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The Day the Sun Stood Still!

Benson C Sail
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

… but was it a miracle wrought by Adad in aid of Joshua’s war effort or it was a perfectly natural phenomenon?

Having vanquished the great city of Jericho, General Joshua now set his sights on the next equally momentous target, if not more so – the city of Ai, today identified with Et-Tell. Located in central Palestine, just east of Bethel (modern Beitin), Ai was almost as rich resourcewise as Jericho but was significantly smaller.  The main reason Joshua targeted it next in these early stages of his campaign was by virtue of the fact that it occupied a strategic position being situated in the loftier parts of the hill country.

The capture of Ai, which lay about 16 km north of Jerusalem, the grandest prize of them all, would give Joshua a command post from which he could easily take control of major portions of Canaan. In fact, both AI and Bethel had potentially great religious significance. Abraham had erected an altar somewhere between these two cities during his first journey through Canaan (GENESIS 12:8; 13:3).

Before squaring up to face Ai, Joshua dispatched an advance party of secret agents  to spy out the city as per his standard modus operandi. The spies gave a rather cynical report. They said the city-state had such a tiny army there was no need to unleash the entire Israelite army on it: two to three thousand men would suffice. A trusting Joshua took the report as gospel truth at face value. He didn’t even bother to ask for sophisticated weaponry, like the “trumpets” (sonic weapons) his army had used against Jericho, so confident was he of making mince of Ai.

Big mistake. The Israelite troops were routed by the Aians, losing 36 men in all. They were forced to beat a hasty retreat back to their general, with tails humbly wedged between their frantic legs. Just when Joshua and his army thought they were the invincible Israelites, they found themselves fleeing from the tiny army of Ai. Just when they should have mounted the podium to be crowned the undisputed conquerors of the great fortresses of Canaan, they found themselves fleeing for safety from the underdogs of Ai.  Before the national anthem could be played to mark their victory, they found themselves running, not the lap of honour, but for dear life. Just what went amiss?

ACHAN IS SACRIFICIAL LAMB FOR STIGMATIC DEFEAT

Joshua’s first reaction to the whole ignominy was to point a bristling finger at his god Ishkur-Adad, the Jehovah of the exodus.  He remonstrated thus as per JOSHUA 7:7: “Ah, Lord GOD! Why have you brought this people across the Jordan at all, to hand us over to the Amorites so as to destroy us? Would that we had been content to settle beyond the Jordan.”

As far as Joshua was concerned, his men had been repulsed because Adad had somewhat neglected them. It was inconceivable, Joshua said, that a people who belonged to such a mighty god would lose a battle in so opprobrious a fashion. The reputation of Adad was certainly at stake. Joshua might as well have been passing the buck to his own god as a lame excuse for his first poor showing as a general.   On his part, Adad was chagrined and he too decided to sort of exculpate himself.

He told Joshua the reason the Israelite army had been defeated had to do with the fact that one of them had kept part of the plunder, when Adad had made it clear that all the “precious articles” were to be reserved for he himself. Until the culprit was exposed, Israel would yet lose the next battle too.  “Israel has sinned,” Adad thundered. “They have transgressed my covenant that I imposed on them. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have acted deceitfully, and they have put them among their own belongings. 

Therefore, the Israelites are unable to stand before their enemies; they turn their backs to their enemies, because they have become a thing devoted for destruction themselves.” (JOSHUA 7:11-12). Of course Adad’s reasoning was puerile, but he had to find a way of saving face and was aware that the prospects of his “vindication”were very high. In every war, soldiers retained a bit of the plunder: that was how they earned their keep as they were never paid for their services.

Even when they were expressly told not to keep the booty but surrender it wholly to the general for nobler purposes, there was certain to be a few stubborn elements who simply would not heed the call. One such person was Achan. Following Joshua’s patient but exhaustive quest for the culprit who had caused his otherwise gallant warriors such a telling defeat, Achan was unearthed. Achan had kept for himself a beautiful robe imported from Sumer; 200 silver coins; and a bar of gold. He could have easily disposed of that whilst the search was on-going, as surely others in his position must have done, but he probably foolishly thought his stash might not be found.

Adad ordered that Achan be stoned to death along with members of his immediate family and all the livestock they possessed and that their remains be burned to a cinder.  Achan had committed the sin singly, but his family had to perish along with him when they were totally innocent. The gods of Christianity are for lack of a better word utter savages.

JOSHUA EMPLOYS WITCHCRAFT TO DEFEAT AI!

In the  follow-up  battle with Ai, Joshua this time around deployed up to 30,000 soldiers. Moreover, he opted for the ambush approach as his mode of offence. And in order to incentivise the soldiers, they were  given the green light  to keep the spoils of war. It seems Achan and his family had died a vain death after all,  for the crime they were accused of ceased to be a crime literally overnight.   

However, it seems Joshua’s meticulous preparations this time around were not sufficient for the purpose anyway. The Aian army might have been a small force, but they were a magnificent fighting machine and BOTH  JOSHUA AND HIS GOD ADAD WERE AWARE THAT THE ISRAELITES SIMPLY COULD NOT DEFEAT THE AIANS USING CONVENTIONAL WARFARE  ALONE. Joshua and his god therefore decided to resort to magic, as was the case when the Israelites fought the Amalekites  under Moses at Rephidim.

If you recall, Moses had to have his hands  kept aloft for the Israelites to win that war: as long as he held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but when he lowered them, the Amalekites were winning. Two compatriots, Aaron and Hur,  actually had to assist him to keep the momentum  of his posture going. It was pure witchcraft at play here and Adad now was about to replay it albeit in a slightly altered form.  

ADAD INSTRUCTED JOSHUA TO HOLD OUT HIS JAVELIN TOWARDS AI THROUGHOUT THE DURATION OF THE WAR (JOSHUA 8:18).  Joshua did not draw back the hand that held his javelin until all the Aians, along with their allies, the Bethelians,  had been annihilated (JOSHUA 8:26). Joshua’s sorcerous gesture worked. Over 12,000 Aians, including women and children,  were killed: the Luciferian god that was Adad really revelled in bloodshed. The king himself was given a “special” treat: he was captured alive, brought to Joshua, and sadistically impaled on a tree.  


Following the destruction of Ai, Joshua led the people  of Israel to two mountains in the centre of the land. In what amounted to a satanic ritual of some sort, they divided into two groups, one standing on Mount Gerizim shouting blessings of Moses’ covenant with Adad, and the other on Mount Ebal shouting the curses.  Joshua also built an altar to Adad on Mount Ebal.

THE GIBEONITE DECEPTION

The news of the defeat of Jericho and Ai spread rapidly and engendered fear in many Canaanite kings. They naturally began to work on survival strategies. Some of them chose to work together to stop the Israelite army. The kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perites, Hivites, and Jebusites set aside their differences  and agreed to form a united alliance against Israel.

However, a nation of the Hittites known as  Gibeonites, knowing that they had no hope of defeating Israel opted for a different approach. They decided to use deception. Gibeon was an important city because it guarded the Beth Horon Pass, which was on a major trade route to the coastal  lowlands to the west. It   was also like one of the royal cities in that it provided a safe haven for royal leaders. Gibeon was even stronger than Ai and had good fighters.   So when its ambassadors approached Joshua to seek an alliance, Joshua was surprised but he trusted them anyway.

The Gibeonites said they sought to ally with the Israelites having heard of their record of conquests under their mighty god Ishkur-Adad. The Gibeonites’ aim was to somehow  undermine the Israelites, that is, strategically emasculate them  so that the Canaanite coalition would have a field day when they attacked the nation. The unsuspecting Joshua was taken in and proceeded to make a peace treaty with them agreeing not to harm them in any way  and even swearing to that so that the promise was irrevocable.

However, about three days later,  Joshua discovered that the Gibeonites were not sincere and he confronted their leaders about this.  Joshua however, could not exact retribution on them in that he had promised not to inflict any kind of harm on them under oath. Instead, he imposed on them slave labour. The Gibeonites were to serve as Israel’s servants. They were to be woodcutters and water-carriers for the entire community and their four city-states now became the Israelites’ vassal states.  

UNUSUALLY LENGTHY DAY   AIDS JOSHUA’S WAR EFFORT

The turncoat peace pact the Gibeonites had made with the Israelites revolted the other Canaanite kings, particularly King Adoni-Zedek (“Lord of  Righteousness”) of the Jebusites of the city-state of Jerusalem. The king rapidly got in touch with four other Amorite kings and soon they had combined forces and were poised to launch an attack on  Gibeon.

The Gibeonites there and then sent an SOS message to General Joshua, who was presently based at Gilgal. “Do not abandon your servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us; for all the kings of the Amorites who live in the hill country are gathered against us.” (JOSHUA 10:6).  Joshua wasted no time in answering to the appeal.  

IT SO HAPPENED THAT THIS PARTICULAR DAY WAS A UNIQUE DAY NOT ONLY TO THE ISRAELITES BUT TO THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD AS A WHOLE. Various cultures have documented this day. This is how the day panned out according to JOSHUA 10:12-14: “Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.

And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.”

On this particular day, the sun appears to have stood still for nearly 24 hours, thus lengthening hours of daylight and curtailing hours of darkness. And not only that: the day was punctuated by  hailstones, with the result that more of Israel’s enemies were killed by the hailstones than by the sword according to the Bible.  Both the stationary sun and the hailstones are attributed to the intervention of “Yahweh” in the Bible.

Ancient Peruvians of South America’s Inca Kingdom also document that one day in the third year of the reign of King Pachachuti II, the fifteenth monarch of the iconic empire, “there was no dawn for 20 hours”. Whereas in Palestine the sun delayed to set by about a whole day, in South America the sun delayed to dawn for 20 hours, which is to be expected since these are opposite sides of the global.  

Exactly how did this phenomenon come about? It cannot be explained by a possible solar eclipse because solar eclipses do not last that long: the longest on record went on for about 7 minutes. THE MOST LIKELY EXPLANATION AS PER MANY AN ASTRONOMER IS THAT A COMET CAME TOO CLOSE TO EARTH, DISINTEGRATING IN THE PROCESS AND DISRUPTING EARTH’S ROTATION ON ITS AXIS. The aftermath was for Earth’s rotation to slow down. The disintegration of the comet may explain the “hailstones” in the Joshua account: it  was the comet’s  debris.  

SCIENCE  CONFIRMS OCCURRENCE OF JOSHUA’S DAY!

Interestingly, the stationary sun of Joshua’s day  has been scientifically attested. Harold Hill was the president of the Curtis Engine Company of the US, a consultant to the American Space Programme. He wrote the following article (only quoted in part) in the Evening World newspaper in Spencer Indiana, which later appeared in another newspaper called The English Churchman on January 15, 1971:

“I think one of the most amazing things that God has for us happened recently to our astronauts and space scientists at Green Belt, Indiana. They were checking the position of the sun,  moon, and planets out in  space where they should be in 100 years and 1000 years from now. We have to know this in order that we do not send up a satellite and it collides with something later on, on one of its orbits…

“They ran the computer measurements backwards and forwards over the centuries and it came to a halt. ‘Well, we have found there’s a day missing in space in a lapsed time,’ the scientists noted. They  were puzzled and there seemed no answer. Then one man on the team remembered he had been taught at Sunday School of the sun standing still. They didn’t  believe him but as no alternative was forthcoming, they asked him to get a Bible and find it, which he did in the book of JOSHUA 10:12-14 …

“Well, they checked the computers going back into time. The elapsed time that was missing back in Joshua’s day was 23 hours and 20 minutes – not a whole day. They read the Bible again and it said ‘about a day’. These little words in the Bible are important. But they were still in trouble because if you can’t account for 40 minutes, you will be in trouble 100 years from now. Forty minutes had to be found because it can be multiplied many times over in orbits.

“It was the same man who  remembered that somewhere in the Bible it said the sun went backwards. The spacemen told him he was out of his mind but they got out  the Bible and found how Hezekiah  on his deathbed was visited by the prophet Isaiah who told him he was not going to die  and Hezekiah asked what the promise should be. And Isaiah said, “This sign thou shalt have of the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that he has spoken: shall the shadow go forward 10 degrees or back ten degrees?’

“And Hezekiah answered, ‘It’s a light thing for the shadow to go down 10 degrees: nay,  but  let the shadow return backward 10 degrees’. And Isaiah cried unto the Lord and he brought the shadow 10 degrees backward by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz (2 KINGS 20). “Ten degrees is exactly 40 minutes. So 23 hours and 20 minutes in Joshua plus 40 minutes in 2 Kings make the missing 24 hours which they had to log in the log book as being the missing day in the universe.” The Anunnaki, the Old Testament gods, were not all-knowing divine beings but they understood nature so well they were able either to toy with it so they project themselves as gods or to utilise it to hoodwink mankind that they indeed were deities.     

NEXT WEEK:   ERA OF JUDGES BEGINS

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A “Virgin” Conceives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOSEPH CALLED TO “DUTY”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A BINDING ENGAGEMENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEXT WEEK: THE PANTERA INVOLVEMENT

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A crash course in publicity

2nd March 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pact with the Devil

2nd March 2021
THE LORD’S GREAT GRANDMOTHER

How Jesus’s grandfather sold his birthright to megalomaniac Herod

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JACOB’S PACT WITH HEROD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FALLOUT WITH ESSENES

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

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

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

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

THE SAGA OF JOSEPH

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEXT WEEK: HOW HEROD MINIMISED THE HOUSE OF DAVID

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