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Chapter  Six

“What an Exodus!” proclaimed Gabriel; sitting at the breakfast table with Natalie as she recounted her dreams from the previous night’s nocturnal flights. “You continue to amaze me, your revelations are once again, spot on. Are you sure you haven’t studied up on these things and are trying to con me?”

“No, certainly not,” retaliated Nat emphatically “are you sure you have studied these things sufficiently enough to assure me that what I am envisioning is a plausible alternative to what we have been led to believe by our religious and academic leaders?”

“Yes,” emphasized buzz, just as insistent “I have obsessed over these things more than anyone else I know and I assure you that the way you are explaining history answers more questions than it poses.”

“Well then Mr. Izzard, tell me what amazing exploits you have been up to.” Natalie digressed

“Do you remember how we surmised that the ancient Mereneith devised a plot to throw off her detractors by making a fake breastplate, like the Palette of Narmer, in solid gold?”

“Yes,” replied Nat “I had confirmation of that yesterday, with my conversations with Dorothy; she is quite the expert as well.”

“Really? Well I have come up with a plan to use the wisdom of Mereneith and employ our recent contacts in Switzerland to create a similar device, with the view to ensnaring the villains who have your father and the original bejeweled breastplate.”

“How, what, where, when?” stammered Nat

“Who, is what you should have asked, between Laurence and I, we have devised a version of the old shell game and have contacted all the players, who individually believe they will be the winner and get what they want. Greedy, crooked, ancient art dealers are going to think they are going to make a lot of money, maniacal collectors are going to think they are going to get a prized piece of booty, Scotland Yard detectives are thinking of the promotions they will get by bagging a hoard of crooks, art forgers are busying themselves making the pieces we will be playing with and security forces on three continents will be clocking up over time.”

“And what will we be doing?” asked Nat

“Waiting,” replied Buzz “waiting for the trap to spring and see who will be left holding the bag, in that bag should be your father and our treasure.”

“Brilliant.” Commented Nat

“That what I thought, now tell me more about this Queen of Sheba of yours. I’ll set the scene with what I know and then you can take over.”

“Once the Hebrews had escaped the clutches of a corrupted Egypt and placed themselves in Gods hands away from the sweeping arm of an expanding Babylon, they began to prosper again. Joshua’s forces had established themselves in the Holy land under Asher in the north and Judah in the south, the Ark of the Covenant remained at the Rock of deliverance. There were reports of constant fighting between the tribes and squabbles over who would be king; this kept them separated from the peaceful people of god who were continuing to grow as a great trading nation in Sheba. Eventually when Solomon the wise consolidated the wealth at the newly refurbished temple at Jerusalem and had the Ark placed at the center of worship, the Queen came to visit them.”

As he finished speaking, Natalie’s demeanour changed and a regal look appeared in her eyes. She stood, began gesturing with her arms and recalled the following events. “It was a glorious day when she finally sailed up the eastern fork of the Sinai Peninsular on the Red Sea, the pride of her fleet. Her entourage was quite small considering her importance but as she was entering by the front door of the stabilized kingdom of Solomon, the wise and just ruler, she felt they would be safe and welcomed; which they were. She had brought with her much treasure to lie at the feet of Solomon and had cautioned her whole caravan and guard to be constantly on alert as they were entering a brood of vipers. If they all played their parts well, they would all leave alive and with a treasure greater than the one they were carrying.

Although Solomon had heard of her journey to meet him and had sent men and envoys aplenty to assist in expediting her safe arrival, she insisted in moving at her own pace and camped outside his gates one final night before presenting herself and her delights to him the following day. His kingdom was at a time in history that would never be overshadowed, all was at order and all was in its place, his rule was never to be bettered.

The Hebrews had carved for themselves a place in the grand scheme of things; they sat squarely between two empires, not to be out done by either. Solomon was intent on displaying it to the world and the world was coming to him, by the time she walked into his presence, he had polished everything within his reach. Everyone who served him had done their job well; the palace glistened like a diamond set in pure gold and all the tribes were lined up in order of importance. Twelve tribes and a priestly caste presented themselves with Solomon at their center and he seated her at his side, on that giant stage.

She began the dialogue loud enough for all to hear, asking questions that were designed to allow him the space to display his wisdom, of which she praised at every opportunity. Every word and every gesture was like a part in a scripted masterpiece worthy of a Shakespearian epic. They parried with the expertise of two master swordsmen putting on a display for an adoring public, each cut and thrust crafted not to injure but to allow the opponent the opportunity to wow the crowd. The pandering and opulence went on for days and nights, what with gifts to exchange, banquets to be savoured, artists to be admired and beauty to be swooned over there was hardly a moment for them to share alone. Finally that moment arrived when Solomon dismissed all the others and had her totally to himself.

He wooed her like no woman had ever been wooed before and after he had known her for some time, on a balcony overlooking the temple; he proposed the concept of joining their nations together in Holy alliance. She deferred the moment suggesting that she would like to give him her answer in front of the Ark, alone before God. This stopped him in his tracks, for as far as he knew no woman had ever entered the Holy of Holies, he didn’t know how the head priest would respond to that request. Given a moment to think and not wanting to appear weak or restricted in his own kingdom, he reluctantly agreed.

Later that night, after he had removed all the people from the temple and its surrounds, he sent for her to come alone into the temple.

He met her outside the two massive doors that barred entry to any one who wasn’t sanctified. She was wearing a red cape and he was attired as only a king was allowed, they walked hand in hand through the empty temple and slipped passed the veil that protected Israel’s most precious sacred item from the prying eyes of all but the elite. As they stood there in awe at what they were looking at, he began to recite for her the words that would be recorded in the Song of Solomon.

By the time he had finished his recital, she had slipped off her red cape and was standing in front of the Ark wearing nothing but the astoundingly beautiful breastplate of Noah’s wife. Sparks flew and the sacred chamber immediately filled with lights of many colours as the Beloved of God was lifted up by light and held as if pinned by twelve shards of Technicolor above the Ark. Solomon passed out and by the time he had awoken, she had gone and so had the Ark. He wasn’t sure how long he had been out but he had left orders that they were not to be disturbed and they weren’t for what turned out to be a very long time.

As he left the temple his head guard ran up to him asking for instructions, he managed to indicate that no one was to go in there as he made his way into the palace and summonsed his personal advisers. After they had sufficiently yelled at one another for an appropriate amount of time, they managed to come to the agreement that Solomon was far to wise to be ripped off by a woman and that sending out spies to quietly to access the situation was the way to go. When they finally realized they were getting nowhere with their inquiries, they covered it up and it wasn’t spoken about again.”

——————————————

“What do you think?” sparked up Natalie, now in the grand old library of the castle.

Gabriel was furiously flicking through the pages of brick like text books, when he raised his head and said “I don’t know what to say, I’m, I’m awestruck, just continue, I mean please continue, if you can, if your all right with that.”

“Yes,” replied Nat “get me going again with what you know.”

“Well, it wasn’t long after the death of Solomon that the kingdom fell into disarray eventually being divided into the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin, led by Jehoshaphat and The northern tribes led by Ahab. The Phoenicians had become great and powerful at that time because of their ability to dominate the oceans of the world. They had brought back to their home in the Mediterranean, treasures from the four corners, spices from Java, precious stones from India, gold from Africa and even cocoa products from South America. Their main trading items were cedar and hashish from Lebanon and of course olive oil. They were a highly cultured people whose daily trading script gave us the alphabetical style of writing that we still use to this day. Their man in Lebanon was King Hiram whom had made available tradesmen and materials to Solomon, so he could furbish his temple.

Their Goddess and Queen were known to them as Eli and her image was carried on all of their vast fleet of Arabian style boats in the form of brass statuettes. The thin woman’s image has been dug up by archeologists all over the place. They were a ferocious people when it came to protecting what was theirs and their kingdom extended as far as Ethiopia and India. Their warships were figure- headed by the warrior Goddess, the war cry was Eli, Eli, Eli repeated over and over and if you heard it you ran in the opposite direction as fast as you could. The Polynesian’s claim to be their modern day descendants and I wouldn’t want to argue with them about it. They have been around since the glory days of Egypt and have participated in the building of all civilizations at some level.

Jezebel or Yeshubel was a princess to the Phoenician’s, her mother the Queen of Tyre had been a monarch in the Syro-Phoenician Empire for longer than most could remember. She was much loved by the Syrian people, who occupied most of Arabia and Mesopotamia, but she was despised by the mountain dwelling worshipers of Yahweh who saw her as the evil Babylonian goddess Ashtoreth. Her father was lord or king over the Syro-Phoenicians and honoured as the deity Baal. Jehoshaphat, the leader from Judea and his priests of Yahweh were dedicated to their extermination.”

Natalie started speaking and took over from Buzz in such a smooth way that it was hard to tell were he finished off and she began.

“Ahab, Asa’s or Asher’s other son, who was king of the northern tribes of Israel wanted peace more than his brother; when it was suggested that he could stabilize his kingdom and therefore dictate terms to Jehoshaphat by marrying Jezebel he willingly agreed.

Little did he know the trouble it would cause and the extremes that the priests and prophets of the southern tribes would go to in their war against Baal!

Jezebel had grown up in the privileged surrounds of the purple clad ruling class of a vast empire but her loyalties belonged to the religious cast.

She considered herself to be a priestess in the time honoured religion of her Matriarchal forbearers and desired nothing more than to unite all peoples under one god, the god of her mother and father, but to the mountain men from Jerusalem that made her their number one enemy.

She had prepared well for her journey into the poor, dusty kingdom of her betrothed and had received from her parents a caravan of riches to supply her and the hoards of beautiful young priestesses that she was taking with her from her father’s coastal city of Sidon. If she was going to rule these backward, poverty stricken people then some colour was going to be brought into their gray lives and with a company of well trained soldiers to protect them, she intended to tour the land of Israel and introduce herself to them personally.

They parked their caravan of delights outside the walled cities of the lowlands, setting up like a modern day rock concert drawing the people out to see her and her entourage perform music, fine arts, light shows and semi-naked belly dancing. Most were suitably impressed but the priests of Yahweh always managed to have a representative there yelling out abuses, generally degrading her and her religion. Eventually Ahab heard what she was doing and realizing how it must have been offending Jehoshaphat, rode out of his fortified city of Samaria to plead with her to stop what she was doing and come with him into the safety of his home where they would be married and live. He was not well prepared for this task and when he arrived dirty and unshaven from his hasty journey, was arrested by the impressive guard she had surrounding her camp. He was brought before her for sentencing and when he had finally convinced her who he was she ordered that he be taken away, bathed, shaved and when suitably attired be returned to her presence where they would begin discussions on their future.

This was done and over dinner, before the evening was out, his initial concerns were put to rest and although he was falling totally in love with this goddess from Tyre he was flabbergasted by her intentions.

Not only was she planning a feast for their wedding but proclaiming a public holiday for the celebration of the wedding of her goddess Ashtoreth to his god Yahweh. What she didn’t explain to him was that this would be a reenactment of the old Egyptian tradition of Isis wedding Osiris.

Nobody said that it would be easy, the known world was about to erupt into war. The Mede’s, Persians and mighty Assyrians were pushing in on the North and North-Eastern front, Egypt and Judea would be attacking them from the South. Their prophets and priests were to be murdered by Jehoshaphat, her parents people were pulling out of Tyre and moving to Libya to begin building Carthage and although they managed their rule for forty years Ahab and Jezebel where destined to go down in history as a failure. Eventually the whole area was swamped by the awesome might of the Assyrian Empire as it established it’s domination over all and ruled from Babylon with an iron fist. Not only did they defeat the Jews and take the Ark and all the Temple Items back to their headquarters, making all pay homage, but they overran Jezebels temples and took for themselves the ultimate prize of the goddess her self and her beautiful breastplate. She was taken as far as the Assyrian Kings home town of Susa, near the Persian Gulf, where she became known as Esther to her enslaved peoples and Scheherazade to Arabs. The tales of a thousand and one Arabian nights were about to begin along with the Jewish tales of a woman from their stock who went on to rule Nabuchodonosor’s Babylon.

“Wow!” exclaimed Buzz “I bet nobody has put those two together before.”

Natalie got up from where she was sitting and started pacing around the castle library shaking off the dreamy feeling she was experiencing. Stopping in front of Gabriel she asked

“ Why am I seeing all this now, when I feel like I should be tracking down my father’s abductors, speaking to the Lady personally to understand what I should be doing or at least finding out what’s going on with my business?”

“Well, it all seems massively important to me and I think you are doing just fine, handling all this.” Said Buzz in a very reassuring way. “I’m sure you’re on the right track and it’s going to be very important that we know these things when the time comes.”

“What is it that we are learning?” asked Nat, thinking it was about time that they reviewed “Can you put some order to it for me? I need to understand better why we are going down such a long winding path to get to this unknown destination.”

Gabriel took a long sip of the coffee he was holding and primed himself for what was obviously going to be a long winded explanation. “When we first met, we initially decided to do a series of guided meditations, leading us to tracking down your father and his abductors and although that still remains on the agenda, I think we have gone on to the larger canvas. I’m sure that if your father was here now he would tell you that we have become important players in a game that he and his associates have been playing for most of his life. There are things at stake here that are important to the greater humanity; you have tapped into a source of wisdom that has been driving academics, scholars, archeologists, historians, philosophers, theologians and even occultists for thousands of years. A lot of them dedicated their entire lives to understand just one of the pieces of your giant jigsaw puzzle and without their efforts we wouldn’t have such a good understanding, in acquired knowledge, of what you seem to be given as a gift. Even if what you are recounting is only half correct, its value as an alternative theory is of immeasurable worth. We have drawn a thread through the tapestry of history that you could call herstory; a viewing platform that allows for a totally different perspective and stands centralized to all cultures cutting through Christian, Jewish, Moslem, Hindu, Buddhist and many more. We could be pioneering a way of seeing history that could help unify mankind, placing the feminine back into the Godhead where she seems to be sadly lacking. I can’t say for sure but I think your dreams are divinely inspired wisdoms that if correctly interpreted could help unite mankind in a world where we seem to be ripping ourselves apart over discrepancies on what happened in the past. So don’t sell yourself short in this intrigue of ours and don’t trivialize what we are learning, it could be the most important work you’ll ever do.”

Nat had finished circling the room and had seated herself down in front of buzz like a student ready for her next class.

Buzz responded appropriately “Now let’s review what it is that we have learnt so far; if we think of the time of Noah’s flood as the beginning of the current era then our view differs by placing Mrs. Noah in a position of importance like no male dominated religion has ever done. We have ascribed to her the longevity that has previously only been given to the men in her family; we have given her the authority over who, in her lot, were to be rulers of their people; we have associated with her an artifact of her authority that places her at the head of the Egyptian Pantheon of Gods from the power days of Egypt and laid witness to the passing down of that authority to her female descendants; we have associated her with the pre-civilized Celts of Europe and aligned herself with Sarah the Hebrew, Moslem matriarchal figure; given her more influence over the Middle Kingdom of Egypt and seen her descendants evicted as her fame grew in the Arabian world as the Queen of Sheba; now we are beginning to understand the importance she must of held for the Persians, Medes, Assyrians, Indians and Asiatics as the Syro-Phoenician princess who affected so much of their history and culture. That’s quite a list of achievements my dear Ms. McHale and I for one cannot wait to hear the next episode.”

Natalie jumped up off her chair and through her arms around him giving him the biggest hug he’d had for a long time. She said “That was the right thing to say Professor Izzard; it sounds so perfect when you say it and I’m so glad I’m going through this with you, I don’t know what I would do without you.”

Gabriel stood back a little embarrassed and stumbled through the moment like an awkward young boy, eventually pulling himself through it by saying “I think I will seek out Laurie and Dora to see if we can get a little lunch going.”

“That would be great,” said Nat “I’ll get myself in the mood to tell the next part of the story while we are having that lunch.”

Buzz returned to a much more enthusiastic Nat who was at this time reclining on the sofa that was conveniently placed in the corner of the study.

“Dora will bring our lunch in on a tray.”

“Good,” said Nat champing at the bit, ready to launch into the explanation of her most recent dream “what do you know of this Scheherazade?”

“Not much,” replied Buzz “only that she is the supposed author of the fabled ‘Thousand and One Arabian Nights’ and that she had been brought before a great king who had demanded of her a story every night that would hold his attention until he fell asleep. If she could do that he would grant her chastity and life.”

Natalie took over and continued her recollections “In the days when the whole of Israel and Judah was being taken into captivity by a dominating Assyrian Empire, Assuerus ruled as a mighty king in Susa. He had behind him Persian warriors, Median nobles and was honored in one hundred and twenty seven provinces from India to Ethiopia. The fame of the Queen who wouldn’t be ruled by any foreign power had spread to his ears, they called her Queen Vasthi and he wanted her for his own pleasure. Edicts and orders had been given to all his accomplices, as a top priority, to find her and bring her to him. Holofernes one of his top generals had lost his head over her and many had brought him women from various destinations to spend the night with him but as they couldn’t live up to her reputation. He would have them executed, that is until a Jew in exile from his still resisting homeland brought with him the one they called Esther.

The nephew who had abducted her from the ‘Palace in Tyre’ became known to the Assyrian Lord as Mordecai. He waited at the city gates in rags to be rewarded for his compliance with the royal decree to bring in the Queen. In the meantime Esther had to be tested to see if she was the one Assuerus had heard so much about; to prove herself worthy she had to be cleaned up, suitably attired and tell the stories of her rule to the King. This became a regular nightly occurrence and soon she and her stories became famous in all the lands. She won her favor with all and if it hadn’t been for her great beauty, wit and stories persuading Assuerus to offer her half his kingdom then Mordecai and his Jewish peoples wouldn’t have been in exile; they would have been exterminated.

Esther further secured her place in the Assyrian Kingdom when she showed Assuerus how to use Mordecai and his mates to defeat the Armenians and secure the Northern border. This allowed them the freedom and power over all of Babylon to move their residence closer to the Mediterranean and rule like Gods for many hundreds of years. The Assyrian Empire became the greatest Empire since the heydays of the Egyptians. She ruled beside Asher from Mt. Ararat in the North to the source of the Nile in the South, from India in the East to Italy in the west. Even though the spirit of Mereneith, Isis, Ashtar or Ishtar ‘Esther’ had saved Israel and Judea from extinction, protected them while they were in exile, encouraged them to become educated whilst they were there and had overseen the writing and compilation of most of the Old Testament; when Daniel was saved from the lion’s den, Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego from the fire and Ezekiel had his visions, they still look back to that as being the worst time in their history and remember her to this day as the ‘Whore of Babylon’.


On to Chapter Seven

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