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Moses is Co-Pharaoh

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

   
He rules Egypt with his father for about a dozen years

When Prince Moses of Egypt, who was known as Amenhotep  IV in that country,  was about 18 years of age, there was an uprising in Ethiopia. Ethiopia was at the time a cherished ally of Egypt. Since Egypt was the mightiest country of the day, the Ethiopian monarch appealed to Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III, Moses’ father, to help crash the rebellion.

At the time, the Egyptian army Field Marshal was a certain Bilam.  Bilam, the son of a renowned Egyptian magician, and who was said to be exceptionally wise, also doubled as one of the senior advisors to the pharaoh. It was an army contingent headed by Bilam the pharaoh dispatched to Ethiopia. The King of Ethiopia had already fled his country to seek refuge in Egypt itself.

Bilam made mince of the rebellion without much ado and just as the Ethiopian King was preparing to return home triumphantly, Bilam declared himself King of Ethiopia. The exiled King was gutted. With the Bilam defection, the next seniormost army officer in the ranks of the Egyptian forces was General Moses. Moses was already being groomed to take over from Bilam when Bilam seized power in Ethiopia. The pharaoh had no choice but to set his eldest son on Bilam as already it was suspected that Bilam’s coup had the covert blessings of the pharaoh, that it was all a cleverly contrived scheme for Egypt’s seizure of Ethiopia.  

At first, Tiye, Moses’ mother, was reluctant to stake her beloved son in the war against Bilam.  She did relent at long last but only half-heartedly so, following a serious talking-to by her father Joseph, who was still alive at the time. Although Moses was a formidable warrior, in Bilam he had an even match. Bilam had “strengthened the walls of the capital, built huge fortresses, and dug ditches and pits between the city and the nearby river”. It took a whooping 9 years for Moses to dislodge him.

However, the returning King insisted that Moses stay by him as he felt secure in his presence and Moses gladly obliged him, particularly that his guard duty entailed economic benefits for his country Egypt. The King even gave him a daughter, called Tharbis, to marry.  A year or two later, the aged king passed on and no sooner had he died than the late king’s inner circle installed Moses as the new King of Ethiopia.

This gesture, however, was not a popular one as far as the Egyptian body politic was concerned. However much they loved him, which they indeed did, they were totally opposed to the idea of a foreigner ruling them when they had their own, indigenous qualifying heirs. Of the dissenting voices, the   most vociferous was the King’s widow herself, Atenit: it didn’t matter that King Moses was her son-in-law. She wanted her own son to rightfully take the throne.

When he got wind of such stirrings, a level-headed Moses decided not to contend for the throne as he was not a usurper. He sent word to his father that he was stepping down and his father gave him the nod. He was given a rousing send-off. “Moses resigned voluntarily the power which they had given him and departed from their land,” says the Talmud, the Jewish religious canon which is second in importance only to the Bible.  “And the people of Ethiopia made him many rich presents and dismissed him with great honours.”

MOSES’ MOTHER ECLIPSES CHIEF WIFE

About 8 years before the birth of Moses, Pharaoh Amenhotep III had moved his capital from Memphis in northern Egypt to Thebes (modern Luxor) in southern Egypt. So when Moses returned from Ethiopia, it was to Thebes he headed. Moses was the son of Tiye, the King’s junior wife. As such, he was not a bloodline heir. But as his firstborn son and army general, Moses was a significant figure in Egypt and enjoyed all the trappings of a heir. “Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants, and in the sight of the people,” the Bible underscores in EXODUS 11:3.

Straight after returning from Ethiopia, Moses took up residence in the Malkata Palace complex. Its other principal occupants were his mother Tiye; Sitamun, his father’s sister-wife and therefore his chief wife, at least on paper; Nefertiti, Sitamun’s older daughter; Tey (Jochebed in the Bible), Aaron’s mother who had nursed both Moses and Aaron as infants; Ephraim (Aye), Joseph’s second-born son who was also Tey’s husband; and Aaron (Smenkhkare) himself.  

In due course, Moses would become the High Priest of Heliopolis, following in the footsteps of his grandfather Joseph and his uncle Anen (Mannaseh), Joseph’s firstborn son. On becoming High Priest, Moses took the religious name of Osarseph, which was a tribute to Osiris, the Egyptian god of the afterlife, just as Joseph had adopted the name Ptahseph in homage to Enki, the Anunnaki’s overall god of Africa who was known as Ptah in Egypt.  

Meanwhile, Moses’ mother Tiye continued to overshadow the chief wife Sitamun. Thanks to the stature and influence of her great father Joseph, she was practically the King’s equal. Writes the renowned Egyptian historian Ahmed Osman in his book Christianity, An Ancient Egyptian Religion:

“By the time Moses arrived in Thebes, Queen Tiye, who is known to have been a woman with a powerful personality, had become an increasingly influential presence behind the throne as her husband's health declined with his advancing years. This increased influence is reflected in the fact that her name, unlike that of earlier queens, was placed regularly in a cartouche, a distinction previously limited to the ruling monarch, and was also included in royal titularies. Furthermore, she was represented as being of equivalent stature to the king.”

MOSES IS JOINT-RULER OF EGYPT

As time went by, the pharaoh’s health began to deteriorate. One of his battery of illnesses stemmed from severe dental problems (his embalmed remains have been found with very badly worn teeth and gums riddled with cavities.) Fearing that Nefertiti could step into her father’s shoes in the event of his death, Tiye prevailed upon Moses to marry her so that he would be the one to succeed to the throne.

Not very long thereafter, Prince Moses and Princess Nefertiti, whose ethereal beauty was the talk of the day, tied the knot.   In the fullness of time, the couple would have six daughters.  They were Meryaten, Maketaten, Ankhsenpa-aten, Nefermeferu-aten Tasheri, Neferneferure, and Setepenre.

Moses’ marriage to Nefertiti qualified him as bona fide heir to his father at a time when the Egyptian establishment were reluctant to countenance the notion of a female succeeding to the throne, which Nefertiti was by rights entitled to being the king’s eldest and bloodline daughter.  Tiye then proceeded to persuade her husband into a co-regency with Moses considering that the king was indisposed most of the time: he was on and off.  On becoming co-regent with his father, in the 27th year of his reign, Moses took the name Neferkheprure Waenre Amenhotep, that is, Amenhotep IV, as his throne name.

An undated jar seal found in Malkata also says, “of the estate of the true King’s son, Amenhotep,” in reference to Moses. The necessity for the word “true” is instructive. It suggests that Moses was not fully recognised by the Egyptian establishment as Amenhotep III’s heir. His accession was without hiccups but there was an undercurrent of resentment amongst the ranks of the Egyptian religious establishment.

This cabal never recognised Joseph as a true-blue Egyptian. By the same token, they never recognised Moses, Joseph’s grandson, as a genuine Egyptian. It seemed they were aware or suspicious of the Enlilite agenda to take possession of Egypt by sleight of hand.  

Moses knew that he was resented by the Amunite priesthood (the priests of Amen-Ra Marduk) but the last thing he was prepared to do was to go out of his way to curry favour with them. In point of fact, Moses, who had a wayward character, was fed up with polytheism – the worship of a multitude of   gods (Enkites and/or Enlilites) at the same time.

Although he was co-ruler with his father, Moses was the one who called the shots. His father was pharaoh in name only. Not long after his coronation, Moses made it clear to the Theban priesthood that he was neither a great fan of their beliefs nor in awe of their ecclesiastical overreach.

Perhaps as a quid pro quo to the priesthood’s simmering resentment of him, Moses had decided that he was going to focus Egyptians on only one “god”, thus rendering all other gods to secondary status. This was Nibiru, the planet of the Anunnaki, the Old Testament gods.  The name he chose to represent Nibiru was Aten.
    

MOSES AS PHAROAH CHAMPIONS CULT OF NIBIRU

Nibiru, as we have already underscored in previous articles, was known by several names. They included the Lord;  the King of the Gods;  the Sole God; the Creator; Olam; the Imperishable Star; the Star of Jacob; the Planet of Millions of Years; the  Unseen; the Eye of God; the Beast of Waters; the Sea Monster; and of course the  Aten. Maybe we should recap a bit on how these names came to be for the sake of those readers who are new to this column.

Nibiru was the Lord (the Celestial Lord in full) and the King of the Gods because it was the Solar System’s supreme planet. In the Sumerian cosmogony, planets were referred to as “gods”, or “celestial gods”.  In the so-called “Celestial Battle” of circa 4 billion years ago, it was a stray primordial Nibiru that smashed into Tiamat, the planet that lay between Mars and Jupiter, and split it into the Asteroid Belt and the planet we today call Earth.

The simultaneous result of this cataclysm was Nibiru’s propagation of the seed of life on Earth. That’s the reason Nibiru came to be known as the Creator. It created a New Earth from the Old Earth (Tiamat) and gave rise to plant and animal life on the   New Earth. The term Olam is what the Bible translates as “from everlasting to everlasting”.

It actually refers to Nibiru, as intimated in PSALMS 93:2 ("Thy [Yahweh] throne is established forever, from Olam art Thou”); LAMENTATIONS 5:19 (“Thou, Yahweh, are enthroned in Olam, enduring through the ages”);  ISAIAH 40:28 ("Yahweh is the God of Olam");  GENESIS 21:33 (Abraham “calling in the name of Yahweh, the God of Olam"); and PSALM 89:47 ("How long, Yahweh, wilt Thou hide Thyself—forever?"). JEREMIAH 6:16 and PSALMS 10:16 calls Yahweh (Anu in this context) the “King of Olam”. 
 

When Jehovah-Enlil instituted the rite of circumcision upon the Jews, he called it the “Covenant of Olam” (GENESIS 17:13), that is too say, a covenant sanctioned by Nibiru King Anu. The root of the term Olam is “disappearance”. It most aptly suits planet Nibiru in that it is seen by Earthlings only once in 3600 years. This periodic appearance and disappearance of Nibiru gave rise to the Hebrew metaphor “From Olam to Olam”, meaning “an inordinately long time” or simply “forever”, as in JEREMIAH 7:7 and 25:5, where Yahweh is quoted as saying, “I had given you (the Jews) this land (Canaan) from Olam to Olam".  The lengthy disappearance also gave rise to Nibiru’s other name, the “Unseen”.

Nibiru was known as the “Imperishable Star” as well as the “Planet of Millions of Years” because from the point of view Earthlings, it was the place of everlasting life.  And it became known as the “Star of Jacob” when Jacob and his family went there and returned to Earth after 300 years.

As to why Nibiru was known as the Eye of God, this had to do with Nibiru being regarded by mankind as “God’s” instrument of retribution (remember, Nibiru sometimes caused floods, fires, earthquakes, and global warming when it drew too close to Earth.)  Explains Robert Morning Sky: “As the planet (Nibiru) loomed in the distance, the people of other worlds would look skyward and know that an emissary of the King/Queen (of the Sirian-Orion Empire), if not the King/Queen him/herself, was about to make an appearance. Immediately, they would begin to cry out her name AY! AY! AY! In time, this cry would become universal in the empire … AYE! AYE! AYE! The mysterious ‘Eye of God’! The ‘Eye of God’!”

Morning Sky proceeds: “This is a story, that everyone on the other worlds told their children: somewhere in the sky, hidden among the stars or in the clouds, the 'AYE' of the Supreme Being was overhead … watching, always watching … waiting to rain down death and destruction on any people, who had done something wrong. Any evil or crime would be punished with a wrath, that could destroy the entire planet! While the story scared many a child, the meaning of the tale was very clear … the forces of the Queen/King were always overhead, always monitoring the activities of the people on the planet below (Earth). Though one could not always see the (celestial) ship (Nibiru) … it was there … somewhere!"

Explaining why Nibiru was known as the “Beast of Waters” or the “Sea Monster”, Morning Sky has this to say:  “Many stories (of Nibiru) described the most horrible 'Beast of the Heavenly Waters'. A monster with one horrible eye, that could see everything and could spit fire … Other stories told how the 'Beast of the Waters' traveled the 'rivers of heaven', and was capable of destroying ships and swallowing up their human pilots. 

Obviously, since this 'beast' traveled the 'rivers of heaven' (space, the Ocean of the Kaa), this was a reference to the Great AR (Nibiru). Since the 'Beast' was 'of the Waters' or the 'rivers of heaven', many stories about the horrible demon described it as a horrible 'Sea Monster' or a 'Demon Sea Creature'.”

WHY MOSES ACCENTUATED THE CULT OF THE ATEN

Moses chose Nibiru as his primary religious frame of reference for two reasons basically. First, the name honoured Marduk. If you recall, one of Marduk’s 50 titles as Earth’s Chief Executive since 1954 BC was Nibiru. Marduk had in fact introduced the “Star Religion” in Babylon, which focused on Nibiru, the Imperishable Star aka the Star of Jacob, since he now regarded himself as the personification of that planet.

When Marduk was referred to as Amen-Ra, meaning Ra the Unseen, it was not necessarily because of his periodical absences from Egypt: it was a synonym with Nibiru. When Nibiru was not seen by Earthlings, it was said to have gone to the “rear of the horizons, to the height of Heaven”.   During this period, it was the “Unseen”. In Egypt’s Star Religion, when Nibiru returned, it would do so as the Aten. In Sumer or Babylon, it would do so as the “Planet of the Crossing” (that is, a planet coursing down the crossroads between Jupiter and Mars), which was precisely what the term Nibiru meant.  

Second, Nibiru represented an idyllic place. Nibiru was the Aten, which in this context meant “Eden” or “Paradise”. Indeed, according to The Book of the Dead, the oldest complete book, when pharaohs passed on, they embarked on a journey   to a utopian planet that was referred to as the Aten. Zechariah Sitchin sets down this journey in the following words: “His (the deceased pharaoh) destination is the Aten, which is also called the Imperishable Star.

The prayers (of the funeral gathering) now focus on getting the King to the Aten and his safe arrival upon it: ‘Aten, let him ascend to thee; enfold him in thine embrace’, the texts intone in behalf of the King. ..  The prayers seek to assure a favorable welcome for the King, by presenting his arrival at the Celestial Abode (Nibiru) as the return of a son to his father:  the gods who guard the entrance to the Aten there will let him through … The King has ascended the Stairway to Heaven (etherical spaceship); he has reached the Imperishable Star; ‘his lifetime is eternity, its limit everlastingness’."

Third, since Nibiru wasn’t very far from making its reappearance, Moses decided to shift the issue from celestial time (reckoning in terms of zodiacal constellation periods of 2160 years) to divine time (Nibiru’s orbital time of 3600-year cycles). He thus changed the question  from, “When will the Age of Aries come to an end” to “When will the Unseen celestial god (Nibiru) reappear and become visible  in the skies?”

Be that as it may,  the Cult of the Aten in Egypt was not introduced by Moses. We know, from Egyptian records, that  it gained prominence during the reign of his grandfather Tuthmosis IV at Zaru, a city that overlooked Goshen, the Hebrew bastion in Egypt. The very first shrine to Aten was erected at Zaru. Indeed, the title of  the mayor of Zaru at the  time was "Overseer of the Foremost Water in the Lake Area of the Temple of Aten”. And the royal barge in which Moses’ father Amenhotep III and his mother Tiye sailed the pleasure lake at Zaru was called the Gleams Aten. Thus all Moses did was raise the Cult of the Aten by yet another bar.   

All the same, the Cult of the Aten was simply one of the also-rans: it was not pre-eminent as it vied  with precious other cults for prominence. Also, until the time of Moses, the Cult of the Aten in Egypt was in practice focused solely on Marduk. It was Moses who took it to another level, a focus predominantly on Nibiru, and to yet another radical, drastic level. What was this?

NEXT WEEK:   MOSES ALIENATES EGYPTIAN PRIESTHOOD

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Honesty – a fundamental human characteristic

12th October 2021

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

Influence of materialism

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

Desire for worldly gain

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

Thoughtless individual behaviour

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

Integrity and reliability

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

Honesty and truthfulness go hand in hand

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

Honesty in a comprehensive manner

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

Prophetic teachings

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

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

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

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A Sham of a Trial

12th October 2021

Verdict a foregone conclusion as Pilate is bought

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

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

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

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

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

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

PETER DOES A JUDAS

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDAS TREACHERY BACKFIRES

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

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

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

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

MAKE-BELIEVE REFERAL TO ANTIPAS

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

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

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

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

NEXT WEEK: JESUS SACRIFICES FOR HIS BROTHER

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Distress Flare

12th October 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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