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Jesus Saves Brother

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER…

James avoids cross by the skin of his teeth

In order to grasp exactly where Herod Antipas stood in relation to Jesus, it is in order that we revisit the political dynamics at Qumran that we talked about earlier in this series.

When in AD 29 Jesus and John the Baptist parted company, two political parties emerged. The party headed by John the Baptist was called the Hebrews. Call these conservatives or hawks. John was not keen to embrace Gentiles, women, and uncircumcised Jews.

He was a hardcore Judaist. The only Gentile and female in his party was Helena-Salome, the mother of Mary Magdalene, and this because being a woman of substance she greatly assisted John’s movement materially. Ever the opportunist, Herod Agrippa was initially a patron of the Baptist’s party although he later defected to the Jesus party before falling out with Jesus again.  

The breakaway party led by Jesus (in a political sense, that is, as ecclesiastically he was third) was called the Hellenists. Jesus was liberal: he accommodated all and sundry; it didn’t matter whether you were Jew or Greek, man or woman, circumcised or otherwise. 

Herod Antipas was a patron of the Hellenists. He abhorred John the Baptist for relentlessly and vociferously castigating him for marrying Herodias, his cousin Thomas’s wife.  Antipas eventually had John executed for these broadsides and for rallying the people against him.

In the Hellenist party, there were two factions – the Figtree and the Vineyard. The Figtree, also known as the “Thunder Faction”, was headed by Simon Zelotes (called Simon the Zealot on the apostolic list and Lazarus in John’s gospel), whereas the Vineyard, also known as the “Lightning Faction”, was headed by Jonathan Annas (called Nathaniel in the gospel of John and James of Alpheus on the apostolic list of the synoptic gospels). Although Antipas as patron was expected to be impartial, he aligned with the Figtree faction.

The Figtree people were the right wingers in the Hellenist party: they advocated for war against Rome, a stance Antipas tacitly endorsed because he was disgruntled that his rival cousin Agrippa was on more amenable  terms with  the emperor’s circle than he. On the other hand, the Vineyard faction was for peace with Rome. It was in the interests of the Annas dynasty to be on cordial terms with Rome because they enjoyed the perks of the status quo.

So contrary to what the gospels suggest, Antipas and Jesus were not at odds. Antipas in fact was desirous that Jesus be in good health as the Jews had not forgiven him for causing the death of John the Baptist. Antipas was also very favourably disposed toward Simon Zelotes in that Helena-Salome was mentor to his wife Herodias. Furthermore, he greatly revered Theudas Barabbas (Thaddeus in the book of John and the other Judas on the apostolic list of the synoptic gospels) because he was the hero of the watershed AD 6 Zealot uprising against the Romans.

JAMES’S CLOSE SHAVE

Herod Antipas’s trial of Jesus was an impromptu one, as Pilate had decided to involve him on the spur of the moment. Jesus was conducted into the outer hall, where Antipas would preside over the case and Caiaphas would be the lead prosecutor.

Jesus knew that Antipas was on his side and was careful not to give the game away.   So when Antipas lobbed questions at him, Jesus stayed silent, not out of insolence but knowing full well the rescue plan that he (Antipas) and Caiaphas had hatched up, this being to effect only a partial crucifixion and therefore spare his life. The partial crucifixion was necessary to content Pilate and Jesus’s detractors, notably Agrippa.

Now, although Antipas wanted Jesus to be strung up the cross and have Barabbas freed, he didn’t wish to make that plain. If he did so and perchance Jesus happened to die on the cross, the Jewish nation would take him to task for causing the death of yet another of their principal men. He therefore draped Jesus in a white robe and sent him back to Pilate’s quarters. Everybody who saw Jesus enter Pilate’s judgement room could read the tetrarch’s verdict from Jesus’s attire – he had been found blameless as he was clad in the colour of innocence.

This put Pilate in a dilemma. He was supposed to condemn Jesus and free  Barabbas as per the prior agreement with Antipas but now Antipas had signalled that Jesus was innocent and as such did not deserve going to the cross.  What was he to do now? He was determined to have three people crucified to match with the number of the already wanted men: in the event, he could set free only one man out of the four respondents and not two. Then he thought of a way out of the conundrum.

As a politician himself, he knew a bit about Jewish politics. He reckoned that if Jesus had been the Davidic King and now had been stripped of that and reduced to a novice, then somebody else must have succeeded him. So he asked who this was and was told it was James, the immediate younger brother of Jesus.  Pilate wasted no time in asking James to take the stand. Then he dropped a clangour.

The matter at hand presently was not   about Jesus’s involvement in the November 32 AD riots but his claim to being King of the Jews.  In replacing Jesus as the Davidic King, James had effectively indemnified his brother and put himself on the spot.  

It was he, James, who presently was the new King of the Jews and so it was he who therefore had to stand trial for taking occupancy of a position that rivaled that of Caesar.  James and his backers in Agrippa and the others were horrified. They did see Pilate’s logic and were aware legally there was no way out. Jesus was about to be set free and James would seen be headed to the execution site!

It was Jesus who snatched his brother from the Jaws of the lion. He pleaded with Pilate that he would rather die he himself rather than James, that James was a mere claimant to the Davidic title and not the substantive holder. He, Jesus, had not surrendered the title to his brother and was unflinching in his  stance that he was the rightful Davidic King, that when Jews regained their sovereignty, he would rule the nation as Priest-King.

That sealed Jesus’s fate.  By making such a bold assertion, he nullified the innocence that Antipas had ruled of him and Pilate now had the excuse to send him to Golgotha.  James was accordingly asked to leave the dock and Jesus was immediately pronounced guilty and sentenced to death by crucifixion.

BARABBAS WALKS

The venal Pilate now acted on the pact he had made with Herod Antipas. He announced that he was exercising a prerogative of mercy and the beneficiary would be Theudas Barabbas on grounds of his age (he was in his 70s at the time). In the event, only three people would be crucified, namely Jesus, Simon Zelotes, and Judas Iscariot.   

The announcement was greeted with jubilation by the Theraputae and some ranks of the Zealots who were at Qumran at the time. Barabbas had been around for some time and was the most popular  Zealot of the day in that notwithstanding his advancing years, he was implacably  bold, daring, and fearless, attributes which made him a man of renown among the Jewish population.  

He had been head of the Theraputae, the Jewish-Egyptian ascetics who held the most sway over Essene affairs and who were instrumental in persuading Antipas to secure a Barabbas pardon from Pilate, since 9 BC. At around that time, he and Joseph, the father of Jesus, had formed an alliance they called the Star (Joseph, whose family emblem as royal descendents was the Star of David) and the Sceptre (Barabbas). It goes without saying that he came highly recommended to Jesus.

Until AD 4, Barabbas was also the Zealot commander. In that year, he was replaced by Judas of Galilee in a gesture meant to pass the touch to a younger revolutionary and in particular one who was Palestinian born and bred (Barabbas though a Jew was born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt). 

But he did not withdraw from the forefront of the struggle: he was ready for service when necessity demanded. Indeed in the AD 6 Zealot uprising against the Romans, it was he who was the master strategist though Judas of Galilee was the battlefield commander.

During the uprising, Barabbas was known as Yeshua (Joshua in English, Jesus in Greek), which meant “deliverer” as the Zealots counted on him to liberate the Jewish people from the Roman yoke.  Sadly, his moniker did not live up to its billing: the upheaval was crushed and Judas of Galilee was hunted and killed by the Romans. Barabbas, however, escaped the dragnet.

Following the death of Judas of Galilee, another Zealot of the same name, Judas Iscariot succeeded him    (it would seem that “Judas” was the pseudonym title of a Zealot leader as could clearly be gleaned from Judas of Galilee, Judas Iscariot, and Judas of James, the latter of which is the name by which Barabbas appears on the apostolic list in Acts and the gospel of Luke).

Judas Iscariot was chosen for his genius. He was highly intelligent and resourceful, mathematically erudite, had mastery of the Greek language – the “English” of the day – and had excellent writing skills. It was he, Simon Zelotes, and Barabbas who were the intellectual titans of  Qumran.

As a Zealot, Judas Iscariot was not a battlefront combatant but trained and supervised the assassination squad known as the Sicari, from which his surname partly derives.  However, although Judas Iscariot was in the Hellenist party of Jesus, he and Antipas, the group patron, were not on very sound terms primarily because as the overseer of the Qumran purse strings, Judas voted substantial sums to the bankrupt Agrippa’s upkeep and very little to the better-off Antipas (all the Herods were entitled to a portion of Qumran funds).  Judas was aware Agrippa was very likely the future substantive King of the Jews, like his grandfather Herod the Great had been, and therefore knew which side of his bread was buttered.

The name Barabbas, by which Theudas is famously known in the gospels, meant “son of the father”. As we have explained before, hierarchically “son of” meant “deputy” or “next in line”. When Simon Zelotes became undisputed Father of the Essene community (Pope) following the death of John the Baptist in September AD 31, Theudas became his deputy and was accordingly addressed as Barabbas.

PILATE “JOINS” THE FOLD

The bribe Herod Antipas offered Pilate for the sake of Theudas Barabbas was a steep one. Antipas therefore did not wish to bear it in person. He wanted it to be paid from Qumran funds under some cleverly concocted pretext. But in order for Pilate to receive the money, he had to be initiated into the Essene fraternity as a nominal, ex-officio member of the Essene community who was entitled to receiving Qumran funds just as the Herods did. That way, a shrewd Antipas laundered the bribe into “clean money”. This required the discharge, publicly, of a simple rite.  

The rite involved a form of ad hoc baptism in which Pilate had to wash his hands in a basin, which Pilate did as the gospels duly record. However, the spin that has been put on this incident by the gospel writers is that Pilate washed his hands to extricate himself from karmic blame for the crucifixion of the innocent man that was Jesus. That is simply not true. Pilate did not have such scruples. To him Jesus was a nobody and therefore easily expendable.

Let us once again recall to mind how  the Jewish historian and philosopher Philo Judaeus describes him – a  man who was given to “ill-treatment of the people” and of a “stubborn and harsh quality” who “could not bring himself to do anything that might cause pleasure to the Jews”.  

True, Pilate might have had a bit of a soft spot for Jesus but a Roman governor would not have showed such overt weakness before  his subjects as washing his hands off responsibility for the fate of a  Jew as if to say, “you guys have won: you have defeated me and I ain’t got anything to say”.  Pilate for one would not have allowed himself to exhibit such boldfaced humiliation and make a laughing stock of the almighty Caesar.   

Having performed the washing-of-hands rite, Pontius Pilate had now been officially admitted into the Essene fraternity and the Antipas bribe had been legitimitised. But that was probably the first and last time Pilate demonstrated his membership credentials.   

NEXT WEEK: THE ROAD TO CALVARY

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020
Samson

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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