… but it was not a stairway-to-heaven tower block: it was a rocket-launch tower
The astrological Age of Taurus lasted from 4380 to 2220 BC. Taurus was an Enlilite age, an age in which Enlil, the Bible’s Jehovah/Yahweh, and his brood were mandated to rule. If you recall, Galzu, who King Anu had exposed as a fraud but whose ordinances he declared binding anyway, had stipulated that the Enlilites were to rule Earth for the first three ages after Leo, that is, Cancer, Gemini, and Taurus, which amounted to a mathematical total of 6480 years (a zodiacal age spans 2160 years mathematically), or just under two shars. Taurus was therefore the last age Enlil/Enlilites would exercise supremacy over Earth, after which Marduk/Enkites would take over in the Age of Aries.
Taurus, symbolised by a bull, was in particular dedicated to Enlil himself, the reason why he was known as “The Bull of Heaven”. In 3760 BC, Enlil introduced the world’s first calendar. This was exactly 3600 years – a shar, amounting to 1 year on Nibiru – after the year of the Deluge and exactly 40 years (in honour of Enki, whose rank was 40 and who had tabled the idea of bringing civilisation to mankind) since King Anu had so decreed.
Numerologically, the number 3760 added up to 7, the celestial number of Earth, which was Enlil’s celestial counterpart as the planet’s Chief Executive. The calendar, called the Nippurian calendar since it was announced at Nippur, Enlil’s cult city, was a compromise between the lunar year and the solar year. It comprised of 12 lunar months totalling 354 days (29.5 multiplied by 12) plus 11 days, which brought the number of days in a year to 365 days. To date, the Jews follow the Nippurian calendar: as such, to them the base year, or year 0, is 3760 BC. Resultantly, the year 2017 in Israel is year 5776.
Now, kingship had been conferred on Earthlings by King Anu, with the first human king post-the- Deluge being Nimrod, who ruled in Kish, which was designated as the pilot city-state for human kingship. However, Enlil had decreed that Sumerian kingship was not going to be the preserve of only one city-state: it was going to rotate from city-state to city-state after a certain, appropriate period of time. Kish would be the incipient seat of the human king, followed by Uruk and Ur respectively. The problem was that all these three cities were power centres of Enlilites, a state of affairs that did not sit well with Marduk.
MARDUK SEES RED OVER ENLILITE DOMINANCE IN SUMER
Marduk had only relatively recently returned to Earth after an absence of 4870 years. In 8670 BC, when his younger brother Ningishzidda at the expense of Marduk supplanted Horus as the King of Egypt on the basis of a peace pact between the Enlilites and the Enkites at the conclusion of the Second Pyramid War, Marduk had blasted off from Earth in a fit of revulsion. But before he departed the planet, he had made it clear to Zidda that in truth, he was simply holding fort for him. “Thou art no more than a place taker,” Marduk underlined. “Thou shalt be in my place: that’s all there is to it.” Years later, when Zidda inquired as to exactly where his eldest brother had gone, he received word from Marduk (through a sophisticated inter-stellar communication device) that, “I’m here in the sky, in my proper place”.
The ancient Egyptian text that documents this exchange does not elaborate but it is clear Marduk had gone on an indefinite sabbatical to the SSS World, the throne city of the Orion star system. Marduk was born on the SSS World, what he liked to refer to as “a pure place”. Like Enki, he regarded himself as an Arian (beings of the SSS World, also known as the Serpent race) primarily and a Sirian (beings of the Sirius star system, where his mother Damkina came from) only secondarily. One interpretation of his very name, Marduk, says it means “Son of the Pure Mound”. The “Pure Mound” as per Robert Morning Sky was a metaphor for the pubis of the Orion Queen. It was pure – in a putative sense – because as the Goddess of the Sirian-Orion Empire, the most powerful in the Milky Way galaxy, she was the “Holy Mother”, a title akin to the Pope’s “Holy Father”, or Mary mother of Jesus’s “Virgin Mary”.
During his almost 5000-year absence (but only about 1 year and a third in Anunnaki terms), Marduk, who was the Africans’ most respected god after Enki, became known as Amon to the Egyptians, meaning “The Unseen One” – ha-o-mmone in Setswana. That is to say, although he was present in spirit, he was absent in the physical, where he mattered the most. And as Christians prospect about Jesus, Marduk was expected to return some day in a blaze of glory. He did indeed return but not as an all-conquering, White Horse-borne redeemer with legions of warring angels.
Marduk returned to Earth early in 3800 BC, when he heard that King Anu was on his way to Earth, his aim to air his grievances directly to the most powerful of Anunnaki sovereigns. Then in 3760 BC, Enlil made the troubling announcement that kingship would remain in Enlilite territories after Kish and Uruk. Marduk had calculated that by the time the turn of Uruk was over, the Age of Aries will have either dawned or be on the horizon and he would be the new or imminent Enlil. Marduk’s prospective city would then have to be the one to ideally house the Earthling monarch. But Enlil seemed to want to sidestep Marduk’s destiny when he declared that kingship would move to Ur, the cult city of Nannar-Sin, after Uruk, the cult-city of Ninurta. Understandably therefore, Marduk was incandescent with rage. “When Marduk all this did hear, greatly he was enraged, his anger no bounds knew,” the Sumerian records relate.”
Marduk got in touch with his father Enki and wondered aloud to him what on Earth was happening. “Why am I being kept on the peripheries in power politics whilst you just stand by and look?” he demanded of his father. “Aren’t you the one who promised me that you would smoothen the way for me to land the Enlilship?”
Enki straightaway contacted Enlil to register his son’s concerns but Enlil simply wasn’t budging. Marduk then vowed before his father that he wasn’t going to allow himself to be so humiliated indefinitely: he was now going to set about establishing his own fife in Sumer to pave the way for his ascendancy to supremacy in the Age of Aries damn the consequences. After all, King Anu had pardoned all his transgressions of the past and had given him the green light to settle in Sumer in a place of his liking. “When Enlil to Marduk's appeal no heed paid, Marduk fate in his own hands grasped,” the Sumerian texts relate. “Enough has my humiliation been, to his father Enki Marduk shouted. A sacred city of his own in the Edin from Enlil he forthwith demanded.”
MARDUK IS PIONEER OF BABYLON
Kish was to be the seat of kingship for about 400 more years after the inauguration of the Nippurian calendar in 3760 BC. In 3460 BC, there was about 100 more years remaining before kingship was transferred from Kish to Uruk. In that year, Marduk decided to act on his scheme to have a foothold in the Enlilite heartland of Sumer. He was going to found his own cult city in Sumer to bring the number of Enkites who had territory there to two, the other being his father Enki, who was the patron god of Eridu.
Accordingly, Marduk and his firstborn son Nabu set course for Akkad at the head of a huge caravan of followers – comprising of Earthlings and the Igigi – who numbered in the thousands, all armed with implements of all kinds with which to erect new infrastructure on virgin land. This great trek from Eridu, where Marduk had been based to date, to an area in the northwestern part of Akkad, where he was to establish his own city-state, is recorded in a GENESIS 11 passage thus: “And as they (Marduk and his people) travelled from the east, they found a valley in the Land of Shin'ar (Sumer) and settled there.”
The exact site Marduk chose was the one that initially had been earmarked for the construction of Anu’s temple-mansion before it was decided that it should be built at Uruk. This was the very site King Anu had pointed Marduk to when he visited Earth in 3800 BC, which explains why the Enlilites did not make the slightest attempt at thwarting him when he and his people processed into Akkad. Marduk’s city was to be built on the banks of the Euphrates River. Exactly what were his plans for the city?
First, it was intended to be his capital when he superseded Enlil as Earth’s supremo. Secondly, Marduk wanted his city to rival both Jerusalem, the Mission Control Centre, and Tilmun, the spaceport. This hint he did provide when he chose a location that was between Nippur, the prediluvial Mission Control Centre, and Sippar, the prediluvial spaceport. To put it bluntly, Marduk’s desire was to make his city a Mission Control Centre and spaceport rolled into one and thus do away with the Jerusalem and Tilmun facilities when he was the new Enlil.
The name he chose for his city was also a tell-tale. He called it Bab-ili, meaning, “Gateway of the Gods”. It would be a gateway of the gods – the Anunnaki – in that it was there they would ascend and descend in their “celestial chariots” (spaceships) as they to-ed and frong-ed between Earth on the one hand and other heavenly bodies on the other, particularly Nibiru, Mars, the Moon, and Earth’s orbit. Bab-ili is Babel in the Bible and Babylon in English. Its remains are to be found in present-day Hillah in Iraq, about 85 km south of Baghdad. MARDUK SPACEPORT TAKES SHAPE
But first, a temple-residence for god Marduk had to be built. It was called the Esagila, meaning in paraphrase, “House of the Lord of Lords”. The name embodied Marduk’s yearning to become the Enlil when the Age of Aries dawned. The Esagila, a seven-storey ziggurat, “rose within a sprawling sacred precinct, where a plethora of priests hierarchically arranged ranged from cleaners and butchers and healers to administrators, scribes, astronomers, and astrologers”.
Then years later, in 3450 BC, Marduk was ready to embark on his principal, epoch-making project. GENESIS 11 dwells at reasonable length on this one. A passage in there (properly translated) reads: “Come let us build ourselves a city (Babylon), with a tower that reaches to the heavens (a high-rise launch tower), so that we may make a shem (rocket) for ourselves … lest we be scattered upon the face of the Earth.” In the corrupt, English translation, the word “name” (implying “reputation”) is used instead of shem.
Marduk undertook to construct a space facility atop a platform (launch tower) raised for several feet, maybe hundreds of feet for rockets and jets to land and take off. In Anunnaki times, the spaceships were built and kept in underground silos. Spaceships are a mammoth affair: the Apollo 11 spacecraft, for instance, stood 364 feet (101.5 meters) tall. So if we are to assume, for argument’s sake, that half of this height was catered for by the underground bunker, then the space platform itself was about 50 to 60 meters high.
In order to motivate his people to devote to the project, Marduk told them it was primarily in their interests, that it was a human-empowerment project. First, he wanted to give mankind an opportunity to explore space and visit other planets both in the Solar System and beyond, more so the Orion star system where they could meet their Goddess. Second, as they multiplied in number and spread all over the planet, they would need a faster, more convenient mode of transport to visit and cement links with each other. The spaceport would therefore also serve as the principal terrestrial airport, like Baalbek in Lebanon was. The Earthlings were sold on the idea: they assured their god that they were game.
Says Zechariah Sitchin and pointedly so: “We believe that the answers … become plausible – even obvious – once we read ‘sky borne vehicle’ rather than ‘name’ for the word shem, which is the term employed in the original Hebrew text of the Bible. The story would then deal with the concern of mankind that, as the people spread upon Earth, they would lose contact with one another. So they decided to build a ‘sky borne vehicle’ and to erect a launch tower for such a vehicle so that they, too, could – like the goddess Ishtar, for example – fly in a mu (jet) ‘over all the peopled lands’."
I cannot help laugh my head off when I see the popular sketches of the so-called Tower of Babel by “scholars”. It is a humongous, literally skyscraping edifice that soars into the clouds (where the atmosphere is so thin everybody would die from lack of oxygen). What hogwash! The Tower of Babel was far from a monumental stairway to the abode of God attempted by a whole horde of morons as your pathetically ignorant pastor would belt out from the pulpit. It was a space launch facility, period.
MARDUK DARES ENLIL
Enlil, the Bible’s Jehovah/Yahweh, was alarmed by what Marduk was up to. As far as he was concerned, it was treachery – sin in the Bible. A spaceport could only be built at the pleasure of Earth’s Chief Executive and that was Enlil himself. Moreover, the ramifications were serious. Marduk wanted to create two centres of power on the planet, which was a recipe for conflict and eventually another war between Enkites and Enlilites. Enlil had to act forthwith before things spiralled out of control.
To his credit though, Enlil did not act rashly. First, he approached Enki and asked him to ram sense into his wayward son. “Well,” Enki responded, “You are right when you talk of a wayward son. Marduk no longer listens to me. I know he is deserving of his own cult-city but the idea of a spaceport boggles my mind too.”
Next, Enlil pleaded with Damkina, Marduk’s mother to prevail over his son to halt the abominable project. Damkina, however, stood staunchly by her son. “It’s all your fault Enlil,” she said. “You have treated my son like a lowlife all the while when ideally he is supposed to be the Anunnaki’s highest ranking prince. You are simply reaping what you sowed!”
Finally, Enlil confronted Marduk and his son Nabu. “To thwart the plan Enlil to the place (Babylon) hurried, to placate Marduk with soothing words he tried,” say the Sumerian chronicles. Marduk stuck to his guns. “This project is going ahead,” he insisted. “I’m not doing it as a dare to your authority. It’s simply a headstart project which will be fully operationalised when I am the new Enlil. So take it easy Lord Enlil. You are at liberty to make all the hay whilst the sun shines in the age of Taurus. My turn comes not now but in the Age of Aries. Do you hear me?”
“But the Age of the Ram, Marduk, is at the very least more than 1000 years from now,” Enlil countered. “Why should you be in a hurry to build your space, communications, and aviational facilities? Doesn’t Baalbek, Jerusalem, and Tilmun suffice? Won’t you be the one who will be overall in charge when you become the new Enlil in the Age of the Ram?”
“Well, I can’t trust you guys,” Marduk replied, referring to the Enlilites in general. “What if you renege on your promise? What if you opt to cling to power? What if you sabotage me? How many false starts have I suffered at your hands in the past? This time around, I’m not going to give you the benefit of the doubt. In fact, I’m not going to allow you to f… with me anymore, do you hear me Enlil? This planet, Earth, is the only bequest there’s for me. I am destined to rule it come what may. If you and your trigger-happy boys try to stop me, woebetide you! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!”
“You must have gone raving mad Marduk,” Enlil said. “You must have gone off your rocker.” “I don’t care a hoot,” Marduk said before he rose and stormed out of the meeting. “To stop Marduk and Nabu in their endeavor Enlil did not succeed,” regrets the Sumerian texts.
Alexander and Aristobulus thrown behind bars on charges of treason against their own father
Of Herod the Great’s sons, General Atiku, the principal one was Antipater II. Born in 46 BC, he was named after his grandfather Antipater I and was Herod’s only child with his first wife Doris. As firstborn son, he should have been first in line to the Herodian throne but he was sidelined after Herod divorced Doris around 43 BC to hitch Mariamne I, the Hasmonean princess who was more politically expedient.
Doris was banished from the palace along with the then three-year-old Antipater. With Mariamne now elevated to wife No. 1 and having been espoused at the time of Herod’s coronation, it followed at least theoretically that it was her male offspring who would be the presumptive heir. That was how Alexander came into the frame.
Alexander, Herod’s first child with Mariamne, was born in 35 BC. Upon turning 22, he was sent to Rome to pursue studies in sciences at the Imperial Court, where he was under the tutelage of Caesar Augustus. He was later joined by his younger brother Aristobulus IV, who was born in in 31 BC. Because of their pedigree, the lads made a splash from the get-go. “As soon as the young men were come from Italy,” Flavius Josephus writes, “the multitude were very desirous to see them, and they became conspicuous among them all, as adorned with great blessings of fortune, and having the countenances of persons of royal dignity.”
Alexander and Aristobulus graduated in 17 BC and 12 BC respectively and upon their return to Judea, marriages were speedily arranged for them by their father, with Alexander tying the knot with Glaphyra, a daughter of King Archelaus of Cappadocia (in modern-day Turkey), and Aristobulus leading his cousin Berenice, a daughter of Herod’s youngest and most beloved sister Salome, to the altar.
The charismatic and good-looking Alexander cast a spell over the Jewish masses. Notes one chronicler: “Alexander’s handsome presence and frank bearing made him a favourite with the people, and they longed for the day when the House of the Maccabees should mount the throne instead of the half-Jew Herod.”
PHERORAS ESCAPES BROTHER’S WRATH
The heir and the spare, however, were unable to come to terms with the murder of their mother by their father way back in 29 BC, when they were only 6 and 3 years old respectively. They immensely abhorred their father for this unconscionable act and were themselves unsure of their continued wellbeing, for if their father could not hesitate to kill his own wife, what would stop him from eliminating his own children since to him nobody was sacred?
Then there was the Salome factor, General, Salome being Herod’s youngest and most cherished sister. Salome had hated Mariamne with a vengeance and this same visceral loathing she extended to Mariamne’s kids. Salome’s hatred for the two young princes stemmed from an obsessive feeling of insecurity on behalf of her brother. She just could not contemplate the possibility of Alexander ousting his father and the throne reverting to the Hasmoneans, who were more popular to the Jews compared to Herod.
Salome’s concern was not far off the mark, for that was exactly what the two princes set out to do – to scheme the death of their father both to avenge their mother’s death and to secure their own lives. In plotting their father’s demise, the two kids were not without sympathisers and willing collaborators, who included Pheroras, Herod’s youngest brother.
Exactly what beef Pheroras had with Herod is not clear. Herod had gone to every length to win his loyalty but to no avail. First, Herod had him marry his sister-in-law, Mariamne’s younger sister. Upon her death, he offered him his own eldest daughter Salampiso but Pheroras rejected her in favour of one slave girl who had melted his heart. At some stage, Herod tried to get Pheroras to hitch Salampsio’s younger sister Cypros and Pheroras acceded, only to renege on the act sooner rather than later.
That Pheroras was involved in the weaving of machinations against him Herod learnt from Alexander himself in one of the four letters Alexander wrote his father imploring him to desist from his habit of subjecting many a people to torture in a bid to extract confessions of treason from them. Upon learning of this, Herod braced to punish his brother but later relented thanks to Archelaus’ fruitful mediation efforts though only after Pheroras had owned up to his guilt.
It seemed Herod’s forgiveness of his brother was genuine as in 20 BC he persuaded Caesar Augustus to make Pheroras tetrarchy of Perea (part of today’s Jordan) with a tidy yearly allowance. It was there Pheroras was banished after his conspiracies against Herod were unearthed.
ROMAN EMPEROR ACQUITS HEROD’S SONS
Not very long after the execution of Mariamne I, General, Herod’s second and most adored wife, in 29 BC, Salome and Pheroras prevailed over Herod to reinstate his first wife Doris and her son Antipater, who was now 11 years old, to his good graces.
Their motive was two-fold. First, they thought Herod desperately needed her to lift his gravely sagged spirits following the demise of Mariamne and whose loss he just was unable to come to terms with. Second and even more crucial, they hoped that Antipater would serve as a bulwark against the thronal ambitions of Alexander and Aristobulus, who they hated being of part- Hasmonean blood, unlike Antipater whose mother was a full-blooded Arab and therefore much closer to them kinshipwise. Herod, however, did not pay heed to this entreaty until 15 years later, when he had his divorce with Doris rescinded and mother and son restored to the palace in 14 BC.
Like Alexander and Aristobulus before him, Antipater was straight off sent to Rome too to receive an education befitting a prince and patrician. Now, Antipater, General, was a clever political operator. Although he was effectively his father’s principal spy against his half-brothers, he at the same time egged on the latter to scheme against their father without Herod suspecting it in the least.
He told Herod that Alexander and Aristobulus were sworn never to rest until they had avenged their mother’s death by liquidating Herod. Salome too had with Antipater’s contrivance set a booby trap for Alexander by enticing him into bedding her, though this auntie-nephew sexual dalliance was perfectly normal in the culture of the times: it scarcely mattered that Salome was 30 years Alexander’s senior and was at the time 50 years old, though still glitteringly gorgeous anyway given the invariably plush circumstances of the nobility.
She would pretend to abhor her own brother over pillow talk, hear Alexander’s take on the matter and the length to which he was prepared to go just to get rid of his father, and feed all this dope to a raptly attentive Herod.
Thus it was, General, that sometime in 13 BC, Herod had Alexander and Aristobulus indicted before the court of Caesar Augustus for plotting to overthrow him (Herod). Though Herod sought the death penalty for his kids, Augustus found no hard enough facts that the kids were guilty of the charge preferred against them. He thus ruled that Herod and his sons should kiss and make up.
Herod was also mandated to name a heir and if it pleased him to parcel off pieces of territory to his seniormost sons. In order to placate Herod for the setback in respect of his sons’ acquittal, Augustus had him richly rewarded. Says Flavius Josephus: “Caesar made him a present of half the revenue of the copper mines in Cyprus, and committed the care of the other half to him, and honoured him with other gifts and incomes; and as to his (Herod) own kingdom, he left it in his own power to appoint which of his sons he pleased for his successor, or to distribute it in parts to each one of them, that the dignity might thereby come to them all. And when Herod was disposed to make such a settlement immediately, Caesar said he would not give him leave to deprive himself, while he was alive, of the power over his kingdom, or over his sons.”
Soon after this episode, Herod, General, announced before a congregation in Judea that further to Caesar’s ruling, he had designated Antipater as his heir. However, he was not in position yet to apportion parts of his kingdom to his sons as Augustus had suggested: that had to wait until he was on his death bed, which was a long way off anyway as he still was in physically good shape.
Herod was 60 years old at the time and eager to look evergreen, he even took to dying his year to disguise a shock of grey. He however reneged on this undertaking and allotted a territory to Antipater which generated a sizeable annual GDP.
HEROD IMPRISONS HIS TWO SONS
Now that Alexander and Aristobulus had been bypassed as heirs, General, they became even more emboldened in their desire to erase their father from the face of the earth so deeply resentful were they. This time around, they had a wide array of sympathisers, who included Herod’s most trusted confidantes and some kings of neighbouring nations. The manner of death they conceived of Herod ranged from poisoned food to a lancing with a spear in an ambush deep in the woods.
Although Herod had spies and tipsters all around, General, he just could not gather tangible enough incriminating evidence against his sons that would stand up before a notoriously perspicacious Augustus, before whom he was obliged to appear and argue whatever case he had against his children that prima facie entailed capital punishment.
As such, he resorted to his well-honed device – excruciating torture to elicit confessions or pointers to the merest intrigue against him. In the process, one of three eunuchs who served him as butler, cupbearer, and palatial chief of staff respectively avowed to him that Alexander had given them sizeable bribes to see to it that the poison weapon got into their father’s system.
He even produced evidence of the very poison that was to be employed in the murder. And sometime in 10 BC, A famed skilled marksman also confessed that he had been detailed by Aristobulus to “lie in wait for their (Alexander and Aristobulus) father, as they were hunting, and kill him”. The same marksman even presented a cache of letters Alexander had written to Aristobulus carping about Herod’s partiality toward Antipater.
When Herod confronted his two sons over these developments, General, Alexander on his part owned up to it all and even besought his father to refrain from torturing people unduly and focus on him only. Now that Herod had heard it from the horse’s mouth, he ordered that Alexander and Aristobulus be detained whilst he took steps to again indict them before Augustus.
Meanwhile, a number of people, about 300 in all, were rounded up in connection with the same conspiracy and everybody who was deemed close to or simply matey with Alexander both historically and contemporaneously were banished in one way or the other. Writes Josephus: “He (Herod) expelled Andromachus and Gamellus, men who had of old been his friends, and been very useful to him in the affairs of his kingdom, and been of advantage to his family, by their embassages and counsels; and had been tutors to his sons, and had in a manner the first degree of freedom with him.
He expelled Andromachus, because his son Demetrius was a companion to Alexander; and Gamellus, because he knew that he wished him well, which arose from his having been with him in his youth, when he was at school, and absent at Rome. These he expelled out of his palace, and was willing enough to have done worse by them; but that he might not seem to take such liberty against men of so great reputation, he contented himself with depriving them of their dignity, and of their power to hinder his wicked proceedings.”
Once again, General, King Archelaus of Cappadocia, Alexander’s father-in-law, prostrated himself before Herod and begged him to pardon his sons. Once again, Herod paid heed, only for his rancour to resurface in 8 BC, when this time around he put the two sons behind bars and refused to grant Archelaus an audience to plead for clemency. Did the two boys have a prayer, General?
Before I get started on this week’s rant I want to put it out there that I am a tolerant guy, believe that black lives matter, common decency and I am sensitive that there is some privilege associated with being a white male although more so in Europe than ,Africa these days (smiley face in case I offend anyone).
But, I find myself staring at my children’s bookshelf wondering if I can still read books like Peter Pan, Dumbo and The Jungle Book since Disney slapped racism warnings on these and other classic stories due to ‘negative racial depictions and mistreatment of people or cultures.’ Disney is remaking them so that they can be more correct.
For example Aladdin’s story is effectively changed so that Jasmine is no longer a helpless damsel who is a trophy to be won. In today’s politically correct Disney movie she’s a strong independent “girl boss” who sings about how she won’t be silenced although this doesn’t stop the main villain capturing her shortly afterwards. I guess at least she did not go down without a fight! There are other examples…in Dumbo the “racist” singing crows are gone, in Beauty and the Beast remake, Belle tries to teach little girls how to read.
This is all good and I have no problem that Ariel in the little mermaid is now black but cancelling old movies as if they didn’t happen and dismissing Aladdin as racist, well let’s get down to the nitty gritty. And if I offended you by the use of the term nitty gritty then you are not alone (although I suspect you’re in the vast minority).
News flash – don’t be throwing that around anymore in case the politically correct censors catch you and you land up in trouble. That’s what happened to political editor Laura Kuenssberg who used the term during a BBC talk show. The remark sparked a complaint from a listener about the use of the phrase which some anti-racism campaigners claim originates from Transatlantic slave ships, used by slave traders to refer either to the women or to the remains at the bottom of the transport ships that were covered in lice and grit.
Not according to the respected Chambers dictionary, which states that its origin is ‘ETYMOLOGY: 1960s: originally US; perhaps rhyming compound of grit’. That others dispute this is neither here not there for this story but the fact that the BBC complaints even investigated the issue is in my opinion, asinine. But whether its BBC or Disney, being politically correct(or PC) is very much in vogue.
The problem with living in this age of political correctness is you have to double think before any word comes out of your mouth for fear of offending someone. It a phenomenon to get people to “mind what they say” and is directed mainly at language that refers to women, black people, gay and disabled people – groups traditionally disempowered by the dominant white male and physically able majority, as the oppression these groups endured, it is said, was perpetuated in the very language used to describe them.
Fair enough! Obviously being PC is a noble cause against which no sane, rational 21st century man, white or other would disagree. So, we can no longer say “jump the dyke”, “manhole cover” and “accident blackspot”. You can no longer use the terms “rule of thumb” because of its racist and sexist origins (a law that said you couldn’t beat your wife with an instrument bigger than your thumb) and so it continues, all the way down to the nitty gritty.
What amazes me is the outrage that it seems to cause with people and how companies, governments, and people like overreacting for fear of being on the wrong side of public fashion opinion. But before you argue that being PC it is just being polite, it’s more like a weapon used to destroy normal people who display normal behaviour and say normal things – even when the haters want to package it as a hate crime. Just think about James Damore, the Google engineer who was fired a few years back for simply publicly musing about the differences between the sexes.
Just last week in the most famous office in the planet Joe Biden removed a Churchill bust. Maybe not so much of a surprise as in the UK the statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament square in London is repeatedly covered in graffiti and attacked by people claiming that he was a racist and that his statue, should be no more ignoring the period he found himself in and the norms of those days – the fact that he was arguably the worlds most ardent anti-fascist leader and the role he played in defeating the Nazi’s, is forgotten. Had they won the war there certainly wouldn’t have been any tolerance at all. Just saying.
In 2015 The University of Michigan spent $16,000 advising students not to say “I want to die” because it’s offensive to the suicidal, nor “That test raped me” because some people actually have been raped, although probably not by calculus exams. At Minnesota’s Macalester College, posters and social media warned in 2014 against using the words “crazy,” “psycho,” “schizo” and “derp.” Excuse the pun but that’s nuts!
This year, ending the prayer opening the new session of Congress in the US, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) intoned, “ Amen and a-woman.” Eyeroll. Last week the Democratic-controlled lower chamber voted along party lines to approve new official language guidelines. Words such as “himself” and “herself” are to be replaced by “themself.” Out with “father,” “mother,” “son,” “daughter,” “brother,” “sister,” “uncle,” “aunt” and other familial terms, and in with “parent,” “child,” “sibling” and so forth. Madness.
The ridiculousness of it all was emphasised when the speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi made a speech a few days later where she referred to herself as ‘mother, daughter, woman’. She clearly didn’t get the memo! But when erasing “mothers,” and “women,” because the concepts are insufficiently inclusive to gender ideologues, the irony is not lost about the rights which women struggled to attain a vote, much less enter politics.
Salman Rushdie, author of the of the controversial The Satanic Verses, states that ‘No-one has the right not to be offended’ but the core of the ‘woke’ argument appears to be the exact opposite. Yet there is always another side to any argument and in the interests of free speech it has been the accepted norm to ‘agree to disagree’. This new culture of silencing that freedom is insidious and menacing – look to any dictatorship past and present and that is the dictator’s first move – silence the press, silence any voice of dissent, and punish the transgressor.
I suspect that poor old Walt Disney is spinning in his grave, unable to plead the case for his supposed sins but if new-age Disney wants to take this whitewashing (probably shouldn’t say that) to its logical conclusion, rather than worrying about Belle having a do-gooder occupation, let’s start with the title, Beauty and the Beast.
So Belle should no longer be the quintessential fair maiden and thus she can no longer be described as beautiful. As for the poor old Beast, i.e. ugly monster, that word is about as non PC as it comes, so better to steer clear of any and all ancient fables and fairy stories.
I would tell those Disney suits to put that in their pipe and smoke it but I suspect that’s off limits too as it is a clear reference to the Red Indians’ (oops again, Native Americans’) smoking of the peace pipe. In the words of Hamlet’s Ophelia ‘That way madness lies’, though I suppose even that should probably be ‘mental illness’!
A wife, uncle, and two in-laws fall at the hands of Judah’s despot
The pre-eminent Jewish chronicler, Flavius Josephus, said of Herod the Great that he was “blessed with every gift of looks, body, and mind” but he was a “slave to his passions”. This was in the context of a gloating bloodlust.
His sword knew no sacred cows: neither his own kids, wives, in-laws, next of kin, nor bosom friends were immune from it. He is on record as pestering Caesar Augustus with a barrage of letters seeking permission to execute his own flesh and blood, prompting the Roman emperor to at one time quip that, “It is better to be Herod’s pig than his son”, which was apt: as a “Jew”, Herod did not eat pork and therefore in the event that he kept any pigs, they would never have to be killed.
You are by now well-apprised of the death of Hyrcanus II by the same Herod, General Atiku, in 30 BC. Hyrcanus, a Hasmonean ruler of Judah twice over, was actually the grandfather of Mariamne I, Herod’s most beloved wife and his second of up to 10 wives. It was Mariamne’s own mother Salome, who dreading Herod’s pathological savagery, pitched Mariamne to Herod in the hope that that would insure her family from Herod’s murderous caprices.
Now, Mariamne, General, was as much a stunning beauty as her younger brother Aristobulus III was breathtakingly good-looking. Having tied the knot with Herod in 37 BC, Mariamne had prevailed over her husband to install Aristobulus as High Priest. The post had fallen vacant on the death of Antigonus in 37 BC and Herod had appointed one Ananel, who had no ties whatsoever to the Hasmoneans, the first such in more than a century, in his place. Unable to resist the spirited entreaties of his beloved wife, who had also lobbied Queen Cleopatra of Egypt and her beau Mark Anthony, Herod gave in and replaced Ananel with Aristobulus, who was only 16 years old, in 36 BC.
Because of his enormous charisma and overall affability, Aristobulus was a hit with the masses despite his tender age and Herod was envious of the young man’s rock star-like popularity. To make doubly sure the young man did not harbour a seditious ace up his sleeve, the morbidly paranoid Herod had his spooks watch on both Aristobulus and his mother round the clock. Sensing imminent danger, Aristobulus contacted Cleopatra, asking for a pre-emptive safe passage to Egypt and there enjoy absolute freedom. When Herod got wind of this, he decided to get rid of Aristobulus as he did not wish him to be a perennial thorn in his flesh from the utter safety of self-imposed exile.
The opportunity came at a banquet in Jericho which was organised by Aristobulus’ mother. There, Herod had one of his henchmen cause Aristobulus to drown during a dusk time horseplay in a swimming pool. Of course Herod would forever maintain the drowning was accidental when everybody knew it was in truth a tactical elimination. Poor Aristobulus was only 17 years old having been born in 56 BC. He was the last Hasmonean High Priest and was replaced by the previously deposed Ananel, who was to remain in that position till 29 BC.
HEROD ACQUITTED OVER THE ARISTOBULUS DEATH
It need not be over-emphasised, General, that Mariamne and her mother Alexandra did not take Herod’s line over the all too untimely demise of Aristobulus lying down. If he had reckoned that with the death of Aristobulus he had gotten rid of potentially the most potent threat to his omnipotence, he was totally mistaken. Herod had actually simply fanned the flames of intrigue against him, for mother and daughter confronted him and accused him of murdering their boy in cold blood.
Nor did the two Iron Ladies end matters there: Alexandra wrote a lachrymal letter to Cleopatra to get her to bring her influence to bear on Mark Anthony so that Herod paid dearly and likewise for his nefarious act. Anthony, who at the time was the Roman colossus in charge of the whole of the Middle East, was persuaded and during a visit to Laodicea (in modern-day Turkey, though some accounts say it was Rhodes in Cyprus), he commanded Herod to report to him forthwith and exculpate himself over the affair.
Although Herod put a brave face on the matter, General, he was rather unsure of his eventual fate after the trial. He also suspected rightly or wrongly that Anthony had a thing for the voluptuously beautiful Mariamne and the last thing Herod wanted was for any other man to bed his beloved Mariamne even in death. So before he set off for Laodicea, Herod instructed his uncle Joseph, who was married to his sister Salome, to make sure that in the event that Anthony sentenced him to death, he should immediately put her to the sword. He also detailed a certain Sohemus, a most trusted aide, to stand sentry over the entire womenfolk at the palace.
Herod, however, had the nine lives of a cat, General. Using his immense rhetorical skills and the time-honoured palm greasing, he won himself an acquittal. Meanwhile, the Judean rumourville was abuzz with chatter that Herod had been summarily executed by Anthony, as a result of which people became spendthrifts of their tongues.
Both Joseph and Sohemus disclosed to Mariamne the instructions Herod had left them with in relation to her fate once he was no more. Mariamne was both livid and distraught that her husband regarded her as so easily expendable when outwardly he cherished her beyond words. To her mind, his arrangements with Joseph had nothing to do with love but sprang from sheer monstrosity. She probably thanked God that he was dead, but the fact of the matter was that he was not and when he at long last turned up, she did not want to have anything to do with him, including the conjugation which he so eagerly pined for after such an extended absence.
HEROD KILLS HIS WIFE AND HIS UNCLE
Now, if Herod had a kind of Svengali, General, it was his youngest sister Salome. Salome (65 BC-10 AD) was the most powerful woman at Herod’s court. A sly, scheming, and manipulating vixen, she arguably more than any other living being had the most sway in a negative sense on her brother, who took practically whatever she said as gospel truth.
Let us nevertheless, General, take stock of the fact that the bulk of what we learn about Salome comes from Flavius Josephus, who himself relied on the writings of Herod’s court historian Nicolaus of Damascus. For one reason or the other, Nicolaus did not see eye to eye with Salome and it is therefore possible that much of what Nicolaus relates of her is embellished to smear her before the court of history. Upon his return, Herod was told of the rumours of his death and so was surprised to find Mariamne alive when Joseph and Sohemus should in the circumstances have had her killed if indeed they were loyal to him. In fact, Joseph had even put Mariamne and Alexandra into the safe custody of Roman legions stationed in Judea just in case Jewish malcontents who abhorred Herod turned their wrath on them.
But there was more. Salome reported to Herod that Mariamne, who she hated like the plague, had had sexual relations with both Joseph and Sohemus, this being Mariamne’s reward to them for dishing out to her the dirt on Herod, and that she had on several occasions before attempted to poison him. Now, no one would hump Herod’s most beloved wife and get away scotfree. It is therefore small wonder that Herod straightaway ordered the execution of Joseph and Sohemus. Joseph was 61 years old at the time of his death in 34 BC, having been born in 95 BC. In the case of Mariamne herself though, he had her subjected to a formal court trial not on charges of adultery but of attempted regicide.
Herod had hoped that the court would acquit her, whereupon he would make bygones be bygones so great was his love for the woman, but sadly for him, General, she was found guilty and sentenced to death. Even then, Herod tactfully dilly-dallied on signing the writ of execution and simply had his wife detained at a fortress for some time until Salome prevailed over him to execute her at long last. Writes Josephus: “Thus, with the death of the noble and lovely Mariamne ended the glorious history of the Hasmonean High Priest Mattathias and his descendants.”
For a long time to come though, General, Herod was haunted by the death of his wife to the point of even sometimes coming across as if he had lost his mind. “When Herod realised what this meant (the death sentence passed on Mariamne), he tried in vain to have the verdict changed, but Salome did not rest until the death penalty was carried out,” Josephus informs us. “Herod was heartbroken; nothing could comfort him for the loss of his lovely wife.
For seven years he refused to have her body buried, and held it, embalmed, in his palace. Afterwards, he became so melancholy and despondent, nothing interested him or could arouse any enthusiasm in him for living … He was so far conquered by his passion, that he would order his servants to call for Mariamne, as if she were still alive, and could still hear them … He tried hard to forget his trouble by going hunting and banqueting, but nothing helped. Herod built new cities and erected temples and palaces. He also named a tower in honour of Mariamne.”
HEROD SLAYS SISTER’S EX-HUBBY
Mariamne’s death was not the only one which Herod perpetrated through the instrumentality of Salome. There were actually several and included those of her own husband Costobarus. Salome was married four times, to her uncle Joseph (45 BC); Costobarus (34 BC); Sylleus (circa 27 BC); and Alexas (20 BC).
Like the Herod clan, Costobarus was of Idumean stock. It was Costobarus Herod had made governor of Idumea and Gaza and upon Joseph’s death had him tie the knot with Salome, with the couple eventually siring two children, Berenice and Antipater III. Costobarus, though, soon began to harbour monarchical ambitions of his own and wrote to Cleopatra beseeching her to persuade Mark Anthony to make Idumea independent of Herod and install him (Costobarus) as Rome’s client King of the territory.
Of course upon learning of this, Herod was not amused. It was Salome who pleaded with him not to put her husband to the sword. Next time, however, a dumped Costobarus was not so lucky. Seven years after their marriage, Salome and Costobarus parted ways and a possibly hurt Salome decided to exact vengeance. She informed her brother that he had been harbouring two fugitives from Herodian justice for a full 12 years at his own farm.
The two were simply known as the Sons of Baba. Baba ben Babuta, their father and clan patriarch, was related to the Hasmonean ruler Antigonus, who Herod had replaced and killed in 37 BC with the help of Roman legions. Baba and his sons had resisted Herod at the time, with his sons henceforth persisted in insurrectionist activity against Herod. Baba himself had been captured and blinded by Herod but spared anyway as he no longer posed any threat. Writes Josephus: “Now the Sons of Babas were of great dignity, and had power among the multitude, and were faithful to Antigonus, and were always raising calumnies against Herod, and encouraged the people to preserve the government to that royal family (the Hasmoneans) which held it by inheritance.”
Costobarus had provided the Sons of Baba an indefinite lair “supposing that their preservation might be of great advantage to him in the changes of government afterward”. Following the Salome tip, Herod had Costobarus and the Sons of Baba summarily executed “so that none was left alive of the family of Hyrcanus (the Hasmonean), and the kingdom was wholly in Herod’s power, there being no one of high rank to stand in the way of his unlawful acts” per Josephus.