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Navigating the Wilderness of Egypt

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

Ishkur-Adad guides nation of Israeli through the Sinai wilds using a Flying Saucer

If you were to go solely by the Pentateuch story, you would come up with the impression that when Ramesses released the Hykso-Hebrews, it was without strings attached. It was like he was saying, “I have had enough of the pestilences visited upon my people by your God. Off you go!” That, sadly, is too simplistic a view. The fact of the matter was that there were several preconditions by which Moses had to abide to secure his peoples’ freedom.  First, Moses and his people would head southwards and not northward.

As we underscored in previous write-ups, Ramesses feared that if Moses opted for a northern direction, he would end up in Harran, where the Hykso-Hebrews of that  place would be reinforced by the freed Hykso-Hebrews of Egypt, thereby posing a potentially huge threat to  the Egyptians. Of particular significance in the terms of the departure was that Moses had to unequivocally recognise the sovereignty of Egypt over the Sinai Peninsula.

As such, he and his people were not to inhabit any inch of the Sinai for an unduly length of time en route to Canaan. They were to expressly head for Midian proper, that is, Arabia. And in order to see to it that that did indeed happen, Ramesses was to set up an observation post, a  watchtower, atop a rock at a place known as Migdol with immediate effect. Located at the intersection of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Suez and, the Gulf of Aqaba – three bodies of water that part-surrounded the Sinai Peninsula – Migdol had an elevation of about half a kilometre and commanded a view of about 30 miles each way.   

What that meant was that Moses would not return to Serabit El-Khadim in the Sinai Peninsula, where he had hitherto been based as Egypt now had fully enforced its rights to the area, which dated back to circa 2000 BC. He would be shepherding his people straight to Arabia, where his jurisdiction as King on behalf of Jethro was now officially recognised. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT READERS TAKE SPECIAL NOTE OF THIS DEVELOPMENT, FOR HISTORIANS HAVE WRONGLY PLACED THE NATION OF ISRAEL’S WILDERNESS WINDERINGS IN THE SINAI PENINSULA WHEN IT WAS ACTUALLY IN ARABIA, which today encompasses Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.

Many a people are not aware that the Mount Sinai of the Sinai Peninsula was identified, or rather mis-dentified, as the scene of the wilderness of the Exodus not by way of research but on the whim, purely,  of Queen Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great. Helena did this in AD 315, on the basis of a dream rather than objective inquiry. The Mount Sinai of the Exodus was actually Mount Jabal-Al Lawz,  which was located in Aabia, a view we find persuasive in light of our own research.

Even as relatively recently as the first century AD, the apostle Paul was very much aware of this fact: in GALATIANS 4:5, he points out that Mount Sinai was in Arabia. In the first century, when Paul was doing his writings, the Sinai Peninsula still was separate from Arabia: it belonged to Egypt until 106 AD when the Roman Emperor Trajan annexed it and appended it to Arabia, which he had seized in 105 AD.      

As I keep harping upon time and again, when a lie has been repeated for donkeys’ years, it assumes the status of fact simply because human beings are not that keen to interrogate bandied-about, foregone-conclusion “facts” that are in the mainstream. Thus every pastor will preach to you that the Ten Commandments were given at Mount Sinai in the Sinai Peninsula when in truth they were given at the Mountain of the Elohim in Arabia. But we’re getting ahead of our story.

OF ISRAELITES AND FLAT BREAD

Since the bulk of the Hykso-Hebrews who departed Egypt for Arabia were the descendants of Jacob, they called themselves Israelites. The name Israelites had two connotations. First, it evoked the patriarchal name of Jacob, who was given the name Israel by Nannar-Sin, Enlil-Jehovah’s second-born son. Second, it was a reminder that the Jews once had an own state in northern Egypt, called I-SIRA-EL, meaning ‘El’s Shield”.

El was how Nannar-Sin was referred to in Canaan, where he was the leading god. Northern Egypt, when it was ruled by the Hykso-Hebrews, served as a buffer that prevented southern Egyptians from directly accessing the strategic Sinai Peninsula, which housed the Anunnaki spaceport till the year 2024 BC when it was nuclear-bombed by Ninurta, Enlil-Jehovah’s firstborn son. Thus northern Egypt was Nannar-Sin’s shield against southern Egypt’s encroachment of the Sinai Peninsula. Of course at the time of the Exodus, circa 1333 BC, there was no I-Sira-El (Hykso-ruled northern Egypt) and the Sinai Peninsula was under Egyptian jurisdiction.

The departure of the Israelites from Egypt was unheralded: they were simply ordered by their god Ishkur-Adad to pack up and go one evening, in the month of Abib,  which in today’s calendar corresponds to the latter part of March and the early part of April. Note that the caravan did not comprise of Israelites only: some Egyptians, who in all probability had religiously converted to the Jewish faith or had lent the Israelites  the gold and silver they carried, came along too.

EXODUS 12:38 says, “A mixed multitude also went up with them”. Since they left in very hasty circumstances, the Israelites did not have time to bake bread using yeast, called leavened bread. Instead, they hurriedly prepared unleavened bread (flat bread both in terms of taste and shape because it has no yeast)) to consume whilst on their great trek. However, the main reason they settled for unleavened bread is not given in the Bible. THIS IS THAT UNLEAVENED HAS NUMEROUS HEALTH BENEFITS.

It is low in fat and calories and is a good source for energy-supplying carbohydrates. It is a good source of fibre, which is vital for maintaining heart health. It is rich in Vitamin B, which enables the body to obtain energy from the food we eat. Finally,  it is rich in manganese and selenium, two minerals that function as antioxidants in our bodies. Antioxidants are substances that protect cells from damage by chemicals known as free radicals. Thus unleavened bread was just the right sustenance for a people who were to spend weeks on the march.
    In due course, Adad would institute the Feast of Unleavened Bread for the Israelites, which they would celebrate once a year concurrent with Passover to commemorate the frantic manner in which they left Egypt. The Feast of Unleavened Bread, during which they ate bread without yeast, lasted for seven days.

ISRAELITES CROSS SEA OF REEDS AS OPPOSED TO RED SEA

The route the Israelites took on their way to Arabia (Midian) can be somewhat confusing if one were to strictly follow the Exodus account. For instance, in EXODUS 15:22, one would get the impression that the Israelites’ first stop was the Wilderness of Shur. However, we now know that the Wilderness of Shur was in Arabia. It was actually the penultimate stop as it marked the very cusp of their ultimate destination, Mount Jabal Al-Lawz, which is also referred to as Sinai or Horeb in the Bible. When the Israelites set off from Egypt, Moses told them they were headed for the Wilderness of Shur, the reason the region is listed first.

The entire journey from Goshen in Egypt to Mount Sinai in Arabia took 45 days.  Of these, 28 were travel days whereas 17 were camping days.  On average, the Israelites traversed 27 km a day. Goshen, which also went by the names Pi-Ramses and Avaris, is today’s Tel El Daba, in Egypt’s eastern delta. It is located approximately 100 km northeast of Cairo and in antiquity was an important commercial and military centre.

The first topical juncture in the Israelites’ peregrinations was the crossing of the Sea of Reeds. The Sea of Reeds is not the same as the Red Sea: the Sea of Reeds (Yam Suf in Hebrew) was then a shallow depression whose sea level variation averaged a mere 1.2 metres.  It is today occupied by the Suez Canal in the region of the tidal salt marshes and reed beds near the Bitter Lakes to the south of Ismalia. Historians have mistaken the Sea of Reeds for the Red Sea simply because the English version of the King James Bible wrongly translated the Hebrew Yam Suf to Red Sea instead of Sea of Reeds (EXODUS 15:22).

But does that mean that it was at the pitifully shallow Sea of Reeds that Moses parted the huge walls of water? And did the miraculous parting indeed take place? YES IT DID, BUT IT WAS NOT AT THE SEA OF REEDS: IT WAS AT THE STRAITS OF TIRAN ACROSS THE GULF OF AQABA. The Gulf of Aqaba separates the Sinai Peninsula from Arabia. But many a people are not aware that the Gulf of Suez, which  separates mainland Egypt from the Sinai Peninsula,  and the Gulf of Aqaba together constitute the Red Sea (EXODUS 10:19; EXODUS 23:31; NUMBERS 21:4; DEUTERONOMY 2:1; JUDGES 11:16; AND 1 KINGS 9:26 ). In fact, to the Israelites of Moses’ day, the Red Sea proper was the Gulf of Aqaba. More on the parting of the Gulf of Aqaba arm of the Red Sea later.  

ADAD SHOWBOATS HIS PATERNALISM

Ishkur-Adad was out to impress the Israelites – to rest-assure them that not only was he their protector through thick and thin but he was also their guiding light through and through. For as long as they obeyed and heeded his every admonition, he would stoutly stand by them and cater to their every need.      The Israelites wanted him to make his presence manifest even if they could not see his physical being, which he withheld from them as per the Enlilite pantheon’s accord.

Obliging them, Adad asserted his presence in two ways 24/7. During the day, either he himself or his Anunnaki pilots ( called “Messengers of the Elohim” in EXODUS 13:19) shuttled back and forth  overhead in an expansive Flying Saucer (referred to as the “Glory of God” in most biblical passages) which was encased in an ever-lingering smoke which gave the impression of a cloud. During the night time, he continued to hover by them aloft but this time around, the flying saucer illumined the immediate surroundings on the ground. The Bible refers to this rather brilliant illumination as fire.

In short, the nation of Israel were led by a cloud and by a pillar of fire as they trekked out of Egypt (EXODUS 13:21).  BOTH THESE ELEMENTS SYMBOLISE DEATH. A cloud  in this context is a metaphor for a shroud and fire denotes judgement or an agent/medium of destruction (LUKE 9:54; 2 KINGS 1:10. In REVELATION 13:13, a being who calls fire to come down from Heaven is described as “the Beast”, an agent of the Devil). Indeed,  during the nation of Israel’s wilderness wanderings, the hot-tempered Adad killed great numbers of Israelites at the slightest indiscretion as we shall later demonstrate.

Today, the charismatic church movements, also known as Pentecostals, refer to themselves as Fire Churches. When TB Joshua is busy exorcising demons, he chants, “Fire! Fire!”. But fire is not synonymous with good: it is synonymous with danger or destruction. The Lake of Fire in the Book of Revelation is symbolic of the ultimate fate of the forces of darkness – their total annihilation or eternal damnation. So why should the charismatic churches obsess themselves with the mantra of “fire”?

Well, if you know the underlying orientation of the gods of the Old Testament, you will easily understand why they projected  themselves as a byword for fire. The Gnostics, the first century buffs of metaphysical knowledge, described the Reptilians (devils) as archons. They said the archons were made of “luminous fire”.  Fire, therefore, is fundamentally a euphemism for the forces of darkness. And the Enlilites, the Anunnaki faction that was headed by Jehovah-Enlil, were allied with  Reptilians, which explains their utter cruelty and their nefarious agenda for mankind.  

Sadly, the church has long been infiltrated by the regressive Enlilites and their Reptilian allies, two particularly  diabolical forces who jointly schemed the creation  of  religion. So when your pastor, bishop, or “prophet” chants “Fire! Fire!”, believe you me he’s simply saluting his Luciferian   gods who enable those “miracles”. This Earth, My Brother …

ISRAELITES REACH SHORES OF RED SEA

The Israelites’ first stop on the great trek toward Arabia was a place known as Succouth, about 120 km south of today’s Port of Suez. This was exactly 3 days after their departure from Goshen. The Succouth stop was not meant for an overnight rest. Within the Succouth region and near Serabit El Khadim were two Egyptian controlled copper and turquoise mines where Israelite slaves toiled without pay.  Thus Moses ordered a stop there to collect the Israelite miners, a gesture which was in keeping with the terms of the exodus he had negotiated with Pharaoh Ramesses.    

From Succouth, Moses led the nation of Israel to Migdol, the Egyptians’ three-way look-out point, which was about 500 km from Egypt. At Migdol, the Egyptians, who were keeping tabs on the huge Israelite procession, kept meticulously trained homing pigeons – organic couriers of messages between Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptians had used courier pigeons since 2400 BC. The moment the Egyptian sentries observed the approach of Israelite hordes, they immediately dispatched one or two homing pigeons to Pharaoh’s palace to alert him accordingly. Homing pigeons flew at a speed of 100 km per hour and so in only 5 hours’ time, Ramesses would have received the message.  

From Migdol, the Israelites proceeded to Etham, where they reached “a dead end”. Etham was surrounded by mountains 300 metres high. This made the Israelites a sitting target in case the Egyptians pursued after them. With such a rude awakening, Adad had a rethink and had his people retrace their way back to the plain at the foot of Migdol, where they were to camp. It seems these back-and-forth manouevres were also a strategy on the part of Adad to confuse the Egyptians.  

Next, the Israelites moved to Pi-Hahiroth, around the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula. Pi-Hahiroth was located on the shores of the Gulf of Aqaba, that is, between Migdol and the eastern arm of the Red Sea.  Thus far, the Israelites had travelled for 17 days and camped for 8 days since departing Egypt. To date, the Israelites had been moving through the “Wilderness of Egypt”. The Wilderness of Egypt was the V-shaped area of land between the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba. Today, it is known as the Sinai Peninsula.

EGYPTIAN FORCES HEM IN ON ISRAELITE CONTINGENT

The Israelites camped for 8 days at Pi-Hahiroth. This is curious: if the Israelites were pressed for time to get to Arabia, why did Adad let them procrastinate for so long? The Bible itself provides the answer in EXODUS 4:14, which reads thus: “Thus I will make the heart of Pharaoh steadfast, so he will pursue after them. Then I shall indeed be glorified in Pharaoh and in all his army; and the Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh. Hence they did so.”

Once again, we see Adad’s mind manipulation artifice at work here.  Adad’s intention was to perform a great “miracle” that would astonish both the Egyptians and the Israelites – the parting of the Red Sea, that is, the Gulf of Aqaba. He wanted the Egyptians to be firsthand witnesses to this extraordinary feat so it could be the talk of the day. So what does he do?  He uses his long-honed mind-control tricks to work on the psyche of Ramesses so that he (Ramesses) makes a rash decision to give fervid chase after the Israelites.

So the moment Ramesses received the message delivered by the homing pigeons – that the Israelites were now camped at the foot of Migdol (before they set off for Pi-Hahiroth) – he sent a 600-man strong chariotry after them. His excuse was that the Israelites had tactfully (that is, by way of deceptive  borrowing) purloined a priceless amount of gold and silver from his people and he wanted this returned before they crossed the Gulf of Aqaba.

Since the Egyptian army were horse-mounted, they arrived at Pi-Hahiroth much faster than the Israelites did. But they  did not attack the Israelites there and then as they were intimidated by Adad’s formidable-looking flying saucer which kept vigil over the Israelites day in and day out. Seeing that the Egyptian forces were now on the scene, Adad decided to get his people to cross the sea using the Straits of Tiran, which linked Arabia to the Sinai Peninsula. To effectually do that humanly speaking, they would have required thousands of ferries, which would have taken months  to construct. The quickest passage was by way of none other than a miracle. How was this miracle to be effected?
    
NEXT WEEK:   ISRAELITES  IN ARABIA

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A “Virgin” Conceives

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

Princess Mary falls pregnant only one month after her betrothal to Prince Joseph

To put the lineage of Mary the mother of Jesus in context, General Atiku, it is in order that we begin with her grandfather Yehoshua  (Jesus in Greek) III.

Mary was offspring of two royal lines, the Davidic line and the Hasmonean line. Yehoshua III was the Herod–appointed High Priest of Israel between 36 and 23 BC.  He had no sons, only three daughters namely Joanna, Elizabeth, and Anna, all of whom he organised dynastic suitors.

Elizabeth would be married off into the House of Aaron, the legitimate priestly line, and Joanna and Anna would be married off into the House of David, the legitimate kingly line. That’s how Elizabeth became the wife of Zechariah of the tribe of Levi and in due course the mother of John the Baptist.

Mainstream Israel up to the level of the Sanhedrin had recognised Anna as the eligible mother of the future King of Israel and not the sitting impostor Herod (it is not clear what happened to first-born Joanna but she probably passed away before she got married). Anna was accordingly married off to Alexander III, a Davidic and Hasmonean prince who was best known as Heli as indeed the genealogy of Luke clearly attests.

Heli and Anna too had no sons. They only had daughters, the firstborn of whom was Dorcas, whose was born in 26 BC and whose titular name was Mary.  Mary was orphaned early in her childhood when her father Heli was killed in 17 BC at the orders of the increasingly paranoid Herod and when her mother Anna died a year or so later.

Since she was a dynastic heiress, it was likely that Herod would come after her. The Essenes thus secreted her somewhere in remote Galilee. It was actually in Galilee that most members of the Davidic royal line were concentrated not only to keep as far away from Herod as possible but to also enjoy the protective custody of the Zealots, who were the secret military wing of the Essenes and a thorn in the side of both Herod and the Romans.  Joseph was also officially based in Galilee although both he and Mary were in truth based at Qumran in the Judean wilds.

JOSEPH CALLED TO “DUTY”

Dynastic marriages are often more politically strategic than spontaneous, General. For example, the union of Prince Charles and Princess Diana was motivated by the need to fuse the Windsor genes with those of the Stuarts as the Windsors, being predominantly Reptilians, were finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their human form.

The Stuarts, the clan of Diana, had by far more human genes than Reptilian and they too were an aristocratic family. That’s why once Charles had produced a  “heir and a spare”, he completely sidelined Diana, who he had never loved, and devoted himself to his real love – Camilla Parker-Bowles.

The marriage of Joseph to Mary, General, was equally strategic. Although both were from the tribe of Judah and of the royal Davidic line, they were from different branches.  Joseph was a descendant of Solomon, whereas Mary was a descendant of Nathan, Solomon’s elder brother. The line of Solomon, as we once underlined, had been tainted by the Jeconiah curse.

The line of Nathan was clean. Since the son of Joseph and Mary would be the future King of Israel, it was important that he not be compromised by the baggage, rightly or wrongly, of the Jeconiah curse. Hence the desirability of the union of Prince Joseph and Princess Mary.

Now, both Joseph and Mary’s clans were Essenes. As such, their marriage process, formalities, and protocols had to strictly adhere to Essene dynastic rules. The Essenes were in ranks. Amongst the higher echelons were the two great dynasties, the Davids and the Zadoks, who had been the high priests and kings of Israel respectively before the destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC.

The Davids and Zadoks lived a strictly holy life, typically in a monastery at Qumran, the reclusive headquarters of the Essenes. They were sequestered there so that they did not fall prey to the machinations of the bloodthirsty King Herod though officially their address was Galilee.  In fact, the major reason the Essene movement had come into existence was to preserve and safeguard the Davidic and Zadokite lines, the religio-politico haunt of Herod and the Hasmoneans initially.

According to the Essene code, General, the Zadoks and the Davids were not to engage in sex for recreational purposes because it was regarded as defiling: it diluted holiness. The only times they were supposed to do so was when need arose to produce heirs. In 8 BC, it was now opportune for Joseph, the David, to produce a heir and so he was excused from a life of chastity.

At this point in time in fact, the Essenes were focused on two dynastic figures. These were Joseph and Zechariah. The two were expected to produce the Messiah of David and the Messiah of Aaron, that is, the future King of Israel and the future High Priest of Israel.

According to Essene rules, the David had to marry at age 36, so that by the time he was 40, he had already sired a heir. The new heir had to be born when the David was 37. If the child was a daughter, she could not inherit, and so the David had to set about the procreation of a second-born, who hopefully would be a boy (copulation to that end was allowed only when the daughter was 3 years old).

The Davidic heir had to be born not in any other month but in September, the holiest in the Jewish calendar. In order to conform to these parameters, a betrothal ceremony was held at the beginning of June. During the betrothal period – the three months from beginning of June to end of August – sexual relations were not permitted.

Then at the beginning of September, a First Marriage was held. This was the beginning of the marriage proper as now the couple were allowed to become intimate. However, the intimacy began only in December, with a view to delivering a heir in September the following year. At the end of March, the Second Marriage was held for it was hoped that by that time the spouse was three months pregnant if there hadn’t been a miscarriage. With the Second Marriage, the wedlock was permanent: divorce was never allowed whatsoever.

Meanwhile, General, if the spouse hadn’t conceived in December, sexual relations were suspended till December the following year. The husband would then leave her spouse and return either to the monastery at Qumran or embark on a tour of duty elsewhere in furtherance of the Essene cause.

A BINDING ENGAGEMENT

According to the Dead Sea Scrolls, General, the Essenes were not only a spiritual, revolutionary, and philosophical movement. They were also ardent believers in astrology. They meticulously studied the stars and the movements of planets to read what they portended about the future.

Thus the reason a Davidic heir had to be born in September was not only because this was the holiest month of the year: it was also in recognition of the fact that September was ruled by the constellation Virgo. In other words, September was astrologically the month of the virgin. That was what Mary was.

Mary was both a virgin physically and a virgin titularly. A bride of the future king was required to be a virgin. As an Essene, Mary belonged to the Order (not the tribe) of Dan.  This was the Order of Nuns, or virgins, both legal and physical virgins. Thus in the Order of Dan, a woman was not a virgin only before she slept with a man: she was a virgin until she was six months pregnant. In the case of a dynastic spouse like Mary, this was up to end of June.  From then henceforth, she was promoted within the Order to the first stage of a Mother.

Joseph’s betrothal to Mary took place at Qumran in June 8 BC. Now, in our day, betrothal simply means engagement to be married. In ancient Israel up to New Testament times, betrothal was part and parcel of the marriage contract. It was definite and binding upon both groom and bride, who were considered as man and wife in all legal and religious aspects, except that sexual relations were not permitted.

For example, in 2 SAMUEL 3:14, King David refers to his betrothed woman as “my wife”. Also in DEUTERONOMY 22:24, a betrothed woman is referred to as “his neighbour’s wife”.  In the betrothal formalities, dowry and bride price were included. If a bride and groom for one reason or the other wanted to opt out of the betrothal after the betrothal ceremony, they had to seek a formal divorce.

Since the betrothal took place in June, General, Joseph and Mary were not supposed to make love till December, that is, six months after the betrothal ceremony and three months after the First Marriage ceremony in September. Just one month after the betrothal ceremony (that is, at the beginning of July 8 BC), however, Mary became pregnant. Was it Joseph, General? Was it rape by a Roman soldier called Panthera as some contemporary records suggest? Or was it simply the supernatural act of the “Holy Spirit” as Christendom holds?

THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS

Those who hold that the circumstances of Mary’s pregnancy were supernatural, General, can be excused. This is because the language employed therein smacks of ethereality – Holy Spirit, Angel Gabriel, Son of the Most High, etc. To those who have read and rigorously studied the Dead Sea Scrolls, however, such terminology is well within the temporal context.

That is to say, it does not carry spiritual connotations as such. True, the idea of an angel speaking to Joseph and Mary in their sleep may seem supernatural but the dreams are theological interpolations, inserted into the gospels in onward editing to fit a contrived agenda – what Karl Marx called the opium of the masses.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are so named because they were discovered in caves around the Qumran plateau of the West Bank (about 40 km east of Jerusalem), at the northwest corner of the Dead Sea, in March 1947. The discoverer was a Bedouin shepherd kid who was looking for a lost goat. The scrolls were found hidden in jars.

The 1947 find was the initial discovery: more discoveries were made after further excavations on the same site spanning 11 years in a series of 11 caves. Altogether, 972 texts were   turned up. They are written in four languages, namely Hebrew (the majority), Aramaic, Greek, and Nabatean, mostly on parchment. Other texts were inscribed on papyrus and bronze.

Most of the Dead Sea Scrolls are fragments. Fragments of all the Old Testament books have been found save for the book of Esther. The only complete book is Isaiah.  There are also apocryphal books (those arbitrarily excluded from the Old Testament canon by the Constantine-convened Nicene Council of AD 325) such as the Book of Enoch and the Book of Jubilees, and sect-specific writings that embody rules and beliefs of the people who compiled them.

The latter include commentaries on the Old Testament, paraphrases that expand on the Law of Moses, rule books of the community, war conduct, thanksgiving psalms, hymnic compositions, benedictions, liturgical texts, and sapiential (wisdom) writing. These texts have been given appropriate titles such as the War Scroll; Manual of Discipline; the Community Rule; the Temple Scroll; the Copper Scroll; etc.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were written/preserved by the Essenes between 168 BC and 68 AD. We know this because Pliny, the first century Roman historian, wrote that, “On the west coast of Lake Asphaltitis (the Dead Sea) are settled the Essenes, at some distance from the noisome odours that are experienced on the shore itself.

They are a lonely people, the most extraordinary in the world, who live without women, without love, without money, with the palm trees for their only companions.”   The Essenes stashed away the scrolls sometime in 70 AD, when Roman General Flavius Titus overran Jerusalem and laid waste to the Temple following a catastrophic Jewish uprising – led by the Zealots, the military wing of the Essenes – that began in 66 BC.

This they did in heed of JEREMIAH 32:14, which says, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences … and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days.” The Dead Sea Scrolls have given us invaluable insight into the beliefs, customs, rituals, politics, philosophies, and traditions of first century Palestine.

NEXT WEEK: THE PANTERA INVOLVEMENT

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A crash course in publicity

2nd March 2021

The rivalry between luxury German automotive marques Mercedes-Benz and BMW is legendary. Both brands offer high-end, high-priced desirable models, always at the forefront of cutting-edge driving technology and excellence. And in the annals of the advertising world, a campaign between the two rivals is equally legendary and it happened on our own doorstep.

Many of you will be familiar with the coastal road out of Cape Town called Chapman’s Peak. It is a beautiful, sightseeing attraction, the road winding through spectacular coastal-mountain scenery, with cliffs sinking into the  Atlantic ocean on one side, and steep mountains towering over the road on the other. However, the road is also notoriously dangerous, with its 114 sharp, meandering bends . It’s reputation is well-deserved . Several years ago, when a major coastal cleanup campaign was launched, a helicopter pulled a total of 22 wrecked cars out of the water adjacent to Chapman’s Peak and it was one such accident which prefaced the notorious marketing battle. The story is thus:

In 1988 an Irish businessman lost control of his Mercedes Benz when driving along this road, plunging 100 metres down the cliff. Miraculously, he not only survived the accident, but crawled out of the wreckage with hardly a scratch on his body.

When Mercedes heard the details, the marketing department decided to base a new advertisement on the story to promote the safety features and stability of the brand. In the video ad they intentionally drove an identical model off the road in the exact same location, having it plunge off the edge of the cliff, the driver stepping out similarly unscathed, proving the phenomenal survivability and strength of Mercedes Benz.

When the marketing suits at BMW saw this ad, they took a bold and ingenious decision to mimic it but with a twist. Only a week later, whilst the first ad was still fresh in the public’s minds, they shot their ad showing a BMW driving along the exact same stretch of road in the rain. However, when it reached the point at which the Mercedes plunged off the cliff, the BMW negotiated it safely, and continued driving along the road.

The catchphrase of the ad was “BMW beats the bends” . Or was it? It was cunningly recorded so that it could equally have been ‘beats the Benz’, implying that their cars had superior cornering and stability to their rival, Even more sneakily, they launched their campaign on a Saturday, mindful of the rules on competitive advertising in South Africa, safe in the knowledge that no objectionable actions could be taken till the new working week.

Mercedes-Benz wasted no time on Monday in issuing an injunction, the ad was swiftly pulled but the damage was done and the dog had had its day. The ad campaign ranks high in the history of advertising and can still be found online to this day. Meanwhile the rivalry between the two automotive greats goes on.

I reference this piece of marketing history in the light of this week’s horror crash by golfing great, Tiger Woods. Driving from a luxury holiday resort in California to a nearby country club Tiger Woods lost control of his vehicle on a downhill stretch of the road, smashed through a road sign, crossed over the central reservation and rolled his car several hundred feet. He had to be cut out and pulled to safety through the windscreen and the vehicle was so badly damaged, the attending police officers said he was ‘lucky to survive’.

The vehicle Woods was driving was a rented Genesis GV80 SUV. If you are unfamiliar with the brand that is not surprising since it is a relatively new spin-off from the South Korean Hyundai marque. The Genesis utility vehicle, not available locally yet, retails for around $50,000 or half a million pula, placing it in the higher end of town and country SUVs in the USA.

The model has certainly been widely publicised in the media coverage of the high-profile sportsman’s accident and I suspect that if asked to comment, Hyundai/Genesis would disagree with the police assessment, putting Woods’ survival down to build quality and in-built safety features such as crumple zones, anti-roll bars and airbags, which were deployed in the crash and would most certainly have played their part cushioning the effects of the rolling and ultimate impact. There is , of course, no suggestion that the manufacturers will capitalise on Woods’ survival but certainly it will have done the brand no harm that he did indeed emerge with recoverable injuries.

Comparing the two accidents, the driver of the Mercedes driving along Chapman’s Peak was, of course, an ordinary member of the public whilst Tiger Woods is a household name. That said, in humanitarian terms each tale of survival carries equal weight but the fact remains that the former was just another local story of yet one more victim of a notoriously tricky stretch of road whilst the latter went round the world in an instant because of the fame and name of the driver.

There is also no evidence that that stretch of Californian urban highway carried any inherent risk. His appears to have been just a loss of control and a freak accident. However, in the event that Hyundai/Genesis should consider making capital from that accident, a note of caution needs to be sounded.

In the advertising world, the use of celebrities to promote a product is a fall-back stance to sell anything from washing-up liquid to whisky but statistics have shown that it can be a double-edged sword in that yes, the ads are memorable and the public love them when the celeb is popular and personable. But…..what is often remembered is the name of the famous promoter, not the name of the product. In other words, they sell themselves far better than they sell the item.

In golfing terminology Hyundai/Genesis are not ‘out of the Woods’ yet and maybe they should go with a completely different Driver!

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Pact with the Devil

2nd March 2021
THE LORD’S GREAT GRANDMOTHER

How Jesus’s grandfather sold his birthright to megalomaniac Herod

If you were to ask a Christian to name the main Jewish sects, General Atiku, he would no doubt begin with the Pharisees (because Jesus had innumerable slanging matches with  them according to the gospels), followed by the Sadducees.  Yet there was a third, equally momentous sect – the Essenes.

Although there’s not a single, one mention of the Essenes in the Bible, General, the New Testament is filled with Essene-type language as anybody who has read the Dead Sea Scrolls would readily recognise.

In point of fact, it was the Essenes who produced Jesus as well as the infamous Jewish band of freedom fighters known as the Zealots. Furthermore, almost all the New Testament writers were either Essenes or champions of the Essene cause as is apparent in their language and the drift of their overall philosophy.   The Essenes have a palpable presence in the Bible, albeit a cloaked one.

The Essenes, General, were the most popular, the most esteemed, and the most influential of the Jewish sects. The Jewish historian Philo (20 BC-50 AD) devotes 90 percent of his description of the Jewish sects to the Essenes. He wrote that the Essenes  “dwell in many cities of Judea and in many villages and in great societies of many numbers”.

Hyppolytus of Rome (170-236 AD) devoted nine-and-half chapters to the Essenes and only one to the Sadducees.     The Essenes are the authors of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in 1947 in Israel at a place called Qumran and which have given us even greater insight into the happenings in the first century than the Bible itself.

How did the Essene movement come about, General?  The Essenes, meaning “puritans of the faith”, were the Jewish sect that was the most loyal to the Davidic dynasty. They set themselves apart from the mainstream Jewish community circa 175 BC and established their headquarters at Qumran,  about 40 km from Jerusalem.

Since the Jewish nation revered the Davidic royal line, the only legitimate and rightful rulers of Judah in their view, they rallied to the Essenes en masse. And because the Essenes were disparaging of the Hasmonean rule (140 BC to 63 BC), the mainstream Jews also took a dismissive view of Hasmonean rule too.

The Essenes were so highly regarded because of their virtue and spirituality. The legendary Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD) writes thus of them: “They are more mutually affectionate than the others (Pharisees and Sadducees). Whereas these men shun the pleasures as vice, they consider self-control and not succumbing to the passions virtue  … Since [they are] despisers of wealth –  their communal stock is astonishing – one cannot find a person among them who has more in terms of possessions.

For by a law, those coming into the school (that is, the Essene fold) must yield up their funds to the order, with the result that in all [their ranks] neither the humiliation of poverty nor the superiority of wealth is detectable, but the assets of each one have been mixed in together, as if they were brothers, to create one fund for all.”

In time, the Essenes, General, became quite influential even with occupying powers. For instance, when the Greek General Pompey installed Hyrcanus II as ruler of  Palestine in 63 BC,  he sought the opinion  of the Essenes. The Essenes recommended that Hyrcanus go by the titles High Priest and Prince, not King, to which Pompey paid heed. In  142 BC, when Simon was installed by the Seleucids as ruler of Palestine, the Essenes had insisted on the same titular style. To the Essenes, everybody who occupied Israel’s seat of authority was simply holding fort for the real deal – the Davidic  King.

In 37 BC, when Herod became King of Palestine, the potential Davidic King was Jacob-Eliakim – the father of the Joseph of the gospels – who was an Essene himself. It was in order to win the blessings of the historically popular Jewish royal family that Herod sought to curry favour with the Essenes.

JACOB’S PACT WITH HEROD

About the time Herod came to power, General, there were three citizens of considerable stature in Palestine – Hillel, Menahem, and Jacob-Eliakim, the grandfather of Jesus. Hillel is by all accounts ancient Israel’s greatest teacher and scholar.

He was the foremost spiritual sage in the development of the Talmud and the Mishnah, the most authoritative religious references of the Jews which are second only to the Old Testament in esteem.   The renowned “Golden Rule”, which is invariably attributed to Jesus, was actually coined by Hillel. It is not certain whether Hillel was an Essene but his teachings did have a profound influence both on Essene philosophy and that of Jesus, who was an Essene too.

It was Menahem, however, who was an incontrovertible Essene. The Essenes were of two main branches, General. First, there were the puritans, the Palestinian Essenes. Then there were the liberals, the Diaspora Essenes, who sneered at the Palestinian Essenes’ dogmatism and rather strict views on morality. Menahem was the leader of the  Diaspora Essenes.

He was also privilleged to be advisor to King Herod. Herod did hold Menahem in very high regard. Josephus relates that when Herod was a school-going lad, Menahem had patted him on his back and said to him, “one day you will be King young man.” Since the prophecy came to pass, Herod had a certain, atypical respect both for Menahem and the order of Essenes.

Jacob-Eliakim’s significance was by virtue of his pedigree. He was of the royal line of David and was therefore the uncrowned King of the Jews. Now, as we have already indicated, Herod had his own grand designs about rulership of the world notwithstanding the fact that he was in reality a vassal of Rome.

When he made overtures to the trio, they didn’t mince words: they told him that in the new Israel, the Israel that would rule Earth once the Romans had been toppled from the pedestal of world power, it was a Davidic King who would reign. Herod took very strong  exception to such a prospect. Herod was neither a full-blooded Jew nor of Davidic stock but he was royalty in his own right.

His father, Antipater,  had been the governor of Idumea and in due course Judea in  the Hasmonean government and was in fact the real ruler of the entire Palestine, with John Hyrcanus being a  mere figurehead king.  When he (Herod) was only 25 years old, his father had appointed him governor of Galilee.   Herod thus had strutted the corridors of power from the day he was born and he wasn’t going to give that up easily either for his own sake or that of his descendants.

As such, General, Herod maintained to the trio that in the new, overarching Kingdom of Israel, he was going to be the emperor and would be based in Jerusalem. Just like the Greek empire of Alexander had been a triarchy (a kingdom divided into three governments), the global Kingdom of Israel (“Thy Kingdom Come” in the Lord’s Prayer) was going to be likewise.

There was going to be a ruler in the east, a ruler in the west, and a ruler in the centre, that is Jerusalem, under the oversight of Herod himself. Hillel would rule in Jerusalem; Menahem in the east; and Jacob-Eliakim in the west. If these three happened to have disappeared from the Earthly scene by the time the Kingdom of Israel came into being, their descendants would observe the same setup.

The pecking order would thus be like this: Herod as the emperor; Hillel as the senior king; Menahem as the second-ranked king; and Jacob-Eliakim as the junior king. Put differently, Herod had by the stroke of a pen reduced the Davidic dynasty from foremost to least important as it posed the most serious threat to his office. Meanwhile, the three kings-in-waiting would go by the names of the Old Testament patriarchs.

Hillel would henceforth be called the Abraham, or the Father (or Papa, which later morphed into Pope), since Abraham was the Father of the Jewish nation; Menahem would be called the Isaac (Abraham’s son); and Eliakim the Jacob (Isaac’s son). Half a loaf was better than nothing at all and so Jacob-Eliakim meekly accepted this arrangement.

When Jesus later said, “Many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the new Kingdom of Heaven (MATTHEW 8:11),” he did not mean an afterlife kingdom: he referred to the Earthly setup proposed by King Herod.

FALLOUT WITH ESSENES

Those days, General, the Davidic heir used the title “Jacob” rather than “David” as the latter title was very risky, particularly under the Hasmonean government. Given that Joseph was the most beloved son of the Old Testament Jacob, the next in line, that is, the firstborn son of the Jacob, used the title “Joseph”.

In September 44 BC, a son was born to Jacob-Eliakim. As the crown prince to the Jacob, he was given the titular name Joseph, the name by which he became best-known.  Like his father Jacob-Eliakim, Joseph was a missionary. But he also had a trade. He was a carpenter, a boat builder primarily, and a master of his craft. The word translated “carpenter” in the Bible is the ancient Greek word “ho hekton” which means a master artisan or craftsman.

In 31 BC, Qumran, the Essenes’ Judean wilderness bastion, was struck by an earthquake. The hermitic Essenes had no choice but to trek back to Jerusalem, from where they operated indefinitely at a place they called the Essene Gate. Then in 23 BC, Herod struck again. He had Jacob-Eliakim killed on trumped-up charges of sedition, his motive simply being a continuation of a systematic purge of  the Davidic “pretenders” to his throne.

The Essenes were wroth. They now set about promulgating to the Diaspora Essenes that Herod would have no part to play in the coming Kingdom. Instead, the overall King would be Joseph, the son of Jacob-Eliakim. This, General, was the beginning of a permanent rift between Herod and the Essene sect.

THE SAGA OF JOSEPH

The prospective global world, General, was subdivided into ten provinces to facilitate governance and tax collection. Palestine would have two provinces, Judea and Samaria, the latter of which would include Galilee. Asia Minor (largely present-day Turkey), where the bulk of Diaspora Jews were concentrated, would have five provinces.

The last three provinces would be Babylon, Rome, and Alexandria in Egypt. The future capital of the West was not Rome: it was Ephesus in Asia Minor. Having been allocated the West, it was in Ephesus and Alexandria that Jacob-Eliakim spent most of his time evangelizing to fellow Jews about the future Kingdom of Israel. This was the beginning of the New Covenant, whereby Jews who converted to the ideal of a new Kingdom of Israel were baptised by immersion in water.

To mainstream Palestinian Jews, General, Jacob-Eliakim was a sellout. Herod had demoted his pedigree but to somewhat placate him, he gave him the honorary title of Patriarch or Prince of Jerusalem. By subordinating the Davidic throne-in-waiting to Herod, Jacob-Eliakim had  gone against what the nation of Israel’s God, Enlil, the Bible’s main Jehovah, decreed – that every King of Judah had to be a descendant of  David. So when the unpredictable Herod had him killed in 23 BC for “sedition”, as part of a pogrom against the line of David, there was very little sympathy for him.

In 44 BC, Joseph had been born to Jacob-Eliakim. Joseph was a title: it was not his real name. At the death of his father, Joseph became the Jacob. However, he preferred the title “David”, the more apt one historically. Joseph would become the father of Jesus. When Joseph attained 30 years of age in 14 BC, his uncles and the Essene sages sent him to Rome and Alexandria to do his part in missionary work, which was simply about promulgating to the Diaspora Jews the future Kingdom of Israel in which a Son of David, that is a descendant of King David, would rule.   Egypt was also a special place because Joseph’s maternal relations were Egyptians.

Jacob-Eliakim, General, had two wives. The one was called Euchariah, a Jewish princess, of whom very little is known, and the other, the dynastic wife, was an Egyptian princess, a daughter of Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and Julius Caesar. Jacob-Eliakim and this princess had three sons: they were Joseph, the father of Jesus, and the twins Cleopas (after whom James, Jesus’ immediate younger brother, whose given name was Cleopas, was named) and Ptolas. Joseph was thus the Davidian Prince of Israel as well as contender to Crown Prince of Egypt. Despite pretences to the contrary on the part of the Jews, Egypt and Israel have always had ties of monarchical kinship.

In 8 BC, General, Joseph was required by Essene custom to return home and fulfill his obligations for a dynastic marriage. A wife-to-be had already been chosen for him by his uncles  and other patriarchal Essenes. This was Dorcas, better known today by her title name Mary.

NEXT WEEK: HOW HEROD MINIMISED THE HOUSE OF DAVID

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