It was circa 1460 BC that the forgotten kingdoms of Elam and Anshan (later known as Persia, east and southeast of Babylonia) joined to form a new and powerful state, with Susa (the biblical Shushan) as the national capital and Ninurta, the national god, as Shar Ilani--"Lord of the gods"; that newly assertive nation-state was to play a decisive role in ending Babylon's and Marduk's supremacy. And the purpose of the Exodus? In the words of the biblical God himelf, to keep His sworn promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to grant to their descendants as "an Everlasting Heritage" (Exodus 6: 4-8)...The promise to Abraham was renewed at the Israelites' first stop, at Har Ha-Elohim; the "Mount of the Elohim/gods." And the mission was to take hold, possess, the two other space-related sites, which the Bible repeatedly connected (as in Psalms 48:3), calling Mount Zion in Jerusalem Har Kodshi, "My Sacred Mount," and the other, on the crest of Lebanon, Har Zaphon, "The Secret North Mount."

The Promised Land clearly embraced both space-related sites; its division among the twelve tribes granted the area of Jerusalem to the tribes of Benjamin and Judah, and the territory that is now Lebanon to the tribe of Asher. Clearly and most emphatically, the Children of Israel were to be the custodians of the two remaining space­related sites of the Anunnaki. That Covenant with the people chosen for the task was renewed, at the greatest theophany on record, at Mount Sinai. It was the same mount that Gilgamesh, arriving at the place where the rocket ships ascended and descended, had called "Mount Mashu." It was the same mount with "the double doors to heaven" to which Egyptian Pharaohs went in their Afterlife Journey to join the gods on the "planet of millions of years." It was the Mount astride the erstwhile Spaceport--and it was there that the Covenant was renewed with the people chosen to be the guardians of the two remaining space-related sites.

The capture of Jericho, and the town of Ai south of it, opened the way to the Israelites' most important and immediate target: Jerusalem, where the Mission Control platform had been. The missions of Abraham and his descendants and God's covenants with them never lost sight of that site's centrality. As God told Moses, it is in Jerusalem that His earthly abode was to be; now the promise-prophecy could be fulfilled. No sooner was kingship established under David than he was commanded by God to clear the platform atop Mount Moriah and sanctify it for Yahweh's Temple. And ever since Solomon built that Temple there, Jerusalem/Mount Moriah/the Temple Mount have remained uniquely sacred. There is, indeed, no other explanation why Jerusalem--a city not at major crossroads, far from waterways, with no natural resources--has been coveted and sacred since antiquity, deemed to be a singular city, a "Navel of the Earth."

The primary failure to establish Israelite hegemony over the northern space-related site made it "available" to others. A century and a half after the Exodus the Egyptians attempted to take possession of that "available" Landing Place, but were met by an opposing Hittite army. The epic battle is described in words and illustrations on the walls of Karnak's temples. Known as the Battle of Kadesh, ended with an Egyptian defeat, but the war and the battle exhausted both sides so much that the site the Landing Place was left in the hands of the local Phoenician kings of Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos (the biblical Gebal). (The prophets Ezekiel and Amos, who called it "the place of the gods" as well "the Eden Abode," recognized it as belonging to the Phoenicians.)

The first five books of the Hebrew Bible, known as the Torah ("The Teachings"), cover the story from Creation, Adam, and Noah to the Patriarchs and Joseph in Genesis. The other four books-Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy--tell the story of the Exodus on the one hand, and on the other hand enumerate the rules and regulations of the new religion of Yahweh. They reveal extraordinary knowledge in virtually every scientific discipline, expertise in metals and textiles, acquaintance with legal systems and societal issues, familiarity with the lands, history, customs, and gods of other nations--and certain numerological preferences. Extra attention is therefore called for when we find that "fifty" was granted extraordinary importance--it was used to create a new Unit of Time, the fifty-year Jubilee. The word that is translated "Jubilee" is Yovel in the Hebrew Bible, and it means "a ram." So one can say that what was decreed was a "Year of the Ram," to repeat itself every fifty years, and to be announced by sounding the ram's horn.

...we find that when the linear fifty-year time unit is meshed with the zodiacal cyclical unit of seventy-two--the time that a shift of one degree requires-- we arrive at 3,600 (50 x 72 = 3,600), which was the (mathematical) orbital period of Nibiru. Some two thousand years ago, during a time of great messianic fervor, it was recognized that the Jubilee was a divinely inspired time unit for predicting the future--for calculating when the meshed geared wheels of time will announce the Return. That recognition underlies one of the most important postbiblical books, known as The Book of Jubilees. It was a product, all scholars agree, of messianic expectations at the time when Rome occupied Jerusalem, and its purpose was to provide a means by which to predict when the Messiah shall come--when the End of Days shall occur.

Scion of Egypt's famed eighteenth Dynasty, Akhenaten reigned from 1379 to 1362 BC, and his religious revolution did not last. A close reading of the hymns reveals that Akhenaten's "star god" was not Ra as Amon "the Unseen," but a different kind of Ra: it was the celestial god who had "existed from primeval time...The one who renews himself" as it reappears in all its glory, a celestial god that was "going afar and returning." On a daily basis, those words could indeed apply to the Sun, but on a long-term basis, the description fitted Ra only as Nibiru: it did become unseen, the hymns said, because it was "far away in heaven," because it went "to the rear of the horizon, to the height of heaven." And now, Akhenaten announced, it was coming back in all its glory. Aten's hymns prophesied its reappearance, its return "beautiful on the horizon of heaven...Glittering, beautiful, strong," ushering a time of peace and benevolence to all. These words express clear messianic expectations that have nothing to do with the Sun.

Akhenaten shifted the issue from Celestial Time (the zodiacal clock) to Divine Time (Nibiru's orbital time), changing the question to: When will the Un­seen celestial god reappear and become visible--"beautiful on the horizon of heaven"? ...Akhenaten's pronouncements about the returning Aten were accompanied by a personal claim: Akhenaten increasingly referred to himself as the god's prophet-son, one "who came forth from the god's body," and to whom alone the deity's plans were revealed:

There is no other that knoweth thee
except thy son Akhenaten;
Thou hast made him wise in thy plans.

And this, too, was unacceptable to the Theban priests of Amon. As soon as Akhenaten was gone (and it is uncertain how...), they restored the worship of Amon--the Unseen god--and smashed and destroyed all that Akhenaten had erected.

The text suggests that Balaam was an Aramaean, residing somewhere up the Euphrates River; his prophetic oracles expanded from the fate of the Children of Jacob to the place of Israel among the nations to oracles regarding the future of such other nations--even of distant and yet-to-come imperial Assyria. The oracles were thus an expression of wider non-Israelite expectations at the time. By including the tale, the Bible combined the Israelite destiny with Mankind's universal expectations.

In 1260 BC a new king ascended the throne in Babylon and adopted the name Kadashman-Enlil--a theophoric name surprisingly venerating Enlil. It was no passing gesture, for he was followed on the throne, for the next century, by Kassite kings bearing theophoric names venerating not only Enlil but also Adad--a surprising gesture suggesting a desire for divine reconciliation. That something unusual was expected was further evidenced on commemorative monuments called kudurru--"rounded stones"--that were set up as boundary markers. Inscribed with a text stating the terms of the border treaty (orland grant) and the oaths taken to uphold it, the kudurru was sanctified by symbols of the celestial gods. The divine zodiacal symbols--all twelve of them­-were frequently depicted; orbiting above them were the emblems of the Sun, the Moon, and Nibiru. In another depiction, Nibiru was shown in the company of Earth (the seventh planet) and the Moon (and the umbilical­cutter symbol for Ninmah).

Significantly, Nibiru was depicted no longer by the Winged Disc symbol, but rather in a new way--as the planet of the radiating cross--befitting its description by the Sumerians in the "Olden Days" as a radiating planet about to become the "Planet of the Crossing." This cross symbol, which looks like the much later Christian "Maltese Cross," is known in studies of ancient glyptic as a "Kassite Cross." As another depiction indicates, the symbol of the cross was for a planet clearly not the same as the Sun, which is separately shown along with the Moon-crescent and the six-pointed star symbol for Mars. The adoption of the Sign of the Cross as the emblem of Nibiru, in Babylon, Assyria, and elsewhere, was not a surprising innovation. The sign had been used before--by the Sumerians and Akkadians. "Nibiru--let 'Crossing' be its name!" the Epic of Creation stated; and accordingly its symbol, the cross, had been employed in Sumerian glyptic to denote Nibiru, but then it always signified its Return into visibility.

Sumerian texts dealing with landmark events in Mankind's saga provide specific indications regarding the periodic appearances of the Planet of the Anunnaki--approximately every 3,600 years--and always at crucial junctions in Earth's and Mankind's history. It was at such times that the planet was called Niburu, and its glyptical depictions--even in early Sumerian times--were the Cross. That record began with the Deluge. Several texts dealing with the Deluge associated the watershed catastrophe with the appearance of the celestial god, Nibiru, in the Age of the Lion (circa 10,900 BC)... The planet returned, reappeared, and again became "Nibiru" when Mankind was granted farming and husbandry, in the mid-eighth millennium BC; depictions (on cylinder seals) illustrating the beginning of agriculture used the Sign of the Cross to show Nibiru visible in Earth's skies.

The choosing of the young David, who was shepherding his father's flock, to be shepherd over Israel was doubly symbolic, for it harks back to the golden age of Sumer. Its kings were called LU.GAL, "Great Man," but they strove to earn the cherished title EN.SI, "Righteous Shepherd." That, as we shall see, was only the beginning of David's and the Temple's links to the Sumerian past. David began his reign in Hebron, south of Jerusalem, and that, too, was a choice filled with historic symbolism. The previous name of Hebron, the bible repeatedly pointed out, was Kiryat Arba, "the fortified city of Arba," And who was Arba? "He was a Great Man of the Anakim"--two biblical terms that render in Hebrew the Sumerian LU.GAL and ANUNNAKI. By choosing to be king in Hebron, David established his kingship as a direct continuation of kings linked to the Anunnaki of Sumerian lore. His seat of kingship--the "City of David"--was built on Mount Zion, just south of and separated by a small valley from Mount Moriah (where the platform built by the Anunnaki was). God's word, through the Prophet Nathan, was that because David had shed blood in ills many wars, not he but his son Solomon would build the temple.

...sitting in front of the Ark of the Covenant by which Moses had communicated with the Lord, he received a divine sign: he was given a Tavnit--a scale model--of the future temple! When he neared the end of his days, King David summoned to Jerusalem all the leaders of Israel, including the tribal chiefs and the military commanders, the priests and the royal office holders, and told them of Yahweh's promise; and in full view of those gathered he handed to his son Solomon "the Tavnit of the temple and all its parts and chambers...the Tavnit that he received by the Spirit." There was more, for David also handed over to Solomon "all that Yahweh, in His own hand written, gave to me for understanding the workings of the Tavnit": A set of accompanying instructions, divinely written (I Chronicles, Chapter 28).

The biblical books of Kings and Chronicles provide precise measurements and clear structural details of the Temple and its architectural designs. Its axis ran east-west, making it an "eternal temple" aligned to the equinox. Consisting of three parts, it adopted the Sumerian temple plans of a forepart (Ulam in Hebrew), a great central hall Hekhal in Hebrew, stemming from the Sumerian E.GAL, "Large Abode"), and a Holy of Holies for the Ark of the Covenant. That innermost section was called the Dvir (the "Speaker")--for it was by means of the Ark of the Covenant that God spoke to Moses. As in Sumerian ziggurats, which traditionally were built to express the sexagesimal's "base sixty" concept, the Temple of Solomon also adopted sixty in its construction: the main section (the Hall) was 60 cubits (about 100 feet) in length, 20 cubits (60:3) wide, and 120 (60 x 2) cubits in height.

Though these were not monumental measurements compared to the skyscraping ziggurats, the Temple, when completed, was truly magnificent; it was also unlike any other contemporary temple in that part of the world. No iron or iron tools were used for its erection upon the platform (and absolutely none in its operation--all the utensils were of copper or bronze), and the building was inlaid inside with gold; even the nails holding the golden plates in place were made of gold. The quantities of gold used (just "for the Holy of Holies, 600 talents; for the nails, fifty shekels") were enormous... According to the Bible, tens of thousands of workmen were needed for seven years for the immense undertaking. What, then, was the purpose of this House of the Lord? When all was ready, with much pomp and circumstance, the Ark of the Covenant was carried by priests and placed in the Holy of Holies. As soon as the Ark was put down and the curtains separating the Holy of Holies from the great hall were drawn, "the House of the Lord was filled with a cloud and the priests could not remain standing."

"And Yahweh appeared to Solomon that night, and said to him: I have heard your prayer; I have chosen this site for my house of worship...From heaven I will hear the prayers of my people and forgive their transgressions...Now I have chosen and consecrated this House for my Shem to remain there forever" (II Chronicles, Chapters 6-7). Throughout the Temple there was no statue, no idol, no graven image. The only object within it was the hallowed Ark' of the Covenant--and "there was nothing in the Ark except the two tablets that were given to Moses in Sinai." Unlike the Mesopotamian ziggurat temples, from Enlil's in Nippur to Marduk's in Babylon, this one was not a place of residence for the deity, where the god lived, ate, slept, and bathed. It was a House of Worship, a place of divine contact; it was a temple for a Divine Presence by the Dweller in the Clouds.

A century or so later, Assyrian depictions introduced a new variant of the God in the Cloud. Classified as "Deity in a Winged Disc," they clearly showed a deity inside the emblem of the Winged Disc, by itself or as it joins the Earth (seven dots) and the Moon (crescent). Since the Winged Disc represented Nibiru, it had to be a deity arriving with Nibiru. Clearly, then, these depictions implied expectations of the nearing arrival not only of the planet, but also of its divine dwellers, probably led by Anu himself.

In Babylon the expectations were mostly religious--a messianic revival by Marduk through his son Nabu. Great efforts were undertaken to resume, circa 960 BC, the sacred Akita ceremonies in which the revised Enuma elish-- appropriating to Marduk the creation of Earth, the reshaping of the Heavens (the Solar System), and the fashioning of Man--was publicly read. The arrival of Nabu from his shrine in Borsippa (just south of Babylon) to play a crucial role in the ceremonies was an essential part of the revival, Accordingly, the Babylonian kings who reigned between 900 BC and 730 BC resumed bearing Marduk-related names and, in great numbers, Nabu-related names.

The changes in Assyria were more geopolitical; historians consider the time--circa 960 BC--as the start of the Neo-Assyrian Imperial period. In addition to inscriptions on monuments and palace walls, the main source of information about Assyria in those days is the annals of its kings, in which they recorded what they did, year by year. Judging by that, their main occupation was Conquest. With unparalleled ferocity, its kings set out on one military campaign after another not only to have dominion over the olden Sumer & Akkad, but also over what they deemed essential for the Return: Control of the space-related sites. That this was the purpose of the campaigns is evident not only from their targets, but also from the grand stone re­ liefs on the walls of Assyrian palaces from the ninth and eighth centuries BC (which one can see in some of the world's leading museums): as on some cylinder seals, they show the king and the high priest, accompanied by winged Cherubim--Anunnaki "astronauts"--flanking the Tree of Life as they welcome the coming of the god in the Winged Disc (above). A divine arrival was clearly expected!

Circa 860 BC Ashurnasirpal II--who wore the cross symbol on his chest--boasted of capturing the Phoenician coastal cities of Tyre, Sidon, and Gebal (Byblos), and of ascending the Cedar Mountain with its sacred site, the olden Landing Place of the Anunnaki. In his best-known inscribed monument, the Black Obelisk, Shalmaneser III recorded the receipt of tribute from the Israelite king Jehu and, in a scene dominated by the Winged Disc emblem of Nibiru, depicted him kneeling in obeisance (right). Both the Bible and the Assyrian annals recorded the subsequent invasion of Israel by Tiglath-Pileser III (744-727 BC), the detaching of its better provinces, and the partial exile of its leaders. Then, in 722 BC, his son Shalmaneser V overran what was left of Israel, exiled all of its people; and replaced them with foreigners; the Ten Tribes were gone, their whereabouts remaining a lasting mystery.

After the capture of the space-related site in Lebanon­-but before launching the campaigns toward Jerusalem--the Assyrians took an unprecedented step for reconciliation with Marduk. In 729 BC Tiglath-Pileser 111 entered Babylon, went to its sacred precinct, and "took the hands of Marduk." The task of capturing the remaining space-related site fell to Sargon's successor, Sennacherib. The assault on Jerusalem in 704 BC, at the time of its King Hezekiah, is amply recorded both in Sennacherib's annals and in the Bible. But while Sennacherib in his inscriptions spoke just of the successful seizing of Judean provincial cities, the Bible provides a detailed tale of the siege of Jerusalem by a mighty Assyrian army that was miraculously wiped out by Yahweh's will. The biblica1 postscript is an amazingly informed record: Sennacherib was indeed murdered, by his own sons, in 681 BC. For the second time, Assyrian kings who attacked Israel or Judea were dead as soon as they went back.

The Bible speaks of prophets from Moses on, but only fifteen of them have their own books in the Bible. They include the three "majors"--Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel­- and twelve "minors." Their prophetic period began with Amos in Judea (circa 760 BC) and Hoseah in Israel (750 BC) and ended with Malachi (circa 450 BC). Adopting the Sumerian distinction between predetermined Destiny and free-willed Fate, the Prophets believed that the Future could be foretold because it was all pre­planned, yet on the way thereto, things could change. The Prophets seemed to be delivering a two-track message not only in regard to current events, but also in respect to the Future.

...the of Judgment was spoken of as the Day of the Lord; the messianic time was expected at the End of Days; and the two were neither synonymous nor predicted as concurrent events. They were two separate events, due to occur at different times: One, the Day of the Lord, a day of God's judgment, was about to happen; The other, ushering a benevolent era, was yet to come, sometime in the future. Undoubtedly, as the eighth century BC was ending, it was clear in all three capitals that the two time cycles were not identical; and in Jerusalem, speaking of the coming Day of the Lord, the biblical prophets in fact spoke of the Return of Nibiru.

The arrival of Nibiru and the celestial collision, leading to Nibiru's great orbital circuit, were celebrated in the majestic Psalm 19:

The heavens bespeak the glory of the Lord;
The Hammered Bracelet proclaims his handiwork...
He comes forth as a groom from the canopy;
Like an athlete he rejoices to run the course.
From the end of the heavens he emanates,
and his circuit is to their end.

It was the nearing of the Celestial Lord at the time of the Deluge that was held to be the forerunner of what will happen next time the celestial Lord will return (Psalm 77: 6, 17-19):

I shall recall the Lord's deeds,
remember thine wonders in-antiquity...
The waters saw thee, O Lord, and shuddered.
Thine splitting sparks went forth,
lightnings lit up the world.
The sound of thine thunder was rolling,
the Earth was agitated and it quaked.

The Prophets brought the word of Yahweh to Israel and all nations over a period of about three centuries. The earliest of the fifteen Literary Prophets was Amos; he began to be God's spokesman ("Nabih") circa 760 BC. His prophecies covered three periods or phases: he predicted the Assyrian assaults in the near future, a coming Day of Judgment, and an Endtime of peace and plenty. Speaking in the name of "the Lord Yahweh who reveals His secrets to the Prophets," he 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." Addressing those who worship the "planets and star of their gods," he compared the coming Day to the events of the Deluge, when "the day darkened as night, and the waters of the seas poured upon the earth..." Modern studies have concluded that the change to the newstyle of topical astronomy took place in the eighth century BC when, after a period of mayhem and royal upheavals in Babylon and Assyria, the two lands' fates were placed in new and strong royal hands: Tiglath-Pileser III (745-727 BC) in Assyria and Nabunassar (747-734 BC) in Babylonia.

\The next Assyrian king, Esarhaddon (680-669 BC) annouced that "both Ashur and Marduk gave me wisdom," swore oaths in the name of Karduk and Nabu, and started to rebuild the Esagil temple in Babylon. All those religious-political moves suggest that the Assyrians made sure to "touch all the bases" as far as the gods were concerned. And so, by the seventh century BC, Assyria was ready for the anticipated Return of the planet of the gods. Discovered texts--including letters to the kings by their chief astronomers--reveal anticipation of an idyllic, utopian time:

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
will grow brighter,
there will be floods and rains.

When Nibiru attains its perigee,
the gods will give peace. Troubles will be cleared up,
complications will be unravelled.

Historians consider Ashurbanipal to have been the most scholarly of the Assyrian kings, for he had learnt other languages besides Akkadian, including Sumerian, and claimed that he could even read "writings from before the Flood." He also boasted "that he "learnt the secret signs of Heaven and Earth...and studied the heavens with the masters of divination." Some modern researchers also consider him to have been "The First Archaeologist," for he systematically collected tablets from sites that were already ancient in his time--like Nippur, Uruk, and Sippar in what used to be Sumer. He also sent specialized teams to sort out and loot such tablets from the capitals that the Assyrians overran. The tablets ended up in a famed library where teams of scribes studied, translated, and copied chosen texts from the previous millennia. While they all seem to legitimately be part of accumulating knowledge in a royal library, it so happens that they all dealt with instances of Nibiru's appearances in the past--and thus with its next nearing.

Taken together, the astronomical texts from the time of Ashurbanipal described a planet appearing from the solar system's edge, rising and becoming visible when it reaches Jupiter (or even Saturn before that), and then curving down toward the ecliptic. At its perigee, when it is closest to the Sun (and thus to Earth), the planet--at the Crossing­- becomes Nibiru "in the zodiac of Cancer." One can reasonably conclude 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.

As part of the New Year festival in 626 BC a Babylonian general whose name­-Nabupolassar ("Nabu his son protects")--implied that he claimed to be a son of the god Nabu, was enthroned as king of an independent Babylonia. While Babylonian troops were advancing into Assyria from the south, the Medes attacked from the east, and in 614 BC--as had been prophesied by the Hebrew Prophets!--captured and burned down Assyria's religious capital, Ashur. The turn of Nineveh, the royal capital, came next. By 612 BC the great Assyria was in shambles. The amazing chain of events after the demise of Assyria began with the escape to Harran of members of Assyria's royal family. Seeking there the protection of the god Sin, the escapees rallied the remnants of the Assyrian army and proclaimed one of the royal refugees as "King of Assyria"; but the god, whose city Harran has been since days of yore, did not respond. In 610 BC Babylonian troops captured Harran and put an end to the Assyrians' lingering hopes.

It was in that same fateful year, 610 BC...The Egyptians, who used to be on the same side as the Babylonians in opposition to Assyrian rule, emerged from Egypt and, rushing northward, overran territories and sacred sites that the Babylonians considered theirs. The Egyptian advance, all the way north to Carchemish, put them within striking distance of Harran; it also placed in Egyptian hands the two space-related sites, in Lebanon and in Judea. In June 605 BC, at Carchemish, the Babylonians crushed the Egyptian army, liberated "the sacred forest in Lebanon which Nabu and Marduk desired," and chased the fleeing Egyptians all the way to the Sinai Peninsula.

To prepare Babylon for the expected Return, massive renovation and construction works were quickly undertaken. Their focal point was the sacred precinct, where the Esagil temple of Marduk (now simply called Bel/Ba'al, "The Lord") was renovated and rebuilt, its seven-stage ziggurat readied for viewing from it the starry skies--just as had been done in Uruk when Anu had visited circa 4000 BC. The expectation, it seems, was that the arriving god of the Winged Disk would come down at the Landing Place in Lebanon, then consummate the Return by entering Babylon through the new marvelous Processional Way and imposing gate--a gate named "Ishtar" (alias IN.ANNA), who had been "Anu's beloved" in Uruk­-another clue regarding whose Return was expected.

Having taken over Nippur's prediluvial role to serve as Mission Control Center after the Deluge, Jerusalem was located at the center of concentric distances to the other space­related sites. Calling it the "Navel of the Earth," the Prophet Ezekiel announced that Jerusalem has been chosen for this role by God himself:

Thus has said the Lord Yahweh:
This is Jerusalem;
In the midst of the nations I placed her,
and all the lands are in a circle
round about her. (EZEKIEL 5: 5)

Determined to usurp that role for Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar led his troops to the elusive prize and in 598 BC captured Jerusalem. The city itself and the Temple were left intact this time, but eleven years later, in 587 BC, the Babylonians returned in force. Acting this time, according to the Bible, on their own volition, the Babylonians put the torch to the Temple that Solomon built. Divine punishment upon Nebuchadnezzar himself was commensurate with the sacrilege. Crazed, according to traditional sources, by a bug that entered his brain through his nose, Nebuchadnezzar died in agony in 562 BC.

It is a fact that astronomical tablets from that very time record actual observations of Nibiru, alias "Planet of Marduk." Even more telling of the coming into view of the planet "Marduk" from the southern skies and its fast becoming "Nibiru" in the central celestial band, were yet another class of tablets, this time circular. Representing "an advance backward" to the Sumerian astronomical tenets, the tablets divided the celestial sphere into the three Ways (Way of Enlil for the northern skies, of Ea for the southern, and of Anu in the center). The twelve zodiacal-calendrical segments were then superimposed on the three Ways, as shown by the discovered fragments; explanatory texts were written on the back sides of those circular tablets. Each of the thirty-six portions contained a name with a small circle below it, indicating it was a celestial body, and a number. Each portion also bore a month's name, so Pinches numbered them from I to XII, starting with Nissan.

Dating opinions ranged from before the twelfth century to the third century BC; most agreed, however, that the astrolabe belonged to the era of Nebuchadnezzar or his successor Nabuna'id. ...another one has since been pieced together and is known as "Astrolabe B." Though the two astrolabes at first glance look identical, they are different--and for our analysis, the key difference is that in "B" the planet identified as mul Neberu deity Marduk--"Planet Nibiru of the god Marduk"--is shown in the Way of Anu, the central-ecliptic band, whereas in "A" the planet identified as mul Marduk--the "Planet of Marduk"--is shown in the Way of Enlil, in the northern skies. The change in name and position is absolutely correct if the two astrolabes depict a moving planet--"Marduk" as it was called by the Babylonians--that, after having come into view high in the northern skies (as in "A", curves down to cross the ecliptic and becomes NIBIRU ("Crossing") when it crosses the ecliptic in the Way of Anu (as in "B").

The texts (known as KAV 218, columns Band C) accompanying the circular depictions remove any shadow of doubt regarding the Marduk/Nibiru identity:

[Month] Adar:
Planet Marduk in the Way of Anu:
The radiant Kakkabu which rises in the south
after the gods of the night finished their tasks,
and divides the heavens.
This kakkabu is Nibiru=god Marduk.

While we can be certain that the observations in all those "Late Babylonian" tablets could not have taken place earlier than 610 BC, we can also be sure that they did not take place after 555 BC, for that was the date when one called Nabuna'id became the last king of Babylonia; and his claim to legitimacy was that his kingship was celestially confirmed because "the planet of Marduk, high in the sky, had called me by my name." Based on the Kepler formulas for planetary orbits around the Sun, the whole period of Marduk/Nibiru's visibility from Mesopotamia lasted just a short few years; hence, the visibility claimed by Nabuna'id places the planet's Return in the years immediately preceding 555 BC.

So when was the precise time of the Return? There is one more aspect involved in resolving the puzzle: the prophecies of "Darkness at noon" on the Day of the Lord­-a solar eclipse--and such an eclipse did in fact occur, in 556 BC! As rare as solar eclipses are, the astronomical legacy of Mesopotamia included knowledge of the phenomenon, calling it atalu shamshi. Textual references suggest that not only the phenomenon but even its lunar involvement were part of the accumulated ancient knowledge. In fact, a solar eclipse whose path of totality passed over Assyria had occurred in 762 BC. It was followed by one in 584 BC that was seen all across the Mediterranean lands, with totality over Greece. But then, in 556 BC, there occurred an extraordinary solar eclipse "not in an expected time." If it was not due to the predictable motions of the Moon, could it have been caused by an unusually close passage of Nibiru?

Among astronomical tablets belonging to a series called "When Anu Is Planet of the Lord," one tablet, dealing with a solar eclipse, recorded thus the observed phenomenon:

In the beginning the solar disc,
not in an expected time,
became darkened,
and stood in the radiance of the Great Planet.
On day 30 [of the month] was
the eclipse of the Sun.

Still, it is an astronomically historic fact that on a day equal to May 19, 556 BC, a major total solar eclipse did occur. As shown by this map, prepared by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, the eclipse was a great and major one, seen over wide areas, and a unique aspect about it was that the band of total darkness passed exactly over the district of Harran!

It was in 556 BC that the prophesied Darkness at Noon came. It was just then that Nibiru returned; it was the prophesied DAY OF THE LORD. And when the planet's Return did occur, neither Anu nor any other of the expected gods showed up. Indeed, the opposite happened: the gods, the Anunnaki gods, took off and left the Earth.

It was in the ruins of the city's great Nannar/Sin temple, the E.HUL.HUL ("House of Double Joy"), that archaeologists discovered four stone columns ("stelae") that once stood in the temple, one at each corner of the main prayer hall. The inscriptions on the stelae revealed that two were erected by the temple's high priestess, Adda-Guppi, and two by her son Nabuna'id, the last king of Babylon. With an evident sense of history and as a trained temple official, Adda-Guppi provided in her inscriptions precise dates for the astounding events that she had witnessed. The dates, linked as was then customary to regnal years of known kings, could thus be--and have been--verified by modern scholars. It is thus certain that she was born in 649 BC and lived through the reigns of several Assyrian and Babylonian kings, passing on at the ripe old age of 104. Here is what she wrote on her stela concerning the first of a series of amazing events:

It was in the sixteenth year of Nabupolassar, (The sixteenth year of Nabupolassar was 610 BC.)
king of Babylon, when Sin, lord of the gods,
became angry with his city and his temple
and went up to heaven;
and the city and the people in it went to ruin.

While other survivors fled, Adda-Guppi stayed on. "Daily, without ceasing, by day and night, for months, for years," she kept vigil in the ruined temple. Mourning, she "forsook the dresses of fine wool, took off jewelry, wore neither silver nor gold, relinquished perfumes and sweet smelling oils." As a ghost roaming the abandoned shrine, "in a torn garment I was clothed; I came and went noiselessly," she wrote. Then, in the desolate sacred precinct, she found a robe that had once belonged to Sin. To the despondent priestess, the find was an omen from the god: suddenly he had given her a physical presence of himself. She could not take her eyes off the sacred garb, not daring to touch it except by "taking hold of its hem." As if the god himself was there to hear her, she prostrated herself and "in prayer and humility" uttered a vow: "If you would return to your city, all the Black-Headed people would worship your divinity!"

...then one night the god appeared to her in a dream and accepted her proposal. The Moon god, Adda-Guppi wrote, liked the idea: "Sin, lord of the gods of Heaven and Earth, for my good doings looked upon me with a smile; he heard my prayers; he accepted my vow. The wrath of his heart calmed. Toward Ehulhul, his temple in Harran, the divine residence in which his heart rejoiced, he became reconciled; and he had "a change of heart." The god, Adda-Guppi wrote, accepted the deal:

Sin, lord of the gods,
looked with favor upon my words.
Nabuna'id, my only son, issue of my womb,
to the kingship he called--
the kingship of Sumer and Akkad.
All the lands from the border of Egypt,
from the Upper Sea to the Lower Sea,
in his hands he entrusted.

Both sides kept their bargain. "I myself saw it fulfilled," Adda-Guppi stated in the concluding segment of her inscriptions: Sin "honored his word which he spoke to me," causing Nabuna'id to ascend the Babylonian throne in 555, BC; and Nabuna'id kept his mother's vow to restore the Ehulhul temple in Harran, "perfecting its structure." He renewed the worship of Sin and Ningal (Nikkal in Akkadian)-"all the forgotten rites he made anew." And then a great miracle, an occurrence unseen for generations, happened. The event is described in the two stelae of Nabuna'id, in which he is depicted holding an unusual staff and facing the celestial symbols of Nibiru, Earth, and the Moon:

This is the great miracle of Sin
that has by gods and goddesses
not happened in the land,
since days of old unknown;
That the people of the Earth
had neither seen nor found written
on tablets since the days of old:
That Sin, lord of gods and goddesses,
residing in the heavens,
has come down from the heavens­-
in full view ofNabuna'id, king of Babylon.

Sin, the inscriptions report, did not return alone. According to the texts, he entered the restored Ehulhul temple in a ceremonial procession, accompanied by his spouse Ningal/ Nikkal and his aide, the Divine Messenger Nusku.

As a trained priest, he [Ezekiel] too recorded the place and the date: it was on the fifth clay of the fourth month in the fifth year of the exile--594/593 BC­- "when I was among the exiles on the banks of the river Khebar, that the heavens opened up and I saw visions of Elohim" Ezekiel stated at the very beginning of his prophecies; and what he saw, appearing in a whirlwind, flashing lights and surrounded by a radiance, was a divine chariot that could go up and down and sideways, and within it, "upon the likeness of a throne, the semblance of a man"; and he heard a voice addressing him as "Son of Man" and announcing his prophetic assignment.

Ezekiel's mission was to prophesy and warn his exiled compatriots of the coming Day of Judgment--for all the nations' injustices and abominations. Then, a year later, the same "semblance of a man" appeared again, put out a hand, grabbed him, and carried him all the way to Jerusalem, to prophecy there. The city, it will be remembered, went through a starving siege, a humiliating defeat, wanton looting, a Babylonian occupation, and the exile of the king and all the nobility. Arriving there, Ezekiel saw a scene of complete breakdown of the rule of law and of religious observances. Wondering what was going on, he heard the remnant sitting in mourning,bewailing:

Yahweh sees us no more,
Yahweh has left the Earth!

One cannot be certain how or why events occurring in northern Mesopotamia gave rise to a notion in distant Judea that Yahweh, too, had left the Earth, but it is evident that word that God and gods departed had spread far and wide. Indeed, tablet VAT 7847, states the following in a prophetic section regarding calamities that last 200 years:

Roaring the gods, flying,
from the lands will go away,
from the people they will be separated.
The people will the gods' abodes leave in ruins.
Compassion and well-being will cease.
Enlil, in anger, will lift himself off. (137)

Marduk, the Enlil of the gods, got angry. His mind became furious.
He made an evil plan to disperse the land and its peoples.
His angry heart was bent on levelling the land and destroying its people.
A grievous curse formed in his mouth.
Evil portents indicating the disruption of heavenly harmony started appearing abunbantly in heaven and on Earth.
The planets in the Ways of Enlil, Anu and Ea worsened their positions and repeatedly disclosed abnormal omens.
Arahtu, the river of abundance, became a raging current.
A fierce surge of water, a violent flood like the Deluge swept away the city, its houses and sanctuaries, turning them to ruins.
The gods and goddesses became afraid, abandoned their shrines, flew off like birds and ascended to heaven.

On their state visit to Earth circa 4000 BC, Anu and Antu visited the post-Diluvial gold land on the shores of Lake Titicaca. The visit served as an opportunity to begin reducing the number of Nibiruans on Earth; it also approved peace arrangements between the rival half-brothers and their warring clans. But while Enki and Enlil accepted the territorial divisions, Enki's son Marduk never gave up the strife for supremacy that included control of the olden space-related sites. It was then that the Enlilites began to prepare alternative spaceport facilities in South America. When the post­Diluvial spaceport in the Sinai was wiped out with nuclear weapons in 2024 BC, the facilities in South America were the only ones left entirely in Enlilite hands.

With the final departure taking place, who of the great Anunnaki gods remained on Earth? To judge by who was mentioned in the texts and inscriptions from the ensuing period, we can be certain only of Marduk and Nabu of the Enki'ites; and of the Enlilites, Nannar/Sin, his spouse Ningal/Nikkal and his aide Nusku, and probably also Ishtar. On each side of the great religious divide there was now just one sole Great God of Heaven and Earth: Marduk for the Enki'ites, Nannar/Sin for the Enlilites. The story of Babylonia's last king reflected the new circumstances. He was chosen by Sin in his cult-center Harran­-but he required the consent and blessing of Marduk inBabylon, and the celestial confirmation by the appearance of Marduk's planet; and he bore the name Nabu-Na'id. The historical record indicates that neither gods nor people were happy with these arrangements. Sin, whose temple in Harran was restored, demanded that his great ziggurat temple in Ur should also be rebuilt and become the center of worship; ( and in Babylon, the priests of Marduk were up in arms.

A tablet now in the British Museum is inscribed with a text that scholars have titled Nabunaid and the Clergy of Babylon. It contains a list of accusations by the Babylonian priests against Nabunaid.

He made an image of a god which nobody had seen before in the land.
He placed it in the temple, raised it upon a pedestal,
He called it by the name of Nannar, with lapis lazuli he adorned it,
Crowned it with a tiara in the shape of an eclipsed moon,
Made for its hand the gesture of a demon.

It was, the accusations continued, a strange statue of a deity, never seen before, "with hair reaching down to the pedestal." To make matters worse, two unusual beasts were sculpted as its guardians--one a "Deluge demon" and the other a wild bull; then the king took this abomination and placed it in Marduk's Esagil temple. Even more offending was Nabunaid's announcment that henceforth the Akitu festival, during which the near-death, resurrection, exile, and final triumph of Marduk were reenacted, would no longer be celebrated.

Declaring that Nabunaid's "protective god became hostile to him" and that "the former favorite of the gods was now fated to misfortune," the Babylonian priests forced Nabunaid to leave Babylon and go into exile "in a distant region." It is a historical fact that Nabunaid indeed left Babylon and named his son Bel-Shar-Uzur--the Belshazzar of the biblical Book of Daniel--as regent. The "distant region" to which Nabunaid went in self-exile was Arabia. As various inscriptions attest, his entourage included Jews from among the Judean exiles in the Harran region. His principal base was at a place called Teima, a caravan center in what is now northwestern Saudi Arabia that is mentioned several times in the Bible. (Recent excavations there have uncovered cuneiform tablets attesting to Nabunaid's stay.) He established six other settlements for his followers; five of the towns were listed--a thousand years later--by Arabian writers as Jewish towns. One of them was Medina, the town where Muhammed founded Islam.

The "Jewish angle" in the Nabunaid tale has been reinforced by the fact that a fragment of the Dead Sea scrolls, found at Qumran on the shores of the Dead Sea, "mentions Nabunaid and asserts that he was suffering in Teima from an "unpleasant skin disease" that was cured only after "a Jew told him to give honor to the God Most High." All that has led to speculation that Nabunaid was contemplating Monotheism; but to him the God Most High was not the Judeans' Yahweh, but his benefector Nannar/Sin, the Moon god, whose crescent symbol has been adopted by Islam; and there is little doubt that its roots can be traced back to Nabunaid's stay in Arabia. Sin's whereabouts fade out of Mesopotamian records after the time of Nabunaid. Texts discovered at Ugarit, a "Ca­ naanite" site on the Mediterranean coast in Syria now called Ras Shamra, describe the Moon god as retired, with his spouse, to an oasis at the confluence of two bodies of water, "near the cleft of the two seas." Ever wondering why the Sinai peninsula was named in honor of Sin and its main central crossroads in honor of his spouse Nikkal (the place is still called, in Arabic, Nakhl), I surmised that the aged couple retired to somewhere on the shores of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Eilat.

Cyrus--some historians attach the epithet "the great" to his name--consolidated into a vast Persian empire all the lands that had once been Sumer & Akkad, Mari and Mittani, Ratti and Elam, Babylonia and Assyria; it was left to his son Cambyses (530-522 BC) to extend the empire to Egypt. In 334 BC his successor, Alexander ("the Great"), heading an army 15,000 strong, crossed into Asia at the same place and launched a major war against the Persians. Alexander's astounding victories and the resulting subjugation of the Ancient East to Western (Greek) domination have been told and retold by historians--starting with some who had accompanied Alexander--and need no repetition here. What does need to be described are the personal reasons for Alexander's foray into Asia and Africa. For, apart from all geopolitical or economic reasons for the Greek-Persian great war, there was Alexander's own personal quest; there had been persistent rumors in the Macedonian court that not King Philip but a god--an Egyptian god--was Alexander's' true father, having come to the queen, Olympias, disguised as a man. With a Greek pantheon that derived from across the Mediterranean Sea and headed (like the Sumerian twelve) by twelve Olympians, and with tales of the gods ("myths") that emulated the Near Eastern tales of the gods, the appearance of one such god in the Macedonian court was not deemed an impossibility. With court shenanigans that involved a young Egyptian mistress of the king, and marital strife that included divorce and murders, the "rumors" were believed--first and foremost by Alexander himself.

Resuming the battles with the Persians, Alexander reached Babylon in 331 BC, and entered the city riding in his chariot. In the sacred precinct he rushed to the Esagil ziggurat temple to grasp the hands of Marduk as conquerors before him had done. But the great god was dead. According to the pseudo-sources, Alexander saw the god lying in a golden coffin, his body immersed (or preserved) in special oils. True or not, the facts are that Marduk was no longer alive, and that his Esagil ziggurat was, without exception, described as his tomb by subsequent established historians. ..."scholars called Chaldaeans, who have gained a great reputation in astrology and who are accustomed to predict future events by a method based on age-old observations," warned Alexander that he would die in Babylon, but "could escape the danger if he re-erected the tomb of Belus which had been demolished by the Persians." Entering the city anyway, Alexander had neither the time nor the manpower to do the repairs, and indeed died in Babylon in 323 BC.

...the tomb of Bel/Marduk was destroyed by Xerxes, who was the Persian king (and ruler of Babylon) from 486 to 465 BC. Strabo, in Book 5, had earlier stated that Belus was lying in a coffin when Xerxes decided to destroy the temple, in 482 BC. Accordingly, Marduk died not long before (Germany's leading Assyriologists, meeting "at the University of lena in 1922, concluded that Marduk was already in his tomb in 484 BC). Marduk's son Nabu also vanished from the pages of history about the same time. And thus came to an end, an almost human end, the saga of the gods who shaped history on planet Earth. With the death of Marduk and the fading away of Nabu, all the great Anunnaki gods who had once dominated Earth were gone; with the death of Alexander, the real or pretended demigods who linked Mankind to the gods were also gone. For the first time since Adam was fashioned, Man was without his creators.

There was thus a combination of two basic elements in those End of Days predictions: one, that the Day of the Lord, a day of judgment upon Earth and the nations, will be followed by Restoration, Renewal, and a benevolent era centered on Jerusalem. The other is that it has all been preordained, that the End was already planned by God at the Beginning. Deuteronomy, when Moses, before dying, reviewing Israel's divine legacy and its future, counseled the people thus: "When you in tribulations shall be and such things shall befall you, in the End of Days to Yahweh thy God return and hearken to His voice." The repeated stress on the role of Jerusalem: on the essentiality of its Temple Mount as the beacon to which all nations shall come streaming, had more than a theological-moral reason. A very practical reason is cited: the need to have the site ready for the return of Yahweh's Kavod--the very term used in Exodus and then by Ezekiel to describe God's celestial vehicle! The Kavod that will be enshrined in the rebuilt Temple, "from which I shall grant peace, shall be greater than the one in the First Temple," the Prophet Haggai was told. Significantly, the Kavod's coming to Jerusalem was repeatedly linked in Isaiah to the other space-related site-in Lebanon: It is from there that God's Kavod shall arrive in Jerusalem...

Like the Ptolemies, the Seleucids also retained a Greek­speaking scholar, a former priest of Marduk known as Berossus, to compile for them the history and prehistory of Mankind and its gods according to Mesopotamian 'knowledge, In a twist of history, he researched and wrote at a library of cuneiform tablets located near Harran. It is from his three books (which we know of only from fragmented quotations in the writings of others in antiquity) that the Western world, of Greece and then Rome, learnt of the Anunnaki and their coming to Earth, the prediluvial era, the creation of Wise Man, the Deluge, and what followed. Thus it was from Berossus (as later confirmed by the discovery and decipherment of the cuneiform tablets) that the 3600 "Sar" as the "year" of the gods was first learnt.

In 200 BC the Seleucids crossed the Ptolemaic boundary and captured Judea. As in other instances, historians have searched for geopolitical and economic reasons for the war--ignoring the religious-messianic aspects. It was in the report about the Deluge that the tidbit information was given by Berossus, that Ea/Enki instructed Ziusudra (the Sumerian "Noah") to "conceal every available writing in Sippar, the city of Sharnash," for post-Diluvial recovery, because those writings "were about beginnings, middles and ends." According to Berossus, the world undergoes periodic cataclysms, and he related them to the zodiacal Ages, his contemporary one having begun 1,920 years before the Se­ leucid Era (312 BC); that would have placed the beginning of the Age of the Ram in 2232 BC--an Age destined to come soon to an end even if the full mathematical length is granted to it (2232-2160 = 122 BC). The available records suggest that the Seleucid kings, coupling those calculations with the Missing Return, were seized with the need to urgently expect and prepare for one. A frenzy of rebuilding the ruined temples of Sumer and Akkad began, with emphasis on the E.ANNA-the "House of Anu"--in Uruk. The Landing Plate in Lebanon, called by them Heliopolis--City of the Sun god--was rededicated by erecting a temple honoring Zeus. The reason for the war to capture Judea, one must conclude, was the urgency of also preparing the space-related site in Jerusalem for the Return. It was, we suggest, the Greek-Seleucid way of preparing for the reappearance of the gods.

In 169 BC the then Seleucid king, Antiochus IV (who adopted the epithet Epiphanes) came to Jerusalem. It was not a courtesy visit. Violating the Temple's sanctity, he entered the Holy of Holies. On his orders, the Temple's treasured golden ritual objects were confiscated, a Greek governor was put in charge of the city, and a fortress for a permanent garrison of foreign soldiers was built next to the Temple. Back in his Syrian capital, Antiochus issued a proclamation requiring worship of Greek gods throughout the kingdom; in Judea, it specifically forbade the observance of the Sabbath and circumcision. In accordance with the decree, the Jerusalem temple was to become a temple to Zeus; and in 167 BC, on the 25th day of the Hebrew month Kislev--equivaient to today's December 25--an idol, a statue representing Zeus, "The Lord of Heaven," was set up by Syrian-Greek soldiers in the temple, and the great altar was altered and used for sacrifices to Zeus. The sacrilege could not have been greater.

Managing in 164 BC to recapture only the Temple Mount, the Maccabees cleansed the Temple, and the sacred flame was rekindled that year; the final victory, leading to full control of Jerusalem and restoration of Jewish independence, took place in 160 BC. The victory and rededication of the Temple are still celebrated by Jews as the holiday of Hanukkah ("rededication") on the twenty-fifth day of Kislev. The imperative of recapturing the whole city and the removal of uncircumcised foreign soldiers from the Temple Mount by 160 BC hold the key to another clue. While we have been using the accepted count of BC and AD for dating events, the people of those past times obviously could not and did not use a timetable based on afuture Christian calendar. The Hebrew calendar, as we have mentioned earlier, was the calendar begun in Nippur in 3760 BC--and according to that calendar, what we call 160 BC was precisely the year 3600! The return of Yahweh's Kavod, expected at the End of Days, did not take place, even though the count of days from abomination time seemed to have been correct.

Armies followed imperial delegates; by 60 BC, the Romans, under Pompey, occupied Jerusalem. On the way there, like Alexander before him, he detoured to Heliopolis (alias Baalbek) and offered sacrifices to Jupiter; it was followed by the building there, atop the earlier colossal stone blocks, of the Roman empire's greatest temple to Jupiter. A commemorative inscription found at the site indicates that the emperor Nero visited the place in AD 60, suggesting that the Roman temple was already built by then.

The national and religious turmoil of those days found expression in a proliferation of historic-prophetic writings, such as the Book of Jubilees, the Book of Enoch, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, and the Assumption of Moses (and several others, all collectively known as the Apocrypha and Pseuda-Epigrapha). The common theme in them was a belief that history is cyclical, that all has been foretold, that the End of Days--a time of turmoil and upheaval--will mark not just an end of a historic cycle but also the beginning of a new one, and that the "flipover time" (to use a modern expression) will be manifest by the coming of the "Anointed One"--Mashi'ach in Hebrew (translated Chrystos in Greek, and thus Messiah or Christ in English).

Studying every prophecy and every prophetic utterance, the devout in Jerusalem found repeated references to David as God's Anointed, and a divine vow that it will be of "his seed"--by a descendant of the House of David--that his throne shall be established again in Jerusalem "in days that are to come." It is on the "throne of David" that future kings, who must be of the House of David, shall sit in Jerusalem; and when that shall happen, the kings and princes of the Earth shall flock to Jerusalem for justice, peace, and the word of God.

Elijah, nicknamed the Thisbite after the name of his town in the district of Gile'ad, was a biblical prophet active in the kingdom of Israel (after the split from Judea) in the ninth century BC; during the reign of king Ahab and his Canaanite wife, Queen Jezebel. True to his Hebrew name, Eli-Yahu­-"Yahweh is my God"--he was in constant conflict with the priests and "spokesmen" of the Canaanite god Ba'al ("the Lord"), whose worship Jezebel was promoting. After a period of seclusion at a hiding place near the Jordan River, where he was ordained to become "A Man of God," he was given a "mantle of haircloth" that held magical powers, and was able to perform miracles in the name of God.

Of him the Scriptures said that he did not die because he was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind to be with God. His ascent was neither a sudden nor an unexpected occurrence; on the contrary, it was a preplanned and prearranged operation whose place and time were communicated to Elijah in advance. At the bank of the Jordan River, Elijah rolled his miracle mantle and struck the waters, parting them, enabling him to cross the river. The other disciples stayed behind, but even then Elisha persisted on being with Elijah, crossing over with him;

And as they continued to walk and to talk,
there appeared a chariot of fire with horses of fire,
and the two were separated.
And Elijah went up to heaven, in a whirlwind.
And Elisha saw and cried out:
"My father! My father!
the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!"
And he saw it no more.

Though retaining the semblance of choosing its own highpriest and king, Judea became for all intents and purposes a Roman colony, ruled first from headquarters in Syria, then by local governors. The Roman governor, called Procurator, made sure that the Jews chose as Ethnarch ("Head of the Jewish Council") to serve as the Temple's High Priest, and at first also a "King of the Jews" (not "King of Judea" as a country), whomever Rome preferred. From 36 to 4 BC the king was Herod, descended of Edornite converts to Judaism, who was the choice of two Roman generals (of Cleopatra fame): Mark Anthony and Octavian. Herod left a legacy of monumental structures, including the enhancement of the Temple Mount and the strategic palace-cum-fortress of Masada at the Dead Sea; he also paid heed to the governor's wishes as a de facto vassal of Rome.

It was into a Jerusalem enlarged and magnified by Hashmonean and Herodian constructions, thronged with pilgrims for the Passover holiday, that Jesus of Nazareth arrived--in AD 33 (according to the accepted scholarly dating). At that time the Jews were allowed to retain only a religious authority; a council of seventy elders called the Sanhedrin; there was no longer a Jewish king; the land, no longer a Jewish state but a Roman province, was governed by the Procurator Pontius Pilate, ensconced in the Antonia Citadel that adjoined the Temple.

And so it was that Jesus of Nazareth, now in Jerusalem with his twelve disciples, determined to take matters into his own hands: if salvation requires an Anointed One of the House of David, he, Jesus, would be the one! His very Hebrew name--Yehu-shuah ("Joshua")--meant Yahweh's Savior; and as for the requirement that the Anointed One ("Messiah") be of the House of David, that he was: the very opening verse of the New Testament, in the Gospel According to St. Matthew, says: "The book of the generations of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." Then, there and elsewhere in the New Testament, the genealogy of Jesus is given through the generations: Fourteen generations from Abraham to David; fourteen generations from David to the Babylonian exile; and fourteen generations from then to Jesus. He Was qualified, the Gospels assured one and all.

First, any doubt, if it still exists, that Jesus came to Jerusalem at Passover time and that the "Last Supper" was the Passover Seder meal must be removed. If so, he was asked, where is Elijah, who had to appear first? And Jesus answered: Yes, of course, but he has already come!

And they asked him, saying:
Why say the scribes that Elias must first?
And he answered and told them:
Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things ...
But I say unto you
That Elias has indeed come.

This was an audacious statement, the test of which was about to come: for if Elijah has in fact returned to Earth, "is indeed come," thereby fulfilling the prerequisite for the Messiah's coming--then he had to show up at the Seder and drink from his cup of wine! As custom and tradition required, the Cup of Elijah, filled with wine, was set on the Seder table of Jesus and his disciples. Conducting the Seder, Jesus took the unleavened bread (now called Matzoh) and made the blessing, and broke it, and gave pieces of it to his disciples. "And he took the cup, and when he had thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank of it."

When Jesus raised the cup of wine and made the required blessing, he said to his disciples, "This is my blood of the new testament." IF these were his exact words, he did not mean to say that they were to drink wine turned to blood--a grave transgression of one of the strictest prohibitions of Judaism from the earliest times, "for blood is the soul." What he said (or meant to say) was that the wine in this cup, the Cup of Elijah, was a testament, a confirmation of his bloodline. And Da Vinci depicted it convincingly by its disappearance, presumably taken away by the visiting Elijah. The vanished cup has been a favorite subject of authors over the centuries: The tales became legends: the Crusaders sought it; Knights Templar found it; it was brought over to Europe...the cup became a goblet, a chalice; it was the chalice representing the Royal Blood...

A war, an annihilating conflagration, has been depicted as part of the End of Days scenario in Ezekiel. Though "Gag of the land of Magog," or "Gag and Magog," are foreseen as the principal instigators in that final war, the list of combatants that shall be sucked into the battles encompassed virtually every nation of note; and the focus of the conflagration shall be "the dwellers of the Navel of the Earth"--the people of Jerusalem according to the Bible, but the people of "Babylon" as a replacement for Nippur to those for whom the clock stopped there. It is a spine-chilling realization that Ezekiel's list of those widespread nations that will engage in the final war--Armageddon--actually begins with. PERSIA­-the very country (today's Iran) whose leaders seek nuclear weapons with which to "wipe off the face of the Earth" the people who dwell where Har-Megiddo is!

Armageddon, a Final War of Gog and Magog, is also an essential element of the End of Days scenario of the New Testament's prophetic book, Revelation (whose full name is The Apocalypse of St. John the Divine). It compares the instigators of the apocryphal events to two beasts, one of which can "make fire come down from heaven to earth, in sight of men." Only an enigmatic clue is given for its identity:

Here is wisdom:
Let him that hath understanding
count the number of the beast:
It is the number of a man;
and his number is
six hundred and threescore and six.

That there could be more to 666 than a connection to Nero is suggested by the intriguing fact that 600, 60, and 6 are all basic numbers of the Sumerian sexagesimal system, so that the "code" might hark back to some earlier texts; there were 600 Anunnaki, Anu's numerical rank was 60, Ishkur/Adad's rank was 6. Then, if the three numbers are to be multiplied rather than added, we get 666 = 600 x 60 x 6 = 216,000, which is the familiar 2160 (a zodiacal age) times 100--a result that can be speculated on endlessly.

Since Revelation's prophecies are of the future, one must conclude that "Babylon" is not a code--Babylon meansBabylon, a future Babylon that will get involved in the war of "Armageddon" (which verse 16: 16 correctly explains as the name of "a place in the Hebrew tongue"--Har-Megiddo, Mount Megiddo, in Israel)--a war involving the Holy Land. If that future Babylon is indeed today's Iraq, the prophetic verses are again chilling, for as they foretell current events leading to the fall of Babylon after a brief but awesome war, they predict the breakup of Babylon/Iraq into three parts!

Indeed, the basis for prophecy was the belief that the End was anchored in the Beginning, that the Future could be predicted because the Past was known--if not to Man, then to God: I am the one "who from the Beginning tells the End," Yahweh said. The Prophet Zechariah foresaw God's plans for the future--the Last Days­-in terms of the Past, the First Days. This belief, which is restated in the Psalms, in Proverbs, and in the Book of Job, was viewed as a universal divine plan for the whole Earth and all its nations. The Prophet Isaiah, envisioning the Earth's nations gathered to find out what is in store, described them asking each other: "Who among us can tell the future by letting us hear the First Things?" That this was a universal tenet is shown in a collection of Assyrian Prophecies, when the god Nabu told the Assyrian king Esarhaddon: "The future shall be like the past."

To me, the Earth-Mars cylinder seal (above) is both a depiction of the Past and a foretelling of the Future because it bears a date--a date indicated by the sign of two fishes--the Age of Pisces. Does it tell us: What had taken place in a previous Age of Pisces will be repeated again in the Age of Pisces? If the prophecies are to come true, if the First Things shall be the Last Things, if the Past is the Future--the answer has to be Yes. We are still in the Age of Pisces. The Return, the signs say, will happen before the end of our current Age.