Jesus appears before high priests Annas and Caiaphas
Historians, scholars, theologians, and the Christian clergy invariably assert that Jesus was tried four times. He appeared before the court of former high priest Annas ben Seth, the court of incumbent high priest Joseph Caiaphas, the court of Roman governor Pontius Pilate, and the court of tetrarch Herod Antipas. That is totally and utterly wrong. It is as mistaken as the belief that the trials took place in Jerusalem.
As we have reiterated time and again, Jesus was tried at Qumran 40 km from Jerusalem. And his only trials were before Pontius Pilate and Herod Antipas. The appearances before Annas and Caiaphas (jointly, and not separately as suggested by some gospels) was not a trial before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Supreme Court: it was a synod hearing. Indeed, none of the gospels categorically state that Jesus came before the Sanhedrin. He came before a synod, a joint assembly of ecclesiastical figures in the Essene governing council and the Jerusalem temple. What this panel sought to address was not the crime against Pilate, the November 32 AD riots, or whether Jesus had committed “blasphemy”. It restricted itself to two issues only.
The first was his status in the Essene hierarchy, that is, whether he was deserving of being the Davidic King or the Priest-King. The second was whether he still advocated peace with the Romans or had now adopted the Zealot stance that war had to be waged against the Romans. Thus the Annas-Caiaphas panel was not a trial but a form of interrogation. It was a hearing, with a view to review the political and institutional status of Jesus so that when he was sent before Pilate, Pilate knew exactly in what social capacity he was trying him.
The fact that Jesus’s appearance before Annas and Caiaphas was not before the Sanhedrin explains why the procedures and process to which he was subjected seem to go against every grain of Jewish jurisprudence. A whole galaxy of books have even been written about how the “trial of Jesus” before the “Sanhedrin” was a total travesty of justice. To the discerning, such as you, My Brother, and me, this is understandable because it was not a trial at all: it was a hearing by an ecclesiastical panel which purely had to do with power politics and factional leanings. It is as simple as that. The synod dealt with politics; Pilate dealt with the crime.
SIMON ZELOTES DEMOTED AGAIN
The first to appear before the panel was Simon Zelotes. He took precedence because at the time of the November riots, he was the Pope and therefore was superior to Jesus, who was third in the hierarchy. Theudas Barabbas, who was one of the three accused, did not appear before the panel. He had already admitted his role in the insurrection and was now in remand awaiting an official plea of guilty before Pilate and onward sentencing.
Simon Zealotes was the second highest ranking Zealot after Judas Iscariot, who was the overall leader. The Zealots, who were the underground military wing of the Essenes, agitated for a forceful ouster of the Romans. They had staged a number of uprisings to date against the Romans but all had come to naught. They had a particularly fanatical following in Galilee, where most of the uprisings erupted. As a result, the term “Galilean” in Judea had come to assume the secondary meaning of “Zealot”.
Simon Zealotes was close to Jesus in one vein: he was his father-in-law. Simon was the foster father of Mary Magdalene, the wife of Jesus. Where it came to political philosophy, however, Jesus and Simon were poles apart and were therefore always at odds. Whereas Simon was a champion of war against the Romans, Jesus was for peaceful co-existence till Providence itself intervened. Jesus was a staunch believer in non-violence.
His inalienable belief was that violence only begot violence, that those who lived by the sword always perished by the sword. Hence, when Judas Iscariot, Simon Zealotes, and Theudas Barabbas staged that mini-uprising against Pilate in November AD 32, Jesus strongly disapproved of their conduct and vociferously lashed out at them. It was therefore ironic that thanks to Judas, he too was now being associated with the bloody act.
Following the November uprising, Simon Zelotes (who also went by the titular name of Eleazer – Lazarus in Greek), had been excommunicated from the Essene community altogether by Jonathan Annas, who had succeeded him as Pope. Jesus, however, had at the bidding of Mary Magdalene and her mother Helena-Salome unilaterally restored him, claiming to exercise his putative powers as Priest-King. This is the event referred to in the Bible as the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
The panel ruled that as an outlaw, a man who was wanted by the Roman authorities for his role in the uprising, Simon Zealotes no longer merited membership of the Essene’s council of the twelve. His reinstatement by Jesus was therefore invalid. Simon Zelotes was accordingly demoted to Grade 9 in the Essene hierarchy, that of a lower novice.
Protocol required that he be stripped of the clothes he was wearing and remain only with a loin cloth – the ceremonial attire of a lower novice. In the Essene code language of pesher, a lower novice was referred to as a “young man”. When a person had been demoted to a lower novice, he was said to have been “stripped naked”.
This fate of Simon Zelotes is vividly captured in MARK 14:51, which reads, “A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.” This cryptic characterisation of the fate of Simon Zealotes as pronounced by a Jewish panel has escaped scholars and theologians alike, who have puzzled as to its necessity and relevance. There have even been some rather fanciful intimations that the young man was actually Mark himself!
The ruling by the panel now meant that Simon Zealotes would be standing before Pilate not as a venerable member of the Essene community (which could possibly be a mitigating factor in the judgement) but as a nonentity.
JESUS LAYS CLAIM TO WHOLE TRIARCHY
The gospels dwell comparatively more comprehensively on the Jesus hearing than that of Simon Zelotes because Jesus is their main subject. Jesus was heard by Annas and Caiaphas. The two were simply the joint presiding officers; otherwise, all the country’s bigwigs – the Herods, Jonathan Annas, Judas Iscariot, and his brother James – were in attendance.
It was important that Annas, a former high priest who nevertheless had retained his title just as former presidents continue to be addressed as President in our own day. This was because the legitimacy of Jesus as the Davidic King was at stake here. Annas represented the Sadducees, who recognised Jesus as the Davidic King, whereas Caiaphas represented the Pharisees, who had embraced James as the Davidic King. The Davidic King was typically third in the Essene hierarchy.
It’s crucial that you understand some of the terminologies that are used in the gospels in regard to titles and which Christians sadly take literally and therefore superficially. I have explained this point many a time in the past but I think it bears repeating here.
The highest ranking Essene, the chief priest, had several titles. He was the Archangel Michael because he was the representative of God on Earth. Hence, he was also referred to as the Lord God, the I am, the Blessed, and the Power (that is, the Almighty). His most invoked title, however, was that of Pope, that is, Father of the Community. Presently, these titles belonged to Jonathan Annas, the second-born son of the very Annas who was presiding over the proceedings.
The second-ranking Essene went by the title Angel Gabriel. As the Gabriel, he was the Lord God’s messenger to mankind. His other titles were therefore Son of God and simply Man. And since it was he who bore the “glory of the Lord God” by representing him to mankind, he was also referred to as the Glory. The Gabriel was also known as the Prophet. Presently, this should have been Judas Iscariot but since he had not been cleared yet in his role in the November uprising, he was represented by a certain man called Eleazer.
The third-ranking Essene was the Sariel. This was always the Davidic King, also known as the messiah or Christ in Greek. Since the Davidic King was junior to the Gabriel, who also was known as Man, his other title was Son of Man – Jesus’s most favourite title. As firstborn, Jesus was the widely recognised Davidic King but he had now been challenged by his brother James. In short, the top three were the Priest, the Prophet, and the King in that order. They were also referred to as the Power, the Glory, and the Kingdom, a setup hinted at in the so-called Lord’s Prayer, and the Michael, the Gabriel and the Sariel.
Now, if you recall, during the Last Supper, Jesus had challenged Jonathan Annas for the position of chief priest, which Jonathan had meekly yielded knowing the fate that awaited Jesus. Jesus had thus become the joint Priest-King, that is, the Melchizedek. But after his arrest, he had forfeited his newly gained status. The position of chief priest had thus reverted to Jonathan Annas and that of the Davidic King had been contested by his brother James.
Annas, the joint-chair of the hearing who was pro-Jesus, expected Jesus to lay claim only to the status of the Davidic King, a pitch he was ready to endorse. Jesus, however, took Annas by surprise. Not only did he insist on his entitlement to the position of Priest-King: he also now declared that he also merited the title of Prophet.
In other words, he was three-in-one – God, Son of God, and Son of Man. In the gospels, the question Jesus was asked by Annas and Caiaphas are a bit convoluted because of faulty translation that was not informed by the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as knowledge of pesher.
Thus the responses Jesus gave are not that clear-cut and in some cases sound contradictory. But the point Jesus was trying to make was that he was actually Priest, King, and Prophet rolled into one – the very embodiment of the triarchy. Was he justified in this claim?
A DESERVING MELCHIZEDEK
In the Dead Sea Scrolls are to be found two highly instructive texts. These are the Prince Melchizedek Document and the Damascus Document. Both these documents make it clear that the dynastic high priest was called the Melchizedek, meaning King of Righteousness in one vein and Priest-King in another. In the first century, the dynastic high priests, also called the Zadokite dynasty, were Zechariah initially and his son John the Baptist subsequently.
John, however, had chosen a reclusive life and had therefore relinquished the dynastic high priesthood. He was nevertheless persuaded to accept the elective position of Pope, that is, Father of the Essene Community. To the mass of the Jewish population, however, for as long as he was alive he would be regarded as the Melchizedek. But after his execution, the Zadokite dynasty came to a sudden end as John died childless and therefore without heirs.
In truth though, John was not a Melchizedek proper. Although he was of the priestly line as a descendent of Aaron, he was not of the kingly line – a descendent of David. He was Priest but not King. It was Jesus who was king as he was descended from David. But Jesus was also priest.
Why? First, his mother Mary was a descendent of Aaron. Even more important, Enlil, the Anunnaki god of the Jews familiarly known as Jehovah, had told King David that, “The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (PSALM 110:4), the first Melchizedek having been Abraham’s father Terah, who was once the King of Jerusalem and priest of Nannar-Sin, the son of Enlil. Thus if King David was priest-king de facto (he voluntarily never exercised the priesthood, leaving it, instead, to Zadok the Aaronite), then Jesus too merited the same status.
By the same token, Jesus was entitled to position of Prophet. This was because when he and John the Baptist formed the messianic movement, he was the No. 2 in the hierarchy. John had chosen him to be his deputy, whose other title was Son of God. If the two hadn’t parted company and had John been alive presently, Jesus would still be the No. 2. Jesus therefore was in order when he claimed all the top three positions.
He was God, Son of God, and Son of Man. He was Priest, Prophet, and King. He was the Michael, the Gabriel, and the Sariel. He was indeed the Alpha and the Omega, the first and last and something else besides. It was he who was the rightful successor to John though in reality he had all along being greater than him.
This claim of his being the be-all and end-all outraged everybody present, including his erstwhile staunch supporter, former high priest Annas. He was called all sorts of names and even physically roughed up. But he was unrepentant because he was convinced he was right by every reckoning.
There is a saying in South Africa which avers that, “the White man has no kin: his kin is money”. The saying rings very true considering what Mayer Amschel Rothschild – he of the planet’s wealthiest family – once said, that, “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws!”
To the white man, the dollar sign looms so large in his optics that it was precisely the reason he appropriated Africa towards the end of the 19th century. The idea was to develop his continent, Europe, at the same rate as he underdeveloped Africa. Yet he was driven as much by economic imperatives as by sheer greed and prejudice.
A “pagan” King violates the Jewish Temple by setting up an idol in the Holy of Holies
Why, General Atiku, has the Judean setting (present-day Israel/Palestine) being the focus of so much geopolitical fervour over the ages when it is so resource-poor and is not even that agriculturally fecund being a virtual desert? Why have all the superpowers of history locked horns over it since days immemorial?
Just a ‘teaser’: we are all complaining of the ‘hot weather’ and ‘heat’ – but think about it, is this a reminder / warning from the Almighty that if we find this weather ‘hot’ can you imagine what the ‘fires of hell’ will be like should we get there?
Let us take this as a reminder and a ‘warning’ that we should change our lifestyles so that we follow in the path of righteousness and that which our Lord has directed. Failing this we will face the ‘fire of hell’ which undoubtedly will be many times worse than what we are facing on this earth.
Because as humans we have been favoured and bestowed with the power of intellect thus we enjoy greatness over other creation, coupled with a greater responsibility. Should that responsibility be misused then only on the Day of Reckoning will he know we will live in joy or in grief forever.
Since the dawn of creation Allah has sent down thousands of messengers, dozens of Divine Books but only ONE universal Message to humanity. That message of Divine Revelation and guidance is clear, unambiguous and eternal:
Allah is One, He is Master and Creator of the universe and of mankind and to Him is due all worship and obedience.
He has sent humanity Divine Revelation and guidance through His Messengers and His Books.
As death is inevitable in this world, equally is our resurrection in the Hereafter where everyone will face the consequences of their belief, unbelief and conduct in this temporal world.
This is the basic message, teaching and belief of every religion and without doubt we will all be called to account for our lives in this world and the manner in which we conducted ourselves, will be rewarded thereafter, the consequences of which may be joy forever for some or grief forever for others.
“It is He [Allah] Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deeds and He is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.” (Qur’an: 67: 2)
In Islam the teachings of the Qur’an and the Last and Final Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) give clear guidance to the believer on how to live a life in this world so as to achieve success in the Hereafter.
‘If any do wish for the transitory things of this life, We readily grant them, such things as We will, to such persons as We will…… those who wish for the things of the Hereafter and strive for them with all due striving, and have faith, they are the ones whose striving is acceptable to Allah’ (Qur’an 17: 18-19)
In this world when a person sets out on a journey towards our Maker (Allah), he finds two paths, one leading to God and the other path to different destinations. A sincere and faithful believer will always try to find the right path and to live by the Divine injunctions, laws and code that his religion lays down. This requires us to live in harmony with the will of the Creator, in harmony with our own selves, and with the needs of the rest of creation. Unfortunately we have a tendency at times to toy with Divine Law and to surrender it to the laws of man and in the process to translate and interpret them into what fits in with our lifestyle of today.
If we are to use the intellect and the freedom of choice bestowed to us by God Almighty and follow His guidance, we will then live consciously in a state of “submission’ to Him, thus we will be virtuous. On the other hand when we ignore our Creators injunctions we work against the natural order, we tend to create discord, injustice and evil – and we become one without guidance. Therefore it is the intellect and the freedom of choice given to us that we are fully responsible for whatever we do.
However, it would be foolish for us to think of ourselves as totally independent and self-sufficient. If a person thinks in this manner, we become proud and. We will be inclined to become ungrateful for the bounties that we enjoy – the air that we breathe and the food we eat to sustain us, the eyes and ears we use to perceive the world around us, the tongue and lips we use to express our needs, wants and our inner most feelings and emotions. And being ungrateful, we will be inclined to forget or to reject the truth of the existence of God Almighty.
Unfortunately, people have varying views with regards to what the most important characteristic of a person is: for some it is the colour of his skin; for others, it is his economic situation – whether he is wealthy or poor; others think it is his , social or political standing, whether he is ruler or ruled; for others it is his social standing as an aristocrat, middle or working class; yet for some is his birth place and the language he speaks or the tribe he belongs to, etc..
‘Do men think that they will be left alone on saying “We believe”, and they will not be tested? We tested those before them, and Allah will certainly those who are true and those who are false’. (Quran 29: 2-3)
In Islam, these have no significance rather they are merely taken as signs of the creative power of God to enable people to recognise one another. The Almighty declares “O Mankind! Indeed we have created you as male and female, and have placed you in nations and tribes that you may have mutual recognition. However, the most honourable of you, in the sight of Allah is the one who is most God-conscious” (Qur’an: 49: 13)
Hence, the most important characteristic of a person is whether he is conscious of his Creator, believes in Him and through that consciousness submits to Him at all times and in all circumstances.
According to the Islamic view man is created by Allah in a pure state, free from sin. He also created us with the capacity or power to do both good and evil. He gave us the freedom to choose between doing good or evil. The good and evil therefore is connected with mankind’s freedom of choice and responsibility for their actions. “Good” may be whatever is pleasing to Allah and therefore beneficial to us. Whereas “Bad/evil” may be whatever incurs the anger of God and is therefore harmful to man.
‘By the soul, and the proportion and order given to it; And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right – truly he that succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it….. (Quran 91: 7-10)
Therefore one of mankind’s main tasks is to keep away from and ward off evil. This is why Taqwa, piety and God consciousness is repeatedly mentioned in the Qur’an as the most important quality a person should develop in this regard. This means one must be conscious at all times not to over step the limits set by God. It works as a defence against evil and temptation by keeping a person within the boundaries of piety.