A cunning Jehovah sets snare for the popular Enkite god
Besides a clutch of grandiose religious works, Ur-Nammu instituted a new moral revival. Mankind was called upon to turn away from evil ways to a course of righteousness according to a newly promulgated code of justice and social behaviour. The Code of Laws was a list of do’s and don’ts. According to the Code, “the orphan did not fall prey to the wealthy, the widow did not fall prey to the powerful, the man with one sheep was not delivered to the man with one ox”, etc.
In time, Ur-Nammu would be highly spoken of by posterity for having ensured that justice was restored in the land of Sumer. He was said to have “established equity in the land, banished malediction, ended violence and strife". Ur-Nammu also registered great feats in the field of commerce and industry. Writes Zechariah Sitchin: “The inscriptions, the monuments, and the archaeological evidence attest that Ur-Nammu’s reign, which began in 2113 BC, witnessed extensive public works, restoration of river navigation, and the rebuilding and protection of the country’s highways.
He made the highways run from the lower lands to the upper lands, an inscription stated. Greater trade and commerce followed. There was a surge in arts, crafts, schools, and other improvements in social and economic life, including the introduction of more accurate weights and measures. Treaties with neighbouring rulers to the east and northeast spread the prosperity and well-being.”
Yet it is a mystery why Ur-Nammu, the “Joy of Ur” as his name meant and who was such an accomplished leader, was made to perish in so tragic a manner by the gods. It so happened that whilst he was on a campaign against the so-called “sinning cities” or “rebel lands” (places bordering the Mediterranean that were spiritedly pro-Marduk and his son Nabu) in 2096 BC, his chariot got stuck in the mud in the midst of a raging battle.
“Ur-Nammu fell off it, but the chariot like a storm rushed along, leaving the king behind, abandoned like a crushed jug,”say the Sumerian chronicles. “The tragedy was compounded when the boat returning Ur-Nammu’s body to Sumer in an unknown place sunk. Then the waves sank it down, with him on board.” Not only was Ur-Nammu crushed to death by the wheels of his own chariot but there wasn’t even a body to bury.
Upon learning of the devastating news, the people of Ur where convulsed with sorrow, disbelief, and outrage. They vented against the gods, who they blamed for having deliberately set a snare for their beloved king. In particular, they laid the blame on King Anu, “Our Father Who Art In Heaven”; Enlil; Nannar-Sin; Utu-Shamash; and Inanna-Ishtar.
“How did it happen that the Lord Nannar did not hold Ur-Nammu by the hand?" they wondered aloud. “Why did Inanna not put her noble arm around his head? Why did Utu not assist him? Why did Anu alter his holy word? Why did Enlil deceitfully changed his fate-decree?” I am sure you will now appreciate why the mass of mankind were pro-Marduk: the Enlilites were so crafty and so callous. They just were not trustworthy as they were liable to sacrifice their most loyal man for very obscure ends.
In the same year Ur-Nammu died, there were two pivotal developments in Sumer. First, the successor to Ur-Nammu was installed. Second and even much more significant, Terah and his family moved from Ur to Harran. The new king of Sumer was Shulgi. Shulgi had been specially conceived to take over from Ur-Nammu under an arrangement masterminded by Nannar-Sin. Whereas his father was indeed Ur-Nammu, his mother was a high priestess of Enlil at the Ekur, Enlil’s temple-home in Nippur.
A high priestess was known as an Entu and to be an Entu, one had to be a daughter of a king. Thus Shulgi not only was of royal pedigree but he also was a demigod. Having been born at the Ekur, Shulgi called himself “a Little Enlil”. By the same token, Shulgi referred to Ningal, Sin’s wife, as his mother and to Utu-Shamash, Sin’s son, as his brother, not in a literal sense but to underline his demigod status and his closeness, familywise, to Anunnaki royalty. The woman who brought him up was not even Ningal: it was Ninsun, Enki’s daughter with stepsister Ninmah.
Shulgi was big, handsome, and breathtakingly impressive in the groin department. And since he had long been earmarked as a future king, it didn’t take long before he began to catch the amatory attentions of the Anunnaki Super Vixen and Super Opportunist, Inanna-Ishtar. Inanna had long earmarked Shulgi as “a man chosen for the vulva of Inanna" and shortly after the death of Ur-Nammu and following Shulgi’s enthronement, she invited him to her Eanna temple in Uruk and there shagged him like the world was about to come to an end.
This is Shulgi himself in his own words: “With valiant Utu, a friend as a brother, I drank strong drink in the temple (the Eanna) founded by Anu. My minstrels sang for me the seven songs of love. Inanna, the queen, the vulva of heaven and earth, was by my side, banqueting in the temple.”
The following year, in 2095 BC, Shulgi and Inanna entered into holy matrimony as husband and wife. This was a terrible mistake by Shulgi given Enlil’s virulent loathing of his own granddaughter. What it meant was that any slightest transgression against Enlil could cost Shulgi the throne and possibly his own life.
MARDUK SETS HIS SITES ON SPACE-RELATED FACILITIES
In 2096 BC, Abraham was 27 years old. At almost 30 years old, he was a full-grown man. After Shulgi was installed as the new king of Sumer in that very year, Abraham, Terah, and young Lot moved from Ur and settled in Harran. What necessitated this operation? The intention was to counter Marduk. Marduk had indicated that he was going to step up his campaign efforts (for ascendancy to Enlilship) in Sumer, beginning with the city of Harran, which was the major entry point to Sumer-Akkad when one was coming from Europe.
Upon the death of Ur-Nammu, Nabu, Marduk’s heir, had upped the ante in his anti-Enlil propagandistic pitch. “The Enlilite gods deserted you,” he bellowed non-stop from Sinai to the cities and islands of the Eastern Mediterranean. “They hid from you that Nibiru’s almost here. Soon shines the home planet of the gods upon Earth in the Age of the Ram – Marduk’s constellation. Welcome the Era of Marduk the Redeemer, who shall conquer Sumer & Akkad, rule Elamites, Hittites and the whole world. Nibiru comes, Marduk shall rule.” But the part about Nibiru’s imminence was pure demagoguery: the planet of the gods was nowhere near although it indeed was scheduled to appear sometime in the Age of Aries.
In their quest for terrestrial supremacy, Marduk and Nabu’s prize target was Tilmun, the spaceport in the Sinai Peninsula as they well knew that with Tilmun in the hands of the Enlilites, Enkite hegemony would be a sham. “Marduk's chess move to establish his command post in Harran enabled Nabu to ‘marshal his cities, toward the Great Sea to set his course’,” writes Zechariah Sitchin. “Individual site names reveal that those places included the all-important Landing Place in Lebanon and the Mission Control city of Shalem (alias Jerusalem). And then came Marduk's claim that the Spaceport Region was no longer neutral: it was to be considered a Marduk and Nabu domain.”
“I COME IN PEACE”, PLEADS SHULGI
How did Shulgi fare as the King of Sumer? We know precious much about him from what are so-called Date Formulas, which are royal records of the most salient developments during his reign. A prolific writer, Shulgi himself made elaborate inscriptions in the Date Formulas, which included poetry and love songs.
According to the Date Formulas, Shulgi began as a man of peace. At the very outset of his reign, he sent peace feelers to outlying Sumerian states and the so-called “sinning cities” in Canaan, offering trade, peace, and royal intermarriages with his beautiful daughters. Resultantly, when his eldest daughter married the viceroy of the southeastern state of Elam, he gave him the city of Larsa as dowry in accordance with the connubial code of the day whereby dowry was paid by the groom and not the bride – a practice that endures to date in some countries such as India.
In order to ingratiate himself with the gods, Shulgi first built a temple dedicated to Ninurta and declared Ur and Nippur as “Brotherly Cities”, a gesture that obviously inspired today’s idea of “sister cities”, and had a ship constructed which he dedicated to Ninli, Enlil’s spouse. Fancying himself as a modern Gilgamesh, he undertook a pilgrimage to Canaan and the Sinai Peninsula and there built altars to Utu-Shamash, Nannar-Sin, and Ninmah, though he did not set foot on the space facilities themselves as he regarded them as “sacred ground”. During his peregrinations, he vociferously campaigned for Enlil against Marduk and sought to strengthen imperial bonds with other nations.
By the time he returned to Sumer after an absence of 7 years, Shulgi had been to the three space-related sites – the Sinai Peninsula, the “Place of Bright Oracles”, what we call Jerusalem today, which was the Mission Control Centre, and the Landing Place in Lebanon. One of the first things he did upon his return was to build a temple to Nannar-Sin in the sacred precincts of Nippur, just as he had done for Ninurta. In recognition of this gesture, Sin gave him the titles of “High Priest of Anu” and “Priest of Nannar”. Next, Shulgi built a road network that not only improved logistics both militarily and politically in his empire but further facilitated trade and boosted economic prosperity.
FROM MAN OF PEACE TO MAN OF WAR
As King, Shulgi was on balance neglectful of the affairs of empire and in that Inanna was his greatest undoing. He revelled in lavish living and sexual binges, becoming a man of banquets and orgies in Inanna’s temple. In the self-laudatory hymns and canticles he wrote copiously, he repeatedly bragged that “beloved Inanna granted me her vulva in her temple” and that he was on first-name terms with the god Utu-Shamash.
His provinces were largely left to the presidency of what he called “Grand Emissaries”, who did not shrink from replicating his bling-bling lifestyle at the expense of keeping vigil over matters of military preparedness. As he got fixated on personal pleasures and the luxuries of Ur, unrest in the Canaanite cities began to fester yet again. Nabu was stirring them relentlessly. After enjoying a long period of peace and having been diverted by hedonistic indulgencies, Shulgi had allowed his regular army to go into a limbo.
In 2055 BC, his 41st year, he received an oracle from the god Sin, instructing him to set out to quell the “rebellion in the sinning cities” of Canaan. In his 37th year, Shulgi had entered into a peace treaty with a powerful king along the Mediterranean seaboard but that had now come apart at the seams.
Caught practically unawares, Shulgi reached out to his son-in-law, the viceroy of the province of Elam, who was in command of the formidable Elamite troops who had been trained by Ninurta, the Anunnaki’s god of war. The viceroy acceded to his requested use of the Elamite troops as his Foreign Legion.
The mighty Elamite troops did overrun the Canaanite provinces, venturing as far as the gateway to the spaceport at Tilmun. Their handsome and charismatic commander had been humped by the lecherous Inanna in a special send-off into battle and as he led his troops, he made them chant, “Favourite of the God Who Judges (Utu-Shamash), Beloved of Inanna”. The campaign lasted two years and to tell from his inscriptions Shulgi proclaimed victory, claiming, like Sargon before him, that, “I am the Hero, King of Ur, Ruler of the Four Regions", these being Sumer, Egypt, the Indus Valley, and the Sinai Peninsula.
The Elamite army, however, was so trigger-happy that Shulgi, who had been associated with peace for much of his reign, now was characterised as “full of vile and eager for battles”. Writes Zechariah Sitchin: “Instead of peace, the Elamite troops brought more warfare, and the yearly records of Shulgi's reign speak of repeated destruction in the northern provinces.”
MARDUK INVADES ABRAHAM’S CITY
The “sinning” Canaanite cities proved to be implacably intransigent. Less than two years after the Elamite armies ran rampage through them, the cities once again erupted into their age-old unrest, rallying to Marduk and Nabu. It seemed the peoples of these cities were so disaffected with the Enlilites they wanted nothing to do with them whatsoever.
Shulgi now seemed to be at the end of his tether. At this stage, he was jaded out and he decided Sumer would be his principal concern now and to hell with Canaan. So what does he do? He builds a defence wall from the Euphrates to the Tigris all the way north to where Baghdad is today. He called it the “Great West Wall”, obviously the precursor to the Great Wall of China. But the wall did not sit well with Enlil, who was wroth that it had cut off the heartland of Sumer from the northern provinces of Sumer-Akkad. Worse still, it meant Nabu and his loyalists would now have a field day in Canaan and likely capture Mission Control Centre in Jerusalem and the all-important spaceport at Tilmun.
In fact, what Enlil feared was already in evidence. When Marduk, who was based in Egypt, realised that Shulgi had walled off Sumer from the rest of Sumer-Akkad, he wasted no time in invading Harran. The year was 1948 BC. Harran was both militarily and economically significant being an international trade crossroads as well as a gateway to Sumer-Akkad.
Although this incident is hinted at in the Bible, the Genesis writers are economical with the truth regarding it. GENESIS 12:1 reads as follows: “Yahweh said to Abraham, Go by yourself from your land, from your kindred, and from your father’s house to the land that I shall show you.”In the Sumerian records, this instruction was given to Abraham, who was now 75 years old, by Nannar-Sin. Why was Abraham instructed to depart Sumer by the god Sin? Why didn’t he, Abraham, stand up to Marduk given that he was perhaps the Enlilites' greatest military general of the day as we shall soon showcase?
The answer has to do with Enlil’s cunning and shrewdness, which, sadly, the Enkites failed to read. The Enlilites had decided that Marduk should be assisted to capture Harran. Then once he was in Harran, he should be confined there indefinitely so as to facilitate the Enlilites’ scheme to counter-penetrate and annex the land of Egypt, Marduk’s lawful domain.
Accordingly, in making a reality of this scheme, Ishkur-Adad, Enlil’s last-born son and who was the god of Hattiland (meaning “Land of the Hittites”), the location of Harran, pretended to have broken ranks with his fellow Enlilites and entered into an ostensible alliance with Marduk. It were the Hittites, Adad’s subjects, who helped Marduk seize Harran.
JEHOVAH COMMISSIONS ABRAHAM TO SEIZE EGYPT
After Marduk’s baited invasion of Harran, Enlil went to work immediately. The following is how he set about effecting his new stratagem. First, Nannar-Sin was to relocate from Ur to Canaan, to be the resident god of the region overall. The turbulent politics of the region needed his presence there. Being the most favourite Enlilite god in the eyes of mankind, and having been born on Earth, Sin would make for a very saleable counter against Marduk.
Second, Terah, who was now 148 years, was appointed Priest-King, or Melchizedek, of Jerusalem. He was to bring about a pro-Enlil religious revival in Jerusalem and the surrounding area (which in future would come to be known as Judah or Judea) and ensure that the forces of Nabu did not lay siege to the city, which house Mission Control Centre. When HEBREWS 5:10 talks of Jesus being appointed High-Priest (and consequently Priest-King since he was the bloodline royal descendant of King David) “after the order of Melchizdedek”, it is Terah who is being referred to here.
Third, Abraham was given a new and urgent assignment. He was to spirit himself into northern Egypt, mobilise the Hykso population there (Hebrews who had been strategically been brought into the country from India to eventually take political control of it), trigger an uprising, and annex the region from the rest of Egypt. The intention was to create a buffer state that would safeguard the spaceport in the Sinai as northern Egypt shared a border with the whole of the Sinai Peninsula. That way, there would be no incursions into Canaan launched from Egypt by Marduk’s forces.
Meanwhile, in what was typical of Enlil’s modus operandi, Shulgi was to be the scapegoat for Marduk’s “invasion” of Harran. He was condemned to die the “death of a sinner”. Sinner in this context meant an enemy of Enlil, akin to the rebellious Canaanites. The concocted indictment against Shulgi was that he had connived with Marduk given the “ease”with which he took Harran. Shulgi had “prostituted himself” with Enkites and “did that which was evil in the view of the Lord".
Yet in truth, it was his association with Inanna that was Shulgi’s greatest sin against Enlil: from the day he hitched Inanna, he was a marked man. No one held a grudge like Jehovah. Did Abraham have the military wherewithal to advance on northern Egypt? And who would succeed the tactfully liquidated Shulgi?
Princess Mary falls pregnant only one month after her betrothal to Prince Joseph
To put the lineage of Mary the mother of Jesus in context, General Atiku, it is in order that we begin with her grandfather Yehoshua (Jesus in Greek) III.
Mary was offspring of two royal lines, the Davidic line and the Hasmonean line. Yehoshua III was the Herod–appointed High Priest of Israel between 36 and 23 BC. He had no sons, only three daughters namely Joanna, Elizabeth, and Anna, all of whom he organised dynastic suitors.
Elizabeth would be married off into the House of Aaron, the legitimate priestly line, and Joanna and Anna would be married off into the House of David, the legitimate kingly line. That’s how Elizabeth became the wife of Zechariah of the tribe of Levi and in due course the mother of John the Baptist.
Mainstream Israel up to the level of the Sanhedrin had recognised Anna as the eligible mother of the future King of Israel and not the sitting impostor Herod (it is not clear what happened to first-born Joanna but she probably passed away before she got married). Anna was accordingly married off to Alexander III, a Davidic and Hasmonean prince who was best known as Heli as indeed the genealogy of Luke clearly attests.
Heli and Anna too had no sons. They only had daughters, the firstborn of whom was Dorcas, whose was born in 26 BC and whose titular name was Mary. Mary was orphaned early in her childhood when her father Heli was killed in 17 BC at the orders of the increasingly paranoid Herod and when her mother Anna died a year or so later.
Since she was a dynastic heiress, it was likely that Herod would come after her. The Essenes thus secreted her somewhere in remote Galilee. It was actually in Galilee that most members of the Davidic royal line were concentrated not only to keep as far away from Herod as possible but to also enjoy the protective custody of the Zealots, who were the secret military wing of the Essenes and a thorn in the side of both Herod and the Romans. Joseph was also officially based in Galilee although both he and Mary were in truth based at Qumran in the Judean wilds.
JOSEPH CALLED TO “DUTY”
Dynastic marriages are often more politically strategic than spontaneous, General. For example, the union of Prince Charles and Princess Diana was motivated by the need to fuse the Windsor genes with those of the Stuarts as the Windsors, being predominantly Reptilians, were finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their human form.
The Stuarts, the clan of Diana, had by far more human genes than Reptilian and they too were an aristocratic family. That’s why once Charles had produced a “heir and a spare”, he completely sidelined Diana, who he had never loved, and devoted himself to his real love – Camilla Parker-Bowles.
The marriage of Joseph to Mary, General, was equally strategic. Although both were from the tribe of Judah and of the royal Davidic line, they were from different branches. Joseph was a descendant of Solomon, whereas Mary was a descendant of Nathan, Solomon’s elder brother. The line of Solomon, as we once underlined, had been tainted by the Jeconiah curse.
The line of Nathan was clean. Since the son of Joseph and Mary would be the future King of Israel, it was important that he not be compromised by the baggage, rightly or wrongly, of the Jeconiah curse. Hence the desirability of the union of Prince Joseph and Princess Mary.
Now, both Joseph and Mary’s clans were Essenes. As such, their marriage process, formalities, and protocols had to strictly adhere to Essene dynastic rules. The Essenes were in ranks. Amongst the higher echelons were the two great dynasties, the Davids and the Zadoks, who had been the high priests and kings of Israel respectively before the destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC.
The Davids and Zadoks lived a strictly holy life, typically in a monastery at Qumran, the reclusive headquarters of the Essenes. They were sequestered there so that they did not fall prey to the machinations of the bloodthirsty King Herod though officially their address was Galilee. In fact, the major reason the Essene movement had come into existence was to preserve and safeguard the Davidic and Zadokite lines, the religio-politico haunt of Herod and the Hasmoneans initially.
According to the Essene code, General, the Zadoks and the Davids were not to engage in sex for recreational purposes because it was regarded as defiling: it diluted holiness. The only times they were supposed to do so was when need arose to produce heirs. In 8 BC, it was now opportune for Joseph, the David, to produce a heir and so he was excused from a life of chastity.
At this point in time in fact, the Essenes were focused on two dynastic figures. These were Joseph and Zechariah. The two were expected to produce the Messiah of David and the Messiah of Aaron, that is, the future King of Israel and the future High Priest of Israel.
According to Essene rules, the David had to marry at age 36, so that by the time he was 40, he had already sired a heir. The new heir had to be born when the David was 37. If the child was a daughter, she could not inherit, and so the David had to set about the procreation of a second-born, who hopefully would be a boy (copulation to that end was allowed only when the daughter was 3 years old).
The Davidic heir had to be born not in any other month but in September, the holiest in the Jewish calendar. In order to conform to these parameters, a betrothal ceremony was held at the beginning of June. During the betrothal period – the three months from beginning of June to end of August – sexual relations were not permitted.
Then at the beginning of September, a First Marriage was held. This was the beginning of the marriage proper as now the couple were allowed to become intimate. However, the intimacy began only in December, with a view to delivering a heir in September the following year. At the end of March, the Second Marriage was held for it was hoped that by that time the spouse was three months pregnant if there hadn’t been a miscarriage. With the Second Marriage, the wedlock was permanent: divorce was never allowed whatsoever.
Meanwhile, General, if the spouse hadn’t conceived in December, sexual relations were suspended till December the following year. The husband would then leave her spouse and return either to the monastery at Qumran or embark on a tour of duty elsewhere in furtherance of the Essene cause.
A BINDING ENGAGEMENT
According to the Dead Sea Scrolls, General, the Essenes were not only a spiritual, revolutionary, and philosophical movement. They were also ardent believers in astrology. They meticulously studied the stars and the movements of planets to read what they portended about the future.
Thus the reason a Davidic heir had to be born in September was not only because this was the holiest month of the year: it was also in recognition of the fact that September was ruled by the constellation Virgo. In other words, September was astrologically the month of the virgin. That was what Mary was.
Mary was both a virgin physically and a virgin titularly. A bride of the future king was required to be a virgin. As an Essene, Mary belonged to the Order (not the tribe) of Dan. This was the Order of Nuns, or virgins, both legal and physical virgins. Thus in the Order of Dan, a woman was not a virgin only before she slept with a man: she was a virgin until she was six months pregnant. In the case of a dynastic spouse like Mary, this was up to end of June. From then henceforth, she was promoted within the Order to the first stage of a Mother.
Joseph’s betrothal to Mary took place at Qumran in June 8 BC. Now, in our day, betrothal simply means engagement to be married. In ancient Israel up to New Testament times, betrothal was part and parcel of the marriage contract. It was definite and binding upon both groom and bride, who were considered as man and wife in all legal and religious aspects, except that sexual relations were not permitted.
For example, in 2 SAMUEL 3:14, King David refers to his betrothed woman as “my wife”. Also in DEUTERONOMY 22:24, a betrothed woman is referred to as “his neighbour’s wife”. In the betrothal formalities, dowry and bride price were included. If a bride and groom for one reason or the other wanted to opt out of the betrothal after the betrothal ceremony, they had to seek a formal divorce.
Since the betrothal took place in June, General, Joseph and Mary were not supposed to make love till December, that is, six months after the betrothal ceremony and three months after the First Marriage ceremony in September. Just one month after the betrothal ceremony (that is, at the beginning of July 8 BC), however, Mary became pregnant. Was it Joseph, General? Was it rape by a Roman soldier called Panthera as some contemporary records suggest? Or was it simply the supernatural act of the “Holy Spirit” as Christendom holds?
THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS
Those who hold that the circumstances of Mary’s pregnancy were supernatural, General, can be excused. This is because the language employed therein smacks of ethereality – Holy Spirit, Angel Gabriel, Son of the Most High, etc. To those who have read and rigorously studied the Dead Sea Scrolls, however, such terminology is well within the temporal context.
That is to say, it does not carry spiritual connotations as such. True, the idea of an angel speaking to Joseph and Mary in their sleep may seem supernatural but the dreams are theological interpolations, inserted into the gospels in onward editing to fit a contrived agenda – what Karl Marx called the opium of the masses.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are so named because they were discovered in caves around the Qumran plateau of the West Bank (about 40 km east of Jerusalem), at the northwest corner of the Dead Sea, in March 1947. The discoverer was a Bedouin shepherd kid who was looking for a lost goat. The scrolls were found hidden in jars.
The 1947 find was the initial discovery: more discoveries were made after further excavations on the same site spanning 11 years in a series of 11 caves. Altogether, 972 texts were turned up. They are written in four languages, namely Hebrew (the majority), Aramaic, Greek, and Nabatean, mostly on parchment. Other texts were inscribed on papyrus and bronze.
Most of the Dead Sea Scrolls are fragments. Fragments of all the Old Testament books have been found save for the book of Esther. The only complete book is Isaiah. There are also apocryphal books (those arbitrarily excluded from the Old Testament canon by the Constantine-convened Nicene Council of AD 325) such as the Book of Enoch and the Book of Jubilees, and sect-specific writings that embody rules and beliefs of the people who compiled them.
The latter include commentaries on the Old Testament, paraphrases that expand on the Law of Moses, rule books of the community, war conduct, thanksgiving psalms, hymnic compositions, benedictions, liturgical texts, and sapiential (wisdom) writing. These texts have been given appropriate titles such as the War Scroll; Manual of Discipline; the Community Rule; the Temple Scroll; the Copper Scroll; etc.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were written/preserved by the Essenes between 168 BC and 68 AD. We know this because Pliny, the first century Roman historian, wrote that, “On the west coast of Lake Asphaltitis (the Dead Sea) are settled the Essenes, at some distance from the noisome odours that are experienced on the shore itself.
They are a lonely people, the most extraordinary in the world, who live without women, without love, without money, with the palm trees for their only companions.” The Essenes stashed away the scrolls sometime in 70 AD, when Roman General Flavius Titus overran Jerusalem and laid waste to the Temple following a catastrophic Jewish uprising – led by the Zealots, the military wing of the Essenes – that began in 66 BC.
This they did in heed of JEREMIAH 32:14, which says, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences … and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days.” The Dead Sea Scrolls have given us invaluable insight into the beliefs, customs, rituals, politics, philosophies, and traditions of first century Palestine.
The rivalry between luxury German automotive marques Mercedes-Benz and BMW is legendary. Both brands offer high-end, high-priced desirable models, always at the forefront of cutting-edge driving technology and excellence. And in the annals of the advertising world, a campaign between the two rivals is equally legendary and it happened on our own doorstep.
Many of you will be familiar with the coastal road out of Cape Town called Chapman’s Peak. It is a beautiful, sightseeing attraction, the road winding through spectacular coastal-mountain scenery, with cliffs sinking into the Atlantic ocean on one side, and steep mountains towering over the road on the other. However, the road is also notoriously dangerous, with its 114 sharp, meandering bends . It’s reputation is well-deserved . Several years ago, when a major coastal cleanup campaign was launched, a helicopter pulled a total of 22 wrecked cars out of the water adjacent to Chapman’s Peak and it was one such accident which prefaced the notorious marketing battle. The story is thus:
In 1988 an Irish businessman lost control of his Mercedes Benz when driving along this road, plunging 100 metres down the cliff. Miraculously, he not only survived the accident, but crawled out of the wreckage with hardly a scratch on his body.
When Mercedes heard the details, the marketing department decided to base a new advertisement on the story to promote the safety features and stability of the brand. In the video ad they intentionally drove an identical model off the road in the exact same location, having it plunge off the edge of the cliff, the driver stepping out similarly unscathed, proving the phenomenal survivability and strength of Mercedes Benz.
When the marketing suits at BMW saw this ad, they took a bold and ingenious decision to mimic it but with a twist. Only a week later, whilst the first ad was still fresh in the public’s minds, they shot their ad showing a BMW driving along the exact same stretch of road in the rain. However, when it reached the point at which the Mercedes plunged off the cliff, the BMW negotiated it safely, and continued driving along the road.
The catchphrase of the ad was “BMW beats the bends” . Or was it? It was cunningly recorded so that it could equally have been ‘beats the Benz’, implying that their cars had superior cornering and stability to their rival, Even more sneakily, they launched their campaign on a Saturday, mindful of the rules on competitive advertising in South Africa, safe in the knowledge that no objectionable actions could be taken till the new working week.
Mercedes-Benz wasted no time on Monday in issuing an injunction, the ad was swiftly pulled but the damage was done and the dog had had its day. The ad campaign ranks high in the history of advertising and can still be found online to this day. Meanwhile the rivalry between the two automotive greats goes on.
I reference this piece of marketing history in the light of this week’s horror crash by golfing great, Tiger Woods. Driving from a luxury holiday resort in California to a nearby country club Tiger Woods lost control of his vehicle on a downhill stretch of the road, smashed through a road sign, crossed over the central reservation and rolled his car several hundred feet. He had to be cut out and pulled to safety through the windscreen and the vehicle was so badly damaged, the attending police officers said he was ‘lucky to survive’.
The vehicle Woods was driving was a rented Genesis GV80 SUV. If you are unfamiliar with the brand that is not surprising since it is a relatively new spin-off from the South Korean Hyundai marque. The Genesis utility vehicle, not available locally yet, retails for around $50,000 or half a million pula, placing it in the higher end of town and country SUVs in the USA.
The model has certainly been widely publicised in the media coverage of the high-profile sportsman’s accident and I suspect that if asked to comment, Hyundai/Genesis would disagree with the police assessment, putting Woods’ survival down to build quality and in-built safety features such as crumple zones, anti-roll bars and airbags, which were deployed in the crash and would most certainly have played their part cushioning the effects of the rolling and ultimate impact. There is , of course, no suggestion that the manufacturers will capitalise on Woods’ survival but certainly it will have done the brand no harm that he did indeed emerge with recoverable injuries.
Comparing the two accidents, the driver of the Mercedes driving along Chapman’s Peak was, of course, an ordinary member of the public whilst Tiger Woods is a household name. That said, in humanitarian terms each tale of survival carries equal weight but the fact remains that the former was just another local story of yet one more victim of a notoriously tricky stretch of road whilst the latter went round the world in an instant because of the fame and name of the driver.
There is also no evidence that that stretch of Californian urban highway carried any inherent risk. His appears to have been just a loss of control and a freak accident. However, in the event that Hyundai/Genesis should consider making capital from that accident, a note of caution needs to be sounded.
In the advertising world, the use of celebrities to promote a product is a fall-back stance to sell anything from washing-up liquid to whisky but statistics have shown that it can be a double-edged sword in that yes, the ads are memorable and the public love them when the celeb is popular and personable. But…..what is often remembered is the name of the famous promoter, not the name of the product. In other words, they sell themselves far better than they sell the item.
In golfing terminology Hyundai/Genesis are not ‘out of the Woods’ yet and maybe they should go with a completely different Driver!
How Jesus’s grandfather sold his birthright to megalomaniac Herod
If you were to ask a Christian to name the main Jewish sects, General Atiku, he would no doubt begin with the Pharisees (because Jesus had innumerable slanging matches with them according to the gospels), followed by the Sadducees. Yet there was a third, equally momentous sect – the Essenes.
Although there’s not a single, one mention of the Essenes in the Bible, General, the New Testament is filled with Essene-type language as anybody who has read the Dead Sea Scrolls would readily recognise.
In point of fact, it was the Essenes who produced Jesus as well as the infamous Jewish band of freedom fighters known as the Zealots. Furthermore, almost all the New Testament writers were either Essenes or champions of the Essene cause as is apparent in their language and the drift of their overall philosophy. The Essenes have a palpable presence in the Bible, albeit a cloaked one.
The Essenes, General, were the most popular, the most esteemed, and the most influential of the Jewish sects. The Jewish historian Philo (20 BC-50 AD) devotes 90 percent of his description of the Jewish sects to the Essenes. He wrote that the Essenes “dwell in many cities of Judea and in many villages and in great societies of many numbers”.
Hyppolytus of Rome (170-236 AD) devoted nine-and-half chapters to the Essenes and only one to the Sadducees. The Essenes are the authors of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in 1947 in Israel at a place called Qumran and which have given us even greater insight into the happenings in the first century than the Bible itself.
How did the Essene movement come about, General? The Essenes, meaning “puritans of the faith”, were the Jewish sect that was the most loyal to the Davidic dynasty. They set themselves apart from the mainstream Jewish community circa 175 BC and established their headquarters at Qumran, about 40 km from Jerusalem.
Since the Jewish nation revered the Davidic royal line, the only legitimate and rightful rulers of Judah in their view, they rallied to the Essenes en masse. And because the Essenes were disparaging of the Hasmonean rule (140 BC to 63 BC), the mainstream Jews also took a dismissive view of Hasmonean rule too.
The Essenes were so highly regarded because of their virtue and spirituality. The legendary Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD) writes thus of them: “They are more mutually affectionate than the others (Pharisees and Sadducees). Whereas these men shun the pleasures as vice, they consider self-control and not succumbing to the passions virtue … Since [they are] despisers of wealth – their communal stock is astonishing – one cannot find a person among them who has more in terms of possessions.
For by a law, those coming into the school (that is, the Essene fold) must yield up their funds to the order, with the result that in all [their ranks] neither the humiliation of poverty nor the superiority of wealth is detectable, but the assets of each one have been mixed in together, as if they were brothers, to create one fund for all.”
In time, the Essenes, General, became quite influential even with occupying powers. For instance, when the Greek General Pompey installed Hyrcanus II as ruler of Palestine in 63 BC, he sought the opinion of the Essenes. The Essenes recommended that Hyrcanus go by the titles High Priest and Prince, not King, to which Pompey paid heed. In 142 BC, when Simon was installed by the Seleucids as ruler of Palestine, the Essenes had insisted on the same titular style. To the Essenes, everybody who occupied Israel’s seat of authority was simply holding fort for the real deal – the Davidic King.
In 37 BC, when Herod became King of Palestine, the potential Davidic King was Jacob-Eliakim – the father of the Joseph of the gospels – who was an Essene himself. It was in order to win the blessings of the historically popular Jewish royal family that Herod sought to curry favour with the Essenes.
JACOB’S PACT WITH HEROD
About the time Herod came to power, General, there were three citizens of considerable stature in Palestine – Hillel, Menahem, and Jacob-Eliakim, the grandfather of Jesus. Hillel is by all accounts ancient Israel’s greatest teacher and scholar.
He was the foremost spiritual sage in the development of the Talmud and the Mishnah, the most authoritative religious references of the Jews which are second only to the Old Testament in esteem. The renowned “Golden Rule”, which is invariably attributed to Jesus, was actually coined by Hillel. It is not certain whether Hillel was an Essene but his teachings did have a profound influence both on Essene philosophy and that of Jesus, who was an Essene too.
It was Menahem, however, who was an incontrovertible Essene. The Essenes were of two main branches, General. First, there were the puritans, the Palestinian Essenes. Then there were the liberals, the Diaspora Essenes, who sneered at the Palestinian Essenes’ dogmatism and rather strict views on morality. Menahem was the leader of the Diaspora Essenes.
He was also privilleged to be advisor to King Herod. Herod did hold Menahem in very high regard. Josephus relates that when Herod was a school-going lad, Menahem had patted him on his back and said to him, “one day you will be King young man.” Since the prophecy came to pass, Herod had a certain, atypical respect both for Menahem and the order of Essenes.
Jacob-Eliakim’s significance was by virtue of his pedigree. He was of the royal line of David and was therefore the uncrowned King of the Jews. Now, as we have already indicated, Herod had his own grand designs about rulership of the world notwithstanding the fact that he was in reality a vassal of Rome.
When he made overtures to the trio, they didn’t mince words: they told him that in the new Israel, the Israel that would rule Earth once the Romans had been toppled from the pedestal of world power, it was a Davidic King who would reign. Herod took very strong exception to such a prospect. Herod was neither a full-blooded Jew nor of Davidic stock but he was royalty in his own right.
His father, Antipater, had been the governor of Idumea and in due course Judea in the Hasmonean government and was in fact the real ruler of the entire Palestine, with John Hyrcanus being a mere figurehead king. When he (Herod) was only 25 years old, his father had appointed him governor of Galilee. Herod thus had strutted the corridors of power from the day he was born and he wasn’t going to give that up easily either for his own sake or that of his descendants.
As such, General, Herod maintained to the trio that in the new, overarching Kingdom of Israel, he was going to be the emperor and would be based in Jerusalem. Just like the Greek empire of Alexander had been a triarchy (a kingdom divided into three governments), the global Kingdom of Israel (“Thy Kingdom Come” in the Lord’s Prayer) was going to be likewise.
There was going to be a ruler in the east, a ruler in the west, and a ruler in the centre, that is Jerusalem, under the oversight of Herod himself. Hillel would rule in Jerusalem; Menahem in the east; and Jacob-Eliakim in the west. If these three happened to have disappeared from the Earthly scene by the time the Kingdom of Israel came into being, their descendants would observe the same setup.
The pecking order would thus be like this: Herod as the emperor; Hillel as the senior king; Menahem as the second-ranked king; and Jacob-Eliakim as the junior king. Put differently, Herod had by the stroke of a pen reduced the Davidic dynasty from foremost to least important as it posed the most serious threat to his office. Meanwhile, the three kings-in-waiting would go by the names of the Old Testament patriarchs.
Hillel would henceforth be called the Abraham, or the Father (or Papa, which later morphed into Pope), since Abraham was the Father of the Jewish nation; Menahem would be called the Isaac (Abraham’s son); and Eliakim the Jacob (Isaac’s son). Half a loaf was better than nothing at all and so Jacob-Eliakim meekly accepted this arrangement.
When Jesus later said, “Many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the new Kingdom of Heaven (MATTHEW 8:11),” he did not mean an afterlife kingdom: he referred to the Earthly setup proposed by King Herod.
FALLOUT WITH ESSENES
Those days, General, the Davidic heir used the title “Jacob” rather than “David” as the latter title was very risky, particularly under the Hasmonean government. Given that Joseph was the most beloved son of the Old Testament Jacob, the next in line, that is, the firstborn son of the Jacob, used the title “Joseph”.
In September 44 BC, a son was born to Jacob-Eliakim. As the crown prince to the Jacob, he was given the titular name Joseph, the name by which he became best-known. Like his father Jacob-Eliakim, Joseph was a missionary. But he also had a trade. He was a carpenter, a boat builder primarily, and a master of his craft. The word translated “carpenter” in the Bible is the ancient Greek word “ho hekton” which means a master artisan or craftsman.
In 31 BC, Qumran, the Essenes’ Judean wilderness bastion, was struck by an earthquake. The hermitic Essenes had no choice but to trek back to Jerusalem, from where they operated indefinitely at a place they called the Essene Gate. Then in 23 BC, Herod struck again. He had Jacob-Eliakim killed on trumped-up charges of sedition, his motive simply being a continuation of a systematic purge of the Davidic “pretenders” to his throne.
The Essenes were wroth. They now set about promulgating to the Diaspora Essenes that Herod would have no part to play in the coming Kingdom. Instead, the overall King would be Joseph, the son of Jacob-Eliakim. This, General, was the beginning of a permanent rift between Herod and the Essene sect.
THE SAGA OF JOSEPH
The prospective global world, General, was subdivided into ten provinces to facilitate governance and tax collection. Palestine would have two provinces, Judea and Samaria, the latter of which would include Galilee. Asia Minor (largely present-day Turkey), where the bulk of Diaspora Jews were concentrated, would have five provinces.
The last three provinces would be Babylon, Rome, and Alexandria in Egypt. The future capital of the West was not Rome: it was Ephesus in Asia Minor. Having been allocated the West, it was in Ephesus and Alexandria that Jacob-Eliakim spent most of his time evangelizing to fellow Jews about the future Kingdom of Israel. This was the beginning of the New Covenant, whereby Jews who converted to the ideal of a new Kingdom of Israel were baptised by immersion in water.
To mainstream Palestinian Jews, General, Jacob-Eliakim was a sellout. Herod had demoted his pedigree but to somewhat placate him, he gave him the honorary title of Patriarch or Prince of Jerusalem. By subordinating the Davidic throne-in-waiting to Herod, Jacob-Eliakim had gone against what the nation of Israel’s God, Enlil, the Bible’s main Jehovah, decreed – that every King of Judah had to be a descendant of David. So when the unpredictable Herod had him killed in 23 BC for “sedition”, as part of a pogrom against the line of David, there was very little sympathy for him.
In 44 BC, Joseph had been born to Jacob-Eliakim. Joseph was a title: it was not his real name. At the death of his father, Joseph became the Jacob. However, he preferred the title “David”, the more apt one historically. Joseph would become the father of Jesus. When Joseph attained 30 years of age in 14 BC, his uncles and the Essene sages sent him to Rome and Alexandria to do his part in missionary work, which was simply about promulgating to the Diaspora Jews the future Kingdom of Israel in which a Son of David, that is a descendant of King David, would rule. Egypt was also a special place because Joseph’s maternal relations were Egyptians.
Jacob-Eliakim, General, had two wives. The one was called Euchariah, a Jewish princess, of whom very little is known, and the other, the dynastic wife, was an Egyptian princess, a daughter of Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and Julius Caesar. Jacob-Eliakim and this princess had three sons: they were Joseph, the father of Jesus, and the twins Cleopas (after whom James, Jesus’ immediate younger brother, whose given name was Cleopas, was named) and Ptolas. Joseph was thus the Davidian Prince of Israel as well as contender to Crown Prince of Egypt. Despite pretences to the contrary on the part of the Jews, Egypt and Israel have always had ties of monarchical kinship.
In 8 BC, General, Joseph was required by Essene custom to return home and fulfill his obligations for a dynastic marriage. A wife-to-be had already been chosen for him by his uncles and other patriarchal Essenes. This was Dorcas, better known today by her title name Mary.