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Tug-of-War Over Marduk

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER    

Enkites give him a whitewash whilst Enlilites bay for his blood

The marriage of Dumuzi, Enki’s lastborn son, and Inanna-Ishtar, Enlil’s granddaughter, was at once illustrious and tumultuous. It was illustrious because they were so fervently in love. Say the Sumerian chronicles:

“A love that knows no bounds engulfed them, a passion their hearts inflamed. Many of the love songs that for a long time thereafter were sung, Inanna and Dumuzi were the first to sing them, by song their love they recounted.”  At the same time, the marriage was problematic owing, primarily, to Inanna’s rapacious sexual drive: as such, Dumuzi just could not cope. Thus deprived, Inanna was forced into dalliances with anybody she fancied, whether Anunnaki or Earthling, brother or uncle.

Enki, who is the horniest Anunnaki male on record, was one of her conquests, never mind the fact that he was at once her own father-in-law and her grandfather given that her mother Ningal, Nannar-Sin’s wife,  was Enki’s daughter. In one of her love poems, Inanna boasts, in a slightly cryptic way, how her own twin-brother Utu-Shamash made her climax 50 times (befitting, so she implied, of   the Enlilship ranking of 50) in only one night of pulsating passion thus: “My beloved met me, took his pleasure of me, rejoiced together with me. My brother brought me to his house, made me lie on its sweet bed … In unison, the tongue-making in unison, my brother of fairest face made [got me to come] fifty times.”

Inanna was particularly attracted to men who had   freakishly outsized pricks and of that Shamash was very highly spoken of, a gift he actually loved to flaunt without a care in the world as to who was watching. Indeed, one meaning of the name Shamash is “Rocket-like”, an obvious allusion to his fire hydrant-sized penis. Because he was so enormously gifted in this department, Shamash, who was known as Apollo to the Greeks, is depicted stark naked in commemorative statues (Paradoxically  though, the statues do not do him justice as his vitals come across as laughably ordinary). Inanna’s legendary sexcapades had the inevitable result that the couple diddled as much as they engaged in shouting matches with each other.

Whatever differences they had, Dumuzi and Inanna  always patched them up with a torrid round of love-making. This energy-sapping copulation, however, did not yield the most desired result – a baby. A baby was essential: if Dumuzi was going to be to be the god of Egypt, not to mention Africa as a whole,   a heir was of desperate necessity. It is a mystery why  Dumuzi and Inanna just could not produce a child together when each had kids pre-wedlock, post-wedlock, or even extramaritally.

One unnamed King of Aratta, a region around today’s India where Inanna would later rule, is simply identified as “a seed planted in the womb by Dumuzi”. That the king’s mother is not mentioned suggests she must have been no more than an inconsequential concubine, most likely an Earthling as opposed to an Anunnaki. As for Inanna, a text titled The Tale of Zu names a certain “Shara” as “her firstborn,” implying she did have several children.  True, other children, which she had with demigods, included Lulal, Aeneas, and Lugalbanda.

The crux of the matter though is that Dumuzi, notwithstanding the fact that he never fired blanks, and Inanna, who was demonstrably fertile, were unable to procreate with each other. This was to be a constant source of friction between the two love birds. If even reproductive fundis such as Enki and Ningishzidda could not, apparently, help, the only explanation could be that the couple were under a spell, in all probability cast over them by Marduk. Otherwise, there was a whole host of scientific means at their disposal, such as in-vitro fertilisation and a surrogacy pregnancy.

DUMUZI SET UP FOR A FALL

Not long after Dumuzi and Inanna came together in “holy matrimony”, the Enlilites began to tout Dumuzi as the prospective “Shepherd of the Age of Ram”, that is, the forthcoming astrological Age of Aries. In other words, they set out to promote Dumuzi as the next Enlil at the expense of Marduk, who the Enkites had tipped for the loftiest title on Earth. This was not only because Dumuzi was married to an Enlilite: Dumuzi’s mother was not Damkina, Enki’s official wife, but Ninsun. Ninsun was a daughter of Enki with his half-sister Ninmah. Thus to the Enlilites, Dumuzi was more politically palatable, if not manipulable, than Marduk, who was a true-blue, steadfast Enkite.

Whereas other Enkites hardly gave a damn about the matrimonial union of Dumuzi and Inanna, two were as concerned as they were resentful. This was Marduk and his half-sister Geshtinanna. The two knew the marriage for exactly what it was – a petticoat government in which Inanna wielded disproportionately more influence. Wary as to the ramifications of Inanna’s hegemonic ambitions which knew no bounds, Marduk and Geshtinanna had a tete-a-tete in which they plotted a thunderclap scandalisation of Dumuzi that would make him forfeit all pretences to the Egyptian throne. The success of the plot all hinged on Gestinanna’s cooperation, whose certainty she undertook.

Now, Geshtinanna did have a vested interest in Dumuzi’s possible fall from grace. She was Zidda’s consort (not  legally-wedded wife) and if Zidda was not going to rule Egypt anymore, then Dumuzi, who was much younger than Zidda, ought not to. As significant, Geshtinanna had no Enlilite blood in her being the daughter of Ninmah and therefore had no ties-of-consanguinity sympathies for Inanna whatsoever. So it was that one day whilst Inanna was on tour, Geshtinanna invited herself to one of Dumuzi’s palaces on Philae Island on the Nile River in today’s Aswan, southern Egypt.

There, she wasted no time in hitting on Dumuzi thus: “My brother, with you I will lie down.  A legitimate heir by a sister born you must have. Inanna’s son to succession shall not be entitled.”Geshtinanna’s reasoning struck a chord in Dumuzi. According to Anunnaki succession rules, it was a son born to a half-sister who ascended to the throne and not a son with a legal spouse who was not related to her husband. It followed, therefore, that even if Inanna perchance were to conceive, her son would not inherit after Dumuzi: he would have to give way to Dumuzi’s son with Geshtinanna.

Dumuzi was persuaded and long story short, he had “poured his semen into his half-sister’s womb”. For some reason, however, Geshtinanna suddenly felt for Dumuzi, maybe because he had given her such shattering sexual satisfaction or the fact that Dumuzi was actually the son of her sister by blood (Ninsun) seared her conscience. She burst out into tears and when Dumuzi asked her what was wrong, she with an effort owned up to her little scheme with Marduk. “Marduk of raping me he will accuse you,” she sobbed frantically.  “Evil emissaries will arrest you. To try and disgrace you he will.”   

At first, Dumuzi did not panic though he was cross that Geshtinanna was complicit in setting him up. Geshtinanna nonetheless assured him nothing would come of the conspiracy as she would be his about-face witness when the matter came to trial. Her assurance registered and Dumuzi drifted into a calm sleep after another, reassuring  body-twitching round of intimacy . But at around midnight, Dumuzi had a nightmare in which he saw “seven evil bandits come into his dwelling” and brace to confiscate all his royal property and insignias of office. “They chased away his ewes, his lambs and kids they drove away,” the Sumerian records relate.

“The headdress of lordship they took off his head, the royal robe off his body they tore, the staff of shepherding they took and broke, his cup from its peg they threw down. Naked and barefooted they seized him, in fetters they his hands bound.  In the name of the Princely Bird (Marduk) and the Falcon (Horus, Marduk’s son/grandson) they left him dying.” Geshtinanna’s pleas that he puts a brave face on the matter and regard the dream as simply that fell on deaf ears: seized by a fit of trepidation and of foreboding, he hastily put on the clothes and shouting “Betrayal! Betrayal!”, he hurried out of the house to dodge the hovering dragnet but the dream was already bearing out  even as he moved. Marduk’s seven sheriffs had already closed in. Dumuzi was hardly inches away from the threshold when the cuffs were tightly nipped onto his wrists. He was then remanded in a makeshift cellar pending airlifting to Marduk’s palace in Egypt.

DUMUZI DROWNS IN RIVER NILE
    

Producing a warrant of arrest, Marduk’s sheriffs announced to a manacled Dumuzi that they were acting under the imperial authority of their master “En Bilulu (His Holiness the Lord Bel), the Master of the Kur (Giza Pyramid),” both of which were Marduk’s epithets. Then they pronounced forth the basis of his arrest – having raped his half-sister Geshtinanna. That done, they proceeded to render him “naked … bareheaded … empty-handed …” and “barefooted”. That is to say, they removed his crown, divested him of his royal robe, pulled off his sandals, and confiscated his staff – his entire regalia as the monarch of Nubia. However, the sheriffs hit a setback. When they interrogated Geshtinanna, she denied that she had been violated and insisted that the sex was consensual. Then she asked that she sheriffs allow her a private confabulation with Dumuzi, which petition was granted.

Entering the makeshift cellar within the palace precincts, Geshtinanna found Dumuzi in a piteously disconsolate state. The moment he saw her, he requested the use of her portable communication device, which was worn on the wrist and doubled as a timepiece, and contacted Utu-Shamash.   “O, Utu,” Dumuzi cried into the wireless communication device. “You are my brother-in-law. I am your sister’s husband … Change my hands into a gazelle’s hands. Change my feet into a gazelle’s feet. Let me escape the evil ones.” In another words, Dumuzi was entreating Shamash to rush and get him out of harm’s way.

It’s clear from the Sumerian chronicles that both Inanna and Shamash were presently too far away to scramble a rescue force to get to where Dumuzi was timeously. But Shamash did provide some very viable tips to both Dumuzi and Gestinanna that made it possible for Dumuzi to make a getaway. Still in cuffs, he made a beeline for the Nile, jumped into a boat, and shot off like a bullet in the dead of night, in the process losing his outsmarted pursuers.  He managed to reach “the great dyke in the desert of E-Mush”, or “Home of the Snakes” as the Sahara Desert was then known, the snakes being a metaphor for the Enkites. This was the First Cataract of the Nile, where the Aswan High Dam is today located. It is the only place throughout Egypt where the Sahara Desert and the Nile River converge at a great dyke.

Encountering heavy rapids, Dumuzi abandoned the boat a long while before daybreak and hid on a boulder behind a thick cascade of a Nile waterfall so that he wasn’t seen by his pursuers. Then at daybreak,  Inanna, his mother Ninsun and a search party pitched. Whilst Ninsun was frantically looking out for his son from the shores of the Nile, Inanna hovered in a chopper. Unfortunately, Dumuzi was already dead by then. Being in handcuffs, his manoevering was erratic. As he tried to climb down the rock on which he had taken refuge, he slipped and was instantly swept away by the rapids, drowning in the process. “Where the gushing waters the rocks to slippery smoothness made, Dumuzi slipped and fell,” say the Sumerian cuneiform texts. “The onrushing waters his lifeless body in a white froth swept away.”

The above was the official version. But what really happened was that he  panicked when one of his pursuers closed in on him in the relative dark of pre-dawn and that’s how he faltered into the Nile waters.  It took several days, if not weeks,   for his body to wash up on the banks of the Nile at Memphis, about  half way between  the Great Pyramid of Giza and Lake Moeris.  "There did the boat-wrecking waters carry the lad towards Kur,” the Sumerian records relate.  “To Kur did the boat-wrecking waters carry the espoused of Inanna."  Sadly, by that time, it was too late for the likes of Enki and Zidda to restore to life the now substantially decomposed body of Dumuzi.

MARDUK NO CASE TO ANSWER?

Dumuzi’s remains were retrieved from the banks of the Nile River by his brother Ninagal and taken to the abode of Nergal and Ereshkigal in today’s South Africa where the body was to lay in state before it was taken to Nibiru, the planet of the Anunnaki and the Bible’s “Heaven”, for interment. When Enki heard of his youngest son’s tragic demise, he was gutted. He wondered why fate so frowned upon him with such sadomasochistic regularity. “Enki rent his clothes, on his forehead he put ashes,” say the Sumerian records.

“My son! My son! for Dumuzi he lamented. What have I sinned to be so punished? out loud he asked.” Enki catechised himself as to whether his other name “Ea” had something to do with this unending rhythm of woe where the deaths of members of his clan were typically associated with water. . “When I to Earth from Nibiru came, Ea, ‘He Whose Home Is Waters’, was my name.  With waters did the Celestial Chariots obtain their thrust power. In waters I splashed down.  Then by an avalanche of waters the Earth was swept over. In waters did Asar (Osiris) my grandchild drown. By waters my beloved Dumuzi is now dead! Everything I had done, for righteous purpose did I do it. Why am I punished, why has Fate against me turned?”

In one vein, Enki’s lamentations must elicit sympathy. No single Enlilite died throughout the Anunnaki’s 443,000-year  official stay on Earth. Meanwhile, the widowed Inanna had kicked  up a hell of a storm. She demanded no less than the death penalty for Marduk. “There has been death enough,” she wept before Enki. “Bilulu (Marduk) must be killed.” At the time, authority as to the dispensation of justice no longer vested in the entire Anunnaki pantheon comprising of Enlilites and Enkites. If, for instance, a crime was committed by an Enkite to an Enkite, jurisdiction was to be exercised by Enkites alone,  without the involvement of Enlilites.    Accordingly, Enki convened a judgement panel which included all his sons bar Marduk – Nergal, Gibil, Ninagal, and Zidda, who was recalled from his domain in the Americas just for this purpose.  

As the Enkites deliberated on Marduk’s case, Inanna continued with her fits of fury. “To high heaven she a wailing raised,” relates the Sumerian texts. “Justice! Revenge! Death to Marduk! she cried.” Such was her hysteria  and agitation that the Enlilites were forced to convene their own “war council” to unilaterally decide on the fate of “The Great Serpent” as  Marduk had been branded by the Enlilites. Inanna insisted that the Enlilites were entitled to a say on the matter as being Dumuzi’s widow the injustice of his death had lasting repercussions on her. As far as she was concerned, it didn’t matter whether Dumuzi’s death was an accident or otherwise: what mattered was the fact that he died whilst in flight from an injustice contrived by Marduk and Geshtinanna was an insuperable witness in that regard.

All the Enlilites were pro Inanna’s sentiments. “Ninurta for strong measures argued … Of Marduk, an evil serpent Earth must be rid, Enlil with them agreed.” The Enlilites then sent an ultimatum to the Enkites demanding that Marduk be handed over to them forthwith for justice. Unlike the Enlilites, the Enkites were not unanimous on the fate of Marduk. Enki moved for his unconditional acquittal as there was no hard evidence that he was directly responsible for the death of Dumuzi.  “Marduk an instigator was, but murder he committed not!” Enki pointed out.  “Though for my beloved Dumuzi I am still grieving, Marduk's rights I must defend! Though evil did Marduk instigate, by ill fate, not by Marduk's hand, did Dumuzi die. Marduk is my firstborn, Ninki is his mother: for succession he is destined. From death by Ninurta's gang by us all he must be protected!”

Gibil and Ninagal sided with their father. Zidda, who  scarcely saw eye to eye with Marduk, voted for outright retribution. Nergal, whose relationship with  Marduk kept blowing hot and cold,  endorsed the idea of handing Marduk to the Enlilites but  undertook that if the Enlilites voted for capital punishment, he would oppose it to the death. It was a 3-2 decision in favour of Marduk and so he was to walk free. Sadly, the Enlilites  were not prepared to take the verdict lying down.

NEXT WEEK:  THE THIRD PYRAMID WAR

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Hell Up in Judea

24th August 2021

A case can be made, General Atiku, that history’s most infamous Roman is Pontius Pilate. It was Pilate who condemned Jesus, the  “Son of God”, to the most cruel, most barbaric,  and most excruciating of deaths – crucifixion –  and cowardly at that as the gospels attest for us.  

Yet the exact circumstances under which the crucifixion took place and what followed thereafter far from jells with what is familiarly known. The fact of the matter was that there was a lot of political wheeling and dealing and boldfaced corruption on the part both of the Jewish authorities and the Roman establishment in the person of Pontius Pilate.  In this piece, we attempt, General, to present a fuller photo of Pilate as the centre of the whole machination.

Pilate’s historicity, General, is not in doubt. In 1961, an Italian archeologist unearthed a limestone block at Caesarea Maritima on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, which as of 6 AD was the Roman seat of government as well as the military headquarters.  The block bore the inscription, “Pontius Pilate, the Prefect of Judea, has dedicated this Temple to the divine Augusti” (that is, then Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar and his wife Livia).

Pilate also gets varying degrees of mention in the works of Roman senator and historian Cornelius Tacitus (56-117 AD); the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher and chronicler Philo of Alexandria (25 BC to 50 AD); and the legendary Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD).

Although his year of death (37 AD) is documented, his year of birth is a matter of conjecture, General. He came from the Pontii tribe (hence the name Pontius), a tough, warlike people. The Pontii tribe was of the equestrian class, the second-tier in the Roman caste system. Originally, the equestrians were those Romans with ample pocket power to bribe their way to knightly ranks in the Roman army. Pilate was born to Marcus Pontius, who had distinguished himself as a general in Rome’s military campaigns.

Following one of his particularly sterling military exploits, Marcus was awarded with the Pilum (javelin), a Roman decoration of honour for heroic military service.  To commemorate this medal of valour, the family took the name Pilati, rendered Pilate in English and Pilatus in Latin.

The son, Lucius Pontius Pilate, also distinguished himself as a soldier in the German campaigns of Germanicus, a prominent general of the early Roman Empire. Thanks to his scintillating military profile coupled with   strategic connections in the hierarchies of the Roman government, Pilate was able to wend his way into the heart of Claudia, the granddaughter of Caesar Augustus, the founder of the Roman Empire and ruler from 27 BC to 14 AD.

Claudia’s mother was Julia the Elder, who was also the biological mother of the apostles John and James. When Claudia was about 13 years of age, Julia sent her to Rome to be reared in the courts of Emperor Tiberius Caesar, to whom Julia was once married from 11 BC to 6 BC.

Although Tiberius was not the biological father of Claudius, General, he gladly acquiesced to being her foster father in deference to the memory of her late grandfather Caesar Augustus.
Pilate arrived in Rome when Claudia was sixteen years of age. In AD 26, the two tied the knot. Needless to say, it was a marriage based not on love as such but on political opportunism.

ASSIGNMENT JUDEA

The high-placed connection who facilitated Pontius Pilate’s smooth landing into the inner sanctums of Rome’s royalty and put him on a pedestal that saw him take pride of place in the cosmic gallery of rogues was Aelius Sejanus. Like Pilate, Sejanus came from the subordinate equestrian class, who would never be eligible for a seat in the Senate, the legislative council of ancient Rome.

Sejanus, however, had over time become Emperor Tiberius’ most trusted lieutenant and to the point where he was the de facto prime minister.  He had been commander of the Praetorian Guard, the elite Special Forces unit created by Augustus Caesar as a personal security force, which developed under Sejanus’ command into the most significant presence in Rome.

In AD 26, the emperor was not even based in Rome: he had confined himself to the 10.4 km2 island of Capri, about 264 km from Rome, and left control of Rome and the government of the Roman Empire to Sejanus. It was Sejanus who recommended the appointment of Pilate as prefect, or governor/procurator of Judea. The appointment was pronounced right on the occasion of Pilate’s nuptials with Claudius.

Philo records that when the bridal party emerged from the temple where the marriage ceremony was celebrated and Pilate started to follow the bride into the imperial litter, Tiberius, who was one of the twelve witnesses required to attend the ceremony, held him back and handed him a document. It was the wedding present – the governorship of far-flung Judea – with orders to proceed at once to Caesarea Maritima to take over the office made vacant by the recall of Valerius Gratus.

Pilate was notified by Sejanus that a ship was in fact waiting upon him to transport him to Palestine right away. The only disadvantageous aspect about the assignment was that Pilate was to leave the shores of Rome alone, without the pleasure of spending a first night in the arms of his newly wedded wife: by imperial decree, the wives of governors were not allowed to accompany them in their jurisdictions. Pilate, however, was a royal by marriage and so this prohibition was waived. By special permission granted by His Imperial Majesty Tiberius Caesar, Claudia soon joined her husband in Judea. The wily Pilate had calculated well when he married into royalty.

A SADISTIC ADMINISTRATOR

The Judean perch was not prestigious though, General. The prefects of Judea were not of high social status. At least one – Felix, referenced by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles – was an ex-slave, which says a great deal on the low regard in which the province was held by Rome.

Pilate was only secondarily sent to Judea on account of having married into royalty: his posting to the volatile province stemmed, primarily, from his being of a inferior social pedigree. Be that as it may, Pilate relished the posting in that it gave him the chance to exercise power, absolute power. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and in Pilate was the archetypal example, General.

Pilate’s brief was simple: to collect taxes, maintain law and order, maintain infrastructure, and keep the population subdued. Although he was born lowly, he positively had the power of life and death over his Jewish subjects. Let us, General, listen to Josephus in his allusion to Coponius, Judea’s first Roman governor and who like Pilate was from the same subservient social class: “And now Archelaus’ part of Judea was reduced into a province and Coponius, one of the equestrian order among the Romans, was sent as procurator, having the power of life and death put into his hands by Caesar.”

Pilate, General, was callous to a point of being sadistic. He was scarcely the scrupling judge with the rare soft spot that we encounter in the gospels. Philo charges him with “corruptibility, violence, robberies, ill-treatment of the people, grievances, continuous executions without even the form of a trial, endless and intolerable cruelties”.

He further declares him to be a “savage, inflexible, and arbitrary ruler” who was of a “stubborn and harsh quality” and “could not bring himself to do anything that might cause pleasure to the Jews”. The essentially humane character of the Pilate who presided over the trial of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels may not be wholly fictitious but is highly embellished, General.

Why did Pilate have such a pathological hatred of the Jews, General? Sejanus had more to do with it than the spontaneous leanings of his own nature. According to Philo, Sejanus hated the Jews like the plague and wished “to do away with the nation” – to exterminate it. In AD 19, for instance, he forced the Jews in Rome to burn their religious vestments and expelled them from the city without much ado.

For as long as Sejanus was in power, General, Pilate could do pretty much as he pleased. He didn’t have to worry about compromising reportage reaching the emperor as everything went through the implacably anti-Jewish Sejanus. Sejanus was unrivalled in power: golden statues of the general were being put up in Rome, the Senate had voted his birthday a public holiday, public prayers were offered on behalf of Tiberius and Sejanus, and in AD 31 Sejanus was named as Consul jointly with Tiberius.

The Judea posting also gave Pilate a golden opportunity to make money – lots of it. The governors of the Roman provinces were invariably rapacious, greedy, and incompetent: this we learn not only from Jewish historians of the day but from contemporary Roman writers as well such as Tacitus and Juvenal.

As long as the money skimmed from the provinces was not overly excessive, governors were allowed a free hand. It is said of Emperor Tiberius that, “Once he ordered a governor to reverse a steep rise in taxes saying, ‘I want my sheep shorn, not skinned’!” For those governors, such as Pilate, who had support from the very acmes of Roman power, General, they were practically a law unto themselves.

PILATE’S WINGS ARE CLIPPED

Pontius Pilate, General, was untrained in political office. Furthermore, he was a sycophant to the core who was prepared to go to any length in a bid to curry favour with and prove his loyalty to the powers that be in Rome.    Both these attributes gave rise to a series of blunders that brought him the intense hatred of the Jews.

The first abomination he committed in the eyes of the Jews, General, was to set up a temple dedicated to Emperor Tiberius, which he called the Tiberieum, making him the only known Roman official to have built a temple to a living emperor.  True, Roman emperors were worshipped, but Tiberius was the one exception. According to the Roman scholar and historian Suetonius, Tiberius did not allow the consecration of temples to himself. Pilate’s act therefore, General, was an overkill: it was not appreciated at all.

Throughout his tenure, General, Pilate had a series of run-ins with the Jews, some of which entailed a lot of bloodshed and one of which sparked an insurrection that paved the way to Calvary. Then it all began to unravel, General. On October 18 AD 31, his patron Sejanus was summoned to the office of Emperor Tiberius and an angry denunciation was read out to him. It is not clear, General, what caused Sejanus’ fall from the emperor’s good graces but circumstantial evidence points to the perceived threat to the emperor’s power.

As the ancient historian Cassius Dio puts it, “Sejanus was so great a person by reason both of his excessive haughtiness and of his vast power that to put it briefly, he himself seemed to be the emperor and Tiberius a kind of island potentate, inasmuch as the latter spent his time on the island of Capri.”  Sejanus, hitherto the most powerful man in Rome, General, was thrown into a dungeon.

That same evening, he was summarily condemned to death, extracted from his cell, hung, and had his body given over to a crowd that tore it to pieces in a frenzy of manic excitement. His three children were all executed over the following months and his wife, Tiberius’ own daughter, committed suicide.  The people further celebrated his downfall by pulling his statues over.  Meanwhile, General, Tiberius began pursuing all those who could have been involved in the “plots” of Sejanus.

In Judea, Pilate, a Sejanus appointee, must have been badly shaken, General. Were his friends and family under suspicion? Would he be purged like others? Imperial attitudes to the Jewish race seemed to have changed now with the riddance of Sejanus. Tiberius made sure this was the case by appointing a new governor for Syria (who went by the title Legate and to whom Pilate was obligated to report).

The governor, Lucius Pomponius Flaccus, arrived in Rome in AD 32. Philo records that Tiberius now “charged his procurators in every place to which they were appointed to speak comfortably to the members of our nation in the different cities, assuring them that the penal measures did not extend to all but only to the guilty who were few, and to disturb none of the established customs but even to regard them as a trust committed to their care, the people as naturally peaceable and the institution as an influence promoting orderly conduct.”

So Pilate, General, had lost his supporters at the top, his new boss was on his doorstep, and there had been a change of policy regarding the very people he was in charge of. Surely, he would have to watch his step. The fact of the matter, however, General, was that he hardly did so.  In November 32 AD, for instance, he provoked a mini-uprising by the Zealots led by Judas Iscariot, Theudas Barabbas, and Simon Zelotes. It was this revolt, General, that culminated in those three “crosses” of Calvary that are indelibly etched on the mind of every Christian.

NEXT WEEK: ZEALOT REVOLT AGAINST PILATE

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Hustle & Muscle

24th August 2021

Until as recently as the 1980s a career often meant a job for life within a single company or organisation. Phrases such as ‘climbing the corporate ladder’, ‘the glass ceiling’, ‘wage slave’ & ‘the rat race’ were thrown about, the analogies making clear that a career path was a toxic mix of a war of attrition, indentured drudgery and a Sisyphean treadmill.

In all cases you fought, grafted or plodded on till you reached retirement age, at which point you could expect a small leaving party, the promise of a pension and, oddly, a gift of either a clock or watch. The irony of being rewarded with a timepiece on the very day you could expect to no longer be a workday prisoner was apparently lost on management – the hands of time were destined to follow you to the grave!

Retirement was the goal at the end of the long, corporate journey, time on your hands – verifiable by your gifted time keeping device – to spend time working in the garden, playing with the grandchildren, enjoying a holiday or two and generally killing time till time killed you.

For some, retirement could be literally short-lived. The retirement age, and accompanying pension, was predicated on the old adage of three scores years and ten being the average life expectancy of man. As the twentieth century progressed and healthcare became more sophisticated, that former mean average was extended but that in itself then brought with it the double-edged sword of dementia. The longer people lived, the more widespread dementia became – one more life lottery which some won, some lost and doctors were seemingly unable to predict who would succumb and who would survive.

However, much research has been carried out on the causes of this crippling and cruel disease and the latest findings indicate that one of its root causes may lie in the former workplace – what your job entailed and how stimulating or otherwise it was. It transpires that having an interesting job in your forties could lessen the risk of getting dementia in old age, the mental stimulation possibly staving off the onslaught of the condition by around 18 months.

Academics examined more than 100,000 participants and tracked them for nearly two decades. They spotted a third fewer cases of dementia among people who had engaging jobs which involved demanding tasks and more control — such as government officers, directors, physicians, dentists and solicitors, compared to adults in ‘passive’ roles — such as supermarket cashiers, vehicle drivers and machine operators. And those who found their own work interesting also had lower levels of proteins in their blood that have been linked with dementia.

The study was carried out by researchers from University College London, the University of Helsinki and Johns Hopkins University studying the cognitive stimulation and dementia risk in 107,896 volunteers, who were regularly quizzed about their job.  The volunteers — who had an average age of around 45 — were tracked for between 14 and 40 years.  Jobs were classed as cognitively stimulating if they included demanding tasks and came with high job control. Non-stimulating ‘passive’ occupations included those with low demands and little decision-making power.

4.8 cases of dementia per 10,000 person years occurred among those with interesting careers, equating to 0.8 per cent of the group. In contrast, there were 7.3 cases per 10,000 person years among those with repetitive jobs (1.2 per cent). Among people with jobs that were in the middle of these two categories, there were 6.8 cases per 10,000 person years (1.12 per cent).

The link between how interesting a person’s work was and rates of dementia did not change for different genders or ages.Lead researcher Professor Mika Kivimaki, from UCL, said: ‘Our findings support the hypothesis that mental stimulation in adulthood may postpone the onset of dementia. The levels of dementia at age 80 seen in people who experienced high levels of mental stimulation was observed at age 78.3 in those who had experienced low mental stimulation. This suggests the average delay in disease onset is about one and half years, but there is probably considerable variation in the effect between people.’

The study, published this week in the British Medical Journal, also looked at protein levels in the blood among another group of volunteers. These proteins are thought to stop the brain forming new connections, increasing the risk of dementia. People with interesting jobs had lower levels of three proteins considered to be tell-tale signs of the condition.

Scientists said it provided ‘possible clues’ for the underlying biological mechanisms at play. The researchers noted the study was only observational, meaning it cannot establish cause and that other factors could be at play. However, they insisted it was large and well-designed, so the findings can be applied to different populations.

To me, there is a further implication in that it might be fair to expect that those in professions such as law, medicine and science might reasonably be expected to have a higher IQ than those in blue collar roles. This could indicate that mental capacity also plays a part in dementia onset but that’s a personal conclusion and not one reached by the study.

And for those stuck in dull jobs through force of circumstance, all is not lost since in today’s work culture, the stimulating side-hustle is fast becoming the norm as work becomes not just a means of financial survival but a life-enhancing opportunity , just as in the old adage of ‘Find a job you enjoy and you’ll never work another day in your life’!

Dementia is a global concern but ironically it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live into very old age and is the second biggest killer in the UK behind heart disease, according to the UK Office for National Statistics. So here’s a serious suggestion to save you from an early grave and loss of competencies – work hard, play hard and where possible, combine the two!

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The Lord Ties The Knot

18th August 2021
JUDAS

… as Judas Iscariot takes strong exception

The gospels which were excluded from the official canon, the New Testament, at the Council of Nicaea are known as the Apocrypha. One of these Apocryphal works, General Atiku, is the gospel of Phillip.  In this gospel, the intimate relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene is openly discussed thus:

“And the companion of the Saviour is Mary Magdalene. But Christ loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on the mouth.  The rest of the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval. They said unto him, why do you love her more than all of us? The Saviour answered and said to them, why do   I not love you like her? … Great is the mystery of marriage, for without it the world would never have existed. Now, the existence of the world depends on man, and the existence of man on marriage.”

It is clear from the above statement, General, that Jesus held marriage in high regard because he himself was part and parcel of it.  The disciples (that is, most of them) were offended not because he and Mary were an item but because they simply did not approve of her as she was a Gentile and a commoner.

Otherwise, the kissing was not offensive at all: it was a customary expression of mutual affection between the sacred bride and groom. This we gather from the prototypically romantic Old Testament text known as The Song of Solomon, which opens with the words, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.”  As the Davidic groom, Jesus was therefore entitled to kiss Mary Magdalene as his bride.

THE FIRST MARRIAGE

In September AD 30, General Atiku, Jesus and Mary Magdalene had their First Marriage ceremony. Jesus had turned 36 in that year, the appropriate marriage age for a Davidic heir, and September was the holiest month in the Jewish calendar.  Having been born irregularly himself (in the wrong month of the year because of his father Joseph’s intransigence), Jesus was determined that he himself follow the law to the letter so that his child would not suffer the same indignities as he did. The First Marriage is captured in LUKE 7:35-50.

The marriage took place at the home of Simon the Pharisee. This, General, was another name for Simon Zelotes, the stepfather of Mary Magdalene. Although Mary Magdalene is not directly named, she is described as a “sinner”. This was another term for Gentiles, as in the eyes of the Jewish God, they were unregenerate and therefore hopeless sinners.  Mary Magdalene, whose mother Helena-Salome was of Syrian origin (Syro-Phoenicia to be specific), was a Gentile.

On the occasion, Mary Magdalene performed three acts on Jesus as set out in LUKE 7:38. She wept; kissed his feet; and anointed him with ointment. This is what a bride was supposed to do to her groom as clearly evinced in The Song of Solomon, a series of love poems concerning a spouse and her husband the King.

Of the three rites, perhaps it is the weeping that require elucidation, General. This was at once symbolic and sentimental.  The First Marriage was simply a ceremony: the moment the ceremony was over, the husband and wife separated, that is, they lived apart until the month of December, when they came together under one roof.  This was in accord with Essene stipulations for dynastic marriages, that is, those of the Davidic Messiah and the priestly Messiah.

Prior to the First Marriage, the bride was known as an Almah, meaning a betrothed Virgin. After the First Marriage ceremony, the Almah was demoted to a Sister. This was because the ensuing three-month separation meant husband and wife would not indulge in sexual activity and so the wife was as good as a sister to her husband. The imagery of Sister also being a wife is seen in 1 CORINTHIANS 9:5, where the apostle Paul refers to his wife as Sister. In ACTS 23:16, Paul’s wife is again referred to as his Sister.

Now, when the Almah became a Sister, General, she was metaphorically called a Widow, because she was being separated  from her newly wedded husband. As such, she was expected to symbolically weep on account of this separation. That explains why Mary Magdalene had to weep at her first wedding. It is a pity, General, that most Christians and their clergy miss the real story so wrongly indoctrinated are they.

In December AD 30, Jesus moved in with Mary Magdalene to consummate the marriage. It was hoped that Mary would fall pregnant so that in March the following year, a Second (and final) Marriage ceremony would be held.  Sadly, conception did not take place. According to Essene dynastic procreational rules, the couple had to separate again. They would reunite in December AD 31 for another try at conception.

The reason they separated was because for a dynastic heir, marriage was purely for procreation and not for recreational sex. But even that year, General, Mary did not fall pregnant, necessitating another year-long separation. What that meant was that Mary would be given one more last chance – in December AD 32, by which time Jesus would have been 38.  If she did not conceive this time around, the marriage would come to an end through a legal divorce and Jesus would be free to seek a new spouse.

THE FINAL MARRIAGE

In December 32, Mary Magdalene, General, finally conceived. When Jesus was crucified therefore in April 33 AD, his wife was three months pregnant. By this time, the Second Marriage ceremony, the final one, had already taken place, this being in March. The Second Marriage is cursorily related in MATTHEW 26:6-13; MARK 14:3-9; and JOHN 12:1-8.The John version reads as follows:

“Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany, where was Lazarus, who had died, whom he raised out of the dead; they made, therefore, to him a supper there, and Martha was ministering, and Lazarus was one of those reclining together (at meat) with him; Mary, therefore, having taken a pound of ointment of spikenard, of great price, anointed the feet of Jesus and did wipe with her hair his feet, and the house was filled from the fragrance of the ointment.

Therefore said one of his disciples – Judas Iscariot, of Simon, who was about to deliver him up – ‘Therefore was not this ointment sold for three hundred denaries, and given to the poor?’ and he said this, not because he was caring for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and what things were put in he was carrying. Jesus, therefore, said, ‘Suffer her; for the day of my embalming she has kept it, for the poor you have always with yourselves, and me you have not always.’”

This story (also see JOHN 11:1-44) centres on four people primarily, General. They are Jesus; Lazarus; Mary; and Martha. “Mary” was actually Mary Magdalene.  “Martha” was a titular name for her mother, Helena-Salome.  In the Lazarus story, the two ladies are referred to as “sisters”. This denotes conventual sisters, like the Catholics refer to conventual nuns, and not sisters by blood. Helena-Salome actually headed a nunnery. By the same token, the reference to Lazarus as “brother” has a connotation akin to what Pentecostals refer to as “Brother in Christ”.

Thus, the story revolves around Jesus the groom; his bride Mary Magdalene; his father-in-law Simon Zelotes; and his mother-in-law Helena-Salome. This is a family affair folks, which provides strong hints as to the exact relationship between Jesus and Mary. The raising from the dead of a man called Lazarus, sadly, was not a miracle at all:  it was a ceremonial restoration from excommunication back to the Essene governing council, which comprised of Jesus and his so-called 12 disciples.

The “Lazarus” who was thus restored was actually Simon Zelotes, at the time the most “beloved” by Jesus of the entire apostolic band, who had been demoted under circumstances relating to a Zealot uprising against Pontius Pilate.  More will be said on the subject at a later stage.

The anointing of Jesus by Mary with “spikenard”, General, harps back to ancient married rituals as patently demonstrated in The Song of Solomon. This was the second time Mary had anointed Jesus, first at the First Marriage in September AD 30 AD and now at the Second Marriage in March 32 AD. On both occasions, Mary anointed Jesus whilst he sat at table.

In SONG OF SOLOMON 1:12, the bride says, “While the King sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof”.  The anointing in the gospels was therefore an allusion to the ancient rite whereby a royal bride prepared her groom’s table. Only as the wife of Jesus and as a priestess in her own right could Mary Magdalene have anointed both the feet and head of Jesus.

The anointing in effect had two purposes: first, to seal the marriage, and second, to officially announce to the Jewish nation that Jesus was the Davidic Messiah (and not his younger brother James, who had been so promoted by John the Baptist).  It all harped back to the tradition in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, where Kings or Pharaohs were anointed for office (in their case with crocodile fat) by their half-sister brides.

The King’s bride actually kept the anointment substance for use for one more time – when the King died. You can now understand, General, why Jesus said “the day of my embalming she has kept it” in reference to his anointing by Mary Magdalene and why the first person to feature at the tomb of Jesus was none other than Mary Magdalene!

Three passages in the Lazarus story     (in JOHN11: 1-44) are particularly telling.  They are Verses 20, 28, and 29. They read as follows: “When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed in the house … After Martha said this, she went back and called her sister Mary privately. ‘The Master is here,’ she told her, ‘and is asking for you.’ When Mary heard this, she got up and hurried out to meet him.”  The reason Mary (Magdalene) first kept her place before proceeding to meet Jesus, General, is not supplied in the Johannine gospel.

However, the Apocryphal document which has come to be known as The Secret Gospel of Mark sheds more light, General.  It explains that on the first occasion, Mary did come out to meet Jesus along with her mother Martha (Helena-Salome) but upon being rebuked by the disciples of Jesus, she repaired back to the house. Why was she lashed out at, General? Because according to the Essene matrimonial code, she was not permitted to come out of her own accord and greet her husband: she was to wait until he had given her express permission to emerge.

There is yet another element in the conduct of Mary Magdalene that has parallels with Solomon’s queen, General. In the back-and-forth romantic dialogue between the couple, the queen is referred to as a “Shulamite” (SONG OF SOLOMON 6:13). The Shulamites were from the Syrian border town of  Solam and we have already seen that Mary’s first foster father, Syro the Jairus, was a Syrian, as was her mother Helena-Salome.

JUDAS DENOUNCES THE MARRIAGE

The marriage of Jesus to Mary Magdalene was vehemently opposed by most of his so-called disciples. The most vociferous on this position, General, was Judas Iscariot. The writer of the John gospel characterises Judas as a “thief” who used to pilfer alms money but that is a smear.  The gospels were written post-eventual and therefore Judas’ name was already in ignominy.

His detractors therefore had a field day at sullying his character. Yet prior to the betrayal, Judas Iscariot, General, was one of the most respected figures among the Essene community. At the time of Jesus’ marriage, Judas was the second-highest ranking Essene after Simon Zelotes (that is the meaning of “Judas of Simon” in the passage quoted above, meaning “Judas the deputy of Simon”): Jesus was third, although politically he was the seniormost.

Judas opposed the marriage on grounds, primarily, that Mary Magdalene was not only a Gentile but a commoner. Judas had the right to pronounce on Jesus’ marriage because it was he who was in charge of the Essene’s order of Dan, to which Mary Magdalene belonged prior to her marriage to Jesus and therefore had the right whether to release her for marriage or retain her in the convent. Judas would rather the spikenard (the most expensive fragrance of the day, the reason it was only used by queens) was sold and the money generated donated to the Essene kitty (“the poor” was another name for Essenes: when Jesus in the Beatitudes said “blessed are the poor”, he was not referring to you and me: he meant the Essenes).

Sadly General, as high-standing as he was, Judas had no right of veto over the marriage of a Davidic heir: only Simon Zelotes had by virtue of his position as the Essene’s Pope. Simon Zelotes was Mary Magdalene’s step-father and there was no way he was going to stand in the way of the marriage of his own daughter. Moreover, Jesus had already begun to fancy himself as Priest-King.

As far as he was concerned therefore, he was at once the Davidic Messiah and the Priestly Messiah – the Melchizedek. Thus even if Simon Zelotes had perchance objected to the marriage, Jesus would have gone ahead with it anyway. It was Jesus’ highly unpopular appropriated role as the Melchizedek, General, that set him on the path to Calvary.

NEXT WEEK: A NEW GOVERNOR COMES TO TOWN

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