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The God of Dark Arts

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

   
Ishkur-Adad, the Jehovah of the Exodus,  casts a stubborn spell  over Egyptian Pharaoh

What did Ishkur-Adad,  the Jehovah of the Exodus, mean when he referred to himself as  “EHYEH ASHER EHYEH”, this being the name by which Moses should  introduce him to the Hykso-Hebrews in Egypt, at the scene of the Burning Bush? Note  that Moses, who was a naturally assertive person like the great intellect he was, did not quiz Adad as to what he meant. Clearly, he  did comprehend the meaning of the name. Still, the Hebrews never used that name at all: instead, they generally referred to their god as ADONAI, or ATEN in Sumerian. Why this particular denomination we  shall unpack at the appropriate time.  

In the Bible’s multiple versions,   EHYEH ASHER EHYEH has been translated variously as “I am who am”;  "I am what I am"; or "I will be what I will be". In some versions, it is shortened simply to “I am”, or “Yahweh”.  Some scholars posit that what actually Adad said was, “Who am I? I am who I am, and never you mind”. In other words, Adad was telling Moses to mind his own business and not bother with what was a preposterous matter. That kind of response, however, is unseemly: a god who wants to sell himself to a people who pay allegiance to other gods cannot afford to be so dismissively impolitic. You don’t  win followers by coming across as vain, haughty,  and impudent.

Note that contrary to what the Bible would have you believe, this was not the first time the  Anunnaki employed the name Yahweh. Long before Moses came to Midian, the Midianites already had a god they called Yahweh, who was apparently their main god beside the goddess Ninmah, who was known as Hathor to the Egyptians. To the Egyptians, Midian  was known as “The Land of the Shasu of Yahweh”. 

This we learn from an inscription from the time of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, Moses’ father. “Shasu”, meaning a nomadic people, was the Egyptian term for Midianites, who like Hebrew-Hyksos were a Semitic people.  Thus Yahweh-Adad was already known in Midian for at least 70 years before Moses relocated there. Why did Moses’ personal encounter with Adad take up to 40 years to happen? It could have been that Moses was reluctant to embrace Enlilite gods, preferring, instead, to stick to venerating the Aten, the planet Nibiru. As a sort of puffed up person, he was very set  in his ways.  

So what did Adad exactly say to Moses? It was to tell his people that  “I AM WE ARE has sent me”.  That is to say, a collection of gods who he,  Adad, represented was the one that had commissioned Moses. In theosophy, the I AM WE ARE concept is known as the Sovereign Integral. Its meaning is simply that one is not an individual as such but a composite of constituent entities. Whatever he says or does represents the wishes of a collective of which he is part.

The  I AM, therefore, is the individual being directly interacting with an audience at that particular point in time. But as a representative, ultimately, of a larger banding, he is the I AM WE ARE. Adad was the I AM. But he along with his fellow Enlilites – Enlil, Nannar-Sin, and Utu-Shamash – comprised the I AM WE ARE. In other words, “God” was a plurality and not a single entity. “God” was the “Elohim”, the ruling pantheon of the Anunnaki,  and not simply “El”, an individual Anunnaki. The concept of multiple gods was not alien to the Hebrews. They were very much aware that their gods, the Anunnaki, were a clan. What was unusual was the idea of a single god representing several others. This would take a lot of convincing.

MOSES SACRIFICES HIS SON TO LUCIFERIAN FORCES

Once the proceedings at the scene of the Burning Bush were complete, it now fell to Moses to fulfill his part of the contractual bargain to recompense for the magical powers he had been endued by the forces of darkness.  When you sign a contract with the Devil, invariably in your own blood, you seal it by shedding another’s blood. This is not the blood of an ordinary person: it is the blood of somebody very dear to you.  This must be your child, wife, father, mother, brother, or sister in the main.  Your child or parent is the one who carries the most weight as you are invested with greater powers when you kill either of these.

In Anunnaki times,   one was required to sacrifice his firstborn son to either appease the gods (the basically diabolical Enlilites: not the generally benevolent Enkites) to bring about a desired result. THE MOST PRECIOUS SACRIFICE TO THE GODS WAS A KING’S FIRSTBORN SON. (In the “sacrificial death” of Jesus, an offspring of David, Israel’s greatest King,  and therefore the first century’s Davidic heir, we see this ethos at play.) 

For example, Abraham,  the father of the Hebrew nation, was asked to sacrifice his firstborn son Ishmael  by Adad though he defied the god and instead offered his second-born son Isaac (who was not his biological child), who Adad procedurally rejected.   Since Moses had been appointed by Ishkur-Adad as the King of the Hebrews, it was necessary that he sacrifice his firstborn son both on his own behalf and that of the Hebrew people.

A hotheaded Moses, however, was reluctant to sacrifice his own flesh and blood. He made that very clear to Adad and hastened away in a huff. As a descendant of  Abraham, Moses was all too aware  that Abraham had also taken very strong exception to sacrificing his own  son. But having fulfilled an initiation ritual,  Moses had already crossed the Rubicon and he was under obligation to do his part. As he made his way home, the demon that now indwelt him threatened that if he did not co-operate, he would be killed.  This is what is implied in EXODUS 4:24, which reads: “It came to be on the way, in the lodging, that a messenger of Yahweh encountered him and sought to put him to death.”

Moses finally acquiesced and did sacrifice his son with Zipporah. This son is not named but he was certainly his firstborn, meaning Gershom  and Eleazer were not the only sons he had with Zipporah: there must have been a firstborn who was sacrificed and that’s  the reason he is not named. LATER EDITORS OF  EXODUS, HOWEVER, DECIDED TO  GLOSS OVER THE SACRIFICE BY SPINNING IT AS NO MORE THAN A MERE  CIRCUMCISION OF HIS SON (EXODUS 4:25).

Maybe circumcision was indeed involved, but it must have been deliberately botched to result in the death of the child. The fact that Zipporah was the person who performed the circumcision (which is bizarre as women never are or were involved in the circumcision  process) clearly exposes the story as a fabricated one,  or at the very least attests to the contrived fatal result of the circumcision as indeed an innocent  woman forced to perform the act would make a mess of the process. It was only after the sacrifice was done that the demon desisted from badgering and barking threats at Moses (EXODUS 4:26).  
   
EGYPTIAN HYKSO-HEBREWS  SPURN MOSES

When Moses set course for Egypt this time around, he was accompanied by his first cousin Aaron. Moses was 80 going on 81, whilst Aaron was 83 going on 84.  Once again, the man they were going to meet was Pharaoh Ramesses I. This was Moses’ second encounter with Ramesses although the Pentateuch authors have fused the first and second mission into one as is often their hurried tendency.   The year was 1333 BC, Ramesses’ second year in office.

To his credit, Ramesses did not receive Moses hostilely. By this time, Ramesses was resigned to the fact that Moses, who had been the King of Median for about 40 years now, was his equal. In any case, Moses had renounced his Egyptian citizenship and so was no longer regarded as an aspiring Come-Back-Kid by the Egyptian establishment. He was thus received as a Hykso-Hebrew.    

Initially, all Moses asked for was to introduce himself to his people, the Hebrew-Hyksos, who were concentrated in the land of Goshen in northern Egypt.  Ramesses gave him the green light without much ado. Meanwhile, Ramesses had his troops at the ready just in case the Goshenites became excited at the sight of their leader and set about mischief-making of a provocative kind.  

Arriving at Goshen,  Moses did not address the entire Jewish population. He only picked a select few, who according to the Book of Exodus numbered 29 (EXODUS 6:14-24). Of course they must have been larger than that but the Exodus authors left out precious many names and retained only those whose descendants were prominent  at the time Exodus was written, that is, in the 6th century BC.

All the 29 names were the offspring of  Reuben, Simeon, and Levi – the first three sons of Jacob. But  the dominant ones numerically were members of the tribe of Levi, who numbered 20 in all. What that seems to suggest is that at this point in time, THE LEVITES WERE THE PRE-EMINENT JEWISH TRIBE. This is one  of two surprises, the other being the total absence  of  representatives  of the tribe of Judah, which had superseded that of Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, after the three patriarchs were cursed by Jacob (Reuben  for sleeping with one of his father’s younger wives; and Simeon and Levi for causing the expulsion of the Hykso-Hebrews from  Egypt after they  had  SeqenenreTao, southern Egypt’s black Pharaoh, murdered).   

How did the Levites, a cursed tribe, bounce back and become the leading tribe of the day during the Egyptian bondage? AARON HAD A LOT TO DO WITH THIS STATE OF AFFAIRS.   Remember, when Moses went into exile after being forced to step down as Pharaoh Akhenaten by the Egyptian army acting in concert with the Theban priesthood, Aaron not only took over as interim Pharaoh   but stayed in Egypt for another 40 years.

Aaron was therefore for a long time the elder statesman of the Hykso-Hebrews in Egypt and resultantly had enormous socio-political sway.  Aaron, if you recall, was the son of Joseph’s second-born son Ephraim (Aye to the Egyptians: also known by his titular name Amram in the Bible) and Tey, whose Hebrew name was  Yokarba (Jochebed in the English version of the Bible). Yokarba was of  the House of Levi, a Levite.

That makes Aaron a Levite essentially since one’s tribal identity was ordinarily traced through the mother.      Since Aaron was at once a Levite and patriarch of Egypt’s Hykso-Hebrews, he made sure that his tribe took  pride of place. THIS IS THE MAIN REASON  THE LEVITES BECAME ISRAEL’S PRIESTLY TRIBE AND WHY ONLY MEMBERS OF AARON’S CLAN  WERE ELIGIBLE FOR THE POSITION OF HIGH PRIEST. It was Aaron who masterminded and orchestrated their rehabilitation and restoration to “God’s” favour.

Why was the tribe of Judah now sidelined? Well, again if you recall, Judah was not meant to be the substantive leader of the Israelites (the nation Jacob, who was also known as Israel,  gave rise to): he was imply holding indefinite fort whilst Jacob’s anointed heir, Joseph,   was growing up. By the time of the exodus, Joseph not only had become a Hykso-Hebrew  legend but he had spawned at least three generations – Ephraim’s,  Aaron’s, and Nadab’s.   Thus Joseph had now reclaimed his rightful position as Jacob’s heir, meaning the tribe of Judah no longer counted.

Be that as it may, the tribe of Judah did not take their relegation to the fringes lying down. They did bounce back by and by, becoming the largest  and most powerful Jewish tribe. That, however, is another story, which we shall address at the appropriate time. Sadly for Moses, the Hykso-Hebrew elders were not persuaded to depart Egypt. One of the reasons given had to do with “hard service” (EXODUS  6:9).  In other words, they were  not prepared to  undergo the rigours of dislodging several nations that now inhabited Canaan.

It would entail several  years of  warfare and the Hykso-Hebrews of the day had never taken part in a war. Furthermore, the Hykso-Hebrew cast aspersions on the god Moses claimed to represent. What evidence was there that he would indeed see them to victory? How would they be assured that he was mighty enough to keep them safe and sound?   

BUT THE MAIN  REASON THE HYKSO-HEBREW ELDERS REJECTED MOSES’GOD HAD TO DO WITH THE FACT THAT HE DEMANDED THAT THEY SACRIFICE THEIR FIRSTBORN SONS IN RETURN FOR FREEING THEM FROM THE EGYPTIAN YOKE. In the Bible, this is not vividly  set out: it’s only when you read between the lines that you get the photo. But don’t you worry: we shall demonstrate to you soon how we were able to decipher that on the basis of collaborative extra-biblical sources.  

ISHKUR-ADAD “HARDENS PHARAOH’S HEART”

According to the Bible, Moses was able to contact Ishkur-Adad whilst he was in Egypt pleading the cause of his people. Exactly how the Pentateuch authors do not elaborate.  There was likely a secret rendezvous in the Egyptian wilds where he and Adad met considering that the Anunnaki gods had airborne vessels which could land on any terrain.

So when Moses, accompanied by Aaron, reported to Adad that his people had given him the middle finger, Adad instructed him to approach Ramesses and ask him to order an expulsion of the Hykso-Hebrews from Egypt. Adad told Moses point-blank that Ramesses would turn him down but only because he, Adad, would “harden his heart”. This would give Adad the opportunity to perform “miracles” that would help Moses convince the Hykso-Hebrews that Yahweh was a great god who indeed could do  wonders for them. 

“HARDENING THE PHARAOH’S HEART” IS NOT A MERE FIGURE OF SPEECH:   THIS IS THE FIRST DIRECT INDICATION WE HAVE OF AN ANUNNAKI GOD CONTRIVING TO INFLUENCE A HUMAN BEING BY MEANS OF HIGH-TECH MIND MANIPULATION. Mind control, which is a favourite Illuminati device even in our day, was not pioneered by Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich as we have been made to believe: it was introduced by the Anunnaki 3000 years ago, if not earlier.

Mind control is a  device whereby a person is mentally influenced to act according to the wishes of  his mind manipulator using sophisticated mind programming technology or harsh, heavy-handed mental access methods which make the victim easily susceptible to mental programming. For direct mass mental programming,  this can be achieved through mobile phone masts, smart metres, chemtrails,   broadcasting equipment, space satellites, vaccinations, foodstuffs such as GMOs, and the chemicals with which the water we drink either directly from  the dams or rivers,  or the mineral water that has become so fashionable today, is laced.

  At the individual level, mind programming can be administered by way of hypnosis or metaphysical devices, which a layman like you and I would term as witchcraft, black magic, or demon-possession (more on this subject in a future series). Moses was reluctant to follow through on Adad’s instruction and he made that clear to the god.  But Adad insisted that he just had to  as he was bound by the terms of the initiation he underwent at the scene of the Burning Bush and which obliged him to  obey Adad robotically.

Arriving at Ramesses’ courts, Moses accordingly delivered the message from “my God Yahweh”.  Yahweh, he said, had demanded that Ramesses “dismiss” the Hykso-Hebrews from Egypt so they retrace their way back to the legal land of their heritage, Canaan. Ramesses’ initial response was to scoff at Yahweh, who,  so he said, he  did not even know. Of course this was a deep blue lie: Ramesses  was aware that in the Land of the Midianites loomed large a god known as Yahweh.  Be that as it may, Ramesses decided to consult his team of advisors  on the matter.

Adad’s mind control stratagem was already at  work. The Pharaoh’s advisers were adamant that the Hykso-Hebrews must not be let go.  This is the reason they gave: “Behold, a nation, Children of Israel, is greater and mightier than us; Let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply and, when war shall be called, they will join our enemies, and fight against us, and leave the land” –  EXODUS 1:9–10.

Let us put Egyptian anxieties in context. At the time, a powerful kingdom on the upper reaches of the Euphrates River had arisen. This Kingdom was called Mitanni (“The Weapon of Anu”) and belonged to a people known as the Hurrians.   Mitanni, an arch-enemy of Egypt, encompassed today’s Syria and Lebanon. In Mitanni was a region in the Khabu River area known as Aram-Naharayim, meaning “The Western Land of the Two Rivers”.  Mitanni’s principal urban centre was Harran, a bastion of the Hykso-Hebrews.

Harran’s main Hykso-Hebrew tribe were the Ben-Yamins – the descendents of Benjamin, Jacob’s youngest son. Benjamin was the only one of Jacob’s 12 sons who was a full brother to Joseph as the duo’s mother was Rachel (Rachel died after giving birth to Benjamin.) Both the mothers of Jacob (Rebecca) and Joseph came from Harran.

Now, if the Hykso-Hebrews were to be let go by Ramesses, their most obvious destination would be Harran – to rejoin their kith and kin.  Once the Hykso-Hebrews of Egypt reunited with the Hykso-Hebrews of  Harran, they would form Mitanni’s Fifth Column and reinforce the regular Mitannian army, thus making a doubly formidable force with which Egypt would have to contend. That was what Ramesses feared and that was why  he was dead set against giving Moses the green light to take his people with him.  
     

NEXT WEEK:   ISHKUR-ADAD’S TEN PLAGUES: WHERE THEY MIRACLES?

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Parricide at Herod’s Court

25th January 2021
SAILI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HEROD ACQUITTED OVER THE ARISTOBULUS DEATH

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

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

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

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

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

HEROD KILLS HIS WIFE AND HIS UNCLE

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

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

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

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

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

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

HEROD SLAYS SISTER’S EX-HUBBY

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

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

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

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

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

NEXT WEEK: HEROD’S WRATH ON HIS OWN SONS

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WHAT’S UP WITH WHATSAPP?

25th January 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

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

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

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

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

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

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

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