… and is formally inducted into the Essene institutional structure
In March 6 AD, about three months before the insurgency of Judas of Galilee, Jesus turned exactly 12 years old, having been born in March 7 BC (there was no Year Zero; hence 1 BC was immediately followed by 1 AD). According to Essene custom, the order had to celebrate his coming of age, a ceremony known as Bar Mitzvah. In the Bar Mitzvah ceremony, the birth of the person was re-enacted. The Bar Mitzvah ceremony was therefore a symbolic rebirth. It is this symbolic second birth of Jesus that Luke records and not his biological birth. Jesus’ ceremony was particularly significant in that he was the de facto future King of Israel.
The ceremony was held at the Queen’s House, exactly 1 km south of the Qumran HQ. Jesus had been born at the Queen’s House in accord with the edict of the then Jerusalem High Priest Simon Boethus as befitted a child who was conceived through “fornication”. The mistress of the Queen’s House was the Davidic Queen, who was Mary at the time. The Queen’s house was also referred to as the Manger and as Bethlehem of Judea in coded Essene language.
Present at the ceremony was Simeon. Another prominent figure in attendance was Annas, who had succeeded Joazar as High Priest of the Jerusalem temple. Annas came to formally acknowledge Jesus as the Davidic heir, meaning James, who had been recognised as such by Joazar, was once again relegated to second in line.
Jesus was dressed in a swaddling band, wrongly translated as “swaddling clothes” in the gospels. This was a piece of fabric 15-18 feet long, which was wrapped around his body all the way down to the ankles, the same way he had been dressed when he was born. As hosts and in mimicry of their situation back in 7 BC, Mary and Joseph were symbolically a live-together couple although in practice they lived separately (a dynastic Essene husband was only allowed to live with his wife when it was time to produce a child; otherwise, he lived apart from his wife as a monastic celibate). As such, the couple were not allowed into the Katalyma. This word is translated as “inn” in the gospels but it also means “upper room”. The upper room was the sacred dining chamber where a special meal was being had by separated celibates, a category which Mary and Joseph had in the circumstances provisionally forfeited. That is the explanation of the phrase, “there was no room in the inn” in the gospel of Luke.
JESUS REINSTATED AS DAVIDIC MESSIAH Meanwhile, the next four highest ranking figures in the Essene hierarchy (after Annas, who was holding fort for the young John the Baptist; Simeon; and Joseph the father of Jesus) were busy at work at Ain Feshika, codenamed the “farm”. These were the Cardinal; the Archbishop; the Bishop; and the Presbyter. They specialised in pastoral duties and were presently ministering to pilgrims who had come to Qumran to co-observe the equinox as well as celebrate the forthcoming Passover feast. In the gospels, the ministers are cryptically referred to as “shepherds”, and the pilgrims as the “flock”, both terms of which are metaphorically apt as even today we figuratively refer to pastors as shepherds and the congregation as the flock.
Simeon, whose other title was the “Angel of the Lord”, called on the ministers to announce the “good news”, accompanied by Theudas Barabbas, who according to the pesher of the Dead Sea Scrolls was also known as the “Glory of God” – God being a title of the late Zechariah and presently of Annas. Remember, Theudas Barabbas had broken ranks with the belligerent faction led by Judas of Galilee to align with the peace faction now led by Annas. The “good news” Simeon came to deliver was that Jesus had been officially recognised by the new High Priest Annas as the Davidic messiah. With the announcement of such good tidings, Simeon, Barabbas, the four ministers, and the pilgrims – collectively referred to as the “host of heaven” in the gospels – burst into a hymn of praise titled “Peace on Earth” because they all belonged to the peace faction and both Annas and the new Roman governor of Judea Lucious Coponius had committed to forging peaceful relations with the Essenes. Simeon then told the ministers that young Jesus was being feted at the Queen’s House and described his attire. The ministers then hurried to the house, which was only 3 km away, and when they got there they venerated Jesus in song.
Whilst Joseph was elated by the euphoria over his son, Mary had mixed feelings. As far as she was concerned, she would rather the Davidic toast went to James once and for all rather than Jesus. This was not because she did not approve of Jesus: she was simply haunted by the fact that Jesus had been controversially begotten and therefore he would always carry this badge of “shame”. Annas had recognised him all right, but the High Priest who came after him could well de-recognise him again, just as Simon Boethus and Joazar had done before: his princely status would continue to ebb and flow. On the other hand, James had been sired procedurally and would therefore not be as susceptible to such vicissitudes. No one would ever call him a bastard whereas Jesus was already being so calumniated.
On Day 8 of the ceremony, Jesus was dedicated to the evangelical cause of the Essene fraternity through admission into its ecclesiastical hierarchy. He was given Grade 18, the entry point, the highest grade being 0, that of the Zadok priest, also referred to as the “Lord God”. This dedication was euphemistically referred to as circumcision of the heart (ROMANS 2:29), meaning having a pure heart/being separated unto the works of the Creator God as directed by his earthly representative – the “Lord God’, who previously was Zechariah but now was Annas standing in for the youngster John the Baptist.
PROPHETESS ANNA ENDORSES JESUS Luke is the only one of the four evangelists to have made mention of the characters Simeon and Anna. Anna is the subject of LUKE 2:36-38, which reads thus: “And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” What this passage reads in English is not exactly the way it reads in Greek, the language in which it was originally written. Furthermore, the underlying pesher language is significantly different from the surface language. I will therefore properly explicate for you in line with knowledge derived from the Dead Sea Scrolls and other extra-biblical sources.
Just as Simeon was the highest ranking Essene after the death of Zechariah, Anna was the seniormost of the Essene womenfolk.
Anna belonged to the order of Asher. Women of the order of Asher bore the titles “Sarah”, “Rebecca”, and “Rachel”, the wives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob respectively. Anna was the Sarah of the day, actually the first Sarah of the Essene order. She was born in 93 BC, meaning in 6 AD she was 98 years old (in one of his copious works, the legendary Jewish historian Flavious Josephus marvels at the longevity of the Essenes, owing, seemingly, from the medical wizardry of the Therapeutae). The 84-years in the Luke passage is her age as counted from her symbolic rebirth – the Bar Mitzvah ceremony, which took place in 79 BC, when she attained 14 years, the age of early initiation for girls.
The Sarah of the Old Testament bore Isaac at age 91. As such, the Sarah of the order of Asher was classified as a “virgin” when she turned 91, which simply meant she had officially ceased to bear children and had figuratively speaking become a virgin again (in his book, Contemplative Life, Philo of Alexandria talks of “aged virgins” who were members of the Qumran Therapeutae). Since Anna turned 91 in 2 BC, in AD 6 she had been a virgin for 7 years.
In the Essene hierarchy, Anna’s superior, the priest who initially supervised her when she was younger, was the Phanuel, an “angelic” title which had the same grade as the Raphael (“daughter of”, or “son of”, sometimes meant “immediate subordinate of”). The Phanuel was of Grade 3, the fourth from the top. Anna was the Essene prophetess and intercessor, the counterpart of Simeon, who was the Essene prophet and intercessor as Josephus chronicles for us. She was therefore symbolically the mistress/wife of Simeon. She had actually been looked after by Simeon since she was widowed at age 84.
When Jesus was presented at the Qumran temple, Anna, now frail, bent, and possibly immobilised, was present. She gave a vote of thanks to High Priest Annas, the acting “Lord God”, for recognising Jesus as the Davidic messiah and also acknowledged Jesus as the redeemer of Israel, in a political sense, not in a spiritual sense. By spotlighting Simeon and Anna, therefore, Luke wanted to demonstrate that Jesus was endorsed as the Davidic heir by both the menfolk and the womenfolk of Qumran.
SIMEON CALLS IT A DAY In LUKE 2:25-35, Simeon is explicitly made mention of as follows: “ Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” 33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
Once again, the Greek original more or less differs from the doctored English version. To give just one example, the correct translation for Verse 28 should be “he received him into his arms,” or better still “bear-hugged him”, which one can do for anybody of any age. This is actually the more apt scenario as Jesus was at this time not a baby who could be received up in the arms but a 12-year lad.
According to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Essenes had been awaiting two messiahs and one prophet. The two were the messiah of David and the messiah of Aaron, or the political and priestly messiah. Both messiahs had arisen in the persons of Jesus, born in March 7 BC, and John the Baptist, born in September 8 BC. In AD 5 and 6 respectively, the two had been symbolically reborn and assumed their ranks in the Essene pecking order.
Simeon had long wanted to step down from his priestly duties following the birth of the two messiahs but Joseph, the “Holy Spirit”, had dissuaded him against such a course of action till Jesus had undergone the Bar Mitzvah ceremony at age 12. This had now happened. Furthermore, Zechariah, the highest ranking Essene and the father of John the Baptist, had been killed by Judas of Galilee. The fault lines in the Essene substructure were not only aggravating but were spilling blood in the very midst of the hitherto harmonious fraternity. Simeon therefore decided to quit as an active priest in pursuit of purely peaceful and spiritual causes, thereby detaching himself completely from the insurrectionist bent of the Zealots.
As a prophet, Simeon did provide a preview of the kind of life Jesus was destined to live. When Jesus was presented at the Qumran temple, not only did Simeon invoke God’s blessings on Jesus but served notice that he would be a contentious figure and cause some high-standing personages to either wane or wax. Exactly who rose or fell on the Davidic prince’s account? We will get to know these as the Jesus Papers progress.
Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.
The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.
Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.
At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.
Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.
Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).
This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.
In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.
Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?
Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.
POSITIVITY Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.
“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)
We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”
Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.
Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be. You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”
Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.
When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.
Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.
However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.” “Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)
COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT
Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.
It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.
Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.
Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.
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.