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Babylonia Stands Tall

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

Marduk empire at height of its power thanks to the military feats of the great Hammurabi

Although Marduk was declared the new Enlil in 2024 BC, it was not until seven years later that things in Sumer began to settle into a systematic rhythm. At the time, Enki had emerged from his 7-year self-imposed hibernation and he and Marduk were busy purifying Sumer’s water and decontaminating the radioactive soil so that people can resettle the lands without health anxieties.

Meanwhile, the Evil Wind had given rise to an exodus of huge waves of people out of Sumer. These great-trekked to far-flung places such as Europe, Asia, and the Mediterranean regions. The trekkers conquered the people they found either in their own name or that of Marduk putatively. Others trekked not on their own but under the banner of their now peripatetic gods who did not wish to be directly subject to Marduk.

In their new habitations, the migrating Sumerians imposed their own culture onto the peoples they conquered or disrupted. Just how ingrained was the Sumerian influence in their dispersal into the four corners of the Earth? Zechariah Sitchin: “The evidence for a widespread Sumerian Diaspora with its language, writing, symbols, customs, celestial knowledge, beliefs, and gods comes in many forms.

Beside the generalities — a religion based on a pantheon of gods who had come from the heavens, a divine hierarchy, god epithet-names that meant the same in the different languages, astronomical knowledge that included a home planet of the gods, a zodiac with its twelve houses, virtually identical creation tales, and memories of gods and demigods that scholars treat as ‘myths’— there are a host of astounding specific similarities that cannot be explained other than by an actual presence of Sumerians.

It was expressed in the spread in Europe of Ninurta’s Double-Eagle symbol; the fact that three European languages — Hungarian, Finnish, and Basque — are akin only to Sumerian; and the widespread depiction throughout the world — even in South America — of Gilgamesh fighting off with bare hands two ferocious lions.”

But there is more.    “In the Far East, there is the clear similarity between the Sumerian cuneiform writing and the scripts of China, Korea, and Japan. The similarity is not only in the script: many similar glyphs are identically pronounced and also have the same meanings. In Japan, civilisation has been attributed to an enigmatic forefather-tribe called AINU.

The emperor’s family has been deemed to be a line of demigods descended from the Sun-god, and the investiture ceremonies of a new king include a secret solitary nightly stay with the Sun goddess — a ritual ceremony that uncannily emulates the Sacred Marriage rites in ancient Sumer, when the new king spent a night with Inanna-Ishtar.”

In the process of these massive population movements, new kingdoms that were to leave a permanent imprint on the visage of the Near East, Asia, and Europe emerged. They included Assyria to Babylon's north, the Hittite kingdom to the northwest, the Hurrian Mitanni to the west, the Indo-Aryan kingdoms that spread from the Caucasus on Babylon's northeast and cast, and those of the "Desert peoples" to the south and of the "Sealand people" to the southeast.

This happened within two to three centuries after the fall of Sumer. But just as hordes of Sumerians left Sumer, hordes stayed put too. A good proportion of these rallied in force, at the instigation of the still restive Enlilite gods, against Marduk rule. Marduk’s rule was not destined to be plain-sailing at all.

NABU TAKES PRIDE OF PLACE UNDER MARDUK RULE

When Marduk ascended to supremacy, he chose Babylon, his cult city since 4000 BC, as the “Navel of the Earth”. This was a title given to the foremost city on the planet in that such a city served as the Anunnaki’s Mission Control Centre and was therefore the command post of Earth’s Chief Executive. It was the Navel of the Earth that housed what was known as the DURANKI (“Heaven-Bond-Earth”), a high-tech communications hub which linked Earth and Nibiru.

Only two other cities had been so privilleged before Babylon – Nippur before the Deluge and Jerusalem after the Deluge. Since Babylon was the preeminent city in the Marduk dispensation, that epoch is frequently referred to as the Babylonian Era. With Marduk now calling the shots on the planet, his heir, Nabu, assumed disproportionate eminence. He was given formal executive powers in a province of Babylon known as Borsippa, where he had hitherto wielded the same power without the official sanction of Enlil.

With his breathtaking gift of the gab, Nabu was very popular in Europe, Canaan, and Mesopotamia. When he spoke at the public square, he so touched his audience they burst out into tears of joy and Utopian anticipation amid relentless applause and acclamation. Some people would break out into a delirious dance, singing impassionedly as they did so; others would all of a sudden be seized with a prophetic fit evangelical style. That his name came to mean prophet throughout the Near East made a great deal of sense. 

In Canaan, Nabu had quite a number of landmarks named after him, which included Mount Nebo, later the scene of Moses’s death.  Also, quite a number of Babylonian kings named themselves after him in using what are known as theophoric names – names prefixed or suffixed by that of an adored god. Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar are just two examples of such kings.

MARDUK INTRODUCES CONCEPT OF NATIONAL GODS

In Babylon, religion focused on a triad or trinity – Enki, Marduk, and Nabu. This was more the hype than the reality as Enkites, unlike Enlilites, never courted or solicited worship. The closest they came to being deified was to attain cult status, more so in the case of Marduk and Nabu. On his part, the humble and unassuming Enki was never even interested in a cult personality. He was busy unlocking mysteries of nature at the genetic and cosmic level to bother with such vainglory. But he was wildly popular with the Earthlings albeit, by virtue of his loving kindness and his unstinting strivings for their welfare being their creator at the flesh-and-blood level. 

Now, you will recall that when Marduk came to power, one of the first things he did was to construct pavilions for each leading Anunnaki god right in his sacred precincts and invite them to come and take occupancy of them in the spirit of reconciliation and continued harmonious relationship. Sadly, none of the gods hearkened to the offer. Enlil and Ninurta now spent much of their time in the now god-rich South America.

Enki was addicted to his age-old city of Eridu and when he wanted to vacation or simply retreat into introspection, he preferred Abu Island in Egypt. Ishkur-Adad and Ningishzidda had found new fiefdoms in the Andean regions and Mesoamerica respectively. Nannar-Sin had found his niche as El, a leading god of Enlilite Canaanites. Nergal hardly saw eye to eye with Marduk. Utu-Shamash and Inanna-Ishtar were staunch right-wingers who revolted at being dominated by an Enkite, least of all Marduk.

Marduk, however, was determined to build a bridge with his fellow gods. To get them to co-operate, he offered them the concept of National State Religions. In this setup, they were to base themselves not in Babylon as was the original intention but in the same Sumerian city-states they had presided over before, or in new city states or confederacies. Each god was to be the national god of that city-state/confederacy. 

Marduk would be the superintending god being Earth’s Chief Executive but the other gods would be autonomous rulers   of their domains. This state of affairs is what is known as polytheism, whereby one god is just superior to other gods and not hegemonic as such. Only their prerogatives would be subject to his control.

In the era of Enlil, when you were a god, say of justice, that applied throughout the Earth. In the Marduk era, there was no such universal god other than Marduk: a god was only a god of his cult-city.  If, for instance, his cult city was Uruk, it was only in Uruk he would be recognised as a god. To Marduk’s glee, the idea was enthusiastically embraced by the gods, especially the Enlilites. It was not that they were prepared to give Marduk a pat on the back for his gesture: they welcomed it simply because that way, it would be easy to undermine him and eventually topple him from his pedestal.

The new flexibility on the part of Marduk explains why we have such lead administrators as Ishbi-Erra (“Priest of Erra”, another name for Nergal) and why Hammurabi, the famous Babylonian king, was allowed to receive laws not from Marduk but from Utu-Shamash, and why the preamble on his stella invoked Enlil as much as it  Marduk. All treaties accordingly invoked not Marduk as such but national gods. About 200 years after Marduk came to power, national gods were riding on cloud nine, the most prominent of whom where Ninurta, Ishkur-Adad, Nannar-Sin,  Nergal, Utu-Shamash, and Nabu.

BABYLON CONQUERS MIGHTY ISIN AS ENLILITES REBOUND

Marduk, just like Enlil before him, was a god in two capacities. First, he was the universal god of the planet Earth, its Commander-In-Chief. Second, he was the god of Babylon, just as Enlil had been the local god of Nippur. You will be aware by now that gods did not directly rule their domains. They ruled through kings.

The first king of the First Babylonian Dynasty, also known as the Amorite Dynasty, was Suab, who began his reign circa 1900 BC, about 50 years after Marduk was officially installed as the God of the Age of Aries (which is significant considering that his ranking as the new Enlil was 50).  Suab was not from the ranks of the native Babylonians, the Akkadians: he was an Amorite, or Amaru – the formidable European warriors who were pivotal in Marduk’s propulsion to the Earthly perch 2024 BC.  

In those formative days, however, Babylon was not a full-fledged kingdom: it still was a work-in-progress. Hence, Suab and the next three kings who succeeded him did not refer to themselves as kings, simply rulers.Now, with the advent of national gods courtesy of Marduk’s decree, the Enlilites had resurged, giving rise to a state of affairs were non-Mardukite states formed a kind of vise around Greater Babylon, starting with Elam and Gutium on the southeast and east; Assyria and Hatti in the north; and as a western anchor in the chain, Mari on the mid-Euphrates.

Within the first hundred years of the incidence of the infamous Evil Wind, the Enlilites had substantially regrouped in southern Mesopotamia (the Old Sumer), with their principal bastion being Isin. The parallel Isin Dynasty was the first major menace to Babylon’s Amorite Dynasty. Founded in 1894 BC, by Ishbi-Erra after he took care of Ibbi-Sin, the last king of   Ur’s Third Dynasty and whose rule came to a virtual abrupt end with the fall of Sumer in 2024 BC, the Isin Dynasty seated 15 kings altogether before it ceased to exist courtesy of Babylon.

The fact that the kings of the Isin Dynasty bore theophoric names which venerated Enlilite gods (Lipit-Ishtar, Ur-Ninurta, Bur-Suen, Lipit-Enlil, Enlil-Bahn, Suen-Magir, etc)  and Marduk’s most antagonistic, Enlilite-aligned brother (Ishbi-Erra, Erra-Imitti, etc)   demonstrate how fiercely loyal they were to the supplanted Jehovah-Enlil and his clan.

The Isin kings and those of fellow Enlilite states were unstinting in their aggression against Babylon. For example, in the 13th year of his reign, Sin-Muballit, the fifth king of the First Dynasty of Babylon, successfully resisted and repelled the forces of Ur. Finally, in the 17th year of his reign, Muballit marched on the troublesome Isin, overthrew its king Damiq-Ilishu, and appended Isin to Babylon.

That a Babylonian king (and his predecessor father Apil-Sin) could carry a name exalting an Enlilite (Nannar-Sin) speaks volumes on what a liberal god Marduk was: even if you were the king of his domain, he didn’t care which god you worshipped for as long as you were doing a superb job in the conduct of the affairs of Babylon. Although Mubalitt ruled a relatively new and minor kingdom, he was the first of Babylon’s five rulers to date to declare himself King of Babylon and for good reasons: he expanded Babylon to include Dilbat, Sippar, Kish, and Borsippa. 

HAMMURABI’S EXTREME LAWS OF JUSTICE

In 1792 BC, an ailing Mubalitt abdicated and bequeathed the throne to his son, the famous Hammurabi. Although he was a great warrior leader who made a reality of Marduk’s desire to make Babylon a superpower, Hammurabi is best remembered as a law-giver and in particular for issuing the iconic Code of Hammurabi, a set of laws to ensure justice  throughout his territory.

When he was enthroned, Marduk’s principal brief to him was to promulgate laws of justice that would be the model of the whole wide world. Accordingly, the preface to the Code partly reads thus: “When the god Marduk commanded me to provide just ways for the people of the land in order to attain appropriate behavior, I established truth and justice as the declaration of the land, I enhanced the well-being of the people."

When the code was launched, Hammurabi invited the god Utu-Shamash, an Enlilite, to officially present it to him being the age-old god of justice. In the preface to the Code, Hammurabi salutes three gods, the third of whom is Nibiru King Anu. He says, “"Anu and Bel (Marduk) called me by name, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak; so that I should rule over the black-headed people (Earthlings) like Shamash, and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind.”

     The laws enshrined in the Code were harsh in their retributive justice and to the extent where in our day, they would be regarded as barbaric. They placed greater emphasis on the physical punishment of the perpetrator. We will cite only a few examples:

      LAW NO. 2: "If anyone is committing a robbery and is caught, then he shall be put to death.”
      LAW NO. 15: "If anyone takes a male or female slave of the court, or a male or female slave of a freed man, he shall be put to death outside the city gates.”
      LAW NO. 129: "If the wife of a man has been caught lying with another man, they shall bind them and throw them into the waters.”
      LAW NO. 196: "If a man destroys the eye of another man, they shall destroy his eye. If one breaks a man's bone, they shall break his bone. If one destroys the eye of a freeman or break the bone of a freeman, he shall pay one gold mina. If one destroys the eye of a man's slave or break a bone of a man's slave, he shall pay one-half his price.”

      LAW NO. 218:  “If a physician operates on a man for a severe wound with a bronze lancet and cause that man's death; or open an abscess (in the eye) of a man with a bronze lancet and destroy the man's eye, they shall cut off his fingers.”
     Another of the retributions according to the Code was that if a son struck his father, his hands would be cut off.

FROM BABYLON TO BABYLONIA

It was Hammurabi who turned Babylon from simply Babylon, a city-state, to Babylonia, an overarching empire, all the while fiercely enforcing obeisance to Marduk throughout the empire.  At the time he came to power, Babylon was overshadowed by the resurgent and more powerful kingdoms such as Elam to the east, which regularly invaded and forced tribute upon the small states of southern Mesopotamia; 

Assyria, whose territory had expanded into central Mesopotamia;  Eshnunna, which controlled the upper Tigris River;  Larsa, which controlled the river delta; and  the Semitic-dominated Mari, an ancient port city on the Euphrates River which  was a major crossing point for people, goods, and culture between Mesopotamia in the east, the Mediterranean lands in the west, and Anatolia in the northwest and whose murals honoured the irrepressible Inanna-Ishtar.

During the 42 years that he reigned, from 1792 to 1750 BC, Hammurabi conquered all of the above nations. In Assyria, he deposed the king and installed a puppet king who was made to pay tribute to Babylon. With Larsa in the bag in his 30th year as King, he gained control over the lucrative urban centers of Nippur, Ur, Uruk, and Isin.     

Perhaps his crowning achievement was the conquest of Mari, once Sumer’s tenth capital. In 1760 BC, he attacked, sacked, and destroyed Mari, its temples and its palaces, thus completing Babylon’s political and religious domination of the old Sumer & Akkad whereby almost all of Mesopotamia came under Babylonian rule. Babylon would go on to dominate Mesopotamia for over a thousand years. It was in 1760 BC that Hammurabi began to call himself “The King of the Four Quarters”. And it was in that year that Babylon the city-state fully transformed to Babylonia, the empire. 
      

NEXT WEEK:  UGLY TWIST TO MARDUK’S FATE 

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The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

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Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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