Beggars BanquetSubmitted by electrictoothsyndrome at 2004-09-20 23:10:21 EDT
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In the spring of 1947, Bedouin herders searching the cliffs along the Dead Sea for a lost goat stumbled upon one of the greatest archeological finds in history. What they found were the remnants of approximately 800 manuscripts dating from approximately 200 B.C.E. to 68 C.E. – scholars now refer to them as The Dead Sea Scrolls...
26 September 2004 10:27
The dig has been going as planned and already some great finds have been made on the day. Shards of clay pottery, along with several small fragments of papyrus scroll, have already been discovered. Sebastian Meeks, a graduate student studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, carefully collects the items with surgical tweezers and places them in their pre-marked plastic bags. He takes note of the depth and location of his discoveries, and photographs the area. In separate bags he collects surrounding soil samples and records numbers referencing each find. He calls for his mentor, Professor Maskil…
“...yes, and I would like all this dirt moved to the bottom of the hill so I can at least have a place to walk.” A hired group of Bedouin guides and laborers pick up their shovels and wheelbarrows and begin moving the earth as told.
“What have you found, Sebastian?” The professor carefully ducks into the cave and switches on his hat-lamp.
“Look at these, sir.” Sebastian hands him the clear plastic bags with the scroll fragments contained within. “Looks to be Hebrew.”
“Indeed it does...” He studies the first fragment closely... then a second...and then a third. The professor’s eyes widen…
“What is it, sir?”
“It’s...” he puzzles. “...I don’t believe it...”
“What IS it, sir???”
“Well, this one…” He holds out the first fragment. “This one is clearly Hebrew, and says: ‘And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power’. That is from the book of Job...but these...” He holds up the other two fragments. “These are written in a dialect I am not familiar with, and...and are from a book that - to my knowledge - doesn’t exist!”
31 October 2004 14:50
Back in the University lab, Sebastian and Professor Maskil, patiently wait while the lab’s technical supervisor and resident chemist, Dr. Barrak brings in the manila folders containing the computer printouts they’re interested in seeing. Dr. Barrak tosses them down and smiles widely.
“Well, it appears that the scrolls you’ve discovered are older than we had initially hypothesized. According to the radiocarbon readings taken from the papyrus and the plant material found in the soil samples, your scrolls… are well over 7000 years old! This makes them, quite frankly, some of the oldest surviving texts of written language ever discovered – never mind on papyrus!” The doctor looks at the two speechless men in front of him, and starts laughing in spite of himself.
“That can’t be right! There’s NO WAY! Let me see that!” The professor wrenches the folders from the table and looks over their contents.
“You see? The C-14 levels in both the papyrus itself and the surrounding strata roughly match. The soil samples yielded ample amounts of organic material – seeds, leaves, etc. - for our purposes. In short, I can say, with a degree of certainty I’d stake my reputation on...that these figures are accurate within 500 years.”
The professor is dumbfounded at what he’s hearing. This goes against everything he’s been taught about ancient languages and the science of biology. “But how could the papyrus survive that long without complete decomposition?”
“Good question... It would appear from the sifting and separation of the particulates in the soil that at one time the scrolls were probably wrapped in petroleum-doused linen and housed within the clay vessels whose fragments you had discovered. In essence: they were mummified. In my opinion, it is not unreasonable to postulate that this, coupled with the dry climate of this region since the last ice age, could have kept the papyrus relatively safe. Outside that... maybe you should just ask God.”
“Have you repeated the tests yet?”
“Five times,” The doctor smiles earnestly.
Looking up from the unbelievable numbers before him, Professor Maskil is swimming with the ramifications of their discovery...
1 April 2005 2:27
Professor Maskil has not looked up for hours except to shake the pain from his neck or search for a particular segment of the papyrus puzzle in which he is now totally absorbed. On the desk, chairs, and floor about him lay shards of paper with the images of the scroll fragments printed on them. The fragments had to be photographed under a special infrared light so as not to further damage the almost crumbling samples.
The translation has been tough but steady going because the language itself appears to be a forebear to the other ancient languages in which he is expert. This means there has been a lot of trial and error involved in sorting out the word-relationships. So far he and his team have discovered older root-forms of over 5000 words in the Hebrew language. The long nights are starting to take their toll; his eyes are glazed and sunken, but he thinks he has finally solved the riddle of the language, and thus begins to assemble and translate the text on the scrolls...
“1 Once there was a man, a blind man, from the land of Nod whose name was Samael; and that man was upright and of perfect character, one who feared God and despised evil.
2 Having no sons or daughters, no livestock, no servants, and no house of his own, he lived as a beggar in the town of Murabba’at.
3 Thus did Samael eke out his days as a humble servant of the Lord. Asking no more than was given unto him by divine providence.
4 Now there came a day when all the host of heaven presented themselves before the Lord; Satan, the great deceiver of men, also came among them.
5 And the Lord said unto Satan, where have you come from? And Satan answered unto the Lord: I have come from going to and fro about the earth, and walking up and down everywhere in it.
6 And the Lord said unto Satan, Have you considered my servant Samael, and seen that there are none like him in the earth, an upright and perfect man, one that fears God and despises evil, who covets no earthly thing?
7 Then Satan answered, He only serves you because he has never had the chance to do otherwise.
8 You have always provided what he needs to sustain himself, even if it’s just enough. You wouldn’t see him so eager to serve you if you allowed him to taste what I could offer him.
9 Release him from the restraints of his blindness and his poverty, and he will forsake you even to your face.
10 And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, I give his fate over to you. You may not remove from what he has, only may you add to it. Go now, and see that you cannot sway him into evil.
11 And Satan went forth from heaven pleased with himself in all he was about to do.”
25 September 2005 21:03
For the past year, the world has been abuzz with the news of the incredible discovery made by Professor Maskil and his team. He has already published his findings in Scientific American, as well as countless other secular and religious journals. The story of his discovery has made international headlines, and he has made appearances on CNN, BBC, and a Discovery Channel Special is already in the works. Steven Speilberg has even contacted him about a possible Dreamworks production based on his life. Today, however, the professor drinks from a water-fountain in a plush hallway at Harvard University, awaiting his on-stage introduction…
“...so without further ado,” said the voice in the microphone, “ I am pleased to introduce Professor of Archaeology and Linguistics, and this year’s recipient of Harvard’s Honorary Degree… Doctor Steven Maskil!” The room erupts in an applause that is perhaps unbefitting an affair this regal, but the Professor has become a celebrity of sorts, and he seems to enjoy the added attention. He shuffles onstage, waving to the crowd, shakes hands with the people seated at the Committee table, and settles up to the podium...
“One year ago tomorrow, my colleagues and I made a discovery that has changed our views on the origins of our language, our religion, and our humanity. The documents we discovered were deemed to be between 6500 and 7500 years old. Among those ancient scrolls were several tattered copies of a book that has never been found anywhere else in the world, a book that appears to be a companion to the Book of Job, a book that tells the story of a deal between God and Satan...that God loses.
“It is called The Book of Samael, but we at the University refer to it as The Beggar’s Banquet. What this book seems to tell us is that there is truly such a thing as an Anti-Christ, and not surprisingly it also implies that he is alive and well and continues to walk among us. To what extent you choose to believe such a claim is obviously up to you. My colleagues and I choose, of course, to leave the interpretation of the text to the theologians, but this story is never the less intriguing.
“It begins by describing how Samael, a blind beggar and penitent man of God, is tempted by Satan with promises of health, wealth, and inhuman power. One night Satan visits Samael in his sleep and begins by restoring his sight. Samael awakens and sees this as a miracle from God. He is then anonymously given a kingdom, a Hiram, children, servants, and riches beyond his imagination. He is treated to endless banquets night after night until he has grown fat from over-indulgence. He is also given man’s most coveted gifts of eternal youth and everlasting life.
“One day, however, Satan appears to him and tells him that it is HE who has bestowed upon him all he’s been given. Samael, at first incredulous, says: ‘if it is you who have given these things unto me, then you can take them away.’ Satan then takes away all he has given to him – returning him to the blind beggar he once was. Satan then offers Samael the chance to have back all he was given - two-fold. Samael accepts the arrangement.
“There is, however, one condition. Samael is told he must write his story down and hide it from the eyes of men. Satan then tells him he may live however he sees fit until the day his writings are discovered. On that day, he will be called upon to bring about a Kingdom of Darkness upon the earth.
“As intriguing as this story is, more important is the fact that we have managed to expand our knowledge of the origins of language itself. It is in the name of all those that endeavor in this cause that I accept this honor. Thank you and good night.”
The crowd stands and applauds as Professor Maskil once again shakes hands with the committee members and walks off the stage.
After the post-ceremony meet-and-greet with all the distinguished alumni and pretentious aristocrats, Professor Maskil makes his way toward his rental car through the parking lot. A man appears from the bushes...it is Sebastian...
“Sebastian, you scared the HELL out of me! Don’t EVER do that again! ...What are you doing here?”
“Hell is within us all, Professor.”
“What??? ...Sebastian, what have you been smoking?” The professor chuckles a bit to fight the uneasy feeling now worming through his bowels.
Sebastian moves closer and becomes fully visible beneath the white halo of a street lamp. His head is hooded, but his eyes are visible to the Professor… His eyes look strange. His pupils look elongated and vacant. A vague smile is pasted on his lips.
“Have you ever seen Hell, Professor?”
The professor sobers from his laughter. “What do you mean?”
“I was tired of waiting around. I figured, why settle for a beggar’s banquet when I can have it all!”
“Who are you?” asks the professor. His tone is grave and penetrating.
“Oh, I am sorry professor, please allow me to introduce myself! I’m a man of wealth and taste. I am pleased to meet you, can you guess my name?”
Sebastian removes his hood revealing what appear to be ten horns growing out of his head...
12 December 2012 00:12
A man stands on an overturned mailbox shouting into a ragged and fleeing crowd. His face is worn and weary and his eyes are missing. It is the professor. Above the screams of terror he shouts as he has been doing for the last seven dark years: “I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.”
Above him a host of unearthly creatures swarm from a hole in the sackcloth sky...
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