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“Flee Into Egypt”

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

And this was not the Egypt you are familiar with

When Jesus was born, in March 7 BC, the High Priest at the Jerusalem temple was Simon Boethus, who had been appointed to office by his son-in-law and Rome’s puppet king Herod the Great in 23 BC. Boethus, a moralist at least outwardly with the strict view of the circumstances of Jesus’ birth, from the word go denounced baby Jesus as a baseborn kid – that is, one who resulted from an act of fornication – and therefore unworthy of succession to the Davidic title, which at the time was held by his father Joseph. Joseph was resentful of this slight and naturally looked at Boethus with disdain.


In 5 BC, King Herod decreed that all the Jews should take an oath of loyalty both to himself and the overriding sovereign, Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus.  About six thousand Pharisees, who had considerable sway over mainstream Jewry, took very strong exception. Joseph, who otherwise led a quiet life devoted to personal discipline and charity in the spirit of a true Davidic prince, joined in the countrywide protest. In doing so, he inevitably incurred the displeasure of both Simon Boethus and King Herod. Needless to say, he was a marked man.


Meanwhile, the Egyptian-based Essenes, known as the Theraputae, had proliferated at Qumran. The Theraputae were a Diaspora Jewish sect who flourished in the Egyptian city of Alexandria in the main.  Although they were Hellenists – Jews who combined Jewish religious tradition with elements of Greek culture – and therefore comparatively liberal in their observance of the tenets of Judaism, they were fiercely anti-establishment. It was the Theraputae who instituted a determined mobilisation of the Zealots, the clandestine military wing of the Essenes, with a view to an armed revolution leading to national independence.


The Theraputae were headed by a man called Theudas, their leader since 9 BC. Theudas, also called Thaddeus/Judas in the gospels (MATTTHEW 10:3, MARK 3:18, and JOHN 14:22) would in future number among the 12-man apostolic band of Jesus.

In AD 32, when he led a failed uprising against Pontius Pilate, Theudas dubbed himself “Jesus”, which simply means “God’s Liberator”, as he sought  to free the Jews from the Roman yoke. In the pages of Josephus, he is referred to as Zadok.  His other name, a titular distinction, was Barabbas, the notorious “murderer” and “insurrectionist”(MARK 15:7) who by public demand was reprieved by Pilate in the histrionics of the  Jesus’ trial in April AD 33.  At the turn of the first century, Judas of Galilee, Theudas Barabbas, and Judas Iscariot were the leading lights of the Zealots.


Joseph now radicalised and therefore no longer a pacifist, allied with Barabbas. The two were dubbed the Star (Joseph, “star” being an emblem of the Davidic lineage) and the Sceptre (Barabbas). Both cognomens were drawn from NUMBERS 24:17, which in part reads, “A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the people of Sheth.”  One does not need to be a genius to guess who the virtual Moabites and  Shethites were in the eyes of Joseph and Barabbas in 5 BC.

HOLY FAMILY GOES INTO HIDING
The maniacally vengeful King Herod now had two reasons to put a bounty on Joseph’s life. First, he had become a dissident, intent at a toppling of the powers that be.  Second, he was one of those who in 5 BC had a kid who was about two years old, a category whose slaughter Herod now ordered in light of what the Magi had informed him in relation to the birth of the Jewish messiah (it had now occurred to him that the Magi had deceived him as the prospective messiah had actually been born two years earlier in 7 BC; hence his institution of the massacre of the innocents who were two years old and below).  


Fearing for his life and that of his little heir, Joseph once again sought direction from his priestly superior in the Essene hierarchy, Simeon, the so-called  “Angel Gabriel”. Simeon straightaway enjoined him, “Flee into Egypt”. The Christian clergy has interpreted this literally, as Egypt in Africa. As usual, they are way off the mark. They had better consult the Dead Sea Scrolls to unravel for them what Simeon meant as per the cryptic pesher code.  


It turns out the “Egypt” to which Joseph  was told to flee was actually Qumran and the broader Judean wilderness.  Since the Theraputae, who hailed from Egypt, now abounded in the settlements of the Judean wilderness, Qumran, the Essene HQ, had won itself another nickname,  “Egypt”. So Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt simply meant that Mary moved from the Queen’s House, where Jesus was born and where Mary had been based  since  she was six months pregnant, to Mird, about 12 km  to 15 km away from Qumran. Mird was punctuated by a series of caves that were used by Nazirites both for their retreats and solitary meditations and therefore provided a secure haven.

THE CHANGING FATES OF BABY JESUS
Since Joseph and Barabbas abhorred Simon Boethus like the plague, they secretly began to campaign for  a more agreeable contender to the high priesthood. The iconic Jewish historian Flavius Josephus records that this was a certain Matthias. Before long, Matthias was in office thanks to a chain of events that was fortuitously set in motion by the people around Herod himself.   


In 5 BC, Mariamne II, Herod’s third wife, was, along with Herod’s first-born son Antipater, implicated in a plot that sought to  eliminate Herod. She was in all probability set up by the Essenes with a view to seriously compromise her loathed father Simon Boethus.

When Herod got wind of the scheming, his response was swift and drastic, though surprisingly restrained for a man who was so ravenously bloodthirsty. Mariamne II was sent packing and Simon Boethus was summarily dismissed as High Priest. In addition, the only child Mariamne II had by King Herod, Herod II, was permanently removed from the line of succession. 

With Boethus having been given the boot, Matthias was promptly installed as High Priest. The wish of the Star and the Sceptre had breathtakingly come to pass,  practically in the twinkling of an eye. It goes without saying that Matthias right away saluted Jesus as the Davidic heir. Sadly, Matthias was not destined to last.


Early in 4 BC, Herod, now 77 years old, was taken ill and was clearly teetering on the brink. As he lay on his deathbed,  two of his surviving sons Antipater and  Archelaus headed out on a charm offensive across Palestine. It was Archelaus, however, who stole the show as it was common knowledge that  Antipater had been disinherited when the plot to poison  his father was unearthed: Herod’s will now expressly named  Archelaus as his heir.

As crown  prince in the waning days of his father, Archelaus did overreach himself though. What happened was that when Herod had a Golden Eagle mounted over the Temple Gate as a symbol of Roman rule, a singularly provocative and  sacrilegious gesture in the eyes of the Jewish grassroots, the latter not only staged a rowdy protest but hacked it down with every tool in  the book.

Herod responded by rounding up the ring leaders, two popular rabbi-preachers and about 40 teenagers, and had them burnt at a stake. Rather than strike terror in the Jews, this blood-curdling  act only served to harden their stance and a showdown loomed. Archelaus, who had inherited the cold streak of his father, decided he had to preempt an escalation of this dare to his preliminary flaunt of regnal authority and so set his entire army upon the temple. Josephus puts the number of lives lost in the siege at  over 3000.


Meanwhile, when the two rabbis and 40 youth were murdered at the orders of an ailing Herod,  the restive Jews had demanded, amongst other things, the removal of Matthias as High Priest as they regarded him as either complicit in or indifferent towards this carnage. In a gesture meant to placate them for the massacre of the 3000, Archelaus buckled and Matthias was straight off replaced by Joazar, the son  of Simon Boethus.

The Boethus position  as we  already know was that Jesus was illegitimate and so could not be a Davidic heir. It was back to square one: the infant prince, now about three years old, was a nonentity again. Although his father Joseph still retained his pedigree as the Davidic prince, he was a disgruntled man nonetheless: for as long as his son was not recognised, his own princely status was of little avail.  

FLIGHT TO GALILEE
When King Herod took gravely ill in the first quarter of 4 BC, he was so numbed by disease he was unable to stand upright. Knowing his number was up, he decided to spend his last days at his palace in Jericho on the shores of the Dead Sea to be soothed by the evening breeze. Flavius Josephus records that Herod, a heavy drinker,  was wracked by ailments which included intestinal pains and tumours, asthma, genital gangrene and “worms”. The schizophrenic, Idi Amin-like despot expired on March 12.


Herod had had 9 wives, some of whom he murdered, and numerous mistresses. He also had dozens of children, again some of whom he ordered killed on the merest suspicion that they were a threat to his regnal perch. Even as he lay on his deathbed, he was issuing instructions to the effect that this or that child be put to the sword.

In 7 BC, he had his two hitherto favourite sons by his second wife Mariamne 1 slain. This he did at the instigation of Antipater, his eldest son by his first wife Doris. Antipater was declared crown prince but after being implicated in that plot to poison his father, he was disinherited and replaced with Antipas. Antipas was King Herod’s youngest son, borne by his Samaritan wife Malthace.


Whilst on his deathbed, Herod reconsidered. He named Archelaus, Antipas’ full elder brother, as his heir. Archelaus was promoted to Herod by  the then High Priest Joazar and Barabbas though Joseph, the father of Jesus, abhorred him on account of the cruelty he had exhibited in the murder of 3000 Jewish demonstrators. 

Only five days before his demise, Herod ordered the execution of Antipater just to make sure his anointed heir  had a unperturbed  reign.   Josephus reports that Herod also had hundreds of leading officials and their families thrown behind bars with orders that they be killed at his death so that every family in Jerusalem would have someone to mourn when he himself kicked the bucket! Fortunately, this diabolic wish wasn’t carried out by his heir.


In Herod’s deathbed will, he had decided to parcel out his kingdom amongst three of his sons.  The biggest portion, half of the kingdom, went to his 27-year-old anointed heir Archelaus. This was Judea, Idumea, and Samaria. A quarter, constituting Galilee and Perea, was given to Antipas, who was only 16 years old at the time. The other quarter vested in Phillip. These were  territories northeast of the Sea of Galilee,  namely Gaulanitis (the Golan Heights); Batanea (Southern Syria); Trachonitis; and Auranitas.


Since Palestine was a client kingdom subject to Rome, Augustus had to ratify Herod’s will. Indeed, Antipas had contested the will, insisting that Herod had drawn it when his faculties were not fully functional  and therefore it was null and void. As such, Antipas maintained he was entitled to all of Palestine in line with the earlier will of 5 BC, which was written up when the King was discernibly mentally competent.

Augustus, however, validated  the will as it presently stood though Archelaus was given the title of ethnarch ( ruler of a race) rather than King, whilst Antipas and Phillip were to be called tetrarchs (quarter-kings) to accord with their junior status. What this meant with regard to Archelaus was that he was put on a kind of probation: Augustus would confirm him as King with full stripes if he proved himself worthy. He was to disappoint horrendously.      

   
Archelaus had struck a deal with Barabbas and Joazar that he was going to secretly collaborate with the Zealots to undermine and eventually overthrow the Romans. Simeon, however, was wary. He thought Archelaus was way too cruel and therefore unpredictable to make for a trusted ally.

Thus when Archelaus was crowned  ruler of Judea in 4 BC, Simeon advised Joseph to conceal Mary and baby Jesus in Galilee, a province that was outside the jurisdiction of Archelaus (MATTHEW 2:22) just in case the latter got up to some mischief. Having gone into hiding in the Judean wilderness to avoid being preyed upon by King Herod, the Holy Family now had to go into hiding even further afield to steer clear of the possible intrigue of King Herod’s son.    

NEXT WEEK: JESUS’ RIVAL IS BORN

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020
Samson

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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