“So, who the Hell is Qoheleth?” - Ongoing Text

What had been, is what will be. There is nothing new under the sun.


Josephus was a budding philosopher of Jewish descent in Damascus of Hellenistic times, when he took a bet that he could produce a decent work of philosophy, and wrote the Biblical scroll of Ecclesiastes. Soon after that, he became the most notorious celebrity in his town, made a moderate fortune from donations of enthusiastic fans of the scroll, and became annoyed by the fact that he has become the object of affection of nearly every single young female in his town.

However, nothing could prepare Josephus to the day he ran into a trio of female Celtic travellers, who provide him with many questions, including the million dollar question, “Who is the Qoheleth (Now)?”.

This is an illustrated screenplay inspired by the #SummerNSA effort and set in a time of great confusion — not unlike our own.

So, Who the Hell is Qoheleth?

About this screenplay

[ An illustrated screenplay about what happened to the author of the scroll of Ecclesiastes/Qoheleth shortly after writing it. ]

[ This text is Copyright by Shlomi Fish, 2014 and is made available under the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share-Alike 3.0 Unported Licence (CC-by-nc-sa) (or at your option - any later version). ]

[ "Is" in Aramaic resembles "jehovah" a lot there.

Because "yihiyeh" is present/future.

Some people thought that jehovah meant "He who is/will be" ]

Introducing Josephus

[ Black screen. Initial Credits. ]

[ Text on the screen: Damascus, circa 300 B.C. ]

Voice of Jacob: So, who the hell is Qoheleth?

[ Showing Josephus. ]

Josephus: I’m getting asked that a lot. It could be King Solomon - it could be someone else.

Jacob: Yes, I see now. Anyway, as blasphemous as this Qoheleth thing of yours is - it brought great appreciation to the Jews of this town. Respect!

[ Jacob hits Josephus on the shoulder - Josephus sways a little. ]

Josephus: Thank you! Anyway, do not take it too seriously - it’s just cheap entertainment, as philosophy goes.

Jacob: Cheap or not, philosophy is big business, and who knows - it may prove of utility one day.

[ Illustration: Stand-up philosopher . ]

Josephus: Yes, maybe, and it’s definitely fun.

Jacob: Well, we’d better be going - was nice running into you.

[ They part. Josephus’ Voice == Josephus’ Monologue. ]

Josephus’ Voice: So here it is. My name is Yoseph in Hebrew or Josephus in Greek. I lived in Damascus my whole life, and received both Jewish and Greek education. I’m still unmarried, virginal, and under constant pressure from my family to marry a nice Jewish girl, and have children.

Josephus’ Voice: I was a moderately successful and minor philosopher-wannabe, which my merchant father looked down on as a pointless and unprofitable profession.

Josephus’ Voice: Several months ago, my good Greek friend’s brother, who is a successful merchant as well, but who likes philosophy a lot, made a bet with me that I could not write a good work of philosophy. I spent about two months writing the scroll of Qoheleth, and after reciting it in Aramaic and Greek, I got several standing ovations and people donated like crazy. Now it seems that everyone had it memorised, and they think it’s awesome.

Josephus’ Voice: Since then I got so much money that I’ve become too ashamed to collect the bet money which is quite dwarfed by what I have now.

Josephus’ Voice: That’s not the worst part.

[ Scene showing many attractive girls pointing at Josephus, smiling, giggling and lusting him. ]

Josephus’ Voice: They all want me!

The Egyptian Girls

[ Josephus eyes three attractive Egyptian girls, pointing at him and giggling. ]

Josephus’ Voice: Oh, great, Egyptians! Widely considered to be the most desirable and beautiful girls. Stay strong, Josephus, act nonchalantly - just ignore them.

[ He passed by them only to hear one say «A good name is better than good oil» ( http://biblehub.com/ecclesiastes/7-1.htm ) in perfect Aramaic. ]

Josephus: Oh! God help Me! [Out loud while trying to obscure his view.]

Egyptian Girl #1: Hey, Josephus?

Josephus: Yes?

Egyptian Girl #1: I'm sorry, we were just teasing you. You must get that a lot.

Josephus: Yes, I do.

Egyptian Girl #1: I can feel for you. Anyway, we loved your "Qoheleth" thing and we memorised it all. It's awesome.

Josephus: Yes, most people say that.

Egyptian Girl #1: Listen my name is $NAME, I live in $LOCATION, and I'm still unmarried. So, if you’re interested…

Josephus: Thanks for the offer, I’ll consider it.

Egyptian Girl #1: Thanks! My oldest brother is also infatuated with your scroll, and I’m sure he’ll agree to the marriage.

Josephus: You know you’ll have to convert to Judaism?

Egyptian Girl #1: Yes, I’m cool with that.

Josephus: Thanks, I’ll consider it.

Meeting the Celtic trio

[ Josephus leaves the scene encouraged, and later on is approached by a girl who wears a hood, who requests that he follows her and tells him that she can pay him generously for his time. He can see through the hood that her face is pale and that she has sunburns. She takes him to a restaurant which is shaded, and there are two other girls there: one blonde and the other with red/orange coloured-hair. They are Celts .

The other girl (Athena) pulls down her hood, and she is blonde as well. ]

Athena: Hello Josephus, thanks for coming to meet us. We are three Celtic girls from the village near the salt mine in the alps. We wanted to travel all the way to Alexandria, but given our sunburns, I guess that’s not going to happen.

Athena: My Greek name is Athena. This is Selena, and Alexis. Will you care for some wine or grape juice? Kosher of course, not that we’ll ever willingly drink the non-kosher excuses for them again.

Josephus: Nice to meet you all. I wish there was something I could do to prevent or fight these sun-burns of yours, but unfortunately, our practice of medicine is not so advanced yet. In general, we believe you should stay in the shade, and get plenty of fluids.

Josephus: From what I read about your people, you tend to be predominantly blond, and I also notice that Selena is a redhead. Is it common there?

Athena: Oh, yes, quite common. From what we noticed, here it tends to be extremely rare.

Josephus: Yes, King David was reportedly a “Reddish and with beautiful eyes” , which indicates that back when that scripture was written, it was notable, but not unthinkable.

Josephus: Anyway, right now, I only have two Jewish redhead relatives: my cousins - a boy and a girl.

Athena: And what happened to them?

Josephus: Oh, what happened to the girl cousin is a really interesting story. See: there's this other girl - Greek, black hair, brown eyes, bronze skin - actually she's the younger sister of the guy who challenged me to write the scroll - and a very rebellious character. She’s been making a lot of philosophers here angry with her offputting comments, and nearly got herself killed or injured several times.

Selena: “Nearly”… “nearly” is the key word.

Josephus: Yes, possibly. Anyway, although certainly pretty, I’ve known far more beautiful girls here, but, but… men go mad over her! She’s been courted by princes and by some of the richest merchants, and… philosophers wrote many love songs praising and idealising her beauty. And that bitch doesn’t accept any of her suitors.

Josephus: And so did my good Greek friend, Alexander, who started by writing some poems to her which I didn’t like, and told him why. So he ended up improving slowly but surely, until he wrote a truly great poem about her, and people loved it.

Josephus: Then Horkenea — that’s her name — told him, while crying, that she loved the song, but that she still is not going to marry him.

Alexis: The Bitch!

Josephus: My thoughts exactly. Anyway, he felt very down for a long while, so I decided to introduce him to my redhead cousin - her name’s Elishevah - hoping it’ll cheer him up. He ended up liking her and he wrote a hack of that song as a love song to her, and she ended up falling in love with him, and he converted to Judaism and married her, and she’s now pregnant with their first born, and he writes more songs about her. Very good ones.

Athena: And Horkenea is still single?

Josephus: Yes! And people are still crazy over her.

The Celts Trip to Damascus

The Rape

Josephus: Anyway, can you share some details about your trip? I never ventured a long way past Damascus.

Athena: Sure! It was very interesting. Most interesting.

Athena: We travelled with our own people and some Greek merchants, all the way to Athens, and there we hitchhiked a ride with some Assyrian merchants, hoping it will get us closer to Alexandria. There were some guards escorting us, and at one point they disarmed us and threatened us at sword’s point to have sex with them or else they'll kill us and take all our possessions.

Josephus: Wow! Rape. So what did you do?

Athena: Well, we consulted between ourselves and after a long while of being really scared, we calmed down a little, and decided that if we are forced to have sex, we might as well cooperate and try to enjoy it. So we told them that we’ll do it willingly and they agreed.

Josephus: How clever of you! And then what happened.

Athena: Well, the three of us and her lover each found their own part of the woods, and we had sex. Then, after one or two times, the three men all lost stamina, while we were not completely satisfied and cried for more!

[ Josephus laughs. ]

Alexis: Yes! Then we heard each other’s cries and we gathered at one place together still naked with our clothes as cover, and we bitched about the whole situation - in Greek - and the men stood there ashamed.

Athena: Yes! Anyway, we continued as couples throughout the trip and the men got better in love making as time went by, and they also taught us a little Aramaic. Then we arrived at the junction - they wanted to go to Assyria, and we wanted to head more south, and then all the 6 of us were completely emotional and offered each other to escort them on the way, so we won’t part, but we eventually cared enough about the others to let them go on their own way.

Josephus: Wow! That sounds like love.

Athena: Love! Yes! That’s the word. Eros in action.

The Non-seducable Jewish Merchants

Athena: Anyway, then we hitched a ride with a band of Greek merchants. The boys there were easy and we all liked each other, so we had a lot of sex, and we learned even more Aramaic from them.

Josephus: Did you fall in love with them too?

Athena: This time we didn’t. So after them, we hitchhiked a ride with some Jewish and Phoenician merchants. Jews and Phoenicians proclaim to hate each others’ guts but they always band together. Anyway, we wanted to have sex with the Jewish men but they refused to do so unless we converted to Judaism and they married us. They kept citing Jehovah and their faith to him as the reason why.

Josephus: So did you give up on them?

Athena: Not on your life! We wanted them more! And more badly!

Athena: The wives of the Jewish men thought they were being unfair to us, and urged them to have sex with us. So they started a heated debate about what the Jewish tradition said about that.

Josephus: So these women studied that?

Athena: Probably not, but they faked it really well. But the men still didn’t want to have sex with us, because of Jehovah of course.

Not Having Sex

Josephus: Well, just for the record, as much as my variant of Judaism is unorthodox and avant-garde, and I derive influence from other ethnicities and cultures, I am still a proud Jew and not going to cast humiliation on my people by having pre-marital sex with you or with any other girl.

Selena: See! Told you! All Jews are the same. Jehovah, Jehovah, Jehovah.

Selena: Well, just for the record, we’re not going to have sex with you either.

Josephus: Oh.

Josephus’ Voice: I actually felt disappointed.

Athena: Do you feel disappointed from it?

Josephus: Me? No! It’s actually a relief. Well… a little.

Athena: OK, just know that it’s nothing personal: we decided against having sex completely, shortly after hearing your Qoheleth thing.

Josephus: Really? But didn’t I say Young man, be joyful in your youth there?

Athena: That you did, but something else there made us realise that sex is not worth the risk of getting pregnant. So we’re going to wait with it until we return home to our village.

Josephus: I see, I said so many things in the scroll that I couldn’t tell what was right and what was wrong. Good thing I admitted it was blasphemy and should not be taken seriously.

Athena: Yes, well, we actually started learning the Jewish law and legacy from some priests in the Jewish and Phoenician convoy hoping we can eventually convert to Judaism and marry the Jewish men. A lot of it seems nifty and a lot seems quite appalling. Are all the mythologies of the peoples here like that?

Josephus: There are many parallels, and most myths of the Jews exist in various variations in the myths of other nations. Ever since the exile to Babylon, the Jews have treated their Torah as holy, which I sometimes feel was not the original intention of these stories.

Josephus: The storytellers of the Jews or the other people were essentially a precursor to modern-day philosophers, and I feel that a good story reflects some good philosophy. I’m pretty sure many of the stories in the Torah and the books of the Prophets were passed by and embellished from generation to generation.

Girls Doing Warfare

Josephus: Is it true what they say about the Iranian tribes having female warriors, that were the inspiration for the Amazons of the Greek?

Athena: Oh them… well not really. See, they don’t really fight themselves, only come to the battle with some rudimentary weaponry, which they at most flail while using. As women go, they are too weak to use it effectively.

Athena: We on the other hand, have found a more effective way to protect us against their raids against our village.

Josephus: Really? Which one?

Athena: Knives! [She shows a knife.] These are much better knives than what we have in the village, but ours are good for it too. Selena can demonstrate - she’s an expert in throwing them.

[ Alexis inscribes an X on the wall using some chalk. Selena stands with a knife in the opposite direction to the wall. ]

Josephus: Hold it, she’s not in the right direction

[ Selena quickly turns away, throws the knife and hits the X. ]

Josephus: Wow!

Athena: After we threw a few knives like that at their chieftains eyes, they left us alone.

Josephus’ Voice: OK, there was definite arousal. I thought I should go.

Josephus: OK, I really should go - it was nice talking you, but I’m beginning to sin here.

Athena: Sin?

Josephus: Yes! Our Torah forbade us from incest.

Athena: Well, these are just feelings. They don’t hurt anyone. Please stay - we’ll pay you for the time.

Josephus: OK, I guess.

Athena: Anyway, these knives are not as effective as bows, which we are still too weak to use. Or swords that are used for melee.

Josephus: But they’ve been getting lighter…

Athena: Exactly! Maybe one day a bow will be light enough for a girl to operate using both hands.

[ — Sigourney Weaver Holding a Gun in both hands ]

Josephus: [Laughs] Hah hah! Tell you what? Maybe one day a girl will be able to hold one long-ranged bow-like weapon in each hand.

[ — Summer Glau holding a gun in each hand ]

Athena: [Laughs] You crack me up.

Josephus: Heh, maybe.

The Alpha, The Beta and The Gamma↔Omega

[ Athena takes some wooden cards from her possessions, shuffles them, and puts them on the table. ]

Athena: Hey Josephus, let me read you your fortune.

Josephus: Sorry, Athena, but such witchcraft is explicitly forbidden by the Torah .

Athena: Well, it’s more rational than traditional witchcraft. See, I give my own associations based on the cards, and instead of telling what I think they mean, I ask you what they mean.

Josephus: Sounds relatively innocent. Well, I have sinned enough since I wrote the scroll, and if God has mercy on my soul, maybe I’ll still live long enough.

Athena: Yes. OK, let’s start. [ Puts a card. ] I’ll call this card “The Alpha” - what does it mean to you?

Josephus: the Alpha… I’m reminded of some philosophers who studied biology who discussed the herds of some animals, where there was an alpha male who mates with all the females. But…

Athena: Who is he among humans?

Alexis: Or she… [ she continues to throw the knife. ]

Josephus: An alpha female? Yes! The most coveted female… Horkenea … a rule breaker… keeps challenging social norms… the “bad girl”… gets into a lot of trouble, but usually not remotely in danger - she can get out of it.

[ Image - anthology of alpha females: Alicia Silverstone, SMG, Natalie Portman, Miley Cyrus, Paris Hilton and Jennifer Lawrence. ]

Josephus: Yes, in stories or plays she is usually the antagonist.

Selena: Or he.

Josephus: Indeed. Or he.

Athena: OK, next. This card is “The beta”.

Josephus: The beta female? Hmmm… Let me think…

Josephus: Yes! The “protagonist”, the good girl, solid, “responsible adult”. She’s more respected than the Alpha female, and some men find her more attractive. She’s featured in conversations less, and people assume there’s a rivalry between her and the Alpha female.

Josephus: In Damascus’ case, it is the Princess. She’s already engaged, and her marriage may make her the Beta female emerita, but only time can tell. She and I flirted a few times since I published “Qoheleth”. And she did hint that Horkenea wants me.

Athena: OK, fair enough. Now next. Hmm… it’s a card of complete consumption, so seems like it be will be “The Gamma all the way to the Omega”. Who is she?

Josephus: Gamma-to-Omega? Hmmm… yes! The Gamma↔Omega female— the one who is sheepish, always gets herself and everyone else into trouble, pitiful. The true villainess.

[ Image - anthology of Gamma↔Omega females - Anne of Austria from The Three Musketeers, Willow from Buffy, Cordelia Chase from Buffy, Keiko O’Brien from Star Trek DS9. ]

Athena: OK, next card. Hmmm… that’s funny - it’s a card that’s indicative of something above and beyond the previous cards. I wonder what it could be…

Josephus: Above and beyond… above and beyond… oh my… there are many Alpha/Beta/Gamma↔Omega males and females - each in their own society and sub-society. But there is one person, or maybe a selected few above them… the Master Philosopher! The Hacker King!

Josephus: Moses, Cyrus, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle - they were all the Master philosophers. But who is he now? Who the hell is he?

Josephus: Who the hell is… the Qoheleth?

Selena: Is it you?

Josephus: Me? The scroll, it is nothing… I was just faking it… I cannot be the hacker king.

Athena: You could not be… the scroll was written in past tense. And I think you were… were the hacker king!

Josephus: So you're saying that in the scroll I distilled my wisdom, and it became my Magnus opus as the hacker king and I officially stepped down? But who is the new Qoheleth now? I must find out.

Athena: How can you find out?

Josephus: No idea… maybe it’s right under my nose. In any case, following the publication of the scroll it seems I have become the most coveted male in Damascus — the Alpha Male so-to-speak. And all the single girls want me. And I don’t know what to do? Perhaps I should talk to the king about that.

Athena: And what can he do?

Josephus: I don't know… order all the girls to stop lusting me.

Athena: Well let me tell you something— if I learned anything from the Greek mythology is that Aphrodite always gets her way regardless of how much the authorities try to withhold her. A decree from the king will likely only make all the girls crave for you even more.

Josephus: Yes, I guess you are right. But what can I do?

Athena: Well, one thing is to take it the right way. The Stoic way. They want you— just live with it and even try to enjoy it.

Josephus: Interesting. I didn’t think of it.

Athena: And the second thing you have to do is to marry one or more girls you like.

Josephus: More than one? You know how they say that bigamy is having one wife too many.

Athena: Well, monogamy is the same thing.

[ Josephus laughs. ]

Josephus: I guess I should marry someone. Maybe Horkenea if she’s willing to convert to Judaism. She should be enough of a competition for the other girls to ward them off.

Josephus’ Voice: The day started to fade.

Josephus: OK, I think I spent enough time with you here. I learned a lot from you so I won’t require payment. Perhaps I should be the one who is paying you. I need to go because people still need me as a physician and a consultant, and they likely won’t be able to find me here.

Athena: Well, maybe we can accompany you. We can put our caps on and the sun is no longer as strong as it was.

Josephus: Yes.

[ They go. ]

Josephus Being a Physician

[ Josephus and the three Celtic girls are walking down the street. ]

Alexis: So, Josephus, can you tell us about some of your exploits as a physician?

Josephus: Sure! The other day I treated a young girl who suffered from a flu, and she got better and became healthy again. And shortly after that, she accidentally broke a pot, and her mother was mad at her. So some guys I know told me that the pot got broken because I saved her, and that it was God’s will for her to die. We are still being treated as Necromancers and raisers of the dead sometimes.

Alexis: I see.

[ They pass through a crowd of young females. ]

Girl: [Teasingly] Hello, Josephus.

Josephus: [Also teasingly] Hello ladies!

[ The girls burst out laughing. Josephus and the Celts join them and they pass through. ]

Josephus: Heh, you were right — it does feel not as badly if you change your attitude.

Athena: Yeah.

Josephus: Anyway, another thing we treat is ailments of the spirit. There was this hard to tackle case the other day with a rich Jewish merchant, who got depressed

[ Screen become blurry.

Outside the merchant's house, there's a fellow Greek philosopher, Hector. ]

Hector: Hi Josephus! It's good that you are here - they won't let me in because I’m not Jewish. Anyway, they tried playing to him and he dislikes it.

Josephus: I see. Do you propose extracting blood like the Greek do?

Hector: I never really believed in it. I suggest you just talk to him and see what is on his mind - maybe the answer lies there.

Josephus: [Thinks for a moment.] Sounds like it may work. [He enters]

[ At the house. ]

Josephus: Hello, Mosheh, I came to help - how are you feeling?

Mosheh: [Sheepishly.] Hello, Josephus.

Josephus: OK, can you tell me what is bothering you? What are you thinking about at the moment?

Mosheh: I realised I’m a sinner!

Josephus: How so?

Mosheh: I violated the tenth commandment - “You shall not covet”. I keep coveting the wives of other men.

Josephus’ Voice: So I ended up telling him about how most Jewish scholars thought it was there as a general guideline so you avoid it getting out of control, and as a way to show you that you’ll always be a sinner, and so nothing to worry about.

[ Cut. ]

Mosheh: OK, that’s fine, but I feel still miserable.

Josephus: Tell you what? It’s OK that you’re feeling bad for now, don’t worry about it. Just let the feeling sulk.

[ — Simpsons - “If you wanna be sad” ]

[ Mosheh is thinking for a moment. ]

Mosheh: Wow! Tell you what, Josephus? I feel good now.

Josephus: Really?

Mosheh: Yes! Tell you what, I hereby invite you to a dinner where I’ll roast my finest sheep for you. And wait a second [he goes to the other room.]

[ Mosheh returns and drops some coins into Josephus’ palm. ]

Josephus: Wow! Gold! [Showing the coins.]

Josephus: OK, my Greek friend, Hector the philosopher provided some guidance for curing you. Can he also be invited?

Mosheh: He will be served outside, being a gentile and all.

Josephus: Thank you, I will let him know.

[ There are cheers from the crowd. Then an old woman from the crowd starts shouting. ]

Old Woman: Necromancer! Defiers of God!

People from the crowd: Knock it off lady.

[ Cut to the scene with the celts. ]

Alexis: Wow! So you cured him.