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The Pronunciation

Benson C Saili

When Simeon, the Essenes’ second-ranking  priest  who also went by the titles “Angel Gabriel” and “Angel of the Lord” (“The Lord” being the Zadok priest Zechariah) made his ruling,  he was in line with Essene protocol obligated to deliver it in person first to Mary (being the first respondent as she was a woman)  and then to Joseph.

     In the gospels, this direct communication is spun as a dream-communication by a spirit-angel when that was far from what actually transpired.  It all has to do with what was known as the pesher code – the cryptic Essene method of telling a story with two or several layers of meaning, with the surface meaning meant for general consumption and the underlying meaning meant for initiates – those who were part of the inner sanctum of the Essene order.

     The gospels say when Gabriel visited Mary, her “kinswoman” Elizabeth was sixth months pregnant (LUKE 1:36).   We have already  established that Elizabeth  was Mary’s aunt, being the elder sister of her late mother Anna. Since  Mary got pregnant toward the end of June, it meant Elizabeth’s baby, the future John the Baptist, was scheduled to be born in September in perfect conformity with dynastic procreational rules. Mary obviously was distraught that whilst her aunt’s child would be born in the stipulated month, hers would be born way off the mark. She had an even greater worry: she was liable to execution by stoning as her transgression with Joseph effectively amounted to adultery.    

When Simeon presented himself to Mary to deliver the verdict in June/July 8 BC, he did so as the second highest-ranking Essene as well as a representative of Zechariah, the highest ranking Essene who also went by the titles “Archangel Michael” and “Lord God”. The place at which Simeon met Mary was “the city of Nazareth in the Galilee” LUKE 1:26). To those unfamiliar with the pesher code, what immediately springs to mind is Galilee the northernmost province of Palestine and the town of Nazareth where Jesus is said to have grown up. Sorry folks, but you couldn’t be more wrong: this includes every pastor who is ministering today!

     To begin with, there was no town called Nazareth in gospel times. The Romans, who were the lords of the realm at the time, kept rather comprehensive maps of every corner of their empire and there isn’t a single one place on their map of the Palestine of the day that was called Nazareth. The Nazareth of today is a classic case of myth turning to fact by deliberate design and for purposes purely of profit – to cash in on the tourist allure.  So what Nazareth was Luke talking about?

     The term Nazareth was used for various places in the Judean wilderness (the broader habitation of the Essenes, see accompanying map).  The Judean wilderness had three principal settlements. They were Qumran, the HQ, Ain Feshkha, and Mazin. All three settlements were along the west coast of the Dead Sea and were exactly three kilometers apart. The other significant Essene settlements in the Judean wilderness were  Mird and Mar Saba, about 10 to 12 km southwest of Qumran. It is important that you keep these names in mind as  I shall be referring to them time and again.  

     According to the Dead Sea Scrolls, every place in the Judean wilderness where Nazarites resided was referred to as Nazareth. These were the areas between Mar Saba and Mird on the one hand and Ain Feshkha  on the other.  The Nazarites were Essenes who were married but abstained from sex for varying lengths of time from 100 days downwards. They included men and women as well as Jews and Gentiles. The chief Nazarite was always the Davidic heir. In 8 BC, this was Joseph. The term Nazareth stems from the Hebrew term “Netzer’, meaning “branch” or “shoot”. The future Messiah of  Israel was called the “Branch of David” (IASIAH 11).

Clearly therefore, since Joseph, the representative of the  Messianic line,  was the head of the Nazarites, it was fitting that  all the places where the Nazarites converged be named Nazareth as a tribute to the Davidic  heir.

     The Essenes were very specific in their use of language. When they said, “City of Nazareth”, they meant one particular quarter at Ain Feshkha  set aside for Gentile and female Nazarites. At the time Mary fell pregnant, she was a Nazarite and so was based at Ain Feshkha. It was at Ain Feshkha that Simeon met Mary.  

    As for “Galilee”, this again is pesher language at play here.  The Essenes had key representatives in regions of Palestine they called bishops. When, say, the Bishop of Galilee was  visiting a particular place in the Judean wilderness, it was said he had “brought Galilee with him”. For as long as he was around that particular place, it was provisionally called Galilee in his honour.  Thus when Simeon went to see Mary at Ain Feshkha/Nazareth, the Bishop of Galilee was also in attendance since Mary’s official place of domicile was Galilee. Ain Feshkha/Nazareth was accordingly referred to as “the Galilee” – with the  definite article “the” as per the literal translation – at  that particular point in time.  This system of naming we glean from the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The first thing Simeon said to Mary was to recognise her as Joseph’s wife despite what had transpired. She would not be divorced and the child she was carrying would not be denounced  as a bastard child but as a procedurally sired child of Joseph. Simeon even prophetically pronounced a titular name for the begotten child. He was to be called Yeshua (Jesus in Greek), which is Joshua in English.  The name not only was reminiscent of  Joshua, the  great Israel general who had succeeded Moses and led the Israelites into the promised land of Canaan, as Palestine was previously called, but it also honoured  Yeshua III, the late grandfather of Mary.  The name Jesus was therefore meant as much to honour a great Jewish liberator  as to appease Mary.

     Simeon proceeded to say that the Essene High Priest Zechariah (the “Lord God” in the gospels, one of his titles in the Essene  hierarchy) had pronounced that Jesus would be recognised as the new David after Joseph had passed on. Thus to the High Priest and indeed to the Essene movement, Jesus was not  illegitimate but the  rightful heir to his father Joseph’s inheritance. As such, baby Jesus was going to be called the Son of the Most High. In today’s parlance, the “Most High” is rendered  “His Royal Highness”, which simply means Crown Prince. As the Davidic heir, Joseph was the Most High. Since Jesus would be next in the line of succession, he would be called Son of  the Most High.

     All this was like music to Mary’s ears. The Essenes regarded women as potential seducers (I refer the reader to Dead Sea Scroll No. 4Q184 in this regard). Therefore, Mary’s pregnancy, technically a fornication pregnancy (hence the reference to herself as of “low estate”, LUKE 1:48),  was not the fault of Joseph as such but hers. Ordinarily, she would have been delivered to a mob for stoning, but since her pregnancy had now been legitimised and the unborn child was recognised as the son of the Holy Spirit, the  Essene  title of  Joseph, she was excused from such a fate.

    The unborn Jesus was also given another title. He was to be called the Jacob, the same title his grandfather Jacob-Heli had carried. Before a Davidic heir became the David, he first had to be the Jacob. Presently, Joseph was the David and so his heir would be the Jacob. It was only when Joseph died that Jesus would become the David. The emphasis on the title of Jacob by Simeon demonstrated that the Essenes had at this juncture reconciled with King Herod, at least officially. If you recall, Jacob-Heli was to be a third-ranking King in the post-Roman global empire ruled by King Herod, in which he would be  allotted the Western world. So what Simon was saying was that this arrangement still stood and Jesus as a descendent of Jacob-Heli  would rule not as King of global Israel but as King of  the Western division of global Israel (the House of Jacob as per LUKE 1:33).   Modern-day Christians are scarcely aware of the labyrinth of power politics Jesus had to navigate in first century Palestine.

     Mary was not exactly sure as to how she would be received by the wider Essene community as her unborn child was technically illegitimate. Simeon set her at ease when he declared to her that he would ensure he got the Essene community to understand that Jesus was the “Son of God”. All Essenes called themselves Sons of God, which simply meant they served at the pleasure of High Priest Zechariah, the “Lord God” as per one of his titles as the highest ranking Essene.  As I made clear at some stage, Essenes used the term god very loosely: it seldom had the “Heavenly” connotation it has today.

Next, Simeon called on Joseph. Matthew  seems to characterise Joseph as “righteous” or a “just man” (MATTHEW 1:19), meaning an above-board person. Once again, this is symptomatic of the usual tendency to wrong translation that we often encounter in the scriptures. The term “Righteous” or “Just” was a Davidic title. All Davidic Crown Princes were addressed as “the Just” or “the Righteous”, similar to the way we address judges, such as “Justice Key Dingake”. In the first century, this title was held by Joseph, Jesus, Jesus’s brother James, and finally Jesus Jr, who was best-known as Jesus Justus.  Of the four, it was James who was best-associated with the title: almost all extra-biblical accounts of the day refer to him as James the Just.   

     Simeon informed Joseph that he had ratified Mary’s pregnancy as legal. The child she was carrying must therefore be recognised as his  (“child of the Holy Spirit” as per the gospels) and procedurally conceived. There was therefore no need to divorce Mary quietly as he had initially pondered. Accordingly, Joseph was to proceed with the first marriage ceremony, due in September. Ordinarily, there would have been a second and final marriage in March 7 BC but since Mary had hastily become pregnant, Joseph was to regard the first marriage ceremony as the second and final one. Nonetheless, he was with immediate effect barred from indulging in  sexual relations with Mary as per Essene dynastic  rules. The next time conjugation would be allowed was when time was ripe for him to sire another child. This would be in 5 BC if  Mary’s firstborn turned out to be a girl or 2 BC if it was indeed a boy – that is, a 3-year-wait in the case of a girl and a 6-year-wait in the case of a boy as per Essene dynastic procreational rules.    

     Joseph fully heeded Simeon’s pronouncement, which is commonly referred to as the Annunciation. Meanwhile, Mary went to stay with her aunt Elizabeth at Ain Feshkha. Since Zechariah the “Lord”, Elizabeth’s husband,  was senior to Joseph in the Essene hierarchy, Mary was effectively a maid to Elizabeth (LUKE 1:38). Elizabeth was already six months pregnant at the time. She was “heavy with child” and therefore it was fitting that she be tended to by Mary, who was only one month pregnant.  Mary served Elizabeth not as an ordinary maid but as the supervising  maid.

     Mary stayed with Elizabeth for approximately three months (LUKE 1:56), from mid-July to mid-September. Elizabeth gave birth to John in September 8 BC. At the same time, Mary and Joseph had to wed in September,  which was apt: Mary  was now three months pregnant and the odds of a miscarriage were very low. The wedding did take place and according to Essene dynastic rules it was irrevocable: there would be no divorce whatsoever.

Mary stayed with Joseph for three months only, that is, up to December 8 BC. All along, she was still a titular virgin even though she was pregnant. In December, she ceased to be a titular virgin, being six months pregnant. At this juncture, she was promoted to Mother and was obligated to move to the Queen’s House at Qumran. The reasons were two-fold. First, as Mother Superior, she had to oversee the destitute women as well as orphans and illegitimate children who were housed there. This was the role of the potential Davidic Queen, which Mary had become after her final marriage to Joseph.  Second, the High Priest of the Jerusalem Temple, Simon Boethus, had overruled Simeon and  pronounced that Mary’s child be born not in a conventional home but in the Queens’s House at Qumran. This was because in the view of the Temple establishment, the child she was carrying was illegitimate and had to be raised in a setting befitting of such an ignoble conception.    

    The Queen’s  House was also  known as the Manger. Its other name was Bethlehem of Judea!  

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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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