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A $10m Gold Chest

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

    
Moses’ Ark of the Covenant was a multi-purpose, pricey  device

The standard Temple Tax, or rather, Religious Tax, was the Half-Shekel yearly, though it was reduced to One-Third-Shekel following the Babylonian exile and reinstated to Half-Shekel during the reign of Herod the Great.   Half-Shekel was 2 Drachmas in the gospel era and is US$0.13, or P1.35, in our day at the prevailing exchange rates.

In Old Testament times it was equivalent to a day’s wages, whereas in New Testament times, it amounted to a couple of days’ wages thanks to the inescapable effects of inflation. Every Jew who was 20 years and above was subject to this levy: only Levites were exempt. The Orwellian paradigm, whereby all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others, dates back to the very days when “God” lived among his people.  

Note that the Half-Shekel was not a coin. In Moses’ day, the Israelites did not mint coins. Thus Half-Shekel simply represented a specific weight of silver and this was accepted as currency. Half-Shekel was about 6 grams of silver, which took the form of bars, bracelets, or necklaces weighed in a balance scale against a standardised and inscribed stone weight.  The worshiper received a receipt (and even “change” if he paid more, such as a full Shekel instead of a Half-Shekel) in the form of a piece of pottery or a clay tablet with the words "Paid in full" duly inscribed thereon. The Shekel coin came into being in the 6th century BC following the Babylonian captivity.  

For a brief period after the restoration of the Temple (the so-called Second Temple, which replaced the one Solomon had built but which was razed down by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BC), the Jews had their own currency. Known as the Yehudi coins, they were minted in 350 BC. In truth, the Yehudi coins were not an own currency as they bore motifs commemorating the Anunnaki goddess Athena, known as Inanna-Ishtar in Sumerian times. During the Hasmonean rule, the Jews had the so-called brutah bronze coins minted but they too were adulterated with foreign symbology. 

Herod the Great and Pontius Pilate would also later mint brutah coins for the Jews but they also were tainted with tell-tale imageries of the oppressors and so were not eagerly embraced by the Jews. The first real Jewish coins, which were made from silver, were minted in AD 66 following the Zealot uprising. But they were short-lived as Roman general Titus overran Jerusalem in AD 70 and laid waste to the Temple. In AD 132, Simon Bar Khoba led an uprising against the Romans and minted new silver coins depicting the defunct Temple. The revolt was crashed three years later by the then Roman Emperor Hadrian. The next time the Jews would have their own currency was in the 20th century.

What is ironic is that throughout the pre- AD 66 series of upheavals, the main Temple currency was the Tyrian Shekel, issued circa 300 BC. The Tyrian Shekel bore the image of the patron god of Tyre, a Phoenician (Palestinian in today’s terms) domain about 150 km away from Jerusalem. The god was known as Melqart or Baal Sur, meaning Lord Sur. The Romans called him Heracles (Hercules) and the Greeks called him Apollo. In the Sumerian and Akkadian  records, he’s called Utu-Shamash.

The Jews were not aware  that it was the same Anunnaki gods playing mind games on them. So to them,   Melqart was a “pagan”  god when in truth he was the nephew of their very god Iskur-Adad. Be that as it may, the Jews  didn’t mind using a currency bearing the image of an idol god  in the hallowed precincts of the Temple primarily because the Tyrian Shekel contained the most silver – 92 percent. Economic reasons seemed to have overridden religious sanctity.     

It was the Tyrian Shekel, the dollar of the day, that sustained the bureau de  change business that thrived in the Temple’s Court of Gentiles and in which the priesthood had stakes as pilgrims who came to Jerusalem on festive occasions from all over the world and who were the Temple’s main lifeline were obliged to convert their currencies to the Tyrian Shekel for transactional purposes (tendering their tithes and buying animals for sacrifice).

Thus when Jesus stormed the Temple and  angrily set upon the money changers, turning their tables and driving their animals out with a whip, he was registering his outrage at the  spiritual hypocrisy of the Temple system. Sadly, it was this act, largely, that resulted in his crucifixion as from that point on, he was a marked man for tampering with economic mainstay of the corrupt-to-the-core priesthood.   

GOLD APLENTY IN ARK OF COVENANT

We showed in the previous article that the Tabernacle had three main constituents. These were the Tabernacle proper, the courtyard, and the altar. The duo-section Tabernacle proper comprised of the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies was the most sacred place in the entire structure in that it was the deity’s inner sanctum, the very dwelling place of  Ishkur-Adad, the Jehovah of the Exodus.   Of course Adad did not physically reside in the Holy of Holies: in fact, he never set foot in there once. His permanent presence in the Holy of Holies was purely symbolic, along the lines of virtual reality.

It was in the Holy of Holies that Adad discoursed with the High Priest Aaron. Exactly how did Adad communicate with   Aaron? It was by way of the Ark of the Covenant, Adad’s symbolic  throne. “I will speak with you from above the Ark-cover, from between the two cherubim which are on the Ark of Testimony, about all the orders I am giving you for the people of Israel,” Adad said in EXODUS 25:22. In other words, THE MOST IMMEDIATE PURPOSE OF  THE ARK OF THE COVENANT WAS AS A TWO-WAY WIRELESS COMMUNICATION DEVICE.

This was when Adad was not in the vicinities of the camp, for as the Bible makes clear, when Adad’s flying saucer was parked on Mount Sinai, Moses and he talked  “face to face”, which is a figure of speech really as the Enlilite gods had long made a resolution that their faces should not be seen by mankind at all since they  rotated as Yahweh and so were determined not to  expose themselves as different personages masquerading as one.   

The Ark of the Covenant was constructed by Benzeleel and Aliohab   under the supervision of Moses. Like the Tabernacle, the Ark was neither original nor unique: it very much harked back to Egypt. Says Dr Raanan Eichler of Tel Aviv University whose PhD dissertation was on the Ark and the Cherubim: “The Ark was a portable wooden chest made in typical Egyptian style, and extant chests from the ancient Near East, particularly Egypt, reveal parallels to almost every detail of the Ark as described in priestly and other biblical texts … It would seem that the Egyptian design was copied and adapted by the Hebrew tribes of the time when they created their own sacred objects.”

Dr Eichler’s assertion is a pointed one: in the  inner chamber of Pharaoh  Tutankhamun’s tomb was found the same Ark as described in the Bible, the major difference being that whereas the Biblical Ark bore images of two Cherubim across its lid, the Tutankhamun Ark bore the image of a jackal, called Anubis in ancient Egypt; hence its name the “Shrine of  Anubis”. MOSES, BENZELEEL AND ALIOHAB COULD AFFORD TO BUILD THE ARK OF THE COVENANT BECAUSE THEY HAD FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE IN EGYPT!

The Ark of the Covenant was overwhelmingly made of pure gold. EXODUS 25:10-11 says; “They (Benzeleel and Aliohab) are to make an ark of acacia-wood three-and-three-quarters feet long, two-and-a-quarter feet wide and two-and-a-quarter feet high. You are to overlay it with pure gold — overlay it both inside and outside — and put a molding of gold around the top of it.”  It was a  large chest or ornate box of acacia wood, plated on the inside and outside with pure gold.

Four gold rings were fastened to its four feet and  gold-covered poles of acacia wood were inserted into rings on each side to render it easy to carry.  The Ark’s cover or lid was a slab of pure gold, with two cherubim  of hammered gold, one at each end, facing each other, their wings spread upward and just stopping short of touching. It has been estimated that approximately 8 tons of gold, silver, and bronze went into the entire Tabernacle and its fixtures and fittings. In today’s money, the Ark of the Covenant alone would cost $10 million to replicate.

THE ARK BORE IMAGES OF AERIAL CRAFT

Exactly what were the two cherubim (plural for cherub) that faced each other on the cover of the Ark? Practically every depiction of the Ark portrays the cherubim as angels, that is, winged masculine beings. The Bible, however, simply describes them as cherubim and not angels or creatures of any kind. What were cherubim?

The term cherubim is a most misunderstood, if not deliberately distorted term even by savants of theology. Every pastor will tell you that cherubim were a class of angels, but that is simply the popular narrative: it has no basis in fact whatsoever. It is wishful or contrived thinking.   The term cherubim stemmed from the ancient Semitic term KERUB, which meant “to ride”. It is therefore rooted in the notion of transportation.  An alternative term that was synonymous with KERUB was ERUB.

It was ERUB that informed the term HOREB, the other name for Mount Sinai or any such prominent mountain range.  Mount Horeb thus simply meant “Mount of Cherubs”. That is to say, a mountain where a form of transportation, particularly aerial transportation, was typically observed.  What was this form of transportation? IT WAS ADAD’S FLYING SAUCER, JET,  OR CHOPPER, TYPICALLY REFERRED TO AS THE GLORY OF GOD IN ENGLISH VERSIONS OF THE BIBLE.

Certainly, every time the term cherubim  is encountered in the Bible, it is associated with a mobile throne (chopper, flying saucer, or simply the cockpit compartment) or with flight or locomotion in general. For instance, when Jehovah-Enlil expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (GENESIS 3:24), a cherubim mounted with a flaming sword which turned every which way hovered at the gates to prevent the couple from making a defiant return (assisted by Enki)  and therefore have unauthorised access to the Tree of Life (a rocket parked on the Eridu apron).

This simply was a levitating vehicle equipped with a search light. Both 2 SAMUEL 22:11 and PSALM 18:10 state that, “He (Yahweh) rode upon a cherub and did fly; and he was seen upon the wings of the wind”.  EZEKIEL 9:3 also says, “He (Yahweh) was gone up from the cherub whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house”. Clearly, the cherubim were not sentient things: they were flying or levitating machines, variously called celestial chariots or sky vehicles in Sumerian records.

So if cherubim were not angelic beings, or such winged humanoid figurines, why are they depicted as such in popular paintings of the Ark?     Once again, it all harps back to Egypt. The Egyptian arks of the gods bore the image of the goddess Maat (a daughter of Marduk and consort of his younger half-brother Ningishzidda who was known as Thoth in Egypt) with wings on each arm. Religious artists therefore automatically assumed that since Moses was raised up in Egypt,  some such similar male figurines must have appeared on his version of the Ark of the Covenant too, which is too much of a leap of faith.

The one other very pertinent factor that those who show two angelic beings atop the Ark of the Covenant overlook is that ADAD HAD PROHIBITED THE NATION OF ISRAEL FROM MAKING GRAVEN IMAGES (an image carved out of stone, wood or metal and taking the form of either a person or animal, see EXODUS 20:4-5) or any idols (rival Enkite gods) in cast metal (DEUTERONOMY 34:17).  Clearly, there was no way Moses was going to affix to the Ark images of angelic beings forged from gold when Adad unequivocally frowned on that. (Angels, or AN-GAL in Sumerian,  meaning “Great Ones of Heaven”, was simply the general term  for the Anunnaki. In art, the Sumerians depicted the Anunnaki as winged giants to denote the fact that they flew in skyborne vehicles).

True, the Bible says the cherubim had “wings”, but we cannot be dogmatic that as such they were  life-form representations. Hospitals have wings,  aircraft have wings, shirt collars have wings, ploughs have wings. A “wing” is simply a lateral projection which extends from the main body of an object. So in what form where the cherubim on the cover of the Ark? SINCE A CHERUB WAS AN AERIAL CRAFT, IT WERE TWO SUCH WINGED AIR CRAFT, IN ALL LIKELIHOOD AN OFFSPREY (WHICH IS PART AIR PLANE, PART-HELICOPTER)  THAT FEATURED ON THE ARK.

These were molten images but they were not graven images in that they were not in the form of a human being or an animal but in the form of machines. The air crafts were the best representation of  Adad in the eye of the Israelites as they symbolised his presence among them: whenever there was a flying saucer or helicopter parked or hovering around, it was a sign that their god was around. It is a pity that the Ark is lost to history. This is by deliberate design because if ever it were to be found, it would reveal a lot of secrets the Vatican & Co wouldn’t want Christendom to know.

TABLETS OF TESTIMONY AS DIGITAL RECORDS

According to the Bible, the Ark of the Covenant enclosed a number of items. They were the Tablets of the Covenant, the Tablets of Testimony, Aaron’s Rod, and a golden jar of Manna. The Tablets of the Covenant was the so-called Covenant Book, in which  Moses wrote everything he had been instructed by Adad at Mount Sinai. Aaron’s rod was of course his  symbol of Pharaonic authority, which the Pentateuch writers spun as a magical wand which he turned into a snake at the courts of Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses I. This leaves us with the Tablets of Testimony and the Manna.

What were the Tablets of Testimony? The term “testimony” simply means “spoken evidence”. THE TABLETS OF TESTIMONY WERE THEREFORE A DIGITAL STORAGE OF THE ISRAELITES’ ACCEPTANCE  OF THE TERMS OF THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH ADAD. When Adad spelt out to them what he expected of them as his chosen people, the Israelites had to undertake  that they were in full agreement with the decrees and ordinances he had pronounced forth. Such a nod on the part of the Israelites was digitally recorded in the Tablets of Testimony.  Even in our day, we refer to our portable computer devices as tablets. The Anunnaki had such technology too though it was not mainstreamed to mankind.    

As for Manna, this was inevitable. One of the everyday uses of the Ark of the Covenant was the manufacture of Manna. Of course this was not Manna in the form it is preached to you from the pulpits. This was special Manna, which also went by such names as Shewbread, Bread of Life, Bread of the Presence,  the Paradise Stone, Highward Firestone, the Phoenix,  Our Daily Bread, etc. The Sumerians called it Shemanna. The Egyptians called it Mfkzt. Ancient chemists referred to it as the Philosopher’s Stone.  Today, it is best known as Ormus,  the monoatomic white powder of gold.

THE WONDERS OF ORMUS

We did dwell on Ormus at length in earlier articles but we will hereby briefly recap for the sake of  newcomers to this column. The term Ormus  is the easier-to-pronounce form of ORME, an acronym for Orbitally Rearranged Monoatomic Element. Ormus is manufactured using a process  which in the ancient mystery schools  was known as alchemy. This was  defined as the transformation of base metals such as tin to gold. But that to a large extent was disinformation: it was meant to blindfold lay people, the bulk of the human population.

What alchemy was fundamentally about was the creation of Ormus from what we today call the Transition Elements on the Periodic Table. These are gold, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, platinum, iridium, osmium, copper, cobalt, and nickel. All these ten metals are capable of transmuting to Ormus, which has properties which are radically different from the original metals, but  the highest quality of Ormus is that which is made from gold. As you know, gold is the god of metals.

The Institute of Advanced Studies refers to Ormus as “exotic matter” and characterises its superconductive powers as “the most remarkable physical property in the universe”. When high-quality Ormus is consumed, it can perform wonders in a human being. It can boost the intellect manifold, instill deeper spiritual and metaphysical insights, dispel any form of disease (including incurables such as cancer and HIV/AIDS) in the body, and impart a whole host of abilities  which ordinarily we would regard as magical or miraculous. 

For example, one could walk on water and glow in the darkness. One can also lay hands on the sick  and cure them immediately. Even a mere word or thought would be enough to bring about another’s wellbeing. Besides producing  a blindingly brilliant light, Ormus can also give off deadly rays.

But there is more. Because it confers near-perfect health, Ormus can lengthen lifespans indefinitely. Even more tantalising, it can make a person to defy gravity by floating  in the air (levitation), transport a person from one part of the cosmos to another (teleportation) and translate a person from this physical dimension into another, postmortem dimension, the Astral dimension (transmutation): hence its other name, the Powder of Projection. That Moses, Benzeleel and Oliab could manufacture Ormus using the Ark of the Covenant is no surprise: they were from Egypt and Egyptian Pharaohs and some members of the nobility were fed on Ormus.
         
NEXT WEEK:   ORMUS FIND IN THE SINAI!

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Herod Remands His Sons

1st February 2021
Herod

Alexander and Aristobulus thrown behind bars on charges of treason against their own father

Of Herod the Great’s sons, General Atiku, the principal one was Antipater II. Born in 46 BC, he was named after his grandfather Antipater I and was Herod’s only child with his first wife Doris. As firstborn son, he should have been first in line to the Herodian throne but he was sidelined after Herod divorced Doris around 43 BC to hitch Mariamne I, the Hasmonean princess who was more politically expedient.

Doris was banished from the palace along with the then three-year-old Antipater. With Mariamne now elevated to wife No. 1 and having been espoused at the time of Herod’s coronation, it followed at least theoretically that it was her male offspring who would be the presumptive heir. That was how Alexander came into the frame.

Alexander, Herod’s first child with Mariamne, was born in 35 BC. Upon turning 22, he was sent to Rome to pursue studies in sciences at the Imperial Court, where he was under the tutelage of Caesar Augustus. He was later joined by his younger brother Aristobulus IV, who was born in in 31 BC. Because of their pedigree, the lads made a splash from the get-go. “As soon as the young men were come from Italy,” Flavius Josephus writes, “the multitude were very desirous to see them, and they became conspicuous among them all, as adorned with great blessings of fortune, and having the countenances of persons of royal dignity.”

Alexander and Aristobulus graduated in 17 BC and 12 BC respectively and upon their return to Judea, marriages were speedily arranged for them by their father, with Alexander tying the knot with Glaphyra, a daughter of King Archelaus of Cappadocia (in modern-day Turkey), and Aristobulus leading his cousin Berenice, a daughter of Herod’s youngest and most beloved sister Salome, to the altar.

The charismatic and good-looking Alexander cast a spell over the Jewish masses. Notes one chronicler: “Alexander’s handsome presence and frank bearing made him a favourite with the people, and they longed for the day when the House of the Maccabees should mount the throne instead of the half-Jew Herod.”

PHERORAS ESCAPES BROTHER’S WRATH

The heir and the spare, however, were unable to come to terms with the murder of their mother by their father way back in 29 BC, when they were only 6 and 3 years old respectively. They immensely abhorred their father for this unconscionable act and were themselves unsure of their continued wellbeing, for if their father could not hesitate to kill his own wife, what would stop him from eliminating his own children since to him nobody was sacred?

Then there was the Salome factor, General, Salome being Herod’s youngest and most cherished sister. Salome had hated Mariamne with a vengeance and this same visceral loathing she extended to Mariamne’s kids. Salome’s hatred for the two young princes stemmed from an obsessive feeling of insecurity on behalf of her brother. She just could not contemplate the possibility of Alexander ousting his father and the throne reverting to the Hasmoneans, who were more popular to the Jews compared to Herod.

Salome’s concern was not far off the mark, for that was exactly what the two princes set out to do – to scheme the death of their father both to avenge their mother’s death and to secure their own lives. In plotting their father’s demise, the two kids were not without sympathisers and willing collaborators, who included Pheroras, Herod’s youngest brother.

Exactly what beef Pheroras had with Herod is not clear. Herod had gone to every length to win his loyalty but to no avail. First, Herod had him marry his sister-in-law, Mariamne’s younger sister. Upon her death, he offered him his own eldest daughter Salampiso but Pheroras rejected her in favour of one slave girl who had melted his heart. At some stage, Herod tried to get Pheroras to hitch Salampsio’s younger sister Cypros and Pheroras acceded, only to renege on the act sooner rather than later.

That Pheroras was involved in the weaving of machinations against him Herod learnt from Alexander himself in one of the four letters Alexander wrote his father imploring him to desist from his habit of subjecting many a people to torture in a bid to extract confessions of treason from them. Upon learning of this, Herod braced to punish his brother but later relented thanks to Archelaus’ fruitful mediation efforts though only after Pheroras had owned up to his guilt.

It seemed Herod’s forgiveness of his brother was genuine as in 20 BC he persuaded Caesar Augustus to make Pheroras tetrarchy of Perea (part of today’s Jordan) with a tidy yearly allowance. It was there Pheroras was banished after his conspiracies against Herod were unearthed.

ROMAN EMPEROR ACQUITS HEROD’S SONS

Not very long after the execution of Mariamne I, General, Herod’s second and most adored wife, in 29 BC, Salome and Pheroras prevailed over Herod to reinstate his first wife Doris and her son Antipater, who was now 11 years old, to his good graces.

Their motive was two-fold. First, they thought Herod desperately needed her to lift his gravely sagged spirits following the demise of Mariamne and whose loss he just was unable to come to terms with. Second and even more crucial, they hoped that Antipater would serve as a bulwark against the thronal ambitions of Alexander and Aristobulus, who they hated being of part- Hasmonean blood, unlike Antipater whose mother was a full-blooded Arab and therefore much closer to them kinshipwise. Herod, however, did not pay heed to this entreaty until 15 years later, when he had his divorce with Doris rescinded and mother and son restored to the palace in 14 BC.

Like Alexander and Aristobulus before him, Antipater was straight off sent to Rome too to receive an education befitting a prince and patrician. Now, Antipater, General, was a clever political operator. Although he was effectively his father’s principal spy against his half-brothers, he at the same time egged on the latter to scheme against their father without Herod suspecting it in the least.

He told Herod that Alexander and Aristobulus were sworn never to rest until they had avenged their mother’s death by liquidating Herod. Salome too had with Antipater’s contrivance set a booby trap for Alexander by enticing him into bedding her, though this auntie-nephew sexual dalliance was perfectly normal in the culture of the times: it scarcely mattered that Salome was 30 years Alexander’s senior and was at the time 50 years old, though still glitteringly gorgeous anyway given the invariably plush circumstances of the nobility.

She would pretend to abhor her own brother over pillow talk, hear Alexander’s take on the matter and the length to which he was prepared to go just to get rid of his father, and feed all this dope to a raptly attentive Herod.

Thus it was, General, that sometime in 13 BC, Herod had Alexander and Aristobulus indicted before the court of Caesar Augustus for plotting to overthrow him (Herod). Though Herod sought the death penalty for his kids, Augustus found no hard enough facts that the kids were guilty of the charge preferred against them. He thus ruled that Herod and his sons should kiss and make up.

Herod was also mandated to name a heir and if it pleased him to parcel off pieces of territory to his seniormost sons. In order to placate Herod for the setback in respect of his sons’ acquittal, Augustus had him richly rewarded. Says Flavius Josephus: “Caesar made him a present of half the revenue of the copper mines in Cyprus, and committed the care of the other half to him, and honoured him with other gifts and incomes; and as to his (Herod) own kingdom, he left it in his own power to appoint which of his sons he pleased for his successor, or to distribute it in parts to each one of them, that the dignity might thereby come to them all. And when Herod was disposed to make such a settlement immediately, Caesar said he would not give him leave to deprive himself, while he was alive, of the power over his kingdom, or over his sons.”

Soon after this episode, Herod, General, announced before a congregation in Judea that further to Caesar’s ruling, he had designated Antipater as his heir. However, he was not in position yet to apportion parts of his kingdom to his sons as Augustus had suggested: that had to wait until he was on his death bed, which was a long way off anyway as he still was in physically good shape.

Herod was 60 years old at the time and eager to look evergreen, he even took to dying his year to disguise a shock of grey. He however reneged on this undertaking and allotted a territory to Antipater which generated a sizeable annual GDP.

HEROD IMPRISONS HIS TWO SONS

Now that Alexander and Aristobulus had been bypassed as heirs, General, they became even more emboldened in their desire to erase their father from the face of the earth so deeply resentful were they. This time around, they had a wide array of sympathisers, who included Herod’s most trusted confidantes and some kings of neighbouring nations. The manner of death they conceived of Herod ranged from poisoned food to a lancing with a spear in an ambush deep in the woods.

Although Herod had spies and tipsters all around, General, he just could not gather tangible enough incriminating evidence against his sons that would stand up before a notoriously perspicacious Augustus, before whom he was obliged to appear and argue whatever case he had against his children that prima facie entailed capital punishment.

As such, he resorted to his well-honed device – excruciating torture to elicit confessions or pointers to the merest intrigue against him. In the process, one of three eunuchs who served him as butler, cupbearer, and palatial chief of staff respectively avowed to him that Alexander had given them sizeable bribes to see to it that the poison weapon got into their father’s system.

He even produced evidence of the very poison that was to be employed in the murder. And sometime in 10 BC, A famed skilled marksman also confessed that he had been detailed by Aristobulus to “lie in wait for their (Alexander and Aristobulus) father, as they were hunting, and kill him”. The same marksman even presented a cache of letters Alexander had written to Aristobulus carping about Herod’s partiality toward Antipater.

When Herod confronted his two sons over these developments, General, Alexander on his part owned up to it all and even besought his father to refrain from torturing people unduly and focus on him only. Now that Herod had heard it from the horse’s mouth, he ordered that Alexander and Aristobulus be detained whilst he took steps to again indict them before Augustus.

Meanwhile, a number of people, about 300 in all, were rounded up in connection with the same conspiracy and everybody who was deemed close to or simply matey with Alexander both historically and contemporaneously were banished in one way or the other. Writes Josephus: “He (Herod) expelled Andromachus and Gamellus, men who had of old been his friends, and been very useful to him in the affairs of his kingdom, and been of advantage to his family, by their embassages and counsels; and had been tutors to his sons, and had in a manner the first degree of freedom with him.

He expelled Andromachus, because his son Demetrius was a companion to Alexander; and Gamellus, because he knew that he wished him well, which arose from his having been with him in his youth, when he was at school, and absent at Rome. These he expelled out of his palace, and was willing enough to have done worse by them; but that he might not seem to take such liberty against men of so great reputation, he contented himself with depriving them of their dignity, and of their power to hinder his wicked proceedings.”

Once again, General, King Archelaus of Cappadocia, Alexander’s father-in-law, prostrated himself before Herod and begged him to pardon his sons. Once again, Herod paid heed, only for his rancour to resurface in 8 BC, when this time around he put the two sons behind bars and refused to grant Archelaus an audience to plead for clemency.
Did the two boys have a prayer, General?

NEXT WEEK: FATE OF HEROD, FATE OF HIS SONS

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Getting down to the nitwitty-gritty

1st February 2021

Before I get started on this week’s rant I want to put it out there that I am a tolerant guy, believe that black lives matter, common decency and I am sensitive that there is some privilege associated with being a white male although more so in Europe than ,Africa these days (smiley face in case I offend anyone).

But, I find myself staring at my children’s bookshelf wondering if I can still read books like Peter Pan, Dumbo and The Jungle Book since Disney slapped racism warnings on these and other classic stories due to ‘negative racial depictions and mistreatment of people or cultures.’ Disney is remaking them so that they can be more correct.

For example Aladdin’s story is effectively changed so that Jasmine is no longer a helpless damsel who is a trophy to be won. In today’s politically correct Disney movie she’s a strong independent “girl boss” who sings about how she  won’t be silenced although this doesn’t stop the main villain capturing her shortly afterwards. I guess at least she did not go down without a fight! There are other examples…in Dumbo  the “racist” singing crows are gone, in Beauty and the Beast remake, Belle tries to teach little girls how to read.

This is all good and I have no problem that Ariel in the little mermaid is now black but cancelling old movies as if they didn’t happen and dismissing Aladdin as racist, well let’s get down to the nitty gritty.  And if I offended you by the use of the term nitty gritty then you are not alone (although I suspect you’re in the vast minority).

News flash – don’t be throwing that around anymore in case the politically correct censors catch you and you land up in trouble. That’s what happened to political editor Laura Kuenssberg who used the term during a BBC talk show. The remark sparked a complaint from a listener about the use of the phrase which some anti-racism campaigners claim originates from Transatlantic slave ships, used by slave traders to refer either to the women or to the remains at the bottom of the transport ships that were covered in lice and grit.

Not according to the respected Chambers dictionary, which states that its origin is ‘ETYMOLOGY: 1960s: originally US; perhaps rhyming compound of grit’. That others dispute this is neither here not there for this story but the fact that the BBC complaints even investigated the issue is in my opinion, asinine. But whether its BBC or Disney, being politically correct(or PC) is very much in vogue.

The problem with living in this age of political correctness is you have to double think before any word comes out of your mouth for fear of offending someone. It a phenomenon to get people to “mind what they say” and is directed mainly at language that refers to women, black people, gay and disabled people – groups traditionally disempowered by the dominant white male and physically able majority, as the oppression these groups endured, it is said, was perpetuated in the very language used to describe them.

Fair enough! Obviously being PC is a noble cause against which no sane, rational 21st century man, white or other would disagree. So, we can no longer say “jump the dyke”, “manhole cover” and “accident blackspot”. You can no longer use the terms “rule of thumb” because of its racist and sexist origins (a law that said you couldn’t beat your wife with an instrument bigger than your thumb) and so it continues, all the way down to the nitty gritty.

What amazes me is the outrage that it seems to cause with people and how companies, governments, and people like overreacting for fear of being on the wrong side of public fashion opinion.  But before you argue that being PC it is just being polite, it’s more like a weapon used to destroy normal people who display normal behaviour and say normal things – even when the haters want to package it as a hate crime. Just think about James Damore, the Google engineer who was fired a few years back for simply publicly musing about the differences between the sexes.

Just last week in the most famous office in the planet Joe Biden removed a Churchill bust. Maybe not so much of a surprise as in the UK the statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament square in London is repeatedly covered in graffiti and attacked by people claiming that he was a racist and that his statue, should be no more ignoring the period he found himself in and the norms of those days – the fact that he was arguably the worlds most ardent anti-fascist leader and the role he played in defeating the Nazi’s, is forgotten. Had they won the war there certainly wouldn’t have been any tolerance at all. Just saying.

In 2015 The University of Michigan spent $16,000 advising students not to say “I want to die” because it’s offensive to the suicidal, nor “That test raped me” because some people actually have been raped, although probably not by calculus exams. At Minnesota’s Macalester College, posters and social media warned in 2014 against using the words “crazy,” “psycho,” “schizo” and “derp.” Excuse the pun but that’s nuts!

This year, ending the prayer opening the new session of Congress in the US, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) intoned, “ Amen and a-woman.” Eyeroll. Last week the Democratic-controlled lower chamber voted along party lines to approve new official language guidelines. Words such as “himself” and “herself” are to be replaced by “themself.” Out with “father,” “mother,” “son,” “daughter,” “brother,” “sister,” “uncle,” “aunt” and other familial terms, and in with “parent,” “child,” “sibling” and so forth.  Madness.

The ridiculousness of it all was emphasised when the speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi made a speech a few days later where she referred to herself as ‘mother, daughter, woman’. She clearly didn’t get the memo! But when erasing “mothers,” and “women,” because the concepts are insufficiently inclusive to gender ideologues, the irony is not lost about the rights which women struggled to attain a vote, much less enter politics.

Salman Rushdie, author of the of the controversial The Satanic Verses, states that ‘No-one has the right not to be offended’ but the core of the ‘woke’ argument appears to be the exact opposite. Yet there is always another side to any argument and in the interests of free speech it has been the accepted norm to ‘agree to disagree’. This new culture of silencing that freedom is insidious and menacing – look to any dictatorship past and present and that is the dictator’s first move – silence the press, silence any voice of dissent, and punish the transgressor.

I suspect that poor old Walt Disney is spinning in his grave, unable to plead the case for his supposed sins but if new-age Disney wants to take this whitewashing (probably shouldn’t say that) to its logical conclusion, rather than worrying about Belle having a do-gooder occupation, let’s start with the title, Beauty and the Beast.

So Belle should no longer be the quintessential fair maiden and thus she can no longer be described as beautiful. As for the poor old Beast, i.e. ugly monster, that word is about as non PC as it comes, so better to steer clear of any and all ancient fables and fairy stories.

I would tell those Disney suits to put that in their pipe and smoke it but I suspect that’s off limits too as it is a clear reference to the Red Indians’ (oops again, Native Americans’) smoking of the peace pipe.  In the words of Hamlet’s Ophelia ‘That way madness lies’, though I suppose even that should probably be ‘mental illness’!

I give up.

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Parricide at Herod’s Court

25th January 2021
SAILI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HEROD ACQUITTED OVER THE ARISTOBULUS DEATH

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

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

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

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

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

HEROD KILLS HIS WIFE AND HIS UNCLE

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

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

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

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

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

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

HEROD SLAYS SISTER’S EX-HUBBY

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

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

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

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

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

NEXT WEEK: HEROD’S WRATH ON HIS OWN SONS

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