Ephraim’s successor devotes to expunging Moses and fellow Amarna Kings from human memory
When Pharaoh Tutankhamen (King Tut, the son of Moses/Akhenaten) died circa 1352 BC, at age 21, he had no qualifying heirs at all, having gone to the grave without issue. He had, however, long anointed a successor. The terms of the succession were that in the event that Tut died childless, the army general Horemheb would assume the reins.
Horemheb had no connection geneticwise to the royal family but he was an outstanding diplomat and a proficient general. A career dog of war, he first served as Secretary of State under King Tut before he was given the powerful portfolio of army commander-in-chief and adviser to the pharaoh. Aware that Horemheb was the main man behind his father’s ouster, King Tut thought, and wisely at that, that Horemheb had to be won over utterly and completely. Thus from practically the word go, King Tut designated Horemheb as the Hereditary Prince of Upper and Lower Egypt and Deputy of the King in the Entire Land. The message was unequivocal: the young King intended Horemheb to succeed him all other things being equal.
But it so happened that at the time of King Tut’s death, Horemheb was away in Asia on a military campaign and his highly influential uncle Ephraim (Aye to the Egyptians), who loathed the notion of a non-Josephite succeeding to the throne, persuaded King Tut’s half-sister widow, Ankhesenamen, also a child of Moses, to take the throne. But fearful of the perils of pharaonic office under a political climate in which the army now reigned supreme, Amkhesenamen decided that she would rather a new husband of hers became pharaoh rather than she herself, which was perfectly in line with constitutional provisions.
The ranks of Horemheb’s lieutenants, who had remained behind, insisted that Horemheb had to be the next pharaoh come rain or shine, whether in his own right or as Ankhesenamen’s new husband. The proposal was repugnant both to Ephraim and Ankhesenamen and to Amkhesenamen for one, it was anathema. First and foremost, it was Horemheb, along with two other members of the army top brass, Pa-Ramses and Seti, who had forced the abdication of her father Moses and were possibly the behind-the-scenes mastermind of the slaying of her husband. Even more pertinent was the fact that Horemheb had no pedigree: as a commoner, he didn’t have a drop of royal blood coursing in his veins.
So Amkhesenamen decided to look elsewhere for a suitor. This was in foreign territory, in Hatti, the Hittite Kingdom across the Mediterranean Sea. But to Amkhesenamen, the Hittite empire was not strictly foreign territory. At the time, the Hittite Kingdom was the most formidable challenge to Egypt’s geopolitical clout. It had taken advantage of Moses’ tumultuous reign and pried Syria from the clutches of Egypt. Presently, the Hittite Kingdom encompassed modern-day Turkey and Lebanon.
At the time, the largest concentration of the Hykso-Hebrews was found in Harran in Turkey. Harran not only was founded by Terah, Abraham’s father, but the Hittite King’s senior wife was a Hykso-Hebrew and a descendant of Abraham. In a way, therefore, Amkhesenamen was related to Hittite royalty.
JOSEPH’S SON EPHRAIM IS NEW PHARAOH
Amkhesenamen accordingly wrote a letter to King Suppiluliumas of the Hittite Kingdom beseeching him to find her a husband from amongst the Hittite royalty. The letter said, “My husband is dead and I do not have a son. It is said that you have many sons. If you sent one, he could be my husband.” Amkhesenamen underscored in the letter that she wanted a Hittite prince because at home, the powerful Egyptian establishment wanted her to marry “a servant”, that was the abysmally low esteem in which she held Horemheb.
Receiving the letter, Suppiluliumas at first was wary: he thought it was simply a ruse meant to get him to walk into a snare of some sort. So he sent his chamberlain to Egypt with a view to ascertaining the veracity of the message in the letter. The chamberlain was satisfied with his findings and when he returned to Hatti, he carried a second letter from Amkhesenamen, which was at once a plea and a remonstration. “Why do you say, ‘do not deceive me’?” she wondered aloud in the letter. “If I had a son, would I write to a foreign country in such a humiliating way for me and my country? Give me one of your sons and he will be my husband and the king of Egypt.”
Content with the report of his chamberlain, and excited at the prospect of his own son being Egypt’s sovereign, the Hittite King obliged King Tut’s widow and chose one of his princes, Zannanza, as her new spouse. Horemheb and company were wroth and moved quickly to nip the whole affair right in the bud. Zannanza was waylaid whilst journeying to Egypt and was killed. Amkhesenamen was gutted. On his part, the Hittite King was so incandescent with rage that he invaded Canaan, which was under Egyptian hegemony, and appended much of the territory to Hatti.
Be that as it may, Amkhesenamen was adamant that she could marry Horemheb only over her dead body. Acknowledging that the iron-willed lady simply would not budge, Ephraim then suggested that she and he marry to ensure the throne remained firmly in the hands of the Josephite clan. Although Ephraim was significantly older than her, Amkhesenamen meekly gave ground. Thus it was that Ephraim took the Egyptian throne as Pharaoh Aye in 1352 BC, with Amkhesenamen supplanting her great-aunt Tey (Aye’s first wife) as the Chief Wife.
When Horemheb returned from Asia (he scarcely knew what had transpired as in those days of no mass media and telecommunications, news travelled glacially slowly), he found Ephraim already ensconced as Pharaoh. In order to at once placate him and co-opt him into the royal dynasty, Horemheb was offered a princess of his choice for espousal. He chose Benretmut, the younger sister of Nefertiti (Moses’ senior wife). Benretmut was a true-blue Egyptian royal. She had the blood of Amenhotep III (her father) and Tuthmosis IV (her grandfather). Horemheb already had a first wife, Amenia, but she too was supplanted in prestige by the well-connected Benretmut.
HOREMHEB SEIZES POWER
Yet Ephraim as the new pharaoh did not go far enough in endearing himself to the obviously disaffected and disgruntled Horemheb. Whereas under King Tut Horemheb was army commander, under Ephraim he was no more than 2IC. The rank of army general was given to Nakht Min, who was a relative of Ephraim on his father’s side, which made him a Hykso-Hebrew. To add insult to injury, Ephraim not only adopted General Min as his son but went on to declare him his successor, as some Roman emperors would later do post- first century AD.
It goes without saying that Horemheb was indignant at this virtual snub when King Tut had held him in very high esteem. In any case, Horemheb had always begrudged the Josephite clan. To him, Moses, Aaron, Tut, and Ephraim were all foreigners in that they all were offspring of Joseph, who did not have a single drop of Egyptian blood in him. Of the last six pharaohs, the only true Egyptians, so Horemheb reckoned, were Thutmosis IV and Amenhotep III: the rest were infiltrators whose aim was to steal the Egyptian throne from the sons of the soil and firmly ensconce it in the hands of the Hykso-Hebrew usurpers. Horemheb’s dim view of the Josephite scions was the reason he settled for Benretmut, who was not related to Joseph in any way, shape, or form.
Horemheb’s aversion to the Amarna regime (the pharaohs Moses, Aaron, Tut, and Ephraim) was shared by the dissident establishment in the corridors of Egyptian power. They too resented the Amarna stranglehold on the Egyptian throne. They thus rooted for a true Egyptian to reclaim the throne. They were particularly incensed that Horemheb, an indigenous Egyptian, not only had been elbowed out by Ephraim but he had been sidestepped in the line of succession in favour of another Hykso-Hebrew in Nakht Min, thus perpetuating Hykso-Hebrew control of Egypt.
For the first three years of Ephraim’s rule, Horemheb served him loyally and dutifully but all he was doing was biding his time. Then in year four, he struck. Ephraim was overthrown and both he and his anointed heir Nakht Min were killed. The dude at the helm now was Horemheb. The year was 1348 BC. Horemheb’s power grab ended the Armana era, which lasted a total of 33 years. The number 33 is of special Masonic significance. That Horemheb shot himself to power in the 33rd year of Amarna rule was no coincidence.
THE PHARAOH OF THE OPPRESSION
The name Horemheb means “Triumph of Horus,” one of the most popular of Egyptian gods. In a war both of vengeance (in relation to Set’s killing of Osiris, father to Horus) and the control of Egypt, Horus trounced Set and ejected him from Egypt. No doubt, Horemheb saw himself as Horus and the now terminated Amarna kings as a Setean cabal. Indeed, his coronation text formally credited “my god Horus” for establishing him on the throne. Indigenous Egyptians now ruled Egypt. The country had been redeemed from the iron grip of the Hykso-Hebrews.
Upon taking the throne, Horemheb appointed Pa-Ramses, a supine henchman of his, as army commander as well as his first vizier, thus making him the most powerful man in Egypt after Horemheb himself. Pa-Ramses’ son, Seti, was appointed deputy army commander and second vizier. Both Pa-Ramses and Seti would in future take turns as pharaohs of Egypt. That all the first four pharaohs after King Tut – Ephraim, Horemheb, Ramses I, and Seti – were from the ranks of the army attests to just what a sway the army had on the politics of Egypt.
HOREMHEB IS THE PHARAOH DESCRIBED IN EXODUS 1:8 AS “A NEW KING OVER EGYPT WHICH KNEW NOT JOSEPH”. But the proper rendering of this statement should have been of a king who was “not related” to Joseph. Joseph died during the rule of his son Ephraim and therefore Horemheb must have been well-acquainted with him. What set Horemheb apart from his four predecessors was that he was not descended from Joseph.
In fact, he was an implacable enemy of the Hykso-Hebrews. Under his rule, it were the Hykso-Hebrews he targeted first and foremost and saw to it that he made a misery of their lives. As such, he has become known to scholars who place him in that timeframe as the Pharaoh of the Oppression. The Hykso-Hebrews abounded in the Goshen region in the eastern delta and were concentrated at Avaris and Zaru.
Since Pa-Ramses came from the eastern delta, he was also entrusted with the post of Mayor of Zaru and Overseer of the Fortress of Zaru. Pa-Ramses seemed to have devoted himself to making the Hykso-Hebrews lives “bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field”. In the olden days before the time of Thutmosis IV, Zaru used to be a fortress prison. Under Thutmosis IV, it was rehabilitated as one of Egypt’s principal garrison cities.
Horemheb decided to restore it to the prison it used to be and had Pa-Ramses conscript the Hebrew-Hyksos and set them to the harsh work of rebuilding it along the lines of a prison-city. Pa-Ramses personally supervised the project, seeing to it that Hebrew-Hyksos were subjected to the harshest labour imaginable just out of sheer callousness and not because of desperate necessity.
Once the reconstruction was complete, Pa-Ramses gathered all the hardcore criminals both from among the Hykso-Hebrews and the Egyptians and massed them into the prison-city, with the Egyptian criminals under express instructions to ensure they made hell of the lot of Hykso-Hebrew prisoners. Because Zaru was reconstructed under the mayoralship of Pa-Ramses, the Bible causes it Pi-Ramses. But it was the plush residence of Pa-Ramses, again built on Hykso-Hebrew slave labour, that Egyptians dubbed Pi-Ramses.
HOREMHEB SETS OUT TO ERASE MEMORY OF AMARNA STREAK
When Horemheb came to power, his aim was to tippex into oblivion the memory of the Amarna Kings, who he regarded as foreign encroachers and appropriators of Egypt’s monarchical institution. As such, he went to unseemly lengths to ensure they were rendered obscure to posterity and even in the annals of the world altogether.
The names of the four Amarna Kings were removed from the official Kings’ List of the 18th Dynasty and all other Egyptian records for that matter, so that the next king after Amenhotep III was listed as Horemheb himself. Horemheb was so phenomenally successful in this purge that for the next 3000 years, the world was unaware totally that once upon a time, Egypt was ruled by pharaohs Akhenaten, Smenkhkare, Tutankhamen, and Aye.
All the standing monuments of the Amarna Kings, including their milestone installations, were systematically dismantled. For example, Ephraim’s titulary, which was carved on the back of a towering 17-ft statue, was deleted and Horemheb’s own was carved in its place. In an extreme act of sacrillege, Ephraim’s tomb was ransacked: his sarcophagus was smashed to pieces and his name was chiseled out of the tomb. Although Horemheb spared, by and large, King Tut’s tomb, obviously on account of the fact that it was under his rule that he rose to prominence, he still replaced many of Tut’s cartouches with his own.
In the wide-ranging judicial reforms that he instituted, Horemheb laid down strict reprisals even for crimes that were not felonies as such but were simply misdemeanours. One such barbarism was the decree that all those who misappropriated monies meant to boost the national fiscus, such as tax receipts, were to have their noses hacked off before being taken to the fortress prison at Zaru, there to die a slow and agonising death.
The Theban priesthood were not entirely left to their own devices either. They were allowed unfettered religious freedom alright, but their ranks were heavily diluted with deployees from the army whose allegiance first and foremost was to the pharaoh and only secondarily to matters of faith. That way, Horemheb intended to ensure that the priesthood did not undermine his authority or secretly connive with pro-Armana dissidents to oust him.
HOREMHEB HAUNTED BY MOSES
Of the four Armana Kings, two were dead. Of the two who were alive, that is, Moses and Aaron, it was Moses who represented the greater threat to Horemheb: it didn’t matter that he was no longer based on Egyptian soil but was practically in another country. It transpired that the Cult of the Aten that Moses had pioneered and fiercely championed as pharaoh did not die with his departure: in point of fact, it had been gaining ground in the intervening years.
A great number of Egyptians had adopted Atenism and were no longer a peripheral religious constituency. Horemheb feared that if these continued to rally in force and make a great deal of politico-religious commotion, they would transform into a serious pro-Moses movement that could pose a serious threat to his rule. Horemheb thus decided to put his foot down and drown away the potential clamour for the return of Moses.
In what one scholar has termed the ruthless Amunism of Horemheb (his fanatical devotion to Amen-Ra-Marduk), Horemheb declared Moses his Enemy No. 1. He prohibited the worship of Aten and designated the very mention of the name Akhenaten punishable by death. In public pronouncements, Moses was referred to as the Fallen One of Akhetaten (the original name of Amarna); the Scoundrel of Akhetaten; or the Rebel of Akhetaten. Egyptians who secretly continued to venerate Aten were dubbed “Polluted Persons”. The monuments that Moses had erected and which were still standing up to the time of Ephraim were pulled down and the rabble thereof used as part of the building material for Horemheb’s pylons.
With the mention of Akhenaten’s name outlawed, his underground followers had decided to come up with a coded name. This was Mos, or Mosis. In the Egyptian language of the day, Mos had two meanings. One was “son” and the other was “the rightful son and heir”, the “Royal Mosis”. To his followers, Akhenaten was not only the firstborn son of Amenhotep III, the 8th Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty, but he remained the rightful King of Egypt given the circumstances under which he left office.
IT WAS THE MONIKER MOSIS WHICH IN THE HEBREW VERSION OF BIBLE APPEARS AS MOSHE AND AS MOSES IN ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS. Says the renowned Egyptologist Ahmed Osman: “The biblical editor, who may not have had any knowledge of the original name of the greatest Jewish leader, attempted to put forward a Hebrew explanation of the Egyptian word Moses in order to sever any possible link between Moses and Egypt.”
Horemheb has been characterised by scholars as akin to the Spanish dictator Franco. But his reign was not entirely without its bright spots. He was “a prolific builder who erected numerous temples and buildings throughout Egypt”. Under him, “power and confidence were once again restored after the internal chaos of the Armana period”. For that he deserves a bit of credit and not wholesale pillorying.
Princess Mary falls pregnant only one month after her betrothal to Prince Joseph
To put the lineage of Mary the mother of Jesus in context, General Atiku, it is in order that we begin with her grandfather Yehoshua (Jesus in Greek) III.
Mary was offspring of two royal lines, the Davidic line and the Hasmonean line. Yehoshua III was the Herod–appointed High Priest of Israel between 36 and 23 BC. He had no sons, only three daughters namely Joanna, Elizabeth, and Anna, all of whom he organised dynastic suitors.
Elizabeth would be married off into the House of Aaron, the legitimate priestly line, and Joanna and Anna would be married off into the House of David, the legitimate kingly line. That’s how Elizabeth became the wife of Zechariah of the tribe of Levi and in due course the mother of John the Baptist.
Mainstream Israel up to the level of the Sanhedrin had recognised Anna as the eligible mother of the future King of Israel and not the sitting impostor Herod (it is not clear what happened to first-born Joanna but she probably passed away before she got married). Anna was accordingly married off to Alexander III, a Davidic and Hasmonean prince who was best known as Heli as indeed the genealogy of Luke clearly attests.
Heli and Anna too had no sons. They only had daughters, the firstborn of whom was Dorcas, whose was born in 26 BC and whose titular name was Mary. Mary was orphaned early in her childhood when her father Heli was killed in 17 BC at the orders of the increasingly paranoid Herod and when her mother Anna died a year or so later.
Since she was a dynastic heiress, it was likely that Herod would come after her. The Essenes thus secreted her somewhere in remote Galilee. It was actually in Galilee that most members of the Davidic royal line were concentrated not only to keep as far away from Herod as possible but to also enjoy the protective custody of the Zealots, who were the secret military wing of the Essenes and a thorn in the side of both Herod and the Romans. Joseph was also officially based in Galilee although both he and Mary were in truth based at Qumran in the Judean wilds.
JOSEPH CALLED TO “DUTY”
Dynastic marriages are often more politically strategic than spontaneous, General. For example, the union of Prince Charles and Princess Diana was motivated by the need to fuse the Windsor genes with those of the Stuarts as the Windsors, being predominantly Reptilians, were finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their human form.
The Stuarts, the clan of Diana, had by far more human genes than Reptilian and they too were an aristocratic family. That’s why once Charles had produced a “heir and a spare”, he completely sidelined Diana, who he had never loved, and devoted himself to his real love – Camilla Parker-Bowles.
The marriage of Joseph to Mary, General, was equally strategic. Although both were from the tribe of Judah and of the royal Davidic line, they were from different branches. Joseph was a descendant of Solomon, whereas Mary was a descendant of Nathan, Solomon’s elder brother. The line of Solomon, as we once underlined, had been tainted by the Jeconiah curse.
The line of Nathan was clean. Since the son of Joseph and Mary would be the future King of Israel, it was important that he not be compromised by the baggage, rightly or wrongly, of the Jeconiah curse. Hence the desirability of the union of Prince Joseph and Princess Mary.
Now, both Joseph and Mary’s clans were Essenes. As such, their marriage process, formalities, and protocols had to strictly adhere to Essene dynastic rules. The Essenes were in ranks. Amongst the higher echelons were the two great dynasties, the Davids and the Zadoks, who had been the high priests and kings of Israel respectively before the destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC.
The Davids and Zadoks lived a strictly holy life, typically in a monastery at Qumran, the reclusive headquarters of the Essenes. They were sequestered there so that they did not fall prey to the machinations of the bloodthirsty King Herod though officially their address was Galilee. In fact, the major reason the Essene movement had come into existence was to preserve and safeguard the Davidic and Zadokite lines, the religio-politico haunt of Herod and the Hasmoneans initially.
According to the Essene code, General, the Zadoks and the Davids were not to engage in sex for recreational purposes because it was regarded as defiling: it diluted holiness. The only times they were supposed to do so was when need arose to produce heirs. In 8 BC, it was now opportune for Joseph, the David, to produce a heir and so he was excused from a life of chastity.
At this point in time in fact, the Essenes were focused on two dynastic figures. These were Joseph and Zechariah. The two were expected to produce the Messiah of David and the Messiah of Aaron, that is, the future King of Israel and the future High Priest of Israel.
According to Essene rules, the David had to marry at age 36, so that by the time he was 40, he had already sired a heir. The new heir had to be born when the David was 37. If the child was a daughter, she could not inherit, and so the David had to set about the procreation of a second-born, who hopefully would be a boy (copulation to that end was allowed only when the daughter was 3 years old).
The Davidic heir had to be born not in any other month but in September, the holiest in the Jewish calendar. In order to conform to these parameters, a betrothal ceremony was held at the beginning of June. During the betrothal period – the three months from beginning of June to end of August – sexual relations were not permitted.
Then at the beginning of September, a First Marriage was held. This was the beginning of the marriage proper as now the couple were allowed to become intimate. However, the intimacy began only in December, with a view to delivering a heir in September the following year. At the end of March, the Second Marriage was held for it was hoped that by that time the spouse was three months pregnant if there hadn’t been a miscarriage. With the Second Marriage, the wedlock was permanent: divorce was never allowed whatsoever.
Meanwhile, General, if the spouse hadn’t conceived in December, sexual relations were suspended till December the following year. The husband would then leave her spouse and return either to the monastery at Qumran or embark on a tour of duty elsewhere in furtherance of the Essene cause.
A BINDING ENGAGEMENT
According to the Dead Sea Scrolls, General, the Essenes were not only a spiritual, revolutionary, and philosophical movement. They were also ardent believers in astrology. They meticulously studied the stars and the movements of planets to read what they portended about the future.
Thus the reason a Davidic heir had to be born in September was not only because this was the holiest month of the year: it was also in recognition of the fact that September was ruled by the constellation Virgo. In other words, September was astrologically the month of the virgin. That was what Mary was.
Mary was both a virgin physically and a virgin titularly. A bride of the future king was required to be a virgin. As an Essene, Mary belonged to the Order (not the tribe) of Dan. This was the Order of Nuns, or virgins, both legal and physical virgins. Thus in the Order of Dan, a woman was not a virgin only before she slept with a man: she was a virgin until she was six months pregnant. In the case of a dynastic spouse like Mary, this was up to end of June. From then henceforth, she was promoted within the Order to the first stage of a Mother.
Joseph’s betrothal to Mary took place at Qumran in June 8 BC. Now, in our day, betrothal simply means engagement to be married. In ancient Israel up to New Testament times, betrothal was part and parcel of the marriage contract. It was definite and binding upon both groom and bride, who were considered as man and wife in all legal and religious aspects, except that sexual relations were not permitted.
For example, in 2 SAMUEL 3:14, King David refers to his betrothed woman as “my wife”. Also in DEUTERONOMY 22:24, a betrothed woman is referred to as “his neighbour’s wife”. In the betrothal formalities, dowry and bride price were included. If a bride and groom for one reason or the other wanted to opt out of the betrothal after the betrothal ceremony, they had to seek a formal divorce.
Since the betrothal took place in June, General, Joseph and Mary were not supposed to make love till December, that is, six months after the betrothal ceremony and three months after the First Marriage ceremony in September. Just one month after the betrothal ceremony (that is, at the beginning of July 8 BC), however, Mary became pregnant. Was it Joseph, General? Was it rape by a Roman soldier called Panthera as some contemporary records suggest? Or was it simply the supernatural act of the “Holy Spirit” as Christendom holds?
THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS
Those who hold that the circumstances of Mary’s pregnancy were supernatural, General, can be excused. This is because the language employed therein smacks of ethereality – Holy Spirit, Angel Gabriel, Son of the Most High, etc. To those who have read and rigorously studied the Dead Sea Scrolls, however, such terminology is well within the temporal context.
That is to say, it does not carry spiritual connotations as such. True, the idea of an angel speaking to Joseph and Mary in their sleep may seem supernatural but the dreams are theological interpolations, inserted into the gospels in onward editing to fit a contrived agenda – what Karl Marx called the opium of the masses.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are so named because they were discovered in caves around the Qumran plateau of the West Bank (about 40 km east of Jerusalem), at the northwest corner of the Dead Sea, in March 1947. The discoverer was a Bedouin shepherd kid who was looking for a lost goat. The scrolls were found hidden in jars.
The 1947 find was the initial discovery: more discoveries were made after further excavations on the same site spanning 11 years in a series of 11 caves. Altogether, 972 texts were turned up. They are written in four languages, namely Hebrew (the majority), Aramaic, Greek, and Nabatean, mostly on parchment. Other texts were inscribed on papyrus and bronze.
Most of the Dead Sea Scrolls are fragments. Fragments of all the Old Testament books have been found save for the book of Esther. The only complete book is Isaiah. There are also apocryphal books (those arbitrarily excluded from the Old Testament canon by the Constantine-convened Nicene Council of AD 325) such as the Book of Enoch and the Book of Jubilees, and sect-specific writings that embody rules and beliefs of the people who compiled them.
The latter include commentaries on the Old Testament, paraphrases that expand on the Law of Moses, rule books of the community, war conduct, thanksgiving psalms, hymnic compositions, benedictions, liturgical texts, and sapiential (wisdom) writing. These texts have been given appropriate titles such as the War Scroll; Manual of Discipline; the Community Rule; the Temple Scroll; the Copper Scroll; etc.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were written/preserved by the Essenes between 168 BC and 68 AD. We know this because Pliny, the first century Roman historian, wrote that, “On the west coast of Lake Asphaltitis (the Dead Sea) are settled the Essenes, at some distance from the noisome odours that are experienced on the shore itself.
They are a lonely people, the most extraordinary in the world, who live without women, without love, without money, with the palm trees for their only companions.” The Essenes stashed away the scrolls sometime in 70 AD, when Roman General Flavius Titus overran Jerusalem and laid waste to the Temple following a catastrophic Jewish uprising – led by the Zealots, the military wing of the Essenes – that began in 66 BC.
This they did in heed of JEREMIAH 32:14, which says, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences … and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days.” The Dead Sea Scrolls have given us invaluable insight into the beliefs, customs, rituals, politics, philosophies, and traditions of first century Palestine.
The rivalry between luxury German automotive marques Mercedes-Benz and BMW is legendary. Both brands offer high-end, high-priced desirable models, always at the forefront of cutting-edge driving technology and excellence. And in the annals of the advertising world, a campaign between the two rivals is equally legendary and it happened on our own doorstep.
Many of you will be familiar with the coastal road out of Cape Town called Chapman’s Peak. It is a beautiful, sightseeing attraction, the road winding through spectacular coastal-mountain scenery, with cliffs sinking into the Atlantic ocean on one side, and steep mountains towering over the road on the other. However, the road is also notoriously dangerous, with its 114 sharp, meandering bends . It’s reputation is well-deserved . Several years ago, when a major coastal cleanup campaign was launched, a helicopter pulled a total of 22 wrecked cars out of the water adjacent to Chapman’s Peak and it was one such accident which prefaced the notorious marketing battle. The story is thus:
In 1988 an Irish businessman lost control of his Mercedes Benz when driving along this road, plunging 100 metres down the cliff. Miraculously, he not only survived the accident, but crawled out of the wreckage with hardly a scratch on his body.
When Mercedes heard the details, the marketing department decided to base a new advertisement on the story to promote the safety features and stability of the brand. In the video ad they intentionally drove an identical model off the road in the exact same location, having it plunge off the edge of the cliff, the driver stepping out similarly unscathed, proving the phenomenal survivability and strength of Mercedes Benz.
When the marketing suits at BMW saw this ad, they took a bold and ingenious decision to mimic it but with a twist. Only a week later, whilst the first ad was still fresh in the public’s minds, they shot their ad showing a BMW driving along the exact same stretch of road in the rain. However, when it reached the point at which the Mercedes plunged off the cliff, the BMW negotiated it safely, and continued driving along the road.
The catchphrase of the ad was “BMW beats the bends” . Or was it? It was cunningly recorded so that it could equally have been ‘beats the Benz’, implying that their cars had superior cornering and stability to their rival, Even more sneakily, they launched their campaign on a Saturday, mindful of the rules on competitive advertising in South Africa, safe in the knowledge that no objectionable actions could be taken till the new working week.
Mercedes-Benz wasted no time on Monday in issuing an injunction, the ad was swiftly pulled but the damage was done and the dog had had its day. The ad campaign ranks high in the history of advertising and can still be found online to this day. Meanwhile the rivalry between the two automotive greats goes on.
I reference this piece of marketing history in the light of this week’s horror crash by golfing great, Tiger Woods. Driving from a luxury holiday resort in California to a nearby country club Tiger Woods lost control of his vehicle on a downhill stretch of the road, smashed through a road sign, crossed over the central reservation and rolled his car several hundred feet. He had to be cut out and pulled to safety through the windscreen and the vehicle was so badly damaged, the attending police officers said he was ‘lucky to survive’.
The vehicle Woods was driving was a rented Genesis GV80 SUV. If you are unfamiliar with the brand that is not surprising since it is a relatively new spin-off from the South Korean Hyundai marque. The Genesis utility vehicle, not available locally yet, retails for around $50,000 or half a million pula, placing it in the higher end of town and country SUVs in the USA.
The model has certainly been widely publicised in the media coverage of the high-profile sportsman’s accident and I suspect that if asked to comment, Hyundai/Genesis would disagree with the police assessment, putting Woods’ survival down to build quality and in-built safety features such as crumple zones, anti-roll bars and airbags, which were deployed in the crash and would most certainly have played their part cushioning the effects of the rolling and ultimate impact. There is , of course, no suggestion that the manufacturers will capitalise on Woods’ survival but certainly it will have done the brand no harm that he did indeed emerge with recoverable injuries.
Comparing the two accidents, the driver of the Mercedes driving along Chapman’s Peak was, of course, an ordinary member of the public whilst Tiger Woods is a household name. That said, in humanitarian terms each tale of survival carries equal weight but the fact remains that the former was just another local story of yet one more victim of a notoriously tricky stretch of road whilst the latter went round the world in an instant because of the fame and name of the driver.
There is also no evidence that that stretch of Californian urban highway carried any inherent risk. His appears to have been just a loss of control and a freak accident. However, in the event that Hyundai/Genesis should consider making capital from that accident, a note of caution needs to be sounded.
In the advertising world, the use of celebrities to promote a product is a fall-back stance to sell anything from washing-up liquid to whisky but statistics have shown that it can be a double-edged sword in that yes, the ads are memorable and the public love them when the celeb is popular and personable. But…..what is often remembered is the name of the famous promoter, not the name of the product. In other words, they sell themselves far better than they sell the item.
In golfing terminology Hyundai/Genesis are not ‘out of the Woods’ yet and maybe they should go with a completely different Driver!
How Jesus’s grandfather sold his birthright to megalomaniac Herod
If you were to ask a Christian to name the main Jewish sects, General Atiku, he would no doubt begin with the Pharisees (because Jesus had innumerable slanging matches with them according to the gospels), followed by the Sadducees. Yet there was a third, equally momentous sect – the Essenes.
Although there’s not a single, one mention of the Essenes in the Bible, General, the New Testament is filled with Essene-type language as anybody who has read the Dead Sea Scrolls would readily recognise.
In point of fact, it was the Essenes who produced Jesus as well as the infamous Jewish band of freedom fighters known as the Zealots. Furthermore, almost all the New Testament writers were either Essenes or champions of the Essene cause as is apparent in their language and the drift of their overall philosophy. The Essenes have a palpable presence in the Bible, albeit a cloaked one.
The Essenes, General, were the most popular, the most esteemed, and the most influential of the Jewish sects. The Jewish historian Philo (20 BC-50 AD) devotes 90 percent of his description of the Jewish sects to the Essenes. He wrote that the Essenes “dwell in many cities of Judea and in many villages and in great societies of many numbers”.
Hyppolytus of Rome (170-236 AD) devoted nine-and-half chapters to the Essenes and only one to the Sadducees. The Essenes are the authors of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in 1947 in Israel at a place called Qumran and which have given us even greater insight into the happenings in the first century than the Bible itself.
How did the Essene movement come about, General? The Essenes, meaning “puritans of the faith”, were the Jewish sect that was the most loyal to the Davidic dynasty. They set themselves apart from the mainstream Jewish community circa 175 BC and established their headquarters at Qumran, about 40 km from Jerusalem.
Since the Jewish nation revered the Davidic royal line, the only legitimate and rightful rulers of Judah in their view, they rallied to the Essenes en masse. And because the Essenes were disparaging of the Hasmonean rule (140 BC to 63 BC), the mainstream Jews also took a dismissive view of Hasmonean rule too.
The Essenes were so highly regarded because of their virtue and spirituality. The legendary Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD) writes thus of them: “They are more mutually affectionate than the others (Pharisees and Sadducees). Whereas these men shun the pleasures as vice, they consider self-control and not succumbing to the passions virtue … Since [they are] despisers of wealth – their communal stock is astonishing – one cannot find a person among them who has more in terms of possessions.
For by a law, those coming into the school (that is, the Essene fold) must yield up their funds to the order, with the result that in all [their ranks] neither the humiliation of poverty nor the superiority of wealth is detectable, but the assets of each one have been mixed in together, as if they were brothers, to create one fund for all.”
In time, the Essenes, General, became quite influential even with occupying powers. For instance, when the Greek General Pompey installed Hyrcanus II as ruler of Palestine in 63 BC, he sought the opinion of the Essenes. The Essenes recommended that Hyrcanus go by the titles High Priest and Prince, not King, to which Pompey paid heed. In 142 BC, when Simon was installed by the Seleucids as ruler of Palestine, the Essenes had insisted on the same titular style. To the Essenes, everybody who occupied Israel’s seat of authority was simply holding fort for the real deal – the Davidic King.
In 37 BC, when Herod became King of Palestine, the potential Davidic King was Jacob-Eliakim – the father of the Joseph of the gospels – who was an Essene himself. It was in order to win the blessings of the historically popular Jewish royal family that Herod sought to curry favour with the Essenes.
JACOB’S PACT WITH HEROD
About the time Herod came to power, General, there were three citizens of considerable stature in Palestine – Hillel, Menahem, and Jacob-Eliakim, the grandfather of Jesus. Hillel is by all accounts ancient Israel’s greatest teacher and scholar.
He was the foremost spiritual sage in the development of the Talmud and the Mishnah, the most authoritative religious references of the Jews which are second only to the Old Testament in esteem. The renowned “Golden Rule”, which is invariably attributed to Jesus, was actually coined by Hillel. It is not certain whether Hillel was an Essene but his teachings did have a profound influence both on Essene philosophy and that of Jesus, who was an Essene too.
It was Menahem, however, who was an incontrovertible Essene. The Essenes were of two main branches, General. First, there were the puritans, the Palestinian Essenes. Then there were the liberals, the Diaspora Essenes, who sneered at the Palestinian Essenes’ dogmatism and rather strict views on morality. Menahem was the leader of the Diaspora Essenes.
He was also privilleged to be advisor to King Herod. Herod did hold Menahem in very high regard. Josephus relates that when Herod was a school-going lad, Menahem had patted him on his back and said to him, “one day you will be King young man.” Since the prophecy came to pass, Herod had a certain, atypical respect both for Menahem and the order of Essenes.
Jacob-Eliakim’s significance was by virtue of his pedigree. He was of the royal line of David and was therefore the uncrowned King of the Jews. Now, as we have already indicated, Herod had his own grand designs about rulership of the world notwithstanding the fact that he was in reality a vassal of Rome.
When he made overtures to the trio, they didn’t mince words: they told him that in the new Israel, the Israel that would rule Earth once the Romans had been toppled from the pedestal of world power, it was a Davidic King who would reign. Herod took very strong exception to such a prospect. Herod was neither a full-blooded Jew nor of Davidic stock but he was royalty in his own right.
His father, Antipater, had been the governor of Idumea and in due course Judea in the Hasmonean government and was in fact the real ruler of the entire Palestine, with John Hyrcanus being a mere figurehead king. When he (Herod) was only 25 years old, his father had appointed him governor of Galilee. Herod thus had strutted the corridors of power from the day he was born and he wasn’t going to give that up easily either for his own sake or that of his descendants.
As such, General, Herod maintained to the trio that in the new, overarching Kingdom of Israel, he was going to be the emperor and would be based in Jerusalem. Just like the Greek empire of Alexander had been a triarchy (a kingdom divided into three governments), the global Kingdom of Israel (“Thy Kingdom Come” in the Lord’s Prayer) was going to be likewise.
There was going to be a ruler in the east, a ruler in the west, and a ruler in the centre, that is Jerusalem, under the oversight of Herod himself. Hillel would rule in Jerusalem; Menahem in the east; and Jacob-Eliakim in the west. If these three happened to have disappeared from the Earthly scene by the time the Kingdom of Israel came into being, their descendants would observe the same setup.
The pecking order would thus be like this: Herod as the emperor; Hillel as the senior king; Menahem as the second-ranked king; and Jacob-Eliakim as the junior king. Put differently, Herod had by the stroke of a pen reduced the Davidic dynasty from foremost to least important as it posed the most serious threat to his office. Meanwhile, the three kings-in-waiting would go by the names of the Old Testament patriarchs.
Hillel would henceforth be called the Abraham, or the Father (or Papa, which later morphed into Pope), since Abraham was the Father of the Jewish nation; Menahem would be called the Isaac (Abraham’s son); and Eliakim the Jacob (Isaac’s son). Half a loaf was better than nothing at all and so Jacob-Eliakim meekly accepted this arrangement.
When Jesus later said, “Many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the new Kingdom of Heaven (MATTHEW 8:11),” he did not mean an afterlife kingdom: he referred to the Earthly setup proposed by King Herod.
FALLOUT WITH ESSENES
Those days, General, the Davidic heir used the title “Jacob” rather than “David” as the latter title was very risky, particularly under the Hasmonean government. Given that Joseph was the most beloved son of the Old Testament Jacob, the next in line, that is, the firstborn son of the Jacob, used the title “Joseph”.
In September 44 BC, a son was born to Jacob-Eliakim. As the crown prince to the Jacob, he was given the titular name Joseph, the name by which he became best-known. Like his father Jacob-Eliakim, Joseph was a missionary. But he also had a trade. He was a carpenter, a boat builder primarily, and a master of his craft. The word translated “carpenter” in the Bible is the ancient Greek word “ho hekton” which means a master artisan or craftsman.
In 31 BC, Qumran, the Essenes’ Judean wilderness bastion, was struck by an earthquake. The hermitic Essenes had no choice but to trek back to Jerusalem, from where they operated indefinitely at a place they called the Essene Gate. Then in 23 BC, Herod struck again. He had Jacob-Eliakim killed on trumped-up charges of sedition, his motive simply being a continuation of a systematic purge of the Davidic “pretenders” to his throne.
The Essenes were wroth. They now set about promulgating to the Diaspora Essenes that Herod would have no part to play in the coming Kingdom. Instead, the overall King would be Joseph, the son of Jacob-Eliakim. This, General, was the beginning of a permanent rift between Herod and the Essene sect.
THE SAGA OF JOSEPH
The prospective global world, General, was subdivided into ten provinces to facilitate governance and tax collection. Palestine would have two provinces, Judea and Samaria, the latter of which would include Galilee. Asia Minor (largely present-day Turkey), where the bulk of Diaspora Jews were concentrated, would have five provinces.
The last three provinces would be Babylon, Rome, and Alexandria in Egypt. The future capital of the West was not Rome: it was Ephesus in Asia Minor. Having been allocated the West, it was in Ephesus and Alexandria that Jacob-Eliakim spent most of his time evangelizing to fellow Jews about the future Kingdom of Israel. This was the beginning of the New Covenant, whereby Jews who converted to the ideal of a new Kingdom of Israel were baptised by immersion in water.
To mainstream Palestinian Jews, General, Jacob-Eliakim was a sellout. Herod had demoted his pedigree but to somewhat placate him, he gave him the honorary title of Patriarch or Prince of Jerusalem. By subordinating the Davidic throne-in-waiting to Herod, Jacob-Eliakim had gone against what the nation of Israel’s God, Enlil, the Bible’s main Jehovah, decreed – that every King of Judah had to be a descendant of David. So when the unpredictable Herod had him killed in 23 BC for “sedition”, as part of a pogrom against the line of David, there was very little sympathy for him.
In 44 BC, Joseph had been born to Jacob-Eliakim. Joseph was a title: it was not his real name. At the death of his father, Joseph became the Jacob. However, he preferred the title “David”, the more apt one historically. Joseph would become the father of Jesus. When Joseph attained 30 years of age in 14 BC, his uncles and the Essene sages sent him to Rome and Alexandria to do his part in missionary work, which was simply about promulgating to the Diaspora Jews the future Kingdom of Israel in which a Son of David, that is a descendant of King David, would rule. Egypt was also a special place because Joseph’s maternal relations were Egyptians.
Jacob-Eliakim, General, had two wives. The one was called Euchariah, a Jewish princess, of whom very little is known, and the other, the dynastic wife, was an Egyptian princess, a daughter of Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and Julius Caesar. Jacob-Eliakim and this princess had three sons: they were Joseph, the father of Jesus, and the twins Cleopas (after whom James, Jesus’ immediate younger brother, whose given name was Cleopas, was named) and Ptolas. Joseph was thus the Davidian Prince of Israel as well as contender to Crown Prince of Egypt. Despite pretences to the contrary on the part of the Jews, Egypt and Israel have always had ties of monarchical kinship.
In 8 BC, General, Joseph was required by Essene custom to return home and fulfill his obligations for a dynastic marriage. A wife-to-be had already been chosen for him by his uncles and other patriarchal Essenes. This was Dorcas, better known today by her title name Mary.