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Final Word on Apostle Paul

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER…

HOW DID PAUL COME TO OVERSHADOW  ALL THE OTHER APOSTLES WHEN HE NEVER MET JESUS IN PERSON?
This may strike you as odd but Paul personally knew Jesus  and in fact did spend a great deal more time with Jesus than all the other apostles post the sham crucifixion.  Remember, the Romans were supposed to be under the blindfold that Jesus had died in the crucifixion of  March AD 33. The Romans were indeed taken in as the demise of Jesus  was  even recorded in the annals of Rome,  as he was a  Davidic heir and therefore was of high standing among the Jews. Cornelius Tacitus, a  Roman who was both a historian and senator, documents that, “Christus, from whom their name (of Christians)  is derived, was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius.” Hence, if Paul was personally acquainted with Jesus subsequent to the crucifixion, he wasn’t going to promulgate this privillege. Paul was only 16 years old  when Jesus was crucified and assumed by the wider public to have died and if he had openly told the world he had an intimate personal knowledge of Jesus by AD 33, they would have thought he was out of his mind. So the only way he could rationalise his vaunted knowledge of Jesus was to couch his encounter with him in mystical terms. Yet even though to the public his commissioning by  Jesus came across as supernatural,  in pesher it is plain that he met Jesus in the natural.   

WHY WAS PAUL SO VIRULENTLY OPPOSED TO THE EARLY CHURCH?
A lot of hogwash has been said about Paul having never met Jesus even by scholars with PhDs in theology. Like every other Jew of the day, Paul knew about Jesus as a youngster. Paul was born in AD 17 and Jesus as the Davidic heir was a well-known figure at the time. Paul was partly educated at Qumran, the place where Jesus was often found and even taught (he was a rabbi, meaning “teacher”) and to say he never met Jesus is an absurdity. He knew both Jesus and his younger brother James at a  very early age. When he became of age (between ages 12 and 16), Paul joined the Qumran faction known as the Hebrews, the faction that  traditionally had been pro- John the Baptist and which promoted James as the Davidic heir at the expense of  Jesus since Jesus was born in an irregular month for a Davidic heir and was thought to be tacitly cosy with the Roman oppressors.  That’s what he meant when he referred to himself as a “Hebrew of the Hebrews” (PHILIPPIANS 3:5).  Paul also hated the fact that Jesus fancied himself as a Priest-King when his father Joseph was of the tribe  of Judah and not a Levite. When Agrippa I became Rome’s client King of the Jews in AD 37, Paul, who had always been attached to the House of Herod as the Essene order of Benjamin (to which Paul belonged) used to congregate at Agrippa’s home in Jerusalem became the instrument with which Rome persecuted the early church, then known as the Nazarenes or simply the Way. Paul was given authority to arrest any extremist Nazarene anywhere in Palestine. The Nazarenes were headed by James the Just but were actively led by Simon Peter. One of their firebrands, Stephen, was stoned to death by a mob superintended over by Paul in a tactical “coup” whereby the behind-the-scenes Anunnaki wanted to set up Paul as the main propagator in future of  the Jesus saga at the expense of Stephen,  who was already primed to do so.     

JUST HOW EDUCATED WAS THE GREAT APOSTLE PAUL?
He is said to have had the equivalent of two PhDs. He was educated at three schools. The first was Qumran, the Essene headquarters. The second was the School of Hillel in Jerusalem, which was run by the great Jewish rabbi Gamaliel, and where he was contemporaries with the evangelist Luke  and the Annas brothers Theophillus (the sponsor of Luke’s gospel and Acts), Jonathan (the disciple Nathaniel) and Simon.  Gamaliel taught his students not only the tenets of  the Torah and other Old Testament texts but also subjects like classical literature, philosophy, and ethics. Finally, Paul attended  the University of  Tarsus, the Harvard and Oxford of the day. The Greek city  Tarsus, in  today’s south central  Turkey, was the capital of the ancient province of Cilicia and one of the largest trade centres on the Mediterranean coast.  It was in Tarsus that Paul was born, but he was not born a Roman citizen as most scholars would have you believe. A letter dated 23rd  March  59 AD shows that Paul’s Roman citizenship was facilitated by  Seneca, the famous Stoic philosopher who had tutored the schizophrenic Roman  Emperor Nero and who had taken a keen interest in Paul’s version of  Judaism (Paul and Seneca exchanged a great deal of  documented correspondence which can be found in extra-biblical sources).  It is clear from the gospels that Paul was a learned man both religiously and secularly. When he was in Athens, for instance, and debated the Greek philosophers in  a bid to pitch Christianity to them, he copiously  quoted their own savants.  For instance, in ACTS  chapter 17, where he addressed the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, he cited The Phaenomena by the great poet Aratus of Soli not only to demonstrate his erudition but to underline to the Athenians that their religion was tantamount to idolatry (v17). When in v28 he says, “For in Him we live and move and exist”, and in TITUS 1:12 he says, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons,”  he was quoting Epimenides of Knossos (modern-day Crete), a Greek seer and philosopher-poet. In ACTS  17:29, he says, “As even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children’.” Here again, he was quoting Aratus. The expression “Bad company corrupts good morals” in 1 CORINTHIANS 15:33 was lifted straight from Menander, the great Greek playwright.

COULD YOU SHED CLEARER LIGHT ON HOW PAUL MET JESUS SINCE THE VERSION OF EVENTS IN ACTS SOUNDS SORT OF THEATRICAL?
The so-called Damascus event as recorded in various passages of ACTS was not the first time  Paul encountered Jesus. It simply marked the occasion of  his switch of allegiance from the fundamentalist Pharisees (who were ready to kill to enforce and uphold rabbinical Judaism) to  the Jesus movement, the so-called Hellenists who advocated pro-Roman cooperation.  It did not even take place in Damascus: it took place at Qumran, in AD 40, when a conference was held to discuss the Jewish position in relation to Rome. Nor was it supernatural at all:  it was natural through and through. At the Qumran sanctuary, the counterpart to the Jerusalem Temple,  there was a prayer platform which had a half roof. The platform was metaphorically referred to as Heaven. Between noon and 3 pm each day, the half roof was open and therefore it was said “Heaven is open”. Paul arrived at the conference with a view to tear into Jesus. Paul was particularly irate that a statue of the reigning Roman Emperor Caligula had been set up within the Jerusalem Temple and put the blame for such a sacrilege squarely on people like Jesus,  who advocated a passive stance toward Roman rule.  When Paul entered the prayer room, in which the conference was being held, part of the roof had been removed, allowing the sun to shine down to indicate the time and to reveal  the priest who was conducting prayers above. Paul first prostrated himself along with other congregants, averting his eyes to avoid looking too long up into the blazing sun.  Then defying all protocols, he launched into an angry tirade at Jesus,  denouncing him as a “bastard”. Jesus, who  was on the pulpit, calmly asked him to come and sit at the front of the pews.  Then he belted off a sermon in which he not only bemoaned  why Paul was “persecuting” him but  sagely pointed out the error of Paul’s ways. Having listened to Jesus’s persuasive sermon, it dawned on Paul that  he had been blinded by sectarian dogma and immediately disposed himself to make amends,  profusely apologising to Jesus.  Later, Jesus asked Simon Zelotes ( who goes by the code name Ananias in ACTS chapter 9) to instruct Paul as to  why Jesus was indeed Priest-King. Simon Zelotes was at first reluctant to address him, considering his reputation as the foremost afflicter  of the Jesus movement but he at long last relented. Metaphorically, Paul had hitherto been “blind”: now after his enlightenment by Simon Zelotes, he “saw the light of life”, a phrase  that we find in the Dead Sea Scrolls. But it was not until three years later, in AD 43, that Paul was fully converted to the Jesus cause.

OTHER THAN THE DAMASCUS INCIDENT, WHAT EVIDENCE FROM THE BIBLE CAN YOU ADDUCE THAT JESUS DID INTERACT WITH PAUL POST THE CRUCIFIXION?
One is 2 TIMOTHY 2:9. In the passage, Paul, who was under house arrest in Rome at King Agrippa II’s house (whilst awaiting his first trial before Roman governors Felix and Festus) sent a coded message that “The Word of God is no fettered”. “The Word  of God” as we have long demonstrated was the pesher name for Jesus. The message Paul was trying to convey was that Jesus was free: he had not been pounced upon by the Roman authorities, who were looking for him not  as the Jesus who had been crucified but as “Chrestus”, the underground leader of the Christians in Rome.   

AT THE TIME OF HIS CONVERSION, PAUL IS SAID TO HAVE BEEN IN DAMASCUS WITH A MANDATE BY THE HIGH PRIEST TO ARREST CHRISTIANS. WAS DAMASCUS PART OF PALESTINE AT THE TIME?
No: Damascus was part of Syria and the High Priest of the Jerusalem Temple had no jurisdiction in Syria. In fact, his jurisdiction was restricted to Judea only. The Damascus Luke alludes to in ACTS is actually Qumran, the Essene headquarters in the Judean Wilderness. The Dead Sea Scrolls’ Damascus Document makes it plain that Damascus was actually a name the Essenes had earmarked for Qumran in a liberated Israel and therefore used in their coded writings.

WHY, WHEN, AND HOW DID PAUL CHANGE HIS NAME FROM SAUL TO PAUL?
Luke uses the name Saul until ACTS 13:9, when he switches to Paul. People have had the misconception that it was Jesus who renamed Saul as Paul upon his conversion. That’s simply not true. ACTS 13:9 says “Paul, who was also called Paul”, not “Saul, who became known as Paul”. What that means is simply that Paul went by  both names since childhood. It was typical for first century Jews to have an original  Jewish name and a secondary Greek name, e.g. “John, also called Mark” (ACTS 12:12) and  Paul's companion Silas (ACTS 15-18), who was also known as Silvanus (2 CORINTHIANS  1:19). Paul means “a small man”. Certainly, Jesus would never have christened  the apostle who was destined for great things with such a disparaging name. Saul therefore must have been also called by the name Paul from childhood apparently because he was of a slight physical stature.  Luke’s onward reference to him as Paul from ACTS 13:9 was meant to underline the fact that before his conversion, he persecuted the Son of David, Jesus, just as the first Jewish King,  Saul, persecuted Jesus’s genealogical father David before he became king. Upon his conversion, therefore, the name Saul had to be discarded completely since it had a negative historical connotation.  

WHAT WERE THE SPECIFIC ROLES OF PAUL AND SIMON PETER IN WORLD EVANGELISM?
James had decided that both were going to be his evangelistic ambassadors to the Roman world.  But Paul  was to concentrate on ministration to Gentiles, whilst Simon Peter was to devote himself to Jews of the Diaspora.   

WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE THEOLOGY OF JAMES AND THAT OF PAUL? FOR JUDGING FROM GALATIANS AND THE EPISTLE OF JAMES, THE TWO DID NOT EXACTLY GET ALONG.
James’ brand of Christianity was Judeo-Christianity. It was Christianity that was strictly Torah-observant. On the other hand, Paul’s brand of Christianity was a radical one which sought to breakaway from the straitjacket of Judaism, to forge a standalone religion. The Christianity that   is observed today in all of Christendom is all Pauline Christianity.  For example, Paul preached that faith in Jesus alone was sufficient for salvation, whereas James strongly countered that, scoffing that faith had to be accompanied by good and exemplary works; otherwise, it was a dead faith.  Paul’s Christianity elevated Jesus to the status of a God-Man, whereas James’s Christianity received Jesus as a mere mortal but who was larger than life anyway. Because of Paul’s radical theology, there came a time when James had to send deputations  to Asia Minor to try and undo the damage Paul’s theology had wrought. James and others called Paul the “Man of Lies”, a tag that we constantly encounter in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

JUST HOW PRONOUNCED WAS THE TENSION BETWEEEN PAUL AND JAMES AS YOU HINTED IN ONE OF YOUR ARTICLES?
It was a heated one. Paul never exactly accepted James’s authority because he (Paul) was in constant touch with Jesus up until the time he (Paul) he died. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul angrily ticks off the men who came from James to right the “falsehoods” he had preached. He actually cursed them (GALATIANS 1:9) and crudely added: “I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves” (GALATIANS 5:12). He argued that he was commissioned into ministry not by any ordinary man (meaning James) but by “Christ himself”. He publicly denounced Simon Peter, who was wavering between the theology of James and that of Paul, as a hypocrite (GALATIANS 2:11-14).

IF JESUS WAS NOT GOD, WHY DID PAUL GO TO THE EXTENT HE DID IN PROJECTING HIM AS SUCH AND AT THE  RISK OF HIS OWN LIFE?
The Anunnaki (Enlil-Jehovah’s faction) hoodwinked him into doing so. Remember, Paul did not launch into outright evangelism after his conversion. He says he first went to Arabia for three years. It seems it was whilst he was in Arabia that he was indoctrinated by the Anunnaki to propagate a new religion that would project Jesus as God as part of their futuristic agenda to enslave mankind both spiritually and psychologically. In return, the Anunnaki promised him rich afterlife rewards on their planet Nibiru (2 TIMOTHY 7:8), to which they even astral-projected him at one time to demonstrate to him that his labours would indeed not be in vain (2 CORINTHIANS 12:2).     

HOW DID PAUL AND THE OTHER APOSTLES DIE?
Paul was put to the sword by Roman Emperor Nero in AD 64 after serving time at the notorious Mamertine Prison along with Simon Peter (Paul makes reference to his stint here in TIMOTHY 4:21/26 and PHILIPPIANS 1:13). Simon Peter was also crucified upside-down by the same anti-Christian emperor in the same year. Jesus, who was in Rome at the time (using the cover name Chrestus)  actually decided to come out of hiding and hand himself over to the Roman  authorities (who were looking for the ring leader of the Christian movement)  but Simon Peter  urged against the move, insisting he was ready to die in his stead. Simon Zelotes died whilst performing a levitation feat in Rome in the AD 40s.   Of course we know what happened to Judas Iscariot, James the son of Zebedee, and James the Just. Only the apostle John lived to a ripe old age and died a natural death. As for the other apostles, the manner of their deaths as handed down to us is all embellished myth, with no tangible facts whatsoever.

NEXT WEEK: QUESTIONS ON THE PRIESTLY MESSIAH

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A “Virgin” Conceives

2nd March 2021
IT’S THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS, STUPID

Princess Mary falls pregnant only one month after her betrothal to Prince Joseph

To put the lineage of Mary the mother of Jesus in context, General Atiku, it is in order that we begin with her grandfather Yehoshua  (Jesus in Greek) III.

Mary was offspring of two royal lines, the Davidic line and the Hasmonean line. Yehoshua III was the Herod–appointed High Priest of Israel between 36 and 23 BC.  He had no sons, only three daughters namely Joanna, Elizabeth, and Anna, all of whom he organised dynastic suitors.

Elizabeth would be married off into the House of Aaron, the legitimate priestly line, and Joanna and Anna would be married off into the House of David, the legitimate kingly line. That’s how Elizabeth became the wife of Zechariah of the tribe of Levi and in due course the mother of John the Baptist.

Mainstream Israel up to the level of the Sanhedrin had recognised Anna as the eligible mother of the future King of Israel and not the sitting impostor Herod (it is not clear what happened to first-born Joanna but she probably passed away before she got married). Anna was accordingly married off to Alexander III, a Davidic and Hasmonean prince who was best known as Heli as indeed the genealogy of Luke clearly attests.

Heli and Anna too had no sons. They only had daughters, the firstborn of whom was Dorcas, whose was born in 26 BC and whose titular name was Mary.  Mary was orphaned early in her childhood when her father Heli was killed in 17 BC at the orders of the increasingly paranoid Herod and when her mother Anna died a year or so later.

Since she was a dynastic heiress, it was likely that Herod would come after her. The Essenes thus secreted her somewhere in remote Galilee. It was actually in Galilee that most members of the Davidic royal line were concentrated not only to keep as far away from Herod as possible but to also enjoy the protective custody of the Zealots, who were the secret military wing of the Essenes and a thorn in the side of both Herod and the Romans.  Joseph was also officially based in Galilee although both he and Mary were in truth based at Qumran in the Judean wilds.

JOSEPH CALLED TO “DUTY”

Dynastic marriages are often more politically strategic than spontaneous, General. For example, the union of Prince Charles and Princess Diana was motivated by the need to fuse the Windsor genes with those of the Stuarts as the Windsors, being predominantly Reptilians, were finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their human form.

The Stuarts, the clan of Diana, had by far more human genes than Reptilian and they too were an aristocratic family. That’s why once Charles had produced a  “heir and a spare”, he completely sidelined Diana, who he had never loved, and devoted himself to his real love – Camilla Parker-Bowles.

The marriage of Joseph to Mary, General, was equally strategic. Although both were from the tribe of Judah and of the royal Davidic line, they were from different branches.  Joseph was a descendant of Solomon, whereas Mary was a descendant of Nathan, Solomon’s elder brother. The line of Solomon, as we once underlined, had been tainted by the Jeconiah curse.

The line of Nathan was clean. Since the son of Joseph and Mary would be the future King of Israel, it was important that he not be compromised by the baggage, rightly or wrongly, of the Jeconiah curse. Hence the desirability of the union of Prince Joseph and Princess Mary.

Now, both Joseph and Mary’s clans were Essenes. As such, their marriage process, formalities, and protocols had to strictly adhere to Essene dynastic rules. The Essenes were in ranks. Amongst the higher echelons were the two great dynasties, the Davids and the Zadoks, who had been the high priests and kings of Israel respectively before the destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC.

The Davids and Zadoks lived a strictly holy life, typically in a monastery at Qumran, the reclusive headquarters of the Essenes. They were sequestered there so that they did not fall prey to the machinations of the bloodthirsty King Herod though officially their address was Galilee.  In fact, the major reason the Essene movement had come into existence was to preserve and safeguard the Davidic and Zadokite lines, the religio-politico haunt of Herod and the Hasmoneans initially.

According to the Essene code, General, the Zadoks and the Davids were not to engage in sex for recreational purposes because it was regarded as defiling: it diluted holiness. The only times they were supposed to do so was when need arose to produce heirs. In 8 BC, it was now opportune for Joseph, the David, to produce a heir and so he was excused from a life of chastity.

At this point in time in fact, the Essenes were focused on two dynastic figures. These were Joseph and Zechariah. The two were expected to produce the Messiah of David and the Messiah of Aaron, that is, the future King of Israel and the future High Priest of Israel.

According to Essene rules, the David had to marry at age 36, so that by the time he was 40, he had already sired a heir. The new heir had to be born when the David was 37. If the child was a daughter, she could not inherit, and so the David had to set about the procreation of a second-born, who hopefully would be a boy (copulation to that end was allowed only when the daughter was 3 years old).

The Davidic heir had to be born not in any other month but in September, the holiest in the Jewish calendar. In order to conform to these parameters, a betrothal ceremony was held at the beginning of June. During the betrothal period – the three months from beginning of June to end of August – sexual relations were not permitted.

Then at the beginning of September, a First Marriage was held. This was the beginning of the marriage proper as now the couple were allowed to become intimate. However, the intimacy began only in December, with a view to delivering a heir in September the following year. At the end of March, the Second Marriage was held for it was hoped that by that time the spouse was three months pregnant if there hadn’t been a miscarriage. With the Second Marriage, the wedlock was permanent: divorce was never allowed whatsoever.

Meanwhile, General, if the spouse hadn’t conceived in December, sexual relations were suspended till December the following year. The husband would then leave her spouse and return either to the monastery at Qumran or embark on a tour of duty elsewhere in furtherance of the Essene cause.

A BINDING ENGAGEMENT

According to the Dead Sea Scrolls, General, the Essenes were not only a spiritual, revolutionary, and philosophical movement. They were also ardent believers in astrology. They meticulously studied the stars and the movements of planets to read what they portended about the future.

Thus the reason a Davidic heir had to be born in September was not only because this was the holiest month of the year: it was also in recognition of the fact that September was ruled by the constellation Virgo. In other words, September was astrologically the month of the virgin. That was what Mary was.

Mary was both a virgin physically and a virgin titularly. A bride of the future king was required to be a virgin. As an Essene, Mary belonged to the Order (not the tribe) of Dan.  This was the Order of Nuns, or virgins, both legal and physical virgins. Thus in the Order of Dan, a woman was not a virgin only before she slept with a man: she was a virgin until she was six months pregnant. In the case of a dynastic spouse like Mary, this was up to end of June.  From then henceforth, she was promoted within the Order to the first stage of a Mother.

Joseph’s betrothal to Mary took place at Qumran in June 8 BC. Now, in our day, betrothal simply means engagement to be married. In ancient Israel up to New Testament times, betrothal was part and parcel of the marriage contract. It was definite and binding upon both groom and bride, who were considered as man and wife in all legal and religious aspects, except that sexual relations were not permitted.

For example, in 2 SAMUEL 3:14, King David refers to his betrothed woman as “my wife”. Also in DEUTERONOMY 22:24, a betrothed woman is referred to as “his neighbour’s wife”.  In the betrothal formalities, dowry and bride price were included. If a bride and groom for one reason or the other wanted to opt out of the betrothal after the betrothal ceremony, they had to seek a formal divorce.

Since the betrothal took place in June, General, Joseph and Mary were not supposed to make love till December, that is, six months after the betrothal ceremony and three months after the First Marriage ceremony in September. Just one month after the betrothal ceremony (that is, at the beginning of July 8 BC), however, Mary became pregnant. Was it Joseph, General? Was it rape by a Roman soldier called Panthera as some contemporary records suggest? Or was it simply the supernatural act of the “Holy Spirit” as Christendom holds?

THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS

Those who hold that the circumstances of Mary’s pregnancy were supernatural, General, can be excused. This is because the language employed therein smacks of ethereality – Holy Spirit, Angel Gabriel, Son of the Most High, etc. To those who have read and rigorously studied the Dead Sea Scrolls, however, such terminology is well within the temporal context.

That is to say, it does not carry spiritual connotations as such. True, the idea of an angel speaking to Joseph and Mary in their sleep may seem supernatural but the dreams are theological interpolations, inserted into the gospels in onward editing to fit a contrived agenda – what Karl Marx called the opium of the masses.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are so named because they were discovered in caves around the Qumran plateau of the West Bank (about 40 km east of Jerusalem), at the northwest corner of the Dead Sea, in March 1947. The discoverer was a Bedouin shepherd kid who was looking for a lost goat. The scrolls were found hidden in jars.

The 1947 find was the initial discovery: more discoveries were made after further excavations on the same site spanning 11 years in a series of 11 caves. Altogether, 972 texts were   turned up. They are written in four languages, namely Hebrew (the majority), Aramaic, Greek, and Nabatean, mostly on parchment. Other texts were inscribed on papyrus and bronze.

Most of the Dead Sea Scrolls are fragments. Fragments of all the Old Testament books have been found save for the book of Esther. The only complete book is Isaiah.  There are also apocryphal books (those arbitrarily excluded from the Old Testament canon by the Constantine-convened Nicene Council of AD 325) such as the Book of Enoch and the Book of Jubilees, and sect-specific writings that embody rules and beliefs of the people who compiled them.

The latter include commentaries on the Old Testament, paraphrases that expand on the Law of Moses, rule books of the community, war conduct, thanksgiving psalms, hymnic compositions, benedictions, liturgical texts, and sapiential (wisdom) writing. These texts have been given appropriate titles such as the War Scroll; Manual of Discipline; the Community Rule; the Temple Scroll; the Copper Scroll; etc.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were written/preserved by the Essenes between 168 BC and 68 AD. We know this because Pliny, the first century Roman historian, wrote that, “On the west coast of Lake Asphaltitis (the Dead Sea) are settled the Essenes, at some distance from the noisome odours that are experienced on the shore itself.

They are a lonely people, the most extraordinary in the world, who live without women, without love, without money, with the palm trees for their only companions.”   The Essenes stashed away the scrolls sometime in 70 AD, when Roman General Flavius Titus overran Jerusalem and laid waste to the Temple following a catastrophic Jewish uprising – led by the Zealots, the military wing of the Essenes – that began in 66 BC.

This they did in heed of JEREMIAH 32:14, which says, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences … and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days.” The Dead Sea Scrolls have given us invaluable insight into the beliefs, customs, rituals, politics, philosophies, and traditions of first century Palestine.

NEXT WEEK: THE PANTERA INVOLVEMENT

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A crash course in publicity

2nd March 2021

The rivalry between luxury German automotive marques Mercedes-Benz and BMW is legendary. Both brands offer high-end, high-priced desirable models, always at the forefront of cutting-edge driving technology and excellence. And in the annals of the advertising world, a campaign between the two rivals is equally legendary and it happened on our own doorstep.

Many of you will be familiar with the coastal road out of Cape Town called Chapman’s Peak. It is a beautiful, sightseeing attraction, the road winding through spectacular coastal-mountain scenery, with cliffs sinking into the  Atlantic ocean on one side, and steep mountains towering over the road on the other. However, the road is also notoriously dangerous, with its 114 sharp, meandering bends . It’s reputation is well-deserved . Several years ago, when a major coastal cleanup campaign was launched, a helicopter pulled a total of 22 wrecked cars out of the water adjacent to Chapman’s Peak and it was one such accident which prefaced the notorious marketing battle. The story is thus:

In 1988 an Irish businessman lost control of his Mercedes Benz when driving along this road, plunging 100 metres down the cliff. Miraculously, he not only survived the accident, but crawled out of the wreckage with hardly a scratch on his body.

When Mercedes heard the details, the marketing department decided to base a new advertisement on the story to promote the safety features and stability of the brand. In the video ad they intentionally drove an identical model off the road in the exact same location, having it plunge off the edge of the cliff, the driver stepping out similarly unscathed, proving the phenomenal survivability and strength of Mercedes Benz.

When the marketing suits at BMW saw this ad, they took a bold and ingenious decision to mimic it but with a twist. Only a week later, whilst the first ad was still fresh in the public’s minds, they shot their ad showing a BMW driving along the exact same stretch of road in the rain. However, when it reached the point at which the Mercedes plunged off the cliff, the BMW negotiated it safely, and continued driving along the road.

The catchphrase of the ad was “BMW beats the bends” . Or was it? It was cunningly recorded so that it could equally have been ‘beats the Benz’, implying that their cars had superior cornering and stability to their rival, Even more sneakily, they launched their campaign on a Saturday, mindful of the rules on competitive advertising in South Africa, safe in the knowledge that no objectionable actions could be taken till the new working week.

Mercedes-Benz wasted no time on Monday in issuing an injunction, the ad was swiftly pulled but the damage was done and the dog had had its day. The ad campaign ranks high in the history of advertising and can still be found online to this day. Meanwhile the rivalry between the two automotive greats goes on.

I reference this piece of marketing history in the light of this week’s horror crash by golfing great, Tiger Woods. Driving from a luxury holiday resort in California to a nearby country club Tiger Woods lost control of his vehicle on a downhill stretch of the road, smashed through a road sign, crossed over the central reservation and rolled his car several hundred feet. He had to be cut out and pulled to safety through the windscreen and the vehicle was so badly damaged, the attending police officers said he was ‘lucky to survive’.

The vehicle Woods was driving was a rented Genesis GV80 SUV. If you are unfamiliar with the brand that is not surprising since it is a relatively new spin-off from the South Korean Hyundai marque. The Genesis utility vehicle, not available locally yet, retails for around $50,000 or half a million pula, placing it in the higher end of town and country SUVs in the USA.

The model has certainly been widely publicised in the media coverage of the high-profile sportsman’s accident and I suspect that if asked to comment, Hyundai/Genesis would disagree with the police assessment, putting Woods’ survival down to build quality and in-built safety features such as crumple zones, anti-roll bars and airbags, which were deployed in the crash and would most certainly have played their part cushioning the effects of the rolling and ultimate impact. There is , of course, no suggestion that the manufacturers will capitalise on Woods’ survival but certainly it will have done the brand no harm that he did indeed emerge with recoverable injuries.

Comparing the two accidents, the driver of the Mercedes driving along Chapman’s Peak was, of course, an ordinary member of the public whilst Tiger Woods is a household name. That said, in humanitarian terms each tale of survival carries equal weight but the fact remains that the former was just another local story of yet one more victim of a notoriously tricky stretch of road whilst the latter went round the world in an instant because of the fame and name of the driver.

There is also no evidence that that stretch of Californian urban highway carried any inherent risk. His appears to have been just a loss of control and a freak accident. However, in the event that Hyundai/Genesis should consider making capital from that accident, a note of caution needs to be sounded.

In the advertising world, the use of celebrities to promote a product is a fall-back stance to sell anything from washing-up liquid to whisky but statistics have shown that it can be a double-edged sword in that yes, the ads are memorable and the public love them when the celeb is popular and personable. But…..what is often remembered is the name of the famous promoter, not the name of the product. In other words, they sell themselves far better than they sell the item.

In golfing terminology Hyundai/Genesis are not ‘out of the Woods’ yet and maybe they should go with a completely different Driver!

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Pact with the Devil

2nd March 2021
THE LORD’S GREAT GRANDMOTHER

How Jesus’s grandfather sold his birthright to megalomaniac Herod

If you were to ask a Christian to name the main Jewish sects, General Atiku, he would no doubt begin with the Pharisees (because Jesus had innumerable slanging matches with  them according to the gospels), followed by the Sadducees.  Yet there was a third, equally momentous sect – the Essenes.

Although there’s not a single, one mention of the Essenes in the Bible, General, the New Testament is filled with Essene-type language as anybody who has read the Dead Sea Scrolls would readily recognise.

In point of fact, it was the Essenes who produced Jesus as well as the infamous Jewish band of freedom fighters known as the Zealots. Furthermore, almost all the New Testament writers were either Essenes or champions of the Essene cause as is apparent in their language and the drift of their overall philosophy.   The Essenes have a palpable presence in the Bible, albeit a cloaked one.

The Essenes, General, were the most popular, the most esteemed, and the most influential of the Jewish sects. The Jewish historian Philo (20 BC-50 AD) devotes 90 percent of his description of the Jewish sects to the Essenes. He wrote that the Essenes  “dwell in many cities of Judea and in many villages and in great societies of many numbers”.

Hyppolytus of Rome (170-236 AD) devoted nine-and-half chapters to the Essenes and only one to the Sadducees.     The Essenes are the authors of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in 1947 in Israel at a place called Qumran and which have given us even greater insight into the happenings in the first century than the Bible itself.

How did the Essene movement come about, General?  The Essenes, meaning “puritans of the faith”, were the Jewish sect that was the most loyal to the Davidic dynasty. They set themselves apart from the mainstream Jewish community circa 175 BC and established their headquarters at Qumran,  about 40 km from Jerusalem.

Since the Jewish nation revered the Davidic royal line, the only legitimate and rightful rulers of Judah in their view, they rallied to the Essenes en masse. And because the Essenes were disparaging of the Hasmonean rule (140 BC to 63 BC), the mainstream Jews also took a dismissive view of Hasmonean rule too.

The Essenes were so highly regarded because of their virtue and spirituality. The legendary Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD) writes thus of them: “They are more mutually affectionate than the others (Pharisees and Sadducees). Whereas these men shun the pleasures as vice, they consider self-control and not succumbing to the passions virtue  … Since [they are] despisers of wealth –  their communal stock is astonishing – one cannot find a person among them who has more in terms of possessions.

For by a law, those coming into the school (that is, the Essene fold) must yield up their funds to the order, with the result that in all [their ranks] neither the humiliation of poverty nor the superiority of wealth is detectable, but the assets of each one have been mixed in together, as if they were brothers, to create one fund for all.”

In time, the Essenes, General, became quite influential even with occupying powers. For instance, when the Greek General Pompey installed Hyrcanus II as ruler of  Palestine in 63 BC,  he sought the opinion  of the Essenes. The Essenes recommended that Hyrcanus go by the titles High Priest and Prince, not King, to which Pompey paid heed. In  142 BC, when Simon was installed by the Seleucids as ruler of Palestine, the Essenes had insisted on the same titular style. To the Essenes, everybody who occupied Israel’s seat of authority was simply holding fort for the real deal – the Davidic  King.

In 37 BC, when Herod became King of Palestine, the potential Davidic King was Jacob-Eliakim – the father of the Joseph of the gospels – who was an Essene himself. It was in order to win the blessings of the historically popular Jewish royal family that Herod sought to curry favour with the Essenes.

JACOB’S PACT WITH HEROD

About the time Herod came to power, General, there were three citizens of considerable stature in Palestine – Hillel, Menahem, and Jacob-Eliakim, the grandfather of Jesus. Hillel is by all accounts ancient Israel’s greatest teacher and scholar.

He was the foremost spiritual sage in the development of the Talmud and the Mishnah, the most authoritative religious references of the Jews which are second only to the Old Testament in esteem.   The renowned “Golden Rule”, which is invariably attributed to Jesus, was actually coined by Hillel. It is not certain whether Hillel was an Essene but his teachings did have a profound influence both on Essene philosophy and that of Jesus, who was an Essene too.

It was Menahem, however, who was an incontrovertible Essene. The Essenes were of two main branches, General. First, there were the puritans, the Palestinian Essenes. Then there were the liberals, the Diaspora Essenes, who sneered at the Palestinian Essenes’ dogmatism and rather strict views on morality. Menahem was the leader of the  Diaspora Essenes.

He was also privilleged to be advisor to King Herod. Herod did hold Menahem in very high regard. Josephus relates that when Herod was a school-going lad, Menahem had patted him on his back and said to him, “one day you will be King young man.” Since the prophecy came to pass, Herod had a certain, atypical respect both for Menahem and the order of Essenes.

Jacob-Eliakim’s significance was by virtue of his pedigree. He was of the royal line of David and was therefore the uncrowned King of the Jews. Now, as we have already indicated, Herod had his own grand designs about rulership of the world notwithstanding the fact that he was in reality a vassal of Rome.

When he made overtures to the trio, they didn’t mince words: they told him that in the new Israel, the Israel that would rule Earth once the Romans had been toppled from the pedestal of world power, it was a Davidic King who would reign. Herod took very strong  exception to such a prospect. Herod was neither a full-blooded Jew nor of Davidic stock but he was royalty in his own right.

His father, Antipater,  had been the governor of Idumea and in due course Judea in  the Hasmonean government and was in fact the real ruler of the entire Palestine, with John Hyrcanus being a  mere figurehead king.  When he (Herod) was only 25 years old, his father had appointed him governor of Galilee.   Herod thus had strutted the corridors of power from the day he was born and he wasn’t going to give that up easily either for his own sake or that of his descendants.

As such, General, Herod maintained to the trio that in the new, overarching Kingdom of Israel, he was going to be the emperor and would be based in Jerusalem. Just like the Greek empire of Alexander had been a triarchy (a kingdom divided into three governments), the global Kingdom of Israel (“Thy Kingdom Come” in the Lord’s Prayer) was going to be likewise.

There was going to be a ruler in the east, a ruler in the west, and a ruler in the centre, that is Jerusalem, under the oversight of Herod himself. Hillel would rule in Jerusalem; Menahem in the east; and Jacob-Eliakim in the west. If these three happened to have disappeared from the Earthly scene by the time the Kingdom of Israel came into being, their descendants would observe the same setup.

The pecking order would thus be like this: Herod as the emperor; Hillel as the senior king; Menahem as the second-ranked king; and Jacob-Eliakim as the junior king. Put differently, Herod had by the stroke of a pen reduced the Davidic dynasty from foremost to least important as it posed the most serious threat to his office. Meanwhile, the three kings-in-waiting would go by the names of the Old Testament patriarchs.

Hillel would henceforth be called the Abraham, or the Father (or Papa, which later morphed into Pope), since Abraham was the Father of the Jewish nation; Menahem would be called the Isaac (Abraham’s son); and Eliakim the Jacob (Isaac’s son). Half a loaf was better than nothing at all and so Jacob-Eliakim meekly accepted this arrangement.

When Jesus later said, “Many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the new Kingdom of Heaven (MATTHEW 8:11),” he did not mean an afterlife kingdom: he referred to the Earthly setup proposed by King Herod.

FALLOUT WITH ESSENES

Those days, General, the Davidic heir used the title “Jacob” rather than “David” as the latter title was very risky, particularly under the Hasmonean government. Given that Joseph was the most beloved son of the Old Testament Jacob, the next in line, that is, the firstborn son of the Jacob, used the title “Joseph”.

In September 44 BC, a son was born to Jacob-Eliakim. As the crown prince to the Jacob, he was given the titular name Joseph, the name by which he became best-known.  Like his father Jacob-Eliakim, Joseph was a missionary. But he also had a trade. He was a carpenter, a boat builder primarily, and a master of his craft. The word translated “carpenter” in the Bible is the ancient Greek word “ho hekton” which means a master artisan or craftsman.

In 31 BC, Qumran, the Essenes’ Judean wilderness bastion, was struck by an earthquake. The hermitic Essenes had no choice but to trek back to Jerusalem, from where they operated indefinitely at a place they called the Essene Gate. Then in 23 BC, Herod struck again. He had Jacob-Eliakim killed on trumped-up charges of sedition, his motive simply being a continuation of a systematic purge of  the Davidic “pretenders” to his throne.

The Essenes were wroth. They now set about promulgating to the Diaspora Essenes that Herod would have no part to play in the coming Kingdom. Instead, the overall King would be Joseph, the son of Jacob-Eliakim. This, General, was the beginning of a permanent rift between Herod and the Essene sect.

THE SAGA OF JOSEPH

The prospective global world, General, was subdivided into ten provinces to facilitate governance and tax collection. Palestine would have two provinces, Judea and Samaria, the latter of which would include Galilee. Asia Minor (largely present-day Turkey), where the bulk of Diaspora Jews were concentrated, would have five provinces.

The last three provinces would be Babylon, Rome, and Alexandria in Egypt. The future capital of the West was not Rome: it was Ephesus in Asia Minor. Having been allocated the West, it was in Ephesus and Alexandria that Jacob-Eliakim spent most of his time evangelizing to fellow Jews about the future Kingdom of Israel. This was the beginning of the New Covenant, whereby Jews who converted to the ideal of a new Kingdom of Israel were baptised by immersion in water.

To mainstream Palestinian Jews, General, Jacob-Eliakim was a sellout. Herod had demoted his pedigree but to somewhat placate him, he gave him the honorary title of Patriarch or Prince of Jerusalem. By subordinating the Davidic throne-in-waiting to Herod, Jacob-Eliakim had  gone against what the nation of Israel’s God, Enlil, the Bible’s main Jehovah, decreed – that every King of Judah had to be a descendant of  David. So when the unpredictable Herod had him killed in 23 BC for “sedition”, as part of a pogrom against the line of David, there was very little sympathy for him.

In 44 BC, Joseph had been born to Jacob-Eliakim. Joseph was a title: it was not his real name. At the death of his father, Joseph became the Jacob. However, he preferred the title “David”, the more apt one historically. Joseph would become the father of Jesus. When Joseph attained 30 years of age in 14 BC, his uncles and the Essene sages sent him to Rome and Alexandria to do his part in missionary work, which was simply about promulgating to the Diaspora Jews the future Kingdom of Israel in which a Son of David, that is a descendant of King David, would rule.   Egypt was also a special place because Joseph’s maternal relations were Egyptians.

Jacob-Eliakim, General, had two wives. The one was called Euchariah, a Jewish princess, of whom very little is known, and the other, the dynastic wife, was an Egyptian princess, a daughter of Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and Julius Caesar. Jacob-Eliakim and this princess had three sons: they were Joseph, the father of Jesus, and the twins Cleopas (after whom James, Jesus’ immediate younger brother, whose given name was Cleopas, was named) and Ptolas. Joseph was thus the Davidian Prince of Israel as well as contender to Crown Prince of Egypt. Despite pretences to the contrary on the part of the Jews, Egypt and Israel have always had ties of monarchical kinship.

In 8 BC, General, Joseph was required by Essene custom to return home and fulfill his obligations for a dynastic marriage. A wife-to-be had already been chosen for him by his uncles  and other patriarchal Essenes. This was Dorcas, better known today by her title name Mary.

NEXT WEEK: HOW HEROD MINIMISED THE HOUSE OF DAVID

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