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Darkness to Light - Vol. XVI, No. 6

Darkness to Light
Volume XVI, Number 6

Presented by Darkness to Light Website
Director: Gary F. Zeolla

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God’s Sex Plan: Volume Two: What the New Testament Teaches About Human Sexuality - Many issues are discussed in this book that are related to sex, including but not limited to: monogamy, marital sex, polygamy, incest, homo-sexuality, premarital sex (fornication), extramarital sex (adultery), celibacy, transsexualism, reproduction, infertility, contraception, abortion, sexual harassment and assault, masturbation, pornography, gender roles, and school and other mass shootings (yes, those are related to this topic).

Pittsburgh Synagogue Mass Shooting

By Gary F. Zeolla


The Details


      In my home area of Pittsburgh, PA, Jewish worshippers were attending Shabbat services at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh on Saturday, October 27, 2018. The building houses three Jewish congregations: Tree of Life, Dor Hadash, and New Light, so three services were occurring at the same time. One of them included a bris, the Jewish ritual in which a male infant is circumcised at eight-days old and given a Jewish name. This is what the media is somewhat wrongly referring to as a “baby naming ceremony.”

      The services began at 9:45 am. At 9:54 am, the first call to 911 occurred. That call came from one of the worshippers, who said he had not been carrying his cell phone on the Sabbath as is normal for Jews, but a friend recently encouraged him to do so in case of emergency.

      One minute after the 911 call, the Pittsburgh police began heading for the synagogue, followed closely by Pittsburgh SWAT. Two police officers entered the building and began searching for the gunman and survivors. They found two survivors hiding in the basement and escorted them out.

      In doing so, they must have scared the cowardly scumbag, as he tried to flee the building. But he was confronted by two more officers. An exchange of gunfire ensured, and one of the officers was shot and the other was injured by shrapnel.

      The coward then retreated back into the building and up to the third floor. He was pursued by two SWAT officers. Another shootout ensued, in which both officers were shot multiple times, with the gunman also being hit multiple times. Additional officers then entered the building, pulled the injured officers to safety and negotiated a surrender with the scumbag. He was then taken into custody. None of the injured officers died, neither did the gunman, but eleven worshippers were killed, and two additional ones were injured.

      On a small good note, no children were injured or killed. But showing what a despicable coward the alleged shooter is, most of the injured and killed worshippers were senior citizens, ranging in age from 54-97, including a pair of brothers and a married couple. The names of the eleven dead are:



      The 97-year-old woman lived through the Holocaust. She survives that hatred-inspired horrific event, only to be killed in another one. She was said to be “full of life” and to have “many years left.”

      Jerry Rabinowitz was doctor, who was planned on retiring soon. He had found a place of safety but left it to tend to the injured, and then got shot himself. Bernice and Sylvan Simon were married in this very same building sixty-two years ago, only to die together in it. And on it goes, one heartbreaking story after another.

      A total of six officers were injured and two worshippers, plus the alleged shooter. They were taken to three area hospitals, the victims to the two UPMC hospitals in Pittsburgh and the scumbag to Allegheny General Hospital (AGH). One of the officers and one of worshippers were injured critically. The wounded and dead had one to several gunshot wounds each.

      The alleged shooter was carrying an AR-15 and three Glock .375 handguns. It has not been reported if he was carrying any extra ammunition, but those four weapons can carry an estimated 50-60 rounds, while it has been estimated that about 100 people were in the synagogue. What that means is, if it were not for the heroic actions of Pittsburgh police and SWAT, the number of casualties might have been far greater.

      It also helped that just five years ago, Pittsburgh formed a team of five “tactical doctors.” They had been trained to treat wounded in an active shooter situation, and that training proved fruitful, as they went into the building and began treating the wounded while SWAT was still pursuing the shooter. Their brave actions probably saved more lives.

      “The FBI special agent in charge of the Pittsburgh office, Bob Jones, said that it was the most ‘horrific crime scene’ he’s witnessed in his 22-year career with the bureau” (Fox News; Pittsburgh). Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of Tree of Life said the sanctuary is unusable, as it is riddled with hundreds of bullet holes.

      The alleged shooter was later identified as Robert Bowers, 46, a Pittsburgh resident. It was reported that he had no criminal history in Pennsylvania, though it has been reported that police had to talk him out of a suicide attempt back in 2005. He “agreed to voluntarily commit himself to a mental health clinic, but never followed through” (CBS Pittsburgh. Troubling). It has also been reported that he had financial problems.

      The FBI has called this a “hate crime” and has taken the lead in the investigation. The Anti-Defamation League came out with a statement saying, “We believe this is the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States” (ADL).

      US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that if found guilty, the alleged shooter will be facing the death penalty, as he should, “The one shedding [the] blood of a person, in place of that blood will his be shed, for in [the] image of God I made humanity” (Genesis 9:6; ALT).

      After this day of heartbreak and mourning, an interfaith service was held at a nearby Presbyterian church at 6:00 pm. Then the streets were flooded with hundreds to thousands of Pittsburghers, joining together for a vigil and candlelight service, despite a steady rain and mid-40s temperatures.

      There was a moment of silence before the Pitt Panther football game on Saturday and the Pittsburgh Steelers game on Sunday. During the Steelers game, many fans held up signs in support of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community, such as a sign that simply had a Star of David with the word Shalom (“peace”). But my favorite was a sign that read, “Hatred can’t weaken a City of Steel.”

      Another vigil was held on Sunday at 5:00 at Pittsburgh’s Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall, timed of course to start after the Steelers game ended. There were 2,500 people seated inside, and another 1,500 standing outside in the cold and rain.

      A call for blood donations brought out lines of Pittsburghers waiting to give blood on Saturday and Sunday. Then on Monday morning, the Pittsburgh Penguins held a blood drive at PPG Paints Arena where they play, and all the drawing stations were packed.

      Then Tuesday night before their first home game since the massacre, the Pens held a 11 second moment of silence, one second for each victim. Money was collected for the victims. With the Pens contributing $50,000, the total collected came to $250,000.

      A makeshift memorial was set up outside of the synagogue, consisting of a wooden Star of David for each victim, with his or her name printed on it. A steady flow of people throughout the weekend and the following week visited the memorial and laid flowers before the Stars.

      Funerals were scheduled for Tuesday through Friday of the following week. The first was for the Rosenthal brothers, Cecil and David. they were so beloved that the funeral was packed, with several Steelers, past and present, in attendance, from Franco Harris to Ben Roethlisberger. Even Ryan Shazier, who suffered his own tragedy a year ago, was in attendance.

      Through all of these events, all of Pittsburgh came together to support the injured, the families of the dead, and our Jewish community. But sadly, that unity did not last long, as the tragedy was quickly politicized.

      But before getting to that, may the reader join me in praying for the City of Pittsburgh, the injured, and the families of the dead. But most of all, pray for those who survived this horrific event and for the first responders. From the descriptions, a horrifying bloodbath occurred inside of that synagogue, that I am sure they will never be able to forget.

      The preceding are the basic details on this tragedy that has brought the terrible wave of mass shooting seen across the country to close to my home. I did not know any of the dead or wounded, but being so close to my home, this mass shooting has affected me more than previous ones, and it was hard to hold back tears as I wrote the preceding section. But now for the controversial stuff....



    The preceding is excerpted from a book I am working on. It was originally going to be about the Kavanaugh proceedings, but it has morphed into being more about the political unrest being seen in the USA today. I will be addressing this tragedy and the resultant political dispute in one or two chapters of the book.

      Also, it is my practice in my writings about terroristic events, mass shootings, and other such incidents to not name the suspected perpetrators or to only give their name once and never again. That is because I do not want to give them the fame they are seeking. Instead, I refer to them as the alleged perpetrator, the alleged shooter, or the suspect. Of course, once they are found or plead guilty, then I will drop the “alleged” part and just call them the perpetrator or the shooter. Or I might use derogatory terms like “scumbag” that are fitting for a person who commits such heinous acts.


    The above details were taken from many sources that will be referenced in my forthcoming book. But the exact quotes are from:.

      ADL. ADL Statement on Synagogue Shooting in Pittsburgh.

      Analytical-Literal Translation of the Old Testament: Volume I: The Torah. Copyright © 2012 by Gary F. Zeolla (

      CBS Pittsburgh. Troubling Details Uncovered In Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Suspect’s Past.

      CBS Pittsburgh. ‘Just Stop The Hate’: Thousands Flock To Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall For Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Vigil.

      CBS Pittsburgh. Victims In Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Identified.

      Fox News. Pittsburgh synagogue shooting leaves 11 dead and 6 wounded; suspect hit with multiple charges.

Christian Burial Versus Barbaric Cremation

Email Follow-ups

      The following email exchange are in response to my article Christian Burial Versus Barbaric Cremation. The emailers’ comments are in black enclosed in greater than and lesser than signs. My comments are in red without notations.

> Subject: Re: Darkness to Light - Vol. XVI, No. V 

      Are you saying cremation is making an ash of oneself?



> Subject: Re: Just a little confusion

 Hi Gary,

      In the latest Darkness to Light Volume XVI, Number V where you were discussing the issue of disposing of the body, that is the “Christian Burial versus Barbaric Cremation”. You quoted from Philip Schaff about the Wends and Germans burning the bodies of their dead. Actually, this practice was typical of the Greeks as well. In fact, most pagan nations burnt the bodies of their dead and it is definitely a pagan religious custom.

      In Pagan Europe, though today Europe is not far from being pagan again, they burned the bodies of the dead as a sacrifice to Odin (Woden). Note the also the similarities in the George Lucas Epic Star Wars.  

      Taking then what is written in the Scriptures, particularly 1 Kings 13, I can say without any doubt that cremation of the body under normal circumstances is not looked on favourably by the LORD. In fact, it is considered a sign of judgement from GOD. Note also, the instructions of the Old Prophet to his sons regarding the burial of his own body and the “lay(ing) my bones beside his bones.” So, in contrast to the common idea of cremation, the Bible tends to lean more heavily on the purpose on “burying my dead out of my sight,” which considers also the grieving sequence by the loved one.

      One may ask, “What about those who are burnt, or evaporated in accidents, in acts of terror, or religious persecution? Or the many martyrs burnt alive or their bodies burnt and/or dismembered?”

      Our God is a Mighty God for whom there is nothing impossible, and He will resurrect the bodies of those that have suffered this way (whether saved or unsaved) to face the final judgement with those who have died under normal circumstances, with those who are yet still alive at the coming of the LORD JESUS CHRIST.

      All that said and done I come to a serious issue and the real reason for this email response.

      In your newsletter you write the following when discussing Abraham, “It should be noted that the LORD just assumes Abraham will be buried when he dies, not cremated.”

       Ouch. Hopefully this is a typo. But if it is not then you have a serious problem.  No, the LORD does not assume! The Lord knows! I'm sorry Gary but you are definitely wrong! Because to say that the LORD assumes that Abraham will be buried and not cremated then you are saying that the LORD is not omniscient (all knowing - even the end from the beginning).

      Prayerfully I hope it was a typo.

Humbly in Christ's Name,


        Thank you for your email. In regard to the bulk of it, those are all good points and ones I might have bought up myself, if I had expanded the article into two or more parts. But I restricted myself to just the one example of cremation being pagan and to the Book of Genesis to keep the article to a reasonable length for a one-part article.

      On the word “assume,” you are reading too much into it. If you have read my other articles and books, you would know I definitely believe in the omniscience of God. Here, I was using the word assume in the sense of “to take for granted; suppose (something) to be a fact” (Webster’s on

      My point was, the LORD did not have to command Abraham to be buried, as He “took it as a fact” that he would be. Or to word it as you wanted me to, He knew Abraham would be buried, so He did not have to issue a specific command in that regard. But since there might be some confusion, I have added a clarifying statement to the article as it is posted on my website.

       It should be noted that the LORD just assumes Abraham will be buried when he dies, not cremated. By that I mean, the LORD did have to issue a specific command to Abraham to have his body buried, as He knew it would be.


>Subject: Re: Just a little confusion

       Thank you, Gary. My trust in you is restored. I was worried that you may have changed your view since then. But all good now that you have explained it.

      Accept my humblest apologies if I have caused any offence.

In Christ’s Name,



      Thank you, and no offense taken.


>Subject: Re: Darkness to Light - Vol. XVI, No. V

 Thanks Gary!

      I believe that when the valiant men burned the bodies of Saul and his sons it was to honor them, so their bones could be easily transported and buried at Jabesh.  This was not a barbaric burning. Also, I believe that Amos 6:10 refers to non-barbaric burning of bodies.

      Hi again!

       The account of Saul’s death is in I Samuel 31 and his cremation is in I Samuel 31:12.<


      Thanks Gloria. I might have addressed these passages, if I had expanded the article into two or more parts. But I restricted myself to just the Book of Genesis to keep the article to a reasonable length for a one-part article. But since you brought these verses up, I will address them in some detail and publish it as a follow-up to that article, along with a couple of other emails I have received on that article.

      That said; in regard to the first passage, in the preceding context, Saul and his army are defeated and his sons, including Jonathan, are killed. Then to keep from being captured and tortured, Saul commits suicide, as does his armor bearer (1Sam 21:1-7). The text picks up from there:


      8And it happened on the next day that the Philistines come to be stripping the dead, and they find Saul and his three sons having fallen on the mountains of Gilboa [Heb., Mount Gilboa]. 9And they turned him, and stripped off his armor, and sent it into [the] land of [the] Philistines, sending round about good news to their idols and to their people. 10And they set up his armor at the temple of Astarte [Heb., the Ashtoreths], and they fastened his body on the wall of Baethsam.

      11And the ones inhabiting Jebesh Gilead hear what the Philistines did to Saul. 12And they rose up, every man of might, and marched all night, and took the body of Saul and the body of Jonathan his son from [the] wall of Baethsam; and they bring them to Jebesh and burn them there. 13And they take their bones and bury [them] under the land [in] Jebesh, and fast seven days (1Sam 31:8-13).


      Note that Saul and his sons died quite a distance from where they are to be buried. As a result, it probably took at least a day for news of their deaths to reach Saul’s troops in Jebesh Gilead, as it takes a full day before his troops get to his body after receiving the news, even with marching all might. During that day, Saul’s body was hanged on a wall, probably in direct sunlight.

      It would then take a least another day for his troops to take the bodies back to the burial site. That means, by the time they would have gotten the bodies back to Jebesh Gilead, it would have been at least four days since their deaths. In that time, to quote Martha, the sister of Lazarus, “already he stinks, for it is the fourth day [since he died]” (John 11:39b).

      The point is, Jews at this time did not possess the embalming procedures of the Egyptians of that time nor of us today that enables a body to remain for an extended period of time before it starts to decay. As such, normally, the Jews buried their dead within a day of death, as seen in my article when Jacob buried Rachel on the way back to his homeland. He doesn’t wait to bury her until he gets back to Cannon, as her body would have been decaying by the time he did. That is why he buries her on the way.

      But here; Saul and his sons died in enemy territory, so it would not be fitting to bury them there. But given the timeframe, they did the only thing possible—they burned the bodies before they began to decay. This was thus a unique situation and not the norm.

      However, note that they did not continue the burning to the point of burning the bones. And they most definitely did not scatter the ashes to the wind. Instead, the carefully took up the bones and carried them back to Jebesh Gilead and buried them there.

      The situation here is similar to the use of ossuaries that I discuss in the Postscript to the article. But rather than waiting a year for the bodies to decay naturally, they rushed the process along by burning the bodies. But again, the bones were kept intact and buried. That is a far cry from a full cremation, where just ashes are left, and they are scattered to the wind.

      Amos 6:10 is a bit more difficult. To see why, it would be good to quote the first half of the verse from several different versions:


KJV: And a man’s uncle shall take him up, and he that burneth him, to bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say unto him that is by the sides of the house, Is there yet any with thee?


NKJV: And when a relative of the dead, with one who will burn the bodies, picks up the bodies to take them out of the house, he will say to one inside the house, “Are there any more with you?”


NASB: Then one’s uncle, or his undertaker, will lift him up to carry out his bones from the house, and he will say to the one who is in the innermost part of the house, “Is anyone else with you?”


NIV: And if the relative who comes to carry the bodies out of the house to burn them asks anyone who might be hiding there, “Is anyone else with you?”


ESV: And when one’s relative, the one who anoints him for burial, shall take him up to bring the bones out of the house, and shall say to him who is in the innermost parts of the house, “Is there still anyone with you?”


CSB: A close relative and burner will remove his corpse from the house. He will call to someone in the inner recesses of the house, “Any more with you?”


NRSV: And if a relative, one who burns the dead, shall take up the body to bring it out of the house, and shall say to someone in the innermost parts of the house, “Is anyone else with you?”


NAB: When a relative or one who prepares the body picks up the remains to carry them out of the house, If he says to someone in the recesses of the house, “Is anyone with you?”


NET: When their close relatives, the ones who will burn the corpses, pick up their bodies to remove the bones from the house, they will say to anyone who is in the inner rooms of the house, “Is anyone else with you?”


NIRV: Relatives might come to burn the dead bodies. If they do, they'll have to carry them out of the house first. They might ask someone still hiding there, “Is anyone here with you?”


NLT: And when a relative who is responsible to dispose of the dead goes into the house to carry out the bodies, he will ask the last survivor, “Is anyone else with you?”


ALT: And their household members will take them and will defiantly endeavor to carry out their bones from the house; and he will say to the one having been leader of the house, “There is not yet existing [anyone] with you, is there?”


      Notice that the KJV, NKJV, NIV, ESV, NRSV, NET, and NIRV render the verse as referring to burning the dead, while the NASB, ESV, NAB and my ALT do not have any mention of such. The reason for this is both a textual issue and a translation issue.

      On the former, it is possible the Hebrew text has been “corrected,” which is to say, there is a textual variant. It can be either mrp or shrp. This is seen in Holladay’s lexicon, when it says, “Am 6:10 traditionally = shrp, relative with obligation of cremation & burial; but txt. clearly corr.; suggest rd. (w. LXX).”

      It is the “traditional” rendering of shrp that can mean “burn,” while mrp means simply “anoint” or “embalm.”  But even if the former is correct, it does not necessarily mean cremation, as seen in Brown, Driver, Briggs’ lexicon, “his burner, usually one burning him, but probably burning spices for him.” In other words, both words could be referring to some type of preparation of the body for burial that does not include burning the body.

      The next issue is whether it is the “bones” of the dead or the “bodies” (or “corpses”) of the dead that are carried out. The Hebrew word literally means “bones,” though it can figuratively refer to a corpse, “The plural noun ‘bones’ often is used for a corpse” (TWOT).

      Now, if “burn” (as in of the bodies) is correct for the first issue, then “bones” would surely be meant by the second word. In that case, the situation here would be similar to that of Saul and his sons. The body would have been burned but not to the point of burning the bones. Instead, the bones are being carefully carried out and buried.

      But the context must be noted. The preceding two verses indicate this was a time of judgment on Israel:


            8For the LORD swore an oath by Himself, [saying], “Because I abhor all the insolence of Jacob, I have also hated his regions, and I will remove [his] city with all the ones inhabiting it. 9And it will be, if ten men shall be left in one house, then they will die, {but the remaining [ones] will be left}” (Amos 6:8f).


      It is the bodies or bones of these ten men that are being carried out. But then notice the second half of verse 10, “And he will say, “No longer.” And he will say, “Be keeping silent, in order to not name the name of the LORD.” The people are afraid to mention the name of the LORD, as that might bring repercussions from the ones oppressing Israel. That then leads to the rendering of my ALT.

      The “LXX” notation in the first quoted lexicon indicates the Septuagint Greek translation of the Hebrew text which my ALT follows has mrp. That is why the ALT does not have “burn.” But rather than “anoint,” it substitutes a word that means “to act in defiance of orders” (Lust-Eynikel-Hauspie).

      It would seem the situation was that Israel was being oppressed, and part of that oppression was that they could not conduct normal religious funeral services for their dead that mentioned the LORD and to bury their dead. But the men here are burying their dead in defiance of that edict.

      Putting this all together, most likely, there was no cremation going on. The bodies were being buried, despite edicts forbidding it. But even if the bodies were being burned, it was not full cremation but only of the flesh. This was probably done due to not being able to bury the bodies immediately due to the edict against it. Thus, as with Saul and his sons, burning the flesh was necessary to keep the bodies from rotting before they could be buried. But even with the hostile situation, there was still a determination to at least bury the bones.

      To conclude, neither of these passages give credence to the attitude of many Christian today that it is okay to cremate their entire bodies and to scatter the ashes to the wind. In fact, these passages buttress my point that the Biblical method is to carefully bury our dead, in that, despite adverse circumstance and danger to the ones responsible for the bodies, there were still burials, though only of the bones due to the inability to bury the bodies before they began decaying. But with today’s embalming technology, that is never an issue, except for maybe in extreme circumstances, such as on a battlefield, such as was the case with Saul and his sons.



      All Scripture verses from Analytical-Literal Translation of the Bible (ALT). Copyright © 1999-2018 by Gary F. Zeolla ( Bolding added for emphasis.

      BibleWorks™. Copyright © 1992-2015 BibleWorks, LLC. All rights reserved. BibleWorks was programmed by Michael S. Bushell, Michael D. Tan, and Glenn L. Weaver.  All rights reserved (version 10.0). Many of the following resources are as found on BibleWorks.

      Brown, Driver, and Briggs Hebrew Lexicon. Public domain. On BibleWorks.

      Holladay. A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, Based upon the Lexical Work of Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, edited by W.L. Holladay.  Copyright © 1997 by Brill Academic Publishers.

      Lust-Eynikel-Hauspie (LEH). A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint, Revised Edition, edited by Johan Lust, Erik Eynikel, and Katrin Hauspie, Copyright © 2003 Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart. On BibleWorks.



New on Fitness for One and All Website

Below are new articles on my fitness website that have been posted since the last issue of this newsletter was published.

Nutrition and Health News: Summer 2018 (Alcohol, Marijuana, Coconut Oil, Breakfast Cereals, Carb Levels) is a new article.

The page My Powerlifting Accomplishments on my personal website has been updated with my lifts and records from my most recent contest.


New on Biblical and Constitutional Politics Website

Below are new articles on my politics website that have been posted since the last issue of this newsletter was published.

Why Vote Republican? Why Vote Democrat? is a new article.

October 2018 Commentaries is a new page with new commentaries.

Confirmation Proceedings for Judge Kavanaugh is a twelve-part article looking at all aspects of this fiasco. I am in the process of reworking this extended article into a book, adding events that have occurred since Judge Kavanaugh was sworn-in as Justice Kavanaugh, such as the Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooting.

God’s Sex Plan
Volume One
What the Old Testament Teaches About Human Sexuality

Also by Gary F. Zeolla: is the personal website for Gary F. Zeolla.
Author of Christian and of fitness books, Web sites, and newsletters,
and a top ranked and multi-record holding powerlifter.

Fitness for One and All website and FitTips for One and All newsletter.
Helping people to attain their health, fitness, and performance goals,
with an emphasis on powerlifting.

Biblical and Constitutional Politics
“Political articles and commentary from a conservative Christian and politically conservative perspective”


All material in this newsletter is copyrighted © 2018 by Gary F. Zeolla or as indicated otherwise.