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Desolation in Mesopotamia

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

Nuclear Cloud of Death wreaks havoc in Sumer in modern-day Iraq

Reading the Sumerian chronicles, one gets the impression Nergal,  Enki’s second-born son but who had long closed ranks with the Enlilites, had turned Canaan into both an apocalyptic inferno and a watery inundation reminiscent, more or less, of the Deluge of Noah’s day.  As soon as the Awesome Weapons (atomic bombs) were launched from the skies by Ninurta and Nergal, “they spread awesome rays, scorching everything like fire,” the Sumerian tablets relate. 

“The resulting storm in a flash of lightning was created … The five cities of the valley he (Nergal) finished off, to desolation they were overturned. With fire and brimstones were they upheavaled:  all that lived there to vapour was turned. By the awesome weapons were mountains toppled: where the sea waters were barred, the bolt broke open. Down into the valley the sea's waters poured. By the waters was the valley flooded. When upon the cities' ashes the waters poured, steam to the heavens was rising.”

 Meanwhile, a widowed Lot, who along with his two virgin daughters had taken refuge in the cavernous recesses of Zoar’s mountainous countryside, decided to make sexual capital out of the catastrophe! This is the Biblical version of the debauchery as per GENESIS 19:30-36. “Now Lot went up from Zoar and dwelt in the hill country, and his two daughters were with him, for he was fearful to dwell in Zoar. So he was dwelling in a cave, he and his two daughters with him.  

The firstborn said to the junior sister: ‘Our father, he is old, and there is no man in the area to come on us according to the way of all the earth. Do go, let us give our father wine to drink; then do let us lie with him and keep seed alive from our father.’ So they gave their father wine to drink that night. Then the firstborn came and lay with her father. Yet he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. It came to pass on the morrow that the firstborn said to the junior sister: ‘Behold, I lay with our father yesternight.

Let us give him wine to drink tonight also; then come and lie with him, that we may keep seed alive from our father.’ So they again gave their father wine to drink that night; and the junior sister got up and lay with him. Yet he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Thus the two daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father.”

Sadly, this is a shamelessly male chauvinistic spin on what really transpired. You will perhaps have noted by now that in the Bible, the female always takes the blame for a man’s every misstep. Adam fell because of Eve; Samson was physically enfeebled thanks to Delilah; Judah was seduced by her daughter-in-law who posed as a prostitute; etc. By the same token, Lot was made to sleep with his own daughters by his very daughters. That simply is not true.

The truth of the matter is that it was Lot who actively and cunningly seduced his gorgeous daughters who had never known a man before. Lot simply confronted the two gals and span the yarn that the world had come to an end with the nuking of Canaan and therefore he and his two daughters were the only beings who had survived. It was therefore only they who had to start repopulating the world once again. With their naivety, the teenage daughters took what their father had said as gospel truth and allowed him to take turns at them in this regard. So forget about the Genesis account: it was a pure concoction intended to absolve Lot of willful incest and portray women in an ever-guilty light.

About a year later, the two daughters each had a son. The older daughter’s was named Moab. He became the father of the Moabites. The younger daughter’s was named Ben-Ammi, meaning “Son of my kinsman”.  He became the progenitor of a people known as the Ammonites. Both the Moabites and Ammonites would repeatedly war against their next of kin, the Israelites, for reasons we have already touched upon.

“LAW OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES” COMES TO BEAR

Yet the nuclear strike against Canaan did not affect that part of the world only. In what Zechariah Sitchin has dubbed the law of unintended consequences, the nuclear holocaust, the “gigantic explosions”, had far-reaching ramifications as far afield as Sumer itself.  “On the Land Sumer a calamity fell, one unknown to men,” say the Sumerian records. “One that had never been seen before, one which could not be withstood.”

This was in the form of what became known as the “Evil Wind” but which we today can easily understand as a drifting nuclear radiation cloud. “The cities, the people, the vegetation – everything was upheavaled by the gods' weapon (the nuclear bombs). Its heat and fire scorched all before it: it affected people even at some distance away.”

Exactly how did the chain of unintended consequences begin? “By a darkening of the skies were the brilliances (mushroom cloud) followed, then a storm to blow began. Swirling within a dark cloud, gloom from the skies an Evil Wind carried.” The Evil Wind was so dense that it completely obscured the skies for at least 24 hours on a day that would be forever etched on the human psyche. 

“On that day, when heaven was crushed and the Earth was smitten, its face obliterated by the maelstrom – when the skies were darkened and covered as with a shadow – on that day the Evil Wind was born … There was created a great storm from heaven … a land-annihilating storm … an Evil Wind, like a rushing torrent … a battling storm joined by a scorching heat … By day,  it deprived the land of the bright sun, in the evening the stars did not shine … It was a day not to be forgotten.”

The Sumerian records make it more than amply clear that the Evil Wind was triggered by a nuclear upheaval. “A blast, an explosion: an evil blast heralded the baleful storm, an evil blast was its forerunner.”  They are also unequivocal as to who brought about the whole cataclysm. “Mighty offspring, valiant sons,  were the heralds of the pestilence.” These are Nergal and Ninurta being referred to here:  “Mighty Ones” or “Great Ones” were metaphorical characterisations of the Anunnaki by virtue of their dazzling technology, humanly unseemly feats, and their extraordinary longevity.

The Sumerian records talk  of a “Cloud of Death” which arose from the cities of the Jordan plain, which began as an immense whirlwind,  and which reached near and far. This cloud was propelled by a happenstance Mediterranean wind. “A dense cloud that brings doom (a nuclear mushroom), a tempest that scorches the heavens, rose to the sky, followed by rushing wind gusts.”

It was indeed a day not to be forgotten. “When dawn the next morning came, from the west, from the Upper Sea (Mediterranean Sea), a storm wind began blowing.  The dark brown cloud eastward it directed, toward the settled lands (Sumer) did the cloud spread … A storm, the Evil Wind, went around in the skies.

And then the whirlwind began to spread and move westward with the prevailing winds blowing from the Mediterranean … Moving from west to east, the deathly cloud, enveloped in terror, casting fear everywhere, was carried to Sumer by a howling wind, a great wind which speeds high above, an evil wind which overwhelms the land. Slowly over the lands the Evil Wind blew, from west to east over plains and mountains it traveled.”

A lamentation text states that starting from the Jordan plain, the blast's deadly cloud was carried by the prevailing winds eastward all the way "to the boundary of Anshan" in the Zagros Mountains, affecting all of Sumer from Eridu in the south to Babylon in the north. “From the midst of the mountains it had come, from the Plain of No-Pity (Jordan Plain) it had come …”

“RUN FOR DEAR LIFE”, ENKI URGES GODS AND MORTALS ALIKE

Were Nergal  and Ninurta aware of the certainty of the poisonous nuclear cloud? According to the Sumerian records, they were not. “The great gods paled at the storm’s immensity,” so we’re informed by the Sumerian chroniclers. Indeed, had they been aware of such an eventual outcome, they would have had General Abraham move as far away from Canaan as time permitted. For Abraham first took refuge in the Hebron mountains, some 50 miles away from Sodom. It was not until the Evil Wind materialised that  he hastened to Gerar along the Mediterranean coast.

The only god who anticipated and predicted the Evil Wind was the “all-knowing”  Enki. The moment Nergal and Ninurta were done with their bombing blitz, Enki, who was at the time was at Eridu,  his Sumerian base, issued a clarion call for both the gods and Earthlings  to run for dear life. Enlil, Nergal, and Ninurta immediately joined him in trumpeting the call. “To Ninurta and Nergal Enlil and Enki the alarm sounded,” say the Sumerian chronicles. “Unstoppable the Evil Wind death to all delivers! The alarm Enlil and Enki to the gods of Shumer transmitted: Escape! Escape! to them all they cried out. Let the people disperse, let the people hide!”

     The gods were frantic. As the Evil Wind began to "spread to the mountains as a net," they began to flee their beloved cities.  “From their cities the gods did flee, like frightened birds from their nests escaping they were … The deities ran off …  They took unfamiliar paths."  Writes Zechariah Sitchin: “The text known as Lamentation Over the Destruction of Ur lists all the great gods and some of their important sons and daughters who had ‘abandoned to the wind’ the cities and great temples of Sumer.”

One of the earliest to depart Sumer was Ninki, Enki’s wife. According to a text known as The Eridu Lament, Ninki took to a flying saucer and headed to a safe haven in Africa. “Ninki, the Great Lady, flying like a bird, left her city (Eridu).” Another of the early escapees was Inanna-Ishtar, who so hurriedly took off she was later to chafe that in her state of panic, she had left behind her jewelry and a host of precious possessions.

In her case, she left not in a flying saucer but in a submarine. “Inanna hurriedly departed from Uruk, sailing off toward Africa in a submersible ship and complaining that she had to leave behind her jewelry and other possessions … In her own lamentation for Uruk, Inanna-Ishtar bewailed the desolation of her city and her temple by the Evil Wind, which in an instant, in a blink of an eye,  was created in the midst of the mountains and against which there was no defense.” But whilst some Anunnaki were double-quick on their feet, others kind of shilly-shallied. The result was either outright disaster or near-disaster.  Two gods almost lost their lives. One god actually perished as we demonstrate in next week’s piece.

NERGAL’S EVIL WIND RENDERS MUCH OF SUMER “DESOLATE”

It was on the land of Sumer that the Evil Wind effected the most havoc, where it carried death which could not be eschewed. “From the Valley of No Pity, by the brilliances (atomic explosions)  spawned, toward Shumer the death was carried … It covered the land as a cloak, spread over it like a sheet.” Brownish in colour, during the daytime "the sun in the horizon it obliterated with darkness: at night, luminous at its edges it filleth the broad earth and blocked out the moon. The moon at its rising it extinguished."

Wherever The Evil Wind reached, “death to all that lived mercilessly it delivered.” It  "bore gloom from city to city, carrying dense clouds that bring gloom from the sky … Carried by the Evil Wind, it was a death from which there was no escape: it was a death let loose in the road, which roams the street … The highest wall, the thickest wall, it passes like a flood; no door can shut it out, no bolt can turn it back.”

What the Evil Wind caused in Sumer  was not violent destruction but silent annihilation. “The unseen death moved slowly over Sumer, its passage lasting twenty-four hours – a day and a night … A poisonous nuclear cloud, driven eastward by unexpected winds, overwhelmed all life in Sumer … Slowly over the lands the Evil Wind blew, from west to east over plains and mountains it traveled.

The prevailing winds, coming from the Mediterranean Sea, carried the poisonous nuclear cloud eastward, toward Sumer, and there it caused not destruction but a silent annihilation, bringing death by nuclear poisoned air to all that lives.” The panic, fear, and confusion that overtook Sumer and its cities as the alarm was sounded are vividly described in a series of lamentation texts, such as the Ur Lamentation, the Lamentation over the Desolation of Ur and Sumer, The Nippur Lamentation, The Uruk Lamentation, amongst others.

To their credit, the gods, as we have already intimated, did  alert mankind as to the calamity at hand. The Uruk Lamentation has them megaphone-announce (from low-flying drones) in the middle of the night, “Rise up! Run away! Hide in the steppe!” But although the people did heed the desperate call, it still was too late: they were felled by the Evil Wind anyway. Writes Zechariah Sitchin: “Those who hid behind doors were felled inside; those who ran to the rooftops died on the roofs.

Those who to the streets fled, in the streets were their corpses piled up. It was an unseen death: ‘It stands beside a man, yet no one can see it; when it enters a house, its appearance is unknown’.  It was a gruesome death: ‘Cough and phlegm weakened the chest, the mouth was filled with spittle, dumbness and daze have come upon them.’ As the Evil Wind clutched its victims, ‘their mouths were drenched with blood’. The dead and dying were everywhere … The people of the lands by the Evil Storm's hand were clutched; futile was the running. No one treads the highways, no one seeks out the roads.”

The Evil Wind laid waste to man, plants, and animals alike.  “Stealthy was the death, like a ghost the fields and cities it attacked.  The highest walls, the thickest walls, like floodwaters it passed … Through the door like a snake it glides, through the hinge like a wind it blows in … 

In the cities and the hamlets, the mother cares not for her children, the father says not 'O my wife' … The young child grows not sturdy on their knee, the nursemaid chants not a lullaby …  The people, terrified, could hardly breathe: the Evil Wind clutched them, does not grant them another day … Mouths were drenched in blood, heads wallowed in blood … Their  faces  are made pale by the Evil Wind. Their spirit abandoned their bodies …  The dead, lying where they fell, remained unburied: the dead people, like fat placed in the sun, of themselves melted away. In the grazing lands, cattle large and small became scarce, all living creatures came to an end.

The sheepfolds were delivered to the Wind. The cultivated fields withered; on the banks of the Tigris and the Euphrates only sickly weeds grew, in the swamps the reeds rotted in a stench … The storm crushed the land, wiped out everything … In the orchards and the gardens there is no new growth, quickly they waste away … On the steppes cattle large and small become scarce  …”

The Sumerian records emphasise that the Evil Wind caused desolation rather than destruction. “From Eridu in the south to Sippar in the north did the Evil Wind the land overwhelm … It caused a calamity, one unknown to men, to befall the land … As the Evil Wind passed and blew, it left Sumer desolate and prostrate. The storm desolated the cities, desolated the houses …  caused cities to be desolate, caused houses to be desolate, caused stalls to be desolate, the sheepfolds to be emptied.

There was desolation, but no destruction; emptiness, but no ruins: the cities were there, the houses were there, the stalls and sheepfolds were there –but nothing alive remained … The waters are poisoned: Sumer’s rivers flow with water that is bitter, the once cultivated fields grow weeds, in the meadows the plants have withered.”

Yet the real source of the Evil Wind – the atomic blasts – remained elusive as far as the people of Sumer were concerned.  But they were dead right in attributing it to Enlil. They said it was "a great storm directed from Anu … It hath come from the heart of Enlil.  In a single spawning it was spawned … Like the bitter venom of the gods, in the west (Canaan) it was spawned."

NEXT WEEK:  ENKI’S HEROICS IN THE SHADOW OF DEATH

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A “Virgin” Conceives

2nd March 2021
IT’S THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS, STUPID

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.

NEXT WEEK: THE PANTERA INVOLVEMENT

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A crash course in publicity

2nd March 2021

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!

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Pact with the Devil

2nd March 2021
THE LORD’S GREAT GRANDMOTHER

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.

NEXT WEEK: HOW HEROD MINIMISED THE HOUSE OF DAVID

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