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From King to King Again

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

   
A deposed Moses appropriates Midian and declares it independent of Egypt

Horemheb, the viscerally anti-Hebrew pharaoh, had two wives, Armenia, his first wife who died before he came to power, and    Benretmut, a scion of the Thuthmosside  dynasty. Neither of the two gave him an heir. With no legitimate heir in existence, Horemheb had no choice but to appoint Pa-Ramesses, an able administrator, as co-regent in the twilight days of his rule.

There were likely two principal reasons for this gesture. First, it was in order to reward Pa-Ramases for his fawning loyalty to him since days immemorial. Second, Pa-Ramses had the advantage of continuity: he had a son, Seti, and a grandson, both of whom went on to become pharaohs by turns.  Thus the line of succession would be definite from the word go.

Horemheb finally died in 1135 BC at age 70, having ruled for 13 years. He was the last pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty. Pa-Ramses then succeeded as Ramesses  I, marking the inception of the 19th Dynasty.    The name Ramesses was a bow to the national god Marduk: it meant “Ra bore him”, Ra being a component of Amen-Ra, the name by which Marduk was known in Egypt.

Sadly, Ramesses too was getting on in years at the time and so shortly after taking the reins, he appointed Seti, who was in the prime of his life, as co-regent. Whilst Ramesses concentrated on domestic affairs, Seti dedicated himself to military ventures in foreign lands. Seti’s role was crucial as at the time  Egypt’s status as an overarching military power was on the wane. The Hittian Kingdom of Asia Minor, today’s Turkey, had conquered  today’s Syria,  Lebanon, and parts of Canaan and was in fact  poised to overrun central Canaan, which to date had been in Egypt’s sphere of influence.

On becoming Pharaoh, Ramesses chose Zaru as the place of his main residence at the expense of the national capital Thebes. If you recall, he had had the Hebrew-Hykso slaves  construct him a magnificent home there. It was at this point that the whole of Egypt’s eastern delta region, called Goshen in the Bible,  became known as the Land of Ramesses. Accordingly, in the Bible, the term Ramesses when employed (e.g. GENESIS 47:11 and EXODUS 12:37) refers not to the pharaoh but to the settlement. IT WAS AFTER THE ASCENDANCY OF RAMESSES TO THE THRONE THAT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ABOUT 40 YEARS, THE EXILED MOSES SET FOOT ONCE AGAIN IN  THE LAND OF HIS BIRTH.

MOSES HEADS FOR MIDIAN

Let us at this juncture do a flashback to 1352 BC, when Moses was deposed as Pharaoh Akhenaten of Egypt. Although he was  not officially banished from Egypt, Moses was obliged to flee Egypt  as he was not hundred percent sure of his safety.  Ideally, the place he should have headed to was Harran, in modern-day Turkey. Harran was apt in that not only was it the place of his ancestry  but it was the major domicile of the Hykso-Hebrews. There, the Hykso-Hebrews abounded more than in any other place on the globe, including Canaan.   

The problem was that Harran now was part of the Hittian Kingdom and since the Kingdom was a rival to Egypt, it would not be in position to welcome an ex-pharaoh of Egypt. Also, if Moses were to go to any jurisdiction that  was anti-Egypt, the Theban priesthood would have a field day denouncing him as a sellout from birth, being a Hykso-Hebrew on his mother’s side. The Egyptian populace would no longer look to him with a yearning but would  cast him as a pet-hate – a traitor who had just bared his  true colours. As such,  Moses decided to go to a place which though autonomous in the greater scheme of things still was part of and subject to Egypt. This was Midian.

The Midian territory encompasses today’s western Saudi Arabia, southern Jordan, southern Israel, and the Sinai Peninsula. Its politics at the time is not clear-cut. What we know is that the Midianites were the descendents of Midian, the fourth son of Keturah, Abraham’s second Hebrew wife (GENESIS 25:1-2). The vast territory was only very sparsely populated in the 14th century BC: it was not until the 8th-7th century BC that it was extensively settled.

The territory was directly  overseen by a native High Priest known as Jethro. It seemed when Egypt concurred it (when that happened is not clear), a local High Priest was installed as its ruler to give the impression to  its inhabitants that it by and large still was sovereign. Indeed, Egypt neither had a garrison there nor its own resident governor. But the territory still fell under the aegis of  the Egyptian government anyway.  Two Egyptian officials were in charge of Midian. 

They were the Royal Messenger in Foreign Lands (Secretary of State/Foreign Affairs Minister in today’s terms) and the Royal Chancellor (Finance Minister/Treasury Secretary/Chancellor of the Exchequer in today’s terms).  The latter was only involved because he oversaw activities in respect of the highly lucrative turquoise mining operations in the Sinai Mountains.

When Moses was pharaoh, the foreign affairs minister was an official known as Neby, who was at once troop commander,  mayor of  Zaru, steward of the womenfolk who attended to the queen, and baptising priest in the Aten Temple at Armana. The finance minister was Panehesy. His was a hereditary portfolio, set aside for only the Panehesy clan since the time of Amenhotep III, Moses’  father. Panehesy was also chief priest of the temple of Armana.  The Panehesy  of Moses’ time was a third-generation Panehesy.

When he departed Egypt for Midian, Moses was approximately 40 years old. He was  accompanied by Panehesy and his (Moses) second wife Miriam, a half-sister and mother to Tutankhamen. HE ALSO CARRIED WITH HIM HIS PHARAONIC SYMBOL OF AUTHORITY, TO UNDERLINE BOTH HIS PROTESTATION AT BEING FORCED TO ABDICATE AND HIS PEDIGREE STILL AS A TOP-NOTCH ROYAL WHEREVER HE WENT.

MINERAL WEALTH GALORE IN MIDIAN TERRITORY

The Sinai Peninsula was a significant, though not crucial  part of the Egyptian economy by virtue of its mineral resource riches. The southwestern parts of Sinai abounded with copper, bluish lapis lazuli, the blue-green gemstone turquoise, and the bluish-green mineral malachite. The particular places at which mining was done were today’s Wadi Magharah (the Wadi of Caves) and another which is today known as Serabit-el-Khadim. Turquoise for one was being mined in the Sinai Peninsula as early as Sumerian times in what has been described as “one of the world's first important hard-rock mining operations."  

These ancient mining ventures were in evidence as recently as the 70s.  In a 1972 article titled SINAI OPERATIONS: 1962-1972, which was published in an authoritative scholarly journal, Beno Rothenberg wrote:  "We could establish the existence of a fairly large industrial metallurgical enterprise.  There are copper mines, miners' camps, and copper smelting installations, spread from the western parts of southern Sinai to as far east as Elat at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba."

Elat, called Etzion-Gaber in the Bible, was the “Pittsburg of the ancient world”.  To its immediate north, at a place known as Timna, was what has been dubbed King Solomon’s Copper Mines.  Once the ores had been extracted from Timna, they were taken to Elat for smelting and refining in "one of the largest, if not the largest, of metallurgical centers in existence in ancient times”.

The pioneers of the Sinai region’s mining operations, who in Sumerian times served the Anunnaki, were a specialised Semitic tribe known as Qenites, meaning “smiths” or “metallurgists”. They were descendants of the Cain of Genesis. The Qenites are mentioned even in the Bible as inhabitants of the southern Sinai. In the 7th century BC, Esarhaddon, the King of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, boasted that "upon Qanayah, King of Tilmun, I imposed tribute”.  But the subjection of Qenites by foreign powers went back a long way.

As early as the 3rd millennium BC, the Qenites were fending off incursions by Egyptian pharaohs. The Egyptians initially were not after the subjugation of the Semitic Qenites as such but simply raided their mines in search of the minerals copper and  turquoise in the main.  Mafkat, the Egyptian word for turquoise, indeed stemmed from a Semitic verb which meant “to mine” or “extract by cutting”.

That was exactly how turquoise was obtained: tunnels were cut into the rocky sides of the Wadi canyon and miners went in to chisel out the metal. It was a back-breaking job which in Anunnaki times was restricted to humans imprisoned for life who toiled under the harsh supervision of the Qenites. Enkidu of THE LEGEND OF GILGAMESH fame was on his way to the mining belt of the Sinai to begin his life sentence for having destroyed Jehovah-Enlil’s highly prized fighter craft when he met with disaster.  

The Sinai Peninsula came under Egyptian control during the 12th Dynasty (circa 1991-1782 BC), only to break loose in the post-Exodus period. Pharaoh Ramses III, who reigned in the century following the Exodus, recorded his invasion of these coppersmiths' dwellings and the plundering of the metallurgical center of Timna-Elat in this somewhat exaggerated statement: “I destroyed the people of Seir (Sinai), of the Tribes of the Shasu (Midianites). 

I plundered their tents, their people's possessions, their cattle likewise, without number. They were pinioned and brought as captives, as tribute of Egypt. I gave them to the gods, as slaves into their temples. I sent forth my men to the Ancient Country (Midian), to the great copper mines which are in that place. Their galleys carried them; others on a land journey were upon their asses. It has not been heard before, since the reign of the Pharaohs began.

The mines were found abounding in copper; it was loaded by ten thousands into the galleys. They were sent forward to Egypt and arrived safely. It was carried and made into a heap under the palace balcony, in many bars of copper, a hundred thousand, being of the colour of gold of three refinings. I allowed all the people to see them, like wonders.”
 
MIDIAN  RICH WITH FLORA AND A BIT OF FAUNA

When  we read of the term Sinai Desert, the image that immediately comes to mind is that of  sheer aridity – a rocky mountain mass and sand dune expanse. That is only partly true. The Sinai  has its share of deep, canyon-like wadhis (seasonal watercourses), and naturally growing, climate-attuned floral species. The Sinai receives about 2 billion m2  of rainfall  annually, only half of which is lost to evaporation.

Of the remainder of the rainfall, half flows on the surface as run-off, whilst the other half percolates to groundwater reservoirs, thus making it possible for cultivation to take place.  Barley, fruits, market vegetables, dates, and olives  do flourish there. Date palm groves for one are scattered throughout the whole peninsula.   There are a thousand species of plants, many unique to the Sinai, varying from tall trees to tiny shrubs and which grow with impressive persistence.

The Sinai is home to over half a million Bedouins who rare livestock because nomadic grazing is possible in the peninsula.  Animals are rare, but the species represented include ibex, gazelles, sand foxes, leopards, wildcats, jackals, hares, hedgehogs, and moles. Falcons and eagles are indigenous, and there are also seasonal migrants such as quail, partridge, and grouse.

According to climatologists, the Sinai of Moses’ day was even  less arid than it is today and therefore more conducive to human habitation as well  as to both arable and pastoral farming. One crop grown there those days was onion, which Egypt exported to the Mediterranean coast. But the agricultural mainstay was the date palm. Then, as today, it was the Sinai’s principal cash crop. It has multiple uses, which include the following: fruit; food (its kernels and pulp) for camels and goats;   building as well as fuel (its trunk); roofing (its branches); and rope and weaving (its fibres).

The date fruits  were a ubiquitous feature on the menu of the Anunnaki, the Old Testament gods,  and demigods.  This was likely because at least one species of the date palm was the Elixir of Life, or the Tree of Life,   which was used to lengthen the lives of the Anunnaki and demigods, hence the Psalmist statement that, “the righteous l like a date palm shall flourish”.  In Sumerian cylinder seal and clay tablets depictions, the date palm was equated to the Shem – the rocket – which was another symbol of eternal life.

Two Anunnaki astronauts  were shown flanking the rocket or date palm interchangeably, as if to say it was on the plant they relied for their extraordinary longevity whilst here on Earth. When prophet Ezekiel envisioned the rebuilt Jerusalem temple during the Babylonian captivity, he saw it with either two date palms flanking an angel (an Anunnaki) or two  angels flanking a date palm.  

Acacias are the one tree in  particular that thrive in parched conditions. Their tap roots reach deep into the subsurface moisture and therefore they can endure 10 years of  rainlessness. Acacia wood was used in the construction of ancient temples. The famous Ark of the Covenant was made of acacia.

MOSES SETTLES AT MOUNT SERABIT

So  when Moses headed for Midian after departing Egypt, he wasn’t destined for a classical wilderness: he was headed for a place that was reasonably inhabitable. If it were simply sheer desert, there was no way a man of his status – an ex-King accustomed to living in the lap of luxury – would have bothered to set up home there.    

The exact place in the Sinai Peninsula Moses and his retinue set course for was a settlement known today as Serabit-el Khadim. This was at the foot of what the Bible calls Mount Horeb but which is today known as Mount Serabit.   As we hinted above, this place was a mining hub of the Sinai, noted, in particular,  for the mineral turquoise.

Serabit,  however, was not merely of economic significance: it also was a holy place. At the peak of the mountain, about 2600 feet above sea level, was a temple dedicated to the Anunnaki goddess Hathor. Hathor, meaning “Falcon House”, was the Egyptian name for Ninmah, Enki’s step sister and Enlil’s half-sister. The term Falcon House was very fitting. Firstly, as indicated above, the Sinai Peninsula was a natural habitat for falcons, a type of bird.

Second, Sinai previously housed the Anunnaki spaceport (destroyed by Ninurta, Enlil’s eldest son, in a nuclear blitz in 2024 BC).  Anunnaki astronauts were metaphorically referred to as falcons or eagles, both species of which were indigenous to the Sinai. And if you recall, the Sinai Peninsula, also known as Tilmun, was pre-the-atom-blast entrusted to Ninmah being a neutral area which was not supposed to be under Enkite or Enlilite jurisdiction during the first partition of the known world. Ninmah was also known as “Lady of the Sinai” or “Lady of the Mafkat”.


A team of pioneer explorers who toured Mount Serabit early in the 20th century found a statuette of Moses’ mother Tiye and pillars and stelae denoting the Egyptian kings through the ages. This is ample evidence that Serabit once served as Moses’ lair and he so decorated the temple as to remind himself and the worshippers of his royal pedigree.

MOSES MAKES UNILATERAL DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

Arriving at Serabit, Moses was met by Lord Jethro, the High Priest of Midian who was a Qeninite by race. Although Moses was a deposed King, Jethro received him with all the protocol due to a King. The two colossuses jelled. ALMOST FROM THE VERY OUTSET, THEY CONTRIVED TO DECLARE MIDIAN INDEPENDENT OF EGYPT, WITH MOSES AS  MIDIAN’S NEW KING. Two factors made such a scheme realisable.

First, Moses was a first-class military general and if Egyptian forces came after him, he would fight them to the death. If possible, he would ally with the Hittites, who were now the world power in the ascendant. Second, Moses’ own son Tutankhamen would soon be crowned Pharaoh  of Egypt and there was no way he would  incline to waging war against his own father.  In any case, the Egyptian army was overseen  by Moses’ uncle Ephraim.  Even the incumbent,  stop-gap Pharaoh, Aaron,   would not countenance the notion  of “training guns” on his own cousin, who was in fact more of a brother than a cousin to him.  Blood always was thicker than water.

In order to further cement ties, Lord Jethro  offered Moses his own daughter Zipporah.  Moses’ marriage to Zipporah (not to the Ethiopian Tharbis as the Bible would have you believe as the Tharbis marriage was by this time a thing of the past) greatly incensed Miriam as it meant  she was going to be relegated further down in the rankings of Moses’ spousal harem.

Even Aaron, when he heard that Moses had wedded Zipporah, was far from happy. However, Moses’ gesture made a great deal of political sense. The Midianites would not have readily welcomed  him as their new King if he hadn’t  taken the hand of one of their daughters. It turned out  Moses  had calculated right. None of  his fellow Amarna Kings – Aaron, Tutankhamen, or Ephraim – confronted him militarily for the secession.

Even Horemheb was concerned more about preventing  Moses from  making a heroic comeback to Egypt than confront him head-on in a war of  reclamation. The incumbent pharaoh Ramesses I also left Moses pretty much to his own devices but he was so heavy-handed in his persecution of the Hykso-Hebrews that Moses decided to return to Egypt. His main goal, however,  was not to free his people from the pharaoh’s yoke: IT WAS TO RECLAIM  THE THRONE OF EGYPT AND REUNITE EGYPT AND MIDIAN.

NEXT WEEK:   CAN MOSES BOUNCE BACK AS KING OF EGYPT?

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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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