Doggedly determined King of Uruk encounters Hero of the Deluge in subterranean paradise beneath Sinai Peninsula
Having set off into the woods to find Noah’s boatman Urshanabi on the basis of Siduri the Ale Woman’s directions, Gilgamesh still was distraught. What if Urshanabi proved hostile and told him to get lost? Without Urshanabi’s cooperation, it was a matter of course that his cause was a lost one. Or at the very least, it could double the strain of making it to his destination – the Land of the Living or the spaceport.
But he was lucky as he did finally track down Urshanabi. Once he had introduced himself as the King of Uruk in Sumeria, Urshanabi just like Siduri first wondered whether he indeed was King. “Urshanabi observed that Gilgamesh’s face was worn and weathered and that sorrow rested in his belly,” says The Epic of Gilgamesh.
Gilgamesh proceeded to recount to Urshanabi all his tribulations since the encounter with Huwawa – the death of Enkidu, his grief, his fear of death, his wanderings in the wilderness, and his implacable resolve to find Noah or hitch a ride in a Nibiru-bound shem, a rocket. “I ranged and wandered over all the lands,” he poured out his heart. “I traversed difficult mountains. I crossed all the seas so that I might come and behold Utnapishtim (the Akkadian name for Noah), whom they call The Faraway.”
For a whole day, Urshanabi interrogated Gilgamesh till he was satisfied that he indeed was a King and was certainly a demigod. In any case, if Gilgamesh was not telling the truth, Utu-Shamash, who he was certain to meet at some stage, would send him back unceremoniously. Thus it was that the following day, the two got into Urshanabi’s boat and they set sail across the Dead Sea. Since the sea was deemed poisonous, Urshanabi stressed to Gilgamesh that under no circumstances should his hands touch the water.
The journey was not smooth-sailing through and through: at some point, they had to make an about-turn when Gilgamesh’s bulk rendered a navigational device inoperable, causing them to improvise wooden poles (which Gilgamesh had to cut alone as a punitive measure) as navigational sails. Even then, they still moved a great deal faster than they would have done had they used the dry land route: they covered an overland journey of 45 days in only three days.
Urshanabi, however, did not intend to take Gilgamesh all the way to Noah’s abode: that he had no right to. Once they had reached the extreme, southern end of the Dead Sea shore, Urshanabi told Gilgamesh that that was the furthest he could go with him. “Utnapishtim dwells around a mountain called Mashu,” he said to Gilgamesh. “Go straight ahead until you reach a regular way that leads toward the Great Sea (Mediterranean Sea). You are to follow that road until you reach two stone columns that serve as markers.
Turning there, you will come to a town called Itla, sacred to the god Ullu-Yah (meaning “God of the Peaks”, these being the twin mountains of the Sinai Peninsula. This was Nannar-Sin, the overall god of Canaan). The god's permission is needed in order to cross into the Forbidden Region where Mount Mashu is. That, Gilgamesh, is your destination.”
Gilgamesh thanked Urshanabi for his invaluable assistance, bade him farewell, and began the foot trek to Itla, known in the Bible as Kadesh-Barnea and to the Sumerians as Bad.Gal.Dingir, an ancient caravan town situated at the border of the restricted Tilmun in the Sinai Peninsula. Anybody going beyond the town had to seek special permission from either Nannar-Sin or Utu-Shamash.
GILGAMESH DENIED A SHEM
â€¨After a long and weary journey through the Negev Desert which lasted days, Gilgamesh finally pitched at Itla, a gateway place being situated between the Negev and the Sinai Desert proper. The moment he arrived there, he gave an offering to Utu-Shamash, who it turned out was already in town. Then entering into the presence of the god, Gilgamesh related his misfortune in the Straits of Ormuz and how that led to Enkidu’s death. He related the story without recriminations at all although deep down he resented Enlil, who was behind it all.
Shamash was glad to see his nephew and god-son but he was saddened by the news of Enkidu’s death. His pathos was made all the more pronounced by Gilgamesh himself, who wept as he recounted the death of his great friend. “If I had the powers of the god Ningishzidda,” he said to Shamash, choking, “I’d bring Enkidu back to life.” Shamash told him even Zidda wouldn’t perform that kind of feat as Enkidu had been dead for months now.
After he had rested and eaten his fill, Gilgamesh was told to wash thoroughly, put on Kingly attire in readiness for an audience with Nannar-Sin, the father to Shamash, and prepare a worthy sacrifice for the god. It was Sin who was to decide whether Gilgamesh should proceed to the “Great Fortified Place of the Gods” as Tilmun was otherwise known. That done, the two set off in Shamash’s chariot to the palace of Sin. Sin had already been notified of their coming and he was very ready for them. They found him not alone but with another god, Ishkur-Adad, his younger brother who was the overall god of Lebanon, where Baalbek was located.
Arriving at Sin’s courts, Gilgamesh accordingly made an animal sacrifice to Sin, then prostrating himself before the god, he offered prayers as to the fulfilment of that which he desperately sought. He was not allowed to address Sin, a highly exalted god, directly: all he had to do was pray. It was Shamash who spoke on his behalf. Shamash asked Sin to consider Gilgamesh’s desire to attain immortality by way of a visit to Nibiru, the Planet of the Anunnaki, just as other mortals such as Adapa and Enoch had done. “Accept his offerings, grant him everlasting life,” Shamash besought Sin.
Ishkur-Adad, who was aware of Gilgamesh’s earlier attempt vis-à-vis the Cedar Mountain and the troubles it engendered, straightaway objected. As far as he was concerned, Gilgamesh was a trouble-maker and so did not deserve setting foot in the “Holy Place” that was Nibiru. Moreover, he had done nothing of significance in heed of the gods to be afforded that kind of privilege. Sin seemed to share Adad’s view.
Then bursting into a loud cry, Gilgamesh pleaded that at least he be allowed to meet his great forefather Noah in the Land of the Living. "Let me take the road to Utnapishtim, the son of Ubar-Tutu (Lamech)!" he entreated. Of that, Sin, who was one of the good-hearted Anunnaki gods, was prepared to give him the go ahead but Adad again objected.
Sin then ruled that he and Adad would discuss the matter further and inform Shamash in due course. But as far as Shamash was concerned, it was the voice of his father that mattered and not that of the hard-hearted Adad. He told Gilgamesh to begin his advance toward Mount Mashu immediately after exiting Sin’s palace.
GILGAMESH AT MOUNT MASHU
After journeying for six days, a drop in the ocean compared with the several months he had traversed from Oman to Jericho, Gilgamesh at long last arrived at the sacred “Mountain Most Supreme” Urshanabi had directed him to in Tilmun Land. Retrospectively named Mount Mashu, after Moses, it was the Place of the Shems, “where by day the shems he (Gilgamesh) watched as they departed and came in.”
It was the “Place of Ascent” (of the shems) and the “Protected Place”, or Paradise. Indeed, it was heavily policed by “Rocket Men”. Says The Epic of Gilgamesh: “Rocket-men guard its gate … Their terror is awesome, their glance is death. Their dreaded spotlight sweeps the mountains. They watch over Shamash as he ascends and descends.”
Writes Zechariah Sitchin: “Depictions have been found (in Sumeria) showing winged beings or divine bull-men operating a circular beaming device mounted on a post. They could well be ancient illustrations of the ‘dreaded spotlight that sweeps the mountains’. One seal depiction showing Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu may well depict the intercession of a god with one of the robot-like guards who could sweep the area with spotlights and emit death rays. The description brings to mind the statement in the Book of Genesis that God placed ‘the revolving sword’ at the entrance to the Garden of Eden, to block its access to humans.”
Mount Mashu and the broader Tilmun were also known as the Land of the Crossing, the Gates of Heaven and Earth. Why so? Sitchin offers two explanations for this. In the first, he says, “The Mount's functions required it to be connected both to the distant heavens and to the far reaches of Earth: ‘On high, to the Celestial Band (that is, our cosmic neighbourhood) it is connected; Below, to the Lower World (Earth) it is bound’.” In another, he posits thus:
“Those who were to reach it (Mount Mashu, by air) were guided there by the Sphinx; for its gaze led eastward, exactly along the 30th Parallel. It was where the two lines intersected, where the Line of Jerusalem intersected the 30th Parallel that the Gates of Heaven and Earth were located: the Spaceport of the gods.”
GILGAMESH UNHARMED BY DEADLY SCANNING BEAM
For people travelling on foot or by chariot, Mount Mashu had one gazetted entry and exit point which was manned by Rocket Men, that is, Anunnaki guards. As Gilgamesh made his approach, he was not automatically regarded as a stranger as such. It was not every inch of Tilmun that was out of bounds by Earthlings. Writes Zechariah Sitchin: “Even in the days of Gilgamesh, not all of the Land of Tilmun was a restricted area.
There was a part, as we have seen, where sentenced men toiled in dark and dusty mines, digging out the copper and gemstones for which Tilmun was famous. Long associated with Sumer in culture and trade, Tilmun supplied Sumer with certain desired species of woods and provided the ancient world with highly prized onions and dates.” But since he had not officially been given the go-ahead by the god Sin, Gilgamesh’s name was not logged onto the computer as a forthcoming visitor and this was potentially very dangerous.
Everybody who came here, whether a rank-and-file Anunnaki or Earthling, was electronically scanned with a very sophisticated beam from a distance. The beam was particularly intense at dusk, when Gilgamesh turned up at the Mashu gates. Now, this beam was such that when it was directed at a pure human, it would stun and, depending on how it was calibrated, even kill him. But if the same deadly spotlight was trained on an Anunnaki or a demigod, the copper-based blood coursing in him would neutralise it and therefore he would suffer no harm at all.
Given that Gilgamesh was up to three-quarters god, the glare of the beam scarcely troubled him. "When Gilgamesh beheld the terrible glowing, his face he shielded,” says The Epic of Gilgamesh. “Then regaining his composure, he approached them." The guards were taken aback. One of them bawled to the other, “He who approaches us, his body is the flesh of the gods! Two-thirds of him is god, one-third is human!” The beam was so sophisticated it even was able to pick up the minimum quantity of Anunnaki blood in Gilgamesh! It is obvious that Shamash had already told Gilgamesh that being a demigod and more, the beam was incapable of occasioning harm on him.
GILGAMESH QUIZZED BY ROCKET MEN
The guards now signalled for Gilgamesh to approach them, which he did with outward confidence though deep down he was filled with apprehension. Then the guards set about inquisitioning him. He was asked to identify himself, state the reason he had come to this restricted place, and produce convincing credentials that he had divine authority to do so.
In his response, Gilgamesh did not flinch but was matter-of-fact. First, he explained why he was more than two-thirds god and was in fact a King. Second, he asserted by oath that he had come to Mount Mashu by authority of the god Utu-Shamash. Finally, he gave reasons as to why he had so ventured – that he wanted to consult with his ageless forefather Noah, who he had been told by his mother, the goddess Ninsun, lived in eternal bliss somewhere in the precincts of Mount Mashu. “I come in search of Life,” he said. “On account of Utnapishtim, my forefather, have I come, he who the congregation of the gods had joined. About Death and Life I wish to ask him.”
The Rocket Men did confirm that Noah was indeed somewhere within Mount Mashu but were adamant that no Earthling since Noah had ever been admitted to the Land of the Living. Gilgamesh was unstinting: he told the guards that if they turned him away, they risked incurring the wrath of Shamash, under whose auspices he had come. After interrogating him further, the guards caved in and gave him the go-ahead. “The gate of the Mount is open to thee!" they said.
Then they spelt out to him some characteristics of what they called the “Path of Shamash”, an underground passage way to Noah’s idyllic environs. “The mountain's trail no one has travelled. For twelve leagues (about 70 km) extends its interior; dense is the darkness, light there is none! No mortal has passed through the mountain's inaccessible tract!”
But Gilgamesh was not interested in the nether aspects of his manouverings through the passage: he had already begun to advance even as the guards spoke. Deep down their hearts, they pitted him as they were certain he would never make it. As far as they were concerned, Shamash had set a trap for him for one reason or the other.
GILGAMESH IN SUBTERRANEAN PARADISE!
Gilgamesh trudged down the pitch-dark subterranean passages for a total of 12 beru. This was 12 double hours, or 48 hours. “The darkness was dense, there was no light. He could see utterly nothing ahead or behind.” In the eighth beru, the darkness grew so intense that he began to wail with fright: it was like he had been thrown into the deep end and was headed to a Hellish realm to spend eternal life wholly engulfed in darkness. But in the ninth beru, there was a bit of relief when he felt “a north wind fanning his face”.
This lifted his spirits as indications were he was nearing the tunnel’s exit. Indeed, in the eleventh beru, dawn began to break upon him and at the end of the twelfth beru, he emerged into incredible brightness and indescribable grandeur under an artificial sun. The place he came to, a subterranean paradise, had Gilgamesh transfixed with disbelief. He described it as an “Enclosure of the Gods”, which was a blend of an artificial and a natural utopia.
Nearly everything was made of artificial carved precious stones in a riot of colour, notably white, red, and green. “All kinds of thorny prickly bushes were visible, blooming with gemstones. Carnelian bore fruit hanging in clusters, its vines too beautiful to behold. The foliage was of lapis lazuli; and grapes, too lush to look at, of stones were made … In its waters, pure reeds of sasu-stones. Like a Tree of Life and a Tree of Knowledge, that of An-Gug stones are made.”
A dumbfounded Gilgamehs began to wander around to savour this splendour. This was just the kind of place he’d love to dwell in forever, he thought to himself. It was hard to belief that such a heavenly place could exist on this planet. The place had conferred on him certain unnatural capacities too. For instance, he could not feel tired or hungry and his reflection in the objects around him seemed flawless, with a beauty he never knew he possessed. He also looked much more youthful.
As he paced up and down petrified with awe, he heard a sweet-sounding, almost musical voice but with the acoustics of a man. “Who dare venture here?” the voice demanded. Turning round, Gilgamesh saw a good-looking grey-haired and bearded man who looked like a sage but whose skin was hardly lined. He was immediately reminded of the great god Enki, with whom the man had an uncanny resemblance. The man was nearly as big as Gilgamesh himself. He wore a very wide smile on his face, his arms folded in front of his chest, but his phosphorescent eyes were probing.
“I’m Gilgamesh King of Uruk,” Gilgamesh answered as he knelt down in deference to the beautiful being that accosted him. “I come in search of thee, my great ancestor and Hero of the Deluge, known to my generation as Utnapishtim, the son of Ubar-Tutu, on the authority of my godfather Utu-Shamash.” Gilgamesh’s intuition was spot-on. The man who beheld him was Ziusudra aka Utnapishtim. In the Bible, he’s known as Noah. NEXT WEEK: NOAH’S DIALOGUE WITH GILGAMESH!
The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.
It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.
Youngest Maccabees scion Jonathan takes over after Judas and leads for 18 years
Going hand-in-glove with the politics at play in Judea in the countdown to the AD era, General Atiku, was the contention for the priesthood. You will be aware, General, that politics and religion among the Jews interlocked. If there wasn’t a formal and sovereign Jewish King, there of necessity had to be a High Priest at any given point in time.
Initially, every High Priest was from the tribe of Levi as per the stipulation of the Torah. At some stage, however, colonisers of Judah imposed their own hand-picked High Priests who were not ethnic Levites. One such High Priest was Menelaus of the tribe of Benjamin.
Parliament has rejected a motion by Leader of Opposition (LOO) calling for the reversing of the recent appointments of ruling party activists to various Land Boards across the country. The motion also called for the appointment of young and qualified Batswana with tertiary education qualifications.
The ruling party could not allow that motion to be adopted for many reasons discussed below. Why did the LOO table this motion? Why was it negated? Why are Land Boards so important that a ruling party felt compelled to deploy its functionaries to the leadership and membership positions?
Prior to the motion, there was a LOO parliamentary question on these appointments. The Speaker threw a spanner in the works by ruling that availing a list of applicants to determine who qualified and who didn’t would violate the rights of those citizens. This has completely obliterated oversight attempts by Parliament on the matter.
How can parliament ascertain the veracity of the claim without the names of applicants? The opposition seeks to challenge this decision in court. It would also be difficult in the future for Ministers and government officials to obey instructions by investigative Parliamentary Committees to summon evidence which include list of persons. It would be a bad precedent if the decision is not reviewed and set aside by the Business Advisory Committee or a Court of law.
Prior to independence, Dikgosi allocated land for residential and agricultural purposes. At independence, land tenures in Botswana became freehold, state land and tribal land. Before 1968, tribal land, which is land belonging to different tribes, dating back to pre-independence, was allocated and administered by Dikgosi under Customary Law. Dikgosi are currently merely ‘land overseers’, a responsibility that can be delegated. Land overseers assist the Land Boards by confirming the vacancy or availability for occupation of land applied for.
Post-independence, the country was managed through modern law and customary law, a system developed during colonialism. Land was allocated for agricultural purposes such as ploughing and grazing and most importantly for residential use. Over time some land was allocated for commercial purpose. In terms of the law, sinking of boreholes and development of wells was permitted and farmers had some rights over such developed water resources.
Land Boards were established under Section 3 of the Tribal Land Act of 1968 with the intention to improve tribal land administration. Whilst the law was enacted in 1968, Land Boards started operating around 1970 under the Ministry of Local Government and Lands which was renamed Ministry of Lands and Housing (MLH) in 1999. These statutory bodies were a mechanism to also prune the powers of Dikgosi over tribal land. Currently, land issues fall under the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services.
There are 12 Main Land Boards, namely Ngwato, Kgatleng, Tlokweng, Tati, Chobe, Tawana, Malete, Rolong, Ghanzi, Kgalagadi, Kweneng and Ngwaketse Land Boards. The Tribal Land Act of 1968 as amended in 1994 provides that the Land Boards have the powers to rescind the grant of any rights to use any land, impose restrictions on land usage and facilitate any transfer or change of use of land.
Some land administration powers have been decentralized to sub land boards. The devolved powers include inter alia common law and customary law water rights and land applications, mining, evictions and dispute resolution. However, decisions can be appealed to the land board or to the Minister who is at the apex.
So, land boards are very powerful entities in the country’s local government system. Membership to these institutions is important not only because of monetary benefits of allowances but also the power of these bodies. in terms of the law, candidates for appointment to Land Boards or Subs should be residents of the tribal areas where appointments are sought, be holders of at least Junior Certificate and not actively involved in politics. The LOO contended that ruling party activists have been appointed in the recent appointments.
He argued that worse, some had no minimum qualifications required by the law and that some are not inhabitants of the tribal or sub tribal areas where they have been appointed. It was also pointed that some people appointed are septuagenarians and that younger qualified Batswana with degrees have been rejected.
Other arguments raised by the opposition in general were that the development was not unusual. That the ruling party is used to politically motivated appointments in parastatals, civil service, diplomatic missions, specially elected councilors and Members of Parliament (MPs), Bogosi and Land Boards. Usually these positions are distributed as patronage to activists in return for their support and loyalty to the political leadership and the party.
The ruling party contended that when the Minister or the Ministry intervened and ultimately appointed the Land Boards Chairpersons, Deputies and members , he didn’t have information, as this was not information required in the application, on who was politically active and for that reason he could not have known who to not appoint on that basis. They also argued that opposition activists have been appointed to positions in the government.
The counter argument was that there was a reason for the legal requirement of exclusion of political activists and that the government ought to have mechanisms to detect those. The whole argument of “‘we didn’t know who was politically active” was frivolous. The fact is that ruling party activists have been appointed. The opposition also argued that erstwhile activists from their ranks have been recruited through positions and that a few who are serving in public offices have either been bought or hold insignificant positions which they qualified for anyway.
Whilst people should not be excluded from public positions because of their political activism, the ruling party cannot hide the fact that they have used public positions to reward activists. Exclusion of political activists may be a violation of fundamental human or constitutional rights. But, the packing of Land Boards with the ruling party activists is clear political corruption. It seeks to sow divisions in communities and administer land in a politically biased manner.
It should be expected that the ruling party officials applying for land or change of land usage etcetera will be greatly assisted. Since land is wealth, the ruling party seeks to secure resources for its members and leaders. The appointments served to reward 2019 election primary and general elections losers and other activists who have shown loyalty to the leadership and the party.
Running a country like this has divided it in a way that may be difficult to undo. The next government may decide to reset the whole system by replacing many of government agencies leadership and management in a way that is political. In fact, it would be compelled to do so to cleanse the system.
The opposition is also pondering on approaching the courts for review of the decision to appoint party functionaries and the general violation of clearly stated terms of reference. If this can be established with evidence, the courts can set aside the decision on the basis that unqualified people have been appointed.
The political activism aspect may also not be difficult to prove as some of these people are known activists who are in party structures, at least at the time of appointment, and some were recently candidates. There is a needed for civil society organizations such as trade unions and political parties to fight some of these decisions through peaceful protests and courts.