Connect with us
Advertisement

Jehovah’s Sky Vehicles

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER    

They took the form of Cherubims, Seraphims, and the “Glory of God” known as the Kabod!

Aircraft – skyborne vehicles of all sorts – were the primary means by which the Old Testament gods moved from place to place. It’s all very apparent in the Bible. Of course the Bible does not call them planes, choppers, or flying saucers because such terms didn’t exist then. In ancient times, any unusual object in the eyes of mankind was described in terms either of its closest resemblance in nature or a familiar man-made structure. Hence, sky vehicles were variously called eagles, wings, winds, whirlwinds, dragons, horses, chariots (horse-pulled carriages), sky/celestial boats, sky chambers, etc.  

There’s an English expression which says, “taking somebody under one’s wings”, that is, assuming their care, guardianship, apprenticeship, or any other such periodical responsibility.  Most people are not aware that the expression has its roots in the Bible. It had to do with the privilege on the part of Earthlings that came with riding in a rocket, chopper, jet, or flying saucers owned or operated by their Anunnaki gods.  

The Old Testament is replete with statements about Yahweh – any of the Anunnaki gods but Enlil fundamentally – taking to aerial flight. For instance, in EXODUS 19:4, Yahweh says to the children of Israel, his chosen people, “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to Me”. Of course your preacher or brain-dead theologian will tell you this is all symbolic language. Well, it isn’t: what Yahweh was saying was that at least some of the elite Israelites had the opportunity of being transported in his jet or flying saucer in the great trek from Egypt to the Sinai.

When welcoming his  widowed relative Ruth into the broader family fold, Boaz, a wealthy landowner of Bethlehem in Judea,    says to her, “May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge”  (RUTH 2:12). It is likely that Ruth was brought along to Boaz’s place in Yahweh’s aircraft. A number of psalms (e.g.  PSALMS 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; and 63:7) talk about singing or taking refuge “in the shadow of thy wings”, that is, the shadow of Yahweh’s aircraft, figuratively meaning coming under Yahweh’s protection. PSALM 18:10 characterises Yahweh as “flying upon the wings of the wind” and PSALM 104:3 says, “He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind” – all of which assert loud and clear that the gods of Israel travelled in aircraft.

THE CHERUBIM AND SERAPHIM

In the Bible, there are three types of flying machines that have confounded so many a scholar they are largely mis-translated from the Hebrew into English. These are Cherubim (cherub for singular); Seraphim (seraph for singular); and Kabod. We will begin with the Cherubim. The term Cherubim occurs more than 100  times in the Bible. It can denote a whole host of  things. They include the Anunnaki themselves (generally called angels in the Bible); anything that symbolises the Anunnaki as minders of God’s throne, such as the two, golden graven images of winged beings atop the Ark of the Covenant (EXODUS 37:7);  

and demigods (part-human, part-Anunnaki) who were given a chance  to visit Baalbek and ride in a shem. In the latter sense, for instance, the King of Tyre was described as “an anointed cherub” (EZEKIEL 28:14).  In Akkadian, the Cherubim (Karibu) were intercessors – blessed/consecrated ones who spoke to Anunnaki gods on behalf of the human population. That is to say, the Cherubim were high priests.  

The term Seraphim is less frequent than Cherubim in the Bible. It occurs five times in the Old Testament (NUMBERS 21:6–8; DEUTERONOMY 8:15; and ISAIAH 6: 1-3, 14:29, and 30:6) and once in the New Testament (REVELATION 4:4-8). In ISAIAH 6:1-3 and REVELATION 4:4-8, the connotation is that of an angelic guard/choir of God. In the book of Enoch, the Seraphim are the highest-ranking angels followed by the Cherubim.

However, all the above meanings are secondary. They constitute evolutionary meanings and not original   meanings. The original meaning of both Cherubim and Seraphim had to do with flying machines. The original meaning of seraph was “something that burns”.  You will be aware by now that that is how the Sumerians described a shem, a rocket, because it billowed down fire as it upthrusted into the sky. When referring to Jets, or Mu’s, the term seraphim meant “flying fiery winged serpent”. If you recall, Ningishzidda was called Quetzalcoatl   by the Mayans because he rode in a flying craft that looked like a flying winged serpent – a seraphim. A jet of course does not billow out fire but the overriding assumption was that all flying craft were powered by fire.  The Seraphim as flying machines were also known as dragons.

YAHWEH’S KABOD

In the Bible, Yahweh could ride in a cherub (2 SAMUEL 22:11/PSALM 18:10).  Also in the Bible, the seraph is primarily an aircraft-type weapon of destruction as it “spouted fire” (DEUTERONOMY 8:15; NUMBERS 21: 6; and ISAIAH 30:6.) It is clear that the Cherubim and Seraphim were flying objects because they had connotations of  fire (like a rocket); wings (like those of a plane); wheels folded against them (like those of a plane in flight); noise (like that of a landing or taking off plane or rocket); and a cabin (called a “throne” in the Bible); protection (shems were deemed as ‘protecting” one from death as they were a means by which eternal life was conferred);  and communication (the Anunnaki gods sometimes proclaimed [that is, broadcast] messages from low-flying aircraft such as  choppers.

If there was a difference between Cherubim and Seraphim craft, it was primarily in their shapes and sizes.  Cherubims were smaller. In GENESIS 3:24, God stationed Cherubims on the peripheries of the Garden of Eden with a view to ensure that the banished Adam and Eve did not find their way back in. These were simply rotorcrafts (rotary wing aircraft, such as a helicopter). The Seraphim were bigger and took the form of a plane basically.

In time, the Anunnaki themselves came to be called cherubims/seraphims, just as they were called rocket men, after the machines they flew in. Moreover, since flying machines were associated with sanctity/perfection, a good-looking person was also referred to as a cherub (Kgarebe in Setswana). By the same token, since Seraphim sky vehicles were shaped like a flying snake or reptile, snakes too came to be known as seraphs or dragons. The Assyrians referred to Nergal, Enki’s second son, as sharrapu, meaning “a fire-breathing god” (by virtue of the role he played in the nuking of Sodom and Gomorrah), or simply dragon.  

There was also another airborne vehicle, smaller than both the Cherubim and Seraphim, that was used by Ishkur-Adad when he spearheaded the Israelites into the Sinai wilderness. This small craft was actually a mobile throne. Called a Kabod, wrongly translated as “the Glory of God” (e.g. EXODUS 24:15-18), it appears about 200 times in the Old Testament. The Kabod was camouflaged in a mass of fire/light veiled in a cloud. The Kabod was a short range craft: for long-haul trips, it was carried in the much bigger Cherubim, just as huge planes carry choppers in our day.

Zechariah Sitchin provides further context for us thus in relation to the experiences of Prophet Ezekiel:   “The Chariot, Ezekiel reported, was engulfed with a bright radiance; this, he said, was ‘the appearance of the Kabod of Yahweh’. On his first prophetic mission to the exiles dwelling at the River Khabur, he was addressed by the Lord in a valley where ‘the Kabod of Yahweh was stationed, a Kabod like the one seen before’. When he was carried aloft and taken to see Jerusalem ‘in divine visions’, he again ‘saw the Kabod of the God of Israel, as the one I had seen in the valley’. And when the envisioned visit was completed, the ‘Kabod of Yahweh’ stationed itself upon the Cherubim, and the Cherubim raised their wings and ‘lifted off the earth’, carrying the Kabod aloft.”

THE ANUNNAKI’S FLIGHT UNIFORM

Besides being called Eagles, the Anunnaki pilots/astronauts were known as Abgals (“master who points the way”) in Sumerian and Akpallu in Akkadian. Inanna-Ishtar’s principal pilot was known as Nungal, or Pushan in the language of the Indus Valley. According to one Vedas text, Pushan “guided Indra (Inanna) through the speckled clouds in the golden ship (flying saucer) that travels in the air’s mid-region”.  

Of the Anunnaki pantheon, it is Inanna who is most depicted in flight gear. Her twin brother Utu-Shamash may have been the god of the shems but it was Inanna with whom Earthlings were besotted with regard to flight.     The Sumerian records describe seven objects Inanna wore in relation to her sky-borne travels. They were a Shugarra (helmet); measuring pendants (earphones); chains of small bluish stones around her neck; twin stones on her shoulder; a golden cylinder in her hands; straps clasping her breasts; and the Pala or ruler’s garment, the clothing around her body.   

In 1934, archaeologists excavated a full-sized statue of Inanna at Mari, in modern Syria, that showed her dressed in pilot gear.  Zechariah Sitchin furnishes the following account on the statue:      “On her head she wears not a milliner's chapeau but a special helmet; protruding from it on both sides and fitted over the ears are objects that remind one of a pilot's earphones. On her neck and upper chest the goddess wears a necklace of many small (and probably precious) stones; in her hands she holds a cylindrical object which appears too thick and heavy to be a vase for holding water.

“Over a blouse of see-through material, two parallel straps run across her chest, leading back to and holding in place an unusual box of rectangular shape. The box is held tight against the back of the goddess's neck and is firmly attached to the helmet with a horizontal strap. Whatever the box held inside must have been heavy, for the contraption is further supported by two large shoulder pads. The weight of the box is increased by a hose that is connected to its base by a circular clasp.

“The complete package of instruments – for this is what they undoubtedly were – is held in place with the aid of the two sets of straps that crisscross the goddess's back and chest.” If you recall, when a disinvited Inanna dared to attend her husband Dumuzi’s funeral at the palace of Nergal in Cape Agulhas in South Africa, she had to go through seven gates and at each gate, one of seven objects on her person was confiscated.

What she had been brashly wearing was the same aeronaut’s uniform described above (worn only by ranked gods), which her estranged sister and hostess, Ereshkigal,  insisted she leave behind before she entered her presence just in case she was hiding a subtle weapon underneath. Ereshkigal wanted Inanna to stand before her stark naked to humiliate her. In sum folks, the Anunnaki not only flew aircraft but they wore a special airman’s uniform when they so did.

SIN’S BOUNTIFUL BROOD

Reading the Sumerian chronicles, and indeed the works of noted Anunnaki chroniclers themselves such as Zechariah Sitchin, one gets the impression, generally, that Utu-Shamash and Inanna-Ishtar were Nannar-Sin’s only kids. That simply wasn’t the case. The fraternal twins were his seniormost kids with his wife Ningal, Enki’s daughter who was known as Asherah to the Canaanites. Of all the Anunnaki here on Earth, Sin in fact had the largest number of children.

Sin, the future Allah of Islam (just as Enlil was the future Jehovah of Judaism and the tragically grafted-upon Christianity) had upwards of 70 children, the reason he was known as Aten, meaning the “Fertile Lord”. If you think Enki had a rabbit’s libido, maybe you should spare a thought for Sin. However, whereas Enki mounted and sired children with practically every breasted being of his fancy, Sin’s children all were official, meaning they arose in full conformity with the parameters of intra-marital and extra-marital procreation.   

Of the 70-plus children, 30 were with his official consort Ningal: surely, the stress of repeated childbirth must have worn the poor woman to a frazzle. The rest were born via a harem arrangement. We have already talked about the Gipar, Inanna’s night-time abode, within which was a Gigunu, her chamber of night-time pleasures. Sin also had his own Gipar and Gigunu at his sacred precincts in Ur, his cult city, where he could carouse with the hierodules, or pleasure priestesses, and sire children with a myriad of concubines with the full knowledge and sanction of Ningal.

In any case, Sin was renowned in two other respects. First, he was the best looking Enlilite. It is the reason the term Adonis (from Adonai, the Hebrew name for Sin, which stems from his other name Aten, also rendered Adon) came to mean a very handsome man. Second, he was enormously gifted south of the waistline, a trait Shamash inherited and was fond of flaunting. One poetic Sumerian text tells how two females who spotted Sin taking a leisurely stroll stark naked on a beach were charmed by his colossal member and following a threesome that same night in the Gigunu ended up bearing him two sons. Indeed, an ancient Phoenician coin depicts him with a very prominent prick.

Now, of the totality of Sin’s children, the eldest was Yam, who he had with a concubine. The fraternal twins Shamash and Inanna, with Inanna technically the older of the two since she arrived first, were next. The fourth was Mot, yet another son Sin had with Yam’s mother. According to the Anunnaki succession rules, the rightful heir was Shamash as not only was he male but he was born to the official spouse Ningal. But Nannar-Sin was equivocal as to his own preference and the upshot was serious feuding between Shamash, allied with his sister by blood Inanna, and Yam, allied with his blood brother Mot.

SHAMASH IS KILLED

Shamash clashed at least once with  each of his  two half-brothers. The first, with Yam,  was over the succession. The second, with Mot,  was over Baalbek. The initial conflict was sparked when Yam somehow prevailed upon Sin in some secret meeting to bestow the succession on him, a scenario not unlike the stunt Jacob pulled on his elder brother Esau. For some reason, Sin did not think Shamash had what it took to step into his shoes as he neared retirement from the public stage. At some stage, he even engaged in a showdown with Shamash to demonstrate to him that he, Sin, was still in charge and he had better toe the line, an event we shall go into in detail at the appropriate time.

The first to get wind of this private pact between Sin and Yam was Inanna. The moment she learnt about it, she rushed to Shamash to alert him that “El (Sin) is overturning the Kingship”. Alarmed, Shamash immediately appealed to the Enlilite Council of the Gods. Although the council invalidated Sin’s gesture and reinstated Shamash, Yam refused to take the matter lying down and declared war on Shamash.

When the two faced off, it was Shamash who had the upper hand. Inanna had helped him secure two formidable weapons from Ningishzidda, the “Craftsman of the Gods”.  The weapons were known as the “Chaser” and the “Thrower” which “swoops like an eagle”. Yam simply was no match and was in dire straits.  As Shamash poised to finish him off, his mother Asherah materialised from out of the blue and begged him to spare his half-brother. Shamash obliged but subject to one strong condition – that Asherah should prevail over Sin to declare him as the Lord of Zaphon (Baalbek) in perpetuity. Sin duly contacted Ishkur-Adad, the overall Lord of Lebanon, and underlined the point that only Shamash of all his sons was entitled to preside over Baalbek.  

Shamash’s encounter with Mot had to do with his installation at Baalbek of the “Stone of Splendour”, described as something that “Heaven and Earth it makes converse and the seas with planets”. It was a sophisticated contraption that could send or intercept secret message electronically relayed on the planet and therefore was in the realm of espionage, something akin to the USA’s National Security Agency’s global surveillance programme that was exposed by Edward Snowden.

Disturbed by this development, Mot demanded that he inspect the installation so that he exactly figures it out. Shamash showed him the middle finger, whereupon Mot requested that Shamash come to his place to at least explain the installation’s full ramifications. Shamash cooperated, only to walk into an ambush. The moment he showed up,   Mot took him on in a one-on-one fist fight and in the process Shamash was killed. All this happened long before the era of Gilgamesh, which means Shamash did not actually cross over. Exactly how did he once again live to be the Lord of Zaphon? Did he dramatically reanimate himself like the phoenix?

NEXT WEEK:  GILGAMESH Vs HUWAWA

Continue Reading

Columns

Parricide at Herod’s Court

25th January 2021
SAILI

A wife, uncle, and two in-laws fall at the hands of Judah’s despot

The pre-eminent Jewish chronicler, Flavius Josephus, said of Herod the Great that he was “blessed with every gift of looks, body, and mind” but he was a “slave to his passions”. This was in the context of a gloating bloodlust.

His sword knew no sacred cows: neither his own kids, wives, in-laws, next of kin, nor bosom friends were immune from it. He is on record as pestering Caesar Augustus with a barrage of letters seeking permission to execute his own flesh and blood, prompting the Roman emperor to at one time quip that, “It is better to be Herod’s pig than his son”, which was apt: as a “Jew”, Herod did not eat pork and therefore in the event that he kept any pigs, they would never have to be killed.

You are by now well-apprised of the death of Hyrcanus II by the same Herod, General Atiku, in 30 BC. Hyrcanus, a Hasmonean ruler of Judah twice over, was actually the grandfather of Mariamne I, Herod’s most beloved wife and his second of up to 10 wives. It was Mariamne’s own mother Salome, who dreading Herod’s pathological savagery, pitched Mariamne to Herod in the hope that that would insure her family from Herod’s murderous caprices.

Now, Mariamne, General, was as much a stunning beauty as her younger brother Aristobulus III was breathtakingly good-looking. Having tied the knot with Herod in 37 BC, Mariamne had prevailed over her husband to install Aristobulus as High Priest. The post had fallen vacant on the death of Antigonus in 37 BC and Herod had appointed one Ananel, who had no ties whatsoever to the Hasmoneans, the first such in more than a century, in his place. Unable to resist the spirited entreaties of his beloved wife, who had also lobbied Queen Cleopatra of Egypt and her beau Mark Anthony, Herod gave in and replaced Ananel with Aristobulus, who was only 16 years old, in 36 BC.

Because of his enormous charisma and overall affability, Aristobulus was a hit with the masses despite his tender age and Herod was envious of the young man’s rock star-like popularity. To make doubly sure the young man did not harbour a seditious ace up his sleeve, the morbidly paranoid Herod had his spooks watch on both Aristobulus and his mother round the clock. Sensing imminent danger, Aristobulus contacted Cleopatra, asking for a pre-emptive safe passage to Egypt and there enjoy absolute freedom. When Herod got wind of this, he decided to get rid of Aristobulus as he did not wish him to be a perennial thorn in his flesh from the utter safety of self-imposed exile.

The opportunity came at a banquet in Jericho which was organised by Aristobulus’ mother. There, Herod had one of his henchmen cause Aristobulus to drown during a dusk time horseplay in a swimming pool. Of course Herod would forever maintain the drowning was accidental when everybody knew it was in truth a tactical elimination. Poor Aristobulus was only 17 years old having been born in 56 BC. He was the last Hasmonean High Priest and was replaced by the previously deposed Ananel, who was to remain in that position till 29 BC.

HEROD ACQUITTED OVER THE ARISTOBULUS DEATH

It need not be over-emphasised, General, that Mariamne and her mother Alexandra did not take Herod’s line over the all too untimely demise of Aristobulus lying down. If he had reckoned that with the death of Aristobulus he had gotten rid of potentially the most potent threat to his omnipotence, he was totally mistaken. Herod had actually simply fanned the flames of intrigue against him, for mother and daughter confronted him and accused him of murdering their boy in cold blood.

Nor did the two Iron Ladies end matters there: Alexandra wrote a lachrymal letter to Cleopatra to get her to bring her influence to bear on Mark Anthony so that Herod paid dearly and likewise for his nefarious act. Anthony, who at the time was the Roman colossus in charge of the whole of the Middle East, was persuaded and during a visit to Laodicea (in modern-day Turkey, though some accounts say it was Rhodes in Cyprus), he commanded Herod to report to him forthwith and exculpate himself over the affair.

Although Herod put a brave face on the matter, General, he was rather unsure of his eventual fate after the trial. He also suspected rightly or wrongly that Anthony had a thing for the voluptuously beautiful Mariamne and the last thing Herod wanted was for any other man to bed his beloved Mariamne even in death. So before he set off for Laodicea, Herod instructed his uncle Joseph, who was married to his sister Salome, to make sure that in the event that Anthony sentenced him to death, he should immediately put her to the sword. He also detailed a certain Sohemus, a most trusted aide, to stand sentry over the entire womenfolk at the palace.

Herod, however, had the nine lives of a cat, General. Using his immense rhetorical skills and the time-honoured palm greasing, he won himself an acquittal. Meanwhile, the Judean rumourville was abuzz with chatter that Herod had been summarily executed by Anthony, as a result of which people became spendthrifts of their tongues.

Both Joseph and Sohemus disclosed to Mariamne the instructions Herod had left them with in relation to her fate once he was no more. Mariamne was both livid and distraught that her husband regarded her as so easily expendable when outwardly he cherished her beyond words. To her mind, his arrangements with Joseph had nothing to do with love but sprang from sheer monstrosity. She probably thanked God that he was dead, but the fact of the matter was that he was not and when he at long last turned up, she did not want to have anything to do with him, including the conjugation which he so eagerly pined for after such an extended absence.

HEROD KILLS HIS WIFE AND HIS UNCLE

Now, if Herod had a kind of Svengali, General, it was his youngest sister Salome. Salome (65 BC-10 AD) was the most powerful woman at Herod’s court. A sly, scheming, and manipulating vixen, she arguably more than any other living being had the most sway in a negative sense on her brother, who took practically whatever she said as gospel truth.

Let us nevertheless, General, take stock of the fact that the bulk of what we learn about Salome comes from Flavius Josephus, who himself relied on the writings of Herod’s court historian Nicolaus of Damascus. For one reason or the other, Nicolaus did not see eye to eye with Salome and it is therefore possible that much of what Nicolaus relates of her is embellished to smear her before the court of history.
Upon his return, Herod was told of the rumours of his death and so was surprised to find Mariamne alive when Joseph and Sohemus should in the circumstances have had her killed if indeed they were loyal to him. In fact, Joseph had even put Mariamne and Alexandra into the safe custody of Roman legions stationed in Judea just in case Jewish malcontents who abhorred Herod turned their wrath on them.

But there was more. Salome reported to Herod that Mariamne, who she hated like the plague, had had sexual relations with both Joseph and Sohemus, this being Mariamne’s reward to them for dishing out to her the dirt on Herod, and that she had on several occasions before attempted to poison him. Now, no one would hump Herod’s most beloved wife and get away scotfree. It is therefore small wonder that Herod straightaway ordered the execution of Joseph and Sohemus. Joseph was 61 years old at the time of his death in 34 BC, having been born in 95 BC. In the case of Mariamne herself though, he had her subjected to a formal court trial not on charges of adultery but of attempted regicide.

Herod had hoped that the court would acquit her, whereupon he would make bygones be bygones so great was his love for the woman, but sadly for him, General, she was found guilty and sentenced to death. Even then, Herod tactfully dilly-dallied on signing the writ of execution and simply had his wife detained at a fortress for some time until Salome prevailed over him to execute her at long last. Writes Josephus: “Thus, with the death of the noble and lovely Mariamne ended the glorious history of the Hasmonean High Priest Mattathias and his descendants.”

For a long time to come though, General, Herod was haunted by the death of his wife to the point of even sometimes coming across as if he had lost his mind. “When Herod realised what this meant (the death sentence passed on Mariamne), he tried in vain to have the verdict changed, but Salome did not rest until the death penalty was carried out,” Josephus informs us. “Herod was heartbroken; nothing could comfort him for the loss of his lovely wife.

For seven years he refused to have her body buried, and held it, embalmed, in his palace. Afterwards, he became so melancholy and despondent, nothing interested him or could arouse any enthusiasm in him for living … He was so far conquered by his passion, that he would order his servants to call for Mariamne, as if she were still alive, and could still hear them … He tried hard to forget his trouble by going hunting and banqueting, but nothing helped. Herod built new cities and erected temples and palaces. He also named a tower in honour of Mariamne.”

HEROD SLAYS SISTER’S EX-HUBBY

Mariamne’s death was not the only one which Herod perpetrated through the instrumentality of Salome. There were actually several and included those of her own husband Costobarus. Salome was married four times, to her uncle Joseph (45 BC); Costobarus (34 BC); Sylleus (circa 27 BC); and Alexas (20 BC).

Like the Herod clan, Costobarus was of Idumean stock. It was Costobarus Herod had made governor of Idumea and Gaza and upon Joseph’s death had him tie the knot with Salome, with the couple eventually siring two children, Berenice and Antipater III. Costobarus, though, soon began to harbour monarchical ambitions of his own and wrote to Cleopatra beseeching her to persuade Mark Anthony to make Idumea independent of Herod and install him (Costobarus) as Rome’s client King of the territory.

Of course upon learning of this, Herod was not amused. It was Salome who pleaded with him not to put her husband to the sword. Next time, however, a dumped Costobarus was not so lucky. Seven years after their marriage, Salome and Costobarus parted ways and a possibly hurt Salome decided to exact vengeance. She informed her brother that he had been harbouring two fugitives from Herodian justice for a full 12 years at his own farm.

The two were simply known as the Sons of Baba. Baba ben Babuta, their father and clan patriarch, was related to the Hasmonean ruler Antigonus, who Herod had replaced and killed in 37 BC with the help of Roman legions. Baba and his sons had resisted Herod at the time, with his sons henceforth persisted in insurrectionist activity against Herod. Baba himself had been captured and blinded by Herod but spared anyway as he no longer posed any threat. Writes Josephus: “Now the Sons of Babas were of great dignity, and had power among the multitude, and were faithful to Antigonus, and were always raising calumnies against Herod, and encouraged the people to preserve the government to that royal family (the Hasmoneans) which held it by inheritance.”

Costobarus had provided the Sons of Baba an indefinite lair “supposing that their preservation might be of great advantage to him in the changes of government afterward”. Following the Salome tip, Herod had Costobarus and the Sons of Baba summarily executed “so that none was left alive of the family of Hyrcanus (the Hasmonean), and the kingdom was wholly in Herod’s power, there being no one of high rank to stand in the way of his unlawful acts” per Josephus.

NEXT WEEK: HEROD’S WRATH ON HIS OWN SONS

Continue Reading

Columns

WHAT’S UP WITH WHATSAPP?

25th January 2021

In early January, WhatsApp, part of Facebook Inc., began alerting its 2 billion users to an update of its privacy policy which, should they want to keep using the popular messaging app, they have to accept. Much of the policy, which is about commercialising WhatsApp, states ‘WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information with, the other Facebook Companies.

We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate and market services’. WhatsApp is now reserving the right to share data it collects about you with the broader Facebook network, which includes Instagram, regardless of whether you have accounts or profiles there, claiming it needs it to help operate and improve its offerings. More broadly, almost all of the $21.5 billion in revenues which Facebook generated in the third quarter of 2020 came from advertising and there is currently none in WhatsApp.

The company now wants to be able to serve more targeted ads to people on Facebook and Instagram by also garnering their usage habits on WhatsApp and enabling businesses take payments via WhatsApp for items that were selected on other Facebook sites. For long-time users, the option to share data with Facebook was made available in 2016, but it was just that: optional and temporary. It was now to become mandatory for everybody from Feb. 8 but owing to a massive backlash, the company has delayed that to May 15 to try and persuade users to sign up to the new Ts and Cs.

WhatsApp on Monday attempted to address the uproar over privacy concerns with a post on its website, explaining that the update was designed to aid businesses on its platform, as it reiterated in Friday’s post.

“We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way. Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data.”

These new terms have caused an outcry among technology experts, privacy advocates, billionaire entrepreneurs and government organisations and triggered a wave of defections to rival services. Elon Musk has urged his followers to switch to Signal and the governments of Turkey and India have threatened to block the app if it insists on proceeding.

‘WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy verges on user surveillance and threatens India’s security’, a petition filed in an Indian court said on Thursday, presenting another legal challenge for the Facebook Inc. -owned messenger. “It virtually gives a 360-degree profile into a person’s online activity,” lawyer Chaitanya Rohilla told the Delhi High Court. Many Indian users have began installing rival apps like Signal and Telegram, pushing WhatsApp to begin a costly advertising campaign to calm its 400 million customer-base, the largest of any country. The change has also met with a challenge in Turkey with the country’s Competition Board this week launching an investigation into the messaging service and its parent company.

Elsewhere too, in spite of Whatsapp protestations, millions of its users are already migrating to alternative platforms. Signal saw 7.5 million downloads last week,  a 4,200% spike since the previous week and large swaths of users also jumped to Telegram, as the platform gained 9 million new users last week, up 91% from the previous week. Both apps are now topping Google and Apple’s app stores,

Facebook could possibly learn a lesson from history here. Every past empire – Aztec, Mayan, Greco-Roman, Sumerian, Mongol, Chinese, Ottoman and more recently British, all saw their star rise, their glory swell, their boundaries grow and yet each eventually fell, often the instigators of their own downfall.

They expanded too far too fast and could not control what they had initially conquered. And now it looks like the same fate might await this large tech giant. Parent company Facebook has also come under fire recently for overt and covert censorship policies with questions raised as to partisanship and curtailment of freedom of speech. Thus one would have to question the wisdom of the timing of this new Whatsapp privacy policy, if nothing else.

To understand its influence and control one only has to check out the un-smart sector of the mobile phone industry which for some time has offered handsets a small step up from the basic starter sets with Facebook and Whatsapp as default screen app settings. These limited internet access options have allowed millions of users to connect with affordable data bundle packages.

And for Google smartphone subscribers, the search engine automatically connects its base to Whatsapp and Facebook – one big, happy family. Facebook is also seamlessly linked to Paypal offering contact-less charges for its boosted post advertising, a somewhat sinister partnership which accesses their Paypal log-in and authorisation details without the need to inform the payee – the transaction is simply deducted automatically from the registered credit card. This is Big Brother with a blue logo.

The bottom line here is that if you have any privacy issues at all – and you probably should – you might as well make the switch now before you are forced to sign away your rights in May. And the plus part is that both Signal and Telegram have the technological edge over Whatsapp anyway, the latter even being accessible on multiple platforms simultaneously, not just on your phone.
Empires take time to crumble and Facebook is not in imminent danger but information is a weapon that can be used in any war, even a virtual conflict, so don’t give this giant any more ammunition than it already has.

Continue Reading

Columns

The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!