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Final Word on the Crucifixion

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER…

This week we answer questions about the “execution” of Jesus

IF JESUS HAD BEEN NAILED TO THE CROSS AND LEFT THERE TILL HE WAS DEAD, HOW LONG WOULD HE HAVE LASTED AT THE MOST?

Maybe up to a week, or even slightly more.  You should bear in mind that death on the cross could be occasioned by one of a number of factors. First, there was suffocation due to difficulty in breathing. Second, there was trauma due to the severity of injuries sustained from scourging where this had taken place. Third, there was hunger and dehydration since victims were not fed nor given water. It was rare that victims died the same day they were crucified.  

COULD A PERSON NAILED TO THE CROSS SURVIVE IF HE WAS BROUGHT DOWN ALIVE NOT LONG AFTER BEING CRUCIFIED?
It was possible to survive yes. In The Jewish Antiquities, Flavius Josephus relates an incident where as he and Roman general Flavius Titus inspected the crosses upon which hundreds of Jews had been nailed during the course of the Jewish uprising in AD 70, they came across three Jews who were dear to Josephus. Josephus besought the general to spare their lives. Titus obliged and the three were brought down from the crosses. Following days of nursing by Roman military doctors, two died anyway but one survived.

IN A TYPICAL CRUCIFIXION, WERE THE DEAD BURIED OR LEFT TO ROT ON THE CROSS?
The Romans never buried victims of crucifixion. But they did hand over the bodies of the dead to their families if they claimed them. Otherwise, they were left on the cross to the mercy of the elements and wild animals. Typically, victims were crucified not too far above ground level so that in the event that they died and no one came forward to ask for their bodies, scavenging wolves and carrion birds such as vultures could reach them and therefore feast on them.

WHEN JESUS HUNG ON THE CROSS, WAS HE TOTALLY NAKED AS THE APOSTLE JOHN SUGGESTS OR AT LEAST HE HAD A LOIN CLOTH?
Firstly, Jesus was not nailed to a cross as I related. He was tied to a tree (see accompanying image) at Qumran. Crucifixion did not always entail nailing: sometimes, as in the case of Jesus, the victim was simply fastened to a tree and then fatally  scourged left, right, and centre in that position. True, when Romans administered crucifixion of any kind, the victim was left stark naked, without a stitch on,  to maximise the sense of humiliation (incidentally, even Jewish law dictated that a person who hung on a tree be completely naked).  But the crucifixion of Jesus was a staged one: it was like a mock crucifixion. Money had changed hands between the Jewish establishment and the Roman authorities and hence there was a lot of informality. Thus Jesus did have an undergarment on. Besides, the crucifixion took place at Qumran and since the Essenes were puritans, there was simply no way they would have allowed a Son of David to be so humiliated as to be entirely without a covering. The gospel narratives should not be taken at face value as I have long underlined.   

ACCORDING TO THE GOSPELS, JESUS TOLD ONE OF THE TWO “DYING THIEVES” CRUCIFIED WITH HIM THAT “VERILY, VERILY  I SAY TO YOU TODAY YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE”. DID HE GO TO HEAVEN IN THE THREE DAYS THAT HE WAS DEAD?
He never did because he didn’t die on the cross: he simply lapsed into a deep stupor as per pre-arrangement. “Paradise” was a code word for the Qumran Cave in which Jesus was placed after he was untied from the tree and medically  attended to. The conversation Jesus and the two “dying thieves” (Simon Zelotes and Judas Iscariot) had  is a clear fabrication. It was written into the gospels to further vilify Judas. Judas was portrayed as mocking Jesus at Calvary whilst Simon Zelotes was portrayed as sympathetic. Simon Zelotes is made to say he and Judas’s crucifixion was deserved because the two were Zealots who indeed had masterminded the November 32 AD riots against Pontius Pilate,  whereas Jesus was completely innocent. Judas is cast as mocking Jesus, daring him to save himself if he indeed was the Son of God (that is, if he was a Saviour Sun God, he didn’t have to die just as the Sun would never die off).   Judas was  a betrayer and the writers of the gospel had to cast him in as dark a light as possible. But we know from the pesher of the Dead Sea Scrolls that Judas had exculpated Jesus before Pilate. He had shown genuine penitence for attempting to embroil him in the uprising. Sadly, Judas was not allowed the chance to write his own gospel as he was eliminated the day after the crucifixion.

SOME WEEKS BACK, OUR PASTOR (I’M A PENTECOSTAL) PREACHED THAT DURING THE THREE DAYS THAT JESUS WAS DEAD, HE ACTUALLY WENT TO HELL AND PREACHED TO SOULS WHO HAD DIED BEFORE HIM SO THEY TOO COULD HAVE A CHANCE TO EMBRACE HIS MESSAGE OF REDEMPTION. DO YOU AGREE?
You haven’t quoted the scriptures your pastor must have referenced in that regard but I presume it must have been 1 PETER 3:18, which reads, “Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit, by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison”, and possibly ACTS 2:31, which says, “His soul was not left in hell, neither did his flesh see corruption”. If you have been following my writings, you will perhaps have come to appreciate that the writers of the New Testament were seldom philosophically truthful. Even my favourite evangelist, Dr Luke, had his philosophical biases too although in terms of the broader historical backdrop he was remarkably accurate. The writers of the Jesus story  lived under Roman rule and in an era where the Roman world worshipped several  Saviour Sun Gods who were said to have wrought  supernatural feats. They wanted to promote Jesus as being on the same divine footing as these various Saviour Sun Gods and so his story had to be substantially embellished if he was to make the grade. Jesus had to compete with Krishna, Horus, Mithras, etc, if he was to merit acceptance in the cynical Roman world as a worthwhile “God”. For instance, the Hindu Bible says Krishna “went down to hell to preach to the inmates of that dark and dreary prison, with the view of reforming them, and getting them back to heaven, and was willing himself to suffer to abridge the period of their torment”. It was written of the Greek god Adonis that, “After his descent into hell, he rose again to life and immortality”. The Caucasus god Prometheus  was presented as “suffering and descending into hell, rising again from the dead, and ascending to heaven”. These are just a few examples. In order to measure up as a saleable God, the apostles also invented like  experiences about Jesus. That’s what you should tell your pastor next time you meet him My Brother.  As Kersey Graves pointedly puts it in his book The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviours, “The story of their descent into hell was doubtless invented to find employment for them during their three days of hibernation or conservation in the tomb, that they might not appear to be really dead nor idle in the time”.

DID THE  JEWS CRUCIFY THEIR OWN PEOPLE?
Yes they did. Flavius Josephus relates that in 162 BC, High Priest Alcimus had 60 Jews executed, among whom was the priestly scribe Jose ben Joezer. In 90 BC, King Alexander Janneus crucified 800 Pharisees following a failed revolt.  In 80 BC, Shimon ben Shetah had 80 witches from Ashkelon crucified. The Jewish law provided for  “hanging on a tree” (besides other forms of death such as stoning for instance) particularly for perpetrators of treason or blasphemy.  The Temple Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls also ordained that evildoers be “hung alive” on a tree. This was not exactly the same as crucifixion but it was partly interpreted as such (at the time the Torah was written, crucifixion by nailing to a stake was not known to the Jews and therefore it could not be specified as a form of punishment in their statutes. They learnt about crucifixion when  they came under Persian rule in the 6th century BC).

WAS JESUS AWARE THAT HE WAS A SAVIOUR SUN GOD WHO HAD TO BE CRUCIFIED LIKE ALL SAVIOUR SUN GODS ALWAYS WERE?
No he was not. He was cast as a Saviour Sun God retrospectively, long after he had died. All Jesus knew was that he was a dynastic descendent of King David. The divine aspects about him were an invention, first by the apostle Paul and later by the early church fathers. There is very little that Jesus actually said or did that is recorded in the Bible. He never claimed to be God whatsoever. The people of his day knew him simply as a Davidic prince, a rabbi, and a crusading politician.  

IF I GOT YOU RIGHT, YOU SAID THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS WAS ALL PART OF THE ANUNNAKI AGENDA. WHAT DID THE ANUNNAKI INTEND TO ACHIEVE BY HAVING JESUS CRUCIFIED (OR SOMETHING TO THAT EFFECT SINCE YOU SAID HE WAS ACTUALLY NOT NAILED TO THE CROSS)?
There were two parties with vested interests in the crucifixion of Jesus. These were the Jewish establishment directly  and the Anunnaki behind the scenes. In the case of the Jewish establishment, their aim was to defame him before the Jewish masses and elevate his younger brother James the Just  in his stead. The Jewish establishment resented the fact that he was too politically ambitious. He wanted to be both King and High Priest of a liberated Israel. But like the Illuminati of our day, the Jewish establishment simply wanted him to be a ceremonial King, like the British monarch is in our day, and have nothing to do with the priesthood whatsoever.  They wanted an elected High Priest, like the way the Pope is elected in our day. Jesus was adamant that he had to be Priest-King (Melchizedek) and that this status had to be hereditary and not elective. James, on the other hand, was content to be the ceremonial Jewish King and was not interested in the priesthood. That’s how he endeared himself to the establishment. If Jesus was to be defamed irretrievably, his dynastic standing had to be sullied. Crucifixion was  the surest way to achieve this. The Torah said,  “Cursed is he who hangs on a tree” (DEUTERONOMY 21:22-23).    In the eyes of the Jews therefore, Jesus could not be the Messiah because crucifixion made him accursed of God. It  automatically disqualified him from the Davidic heirship.  It explains why some of the people who saw him on the crucifixion stake mocked him and said,  “If you indeed are the King of the Jews, extricate yourself from the tree”, meaning only then could he qualify  as the bonafide King of the Jews as the King of the Jews was not expected to be crucified. It also explains why Paul in his epistles went to great lengths to spin the crucifixion as a blessing  to mankind rather than an enduring  curse on Jesus. The Jews struggled to come to terms with the acceptability of a Messiah who had been crucified and therefore cursed. On the part of the Anunnaki, they wanted to achieve two goals. First, they wished to set Jesus up as a Saviour Sun God (a goal Paul partially promoted) so that he could over time become an object of worship and veneration to the mass of mankind. The Anunnaki knew that people who worshipped a fellow creature were very easy to manipulate and they would  never come to realise their own innate power as gods in their own right being bearers of the essence of the true God. Secondly, they wanted to set up the Jewish race so that it would become the most hated race in the world for “killing the Son of God”. That way, the Jewish Anunnaki god Enlil, called Jehovah in the Bible, would partly achieve his declared, systematic  chastisement of  the Jews for  “prostituting themselves to other gods”. Indeed,  Jews have been persecuted over the ages because of the fabricated indictment and admission that they crucified Jesus (“Let his blood be on us and our children” as per MATTHEW 27:25).   
 
YOU SAID JESUS WAS NOT NAILED ON A CROSS BUT WAS TIED TO A TREE AND FLOGGED IN THAT POSITION. BUT THE GOSPELS ARE CATEGORICAL THAT HE WAS NAILED TO A CROSS. HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THIS CONTRADICTION?
I thought I sufficiently explained that point in one of my articles. The English word cross is derived from the Latin term crux. In antiquity, a crux was not always a cross in the way we understand it today: it could also be a vertical object of wood, such as a pole, an erected beam,  or a trunk of a tree (I recommend the 2011 book Crucifixion in Antiquity by Gunnar Samuelson in this connection.)  I also did underline that crucifixion was not standardised as a practice. It was not always that the victim had nails or spikes driven through their limbs. One authority that backs me in this assertion is Joseph A Fitzmeyer, who in a research paper titled Crucifixion in Ancient Palestine and which was published in 1978 wrote that, “In pre-Republican times, the Romans sometimes punished disobedient slaves by fastening them to barren trees and scourging them to death”, that is,  without being nailed at all  although the act overall was referred to as crucifixion anyway. In any case, the Bible does not employ the term cross through and through in referring to the crucifixion of Jesus. For example, ACTS 5:29-30 says, “Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree” (also see  ACTS 10:34-41 and 13:27-31).  Thus simply being hung on a tree, being fastened to a tree by means other than spikes and scourged to death,  or being nailed to a conventional cross all constituted crucifixion.  

NEXT WEEK: QUESTIONS ON THE HOLY FAMILY

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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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