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But the statues of lions have been placed in Japanese shrines since ancient times. It has been proven by scholars that statues of lions located in front of Japanese shrines originated from the Middle East. Located near the entrance of a Japanese shrine, there is "temizuya" which is a place for worshipers to wash their hands and mouth. This is the same custom as found in Jewish synagogues. The ancient tabernacle and temple of Israel also had a laver for washing and sanctification near the entrances well.
In front of a Japanese shrine, there is a gate called the "torii. The "torii" gate consists of two vertical pillars and a bar connecting the upper parts.
But the oldest form consists of only two vertical pillars and a rope connecting the upper parts. When a Shinto priest bows to the gate, he bows to the two pillars separately. It is assumed that the "torii" gate was originally constructed of only two pillars. In the Israeli temple, there were two pillars used as a gate 1 Kings And in Aramaic language which ancient Israelites used, the word for gate was "taraa.
Some "torii"s, especially of old shrines, are painted red. I can't help but think this is a picture of the two door posts and the lintel on which the blood of the lamb was put the night before the exodus from Egypt. In the Japanese Shinto religion, there is a custom to surround a holy place with a rope called the "shimenawa" which has slips of white papers inserted along the bottom edge of the rope.
The "simenawa" rope is set as the boundary. Sinai, he "set bounds" Exodus around it for the Israelites not to approach. Although I don't know what kind of things these "bounds" were, ropes or something else must have been set as the boundary. The Japanese "shimenawa" rope might then be a custom that originates from the time of Moses.
The only big difference between a Japanese shrine and the ancient Israeli temple is that a Shinto shrine does not have the burning altar for animal sacrifices.
I used to wonder why Shinto religion does not have the custom of animal sacrifices if Shinto originates from the religion of ancient Israel. But then I found the answer in Deuteronomy chapter Moses commanded people not to offer any animal sacrifices at any other locations except at specific places in Canaan So, if the Israelites came to ancient Japan, they would not be permitted to offer animal sacrifices.
When Japanese people pray in front of the Holy Place of a Shinto shrine, they firstly ring the golden bell which is hung at the center of the entrance. This is the custom of the ancient Israel. The high priest Aaron put "bells of gold" on the hem of his robe. This was so that its sound might be heard and he might not die when he ministered there Exodus Japanese people clap their hands two times when they pray there. This was, in ancient Israel, the custom to mean "I keep promises.
It seems that ancient people of Israel clapped their hands when they pledge or when they do an important thing. Japanese people bow in front of the shrine before and after clapping their hands and praying.
They also perform a bow as a polite greeting when they meet each other. To bow was also the custom of the ancient Israel. Jacob bowed when he was approaching Esau Genesis I have noticed that modern Jews do not bow. However, they bow when reciting prayers. Modern Ethiopian people have the custom of bowing, probably because of the ancient Jews who emigrated to Ethiopia in ancient days.
The Ethiopian bow is similar to the Japanese. We Japanese have the custom to use salt for sanctification. People sometimes sow salt after an offensive person left them. When I was watching a TV drama from the times of the Samurai, a woman threw salt on the place where a man she hated left.
This custom is the same as that of the ancient Israelites. After Abimelech captured an enemy city, "he sowed it with salt" Judges We Japanese quickly understand this to mean to cleanse and sanctify the city.
I hear that when Jews move to a new house they sow it with salt to sanctify and cleanse it. Again this is the same in Japan. In Japanese-style restaurants, they usually put salt near the entrance. Jews also use salt for Kosher meat.
All Kosher meat is purified with salt and all meals start with bread and salt. Japanese people place salt at the entrance of a funeral home.
After coming back from a funeral, one has to sprinkle salt on oneself before entering his own house, for it is thought in Shinto that anyone who went to a funeral or touched a dead body has become unclean. Again the same concept as the Israelites. Japanese "sumo" wrestlers sow the sumo ring with salt before they fight.
European or American people wonder why they sow salt. But Rabbi Tokayer wrote that Jews quickly understand its meaning.
Japanese people offer salt every time they perform a religious offering, This is the same custom used by the Israelites, for the Bible says: "With all your offerings you shall offer salt. The ancient people of Israel washed a new born baby with water after rubbing the baby softly with salt Ezekiel In the Hebrew Scriptures, the words "clean" or "unclean" often appears.
Europeans and Americans are not familiar with this concept. But the Japanese people easily understand it, for it is Shinto's central concept to value cleanness and to avoid uncleanness. This concept again probably from ancient Israel. Buddhist temples have idols which are carved in the shape of Buddha and other gods.
But in Japanese Shinto shrines, there are no idols. In the center of the Holy of Holies of a Shinto shrine, there is a mirror, sword, or pendant.
But Shinto believers do not regard these items as their gods. In Shinto, gods are thought to be invisible. The mirror, sword, and pendant are not idols, but merely objects to show that it is the holy place where invisible gods come down. In the ark of the covenant of ancient Israel, there were the tablets of stone of God's Ten Commandments, a jar of manna, and the rod of Aaron.
These were not idols, but objects to show that it was the holy place where the invisible God comes down. We can say the same thing concerning these objects in Japanese shrines. There is a difference that Shinto religion believes in many gods, while the Israeli Jewish religion believes in only one true God. However, different from the modern Judaism, ancient religion of Israel, especially of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, inclined to idol worship and polytheistic belief belief in many gods.
Practically the religion of ancient Israel was not monotheistic. Shinto's polytheistic belief seems to have come from the polytheistic inclination of ancient Israel. Shinto scholars say that a Shinto god "Susanoh" resembles Baal in several aspects, and a female Shinto god "Amaterasu" resembles Asytaroth.
Until 40 decades ago, at Mt. Inomure in Ooita pref. They put woods together in the shape of the Star of David for making the foundation, on it constructed a tower made of tree branches, and on its top put a bamboo pole tangled with a slough of snake. They burned the tower and prayed for rainfall. It reminds us of the story that ancient Israelites had burned incense to the bronze serpent made by Moses on the pole until the reign of the King Hezekiah 2 Kings Although Shinto is a polytheistic religion, I think there is a possibility that ancient Shinto had once believed in Yahweh also.
The first born among the Shinto gods is called "Amenominakanushi-no-kami. Archaeologists say that the religions of Babylon and of Egypt had originally believed in one god called "the god of sky," which seemed to have a connection to the Biblical "God of heaven.
I think that we can safely say the same thing happened to the Shinto religion. I suppose that the ancient Shinto religion had the belief in God Yahweh, but later degenerated into polytheism. I believe that the Japanese people should come back to believe in one true God whom the Bible teaches.
A Christian friend of mine, Mr. Tsujii, once told me a story. One day, Mr. Tsujii's friend who is a passionate Shinto believer came to him. The Shinto believer brought the Bible and said excitingly to Mr. Tsujii: "I read the Torah. I was very surprised to know the religious ceremonies of ancient Israel.
The ways of them are the same as Shinto's! The way of their festivals, the way of the Temple, the way to value cleanness, all of them are the same as Shinto's! Tsujii said to him: "Yes, that is what I have also noticed.
If you have noticed it, why don't you believe in God whom the Bible teaches? I believe that is the way to establish and recover the true Shinto religion in which you believe. The words of Mr. Tsujii are the same feeling as that I have for all the Shinto believers in Japan. I pray that all Japanese people may come back to believe in God of the Bible. Because He is also the Father of the Japanese nation. Today we Japanese celebrate the new year on January 1st, but historically we used the lunar calendar, when January 15th was the official date for the new year celebration.
It is a Japanese custom during the celebration to eat "mochi" rice cakes throughout the seven days. This is similar custom to the Jewish, for the Bible states: "And on the fifteenth day of the same month first month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread.
Furthermore, the Japanese people eat porridge with seven kinds of bitter herbs during celebration.
In historical times people ate the herbs on January The ancient Israelites also ate "with bitter herbs" on the 15th of the first month Exodus In Japan, we have the "Gion" festivals at many locations during summer. The most important is the one held at the "Yasaka-jinja" Shinto shrine in Kyoto. The festival in Kyoto continues throughout July each year.
But, the most important part of the festival is held from the 17th to the 25th of July We Japanese call it "the seventh month". The 1st and 10th of July are also important. This has been a tradition since ancient times. But the 17th of the seventh month is the day that Noah's ark drifted to Ararat: "Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat. But after Moses, it was replaced by the Feast of Booths harvest festival which is held on the 1st, 10th day of the seventh month, and during 8 days from the 15th of the seventh month Numbers , 7, 12, The "Gion" festival in Kyoto started with the wish that no pestilence would occur among people.
This is similar to what King Solomon started, in the wish that no pestilence would occur in the country, the feast which continued for 8 days including the last meeting day from the 15th of the seventh month 2 Chronicles Over years ago, a business man from Scotland, N. Mcleod, came to Japan and investigated the customs of Japan. He wrote a book titled "Epitome of Japanese Ancient History. Rabbi Tokayer made a similar comment.
He said that the name "Gion" reminds him of "Zion" which is another name used for Jerusalem. In fact, Kyoto used to be called "Heian-kyo" which means "peace".
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