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Simeon Absolves Joseph

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

Gabriel priest declares Mary’s pregnancy as legitimate   

Simeon was the head of the Abiathar dynasty of priests, which was second in seniority only to the Zadok dynasty of priests, headed at the time (in 8 BC) by Zechariah, the future father of John the Baptist. Simeon also went by the title “Angel Gabriel”, just as Zechariah went by the title “Archangel Michael”.


The terms “angel”, “god”, “holy spirit”, “son of god” etc, have been invested with ethereal connotations not because the Bible says so but because of distorted translations from the original languages in which the Bible was written – Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek and Aramaic for the New Testament. The Bible has undergone more than 2000 years of corrupt translation incrementally and to the extent that much of what we read in the scriptures today bears very little resemblance to what was originally intended by the writers. On the other hand, the Dead Sea Scrolls had lain intact for more than 2000 years: they had never been tampered with by any single, one person whatsoever. They are therefore very much a reflection of the language of the gospel era and the intent of their authors’ message.


According to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Essenes did not regard Old Testament “gods” or “angels” as supernatural beings. Whilst they did believe in a supernatural “God” (with a capital “G”), who was the creator of all that existed, they also recognised the existence of “gods” (with a small “g”) who were not supernatural beings but mortals like we all were. These gods were the earthly representatives of God even though they were fallible and therefore errant. Thus in their  (Essenes) midst, there were individuals who carried the titles “Lord”, “Father”, “Holy Spirit”, “Angels” etc.


The Essenes fancied themselves as God’s ambassadors, or special messengers, as well as ministers, or propagators of the word of God.  That is why those in the higher echelons were simultaneously called priests and angels. Contrary to what Christians believe, an angel is not a supernatural being who bears wings. The term angel simply means “messenger” or “ambassador”. Hence the highest ranking Essene, Zechariah the Zadok, went by the title “Archangel”, meaning “God’s chief ambassador to mortals”.

 

The titles Michael and Gabriel were borrowed from Old Testament books. Flavius Josephus, the first century’s foremost historian, talks about  “the names of angels so particularly preserved by the Essenes”. The angelic system is detailed in the apocryphal book of Enoch whilst one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, called the War Scroll, identifies the order of priestly rankings and their corresponding angelic designations. The book of Enoch stipulated that successive dynastic heads (the royal House of David and the priestly House of Aaron) carry the names of the traditional angels and archangels to denote their rank and position.  It was because the book of Enoch revealed too much (for instance, making it clear that angels were not spirits but mortal beings) that it was excluded from the canon.  


In the cuneiform clay tablets, the records of the world’s first-known civilisation called the Sumerians, the Old Testament gods were called the Anunnaki, meaning Aliens – beings who were not indigenous to Earth but came from elsewhere in the cosmos. Low-ranking Anunnaki were  called angels because they were the ones who carried out the mandate of the pantheon, the Anunnaki royalty.  The two seniormost Anunnaki, Enlil (the Bible’s Jehovah) and his step-brother Enki (the serpent of Genesis), were addressed as “Lord”. Their children were addressed as  “archangels”. Of Enlil’s children, his firstborn, Ninurta, was also called Michael, the war angel, whilst his second-born Nannar-Sin was  called Gabriel, the judgement angel.  When Enlil withdrew from the conduct of earthly affairs, he was succeeded by Nannar-Sin. The Essenes knew the Old Testament gods were Anunnaki and not divine beings.  That was why they felt at liberty to use their titles.

RULING BY SIMEON
The third highest ranking priest in the Essene hierarchy was the Levi priest. His angelic designation was Sariel. The Sariel was also called the “Holy Spirit”, though all Essene celibates were  termed holy spirits (in small letters) as  they did not indulge in sex, which, so the Essenes maintained, rendered a person unholy and therefore spiritually unclean. The Sariel was an angelic style conferred on the Davidic King-in-waiting. In 23 BC, when Jacob-Heliakim died, Joseph had succeeded him as the David. However, since he was still single at the time and was only 21 years old, young Joseph’s  grade in the Essene hierarchy was 4, that of a bishop. Then upon his marriage to Mary in June 8 BC, he was conferred Grade 2, that of the Sariel/Levi priest. The Davids were given this designation not as an operative  one but as a honorary title. In other words,  Joseph did not perform priestly functions though he was the Sariel/Levi priest. As the Sariel/Levi priest, Joseph was also now referred to as the Holy Spirit.


As a bishop and as a celibate, Joseph had been under the mentorship of Simeon, the Angel Gabriel, who held Grade 1 (junior only to Zechariah, who held Grade 0). But even as the Sariel, Joseph was also subordinate to Simeon. Hence it was that when he faced that dilemma in respect of the irregular pregnancy of Mary, he sought the standpoint of his superior Simeon. Simeon would not simply voice an opinion: he would pronounce a binding verdict as his role also included an oracular dimension.    


Now, Simeon was the most level-headed and far-sighted of the high-ranking Essenes of the day. His take was that although Joseph had flouted dynastic matrimonial rules by  rather hurriedly sleeping with Mary and making her pregnant, the matter was a sensitive one as  what was at  stake  was a Davidic heir, the future King of Israel and of the world at large if it was a boy.  Such a child could not be allowed to grow up anonymously, as an orphan and as an illegitimate kid. In any case, Joseph had not committed fornication with Mary as such: betrothal in Jewish custom amounted to marriage in that to break it one needed a formal divorce. Even more important, the child had in truth been conceived within the confines of wedlock albeit in breach of dynastic procreational rules.

 

Joseph had slept with Mary, a virtual wife, and not with somebody outside marriage. Simeon accordingly ruled that the conceived child was not a bastard  but a legitimate seed  “of the Holy Spirit (Joseph)” as per MATTHEW 1:20  and that if male he be recognised as “the Son of the Most High (another title of David and the Davidic heirs)” as per LUKE 1:32.  Furthermore, Simeon decided that Joseph treat the first marriage ceremony, which was due in September 8 BC,  as the second and final marriage ceremony (which was due in March 7 BC).  That said, Joseph was forbidden from having further sexual relations with Mary till three years later if the child turned out to be a girl or six years later if it was a boy (MATTHEW 1:24-25). This was in keeping with the rule that governed dynastic Essene celibates, for whom sex was purely for producing heirs and not for pleasure.


The nativity accounts as they appear in the gospels were only partially historical: they were “spiritualised” for religious purposes. This was done to give  Christianity a better chance of competing with “pagan” religions of the Greek world, whose gods according to age-old legends were born supernaturally. Remember,  the gospels were written after the crucifixion, that is, post AD 33. The nativity stories are therefore retrospective and not contemporary.       

RULING BY BOETHUS
The Essene priestly order was not the same as that obtaining at the Jerusalem Temple. The Essenes had their own temple at Qumran, a miniature version of the Jerusalem Temple. That’s why we find that whereas in the Essene hierarchy the High Priest was Zechariah, at the Jerusalem Temple the High Priest was Simon Boethus, an appointee of King Herod who was in office from 23 to 5 BC. King Herod had also appointed himself the nominal head of the Essene and the Temple priesthood as he had vested interests in both. Some office-holders among the Qumran fold were also arbitrarily appointed by Herod.


As High Priest of the Temple proper, Simon Boethus was politically senior to both Zechariah and Simeon. Therefore, when Simeon made his ruling on the matter of Joseph and Mary, he was under obligation to report his verdict to Boethus.  When Simeon so did, Boethus altered the verdict, therefore overruling Simeon in some respects. Whilst he agreed that Joseph and Mary proceed to tie the knot, he insisted that the child Mary was carrying was illegitimate. The baby therefore had to be born in the section of Qumran where orphans and illegitimate children were brought up and not in a regular home. 


The controversy of the conception of Jesus is why Mathew mentioned Mary along the four matriarchal Jewish women who had been tainted by a sexual scandal of some sort in his genealogy.  Mary never committed adultery: she simply became pregnant at a time a dynastic spouse was not supposed to. Technically therefore, she had committed fornication. As such, her son Jesus was to become a somewhat polarising figure. The Jewish fundamentalists held that having been born of fornication, he was automatically disqualified as a Davidic heir. On the other hand, the liberal Jews were of the view that he did qualify as a Davidic heir in that although he was born unprocedurally in terms of dynastic procreational rules, he was born within marriage as in Jewish custom betrothal was as good as marriage.   Be that as it may, the scandal of his birth continued to resound throughout his life.  

MARY CONFINED TO “MANGER”
About 1 km south of the Qumran plateau was a building which was at once noble and ignoble, actually more so of the latter.  This building was used for two main purposes in the main. The first was as an enclave in which orphans as well as illegitimate and abandoned babies were raised in what was called monastic custody. When they grew, these children renounced marriage, gave themselves to a totally celibate existence, and devoted themselves to serving the Essene priests. The second use was as an isolation unit for women who were menstruating. The Essenes regarded menstruating women as unclean; hence they had to have their own, isolated quarters.


The building was known as the Queen’s House. This was because its superior, the overall superintendent, was the wife of the Davidic heir, in keeping with what was called grail service, that is, humble service to the indigent that was expected of a Davidic Queen.  Since Joseph was the David and his marriage to Mary was now cast in stone as per Simeon’s ruling, Mary as the Davidic Queen was now the overseer of the Queen’s House. Thus when Boethus ruled that Mary’s baby had to be born in the Queen’s House and therefore Mary had to be confined there, Mary was not stigmatised as such given that she could have ended up there anyway by virtue of her being the Davidic spouse.  


The Queen’s House had arisen on a site that had previously housed an animal stable. There were in fact a few animals around the premises still. The whole compound therefore had another name – a Manger. It was called by yet another name. The Essenes had nicknamed Qumran as Judea. In line with this nomenclature, the Queen’s House was alternatively known as … Bethlehem of Judea. You will now appreciate that when the gospels say Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem of Judea, that does not mean he was born in the town of Bethlehem and was placed in a feeding trough for animals. What it means is simply that he was born in the Queen’s House at Qumran. Sadly, most Christians, including college-trained pastors, are not aware of this stark fact because they base their understanding of the life of Jesus on a rather shallow interpretation of the gospel narratives. I refer them to the Dead Sea Scrolls, which will properly enlighten them.

NEXT WEEK: SIMEON AT NAZARETH

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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The Era of “The Diplomat”

30th November 2020
FATED “JIHADI” JOHN

Youngest Maccabees scion Jonathan takes over after Judas and leads for 18 years

Going hand-in-glove with the politics at play in Judea in the countdown to the AD era, General Atiku, was the contention for the priesthood. You will be aware, General, that politics and religion among the Jews interlocked. If there wasn’t a formal and sovereign Jewish King, there of necessity had to be a High Priest at any given point in time.

Initially, every High Priest was from the tribe of Levi as per the stipulation of the Torah. At some stage, however, colonisers of Judah imposed their own hand-picked High Priests who were not ethnic Levites. One such High Priest was Menelaus of the tribe of Benjamin.

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Land Board appointments of party activists is political corruption

30th November 2020

Parliament has rejected a motion by Leader of Opposition (LOO) calling for the reversing of the recent appointments of ruling party activists to various Land Boards across the country. The motion also called for the appointment of young and qualified Batswana with tertiary education qualifications.

The ruling party could not allow that motion to be adopted for many reasons discussed below. Why did the LOO table this motion? Why was it negated? Why are Land Boards so important that a ruling party felt compelled to deploy its functionaries to the leadership and membership positions?

Prior to the motion, there was a LOO parliamentary question on these appointments. The Speaker threw a spanner in the works by ruling that availing a list of applicants to determine who qualified and who didn’t would violate the rights of those citizens. This has completely obliterated oversight attempts by Parliament on the matter.

How can parliament ascertain the veracity of the claim without the names of applicants? The opposition seeks to challenge this decision in court.  It would also be difficult in the future for Ministers and government officials to obey instructions by investigative Parliamentary Committees to summon evidence which include list of persons. It would be a bad precedent if the decision is not reviewed and set aside by the Business Advisory Committee or a Court of law.

Prior to independence, Dikgosi allocated land for residential and agricultural purposes. At independence, land tenures in Botswana became freehold, state land and tribal land. Before 1968, tribal land, which is land belonging to different tribes, dating back to pre-independence, was allocated and administered by Dikgosi under Customary Law. Dikgosi are currently merely ‘land overseers’, a responsibility that can be delegated. Land overseers assist the Land Boards by confirming the vacancy or availability for occupation of land applied for.

Post-independence, the country was managed through modern law and customary law, a system developed during colonialism. Land was allocated for agricultural purposes such as ploughing and grazing and most importantly for residential use. Over time some land was allocated for commercial purpose. In terms of the law, sinking of boreholes and development of wells was permitted and farmers had some rights over such developed water resources.

Land Boards were established under Section 3 of the Tribal Land Act of 1968 with the intention to improve tribal land administration. Whilst the law was enacted in 1968, Land Boards started operating around 1970 under the Ministry of Local Government and Lands which was renamed Ministry of Lands and Housing (MLH) in 1999. These statutory bodies were a mechanism to also prune the powers of Dikgosi over tribal land. Currently, land issues fall under the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services.

There are 12 Main Land Boards, namely Ngwato, Kgatleng, Tlokweng, Tati, Chobe, Tawana, Malete, Rolong, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, Kweneng and Ngwaketse Land Boards.  The Tribal Land Act of 1968 as amended in 1994 provides that the Land Boards have the powers to rescind the grant of any rights to use any land, impose restrictions on land usage and facilitate any transfer or change of use of land.

Some land administration powers have been decentralized to sub land boards. The devolved powers include inter alia common law and customary law water rights and land applications, mining, evictions and dispute resolution. However, decisions can be appealed to the land board or to the Minister who is at the apex.

So, land boards are very powerful entities in the country’s local government system. Membership to these institutions is important not only because of monetary benefits of allowances but also the power of these bodies. in terms of the law, candidates for appointment to Land Boards or Subs should be residents of the tribal areas where appointments are sought, be holders of at least Junior Certificate and not actively involved in politics.  The LOO contended that ruling party activists have been appointed in the recent appointments.

He argued that worse, some had no minimum qualifications required by the law and that some are not inhabitants of the tribal or sub tribal areas where they have been appointed. It was also pointed that some people appointed are septuagenarians and that younger qualified Batswana with degrees have been rejected.

Other arguments raised by the opposition in general were that the development was not unusual. That the ruling party is used to politically motivated appointments in parastatals, civil service, diplomatic missions, specially elected councilors and Members of Parliament (MPs), Bogosi and Land Boards. Usually these positions are distributed as patronage to activists in return for their support and loyalty to the political leadership and the party.

The ruling party contended that when the Minister or the Ministry intervened and ultimately appointed the Land Boards Chairpersons, Deputies and members , he didn’t have information, as this was not information required in the application, on who was politically active and for that reason he could not have known who to not appoint on that basis. They also argued that opposition activists have been appointed to positions in the government.

The counter argument was that there was a reason for the legal requirement of exclusion of political activists and that the government ought to have mechanisms to detect those. The whole argument of “‘we didn’t know who was politically active” was frivolous. The fact is that ruling party activists have been appointed. The opposition also argued that erstwhile activists from their ranks have been recruited through positions and that a few who are serving in public offices have either been bought or hold insignificant positions which they qualified for anyway.

Whilst people should not be excluded from public positions because of their political activism, the ruling party cannot hide the fact that they have used public positions to reward activists. Exclusion of political activists may be a violation of fundamental human or constitutional rights. But, the packing of Land Boards with the ruling party activists is clear political corruption. It seeks to sow divisions in communities and administer land in a politically biased manner.

It should be expected that the ruling party officials applying for land or change of land usage etcetera will be greatly assisted. Since land is wealth, the ruling party seeks to secure resources for its members and leaders. The appointments served to reward 2019 election primary and general elections losers and other activists who have shown loyalty to the leadership and the party.

Running a country like this has divided it in a way that may be difficult to undo. The next government may decide to reset the whole system by replacing many of government agencies leadership and management in a way that is political. In fact, it would be compelled to do so to cleanse the system.

The opposition is also pondering on approaching the courts for review of the decision to appoint party functionaries and the general violation of clearly stated terms of reference. If this can be established with evidence, the courts can set aside the decision on the basis that unqualified people have been appointed.

The political activism aspect may also not be difficult to prove as some of these people are known activists who are in party structures, at least at the time of appointment, and some were recently candidates. There is a needed for civil society organizations such as trade unions and political parties to fight some of these decisions through peaceful protests and courts.

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