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.
OF GALILEE AND NAZARETH 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.
SIMEON BRIEFS MARY 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.
JOSEPH’S TURN 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!
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.
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.
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.