World conqueror seeks immortality ala Gilgamesh but only to die at age 33
Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) is almost unanimously acknowledged as history’s greatest military general. Having succeeded to the throne of the Greek Kingdom of Macedonia on the demise of his father King Phillip II in 336 BC, he went on to conquer the whole of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East – all lands that were deemed the hub of the mainstream world at the time. What is even more remarkable is that he accomplished these feats at the tender age of only 33!
There are two aspects to the breathtaking saga of Alexander. There is the aspect that historians treat as viable history. Then there is the aspect they dismiss as pure myth or fantastical embellishment. This you will never find in the pages of one, single institutional textbook. Why? Because it talks about gods, angels, paradise, oracular visits, etc, which your modern historian simply would not reconcile with his myopic, single-track view of literal history.
To your university educated historian, gods, angels and paradise have supernatural connotations and therefore would not be part and parcel of this temporal world. How ignorant! For the gods and angels even of the Bible were not ethereal beings, now we know courtesy of the Sumerian tablets: they were flesh-and-blood beings like you and I. Clearly therefore, the gods and angels who feature in the Alexander story were not metaphysical beings: they were Anunnaki, finish and klaar.
What do we learn from the Sumerian chronicles in relation to the character and morality of the gods, as the Anunnaki were called? A typical blot about them was that they were unashamedly promiscuous – on the basis of our concept of morality as mankind, that is. For example, they fathered children with human queens or such members of the nobility behind the back of the king or some such aristocratic spouse, perhaps not so much for simple lust as for politically strategic purposes.
A case in point is Enki’s fathering of Noah by Lamech’s wife Batanash. As a result, even during the era of the pharaohs, a number of them claimed they were demigods because they were surreptitiously fathered by gods. It turns out that in the case of Alexander too, King Phillip was his father in name only. His real father was a god, an Anunnaki.
GREEK GOD ZEUS WAS NANNAR-SIN
Let us first of all demonstrate that the Greek gods and the Old Testament gods were one and the same but known by different names. In fact, the names were not different as such: they were simply linguistic variations of the same name. But the bottom line is that both the Greek and Old Testament gods were Anunnaki.
The Greeks did not believe in only one god. In fact, no ancient civilisations worshipped or revered one god. Even the Old Testament gods, it is now common knowledge, were disparate entities merged into the compound term Jehovah: that we have demonstrated in our earlier articles. Even our primordial ancestors as Africans invoked not Modimo (Setswana for God) but Badimo (the living dead as a collective). The unitarisation of Badimo into Modimo is a recent fad.
The Greeks had a pantheon of twelve gods they called Olympians. At the head of these gods was Zeus. Who was Zeus? He was said to be the “King of the Gods”. In Sumerian records, the King of the Gods was Anu, “Our Father Who Art In Heaven”, the ruler of the planet Nibiru. But in Greek theology, Anu was known as Uranus and he was said to be the father of Kronos, who in turn was the father of Zeus. Kronus thus was the equivalent of Enlil in the Anunnaki pantheon. What that entails is that Zeus was the king of gods who were based on Earth, not the cosmic king of the gods like Uranus was. However, in the Anunnaki pantheon, the king of gods on Earth was Enlil, or Kronus in Greek theology, not Zeus. So, who was the real ruler of Earth: Zeus or Enlil?
If you have been reading the Earth Chronicles, you will have noted that as the BC era wound down, Enlil, who was Earth’s initial Chief Executive, began to retreat from centre stage and delegated his duties mainly to Nannar-Sin, his second-born son. Thus to the Enlilites or people who worshipped Enlilite gods, Nannar-Sin was the de facto King of the Gods. So was Nannar-Sin equivalent to the Greek’s Zeus?
Literally, the term Zeus, in its original rendering, meant “He Who Is Here”. When addressed to a god, it meant “The One (a title for a divine being) Who Rules Here on Earth”. In short, this is “Earth Lord”, “Ruler of the World”, or “God of Earth”. The biblical term Jehovah is best explained in some African languages, one of which is setswana. In setswana, it is “Ye-o-fa”, meaning “The One Who is Here”. Thus Jehovah and Zeus meant the same thing – the divine ruler of Earth.
Now, Greek theology tells us Zeus had scores of children but the most significant were the twins Apollo and Artemis, a boy and girl. In the Sumerian accounts, these, as we have explained, are Utu-Shamash and Inanna-Ishtar, the children of Nannar-Sin. The Sumerian chronicles also tell us that Nannar-Sin had upwards of 70 children, the reason he was also known as Aten or Adonai in the Bible, both of which meaning “The Fertile One” in a reproductive sense. Zeus, it emerges, was Nannar-Sin. But was it Nannar-Sin who was the real father of Alexander the Great? Certainly Not. Alexander’s real father was Marduk, the son of the great god Enki.
A GOD IN DISGUISE COMES TO TOWN
One day before Alexander was born, an impressive-looking personage called at the courts of King Phillip with an entourage that was of kingly proportions. This dignitary identified himself as Nectanebo II Pharaoh of Egypt. Nectanebo II ruled Egypt from 360-342 BC. Those days, there were no pictures, no phones, and no telex, fax, or email and so it was easy for somebody to present themselves as somebody else, which this dignitary actually did. For he was not Nectanebo but the god Ammon. Ammon was the name by which Egyptians called Marduk.
Marduk’s intention was not simply to pay a courtesy call on Phillip. He wanted to plant his own seed in the very bosom of the Greek monarchy. At the time, that is, during the astrological age of Aries (2220 to 60 BC), Marduk was the Enlil, Earth’s Chief Executive (how that came to be we will dwell upon in future articles) and so was a very powerful figure. Marduk had calculated that the Greek empire was going to emerge as the mightiest on the globe and so he wanted Phillip’s heir to carry his genes. At least in this one regard, he tore a page from his father Enki’s amatory manual. Thus it was that as guest of Phillip, Marduk seduced his queen Olympias and the rest as they say is history: Alexander came to be.
When Alexander was born, Phillip was shocked at the “godly” features of his son, just like Lamech was startled by the Anunnaki-like features of the newly-born Noah. He launched into an investigation straightway and learnt that the man who had visited his palace was actually not Pharaoh Nectanebo II but the god Marduk in disguise. He now understood why Alexander looked the way he did. Since Marduk was the overall Lord of Earth, there was nothing Phillip could do about his bastard son other than to recognise him as his own.
Phillip, however, did not take the matter lying down. He kept accusing his wife of adultery and in fact went on to marry a second wife, the daughter of a Macedonian nobleman. Thus Alexander grew up aware of the scandalous circumstances of his birth. It is probable that King Phillip did make intimations of an intention to disinherit him for his assassination in 336 BC by one of his bodyguards remains a mystery. It need not be: Alexander and his mother Olympias obviously had a hand in it. Phillip was killed just after welcoming a new son with his second wife – a future threat to Alexander’s prospects of ascending to the throne.
GO TO EGYPT, DELPHIC ORACLE URGES ALEXANDER
The first thing Alexander sought to do when he succeeded to the throne was to clear genetic uncertainties about himself. Was he indeed the son of a god or that was no more than idle rumour? It is probable that his mother did own up to him as to who his real father was but he wanted hard facts. And if he was indeed the son of a god, then he would seek that god and ask to be conferred immortality. Alexander’s teacher was Aristotle and Aristotle had related to him The Epic of Gilgamesh, which served to spur his own quest.
In order to get a definite answer to his own conundrum, Alexander journeyed to Delphi on Mt. Parnassus near the Gulf of Corinth. Delphi was a religious sanctuary, a temple, where important people went to consult the god Apollo (Utu-Shamash) through a priestess known as the Sibyl. When the Sybyl spoke, she first broke to Alexander the most unsavoury piece of news – that he would be a great man but he was not favoured with length of years: he’d die at a very young age. That really jolted the young king, who was only 20 at the time.
Then Alexander asked her whether he was the son of a god as it was rumoured in the palace precincts. The Sybil knew the answer to that question but she equivocated: she was the priestess not of Marduk but of Utu-Shamash and so she didn’t wish to embroil herself in matters relating to Marduk. So she told him that if he wanted the answer to that question, he should travel to the Oasis of Siwa in Egypt, about 300 miles west of the Nile and engage with the priests there. In Egypt, Marduk was the main god, whereas in Europe it was mainly Nannar-Sin and Utu-Shamash.
ALEXANDER ROUTS THE PERSIANS
With the knowledge that his would be a short life, Alexander was not deflated as such: instead, he made it a point that he was going to dedicate a lot of effort to seeking the Elixir of Life. He also undertook to attain great military accomplishments before he died. With this volition, he devoted himself to forging a mighty military machine with which to conquer the whole wide world. In the process, he spent more time with his forces than at the reins.
In the next two years, he united the various Greek states, who had been feuding with each other, under the banner of his own city-state, Macedonia. He trained them thoroughly and rigorously and in 334 BC, they were ready to take on the then superpower of the day, the Persians, who in the past had made repeated inroads into Greek territories and often had the edge. The immediate prizes to be gained were Asia Minor and the lucrative sea lanes in the eastern Mediterranean, both of which were under the Persian sphere of influence. Alexander was at the head of 15,000 elite foot and horse-mounted soldiers.
It was Europe’s first armed invasion of Asia. In the initial battle, the Persians, like the Greeks’ a confederate army led by Darius III, were repulsed as far as today’s Turkish-Syrian border. Then in the autumn of 333 BC, the Persians regrouped and launched a counterattack in what became known as the Battle of Issus. The counter-offensive backfired: Alexander captured the royal tent but Darius himself slipped through his fingers and retreated to Babylon, the then capital of the Persian Empire, which stretched all the way from Asia Minor, now seized by Alexander, to India.
Had Alexander pressed on and chased after the remnants of the Persian army and their now unnerved king, it would have been all over since the great Greek general had thrown quite a scare into them. But Alexander called a halt to the advance and ordered his troops to head south. The destination was Egypt. His generals were astounded, but what they didn’t know was that Alexander was pursuing two purposes at once – the conquest of the world and the quest for the Plant of Eternal Youth with a view to prolonging his life and therefore nullifying the prophecy of the Delphic oracle.
ALEXANDER CONFIRMED AS MARDUK’S SON
Arriving in Egypt in 332 BC, Alexander expected the Persian viceroys who ruled Egypt to fight to the death but that was not to be: instead, the Persian garrison downed arms and euphorically welcomed him as their new King. Alexander then embarked on a three-week desert trek to the Oasis of Siwa, the seat of a renowned oracle of Marduk, in heed of the Delphic oracle’s ordinance. The priests of Siwa indeed assured him that he was the son of Marduk, or Ammon as he was known in Egypt.
When Alexander broke these good tidings to the Egyptians, he was crowned as their Divine Pharaoh in a temple in Thebes. To mark this occasion and to celebrate his now borne-out demigod status, Alexander issued new silver coins depicting him with a ram’s horns. He henceforth became known in Egypt as the Lord of the Two Horns. The ram horns were in deference to Marduk, who was known as the Ram-God in that he presided over Aries, the astrological age of the Ram.
Having been confirmed as a demigod, Alexander now regarded his quest for immortality as a right and not simply a privilege. Once again, he had asked the priests of Siwa as to how he could get access to what he called the “Waters of Life”. The priests, who respected him but were not in awe of him, simply told him that he should first go to Karnak and from there proceed to a “land south of Egypt” (today’s Sudan) and there meet Queen Candace for further instructions.
According to Zechariah Sitchin, the significance of Karnak arose from the fact that it was “a venerated religious centre since the third millennium BC. Karnak was a conglomeration of temples, shrines and monuments to Ammon built by generations of Pharaohs. One of the most impressive and colossal structures was the temple built by Queen Hatshepsut more than a thousand years before Alexander's time. And she too was said to have been a daughter of the god Ammon, conceived by a queen whom the god had visited in disguise!”
ALEXANDER MEETS ENOCH AND ELIJAH BUT DRAWS A BLANK
Queen Candace has been described as one "whose beauty no living man could praise sufficiently”. But it was not her beauty Alexander was after: it was the secret of immortality. It is not clear in the Alexander chronicles whether she too had sought the Fountain of Youth, but she did have an idea as to where it could be found and accordingly gave Alexander the directions and protocols of approach to the place she described as a "the wonderful cave where the gods congregate." He was instructed to “to seek out a certain mountain with subterranean passageways in the Sinai Peninsula for angelic encounters”, an echo of the route Gilgamesh took 2500 years before.
Following the directions given him, Alexander and a few of his trusted companions reached Mt Mashu in the Sinai Peninsula and there he was met by “winged men”, that is, Anunnaki astronauts who were manning a gate. Apparently, they were content with his bonafides for they gave him the green light. Like Gilgamesh, he travelled in a dark subterranean tunnel for 12 days and nights, whereupon he met an “angel” who had a flaming fire in a place with a star-lit haze and shining rooftops. The angels or gods, who had eyes that emitted beams of light, were being served by solemn and silent humans. Alexander himself described the place as “where Paradise, which is the Land of the Living, is situated, the abode where the saints dwell."
The angel asked him, “Who art thou, and for what reason art thou here, O mortal?” Alexander identified himself and answered that he had come in search of the Waters of Life so that he might drink of them and evade his fate, having been told by the oracle of Delphi that he had but a short time to live. The angel’s response was blunt and rather disquieting. He said, “"You shall live upon dying, thus not dying.” In other words, there would be no immortality for him: only eternal post-mortem life as was the destiny of every mortal.
Alexander nonetheless insisted that he wanted to know more about the secrets of Heaven. The Angel then took him to another section of Paradise, where he found two men whose faces “were bright, their teeth whiter than milk. Their eyes shone brighter than the morning star; they were lofty of stature, of gracious look." One of the two, who lay in a couch, “was draped in a coverlet inlaid with gold and precious stones, and above it, worked in gold, were branches of a vine, having its cluster of grapes formed of jewels.” The two men are named as Enoch and Elijah, of whom even the Bible makes a point of informing us that they never died but went straight to “Heaven”.
The two saints told Alexander that God had “hidden us from death” in this place, “the City of the Storehouse of Life from where the Bright Waters of Life emanate”. On his part, Enoch, who was the senior of the two, re-affirmed what the angel had told him and proceeded to serve the warning that, “Do not pry into the mysteries of God: be content with your lot.”
Alexander left Paradise a downcast man. He now set his sights on meeting Marduk in person so that he pleads his case with “my father”. Sadly, by the time Alexander conquered Babylon and met Marduk, the god was dead. And in the case of Alexander himself, the priestess of Delphi’s prophecy was fulfilled: he died, following a short illness, on June 11, 323 BC, at the tender age of 33. As with Gilgamesh before him, the Plant of Rejuvenation completely eluded him.
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.
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?
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:firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com