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Hooked on Flesh and Blood

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

… and this is none other than Jehovah we’re talking about!

There are two diametrically opposed views on human sacrifice in the Hebrew Bible, familiarly known as the Old Testament. The first and the overwhelming view is pro- human sacrifice. The other view rails against human sacrifice. Now, contradictions in the Bible are more the norm than the exception. The reasons are manifold but we will cite only a few.    

First, the Bible was not written by a steadfastly like-minded scribal team. It was written by different people who had one general premise but over which they had clashing positions or viewpoints. In some cases, especially in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible,   several writers contributed to one book,  e.g. Deuteronomy, and these writers did not bother overmuch about synchronising the overall drift and orientation  of the narrative.

Scholars have identified at least four compound authors of the Pentateuch, who they have dubbed J (because he refers to his god as Jehovah), E (because he uses the plural term Elohim to refer to his god), D (the Deuteronomist) and P (the Priestly scribe).   Of course the casual reader will scarcely notice this disaccord,  but the scholar who has studied the Bible verse by verse will easily discern this.  

Second, the stories we read in the Bible were documented over thousands of years (as fragments of or excerpts from other age-old texts), beginning with the Sumerian records. For instance, the  first 25 chapters of Genesis were researched from Mesopotamian records written about 4000 years before Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, was written. The first concerted efforts on the part of the Jews to  compile the Hebrew Bible was done in the 7th century BC during the Babylonian captivity.

In the process, the source manuscripts were not left intact: some of the information they contained was edited out by the so-called redactors and perspectives  which were deemed palatable with the times were interpolated into them. Third, the gods of the Old Testament as we have long demonstrated were the Anunnaki, Aliens from the Sirian and Orion star systems via the little-known planet of the Solar System known as Nibiru.

The dominant Anunnaki in the Bible are the Enlilites, the clan of Jehovah-Enlil, who until the astrological Age of Aries was Earth’s Chief Executive. The Enlilites were the hawk faction  of the Anunnaki ruling pantheon. They were the diabolical faction vis-à-vis mankind. However, even they were not always in one accord. For example, Nannar-Sin, the second-born son of Enlil who later became the Allah of Islam, was the dove in the predominantly hawk faction. He was the only kind Enlilite.

Thus when you read of a god  speaking against human sacrifice, rest assured that god is Nannar-Sin. If the Jewish scribes had referred to Anunnaki gods by their own individual names throughout, we would not have such ambiguity. But they used a blanket term, such as Yahweh or Adonai, as a result of which one can only  glean an idea of which particular god is being talked about by  cross-referencing with the more authoritative Sumerian records.

The gods themselves share the blame for this convoluted state of affairs.  In Aries, the Enlilites, as we pointed out in earlier pieces, decided to pose as one unitary god before their chosen people, the Jews, whilst maintaining their individual identities behind the scenes.  It explains why they no longer wished to be seen by Earthlings; only to be heard. In the post exilic era (from the time of the Exodus till the waning days of the astrological Age of Aries), the Enlilites were mostly represented by Ishkur-Adad, Enlil’s third-born son, before the Nation of Israel.  Adad, as we shall demonstrate in due course, was the cruelest Enlilite after Enlil.

He was responsible for much of the evil perpetrated by “God” in the Old Testament. In the Sumerian records, it  was Ninurta and Inanna-Ishtar, Enlil’s granddaughter, who were the prime evils. And the god who committed the world’s  best-known and most outrageous act of genocide was Enlil, when he let mankind perish in their millions during the Deluge. This brings us to the matter of human sacrifice and why there are  contending views about it in the Hebrew Bible.

There were scribes who thought since human sacrifice was a most egregious evil, it should not be  presented as something  decreed by God. As such, these scribes inserted passages in the  original texts that gave the impression that actually God frowned on human sacrifice. But the more objective scribes were of the view that what the original manuscripts contained should stand irrespective of whether it portrayed God in a negative light. After all, God was God and he did not have to sanitise any extreme measure he took. That, in sum folks, is why you find some verses reporting that God  was hooked on human sacrifice and others  underscoring God’s condemnation  of the act.

When you read the Bible, it is important that you take the bigger picture and not use an isolated incident as the basis of  your inference. Focus on the sum total of what is being related to you and not on the contents merely of one verse, one chapter, or even one book. Above all,   ensure you augment and buttress your understanding  of the Bible with extra-biblical sources. For example, you would never grasp the creation story, that of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and the great  Flood of Noah’s day without reading the Sumerian chronicles or books on the Sumerian chronicles. You will never know who the gods of the Old Testament exactly were without being acquainted with what the Sumerian cuneiform clay tablets and cylinder seals say about these gods.   

ADAD AND NINURTA FRONT-RUNNERS IN THE APPETITE FOR HUMAN FLESH

In the Bible, two gods are particularly associated with human sacrifice. The first goes by the generic name  YAHWEH,  or Jehovah. We by now know that Yahweh was a cover name, primarily,  for the Enlilite godhead,  which comprised of five kinsmen, namely Enlil-Jehovah (the father), Ninurta (the firstborn), Nannar-Sin (the secondborn), Ishkur-Adad (the last born), and Utu-Shamash (the grandson). But we also  know that in the post-exilic era, the main  Yahweh was Ishkur-Adad. Adad was also the meanest and vilest of  the Yahwehs and  human sacrifice was actually his staple.  Needless to say, Adad is one of the two Yahwehs mostly associated with human sacrifice.  

Adad’s notoriety for human sacrifice was well-known even in Mesopotamia, in modern-day Iraq. Clay-tablet  texts unearthed in Mesopotamia and which have been dated to between the 10th and 7th centuries BC talk  of burnt offerings of male children  to “the god Adad”.  It was Adad who instructed Abraham to sacrifice his  son (GENESIS 22:22), though the Hebrew redactors recast the story in such a way that a ram was substituted for Abraham’s son.

Before the Israelites were liberated from Egyptian bondage, Adad demanded that they sacrifice their eldest sons as  atonement for  his indispensable role in winning their freedom. Once again, the Pentateuch scribes spun the story around  to make it appear  like it were the Egyptians who lost their sons at the hands of Adad’s “Angel of Death”. 

Then at the  Mount of the Elohim (Sinai or Horeb in the Bible) in Arabia’s Wilderness of Sin, Adad insisted that he was only going to address the Israelites in person if they made another mass human sacrifice.  Given that  the firstborn sons had already been sacrificed in Egypt,  this time around it were the virgins who must have  stepped into the breach. Indeed, EXODUS 19:18 does hint at the Mount Sinai sacrifice. It goes without saying that in the original texts, details to that effect did abound but were removed by later editors.

In Assyria, his main bastion as a god in Babylonian times, Adad was known by several names.   One of these was Anammelek (Anu-Malik in the Assyrian language,  meaning “chief deity”, which Adad was in Assyria). In 2 KINGS 17:31, we’re told that “the people of Sepharvaim (an Assyrian tribe that was relocated to Samaria after the Israelites were taken into Assyrian captivity)  burned their own children as sacrifices to their god Anammelek”.  The Anunnaki gods were very clever operators.  ONE GOD (E.G.  ADAD)  WOULD PRESIDE OVER RIVAL NATIONS (E.G.  THE ISRAELITIES AND CANAANITES) USING DIFFERENT NAMES AND WOULD EVEN CONDEMN THE PRACTICES OF “THE OTHER GOD” WHEN  IN TRUTH HE AND  THE OTHER GOD WERE ONE AND THE SAME PERSON.

The other god who was notorious for human sacrifice according to the Old Testament was BAAL-MOLECH, Baal (sometimes spelt Ba-El) simply meaning  “The Lord”.  Scholars have endlessly groped in the dark in their efforts to identify this god. I yet have to come across a single  book or article that crisply nails him: they all make wild guesses. Most of them, brainwashed by the Bible’s Enlilite propaganda,  even associate Molech with poor Marduk, a highly benevolent Enkite god was a darling of his direct subjects, notably the Babylonians and Egyptians, and who in the Age of  Aries had replaced Jehovah-Enlil as Earth’s Chief Executive.    

The Hebrew word translated Molech is actually MLK. This is MELEK when we put in the vowels as ancient Hebrew had no vowels. Originally, the term Melek (MALAK in Hebrew) meant a deputy, king, or emissary.  The anglicised version of Melek is MICHAEL. According to the Sumerian records, the Book of Enoch, the Epistle of Jude, and Revelation, Michael was the warring archangel.

IN SUMERIAN RECORDS, THE ARCHANGEL (CHIEF REPRESENTATIVE OF A DEITY) MICHAEL  WAS NINURTA, ENLIL-JEHOVAH’S FIRSTBORN SON AND THEREFORE THE HEIR APPARENT. I’m sure by now you know that Ninurta was the Anunnaki’s God of War.  It was he who fought and vanquished “the Evil Zu” in an aerial battle and it  was he who commanded the Enlilites when they warred against the Enkites in all the Pyramid Wars.

The god Molech, therefore, was  Ninurta.  He was based on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem,  and at a place called Topeth in the Valley of Ge-Hinnom (Gehenna) just outside Jerusalem, he superintended over a huge fiery pit in which children were presented to him as a burnt offering. That’s why in the English version of the Bible, Gehenna is translated as “Hell” or “Lake of Fire”. This has nothing to do with an afterlife inferno: it all harps back to the literal hell the place was to the children of Israel. 

The sacrificed children were said to have been “passed over”  or “passed through” the fire in sacrifice to Molech.  THIS IS THE REAL ORIGIN OF THE “PASSOVER” FEAST FOLKS, not the drivel you have been fed by the Pentateuch authors about God’s Angel  of Death bypassing the homes of Israelites and zeroing in on those of Egyptians. Since Ninurta was so fixated on human sacrifice, the term Melek over time also assumed the meaning  “sacrifice”.  

“THE FIRSTBORN OF YOUR SONS YOU SHALL GIVE TO ME”

Human sacrifices were made to the Old Testament gods for any number of reasons. First, they stemmed from a standing order by a god that a human sacrifice be done as and when required. The case of Abraham in relation to his son Isaac  in GENESIS 22:2 is one such example. In EXODUS 22:29, Adad makes it clear to the Israelites that,   “The firstborn of your sons shall you give to me”.

In LEVITICUS 27:28, Adad emphasises that anything mankind set aside for him, whether this be an animal, agricultural produce, or “man” was not eligible for redemption (that is, could not be substituted for anything else). In EXODUS 22:29-30, Adad says,  "The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether man or animal”. When it came to which tribe of the Nation of Israel the human sacrifice were to routinely come from, this was the tribe of Levi.

Adad had chosen them as the priestly tribe but there was a price to pay for this privillege: THEY WOULD BE THE MAIN TRIBE FROM WHICH HE WOULD HARVEST HUMAN SACRIFICES. This is what he says to that effect in NUMBERS 3:12-13: “I hereby accept the Levites from among the Israelites as substitutes for all the firstborn that open the womb among the Israelites. The Levites shall be mine,  for all the firstborn are mine; when I killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the firstborn in Israel, both human and animal; they shall be mine. I am the LORD.”  

In some situations, the god decreed a mass sacrifice as a punishment for being offended or somewhat displeasured by his people. For example, in EZEKIEL 20:26 (note: in properly translated versions and not in highly doctored ones such as the NIV and NLT), Adad boasts that he had the Israelites sacrifice their firstborns as burnt offerings to him to demonstrate to them  that he was Yahweh who should never be defied! What crime did the Israelites commit?

They sacrificed children they had pledged to him to rival gods instead (EZEKIEL 16:20), who he dismissively denounced as “images”.   These rival gods were not Enkites: they were fellow Enlilites but who were distant cousins being the sons of his older brother Nannar-Sin’s children with several concubines. (Sin had more than 80 children, the reason he was known as Aten, in this context meaning “Multiplying God”, in line with the injunction in Genesis that “Be fruitful and multiply”.)

There were cases, however, in which Kings or generals simply sacrificed their own children to kind of incentivise their god to dispense a blessing or simply show gratitude for a triumph in a battle or war.  A classic example in this regard is that of Jephtah, an Israel judge (as leaders were called before the advent of King Saul, Israel’s first King) for six years,  in JUDGES 11:29-40. This is the vow Jephtah made to  Adad as he headed for a battlefield clash with the Ammonites, the descendants of  Lot: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD's, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering."

Jephtah did trounce the enemy all right, but guess who should be the first to meet him at the palace gates upon returning from the war? His virgin daughter and the only child. The story is tear-jerking as the ill-fated daughter pleaded with her father to give her a two-month “stay-of-execution” so her friends would have ample time to celebrate her existence and do their farewells. 

Jephtah for one was deeply troubled by what had transpired but sadly a promise to  a god, and by a leader in particular,  was cast in stone: it could not  be reversed. Exactly two months later, the poor daughter was delivered to Adad. Whether it was via a furnace or simply on a silver platter the Bible does not say. This Earth My Brother …

SIN’S HUMANE VOICE

Whereas Adad and Ninurta were the veritable vampires what with such a ready appetite for human flesh and human blood, Nannar-Sin was  the polar opposite. Every time you hear Yahweh or Jehovah say something that is sober and rational, feel at liberty to assume it is the voice of Sin you were listening to. Remember, although  Adad was the main Jehovah of the Exodus, he wasn’t the sole one. Once in a while, Sin took his position too. The Pentateuch authors however attributed every pronouncement by an Enlilite deity to simply one Yahweh, with the result that Yahweh comes across as a god with a split personality not once but multiple times.     

Sin frowned upon human sacrifice. So in the following passages, it is either Sin who is talking behind the  general façade of Yahweh, or the Jewish redactors themselves put words in Yahweh’s mouth:

DEUTERONOMY 12:31:  “You shall not act thus toward Yahweh your Elohim, for every abhorrence which Yahweh hates they perform for their Elohim, for even their sons and their daughters they burn with fire for their Elohim. You shall not act thus toward Yahweh your Elohim, for every abhorrence which Yahweh hates they perform for their Elohim, for EVEN THEIR SONS AND THEIR DAUGHTERS THEY BURN WITH FIRE FOR THEIR ELOHIM.”  Here, Sin was warning the Israelites about copying the ways of the Canaanites, who they would co-exist with when they entered Canaan.

DEUTERONOMY 18: 9-10: “When you come to the land that Yahweh your Elohim is giving to you (Canaan), you shall not learn to act according to the abhorrences of those nations (the Canaanites). There shall not be found among you one causing his son or his daughter TO PASS THROUGH FIRE.” In JEREMIAH 19:4-9, Adad  promises to severely punish  the Israelites for having “built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offerings to Baal”.  

This statement should be taken with a pinch of salt. There simply was no way Adad would have punished the Israelites for doing something he himself had instituted. Also, the god he was condemning here was his own  brother Ninurta ( Baal-Molech) when the two were birds of the same figure. Clearly, the statement was an interpolation by Jewish scribes.  

PSALM 106:48 (my favourite psalm)   condemns human sacrifice. The psalms were written by several individual  authors who did not have a uniform agenda.  PSALM 82, for instance, which was written by a certain Asaph, is in fact  a diatribe against the Anunnaki gods for  pretending to be God (First Source) when in actual fact they too were mortal and would therefore die someday and  be accountable to God. Thus the psalmist who condemned human sacrifice was making a indirect dig at Adad and company.

In 2 KINGS 16:3,  King Ahaz of Judah is condemned for  sacrificing  his own children by way of a fiery furnace. No Jewish King reigned without the sanction of a god. Thus if Ahaz was into human sacrifice, it meant that that pleased his god, to whom the sacrifice was made. Once again, this passage is suspect. The case of King Josiah  of Judah is a revelatory one. Josiah,  who the Bible describes as a righteous king, did away with human sacrifices and got rid of all the priests who were at the centre of this barbarity (2 KINGS 23:5). 

Jehovah (either Adad or Ninurta) bristled at this gesture, which he regarded as “opposing god”(2 CHRONICLES 35:21), and engineered his death in a battle at the tender age of only 38. Human sacrifice was Jehovah’s lifeline: you didn’t tamper with it and get away scotfree.

NEXT WEEK:   SATAN WORSHIP IN TEN COMMANDMENTS

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Hell Up in Judea

24th August 2021

A case can be made, General Atiku, that history’s most infamous Roman is Pontius Pilate. It was Pilate who condemned Jesus, the  “Son of God”, to the most cruel, most barbaric,  and most excruciating of deaths – crucifixion –  and cowardly at that as the gospels attest for us.  

Yet the exact circumstances under which the crucifixion took place and what followed thereafter far from jells with what is familiarly known. The fact of the matter was that there was a lot of political wheeling and dealing and boldfaced corruption on the part both of the Jewish authorities and the Roman establishment in the person of Pontius Pilate.  In this piece, we attempt, General, to present a fuller photo of Pilate as the centre of the whole machination.

Pilate’s historicity, General, is not in doubt. In 1961, an Italian archeologist unearthed a limestone block at Caesarea Maritima on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, which as of 6 AD was the Roman seat of government as well as the military headquarters.  The block bore the inscription, “Pontius Pilate, the Prefect of Judea, has dedicated this Temple to the divine Augusti” (that is, then Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar and his wife Livia).

Pilate also gets varying degrees of mention in the works of Roman senator and historian Cornelius Tacitus (56-117 AD); the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher and chronicler Philo of Alexandria (25 BC to 50 AD); and the legendary Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD).

Although his year of death (37 AD) is documented, his year of birth is a matter of conjecture, General. He came from the Pontii tribe (hence the name Pontius), a tough, warlike people. The Pontii tribe was of the equestrian class, the second-tier in the Roman caste system. Originally, the equestrians were those Romans with ample pocket power to bribe their way to knightly ranks in the Roman army. Pilate was born to Marcus Pontius, who had distinguished himself as a general in Rome’s military campaigns.

Following one of his particularly sterling military exploits, Marcus was awarded with the Pilum (javelin), a Roman decoration of honour for heroic military service.  To commemorate this medal of valour, the family took the name Pilati, rendered Pilate in English and Pilatus in Latin.

The son, Lucius Pontius Pilate, also distinguished himself as a soldier in the German campaigns of Germanicus, a prominent general of the early Roman Empire. Thanks to his scintillating military profile coupled with   strategic connections in the hierarchies of the Roman government, Pilate was able to wend his way into the heart of Claudia, the granddaughter of Caesar Augustus, the founder of the Roman Empire and ruler from 27 BC to 14 AD.

Claudia’s mother was Julia the Elder, who was also the biological mother of the apostles John and James. When Claudia was about 13 years of age, Julia sent her to Rome to be reared in the courts of Emperor Tiberius Caesar, to whom Julia was once married from 11 BC to 6 BC.

Although Tiberius was not the biological father of Claudius, General, he gladly acquiesced to being her foster father in deference to the memory of her late grandfather Caesar Augustus.
Pilate arrived in Rome when Claudia was sixteen years of age. In AD 26, the two tied the knot. Needless to say, it was a marriage based not on love as such but on political opportunism.

ASSIGNMENT JUDEA

The high-placed connection who facilitated Pontius Pilate’s smooth landing into the inner sanctums of Rome’s royalty and put him on a pedestal that saw him take pride of place in the cosmic gallery of rogues was Aelius Sejanus. Like Pilate, Sejanus came from the subordinate equestrian class, who would never be eligible for a seat in the Senate, the legislative council of ancient Rome.

Sejanus, however, had over time become Emperor Tiberius’ most trusted lieutenant and to the point where he was the de facto prime minister.  He had been commander of the Praetorian Guard, the elite Special Forces unit created by Augustus Caesar as a personal security force, which developed under Sejanus’ command into the most significant presence in Rome.

In AD 26, the emperor was not even based in Rome: he had confined himself to the 10.4 km2 island of Capri, about 264 km from Rome, and left control of Rome and the government of the Roman Empire to Sejanus. It was Sejanus who recommended the appointment of Pilate as prefect, or governor/procurator of Judea. The appointment was pronounced right on the occasion of Pilate’s nuptials with Claudius.

Philo records that when the bridal party emerged from the temple where the marriage ceremony was celebrated and Pilate started to follow the bride into the imperial litter, Tiberius, who was one of the twelve witnesses required to attend the ceremony, held him back and handed him a document. It was the wedding present – the governorship of far-flung Judea – with orders to proceed at once to Caesarea Maritima to take over the office made vacant by the recall of Valerius Gratus.

Pilate was notified by Sejanus that a ship was in fact waiting upon him to transport him to Palestine right away. The only disadvantageous aspect about the assignment was that Pilate was to leave the shores of Rome alone, without the pleasure of spending a first night in the arms of his newly wedded wife: by imperial decree, the wives of governors were not allowed to accompany them in their jurisdictions. Pilate, however, was a royal by marriage and so this prohibition was waived. By special permission granted by His Imperial Majesty Tiberius Caesar, Claudia soon joined her husband in Judea. The wily Pilate had calculated well when he married into royalty.

A SADISTIC ADMINISTRATOR

The Judean perch was not prestigious though, General. The prefects of Judea were not of high social status. At least one – Felix, referenced by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles – was an ex-slave, which says a great deal on the low regard in which the province was held by Rome.

Pilate was only secondarily sent to Judea on account of having married into royalty: his posting to the volatile province stemmed, primarily, from his being of a inferior social pedigree. Be that as it may, Pilate relished the posting in that it gave him the chance to exercise power, absolute power. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and in Pilate was the archetypal example, General.

Pilate’s brief was simple: to collect taxes, maintain law and order, maintain infrastructure, and keep the population subdued. Although he was born lowly, he positively had the power of life and death over his Jewish subjects. Let us, General, listen to Josephus in his allusion to Coponius, Judea’s first Roman governor and who like Pilate was from the same subservient social class: “And now Archelaus’ part of Judea was reduced into a province and Coponius, one of the equestrian order among the Romans, was sent as procurator, having the power of life and death put into his hands by Caesar.”

Pilate, General, was callous to a point of being sadistic. He was scarcely the scrupling judge with the rare soft spot that we encounter in the gospels. Philo charges him with “corruptibility, violence, robberies, ill-treatment of the people, grievances, continuous executions without even the form of a trial, endless and intolerable cruelties”.

He further declares him to be a “savage, inflexible, and arbitrary ruler” who was of a “stubborn and harsh quality” and “could not bring himself to do anything that might cause pleasure to the Jews”. The essentially humane character of the Pilate who presided over the trial of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels may not be wholly fictitious but is highly embellished, General.

Why did Pilate have such a pathological hatred of the Jews, General? Sejanus had more to do with it than the spontaneous leanings of his own nature. According to Philo, Sejanus hated the Jews like the plague and wished “to do away with the nation” – to exterminate it. In AD 19, for instance, he forced the Jews in Rome to burn their religious vestments and expelled them from the city without much ado.

For as long as Sejanus was in power, General, Pilate could do pretty much as he pleased. He didn’t have to worry about compromising reportage reaching the emperor as everything went through the implacably anti-Jewish Sejanus. Sejanus was unrivalled in power: golden statues of the general were being put up in Rome, the Senate had voted his birthday a public holiday, public prayers were offered on behalf of Tiberius and Sejanus, and in AD 31 Sejanus was named as Consul jointly with Tiberius.

The Judea posting also gave Pilate a golden opportunity to make money – lots of it. The governors of the Roman provinces were invariably rapacious, greedy, and incompetent: this we learn not only from Jewish historians of the day but from contemporary Roman writers as well such as Tacitus and Juvenal.

As long as the money skimmed from the provinces was not overly excessive, governors were allowed a free hand. It is said of Emperor Tiberius that, “Once he ordered a governor to reverse a steep rise in taxes saying, ‘I want my sheep shorn, not skinned’!” For those governors, such as Pilate, who had support from the very acmes of Roman power, General, they were practically a law unto themselves.

PILATE’S WINGS ARE CLIPPED

Pontius Pilate, General, was untrained in political office. Furthermore, he was a sycophant to the core who was prepared to go to any length in a bid to curry favour with and prove his loyalty to the powers that be in Rome.    Both these attributes gave rise to a series of blunders that brought him the intense hatred of the Jews.

The first abomination he committed in the eyes of the Jews, General, was to set up a temple dedicated to Emperor Tiberius, which he called the Tiberieum, making him the only known Roman official to have built a temple to a living emperor.  True, Roman emperors were worshipped, but Tiberius was the one exception. According to the Roman scholar and historian Suetonius, Tiberius did not allow the consecration of temples to himself. Pilate’s act therefore, General, was an overkill: it was not appreciated at all.

Throughout his tenure, General, Pilate had a series of run-ins with the Jews, some of which entailed a lot of bloodshed and one of which sparked an insurrection that paved the way to Calvary. Then it all began to unravel, General. On October 18 AD 31, his patron Sejanus was summoned to the office of Emperor Tiberius and an angry denunciation was read out to him. It is not clear, General, what caused Sejanus’ fall from the emperor’s good graces but circumstantial evidence points to the perceived threat to the emperor’s power.

As the ancient historian Cassius Dio puts it, “Sejanus was so great a person by reason both of his excessive haughtiness and of his vast power that to put it briefly, he himself seemed to be the emperor and Tiberius a kind of island potentate, inasmuch as the latter spent his time on the island of Capri.”  Sejanus, hitherto the most powerful man in Rome, General, was thrown into a dungeon.

That same evening, he was summarily condemned to death, extracted from his cell, hung, and had his body given over to a crowd that tore it to pieces in a frenzy of manic excitement. His three children were all executed over the following months and his wife, Tiberius’ own daughter, committed suicide.  The people further celebrated his downfall by pulling his statues over.  Meanwhile, General, Tiberius began pursuing all those who could have been involved in the “plots” of Sejanus.

In Judea, Pilate, a Sejanus appointee, must have been badly shaken, General. Were his friends and family under suspicion? Would he be purged like others? Imperial attitudes to the Jewish race seemed to have changed now with the riddance of Sejanus. Tiberius made sure this was the case by appointing a new governor for Syria (who went by the title Legate and to whom Pilate was obligated to report).

The governor, Lucius Pomponius Flaccus, arrived in Rome in AD 32. Philo records that Tiberius now “charged his procurators in every place to which they were appointed to speak comfortably to the members of our nation in the different cities, assuring them that the penal measures did not extend to all but only to the guilty who were few, and to disturb none of the established customs but even to regard them as a trust committed to their care, the people as naturally peaceable and the institution as an influence promoting orderly conduct.”

So Pilate, General, had lost his supporters at the top, his new boss was on his doorstep, and there had been a change of policy regarding the very people he was in charge of. Surely, he would have to watch his step. The fact of the matter, however, General, was that he hardly did so.  In November 32 AD, for instance, he provoked a mini-uprising by the Zealots led by Judas Iscariot, Theudas Barabbas, and Simon Zelotes. It was this revolt, General, that culminated in those three “crosses” of Calvary that are indelibly etched on the mind of every Christian.

NEXT WEEK: ZEALOT REVOLT AGAINST PILATE

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Hustle & Muscle

24th August 2021

Until as recently as the 1980s a career often meant a job for life within a single company or organisation. Phrases such as ‘climbing the corporate ladder’, ‘the glass ceiling’, ‘wage slave’ & ‘the rat race’ were thrown about, the analogies making clear that a career path was a toxic mix of a war of attrition, indentured drudgery and a Sisyphean treadmill.

In all cases you fought, grafted or plodded on till you reached retirement age, at which point you could expect a small leaving party, the promise of a pension and, oddly, a gift of either a clock or watch. The irony of being rewarded with a timepiece on the very day you could expect to no longer be a workday prisoner was apparently lost on management – the hands of time were destined to follow you to the grave!

Retirement was the goal at the end of the long, corporate journey, time on your hands – verifiable by your gifted time keeping device – to spend time working in the garden, playing with the grandchildren, enjoying a holiday or two and generally killing time till time killed you.

For some, retirement could be literally short-lived. The retirement age, and accompanying pension, was predicated on the old adage of three scores years and ten being the average life expectancy of man. As the twentieth century progressed and healthcare became more sophisticated, that former mean average was extended but that in itself then brought with it the double-edged sword of dementia. The longer people lived, the more widespread dementia became – one more life lottery which some won, some lost and doctors were seemingly unable to predict who would succumb and who would survive.

However, much research has been carried out on the causes of this crippling and cruel disease and the latest findings indicate that one of its root causes may lie in the former workplace – what your job entailed and how stimulating or otherwise it was. It transpires that having an interesting job in your forties could lessen the risk of getting dementia in old age, the mental stimulation possibly staving off the onslaught of the condition by around 18 months.

Academics examined more than 100,000 participants and tracked them for nearly two decades. They spotted a third fewer cases of dementia among people who had engaging jobs which involved demanding tasks and more control — such as government officers, directors, physicians, dentists and solicitors, compared to adults in ‘passive’ roles — such as supermarket cashiers, vehicle drivers and machine operators. And those who found their own work interesting also had lower levels of proteins in their blood that have been linked with dementia.

The study was carried out by researchers from University College London, the University of Helsinki and Johns Hopkins University studying the cognitive stimulation and dementia risk in 107,896 volunteers, who were regularly quizzed about their job.  The volunteers — who had an average age of around 45 — were tracked for between 14 and 40 years.  Jobs were classed as cognitively stimulating if they included demanding tasks and came with high job control. Non-stimulating ‘passive’ occupations included those with low demands and little decision-making power.

4.8 cases of dementia per 10,000 person years occurred among those with interesting careers, equating to 0.8 per cent of the group. In contrast, there were 7.3 cases per 10,000 person years among those with repetitive jobs (1.2 per cent). Among people with jobs that were in the middle of these two categories, there were 6.8 cases per 10,000 person years (1.12 per cent).

The link between how interesting a person’s work was and rates of dementia did not change for different genders or ages.Lead researcher Professor Mika Kivimaki, from UCL, said: ‘Our findings support the hypothesis that mental stimulation in adulthood may postpone the onset of dementia. The levels of dementia at age 80 seen in people who experienced high levels of mental stimulation was observed at age 78.3 in those who had experienced low mental stimulation. This suggests the average delay in disease onset is about one and half years, but there is probably considerable variation in the effect between people.’

The study, published this week in the British Medical Journal, also looked at protein levels in the blood among another group of volunteers. These proteins are thought to stop the brain forming new connections, increasing the risk of dementia. People with interesting jobs had lower levels of three proteins considered to be tell-tale signs of the condition.

Scientists said it provided ‘possible clues’ for the underlying biological mechanisms at play. The researchers noted the study was only observational, meaning it cannot establish cause and that other factors could be at play. However, they insisted it was large and well-designed, so the findings can be applied to different populations.

To me, there is a further implication in that it might be fair to expect that those in professions such as law, medicine and science might reasonably be expected to have a higher IQ than those in blue collar roles. This could indicate that mental capacity also plays a part in dementia onset but that’s a personal conclusion and not one reached by the study.

And for those stuck in dull jobs through force of circumstance, all is not lost since in today’s work culture, the stimulating side-hustle is fast becoming the norm as work becomes not just a means of financial survival but a life-enhancing opportunity , just as in the old adage of ‘Find a job you enjoy and you’ll never work another day in your life’!

Dementia is a global concern but ironically it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live into very old age and is the second biggest killer in the UK behind heart disease, according to the UK Office for National Statistics. So here’s a serious suggestion to save you from an early grave and loss of competencies – work hard, play hard and where possible, combine the two!

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The Lord Ties The Knot

18th August 2021
JUDAS

… as Judas Iscariot takes strong exception

The gospels which were excluded from the official canon, the New Testament, at the Council of Nicaea are known as the Apocrypha. One of these Apocryphal works, General Atiku, is the gospel of Phillip.  In this gospel, the intimate relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene is openly discussed thus:

“And the companion of the Saviour is Mary Magdalene. But Christ loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on the mouth.  The rest of the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval. They said unto him, why do you love her more than all of us? The Saviour answered and said to them, why do   I not love you like her? … Great is the mystery of marriage, for without it the world would never have existed. Now, the existence of the world depends on man, and the existence of man on marriage.”

It is clear from the above statement, General, that Jesus held marriage in high regard because he himself was part and parcel of it.  The disciples (that is, most of them) were offended not because he and Mary were an item but because they simply did not approve of her as she was a Gentile and a commoner.

Otherwise, the kissing was not offensive at all: it was a customary expression of mutual affection between the sacred bride and groom. This we gather from the prototypically romantic Old Testament text known as The Song of Solomon, which opens with the words, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.”  As the Davidic groom, Jesus was therefore entitled to kiss Mary Magdalene as his bride.

THE FIRST MARRIAGE

In September AD 30, General Atiku, Jesus and Mary Magdalene had their First Marriage ceremony. Jesus had turned 36 in that year, the appropriate marriage age for a Davidic heir, and September was the holiest month in the Jewish calendar.  Having been born irregularly himself (in the wrong month of the year because of his father Joseph’s intransigence), Jesus was determined that he himself follow the law to the letter so that his child would not suffer the same indignities as he did. The First Marriage is captured in LUKE 7:35-50.

The marriage took place at the home of Simon the Pharisee. This, General, was another name for Simon Zelotes, the stepfather of Mary Magdalene. Although Mary Magdalene is not directly named, she is described as a “sinner”. This was another term for Gentiles, as in the eyes of the Jewish God, they were unregenerate and therefore hopeless sinners.  Mary Magdalene, whose mother Helena-Salome was of Syrian origin (Syro-Phoenicia to be specific), was a Gentile.

On the occasion, Mary Magdalene performed three acts on Jesus as set out in LUKE 7:38. She wept; kissed his feet; and anointed him with ointment. This is what a bride was supposed to do to her groom as clearly evinced in The Song of Solomon, a series of love poems concerning a spouse and her husband the King.

Of the three rites, perhaps it is the weeping that require elucidation, General. This was at once symbolic and sentimental.  The First Marriage was simply a ceremony: the moment the ceremony was over, the husband and wife separated, that is, they lived apart until the month of December, when they came together under one roof.  This was in accord with Essene stipulations for dynastic marriages, that is, those of the Davidic Messiah and the priestly Messiah.

Prior to the First Marriage, the bride was known as an Almah, meaning a betrothed Virgin. After the First Marriage ceremony, the Almah was demoted to a Sister. This was because the ensuing three-month separation meant husband and wife would not indulge in sexual activity and so the wife was as good as a sister to her husband. The imagery of Sister also being a wife is seen in 1 CORINTHIANS 9:5, where the apostle Paul refers to his wife as Sister. In ACTS 23:16, Paul’s wife is again referred to as his Sister.

Now, when the Almah became a Sister, General, she was metaphorically called a Widow, because she was being separated  from her newly wedded husband. As such, she was expected to symbolically weep on account of this separation. That explains why Mary Magdalene had to weep at her first wedding. It is a pity, General, that most Christians and their clergy miss the real story so wrongly indoctrinated are they.

In December AD 30, Jesus moved in with Mary Magdalene to consummate the marriage. It was hoped that Mary would fall pregnant so that in March the following year, a Second (and final) Marriage ceremony would be held.  Sadly, conception did not take place. According to Essene dynastic procreational rules, the couple had to separate again. They would reunite in December AD 31 for another try at conception.

The reason they separated was because for a dynastic heir, marriage was purely for procreation and not for recreational sex. But even that year, General, Mary did not fall pregnant, necessitating another year-long separation. What that meant was that Mary would be given one more last chance – in December AD 32, by which time Jesus would have been 38.  If she did not conceive this time around, the marriage would come to an end through a legal divorce and Jesus would be free to seek a new spouse.

THE FINAL MARRIAGE

In December 32, Mary Magdalene, General, finally conceived. When Jesus was crucified therefore in April 33 AD, his wife was three months pregnant. By this time, the Second Marriage ceremony, the final one, had already taken place, this being in March. The Second Marriage is cursorily related in MATTHEW 26:6-13; MARK 14:3-9; and JOHN 12:1-8.The John version reads as follows:

“Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany, where was Lazarus, who had died, whom he raised out of the dead; they made, therefore, to him a supper there, and Martha was ministering, and Lazarus was one of those reclining together (at meat) with him; Mary, therefore, having taken a pound of ointment of spikenard, of great price, anointed the feet of Jesus and did wipe with her hair his feet, and the house was filled from the fragrance of the ointment.

Therefore said one of his disciples – Judas Iscariot, of Simon, who was about to deliver him up – ‘Therefore was not this ointment sold for three hundred denaries, and given to the poor?’ and he said this, not because he was caring for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and what things were put in he was carrying. Jesus, therefore, said, ‘Suffer her; for the day of my embalming she has kept it, for the poor you have always with yourselves, and me you have not always.’”

This story (also see JOHN 11:1-44) centres on four people primarily, General. They are Jesus; Lazarus; Mary; and Martha. “Mary” was actually Mary Magdalene.  “Martha” was a titular name for her mother, Helena-Salome.  In the Lazarus story, the two ladies are referred to as “sisters”. This denotes conventual sisters, like the Catholics refer to conventual nuns, and not sisters by blood. Helena-Salome actually headed a nunnery. By the same token, the reference to Lazarus as “brother” has a connotation akin to what Pentecostals refer to as “Brother in Christ”.

Thus, the story revolves around Jesus the groom; his bride Mary Magdalene; his father-in-law Simon Zelotes; and his mother-in-law Helena-Salome. This is a family affair folks, which provides strong hints as to the exact relationship between Jesus and Mary. The raising from the dead of a man called Lazarus, sadly, was not a miracle at all:  it was a ceremonial restoration from excommunication back to the Essene governing council, which comprised of Jesus and his so-called 12 disciples.

The “Lazarus” who was thus restored was actually Simon Zelotes, at the time the most “beloved” by Jesus of the entire apostolic band, who had been demoted under circumstances relating to a Zealot uprising against Pontius Pilate.  More will be said on the subject at a later stage.

The anointing of Jesus by Mary with “spikenard”, General, harps back to ancient married rituals as patently demonstrated in The Song of Solomon. This was the second time Mary had anointed Jesus, first at the First Marriage in September AD 30 AD and now at the Second Marriage in March 32 AD. On both occasions, Mary anointed Jesus whilst he sat at table.

In SONG OF SOLOMON 1:12, the bride says, “While the King sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof”.  The anointing in the gospels was therefore an allusion to the ancient rite whereby a royal bride prepared her groom’s table. Only as the wife of Jesus and as a priestess in her own right could Mary Magdalene have anointed both the feet and head of Jesus.

The anointing in effect had two purposes: first, to seal the marriage, and second, to officially announce to the Jewish nation that Jesus was the Davidic Messiah (and not his younger brother James, who had been so promoted by John the Baptist).  It all harped back to the tradition in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, where Kings or Pharaohs were anointed for office (in their case with crocodile fat) by their half-sister brides.

The King’s bride actually kept the anointment substance for use for one more time – when the King died. You can now understand, General, why Jesus said “the day of my embalming she has kept it” in reference to his anointing by Mary Magdalene and why the first person to feature at the tomb of Jesus was none other than Mary Magdalene!

Three passages in the Lazarus story     (in JOHN11: 1-44) are particularly telling.  They are Verses 20, 28, and 29. They read as follows: “When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed in the house … After Martha said this, she went back and called her sister Mary privately. ‘The Master is here,’ she told her, ‘and is asking for you.’ When Mary heard this, she got up and hurried out to meet him.”  The reason Mary (Magdalene) first kept her place before proceeding to meet Jesus, General, is not supplied in the Johannine gospel.

However, the Apocryphal document which has come to be known as The Secret Gospel of Mark sheds more light, General.  It explains that on the first occasion, Mary did come out to meet Jesus along with her mother Martha (Helena-Salome) but upon being rebuked by the disciples of Jesus, she repaired back to the house. Why was she lashed out at, General? Because according to the Essene matrimonial code, she was not permitted to come out of her own accord and greet her husband: she was to wait until he had given her express permission to emerge.

There is yet another element in the conduct of Mary Magdalene that has parallels with Solomon’s queen, General. In the back-and-forth romantic dialogue between the couple, the queen is referred to as a “Shulamite” (SONG OF SOLOMON 6:13). The Shulamites were from the Syrian border town of  Solam and we have already seen that Mary’s first foster father, Syro the Jairus, was a Syrian, as was her mother Helena-Salome.

JUDAS DENOUNCES THE MARRIAGE

The marriage of Jesus to Mary Magdalene was vehemently opposed by most of his so-called disciples. The most vociferous on this position, General, was Judas Iscariot. The writer of the John gospel characterises Judas as a “thief” who used to pilfer alms money but that is a smear.  The gospels were written post-eventual and therefore Judas’ name was already in ignominy.

His detractors therefore had a field day at sullying his character. Yet prior to the betrayal, Judas Iscariot, General, was one of the most respected figures among the Essene community. At the time of Jesus’ marriage, Judas was the second-highest ranking Essene after Simon Zelotes (that is the meaning of “Judas of Simon” in the passage quoted above, meaning “Judas the deputy of Simon”): Jesus was third, although politically he was the seniormost.

Judas opposed the marriage on grounds, primarily, that Mary Magdalene was not only a Gentile but a commoner. Judas had the right to pronounce on Jesus’ marriage because it was he who was in charge of the Essene’s order of Dan, to which Mary Magdalene belonged prior to her marriage to Jesus and therefore had the right whether to release her for marriage or retain her in the convent. Judas would rather the spikenard (the most expensive fragrance of the day, the reason it was only used by queens) was sold and the money generated donated to the Essene kitty (“the poor” was another name for Essenes: when Jesus in the Beatitudes said “blessed are the poor”, he was not referring to you and me: he meant the Essenes).

Sadly General, as high-standing as he was, Judas had no right of veto over the marriage of a Davidic heir: only Simon Zelotes had by virtue of his position as the Essene’s Pope. Simon Zelotes was Mary Magdalene’s step-father and there was no way he was going to stand in the way of the marriage of his own daughter. Moreover, Jesus had already begun to fancy himself as Priest-King.

As far as he was concerned therefore, he was at once the Davidic Messiah and the Priestly Messiah – the Melchizedek. Thus even if Simon Zelotes had perchance objected to the marriage, Jesus would have gone ahead with it anyway. It was Jesus’ highly unpopular appropriated role as the Melchizedek, General, that set him on the path to Calvary.

NEXT WEEK: A NEW GOVERNOR COMES TO TOWN

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