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Abe Recalled to Sumer

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

Abraham succeeds deceased brother Haran as Enlil’s prospective Shepherd-King
 

Whereas teenager Abraham went to India as an Enlilite, he for a period switched to being Enkite. It was during this phase of his life that his original name Ibru-um was corrupted to A-brahm, meaning “No longer a Brahmin” and Abram, meaning “Exalted Snake”. A question that could be reasonably posed is, was Abraham’s espousal of the Enkite cult a spontaneous desire or simply a necessary rite of passage? The answer is not an easy one but my inclination is toward the latter. That is because even his own father, Terah, had gone through the back-and-forth Enlilite-Enkite-Enlilite metamorphosis.   

If in India the religious sect  that held the most sway amongst the population was the Cult of the Snake, that is, that of Enkites,  Abraham must have deemed it essential, with his own father Terah in on the artifice for sure, to pose as an Enkite initially and then defect back to the Enlilites at the appointed time, with a mammoth “catch” from the Cult of the Snake in tow.  

Ultimately though, Abraham made an impact throughout the  Indian Empire. When he was about 16 years of age, he began to tour the satellite states of the empire, such as Afghanistan and Persia, for instance, to evangelise. And wherever he toured, he left a nucleus of the Hebrew people there to continue where he left off so that his message was not drowned out in the mists of time. In ancient Afghanistan for instance, a community of Hebrews sprang up in a place called Bactria, a mountainous region situated midway on the road to India.

They called themselves Juhuda or Jaguda, both of which very much rhyme with Yehuda, as the Jews are known in Hebrew. Thus it is that even today, the Persians (Iranians) of that region revere Abraham as the founder of their faith and as their mediator before God.  The Hindu god Brahmin is also said to be represented by Abraham or his father Terah/Krishna,  just as Jesus in Christianity is said to be the personification of God the Father.   

One record of an ancient Indian text highlights an accomplishment Abraham wrought as the spiritual leader of ancient India. This was the promotion of the institution of marriage in a place which under the godship of the dissolute Inanna-Ishtar was happily amoral. “The moral fall was rapid. The seers and sages lived apart from the masses. They seldom married and were mostly given to religious contemplation.

The masses, without proper light and leader, soon became vicious in the extreme. Rape, adultery, theft, etc., became quite common. Human nature ran wild. Brahma (Abraham) decided to reform and regenerate the people. He made the chief sages and seers to marry and mix with the people. Most refused to marry, but 30 agreed.”This was akin to the saga of Hosea, a prophet who was ordered by God (Ishkur-Adad) to marry a harlot (HOSEA 1:2-3), a subject pulpit men are always at pains to rationalise.

ABRAHAM HITCHES SARAH

It was whilst he was in India that Abraham got married to a woman known in the Bible as Sarah. Sarah in Hebrew means “princess”. Was the person who informed this title, Sarah herself, a princess? She was yes. Sarah was Abraham’s paternal sister. That is to say, the two had the same father, Terah, but different mothers. Terah married Sarah’s mother, Tohwait, when Abraham’s mother, Yahnu, died. As a daughter to Terah, who was once priest-king of the Indian kingdom of Dwaraka, Sarah was indeed a princess.

But there was another vein in which she was a princess.  Before Tohwait married Terah, she had been a queen in Egypt. Her first husband Intef the Elder, was the nomarch, or  governor,  of  the Egyptian province of Thebes. She married Terah after Intef died, which suggests that although she initially married an Egyptian royal, she was a Sumerian herself.   

Now, the Hebrew nobility (males),  like the Anunnaki, married within the family, not outside it. This was because kingship, or heirship,  was primarily passed through the female line, not the male line.  We know from biology that if there’s a positive trait within the family, the sex that best perpetuates it is the female. Females carry what is known as Mitochondria DNA (MtDNA).  Although scientists claim they amply understand its purpose, they actually do not, seemingly.  

Both males and females carry MtDNA, but only females pass it along to their kids. Thus if a dynasty wanted to keep their bloodline pure, it was essential that their marriages be with close relations, preferably a paternal half-sister, though cousins   and even full sisters also counted but only as a last resort.   

It was the half-sister wife  (Mohumagadi in Setswana) who produced  a heir, not any other wife. Even if there was a first wife who produced a boy child and the marriage to a half-sister came later, the first-born son could  not inherit since he did not arise from the half-sister. It was the prince who was sired through the half-sister who inherited.

Sarah’s original name according to Genesis was Sarai. Although this is true, it is not complete. Her full name was Saraisvati, meaning “Mother Sarai” or “Lady  Sarai”. That rings a bell doesn’t it? The Saraisvati is a major Indian river. The river was named after Sarah to honour her as   Terah’s/Krishna’s firstborn daughter and therefore the one who was going to carry the dynastic seed.

Since she was about ten years younger than Abraham, Sarah was not born in India but in Nippur. The Bible says she was 90 years old when she conceived her firstborn son Isaac and given that Abraham was born in 2123 BC, Sarah must have been born in 2113 BC. It was in 2113 BC Terah moved from Nippur to Ur, when Abraham was ten years old. Thus the fact that the Saraivasti River was named after Sarah implies that Terah, even when he moved from India to Nippur circa 2140 BC, was still held in high esteem in India as its spiritual leader.

Sarah studied in Uttara Kuru, as northern Afghanistan was then known. Uttara Kuru was a   great centre of learning and whilst there, Sarah excelled. Quite apart from the fact that she was a princess, Sarah gained renown as a staggeringly beautiful woman with a powerful intellect, extra qualities that wooed Abraham. It seems by hitching Sarah, Abraham beat his older brother Haran to it. Maybe he was not content to being second  in line to the succession: he wanted to be first. And the odds of supplanting his brother as first in line were boosted by marrying not only a half sister but the seniormost half-sister.

HEBREWS EMBED IN EGYPT AS HYKSOS

In India, the largest concentration of the Hebrews was in a place known as Maturea, the domain which Abraham directly ruled. Whilst Abraham was making waves in India, Enlil, the Bible’s main  Jehovah,  came up with some scheme. In Canaan, which was under Enlilite jurisdiction, there were just too many Canaanites, who were Enkites in religious orientation. Indeed, one reason Nabu, Marduk’s heir, was making propagandistic inroads in Canaan was because the place teemed with people who were inherently pro-Enkite.

The vast majority of the Canaanites were descendents of Canaan, who was Ham’s fourth son. It were Ham’s descendents who also dominated in Egypt. Enlil regarded the proliferation of Canaanites in Canaan as an invasion. So he too decided to launch a counter-invasion.  He contrived to have the Hebrews of Maturea leave India for Egypt under the pretext that they were expelled from there for one reason or the other. The strategy worked: the “expelled” Hebrews were warmly received in Egypt and allocated their own region which was called Goshen (Heliopolis). The Hebrew settlers gave it a new name – Maturea – to remind themselves that it was from India they came.

In his great 1830s work Anacalypsis, the religious historian Godfrey Higgins confirms the above subterfuge when he writes thus: “The tribe of Ioud (Jews) or the Brahmin Abraham, was expelled from or left the Maturea of the kingdom of Oude in India and, settling in Goshen, or the house of the Sun or Heliopolis in Egypt, gave it the name of the place which they had left in India, Maturea.”

Contrary to what the Bible says, the first Hebrews to settle in Egypt were not the family of Jacob. That came much later in the 1500s BC. The Hebrew community was already there as early as 2000 BC. In Egypt, the Hebrew community  called themselves Hyksos. Hyksos meant “Shepherd Princes”. Remember, to Enlil, his chosen people were all priests/princes metaphorically speaking: that was his propaganda pitch. In other words, his chosen people – the Jews – were the elite of the human race because he was the most powerful and therefore the most esteemed of the Earth-based gods.  It explains why the nation of Israel called themselves a “royal priesthood”.  Their   leader/king was known as the Righteous Shepherd or Shepherd King.      

ABRAHAM RETURNS TO SUMER

Sometime before 2096 BC, Haran, Abraham’s elder brother, died in Ur, where he was based along with his younger brother Nahor and his father Terah. Exactly how he died is not specified both in the Bible and the Sumerian chronicles. Since he died in his youth,  we can safely conclude that his death was of natural causes.

Although he was way south of age 30 when he passed on, he was already a father. Typically, ancient Hebrews married at age 18, though marriages at ages  16 and 24 were not uncommon. Since Haran was a royal, we can expect him to have married early enough, in all probability at age 18. Given that he was born in 2123 BC, the marriage then may have taken place in 2105 BC, with the firstborn coming in 2104 BC.  
 

Haran was survived by three children. If the three kids were from the same mother and were born two years apart, the last born must have arrived in 2100 BC. In view of the fact that he didn’t have another kid thereafter, we may suppose that it was death that prevented that from happening. Hence, Haran in all probability died in 2099 BC latest.

Haran’s three kids were a boy, Lot, and daughters Milcah and Iscah. According to the rules of succession, with Haran having passed on the heir to Terah automatically became Lot. Lot, however, was a kid of about 5 or 6 years; therefore, it fell to Abraham, Haran’s immediate younger brother, to  hold fort till Lot had reached the age of majority, that is, 16 years.

Now, Haran had been earmarked by Jehovah-Enlil as the Righteous-Shepherd proper of the Age of Aries – the instrument with which to fight Marduk. With his death, that void had to be filled immediately. Being too young, Lot was obviously out of contention. As such, the privilege  automatically fell to Abraham, who was about 24 years in 2099 BC. It emerges, therefore, that Abraham became Enlil’s foil against Marduk by default: it was thanks to his older brother’s death that he stepped into the breach.  

All in all, there were two factors at play here. First, there was the question of who would succeed after Terah. That was a right of birth and it was held by young Lot. Meanwhile, the older Abraham would stand in for Lot. Second, there was the matter of who would be Enlil’s Righteous Shepherd.  This was not a birthright: it was a privilege.  And with Haran deceased, Enlil had decided that that privilege should transfer not to Lot but to Abraham. The geopolitical situation presently was so tense that to wait for Lot to grow would be detrimental to Enlil’s strategic interests.

Thus it was that Terah, after deliberating with Enlil and Nannar-Sin, decided to recall Abraham from his base in India so he could be primed for much more critical and overriding responsibilities.  That was how Abraham departed India. From then henceforth, he would be based in Sumeria though he did undertake tours of duty to the Indian empire once in a while to keep his memory alive and therefore see to it that the legend lived on.

UR-NAMMU’S “MISSION TO KILL”COURTESY OF JEHOVAH

Meanwhile, Ur-Nammu, the King  both of Ur and greater Sumer since 2113 BC , was making waves.  During the eighteen years he was in power, Ur-Nammu was many things to many people. To some, he was a rare-breed king who brought peace  and prosperity to Sumer. To others, he was a bloodthirsty warrior king, a tyrant  who revelled  at causing death and destruction..

This antithesis  explains why some Sumerian sketches uncovered by archaeologists depict him banqueting and celebrating peace and prosperity, whilst others show him riding in the royal chariot at the head of a  military column of armed and helmeted soldiers, matching to the battlefield.

When  he was appointed King by Enlil (and installed by Nannar-Sin), Enlil’s central brief to him was thus: “As the Bull to crush the foreign lands.  As the Lion to hunt the sinners down; to destroy the evil cities. Clear them of opposition to the Lofty One.” Who were the  “sinners” and what were the “foreign lands” in the above statement? I call upon Christians to pay utmost attention as  we  explain these terms because the Christians concept of a sinner is not what the Bible intended. To Christians, a sinner is anybody  who has rejected God and who continues to defy God without being nagged by a sense of penitence or contrition.

In Old Testament times,  a sinner was an Earthling who followed Marduk in opposition to Enlil.  It was not about spirituality: it was purely about power politics.  So Enlil’s first instruction  to Ur-Nammu was to destroy Marduk’s followers because they had been rallied against the “Lofty One”, who in this context  was Enlil as Earth’s Commander-In-Chief. Ur-Nammu was to ferret out these sinners right in the “sinning” or “evil” cities and slaughter them. The cities referred to here are those that were predominantly pro-Marduk; had significant pockets of a Marduk following; or were presently been propagandised by Nabu to convert to Marduk.  All these cities, two of which were Sodom and Gommorrah, were to be destroyed, crushed.

The “foreign lands” were principally those in Europe, Syria, and Lebanon where the Amorites, Marduk’s Western followers,  abounded. All these were to be subdued and annihilated once and for all. In order to help Ur-Nammu swiftly accomplish these ends, Enlil provided him with what the Sumerian records describe as a “divine weapon”. With it, Ur-Nammu was to “heap up the rebels in piles”. The weapon lived up to its billing as  before long Ur-Nammu had subdued the Sumerian city-state of Lagash, which until now had been the mightiest of all, slain its governor, and overrun six other city-states. And in keeping with Enlil’s decree, Ur-Nammu’s military expeditions were to take him well beyond Sumer’s borders into the western lands.

Ur-Nammu was fighting with the spirit of a “Bull” – the  interests of the  Enlil-controlled astrological age of Taurus, which was symbolised by a bull – and that of a “Lion” –   the  Enlilites, whose ancestors in the Sirius star system evolved from a beast that was predominantly lion-like.

UR-NAMMU’S RELIGIOUS REVIVAL THRILLS  JEHOVAH

On balance, however, peace prevailed during Ur-Nammu’s reign. And in terms of religious, economic, and moral revival, Ur-Nammu left a lasting imprint on Sumer.  “All scholars agree that in virtually every way the Ur III period begun by Ur-Nammu attained new heights in the Sumerian civilisation,” writes Zechariah Sitchin. “It was Sumer's most glorious period.”The  Sumerian records attest as such. “Equity in the lands Ur-Nammu established, to violence and strife an end he made, in all the lands prosperity was abundant.”

For a long time now, injustice, oppression, and immorality had become the order of the day in Sumer. The temples had been neglected. The Ekur, Enlil’s temple-abode at Nippur, had remained in dereliction since its defacing and defiling by Naram-Sin.  One of the first things Ur-Nammu did was to restore, renovate and magnify all the gods’ temples except  that of Marduk in Babylon and that of Ninurta in Lagash (Marduk was an enemy and the brothers Ninurta and Nannar-Sin hardly got along).

Zechariah Sitchin again: “Ur-Nammu, in addition to the great works in Ur, also restored and enlarged the edifices dedicated to Anu and Inanna at Uruk, to Ninsun (his mother) at Ur, to Utu-Shamash at Larsa, to Ninharsag at Adab. He also engaged in some repair work at Eridu, Enki's city.” Ur-Nammu was commended by the gods for his devoted ecclesiastical works and to the extent where he celebrated his accomplishments in stone.

“Ur-Nammu marked the occasion (of rehabilitating the Ekur)  by erecting a stela, showing him carrying the tools and basket of a builder,” Sitchin relates. “When the work was completed, Enlil and (his spouse) Ninlil returned to Nippur to reside in their restored abode. ‘Enlil and Ninlil were happy there’, a Sumerian inscription stated.”

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Honesty – a fundamental human characteristic

12th October 2021

“When honesty is lost, then wait for the Hour (the Day of Judgment)”.  These are the words of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh).  They paint a picture of the time leading up to the Day of Judgement, when righteous people will be sorrowful due to the lack of honesty around them. 

Influence of materialism

Honesty, like morality, is an in built and essential characteristic of every human but the influence of materialism and the greed and desire for status, position, fame, wealth, etc. have wreaked havoc in human society, to an extent never seen before. In the 21st century, we live in a world where honesty is less valued than ever before and in fact even shunned at times.  We expect people to be honest in their dealings with us yet we ourselves promote deceit and dishonesty through our action and speech on a daily basis.  Many of us even watch and applaud television shows and movies that promote and encourage lying, infidelity and deceitfulness.

Desire for worldly gain

In the corporate world, ‘deceitful’ statements and figures are announced and pronounced to lure investors, glamorous yet deceitful adverts to attract customers, etc. have all become the norm and honesty goes out of the window. Even in the media industry, honesty seems to be waning very rapidly. Let alone the due regard of one’s conscience but without a second thought or due consideration of the rights of the others, stories are churned out with so-called “sensational” add-ons, etc. simply for the sake of being the “first” to break the news or for the sake of having the “best” story or maybe even for the sake of just having increased an readership or viewership.

Thoughtless individual behaviour

Without thinking, we indirectly teach our children that dishonesty is acceptable.  When we expect our children to tell the caller on the telephone we are not home, this is a lesson in deceit.  When we answer the cellphone and say that we are busy in a meeting yet we very much relaxed and free, or we say we are out of town yet we are at home, etc. we are being blatantly dishonest. When we refuse to settle our debts and dues making all sorts of pretences, we are actually lying.  We admonish and reprimand our children for lying, yet the reality is we have been their teachers.  Whether we tell lies, or whether we allow our children to live in a world surrounded by deceit, the lesson is learned and the honesty begins to disappear from the hearts of people – in particular the next generation.

Integrity and reliability

We must understand that honesty incorporates the concepts of truthfulness and reliability and it resides in all human thought, words, actions and relationships.  It is more than just accuracy; it is more than just truthfulness, it denotes integrity or moral soundness.  Belief in God Almighty commands truthfulness and forbids lying.  In the Holy Quran, God Almighty commands that humans be honest: “O you who believe!  Be conscious of God Almighty, and be with those who are true (in word and deeds).” (Ch  9 : v 119). A renowned Holy Quran scholar explained the meaning of this verse.  He said, “Being truthful and adhering to truthfulness, means you will be among the people of the truth (by speaking and behaving in a truthful manner) and be saved from calamity and that is what will really make a way out for you from your problems (in the long run)”.

Honesty and truthfulness go hand in hand

A true Believer, one who is truly submitted to God, has many characteristics by which he/she can be identified.  The most obvious of these noble characteristics are honesty of character and truthfulness of speech.  Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) was a perfect example of honesty.  The records of history clear show that even before he was bestowed Prophet hood by The Almighty, he had earned the titles of “As Saadiq” (the truthful) and “Al Ameen” (the trustworthy one), within the community. They had full trust in his honesty and integrity to such a degree that they would accept anything he said. Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), once gathered all the people of Makkah at the base of Mount Safa and asked them, “O people of Makkah!  If I say to you that an army is advancing on you from behind the mountains, will you believe me?”  All said in one voice, “Yes, because we have never heard you telling a lie.”  All the people, without exception, swore to his truthfulness and honesty because he had lived an unblemished and extremely upright life among them up to that point in time – for forty years.

Honesty in a comprehensive manner

This honesty, an essential ingredient of the human character, includes being truthful towards God by worshipping Him sincerely; being truthful to oneself, by adhering to God’s laws; and being truthful with others by speaking the truth and being honest in all dealings, such as buying, selling, social interaction, marriage,etc.  There should be no deceiving, cheating, falsifying or withholding of information, thus a person should be the same on the inside as he/she is on the outside.

Prophetic teachings

Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) informed us of the great benefits of living in an honest and truthful way and warned us of the dangers inherent in dishonesty and falsehood.  He said: “Truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise.  In addition, a person keeps on telling the truth until they are recorded by God Almighty as a very truthful person.  And falsehood leads to wickedness (and evil-doing), and wickedness leads to the (Hell) Fire. In addition, and a person keeps on telling lies until they are recorded by God Almighty as a very great liar”.

For those who wish to be among the truthful, Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) has left us with these words of guidance, “Let he who believes in God and the Last Day either speak good or (otherwise) remain silent”.

A successful, vibrant society is based upon honesty and justice, and is intolerant of dishonesty in all its various forms.  The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) exhorted the faithful to be scrupulously honest in all their social dealings, business transactions, etc. at all times.

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A Sham of a Trial

12th October 2021

Verdict a foregone conclusion as Pilate is bought

Although the interrogation of  Jesus in a joint hearing by Annas and Caiaphas was not a trial, General Atiku, it was more or less conducted along the lines of a trial.

Jesus had a defending witness. This was one of  his disciples, Bartholomew, whose real name was John Marcus. Apparently, Jesus was allowed only one such witness. Besides his principal accuser, the turncoat Judas Iscariot, there were a number of witnesses who testified against him. The gospels  refer to them as false witnesses but this is probably an exaggeration: they simply misunderstood some of his statements largely because he tended to use allegorical language, which could be properly interpreted only by Gnostics. On occasion, he chose to be deliberately ambiguous, as when he said, “Do to Caesar what is due to Caesar and to God what is due to God.”

The crux of the matter  was whether there was anything in his conduct that could associate him with the Zealots. For example, he was accused of harbouring and voicing designs to destroy the Jerusalem Temple within “three days”. The Zealots did band about such threats, General. In truth, what they sought to destroy it was the Temple establishment – the priesthood and the Herodian Sadducees. The perception was that these somewhat benefitted from Roman patronage. Thus, if Jesus did instigate doing way with the Temple establishment by foul and crook, this could obviously not sit well with Annas and Caiaphas, both of whom belonged to this clique. But Jesus’ words had been taken out of context. In Gnostic language, the Temple (the correct translation should be “palace”  as the Jewish word for temple and palace is the same)   was the human body because it housed the real being – the spirit-soul. So what Jesus was saying to those who wished him ill, General, was that even if they physically killed him, his soul would continue to live (a person can be clinically dead but at the etheric level, he is irreversibly dead only after three days). Clearly, General, he was grossly misunderstood.

Jesus vehemently denied being a Zealot. He made it clear to the panel that every time he taught or preached, he was heard to promote peaceful co-existence with Rome. How then could he be a Zealot, who preached enmity with the Romans? Put differently, General, Jesus was saying he had played no part whatsoever in the November 32 AD riots against Pilate. The fact that Simon Zelotes was his father-in-law was pure happenstance.

In their heart of hearts, both Caiaphas and Annas were aware Jesus was not inclined to violence and therefore could not be a  Zealot. So the matter they seized upon was his claim to be Priest, Prophet, and King. This was what revolted them the most, the sin for which they sought to teach him a lesson.  The gospels say they set men (the Jerusalem Temple police who had escorted Caiaphas) on him who blindfolded him, slapped him around, spat on him, and dared him to “prophesy” as to “who has hit you” – a sneering allusion to his claim to be Priest and Prophet as only the High Priest could prophesy. This physical mockery did probably take place but there is an underlying symbolic language, General.  When a person was spat upon (by a “holy man”, such as the  High Priest),  it meant he had been demoted from priest to a mere layman. A “blind man” was another characterisation for an Essene who was of Grade 8 level, a novice. A novice was not yet initiated and therefore he was blind because he had not yet “seen the light”, that is, not yet been illuminated.

What it all boils down to, General,  is that by decree of the three priests Annas Sr, Caiaphas, and Jonathan Annas, Jesus had been downgraded from Grade 2, the third position in the Essene hierarchy (the first two being Grades 0 and 1), which was the position of the Davidic King (now held by his young brother James), to Grade 8, the position of a novice, a virtual nobody. Thus, when he appeared before Pontius Pilate, that was the status he would declare when his occupation was asked of him. This lowly social status would significantly bear upon Pilate’s psychology and therefore his contemplation of Jesus.

PETER DOES A JUDAS

Now, when a hearing or trial was in progress, General,  the Essene rule was that there had to be two doorkeepers. These were two people who were close to the person who was the subject of the proceedings, typically a relative and an associate/friend.

In the case of Jesus, the doorkeepers he selected were Simon Peter and his mother Mary. Besides being Jesus’ disciple, Simon Peter was Jesus’ personal bodyguard and chief ecclesiastical minister. As the Davidic King, Jesus was entitled to a bodyguard and chief spokesman, both roles of which were ably performed by Peter. That made Peter arguably the closest to Jesus in an occupational sense. As for Mary, she substituted for Jesus’ wife Mary Magdalene, who was now three months pregnant and therefore was on mandatory separation from her husband according to Essene dynastic procreational rules. The two doorkeepers ceremonially opened the doors for the panelists or judges to enter the hearing room. As the male doorkeeper,  Simon Peter stood by the door in the inner corridor whilst Mary stood by the same door in the outer corridor.

Peter, however, had been assigned another role – that of the rooster of the night. The rooster that crowed three times as per the gospels was not a bird, General: it was Simon Peter. “Rooster”, or “Cock”,   was the term for a religious person assigned to call out the time. Remember,  they had no clocks those days and at nighttime, the sundial, which was used during the day to read time, could not be used. So during a momentous occasion such as this one (the week of Passover), a person was detailed to announce the time every three hours at Qumran. Since Jesus’ hearing took place shortly before midnight, Peter was expected to announce the times at 00:00; 3 am; and 6 am. 3 am was specifically called cock-crow (see MARK 13:34). It was just before 3 am that Peter “denied”  Jesus. He did not deny him at three intervals, General: he denied him only once but before three inquisitors.

Now, Simon Peter was also a Zealot, a point we have long underscored. It explains why in the gospels he comes across as combustible, argumentative, and highly assertive. He was known as Simon Bar-jonah, which has been wrong translated as “son of John”. Bar-jonah actually derived from “baryona”, which was Aramaic (the most widely spoken language of the day in Palestine) for “outlaw”. We know, courtesy of  Flavius Josephus, that Zealots were referred to as outlaws by the Romans. So as Jesus was being interrogated, one of the witnesses against him made mention of the fact that he must have been a Zealot since his own bodyguard was a Zealot. Peter was therefore instantly called upon to confirm or deny that he was a Zealot. As could be expected, Peter stoutly denied he was. He also proceeded to say that he was not as close to Jesus as many people thought.

Once he had exculpated himself, Peter resumed his vigil as doorkeeper. The hearing lasted for hours and there were intervals in between, during which Peter also took time off to warm himself before a fire. During one such break, Mary, Joseph (Jesus’ second brother)  and James (the son of Zebedee) also confronted him and demanded to know why he  without shame or scruple just stopped short of disowning Jesus. Peter was unflinching, saying they were all mistaken: he was not as close to Jesus as they thought. It was at this point that he stood up to announce the time 3 am for the hearings to resume. Shortly thereafter, it dawned on him that he had stabbed Jesus in the back and later apologised teary-eyed to Mary. The man Jesus called “Rocky” was far from being a rock: he was a chicken, a flip-flopper.  Maybe it was no coincidence, General, that on this fateful night he was assigned the role of a male chicken!

That said, Peter had very valid reasons to deny Jesus anyway. Jesus had elevated Judas Iscariot to his second-in-command in an independent Israel at the Last Supper and Peter was irate that that role should have been entrusted to him and not to Judas. Maybe Jesus deserved Peter’s betrayal given that Peter had served him loyally through and through both as a bodyguard and confidante.

JUDAS TREACHERY BACKFIRES

Pontius Pilate, General, arrived at Qumran towards 6 in the morning to conduct a kangaroo court trial for the people wanted for the November 32 AD uprising in which some Roman soldiers were killed. Why, if we may ask, General,  did the Roman governor have to travel all the way from Jerusalem, where he was based during the Passover week, to Qumran and not insist that the trial be held in Jerusalem itself?

There were two reasons for this in the main. First and foremost, there was something in it for him. He had been backhanded with a tantalising bribe by Herod Agrippa to excuse Judas Iscariot. We know Pilate was hopelessly weak where it came to palm-greasing and extra-legal trials. Philo, the Jewish philosopher and historian who was a contemporary of  Pilate, records that Pilate was prone to corruption (a streak that ran through all Roman governors and of which the emperor himself was acutely aware) and “continuous executions without even a form of a trial”. Second, a trial of the leading Zealots in Jerusalem at Passover time would have provoked another uprising as Jerusalem at this time of the year swarmed with Galilean pilgrims most of whom were either Zealots or pro-Zealot. Qumran was therefore a safe venue as it was remote and was not crawling with too many people. The trial would thus pass practically unnoticed by the wider population.

Arriving at Qumran, Pilate was determined that he was going to sentence the culprits (save for Judas of course) to death. The November uprising had tarnished the record of his emperor: it was the only insurrection in Judea during the reign of  Tiberius Caesar. Pilate would use the sentence as a showcase to the emperor that he was a no-nonsense man who did not in the least brook dissident tendencies.

Now, Herod Antipas had learnt of Agrippa’s bribe to Pilate and he and Agrippa rarely saw eye to eye, being rival claimants to the Jewish monarchy.  Antipas was aware that the crucifixion Jesus would be subjected to would not be fatal but a partial one that would ensure his survival. However, Theudas Barabbas was too old to bear the strain of even partial crucifixion whereas Jesus and Simon Zelotes were much younger. Chances therefore were that Barabbas might perish right on the cross.  So in a private meeting with Pilate before the trial commenced, Antipas offered Pilate a bribe substantially higher than that which Agrippa had given him. Accordingly, the two agreed that Judas should be reinstated as a culprit. At the same time, Barabbas should be released. It was game, set, and match, General.

MAKE-BELIEVE REFERAL TO ANTIPAS

The trial was held in the north vestry, the same place where the hearings by Annas and Caiaphas took place. Annas, Caiaphas, the Herods, and the brothers of Jesus were in attendance.

The trial, General, was a farce. The proceedings were almost wholly orchestrated. On trial was Judas Iscariot too, who courtesy of  the Antipas bribe had been re-arrested, bringing the number of  respondents in the dock to four. Judas, as the overall commander of the Zealots, pleaded guilty. That is what the gospels mean when they say he “hung himself”. Now penitent of having falsely implicated Jesus, Judas also told the court that Jesus was innocent and had played no part whatsoever in the November 32 AD insurrection. Judas’ absolution of  Jesus is what is cryptically referred to in the gospels as “returning the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priest”, meaning he no longer was leader of the 30-man group that John the Baptist had established: its leadership had now reverted to the current Essene high priest Jonathan Annas. Judas was resultantly sentenced to death by crucifixion along with Simon Zelotes and Theudas Barabbas.

However, General, Agrippa was determined that Jesus be found guilty in order to get even with his brother-in-law Antipas. He and Caiaphas were in full flow, insisting that Jesus not only was a “Galilean”, which was another code name for Zealots, but he urged Jews to refrain from paying taxes and also fancied himself as “King of the Jews” when that title now belonged to Emperor Tiberius Caesar. This was treason and for that he deserved to die.

Although Pilate had no intentions of acquitting Jesus (it was he who was to be sacrificed for Barabbas as per his stratagem with Antipas), he at least wanted to superficially cast himself as a reasonable and impartial judge. Judas had exonerated Jesus and the priests had countered that. So Pilate announced to the gathering that since Jesus was of Galilean origin (he feigned ignorance of the fact that the term Galilean was used in the context of  his being a Zealot), Herod Antipas, under whose  jurisdiction Galilee fell, was to break the ice. Antipas was asked to try Jesus in another room and whatever verdict he rendered would be binding. This aspect was not part of the pre-plan with Antipas but Antipas did welcome it nonetheless as it openly underlined that in the eyes of  Rome, he took precedence over his rival Agrippa. As for Agrippa, all he could do was froth at the mouth. From that day on, General, Pilate became his mortal enemy: on the other hand, Antipas and Pilate became abiding friends.

NEXT WEEK: JESUS SACRIFICES FOR HIS BROTHER

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Columns

Distress Flare

12th October 2021

No one could have predicted what we have just gone through with COVID 19, lock downs, State of Emergency, banning of international travel etc. etc. In fact that’s not quite true as many had been predicating the possibility of a global pandemic for a while – I guess it was the case of not listening or not wanting to listen.

This week I was left thinking what life would be like if the internet crashed. This was prompted after being deprived of social media when the services of Facebook, Instagram & WhatsApp were disrupted for hours on Monday night. I am not much of a user of the 2 former platforms but I do use Whatsapp extensively and even had a call scheduled on the app which I was clearly unable to make. It is also the main way that I keep immediately updated of family whereabouts, comms etc.

Like many I felt quite cut off even though I could have made a normal telephone call or gone on the internet and sent mail messages. People kept saying that the internet was down because to some people Facebook is the internet!  Twitter, realising this, saw it as the perfect time to enjoy its rare spotlight and tweeted “Hello literally everyone” from its main account. It garnered 2.4 million “likes” in just four hours and a stampede of users eager to sign up.

In other parts of the world where apps are essential to commerce, health care and basic functioning of government it was a serious matter. In India, doctors sounded the alarm about being unable to coordinate their schedules or share patient scans. And in Malaysia, some small-business owners were left without a way to manage day-to-day operations as all business communications are conducted through the app.

In many developing countries, services including WhatsApp, Facebook and Facebook Messenger have become deeply integrated into the delivery of primary health care, education and other government services,” Marcus Leaning, a digital media education professor at the University of Winchester in the U.K., said. “In the global North, we tend to (merely) use such services as supplementary to other channels of communication, so the global outage will have a disproportionate impact.”  These platforms are also often offered on restricted-access (or non-smart) phones, meaning that those on lower income were disproportionately  disaffected in 3rd World countries, our own included.

Meanwhile, as netizens (citizens of the internet) were feeling somewhat inconvenienced and annoyed, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took a financial hit losing $6 billion in just a few hours as Facebook stocks plunged, principally through lost advertising revenue and loss of business confidence and he himself personally dropped to No. 5 on the list of the world’s richest, below Gates. Talk about a bad day at the office!

The impact on myself was considerably less but with my ability to WhatsApp stopped I did feel quite put out and wondered what it would be like if the whole internet crashed one day and what that would it do to the markets, the military, the hospitals, not to mention how would I be able access all the movies on Netflix?

It couldn’t really happen, could it, if you understand that all the internet is, is a bunch of interconnected computers and that they would all have to crash at once? Conventional wisdom tells us that as a planetary network of computers and machines the internet is too big, too decentralised and too redundant to all fail at once?  But wait! Didn’t they say something similar when the Titanic was built? Surely the lessons of that hubris are still valid today?

According to Laura Brandimarte, Assistant Professor, Management Information Systems, University of Arizona, ‘Everything being connected today may bring along significant convenience, but it also implies that everything can be hacked. What if the nation’s power grid were successfully attacked? No electricity also means no internet access. The internet also relies on physical infrastructure, such as subsea cables and other fiber cables: any infrastructure issues (cable cuts, damages), whether due to criminal activity or natural disasters that were to affect major subsea cables could potentially shut down the Internet.

In a different sense, authoritarian governments can also potentially shut down the internet if they somehow all colluded against it, either blocking internet access to citizens altogether (we have seen that in Egypt during the Arab Spring, for example, or in the Democratic Republic of the Congo  HYPERLINK “https://www.rappler.com/world/regions/africa/81477-dr-congo-block-internet-kinshasa” \t “_blank” during a period of unrest); or substantially limiting it (we see that in countries where internet censorship is widespread and information access is controlled by the central government, as it happens in China). There are ways around censorship, of course: Privacy Enhancing Technologies, or PETs, such as virtual private networks or VPNs, and anonymous browsers such as Tor, can help circumvent it, but censorship essentially prevents the vast majority of the population, who may not be familiar with these tools, to access the internet, de facto making it disappear.’

And there are natural disasters that also could create havoc.   Patrick Juola, a computer science professor at Duquesne University, offers up one such interplanetary electronic disaster. “A sufficiently powerful solar flare could produce an electromagnetic solar pulse [EMP] that would shut down most of the computers in the world. While some systems are protected against EMPs, any human-built protection is only so strong, and the sun can be a lot more powerful.”

 

An internet crash resulting from this type of solar flare sounds like science fiction or one of those once-every-10,000-years events, but it isn’t. The worst recorded X-class (highest level) solar flare, called the Carrington Event, was a coronal mass ejection that produced a geomagnetic storm that spread across the earth over two days, September 1-2, 1859. The storm produced auroras around the world. The ones in the northern hemisphere reached as far south as the Caribbean, and were so bright people in the north-eastern United States could read newspapers by their light at night. The major electric utilities affected were the telegraph systems that failed across Europe and North America. The telegraph pylons threw sparks and shocked operators still at their keys. 

The frequency of recorded CMEs is worrying. Less powerful geomagnetic storms were recorded in 1921 and 1960, and a 1989 storm disabled power over large sections of Quebec. Then, on July 23, 2012, a “Carrington-lass” solar superstorm narrowly missed the earth by nine days when it crossed the planet’s orbit.

The Titanic was built to be unsinkable – all engineers and scientists agreed to that. Yet obviously they had not thought of every conceivable scenario and so when the boat was in the wrong place at the wrong time, the rest, as they say, was history. The same must be true of the internet. The thing that can take it down – not so much governmental censorship but some of that super global warming we hear so much about – could yet prove its downfall.  Now that really is solar power!

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