it: year-round unselfishly serving our fellow man as an unending act of love for our God. Let us put away all of the mixture of pagan customs and take up His mantle and His pure worship, and show the confused world that there is a difference.

D.B. Dicks

Soli Deo Gloria

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BIBLIOGRAPHY/SOURCES:

1. Assemblies of Yahweh. The Case Against Christmas. Sacred Name Broadcaster, Bethel, PA,23pp.
2. Becker, R.F. The Truth About Christmas. Chapel Library, Venice, FL, 36 pp.
3. Blanton, Raymond. The Christmas Lie. Highways & Hedges Tracts, Liberty, SC, 13 pp.
4. Buday, George. The History of the Christmas Card. Putman Pub., New York, 1954, 304pp.
5. Dager, Albert James. “The Origins of Christmas Traditions,” Media Spotlight Special Report Redmond, WA, 1985..
6. Dickey, D.J. & Shetler, Earl. “Should A Christian Celebrate Christmas?” Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Vernonia, OR, 10/89: three-part sermon series — each on a 90-minute audio cassette tape.
7. Dossey, Donald. Holiday Folklore, Phobias and Fun: Mythical Origins, Scientific Treatments & Superstitious “Cures.” Outcomes Unltd. Press, Asheville, NC, 1995 (paper ed.), 232pp.
8. Elwell, W. A. (Ed.). Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1984, pp. 218-221.
9. Halff, Charles. The Truth About Christmas. The Christian-Jew Foundation, San Antonio, TX, 13 pp.
10. Halff, Charles. “Is Christmas a Jewish Holiday?” Message Of The Christian Jew. November-December 1993, pp. cover, 1,2 & 7.
11. Helgerson, John C. Considering the Christmas Issue. The Church of the Open Bible, Burlington, MA, 12/31/90.
12. Hislop, Alexander. The Two Babylons: Or The Papal Worship. Loizeaux Bros., Neptune, NJ, 1959:Second Edition, 330 pp.
13. Kohler, John. Our Baptist Heritage. Heritage Baptist Church, Salem, IN, Vol. 2, No. 3, 11/92, 8 pp.
14. McCurry, Robert. The God Man Has Made. Heritage Press, Sharpsburg, GA, 8pp.
15. Pink, A.W. Xmas . Chapel Library, Venice, FL, 6 pp.
16. Schneider, Michael. Is Christmas Christian? Chapel Library, Venice, FL, 15 pp.
17. Spurlin, Ed. Where Is The Christ In Christmas. Voice in the Wilderness, Milford, NH, 11/92, 8pp.
18. Spurgeon, C.H. “Joy Born At Bethlehem,” A Sermon: Delivered on Lord’s Day Morning, December 24th, 1871. Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, pp. 697-698.
19. Unknown. My Lord Has Not Told Me To Do It: The Christian andChristmas. ” Chapel Library, Venice, FL, 4 pp.
20. Unknown. 10 Reasons Why Christmas Is Unscriptural. Chapel Library, Venice, FL, 8 pp.
21. (Vine, W.E.), Gospel Tract Publications. The Collected Writings of W.E. Vine, Volume 5. Glasgow, Scotland, 1986, pp. 436-439.
22. Willcock, Shaun. The Pagan Festivals of Christmas and Easter. Bible Based Ministries, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 1992, 76 pp.
23. Wilson, Greg. Let’s Keep Christ Out of Xmas. Landmark Independent Baptist Church, Homestead, FL, 4 pp.

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FOOTNOTE:

* This blog post first appeared on 26 November 2011, which now has been updated with images and insertion of Authorised Version (King James Bible) scriptures.

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