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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 Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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