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Strongman for Gilgamesh

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER    

Enki fashions “creature” to tame wayward Uruk King  

The Gilgamesh rebuff so rankled with Inanna-Ishtar that she straightaway set about plotting to either teach him a lesson or inveigle him into bed at long last. The great physical specimen he was,  coupled with his mind-blowing endowment south of the navel, haunted her non-stop. It wasn’t long before she flexed muscles as the Goddess of Uruk and introduced a yearly ritual she called Little-Jeopardy Tantra Test of Seed-Withholding.

This was a sex ritual in which the King of Uruk faced off with Inanna. This is how it went according to one source: “Each year, in a ritual for which priests groomed and scented him, Gilgamesh penetrated Inanna 50 times as she, suspended on ropes, lowered her vagina onto his penis while he maintained his erection but did not ejaculate. If he petered out or ejaculated in this ritual, she’d kill him with her laser. But when he passed the test, she invited him to her bed for a night of more varied sex.”

Gilgamesh was not only expected to endure Inanna’s “sexual sweetness”; he was to refrain from jetting off his seminal fluids, which was equivalent to chomping on a tasty morsel of barbecue on a thoroughly empty stomach but forbidden to swallow. Furthermore, he was not expected to tire no matter how long she extended him. It was a miracle that from the day the ritual was instituted, Gilgamesh passed the test with flying colours. He was also arguably the only man who steeled himself against getting infatuated with the licentiously dogged Inanna. During the rest of the year, she pursued him non-stop but he remained as elusive as quicksilver.

Meanwhile, Gilgamesh had found a way of sexual snacking that nevertheless was frowned upon by all and sundry. Exactly how did it come to that? Gilgamesh, like his departed father Lugalbanda, loved himself and loved life. He was so dynamically hunky, fearfully and wonderfully built, and as a royal had been born into a life of privilege. Even more important, he was a demigod with much more to spare. Since his mother Ninsun was a Goddess and his father Lugalbanda had more Anunnaki than Earthling blood in him, Gilgamesh was said to be between two-thirds to three-quarters “divine”, making him more than a demigod.

So the question he began to ponder was this: if he was so genetically close to the Anunnaki, why shouldn’t he be immortal like them? Why should he be subject to death when he was way  in excess of a 50-50 genetic god threshold?  Why should he age instead of remaining a spring chicken in general as the Anunnaki were? His own grandmother Inanna was as old as the hills and yet she looked as though she was in her early forties! Why wouldn’t he be like her?

LIKE INANNA, LIKE GILGAMESH

In order to help unravel this dilemma, Gilgamesh turned to his uncle and godfather Utu-Shamash. This is the remonstration he enunciated forth before his uncle god: “In my city man dies: oppressed is my heart. Man perishes: heavy is my heart … Man, the tallest, cannot stretch to Heaven; Man, the widest, cannot cover the earth. Will I too 'peer over the wall'? Will I too be fated thus?”

Utu’s response was a candid one: Gilgamesh should stop building castles in the air as he too would go the way every other Earthling did – six feet under. The preponderance of Anunnaki genes in his blood did not at all exempt him. “The Life that you seek, you shall not find! When the gods created Mankind, Death for Mankind they allotted; Life they retained in their own keeping,” Utu said.

Shamash proceeded to advise his nephew that instead of fretting about death, an inevitability in his case, he should make the most of his sojourn in this world by living life to the full. “Let full be thy belly, Gilgamesh. Make thou merry by day and night! Of each day, make thou a feast of rejoicing. Day and night, dance thou and play! Let thy garments be sparkling fresh, thy head washed. Bathe thou in water. Pay heed to the little one that holds thy hand. Let thy spouse delight in thy bosom, for this is the fate of mankind.”  

That was a straightforward enough statement, but Gilgamesh read something else into it. When Shamash said, “Make thou merry by day and night”, Gilgamesh interpreted that as code for bedding young women 24/7 if he was to stay young indefinitely. Before long, he had turned himself into a social despot, demanding sex with newlyweds before the groom did. He decreed that wherever there was a wedding in Uruk, he should be informed well in advance so that he scheduled a timeous showing and accordingly satiated himself.  It seems like he had a torn a page from some book entitled Inanna’s Sexual Shenanigans, hadn’t he?

For just as Inanna sexually abused grooms, Gilgamesh was sexually abusing brides – both through blatant abuse of the seamless power at their disposal. In fact on some nights when he was really hard up, Gilgamesh would patrol the promenades and when he happened upon a gorgeous teenage girl, he would invite her into his chariot and sweet-talk her into doing it with him. Being  at once King and  gorgeous,  he was irresistible. The people of Uruk were appalled at their King’s overnight transformation from a good man hitherto to a fiend of sorts. “Unbridled in his arrogance, he left not a maiden alone,” the Sumerian chronicles say.   Soon they were staging protests and the city’s elders were filing petitions,  but Gilgamesh had grown horns and just wasn’t budging. Soon he would want to grow wings too.   

ENKI PROPOSES  CREATURE TO TAME GILGAMESH

The outcry of the Uruk populace over Gilgamesh’s sexual perversion   was such that his mother Ninsun was greatly troubled. Hopeless to rein in her beloved but now monster of a son, an anguished Ninsun went to see her mother Ninmah so she could advise on a viable  way to tame him. Having wracked her brains and come up with nothing meaningful, Ninmah  suggested that they see “Wise Enki”  on the matter and soon the two ladies were on their way to Eridu, Enki’s base in Sumer.  

The quick-thinking  Enki didn’t flog his brains overmuch. What Gilgamesh needed, Enki said, was a physical equal, somebody either as powerful or more powerful  than him to exert him in a concatenation  of wrestling matches and inflict on him a series of defeats.  That way, his energies would be constructively diverted from sexual fixation to a compulsive desire to  confront his opponent and undo the stigma of loss. Considering  that being a freak of nature Gilgamesh was invincible as a gladiator, that no single human alive would stand up to him, Enki suggested that a kind of Strong Man, a creature that could contain Gilgamesh, be fashioned artificially. Listening raptly,  the two ladies endorsed the Enki alternative and soon Enki, with  the assistance of Ninmah as usual, was at work in the Eridu laboratory.

How exactly did Enki bring about Strong Man? Reading the Sumerian records, one finds that the story is somewhat convoluted, with elements that sound very plausible  and those that border on fantasy. Both Strong Man and Gilgamesh were men of extraordinary feats and naturally aspects of legend were certain to grow around their saga over time. However, to a discerning person, as I believe I am, it is easy to separate the wheat from the chaff and piece together a sensible and credible sequence of events.    

Somewhere in the steppes of Uruk roamed Wild Man. Wild Man must have grown up   amongst wild life, possibly abandoned amongst them  when he was an infant.   He co-habited with beasts and behaved like them. He was to all intents and purposes  a throwback to the Adama, the primitive stage of the being that was later upgraded to Adam, the first viable human being.

The Sumerian tablets say, “When Mankind was created, they knew not the eating of bread, knew not the dressing in garments, ate plants with their mouth like sheep, drank water from a ditch”. That was the kind of life Wild Man led. Having lived through the rigours of a wild environment probably since he was an infant, Wild Man was a colossal figure and tremendously strong and powerful. His civilised like would be just the sort of being to pit the equally humongous Gilgamesh against.   

ENKIDU COMES INTO EXISTENCE

Now, when Enki created Adam, he blended Anunnaki genes with those of Ape Man. In fashioning Strong Man, he combined the genes of Wild Man with those of an Anunnaki. We know this was the case because there is mention of “copper” coming into the mix, which some rather naive scholars have interpreted to mean Strong Man was a transhumanoid, that is, part-human, part machine. That was far from the case. The copper association arises from the fact that Strong Man was meant to be blue-blooded, like a demigod.

Demigods were blue-blooded, like the Anunnaki, in that they were at least 50 percent Anunnaki. The blue-bloodedness was the result of their blood being copper-based as opposed to iron-based, like we full humans are. When copper-based blood is exposed to oxygen, it turns bluish-green. Enki didn’t take long  to evolve Strong Man, who  was incubated in purely artificial conditions in a laboratory setting,  into a fully-formed, adult-size human being: in just under two years, Strong Man was up and running. 

We know this is possible from what we learnt in the Zeta Series – that the Ebens of planet Serpo in the Zeta Reticuli star system were able to create a cloned, full-grown being in an artificial incubator in a laboratory within 18 months. When fully grown, Enkidu was genetically programmed to be slightly shorter than Gilgamesh so as to give the latter a psychological advantage in the event that they faced off. He stood at about 6-foot-6, or 2 metres, against Gilgamesh’s 8-foot-2, or 2 1/2 metres. He was below the average Anunnaki size but compared to fellow humans he was a mountain of a man.

Enki called Strong Man Enkidu, meaning “By Enki Created”. However, since Enkidu was so speedily fast-tracked, his mental development lagged his physical development by far.  He had the capacity for speech all right, but he was uncomfortable being in the company of fellow humans and therefore spent all-day-long amongst animals in Enki’s zoological garden. At this stage at least, the genes of Wild Man were more   expressive than Anunnaki genes. He conducted himself like an animal and even copulated with them.

This is the way he’s described: “Shaggy with hair is his whole body. He is endowed with head-hair like a woman … He knows neither people nor land: garbed he is like one of the green fields. With gazelles he feeds on grass; with the wild beasts he jostles at the watering place. With the teeming creatures in the water his heart delights.” On Sumerian cylinder seals, where he’s often shown in the company of animals, Enkidu is depicted naked, bearded, and with lush but unkempt locks of hair.  

ENKI COMMISSIONS ENKIDU

A time came when Enki decided Enkidu must be civilised and be put to the use for which he was created. This was to be a step-by-step process. First, a woman was to be staked out around him with a view to re-orientate him away from bestiality to human heterosexuality.  Enki hired a tantric priestess known as Shamhat to help accomplish this end. Not only was Shamhat well-paid for this role but she relished it greatly as Enkidu was at once a hulk of a man and a hunk of a man.   

Shamhat approached Enkidu as he was frolicking with some antelopes and straightaway began to make erotic moves on him – sweet-talking him, caressing him, lap-dancing on him, romancing him, playing with his great prick. Noting that he was getting aroused, she led him to  a cabin in the zoological garden that was originally meant for him  but which he had shunned in favour of sleeping in the open air with animals. There, she cocooned herself with him for up to seven straight days. Over the course of these seven days, she had him make love to her as often as either of the two desired. This was in addition to dressing him up, bathing him properly, and preparing cooked food for him.  

At long last, she gave him a chance to go mix with the animals just to gauge how he was shaping up in the rehabilitation drills. This time around, animals did not cosy up to him. In fact, they avoided him and even ran away when he attempted to be intimate with them. It seemed he had lost animalistic vibes and he now energetically repulsed them. The Shamhat trick had worked: Enkidu had been won back to the human fold.  


The next stage was to train him in wrestling, not with fellow humans, who were too small for him, but with apes and bears. He acquitted himself very well, tossing them about like a rag doll in every bout. Finally, he was put in a classroom situation to refine his speech and communication skills, which had waned owing to spending too much time among animals. Now he was ready for his intended deployment. The following was Enki’s brief to him:

“Enkidu, you are to settle in Uruk. Your target is Gilgamesh, the King of Uruk. You are to ensure you stand in his way when he primes to sexually abuse a bride anywhere. He will of course confront you and challenge you to a fight as he’s in the habit of doing. You are expected to defeat and therefore shame him. He’ll be so chagrined as to never approach a woman again in that you will have made a laughing stock of his virility and taken the shine off the psychological charm he casts on women. Once you have vanquished him, you are to befriend him. You are to be his bosom friend.  That way, you’ll be the round-the-clock check on whatever excesses he contemplates. Do you hear me Enkidu?”

“I’m at your service Lord Enki,” Enkidu replied. “I undertake to deliver on the assignment you have given me. I will not disappoint you Great God.” Enki also told Enkidu that some tips on forthcoming events would be relayed to Gilgamesh by way of dreams. The Anunnaki were capable of projecting dreams in the human subconscious  folks though exactly how they did this is a mystery.
 
GILGAMESH INVITED TO “HEAVEN”?

And it came to pass … As Enkidu was being primed for the ultimate encounter with Gilgamesh, the latter had two successive, same-night  dreams whose meanings were obscure.  Although he himself had an idea as to what the first dream for one evinced, he decided to pick the brain of his mother,      “Beloved and wise Ninsun who is versed in all knowledge”.  This is how he recounted the first dream:

“During the night I felt joyful and I walked about among my nobles. Something from the heavens kept coming at me. The handiwork of Anu descended towards me! It became embedded in the ground as it fell from the skies. I sought to lift it; it was too heavy for me. I sought to shake it; I could neither move nor raise it. I pressed strongly its upper part; I could neither remove its covering, nor raise its Ascender … With a destroying fire its top I (then) broke off, and moved into its depths.

Its movable part, That Which Pulls Forward, I lifted, and brought it to thee.  The populace jostled toward it, the nobles thronged about. The whole of Uruk land was gathered around it.  My companions were kissing its feet. The heroes (Anunnaki) grabbed its lower part.  I pulled it up by its forepart. I was drawn to it as to a woman.  I placed it at your feet; you made it vie with me.”

As for the second dream, it was simple enough: all that happened was that Gilgamesh found an axe “on the ramparts of Uruk” and decided to bring it to his mother to unravel its mystery. Thus it was the first dream that was the more complex. Exactly what was the “Handiwork of Anu?” Of course that was not the name of the object: it was the name by which Gilgamesh called it for to his mind it represented an invitation by King Anu to travel to “Heaven”, or Nibiru.  The object itself was a spent rocket booster. This is the part of a space-bound rocket that is made to drop back to Earth when the rocket is in low orbit with a view to make the rocket lighter as it proceeds in flight. It is meant to boost the rocket’s take-off thrust and then detach when the fuel is expended.

Ninsun parried Gilgamesh’s own interpretation of the dream. Instead, she explained that both dreams had the same underlying message. “That which was coming toward you from Heaven foretells the arrival of a stout comrade who rescues,” she said. “A friend is to come to thee. He is the mightiest in the land … He will wrestle you with his might, but he will never forsake you.  This is the meaning of thy vision.  The copper axe that you saw is a man, one equal to you in strength. A strong partner will come to you, one who can save the life of a comrade. He was created on the steppe, and he will soon arrive in Uruk.”  

Clearly, Ninsun’s take was premeditated.  The dream was contrived by Enki and its interpretation was therefore specifically tailored to sensitise Gilgamesh to the imminent arrival in town of Enkidu. But Gilgamesh was not in the least bit stirred by Enkidu. It was his own interpretation of the dreams with which his mind would be preoccupied for some time to come.

NEXT WEEK:  CLASH OF THE TITANS!

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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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