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The Truth About Jacob and Esau

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

They were not twins but siblings with different mothers

Not long after the birth of Ishmael and long before Isaac was born, Jehovah-Enlil, now strictly the principal god of the Jews,   issued a decree to Abraham to the effect that he should institute the rite of circumcision. The following is what Enlil said as per GENESIS 17:10-14:
“This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: every male among you shall be circumcised.  You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.  

Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old, including the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring. Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant.  Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

Circumcision, so said Enlil, was to be the mark of a covenant between he and the Jewish people. It would be the fundamental sign that the Jews were Enlil’s chosen people. Any Jew who was not circumcised was automatically excluded from the fold of “God’s People”. The fact that Enlil chose to covenant in this manner meant circumcision was a novelty: it was the very first time mankind would be subjected to this form of genital mutilation and that made it special.

In due course, other nations, such as the Egyptians, would practice circumcision too but in their case it would be optional rather than mandatory and for hygienic purposes only, conducted at puberty and not during infancy as is typically the practice among some Bantu cultures today. Why did Enlil choose circumcision as the basis of his apotheotic compact with the Jews?  And why did he demand that it be administered at the time when one was literally fresh from their mother’s womb?

RAISON DE TRE FOR THE INSTITUTION OF CIRCUMCISION

First, we know by now that the Anunnaki, the Old Testament gods, who were Aliens to this planet, differed from us in several respects. One of these was that unlike us, they were born with a penis without a foreskin – already circumcised by nature! The Anunnaki “created” us by blending their own genes with that of Homo Erectus, our hominid (ape-like) ancestor everybody who has been to high school is familiar with.  It is from Homo Erectus we inherited a sheath that “clothes” the whole penis when it is in a flaccid state.

It is probable that had Homo Erectus been allowed to run his evolutionary course in full, his foreskin would have permanently retracted to permanently expose the glans penis (penis tip) since a foreskin was a natural safeguard against injury to the glans penis as Homo Erectus moved through dense, tall grass, which could be prickly,  in an erect and therefore very susceptible posture   

 A case can be made, therefore, that Enlil’s imposition of circumcision on his chosen people was meant to make them look like their god down under! He desired that as his elite sheep, the Jews should have something much more intimate in common with him. Second, CIRCUMCISION WAS LIKELY A PURELY SYMBOLIC GESTURE THAT IDENTIFIED JEWS WITH PLANET EARTH ITSELF. In other words, circumcision was the Mark of Earth that was etched on the body of “God’s Own People”. It was like Enlil was saying to the Jews that, “Blessed are you, for you shall inherit the Earth”. How do we so deduce?

Once again, you need not be reminded that Earth was originally a part of the primordial planet known as Tiamat, which lay between Jupiter and Mars. In the famous “Celestial Battle”of 4 billion years ago, Nibiru, then a new immigrant to the Solar System, smashed into Tiamat and split it into a merry-go-round train of drifting debris we today call the Asteroid Belt and one intact piece which was slung-shot into a new orbit and became our beloved Earth. In figurative terms, we may say Tiamat was circumcised, with the Asteroid Belt being the foreskin that was cleaved off and Earth being the residual appendage.  

A clue to what circumcision symbolised can be gleaned from the original term that is translated “circumcise” in Genesis. This is MUL. When Jews were circumcised, they were “MUL-ED”. It is telling that Earth’s full name in the Sumerian language was “MUL-KI”, meaning “a cleaved off landmass”, or figuratively, a “circumcised celestial body”.  It is a pity that the prefix MUL is frequently ignored in ancient records  so that Earth is, in compound words basically (such as KISIRI, meaning “Mineral Resource Centre”),  simply referred to as KI, or GE in modern spelling, which is GAEA (Eke-Ea) or GAIA in full.

Earth was Enlil’s celestial counterpart, even after Marduk became the new Lord of Earth. Thus by having the Jews circumcised, or “MUL-KED”, Enlil was symbolically vesting the planet in them so to speak. Remember, these are the same people he had dubbed a “Royal Priesthood”. To him, they were a nation of priests fully at his service.
 
THE MARVEL OF THE EIGHTH DAY FACTOR!

In our day, circumcision for a non-Jew is done purely for hygiene purposes. Did you know that every male member of the British royal family undergoes circumcision performed by a Jewish mohel (a Jew who administers the rite of circumcision)? It is common knowledge that Prince Charles was circumcised by Rabbi Jacob Snowman, then the official mohel of London’s Jewish community. One authority on the subject puts the desirability of circumcision in perspective thus:

“In every part of the body, the skin is flush with the layers below it, thus shielding against the intrusion of various types of bacteria. Only with regards to the foreskin, however, does the opposite apply – it actually engenders a significant increase in disease-causing bacteria, spores, and fungus. The skin of the foreskin is not securely flush with the corona, and the small gap near the head of the male member allows various infectious agents to enter the empty space. This warm, dark and moist area is highly susceptible to the cultivation of germs and infectious disease. Removal of the foreskin allows the area to be maintained in a hygienic and safe manner.”

But it is the insistence on the part of Enlil that the circumcision be performed on the 8th day of the baby’s birth we find intriguing. This edict by the God of the Jews turns out to be physiologically spot-on. The Anunnaki were no dunderheads folks: they were very well-grounded medically. A Professor of Pediatrics at the Faculty of Medicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem had this to say in an article titled PROBLEMS WITH BLOOD CLOTTING AND BLEEDING IN NEWBORNS:

“In the first days after birth, the liver is not yet developed enough to survive any surgical operations, which could cause massive bleeding and lead to the death of the newborn, whose body simply does not have the ability to stop the blood flow on its own. Physiologically, until the eighth day, the liver slowly develops, until on the eighth day itself, when it is mature enough to fulfill its role to create the clots necessary to stop bleeding.”

Blood clotting is dependent on three substances, namely platelets, prothrombin, and Vitamin K.  The first two are produced by the liver, whereas Vitamin K is produced in the intestinal tract. On the 8th day, all three are at their peak. It is the only time in the life of a human being that the three are 110 percent of their normal levels. Post- the 8th day, they plummet to 100 percent or below and will never go beyond the 100 percent ceiling at any other stage of one’s life.

What that means is that the 8th DAY IS THE PERFECT DAY TO PERFORM A CIRCUMCISION AS BLOOD CLOTTING SUBSTANCES, WHICH FACILITATE HEALING, ARE AT THEIR MAXIMUM EVER. Prior to the 8th day, a small cut to any part of the baby’s body could entail serious damage to the internal organs, especially the brain, and therefore may be life-threatening. The 8th day is the earliest and safest day medically for circumcision to take place.  

BASEBORN ISAAC SUCCEEDS ABE AS HYKSO PHARAOH

If Ishmael, Abraham’s firstborn son was born in 2046 BC, as seems plausible, it meant Abraham, who was born in 2123 BC, was 77 years old at the time. It was unusual for dynastic men to wait for so long before they sire a heir. They were actually expected to have a heir by age 30 or by 40 if they were late. Even in our day, Prince Charles had William at age 34 and William himself had Prince George at age 31.  

But human beings are not robots: once in a while, they do break with tradition for one reason or the other. For example, Zechariah had John the Baptist when he was “advancing in age”, which in those days could mean he was 40 years and above. Joseph, who was born in 44 BC, had Jesus at age 51 years of age in 7 BC. Both had valid reasons for procreating unusually belatedly. Zechariah was too busy with his ecclesiastical duties as the Zadokite priest at the Qumran temple.

Joseph had at age 30 been commissioned by Qumran’s Essene community to market the Davidic bloodline to the Diaspora Jews in Rome and Alexandria. This was in order to assure them that the bloodline was alive and kicking and so they should not tire in lending it material support for the eventual takeover of Palestine from the usurpist Romans.  It was not until 8 BC that the Essene community demanded that both Joseph and Zechariah produce heirs so as to perpetuate the Davidic (royal) and Zadokite (priestly)  lines in light of their age.

In the case of Abraham, he was not in a hurry to produce a heir. Firstly, he did adopt Lot following the death of Haran, his older brother and Lot’s father, circa 2099 BC. So for as long as Lot was alive, Abraham was not without heirs. Second, it is probable that Abraham did have daughters before he had Ishmael. He was therefore quite busy under the sheets. Then in 2046 BC, he had Ishmael by his new Egyptian wife Hagar, and in 2045 Isaac arrived too. But Isaac as we have explained was not his biological son: he was the son of the black Pharaoh Mentuhotep I of southern Egypt, who had hitched Sarah when Abraham strategically introduced her as his sister and not his wife. 

Isaac therefore was what we would today call a coloured since Sarah, a Hykso-Hebrew, was white skinned. Indeed, the Talmud, which the Jews regard as only second in religious  authority after the Old Testament, states it categorically that the nobility poured scorn on Abraham when at a special banquet he introduced Isaac as his son.  Certainly, the fact that Isaac was not Abraham’s son was public knowledge.

There’s yet another strong clue that Isaac was of a stigmatic birth. Genesis relates that Sarah had Hagar and her son Ishmael banished from the royal palace when she saw Ishmael “mocking Isaac”. Of course the mocking must have been something really outrageous for Sarah to resort to such a measure. Ishmael must have been told by her mother that Isaac was not her real brother as he was somebody else’s son and not Abraham’s. With typical childish mischief, Ishmael took to deriding Isaac over the matter and when Sarah overhead him, she was incandescent with rage. Hell must have broken loose at the palace in northern Egypt.    

Sarah was irate because the bigamous marriage with Mentuhotep that gave rise to Isaac was not of her own desire: it was all part of a noble plan for Abraham to seize the throne of Egypt as a whole and of which Sarah was like any obedient spouse heedful.  So to suggest that Isaac was the product of infidelity on her part was grossly unfair. Abraham indeed did synpathise and side with his wife over the Ishmael profanity considering that Hagar and her son never returned to the palace after that. They did not  become the destitutes Genesis portrays them as though: Hagar was a scion of the Egyptian nobility and there was simply no way she could end up living a rootless, vagrant  life.  

It  was Isaac who succeeded Abraham as Pharaoh Mehibire II though exactly when that happened we cannot be sure. Abraham died in 1948 BC, aged 175 years, but by that time, he had long abdicated as Pharaoh. Isaac was 97  in 1948 BC. Note that the patriarchs lived much longer than commoners largely because they partook of Ormus and that they had a significant proportion of Anunnaki blood in them.  They therefore aged very slowly.        

JACOB IS CROWNED AS HYKSO PHARAOH

Long before Isaac became Pharaoh, he had married an Egyptian wife (most likely a cousin on the mother’s side), just as his father Abraham had married Hagar. But a Hykso Pharaoh was under obligation to wed a fellow Hebrew spouse by whom to raise heirs. This was typically a half-sister. In the case of Isaac, it should have been a daughter of Hagar or Keturah, the latter of whom was Abraham’s third wife. Since Hagar was ejected from the palace, she was deprived of the chance of having another child with Abraham. Even if she had, her daughter would not have qualified as she would have been an Egyptian on her mother’s side. Remember, heirs arose through the mother, not the father. As for Keturah, she only had sons with Abraham, six in all.

With his son’s options being so limited, Abraham arranged for Isaac to marry Rebecca. Rebecca was a pure Hebrew: in her veins flowed the blood of  Abraham’s older brother Haran (her great-uncle); Abraham’s younger brother Nahor (her grandfather);  Haran’s daughter Milcah (her grandmother); and Nahor and Milcah’s son Betheul (her father). Rebecca lived at Harran, then the domicile town of the Abrahamic clan: indeed, the annals of the Assyrian kings, describing their conquests and domains in the Harran area, identify by name a city named after  Nahor and another one named after Laban, a brother of Rebecca.

Being two generations removed from Isaac, Rebecca was the equivalent of a granddaughter to Isaac age-wise and so was very, very young on her marriage. Now, if we are to take the Genesis line on face value, Isaac had twins with  Rebecca, namely Esau and Jacob. That, sadly, is a manufactured story. ESAU AND JACOB WERE NOT TWINS, NOR WHERE THEY BORN TO THE SAME MOTHER. Esau was the firstborn and he was born to Isaac’s first wife, an Egyptian woman. It was Jacob who was born to Rebecca.  Circumstantial evidence to the effect that Esau was an Egyptian abounds.

First, we know that Esau’s descendants were Edomites, who are Arabs. And who did Esau choose for his first wife? It was Basemath, the daughter of Ishmael, the father of the Arab race. It seems Esau and Ishmael contrived to engender their own race. Second, the way Esau is characterised at birth is a resounding tell-tale. He had red hair and a generally hairy body. THESE CHARACTERISTICS HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH HIS APPEARANCE: IT ALL WAS  CODED LANGUAGE THAT HE WAS A PRETENDER TO THE PHARAONIC THRONE OF NORTHERN EGYPT.

The pharaonic seat of northern Egypt was known as  the Red Crown, Djesher-t in Egyptian, a word that connoted red. If Esau had been Isaac and Rebecca’s son, he no doubt would have inherited the Hykso throne after Isaac since he was older than Jacob. Being none of the above, he was obliged to give way to Jacob, who duly qualified in that he was Hebrew having been mothered by the bloodline brood mare in Rebecca.

It is clear, therefore, that the Genesis story of a famished Esau selling his birthright to Jacob in exchange for a bowl of tasty stew  is a pathetic and unsophisticated attempt at explaining why Jacob was the one entitled to the Hykso throne. Jacob did not wrest  the inheritance from, or cajole it off Esau: he congenitally merited it.  The Talmud affirms this state of affairs, when it says all Esau inherited from Isaac’s estate were domesticated animals: the kingdom (northern Egypt and potentially all  the lands up to the river Euphrates)  he “gave” to Jacob.  

Jacob was crowned as Pharaoh Yakuber of northern Egypt in 1865 BC, when Isaac died at age 180 years, although he had  been co-regent with his aged father for some time. His coronation was not  without polemics though as Esau’s Egyptian constituency, which was quite formidable, thought Esau had been robbed of the throne. They never recognized Jacob as their pharaoh. In fact, Esau launched a war of words against Jacob in the months leading up to the coronation in a desperate but vain attempt at thwarting his accession.

0Y00akuber was what Jacob was known  to the Egyptians. To the Hyksos, he was called I-Sira-El, or simply Israel, meaning “El’s Shield”or “God’s Rampart”.  This was a name he was given by the Enlilite god Nannar-Sin, who was known as El in Canaan, his main fiefdom after Ur and Haran. Why is it that of all the four Hykso pharaohs to date (Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob) only Jacob was designated as  God’s Rampart?0

NEXT WEEK:   END OF HYKSO ERA

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Parricide at Herod’s Court

25th January 2021
SAILI

A wife, uncle, and two in-laws fall at the hands of Judah’s despot

The pre-eminent Jewish chronicler, Flavius Josephus, said of Herod the Great that he was “blessed with every gift of looks, body, and mind” but he was a “slave to his passions”. This was in the context of a gloating bloodlust.

His sword knew no sacred cows: neither his own kids, wives, in-laws, next of kin, nor bosom friends were immune from it. He is on record as pestering Caesar Augustus with a barrage of letters seeking permission to execute his own flesh and blood, prompting the Roman emperor to at one time quip that, “It is better to be Herod’s pig than his son”, which was apt: as a “Jew”, Herod did not eat pork and therefore in the event that he kept any pigs, they would never have to be killed.

You are by now well-apprised of the death of Hyrcanus II by the same Herod, General Atiku, in 30 BC. Hyrcanus, a Hasmonean ruler of Judah twice over, was actually the grandfather of Mariamne I, Herod’s most beloved wife and his second of up to 10 wives. It was Mariamne’s own mother Salome, who dreading Herod’s pathological savagery, pitched Mariamne to Herod in the hope that that would insure her family from Herod’s murderous caprices.

Now, Mariamne, General, was as much a stunning beauty as her younger brother Aristobulus III was breathtakingly good-looking. Having tied the knot with Herod in 37 BC, Mariamne had prevailed over her husband to install Aristobulus as High Priest. The post had fallen vacant on the death of Antigonus in 37 BC and Herod had appointed one Ananel, who had no ties whatsoever to the Hasmoneans, the first such in more than a century, in his place. Unable to resist the spirited entreaties of his beloved wife, who had also lobbied Queen Cleopatra of Egypt and her beau Mark Anthony, Herod gave in and replaced Ananel with Aristobulus, who was only 16 years old, in 36 BC.

Because of his enormous charisma and overall affability, Aristobulus was a hit with the masses despite his tender age and Herod was envious of the young man’s rock star-like popularity. To make doubly sure the young man did not harbour a seditious ace up his sleeve, the morbidly paranoid Herod had his spooks watch on both Aristobulus and his mother round the clock. Sensing imminent danger, Aristobulus contacted Cleopatra, asking for a pre-emptive safe passage to Egypt and there enjoy absolute freedom. When Herod got wind of this, he decided to get rid of Aristobulus as he did not wish him to be a perennial thorn in his flesh from the utter safety of self-imposed exile.

The opportunity came at a banquet in Jericho which was organised by Aristobulus’ mother. There, Herod had one of his henchmen cause Aristobulus to drown during a dusk time horseplay in a swimming pool. Of course Herod would forever maintain the drowning was accidental when everybody knew it was in truth a tactical elimination. Poor Aristobulus was only 17 years old having been born in 56 BC. He was the last Hasmonean High Priest and was replaced by the previously deposed Ananel, who was to remain in that position till 29 BC.

HEROD ACQUITTED OVER THE ARISTOBULUS DEATH

It need not be over-emphasised, General, that Mariamne and her mother Alexandra did not take Herod’s line over the all too untimely demise of Aristobulus lying down. If he had reckoned that with the death of Aristobulus he had gotten rid of potentially the most potent threat to his omnipotence, he was totally mistaken. Herod had actually simply fanned the flames of intrigue against him, for mother and daughter confronted him and accused him of murdering their boy in cold blood.

Nor did the two Iron Ladies end matters there: Alexandra wrote a lachrymal letter to Cleopatra to get her to bring her influence to bear on Mark Anthony so that Herod paid dearly and likewise for his nefarious act. Anthony, who at the time was the Roman colossus in charge of the whole of the Middle East, was persuaded and during a visit to Laodicea (in modern-day Turkey, though some accounts say it was Rhodes in Cyprus), he commanded Herod to report to him forthwith and exculpate himself over the affair.

Although Herod put a brave face on the matter, General, he was rather unsure of his eventual fate after the trial. He also suspected rightly or wrongly that Anthony had a thing for the voluptuously beautiful Mariamne and the last thing Herod wanted was for any other man to bed his beloved Mariamne even in death. So before he set off for Laodicea, Herod instructed his uncle Joseph, who was married to his sister Salome, to make sure that in the event that Anthony sentenced him to death, he should immediately put her to the sword. He also detailed a certain Sohemus, a most trusted aide, to stand sentry over the entire womenfolk at the palace.

Herod, however, had the nine lives of a cat, General. Using his immense rhetorical skills and the time-honoured palm greasing, he won himself an acquittal. Meanwhile, the Judean rumourville was abuzz with chatter that Herod had been summarily executed by Anthony, as a result of which people became spendthrifts of their tongues.

Both Joseph and Sohemus disclosed to Mariamne the instructions Herod had left them with in relation to her fate once he was no more. Mariamne was both livid and distraught that her husband regarded her as so easily expendable when outwardly he cherished her beyond words. To her mind, his arrangements with Joseph had nothing to do with love but sprang from sheer monstrosity. She probably thanked God that he was dead, but the fact of the matter was that he was not and when he at long last turned up, she did not want to have anything to do with him, including the conjugation which he so eagerly pined for after such an extended absence.

HEROD KILLS HIS WIFE AND HIS UNCLE

Now, if Herod had a kind of Svengali, General, it was his youngest sister Salome. Salome (65 BC-10 AD) was the most powerful woman at Herod’s court. A sly, scheming, and manipulating vixen, she arguably more than any other living being had the most sway in a negative sense on her brother, who took practically whatever she said as gospel truth.

Let us nevertheless, General, take stock of the fact that the bulk of what we learn about Salome comes from Flavius Josephus, who himself relied on the writings of Herod’s court historian Nicolaus of Damascus. For one reason or the other, Nicolaus did not see eye to eye with Salome and it is therefore possible that much of what Nicolaus relates of her is embellished to smear her before the court of history.
Upon his return, Herod was told of the rumours of his death and so was surprised to find Mariamne alive when Joseph and Sohemus should in the circumstances have had her killed if indeed they were loyal to him. In fact, Joseph had even put Mariamne and Alexandra into the safe custody of Roman legions stationed in Judea just in case Jewish malcontents who abhorred Herod turned their wrath on them.

But there was more. Salome reported to Herod that Mariamne, who she hated like the plague, had had sexual relations with both Joseph and Sohemus, this being Mariamne’s reward to them for dishing out to her the dirt on Herod, and that she had on several occasions before attempted to poison him. Now, no one would hump Herod’s most beloved wife and get away scotfree. It is therefore small wonder that Herod straightaway ordered the execution of Joseph and Sohemus. Joseph was 61 years old at the time of his death in 34 BC, having been born in 95 BC. In the case of Mariamne herself though, he had her subjected to a formal court trial not on charges of adultery but of attempted regicide.

Herod had hoped that the court would acquit her, whereupon he would make bygones be bygones so great was his love for the woman, but sadly for him, General, she was found guilty and sentenced to death. Even then, Herod tactfully dilly-dallied on signing the writ of execution and simply had his wife detained at a fortress for some time until Salome prevailed over him to execute her at long last. Writes Josephus: “Thus, with the death of the noble and lovely Mariamne ended the glorious history of the Hasmonean High Priest Mattathias and his descendants.”

For a long time to come though, General, Herod was haunted by the death of his wife to the point of even sometimes coming across as if he had lost his mind. “When Herod realised what this meant (the death sentence passed on Mariamne), he tried in vain to have the verdict changed, but Salome did not rest until the death penalty was carried out,” Josephus informs us. “Herod was heartbroken; nothing could comfort him for the loss of his lovely wife.

For seven years he refused to have her body buried, and held it, embalmed, in his palace. Afterwards, he became so melancholy and despondent, nothing interested him or could arouse any enthusiasm in him for living … He was so far conquered by his passion, that he would order his servants to call for Mariamne, as if she were still alive, and could still hear them … He tried hard to forget his trouble by going hunting and banqueting, but nothing helped. Herod built new cities and erected temples and palaces. He also named a tower in honour of Mariamne.”

HEROD SLAYS SISTER’S EX-HUBBY

Mariamne’s death was not the only one which Herod perpetrated through the instrumentality of Salome. There were actually several and included those of her own husband Costobarus. Salome was married four times, to her uncle Joseph (45 BC); Costobarus (34 BC); Sylleus (circa 27 BC); and Alexas (20 BC).

Like the Herod clan, Costobarus was of Idumean stock. It was Costobarus Herod had made governor of Idumea and Gaza and upon Joseph’s death had him tie the knot with Salome, with the couple eventually siring two children, Berenice and Antipater III. Costobarus, though, soon began to harbour monarchical ambitions of his own and wrote to Cleopatra beseeching her to persuade Mark Anthony to make Idumea independent of Herod and install him (Costobarus) as Rome’s client King of the territory.

Of course upon learning of this, Herod was not amused. It was Salome who pleaded with him not to put her husband to the sword. Next time, however, a dumped Costobarus was not so lucky. Seven years after their marriage, Salome and Costobarus parted ways and a possibly hurt Salome decided to exact vengeance. She informed her brother that he had been harbouring two fugitives from Herodian justice for a full 12 years at his own farm.

The two were simply known as the Sons of Baba. Baba ben Babuta, their father and clan patriarch, was related to the Hasmonean ruler Antigonus, who Herod had replaced and killed in 37 BC with the help of Roman legions. Baba and his sons had resisted Herod at the time, with his sons henceforth persisted in insurrectionist activity against Herod. Baba himself had been captured and blinded by Herod but spared anyway as he no longer posed any threat. Writes Josephus: “Now the Sons of Babas were of great dignity, and had power among the multitude, and were faithful to Antigonus, and were always raising calumnies against Herod, and encouraged the people to preserve the government to that royal family (the Hasmoneans) which held it by inheritance.”

Costobarus had provided the Sons of Baba an indefinite lair “supposing that their preservation might be of great advantage to him in the changes of government afterward”. Following the Salome tip, Herod had Costobarus and the Sons of Baba summarily executed “so that none was left alive of the family of Hyrcanus (the Hasmonean), and the kingdom was wholly in Herod’s power, there being no one of high rank to stand in the way of his unlawful acts” per Josephus.

NEXT WEEK: HEROD’S WRATH ON HIS OWN SONS

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WHAT’S UP WITH WHATSAPP?

25th January 2021

In early January, WhatsApp, part of Facebook Inc., began alerting its 2 billion users to an update of its privacy policy which, should they want to keep using the popular messaging app, they have to accept. Much of the policy, which is about commercialising WhatsApp, states ‘WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information with, the other Facebook Companies.

We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate and market services’. WhatsApp is now reserving the right to share data it collects about you with the broader Facebook network, which includes Instagram, regardless of whether you have accounts or profiles there, claiming it needs it to help operate and improve its offerings. More broadly, almost all of the $21.5 billion in revenues which Facebook generated in the third quarter of 2020 came from advertising and there is currently none in WhatsApp.

The company now wants to be able to serve more targeted ads to people on Facebook and Instagram by also garnering their usage habits on WhatsApp and enabling businesses take payments via WhatsApp for items that were selected on other Facebook sites. For long-time users, the option to share data with Facebook was made available in 2016, but it was just that: optional and temporary. It was now to become mandatory for everybody from Feb. 8 but owing to a massive backlash, the company has delayed that to May 15 to try and persuade users to sign up to the new Ts and Cs.

WhatsApp on Monday attempted to address the uproar over privacy concerns with a post on its website, explaining that the update was designed to aid businesses on its platform, as it reiterated in Friday’s post.

“We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way. Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data.”

These new terms have caused an outcry among technology experts, privacy advocates, billionaire entrepreneurs and government organisations and triggered a wave of defections to rival services. Elon Musk has urged his followers to switch to Signal and the governments of Turkey and India have threatened to block the app if it insists on proceeding.

‘WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy verges on user surveillance and threatens India’s security’, a petition filed in an Indian court said on Thursday, presenting another legal challenge for the Facebook Inc. -owned messenger. “It virtually gives a 360-degree profile into a person’s online activity,” lawyer Chaitanya Rohilla told the Delhi High Court. Many Indian users have began installing rival apps like Signal and Telegram, pushing WhatsApp to begin a costly advertising campaign to calm its 400 million customer-base, the largest of any country. The change has also met with a challenge in Turkey with the country’s Competition Board this week launching an investigation into the messaging service and its parent company.

Elsewhere too, in spite of Whatsapp protestations, millions of its users are already migrating to alternative platforms. Signal saw 7.5 million downloads last week,  a 4,200% spike since the previous week and large swaths of users also jumped to Telegram, as the platform gained 9 million new users last week, up 91% from the previous week. Both apps are now topping Google and Apple’s app stores,

Facebook could possibly learn a lesson from history here. Every past empire – Aztec, Mayan, Greco-Roman, Sumerian, Mongol, Chinese, Ottoman and more recently British, all saw their star rise, their glory swell, their boundaries grow and yet each eventually fell, often the instigators of their own downfall.

They expanded too far too fast and could not control what they had initially conquered. And now it looks like the same fate might await this large tech giant. Parent company Facebook has also come under fire recently for overt and covert censorship policies with questions raised as to partisanship and curtailment of freedom of speech. Thus one would have to question the wisdom of the timing of this new Whatsapp privacy policy, if nothing else.

To understand its influence and control one only has to check out the un-smart sector of the mobile phone industry which for some time has offered handsets a small step up from the basic starter sets with Facebook and Whatsapp as default screen app settings. These limited internet access options have allowed millions of users to connect with affordable data bundle packages.

And for Google smartphone subscribers, the search engine automatically connects its base to Whatsapp and Facebook – one big, happy family. Facebook is also seamlessly linked to Paypal offering contact-less charges for its boosted post advertising, a somewhat sinister partnership which accesses their Paypal log-in and authorisation details without the need to inform the payee – the transaction is simply deducted automatically from the registered credit card. This is Big Brother with a blue logo.

The bottom line here is that if you have any privacy issues at all – and you probably should – you might as well make the switch now before you are forced to sign away your rights in May. And the plus part is that both Signal and Telegram have the technological edge over Whatsapp anyway, the latter even being accessible on multiple platforms simultaneously, not just on your phone.
Empires take time to crumble and Facebook is not in imminent danger but information is a weapon that can be used in any war, even a virtual conflict, so don’t give this giant any more ammunition than it already has.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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