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Supping with Devils

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER…

The Last Supper took place at Qumran and had none of the cannibalistic connotations the modern church associates with it

   
In Christendom, the Last Supper has arguably come to be the most iconic sacrament. Catholics call it the Eucharist whilst Protestants simply refer to it as the Breaking of Bread or Holy Communion. The frequency with which the rite is conducted varies  from denomination to denomination.

Some churches break bread every time they meet; others only once a month. On the occasion, wafers or pieces of bread and a bit of wine, or any semblance of it such as red juice for instance, are ingested by the congregants.

To Protestants, the bread and wine are simply emblematic of the body and blood of Jesus. To the Catholics, they actually corporealise, a phenomenon referred to as transubstantiation, meaning what you consume are not simply emblems but real flesh and blood!

The meal, if it can be called that, is meant to commemorate the supper Jesus had with his disciples the night before the Romans cuffed him up and dragged him off to be crucified.  It is informed by a statement attributed to Jesus, which says, “Do this in remembrance of me as often as you meet (LUKE 22:19).

When I was a young Christian, I innocently partook of Holy Communion as a member of Evangel Temple in Chingola and Maranatha Assemblies in Kitwe, both of which are Zambian towns. Then having gained in knowledge about the origins of Christianity, I decided to refrain henceforth. What I learnt was that the idea of ingesting bread and wine as symbols of the body and blood of Jesus was an age-old pagan ritual which was written into the gospels by Illuminati elements.

Every time you partake of Holy Communion, you are acting out a satanic practice. It equates to killing somebody and then drinking the blood that gushes forth (vampirism) and gorging on the body parts (cannibalism) – something that is only done at  satanic sacrifice rituals.

Jesus never instituted such a ritual. In the mechanics of the “Last Supper”, Jesus by no means intended to convey the paradigm of his apotheosis to mankind. It’s a pity that modern Christianity fuses both good and fiendish elements in its devotional practices. No wonder acts of moral turpitude are so prevalent among the Christian clergy today.

THE MODALITIES OF THE LAST SUPPER

If one point ought to be underlined, it is that the Last Supper did not take place in an upstairs house in your familiar Jerusalem. It took place at Qumran, code-named Jerusalem (in the plural) by the Essenes. Another is that its occurring on Passover was sheer overlap:  it was not a Passover-oriented event at all. The author of the gospel of John was aware of this element as he did not remotely associate it with the Passover.

The Last Supper was actually one of those meals which was a daily feature  at Qumran. It took place in the vestry, a huge, rectangular room running north-south that attached to the Qumran temple. The vestry was called the Body, or the Heavenly Man, because when the council met in the room, they imagined a super-sized image of a man superimposed on the room floor.

It was divided into two parts – the northern and southern part. The northern part was elevated by 18 inches, like a stage, and was therefore nicknamed the katalyma, meaning the upstairs room. The dining table was placed east-west on the katalyma. Jesus and the six seniormost members of the council sat on chairs on the katalyma, whereas the junior six members sat on seats below the katalyma.   

The seating arrangements in the main corresponded to the various parts of the Heavenly Man. The highest ranking men, for instance, sat in positions that corresponded to the head; those of middle rank positioned in the section that matched   the thorax, such that when  somebody sat in the “bosom” or “chest”,   it  meant  he was of intermediate rank. The so-called “beloved disciple” who sat in the “bosom of Jesus” did not sit by his chest: he was simply a middle-ranking disciple.

There was an afternoon meal and an evening meal. Flavius Josephus says the afternoon meal was the holiest: it was a strict religious ritual with no diversions or polemics whatsoever. The evening meal  was divided into two parts – the common meal and the sacred meal, altogether spanning 4 hours.

The common meal ran for two hours,  from 6-8 pm, and was meant to satisfy common hunger.  The sacred meal began at 8 pm and ended at 10 pm. This was not simply about eating and family devotion: a number of  issues – political, religious, socio-economic – were discussed during  the sacred meal, especially at Passover times as this was the time when the seasonal council was held.  

The participants in the meals were always 13 people. These were the  seniormost Essenes. In the 30s AD they comprised of Jesus and the so-called 12 disciples. As we have emphasised time and again, they were not disciples as such: they were the governing council of the Qumran community who also styled themselves as the future cabinet of a liberated Israel.

Jesus was their leader only in terms of politics, being the Davidic heir; otherwise,  their real leader was the Essenes’ chief priest, the so-called Pope or Father of the  Community. Presently, the chief priest was Jonathan Annas, known as Nathaniel/James the son of Alpheus in the gospels.   

In each section of the two meals, the first hour was for solid food and the second hour for drink. The food was bread (and some fish in the afternoon meal) and the drink was wine. The loaves were 12 in number: this evoked the Old Testament’s 12 loaves of the Presence which were eaten by the priests as a sign of gratitude on behalf of each of the 12 tribes of Israel for the harvest that gave them food (LEVITICUS 24:5-9).

At Qumran, the chief priest ate his loaf on behalf of God. Since he stood in the place of God, his other titles were “God” and “Lord”. This is where Christians just don’t get it:  the terms God and Lord in the gospels do not always mean creator, just as angel does not always mean a heavenly figure.

JUDAS GETS SET

Even before the Last Supper got going, Judas Iscariot, Jonathan Annas, and Herod Agrippa I had already compacted as to how Jesus was going to be dealt with.  Jesus had already served notice that he was going to formally challenge Jonathan Annas as chief priest in the course of the sacred meal.   Jonathan’s heart was thus even more hardened against Jesus.

It was agreed that midway in the sacred meal, Judas would excuse himself and proceed to make arrangements to alert Pontius Pilate that the men who were behind the November AD 32   riot in which some Roman soldiers were killed had been where at large at Qumran and were sitting ducks for arrest. Pilate had already been told to await a messenger who would  deliver the message in person on horseback and he had indicated that he would come over to Qumran, try the culprits in a kangaroo court setting, and sentence them summarily.   

Judas’s reward for this betrayal was that he would not be arraigned for his role in the November insurrection; instead, Jesus would take his place as the third accused. In addition, Judas would be elevated to the position of No. 2 in the Essene priestly hierarchy. In other words, he would be deputy to Jonathan Annas. Furthermore, Judas would now preside over the 30-man group the late John the Baptist had established and which was currently overseen by Jonathan Annas.  The unofficial name for this group as we now know was the 30 Pieces of Silver. Judas said he was game.

When the common meal was in progress, Jesus acted as the host, which was very much in keeping with his status as the Davidic King. There were 13 people in attendance. Normally, these should have been Jesus and his so-called 12 disciples. On this occasion, however, Simon Zelotes was not allowed to take his place at the table. It had been taken by Agrippa. Simon Zelotes was present all right but he did not occupy his designated seat. He sat at the periphery, the place normally occupied by invited  observers.  

It seemed his reinstatement by Jesus was still a moot point as far as Jonathan Annas was concerned. Agrippa had been invited by Jonathan Annas so that he could witness Jesus’s pitch for the chief priesthood  and see how that could be twisted to pad his imminent indictment before Pilate. Agrippa was  expected to be named King of the Jews after the death of Tiberius Caesar and so Jonathan Annas wanted to curry as much favour from his as possible. Jesus, unaware that Agrippa had betrayed his trust, did not protest his presence.

Jesus sat next to Jonathan Annas. The two occupied the august chairs of King and Priest respectively.  Directly opposite Jesus  was his ministerial deputy Simon Peter. Judas sat opposite Jonathan Annas as his deputy-designate too.

As host, one of Jesus’s   roles was to wash the feet of all in attendance – his guests. This was not only peculiar to Jesus but was a standard gesture  on the part of every host  at periodical meals held in Qumran  homesteads. That done, Jesus went back to his seat, following which he blessed a cup of fermented wine and distributed it.

JESUS ASSUMES MANTLE OF PRIEST-KING

Once the  common meal had concluded,  the sacred meal commenced. Since this was not an ordinary meal but was taken in the context of a seasonal council, there were a host of issues  to be addressed. They included  the November riots against Pilate; Jesus’s  unilateral reinstatement of Simon Zelotes to the Essene fold, which was endorsed by Herod Antipas but frowned upon by Agrippa; and of course the pros and cons of Jesus’s tilt at the position held by Jonathan Annas. The sacred meal that coincided with the seasonal council therefore typically went beyond the allotted two hours well into the wee hours of the morning.

Jonathan Annas, who as chief priest was presiding over the proceedings, procedurally blessed the bread and wine. Then Jesus got into his stride. He turned to Jonathan and observed to him that he was contesting the papacy. He then instructed Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot to  change positions. In other words, Jesus had promoted Judas as his deputy:  now that he had laid claim to high priesthood, he was now Priest-King.

Resultantly, Jonathan Annas had now been relegated to third in the hierarchy. With this stroke-of-the-pen restructuring of the Essene organisation chart,  we can now understand why Simon Peter would later deny Jesus three times. By nature a temperamental fellow, the guy was livid at being sidelined in favour of  Judas.

With the plot against Jesus already at an  advanced stage, Jonathan Annas did not resist Jesus’s gesture. He meekly exchanged seats with Jesus,  thus formally acknowledging that Jesus was now the Priest-King, or the Melchizedek. As to what Judas felt in regard to his unheralded promotion by Jesus, we can only surmise. Be that as it may, it was too belated an honour as Jesus’s days as a free man were numbered.

In fact, shortly thereafter, Judas excused himself from   the meeting and asked that Theudas Barabbas (the other “Judas”  on the list of apostles in the gospels), his deputy as Zealot commander, act on his behalf.  He then proceeded to detail an agent to rush to inform Pilate that he had better come immediately as the wanted men were at the scene.

Meanwhile, Jesus addressed a number of questions in his new portfolio as Priest-King as the gospels document. Agrippa and Jonathan Annas must have adduced a lot of subjects to make sure the meeting unduly prolonged to allow Pilate enough time to travel to Qumran. For some reason though, Pilate did not pitch till the following morning: only his troops arrived.  

NEXT WEEK: JESUS ON TRIAL

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

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.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

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”

UNDERSTANDING

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.”

COMMITMENT

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.

ACCEPTANCE

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.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

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.

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