Noting that Utu-Shamash was not returning as per schedule from a meeting with Mot, Inanna-Ishtar was perturbed. Scrambling into a flying saucer, she decided to follow after him just in case he had met with grave misfortune.
Arriving at Mot’s courts, she asked for her brother. The response she got from Mot was at once cheeky and ambiguous. “Am I your brother’s keeper Inanna? He was here alright a while ago but I cannot vouch for his whereabouts now.” Inanna knew Mot was spinning a yarn: Shamash’s flying saucer was within the vicinity and therefore he had to be around. She there and then threw up a tantrum, demanding that Mot produce her brother forthwith if he valued his life. The histrionics she put up bore fruit as Mot’s people informed her the two had engaged in “hand combat” and Shamash had been slain.
Inanna was wroth. Drawing on her skills as a martial artist and quivering with rage, she laid into Mot forthwith and downed him. Then reaching for a sword she had cleverly concealed under her clothing, she swung it and in a split second Mot’s head lay beside him with his eyes still staring. Then hollering at Mot’s officials like a heist man who has just staged a hold-up, she demanded, with steel in her voice, that they show her where her brother’s body was otherwise they would all be history.
The officials were wise enough to note the look of murder in Inanna’s eyes and therefore wasted no time in hearkening to her. Shamash’s lifeless body was immediately flown to Baalbek. At the same time, Ningishzidda, Enki’s genius son, was alerted by radio to head for the same destination from where he was as a matter of life and death. Zidda did his “magic” and it worked since Shamash had been dead for less than three days. Within a month, he was fully recovered and was grinding again. As for Mot, it was curtains: he bit the dust alright. Apparently, Zidda wasn’t kin to apply the same reanimating techniques he had used on Shamash.
GILGAMESH WITNESSES ROCKET LAUNCH!
Coming back to The Epic of Gilgamesh, we’re at a stage where Gilgamesh, the King of Uruk who was between two-thirds to three-quarters Anunnaki, at long last arrives at the Cedar Mountain and stands in awe of the magnificent Cedar trees. Gilgamesh, a grandson of Inanna, had undertaken the journey along with his bosom friend Enkidu with a view to access a shem, blast off to Nibiru, the planet of the Anunnaki, partake of King Anu’s Plant of Life and Water of Life, and consequently gain immortality like the Anunnaki were in the eyes of mankind. The trip was a perilous one in that whereas it had the blessings of Shamash, the god in charge of Baalbek, it had not been sanctioned by Ishkur-Adad, the god who oversaw Lebanon in its entirety and under whose political jurisdiction Baalbek fell.
Gilgamesh had arrived at Baalbek, the place where “one could see Shamash rise up the Vault of Heaven”, late in the afternoon and therefore he and Enkidu decided to wait until the following morning before they made further inroads into the Cedar Mountain. Accordingly, they pitched their tents right at the foot of the mountain and at nightfall retired to sleep. Sometime just before dawn, they were awakened by a “thunderous noise and a blinding light”.
Scrambling out of their tent, they stood amid their armed entourage in pitch darkness as they beheld an “awesome” spectacle yonder atop the Cedar Mountain. This is how Gilgamesh describes it in The Epic of Gilgamesh text: “The heavens shrieked, the earth boomed. Daylight failed, darkness came. Lightning flashed, a flame shot up. The clouds swelled, it rained death! Then the glow vanished; the fire went out. And all that had fallen had turned to ashes.”
Needless to say, what Gilgamesh and Enkidu had just witnessed was the launching of a shem– a shuttlecraft. Zechariah Sitchin superbly explicates the event thus: “One needs little imagination to see in these few verses (of The Epic of Gilgamesh) an ancient account of the witnessing of the launching of a rocket ship. First, the tremendous thud as the rocket engines ignited (‘the heavens shrieked’), accompanied by a marked shaking of the ground (‘the earth boomed’).
Clouds of smoke and dust enveloped the launching site (‘daylight failed, darkness came’). Then the brilliance of the ignited engines showed through (‘lightning flashed’); as the rocket ship began to climb skyward, ‘a flame shot up’. The cloud of dust and debris ‘swelled’ in all directions; then, as it began to fall down, ‘it rained death!’ Now the rocket ship was high in the sky, streaking heavenward (‘the glow vanished; the fire went out’). The rocket ship was gone from sight; and the debris ‘that had fallen had turned to ashes’.” The incident did not frighten or deter Gilgamesh: instead, he took it as reassuring evidence that he and Enkidu had come to the right place.
THE FIEND MATERIALISES
To tell by the unperturbed way with which Enkidu and Gilgamesh had proceeded thus far, Shamash had done his utmost in smoothing the way for them. The fierce guards “who watch over Shamash as he ascends and descends”, whose “terror was awesome”, and whose “glance was death” were nowhere to be seen. The “shimmering spotlight” that “sweeps the mountains” seemed to have wandered well away. By the same token, Enkidu had done a commendable reconnaissance job when he first came here for the first time around.
The two did not encounter a single living being standing sentry in the manner Lugalbanda did. They were now very much poised to infiltrate their way into the silos in which the shems were kept. At daybreak, Enkidu and Gilgamesh got going. Using a map Shamash had supplied Gilgamesh with, the two made their way in the direction of a private, back door gate that was privy to the Anunnaki only, careful that they did not get into the cross hairs of “weapon-trees that kill”.
Reaching the gate, the more daring Enkidu, who led the way, keyed in the access code provided by Shamash. There was an electronic click, some sort of green light. But it seemed Enkidu’s palm print did not match with what the computer picked up: the moment he tried to push the gate open, some electronic “punch” zapped him and he fell to the ground unconscious.
A frantic Gilgamesh went to work immediately. Using the paraphernalia Shamash had provided him, he managed to revive Enkidu but the damage, seemingly, had already been done: Enkidu remained numb. He had no feeling from the neck downwards. Drawing upon the tips he had learnt from Enki, Enkidu asked Gilgamesh to fetch the roots of the plants that flourished around them. Gilgamesh did likewise and bent down to rub the nectar of the roots all over Enkidu’s limp body. This had the effect of making a “double mantle of radiance” emanate from Enkidu’s body (like the effect of Ormus) and by the 12th day, “paralysis left his body, impotence left the loins”. Enkidu was one whole again and was raring to go but backwards rather than forwards.
Anxious that what had happened to him could also happen to Gilgamesh and maybe worse in his case, Enkidu suggested to Gilgamesh that they make no further attempts at opening the gate and that they retreat and beat a path back to Uruk. Over the 12 days Enkidu had been an invalid, however, Gilgamesh hadn’t just lain idle: he had been ferreting around and in the process had stumbled upon a tunnel leading to the “enclosure from which words of command are issued”.
This was a chamber were the “Stone of Splendour”, the command centre that Shamash had installed, was located. But there was a glitch: the tunnel opening was concealed with a natural overgrowth of trees and bushes as well as soil and rocks and what that meant was that there was a job to be done before they pried open the tunnel.
“Do not stand by friend, “Gilgamesh implored Enkidu. “Take heart. Let us go down together.” Enkidu was galvanised and the two pressed on into the thick of the forest. Reaching the cleverly camouflaged site under the convenient cover of darkness, the two, along with their henchmen, got down to work, with Gilgamesh’s team hewing down the trees, and Enkidu’s digging up the rocks. They had scarcely gotten into stride when they heard a noise not unlike the cascade of water falling from a height. Then a beam of menacing light engulfed them. It was Huwawa!
“I SHALL BITE YOUR WINDPIPE AND NECK”
Huwawa, a humongous mechanical robot with a human-like appearance and who was capable of moving on the ground as well as gliding in the void, threw a shudder into Gilgamesh and Enkidu. When he materialised at a distance of about 200 meters, Enkidu’s first instinct was to issue the cry, “Take cover” and everybody did likewise at once.
Then Huwawa, who was equipped with an electronic voice that sounded like Stephen Hawking’s synthesised voice, spoke out, even pronouncing forth Gilgamesh’s name: clearly, somebody was speaking through him from somewhere within the Baalbek nerve centre. Intelligence had already seeped through and the intruding twosome had long been anticipated. “You are so very small that I regard you as a turtle and a tortoise,” Huwawa boasted, sounding very sentient and rather reasonable. “Were I to swallow you, I would not satisfy my stomach;
so I shall bite your windpipe and neck, Gilgamesh, and leave your body for the birds of the forest and for the roaring beasts.” Of course that was all programmed rhetoric: it was all metaphoric language for the damaged goods he would make of the duo once he had zapped them with his killer beam,
As the great android inched forward, Gilgamesh beheld him with searing alarm and trepidation, his heart thudding against his ribs. In those fraught moments, Gilgamesh considered that what Enkidu had told him was right: Huwawa was “mighty, his teeth as the teeth of the dragon, his face the face of a lion, his coming like the onrushing floodwaters. Most fearsome was his radiant beam, a killing force none could escape.”
Drawing nearer, the metallic monster demonstrated that he meant business. From the middle of his forehead, a killer beam shot out and traced a path of destruction that devoured the trees, grass, and thickets in the vicinity in a split second. The clearing that resulted exposed Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and their men like sitting ducks.
Why did Huwawa’s killer beam vapourise vegetation but leave the men unscathed? It was all thanks to Shamash, who had emasculated Huwawa in advance of Gilgamesh’s arrival. Ordinarily, Huwawa operated at seven times his present strength but Shamash had electronically toned him down to about one-seventh of his strength. This tampering made Huwawa incapable of electronically harming anything with flesh and blood.
It also rendered him more susceptible to harm himself as he had been tactfully stripped of “six cloaks” and therefore he effectively had six chinks in his armour. But physically, he still was a formidable foe: just one single blow to any of the men lying supine to the ground would immediately draw the curtain on his life.
ENKIDU SLAYS HUWAWA
As Huwawa loomed, the men from Uruk began to panic in the depressing knowledge that there simply was no way they could escape the clutches of this metallic beast. Just then, there was a sound of an approaching chopper and seconds later a message appeared on Gilgamesh’s timepiece. Alerted by the vibration of the wrist-strapped chronometer, Gilgamesh hastily brought his hand to the side of his head and read the text. It was Shamash. “Down from the skies spoke Divine Shamash,” The Epic of Gilgamesh says. The message read, “Do not try to escape; instead, draw near Huwawa. You can take him on with the weapons in your possession.”
Enkidu and Gilgamesh immediately sprang to their feet, but were unable to venture just one step forward so terror-struck were they by the mechanical creature that leisurely approached. As the two hesitated, Shamash’s chopper swooped low and “raised a host of swirling winds which beat against the eyes of Huwawa”. There and then, “the radiant beams vanished, the brilliance became clouded”. But the dreaded monster was still trudging forward anyway, so determined was he to terminate the daring Earthlings.
Once again, Shamash texted a tremulous Gilgamesh. “Do not run,” he urged. “Let Huwawa come near you, then throw the dust at his face”. This dust was not ordinary dust: it was a special-purpose, neutralising powder that Shamash had provided Gilgamesh with at the outset of his journey.
Ferreting in his pockets, Gilgamesh produced the powder, moved two to three steps closer to Huwawa, and flung the chemical into his nondescript face. The effect was instantaneous: Huwawa stood rooted in one place, as if he had been switched off, whereupon Gilgamesh gleefully observed to Enkidu, “He is unable to move forward, nor is he able to move back.” But the great machine monster had not given up the ghost yet.
Once again, he spoke up, this time imploringly, beseeching Gilgamesh to spare his life in exchange for any amount of the seemingly priceless cedars he’d love to get his hands on. Enkidu cautioned Gilgamesh to be wary that he was sweet-talked into docility by the wily monster. "Finish him off, slay him!" Enkidu hollered out at Gilgamesh. Noting that Gilgamesh was scrupling, as if it was a blood-and-flesh being he confronted, Enkidu reached for an axe, edged forward, and struck Huwawa not once but several times. The monster toppled over, landing with a thud that “for two leagues (about 10 km) the cedars resounded with”. The legendary robotic beast was no more.
In Zambia’s most widely spoken language, Bemba, uwawa means “One who has fallen (from a pedestal of some sort)”. The related term Iciwa, meaning “The Fallen Fiend” refers to a ghost, a demon, an apparition, or a vampire. Clearly, it was the fall of Huwawa at the hands of Enkidu that informed these terms.
GILGAMESH RILES INANNA
Now that the monster that was the most daunting barrier to the Abode of the Gods had perished, Gilgamesh and Enkidu decided to toast to their triumph by indulging in some revelry of sorts. But before they did that, they thought they needed to placate the gods, who had fashioned Huwawa, by according him their own improvisation of a hero’s send-off first thing in the morning. “Lest the gods be filled with fury at them, they set up an eternal memorial,” The Epic of Gilgamesh says. “The comrades cut down one of the cedar trees, made poles of it, and formed of them a raft with a cabin on it. In the cabin, they put the head of Huwawa and pushed the raft down a stream so that the Euphrates carries it to Nippur.”
That done, they stripped off and began to splash about in a brook as they chanted songs of merriment. “Gilgamesh washed his grimy hair, polished his weapons. The braid of his hair he shook out against his back. He cast off his soiled things, put on his clean ones. Wrapped a fringed cloak about, fastened with a sash.” The hunky king was scarcely done when Inanna, who seemed to possess the prescience to turn up at just the most tantalising moment, descended in a chopper.
Apparently, she had been spying on Gilgamesh with a zoom lens and having watched him undress and bath, she was once again roused by his mighty joystick and his overall virility. She there and then invited him to bed her. “Glorious Ishtar raised an eye at the beauty of Gilgamesh,” The Epic of Gilgamesh relates. “‘Come, Gilgamesh, be thou my lover,’ she entreated on her knees. “‘Do grant me of thy fruitfulness: thou shalt be a husband, I shall be a wife. Come, let us enjoy your vigour! Reach out your hand and touch my vulva!’” As usual, she proceeded to outline a whole series of benefits that would be at the Uruk King’s disposal if he hearkened to her advances.
But for the umpteenth time now, Gilgamesh rejected her. In recent times, she had made hobby of liquidating men who she invited to sleep with her on the anniversary of her husband Dumuzi’s death when they failed to satiate her. Gilgamesh alluded to this curious state of affairs in his spurn of her. “After the death of Dumuzi, the lover of your youth, thou hast ordained a wailing year after year,” he told her point blank.
“Which of your paramours pleased you all the time?” Gilgamesh went on to make mention of some of these poor folk whose death she had caused latterly. They included a shepherd who fell out of a flying craft; one strong man whose lifeless body she had unceremoniously dumped into a pit; and two men she had turned into a wolf and frog respectively using supernatural means, one of whom her own father’s gardener. “And how about me?" Gilgamesh asked rhetorically. “At the end, you will love me and then treat me just like them.” The Gilgamesh rebuff did not amuse Inanna at all. This time, she vowed somebody’s head was certainly going to roll. Exactly what was in store for Gilgamesh?
Princess Mary falls pregnant only one month after her betrothal to Prince Joseph
To put the lineage of Mary the mother of Jesus in context, General Atiku, it is in order that we begin with her grandfather Yehoshua (Jesus in Greek) III.
Mary was offspring of two royal lines, the Davidic line and the Hasmonean line. Yehoshua III was the Herod–appointed High Priest of Israel between 36 and 23 BC. He had no sons, only three daughters namely Joanna, Elizabeth, and Anna, all of whom he organised dynastic suitors.
Elizabeth would be married off into the House of Aaron, the legitimate priestly line, and Joanna and Anna would be married off into the House of David, the legitimate kingly line. That’s how Elizabeth became the wife of Zechariah of the tribe of Levi and in due course the mother of John the Baptist.
Mainstream Israel up to the level of the Sanhedrin had recognised Anna as the eligible mother of the future King of Israel and not the sitting impostor Herod (it is not clear what happened to first-born Joanna but she probably passed away before she got married). Anna was accordingly married off to Alexander III, a Davidic and Hasmonean prince who was best known as Heli as indeed the genealogy of Luke clearly attests.
Heli and Anna too had no sons. They only had daughters, the firstborn of whom was Dorcas, whose was born in 26 BC and whose titular name was Mary. Mary was orphaned early in her childhood when her father Heli was killed in 17 BC at the orders of the increasingly paranoid Herod and when her mother Anna died a year or so later.
Since she was a dynastic heiress, it was likely that Herod would come after her. The Essenes thus secreted her somewhere in remote Galilee. It was actually in Galilee that most members of the Davidic royal line were concentrated not only to keep as far away from Herod as possible but to also enjoy the protective custody of the Zealots, who were the secret military wing of the Essenes and a thorn in the side of both Herod and the Romans. Joseph was also officially based in Galilee although both he and Mary were in truth based at Qumran in the Judean wilds.
JOSEPH CALLED TO “DUTY”
Dynastic marriages are often more politically strategic than spontaneous, General. For example, the union of Prince Charles and Princess Diana was motivated by the need to fuse the Windsor genes with those of the Stuarts as the Windsors, being predominantly Reptilians, were finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their human form.
The Stuarts, the clan of Diana, had by far more human genes than Reptilian and they too were an aristocratic family. That’s why once Charles had produced a “heir and a spare”, he completely sidelined Diana, who he had never loved, and devoted himself to his real love – Camilla Parker-Bowles.
The marriage of Joseph to Mary, General, was equally strategic. Although both were from the tribe of Judah and of the royal Davidic line, they were from different branches. Joseph was a descendant of Solomon, whereas Mary was a descendant of Nathan, Solomon’s elder brother. The line of Solomon, as we once underlined, had been tainted by the Jeconiah curse.
The line of Nathan was clean. Since the son of Joseph and Mary would be the future King of Israel, it was important that he not be compromised by the baggage, rightly or wrongly, of the Jeconiah curse. Hence the desirability of the union of Prince Joseph and Princess Mary.
Now, both Joseph and Mary’s clans were Essenes. As such, their marriage process, formalities, and protocols had to strictly adhere to Essene dynastic rules. The Essenes were in ranks. Amongst the higher echelons were the two great dynasties, the Davids and the Zadoks, who had been the high priests and kings of Israel respectively before the destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC.
The Davids and Zadoks lived a strictly holy life, typically in a monastery at Qumran, the reclusive headquarters of the Essenes. They were sequestered there so that they did not fall prey to the machinations of the bloodthirsty King Herod though officially their address was Galilee. In fact, the major reason the Essene movement had come into existence was to preserve and safeguard the Davidic and Zadokite lines, the religio-politico haunt of Herod and the Hasmoneans initially.
According to the Essene code, General, the Zadoks and the Davids were not to engage in sex for recreational purposes because it was regarded as defiling: it diluted holiness. The only times they were supposed to do so was when need arose to produce heirs. In 8 BC, it was now opportune for Joseph, the David, to produce a heir and so he was excused from a life of chastity.
At this point in time in fact, the Essenes were focused on two dynastic figures. These were Joseph and Zechariah. The two were expected to produce the Messiah of David and the Messiah of Aaron, that is, the future King of Israel and the future High Priest of Israel.
According to Essene rules, the David had to marry at age 36, so that by the time he was 40, he had already sired a heir. The new heir had to be born when the David was 37. If the child was a daughter, she could not inherit, and so the David had to set about the procreation of a second-born, who hopefully would be a boy (copulation to that end was allowed only when the daughter was 3 years old).
The Davidic heir had to be born not in any other month but in September, the holiest in the Jewish calendar. In order to conform to these parameters, a betrothal ceremony was held at the beginning of June. During the betrothal period – the three months from beginning of June to end of August – sexual relations were not permitted.
Then at the beginning of September, a First Marriage was held. This was the beginning of the marriage proper as now the couple were allowed to become intimate. However, the intimacy began only in December, with a view to delivering a heir in September the following year. At the end of March, the Second Marriage was held for it was hoped that by that time the spouse was three months pregnant if there hadn’t been a miscarriage. With the Second Marriage, the wedlock was permanent: divorce was never allowed whatsoever.
Meanwhile, General, if the spouse hadn’t conceived in December, sexual relations were suspended till December the following year. The husband would then leave her spouse and return either to the monastery at Qumran or embark on a tour of duty elsewhere in furtherance of the Essene cause.
A BINDING ENGAGEMENT
According to the Dead Sea Scrolls, General, the Essenes were not only a spiritual, revolutionary, and philosophical movement. They were also ardent believers in astrology. They meticulously studied the stars and the movements of planets to read what they portended about the future.
Thus the reason a Davidic heir had to be born in September was not only because this was the holiest month of the year: it was also in recognition of the fact that September was ruled by the constellation Virgo. In other words, September was astrologically the month of the virgin. That was what Mary was.
Mary was both a virgin physically and a virgin titularly. A bride of the future king was required to be a virgin. As an Essene, Mary belonged to the Order (not the tribe) of Dan. This was the Order of Nuns, or virgins, both legal and physical virgins. Thus in the Order of Dan, a woman was not a virgin only before she slept with a man: she was a virgin until she was six months pregnant. In the case of a dynastic spouse like Mary, this was up to end of June. From then henceforth, she was promoted within the Order to the first stage of a Mother.
Joseph’s betrothal to Mary took place at Qumran in June 8 BC. Now, in our day, betrothal simply means engagement to be married. In ancient Israel up to New Testament times, betrothal was part and parcel of the marriage contract. It was definite and binding upon both groom and bride, who were considered as man and wife in all legal and religious aspects, except that sexual relations were not permitted.
For example, in 2 SAMUEL 3:14, King David refers to his betrothed woman as “my wife”. Also in DEUTERONOMY 22:24, a betrothed woman is referred to as “his neighbour’s wife”. In the betrothal formalities, dowry and bride price were included. If a bride and groom for one reason or the other wanted to opt out of the betrothal after the betrothal ceremony, they had to seek a formal divorce.
Since the betrothal took place in June, General, Joseph and Mary were not supposed to make love till December, that is, six months after the betrothal ceremony and three months after the First Marriage ceremony in September. Just one month after the betrothal ceremony (that is, at the beginning of July 8 BC), however, Mary became pregnant. Was it Joseph, General? Was it rape by a Roman soldier called Panthera as some contemporary records suggest? Or was it simply the supernatural act of the “Holy Spirit” as Christendom holds?
THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS
Those who hold that the circumstances of Mary’s pregnancy were supernatural, General, can be excused. This is because the language employed therein smacks of ethereality – Holy Spirit, Angel Gabriel, Son of the Most High, etc. To those who have read and rigorously studied the Dead Sea Scrolls, however, such terminology is well within the temporal context.
That is to say, it does not carry spiritual connotations as such. True, the idea of an angel speaking to Joseph and Mary in their sleep may seem supernatural but the dreams are theological interpolations, inserted into the gospels in onward editing to fit a contrived agenda – what Karl Marx called the opium of the masses.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are so named because they were discovered in caves around the Qumran plateau of the West Bank (about 40 km east of Jerusalem), at the northwest corner of the Dead Sea, in March 1947. The discoverer was a Bedouin shepherd kid who was looking for a lost goat. The scrolls were found hidden in jars.
The 1947 find was the initial discovery: more discoveries were made after further excavations on the same site spanning 11 years in a series of 11 caves. Altogether, 972 texts were turned up. They are written in four languages, namely Hebrew (the majority), Aramaic, Greek, and Nabatean, mostly on parchment. Other texts were inscribed on papyrus and bronze.
Most of the Dead Sea Scrolls are fragments. Fragments of all the Old Testament books have been found save for the book of Esther. The only complete book is Isaiah. There are also apocryphal books (those arbitrarily excluded from the Old Testament canon by the Constantine-convened Nicene Council of AD 325) such as the Book of Enoch and the Book of Jubilees, and sect-specific writings that embody rules and beliefs of the people who compiled them.
The latter include commentaries on the Old Testament, paraphrases that expand on the Law of Moses, rule books of the community, war conduct, thanksgiving psalms, hymnic compositions, benedictions, liturgical texts, and sapiential (wisdom) writing. These texts have been given appropriate titles such as the War Scroll; Manual of Discipline; the Community Rule; the Temple Scroll; the Copper Scroll; etc.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were written/preserved by the Essenes between 168 BC and 68 AD. We know this because Pliny, the first century Roman historian, wrote that, “On the west coast of Lake Asphaltitis (the Dead Sea) are settled the Essenes, at some distance from the noisome odours that are experienced on the shore itself.
They are a lonely people, the most extraordinary in the world, who live without women, without love, without money, with the palm trees for their only companions.” The Essenes stashed away the scrolls sometime in 70 AD, when Roman General Flavius Titus overran Jerusalem and laid waste to the Temple following a catastrophic Jewish uprising – led by the Zealots, the military wing of the Essenes – that began in 66 BC.
This they did in heed of JEREMIAH 32:14, which says, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences … and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days.” The Dead Sea Scrolls have given us invaluable insight into the beliefs, customs, rituals, politics, philosophies, and traditions of first century Palestine.
The rivalry between luxury German automotive marques Mercedes-Benz and BMW is legendary. Both brands offer high-end, high-priced desirable models, always at the forefront of cutting-edge driving technology and excellence. And in the annals of the advertising world, a campaign between the two rivals is equally legendary and it happened on our own doorstep.
Many of you will be familiar with the coastal road out of Cape Town called Chapman’s Peak. It is a beautiful, sightseeing attraction, the road winding through spectacular coastal-mountain scenery, with cliffs sinking into the Atlantic ocean on one side, and steep mountains towering over the road on the other. However, the road is also notoriously dangerous, with its 114 sharp, meandering bends . It’s reputation is well-deserved . Several years ago, when a major coastal cleanup campaign was launched, a helicopter pulled a total of 22 wrecked cars out of the water adjacent to Chapman’s Peak and it was one such accident which prefaced the notorious marketing battle. The story is thus:
In 1988 an Irish businessman lost control of his Mercedes Benz when driving along this road, plunging 100 metres down the cliff. Miraculously, he not only survived the accident, but crawled out of the wreckage with hardly a scratch on his body.
When Mercedes heard the details, the marketing department decided to base a new advertisement on the story to promote the safety features and stability of the brand. In the video ad they intentionally drove an identical model off the road in the exact same location, having it plunge off the edge of the cliff, the driver stepping out similarly unscathed, proving the phenomenal survivability and strength of Mercedes Benz.
When the marketing suits at BMW saw this ad, they took a bold and ingenious decision to mimic it but with a twist. Only a week later, whilst the first ad was still fresh in the public’s minds, they shot their ad showing a BMW driving along the exact same stretch of road in the rain. However, when it reached the point at which the Mercedes plunged off the cliff, the BMW negotiated it safely, and continued driving along the road.
The catchphrase of the ad was “BMW beats the bends” . Or was it? It was cunningly recorded so that it could equally have been ‘beats the Benz’, implying that their cars had superior cornering and stability to their rival, Even more sneakily, they launched their campaign on a Saturday, mindful of the rules on competitive advertising in South Africa, safe in the knowledge that no objectionable actions could be taken till the new working week.
Mercedes-Benz wasted no time on Monday in issuing an injunction, the ad was swiftly pulled but the damage was done and the dog had had its day. The ad campaign ranks high in the history of advertising and can still be found online to this day. Meanwhile the rivalry between the two automotive greats goes on.
I reference this piece of marketing history in the light of this week’s horror crash by golfing great, Tiger Woods. Driving from a luxury holiday resort in California to a nearby country club Tiger Woods lost control of his vehicle on a downhill stretch of the road, smashed through a road sign, crossed over the central reservation and rolled his car several hundred feet. He had to be cut out and pulled to safety through the windscreen and the vehicle was so badly damaged, the attending police officers said he was ‘lucky to survive’.
The vehicle Woods was driving was a rented Genesis GV80 SUV. If you are unfamiliar with the brand that is not surprising since it is a relatively new spin-off from the South Korean Hyundai marque. The Genesis utility vehicle, not available locally yet, retails for around $50,000 or half a million pula, placing it in the higher end of town and country SUVs in the USA.
The model has certainly been widely publicised in the media coverage of the high-profile sportsman’s accident and I suspect that if asked to comment, Hyundai/Genesis would disagree with the police assessment, putting Woods’ survival down to build quality and in-built safety features such as crumple zones, anti-roll bars and airbags, which were deployed in the crash and would most certainly have played their part cushioning the effects of the rolling and ultimate impact. There is , of course, no suggestion that the manufacturers will capitalise on Woods’ survival but certainly it will have done the brand no harm that he did indeed emerge with recoverable injuries.
Comparing the two accidents, the driver of the Mercedes driving along Chapman’s Peak was, of course, an ordinary member of the public whilst Tiger Woods is a household name. That said, in humanitarian terms each tale of survival carries equal weight but the fact remains that the former was just another local story of yet one more victim of a notoriously tricky stretch of road whilst the latter went round the world in an instant because of the fame and name of the driver.
There is also no evidence that that stretch of Californian urban highway carried any inherent risk. His appears to have been just a loss of control and a freak accident. However, in the event that Hyundai/Genesis should consider making capital from that accident, a note of caution needs to be sounded.
In the advertising world, the use of celebrities to promote a product is a fall-back stance to sell anything from washing-up liquid to whisky but statistics have shown that it can be a double-edged sword in that yes, the ads are memorable and the public love them when the celeb is popular and personable. But…..what is often remembered is the name of the famous promoter, not the name of the product. In other words, they sell themselves far better than they sell the item.
In golfing terminology Hyundai/Genesis are not ‘out of the Woods’ yet and maybe they should go with a completely different Driver!
How Jesus’s grandfather sold his birthright to megalomaniac Herod
If you were to ask a Christian to name the main Jewish sects, General Atiku, he would no doubt begin with the Pharisees (because Jesus had innumerable slanging matches with them according to the gospels), followed by the Sadducees. Yet there was a third, equally momentous sect – the Essenes.
Although there’s not a single, one mention of the Essenes in the Bible, General, the New Testament is filled with Essene-type language as anybody who has read the Dead Sea Scrolls would readily recognise.
In point of fact, it was the Essenes who produced Jesus as well as the infamous Jewish band of freedom fighters known as the Zealots. Furthermore, almost all the New Testament writers were either Essenes or champions of the Essene cause as is apparent in their language and the drift of their overall philosophy. The Essenes have a palpable presence in the Bible, albeit a cloaked one.
The Essenes, General, were the most popular, the most esteemed, and the most influential of the Jewish sects. The Jewish historian Philo (20 BC-50 AD) devotes 90 percent of his description of the Jewish sects to the Essenes. He wrote that the Essenes “dwell in many cities of Judea and in many villages and in great societies of many numbers”.
Hyppolytus of Rome (170-236 AD) devoted nine-and-half chapters to the Essenes and only one to the Sadducees. The Essenes are the authors of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in 1947 in Israel at a place called Qumran and which have given us even greater insight into the happenings in the first century than the Bible itself.
How did the Essene movement come about, General? The Essenes, meaning “puritans of the faith”, were the Jewish sect that was the most loyal to the Davidic dynasty. They set themselves apart from the mainstream Jewish community circa 175 BC and established their headquarters at Qumran, about 40 km from Jerusalem.
Since the Jewish nation revered the Davidic royal line, the only legitimate and rightful rulers of Judah in their view, they rallied to the Essenes en masse. And because the Essenes were disparaging of the Hasmonean rule (140 BC to 63 BC), the mainstream Jews also took a dismissive view of Hasmonean rule too.
The Essenes were so highly regarded because of their virtue and spirituality. The legendary Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD) writes thus of them: “They are more mutually affectionate than the others (Pharisees and Sadducees). Whereas these men shun the pleasures as vice, they consider self-control and not succumbing to the passions virtue … Since [they are] despisers of wealth – their communal stock is astonishing – one cannot find a person among them who has more in terms of possessions.
For by a law, those coming into the school (that is, the Essene fold) must yield up their funds to the order, with the result that in all [their ranks] neither the humiliation of poverty nor the superiority of wealth is detectable, but the assets of each one have been mixed in together, as if they were brothers, to create one fund for all.”
In time, the Essenes, General, became quite influential even with occupying powers. For instance, when the Greek General Pompey installed Hyrcanus II as ruler of Palestine in 63 BC, he sought the opinion of the Essenes. The Essenes recommended that Hyrcanus go by the titles High Priest and Prince, not King, to which Pompey paid heed. In 142 BC, when Simon was installed by the Seleucids as ruler of Palestine, the Essenes had insisted on the same titular style. To the Essenes, everybody who occupied Israel’s seat of authority was simply holding fort for the real deal – the Davidic King.
In 37 BC, when Herod became King of Palestine, the potential Davidic King was Jacob-Eliakim – the father of the Joseph of the gospels – who was an Essene himself. It was in order to win the blessings of the historically popular Jewish royal family that Herod sought to curry favour with the Essenes.
JACOB’S PACT WITH HEROD
About the time Herod came to power, General, there were three citizens of considerable stature in Palestine – Hillel, Menahem, and Jacob-Eliakim, the grandfather of Jesus. Hillel is by all accounts ancient Israel’s greatest teacher and scholar.
He was the foremost spiritual sage in the development of the Talmud and the Mishnah, the most authoritative religious references of the Jews which are second only to the Old Testament in esteem. The renowned “Golden Rule”, which is invariably attributed to Jesus, was actually coined by Hillel. It is not certain whether Hillel was an Essene but his teachings did have a profound influence both on Essene philosophy and that of Jesus, who was an Essene too.
It was Menahem, however, who was an incontrovertible Essene. The Essenes were of two main branches, General. First, there were the puritans, the Palestinian Essenes. Then there were the liberals, the Diaspora Essenes, who sneered at the Palestinian Essenes’ dogmatism and rather strict views on morality. Menahem was the leader of the Diaspora Essenes.
He was also privilleged to be advisor to King Herod. Herod did hold Menahem in very high regard. Josephus relates that when Herod was a school-going lad, Menahem had patted him on his back and said to him, “one day you will be King young man.” Since the prophecy came to pass, Herod had a certain, atypical respect both for Menahem and the order of Essenes.
Jacob-Eliakim’s significance was by virtue of his pedigree. He was of the royal line of David and was therefore the uncrowned King of the Jews. Now, as we have already indicated, Herod had his own grand designs about rulership of the world notwithstanding the fact that he was in reality a vassal of Rome.
When he made overtures to the trio, they didn’t mince words: they told him that in the new Israel, the Israel that would rule Earth once the Romans had been toppled from the pedestal of world power, it was a Davidic King who would reign. Herod took very strong exception to such a prospect. Herod was neither a full-blooded Jew nor of Davidic stock but he was royalty in his own right.
His father, Antipater, had been the governor of Idumea and in due course Judea in the Hasmonean government and was in fact the real ruler of the entire Palestine, with John Hyrcanus being a mere figurehead king. When he (Herod) was only 25 years old, his father had appointed him governor of Galilee. Herod thus had strutted the corridors of power from the day he was born and he wasn’t going to give that up easily either for his own sake or that of his descendants.
As such, General, Herod maintained to the trio that in the new, overarching Kingdom of Israel, he was going to be the emperor and would be based in Jerusalem. Just like the Greek empire of Alexander had been a triarchy (a kingdom divided into three governments), the global Kingdom of Israel (“Thy Kingdom Come” in the Lord’s Prayer) was going to be likewise.
There was going to be a ruler in the east, a ruler in the west, and a ruler in the centre, that is Jerusalem, under the oversight of Herod himself. Hillel would rule in Jerusalem; Menahem in the east; and Jacob-Eliakim in the west. If these three happened to have disappeared from the Earthly scene by the time the Kingdom of Israel came into being, their descendants would observe the same setup.
The pecking order would thus be like this: Herod as the emperor; Hillel as the senior king; Menahem as the second-ranked king; and Jacob-Eliakim as the junior king. Put differently, Herod had by the stroke of a pen reduced the Davidic dynasty from foremost to least important as it posed the most serious threat to his office. Meanwhile, the three kings-in-waiting would go by the names of the Old Testament patriarchs.
Hillel would henceforth be called the Abraham, or the Father (or Papa, which later morphed into Pope), since Abraham was the Father of the Jewish nation; Menahem would be called the Isaac (Abraham’s son); and Eliakim the Jacob (Isaac’s son). Half a loaf was better than nothing at all and so Jacob-Eliakim meekly accepted this arrangement.
When Jesus later said, “Many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the new Kingdom of Heaven (MATTHEW 8:11),” he did not mean an afterlife kingdom: he referred to the Earthly setup proposed by King Herod.
FALLOUT WITH ESSENES
Those days, General, the Davidic heir used the title “Jacob” rather than “David” as the latter title was very risky, particularly under the Hasmonean government. Given that Joseph was the most beloved son of the Old Testament Jacob, the next in line, that is, the firstborn son of the Jacob, used the title “Joseph”.
In September 44 BC, a son was born to Jacob-Eliakim. As the crown prince to the Jacob, he was given the titular name Joseph, the name by which he became best-known. Like his father Jacob-Eliakim, Joseph was a missionary. But he also had a trade. He was a carpenter, a boat builder primarily, and a master of his craft. The word translated “carpenter” in the Bible is the ancient Greek word “ho hekton” which means a master artisan or craftsman.
In 31 BC, Qumran, the Essenes’ Judean wilderness bastion, was struck by an earthquake. The hermitic Essenes had no choice but to trek back to Jerusalem, from where they operated indefinitely at a place they called the Essene Gate. Then in 23 BC, Herod struck again. He had Jacob-Eliakim killed on trumped-up charges of sedition, his motive simply being a continuation of a systematic purge of the Davidic “pretenders” to his throne.
The Essenes were wroth. They now set about promulgating to the Diaspora Essenes that Herod would have no part to play in the coming Kingdom. Instead, the overall King would be Joseph, the son of Jacob-Eliakim. This, General, was the beginning of a permanent rift between Herod and the Essene sect.
THE SAGA OF JOSEPH
The prospective global world, General, was subdivided into ten provinces to facilitate governance and tax collection. Palestine would have two provinces, Judea and Samaria, the latter of which would include Galilee. Asia Minor (largely present-day Turkey), where the bulk of Diaspora Jews were concentrated, would have five provinces.
The last three provinces would be Babylon, Rome, and Alexandria in Egypt. The future capital of the West was not Rome: it was Ephesus in Asia Minor. Having been allocated the West, it was in Ephesus and Alexandria that Jacob-Eliakim spent most of his time evangelizing to fellow Jews about the future Kingdom of Israel. This was the beginning of the New Covenant, whereby Jews who converted to the ideal of a new Kingdom of Israel were baptised by immersion in water.
To mainstream Palestinian Jews, General, Jacob-Eliakim was a sellout. Herod had demoted his pedigree but to somewhat placate him, he gave him the honorary title of Patriarch or Prince of Jerusalem. By subordinating the Davidic throne-in-waiting to Herod, Jacob-Eliakim had gone against what the nation of Israel’s God, Enlil, the Bible’s main Jehovah, decreed – that every King of Judah had to be a descendant of David. So when the unpredictable Herod had him killed in 23 BC for “sedition”, as part of a pogrom against the line of David, there was very little sympathy for him.
In 44 BC, Joseph had been born to Jacob-Eliakim. Joseph was a title: it was not his real name. At the death of his father, Joseph became the Jacob. However, he preferred the title “David”, the more apt one historically. Joseph would become the father of Jesus. When Joseph attained 30 years of age in 14 BC, his uncles and the Essene sages sent him to Rome and Alexandria to do his part in missionary work, which was simply about promulgating to the Diaspora Jews the future Kingdom of Israel in which a Son of David, that is a descendant of King David, would rule. Egypt was also a special place because Joseph’s maternal relations were Egyptians.
Jacob-Eliakim, General, had two wives. The one was called Euchariah, a Jewish princess, of whom very little is known, and the other, the dynastic wife, was an Egyptian princess, a daughter of Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and Julius Caesar. Jacob-Eliakim and this princess had three sons: they were Joseph, the father of Jesus, and the twins Cleopas (after whom James, Jesus’ immediate younger brother, whose given name was Cleopas, was named) and Ptolas. Joseph was thus the Davidian Prince of Israel as well as contender to Crown Prince of Egypt. Despite pretences to the contrary on the part of the Jews, Egypt and Israel have always had ties of monarchical kinship.
In 8 BC, General, Joseph was required by Essene custom to return home and fulfill his obligations for a dynastic marriage. A wife-to-be had already been chosen for him by his uncles and other patriarchal Essenes. This was Dorcas, better known today by her title name Mary.