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Final Word on John the Baptist

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER…

This week, we conclude the Jesus Papers with questions on the ill-fated Messiah of Aaron   

WHERE IS JOHN THE BAPTIST’S HEAD BURIED?
His disciples buried him in a tomb at Sebaste (Samaria).  However, the exact location of his burial site was kept a closely-guarded secret for two reasons in the main. First, they wanted to keep alive the mystique of his being the Elijah who was expected to reappear and intervene in Jewish religio-politico affairs. Hence, making known the whereabouts of his resting place would have reduced him to a purely mortal man who would never reanimate and participate in temporal affairs again. Secondly, Jews in general frowned upon the adulation of tombs of prophets. That’s why Jesus in MATTHEW 23:29 railed at the scribes and Pharisees for their penchant to “build the tombs of the prophets and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous”.

I READ FROM SOMEWHERE THAT THE CAVE IN WHICH JOHN THE BAPTIST USED TO LODGE IN THE JUDEAN WILDERNESS HAS BEEN FOUND. IS IT TRUE?
It is true yes. The cave was discovered in 2004 following four years of archaeological excavations by Shimon Gibson and James Tabor at a place in Israel called Suba. The cave dated back to the 8th century BC. One of the reasons it was deduced the cave had been used by John the Baptist was that it had primitive drawings of him etched into its walls.  The drawings showed a man wearing a skin garment, a bodiless head, and a platter with a sword across it, amongst other depictions. All these constitute aspects about the life and fate of the Baptist. The drawings of course must have been made by people who were making pilgrimages to the cave maybe a century or two after the Baptist’s death.  

JESUS, THE DAVIDIC MESSIAH GOT MARRIED AND HAD OFFSPRING. ON THE OTHER HAND, JOHN THE BAPTIST, THE PRIESTLY MESSIAH, CHOSE A LIFE OF CELIBACY.  WHY DID JOHN ELECT TO BE THE ODD ONE OUT?
There are basically two reasons why the Baptist opted for a chaste life. First, he was an Essene. Essenes in general disdained marriage. They thought coitus was a stain, somewhat, on one’s spirituality.  Second, John’s father Zechariah also only reluctantly entered into marriage and only with a view to beget a heir. If he had his own way, Zechariah would have died without issue but he was persuaded by Simeon, his No. 2 in the Essene hierarchy, to produce a heir. Once he did that, he never had intimate relations with his wife Elizabeth ever again and they never ever lived together.  This aversion to marry in all probability must have rubbed off on his son John.  It was because John died without heirs (thus rendering extinct the Aaronite bloodline) that Jesus (who was part-Aaronite as his mother Mary was Aaronite) claimed both the Davidic messiahship and the priestly messiahship. The Jesus dynasty thus became the Melchizedek, or priest-kings, beginning with Jesus himself as Paul clearly lays down.   Not long after the crucifixion, James, the immediate younger brother of Jesus, was installed as the high priest of the Essene community. Had John sired a heir, or had he had a brother, that would not have happened: his son or brother would have become the head of the Essenes.

WHAT DID JOHN THE BAPTIST MEAN WHEN HE SAID “YOU BROOD OF VIPERS?”
This denunciation (against the Pharisees) is found in MATTHEW 3:7 and LUKE 3:7. Jesus also uttered it in MATTHEW 12:34 and 23:33. It was an Essene phrase that was used to refer to lying tongues. A viper was the most poisonous snake found in the Palestine of the day and so it became a metaphor for a lying tongue. In JAMES 3:8, the tongue is described as a restless evil full of poison (snake venom). In the Dead Sea Scrolls’ Damascus Rule, the Pharisees are derided as people who “open their mouth with a blaspheming tongue against the laws of the covenant of God”.  The phrase was therefore not a malicious insult as such but a figure of speech.   

IN ONE OF YOUR ARTICLES, YOU SAID ZECHARIAH, THE FATHER OF JOHN THE BAPTIST, WAS KILLED BY AN AGENT OF JUDAS OF GALILEE, THE THEN LEADER OF THE ZEALOTS, IN 6 AD. ARE MATTHEW AND LUKE REFERRING TO THE SAME INCIDENT IN MATTHEW 23:35 AND LUKE 11:50-51?
MATTHEW 23:35 quotes Jesus as saying to the Pharisees, “That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.” In LUKE 11:50-51, Jesus is quoted as saying, “That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, who perished between the altar and the temple.” The Zechariah Jesus is talking about in either passage is not the father of John the Baptist: it is Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest whose death in the temple by way of stoning is recorded in 2 CHRONICLES 24:20-22. Jesus cited the deaths of two martyrs from the first book of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) and the last book of the Hebrew Bible (in the first century, 2 Chronicles was the last book of the Hebrew Bible, not Malachi as is the case today) to illustrate the persecution of the righteous since the foundation of the world to date. The “Barachias” in Matthew is a later insertion by a copyist: he does not appear in the Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest Bible, nor indeed in any of the earlier manuscripts of the gospel of Matthew.  The copyist seems to have confused the “Zechariah son of Barachias”  mentioned by Flavius Josephus in his book Wars of the Jews who was killed by the Zealots in the temple when they seized power in AD 66 after overthrowing the Romans.  Indeed, Luke, arguably the most reliable of the synoptic gospels, does not mention Barachias at all.     

YOU SAID JESUS WAS AN ENKITE. WAS JOHN THE BAPTIST AN ENKITE TOO?
Yes he was. Jesus and John the Baptist were Essenes and all Essenes were Enkites (champions or instruments of the Enki clan’s agenda, Enki being the great Anunnaki figure who was pro-mankind having genetically engineered us into existence). The Age of Pieces, which numerically began in AD 1, was an age which the Enkites were to preside over (The Enlilites had presided over the Age of Aries, which lasted from 2160 BC to the hypothetical year 0) but the Enlilites led by Apollo (Utu-Shamash, the grandson of Enlil, the Jehovah of the Bible, who in the book of Revelation – an Enkite document – is referred to as Apollyon or Abbadon) hijacked it.  The name John is actually Oannes in its antecedents and Oannes was the name Enki also went by as the Fish God or God of the Sea.   The ubiquitous water symbolism in the gospels (by way of baptism) was essentially an Enkite motif.  

IF I FOLLOWED YOU CORRECTLY, SOME OF JOHN THE BAPTIST’S DISCIPLES, SUCH AS SIMON PETER AND HIS BROTHER ANDREW,   FLOOR-CROSSED TO THE JESUS MOVEMENT. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE REST OF JOHN’S FOLLOWERS?
Although Jesus and John were Essenes in substance, they were basically a faction within the overall Essene fraternity. When the two leading dynastic personages banded together to spearhead the messianic movement in AD 23, they called it the Nazarenes.   The term meant two things basically. One meaning was “fishes”. The other was “branchites”. The fish connotation had to do with John, whose name derived from Oannes, the Sumerian Fish God Enki (Note that the Christian symbol in the first century was not a cross: it was a fish. The idea of the cross was devised by the Catholics).  The branch connotation had to with Jesus, who as the Davidic heir was a Davidic branch.  But Jesus and John did split in AD 29 and therefore had their own disciples. After the crucifixion, Jesus’s disciples were now led by his younger brother James the Just. On the other hand, John the Baptist’s disciples were led by a man known as Banus, who Josephus talks about and even apprenticed with. But in AD 37, the bulk of the followers of John the Baptist left Judea to escape the mass persecution of the Nazarenes that was led by the as yet unconverted Paul. They eventually settled in today’s southern Iraq. They are called Mandeans. The Mandeans continue to revere John the Baptist, who they call Yahia Yuhana, and hate Jesus like the plague. They denounce Jesus as a rebel (for breaking with John the Baptist) and as a heretic (for betraying Gnostic secrets).

WHO WAS SENIOR BETWEEN JESUS AND JOHN THE BAPTIST?
I thought I amply dwelt on this point in the course of the series. In the gospels, there is clearly a deliberate attempt to subordinate John the Baptist to Jesus, especially in the gospel of John, when the fact of the matter was that John was senior. History is written by the victors and through the likes of Paul, who wrote almost half the New Testament, and the subterfuge of the pro-Jesus Nicene Council of AD 325, which decided what had to go into the Bible and what should be left out, Jesus was elevated to a God-Man and as a result every other contemporary figure of note became little more than an also-ran. In the event, John the Baptist was almost totally eclipsed by “The Lord”. What is ironic though is that Jesus himself made it clear that John was the greatest   man who ever lived (maybe with a touch of hyperbole but telling all the same). This is made much more clearer in the Hebrew version of Matthew, not the doctored Greek version (the familiar English translation) the men of the pulpit like to quote. The Hebrew version has Jesus state, unequivocally and unqualified, that, “Among those born of women, none is greater than John”, period. Jesus also says in the same Hebrew version that, “For all the prophets and the law spoke concerning him (John)”. Jesus goes on to say, “John was sent to save the world”. All these statements I have cited were altered in the Greek version in a bid to deliberately diminish John.  Note that Jesus and John were Essenes and in the Essene hierarchy, the seniormost was not the Davidic heir but the high priest. That’s why high priest Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, was senior to Joseph, Jesus’s father. Both Jesus and Joseph were third in the hierarchy. It was only after the death of John the Baptist that the Davidic heir also became the high priest.      

HOW HAVE CHRISTIANS RECEIVED THE JESUS PAPERS BEN?
Surprisingly, they have been the most avid readers of the series. About three quarters of the questions came from Christians, including pastors and elders. They said they felt safe to ask questions since I do not publish names of questioners.  I constantly get invitations to propound to them face to face but I’m reluctant to do so as it is not my intention to be a mini-celebrity.     

YOU SAID YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN DESPITE YOUR FORTHRIGHT CRITIQUES ON THE FIGURES WHO LAID THE FOUNDATION FOR THE FAITH. WHAT DOES YOUR PASTOR SAY ABOU YOUR WRITNGS AND WHAT ROLE DO YOU PLAY IN YOUR CHURCH?
I’m a Christian yes and I’ll always be a Christian. I fellowship at a Pentecostal church in Gaborone. I enjoy the vibe of church fellowship in itself and the fact that I always learn something new from the sermons. These new insights are not doctrinal as such: they are about leading a morally upright life. Pastors rarely teach doctrine (a huge lapse): they concentrate on morals and righteousness because it is a more straightforward subject. Even at home, I like listening to telecast sermons by Joel Osteen, Dr Charles Stanley, Fred Price, Jentzen Frentzen, Joseph Prince, Joyce Meyer, and the late Myles Munroe. In the past, I used to be leader of our cell group but I excused myself at some point as the teachings I was expected to help inculcate were overwhelmingly at odds with the knowledge that was now at my command. But I do attend the cell group meetings once in a while, not to propagate my outlook but for sheer camaraderie.  My pastor has never once engaged me about my writings. He strictly minds his own business.

BENSON “SHIT” SAILI, YOU HAVE DESTROYED MY FAITH. I THINK YOU ARE A FALLEN ANGEL STRAIGHT FROM THE PIT OF HELL. TRUST ME, THE DAY I GET TO LAY MY HANDS ON YOU, I’LL SEE TO IT THAT YOU ARE TOSSED INTO THE BRINE OF THE DEAD SEA ALONG WITH YOUR DEAD “SHITTY” SCROLLS!   
You should do your homework Brother. The Dead Sea is so saline and therefore so dense that nothing sinks in it: everything stays afloat. I recommend that you use a gun instead. For as long as you aim well and target the right part of my body, you will achieve your goal much more decisively.  So propose a rendezvous: I will be keenly waiting on you.

NEXT WEEK: WE BEGIN A NEWS SERIES

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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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