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The Partition of Earth

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER   
 

Africa goes to Enki; Indo-Europe to Enlil, but “Land of Rockets” is designated a neutral zone

As the Anunnaki princes just stopped short of coming to blows whilst they laid claim to prospective territorial spheres of influence, Enlil, the Bible’s central Jehovah/Yahweh, took his step-brother Enki aside and made a desperate proposition. “For peace to prevail, the habitable lands between us should be apart set!” he said. Put simply, Enlil’s suggestion was that Earth be divided between the Enlilites and the Enkites. Enki, a peacenik  by natural bent, gave the idea the nod and soon the pantheon were in heated and protracted discussion as to who would get what. “The Anunnaki who decree the fates sat exchanging their counsels regarding the Earth,” say the Sumerian records.


Following days of argument and counter-argument punctuated by flares of temper, they finally reached detente: in a gesture echoed in the 1884-1885 Berlin Conference that paved way for  European powers’ “Scramble for Africa”,  Earth was to be divided into three main regions. Enki had insisted that the regions were to be allocated primarily to Noah’s three sons (and therefore his grandsons) and only secondarily to the Anunnaki since the planet belonged to humans and not to the Anunnaki. He was persuasive.


Accordingly, Africa and parts of Arabia were given to the Hamites – Ham’s people. Japheth’s people were allotted Indo-Europe, which straddled Asia Minor, Iran, India, and immediate Europe. The Shemites – Shem’s people – received Mesopotamia and the Near-Eastern lands, encompassing today’s Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and the northern parts of Arabia. GENESIS 10 sets out in detail this partition of the planet in what scholars call the Table of Nations. Only the lands nearest Jerusalem, the Navel or Centre of the Earth, were so shared: the far-flung parts of the world such as the Americas, the Far East, Oceania, and the Polar Regions remained no-man’s lands officially.      


However, overall authority, Enlil insisted against the wishes of Enki, was to vest in Anunnaki overlords: all the three regions were to be subdivided so that their oversight was given to members of the Anunnaki pantheon. Since the Enkites had always dominated Africa, they were to oversee the lands of Ham, the “Dark Lands”, clearly the source of the term “Dark Continent”.  The Enlilites were to oversee the lands of Shem and Japheth, called the “Olden Lands”.


Having assembled his clan, Enlil set about parcelling out the lands of Shem and Japheth to them. Ninurta, his firstborn, was given the highlands of Elam (west and southwest of modern Iran) and Assyria (northeastern Iraq). Nannar-Sin, the second-born, got Mesopotamia (roughly corresponding to most of Iraq plus Kuwait, the eastern parts of Syria, and southeastern Turkey).  Ishkur-Adad, the third born, received   Asia Minor (the land of the Hittites, comprising largely of modern-day Turkey and Armenia) and Lebanon. Inanna-Ishtar, Enlil’s granddaughter and daughter of Nannar-Sin, was promised (not given, at least at this stage ) the Indus Valley.


Enki too sat down his six sons and allotted them their respective domains. For reasons we shall dwell upon in detail in the next piece, Marduk, his firstborn, wasn’t directly allocated a domain: instead, it was his son Shu who was given Egypt and the associated lands of Libya and Ethiopia, as well as the southern parts of Arabia. Nergal, the second-born, received the southernmost part of Africa as well as most parts of West Africa – clearly the reason Nigeria and Niger are so-called and why blacks are also known as Negroes (Nergalas).


All the major mining regions of the day were given to Gibil: they included Zimbabwe, Chad, Gauteng, and Ghana. Ninagal, who had piloted Noah’s ark, got the Great Lakes region of East Africa and the headwaters of the Nile River. The youngest, Dumuzi, was entrusted the grazing plateau of Sudan, being the Anunnaki’s leading animal husbandman.  


That leaves out two prominent Anunnaki princes, namely Ningishzidda, an Enkite, and Utu-Shamash, an Enlilite.  Well, Ningishzidda was first and foremost an intellectual and a sage. He wasn’t a politician, polemicist, or glory-seeker. As such, he never showed the slightest interest in the jostling for land and power politics.  His role was essentially that of a teacher and a thinker. The Egyptians called him Thoth, meaning the “Great Teacher”. 


A superlative genius, a trait he had inherited from his equally phenomenally gifted father Enki, he was a problem solver to whom no difficult was insurmountable. He had mastery of practically every discipline, whether this be architecture, physics, mathematics, geology, genetics, sacred geometry, metaphysics, Gnosticism, or simply spirituality.   He was content with concerning himself with only matters of the intellect as opposed to geopolitics. How about Utu-Shamash, Enlil’s grandson and Inanna-Ishtar’s twin brother? What did he garner from the partition of this wretched planet?

LAND OF THE ROCKETSHIPS

In addition to the three ethnically allotted regions, Enlil and Enki decided to create a fourth with a view to foster continued solidarity between the relentlessly feuding clans. This wasn’t a region strictly speaking but a neutral zone which would be run jointly by Enlilites and Enkites. It was the area in the Sinai Peninsula where the post-diluvial spaceport was located. This enclave zone, which was in the broader Shemite lands, was to be called Tilmun, also rendered as Dilmun. The four regions collectively constituted what came to be known as the Four Corners of the Earth.


The word Tilmun had several but closely related senses. In one vein, the typical frame of reference,  it meant “Land of Rocketships” as it was the spaceport, the place where  space vehicles  took off and landed to and from Mars, the Moon, the international space station in Earth’s orbit, or the Nibiru-bound Mothership.  In another, it meant “Land of Immortality” as “Til” also meant “Life”. Indeed, the Tree of Life was in Sumerian known as Gishtil. By the same token, the term Gishtil could also connote “The Vehicle of Life”.


This was a rocketship as in the eyes of mankind, the rocket was a symbol of eternal life, being the means by which one was transported to Nibiru, believed to be Heaven as per the Anunnaki brainwash. Finally, Tilmun could also be interpreted to mean, “A Securely Guarded Place”, which was to be expected as it housed the crucial rockets. It was peppered with “hostile eyes” described in Genesis  as “flaming swords that turned in every direction” (GENESIS 3:24). These were simply searchlights with shifting light beams.  They were the All-Seeing Eye.


Tilmun had become the new Edin or Eden, which was situated in modern-day Iraq before the Deluge. But whereas the pre-diluvial Edin was a constellation of city states, the new Edin was simply a comparatively smaller enclave territory. Like Tilmun, the term Eden had several shades of related meanings. In one sense, it meant “A place of the Gods”, that is, the Anunnaki.


In another, it meant “Abode of the Pure Ones” or “Abode of the Mighty Ones”, both terms of which were particular to the Anunnaki, who were regarded as “All-powerful”, by virtue of their “mind-boggling” technology, immortal, and who fancied themselves as beings of a superior and uncorrupted genetic pedigree compared to mankind.   In yet another vein, Tilmun conveyed the sense of “A Noisy Place”, very likely the origin of the English word “din”, meaning “confused noise”. We all know how noisy the precincts of an airport can be as aircraft land and take off.  


Tilmun was also the new Paradise, an idyllic place, as far as mankind was concerned. This was the place Noah and his great grandfather Enoch lived in luxury pending their onward transfer to Nibiru, the former for being the Hero of the Deluge and the latter for dutifully fulfilling his CIA-like remit under the aegis of the Enlilites. “In the Land of the Crossing (metaphorical intersection between Earth and Nibiru), the Land Tilmun, the place where Utu rises, they caused him (Noah) to dwell”,  the Sumerian records relate. 


Originally, however, the term Paradise did not mean a heavenly place. It was Pairi Daize (from pairi [around] and diz [to make, form, build]). A Pairi Daize was therefore a heavily or tightly policed place, with watch towers for maximum vigil all around (the Setswana term Phara-disa, meaning “securely watched over”, drives the point crisply home). Given that whoever was in charge of Tilmun controlled the logistical links between Earth and Nibiru, who would be  overall in charge of the place?  An Enkite or an Enlilite?

“MAMMI” GIVEN CHARGE BUT SHAMASH CALL THE SHOTS

There was a stalemate between the Enkites and the Enlilites as to which  god would govern Tilmun. Having been so deadlocked, they finally settled for Ninmah, the “Great Lady” as her name fittingly meant. Ninmah, also known as Ninti, meaning “Lady of Life” given the surrogate role she played in the creation of Adam, was a best-fit although she was no more than a medical lady occupationalwise. A half-sister to Enlil and step-sister to Enki, Ninmah, who was affectionately known as Mammi, meaning “Mother of the Gods”, had children with either brother, these being Ninurta in the case of Enlil and six daughters in the case of the randy Casanova that was Enki. She typically cast the deciding vote when the Enkites and Enlilites each refused to budge on an issue.


Having accepted her new role, Ninmah was conferred a new title. From now henceforth, she was to be known as Ninharsag, meaning “Lady of the Mountain Head”. Mount Harsag, today known as Mount St. Catherine, was the highest peak in the Sinai Peninsula. Ninmah’s other new title was Hathor, the name by which she was best known in Egypt. The epithet meant “Falcon House”: indeed the name was spelt hieroglyphically by drawing a falcon, a type of bird, within an enclosure. A falcon (as was the eagle) was the Sumerian metaphor for a rocketship, the reason Anunnaki astronauts were called “Falcon Gods”. Hathor thus suited Ninmah as the god presiding over Tilmun, the Land of the Rocketships.


The truth of the matter though was that Ninmah, because of her innately gentle nature, did not exercise much sway as the head of Tilmun. She was overshadowed by the incessant factional discord and political slugfests between the Enkites and the Enlilites. Although Tilmun on paper was exclusively the preserve of the Anunnaki and from which “mortals”, or Earthlings, were banned, this was not consistently the case.


Only the spaceport proper and the mountain silos where the rockets were kept and serviced were out of bounds to humans. The Anunnaki needed mankind for a whole host of menial tasks, such as mining and agricultural work, and they just could not keep us at bay completely. A specific tribe, known as the Qenites or Kenites,  meaning “smiths” or “metallurgists”,  was chosen to work in the Tilmun mines. The Kenites, who were descendants  of Cain, were the pioneer inhabitants of the Sinai Peninsula and therefore predated the Anunnaki presence there. They were the tribe into which Moses would later marry when he fled Egypt and sought refuge in the Sinai.


The Lord of Tilmun was also the Lord of Shalem, as Jerusalem was then called. At some stage in the future, two human sovereigns under the overall Anunnaki Lord were appointed to attend to matters pertaining to Earthlings resident in Tilman and Jerusalem respectively.  These went by the title King. The King of Tilmun, however, had jurisdiction only over Tilmun City on the eastern shore of the Red Sea and not over the whole Land of Tilmun.  


One such King of Tilmun was Qanayah, a Kenite. In the greater scheme of things though, Qanayah ranked very lowly even among fellow human monarchs. Esarhaddon, the King of Assyria from 681 – 669 BC, is said to have boasted that, “Upon Qanayah, King of Tilmun, I imposed tribute." In the time of Abraham, the King of Jerusalem went by the title Melchizedek. This was Terah, Abraham’s own father.


On the whole, however, the real boss of the Land of Tilmun was Utu-Shamash. For it was he who was the spaceport commander. In fact, to humans, Shamash was the most admired Anunnaki god as he was in charge of the rocketships – the Vehicles of Eternal Life. All the demigods – part-human, part Anunnaki – who wanted to live as long as the Anunnaki did (that is, “forever” in the eyes of mankind) sought Shamash, the most famous case of which is that of Gilgamesh, the King of Uruk (modern-day Warka in Iraq). And in daily parlance, Tilmun was characterised as “The Place where Utu Rises”, that is, soars to the skies in his sky vehicle, which euphemistically could also mean “exercises hegemony”.   

NINURTA MAKES A PARADISE OF TILMUN

It was Ninurta who made Tilmun, a disconcertingly mountainous terrain, conducive to habitation by his mother. When she was voted as the Head of Tilmun and had misgivings about its suitability as a settlement, Ninurta rendered her the following promise:

“Its valleys shall be verdant with vegetation. Its slopes shall produce honey and wine for you … Its terraces shall be adorned with fruit as a garden. The Harsag shall provide you with the fragrance of the gods, shall provide you with the shiny lodes. Its mines will as tribute copper and tin give you; its mountains shall multiply cattle large and small.  The Harsag shall bring forth the four-legged creatures.”


Ninurta, who personally supervised the revamp and retrofitting of Tilmun, lived up to his billing for soon  it was bursting with lush vegetation, wood products, minerals, and livestock in the form of sheep and goats.  Ancient records document that Tilmun was a major source of copper, the blue-green gemstone turquoise, and the blue-green mineral malachite. Ninurta hired Ningishzidda, the “God of Sciences”, to do the geological survey that turned up lodes of such minerals. Indeed, the Egyptians referred to Tilmun as the “Land of Mafkat” and Ninmah as the “Lady of Mafkat”. Mafkat was the Egyptian term for turquoise, Tilmun’s most eminent export.


Another important product of Tilmun was acacia wood, which was used for temple furnishings and which was a popular Mesopotamian import. However, the product that was basically a byword for Tilmun was the date palm, which even today is the Sinai’s most eminent product. It “provides the Bedouin with fruit (dates); its pulp and kernels are fed to camels and goats; the trunk is used for building and as fuel; the branches for roofing; the fibres for rope and weaving.”


The Anunnaki gods had quite a taste for dates of  the Sinai as Sumerian records inform us that Gilgamesh ordered that “every day of the year, for the four daily meals, 108 measures of ordinary dates, and dates of the Land Tilmun, as also figs and raisins . . . shall be offered to the deities (Anunnaki)." It was on Mount Harsag that Ninurta raised a fragrant garden for his mother and it was in a verdant valley near a spring with date palms that he built her a luxurious dwelling.


To ordinary mankind, however, the date palm had the most obsessive conceptual significance. Since it grew in “Paradise” (and was reportedly the most commonplace tree on planet Nibiru), it was emblematically associated with the rocket, the Vehicle of Life.  It came to represent the proverbial Tree of Life, a tree that conferred immortality.  Thus in Sumerian art, the date palm marked the gateway to Heaven. Sumerian cuneiform  clay tablets show eaglemen (Anunnaki)  saluting either the date palm or the rocket. They also show the entrance  to King Anu’s palace on Nibiru emblazoned with the same imagery.

NEXT WEEK: HOW DIFFERENT RACES CAME ABOUT

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Internet Connectivity in Botswana: Time to Narrow Digital Divide

19th October 2020
Elon Musk

On Friday October 9, 2020, President Masisi officiated at a function that most appositely spoke to his passion and desire to kick-start the crystallisation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or 4IR in short, in Botswana. In his keynote speech, the President hailed the partnership between Gaborone City Council and BoFiNet to launch free Internet access of one-hour duration daily in selected “Wi-Fi Hotspots” across the city for all and sundry.

The pilot project has actually been years in the making, having been initiated in April 2014, when the BOCRA-supported Universal Access and Service Fund (UASF) was established. UASF levies 1 percent on the gross annual turnover of flourishing ICT outfits and is now using this to subsidise the Internet access price in the Hotspots of Gaborone, which are to be found at shopping malls, bus stations, hospitals, and airports in the main. The facility, which is provided courtesy of the BoFiNet Wi-Fi infrastructure, will in the fullness of time be rolled out in Kasane, Maun, Francistown, Palapye, Serowe, and Mahalapye too. As of the end of 2019, UASF collections totalled P43.2 million according to BOCRA’s latest Annual Report.

A point President Masisi underscored at the launch was the imperative that “all citizens have access to the Internet so that the ideal of leaving no one behind as envisioned by the sustainable development goals is realised”. It also exhilarated me that the President underlined that “innovation and creativity will be the bedrock of economic diversification in our country”, a priority I besought government to pursue with impassioned as opposed to rhetorical resolve in one of my earlier articles under this very column.

Certainly, Pillars 1 and 2 of the only minimally accomplished Vision 2016 goals envisaged, amongst other things, an informed and innovative Botswana. With the Wi-Fi Hotspot dispensation now upon us, are we on course to deliver on this sooner rather than later?

FREE INTERNET COULD FULFIL MEGA DREAMS FOR THE CITIZENRY

Granted, one hour of free Internet per day is not that bad as a starting point, but it is a drop in the ocean when juxtaposed with the larger global picture, whereby some countries, which include the industrialised West, the Scandinavian countries, and the Baltic states of Lithuania and Estonia, offer qualitative public Internet service free of charge all-day long. In Finland for one, broadband (high-speed Internet access) has been a legal right since 2010. In other words, if a citizen for one reason or the other does not have the opportunity to surf the web, he or she can sue the state for redress.

For the impecunious individual who wishes to do meaningful and comprehensive research, however, one hour can be very limiting. To just give one example, it takes me up to two full days to gather material for a single one instalment of the contents of this column, of which Internet-sourced data is key. This is because not every bit of worthwhile information is available at just one click of the mouse. In some cases, the requisite information is simply not available at all and by the time that dawns on you, a full day will have gone by.

There is also the question of whether the Hotspots are amply equipped with desktops, let along being sizeable enough, to cater to the stampede of the city residents who will want to be one of the earliest birds to catch the worm given that access is certain to be on a first-come-first-served basis. An Internet Hall under the auspices of government would serve the purpose best, with the unused Orapa House as a possible venue proposition.

As for nationwide and limitless free Internet access, we still have a long way to go being a Third World country but the earlier we get there, the greater the rewards we reap in the long-term. Google, Facebook, Twitter, to mention only a few, are today multi-billion operations thanks to the added benediction of the Internet epoch. Years back, Elon Musk and five others started PayPal – a means of sending money, making an online payment, and receiving money – using the Internet medium. In 2002, E-Bay acquired PayPal for an eye-popping $1.5 billon, with Musk personally garnering $165 million. As I write, Musk is the 6th richest person on Earth, with a net worth of $82.3 billion.

It is the ready platform of the Internet that helped catapult him to the dizzying pecuniary heights he has since scaled.  We will probably never be able to mint a dot.com-facilitated dollar billionaire in Botswana, but even mere Pula millionaires or part-millionaires can do as half a loaf is better than nothing. If Internet was freely available to every citizen, such chances would be greatly enhanced.

WE LIVE OUR LIVES ONLINE

In the past, Internet connectivity may have been a luxury but the advent of COVID-19 has made it an essential component of the new normal – a lifeline. Students have had to receive lessons online amid stop-go lockdowns of huge swathes of a country. Executives have had no option but to network or collectively liaise using teleconferencing or by way of Skype. Telemedicine, or caring for and consulting with patients remotely, has become the order of the day, especially in the developed world. We have seen live-streamed religious services and of course some people have been working from home.

Even before COVID-19 struck, we were routinely conversationally engaging with family and friends on social media platforms such as Facebook and Whatsapp. Some of our monthly transactions, like telephone bill settlements and DStv subscriptions, were effected online. Needless to say, we have literally been living our lives online. Electronic transacting in any case, whether by mobile phones or via the web, substantially curtail queuing time at banks and precious other pay points anywhere, gets people to spend more time in the workplace than out of it, and therefore boosts productivity as personal errands to do a thing or two are notorious for eating into invaluable man-hours.

There’s also government’s espoused vision of having Botswana transformed into a knowledge-based economy. Without universal access to the Internet, this aspiration will remain a pipe-dream. Knowledge certainly is power, whether this be political, economic, or scientific. Botswana will never come to be anywhere near the economic might of Singapore or the technological feats of South Korea if it relegates knowledge attainment to the back burner of its core aspirations. An Old Testament prophet was spot-on when speaking on behalf of his god Yahweh lamented that “my children perish for lack of knowledge”, HOSEA 4:6.

The paradox is that the digital divide both on the continent of Africa and in Botswana is as glaring as ever. Only four out of ten people in Africa have Internet access and according to the global business data platform Statista, which has insights and facts about 170 industries and more than 150 countries, Botswana has an Internet penetration of only 47.5 percent. It lags 20 other countries on the continent, who include Kenya (the continental leader at 87.5 percent); Mauritius (67 percent); Nigeria (61.2 percent); Swaziland (57.3 percent); Zimbabwe (56.5 percent); South Africa (55 percent); and Zambia (53.7 percent).

A study by the Mc Kinsey Global Institute postulates that if Internet use proliferates in Africa at the rate mobile phones did in the early 2000s, the continent stands to add as much as $300 billion to its economic growth by 2025. The World Bank also says achieving universal, affordable, and good quality Internet access in Africa by 2030 will require an investment of $100 billion. In Botswana, the National Broadband Strategy (NBS) aims to achieve universal broadband by 2023. It is aligned to BOCRA’s 2019-2024 Strategic Plan, whose main goal is to deliver the NBS aims at an affordable price tab. Is the time frame realistic?

THE PRICE OF AN ARM AND A LEG!

For universal Internet access to be tenable, first both the access and the medium of access have to be affordable to every literate person out there. Sadly in Botswana, smart phones, which allow for Internet access anywhere where there is a cellular network, do not come cheap. The asking price at the very least is upwards of a thousand Pula. That is a prohibitive price for the greater majority of our population who struggle to eke out a living just to keep body and soul together. The likes of BOCRA and BoFiNet should help out here by subsidising the price of these devices, at least for a period of time till economies of scale result in a natural reduction of the price.

As for the going price of Internet access in Botswana presently, a study of 228 countries earlier this year by cable.co.uk found that Botswana was among the 14 most expensive countries in this regard. I can attest to this myself as I have to fork out a minimum of about P400 a month to enable me the use of the Internet without any hiccup save for the sporadic network downage or the now endemic power outages. To many a people, P400 a month amounts to the proverbial cost of an arm and a leg as it constitutes a substantial proportion of average monthly income. In countries such as Egypt and Mauritius, one can have Internet use every day of the week at any time of the day for only 0.5 percent and 0.59 percent of average monthly income.

In a bid to ameliorate the prohibitive Internet access price in our country, the University of Botswana was forced to shell out a whopping P7.8 million to provide the student populace with free SIM cards to enable them download teaching material under the restrictive COVID-19 climate. Botho University also entered into an arrangement with Orange whereby their students could have online access to learning materials and teaching instruction at only P2 a day, P10 a week, or P30 a month, though data was capped at 200 megabytes a day. Both these initiatives by two of the country’s premier institutions of higher education must be lauded.

If the cost of mobile broadband data has to organically come down drastically, it is essential that we move from a consolidated market – the triopoly of Mascom (with 51 percent market dominance), Orange (34 percent), and Be-Mobile (15 percent) we have in Botswana – to a multi-operator market. In its latest annual report, BOCRA reports that in 2018, the three operators had combined revenues of P4.4 billion and combined profits of P826 million. One wonders why this rather brisk bottom line does not translate to a proportionate paring down of the consumer price or does it have to do with the fact that the operators’ greed knows no bounds?

BOTSWANA NEAR TAIL-END OF GLOBAL BROADBAND SPEED LEAGUE

If the truth may be told, Internet speed in Botswana is no longer as glacially slow as it was a year or two back. That does not mean it is lightning swift. In fact, it is among the slowest both on the globe and on the African continent.  At the download average of 1.92 megabytes per second (mbps), Botswana ranks 165th in the world and is 22nd in Africa according to statistics furnished by cable.co.uk. Our case is all the more stigmatic as we trail even comparatively poorer countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Sudan.

Taiwan has the fastest Internet in the world at 85.02 mbps, followed by Singapore at 70.86 mbps. Whereas it would take 22 hours for one to download a 5 gigabyte movie in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, the worst-ranked African country, and 6 hours for Botswana, it would take only 8 minutes in Taiwan.  In Africa, it is not South Africa (8.4 mbps, 75th in the world), the wealthiest country, which leads the pack. It is Madagascar at 22.57 mbps (33rd globally). This is one of the poorest countries on Earth, with four out of every four citizens living on less than $2 a day.

Botswana in fact is way below the minimum speed of 10 mbps required for consumers to fully participate in a digital society according to tech experts. I need not emphasise that time is money. It is time BOCRA and BoFiNet saw to it that we pulled up our socks in broadband speed to serve on trawling time. Regrettably, in Botswana things move very slowly and it will probably be another ten years or so before we come to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Madagascar. As for ever catching up with Taiwan, well, the less said the better.

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The Babylonian Captivity Ploy

19th October 2020

Nebuchadnezzar has the Jews exiled to his own domain to sabotage Jerusalem’s prospects of hosting King Anu, “Our Heavenly Father”

In 590 BC, General Atiku, King Zedekiah decided he would no longer be the puppet of Babylon. Just like Nebuchadnezzar, he wanted to be in full and unmitigated control of the Holy City in the event King Anu pitched. But he was under no illusion he could throw off the yoke of Babylon singlehandedly. So in the fourth year of his reign he – once again against the advice of the far-sighted prophet Jeremiah – joined a coalition that was being formed by Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon resist Nebuchadnezzar.

Upon getting wind of the rumours of this scheme, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Zedekiah to Babylon to administer to him a warn and caution statement but it seemed he took no heed. The following year, Nebuchadnezzar decided to pounce: he captured all the cities of Judah except three, one of which was Jerusalem and which he proceeded to besiege for the third time.

Finding himself in dire straits, General, Zedekiah made an alliance with Pharaoh Apries of Egypt and indeed the latter rushed to reinforce him. In the ensuing lull in hostilities, Nebuchadnezzar pulled a stunt by lifting the siege and Apries withdrew. No sooner had Apries done so than Nebuchadnezzar hemmed in on Jerusalem once again: Zedekiah was on his own. Jerusalem was under siege from January 587 to July 586 BC. The following, General, are the circumstances and aftermath of the siege according to one chronicler:

“Conditions in the city became increasingly desperate. Although the people had had time to prepare, their food supplies eventually began to run out. Cannibalism became a grim reality. Despite Jeremiah’s counsel to surrender, the King refused to do so and just as the last of the food in the city was exhausted the Babylonians broke through the wall.

“Zedekiah fled with remains of his army, but was overtaken and captured near Jericho. From there, he was brought before Nebuchadnezzar at his field headquarters at Riblah, his sons were executed in front of him, and he was blinded. From there, he was taken in chains to Babylon. The key members of his cabinet were executed before Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah shortly afterwards.

“A large part of the population of Jerusalem was put to the sword and everything of value plundered. The bronze articles from the Temple were cut up and removed and the building together with the palace and the important houses were set on fire.  “In order to ensure that the city would never rebel against him again, Nebuzaradan, the commander of the Imperial Guard, ordered that the walls be demolished. All who survived in the city were carried off into exile in Babylon, with the exception of the very poor of the land.

The starving population exchanged whatever riches they had left for food, its leadership and priesthood were gone and the Temple burnt. The Babylonians soldiers oppressed the survivors and forced them to work for their food.” The remnant of poor people that were spared, General, were meant to serve as farmers and wine dressers. These people had previously been landless peasants and presented the least risk to the Babylonians, but were required to work the land to prevent the fields falling into disuse.

WOULD KING ANU CONDONE NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S ACT?

Nebuchadnezzar was not the first King to deport a people from their own country, General. The pace was actually set by the Assyrian King Adad Nirari I (c. 1307-1275 BC), who thought the best way to prevent any future uprising was to remove the occupants of the land and replace them with Assyrians. But Nebuchadnezzar, General, had an ulterior motive for the deportations, which only the “Illuminati” of the day were privy to. He wanted to make Jerusalem desolate and decrepit so that when King Anu arrived, he would avoid it like the plague and instead focus on the glittering Babylon.

His aim was to kill off entirely the competition posed by Jerusalem. Says Zechariah Sitchin: “The expectation, it seems, was that the arriving god (Anu) of the Winged Disk (symbol for planet Nibiru) would come down at the Landing Place (Baalbek) in Lebanon, then consummate the Return by entering Babylon through the new marvelous Processional Way and imposing Ishtar Gate.”  But in the event that he indeed pitched, would the pro-Enlilite Anu take kindly to being deflected to a city (Babylon) other than Jerusalem when it had been specifically designated for his ultimate hosting on the planet by virtue of its geometrical centrality?

Having taken over Nippur’s prediluvial role to serve as Mission Control Center after the Deluge, Jerusalem was located at the center of concentric distances to the other space-related sites. Aptly calling it the “Navel of the Earth” (EZEKIEL 38:12), the prophet Ezekiel had announced that Jerusalem had been chosen for this role by God himself. “Thus has said the Lord Yahweh: ‘This is Jerusalem; in the midst of the nations I placed her, and all the lands are in a circle round about her,” EZEKIEL 5:5. “Determined to usurp that role for Babylon,” Sitchin further notes, “Nebuchadnezzar led his troops to the elusive prize and in 598 BC captured Jerusalem.”

CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE EXILE SITUATION

Altogether, General, the Babylonian captivity – the deportation of the Nation of Israel to Babylon – spanned 70 years counting from the first deportation of 598/597 BC.  Meanwhile, Judah was renamed Yehud Province by the Babylonians and a puppet Jewish governor was appointed to administer it. (The post of King was abolished, making Zedekiah [reign: 597-586 BC] the last substantive linear King of the Jews.) His name was Gedalia, whose father had been an advisor to King Josiah (reign: 640-609 BC).

Gedalia set up his capital not in Jerusalem but in Mizpah. That, plus the fact that he didn’t have a drop of Davidic blood in him, made him a marked man to Jewish nationalists and traditionalists from the word go. Not long after his appointment, Gedalia was assassinated by a family member of the deposed king Zedekiah. From that point on, General, no Jewish governor was installed until after the end of the Babylonian captivity.

Exactly what were the circumstances of the deportees, General? The image that immediately comes to mind is that of a concentration camp kind of setting reminiscent of the Jewish people’s fate at the hands of Nazi Germany. That, General, is a gross misconception. In Babylon, the Jews enjoyed every privilege, including citizenship if they so desired. They were not enslaved or in bondage of any kind. Their own individual abilities were even tapped into to help advance Babylon in one way or the other.

Reading PSALM 137:1–2, the surface impression one gets, General, is that the Jews in Babylon were beset by a most disagreeable set of circumstances. “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat, sat and wept, as we thought of Zion (Jerusalem). There on the poplars we hung up our lyres.” Well, that was pure nostalgia, which is a natural impulse when a people have been displaced, General. A notable historian presents to us the more accurate picture in the following words:

“The deportees, their labour and their abilities, were extremely valuable to the Babylonian state, and their relocation was carefully planned and organised. We must not imagine treks of destitute fugitives who were easy prey for famine and disease: the deportees were meant to travel as comfortably and safely as possible in order to reach their destination in good physical shape.

Whenever deportations are depicted in Babylonian imperial art, men, women and children are shown travelling in groups, often riding on vehicles or animals and never in bonds … Deportees were carefully chosen for their abilities and sent to regions which could make the most of their talents. Not everyone in the conquered populace was chosen for deportation and families were never separated. Those segments of the population that had actively resisted the Babylonians were killed or sold into slavery, but the general populaces became absorbed into the growing empire and were thought of as Babylonians.”

Another historian has this to say, General: “It is assumed that the Jews had to render labour to the Babylonians, but generally they enjoyed a great deal of freedom. Some of the exiles, like Daniel and his three friends, rose to positions of power within the Royal Court of Babylon and many others became wealthy. Later, during the Persian period Jews like Mordecai, Esther, and Nehemiah all found themselves in key positions in the government and were able to act on behalf of their people because they took Jeremiah’s advice.” Indeed, General, Nehemiah rose to become the cup-bearer of the King, that is, the King’s most trusted official.

The King-in-exile himself, Jeconiah, enjoyed particularly special privilleges both when he was in prison and after his release. Captive kings and high-ranking officials received monthly rations of grain and oil. Archaeological evidence recovered from the Royal palace in Babylon provides support for Jeconiah’s presence there and lists the daily rations set aside for him and the members of his family.

The Bible itself, General, does not shy away from underscoring Jeconiah’s privileged status in Babylon as highlighted in JEREMIAH 52:31-34 thus: “In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jeconiah King of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became King of Babylon, on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month, he released Jeconiah King of Judah and freed him from prison. He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honour higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jeconiah put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the King’s table. Day by day the King of Babylon gave Jeconiah a regular allowance as long as he lived, till the day of his death.”

 

JEREMIAH PAINTS SORRY PICTURE OF MARDUK’S FATE

The destruction of Solomon’s Temple by King Nebuchadnezzar, General, was according to the Bible the ultimate blasphemy. Ishkur-Adad, the Jehovah under whose auspices the Temple was built, was not in the least bit amused. He straightaway had the prophet Jeremiah step forward and pronounce the comeuppance both on the King and his colossal empire.

Now, biblical prophecies, General, should not be taken at face value. Their fulfillment were documented after the events they purported to foretell had already taken place, not before they happened. Much of the Old Testament corpus was compiled in the 6th century BC, during and after the Babylonian captivity (the Book of Malachi, the last prophet, was written circa 400 BC, and the Book of Daniel was compiled just after 164 BC). So we have to bear that in mind, General, when we read of fulfilled prophecies so that we decide whether to contemplate the story warily or give it the benefit of the doubt.

Jeremiah announced that the destruction of the Temple was going to be avenged by Yahweh (JEREMIAH 50:28). In addition, Adad instructed him to make the following proclamation: “Declare among the nations and proclaim, set up a banner and proclaim, do not conceal it, say: Babylon is taken; withered is Bel; confounded is Merodach … For out of the north a nation has come up against her; it shall make her land a desolation, and no one shall live in it; both human beings and animals shall flee away.” – JEREMIAH 50: 1-3.

Jeremiah, General, made this statement circa 561-60 BC. It can be easily dated because it was in this timespan that Merodach, Nebuchadnezzar’s successor, was on the throne. Jeremiah served notice to the world that Babylon was to be supplanted by a new power from the north, who turned out to be Persia. Jeremiah also spelt out the imminent fate of the Babylonian god Marduk, who was also known as Bel, meaning “The Lord”: he was to “wither”, or cease to be a factor in the affairs of mankind. In the case of Merodach, all Jeremiah said of him was that he was to be “confounded”, that is, so overwhelmed by problems as to lose a sense of focus. One wonders, General, why Jeremiah, if he was the great prophet he was touted to be, didn’t foresee the assassination of Merodach and directly allude to it in his prophecy.

The prophet Daniel says in his waning days, Nebuchadnezzar had his mind taken away and ate grass like an ox. This, General, is a fanciful story which is found only in the Bible and nowhere in the Babylonian annals. “There is no independent support for the tradition in Daniel of Nebuchadnezzar’s seven years’ madness, and the story probably arose from a fanciful later interpretation of texts concerned with events under Nabunaid, who showed apparent eccentricity in deserting Babylon for a decade to live in Arabia,” says Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Meanwhile, did Marduk indeed get to wither, General?

NEXT WEEK: FROM EXILE TO EXIT

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Understanding Botswana’s trade dispute resolution framework: Industrial Action

19th October 2020

In Botswana, the Trade Disputes Act, 2016 (“the Act”) provides the framework within which trade disputes are resolved. This framework hinges on four legs, namely mediation, arbitration, industrial action and litigation. In this four-part series, we discuss this framework.

In last week’s article, we discussed the second leg of Botswana’s trade dispute resolution framework-arbitration. In this article, we discuss the third leg, namely industrial action.

Industrial action is generally defined as a situation where the employer and employees use their bargaining power to exert pressure on the other to achieve a particular result. It entails such things as strikes and lockouts.  In terms of section 2(1) of the Act, Industrial action means “a strike, lockout or action short of a strike, in furtherance of a trade dispute”.

In terms of section 2(1) of the Act, “a strike means the cessation of work by a body of employees in any trade or industry acting in combination or under a common understanding or a concerted refusal or a refusal under a common understanding by such body of employees to continue work.”

A lock-out is the employees’ equivalent of a strike. In terms of section 2(1) of the Act, a lock-out is defined as “ the closing of a place of employment by an employer in any trade or industry or the suspension of work by such an employer or the refusal by such an employer to continue to employ any number of his or her employees in that trade or industry.”

While on a strike, employees use their numbers to inflict economic pain on the employer by withdrawing their labour, in a lock-out, the employer uses its power by not providing employees with work, thereby inflicting economic harm on them in terms of the ‘no-work, no pay’ principle.
In terms of section 2(1) of the Act, an action short of a strike means “any method of working (other than the method of working commonly known as working to rule) undertaken by a body of employees in any trade or industry acting in combination or under a common understanding, which method of working slows down normal production or the execution of the normal function under their contracts of employment, of the employees undertaking such method of working.”

In terms of section 42(1) (a) of the Act, it is obligatory to refer a dispute of interest for mediation before resorting to a strike or lockout. Also, in terms of section 42(1) (b) of the Act, a party must give the other party a 48-hour notice before the commencement of a strike or lockout. In terms of section 43(1) of the Act, before a strike or lockout commences, the parties have to agree on the rules regulating the action, failing which the mediator must determine the rules in accordance with any guidelines published in terms of section 53 of the Act.

These rules include those concerning the conduct of the strike or lockout and any conduct in contemplation or furtherance of the strike or lockout including picketing and the use of replacement labour. In terms of section 43(2) of the Act, the latter is, however, subject to the provisions of subsection (4) of the Act.

Employers are not allowed to engage replacement labour if the parties have concluded an agreement on the provision of a minimum service. In terms of section 43(3) of the Act, such prohibition also applies if no minimum service agreement is concluded within 14 days of the commencement of the strike or lockout.

In terms of section 43(4) of the Act, a trade union is allowed to picket outside the employer’s premises during a strike or lockout if the parties have concluded an agreement on the provision of a minimum service or if no such agreement is concluded within 14 days of the commencement of the strike or lockout.

The Act prohibits strikes and lockouts that do not comply with the aforesaid provisions or an agreed procedure. The prohibition also applies if the strike or lockout is in breach of a peace clause in a collective labour agreement.

In terms of section 45(1) of the Act, strikes or lockouts are also regarded as unprotected if the subject matter of the strike or lockout is not a trade dispute, is regulated by a collective labour agreement, is a matter that is required by the Act to be referred for arbitration or to the Industrial Court for adjudication, or is a matter that the parties to the dispute of interest have agreed to refer for arbitration.

In terms of section 47 of the Act, employees in essential services are not allowed to take part in a strike. Similarly, employers in essential services are not allowed to take part in a lockout. It is, however, worth noting that, although an essential service employee who engages in a strike commits an offence and is, in terms of section 48(1) of the Act, liable to a fine not exceeding P 2 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or to both, there is no punishment for an essential service employer who locks out its employees.

In terms of section 48(2) of the Act, the punishment applicable to an essential service employee who engages in a strike, is also applicable for any person who causes, procures, counsels or influences any essential service employee to engage in a strike.

Where there is a trade dispute involving parties in an essential service, it should be reported to the Commissioner by an organisation acting on behalf of the employer, employers or employees. The provisions of section 6(3) apply in respect of a report of the trade dispute made in accordance with section 6 (1).

Where a trade dispute is reported in accordance with that section, it is deemed to have been reported to the Commissioner under section 6. Where there is failure to settle a trade dispute reported to the Commissioner in accordance with section 6 (2) within 30 days from the day on which the trade dispute was reported, the Commissioner may immediately refer the trade dispute to an arbitrator if the dispute is a dispute of interest, except in the case of a collective dispute of interest where the employees are represented by a trade union, or to the Industrial Court if the trade dispute is a dispute of right.

*Ndulamo Anthony Morima, LLM(NWU); LLB(UNISA); DSE(UB); CoP (BAC); CoP (IISA) is the proprietor of Morima Attorneys. He can be contacted at 71410352 or HYPERLINK “mailto:anmorima@gmail.com” anmorima@gmail.com

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