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Abe Shields Space-Related Sites

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

   
General Abraham secures Jerusalem and Sinai spaceport, then marches on Egypt

In GENESIS 15:18, this is what we’re informed: “On that day,  Yahweh contracted a covenant with Abram,  saying, ‘To your seed,  I give this land, from the stream of Egypt as far as the Great Stream, the stream Euphrates’.” I wonder how many Christians have read this passage and vividly grasped its implications.

To those who have not, thankfully we’re on hand to lend a hand. In the passage, Yahweh, the Anunnaki supremo Enlil, undertakes to Abraham, his chosen Shepherd-King for the forthcoming astrological Age of Aries, that he would give his offspring a huge swathe of land stretching from   the stream of Egypt to the Great Stream known as the Euphrates. In case you are a newcomer  to this series, the Stream of Egypt was  the name of the Nile River in antiquity.

There are two curious aspects about Enlil’s promise to Abraham. First, why was Abraham rendered such a promise? What did he do to merit it? When  you read the greater context of Genesis 15, you find yourself at a loss. The promise comes after Abraham performs a ritual in which he sacrifices a heifer, a goat, a ram, and a turtledove to Enlil, which Enlil acknowledges with a stove-hot “fiery torch”that consumes the sacrifices.

It is typical of the Genesis writers, when they want to fudge a matter, to obfuscate things so that the reader is left guessing. But the Sumerian chronicles, from which the Genesis writers researched, are more matter-of-fact.  The land in question was promised to Abraham subject to his fulfilling a most momentous assignment – the conquest of northern Egypt.

That brings us to the second curious aspect about the promise.  It is common knowledge that the river Nile is in Egypt. So why were Abraham’s people, the Hebrews or Hebraic Jews, promised a portion of territory that did not belong to them?  Egypt was not a domain of Enlilites: it was a domain of Enkites. Enlil had no hegemonic jurisdiction over Egypt and Abraham was not an Egyptian at all: he was a Sumerian. So why did Enlil include the whole of Egypt east of the Nile River as part of his future bequest to Abraham and his descendents?

Once again, the Bible far from hits the nail squarely on the head.  But the Sumerian accounts and researchers of Egyptian records are much more revealing. At the time of Abraham, northern Egypt was dominated by Hebrews of Indian origin known as the Hyksos. These were Enlil’s people. We have already related that the Hyksos were planted in northern Egypt by Enlil at a time when Abraham was Pope of India and was based in the part of that country known as Maturea. This was a long-term scheme by Enlil to occupy a part of Egypt (and ultimately possibly overrun it altogether) just as Enkites inhabited vast areas of Canaan and regions of Sumer such as Babylon and Eridu.

In 2048 BC, Marduk had with the guileful assistance of the Hittites seized Harran, a Hebrew stronghold,  forcing the whole of Abraham’s family save for Nahor to depart the city.   It was at this stage that Enlil decided on a counter-penetration of Egypt which should culminate in the annexation of northern Egypt by the Hyksos under the command of Abraham.   

ABE WAS A MILITARY GENERAL

Meanwhile, Abraham was on a roll.  Reading Genesis, one gets the impression that Abraham was no more than a phenomenally successful pastoral farmer. A clutch of bible-based movies that have been made over the years also loyally toe this biblical line. Sadly, it’s all disinformation, if not outright bollocks, which is very common in much of the Old Testament. Firstly, Abraham was not a farmland shepherd: he was a member of a highly influential royal and priestly family. Secondly, Abraham was not simply the leader of the Hebrew race: he was an accomplished military general.

Just like every male member of the British royal family has to do service in a branch of the armed forces, Abraham too was trained as a warrior from a very early age. We see this phenomenon even in African history.  Sechele and Kgosidintsi, the foremost BaKwena princes, as well as Khama the Great and Linchwe I  were all trained warriors and played active parts in wars. In AD 70, Flavius Titus, the Roman general who razed Jerusalem to the ground, was the heir to Roman emperor Vespasian.  

According to the legendary Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, Abraham was at the command of “318 officers under him, with unlimited manpower at his disposal”.  These 318 officers were both his warriors and his personal security detail. Abraham lived n a garrison house and all his soldiers were not only trained by him, with the assistance of Ninurta’s Elamite elite troops,  but were born in the garrison itself.  The Sumerian records also say that Enlil equipped Abraham with “the best chariots, finest horses, 380 well-trained soldiers and weapons that could smite an army of ten thousand men in hours.”

Abraham’s troops were the most formidable of the day. They also were a numerable  force. If, for argument’s sake, each of the 318 officers had 40 men under him, we’re talking of a 12,000-men-strong army. And like his father Terah, Abraham was very well-versed in astronomy and astrology. 

Writes Josephus: “Berosus (the great ancient writer who was once a priest of Marduk) mentions our father Abram without naming him, when he says thus: ‘In the tenth generation after the Flood, there was among the Chaldeans a man righteous and great, and skilful in the celestial science’." Josephus also sets apart Abraham as an extremely wise man.  He was a person of great sagacity, both for understanding all things and persuading his hearers, and not mistaken in his opinions; for which reason he began to have higher notions of virtue than others had …”
    
GENERAL ABE CONQUERS DAMASCUS
    
When Abraham departed Harran after Marduk was lured into taking the city by Ishkur-Adad, he was accompanied by his father Terah and his nephew Lot, the only son of his departed older brother Haran. At some stage after the death of Haran, Abraham had adopted Lot as his own son, a state of affairs the slanted Genesis authors skirted completely. Says Josephus: “Now Abram, having no son of his own, adopted Lot, his brother Haran's son, and his wife Sarai's brother.”

What that meant was that legally, Abraham was not childless before Isaac was born: he already had a heir in the person of Lot. But as they say, blood is thicker than water and so it was the Isaac factor that largely contributed to a parting of ways between Abraham and Lot, which story we will address at the appropriate time.

When Abraham set off from Harran, he was accompanied by his troops. Enlil’s immediate brief to him was to rush and secure Tilmun, the spaceport, and Jerusalem, the Mission Control  Centre. These two space-related sites were potentially vulnerable to capture by Nabu’s people given that the Canaanites were rallying en masse to Nabu’s banner.

Writes Zechariah Sitchin: “Starting in 2047 BC, the sacred Fourth Region (the Sinai Peninsula, the location of Tilmun) became a target and a pawn in the Enlilite struggle with Marduk and Nabu … The ancient sources indicate that from the safety of the sacred region Nabu ventured to the lands and cities along the Mediterranean coast, even to some Mediterranean islands, spreading everywhere the message of Marduk’s coming supremacy.”

After travelling for about 1000 km, Abraham reached Damascus, in today’s Syria, and noting that it was very strategically located, he decided to take it. Exactly how this conquest panned out is not related in the Bible nor in the familiar Sumerian records.  It is Josephus who enlightens us in this regard. This is what he writes, quoting a certain  historian going by the name Nicolaus of Damascus:  

“Abram reigned at Damascus, being a foreigner, who came with an army out of the land above Babylon, called the land of the Chaldeans: but, after a long time, he removed from that country also, with his people, and went into the land then called the land of Canaan, but now the land of Judea, and this when his posterity were become a multitude … Now the name of Abram is even still famous in the country of Damascus; and there is shown a village named from him, The Habitation of Abram.”

TERAH IS PRIEST-KING OF JERUSALEM

Abraham directly reigned at Damascus throughout 2048 BC. Then at the onset of 2047 BC, he received instructions from Enlil that he proceed to Canaan. Obliging, he installed a viceroy to hold the fort whilst he was away and commenced his trek southwards.    Abraham’s first port of call was Shechem. Located in the middle of vital trade routes, Shechem was a key commercial centre, trading in local grapes, olives, wheat, livestock and pottery.

As important, it was a bastion of the Canaanites, who as we have already indicated gravitated more toward Marduk than Enlilites. Abraham was therefore determined that he convert the city’s population to Enlilite allegiance. As such, he built an altar there which he dedicated to Enlil. A pleased Enlil once again reiterated the promise he had made to him – that he and his people would inherit the entire land of Canaan.

Next, Abraham moved about a few kilometres south of Shechem and a little beyond a small town known as Shiloh. There, about 12 miles north of Jerusalem,  he again built an altar to Enlil in the vicinities of Mount Moriah and its sister mountains Mount Zophim and the famed Mount Zion.  All these three mountains were located around Jerusalem and housed the Anunnaki’s inter-space travel Mission Control Centre. This can easily be gleaned from the very names of the mountains – Mount Moriah meant “Mount of Directing”; Mount Zophim meant “Mount of Observers”; and Mount Zion meant “Mount of Signal”.   The altar Abraham built here he called Beth-El, meaning “God’s House”.

It was at this time that Terah was ordained as the Priest-King, or Melchizedek, of Jerusalem by Enlil. He was 146 years old having been born in 2193 BC.  Note that with substantial Anunnaki blood coursing through his veins, Terah was not walking on a cane or confined to a hammock: he was still fit and his faculties were intact. Unlike other Canaanite cities, Jerusalem was one particular place where the Enlilites had enormous clout.  

Leaving his father in charge of Jerusalem, Abraham proceeded to Hebron (in today’s West Bank), about 30 km south of Jerusalem. Like Shechem, Hebron was an important economic centre owing to its strategic position on the crossroads  between the Dead Sea to the east, Jerusalem to the north, and the Negev Desert and Egypt to the south. Hebron was also significant in two other ways. Firstly,  nestling in the Judean Mountains, it was militarily well-fortified.

Secondly, it was the one place in the whole of Canaan where the Nephilim (also known as Rephaites) were concentrated. The Nephilim were a gigantic race that had resulted from intermarriages between Earthlings and the Igigi. Unlike demigods, who were also part-Anunnaki, part-Earthling, the Nephilim were not treated as royalty but were in fact spurned as a race of rascals because of their predatory and cannibalistic treatment of mankind in the globalwide famine that preceded the Deluge of Noah’s day.

Abraham was desirous that the Nephilim be won over to the Enlilite cause too. Thus at Hebron too, he built an altar to Enlil. Altars were places where homage was paid to a god, the equivalent of today’s churches. They were not temples or synagogues: they were simply platforms.
 
GENERAL ABE SECURES SPACEPORT

Having secured Jerusalem and having accomplished his devotional ends at Hebron, Abraham moved on.  His destination this time around was the Negev Desert, the principal focus of his mission. The Negev, which meant “The Dryness”, a name that suited its aridity, was a parched region where Canaan and the Sinai Peninsula merged.

The specific place Abraham stationed was known as the Oasis of Kadesh-Barnea. Kadesh-Barnea went by several names, which included Ein-Mishpat, Bad-gal-dingir (the name by which Sumerians called it), and Dur-Mah-Ilani (what Sargon the Great called it). Kadesh-Barnea was the gateway to Tilmun, the spaceport in the Sinai Peninsula. No Earthling was allowed to go beyond Kadesh-Barnea without special permission from the gods Utu-Shamash or Nannar-Sin.  Kadesh-Barnea was the furthest place Shulgi reached when he militarily campaigned in Canaan.  The iconic Gilgamesh also sought the green light to proceed into Tilmun at Kadesh-Barnea.

From Kadesh-Barnea, there was only one other place to touch before Tilmun. This was El-Paran, meaning “God’s Gloried Place”. Also known as Nakhl, El-Paran was the official retreat of Nannar-Sin and his wife Ningal (from whom the name Nakhl derived). It was an isolated and highly fortified oasis in the great, desolate plain that was the Sinai Peninsula. It was at El-Paran that Sin and Ningal eventually retired post-2024 BC, after the upheavaling of Sodom and Gomorrah.

It was at Kadesh-Barnea that Abraham ensconced himself with his troops, practically ring-fencing the spaceport from possible seizure by Nabu’s forces.  It was whilst Abraham was at Kadesh-Barnea that two things happened. First, Amar-sin was crowned as the new King of Sumer-Akkad, succeeding his father Shulgi, who had died in a death engineered by Enlil the previous year (2048 BC). In Genesis, Amar-Sin is referred to as “Amraphel King of Shinar,” Shinar being the Hebrew name for Sumer.  As can easily be gleaned from his theophoric name, Amar-Sin (meaning “Adorer of Sin”) was a protégé of the god Nannar-Sin. Second, Abraham received new instructions from Enlil. He was to advance on northern Egypt, sever it from the rest of Egypt, and append it to Canaan.

GENERAL ABE SETS FOR EGYPT

Regarding Abraham’s foray into Egypt, the Bible does own up on the event. It does state unequivocally that from the Negev Desert Abraham did head for Egypt.  The  story is related from GENESIS 12:10-13:2. The passage says Abraham left the Negev for Egypt to seek grain there as there was famine in Canaan. Josephus echoes it very closely in the following words:

“Now, after this, when a famine had invaded the land of Canaan, and Abram had discovered that the Egyptians were in a flourishing condition, he was disposed to go down to them, both to partake of the plenty they enjoyed, and to become an auditor of their priests, and to know what they said concerning the gods; designing either to follow them, if they had better notions than he, or to convert them into a better way, if his own notions proved the truest.”

What emerges as curious is that  when Abraham gets to Egypt, he’s received not by agricultural traders but by a Pharaoh. Even more curious, when Abraham returns from Egypt, he is not accompanied by wagons of grain or any other agricultural produce. Instead, what we’re told is that he emerges from Egypt as a filthy rich man – “heavily stocked with cattle, with silver and with gold”.  

Clearly, there’s more than meets the eye, which the Genesis writers deliberately left out. They do not even state how long Abraham stayed in Egypt because had they done so, the readers would have become curious as to why a person who left in an emergency situation (in the midst of famine and the vital safeguarding of the all-important spaceport)  should have taken so long in a foreign country.

It is only when we turn to the Egyptian records and read intimations  in the Sumerian chronicles that we get the  true circumstances of Abraham’s journey to Egypt.  The insights we thus again are that the Genesis story took place when Abraham travelled from northern Egypt (ironically called Lower Egypt in Egyptian chronicles) to  southern Egypt (equally referred to as Upper Egypt in Egyptian chronicles). At the time, Abraham was no longer a Canaan-based military general: in what turns out to be one of the Bible’s best-kept secrets, Abraham  was a Pharaoh of a part of Egypt.

NEXT WEEK: ABRAHAM’S FORAY INTO EGYPT

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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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