Nephilim

Translation by Scott Catey

In his office at 66 Ben Jehuda Street, Jean Michel de Marie was watching the news on Israel TV’s Channel Two while leisurely cutting his nails. A condescending smile rose on his thin lips, overshadowed by a black mustache, which curved slightly downward towards his firm and bony chin.

…This morning, around 6 o’clock, the Jerusalem Mishtara discovered two corpses in front of Ibrahim Kutal’s store, fifty meters from the Damascus gate. The identity of the victims, two middle-aged men, has not yet been established. Further details will be broadcast as they become available. And now, weather. A sunny spring day, with temperatures between…

Mrs. Sarah Rabinovich, Jean Michel’s secretary, appeared in the office doorway.

“You called, Mr. de Marie?”

“Sarah, please do not forget to phone Shaul and remind him that I am waiting to hear about the Zion negotiations.”

“Sir, I was just about to tell you that an hour ago the Zion executive board rejected Mr. Shaul’s offer.”

“Impossible!” shouted Jean Michel, hammering his clenched fist on the oak table in front of him, and pacing to the corner of the room. He stood with his back to Sarah and slowly forced himself to regain composure. Sarah could almost feel his power rippling through the still air of the office. A cold smile appeared in the corner of Jean Michel’s mouth as he turned to face her again.

“Put me through to Mr. Shaul immediately.”

At thirty-three, Jean Michel de Marie could consider himself a lucky man. The young multi-millionaire had managed to merge into a single conglomerate the five major software companies from the United States and Israel. Zion was the last bastion which remained to be conquered – and quickly – for Mr. de Marie to remain at the pinnacle of the international software market.

Sarah’s voice filtered through the intercom on his desk.

“Mr. de Marie, I have Mr. Shaul waiting.”

“Hello, Shaul. Don’t tell me Zion rejected my offer.”

“Jean-Michel, I am extremely sorry, but there was nothing I could do. The people at Zion are very stubborn. The board voted fifteen to one against your offer. We’ve lost the deal.”

“Lost? What does ‘lost’ mean? We haven’t ‘lost’ anything. Talk to Joseph and go to our backup approach.”

“But that assumes…”

“I am not interested in what it assumes! By Monday morning I want the offer signed by every one of Zion’s board members. Do you understand?” Jean Michel grimaced and threw the phone back into its cradle. Glowering, he turned once again to the news from Channel Two.

…Mr. Ibrahim Kutal, the owner of the pastry shop in front of which the police discovered the two victims, lives in Bethlehem with his wife and their four children… We go now to correspondent Rivka Rosenthal…

Thank you, David. This is Rivka Rosenthal, live from Bethlehem. I am here with Mr. Ibrahim Kutal. Mr. Kutal, you’ve said that you left your shop last night around 7 o’clock. Can you describe the plaza in front of your store as it looked when you left Jerusalem?

There were a few tourists in front of Mustafa’s store, across the street from mine. This is the time when han-nabi, the Prophet, shows up in the city and recites from the Bible. The tourists always gather to listen.

Who is this prophet?

Who does not know the Prophet Eliyahu and his friend, the priest? Eliyahu is a tall, gaunt man, with a very long beard and long hair. He always carries a black suitcase with the name Eliyahu written in white, and he comes here every evening, reciting from the Bible and prophesying. Hunk, the priest, is small, and quite bald, and a very serious individual, I would say. I have never seen Hunk smile, and he is always with the Prophet. Last night they were preoccupied with the internet and the ways in which our youth are manipulated by it.

Manipulated? By whom? For what reason?

By those who control it.

Do you mean the Israelis?

Not just them…

Ibrahim’s answer was lost in an eruption of static and white noise. The studio announcer’s face reappeared. We have lost our live connection with RivkaRosenthal in Bethlehem. We apologize for the technical difficulties, and will be back after this break.

Ibrahim was unable to answer the reporter’s question. Just as Channel Two lost its feed, the police arrived at Ibrahim’s shop, and two men dressed in short coats of black leather grabbed him by the collar and wordlessly took him away from the interview. They quickly shoved him into a rumbling military Humvee. Ibrahim blanched as the door closed him in and the Humvee began to move.

“Hello, Ibrahim.”

On the metal bench inside the vehicle sat a tall man, with a thick, black mustache. His brown, questioning eyes were guarded by black eyebrows, joined atop a long, aquiline nose. Scared, with his heart beating rapidly, Ibrahim took a long look at the man. It seemed, for a moment, that he knew him from somewhere, but was uncertain where, or why.

“My name is Isaac Katz, from the Jerusalem Mishtara. I want to ask you a few questions before those clowns from TV get to you.”

“Questions? About what?” Ibrahim sputtered with a trembling voice.

“Not about what, Ibrahim. About whom.” He spoke slowly, and emphasized this last, leaning forward and penetrating Ibrahim with his eyes, watching closely. “Specifically, about these two prophets. I’m telling you from the beginning that I am not interested at all in what they preached. What I’d like to know from you is, who has been around them recently. Have these two recruited any beney han-nebiim? Do they have any disciples? Who are these disciples, Ibrahim? Will you tell me?”

Ibrahim felt cowed by the stare, by the noise of the engine, by the pressure of Katz’s interest. “These men, the Prophet and the priest, were always alone, isolated, derided by listeners. But…” Ibrahim stopped, and found his eyes drawn to the front page of the newspaper Ha-arets, thrown casually on the metal bench in front of him. A photo taken in front of his shop early that morning graced the page, showing the two victims, covered with a camouflage cloth. A group of curious passers-by stood in the background. Ibrahim recognized among them a rotund young man with an unusually red face. He was dressed in a beige suit, with a yellow tie with white dots. “But,” he continued, “they were always followed by a fat young man.”

He paused, then jabbed his finger at the photo. “It’s that one, that man, there, in the photo. I remember very well… This red face is burned upon my retina.”

Katz looked carefully at the photo, then took a small notebook from the interior pocket of his coat. He flipped quickly through the gold-edged pages, stopping abruptly at a certain page. He jotted a note, tore off the page, and stuffed it into his shirt pocket. His gaze returned to Ibrahim.

“Now, then. What were you saying?” he asked, as if he had been busy with something much more important.

“This young man” Ibrahim repeated, and pointed again at the face in the photo. “He was probably one of their disciples.”

“How do you know that these victims had disciples?” asked Isaac. Ibrahim was silent for a moment as he felt his stomach plunge.

“I, uh, I only imagine these two had disciples; because they almost always had a group, the same group of five or ten, who gathered with them beyond the Damascus gate, to talk about the preaching.”

“Mr. Kutal, we have reached the station. We’re going inside, and I want you to put in writing everything you know about the victims and their entourage.”

Isaac and Ibrahim got out of the SUV and entered the Mishtara station from the west side of Jerusalem.

“David… can you hear me?” It was the voice of Rivka Rosenthal. “… David?”

“Yes, Rivka! I can hear you now!” answered David.

“David, I don’t know if you received any of those pictures, but as I was interviewing Mr. Kutal, he was simply carried away by two officers of the Jerusalem police.”

“Rivka… wait a moment on that. We have just received information on the identities of the two men killed.”

“I’m listening, David.”

“The identities have been released, along with the results of forensic tests performed on the two bodies. These results are unusual to say the least. The tall man is the one Mr. Kutal called ‘the Prophet Elyiahu’ and the shorter man is the priest, Hunk. But listen to this, Rivka: the one named Eliyahu was two thousand eight hundred and twenty five years old, and his friend, the priest, was seven thousand six hundred and fifty! Rivka, we’ve restored your live feed, and we’re returning to the broadcast. Stand by…”

…Here with me in the studio is Dr. Zeev Mann, a specialist in nuclear physics, who will comment on the astronomical agesf these victim’s that have been reported by Hadasa. Dr. Mann, if I remember correctly what I learned in my childhood, Methuselah lived nine hundred and sixty nine years, but even was an exception in the Tanakh What do you think of the results provided by Hadasa?

David, first, if I may, I would correct your statement a little. Certainly in the Tanakh the maximum age attained by a mortal is that of Methuselah. However, the “Sumerian Kings List,” a much older writing than the earliest biblical tetxs, states that Sumerian kings before the flood reigned between ten and twenty thousand years! What seems curious to me in this case is that these two individuals do not belong to a distant past as did Methuselah or the Sumerian kings, but they are our contemporaries and were witnesses of human history for two and seven thousand years, respectively.

Is it possible, Dr. Mann, that we are simply dealing with an error in calculation?

No. At least, if this were so, I would be very surprised. The physicists from Hadasa are extremely serious and diligent in their analyses and our dating techniques are quite precise.

Then how do you explain the longevity of the two victims?

I’m afraid that right now there is no explanation. We find ourselves in the beginning stages of the investigation. I believe what we need is an interdisciplinary effort between scientists and theologians.

Perhaps. Thank you for your comments, Dr. Mann. And since you mention it, I would like to remind our viewers that tomorrow, Sunday, at 7:00 pm, Channel Two will host a round table featuring Christian and Judaic theologians. The moderator of tomorrow’s show is the well-known religious historian, Dr. Michel Tsur. The victims and their extraordinary ages will doubtless be considered by our panel.

Jean-Michel winced when David mentioned theologians. He rose suddenly from his desk, grabbed his green-leather briefcase and ran outside. Not waiting for the elevator, he hurried down the spiral staircase. Outside, in front of the Binian Klal commercial complex, a mix of passers-by and shoppers were milling about the plaze, some discussing the latest news. He signaled a cab. “Take me to the Hadasa center,” he told the driver.

“Sir, I am sorry, but we have to go around the city. Traffic through the Damascus gate has been stopped due to the investigations.”

“Be-seder, alright, but hurry. I need to be there by 1:00 p.m.”

At the Damascus gate, it seemed that Mishtara vehicles were competing in the cacophony of sirens. The road passing in front of the gate was blocked by reflective orange signs with the Mishtara label. Policemen and soldiers lined the barriers that kept the curious crowds as far as possible from the entrance. Two Meged David ambulances arrived, coming from the Olivet mountain. A tall man emerged from a military jeep parked at the gate.

“Major Katz,” saluted a yound corporal, who was guarding the entrance, “Mr. Leib from Mossad is waiting for you in the plaza.” Joseph Katz strode toward the gate, but had the feeling that someone was calling for him. He paused for a moment to look around, but did not see anyone. He resumed his pace and disappeared into the shadows of the gate.

“Please stand clear!” shouted a policeman – bald and somewhat overweight – trying to arrange a rubber cord between two metal supports, and jostled by an eager press corps.

“I thought democracy reigned in Erets-Israel!” one reporter snorted. “As members of the press, it is our duty to inform our readers regarding the crime which took place within the old city.”

“And our duty” retorted the policeman, “is to ensure the safety of the city and the security of its citizens. According to the order signed today by the mayor of Jerusalem, traffic in front of the Damascus gate and within the old citadel is forbidden until further notice.” He added ominously, “Please do not compel us to use force. Get back from the barriers!”

A menacing feel had set upon the plaza which opened beyond the Damascus gate, and an unusual hush hovered in the shadows cast over the area. Only intermittent gushes from the central fountain sounded in the quiet, only adding to the sense of sobriety and isolation. Arabic graffiti adorned the closed metallic blinds of the stores in the immediate vicinity of the gate. The stone tiles of the pavement, shined by intense daily traffic, emanated a choking smell. At that hour of the day, the shadows of two men, the only people allowed in the plaza, fell lazily on the pavement, deepening the mystery surrounding the victims and their deaths.

“Joseph, come closer, ” Mossad Agent Beno Leib whispered. Leib, a middle-aged man, with an olive-complexion and very short black hair, stood still in the middle of the plaza. The deep scar on his right temple made his enormous forehead even more pronounced. He was wearing a bullet-proof vest over a black shirt, unbuttoned at the neck. His arms were crossed over his chest.

“See here,” he pointed towards a leaded cubical structure about four meters by four meters. “We have a very serious problem. I have already informed the Prime Minister’s office and I have taken initial security measures.”

“What’s the status?” Joseph Katz asked, his eyes fixed on the lead structure dully absorbing the day’s sunlight.

“According to the latest analysis, from just an hour ago, radioactivity is very high. What is strange, though, is that it keeps increasing. Our first task was to cover the bodies. The lead in this unit should contain radiation leakage.”

“Would it not have been better to burn the bodies?” asked Katz.

“We considered that, but the politicians want to keep the bodies for research. In any case, we need to isolate the radioactive source and find a way to eliminate it.”

“Do you have any idea what the source is?”

“Not yet” Leib muttered.

“What do the scientists at the Institute of Atomic Research say?”

“From what I have been told, they are in direct communication with the American and European experts. We are awaiting their report, which they assure uss will be issued by 6 o’clock tonight.”

Ibrahim looked long at the interrogator, and said with obvious puzzlement in his voice:

“Officer, are you insinuating that I have some connection with the two victims? I believe in Allah and his prophet Mohamed. The dead men were preaching Christ.”

“So, in your opinion, they were Christians?” asked the officer.

“It seems a logical conclusion. They were talking about Christ and his coming in glory. Eliyahu preached that the second coming of Christ is very close and that it could take place any day. In any case,” continued Ibrahim in a slightly ironic tone, “I can tell you with certainty that the two were not Muslim and indicated no intention of adhering to Islam.”

“You mentioned that the prophet always had with him a suitcase with the name Eliyahu written on it. Do you have any idea what he was carrying in that suitcase?”

“Pamphlets were all I ever saw. Mostly on the the second coming of Christ” answered Ibrahim.

“Was he selling them?”

“No. He was distributing them freely to those in the audience or those who passed by.”

“I understood that Eliyahu was the one preaching. But what was the role of Hunk, the priest?” asked the officer.

“Hunk preached sometimes, too. Not as often as Eliyahu, mind you. He mostly answered questions at the end of the sermons. Otherwise, he was quiet, pensive.”

“Before you got to the station, you mentioned that a young man with a reddish face…” and the officer showed Ibrahim the Ha-arets newspaper “… was stalking them or was with them most of the time. Do you happen to know his name?”

“No” answered the store owner. “But you can find out what it is. A few days ago that man bought a few things in my store and paid with a credit card.”

“In that case, let’s go to the store and look through your registers.”

Not far from the St. Stephen gate of the old city is the quaint building of the Italian school Studium Biblicum Franciscanum. The news about the tragic end of the traveling missionaries quickly reached the famous school.

“Professor, did you call for me?” asked Marco de Vicina, poking his head through the cracked door.

Dr. Vittorio Landini, professor of Old Testament and semitic languages for over twenty years at the Studium Biblicum, motioned for the student to enter. Marco stepped timidly into the office. Three walls were devoted to books and manuscripts, all neatly organized and in place, grouped by format and subject. Order reigned everywhere, from the bookshelves, to the work desk, empty excpet for a green-shaded reading lamp. Two stained-glass representations of Christ’s Nativity and Resurrection refracted a rich rainbow of color across the spacious office, its oak-wood floor shining under a glossy red lacquer. Next to the work desk, on the right side was a four legged table, on which rested a circular panel, tilted slightly. On the panel were several versions of the Old Testament: the Hebrew Masoretic text, the Greek translation, the Syriac translation, Jerome’s Latin version, Aramaic Targums, biblical fragments from the Qumran scrolls, and the Samaritan Pentateuch. On a second, smaller table, next to the Nativity window, was a model of Jerusalem in the pre-exilic period.

Dr. Landini was seated at the writing table on a tall chair, covered in green leather, pinned with brass buttons. Two brown leather chairs, shorter than the professor’s, were placed in front of the writing table. The professor, a well-built man of about sixty, stood up from the chair and motioned to Marco to sit.

“Marco, what is your schedule tonight?”

“What day is it? Oh, it’s Friday… Nothing special, professor. What can I do for you?”

“Dr. Tsur, the editor of the religious television show Axis Mundi has invited me to participate at a round table which will be broadcast live tomorrow night at 7 o’clock. The discussion will focus on the latest news regarding the identity of the two missionaries. Do you know who I’m talking about? The priest, Hunk, and the prophet Eliyahu, whose bodies were found in the old city today, not far from the Damascus gate. I do not have much time to prepare for the show, as you can imagine, and I asked some of our faculty for assistance. Your name came up because of your research on the Nephilim. I want you to tell me about your thesis research.”

“What is the connection between my Nephilim research and the two traveling missionaries?” asked Marco.

“That is precisely my question. I have some acquaintance with the two deceased and their particular evangelizing agenda, and my intuition tells me that there is a connection between the Nephilim and our two victims. Rather, I should say, I believe there is a connection between the Nephilim and…” he stopped abruptly, as if considering whether to divulge a closely held secret. Marco detected unrest in the professor’s eyes.

“Well, at any rate,” Landini continued, “I would like to hear what you think about the Nephilim.”

“What exactly are you interested in, regarding the Nephilim?” asked Marco hurriedly.

“First, tell me what you know about chronology. What do the biblical texts tell us about dates? And how do you interpret the language and the settings of these texts?” answered Dr. Landini. While he spoke, he opened a purple corduroy bag and slowly pulled out a few strings of tobacco. He filled his ivory pipe, tamping the tobacco with a golden metal rod. He scrpaed a match across his tinder box, held the flame over the tobacco, and drew deeply, a redolent wreath of smoke enfolding his face. The smell of vanilla and cherries quickly permeated the room as the professor sat back and nursed the pipe.

Marco began, “The word Nephilim appears three times in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, which makes it difficult to circumscribe its language area. The first text is Genesis 6:1-4. Professor, may I use your Bible versions?”

“Please,” answered professor Landini with a sweep of his hand.

Marco walked to the table and opened the Hebrew text to the Genesis text.

“The Hebrew text in the Masoretic reads: ‘When people began multiplying on the face of the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God, seeing how beautiful the men’s daughters were, chose from among them wives, each as he wanted. But the Lord God said: My Spirit will not remain forever in these people, because they are only body. Thus, let their days be a hundred and twenty years.’ The Nephilim were on the earth in those days and even after that, when the sons of God entered to the daughters of men, who bore them children. These are the heroes from antiquity, the renowned men.”

Professor Landini interrupted. “Here, as in other passages of the Old Testament, the language is very vague. The author seems to want to preserve a part of a mystery entrusted only to him, or to present in human words something that exceeds his capacity to understand. Who are these Nephilim? As I see it, the context does not help much in identifying them.”

“You are right, Professor. If we allow ourselves to be led by the syntax of the passage, the Nephilim could be the sons of God, the children born from the coming together of the sons of God with the daughters of men, or beings completely distinct, which were on Earth when the sons of God entered to the daughters of men.”

“However, the end of the passage is clear enough,” added professor Landini with his pipe dangling in the right corner of his mouth, “when it says that the Nephilim are the heroes from antiquity, the men of renown.”

“Yes, but we must continue on to the second occurrence of the Nephilim, in Numbers 13, where the term ‘Nephilim’ appears twice. The context of this passage is the return of the spies sent by Moses to the land of Canaan, in preparation for an Israelite invasion from the South. See what the spies say upon their return from Canaan in verses 13 to 32: ‘The land which we went to spy is a land which devours its inhabitants. All the people we have seen there are people of large size; there we saw Nephilim, the children of Anaq, who are descended from Nephilim. We ourselves seemed like locusts, and we must have seemed that way to them.’”

“Yes, yes, of course. But the Greek translation renders the Hebrew ‘Nephilim’ with the gigantes – giants, huge men,” Landini reminded Marco. “Why is this, do you think?”

“I believe that the authors of the Septuagint first read the passage from Numbers 13, where the inhabitants of Canaan are described as people of large size and the Israelite spies as locusts. According to Numbers, the Anaqites descended from the Nephilim. Since the Anaqites were very large people, it follows that their forefathers were also very large people. Thus the translation of Nephilim in the Greek as gigantes.”

“I agree with you, Marco, but the Hebrew language, I mean the particular dialect in which the text was written, seems to me to be more important. It goes, I would say, to the essence of these creatures.” Dr. Landini puffed vigorously on his pipe until he realized that it had completely gone out. He moved toward the table and opened his Hebrew lexicon.

“Just so you can see the influence of the Greek text not only in the interpretation of the Hebrew original, but also in lexical development as well, look here. You see that nephila in the ancient Aramaic texts and nephil in modern Hebrew both mean giant, monster, or deformed child. Moreover, the original term, conjugated as naphal, means ‘to abort’ in both Aramaic and modern Hebrew. It follows from this that the Nephilim are aborted giants. Furthermore, Nephilim derives from the verb meaning ‘to fall,’ and this gives us reason to translate the term as ‘the fallen ones.’”

“And this is the dilemma!” interrupted Marco. “What sort of fall does this term refer to?”

“Do not rush, Marco!” snapped Landini. “First, let us clarify the the meaning of the Hebrew phrase ‘the sons of God.’ Who are these sons of God?”

“According to 1 Enoch…” Marco began, but was cut short by Landini.

“Bah! That writing is apocryphal! Stay with the text at hand! Who are these sons of God?”

“The text is clear. There is a distinction between God, the almighty being, Adam, the human, earthly being. Specifically, the text makes a contrast between two sets of beings: earthly people, the daughters of men, and angels, beings from the heavenly, divine sphere.”

“So the sons of God are angels. But what kind of angels?” queried Landini, his lips curving lightly around the stem of the pipe.

“They are fallen angels,” Marco offered. “This is the fundamental meaning of the term Nephilim. But, fallen for where? To where to? And why? We can surmise several answers: fallen from heaven or fallen from grace. Fallen into sin. Or, perhaps fallen heroically, on the field of battle.”

“Excellent, Marco. And now, let us see what the journalists have to say about our two dead friends, shall we? It’s already eight o’clock. Let’s see the news” said Landini, as he turned on the television and switched to channel two.

…continuing our coverage of the mystery. We are live in front of the Damascus gate, where traffic has been completely stopped. Lines of police and army are patrolling and maintaining a cordon around the area where the two men were found dead this morning. As you can see, the restricted area has been extended beyond the road.

Ariel, this is David, in the studio. Can you tell us what the situation is within the Old City, beyond the Damascus Gate?

David, the situation is unclear at the moment. According to statements by the Jerusalem Police, the bodies of the two men are still in the plaza, beyond the gate. Experts in nuclear physics have discovered an intense radioactive field emanating from around the two bodies. Initial protective measures have already been taken, including covering the bodies with a lead structure. The Jerusalem Police have also stated that around 10 o’clock tonight, another lead object, in fact a large dome, will be brought here, and will be lowered by crane atop the lead cube. These structures are designed to protect the population from the radiation. Experts are trying to determine ways to safely remove the bodies in order to transport them to the Hadasa center for analysis.

Ariel, what can you tell us about the stage of the investigation? Are we dealing with a crime? Or…

David, police lieutenant Avi Nataniyahu is here with me. Lieutenant, can you tell us the nature of your invesitgation?

I can tell you that at this time that the police are looking for Shaul Dothan, who we believe has information that is crucial to the case.

Lieutenant, is Shaul Dothan considered a suspect or a witness?

We do not have a definite answer to that question at the moment, Ariel. According to a local store owner and to other witnesses, Mr Dothan has been seen consistently following or traveling with the two missionaries. We believe, based on our current evidence, that Mr. Dothan is connected to the deaths in some way.

Thank you, Lieutenant. Now back to you, David.

Thank you, Ariel. I have with me in the studio Dr. Mann, an expert in nuclear physics. Dr. Mann, can you offer any additional information regarding the apparent longevity of the two missionaries? Their ages have been estimated to be in the thousands of years. How is this possible?

David, the experts from Hadasa remain firmly convinced that the carbon dating results are correct. Unfortunately they have no explanation for the extraordinary longevity of the two missionaries.We continue to search for an answer to this vexing problem.

Thank you, Dr. Mann. We’ll have more information as developments unfold. I would like to remind our viewers that tomorrow night at 7 o’clock we will be hosting a round table with Christian and Jewish theologians. The moderator of tomorrow’s edition of Axis Mundi will be Dr. Michael Tsur, the editor of the show. Among the guests are two well-known biblical scholars, Dr. Vitorio Landini from the Franciscan Bible School, and Dr. Erika Shalom from the Hebrew University. Stay tuned to Channel 2 for the latest news and insightful commentaries…

Dr Landini powered off the television and ran a hand through his greying hair.

“Now,” said Landini “I know who will be on the other side of the table tomorrow night. Dr. Shalom is an expert in the Second Temple period. It should be a very interesting discussion…. Marco, let’s return to our business. Tell me what the ancient Jewish interpretation of Nephilim is in relation to the Christian one.”

“Both interpretations in the initial phase were in harmony with the hidden meaning of the text. Both interpreted the Nephilim as angels fallen from heaven. The oldest Jewish interpretation, from about five hundred years before Christ, is found in First Enoch 6-11 where the angels,, or Watchers of the heaven, appear parallel to the Sons of the heaven. The same opinion is shared by other writings of the Second Temple period, such as the Jubilees, the Testament of Reuben, and Second Baruch. Philo and Josephus follow the same direction. A few manuscripts in Greek support this interpretation, and actually substitute Angels of God for of sons of God. Rabbinical writings also held to this interpretation. As for Christian interpretation, in the New Testament, two passages, one in Second Peter and one in Judah, allude to the text of Genesis 6 when they mention the sin committed by angels. Such sin was punished by God by chaining the guilty parties in the abysses of the dark. The first Fathers of the Church, such as Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Irenaeus, and Ambrose, continued with this angelic interpretation. In the second and third centuries after Christ, both Judaic and Christian interpreters started to adopt an allegorical interpretation in which the sons of Elohim were understood as leaders or descendants of Seth. Cyril of Alexandria goes as far as to label the equivalence between the sons of God and angels as ‘perverse.’”

Landini nodded with approval. “Very good, Marco. I am impressed with the depth of your knowledge. I would mention also here the original interpretation offered by the Pseudo-Jonathan Targum, in which the term Nephilim was replaced with the phrase ‘Samhazaya and Azazel.’ This change was made under the influence of First Enoch, in which Semiaza and Azazel are the two leaders of the rebellious angels from Genesis 6.”

Landini turned his back to Marco and gazed at the colored panes of the Nativity. He stood this way for severl minutes, which seemed an eternity to Marco. The professor roused himself, ran a hand over his face, and turned back to the student. “That’s enough for now, Marco. Thank you very much for your assistance.”

“With all due respect, Professor, you haven’t told me what the connection between Nephilim and the two missionaries is.”

“All good things to those who wait, Marco. Be surprised. Watch the show tomorrow.”

“Of course, Professor Landini,” said Marco. Confused and more than a bit frustrated by the mysterious discussion, he left the office, still wondering what relevance his Nephilim research had for two modern deaths.

“Mr. de Marie, it is 8 A.M. You asked me to wake you up at this time. I’ve brought your breakfast, and your first meeting is at 10 o’clock this morning with Mr. Kurt Weiner, the representative of BioLab Incorporated. One other thing: Mr. Shaul wants to speak with you. He said it’s very urgent.”

“With him, everything is urgent. Put me through to him,” said Jean Michel, lazily rising from his pneumatic bed.

“Sir, Mr. Shaul is here. He is waiting in the antechamber.”

“What? Why didn’t you say so? Tell him to come in.”

“Good morning, Mr. de Marie.”

“What is the emergency?” asked Jean Michel, biting into a chocolate croissant.

“Mr. de Marie, I have been followed by the police. That damned Arab shopkeeper… I should have…”

“Shaul! Slow down and be clear! And keep calm! I don’t understand what you are saying. You are followed by the police? For what reason? And who is this ‘Arab shopkeeper’ you are cursing?”

“Mr. de Marie, the police have searched my apartment and are searching the city for me as we speak, and you tell me to be calm? Have you not seen the news? The shopkeeper Ibrahim Kutal, the one who found the bodies, and based on what he has told the police, I have become their primary suspect in the deaths in the Old City. I looked for you last night, but you were away. I stayed with a friend last night. Around six this morning I sneaked into my apartment on Herzel Street. Open drawers, chairs upside-down… Ransacked!”

“You should leave Jerusalem for a while,” answered de Marie.

“But the worst thing is that the police have looked through the drawers, through the nightstand next to the bed. They have found a copy of the letter from Dr. Lefevre to you, Jean Michel.”

“No! No, it’s not possible… This cannot be!” shouted Jean Michel with desperation. “You couldn’t hide that letter in a better place than your damned nightstand? Damn it!”

Jean Michel paced the room with long angry strides. He spun abruptly, cursed Shaul again and turned on the television to Channel 2.

The weather will remain warm, with light precipitation in the afternoon. And now back to you, David.

Thank you, Deborah. The events near the Damascus Gate are unfolding at an extraordinary pace. The news is extraordinary A relative calm has descended over the are of the Damascus Gate for now, but during the last twenty-four hours it has been the center of attention for millions of television viewers around the world. All the major international networks have sent reporters there…

Shaul shrieked as images cascaded across the screen. He waved his arms, and jabbed his finger toward the television, “Jean Michel, that’s him, that’s him! That’s the the Arab shopkeeper, Ibrahim Kutal.”

“Quiet!” thundered Jean Michel. “I want to hear what they’re saying.”

…As you can see from the images taken last night, a huge lead dome was lowered by crane on top of another lead container which had been placed over the two bodies yesterday morning. Unexplained radiation continues to emanate from the two bodies, but experts are certain that the population will now be protected from its harmful effects. According to the latest opinions, the two bodies are, in fact, the source of the radiation, but nobody has found an explanation for this strange phenomenon. I have with me in the studio, Dr. Mann, who has been providing us with critical commentary since the discovery of the bodies. Dr. Mann, what can you tell us about the attempts to recover the two bodies and transport them to the Hadasa Center for analysis?

David, as I said yesterday, our experts continue to be baffled by the radiation, and we have been unable to agree upon a course of action for safely removing, transporting, and analyzing the bodies. If they are indeed the radiation source – and based upon our current evidence, I personally believe they are – then the most intelligent thing would be to leave them under the lead dome until we can develop some way to attenuate the radiation and lessen the hazards it poses to the police and army, to our scientists, and to the public…

Jean Michel picked up his cell phone and stabbed a finger at the keypad, his eyes still glued to the television screen.

“Gideon… Yes… I wanted to ask if you have spoken to Dr. … What? And?… I understand… Very well … Yes, yes, I believe around 9 o’clock. What do you think?… 10?… Very well. Yes, that’s fine… Ha! Let them stew in their own juices… I can’t wait to see their long faces… Of course. We’ll speak tonight. Beseder. Le-hitraot.”

And now, for other news related to this story: The Jerusalem Police have searched the apartment of Shaul Dothan. According to official sources, he is implicated in the deaths of the two men in the Old City. The police continue actively looking for this man. We are informed by Aron Weiser, spokesman for the Jerusalem police, that investigator’s found a very strange letter in Mr. Dothan’s apartment. This letter seems to confirm Mr. Dothan’s involvement with the two deceased men, and also imdicates that other international figures may also be involved. Mr. Weiser will make this letter available for broadcast as soon as possible, so we ask that you stay tuned to Channel 2 for the latest news and commentary…

“Jean Michel, I told you…” whispered Shaul. “They have found the letter! I told you, we are lost!”

“Are you afraid, Shaul?” A menacing scowl darkened Jean Michel’s face. “You should be. Idiot! Get away from here at once and do not come back. Leave this to me. Find a safe place to hide. I must meet with Kurt at 10 o’clock. I will find you when this situation cools a bit. Now go!”

…For more than half an hour, we have been debating the Nephilim in Genesis 6, and Numbers 13, but we have not answered the main question: Why were the fallen angels looking for union with the daughters of men?Dr. Landini?

From the perspective of Biblical exegesis and Christian theology, the angels fallen from grace had become jealous of humanity, who were created after the image of God. The angelts tried by every means to corrupt this image. The first attempt was in the Garden of Eden, in the shadow of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. I think Dr. Shalom will agree with me that the image of God as it is presented in Genesis represents both the unity and diversity of humanity. In Hebrew this is presented in the use of the word ‘adam.’ Unlike the rest of creation, man was created in at least two phases. The first was as a general humanness, not differentiated by gender, reflecting the unity of the species. Then, humanity was rendered as male and female, equal but different partners in the ongoing dialogue of life. Therefore, just as the Christian God is one, but consists of three distinct persons, so humanity has one essence, with distinct genders and personalities. This imagery of God is based on the syntax from Genesis 1: ‘and God said, Let us make humanity after our image and likeness … and God made humanity after his image; after his image, God created it. Male and female he made them.’ Every person who enters the world following the union of male and female carries the image of God. That is, the unity of nature but also the difference, or diversity, of person in relation to parents and other people.

Dr. Landini, you have mentioned that the hybridization process initiated by the Nephilim had as its goal the corruption of the image of God. Could you expand on this idea?

The gigantic hybrids, the Nephilim, born out of the union of the fallen angels with the daughters of man, cannot be according to the image of God, because they lack the unity of essence of their parents, even though they inherit the personal differences of the parents, an angel and a human woman. They belong to two different realms, namely, the earthly and the divine. And if there is any one thing which differentiates specifically the human species from all the others, it is the profound, mysterious, essential unity between man and woman, both of who belonging to the earthly realm. Genesis 1-2 is unique among the religious writings from antiquity, in saying that God created first the conjugal pair, then the groom and the bride. The Nephilim tried at any cost to destroy this unity, and, through it, the foremost place of the human species within the mosaic of creation.

Dr. Shalom, I noticed that you’d like to add to Dr. Landini’s observations.

Yes, I would. In principle, I agree with Dr. Landini, with one additional remark: the Old Testament tells us that not only man, but also animals, were punished through the Flood. Why the animals also, when we know that only the daughters of men accepted the conjoining with the angels? From here, the conclusion of the old interpreters that the angels wanted to corrupt the entire creation. The Book of Jubilees, chapter 5, verse 2 written in the second century before the Common Era goes so far as to affirm that the Nephilim had sinned against the wild animals and the birds and everything moving on the earth. It is as if these rebellious or fallen angels had wanted to tell the Name above all names, ‘Move aside, because we can create a better world than the one built by you.’ The conjoining of the sons of God with the daughters of men is just one example of the cosmic disarray described in chapters 1 through 6 of Genesis.

One final question: Why did the daughters of men accept this conjoining?

Probably, in their wish to gain longevity and immortality. My hypothesis is based on Genesis chapter 6, verse 3, where God establishes the age of 120 as a limit for human life. This was a punishment for the abnormal union between the two levels of creation. I suggest that the daughters of men wanted to try to gain the ability, at least for their children, to live a longer life.
I thank you both. This is Michael Tsur with ‘Axis Mundi.’ Let’s return to the news studio for an update on the latest developments in the Old City. David, back to you!

Thank you, Michael. This is David Lieberman with a news brief. An hour ago the Jerusalem police made available to the press the letter found in Shaul Dotham’s apartment. The text of the letter will be read and commented upon in the second part of ‘Axis Mundi’ with Dr. Michael Tsur, immediately following this news brief. Now, a few images from the Damascus Gate, where groups of onlookers have gathered on the road where traffic has been stopped. As you can see, three cars bearing the emblem of the Hadasa Center are parked in the immediate vicinity of the gate. We have been told that, after midnight, a very detailed recovery operation will be undertaken for the two bodies underneath the lead dome. They will then be taken to the physics laboratory of the Hadasa Center for analysis. Around 11 o’clock tonight, we will have our cameras at the Damascus Gate and will broadcast live the recovery operation of the bodies. This has been a short news brief. Now back to ‘Axis Mundi’ with Dr. Michael Tsur.

Thank you, David. With me in the studio are Dr. Erika Shalom from the Hebrew University, specialist in the Hebrew Bible and the literature of the period of the Second Temple, and Dr. Vittorio Landini from the Studium Biblicum Fraciscanum, specialist in the Old Testament and Semitic languages and civilizations. We have also been joined by Dr. Ariel Rosen, a biologist from the Hadasa Center. But first, the latest development in the deaths of the two missionaries in the Old City. Earlier this morning, Jerusalem Police began an intensive search for Mr. Shaul Dothan, a person of interest in the investigation. They gained access to his apartment and searched it, discovering a mysterious letter. The police have made this letter available to Channel 2 News. In addition, the Jerusalem Police found in the apartment a wooden box containing a few strands of hair, several photos, and a clay tablet with a brief cuneiform inscription. The paper of the letter is yellowed by time, and the edges seem to have been singed or burned. I will now read this letter in its entirety, after which I would like the opinions of our eminent guests. The letter is dated 20 August 1967. It is signed by Dr. Luc Lefevre, a French embryologist living in the Yemeni capital, Aden. He wrote the letter to his son, Jean Michel.

“My dear Jean Michel, when you grow up and will be able to read these lines, I will have long been gone to your ancestors. Even though I call you my son, you have to understand that I am not your natural father, but merely the humble servant of your coming into this world of Elyon, the Highest One. Your mother, the Marie Fontaine, was a cabaret singer. She died at dawn on 16 July 1966 when you were seeing daylight for the first time. You would ask who your father was. I avoided this subject for too many years, but I would like to reveal to you a great secret. Jean Michel, your father lived thousands of years ago and was a famous strategist, a brave man who tried to change the world in which we live, but ended, together with his soldiers, in the waters of the great disaster. In the box which contains this letter there is also a clay tablet with a brief inscription in Akkadian. This is what the inscription says:

ki-ma-il-lu DUMU bi-nu DINGIR sa-am-ya-za ina u-mi na-pi-li-im pa-ni ma-bu-li “’Kimail, the son of the god Samyaza, in the days of the Nephilim, before the flood.’

“Jean Michel, this inscription speaks of your family. Your father was named Samyaza, and your twin brother Kimail. Your brother died young, around the age of 6 or 8. The tablet with the Akkadian inscription was found by French archaeologists in your brother’s sarcophagus. Your brother’s mummy is over seven thousand years old, but the Akkadian inscription was added much later, about twenty-five hundred years before the Common Era. In the box which you are now holding in your hand are a few strands of brown hair. I collected those from Kimail’s head when I was working as an embryologist at the French clinic Notre Dame des Pauvres in Aden, Yemen. To my surprise, I found a few hair follicles still alive after thousands of years. From one of the live cells, I extracted the DNA. I then inserted this material into an ovum donated by Marie Fontaine. I then used an electric spark to trigger the cell division, creating an embryo in lab conditions. I implanted the embryo in Marie Fontaine, who had long wanted a child. This is how Marie became pregnant with you, Jean Michel. Since your mother died at birth and I am old and ill, I have left you in the care of the nuns from Notre Dame des Pauvres in Aden. And if you allow me to give you a piece of advice, Jean Michel: Never forget the fate of your father, the prince Samyaza.”

This is the text of the mysterious letter, found in Shaul Dothan’s apartment in Jerusalem. Dr. Shalom, Dr Landin, Dr. Rosen… Comments? Questions?

Dr. Tsur, just who is this Jean Michel? Do we know? It seems to me that we have here the first case of human cloning, and that he is the first human clone.

Dr. Rosen, I appreciate your question. The identity of Jean Michel remains unknown to us at the moment, also there is speculation that it might be Jean Michel de Marie, the international software tycoon. This is, of course, merely conjecture, suggested by a journalist familiar with Mr. de Marie’s biography.

Dr. Tsur, if I can interrupt…

Of course, Dr. Landini.

My hypothesis is derived largely from the book of First Enoch. Samyaza, according to Enoch, was the leader of the rebelling angels. He was said to have told his servants, ‘I am afraid that you will not agree with this deed, the union with the daughters of man, and I will remain alone responsible for this great sin.’ But all replied with one voice, ‘Let us swear and let us bind ourselves with the curse, that we do not shy away from this deed.’ Then they all swore and bound one another by a curse. And altogether they numbered about 200. And they went down on Ardos, which is the top of the Hermon Mountain, and they named this mountain ‘curse,’ because there they swore and bound themselves by a curse.

So Kimail is therefore one of the hybrids born from the union of the sons of God, that is, the angels under the leadership of Samyaza, and the daughters of men. His name, in Akkadian, means “like a god,” and it is reminiscent of the arrogance of ‘Heylel,’ the shining one, the ‘son of Shahar,’ of dawn, from Isaiah 14:14, who had said to himself, ‘I will climb upon the back of the clouds, and I will be like the Most High.’ The same name for god, ‘Elyon,’ is used in Lefevre’s letter to Jean Michel. Kimail, therefore, sits in direct opposition to Michael, another archangel of Elyon, whose name in Hebrew means ‘Who is like God?’ and expresses humility and respect towards the Creator.

Thank you, Dr. Landini, for your pertinent observation. I would like to ask Dr. Rosen his opinion about human cloning. Is it possible? What are the risks, compared to animal cloning?

Dr. Tsur, from the start, I would like to say that the cloning of any organism is not without risks. Rapid aging and deformities are perhaps the most important risks. The huge stature of the Nephilim mentioned on this show is not far from the somatic deformities encountered in cloning. In normal reproduction, the two cells, the egg and the spermatozoa, contribute equally to the genetic material of the child. In cloning the genetic material is predominantly, perhaps entirely, determined by the DNA of the material injected into the host ovum.

Dr. Tsur, I would like to make an observation, based on what Dr. Rosen has just said.

Go ahead, Dr. Landini.

From the point of view of theology, in cloning, just as in the union with the Nephilim, the contribution of the feminine part is drastically diminished. The unity of nature of the two reproductive factors, female and male, is disturbed or, in theological terms, darkened, overshadowed. And, again, theologically speaking, the main characteristic of the human species is its essential unity.

Dr. Rosen, is it possible, and do you believe that this Jean Michel is a clone?

Until I know for certain who this Jean Michel is, I cannot make a judgment. I do believe, however, that human cloning is possible, and it is likely that ir has been – or, if not, will be in the near future – accomplished. In theory, any embryologist with access to a lab can accomplish it.

Please excuse me, but we need to interrupt the show for a news brief with David Lieberman, live from the Damascus Gate. He has new information regarding the deaths in the Old City.

Thank you, Michael. This is David Lieberman, at the Damascus gate. A few minutes ago we were told by the spokesperson for the Jerusalem Police that they have confirmed the identity of the Jean Michel referred to in the letter. He is none other than Jean Michel de Marie. That’s right: Jean Michel de Marie, the international software magnate. As for Shaul Dothan, in whose apartment the letter was found, he has been identified as a member on the executive board of Mr. de Marie’s multinational comglomerate. The police have listed Mr. de Marie as another person of interest in the case of the two deaths in the Old City yesterday, and he is being sought in connection with Shaul Dothan. In addition to this, the Police and Hadasa scientists continue with preparations for the retrieval of the two bodies from underneath the lead dome, and their removal to the Hadasa facilities.

David, this is Michael. Tell us, please, with all the restrictions placed around the Damascus Gate, will we be able to look inside the Old City when the two bodies will be removed from the lead dome?

Michael, I have great news for our viewers. An hour ago, I was selected together with nine other reporters to enter the plaza and take pictures. I will broadcast again later from the plaza beyond the Damascus Gate.

Thank you, David. This is Michael Tsur with Axis Mundi, with our panel, Dr. Landini, Dr. Shalom, and Dr. Rosen. Dr. Rossen, what do you think about this confirmation of the identity of Jean Michel de Marie?

I believe this news is absolutely sensational. About a week ago the Wall Street Journal published an interview with Mr. de Marie, in which it said that he was of French origin and that he spent a good part of his childhood and adolescence in Yemen. So what Dr. Lefevre has written seems to match what we know as reality!

What is the connection between Jean Michel de Marie and Shaul Dothan on the one hand and the two traveling missionaries from the Damascus Gate on the other? What would the multimillionaire de Marie and his associate Dothan have to gain from the elimination of two poor missionaries whom even the children did not take seriously?

Dr. Tsur, I think the connecting point is the Nephilim of Genesis 6:1-4.

Dr. Landini, please expound on that.

Let’s take into account first the ages given by the Hadasa center and Dr. Lefevre. Hunk was alive seven thousand six hundred and fifty years. Kimail, the son of Samyaza, chief of the Nephilim was alive about seven thousand, two hundred and ninety years ago. Between the two there is an interval of approximately three hundred and sixty years. Now, if we admit that Hunk is one and the same with the biblical Enoch, which is very plausible from a linguistic standpoint, then based on Genesis chapter 5, verses 25 through 29, the time between Hunk and Samyaza is covered by Methuselah and Lamech, the son and grandson of Enoch, respectively. And since Lamech is the father of Noah, we can assume that Kimail died in the days of Noah.

For your audience, I should mention that Enoch is one of the most mysterious characters in the Bible. Genesis tells us that ‘Enoch walked to and fro with God; he was no longer, because God took him.’ Enoch did not die, but was taken by God, into the heavens, I suppose. The expression ‘he walked to and fro with God’ is found twice in the Old Testament: here, and in the case of Noah, expressing a special intimacy between God and the two righteous men of the Old Testament, Enoch and his great-grandson, Noah.

I should also add that the name ‘Enoch’ derives from a verbal root composed of the consonants h-n-k. This verb means ‘to dedicate, or consecrate,’ and generally is taken to mean consecrated by God. ‘Hunk’ is simply an older, alternate version of that same set of consonants.

Dr. Landini, forgive my interruption, but our producer has informed me that we have live on the phone none other than Dr. Luc Lefevre! Good evening, Dr. Lefevre. I will ask you from the start the one thing that is on everyone’s mind at this time: are you the author of the letter which has just been read on Channel Two?

I have no connection with the letter which you have broadcast on this show.

Do you know Jean Michel de Marie?

Jean Michel has been my friend since he was a student at Sorbonne. I was introduced to him by Sister Sylvia, a nun from the Notre Dame des Pauvres facility in Aden, Yemen.

What can you tell us about Jean Michel?

I know he was orphaned at a very young age.

The letter seems to generate a great deal of confusion. Would you, in principle, be willing to submit to a DNA test?

Yes, of course, I have nothing against that. I called in order to clear up any misunderstanding regarding my good name, and I will cooperate in any way that I can. I would like to arrange to meet with Dr. Rosen and Dr. Landini as soon as possible, in fact, in order to clear this up.

Dr. Lefevre, thank you very much for your call. Our producer will take your contact information, and as soon as our discussion is finished, he will assist Dr. Rosen and Dr. Landini with scheduling a meeting. And now, back to the round table. Colleagues, what do you think about Dr. Lefevre and this very timely phone call? Dr Rosen?

Did you notice how promptly he answered when I asked about the DNA test? That would seem to indicate that he may very well be innocent of involvement. On the other hand, he might have been coached for this interview. We should also consider that if we are truly living in world in which human cloning is possible and real, then it would be no problem to create a facsimile of the real Dr. Lefevre. All that would be needed is one live cell from the true Dr. Lefevre.

Dr. Landini, before Dr. Lefevre’s telephone, you said that Enoch was consecrated for a time or event similar to the one lived by the Nephilim. What were you talking about?

In the Book of Matthew, Jesus compared the coming of the Son of Man at the end of the age to the coming of the flood in the days of Noah: ‘And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man; as in the days before the flood men ate and drank, they married and were given in marriage until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and took them all, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.’ Moreover, in his second epistle, Peter saw in the flood a type of the end of the world: ‘That through them (the waters) the world died then, drowned by water. As for the present earth and heavens, they, by the same word are held and kept for the fire of Judgment Day and for the destruction of unbelievers.’ If we read the text from Matthew in combination with second Peter, we get a picture of the flood as a example of the end of the world. This leads us to understand that both the Flood and the coming of the Son of Man are precipitated by similar events. At the end of the world we will be witnesses of a similar episode of unnatural union between the fallen angels, that is, the Nephilim, and the daughters of men. In my opinion, human cloning can be such an episode. Cloning, like the acts of the Nephilim, has the same effect: the overshadowing of the image of God in man. It is the attempt to usurp the role of God, and it violates the essential unity of nature shared by humanity. If Enoch was the witness of the first episode, he will also be the witness of the last episode concerned with the corruption of God’s image. I suggest, therefore, that Hunk’s presence here might signal the time when humanity will be confronted with its arrogance, and its efforts to take on the role and creative undertakings of God.

Dr. Landini, this is an awesome, an incredible thing to say, do you realize that? I think I understand what you are getting at, and I suppose that it is possible, of course, but your claim is stunning in its audacity. You nonchalantly assert that cloning is a biblical event that is going to bring about the end of the world? Possibly the end of time? That cloning might even bring about the second coming of God? And that cloning is a repetition of the Genesis episode of the Nephilim? If, and I emphasize IF, this were true, what would Jean Michel de Marie, an international industrialist, and perhaps a cloned Nephilim, gain from the murder of two traveling missionaries?

Dr. Shalom, the Book of Revelation mentions two witnesses who will appear at the end of time. Christian tradition saw in the two witnesses Elijah and Enoch, who did not die but were taken, through God’s power, to Heaven and kept there for the end times. ‘And I will give my two witnesses power and they will prophesy, wearing sackcloth, a thousand two hundred and sixty days. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands who sit before the Lord of the earth. And if someone wants to harm them, fire comes out of their mouths and consumes their enemies; and if someone wanted to harm them, so he has to be killed. These have the power to close up the heavens so that rain should not fall in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over the waters to change them into blood and to bring upon the earth any plague as often as they would want. And when they finished their witness, the beast which rises from the deep will war against them and will overcome them and will kill them. And their bodies will lie in the center of the great city which is symbolically called Sodom and Egypt, where the Lord was also crucified. And for three and a half days the men of the nations and ethnies and tongues and peoples will look at their lifeless bodies and will not allow that their dead bodies be placed in a grave.’

Interesting text, Dr. Landini. According to the religious calendar, we are right now in the third day, if we reckon each day to start at evening time. This means that for almost three days the bodies have been lying under the lead dome. Can we expect the second coming or the next flood or the end of time by tomorrow morning?

We must pay close attention to the details of the texts, Dr. Tsur…

Pardon me. Dr. Landini. We are being joined again live by our reporter near the Old City.

This is David Lieberman reporting live from the Damascus Gate. I do not know precisely what is going on, but I was just now told by the Mishtara that the ten reporters previously chosen can now approach the entrance to the Old City. In a few moments we will be able to broadcast the first live pictures from within the city and show the process underway to remove and transport the bodies of the two men dead since Friday. Viewers around the world will witness a meticulous operation that has never beofre been undertaken. We do not know the degree of radioactivity around the dome, or if these bodies are still emanating radiation. We have, however, received protective suits. The Hadasa specialists have taken all the possible precautions. Nonetheless, there is a significant risk of contamination.

We are now approaching the dome inside the Gate, and a Mishtara officer is motioning for us to keep our distance. The army and the police have some very sophisticated technology in use here, including the robot you can see approaching the lead dome. This robot, according to the Hadasa experts, is capable of multiple tasks. It will partially lift the dome, detect the radiation levels coming from within, and ultimately will wrap the bodies in a protective sheath and then extract them for transport.

There seems to be a power failure here in the Old City. The only functioning light source is that of the robot. The robot seems to have succeeded in lifting the dome, and now another will enter and raise the cube. The hardest task will come next; wrapping and removing the bodies without damaging them.

The second robot has lifted the cube. It has multiple appendages, and wraps the bodies while lifting the cube over the bodies. Oh, my… There has been a blinding flash of light, like the flash of hundreds of camera bulbs. It’s extraordinary… There’s nothing under the cube! The bodies of the two missionaries have disappeared without a trace, and the robots detect no further radioactivity! This is incredible!

There is literally nothing left of these bodies. It’s like they have been incerated, but without leaving behind even a fistful of ash. The only mark is the distinct contour of the outline of the two bodies on the pavement. The police and army are frantic, and there is a general feeling of mayhem here inside the Gate. Considering the security which has reigned over the plaza for these past three days, and the dome and the lead cube… Even if the police had not been here to guard the place, who would have had the means to lift up the two lead structures?

David, it seems as though we have a new mystery, as if we had not had enough already!

Michael, the Mishtara have demanded that we cease broadcasting immediately. This is David Lieberman, signing off.

The panel sat stunned, staring into silent black monitors, their hands and bodies frozen around the discussion table.

This is, uh… um, Michael Tsur, with uh, Axis Mundi. We have just witnessed something extraordinary… I would ask my guests for their final comments, their conclusions about this unbelievable set of circumstances. Dr. Shalom?

Is it perhaps possible that the excessive radioactivity somehow caused the incineration and disappearance of the bodies? When David, the reporter, was talking about the disappearance, I was reminded of Third Enoch, chapter 15, where Enoch, ready to be taken up to heaven, is first transformed into a fiery flame. ‘When the Holy one, blessed be He, took me to serve the throne of glory, the wheels of the chariot and everything connected to Shekina, to Glory, as quick as a blink my flesh became flame, my muscles a strong fire, my bones lit coals, my eyelids sparks, my pupils lit torches, my hair burning flames, all my joints fiery wings, and all the substance of my body into a consuming fire.’ I wonder if it could be that Dr. Landini was right to surmise that the end approaches, that these two men killed in the City are the precursors of the return of God to earth in consummation… whether we are witnessing the end of time

Dr. Rosen? As a scientist, you must have some feeling, some reaction to all of this?

In the face of mystery – and here we have a mystery – we all agree, in the face of mystery science remains silent. Personally, however, I am moved by the passion of Dr. Shalom and the wisdom presented by Dr. Landini. If we are seeing something as catastrophic as they indicate

Dr. Landini? What sense can you help us to make of this? Are these developments biblical? Are we seeing the prophecies of Revelation coming to pass

Dr. Tsur, I was citing from Revelation, when David began his broadcast. Not one of us imagined that the bodies under the dome could have disappeared without a trace. And yet, they are no longer there. After three days the dome was taken aside. The cube was also lifted. But no trace of the bodies. Perhaps it is best that we meditate further upon the words of the Revelation: ‘And after three and a half days, breath, or spirit, of life from God entered in them and they stood on their legs; and great fear fell on those who were looking at them. And they heard a powerful voice from heaven saying: Rise up here! And they rose to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies looked upon them. And in that hour was a great earthquake; and a tenth of the city fell and in the earthquake died about seven thousand people; and the others were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven

This seems a fitting passage to bring an end to our discussion. I would like to thank my guests, Dr. Aron Rosen, Dr. Erika Shalom, and Dr Vittorio Landini for their insights and analysis and for their excellent company here in the studio as these mysterious and frightening developments unfolded. This is Dr. Michael Tsur, wishing you a good night.

Is that you, Kurt?

It’s not Kurt, Jean Michel. It’s someone whom you know very well.

Who are you? I cannot see you. Come into the light.

You speak about light?! Your father would not be proud of you if he heard you calling me to light.

Who are you? How did you come in? The doors were locked.

Locked?

Yes, just as it was on that Sunday when he stood in their midst… How did I enter? It is not your business to know how I entered. In any case, not the way you, Kimail, entered this world, of Elyon.

Kurt… There’s someone in your office! Kurt…

Shouting will not help you! Kurt left an hour ago for Tel Aviv, for the airport there. You thought you were safe in Kurt’s house? You are wrong. The police are on your trail.

Who are you? What do you want? Money? How much?

Money?! Bah! What would I do with it? To sell my friend during the night, among the heaps boiling of fresh oil?

Who are you?

Calm down and you will find out, if you are as smart as it was written… Or are you Mr. Number One because you worshiped the voice on the Mount of Karanthania?

Shaul?

You call for Shaul in vain. He has gone for a long walk along the dark and narrow roads of the Old City following a traveling missionary… Jean Michel, you made a big mistake when you sent Shaul to Ibrahim to buy peanuts. Those peanuts will cost you an eternity.

I don’t understand…

You know very well of what I speak, my friend. Do not pretend otherwise.

Shaul! Shaul!

Shaul does not hear you. Call, rather, on Elyon and He will hear you from His holy Mountain.

Elyon? Who is Elyon?

Do you know what your greatest mistake was, Jean Michel? It was the same one as your father, prince Samyaza. You both wanted to destroy the image of Elyon, with which humanity was sealed and destined from the day of creation. But you did not succeed. And do you know why? Because you did not differentiate between the original and the reflection of the image of the original. Have you heard of Bar Enosh, Jean Michel? He is the Son of Man, whose origin is in the days of old, from eternity? Have you heard of him? He who forever was, is, and shall be next to the ‘One Ahead of Days’? Bar Enosh is the original, after whom humanity was created. As much as you would try to destroy the image, the earthly reflection, the original remains untouched, next to the throne of Elyon.

There is no Bar Enosh next to Elyon!

No? Ask Michael and he will tell you who Bar Enosh is.

I know no Michael and I do not want to know anything about Bar Enosh.

Even if you do not want to know about him, I am here to proclaim that Bar Enosh is ready to come down on Mount Olivet.

Olivet… Who are you?

Look more carefully.

Hunk? Oh, no!