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Abraham the God-Man

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

   
Terah commissions his son to India as Pope of the Region

Whilst the Bible does not categorically state that Harran was born earlier than Abraham, it does drop more than sufficient hints that that was the case. We will not, however, unpack in one fell swoop the full circumstantial details as to why Harran was senior to Abraham. We will be positing our argument portion by portion as the narrative progresses. As related last week, Haran was Terah’s firstborn; Abraham was the second-born; and Nahor II was third. The three were sired in the same year, 2123 BC, by the same father through different mothers. 

 
The name Haran can be broken down into two components, Har, meaning “mountain”, and An, meaning “sky” or “the cosmos”. Haran could therefore be interpreted to mean “a giant”, or rather “colossus,” that is, “a great man”, or “a towering figure”. The reason he was so named is obvious enough:  as Terah’s firstborn, he was meant to be Enlil’s Righteous Shepherd in accordance with Enlil’s geopolitical designs. In other words, he was to be the Priest-King of Earthlings, or Melchizedek.

That Haran had been earmarked as a future colossus can partly be gleaned from the establishment of the city of Harran, which was named after him. Normally, places are named after people who once were great, e.g. Washington in the US, which was named after General George Washington, the country’s founding president. In the case of Terah’s son Haran, the city of Harran was named after him while he was still a youngster. If you recall, the city of Harran was built by Nannar-Sin at the instruction of Enlil before Haran was born.

Initially, it was simply known as     “Ur away from Ur”, that is, the Second Ur. But following Haran’s birth, Ur away from Ur now became known as Harran.  That the city was dedicated to Haran before he had done anything great bears out the fact that as Enlil’s prospective Priest-King, Haran was destined to be greater than Abraham in the fullness of time, a laurel befitting of a firstborn. As for Nahor II, his name does not need much explication. He was named after his grandfather Nahor I, the father of Terah.

Yet of Terah’s children (he had several others in addition to those mentioned in Genesis), it is Abraham who is the most famous. But as we shall soon demonstrate, he was not meant to be a man of such renown: his fame came at the expense of his elder brother Haran. How that state of affairs came to be again we enjoin you to be patient and wait for the appropriate time.  

Although he is best known as Abraham, that was not his original name: Abraham was a name he was given later in life when he was about 100 years old. His given name when he was born in 2123 BC was Abram. But again, that is not unimpeachably correct. Abram is simply the Hebrew version of his actual Sumerian name. His Sumerian name, the name he was given when he was born, was Ibru-um.

The name can be interpreted in at least three ways. First, he may have been named after one of his forefathers, Eber, which can also be written as Ibri or Ibru. Second, he possibly was dedicated to the great city of Nippur, where he was born. Nippur as we explained last time around was the Akkadian name for Enlil’s cult city, which was known as Nibruki (“Earth’s Crossroads”) or simply Ni-Ibru (“The Crossing Place”) in Sumerian. Thirdly, he probably was named after his race, who were known as Ibri, or Hebrews in English.   

Even in our day, we do encounter people who are named after their own tribe, their country, or even a famed city.  For example, we all know who Paris Hilton and Paris Jackson are. I have a brother-in-law here in Botswana known as Bakwena. There are a lot of people whose surname is French,  England, Ndebele, etc. So we should not be surprised as to how Abraham’s original name came about.

EXIT NINURTA STRATEGY, ENTER SIN TACTIC

Meanwhile, a number of developments in Sumer had caused Enlil considerable concern. With the withdrawal of Ninurta from the rulership of Sumer-Akkad, Inanna-Ishtar had become bothersome again. In her recent rally using Utu-Hegal, she had been tamed but there was no guarantee that she would never cause trouble again. But Enlil’s greatest headache at this juncture was Marduk’s rock-star popularity. No matter what counter-strategies the Enlilites came up with, Marduk’s sway over the Earthly masses just kept soaring.  It was a harrowing state of affairs that gave Enlil endless nightmares.  

As a last-ditch demolition act, Enlil decided to employ the “Sin Tactic”. The Ninurta Strategy, whereby Ninurta was called upon to oversee Sumer,  had worked splendidly but it had not inflicted the merest dent in Marduk’s popularity. The Sin Tactic was certain to reverse much of Marduk’s gains in the popularity stakes, so Enlil reckoned.  “Then Enlil, with Anu consulting, kingship in the hands of Nannar deposited,” say the Sumerian records. “To Urim, in whose oil the divine Heavenly Bright Object (Shuhadaku) remained implanted, kingship for the third time was granted.”

Nannar-Sin, Enlil’s second-born son, did bear attributes that prima facie stood to endear him to the Earthling masses. Unlike Marduk, who was born on the throne planet of Orion, Sin was born on Earth, the first Anunnaki to have done so. It was for this reason he liked to refer to himself as “The Firstborn of All Creation”, creation in this context meaning Earthlings (he was born before Enki fashioned Adam). Sin was also in large part a peaceful god. He had never taken part in all the wars  that had taken place to date between the Enlilites and the Enkites.

In Sumer, Sin was in fact the most popular god: he and his wife Ningal were one of the most adored Enlilites. Surely, Enlil reasoned, Sin would make a more effective foil against Marduk if he was to be entrusted overall rulership of Sumer-Akkad as Earthlings would read that as the beginning probably of an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity given that Sin was also an excellent economic manager.   

This was not the first time Sin had been considered for this perch. He had ruled Sumer before but only as a ceremonial sovereign. This time around, he was going to be the executive god of Sumer-Akkad. It would be interesting to see how he fared in the hearts of Earthlings vis-a-vis Marduk in this dispensation.

SIN’S SIN: THE MONEY ECONOMY

The Era of Sin, which commenced in 2113 BC, has been described as “one of the most glorious in Sumerian annals”. During the next 100 years, Sin ruled illustriously and distinctively. At his accession to the throne of Sumer-Akkad, he had set out to turn his cult city, Ur (Urim in full, meaning “Urban domesticated place”), into Sumer-Akkad’s commercial and manufacturing hub, which he indeed did. Situated along the Euphrates River and between Eridu to the south and Uruk in the north, Ur now became Sumer-Akkad’s capital city for the third time, the reason it was referred to at this juncture as Ur III.

Sin and Ningal were not simply arm-chair sovereigns: they were hands-on. Because of their assiduity, they fully revitalised Ur, whose greatness had long waned.  Besides making Ur a trade behemoth and the factory of Sumer, they turned it  into the granary of Sumer and the garment centre of the ancient Near-East, not to mention other material and cultural advancements. “Foreign trade by land and water made the merchants of Ur remembered for millennia thereafter,” writes Zechariah Sitchin.

In order to further fortify the city against susceptibility to attack, Sin built a ring of a navigable canal around the city wall which served two major harbours. “It was a city whose white houses – many of them multistoried – shone as a pearl from a distance; whose streets were straight and wide, with many a shrine at their intersections: a city of an industrious people with a smooth-functioning  administration; a city of pious people, never failing to pray to their benevolent deities.”

The city was a riot of “multilevel private dwellings, workshops, schools, merchants’ warehouses, and stalls – all in wide  streets where, at many intersections, prayer shrines open to all travellers were built.” Sin’s skyscraping ziggurat, his temple residence, would have ranked as one of the world’s seven wonders of the  day. “Ur’s epitome and hallmark was the grand ziggurat built there for Nannar-Sin – a monumental edifice that, though lying in ruins for almost four thousand years, still dominates the landscape and awes the viewer by its immensity, stability, and intricacy,” says Zechariah Sitchin.

Because of its sophistication and grandeur, Ur became the very archetype of a city and a synonym of prosperity and wellbeing. The term “Ur” in time came to mean “The City” as uttered with a sigh of admiration and incredulity. It is from Ur, the urban jewel of the ancient lands, that we get the English word “urban” as indeed urban areas are meant to be more infrastructurally superior to rural areas.  Sumer soared to dizzying economic heights under the lordship of Nannar-Sin. Let’s listen to Sitchin once  again: 

“Under the active guidance of Nannar and his spouse Ningal, Sumer attained new heights in art and sciences, literature and urban organisation, agriculture and industry and commerce. Sumer became the granary of the Lands of the Bible, its wool and garment industries were in a class by themselves, its merchants were the famed Merchants of Ur.”

A question is always asked: how did money creep into commerce? Well, the dude who introduced the money economy on planet Earth was Nannar-Sin. Money wasn’t necessary: we didn’t need it: barter was sufficient for the purpose. But Sin, today known as Allah in Islam,  introduced money to employ it as a tool for the enslavement of mankind. A peaceful  god, Sin wanted to control mankind not through arms but through trade and that almost inescapable albatross known as debt.

As the prototypical Reptilian Mayer Amschel Rothschild candidly and truthfully put it, “Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes the laws”. America and much of the world are indebted to the Rothschilds because they control the reserve banks of the world’s most economically advanced countries. This servitude has filtered down to you, me and the other fellow: the Rothschilds folks have us both by the scruff of our necks and by our balls because they control, directly and indirectly, all the currencies of the world and all this thanks to the sin of Sin.  This Earth, My Brother…  

UR-NAMMU IS INTERIM KING OF SUMER

In the same year Nannar-Sin was appointed god of Sumer-Akkad by Enlil,  he  ordered Terah to move from Nippur to Ur. Terah was to perform the functions of a high priest in  Sin’s temple. At the same time, he was to double as the high priest of Nippur too, the first time ever the two city-states’ priesthood was conjoined.   Even more important, he was to see to it that  the people of Ur followed zodiacal time (the total time a constellation showed in the night sky) as opposed to celestial time (the total time [2160 years]  a constellation was mathematically allotted). Terah took all his kids with him to Ur. Abraham and his two half-brothers were 10 years old at the time.  

Since Sin’s time would be taken up with  overseeing the affairs of all of Sumer-Akkad, and Terah would dedicate himself to ecclesiastical and astronomical/astrological affairs, he requested Enlil that an Earthling King be installed under his aegis.  Enlil duly obliged. But this time around, the king was to be chosen by Enlil and recommended to King Anu in Nibiru for either approval or veto. This was to avoid sentimental appointments of kings by a god or goddess. A salutary lesson had been learnt from Inanna, who chose kings primarily on the basis that they were capable of satisfying her insatiable sexual appetite and not necessarily because they had monarchical potential.  

The king Enlil chose for Ur and by extension the whole of Sumer was Ur-Nammu, a titular name meaning “The Joy of Ur”. Like all kings who came before him, Ur-Nammu  had a qualifying pedigree. His father was a demigod and his mother was a full goddess, Ninsun, the daughter of Enki with his step-sister Ninmah. That made Ur-Nammu two-thirds divine.

It was significant that Ur-Nammu was the blood brother of a departed legend, Gilgamesh, who had wrought great feats of accomplishment as King of Uruk seven centuries prior. Clearly, Enlil’s choice of Ur-Nammu was driven by his underlying desire to make a Gilgamesh out of him. As important,  Ur-Nammu was a  fitting counterpoint to Nabu, Marduk’s heir: Nabu’s mother was a demigod whereas his father was a full god.    

It should be noted that Ur-Nammu was no more than a stop-gap ruler. He simply was holding fort for Haran, Terah’s firstborn, who was only ten years old at the time. Once Haran had attained 30 years of age, he was to take over, in his case as Priest-King and not simply King. Pleased with Ur-Nammu’s credentials, King Anu gave the green light for his accession. He has gone into the Sumerian annals as the first ruler of Ur’s Third Dynasty.

ABRAHAM IN INDIA

Meanwhile, Terah was grooming his young sons for specialised responsibilities. Haran, the heir, was being moulded into a future Priest-King. As such, he was to keep to Ur and study up-close both his father’s and Ur-Nammu’s modus operandi. Abraham on the other hand was being moulded into a spiritual leader of the Diaspora. So when he turned 12, he was sent to the Indus Valley region, the vast Indian empire where Terah himself had been the spiritual leader before tracing his way back to Sumer circa 2140 BC.   

Being the son of the pioneer spiritual leader, Abraham was welcomed with a lot of fanfare. He would in due course make an impact that was to rival that of his father. In India, Terah belonged to a priestly caste who were known as Brahmins, the religious noblemen. But it was Abraham who came to personify this caste, that was also known as the Kaul Devas (Holy Kalani, Kaul being the short form of Kalani, the name by which Hebrews were known in India) or simply Chaldees. He became known as the Brahma, meaning “God-Man”, (something akin to Jesus), like his father Terah was revered as when he was the Priest-King of Dwaraka before 2041 BC.    

Initially though, Abraham did not worship Enlil, the Bible’s principal Jehovah. As a teenager, he worshipped Enki. Enki’s religion, which was known as the cult of the snake, was the most popular form of spirituality throughout the Indian empire. The cult of the snake was popularised by Intrasterestrial beings who were known as the Nagas. These beings were half-human, half-snake and were revered as gods. In due course though, term Nagas came to apply to full humans who reverenced the cult of the snake.

ASPECTS OF THE NAME ABRAHAM

The fact that Abraham experimented with several religious sects (like King Solomon) explains why his name came to mean several things depending on how the syllables were pronounced.    First, he was the Pope, the “Holy Father” of his religious movement. This is Abhiram in Hindi (Ab = "Father;" Hir   = "Head; Top; Exalted;” and Am = "People"). Abhiram can also be interpreted as “Father of the Exalted People”. Indeed, the Brahmin caste were the superior race of the  day in India. They were white-skinned and very knowledgeable in many things, more so in religious philosophy.

The name Abraham according to Genesis was given to the man who was initially known as Abram when God told him he was going to be the “Father of a multitude”, the nation of Israel.  That, however, is an evolutional meaning of the name Abraham, not the original meaning. In Hebrew, “Ab” means “Father” and “Ram”is the term for “a highly placed leader or governor”. Abram therefore means “Pope”. The Pope is at once a political leader of the Vatican, an independent country, and the spiritual leader of Catholics. Abraham was the   political leader of a place in India known as Maturea, the Kingdom of the Oude         (which rhymes with Yehuda, or Jews in English), as well as the spiritual leader of the Brahmin religion.   

The name Abraham can  be interpreted to mean “Father of Divine Mercy”given that in Kashmiri (the language spoken in Kashmir, which at the time of Abraham’s sojourn in India was dominated by Hebrews) “Raham”, which derives from “Ram”, means “Divine Mercy”. This is most fitting if Abraham was a spiritual leader as then he would have had the right to forgive sins just as the Pope does in our day.   The equivalent of Raham in Hebrew is Rakham, which also means Divine Mercy.

The term Ab can also mean snake. “Abram” then would be interpreted as “Exalted Snake”. Since Abraham at some stage in his spiritual evolution  worshipped Enki or Enkite gods (“other gods” in Genesis), he could have been called Abram to denote the fact that he was a high-standing Enkite. During this phase of his religious life, he was a renegade who had defected from the Aryan faith that reverenced Enlilites.

Thus the Aryans would have called him “A-brahm”meaning, “No Longer a  Brahmin”as the prefix “a” sometimes denoted  “opposed to” or “against”. Finally, Abraham or Abram may just have been a corruption in other tongues of his original Sumerian name Ibru-um. Thus we should not be so dogmatic about what the name Abraham meant  as it throws up several shades of meaning.  
 
NEXT WEEK: A BEREAVEMENT IN THE TERAH FAMILY

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Hell Up in Judea

24th August 2021

A case can be made, General Atiku, that history’s most infamous Roman is Pontius Pilate. It was Pilate who condemned Jesus, the  “Son of God”, to the most cruel, most barbaric,  and most excruciating of deaths – crucifixion –  and cowardly at that as the gospels attest for us.  

Yet the exact circumstances under which the crucifixion took place and what followed thereafter far from jells with what is familiarly known. The fact of the matter was that there was a lot of political wheeling and dealing and boldfaced corruption on the part both of the Jewish authorities and the Roman establishment in the person of Pontius Pilate.  In this piece, we attempt, General, to present a fuller photo of Pilate as the centre of the whole machination.

Pilate’s historicity, General, is not in doubt. In 1961, an Italian archeologist unearthed a limestone block at Caesarea Maritima on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, which as of 6 AD was the Roman seat of government as well as the military headquarters.  The block bore the inscription, “Pontius Pilate, the Prefect of Judea, has dedicated this Temple to the divine Augusti” (that is, then Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar and his wife Livia).

Pilate also gets varying degrees of mention in the works of Roman senator and historian Cornelius Tacitus (56-117 AD); the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher and chronicler Philo of Alexandria (25 BC to 50 AD); and the legendary Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD).

Although his year of death (37 AD) is documented, his year of birth is a matter of conjecture, General. He came from the Pontii tribe (hence the name Pontius), a tough, warlike people. The Pontii tribe was of the equestrian class, the second-tier in the Roman caste system. Originally, the equestrians were those Romans with ample pocket power to bribe their way to knightly ranks in the Roman army. Pilate was born to Marcus Pontius, who had distinguished himself as a general in Rome’s military campaigns.

Following one of his particularly sterling military exploits, Marcus was awarded with the Pilum (javelin), a Roman decoration of honour for heroic military service.  To commemorate this medal of valour, the family took the name Pilati, rendered Pilate in English and Pilatus in Latin.

The son, Lucius Pontius Pilate, also distinguished himself as a soldier in the German campaigns of Germanicus, a prominent general of the early Roman Empire. Thanks to his scintillating military profile coupled with   strategic connections in the hierarchies of the Roman government, Pilate was able to wend his way into the heart of Claudia, the granddaughter of Caesar Augustus, the founder of the Roman Empire and ruler from 27 BC to 14 AD.

Claudia’s mother was Julia the Elder, who was also the biological mother of the apostles John and James. When Claudia was about 13 years of age, Julia sent her to Rome to be reared in the courts of Emperor Tiberius Caesar, to whom Julia was once married from 11 BC to 6 BC.

Although Tiberius was not the biological father of Claudius, General, he gladly acquiesced to being her foster father in deference to the memory of her late grandfather Caesar Augustus.
Pilate arrived in Rome when Claudia was sixteen years of age. In AD 26, the two tied the knot. Needless to say, it was a marriage based not on love as such but on political opportunism.

ASSIGNMENT JUDEA

The high-placed connection who facilitated Pontius Pilate’s smooth landing into the inner sanctums of Rome’s royalty and put him on a pedestal that saw him take pride of place in the cosmic gallery of rogues was Aelius Sejanus. Like Pilate, Sejanus came from the subordinate equestrian class, who would never be eligible for a seat in the Senate, the legislative council of ancient Rome.

Sejanus, however, had over time become Emperor Tiberius’ most trusted lieutenant and to the point where he was the de facto prime minister.  He had been commander of the Praetorian Guard, the elite Special Forces unit created by Augustus Caesar as a personal security force, which developed under Sejanus’ command into the most significant presence in Rome.

In AD 26, the emperor was not even based in Rome: he had confined himself to the 10.4 km2 island of Capri, about 264 km from Rome, and left control of Rome and the government of the Roman Empire to Sejanus. It was Sejanus who recommended the appointment of Pilate as prefect, or governor/procurator of Judea. The appointment was pronounced right on the occasion of Pilate’s nuptials with Claudius.

Philo records that when the bridal party emerged from the temple where the marriage ceremony was celebrated and Pilate started to follow the bride into the imperial litter, Tiberius, who was one of the twelve witnesses required to attend the ceremony, held him back and handed him a document. It was the wedding present – the governorship of far-flung Judea – with orders to proceed at once to Caesarea Maritima to take over the office made vacant by the recall of Valerius Gratus.

Pilate was notified by Sejanus that a ship was in fact waiting upon him to transport him to Palestine right away. The only disadvantageous aspect about the assignment was that Pilate was to leave the shores of Rome alone, without the pleasure of spending a first night in the arms of his newly wedded wife: by imperial decree, the wives of governors were not allowed to accompany them in their jurisdictions. Pilate, however, was a royal by marriage and so this prohibition was waived. By special permission granted by His Imperial Majesty Tiberius Caesar, Claudia soon joined her husband in Judea. The wily Pilate had calculated well when he married into royalty.

A SADISTIC ADMINISTRATOR

The Judean perch was not prestigious though, General. The prefects of Judea were not of high social status. At least one – Felix, referenced by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles – was an ex-slave, which says a great deal on the low regard in which the province was held by Rome.

Pilate was only secondarily sent to Judea on account of having married into royalty: his posting to the volatile province stemmed, primarily, from his being of a inferior social pedigree. Be that as it may, Pilate relished the posting in that it gave him the chance to exercise power, absolute power. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and in Pilate was the archetypal example, General.

Pilate’s brief was simple: to collect taxes, maintain law and order, maintain infrastructure, and keep the population subdued. Although he was born lowly, he positively had the power of life and death over his Jewish subjects. Let us, General, listen to Josephus in his allusion to Coponius, Judea’s first Roman governor and who like Pilate was from the same subservient social class: “And now Archelaus’ part of Judea was reduced into a province and Coponius, one of the equestrian order among the Romans, was sent as procurator, having the power of life and death put into his hands by Caesar.”

Pilate, General, was callous to a point of being sadistic. He was scarcely the scrupling judge with the rare soft spot that we encounter in the gospels. Philo charges him with “corruptibility, violence, robberies, ill-treatment of the people, grievances, continuous executions without even the form of a trial, endless and intolerable cruelties”.

He further declares him to be a “savage, inflexible, and arbitrary ruler” who was of a “stubborn and harsh quality” and “could not bring himself to do anything that might cause pleasure to the Jews”. The essentially humane character of the Pilate who presided over the trial of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels may not be wholly fictitious but is highly embellished, General.

Why did Pilate have such a pathological hatred of the Jews, General? Sejanus had more to do with it than the spontaneous leanings of his own nature. According to Philo, Sejanus hated the Jews like the plague and wished “to do away with the nation” – to exterminate it. In AD 19, for instance, he forced the Jews in Rome to burn their religious vestments and expelled them from the city without much ado.

For as long as Sejanus was in power, General, Pilate could do pretty much as he pleased. He didn’t have to worry about compromising reportage reaching the emperor as everything went through the implacably anti-Jewish Sejanus. Sejanus was unrivalled in power: golden statues of the general were being put up in Rome, the Senate had voted his birthday a public holiday, public prayers were offered on behalf of Tiberius and Sejanus, and in AD 31 Sejanus was named as Consul jointly with Tiberius.

The Judea posting also gave Pilate a golden opportunity to make money – lots of it. The governors of the Roman provinces were invariably rapacious, greedy, and incompetent: this we learn not only from Jewish historians of the day but from contemporary Roman writers as well such as Tacitus and Juvenal.

As long as the money skimmed from the provinces was not overly excessive, governors were allowed a free hand. It is said of Emperor Tiberius that, “Once he ordered a governor to reverse a steep rise in taxes saying, ‘I want my sheep shorn, not skinned’!” For those governors, such as Pilate, who had support from the very acmes of Roman power, General, they were practically a law unto themselves.

PILATE’S WINGS ARE CLIPPED

Pontius Pilate, General, was untrained in political office. Furthermore, he was a sycophant to the core who was prepared to go to any length in a bid to curry favour with and prove his loyalty to the powers that be in Rome.    Both these attributes gave rise to a series of blunders that brought him the intense hatred of the Jews.

The first abomination he committed in the eyes of the Jews, General, was to set up a temple dedicated to Emperor Tiberius, which he called the Tiberieum, making him the only known Roman official to have built a temple to a living emperor.  True, Roman emperors were worshipped, but Tiberius was the one exception. According to the Roman scholar and historian Suetonius, Tiberius did not allow the consecration of temples to himself. Pilate’s act therefore, General, was an overkill: it was not appreciated at all.

Throughout his tenure, General, Pilate had a series of run-ins with the Jews, some of which entailed a lot of bloodshed and one of which sparked an insurrection that paved the way to Calvary. Then it all began to unravel, General. On October 18 AD 31, his patron Sejanus was summoned to the office of Emperor Tiberius and an angry denunciation was read out to him. It is not clear, General, what caused Sejanus’ fall from the emperor’s good graces but circumstantial evidence points to the perceived threat to the emperor’s power.

As the ancient historian Cassius Dio puts it, “Sejanus was so great a person by reason both of his excessive haughtiness and of his vast power that to put it briefly, he himself seemed to be the emperor and Tiberius a kind of island potentate, inasmuch as the latter spent his time on the island of Capri.”  Sejanus, hitherto the most powerful man in Rome, General, was thrown into a dungeon.

That same evening, he was summarily condemned to death, extracted from his cell, hung, and had his body given over to a crowd that tore it to pieces in a frenzy of manic excitement. His three children were all executed over the following months and his wife, Tiberius’ own daughter, committed suicide.  The people further celebrated his downfall by pulling his statues over.  Meanwhile, General, Tiberius began pursuing all those who could have been involved in the “plots” of Sejanus.

In Judea, Pilate, a Sejanus appointee, must have been badly shaken, General. Were his friends and family under suspicion? Would he be purged like others? Imperial attitudes to the Jewish race seemed to have changed now with the riddance of Sejanus. Tiberius made sure this was the case by appointing a new governor for Syria (who went by the title Legate and to whom Pilate was obligated to report).

The governor, Lucius Pomponius Flaccus, arrived in Rome in AD 32. Philo records that Tiberius now “charged his procurators in every place to which they were appointed to speak comfortably to the members of our nation in the different cities, assuring them that the penal measures did not extend to all but only to the guilty who were few, and to disturb none of the established customs but even to regard them as a trust committed to their care, the people as naturally peaceable and the institution as an influence promoting orderly conduct.”

So Pilate, General, had lost his supporters at the top, his new boss was on his doorstep, and there had been a change of policy regarding the very people he was in charge of. Surely, he would have to watch his step. The fact of the matter, however, General, was that he hardly did so.  In November 32 AD, for instance, he provoked a mini-uprising by the Zealots led by Judas Iscariot, Theudas Barabbas, and Simon Zelotes. It was this revolt, General, that culminated in those three “crosses” of Calvary that are indelibly etched on the mind of every Christian.

NEXT WEEK: ZEALOT REVOLT AGAINST PILATE

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Hustle & Muscle

24th August 2021

Until as recently as the 1980s a career often meant a job for life within a single company or organisation. Phrases such as ‘climbing the corporate ladder’, ‘the glass ceiling’, ‘wage slave’ & ‘the rat race’ were thrown about, the analogies making clear that a career path was a toxic mix of a war of attrition, indentured drudgery and a Sisyphean treadmill.

In all cases you fought, grafted or plodded on till you reached retirement age, at which point you could expect a small leaving party, the promise of a pension and, oddly, a gift of either a clock or watch. The irony of being rewarded with a timepiece on the very day you could expect to no longer be a workday prisoner was apparently lost on management – the hands of time were destined to follow you to the grave!

Retirement was the goal at the end of the long, corporate journey, time on your hands – verifiable by your gifted time keeping device – to spend time working in the garden, playing with the grandchildren, enjoying a holiday or two and generally killing time till time killed you.

For some, retirement could be literally short-lived. The retirement age, and accompanying pension, was predicated on the old adage of three scores years and ten being the average life expectancy of man. As the twentieth century progressed and healthcare became more sophisticated, that former mean average was extended but that in itself then brought with it the double-edged sword of dementia. The longer people lived, the more widespread dementia became – one more life lottery which some won, some lost and doctors were seemingly unable to predict who would succumb and who would survive.

However, much research has been carried out on the causes of this crippling and cruel disease and the latest findings indicate that one of its root causes may lie in the former workplace – what your job entailed and how stimulating or otherwise it was. It transpires that having an interesting job in your forties could lessen the risk of getting dementia in old age, the mental stimulation possibly staving off the onslaught of the condition by around 18 months.

Academics examined more than 100,000 participants and tracked them for nearly two decades. They spotted a third fewer cases of dementia among people who had engaging jobs which involved demanding tasks and more control — such as government officers, directors, physicians, dentists and solicitors, compared to adults in ‘passive’ roles — such as supermarket cashiers, vehicle drivers and machine operators. And those who found their own work interesting also had lower levels of proteins in their blood that have been linked with dementia.

The study was carried out by researchers from University College London, the University of Helsinki and Johns Hopkins University studying the cognitive stimulation and dementia risk in 107,896 volunteers, who were regularly quizzed about their job.  The volunteers — who had an average age of around 45 — were tracked for between 14 and 40 years.  Jobs were classed as cognitively stimulating if they included demanding tasks and came with high job control. Non-stimulating ‘passive’ occupations included those with low demands and little decision-making power.

4.8 cases of dementia per 10,000 person years occurred among those with interesting careers, equating to 0.8 per cent of the group. In contrast, there were 7.3 cases per 10,000 person years among those with repetitive jobs (1.2 per cent). Among people with jobs that were in the middle of these two categories, there were 6.8 cases per 10,000 person years (1.12 per cent).

The link between how interesting a person’s work was and rates of dementia did not change for different genders or ages.Lead researcher Professor Mika Kivimaki, from UCL, said: ‘Our findings support the hypothesis that mental stimulation in adulthood may postpone the onset of dementia. The levels of dementia at age 80 seen in people who experienced high levels of mental stimulation was observed at age 78.3 in those who had experienced low mental stimulation. This suggests the average delay in disease onset is about one and half years, but there is probably considerable variation in the effect between people.’

The study, published this week in the British Medical Journal, also looked at protein levels in the blood among another group of volunteers. These proteins are thought to stop the brain forming new connections, increasing the risk of dementia. People with interesting jobs had lower levels of three proteins considered to be tell-tale signs of the condition.

Scientists said it provided ‘possible clues’ for the underlying biological mechanisms at play. The researchers noted the study was only observational, meaning it cannot establish cause and that other factors could be at play. However, they insisted it was large and well-designed, so the findings can be applied to different populations.

To me, there is a further implication in that it might be fair to expect that those in professions such as law, medicine and science might reasonably be expected to have a higher IQ than those in blue collar roles. This could indicate that mental capacity also plays a part in dementia onset but that’s a personal conclusion and not one reached by the study.

And for those stuck in dull jobs through force of circumstance, all is not lost since in today’s work culture, the stimulating side-hustle is fast becoming the norm as work becomes not just a means of financial survival but a life-enhancing opportunity , just as in the old adage of ‘Find a job you enjoy and you’ll never work another day in your life’!

Dementia is a global concern but ironically it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live into very old age and is the second biggest killer in the UK behind heart disease, according to the UK Office for National Statistics. So here’s a serious suggestion to save you from an early grave and loss of competencies – work hard, play hard and where possible, combine the two!

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The Lord Ties The Knot

18th August 2021
JUDAS

… as Judas Iscariot takes strong exception

The gospels which were excluded from the official canon, the New Testament, at the Council of Nicaea are known as the Apocrypha. One of these Apocryphal works, General Atiku, is the gospel of Phillip.  In this gospel, the intimate relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene is openly discussed thus:

“And the companion of the Saviour is Mary Magdalene. But Christ loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on the mouth.  The rest of the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval. They said unto him, why do you love her more than all of us? The Saviour answered and said to them, why do   I not love you like her? … Great is the mystery of marriage, for without it the world would never have existed. Now, the existence of the world depends on man, and the existence of man on marriage.”

It is clear from the above statement, General, that Jesus held marriage in high regard because he himself was part and parcel of it.  The disciples (that is, most of them) were offended not because he and Mary were an item but because they simply did not approve of her as she was a Gentile and a commoner.

Otherwise, the kissing was not offensive at all: it was a customary expression of mutual affection between the sacred bride and groom. This we gather from the prototypically romantic Old Testament text known as The Song of Solomon, which opens with the words, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.”  As the Davidic groom, Jesus was therefore entitled to kiss Mary Magdalene as his bride.

THE FIRST MARRIAGE

In September AD 30, General Atiku, Jesus and Mary Magdalene had their First Marriage ceremony. Jesus had turned 36 in that year, the appropriate marriage age for a Davidic heir, and September was the holiest month in the Jewish calendar.  Having been born irregularly himself (in the wrong month of the year because of his father Joseph’s intransigence), Jesus was determined that he himself follow the law to the letter so that his child would not suffer the same indignities as he did. The First Marriage is captured in LUKE 7:35-50.

The marriage took place at the home of Simon the Pharisee. This, General, was another name for Simon Zelotes, the stepfather of Mary Magdalene. Although Mary Magdalene is not directly named, she is described as a “sinner”. This was another term for Gentiles, as in the eyes of the Jewish God, they were unregenerate and therefore hopeless sinners.  Mary Magdalene, whose mother Helena-Salome was of Syrian origin (Syro-Phoenicia to be specific), was a Gentile.

On the occasion, Mary Magdalene performed three acts on Jesus as set out in LUKE 7:38. She wept; kissed his feet; and anointed him with ointment. This is what a bride was supposed to do to her groom as clearly evinced in The Song of Solomon, a series of love poems concerning a spouse and her husband the King.

Of the three rites, perhaps it is the weeping that require elucidation, General. This was at once symbolic and sentimental.  The First Marriage was simply a ceremony: the moment the ceremony was over, the husband and wife separated, that is, they lived apart until the month of December, when they came together under one roof.  This was in accord with Essene stipulations for dynastic marriages, that is, those of the Davidic Messiah and the priestly Messiah.

Prior to the First Marriage, the bride was known as an Almah, meaning a betrothed Virgin. After the First Marriage ceremony, the Almah was demoted to a Sister. This was because the ensuing three-month separation meant husband and wife would not indulge in sexual activity and so the wife was as good as a sister to her husband. The imagery of Sister also being a wife is seen in 1 CORINTHIANS 9:5, where the apostle Paul refers to his wife as Sister. In ACTS 23:16, Paul’s wife is again referred to as his Sister.

Now, when the Almah became a Sister, General, she was metaphorically called a Widow, because she was being separated  from her newly wedded husband. As such, she was expected to symbolically weep on account of this separation. That explains why Mary Magdalene had to weep at her first wedding. It is a pity, General, that most Christians and their clergy miss the real story so wrongly indoctrinated are they.

In December AD 30, Jesus moved in with Mary Magdalene to consummate the marriage. It was hoped that Mary would fall pregnant so that in March the following year, a Second (and final) Marriage ceremony would be held.  Sadly, conception did not take place. According to Essene dynastic procreational rules, the couple had to separate again. They would reunite in December AD 31 for another try at conception.

The reason they separated was because for a dynastic heir, marriage was purely for procreation and not for recreational sex. But even that year, General, Mary did not fall pregnant, necessitating another year-long separation. What that meant was that Mary would be given one more last chance – in December AD 32, by which time Jesus would have been 38.  If she did not conceive this time around, the marriage would come to an end through a legal divorce and Jesus would be free to seek a new spouse.

THE FINAL MARRIAGE

In December 32, Mary Magdalene, General, finally conceived. When Jesus was crucified therefore in April 33 AD, his wife was three months pregnant. By this time, the Second Marriage ceremony, the final one, had already taken place, this being in March. The Second Marriage is cursorily related in MATTHEW 26:6-13; MARK 14:3-9; and JOHN 12:1-8.The John version reads as follows:

“Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany, where was Lazarus, who had died, whom he raised out of the dead; they made, therefore, to him a supper there, and Martha was ministering, and Lazarus was one of those reclining together (at meat) with him; Mary, therefore, having taken a pound of ointment of spikenard, of great price, anointed the feet of Jesus and did wipe with her hair his feet, and the house was filled from the fragrance of the ointment.

Therefore said one of his disciples – Judas Iscariot, of Simon, who was about to deliver him up – ‘Therefore was not this ointment sold for three hundred denaries, and given to the poor?’ and he said this, not because he was caring for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and what things were put in he was carrying. Jesus, therefore, said, ‘Suffer her; for the day of my embalming she has kept it, for the poor you have always with yourselves, and me you have not always.’”

This story (also see JOHN 11:1-44) centres on four people primarily, General. They are Jesus; Lazarus; Mary; and Martha. “Mary” was actually Mary Magdalene.  “Martha” was a titular name for her mother, Helena-Salome.  In the Lazarus story, the two ladies are referred to as “sisters”. This denotes conventual sisters, like the Catholics refer to conventual nuns, and not sisters by blood. Helena-Salome actually headed a nunnery. By the same token, the reference to Lazarus as “brother” has a connotation akin to what Pentecostals refer to as “Brother in Christ”.

Thus, the story revolves around Jesus the groom; his bride Mary Magdalene; his father-in-law Simon Zelotes; and his mother-in-law Helena-Salome. This is a family affair folks, which provides strong hints as to the exact relationship between Jesus and Mary. The raising from the dead of a man called Lazarus, sadly, was not a miracle at all:  it was a ceremonial restoration from excommunication back to the Essene governing council, which comprised of Jesus and his so-called 12 disciples.

The “Lazarus” who was thus restored was actually Simon Zelotes, at the time the most “beloved” by Jesus of the entire apostolic band, who had been demoted under circumstances relating to a Zealot uprising against Pontius Pilate.  More will be said on the subject at a later stage.

The anointing of Jesus by Mary with “spikenard”, General, harps back to ancient married rituals as patently demonstrated in The Song of Solomon. This was the second time Mary had anointed Jesus, first at the First Marriage in September AD 30 AD and now at the Second Marriage in March 32 AD. On both occasions, Mary anointed Jesus whilst he sat at table.

In SONG OF SOLOMON 1:12, the bride says, “While the King sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof”.  The anointing in the gospels was therefore an allusion to the ancient rite whereby a royal bride prepared her groom’s table. Only as the wife of Jesus and as a priestess in her own right could Mary Magdalene have anointed both the feet and head of Jesus.

The anointing in effect had two purposes: first, to seal the marriage, and second, to officially announce to the Jewish nation that Jesus was the Davidic Messiah (and not his younger brother James, who had been so promoted by John the Baptist).  It all harped back to the tradition in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, where Kings or Pharaohs were anointed for office (in their case with crocodile fat) by their half-sister brides.

The King’s bride actually kept the anointment substance for use for one more time – when the King died. You can now understand, General, why Jesus said “the day of my embalming she has kept it” in reference to his anointing by Mary Magdalene and why the first person to feature at the tomb of Jesus was none other than Mary Magdalene!

Three passages in the Lazarus story     (in JOHN11: 1-44) are particularly telling.  They are Verses 20, 28, and 29. They read as follows: “When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed in the house … After Martha said this, she went back and called her sister Mary privately. ‘The Master is here,’ she told her, ‘and is asking for you.’ When Mary heard this, she got up and hurried out to meet him.”  The reason Mary (Magdalene) first kept her place before proceeding to meet Jesus, General, is not supplied in the Johannine gospel.

However, the Apocryphal document which has come to be known as The Secret Gospel of Mark sheds more light, General.  It explains that on the first occasion, Mary did come out to meet Jesus along with her mother Martha (Helena-Salome) but upon being rebuked by the disciples of Jesus, she repaired back to the house. Why was she lashed out at, General? Because according to the Essene matrimonial code, she was not permitted to come out of her own accord and greet her husband: she was to wait until he had given her express permission to emerge.

There is yet another element in the conduct of Mary Magdalene that has parallels with Solomon’s queen, General. In the back-and-forth romantic dialogue between the couple, the queen is referred to as a “Shulamite” (SONG OF SOLOMON 6:13). The Shulamites were from the Syrian border town of  Solam and we have already seen that Mary’s first foster father, Syro the Jairus, was a Syrian, as was her mother Helena-Salome.

JUDAS DENOUNCES THE MARRIAGE

The marriage of Jesus to Mary Magdalene was vehemently opposed by most of his so-called disciples. The most vociferous on this position, General, was Judas Iscariot. The writer of the John gospel characterises Judas as a “thief” who used to pilfer alms money but that is a smear.  The gospels were written post-eventual and therefore Judas’ name was already in ignominy.

His detractors therefore had a field day at sullying his character. Yet prior to the betrayal, Judas Iscariot, General, was one of the most respected figures among the Essene community. At the time of Jesus’ marriage, Judas was the second-highest ranking Essene after Simon Zelotes (that is the meaning of “Judas of Simon” in the passage quoted above, meaning “Judas the deputy of Simon”): Jesus was third, although politically he was the seniormost.

Judas opposed the marriage on grounds, primarily, that Mary Magdalene was not only a Gentile but a commoner. Judas had the right to pronounce on Jesus’ marriage because it was he who was in charge of the Essene’s order of Dan, to which Mary Magdalene belonged prior to her marriage to Jesus and therefore had the right whether to release her for marriage or retain her in the convent. Judas would rather the spikenard (the most expensive fragrance of the day, the reason it was only used by queens) was sold and the money generated donated to the Essene kitty (“the poor” was another name for Essenes: when Jesus in the Beatitudes said “blessed are the poor”, he was not referring to you and me: he meant the Essenes).

Sadly General, as high-standing as he was, Judas had no right of veto over the marriage of a Davidic heir: only Simon Zelotes had by virtue of his position as the Essene’s Pope. Simon Zelotes was Mary Magdalene’s step-father and there was no way he was going to stand in the way of the marriage of his own daughter. Moreover, Jesus had already begun to fancy himself as Priest-King.

As far as he was concerned therefore, he was at once the Davidic Messiah and the Priestly Messiah – the Melchizedek. Thus even if Simon Zelotes had perchance objected to the marriage, Jesus would have gone ahead with it anyway. It was Jesus’ highly unpopular appropriated role as the Melchizedek, General, that set him on the path to Calvary.

NEXT WEEK: A NEW GOVERNOR COMES TO TOWN

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