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Prophets Paint Doomsday Scenario

Benson C Sail
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

… as Day of the Lord looms large

Although Solomon was a great and highly esteemed King, he was resented in one respect: he was a task master bordering on the slave driver. His subjects bemourned the “heavy yoke” he placed on them in his infrastructural enterprises and the tax burdens required to support them.

Then there  was the ever-simmering political grievance on the part of the House of Joseph – the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. Collectively, they were the most numerous Israelites and together had the largest territory. In point of fact, the House of Joseph fancied themselves as Israel’s royalty in that Jacob’s anointed heir was Joseph, not Judah, whose role was simply to hold the royal fort till Joseph was old enough to assume the reigns. Thus the House of Joseph resented the fact that the King of Israel was of the tribe of Judah when he should have come from their ranks. So whilst the House of Joseph recognised  Solomon as King, they did so with a clutch of reservations.

In the course of time inevitably, a secessionist movement  arose in Shechem in the province of Mannasseh. It was  led by one Jeroboam,  a dissident  officer in Solomon’s army and a fugitive from the King’s justice.  Solomon had put Jeroboam, an Ephraimite,  in charge of the conscript labour battalions of the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim, which was a very senior position in the military hierarchy, but Jeroboam was not content: he felt his people were basically enslaved by Solomon’s rather arduous and onerous labour policies. That’s how Jeroboam came to lead an insurrection against Solomon.

The putsch, however,  was crushed and Jeroboam fled into exile in Egypt. There, he was gladly welcomed by Pharaoh Shosheng I (Shishak in the Bible). It was Shosheng who had deposed David from the Egyptian throne and so to him, anybody who was against the House of David and therefore an enemy of his enemy  was a potential  ally. Indeed, Shosheng had vested political interests in Canaan and so viewed the burgeoning power  of Solomon’s dual kingdom as a threat to his own designs to bring the country into his political orbit. 

Meanwhile, Solomon’s grip on power had increasingly become tenuous. Several border cities, one of which was the prominent Damascus, had secured their independence from him. His wisdom and power were not sufficient to deter tendencies to  rebellion: his kingdom had begun to disintegrate long before he gave up the ghost.

Upon his death, Solomon was succeeded by his son Rehoboam. Solomon’s death encouraged Jeroboam to return to Canaan. He based himself in Shechem in the north. The House of Joseph was prepared to rally to Rehoboam for as long as he undertook that he would not over-exert them in  their toils and that he would relax the tax burden. A haughty Rehoboam, however,  made it point black that he would in fact double the strain on them, which would make his father a saint in comparison.

He had crossed the Rubicon. All the ten tribes of the north withdrew their allegiance to Rehoboam and crowned Jeroboam as the new King of Israel. This comprised all territories save for Judah, Benjamin, and Simeon. The latter three became part of  a country known as the Kingdom of Judah. This was circa 923 BC. The United Kingdom had lasted for roughly 110 years having come into being circa 1030 BC.   For the next 200 years, the two kingdoms co-existed uneasily. Indeed, throughout the 17 years  Rehoboam reigned in Judah, the two kingdoms clashed militarily from time to time.    

ADAD AND SHAMASH IN POPULARITY  CONTEST

The tensions and feuds that plagued the Nation of Israel were a reflection of the dissonance between their own gods – the Enlilites. Since the time of the judges, the Enlilites, who posed as one godhead fronted mostly by Ishkur-Adad, were no longer in one accord. Although they were united in their anti-Marduk stance and were determined that he not be the person to receive Anu, “Our Father Who Art In Heaven”, when he pitched on planet Earth, they were not in agreement as to which Enlilite to supplant Marduk with.

The contending Enlilites were essentially three in number. They were Nannar-Sin, Jehovah-Enlil’s second-born son; Ishkur-Adad, the third born; and Utu-Shamash, Sin’s heir apparent. Each one of these wanted to be the Earth Lord at the expense of Marduk, the lawful Chief Executive of the planet in the still-in-force astrological Age of Aries. Jehovah-Enlil himself had retreated from the centre stage since the accession of Marduk and had practically left his clan to their own devices, just as Enki had in the case of his clan.    

The dilemma now was not solely about who would be in charge of the space-related sites between the Enkites and the Enlilites at the time Anu arrived: it was also about who among the individual Enlilites would be Earth Lord and therefore be the one to receive Anu.  Since Nannar-Sin was naturally a humble, mild, and scrupulous god, the real adversaries in the  Enlilite fold were Adad and Shamash. Adad fancied himself as the main Yahweh, having  instituted and personally overseen the exodus, and it was he who controlled the prophets.
 

Whilst Adad was the main god of the Jews, Shamash, the “Sun God”, was the chief god of the Canaanites (that is, the non-Jewish nations of Canaan), the Phoenicians, and the Syrians. He was best known as Baal, which simply meant “The Lord”. He was typically worshipped alongside and in concert with his twin sister, the irrepressible Inanna-Ishtar who in Canaan was best known as Asherah.

Shamash was a real thorn in the side of Adad. He was a great propagandist and so the Jews were always torn between Adad and he.  An incident is related in the Book of Ezekiel whereby Adad showed outrage at one particular envincement of Shamash’s popularity. “Then he (Adad) brought me into the inner court of the Lord's house. and behold, at the entrance to the Temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs to the Temple of the lord and their faces toward the east; and they were prostrating themselves eastward toward the sun” (EZEKIEL 8:16). In other words, the men were paying homage to Shamash, whose celestial counterpart was the sun, and this was within the precincts of the very Temple that was built under the auspices of Adad! 

At one time, the Temple was practically overrun by worshippers of Shamash and Inanna, with an Inanna-oriented prostitution ring ensconced in there. King Josiah of Judah had to crackdown on this brazen “idolatory” by killing the “pagan” priests who had desecrated the Temple and purging it of all the “unholy” articles (EZEKIEL 2 KINGS 23).

At another time, Adad had to engage in a showdown with Shamash on Mount Carmel just to demonstrate who was the more powerful between the two gods.  He had the prophet Elijah engage in a contest with the prophets of Shamash and Inanna, who Ahab, the seventh King of Israel, and his infamous queen Jezebel dutifully served.  The two sides, that of Elijah and the Shamash priests,  each placed a sacrificial bull on an altar.

Then each side invoked its god to consume the sacrifices. Elijah’s sacrifice was immediately consumed by Adad’s fire whereas nothing happened to the other party’s sacrifice. According to the terms of the contest, members of the party whose sacrifice was not consumed were to be put to death. Consequently, Elijah had all of 400 prophets of Shamash slain (read I KINGS 18:20-39 for more details). 

PROPHECY INSTITUTED AS NIBIRU LURKS

Circa 800 BC, the return of Nibiru was reckoned to about 200 years imminent. At this juncture, Adad decided to raise prophets both to alert mankind about the planet and to herald the associated geopolitical events  that were certain to arise in the intervening period. It was the imminence of Nibiru in the main which necessitated the commissioning of prophets and not the desirability of painting future scenarios in general.

Adad was to talk to the prophets through visions (holographic projections or motion-picture  imagery), dreams (future scenarios beamed into the mind both whilst asleep and in waking), and oracles (direct pronouncements by Adad himself, which pepper the entire length of the Old Testament in the form of the phrase, “Thus says the Lord”). The Old Testament spotlights 15 formal prophets in all. The first, Amos, began prophesying circa 760 BC, during the reigns of Jeroboam II in Israel in the north and Uzziah in Judah in the south.

The prophets referred to the return of Nibiru as the “Day of the Lord”. Nibiru was the Celestial Lord in that it was the principal planet of the solar system being the home of the “gods”, as the Anunnaki were received as by mankind. Furthermore, it was Nibiru which in the course of the so-called Celestial Battle of 4 billion years ago fashioned Earth and the Asteroid Belt from the planet Tiamat (also known as Maldek) that lay between Jupiter and Mars. Earth and the Asteroid Belt became remnants of Tiamat after Nibiru and its moons splintered Tiamat.

The prophets also referred to the advent of Nibiru as the “Day of Judgement”. The reason it was so-called had to do with the fact that when it approached Earth and drew closer than usual, it engendered catastrophic floods (as it did during the Deluge of Noah’s day), earthquakes, tsunamis, forest fires, etc. On the other hand, when it showed up but kept a wide berth from planet Earth, hardly any disasters struck the planet if at all.

PSALM 19 extols the planet Nibiru in these words:  “The heavens (the celestial bodies in the ecliptic, our region of the solar system) bespeak the glory of The Lord (Nibiru); the Hammered Bracelet (Asteroid Belt) proclaims his handiwork … He (Nibiru) comes forth as a groom from the canopy (deep in outer space); like an athlete he rejoices to run the course (traverse its elongated orbit). From the end of the heavens (at aphelion, the furthest point from the sun) he emanates, and his circuit (orbit) is to their end (at perihelion, the nearest point to the sun).”

PROPHETS PREDICT DIRE DAY OF THE LORD

The prophets were never absolutely certain of what might befall Earth when Nibiru re-appeared. Since it was always better to err on the side of caution, they chose to propagate doom so that mankind took whatever precautions he could. As such, Amos did not have great news for mankind.  This is what he said according to AMOS 5:18: “Woe unto you that desire the Day of the Lord! To what end is it for you? For the Day of the Lord is darkness and no light.”

Amos described the Day of the Lord as a day when “the Sun shall set at noon and the Earth shall darken in the midst of daytime”, which turned out to be strikingly prescient as we shall see. Amos must have sent the hearts of his listeners palpitating when he told them the horror of the Flood of Noah’s day, when “the day darkened as night, and the waters of the seas poured upon the Earth;” would be replayed when Nibiru hove in sight. 

PSALM 77:6, 17–19 is a flashback to what transpired during the Deluge, which was precipitated by an incoming Nibiru, and therefore what was feared to recur when Nibiru materialised. This is what its author says:  “I shall recall the Lord’s (Nibiru’s) deeds, remember thine (Nibiru’s) wonders in antiquity (in Noah’s day) … The waters (sea expanse) saw thee, O Lord, and shuddered (surged forth to inundate the planet). Thine splitting sparks went forth, lightnings lit up the world. The sound of thine thunder was rolling, the Earth was agitated and it quaked.”

Around 700 BC, the prophet Isaiah was also in full flow concerning the wrath to come at the hands of the dreaded Nibiru. He warned: “Behold, the Day of the Lord cometh with pitiless fury and wrath, to lay the Earth desolate and destroy the sinners upon it”, just as he did during the Deluge when “he came as a destroying tempest of mighty waves”. In ISAIAH 13: 10,13, the prophet sketched out a most sombre picture of what would transpire with the advent of Nibiru: “The stars of heaven and its constellations shall not give their light; the Sun shall be darkened at its rising and the Moon shall not shine its light … The heavens (neighbouring celestial bodies) shall be agitated and the Earth in its place will be shaken; when the Lord of Hosts shall be crossing on the day of his wrath.”

Isaiah referred to Nibiru as the “Lord of Hosts”, hosts in this context meaning  the solar system’s celestial bodies, and characterises its circuit as a “crossing”. This echoes,  uncannily,  its description in the iconic Sumerian text, the Enuma Elish as “the Planet of the Crossing”.  Not to be outdone, the prophet Zephaniah thundered thus concerning Nibiru in ZEPHANIAH 1: 14-15: “The great Day of the Lord is approaching—it is near! The sound of the Lord’s Day hasteth greatly. A day of wrath is that day, a day of trouble and distress, a day of calamity and desolation, a day of darkness and deep gloom, a day of clouds and thick mist.”

As the year 600 BC neared, prophecies concerning Nibiru became even more impassioned. In 605 BC,   Habakkuk commenced his prophetic career in Jerusalem and asked Adad as to when the Day of the Lord would come as it now was essentially overdue. Adad said to him: “Write down the prophecy, explain it clearly on the tablets, so that it may be quickly read: for the vision there is a set time; in the end it shall come, without fail!  Though it may tarry, wait for it; for it will surely come—for its appointed time it will not be delayed”, HABAKKUK 2:2–3.

The prophet then proceeded to  rhapsodise about “the God who in the nearing years is coming”. He described Nibiru as a radiant planet – exactly as it is characterised in the Sumerian chronicles – “whose shining splendour will beam as light”. Habbakkuk proceeded thus as per HABAKKUK 3:3-6: “The Lord from the south shall come … Covered are the heavens with his halo, His splendour fills the Earth. His rays shine forth from where his power is concealed. The word goes before Him, sparks emanate from below. He pauses to measure the Earth; He is seen, and the nations tremble.”

The prophet Joel was even more frantic. “The Day of the Lord is at hand!” he warned. The prophet Obadiah was equally vehement. “The Day of the Lord is near!”,  he announced feverishly. Finally, in 570 BC, the die was cast. Adad summoned the prophet Ezekiel and said this to him as per EZEKIEL 30:2-3: “Son of Man, prophesy and say: ‘Thus sayeth the Lord God: Howl and bewail for the Day! For the Day is near—the Day of the Lord is near!’”

BABYLON AND ASSYRIA PREPARE FOR ANU

Whilst in Palestine the prophets underlined the nether or dark aspects of Nibiru’s approach, in Assyria and Babylon the chief astronomers also underscored the positive aftermath. They called this the “End of Days”, the coming to an end of the Age of Aries not very long after Nibiru had retreated. In other words, they seemed to suggest, whatever calamities Nibiru would have wrought in its wake would not spell the end of the world; shortly thereafter, an idyllic age would dawn, something akin to Heaven-on Earth.  The Jewish prophets did hint on this too but they did not emphasize it.

This is what Assyrian records say on a positive note: “When Nibiru will culminate … The lands will dwell securely, hostile kings will be at peace; the gods will receive prayers and hear supplications. When the Planet of the Throne of Heaven (Nibiru) will grow brighter, there will be floods and rains. When Nibiru attains its perigee (closest point to the sun), the gods will give peace. Troubles will be cleared up, complications will be unravelled.”

The Assyrian King Ashurbanipal,  who ruled from 668-630 BC and is regarded as the most erudite of Assyrian kings,  was particularly fanatical about the imminence of  Nibiru. In his book The End of Days, Zechariah Sitchin writes that, “Ashurbanipal was engaged in collecting, collating, translating, and studying all the earlier texts that could (a) provide guidance to the astronomer-priests for detecting, at the first possible moment, the returning Nibiru and (b) inform the King about the procedures for what to do next.”

Since King  Anu was being expected, Ashurbanipal instructed that the ancient Sumerian texts that documented activities and protocols that punctuated the occasion of Anu’s  last visit to Earth circa 4000 BC, be translated into Akkaddian, the mainstream language of the day in Babylonia and Assyria, and be disseminated to his subjects. He also instructed the astronomers to meticulously watch the sky for Nibiru’s appearance. Sitchin: “Among the purely astronomical texts translated and, undoubtedly, carefully studied, were guidelines for observing Nibiru’s arrival and for recognizing it on its appearance.”

One such Babylonia texts stated: “Planet of the god Marduk (as Babylonians referred to Nibiru): upon its appearance SHUL.PA.E (Saturn, which it reaches at this stage). Rising thirty degrees, SAG.ME.NIG (Jupiter, which it at this juncture passes).  When it stands in the middle of the sky (that is, a crossroads,  between Jupiter and Mars, the scene of the Celestial Battle) it becomes  NIBIRU (that is, the Planet of the Crossing).”

Another text says: “From the station of Jupiter, the planet passes toward the west. From the station of Jupiter,  the planet increases its brilliance. Planet Marduk will enter the Sun (i.e. reach Perigee) and  will become Nibiru. The great planet: at his appearance: dark red. The heaven he divides in half (it roughly bisects the solar system when it courses between Jupiter and Mars)." But did Anu actually turn up  or Nibiru wrought such havoc that he was prevented from doing so? Did Earthlings see the “radiant” comet planet which is seen only once  in 3600 years? Make a date with us next week.

NEXT WEEK:   ASSYRIA AND BABYLON CONTEND FOR JERUSALEM

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Hell Up in Judea

24th August 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ASSIGNMENT JUDEA

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

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

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

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

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

A SADISTIC ADMINISTRATOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PILATE’S WINGS ARE CLIPPED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEXT WEEK: ZEALOT REVOLT AGAINST PILATE

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Hustle & Muscle

24th August 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Lord Ties The Knot

18th August 2021
JUDAS

… as Judas Iscariot takes strong exception

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

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

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

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

THE FIRST MARRIAGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE FINAL MARRIAGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUDAS DENOUNCES THE MARRIAGE

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

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

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

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

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

NEXT WEEK: A NEW GOVERNOR COMES TO TOWN

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