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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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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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The Era of “The Diplomat”

30th November 2020
FATED “JIHADI” JOHN

Youngest Maccabees scion Jonathan takes over after Judas and leads for 18 years

Going hand-in-glove with the politics at play in Judea in the countdown to the AD era, General Atiku, was the contention for the priesthood. You will be aware, General, that politics and religion among the Jews interlocked. If there wasn’t a formal and sovereign Jewish King, there of necessity had to be a High Priest at any given point in time.

Initially, every High Priest was from the tribe of Levi as per the stipulation of the Torah. At some stage, however, colonisers of Judah imposed their own hand-picked High Priests who were not ethnic Levites. One such High Priest was Menelaus of the tribe of Benjamin.

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Land Board appointments of party activists is political corruption

30th November 2020

Parliament has rejected a motion by Leader of Opposition (LOO) calling for the reversing of the recent appointments of ruling party activists to various Land Boards across the country. The motion also called for the appointment of young and qualified Batswana with tertiary education qualifications.

The ruling party could not allow that motion to be adopted for many reasons discussed below. Why did the LOO table this motion? Why was it negated? Why are Land Boards so important that a ruling party felt compelled to deploy its functionaries to the leadership and membership positions?

Prior to the motion, there was a LOO parliamentary question on these appointments. The Speaker threw a spanner in the works by ruling that availing a list of applicants to determine who qualified and who didn’t would violate the rights of those citizens. This has completely obliterated oversight attempts by Parliament on the matter.

How can parliament ascertain the veracity of the claim without the names of applicants? The opposition seeks to challenge this decision in court.  It would also be difficult in the future for Ministers and government officials to obey instructions by investigative Parliamentary Committees to summon evidence which include list of persons. It would be a bad precedent if the decision is not reviewed and set aside by the Business Advisory Committee or a Court of law.

Prior to independence, Dikgosi allocated land for residential and agricultural purposes. At independence, land tenures in Botswana became freehold, state land and tribal land. Before 1968, tribal land, which is land belonging to different tribes, dating back to pre-independence, was allocated and administered by Dikgosi under Customary Law. Dikgosi are currently merely ‘land overseers’, a responsibility that can be delegated. Land overseers assist the Land Boards by confirming the vacancy or availability for occupation of land applied for.

Post-independence, the country was managed through modern law and customary law, a system developed during colonialism. Land was allocated for agricultural purposes such as ploughing and grazing and most importantly for residential use. Over time some land was allocated for commercial purpose. In terms of the law, sinking of boreholes and development of wells was permitted and farmers had some rights over such developed water resources.

Land Boards were established under Section 3 of the Tribal Land Act of 1968 with the intention to improve tribal land administration. Whilst the law was enacted in 1968, Land Boards started operating around 1970 under the Ministry of Local Government and Lands which was renamed Ministry of Lands and Housing (MLH) in 1999. These statutory bodies were a mechanism to also prune the powers of Dikgosi over tribal land. Currently, land issues fall under the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services.

There are 12 Main Land Boards, namely Ngwato, Kgatleng, Tlokweng, Tati, Chobe, Tawana, Malete, Rolong, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, Kweneng and Ngwaketse Land Boards.  The Tribal Land Act of 1968 as amended in 1994 provides that the Land Boards have the powers to rescind the grant of any rights to use any land, impose restrictions on land usage and facilitate any transfer or change of use of land.

Some land administration powers have been decentralized to sub land boards. The devolved powers include inter alia common law and customary law water rights and land applications, mining, evictions and dispute resolution. However, decisions can be appealed to the land board or to the Minister who is at the apex.

So, land boards are very powerful entities in the country’s local government system. Membership to these institutions is important not only because of monetary benefits of allowances but also the power of these bodies. in terms of the law, candidates for appointment to Land Boards or Subs should be residents of the tribal areas where appointments are sought, be holders of at least Junior Certificate and not actively involved in politics.  The LOO contended that ruling party activists have been appointed in the recent appointments.

He argued that worse, some had no minimum qualifications required by the law and that some are not inhabitants of the tribal or sub tribal areas where they have been appointed. It was also pointed that some people appointed are septuagenarians and that younger qualified Batswana with degrees have been rejected.

Other arguments raised by the opposition in general were that the development was not unusual. That the ruling party is used to politically motivated appointments in parastatals, civil service, diplomatic missions, specially elected councilors and Members of Parliament (MPs), Bogosi and Land Boards. Usually these positions are distributed as patronage to activists in return for their support and loyalty to the political leadership and the party.

The ruling party contended that when the Minister or the Ministry intervened and ultimately appointed the Land Boards Chairpersons, Deputies and members , he didn’t have information, as this was not information required in the application, on who was politically active and for that reason he could not have known who to not appoint on that basis. They also argued that opposition activists have been appointed to positions in the government.

The counter argument was that there was a reason for the legal requirement of exclusion of political activists and that the government ought to have mechanisms to detect those. The whole argument of “‘we didn’t know who was politically active” was frivolous. The fact is that ruling party activists have been appointed. The opposition also argued that erstwhile activists from their ranks have been recruited through positions and that a few who are serving in public offices have either been bought or hold insignificant positions which they qualified for anyway.

Whilst people should not be excluded from public positions because of their political activism, the ruling party cannot hide the fact that they have used public positions to reward activists. Exclusion of political activists may be a violation of fundamental human or constitutional rights. But, the packing of Land Boards with the ruling party activists is clear political corruption. It seeks to sow divisions in communities and administer land in a politically biased manner.

It should be expected that the ruling party officials applying for land or change of land usage etcetera will be greatly assisted. Since land is wealth, the ruling party seeks to secure resources for its members and leaders. The appointments served to reward 2019 election primary and general elections losers and other activists who have shown loyalty to the leadership and the party.

Running a country like this has divided it in a way that may be difficult to undo. The next government may decide to reset the whole system by replacing many of government agencies leadership and management in a way that is political. In fact, it would be compelled to do so to cleanse the system.

The opposition is also pondering on approaching the courts for review of the decision to appoint party functionaries and the general violation of clearly stated terms of reference. If this can be established with evidence, the courts can set aside the decision on the basis that unqualified people have been appointed.

The political activism aspect may also not be difficult to prove as some of these people are known activists who are in party structures, at least at the time of appointment, and some were recently candidates. There is a needed for civil society organizations such as trade unions and political parties to fight some of these decisions through peaceful protests and courts.

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