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Jesus is Born Again

Publishing Date : 15 December, 2014

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER



… and is formally  inducted into the Essene institutional  structure    


In March 6 AD, about three months before  the insurgency  of Judas of Galilee, Jesus turned exactly 12 years old, having been born in March 7 BC (there was no Year Zero; hence 1 BC was immediately followed by 1 AD). According to Essene custom, the order had to celebrate his coming of age, a ceremony known as Bar Mitzvah. In the Bar Mitzvah ceremony, the birth of the person was re-enacted. The Bar Mitzvah ceremony was therefore a symbolic rebirth. It is this symbolic second birth of Jesus that Luke records and not his biological birth. Jesus’ ceremony was particularly significant in that he was the de facto future King of Israel.  


The ceremony was held at the Queen’s House, exactly 1 km south of the Qumran HQ. Jesus had been born at the Queen’s House in accord with the edict of the then Jerusalem High Priest Simon Boethus as befitted a child who was conceived through “fornication”. The mistress of the Queen’s House was the Davidic Queen, who was Mary at the time. The Queen’s house was also referred to as the Manger and as Bethlehem of Judea in coded Essene language.   


Present at the ceremony was Simeon. Another prominent figure in attendance was Annas, who had succeeded Joazar as High Priest of the Jerusalem temple. Annas came to formally acknowledge Jesus as the Davidic heir, meaning James, who had been recognised as such by Joazar, was once again relegated to second in line.


Jesus was dressed in a swaddling band, wrongly translated as “swaddling clothes” in the gospels. This was a piece of fabric 15-18 feet long, which was wrapped around his body  all the way down to the ankles, the same way he had been dressed when he was born. As hosts and in mimicry of their  situation back in 7 BC, Mary and Joseph were symbolically  a live-together couple although in practice they  lived separately (a dynastic Essene husband was only allowed to live with his wife when it was time to produce a child; otherwise, he lived apart from his wife as a  monastic celibate). As such, the couple were not allowed into the Katalyma. This word is translated as “inn” in the gospels but it also means “upper room”. The upper room was the sacred dining chamber where a special meal was being had by separated celibates, a category which Mary and Joseph had in the circumstances provisionally forfeited. That is the explanation of the phrase, “there was no room in the inn” in the gospel of Luke.

JESUS REINSTATED AS DAVIDIC MESSIAH
Meanwhile, the next four highest ranking figures in the Essene hierarchy (after Annas, who was holding fort for the young John the Baptist; Simeon; and Joseph the father of Jesus) were busy at work at Ain Feshika, codenamed the “farm”. These were the Cardinal; the Archbishop; the Bishop; and the Presbyter. They specialised in pastoral duties and were presently ministering to pilgrims who had come to Qumran to co-observe the equinox as well as celebrate the forthcoming Passover feast.  In the gospels, the ministers are cryptically  referred to as “shepherds”, and the pilgrims as the “flock”, both terms of which are metaphorically apt as even today we figuratively refer to pastors as shepherds and the congregation as the flock.


Simeon, whose other title was the “Angel of the Lord”, called on the ministers  to announce the “good news”, accompanied by  Theudas Barabbas, who according to the pesher of the Dead Sea Scrolls was also known as the “Glory of God” – God being a title of  the late Zechariah and presently of Annas. Remember, Theudas Barabbas had broken ranks with the belligerent faction led by Judas of Galilee to align with the peace faction now led by Annas. The “good news” Simeon came to deliver was that  Jesus had been officially recognised by the new High Priest Annas as the Davidic messiah. With the announcement of such good tidings, Simeon, Barabbas, the four ministers, and the pilgrims – collectively referred to as the “host of heaven” in the gospels – burst into a hymn of praise titled “Peace on Earth” because they all belonged to the peace faction and both Annas and the new Roman governor of Judea Lucious Coponius had committed to forging peaceful relations with the Essenes. Simeon then told the ministers that young Jesus was being feted at the Queen’s House and described his attire. The ministers then hurried to the house, which was only 3 km away,  and when they got there they venerated Jesus in song.  


Whilst Joseph was elated by the euphoria over his son, Mary had mixed feelings. As far as she was concerned, she would rather the Davidic toast went to James once and for all rather than Jesus. This was not because she did not approve of Jesus: she was simply haunted by the fact that Jesus had been controversially begotten and therefore he would always carry this badge of “shame”. Annas had recognised him all right, but the High Priest who came after him could well de-recognise him again, just as Simon Boethus and Joazar had done before: his princely status would continue to ebb and flow. On the other hand, James had been sired procedurally and would therefore not be as susceptible to such vicissitudes. No one would ever call him a bastard whereas Jesus was already being so calumniated.  


On Day 8 of the ceremony, Jesus was dedicated to the evangelical cause of the Essene fraternity through admission into its ecclesiastical hierarchy. He was given Grade 18, the entry point, the highest grade being 0, that of the Zadok priest, also referred to as the “Lord God”. This dedication was euphemistically referred to as circumcision of the heart (ROMANS 2:29), meaning having a pure heart/being separated unto the works of the Creator God as directed by his earthly representative – the “Lord God’, who previously was Zechariah but now was Annas standing in for the youngster John the Baptist.

PROPHETESS ANNA ENDORSES JESUS
Luke is the only one of the four evangelists to have made mention of the characters Simeon and Anna. Anna is the subject of LUKE 2:36-38, which reads thus: “And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” What this passage reads in English is not exactly the way it reads in Greek, the language in which it was originally written. Furthermore, the underlying pesher language is significantly different from the surface language. I will therefore properly explicate for you in line with knowledge derived from the Dead Sea Scrolls and other extra-biblical sources.  


Just as Simeon was the highest ranking Essene after the death of Zechariah, Anna was the seniormost of the Essene womenfolk.


Anna belonged to the order of Asher. Women of the order of Asher bore the titles “Sarah”, “Rebecca”, and “Rachel”, the wives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob respectively. Anna was the Sarah of the day, actually the first Sarah of the Essene order.  She was born in 93 BC, meaning in 6 AD she was 98 years old (in one of his copious works, the legendary Jewish historian Flavious Josephus marvels at the longevity of the Essenes, owing, seemingly, from the medical wizardry of the Therapeutae).  The 84-years in the Luke passage is her age as counted from her symbolic rebirth – the Bar Mitzvah ceremony, which took place in 79 BC, when she attained 14 years, the age of early initiation for girls.


The Sarah of the Old Testament bore Isaac at age 91. As such, the Sarah of the order of Asher was classified as a “virgin” when she turned 91, which simply meant she had officially ceased to bear children and had figuratively speaking become a virgin again (in his book, Contemplative Life, Philo of Alexandria talks of “aged virgins” who were members of the Qumran Therapeutae). Since Anna turned 91 in 2 BC, in AD 6 she had been a virgin for 7 years.  


In the Essene hierarchy, Anna’s superior, the priest who initially supervised her when she was younger, was the Phanuel, an “angelic” title which had the same grade as the Raphael (“daughter of”, or “son of”,   sometimes meant “immediate subordinate of”).  The Phanuel was of Grade 3, the fourth from the top.  Anna was the Essene prophetess and intercessor, the counterpart of Simeon, who was the Essene prophet and intercessor as Josephus chronicles for us. She was therefore symbolically the mistress/wife of Simeon. She had actually been looked after by Simeon since she was widowed at age 84.  


When Jesus was presented at the Qumran temple, Anna, now frail, bent, and possibly immobilised, was present. She gave a vote of thanks to High Priest Annas, the acting “Lord God”, for recognising Jesus as the Davidic messiah and   also acknowledged Jesus as the redeemer of Israel, in a political sense, not in a spiritual sense. By spotlighting Simeon and Anna, therefore, Luke wanted to demonstrate that Jesus was endorsed as the Davidic heir by both the menfolk and the womenfolk of Qumran.

SIMEON CALLS IT A DAY
In LUKE 2:25-35, Simeon is explicitly made mention of as follows: “ Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29  “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,  according to your word; 30  for my eyes have seen your salvation 31  that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32  a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” 33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”


Once again, the Greek original more or less differs from the doctored English version. To give just one example, the correct translation for Verse 28 should be “he received him into his arms,” or better still “bear-hugged him”, which one can do for anybody of any age. This is actually the more apt scenario as Jesus was at this time not a baby who could be received up in the arms but a 12-year lad.  


According to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Essenes had been awaiting two messiahs and one prophet. The two were the messiah of David and the messiah of Aaron, or the political and priestly messiah. Both messiahs had arisen in the persons of Jesus, born in March 7 BC, and John the Baptist, born in September 8 BC. In AD 5 and 6 respectively, the two had been symbolically reborn and assumed their ranks in the Essene pecking order.   


Simeon had long wanted to step down  from his priestly duties following the birth of the two messiahs but Joseph, the “Holy Spirit”, had dissuaded him against such a course of action till  Jesus had undergone the Bar Mitzvah ceremony at age 12. This had now happened. Furthermore, Zechariah, the highest ranking Essene and the father of John the Baptist, had been killed by Judas of Galilee. The fault lines in the Essene substructure were not only aggravating but were spilling blood in the very midst of the hitherto harmonious fraternity. Simeon therefore decided to quit as an active priest in pursuit of purely peaceful and spiritual causes, thereby detaching himself completely from the insurrectionist bent of the Zealots.  


As a prophet, Simeon did provide a preview of the kind of life Jesus was destined to live. When Jesus  was  presented at the Qumran temple, not only did Simeon invoke God’s blessings on Jesus but served notice that  he would be a contentious figure and cause some high-standing personages to either wane or wax. Exactly who rose or fell on the Davidic prince’s account?  We will get to know these as the Jesus Papers progress.     

NEXT WEEK: THE FAMILY OF JESUS

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