World conqueror seeks immortality ala Gilgamesh but only to die at age 33
Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) is almost unanimously acknowledged as history’s greatest military general. Having succeeded to the throne of the Greek Kingdom of Macedonia on the demise of his father King Phillip II in 336 BC, he went on to conquer the whole of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East – all lands that were deemed the hub of the mainstream world at the time. What is even more remarkable is that he accomplished these feats at the tender age of only 33!
There are two aspects to the breathtaking saga of Alexander. There is the aspect that historians treat as viable history. Then there is the aspect they dismiss as pure myth or fantastical embellishment. This you will never find in the pages of one, single institutional textbook. Why? Because it talks about gods, angels, paradise, oracular visits, etc, which your modern historian simply would not reconcile with his myopic, single-track view of literal history.
To your university educated historian, gods, angels and paradise have supernatural connotations and therefore would not be part and parcel of this temporal world. How ignorant! For the gods and angels even of the Bible were not ethereal beings, now we know courtesy of the Sumerian tablets: they were flesh-and-blood beings like you and I. Clearly therefore, the gods and angels who feature in the Alexander story were not metaphysical beings: they were Anunnaki, finish and klaar.
What do we learn from the Sumerian chronicles in relation to the character and morality of the gods, as the Anunnaki were called? A typical blot about them was that they were unashamedly promiscuous – on the basis of our concept of morality as mankind, that is. For example, they fathered children with human queens or such members of the nobility behind the back of the king or some such aristocratic spouse, perhaps not so much for simple lust as for politically strategic purposes.
A case in point is Enki’s fathering of Noah by Lamech’s wife Batanash. As a result, even during the era of the pharaohs, a number of them claimed they were demigods because they were surreptitiously fathered by gods. It turns out that in the case of Alexander too, King Phillip was his father in name only. His real father was a god, an Anunnaki.
GREEK GOD ZEUS WAS NANNAR-SIN
Let us first of all demonstrate that the Greek gods and the Old Testament gods were one and the same but known by different names. In fact, the names were not different as such: they were simply linguistic variations of the same name. But the bottom line is that both the Greek and Old Testament gods were Anunnaki.
The Greeks did not believe in only one god. In fact, no ancient civilisations worshipped or revered one god. Even the Old Testament gods, it is now common knowledge, were disparate entities merged into the compound term Jehovah: that we have demonstrated in our earlier articles. Even our primordial ancestors as Africans invoked not Modimo (Setswana for God) but Badimo (the living dead as a collective). The unitarisation of Badimo into Modimo is a recent fad.
The Greeks had a pantheon of twelve gods they called Olympians. At the head of these gods was Zeus. Who was Zeus? He was said to be the “King of the Gods”. In Sumerian records, the King of the Gods was Anu, “Our Father Who Art In Heaven”, the ruler of the planet Nibiru. But in Greek theology, Anu was known as Uranus and he was said to be the father of Kronos, who in turn was the father of Zeus. Kronus thus was the equivalent of Enlil in the Anunnaki pantheon. What that entails is that Zeus was the king of gods who were based on Earth, not the cosmic king of the gods like Uranus was. However, in the Anunnaki pantheon, the king of gods on Earth was Enlil, or Kronus in Greek theology, not Zeus. So, who was the real ruler of Earth: Zeus or Enlil?
If you have been reading the Earth Chronicles, you will have noted that as the BC era wound down, Enlil, who was Earth’s initial Chief Executive, began to retreat from centre stage and delegated his duties mainly to Nannar-Sin, his second-born son. Thus to the Enlilites or people who worshipped Enlilite gods, Nannar-Sin was the de facto King of the Gods. So was Nannar-Sin equivalent to the Greek’s Zeus?
Literally, the term Zeus, in its original rendering, meant “He Who Is Here”. When addressed to a god, it meant “The One (a title for a divine being) Who Rules Here on Earth”. In short, this is “Earth Lord”, “Ruler of the World”, or “God of Earth”. The biblical term Jehovah is best explained in some African languages, one of which is setswana. In setswana, it is “Ye-o-fa”, meaning “The One Who is Here”. Thus Jehovah and Zeus meant the same thing – the divine ruler of Earth.
Now, Greek theology tells us Zeus had scores of children but the most significant were the twins Apollo and Artemis, a boy and girl. In the Sumerian accounts, these, as we have explained, are Utu-Shamash and Inanna-Ishtar, the children of Nannar-Sin. The Sumerian chronicles also tell us that Nannar-Sin had upwards of 70 children, the reason he was also known as Aten or Adonai in the Bible, both of which meaning “The Fertile One” in a reproductive sense. Zeus, it emerges, was Nannar-Sin. But was it Nannar-Sin who was the real father of Alexander the Great? Certainly Not. Alexander’s real father was Marduk, the son of the great god Enki.
A GOD IN DISGUISE COMES TO TOWN
One day before Alexander was born, an impressive-looking personage called at the courts of King Phillip with an entourage that was of kingly proportions. This dignitary identified himself as Nectanebo II Pharaoh of Egypt. Nectanebo II ruled Egypt from 360-342 BC. Those days, there were no pictures, no phones, and no telex, fax, or email and so it was easy for somebody to present themselves as somebody else, which this dignitary actually did. For he was not Nectanebo but the god Ammon. Ammon was the name by which Egyptians called Marduk.
Marduk’s intention was not simply to pay a courtesy call on Phillip. He wanted to plant his own seed in the very bosom of the Greek monarchy. At the time, that is, during the astrological age of Aries (2220 to 60 BC), Marduk was the Enlil, Earth’s Chief Executive (how that came to be we will dwell upon in future articles) and so was a very powerful figure. Marduk had calculated that the Greek empire was going to emerge as the mightiest on the globe and so he wanted Phillip’s heir to carry his genes. At least in this one regard, he tore a page from his father Enki’s amatory manual. Thus it was that as guest of Phillip, Marduk seduced his queen Olympias and the rest as they say is history: Alexander came to be.
When Alexander was born, Phillip was shocked at the “godly” features of his son, just like Lamech was startled by the Anunnaki-like features of the newly-born Noah. He launched into an investigation straightway and learnt that the man who had visited his palace was actually not Pharaoh Nectanebo II but the god Marduk in disguise. He now understood why Alexander looked the way he did. Since Marduk was the overall Lord of Earth, there was nothing Phillip could do about his bastard son other than to recognise him as his own.
Phillip, however, did not take the matter lying down. He kept accusing his wife of adultery and in fact went on to marry a second wife, the daughter of a Macedonian nobleman. Thus Alexander grew up aware of the scandalous circumstances of his birth. It is probable that King Phillip did make intimations of an intention to disinherit him for his assassination in 336 BC by one of his bodyguards remains a mystery. It need not be: Alexander and his mother Olympias obviously had a hand in it. Phillip was killed just after welcoming a new son with his second wife – a future threat to Alexander’s prospects of ascending to the throne.
GO TO EGYPT, DELPHIC ORACLE URGES ALEXANDER
The first thing Alexander sought to do when he succeeded to the throne was to clear genetic uncertainties about himself. Was he indeed the son of a god or that was no more than idle rumour? It is probable that his mother did own up to him as to who his real father was but he wanted hard facts. And if he was indeed the son of a god, then he would seek that god and ask to be conferred immortality. Alexander’s teacher was Aristotle and Aristotle had related to him The Epic of Gilgamesh, which served to spur his own quest.
In order to get a definite answer to his own conundrum, Alexander journeyed to Delphi on Mt. Parnassus near the Gulf of Corinth. Delphi was a religious sanctuary, a temple, where important people went to consult the god Apollo (Utu-Shamash) through a priestess known as the Sibyl. When the Sybyl spoke, she first broke to Alexander the most unsavoury piece of news – that he would be a great man but he was not favoured with length of years: he’d die at a very young age. That really jolted the young king, who was only 20 at the time.
Then Alexander asked her whether he was the son of a god as it was rumoured in the palace precincts. The Sybil knew the answer to that question but she equivocated: she was the priestess not of Marduk but of Utu-Shamash and so she didn’t wish to embroil herself in matters relating to Marduk. So she told him that if he wanted the answer to that question, he should travel to the Oasis of Siwa in Egypt, about 300 miles west of the Nile and engage with the priests there. In Egypt, Marduk was the main god, whereas in Europe it was mainly Nannar-Sin and Utu-Shamash.
ALEXANDER ROUTS THE PERSIANS
With the knowledge that his would be a short life, Alexander was not deflated as such: instead, he made it a point that he was going to dedicate a lot of effort to seeking the Elixir of Life. He also undertook to attain great military accomplishments before he died. With this volition, he devoted himself to forging a mighty military machine with which to conquer the whole wide world. In the process, he spent more time with his forces than at the reins.
In the next two years, he united the various Greek states, who had been feuding with each other, under the banner of his own city-state, Macedonia. He trained them thoroughly and rigorously and in 334 BC, they were ready to take on the then superpower of the day, the Persians, who in the past had made repeated inroads into Greek territories and often had the edge. The immediate prizes to be gained were Asia Minor and the lucrative sea lanes in the eastern Mediterranean, both of which were under the Persian sphere of influence. Alexander was at the head of 15,000 elite foot and horse-mounted soldiers.
It was Europe’s first armed invasion of Asia. In the initial battle, the Persians, like the Greeks’ a confederate army led by Darius III, were repulsed as far as today’s Turkish-Syrian border. Then in the autumn of 333 BC, the Persians regrouped and launched a counterattack in what became known as the Battle of Issus. The counter-offensive backfired: Alexander captured the royal tent but Darius himself slipped through his fingers and retreated to Babylon, the then capital of the Persian Empire, which stretched all the way from Asia Minor, now seized by Alexander, to India.
Had Alexander pressed on and chased after the remnants of the Persian army and their now unnerved king, it would have been all over since the great Greek general had thrown quite a scare into them. But Alexander called a halt to the advance and ordered his troops to head south. The destination was Egypt. His generals were astounded, but what they didn’t know was that Alexander was pursuing two purposes at once – the conquest of the world and the quest for the Plant of Eternal Youth with a view to prolonging his life and therefore nullifying the prophecy of the Delphic oracle.
ALEXANDER CONFIRMED AS MARDUK’S SON
Arriving in Egypt in 332 BC, Alexander expected the Persian viceroys who ruled Egypt to fight to the death but that was not to be: instead, the Persian garrison downed arms and euphorically welcomed him as their new King. Alexander then embarked on a three-week desert trek to the Oasis of Siwa, the seat of a renowned oracle of Marduk, in heed of the Delphic oracle’s ordinance. The priests of Siwa indeed assured him that he was the son of Marduk, or Ammon as he was known in Egypt.
When Alexander broke these good tidings to the Egyptians, he was crowned as their Divine Pharaoh in a temple in Thebes. To mark this occasion and to celebrate his now borne-out demigod status, Alexander issued new silver coins depicting him with a ram’s horns. He henceforth became known in Egypt as the Lord of the Two Horns. The ram horns were in deference to Marduk, who was known as the Ram-God in that he presided over Aries, the astrological age of the Ram.
Having been confirmed as a demigod, Alexander now regarded his quest for immortality as a right and not simply a privilege. Once again, he had asked the priests of Siwa as to how he could get access to what he called the “Waters of Life”. The priests, who respected him but were not in awe of him, simply told him that he should first go to Karnak and from there proceed to a “land south of Egypt” (today’s Sudan) and there meet Queen Candace for further instructions.
According to Zechariah Sitchin, the significance of Karnak arose from the fact that it was “a venerated religious centre since the third millennium BC. Karnak was a conglomeration of temples, shrines and monuments to Ammon built by generations of Pharaohs. One of the most impressive and colossal structures was the temple built by Queen Hatshepsut more than a thousand years before Alexander's time. And she too was said to have been a daughter of the god Ammon, conceived by a queen whom the god had visited in disguise!”
ALEXANDER MEETS ENOCH AND ELIJAH BUT DRAWS A BLANK
Queen Candace has been described as one "whose beauty no living man could praise sufficiently”. But it was not her beauty Alexander was after: it was the secret of immortality. It is not clear in the Alexander chronicles whether she too had sought the Fountain of Youth, but she did have an idea as to where it could be found and accordingly gave Alexander the directions and protocols of approach to the place she described as a "the wonderful cave where the gods congregate." He was instructed to “to seek out a certain mountain with subterranean passageways in the Sinai Peninsula for angelic encounters”, an echo of the route Gilgamesh took 2500 years before.
Following the directions given him, Alexander and a few of his trusted companions reached Mt Mashu in the Sinai Peninsula and there he was met by “winged men”, that is, Anunnaki astronauts who were manning a gate. Apparently, they were content with his bonafides for they gave him the green light. Like Gilgamesh, he travelled in a dark subterranean tunnel for 12 days and nights, whereupon he met an “angel” who had a flaming fire in a place with a star-lit haze and shining rooftops. The angels or gods, who had eyes that emitted beams of light, were being served by solemn and silent humans. Alexander himself described the place as “where Paradise, which is the Land of the Living, is situated, the abode where the saints dwell."
The angel asked him, “Who art thou, and for what reason art thou here, O mortal?” Alexander identified himself and answered that he had come in search of the Waters of Life so that he might drink of them and evade his fate, having been told by the oracle of Delphi that he had but a short time to live. The angel’s response was blunt and rather disquieting. He said, “"You shall live upon dying, thus not dying.” In other words, there would be no immortality for him: only eternal post-mortem life as was the destiny of every mortal.
Alexander nonetheless insisted that he wanted to know more about the secrets of Heaven. The Angel then took him to another section of Paradise, where he found two men whose faces “were bright, their teeth whiter than milk. Their eyes shone brighter than the morning star; they were lofty of stature, of gracious look." One of the two, who lay in a couch, “was draped in a coverlet inlaid with gold and precious stones, and above it, worked in gold, were branches of a vine, having its cluster of grapes formed of jewels.” The two men are named as Enoch and Elijah, of whom even the Bible makes a point of informing us that they never died but went straight to “Heaven”.
The two saints told Alexander that God had “hidden us from death” in this place, “the City of the Storehouse of Life from where the Bright Waters of Life emanate”. On his part, Enoch, who was the senior of the two, re-affirmed what the angel had told him and proceeded to serve the warning that, “Do not pry into the mysteries of God: be content with your lot.”
Alexander left Paradise a downcast man. He now set his sights on meeting Marduk in person so that he pleads his case with “my father”. Sadly, by the time Alexander conquered Babylon and met Marduk, the god was dead. And in the case of Alexander himself, the priestess of Delphi’s prophecy was fulfilled: he died, following a short illness, on June 11, 323 BC, at the tender age of 33. As with Gilgamesh before him, the Plant of Rejuvenation completely eluded him.
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.