According to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Essenes, and by extension all nationalistic Jewry, had been expecting the rise of two messiahs and one prophet-like figure in the mould of either Elijah or Moses. From time to time, counterfeit messiahs did suddenly burst onto the scene to declare a national revolution (particularly from amongst the ranks of the Zealots, e.g. Judas of Galilee), but the true-blue messiahs that were awaited were the messiah of Aaron and the messiah of David, the former from the tribe of Levi and the latter from the tribe of Judah.
In the first century, the two messiahs were anticipated through the seed of Joseph, the Davidic heir, and that of Zechariah, the lineal descendent of Aaron.
Until the time of Jeconiah, the last recognised Jewish King of Judah, high priests were appointed for life: if they stepped down, it was of their own discretion. In gospel times, they were appointed annually by the Herodian monarch and from 6 AD by the Roman governor.
Every year, the sitting high priest had to be either reappointed or relieved of his duties. These priests of the Jerusalem temple were not of the Levitical succession: they were purely political appointees foisted onto the Jewish populace and bore no relationship whatsoever to the House of Aaron.
It was the Essenes’ Qumran temple in the Judean wilderness that continued with the tradition of a Levitical high priest. At the turn of the first century, the Qumran high priest, also known as the Zadok priest, was Zechariah.
It is a pity that when Christians read of Zechariah serving in the temple, they take it for granted that this was the Jerusalem temple. This assumption betrays a sorry ignorance with respect to the dynamics and religio-politics of first century Palestine.
Zechariah had nothing whatsoever to do with the Jerusalem temple, which the Sadducean elite had turned into a “den of robbers” courtesy of Jesus. Zechariah was high priest yes, but he was high priest of the Qumran temple 40 km removed from the Jerusalem temple.
When John was born in September 8 BC, the incumbent high priest at the Jerusalem temple was Simon Boethus. When James, the brother of Jesus, was born in 1 AD, the high priest was Joazar. Joazar was succeeded in 6 AD by Annas. It was the Jerusalem priesthood who were the official high priests of Israel. The bona fide high priests, however, were the ones who presided at the Qumran temple because these were the dynastic priests.
The Qumran temple, a sanctuary really as it was more of a token temple than a real temple, was recognised by the contrived Jerusalem priesthood as well as the Herodian dynasty. The Jerusalem priesthood were aware that in the future, self-governing Kingdom of Israel, it was the Qumran high priest who would take the reins at the Jerusalem temple.
As for the Herodians, the Qumran priesthood was little beyond a talismanic convenience. Being a dynastic one and therefore the real deal, the Qumran priesthood lent the Herodians a veneer of legitimacy since as a “manufactured” monarch, the Herods were irredeemably unpopular in the eyes of the Jewish nation.
Once in a while, however, the Qumran priesthood did fall victim to the wrath of either the Herodian dynasty or the Jerusalem priesthood itself as happened, for instance, in the case of Jesus, his brother James, Zechariah himself, and his son John the Baptist.
ZECHARIAH NO AGED MAN In the superficial, Christian understanding of the Bible, the conception of John the Baptist was a miracle in that both Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were reportedly in geriatric territory – too old to be productive, more so for Lady Liz who had long gone past menopause.
That is as familiarly fallacious as your typical clergy’s interpretation of scripture. Zechariah and Elizabeth both were spring chickens according to the pesher of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The term “advanced in their days” does not mean the couple were old: in pesher language, all it says is that they had stayed rather long in mutual sexual abstinence: they had not conjugated since their marriage.
Zechariah and Elizabeth were a dynastic couple. As such, they were, per Essene dynastic procreational rules, to live apart till it was opportune for them to produce a heir. They should have done this earliest when Zechariah was 36 years of age but the fact of the matter was that they didn’t. On her part, Elizabeth is characterised in the gospels as “barren”.
Again, that by no means suggests she was unable to bear children: in the pesher language, it simply means she was a virgin who had not had a kid before. Indeed, in the apocryphal BOOK OF WISDOM 3:13, female celibates are referred to as “barren” and male celibates are referred to as “eunuchs”.
In addition, both are also referred to as “Blessed Ones”. In LUKE 23:29, we happen upon this statement: “For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.'”
Ordinarily, one would think that “barren” and “wombs that never bore” denote the same thing and therefore there is no need to differentiate between them in the manner they have been in the Luke passage. In pesher, the underlying code language in which the gospels were written, the two phrases are different as a barren woman is not infertile but simply a virgin who has scrupulously abided by the rule of not engaging in sexual relations till the right time comes for siring a dynastic heir. Clearly therefore, Elizabeth had stayed chaste and therefore childless for an unusually long period of time and for reasons not of her choosing though.
FEAR OF A JOHN’S FATE Why did Zechariah neglect to have a child at a time prescribed by the Essenes? A persuasive argument can be made that it was on account of the pressures of priestly duty: he was so devoted to his job that dynastic procreational obligations became secondary if not altogether immaterial. The real reason, however, was that he was indifferent principally because he was loath to pandering to the arbitrary and manipulative Anunnaki agenda, the Anunnaki being the Old Testament gods who were in fact Aliens from a planet called Nibiru, seen only once in 3600 years by Earthlings. What was this agenda?
Well, the Anunnaki blueprint for “Saviour Sun Gods”, as Jesus was, fields a cast of three protagonists. First, there is a forerunner, one who announces the imminence of the Saviour Sun God and initiates him when he finally emerges to effect his preordained remit. The second is the Saviour Sun God himself. Finally, there is the chronicler – the person who documents the philosophy and teachings of the Saviour Sun God for posterity.
This three-man archetype harped back to Ancient Egypt, where the famed Horus was the Saviour Sun God, Anup (or Anubis) was the herald of Horus, and Aan was the recorder of the ethos and exploits of Horus. The names Anup and Aan are primeval forms of the names John, Jan, Juan, Johannes (Yohanan in Hebrew), Sean, etc.
Put differently, An-up and Aan are the two Aans – the Two Johns! The epic of the Saviour Sun God ran concurrent with the Two Johns. As wise King Solomon so insightfully put it, “There is nothing new under the Sun: what has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done” (ECCLESIASTES 1:9).
Now, Zechariah was aware he was the one who was to sire the man who was to announce and present the Saviour Sun God Jesus. At the same time, as Essene high priest, he was well-versed in Egyptian Anunnaki mythos and was under no illusion as to what happened to the John who introduced the Saviour Sun God: he always met a gruesome death. Indeed, the John who introduced Horus was beheaded.
Since history was cyclical and therefore kept repeating itself as per the Anunnaki’s age-old scheme for the Earthly realm, Zechariah feared the same thing might happen to his son, or some such unnatural death. It actually came to pass as according to the gospels John was beheaded at the orders of Herod Antipas.
It was in apprehension of the fate that was certain to befall his heir that Zechariah shrank from producing a child. In point of fact, Zechariah would rather he died childless so that the Aaronic succession would become extinct so disgusted was he with the diabolical, self-serving Anunnaki agenda. Unfortunately, the Anunnaki always win in the end. Although they execute their agenda for this ill-fated planet subtly and under the radar, they are very much in control and therefore inviolable. Noting that Zechariah could torpedo their well-laid-down plans, they moved to force his hand.
HOW JOHN WAS BORN Early in December 9 BC, Simeon, the Essence’s Abiathar priest who was second in rank to Zechariah and who also went by the titles “Angel Gabriel” and “Angel of the Lord” approached Zechariah with a view to persuade him to set about siring a heir. The Essenes were pundits both of astronomy and astrology and they knew that the Age of Pisces was just around the corner and it was time for a new generation of Davidic and Aaronic messiahs to arise. It was these two messiahs who were to usher in the final 1000-year stretch leading to a theocracy – a globalwide, Earthly government ruled by God himself.
Although Zechariah, who also went by the names “Archangel Michael” and “Lord God” was not inclined to consent, he was under obligation to. Otherwise, he would have forfeited the high priesthood. Furthermore, more serious repercussions would have ensued: as God’s foremost representative to the Essene fraternity, he was duty-bound, so he was told, to produce a dynastic successor who would step into his issues when he was no more. Zechariah therefore just had to comply.
Up until now, Zechariah had been celibate. Now he was going to institute sexual relations with his wife Elizabeth. In other words, he was going to live like a married man proper. The Essenes regarded sex as spiritually contaminating. That’s why for the priesthood, it was allowed for the sake only of procreation. Because sex was defiling, in Essene jargon all married men were called “sinners”.
Since Zechariah had now become a sinner with effect from December 9 BC, he would no longer perform priestly duties nor preach, minister, or issue instructions of any kind: that role now vested in Simeon, who would act in his stead.
In Luke’s gospel, this situation is allegorised in such a way as to suggest Zechariah was “struck dumb” for not believing the words of the Angel Gabriel. Zechariah’s suspension, however, would only be in force for the duration of his wife’s pregnancy: once she had delivered, he would part with her and return to Qumran to resume his priestly duties.
Elizabeth fell pregnant at the end of January 8 BC. Since she was used to a celibate life, the pregnancy somewhat embarrassed her. Hence for the next five months, she cocooned herself at Ain Feshka as she was shy to show off her pregnancy.
Unlike Jesus, John was conceived in perfect conformity with dynastic procreational rules. Hence he was born in the right month, in September 8 BC, the holiest month of the year. If Zechariah had wanted another child, he would have done so only in 1 BC given that as a member of the Levitical succession he had to wait for seven years after the birth of a son or three had John been a daughter. As it was, Zechariah was not interested in producing kids at the pleasure of the Anunnaki. John was to be his only child.
The name John was atypical: none of Zechariah’s ancestors had carried that name. Clearly, it was not Zechariah’s choice: it was mooted by the Anunnaki. Why did the Anunnaki opt for such a name? Because it fitted very well with their agenda for John in the grand scheme of things. John was going to reprise the same role of the John who introduced and baptised the Egyptian Saviour Sun God Horus thousands of years back. He was ultimately going to die the same or similar death as that of the John of Horus’ day. Names are portendous folks: do not simply casually confer names on your children as they spell a particular fate!
When Zechariah was murdered by Zealot commander Judas of Galilee in 6 AD, John the Baptist, aged only 13 years, succeeded him as the Melchizedek, or Michael-Zadok, his other title as the Essene priest-king. However, a “regent” was retained to act on his behalf till he was 30 years old, the age when one was eligible for high priesthood. This caretaker high priest was Annas, who in AD 6 had replaced Joazar as high priest of the Jerusalem temple.
In the very same year, when the now 12-year-old Jesus, the messiah of David, celebrated his Bar-Mitzvah ceremony, young John was present in his capacity as the messiah of Aaron. Thus Jesus and John, contrary to popular brief, were familiar to each other since childhood. After all, they were cousins, Elizabeth being a maternal aunt of Mary the mother of Jesus.
They also spent a lot of time together at Qumran. Unlike Jesus though, John never travelled the world. He was not a political messiah but a priestly messiah who would always be based in Jerusalem. Hence, he saw no need to venture out on a familiarisation tour of world cultures. Sadly, this insularity made him fiercely anti-Gentile and was to engender a serious rift between Jesus and himself.
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.