Doggedly determined King of Uruk encounters Hero of the Deluge in subterranean paradise beneath Sinai Peninsula
Having set off into the woods to find Noah’s boatman Urshanabi on the basis of Siduri the Ale Woman’s directions, Gilgamesh still was distraught. What if Urshanabi proved hostile and told him to get lost? Without Urshanabi’s cooperation, it was a matter of course that his cause was a lost one. Or at the very least, it could double the strain of making it to his destination – the Land of the Living or the spaceport.
But he was lucky as he did finally track down Urshanabi. Once he had introduced himself as the King of Uruk in Sumeria, Urshanabi just like Siduri first wondered whether he indeed was King. “Urshanabi observed that Gilgamesh’s face was worn and weathered and that sorrow rested in his belly,” says The Epic of Gilgamesh.
Gilgamesh proceeded to recount to Urshanabi all his tribulations since the encounter with Huwawa – the death of Enkidu, his grief, his fear of death, his wanderings in the wilderness, and his implacable resolve to find Noah or hitch a ride in a Nibiru-bound shem, a rocket. “I ranged and wandered over all the lands,” he poured out his heart. “I traversed difficult mountains. I crossed all the seas so that I might come and behold Utnapishtim (the Akkadian name for Noah), whom they call The Faraway.”
For a whole day, Urshanabi interrogated Gilgamesh till he was satisfied that he indeed was a King and was certainly a demigod. In any case, if Gilgamesh was not telling the truth, Utu-Shamash, who he was certain to meet at some stage, would send him back unceremoniously. Thus it was that the following day, the two got into Urshanabi’s boat and they set sail across the Dead Sea. Since the sea was deemed poisonous, Urshanabi stressed to Gilgamesh that under no circumstances should his hands touch the water.
The journey was not smooth-sailing through and through: at some point, they had to make an about-turn when Gilgamesh’s bulk rendered a navigational device inoperable, causing them to improvise wooden poles (which Gilgamesh had to cut alone as a punitive measure) as navigational sails. Even then, they still moved a great deal faster than they would have done had they used the dry land route: they covered an overland journey of 45 days in only three days.
Urshanabi, however, did not intend to take Gilgamesh all the way to Noah’s abode: that he had no right to. Once they had reached the extreme, southern end of the Dead Sea shore, Urshanabi told Gilgamesh that that was the furthest he could go with him. “Utnapishtim dwells around a mountain called Mashu,” he said to Gilgamesh. “Go straight ahead until you reach a regular way that leads toward the Great Sea (Mediterranean Sea). You are to follow that road until you reach two stone columns that serve as markers.
Turning there, you will come to a town called Itla, sacred to the god Ullu-Yah (meaning “God of the Peaks”, these being the twin mountains of the Sinai Peninsula. This was Nannar-Sin, the overall god of Canaan). The god's permission is needed in order to cross into the Forbidden Region where Mount Mashu is. That, Gilgamesh, is your destination.”
Gilgamesh thanked Urshanabi for his invaluable assistance, bade him farewell, and began the foot trek to Itla, known in the Bible as Kadesh-Barnea and to the Sumerians as Bad.Gal.Dingir, an ancient caravan town situated at the border of the restricted Tilmun in the Sinai Peninsula. Anybody going beyond the town had to seek special permission from either Nannar-Sin or Utu-Shamash.
GILGAMESH DENIED A SHEM
â€¨After a long and weary journey through the Negev Desert which lasted days, Gilgamesh finally pitched at Itla, a gateway place being situated between the Negev and the Sinai Desert proper. The moment he arrived there, he gave an offering to Utu-Shamash, who it turned out was already in town. Then entering into the presence of the god, Gilgamesh related his misfortune in the Straits of Ormuz and how that led to Enkidu’s death. He related the story without recriminations at all although deep down he resented Enlil, who was behind it all.
Shamash was glad to see his nephew and god-son but he was saddened by the news of Enkidu’s death. His pathos was made all the more pronounced by Gilgamesh himself, who wept as he recounted the death of his great friend. “If I had the powers of the god Ningishzidda,” he said to Shamash, choking, “I’d bring Enkidu back to life.” Shamash told him even Zidda wouldn’t perform that kind of feat as Enkidu had been dead for months now.
After he had rested and eaten his fill, Gilgamesh was told to wash thoroughly, put on Kingly attire in readiness for an audience with Nannar-Sin, the father to Shamash, and prepare a worthy sacrifice for the god. It was Sin who was to decide whether Gilgamesh should proceed to the “Great Fortified Place of the Gods” as Tilmun was otherwise known. That done, the two set off in Shamash’s chariot to the palace of Sin. Sin had already been notified of their coming and he was very ready for them. They found him not alone but with another god, Ishkur-Adad, his younger brother who was the overall god of Lebanon, where Baalbek was located.
Arriving at Sin’s courts, Gilgamesh accordingly made an animal sacrifice to Sin, then prostrating himself before the god, he offered prayers as to the fulfilment of that which he desperately sought. He was not allowed to address Sin, a highly exalted god, directly: all he had to do was pray. It was Shamash who spoke on his behalf. Shamash asked Sin to consider Gilgamesh’s desire to attain immortality by way of a visit to Nibiru, the Planet of the Anunnaki, just as other mortals such as Adapa and Enoch had done. “Accept his offerings, grant him everlasting life,” Shamash besought Sin.
Ishkur-Adad, who was aware of Gilgamesh’s earlier attempt vis-à-vis the Cedar Mountain and the troubles it engendered, straightaway objected. As far as he was concerned, Gilgamesh was a trouble-maker and so did not deserve setting foot in the “Holy Place” that was Nibiru. Moreover, he had done nothing of significance in heed of the gods to be afforded that kind of privilege. Sin seemed to share Adad’s view.
Then bursting into a loud cry, Gilgamesh pleaded that at least he be allowed to meet his great forefather Noah in the Land of the Living. "Let me take the road to Utnapishtim, the son of Ubar-Tutu (Lamech)!" he entreated. Of that, Sin, who was one of the good-hearted Anunnaki gods, was prepared to give him the go ahead but Adad again objected.
Sin then ruled that he and Adad would discuss the matter further and inform Shamash in due course. But as far as Shamash was concerned, it was the voice of his father that mattered and not that of the hard-hearted Adad. He told Gilgamesh to begin his advance toward Mount Mashu immediately after exiting Sin’s palace.
GILGAMESH AT MOUNT MASHU
After journeying for six days, a drop in the ocean compared with the several months he had traversed from Oman to Jericho, Gilgamesh at long last arrived at the sacred “Mountain Most Supreme” Urshanabi had directed him to in Tilmun Land. Retrospectively named Mount Mashu, after Moses, it was the Place of the Shems, “where by day the shems he (Gilgamesh) watched as they departed and came in.”
It was the “Place of Ascent” (of the shems) and the “Protected Place”, or Paradise. Indeed, it was heavily policed by “Rocket Men”. Says The Epic of Gilgamesh: “Rocket-men guard its gate … Their terror is awesome, their glance is death. Their dreaded spotlight sweeps the mountains. They watch over Shamash as he ascends and descends.”
Writes Zechariah Sitchin: “Depictions have been found (in Sumeria) showing winged beings or divine bull-men operating a circular beaming device mounted on a post. They could well be ancient illustrations of the ‘dreaded spotlight that sweeps the mountains’. One seal depiction showing Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu may well depict the intercession of a god with one of the robot-like guards who could sweep the area with spotlights and emit death rays. The description brings to mind the statement in the Book of Genesis that God placed ‘the revolving sword’ at the entrance to the Garden of Eden, to block its access to humans.”
Mount Mashu and the broader Tilmun were also known as the Land of the Crossing, the Gates of Heaven and Earth. Why so? Sitchin offers two explanations for this. In the first, he says, “The Mount's functions required it to be connected both to the distant heavens and to the far reaches of Earth: ‘On high, to the Celestial Band (that is, our cosmic neighbourhood) it is connected; Below, to the Lower World (Earth) it is bound’.” In another, he posits thus:
“Those who were to reach it (Mount Mashu, by air) were guided there by the Sphinx; for its gaze led eastward, exactly along the 30th Parallel. It was where the two lines intersected, where the Line of Jerusalem intersected the 30th Parallel that the Gates of Heaven and Earth were located: the Spaceport of the gods.”
GILGAMESH UNHARMED BY DEADLY SCANNING BEAM
For people travelling on foot or by chariot, Mount Mashu had one gazetted entry and exit point which was manned by Rocket Men, that is, Anunnaki guards. As Gilgamesh made his approach, he was not automatically regarded as a stranger as such. It was not every inch of Tilmun that was out of bounds by Earthlings. Writes Zechariah Sitchin: “Even in the days of Gilgamesh, not all of the Land of Tilmun was a restricted area.
There was a part, as we have seen, where sentenced men toiled in dark and dusty mines, digging out the copper and gemstones for which Tilmun was famous. Long associated with Sumer in culture and trade, Tilmun supplied Sumer with certain desired species of woods and provided the ancient world with highly prized onions and dates.” But since he had not officially been given the go-ahead by the god Sin, Gilgamesh’s name was not logged onto the computer as a forthcoming visitor and this was potentially very dangerous.
Everybody who came here, whether a rank-and-file Anunnaki or Earthling, was electronically scanned with a very sophisticated beam from a distance. The beam was particularly intense at dusk, when Gilgamesh turned up at the Mashu gates. Now, this beam was such that when it was directed at a pure human, it would stun and, depending on how it was calibrated, even kill him. But if the same deadly spotlight was trained on an Anunnaki or a demigod, the copper-based blood coursing in him would neutralise it and therefore he would suffer no harm at all.
Given that Gilgamesh was up to three-quarters god, the glare of the beam scarcely troubled him. "When Gilgamesh beheld the terrible glowing, his face he shielded,” says The Epic of Gilgamesh. “Then regaining his composure, he approached them." The guards were taken aback. One of them bawled to the other, “He who approaches us, his body is the flesh of the gods! Two-thirds of him is god, one-third is human!” The beam was so sophisticated it even was able to pick up the minimum quantity of Anunnaki blood in Gilgamesh! It is obvious that Shamash had already told Gilgamesh that being a demigod and more, the beam was incapable of occasioning harm on him.
GILGAMESH QUIZZED BY ROCKET MEN
The guards now signalled for Gilgamesh to approach them, which he did with outward confidence though deep down he was filled with apprehension. Then the guards set about inquisitioning him. He was asked to identify himself, state the reason he had come to this restricted place, and produce convincing credentials that he had divine authority to do so.
In his response, Gilgamesh did not flinch but was matter-of-fact. First, he explained why he was more than two-thirds god and was in fact a King. Second, he asserted by oath that he had come to Mount Mashu by authority of the god Utu-Shamash. Finally, he gave reasons as to why he had so ventured – that he wanted to consult with his ageless forefather Noah, who he had been told by his mother, the goddess Ninsun, lived in eternal bliss somewhere in the precincts of Mount Mashu. “I come in search of Life,” he said. “On account of Utnapishtim, my forefather, have I come, he who the congregation of the gods had joined. About Death and Life I wish to ask him.”
The Rocket Men did confirm that Noah was indeed somewhere within Mount Mashu but were adamant that no Earthling since Noah had ever been admitted to the Land of the Living. Gilgamesh was unstinting: he told the guards that if they turned him away, they risked incurring the wrath of Shamash, under whose auspices he had come. After interrogating him further, the guards caved in and gave him the go-ahead. “The gate of the Mount is open to thee!" they said.
Then they spelt out to him some characteristics of what they called the “Path of Shamash”, an underground passage way to Noah’s idyllic environs. “The mountain's trail no one has travelled. For twelve leagues (about 70 km) extends its interior; dense is the darkness, light there is none! No mortal has passed through the mountain's inaccessible tract!”
But Gilgamesh was not interested in the nether aspects of his manouverings through the passage: he had already begun to advance even as the guards spoke. Deep down their hearts, they pitted him as they were certain he would never make it. As far as they were concerned, Shamash had set a trap for him for one reason or the other.
GILGAMESH IN SUBTERRANEAN PARADISE!
Gilgamesh trudged down the pitch-dark subterranean passages for a total of 12 beru. This was 12 double hours, or 48 hours. “The darkness was dense, there was no light. He could see utterly nothing ahead or behind.” In the eighth beru, the darkness grew so intense that he began to wail with fright: it was like he had been thrown into the deep end and was headed to a Hellish realm to spend eternal life wholly engulfed in darkness. But in the ninth beru, there was a bit of relief when he felt “a north wind fanning his face”.
This lifted his spirits as indications were he was nearing the tunnel’s exit. Indeed, in the eleventh beru, dawn began to break upon him and at the end of the twelfth beru, he emerged into incredible brightness and indescribable grandeur under an artificial sun. The place he came to, a subterranean paradise, had Gilgamesh transfixed with disbelief. He described it as an “Enclosure of the Gods”, which was a blend of an artificial and a natural utopia.
Nearly everything was made of artificial carved precious stones in a riot of colour, notably white, red, and green. “All kinds of thorny prickly bushes were visible, blooming with gemstones. Carnelian bore fruit hanging in clusters, its vines too beautiful to behold. The foliage was of lapis lazuli; and grapes, too lush to look at, of stones were made … In its waters, pure reeds of sasu-stones. Like a Tree of Life and a Tree of Knowledge, that of An-Gug stones are made.”
A dumbfounded Gilgamehs began to wander around to savour this splendour. This was just the kind of place he’d love to dwell in forever, he thought to himself. It was hard to belief that such a heavenly place could exist on this planet. The place had conferred on him certain unnatural capacities too. For instance, he could not feel tired or hungry and his reflection in the objects around him seemed flawless, with a beauty he never knew he possessed. He also looked much more youthful.
As he paced up and down petrified with awe, he heard a sweet-sounding, almost musical voice but with the acoustics of a man. “Who dare venture here?” the voice demanded. Turning round, Gilgamesh saw a good-looking grey-haired and bearded man who looked like a sage but whose skin was hardly lined. He was immediately reminded of the great god Enki, with whom the man had an uncanny resemblance. The man was nearly as big as Gilgamesh himself. He wore a very wide smile on his face, his arms folded in front of his chest, but his phosphorescent eyes were probing.
“I’m Gilgamesh King of Uruk,” Gilgamesh answered as he knelt down in deference to the beautiful being that accosted him. “I come in search of thee, my great ancestor and Hero of the Deluge, known to my generation as Utnapishtim, the son of Ubar-Tutu, on the authority of my godfather Utu-Shamash.” Gilgamesh’s intuition was spot-on. The man who beheld him was Ziusudra aka Utnapishtim. In the Bible, he’s known as Noah. NEXT WEEK: NOAH’S DIALOGUE WITH 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.