Jehovah’s authority over Earth usurped by his own wacko granddaughter
Returning to the Esagil, Marduk’s temple-residence, Marduk took his visiting brother Nergal straight to a “sacred” chamber called the Shuanna. Shuanna means “A Celestially Supreme Place”. It was a high-tech chamber Marduk and his priests had set up to study and observe the cosmic scene.
When dusk came, Marduk sat down Nergal in the Shuanna and using both computer simulations and viewing instruments demonstrated to him that the Age of the Ram “is upon us” and therefore his time to replace Enlil as Earth’s sovereign had arrived. “The heavens my supremacy bespeak,” Marduk said. “The coming Age of the Ram, my sign, my rule proclaims.” As such, he would no longer depart Babylon but would await his coronation there. He was not imposing himself on the Earthly perch: it all was in keeping with the sequence of Enlilship as agreed between the Enkites and Enlilites just after the Deluge courtesy of the enigmatic Galzu’s decree.
Nergal immediately countered Marduk’s assertion that his time had fallen due: he put it to him that his instruments were inaccurate. At the Eanna, Inanna’s palace at Uruk, he and Inanna had sat in the Ehalanki, the equivalent of the Shuanna, and using its equally sophisticated instruments had ascertained that the Age of the Ram was nowhere near, that Taurus was still in progress. “The backdrop of the evening sky is still dominated by the constellation of Taurus,” Nergal insisted to Marduk. “Whilst you are entitled to succeed after Enlil, you cannot do so way ahead of schedule. Taurus has to completely vanish from the night sky before you exercise your right.”
Marduk thought that was nonsensical. He argued that an astrological Age lasted 2160 years and if they were to go by that reckoning, his accession was only about 75 years down the road given that the present year was 2295 BC and Aries was mathematically scheduled for 2220 BC. True, Taurus, being one of the largest constellations (it occupies more than 30 degrees of the celestial arc) was always visible for an extra 200 years (which meant it physically hovered for 2360 years) but it unjustly stole into Aries’ time. It was time that anomaly was righted by adhering strictly to celestial time (the mathematical 2160-year maximum) and not to zodiacal time (the actual time a constellation lingered in the skies).
NERGAL CONVINCES HIS BROTHER TO EXIT BABYLON
It was a stalemate. Nergal said he was the one who was right and Marduk was adamant it was he who was right. In a situation like this, it was Marduk who had the advantage in that he was already ensconced in Babylon and had so fortified and equipped it it was virtually impossible to dislodge him short of bombarding him into submission. But at this stage, the Anunnaki were tired of warring against each other and warfare was out of the question.
Nergal thought quickly and came up with an idea that could wheedle Marduk out of Babylon. “Okay, my brother you win,” he said. “But if you have to become the new Enlil, you need the relevant insignias and instruments of authority. You need the Holy Sceptre. You need the Oracle of the Gods, the mechanism with which to decree fates. Finally, you need the Radiating Stone which disintegrates everything (what we today call the nuclear button that is vested in the head of state). These have been entrusted to my custody.
I therefore urge that you travel to the Abzu (in southern Africa where Nergal reigned) and collect them yourself as no one else can do so in your stead. That done, you can return to Babylon just at the precise time when the Age of the Ram mathematically commences. Then you will have nobody opposing you, not Enlil, not Inanna.” Clearly, Nergal was spinning a yarn here. Enlil simply wouldn’t have deposited such vital instruments of Earthly authority to Nergal: no ruler in his right mind would do such a thing for as long as he was on the throne. But Marduk naively trusted his brother, who had given him the impression he looked forward to an Enkite rising to supremacy. And when Marduk contacted Enlil for confirmation, Enlil indeed affirmed Nergal’s claim.
It was game, set and match: Marduk prepared to set off for Africa. Since Marduk would be gone for 75 years and as always he would be accompanied by his heir Nabu, whose gift of the gab and incisive thinking he valued greatly, who would rule Babylon in his stead whilst he was away? Who would ensure the exhaustive hydrological infrastructure he had laid down and “other works of wonder” operated in good nick?
“If anything goes amiss,” Marduk warned his brother, “the day shall be turned into darkness, the flow of river waters shall be disarrayed, the lands shall be laid to waste, the people will be made to perish.” In order to forestall such an eventuality, Marduk needed somebody with his industry and round-the-clock vigilance to rule in his absence.
Nergal was quick to offer his services. He said he would proficiently hold fort, seeing to it that everything was spick and span. Nergal’s assurance was convincing and after consultations with Enki and Nabu, Marduk accepted Nergal’s offer. “He’s family,” Enki said to Marduk. “You have had differences with him in the past for sure but this is not about Marduk or Nergal: it’s about our legacy as Enkites. Trust me, Nergal will make good on his undertaking.”
Before Marduk departed, he called a ceasefire in his hostilities with Inanna. Then after a lull of about a month, he ordered his engineers to restore water to all the lands of Sumer with immediate effect. Shortly thereafter, he and Nabu and a retinue of aides and security men numbering in the hundreds set course for the “Land of Mines” as Africa was referred to. The year was circa 2295 BC.
NERGAL OCCASIONS DISASTER IN SUMER
For a few months, all was well in Babylon and the wider Sumer. Water was aplenty and irrigated agriculture was on a roll. Then all hell broke loose. It seemed Nergal had fooled everybody and was simply biding his time. At exactly the precise time he and his equally diabolical ally Inanna appointed, Nergal went into the Babylon control room in an underground chamber and ordered his men to wreck the intuitive, high-tech device that regulated the water reticulation system as well as the power supply (to the homes and facilities of the Anunnaki gods only) throughout Sumeria. “Nergal tore the luminescent radiating stone that gave the system energy from its socket and from its machine links.”
It was a disaster. “Marduk’s devices stopped humming. Lights went out.” Exactly as Marduk had warned, “the day turned into darkness (metaphorically speaking), the fields and canals dried out: parts of Sumer flooded," and soon "the lands were laid to waste, the people were made to perish." Nergal had in his rage paralysed the fiefs of the very council of Enlilite gods who had sent him to oust Marduk. It was like he had scored an own goal but did he care?
Nergal had calculated that all that would be sabotaged was Babylon only, so that the people would think they had been booby-trapped by Marduk when he left the city and as such rise against him once and for all. But all the cities of Sumer were affected. “The people made sacrifices to Anu and Ishtar but to no avail: the water sources went dry." Soon all the gods other than Ishtar had subjected Nergal to angry tirades and Enki was implored to travel to Babylon and ram sense into his second-born son. The Babylonians were up in arms and were baying for Nergal’s blood, calling for the urgent return of Marduk, whose present whereabouts were not known.
When Enki turned up at the Esagil, he was spitting fire. “What on Earth have you done?” he demanded of Nergal. “What a letdown you have been! To think I spoke so glowingly about you to Prince Marduk!” With Nergal unable to give an intelligible account of what had transpired, Enki gave him the marching orders straightaway. “Go away! Take off to where no gods ever go!" Enki also ordered that the golden statue that had been sculpted to Nergal’s honour not be set up at all in the Esagil as he had turned out to be such a disgrace.
With his powerful father quivering with rage, Nergal had no option but to depart Babylon but not without a spectacular parting shot: he destroyed all of Marduk’s personal effects and set fire to the Esagil. Nergal also ensured a sizeable number of his followers, the Gutians/Kutheans, remained stationed in Babylon and Agade, the former to see to it that Babylon remained subdued and the latter to bolster Inanna. Then he trekked back to Kutha, his Sumerian base, which was not very far from Babylon.
INANNA EXALTS HERSELF ABOVE ANU AND ENLIL
About four years after Nergal was driven away from Babylon by Enki, a virtual leadership void ensued in the major regions of the world. Enlil travelled to Mars. Ninurta went to do business in “the lands beyond the ocean”, today’s South America. Marduk, after discovering that Nergal had sent him on a wild goose chase, decided to go to the Antarctica, where he was to remain for years, once again living up to his epithet of Amon, meaning “The Obscure One”. Ishkur-Adad was his typically aloof and indifferent self; Nannar-Sin his usual calm, collected, and withdrawn self. Utu-Shamash was busy running the space-related facilities.
Inanna thought this state of affairs presented an opportunity for her to step into the breach and assume supremacy over all Earth. First, she sat down to consider a new Earthling king who would do her bidding and assist her crusade to seize all the principal lands of the world. This person had to come from the Sargon bloodline naturally. After Sargon had died, she had replaced him with his eldest son Rimush on the throne of Agade. He ruled for only 9 years, having been killed by “his servants”. His younger brother Manishtushu took over as regent but he too lasted for only 15 years: he was killed in a “palace revolt”. Inanna then installed Manishtushu’s son in office.
The new King of Agade was called Naram-Sin. His name meant “Beloved of Sin”, Inanna’s father Nannar-Sin. Indeed, Naram-Sin’s daughter Enmenanna would in future succeed Sargon’s daughter Enheduanna as high-priestess of Nannar-Sin. But Naram-Sin should ideally have been called “Beloved of Ishtar” in that Inanna had doted on him since he was a little kid as he showed the potential to be as great as his grandfather Sargon, whereas Rimush and Manishtushu were largely inclined toward peaceful co-existence with other nations, the reason they had been reluctant to wage war.
Inanna’s brief to Naram-Sin was that he should “seek grandeur and greatness by ceaseless conquest and destruction of my enemies” with a view to expanding her empire. This time around, Inanna was not going to do pinpricks in her quest for world domination: she was going for the jugular. And in Naram-Sin, she had a most loyal and dutiful servant.
In his heyday, Sargon had his share of conquests under the aegis of Inanna, but he was wary that he did not encroach on the territories of either the Enkites or the most powerful Enlilites. For instance, he did not seize the Sinai Peninsula. He did not march into African lands. And in Sumer itself, he steered clear of Lagash, Ninurta’s cult city, and Babylon, Marduk’s domain. The only sensitive area he captured was Baalbek.
Not so with Naram-Sin. His first target prize was Canaan. He captured Jerusalem, the Mission Control Centre; Jericho, the city of “Moon God” Nannar-Sin; and at long last the entire Sinai Peninsula, where Tilmun, the spaceport, was located. Having registered this triumph, Naram-Sin was so euphoric he depicted himself on a stella standing by a rocketship, as if to say he had now attained godly status. Thereafter, he ran rampage through the lands along the Mediterranean Sea to eventually annex Baalbek. “As a Flying Goddess, Inanna was quite familiar with the place,” say the Sumerian records. “She burnt down the great gates of the mountain and, after a brief siege, obtained the surrender of the troops guarding it: they disbanded themselves willingly."
Naram-Sin mixed seizing supremacy with suppression of rebellions. The two Syrian cities of Arman (Aleppo) and Ebla (Tell Mardikh) were particularly stubborn. Naram-Sin set them ablaze and went on to boast that he was the first king to destroy these two great cities. “Never since the time of the creation of mankind did any king whatever set Arman and Ebla to sword and fire,” he wrote in his annals. In fact, he so poisoned the lands of Lebanon by way of chemical warfare that future invading eastern kings scrupulously avoided it for the next one thousand years!
Having overrun the whole of Canaan, Lebanon, and Syria, Naram-Sin now set his sights on the lands of Marduk – Magan (Egypt) and Meluhha (Sudan and Ethiopia). Marduk was still away in the Antarctica and Nergal was the one flexing muscles over these lands. Since Nergal and Inanna were at once political allies and bedfellows, Naram-Sin did not break a sweat at all. At the say-so of Inanna, Naram-Sin had gone out of his way to lionise Nergal with a view to a smooth landing in Egypt.
Writes Zechariah Sitchin: “The long text known as The Kuthean Legend of Naram-Sin (or, as it is sometimes called, The King of Kutha Text) attests that Naram-Sin went to Kutha, Nergal's cult centre, and erected there a stela to which he affixed an ivory tablet inscribed with the tale of this unusual visit, all to pay homage to Nergal. The recognition by Naram-Sin of Nergal's power and influence well beyond Africa is attested by the fact that in treaties made between Naram-Sin and provincial rulers in Elam (west and southwest Iran), Nergal is invoked among the witness gods.
And in an inscription dealing with Naram-Sin's march to the Cedar Mountain in Lebanon, the king credited Nergal (rather than Ishkur-Adad) with making the achievement possible.” But Naram-Sin’s main trump card was Inanna, who guided, urged on, and armed him with her ''awesome weapons”. Naram-Sin marched against three major kings of Marduk’s African regions and captured them in person, making a show of them as he thrust further into Marduk territory.
INANNA IS THE NEW ENLIL!
Inanna was on a roll. She was literally spitting fire. Such was her military might that she was virtually untouchable, with fellow gods in dread of her. Said a hymn that eulogised her. “The great Anunnaki gods fled before you like fluttering bats. They could not stand before your fearsome face, could not soothe your angry heart." Whereas before she launched her worldwide campaign she was called “Beloved of Enlil" and “One who carries out the instructions of Anu”, and portrayed in imagery as an enticing Goddess of Love, in the annexed territories she was now depicted as a ruthless and savage conqueror, as a Goddess of War bristling with weapons, on rock engravings.
For donkeys’ years now, she had been based in Agade since the days of Sargon the Great. Her erstwhile temple-abode in Uruk, the Eanna, she had vacated and re-commissioned as a sacred monument to King Anu of Nibiru. Now she targeted this “house of irresistible charm” for dismantling so as to bring to an end its standing as a symbol of Anu’s authority. She set about knocking it down brick by brick whilst she assaulted its staff and threw them behind bars where they defied her.
But she was not yet done. She wanted to be the Goddess of Earth and therefore she needed to send a strong message to her grandfather Enlil, the reigning God of Earth, that she was now the Mistress of the Realm. Accordingly, she ordered Naram-Sin to storm the Ekur in Nippur. This was Enlil’s temple-residence. Descending on the unguarded city, Naram-Sin crushed all who had served Enlil and “like a bandit he plundered it”.
Then arriving at the Ekur, he “erected large ladders against the House, smashed his way in, entered its Holy of Holies.” Extracting the Holy Vessels of an absent Enlil, Naram-Sin cast them into a blazing bonfire. Then he “forged great axes, sharpened double-edged axes of destruction, levelled the Ekur down to the foundation of the land.” That done, he “docked large boats at the quay by the House of Enlil, and carried off the possessions of the city." The sacrilege, the coup against the all-powerful Enlil, was complete.
With the job done, Inanna declared herself the “Supreme Queen” and also assumed a new name, Anat, meaning “(Ruler) of the Cosmos”. In other words, not even King Anu had authority over her anymore. She would be, so she boasted in earnest, “greater than the mother who gave birth to me, even greater than Anu.” She even countermanded all rules, regulations, laws, and ordinances Enlil had promulgated for the planet and announced a new World Order in which her word would hold sway. “The heavenly Kingship was seized by a female!" says a Sumerian text. "lnanna changed the rules of Holy Anu!"
Naram-Sin too did not shrink from lapping up his moment of glory. He declared himself “King of the Four Regions”. These were Sumer (the First Region); Egypt (the Second Region); the Indus Valley (The Third Region); and the Sinai Peninsula (The Fourth Region), all of which together constituted the nerve centre of the planet. He proceeded to proclaim himself a god and appropriated all the trappings of godship (Anunnakiship), donning a horned headdress in mimicry of the gods.
He called himself Dingir.Naram-Sin, meaning “Divine Naram-Sin”. This title was reserved for the Anunnaki but it was also conferred as a honorary title on a demigod subject to the approval of Enlil. In Naram-Sin’s case, it was bestowed by Inanna, the new Enlil! Would Enlil and King Anu take all this lying down?
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.