Eisenman's "New Testament Code", Chapters 8-13

Happy MLK Day!

In honor of the Righteous Reverend I am posting another installment of my commentary on “The New Testament Code”.

Part III (Chapters 8-13) of “The New Testament Code” deals with stories in the Talmud about the ultra-rich trio of Nakdimon ben Gurion, Ben Kalba Sabu’a, and Ben Zizzit. In doing so, Eisenman gives us the heads of Peter, James, and Paul, respectively, and on a solid gold platter.

Messin' with a Son of a Bitch

Ben Kalba Sabu’a is translated by Eisenman as “Son of the Bitch, Sabu’a” or “Son of the Sabean Bitch”. He associates this Talmudic character with the family of Helen, and justifiably so. Helen, whose Gospel counterpart is found in the “Woman of the Well”, was the quintessential royal “bitch”. However, her royal “adulteries” are not only swept under the Persian carpet in the Gospels, but in extra-biblical texts, as well, because of her famine relief activities and donations to the Jerusalem Temple, which included a golden plaque citing the proscription of Moses against adultery! Like James, Ben Kalba Sabu’a is a rainmaker and unrivaled patron of the poor. Although Eisenman previously linked James to the Sabean bathing sect, he stops short of completing the association of Ben Kalba Sabu’a with James.

The epithet Ben Kalba can also suggest, “Son of the Gentile Bitch”, but the Talmud does not seem to otherwise denigrate him, or his virtuous daughter Rachel (in contrast to the daughter of Nakdimon), who married the up-and-coming Rabbi Akiba. Despite the hesitation of Eisenman, this name Ben Kalba Sabu’a is clearly an alias of the uber-righteous James, and like Stephen reflects his parallel Hellenistic (“dog”) life as Herodian and servant of Caesar. Eisenman also previously linked James to the Apostolic name Joseph Barsabas Justus, who the Book of Acts leads us to believe lost an election to replace Judas Iscariot. In reality he won the election to succeed Jesus in Jerusalem. Eisenman does not however recognize an association between the High Priest “Joseph Cabi son of Simon”, who was High Priest at the same time James was said to be functioning as High Priest and murdered on account of it. If the two are to be equated, then the name Cabi was a play on Saba/Sabu’a/Sabean, or vice versa.

A God's Eye View from Atop the Royal Tree

Ben Zizzit (variously called Siset Hakkeset/Hakesset and Ben Zizzit Hakeseth) is described in the Talmud as reclining luxuriously at the head of the magnates of Israel and also having a seat among the noblest men of Rome. Eisenman reasons that such a profile is consistent with a leading Herodian such as Agrippa II. However, the Herodian king of Armenia named Tigranes (a.k.a., Paul/Simon Magus) is the better choice. Tigranes arguably became the superior of Agrippa II, at least in favor with Rome. The actual Herodian name of Tigranes was Phasaelus son of Queen Pallas. Josephus calls him “Saulus”. This Phasaelus was sired by Antipater son of Herod the Great, not only on behalf of his impotent father but also his deceased and childless brother Alexander. As eldest son of Herod, Antipater held the titles of “Reuben” and “Benjamin”. For the fusion of Reuben and Benjamin types, see the following:

Chapter 29 of “Archaeology & the Patriarchs”, Section: Precedent for Power
Herodian Identities of New Testament Characters: Supplement 2

As previously stated, one of the role models of Tigranes-Simon was the little king Nebuchadnezzar, who was known in Egypt as Si-Amun (Simeon). In at least one tradition, the Book of Judith, Nebuchadnezzar was also considered a king of Assyria/Armenia. See:

Although Phasaelus is thought of as a traditional Arabian name, it probably derived originally from Phaselis, the easternmost colony founded by Dorian Greeks along the coast of Lycia/Lykia in Asia Minor, and perhaps more importantly on the western border of later Seleucid dominions. Phaselis was also the place where an earlier rebel commander Simon, “Cimon the Younger” of Athens, won a key battle against the Persians.

The names Ben Zizzit/Siset and Hakkeset/Hakeseth emphasize patronage of the god Set/Apollo (another likely alias of Paul) and also his Sethian/Gnostic orientation. Set was patron god of Reuben/Benjamin kings in Egypt. Benjamin was also the tribal designation of Paul. Of course, according to Eisenman, Paul and/or Simon Magus had a more sinister caricature in the Dead Sea Scrolls, where the association with Si-Set or Seth may have been construed as Son (Second) of Satan or the Devil. Hakeseth can further be seen as a transposition of the name Zachai/Zacchaeus. In the Gospels, the rich man Zacchaeus was so small (“paul”) he had to climb a tree in order to see over the crowd and catch a glimpse of (an equally short) Jesus (his full-brother). Together, Paul/Simon Magus and Jesus formed a familiar pair, “Eliezer/Issachar/Zachariah” (Osiris) and “Gershom/Joshua” (Horus).

The Herodian House of Judah

Of the three rich men, only Nakdimon is explicitly identified as a Jew, and more specifically a Pharisee and ruler of the Jews. As such, he receives more attention and criticism from the Rabbis, and along the lines of Gospel adage, “To whom much is given much is required” (Luke 12:48). The specific phrase applied to him in the Talmud is, “As the camel so its burden”. Eisenman (p 252) relates this to another Gospel proverb, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Math 19:24; Mark 10:25). What Eisenman does not pick up on is that camel (Hebrew gamal) was carefully chosen as a play on the Herodian name of Nakdimon, that being, Gamellus (Hebrew Gamaliel/Gamala). Incidentally, but possibly not coincidentally, Gamellus was also the name of the grandson and heir of Tiberius Caesar. In the Gospels his main identity is as the disciple Simon Peter, who is persistently associated with the number three (Greek gamma). This is another allusion to the name Gamellus.

For additional background, see:

Herod Antipas was the son of the fourth son of Herod the Great (“Jacob”), making him the Herodian “Judah”. This fourth son died very young, but not before producing an heir for the all-important Herodian line of Judah. For this identification, see again the following:

Herodian Identities of New Testament Characters: Supplement 2

Nakdimon is given the patronym Ben Gurion, “son of the (young) lion”, which relates him to the Herodian line of Judah, that is, to Herod Antipas as son of the young Herodian prince “Judah”. In the Egyptian 18th Dynasty, the role of Judah was taken by Thutmose IV, whose Libyan identity was Nimlot. He was poisoned and died prematurely, but not before producing an heir named Aye, who later became pharaoh of Egypt. He was however first appointed pharaoh of the subordinate Libyan dynasty under the name Sheshonq. After the death of his biological father, Aye had been adopted by Yuya, the 18th Dynasty “Joseph”. Through this relationship Aye also took on a secondary identification as a “Joseph” within the House of Joseph. Likewise it was fitting for Herod Antipas to also take on a Joseph aspect. In the Gospels, his code name is Joseph of Arimathea. The epithet Arimathea came directly from the royal profile of his royal role model Aye (Biblical Ahab), and Aye’s obsession with Ramath Gilead in Aram, which earned him the nickname Je-Rimoth/Jeremoth (“God of Ramath”, “Ya/Joseph of Heights”). See:

Chapter 20 of “Archaeology & the Patriarchs”, Section: The Nine Lives of Aye

Like Father Like Son

Aye/Sheshonq himself had a number of important sons. Sena’a/Osorkon (Joram) and Merymose/Takelot (Ahaziah) were his sons by Queen Tiye/Karamat (Maacah/Athaliah/Jezebel). Another leading son was called Nakhtmin/Pedubastet (Jehu/Amaziah). Aye logically was seen as the role model for Herod Antipas son of “Judah/Ben Gurion”. In fact, we can deduce that the Herodian name of Herod the Great’s fourth son (which Josephus withheld) was Gorion, Gioras, or something very similar to Gurion/”lion”. The leading sons of Herod Antipas, namely Andronicus (nicknamed James/Stephen) and Gamellus (Simon/Peter) were in turn typecast after the leading sons of Aye/Sheshonq. James/Ben Kalba, as “Son of the Bitch” Helen would have been patterned after one or both of the sons of the great late 18th Dynasty Helen, namely Sena’a/Osorkon and Merymose/Takelot sons of Queen Tiye/Karamat.

The pseudonym Nakdimon is a direct transliteration of the Egyptian Nakhtmin, son and designated successor of Aye. Nakhtmin means,“victory of (the god) Min/Thoth”. Min/Thoth was also the archetypal wise one, Simeon/Simon”. The “nik-name” of Peter, on the other hand, recalls the Libyan identity of Nakhtmin, that being Pedubastet. Naktmin was further known by the Egyptian nickname of Ipy (and the Semitic variant Aper-el). Although chosen by Aye as his heir, Nakhtmin (Amaziah) was defeated and killed by Seti (Jehoash) in a battle for the greater throne of Egypt. Shortly before his death Nakhtmin/Pedubastet did however sire a son by the leading princess Nefertari/Karomama Merymut. When Nefertari was married to Ramses II, this son became “eldest son” of Ramses. He went by the names Amenhir-wenemef, Amen/Seth-hirkhopshef, and the Libyan Osorkon III (Biblical Azariah/Uzziah).

Eisenman is not the first to associate Nakdimon with Nicodemus of the Gospels, a “secret disciple” like Joseph of Arimathea, and one who also helps prepare the body of Jesus for burial as does Joseph of Arimathea. However, rather than being one and the same, Nicodemus emerges as the son of Joseph of Arimathea, even as Nakhtmin was the son of Aye in the Egyptian 18th Dynasty. The pseudonym Nakdimon/Nicodemus also declares the bitter destiny of its holder, Simon Peter/Gamellus. In order to fulfill his typecasting, he would have to take some part in the death of his own father and brother (Andrew/Andronicus/James), and then himself be killed in an unsuccessful attempt to seize the greater throne.

Eisenman notes that the Talmud preserved the memory of a young Nakdimon being invited to speak before the Elders (Sanhedrin). He thrilled the assembly by comparing the present oppression of Israel from Rome to that of the tyrant Amraphel in Genesis 14 (amra ~ rama/roma), and suggesting that the yoke of Rome could be thrown off in the same way. Also in the Talmud, Nakdimon is associated with zealots or revolutionaries called Biryonim. In the Gospels, Peter is called Simon “Bar Jonas”. In the Talmud, Nakdimon is of the family of Gurion. Josephus calls this Simon the son of Gioras, clearly a variation or corruption of Gurion.

The Lion's Share

The name Nakdimon is defined in the Talmud as “piercing (like the sun through clouds)”. Of Nakdimon the Rabbis wrote that he could not only make the sun stand still as a Joshua (Horus), but even make it rise again after setting. In the Old Testament account of Hezekiah, it is Hilkiah who implicitly stands in the place of “the Lord” and causes the shadow of the sun (on the sun dial) to retreat ten steps (by hook or pharaoh’s crook). Within the royal family of that time, Hilkiah was also the designated “Judah” (Horus the Elder and Kheper in his solar aspect). The Hebrew name Hilkiah was adapted from his Nubian name Khaliut, itself a variant of his Libyan name Nimlot (the same as the 18th Dynasty Judah, Thutmose IV).

The formal Egyptian identity of Hilkiah was as the High Priest Menkheperre, which means, “enduring are the risings of Re”. As the Judah of his generation he was appointed successor to the Empire of “His Supreme Holiness” Jotham/Sargon II, and thereafter ruled as Great King in Assyria under the name of Sennacherib. In Roman memory, Sennacherib was referred to as Bonus (and Borus by the Greeks). Likewise, Nakdimon is also called Boni in the Talmud. Sennacherib had lorded it over 1st Temple Jerusalem as a Horus king, but was ultimately made a “Good” Osiris (Issachar/Eleazar) by two of his “sons”, who killed him in the roles of Set (Levi) and Thoth (Simeon).

The role of Khaliut/Menkheperre’s mighty brother Taharqa logically would have been taken up by Peter’s brother James. Yet, it apparently was not, perhaps because James died in the early 60’s AD. Or, possibly Peter intended to be the new Taharqa all along due to Taharqa’s Libyan name having been Pediese/Pedubastet, the same as that of the earlier Nakhtmin. And this also may be why James was seen more as a new “Jeremiah son of Hilkiah”. Taharqa was also called by the Greek name Neco/Niko, which features prominently in the Gospel form Nicodemus. Taharqa, although a tragic figure, was venerated in Rome where he was remembered as “Tarquin the Elder”. This typecasting also offered the potential for a son of Peter to succeed him and continue the struggle. This hope appears to have been dashed when Jesus ben Gamala/Gamaliel was brutally killed in the early days of the Revolt. Jesus ben Gamala had just been appointed High Priest and wedded to Miriam daughter of Boethus (Herodian Salome, recently widowed by another Jesus, Aristobulus III), an arrangement that would have parodied the relationship between Horus the Younger and the older Lady Isis.

Straining Gnats and Swallowing a Camel

The New Testament picture is further simplified if Peter/Gamaliel is one and the same as the famous Pharisee and doctor of the Law by the same name. The father of that Gamaliel was said to be Simon. Yet, the father of Joseph Cabi, an apparent pseudonym of James/Andrew the brother of Peter, is also called Simon. Simon would then have been the more common Hebrew name of Herod Antipas, with “Joseph of Arimathea” being more of an epithet or title based on typecasting. The scholar Gamaliel is thought to have died in 63 AD, and his only known son was called Simon/Shimon and not Jesus. But “Jesus ben Gamala” may have reflected the role of this High Priest (as successor to Peter) rather than his given Hebrew name.

Peter as well as the name Gamala itself is intimately associated with Galilee. And it is more than suspicious that in Acts 5:34 one Gamaliel comes to the defense of the other, and that their positions on the Law and treatment of Gentiles are quite consistent. There is also a connection between the name Simeon/Shimon and Shem, the archetypal scholar. The similarity of Nak-dimon with the famous Greek name Timon might also inspire us to revisit the character of Timothy as a potential Greek alias of Peter used in certain locales. One must now wonder if Peter did not accompany Paul to Jerusalem as the Greek Timothy in order to help cause the riot that led to Paul’s arrest and James’ death. Like most other leading royals in any given time period, he was called upon to play more roles than Peter Sellers, and by all Gospel accounts, with just as much humor.

Roman Priest of Aaron

Eisenman touches upon a curious reference to Nakdimon in the Talmud as “Boethus Nahtum” (p 338-9). It has been concluded here that Mariamne II the daughter of Boethus was one and the same as Cleopatra of Jerusalem and Cleopatra Selene (daughter of Mark Antony and Cleopatra pharaoh of Egypt). Moreover, she is called Elizabeth mother of John the Baptist in the Gospels. Boethus was said to be from a well pedigreed priestly family in Egypt, but the name turns out to be a pseudonym for Mark Antony. Consistent with this, the father of Elizabeth is in some sources called Anon, a variant of Antony and of Aaron (Egyptian Aanen). Eisenman instead concludes (p 151) that Anon must have been a variant of High Priest Hanan/Honi.

For more on Cleopatra Selene/Cleopatra of Jerusalem (daughter of Pharaoh Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony), see:

Cleopatra VII had in fact designated Mark Antony as a High Priest in Egypt. This evidently qualified his descendants to claim high priestly status in Jerusalem, at least in the minds of Herodians. Nakdimon/Peter could have become a Boethus (or The Boethus) by various means. Perhaps his mother, the daughter of king Aretes of Petra was a Boethian. Her name is withheld by Josephus, however it could well have been Cleopatra. In that case, the name Peter would have related him not only to the kingdom of Petra, but to the names of both his mother and father (Herod Antipater/Antipas). He could also have gained the title of “Boethus” by the last will and testament of either Philip I or II, and/or by virtue of his son’s marriage to “Miriam daughter of Boethus”. Jesus ben Gamala was also considered a Boethian, perhaps for the same reason or reasons. Regardless, the status of the small Boethian family indicates a preference on the part of Herodians to favor princes with Roman family ties. We should expect that Herodians in general had a considerable amount of Roman blood, and this was why Herod the Great/”Panthera/Pantera” was favored by Rome to begin with.

In the Talmud the daughter of Boethus is variously called Miriam/Mary or Martha. Eisenman gets hung up on this confusion, however the two names are interchangeable - both of them being derived from the Egyptian queenly epithet Merit, “beloved”. The oddity that almost every daughter and daughter-in-law of a rich man worth mentioning in Jerusalem had the name Mary or Martha indicates that we are dealing with the Herodian royal family - one in which females as well as males competed for titles and dominance. The Miriam/Martha daughter of Boethus that figures in events around the fall of Jerusalem cannot of course have been Mariamne II/Cleopatra of Jerusalem, but was the leading princess of the Boethian clan of that time. And that would have been the granddaughter of Mariamne II, Salome daughter of Phillip I (Boethian High Priest Jo-azer/Jo-ezer).

Remembering the Rich

In the New Testament, Peter and James are appalled at the shameless pandering of Simon Magus to the masses. Yet, Peter and James were also cultivating their own popular following. The name Nicodemus has the populist meaning, “victory of the people”. What’s more, the name of his role model Hilkiah is derived from a Hebrew word meaning, “to be smooth”, and connoting “give/distribute, flatter, divide/separate (self)”. Almost by definition, Peter was a “seeker of smooth things”, that is, the middle ground and moderation. However, the depictions of Peter and James in the Talmud as the filthy rich Nakdimon and Ben Kalba expose the hypocrisy of their presumption of poverty (as “Ebionites”), and especially that of Nakdimon. Nakdimon prays for the cisterns of Jerusalem to be filled with water to relieve the drought. However, he shares the profits with a foreign (Roman) lord. He is in effect serving both God (“Caesar”) and mammon, and not purely the welfare of the people.

Nakdimon donates clothing to the poor, but only after they have been laid on the ground for him to walk over. This is not in the true spirit of the Osiris faith, as also suggested in the Gospel parable of “Poor Lazarus and the Rich Man” (the rich man implicitly being Peter/Nakdimon). Nakdimon also supplies Jerusalem with grain for three seven-year periods, which he no doubt also benefited from financially. (Note also the emphasis on the number three as relating to Peter of the Gospels.) However, when the food reserves were most desperately needed during the siege of Jerusalem, they were deliberately sabotaged. In the end, Nakdimon/Simon Peter denied the Zealot cause. He fought nobly, but ala Robert E. Lee, not to win. As in the time of Taharqa/Tarquin, the result was utter devastation. The former goal of independence from Rome was subverted. The (Nakht-) demon” of zealotry was “exorcised” both from Peter and from the Jewish nation.

Zealots No More

Judas the Galilean, founder of the 4th Philosophy or Zealot Sect, was legitimized as a Messiah figure in the Gospel of Matthew by making the occasion of his rebellion and sacrificial death (over the Census of Quirinius/Cyrenius in 6-7 AD) coincide with the birth of Jesus (which was actually closer to 6-7 BC). Ultimately, the death of zealotry gave way to the birth of docile Christianity. However, the roots of Christianity as an expression of Herodian resistance to Rome were still preserved. Overthrow of Roman power was an integral part of the nascent Christian mission (as an element of the overarching Herodian agenda).

Eisenman makes a convincing argument that the mantle of Judas the Galilean, founder of the fourth philosophy or Zealot sect, was placed on Judas Thomas/Theudas the twin of Jesus. In fact, Judas Thomas was likely the unnamed associate of Ananias/James in the early days of evangelism in Armenia. Either Simon/Peter or Paul/Simon Magus, both of which had a distinct Osiris typecasting, is more likely to have been the Eliezer that initially demanded that Gentile converts be circumcised. (As Eisenman notes, Eliezer was also a nickname of a later Rabbi named Gamaliel at the time of the 2nd Revolt.)

Leading up to its deliberate destruction, 2nd Temple Jerusalem was compared to 1st Temple Jerusalem, both in terms of its stubborn men and loose women. Characterization of the priesthood was as one unwilling to compromise on even the most trivial matters, such as the building of a temple latrine with offerings from questionable sources. Herodians were ready to pull up the stakes (of the “tent of David”) and relocate like the owners of a union-stymied company. The standard rationalization of tyrants was to be applied. Their subjects were to blame for not honoring, obeying, serving, and believing them to the fullest. The zealots, which they had not necessarily “planted” but readily “cultivated” for the purpose of going to war with Rome, were summarily “uprooted” and thrown into the “fire” of Herodian judgment. Yet, there was seemingly no tactical retreat by Herodians to Mesopotamia in order to live to fight another day against Rome. From all appearances, Herodians like Josephus and Aristobulus IV sought to win the war by becoming more Roman.

A denatured Christianity would from then on preach faithfulness to Rome as God’s ordained authority in the world. Rabbinical Judaism was established by Yohanan ben Zacchai, who like another Herodian Josephus, also acknowledged Vespatian as Messiah, and was given Roman approval. He had fled the plague-ridden city of Jerusalem as a Moses, and with the help of his disciples Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Joshua, who obviously were patterned after Eliezer and Gershom/Joshua the two sons of Moses. With them was carried out the badly atrophied but still living High Priest Zadok in a coffin, and as though he represented the bones of Joseph.

Despite the near total destruction of Jerusalem, the Zealot movement did not entirely die. Almost 70 years later, a son-in-law of Ben Kalba Sabu’a named Rabbi Akiba was said to have endorsed the rebel leader Bar Kochba. Akiba paid for this with his life, nevertheless one wonders if the 2nd Revolt was not also deliberately induced by elite Herodians (in the guise of Rabbi’s and Romanized Jews) in order to squash what remained of the Jewish militant resistance.