… as Marduk presses his case for ascendancy to supremacy
Let us now return to the aftermath of what came to be called the War of the Kings, which took place in 2041 BC This is the war that pitted East vs. West, that is, the pro-Enlil coalition of four Sumerian kings against the pro-Marduk alliance of five Canaanite kings. The Sumerian kings had retreated with their tails wedged between their legs after a routing by General Abraham. Since their heads now hung in shame, they had no option but to step down from their monarchical perches. Writes Zechariah Sitchin: “Having failed in their mission and twice humiliated by the hand of Abraham — once at Kadesh-Barnea, then again near Damascus — the invading kings were promptly removed from their thrones.”
However, Amar-Sin, the overall ruler of Sumer-Akkad, was in no hurry to give up the throne: all he did was switch camps from Enlilite to Enkite. Until now, he had been worshipping Nannar-Sin, the reason he was called Amar-Sin, meaning “Adorer of Sin”. Now he set about worshipping, or reverencing, Enki. In the event, he relocated from Ur, Nannar-Sin’s bastion, to Eridu, Enki’s Sumerian foothold, where he was roped in as one of Enki’s top priests. There, with typical monarchical vainglory, he built himself an eye-popping mansion befitting a king.
Amar-Sin’s change of allegiances was a sacrillege to Enlil. Needless to say, his days were numbered. In 2039 BC, the Enlilites engineered his death from a snake-bite. It is ironic that he died from the poison of a creature that was the very emblem of Enki – a serpent. The message the Enlilites seemed to put out there was that they eliminated Amar-Sin for the sin of defecting to Enki, who the Enlilites had dubbed “The Serpent”. Amar-Sin had ruled for about 8 years, from 2047 to 2039 BC.
SHU-SIN TAKES OVER
At the time of Amar-Sin’s death, Enlil, the Bible’s principal Jehovah, was away in today’s Peru, where he had gone to check on progress on new space facilities that were being built under the superintendence of his firstborn son Ninurta. At the conclusion of this mission, Enlil left Earth for a unknown destination, in all likelihood Mars or the Moon.
With the two top Enlilites absent from the Sumerian scene, and with Nannar-Sin more preoccupied with the turbulent affairs of Canaan, a virtual power vacuum ensued. The Anunnaki’s enfant terrible, Inanna-Ishtar, was quick to exploit the situation: she prevailed over her father, Nannar-Sin, to install Shu-Sin, her lover and Amar-Sin’s immediate younger brother, as the new King of Sumer-Akkad. An easy-going Nannar-Sin readily obliged her.
Having taken the reins at a time when the Enkites, led by Marduk and his son Nabu, were in the ascendant geopoliticalwise, Shu-Sin was in a dilemma as to whose side to take between the Enkites and Enlilites. In the first year of his reign, he took great pleasure in furthering the interests of the Enlilites. Inanna had supplied him with a “weapon which with radiance strikes down … whose awesome flash reaches the sky” which he was to use on “the the enemy country which is disobedient”. With such a formidable arsenal, Shu-Sin didn’t need to fight to subdue the enemy: he made them “tremble in awe of his weapons”, meaning typically, they surrendered without firing a single shot.
But although Inanna wanted and expected Shu-Sin to be a warrior king, Shu-Sin was not half as keen. During the 9 years that he reigned, he engaged in only two military campaigns and those were within Sumer itself and not against the “rebel lands” in Canaan. Clearly, he was far from a trigger-happy king. Shu-Sin’s strategy was to tread cautiously as he was not exactly sure as to who finally would carry the day between Marduk and Enlil.
With Enlil yet to show up as the second year of his reign dawned, Shu-Sin decamped from the Enlilites and closed ranks with the Enkites. In order to underscore his loyalty to the Enkites, he even built a ship for Enki, which he called the “Ship of the Abzu”. Abzu, meaning the “Lower World”, was the Sumerian term for Africa.
The ship was designed to navigate the seas at a much faster rate than any of the existing fleet. In the third year, Shu-Sin reached out to Marduk and Nabu with a view to present to them his credentials as a bonafide Enkite. The two gods, sadly, turned him down, dismissing him as a mere opportunist and far from a committed Enkite.
JEHOVAH SPURNS SHU-SIN
The rejection rankled. As such, Shu-Sin embarked on a project to reinforce the Wall of the West, the Great-Wall-of-China-like defense fortress which Amar-Sin had built in Sumer as a bulwark against incursions by the Amaru (Amorites), the Western followers of Marduk. The strengthening of the Wall, which was meant to reinstate him in the good graces of the Enlilites, lasted two years.
The gesture was a futile one as Nannar-Sin was far from impressed: he too looked askance at a seemingly two-faced, flip-flop Shu-Sin. In order to endear himself to Enlil, Shu-Sin “undertook massive reconstruction works at Nippur's sacred precinct (the Ekur), on a scale unknown since the days of Ur-Nammu”. He went on raise “a stela honouring Enlil and Ninlil, a stela as no king had built before". But Shu-Sin was not done yet: he also built a new town for Enlil and Ninli as an appendage to Nippur, the couple’s cult city.
This, according to the Sumerian records, was “the first time since the days when fates were decreed that a king had established a town for Enlil and Ninlil”. Enlil himself still was away but his spouse Ninli, who was around, had sympathy for Shu-Sin. Ninlil suggested that Shu-Sin build a love-nest yacht for Enlil and Ninli, which he did. Shu-Sin dubbed the yacht “The Great Ship”. It was “a great touring boat, fit for the largest rivers” which he “decorated perfectly with precious stones”.
Then having gone on to appoint Shu-Sin as High Priest of the temple at Nippur, whose devotional tempo he raised by several bars, Ninli contacted Enlil and asked him to come and see the wonders Shu-Sin had wrought for the couple. Enlil, who practically worshipped his wife, made haste and was back to Earth in no time: he never said no to his beloved wife, who he never cheated once.
Like his spouse, Enlil was impressed with what Shu-Sin had done but it simply was not enough: at the time, the Elamites were on the loose in Sumer and were committing sacrilege after sacrilege. Sumer was far from secure at all, which meant Shu-Sin had failed dismally. “Instead of greater security, there were greater dangers, and concern about the loyalty of distant provinces gave way to worry about Sumer's own territory,” the Sumerian records say. So when he pleaded with Enlil to accept and confirm him as “the king whom Enlil, in his heart, had chosen”, Enlil gave him the middle finger.
A distraught and desperate Shu-Sin then decided to revert to Inanna in the hope that she could positively influence the powers-that-be and get them to give him the nod. Shu-Sin even built a shrine to Shara, Inanna’s eldest son, a demigod to further incentivize Inanna. But it was too late. In that very year, his ninth on his shaky throne, there was a total lunar eclipse in February 2031, which the oracle priests partly interpreted as a metaphorical eclipse of Shu-Sin. The following year, in 2030 BC, Shu-Sin was removed from the throne.
IBBI-SIN REELS FROM AMARU MENACE
Shu-Sin was succeeded by his son Ibbi-Sin in 2030 BC. During the portentous six years he reigned, Ibbi-Sin was no more or less beleaguered as his deposed father was. Leading the relentless offensive against the hapless king were the Amaru, the white-skinned Westerners from Europe who were fiercely pro-Marduk.
The blitz on Sumer was actually two-pronged. First, there was the Amaru from the west: then there was the Elamites from the eastern fringes of Sumer. The Elamites, if you recall, were the so-called “Foreign Legion”, crack mercenary warriors who had come from Africa but were stationed in Sumer. When the Amaru pounced, Ibbi-Sin unleashed the Elamites on them. This time around, the Elamites were not as effective in standing up to the enemy as they had always been. One reason was that the Elamites used both economic and military means to emasculate Ibbi-Sin.
In the economic war, the Amaru attacked the agricultural and irrigation systems of Sumer, thereby triggering famine and consequently economic collapse of the confederacy. The ensuing economic doldrums were such that at some stage the price of grain spiked to 60 times the price that obtained in peace time.
In the prevailing economic dislocation, account keeping at the tax collection hub around Nippur, where shipments of goods and cattle and the collection of taxes thereon were recorded throughout the Third Dynasty of Ur, came to a halt in the third year of Ibbi-Sin’s reign. Then one by one, the city states of Sumer declared that they would no longer recognize central authority in Ur but would instead rally to the forces of Marduk.
With that declaration came the end of messages of allegiance dispatched to Ur each year as well as the submission of trade documents to verify the income declared by city states. The flow of sacrificial animals to Nannar-Sin temple in Ur slowed to a trickle and in the fourth year ceased altogether.
Meanwhile, a frantic Ibbi-Sin approached the oracle priests on more than one occasion to provide a scenario of what would actually befall Sumer. The oracles were consistent in their prognosis: in 2026, in the fourth year of his reign, Ibbi-Sin was told that “he who calls himself Supreme, like one whose chest has been anointed, shall come from the west”. This was Marduk. He was patiently waiting in Harran for the recapture of Babylon, his cult city, as his son Nabu directed and prompted the Amaru onslaught.
MARDUK PITCHES IN BABYLON
Why did the Amaru meet very little resistance when they marched on Sumer? Why didn’t the Elamites not fight them to the death? Why did the oracle priests keep dinning rather dispiriting news into Ibbi-Sin’s mind? Each of the above states of affairs were not typical. They were in overdrive largely on account of the fact that a new epoch had dawned. This was the Age of the Aries, in which Marduk, according to the lordly say-so of the enigmatic Galzu, was supposed to take over from Enlil as Earth’s new Chief Executive.
If you remember, the Age of Aries had mathematically commenced in 2220 BC. However, the night time starry backdrop still was dominated by Taurus, which is so vast it lingers for an extra 200 years (in addition to its mathematically allotted 2160 years). As such, Marduk was prevailed upon to wait until the Aries backdrop took pride of place. At the time Ibbi-Sin became king, in 2030 BC, Aries was becoming prominent with each passing year, as a result of which everywhere the topic of the day was Marduk’s ascendancy to power. As such, even his sworn enemies now were favourably predisposed toward him, except, of course, for the diehard Enlilite top brass, as his hour had come.
In the sixth year of Ibbi-Sin’s reign, the rampaging Amaru broke through the defence Wall and invaded eastern Sumer. “The Westerners had entered the plain, had entered the interior of the country, taking one by one all the great fortresses”, say the Sumerian records. With the Amaru poised to take the very heartland of Sumer, Ibbi-Sin devoted all his energies to erecting walls and fortifications around the enclave of Ur and Nippur, leaving the rest of the country to its own devices.
Once again, Ibbi-Sin turned to the oracle priests with the hope that this time around a promising forecast would be forthcoming. Instead, the omens of destruction and ruin continued to ring forth. The priests reiterated that, “The Son of the West (Marduk) will arise … It is an omen for Ibbi-Sin: Ur shall be judged.” The nail-in-the-coffin news was delivered in the sixth year of Ibbi-Sin’s reign, when the oracle priests chillingly announced to him that, “The enemy of Ur, the One who calls himself Supreme, has reached the heart of Sumer.” Marduk had finally departed Harran after 24 years of being quarantined there and was now in Babylon! The year was 2024 BC.
When the Elamites heard that Marduk was in the Sumerian heartland, they had Elam secede from the rest of Sumer-Akkad and declared independence. But that was not all: they descended on Ur, set fire to it, captured their very principal Ibbi-Sin, and took him back to Elam, where he died whilst a prisoner of war. The Sumerian civilisation had collapsed.
MARDUK’S TEARY LORDSHIP MANIFESTO
In 2048 BC, the Enlilites had tactfully lured Marduk to Harran and then restricted him there whilst they counter-penetrated Egypt. The tact had now boomeranged. For Marduk had turned Harran from a place of remand to a command post. “From Harran, on the threshold of Shumer, his final thrust he planned: from Harran, at the edge of Ishkur's domains situated, the raising of armies he directed,” say the Sumerian records.
Throughout his 24 years in Harran, Marduk had kept asking his fellow gods this question: "Until When?” This was in relation to his scheduled and rightful supplanting of Enlil as Earth’s supremo. Sadly, he received no answered in the affirmative. But at the very outset of the year 2024 BC, he stood at a public square in Harran and gave the following speech, which was at once humble and defiant:
“Oh gods of Harran (Ishkur-Adad in particular), oh great gods who judge (Enlil and Utu-Shamash mainly) … As I girdle my belt, my memories I remember: I am the divine Marduk, a great god, in my domains as Ra am I known. For my sins to exile I went, to the mountains have I gone, in many lands I wandered. From where the sun rises (the Americas) to where the sun sets (Antarctica) I went, to the land of Ishkur I came. Twenty-four years in the midst of Harran I nested, an omen in its temple I sought.
Until when? about my lordship an omen in the temple I asked. Your days of exile are completed! to me the oracle in the temple said. Oh great gods who the fates determine, let me to my city set my course, my temple Esagil as an everlasting abode establish, a king in Babili (Babylon) install.” The year 2024 BC marked exactly 72 years, equivalent to I degree of the celestial zodiacal arc, since Marduk was made to depart Babylon and go elsewhere to await the right time of accession to the Enlilship.
Having done so, the oracle priests now had told him in no uncertain in terms that his time had arrived, that he should set off from Harran and head for Babylon, from whence he should rule Earth. He could already see a spectacular and prosperous Earth, an Earthly king of his choice installed in Babylon, an Earth filled with joy, a world blessed by Anu. He referred to his dawning era as “The Messianic Times” in which he would “chase away evil and bad luck, bring motherly love to Mankind”.
ENLIL CALLS MEETING OF ANUNNAKI PANTHEON
But although the Age of Aries was visually emerging and indeed was more than apparent on the night time horizon, it yet had to dominate: there were still lingering vestiges of the Taurus constellation. Hence Marduk’s own brothers, Ningishzidda, who was presently at the Lagash astronomical observatory in Sumer, and Nergal, who was based at the scientific station at Cape Agulhas in South Africa, told him his celestial argument simply did not wash: he still had another four to five years of waiting. An irate Marduk countered that he was having none of that hogwash and now proceeded to make two major announcements.
The first was that he had declared the spaceport in the Sinai Peninsula as a Marduk-and-Nabu domain. It was no longer neutral, a least theoretically as it had always been wilily, if not blatantly, controlled by the Enlilites. The second was that he was setting off from Harran and heading for Babylon: there, all the Anunnaki kingpins should assemble in his temple, the Esagil, and declare that they all henceforth were subject to him.
Having so said, he indeed set course for Babylon, “at the head of a horde of Western supporters organized by Nabu”. "I called on the gods, all of them, to heed me," Marduk writes in his memoirs. "I called on the people along my march, 'bring your tribute to Babylon’.” Meanwhile, the euphoria in Egypt, Marduk’s own fiefdom, bordered on the delirious.
The Ram, the emblem of the Age of Aries, began to dominate celestial and monumental art and Marduk, who was known as Ra in Egypt, was given the epithet "Ram of the Four Winds," and was so depicted to indicate that he was master of the “four corners”, or four regions, of the Earth – Sumer, Egypt, the Indus Valley, and the Sinai Peninsula. Hitherto, celestial depictions showed the Sun rising over the Bull of Heaven, the symbol of the Enlilite-controlled Age of Taurus, but the Bull of Heaven was depicted tethered and held back. Now the Bull of Heaven was depicted pierced and deflated. The message was that Marduk had now taken over from Enlil as the Lord of the Earthly realm.
In their onward march to Babylon, Marduk’s followers were wreaking havoc along the way, desecrating the temples of Enliite gods, including the holiest in the land – that of Enlil at Nippur. When Enlil heard from wherever he was of the defiling of his temple, that even “in the holy of holies the veil was torn away”, he made a madcap dash for Nippur. He "set off a brilliance like lightning as he came down from the skies. Riding in front of him were gods clothed with radiance." The moment he touched down on Earth, he called an urgent assembly of the council of the gods. Were headset to roll?
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.