In his gospel, Luke relates that at the conclusion of Jesus’s Bar Mitzvah ceremony, Joseph and his family headed back to “Nazareth” in “Galilee”. To the superficial reader, that is “obvious” enough: it was the village of Nazareth in the province of Galilee. It wasn’t. Anybody who settles for the surface meaning of gospel narratives and takes that as the ultimate truth will never have the slightest smattering about the historical Jesus. The real Jesus story has to be deciphered using the pesher instrument.
Logic itself makes nonsense of the Holy family’s return to Galilee. Remember, the reason they sought refuge in Galilee was to escape the machinations of Herod Archelaus. Now that Archelaus was no longer in power, there was utterly no need for Joseph to beat a path back to Galilee. Furthermore, we have already underscored the fact that the village of Nazareth did not exist during gospel times.
Nazareth, according to the pesher – the underlying story encoded in the surface narrative as per deliberate design on the part of the Essenes – referred to any of those settlements in the Judean wilderness that were inhabited by Nazarites. Nazarites were Essenes who had taken a vow of special consecration to God and were celibates of varying periods of abstinence.
One such Nazareth was Mird. At this juncture, Mird was also referred to as Galilee since the Essene Bishop of Galilee was present, having arrived to celebrate the Passover feast which would soon be underway. You will be aware by now that if a certain VIP was visiting a place in the Qumran prencincts, or a particular sub–sect of the Essenes were at that point in time concentrated in that particular place, it was called after their name in their honour.
For example, Qumran was at times referred to as Egypt in that the Theraputae, whose headquarters was in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, now abounded there. Such a system of naming on the part of the Essenes was contrived: it was meant to confuse the Romans as well as the Jewish establishment in Jerusalem, particularly the Herodians.
PRINCES AND PRINCESSES OF JUDAH After siring Jesus and James, Joseph and Mary had six more children – three sons and three daughters. Their last born was a son, who was born in AD 22, the year before Joseph passed on. The order in which the children between James and the last born came is not documented. However, the Bible furnishes some hint as to the sequence in which the boys arrived and extra-biblical sources offer an idea as to the order in which the girls came.
The boys in descending order of seniority were Jesus, James, Joseph, Jude, and Simon (MARK 6:3 and MATTHEW 13:55-56). Christians claim they read the Bible everyday but if you were to ask any single one of them as to whether Jesus had siblings, almost all would recoil at the absurdity of such a suggestion. Pastors hardly ever preach about Jesus’s family: throughout my more than 30 years as a Christian, I have never heard a single sermon on the brothers of Jesus, not even on James, who was actually the spiritual “superstar” post-Calvary.
James’s given name was Cleopas. He was named after his uncle, one of Joseph’s twin brothers. As an adult, however, he was best known as James (Iah-mes in Aramaic, or Mes-iah the other way round) and as Jacob. Both names were titular. As James, he was the recognised messiah by the Palestinian Jews and the priestly family of Boethus because he was born procedurally and in the right month, September.
The Essenes and the Diaspora Jews, on the other hand, subscribed to Jesus as the true Davidic messiah. On his part, James was content to be only next in line after Jesus but the politics of the day caused him to vacillate from time to time, particularly that his mother Mary tacitly promoted him as the politically palatable messiah.
After the ostensible crucifixion of Jesus, James became the uncontested David King de facto. It was then that he assumed the name Jacob. Jacob was the title of the Davidic messiah since the time of Jesus’ grandfather Jacob-Heli. Before the crucifixion but after the death of his father, James’s other title was Joseph. Joseph was the title of the crown prince as indeed James was next in line after Jesus. It was James who succeeded Jesus as leader of the Jesus movement and not Paul or Simon Peter as Christendom wrongly believes. James is the author of the New Testament’s epistle of James. More will be said about James as the Jesus Papers progress.
When James became the Jacob after the crucifixion, his immediate younger brother accordingly became the Joseph, the name by which he was best-known. Other people abbreviated it and so addressed him as Joses (in today’s parlance we say “Joe”). His other names were Barsabbas and Justus. Following the death of Judas Iscariot, Joses made an unsuccessful tilt at replacing him among the Twelve: he was outvoted by a certain Matthias in a succession poll.
Jude is another rendering of the name Judas. Like Joses, Jude was sometimes referred to as Barsabbas, this being a titular surname of the sons of Joseph (Barsabbas means “Son of Seb”. Seb is another abbreviation of the name Joseph, the emphasis being on the “Seph” syllable). Jude is the writer of the epistle that comes just before Revelation
Simon, the lastborn, was best known as Silas, or Silvanus, in old age. It was he who replaced Barnabbas when the latter felt out with Paul. He was specially prized by Paul and the early church as he was a bold evangelist and a man of the people, very much like his elder brother Jesus. Once, he was even detained with Paul. If you thought the brothers of Jesus were peripheral to his ecumenical cause, you are in error: they were actually front and centre of the Jesus movement.
Although the three sisters of Jesus are not expressly specified as such in the gospels, they do make a kind of cameo appearance. Their names were Mary, Salome, and Joanna. All the three were present at the scene of the crucifixion according to the gospels. They are mentioned in MARK 15:47 and MATTHEW 28:1. Outside the canon, Epiphanius of Salamis (310-403 AD) mentioned them in his two works titled Panarion and Ancoratus, as well as Apostolic Constitutions, a fourth century book by one of the church fathers. Two apocryphal works, the Gospel of Phillip and the Protoevangelion of James, also makes mention of the sisters of Jesus by name.
According to a Dead Sea Scroll named the Damascus Document, the brothers of Jesus were collectively referred to as the Princes of Judah among the Essene community.
JESUS LEARNS ART OF SANGOMA! It has been said Jesus was not educated though he was strikingly sharp, wise, and knowledgeable. The truth is, Jesus underwent both formal and informal education. He did formal education at Qumran and not in a formal rabbinical school of the day.
The Essenes had a virtual continuous education process that ran practically all the way to age 30. The initial phase commenced at age 13 through age 18. It was segmented into elementary school at ages 13 and 14; middle elementary school at age 15; higher elementary school at age 16 and 17; and monastic education at age 18. The second phase began at age 24 and ended at age 27, the graduation age in respect of general academia. At age 28 commenced priestly education, which ended at age 30, when the highest grade was attained. What exactly did the Essenes teach in their exclusive academies in the Judean wilderness?
Evidently, the subjects must have included mathematics, numerology, astrology, astronomy, philosophy, gnosticism, spirituality and natural as well as spiritual healing. We know the Essenes studied the stars and the planets because the signs of the Zodiac constitute part and parcel of the Dead Sea texts.
Everything the Essenes did had to conform to mathematical propriety, ranging from the numerical equivalent of their titles to the distances between their settlements to the architecture of their Qumran temple. According to Flavius Josephus, the first century’s prima donna historian, Essenes were advocates of the famous Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras (we all know what Pythogoras Theorem is, don’t we?). The Essenes were specially interested in the mathematics which governed the order of the cosmos.
Their culture was to a large extent dominated by Pythagorean thought, the influence by and large of the Magi of West Manasseh and the Egyptian Theraputae. Josephus also records that the Essenes were practiced in the art of healing and received their therapeutic knowledge of roots and stones from the ancients. Certainly, the term Essene, a English rendering, must refer to this expertise as the Aramaic word Assaya meant physician and corresponded to the Greek word Essenoi.
In light of the above information, we now can understand why Jesus was so intellectually arresting and why he was a renowned healer and seer. This was nothing supernatural: it was not the result of his being a God-Man. It was all a learnt endowment, acquired through a rigorous educational process which left no stone unturned – pun intended. Jesus was not only a spiritual/natural healer but was a herbalist and even threw bones! If he lived in our time, we would not only call him an itinerant preacher but a fortune teller and Sangoma rolled into one.
JESUS DEFIES JOSEPH The gospels relate an incident (LUKE 41-50) where Jesus, aged 12, was left behind at the Jerusalem Temple at the conclusion of the Passover festival and when his parents returned to fetch him, they found him engaged in an intellectual slugfest with learned old geezers.
The passage reads as follows in part: “They found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.  Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.  When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.’  ‘Why were you searching for me?’ he asked. ‘Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?’  But they did not understand what he was saying to them.”
Taken on face value, the above narrative is certain to be misunderstood. It can only be correctly grasped once one has read it through the pesher lenses and is familiar with the contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as the happenings in and the politics of the first century as documented by contemporary historians. Jesus was not 12 years old: he was 23 and the year was AD 17. In AD 6, when he actually turned 12, the Essenes had introduced an unofficial parallel calendar.
AD 6 was a particularly dark year for them. Firstly, the Romans had assumed direct rule of Judea. Secondly, they had lost two of their shining beacons, High Priest Zechariah and Zealot Commander Judas of Galilee. They thus designated the year AD 6 as the Year of Wrath. Furthermore, they styled it as Year 1 in the parallel calendar. According to this calendar, Jesus was 12 years old in AD 17 though he was factually 23 years old.
Jesus had turned 20 in AD 14 and was conferred Grade 10 in the Essene pecking order. According to the Essene ascetic rule, he was at this age eligible for marriage and had to choose whether to indeed marry and lead a conventional, mainstream life or adopt a celibate lifestyle under the tutelage of the Essene sages.
In AD 14, Annas was still High Priest and so Jesus was still recognised as the Davidic heir. He therefore chose a celibate life style and being a dynastic heir, it meant he would only marry at age 36. In AD 17, he turned 23 and having chosen a celibate lifestyle he become an initiate, or a Grade 7 Essene. This was the age at which the Essene acknowledged one as a “man”: prior to this, one was still a “child” or “novice”.
The first stage of the Grade 7 ceremony was a second baptism, the first one having taken place at age 21. Joseph and Mary attended Jesus’ baptism ceremony in Jerusalem, then went ahead of him for the full initiation before rightwing Essenes at Mar Saba in the Judean wilderness. Jesus, however, stayed in Jerusalem to be initated by the metropolitan Essenes at the Essene Gate. What this entailed was simply the taking of an oral examination before a panel of priests.
It was at the Essene Gate where his parents finally located him after waiting for him at Mar Saba for three days. Rather than be awestruck by the intellectual prowess with which he transfixed the “professors”, they were mystified by his defiant attitude toward them when he had been so unfailingly heedful all along.
His response upon being interrupted by his parents that “I must be in my father’s house” has also been misinterpreted and unduly spiritualised. By “father”, he alluded to the incumbent High Priest Eleazer, the son of the now former High Priest Annas. All the Annas priests used the titles “Father” and “God”, just as the Pope uses the title “Holy Father”, and all of them advocated cooperation with Rome.
Thus the statement “I must be in my father’s house” was a philosophical one: it meant Jesus felt obligated to stick by the peace-with-the-Romans ethos of Eleazer rather than proceed with Joseph to Mar Saba and be initiated by the militaristic, anti-Roman Essene faction.
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.