The Jehovah of the Exodus puts 3000 Israelite insurgents to the sword for treason and sacrilege
On the day the Apis Bull altar was complete, Aaron announced that the following day, it would be officially commissioned in the name of the new Yahweh, Marduk, who was represented by the Apis Bull, or the Golden Calf as it is referred to in the Bible, and the people should present offerings to mark the highly momentous occasion. That they indeed did the following day, amid a lot of dancing, singing, feasting, and other such frenzied revelry. The euphoria and commotion was such that it reached the Sinai Mountain and inadvertently alerted Ishkur-Adad as to what was happening.
A perturbed Adad, the Anunnaki god of the Exodus, immediately ordered Moses to descend the mountain and acquaint with the situation firsthand. Adad also had Moses carry with him two tablets of his covenant with the Israelites for Moses to reiterate and reinforce when he faced his people just in case they were engaged in activity that was in flagrant breach of the covenant. The tablets, which had been inscribed in Adad’s own hands (through his aides of course), were meant to formalise the contract between Adad and the Nation of Israel.
Just as the church today is figuratively the bride and Jesus is figuratively the groom, Adad was the groom and the Nation of Israel the bride. The verbal contract had been a kind of engagement. The written contract would be a binding contract once Aaron officially ratified it as the High Priest designate of the Hebrew nation.
It never crossed Moses’ mind that his people were up to some particularly outrageous act of mischief. When Joshua, who had accompanied him over his 40-day audience with Adad, suggested to him that something war-like was afoot in the camp, Moses said to the contrary his people were engaged in festivity of some kind and not anything untoward. He couldn’t have been more wrong.
MOSES CLEVERLY ANNULS ADAD’S PRENUP WITH ISRAEL
The spectacle that greeted Moses when he got to the foot of the mountain was beyond his wildest imagination. His people had fashioned themselves a new god, a foreign god, and they were paying homage to that god atop an altar. Moses was transfixed both with shock and searing anxiety. The ramifications were dire. FOR WHAT IT ENTAILED WAS THAT THE SYMBOLIC MARRIAGE BETWEEN ADAD AND THE NATION OF ISRAEL HAD BEEN RENDERED NULL AND VOID. This was in all probability the end of Adad’s dealings with Israel.
It was a stab in his back that he wouldn’t take lying down like the hot-tempered god he was. If the Nation of Israel had decided to get rid of Moses and even killed a relation of Aaron to underscore their resolve, then when Moses finally materialised, they would have swarmed in on him to aggressively put the message across. Inevitably, Moses would have called upon the “angel” Adad had assigned to the Nation of Israel to see to it that he was not harmed in anyway.
Moses firstly inquired of Aaron as to what all the kerfuffle was all about. The Bible’s version of events does not implicate Miriam at all simply because the aim of the blatantly patriarchal and pro-Moses Pentateuch writers was to substantially underemphasize the protagonistic role of Miriam in the affairs of the Nation of Israel. But in truth, Miriam was the bone of contention. It was she the Israelites wanted to be their queen at the expense of Moses. In fact, both Miriam and Aaron were so popular as to be absolutely untouchable even to Adad himself.
Aaron had particularly endeared himself to the nation by readily obliging the Israelites when they demanded that he forge the Golden Calf and erect its altar. Concerned that the sin Israel had committed spelt enormous trouble for them at the hands of Adad, a quick-thinking Moses decided to engage in action that was certain to lessen the extent of the reprisals. He dismantled the two stone blocks on which the covenant between Adad and the Nation of Israel was summarised.
According to the Bible, he did this out of anger. Anger of course was the surface emotion but it was not the underlying reason. MOSES DESTROYED THE TABLETS TO CANCEL THE PRE-MARITAL CONTRACT BETWEEN ADAD AND ISRAEL. What that now meant was that Adad would judge Israel like an affianced woman who simply acted promiscuously and not as a married woman who did likewise. In other words, Adad would not divorce Israel as there actually had been no marriage: he would punish her somehow alright, but would still proceed to wed her anyway. Moses’ gesture was a masterstroke as that is exactly what transpired.
ADAD ORDERS THE EXECUTION OF 3000 DISSIDENTS
When Moses returned to the mountain top and reported what he had found, Adad was incandescent with rage and pronounced four measures against the Nation of Israel. First, all the ring leaders in the sacrilege would be put to death so as to deter the recurrence of any such abomination. Second, all the offspring of these same culprits would be subject to a curse spanning four generations. In other words, the curse, which would begin with them, would be in force up to and including their great grandchildren. What kind of justice is this that tars the innocent, both existing and unborn, with the same culpability brush? This, to say the least, is crass. But that is the warped juridical code of the gods of Christianity.
Third, he would send a plague (whose exact nature is not specified in the Bible) against the Nation of Israel as a whole both for taking part in and condoning the setting up and worshipping of a graven image. Fourth, he would no longer move in their midst in a flying saucer as he had done since they left Egypt as they were a “stubborn and rebellious people”. Nonetheless, Adad reiterated that despite their intractability, the Israelites would remain his people but he would reign over them with an iron fist and punish them severely whenever they offended against him.
Accordingly, Moses, who was accompanied by a formidable security detail of Anunnaki men, gathered the Levites around him and in the presence of Aaron demanded that they point out to him the men who were at the forefront of the putsch. Once these malefactors were paraded, Moses ordered their fathers, brothers, next of kin, and immediate neighbours to come forward too, then handed out daggers to each one of them. They were to take turns in lancing the paraded culprits, who were either their own flesh and blood or very intimate friends or neighbours.
It must have been gut-wrenching for a father to kill his own son, a brother to kill his own brother, a relation to kill his own relation, and a neighbour to kill his own neighbour, but Moses didn’t care a damn: he wanted to make a statement – that he and his god would be ruthless at the slightest show of insurrectionist or sacrilegious tendencies.
Altogether, 3000 men were killed. Once the deed was done, Moses asked the executioners, who clearly were choking for spilling the blood of their loved ones, to purify themselves and brace for a great blessing from Adad. “Consecrate yourselves today to Yahweh, for each man has been against his son and against his brother, that a blessing may be given over you today,” (EXODUS 32:29).
Note, however, the paradox of the matter. Miriam, the rallying cry of the entire saga, and Aaron, who had so meekly capitulated to the dissidents and personally fashioned the Golden Calf and built the altar, got away scotfree, without so much as a slap on the wrist. But you need not be surprised: in every society, there are always two sets of laws: the public domain law, which binds the common herd like you and I, and the unspoken law, which applies to and favours the elite only. This Earth, My Brother …
MOSES FORCE-FEEDS ISRAELITES ON ORMUS OF GOLD
Since the Israelites were such a rowdy lot and there was every indication that even the executions would by no means deter them, Moses decided it was time he fed them with a more potent version of Ormus. This was Ormus of Gold. To date, the Israelites had been fed on Ormus alright, but it was the variety made from copper. This one was just good enough to keep them in generally sound health. The gold variety was meant to do much more, to make them more rational in their judgement and in their thinking so that they did not go to extremes in whatever behavior they indulged in. They would be able to weigh the pros and cons of every course of action before they actualised it.
Moses’ task was made all the more easy because in the Golden Calf Aaron had forged was sufficient enough gold for the purpose. To that effect, this is what Moses did as per EXODUS 32:20: “Then he took the calf which they had made, burned it with fire and ground it until it was pulverised; he winnowed it upon the surface of the water and made the sons of Israel drink it.”
The brain-dead, undiscerning Christian clergy interpret Moses’ act as a “punishment” for his people’s disobedience toward Adad. To the contrary, this was not a punishment: it was a corrective and remedial ritual. FIRING GOLD DOES NOT PRODUCE POWDER: IT PRODUCES MOLTEN GOLD. What Moses did was to produce Ormus, the white, monoatomic powder of gold, and have the Israelites consume it whether they liked it or not.
The pay-off did not take long to materialise: soon the Israelites had discarded all their jewelry, which was largely made from gold. Furthermore, they lost a sense of vanity and no longer turned out in ostentatious clothing. Ormus had not only steadied their temperament but made them a sensible and orderly people. However, this type of Ormus was a once-off treat: humans were not entitled to it. As such, it did not take long before the Israelites reverted to their obdurate ways.
MOSES HITCHES A RIDE IN ADAD’S FLYING SAUCER
Although Moses was the King of the Nation of Israel, he felt his god, Adad, did not afford him the closeness he deserved. Adad never once allowed Moses to see his face. Every time he ascended the mountain to meet him, he actually met his aides and not Adad himself. The only thing he had been permitted to see of Adad was the god’s shoed feet resting on a footstool.
Furthermore, Adad never once invited Moses to ride in any of the god’s flying machines. How could the King of God’s own chosen people be denied direct access to the god and to his chopper or some such sky vehicle, which symbolised the god’s throne? Having decided that he just could not bear such a slight anymore, Moses set out to confront Adad on the matter. Thus it was that on his next ascendance to the mountain, Moses wondered aloud to Adad’s aides as to how he could convince his people that Adad was indeed a flesh-and-blood god when he had never seen him at close quarters. Adad, Moses insisted, should reveal much more to him than he had done to date.
Now, when Moses asked to see Adad in person, he was not that matter-of-fact: he was tactical. According to English translations of the Bible, Moses, said, “Show me your glory”, EXODUS 32:18. Sorry folks, but that’s not what Moses actually said. The term translated “glory” is actually KABOD. We have long unpacked the meaning of the term Kabod in earlier articles: it was a flying craft. SO WHAT MOSES REQUESTED OF ADAD WAS TO TAKE HIM ON A RIDE IN HIS FLYING SAUCER, WHICH WOULD BE HIS CROWNING ACHIVEMENT AS A MORTAL.
Of course Adad was not a dumb god: he knew what Moses really wanted – to see him face to face, literally, not figuratively as had been the case in the past. Speaking through his aides, Adad once again reiterated his warning: “No one may see my face and live,” EXODUS 32:20. Nonetheless, Adad was prepared to relent a bit this time around to content his great protégé to the barest minimum. He consented to taking Moses on a ride in his sky vehicle allright, but made it clear to him that whilst they were airborne, he would allow Moses to see only his backrest, that is, the back of the seat in which the god would sit alongside his pilot.
This special treat is related in EXODUS 33:18-23 but in a manner that hardly makes any sense as the Pentateuch scribes simply did not understand the figurative language employed in their records of reference and so put their own laughable slant on the story. According to the biblical version, Moses was put in the hollow of a rock by Adad. Then Adad covered the opening of the crevice with his hand, after which he removed his hand to allow Moses to see only his back. But why go to that extent if all Adad wanted to show Moses was his backside?
It would have been much simpler for Adad to ask Moses to come up the mountain and see his back whilst he sat on a stool of some kind. Clearly, either the scribes didn’t know what they were talking about or the exact nature of the event was scrambled through the passage of time thanks to faulty or interpolative copy editing. ADAD AND MYSTERIOUS CLOUD COMMISSION WILDERNESS TABERNACLE
Once Adad had meted out all the retributions against the Israelites, he was now in position to renew his covenant with the Nation of Israel. So once again, he summoned Moses up the mountain to furnish him with the one he had tactfully destroyed. You can call this a renewal of the marriage vows between Adad and Israel. In addition, Adad was to administer to Moses a whole glut of instructions over multifarious issues. Whereas last time around he was accompanied by Joshua, this time around he was all alone. Moses had trusted Joshua to maintain order and discipline amongst the Israelites whilst he was away to avoid a repetition of the Golden Calf saga.
Once again, Moses spent “40 days and nights” on the mountain. Of course, the number 40 was not literal but figurative. In fact, this time around Moses stayed on the mountain even longer than he did previously, for when he returned, he shone so brightly that he had to veil his face as the Israelites thought it would be dangerous to come near him. The simple explanation for this oddity is that he had partaken Ormus throughout his stay and as such he too shone like the Anunnaki.
Onwards now, Moses dedicated himself to the construction of the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant. The concomitant projects were completed after eight months. The commissioning of the Tabernacle was graced by Adad himself. Details on the incident are sketchy in the Bible. We’re not told, for instance, what kind of ceremonies were conducted or whether Moses or Aaron gave an inaugural sermon to the Nation of Israel in the presence of Adad.
In fact, what the Bible intimates is that none of the Israelites was allowed to set foot in the Tabernacle on the occasion. There were only two presences in the Tabernacle. This was Adad, who came in his chopper, referred to as usual as the Glory of the Lord, and a cloud that shrouded the entire Tabernacle as if to conceal whatever Adad and his aides were doing from the multitude of the Nation of Israel. We’re already familiar with the concept of the Glory of God. But just what was this humongous cloud which assumed various shapes and went before the Nation of Israel in a pillar-like configuration during day time throughout their wilderness wanderings?
Make a date with us next week. The answer will surprise!
NEXT WEEK: ADAD BAGS POUND OF FLESH FROM AARON’S LOINS
On Friday October 9, 2020, President Masisi officiated at a function that most appositely spoke to his passion and desire to kick-start the crystallisation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or 4IR in short, in Botswana. In his keynote speech, the President hailed the partnership between Gaborone City Council and BoFiNet to launch free Internet access of one-hour duration daily in selected “Wi-Fi Hotspots” across the city for all and sundry.
The pilot project has actually been years in the making, having been initiated in April 2014, when the BOCRA-supported Universal Access and Service Fund (UASF) was established. UASF levies 1 percent on the gross annual turnover of flourishing ICT outfits and is now using this to subsidise the Internet access price in the Hotspots of Gaborone, which are to be found at shopping malls, bus stations, hospitals, and airports in the main. The facility, which is provided courtesy of the BoFiNet Wi-Fi infrastructure, will in the fullness of time be rolled out in Kasane, Maun, Francistown, Palapye, Serowe, and Mahalapye too. As of the end of 2019, UASF collections totalled P43.2 million according to BOCRA’s latest Annual Report.
A point President Masisi underscored at the launch was the imperative that “all citizens have access to the Internet so that the ideal of leaving no one behind as envisioned by the sustainable development goals is realised”. It also exhilarated me that the President underlined that “innovation and creativity will be the bedrock of economic diversification in our country”, a priority I besought government to pursue with impassioned as opposed to rhetorical resolve in one of my earlier articles under this very column.
Certainly, Pillars 1 and 2 of the only minimally accomplished Vision 2016 goals envisaged, amongst other things, an informed and innovative Botswana. With the Wi-Fi Hotspot dispensation now upon us, are we on course to deliver on this sooner rather than later?
FREE INTERNET COULD FULFIL MEGA DREAMS FOR THE CITIZENRY
Granted, one hour of free Internet per day is not that bad as a starting point, but it is a drop in the ocean when juxtaposed with the larger global picture, whereby some countries, which include the industrialised West, the Scandinavian countries, and the Baltic states of Lithuania and Estonia, offer qualitative public Internet service free of charge all-day long. In Finland for one, broadband (high-speed Internet access) has been a legal right since 2010. In other words, if a citizen for one reason or the other does not have the opportunity to surf the web, he or she can sue the state for redress.
For the impecunious individual who wishes to do meaningful and comprehensive research, however, one hour can be very limiting. To just give one example, it takes me up to two full days to gather material for a single one instalment of the contents of this column, of which Internet-sourced data is key. This is because not every bit of worthwhile information is available at just one click of the mouse. In some cases, the requisite information is simply not available at all and by the time that dawns on you, a full day will have gone by.
There is also the question of whether the Hotspots are amply equipped with desktops, let along being sizeable enough, to cater to the stampede of the city residents who will want to be one of the earliest birds to catch the worm given that access is certain to be on a first-come-first-served basis. An Internet Hall under the auspices of government would serve the purpose best, with the unused Orapa House as a possible venue proposition.
As for nationwide and limitless free Internet access, we still have a long way to go being a Third World country but the earlier we get there, the greater the rewards we reap in the long-term. Google, Facebook, Twitter, to mention only a few, are today multi-billion operations thanks to the added benediction of the Internet epoch. Years back, Elon Musk and five others started PayPal – a means of sending money, making an online payment, and receiving money – using the Internet medium. In 2002, E-Bay acquired PayPal for an eye-popping $1.5 billon, with Musk personally garnering $165 million. As I write, Musk is the 6th richest person on Earth, with a net worth of $82.3 billion.
It is the ready platform of the Internet that helped catapult him to the dizzying pecuniary heights he has since scaled. We will probably never be able to mint a dot.com-facilitated dollar billionaire in Botswana, but even mere Pula millionaires or part-millionaires can do as half a loaf is better than nothing. If Internet was freely available to every citizen, such chances would be greatly enhanced.
WE LIVE OUR LIVES ONLINE
In the past, Internet connectivity may have been a luxury but the advent of COVID-19 has made it an essential component of the new normal – a lifeline. Students have had to receive lessons online amid stop-go lockdowns of huge swathes of a country. Executives have had no option but to network or collectively liaise using teleconferencing or by way of Skype. Telemedicine, or caring for and consulting with patients remotely, has become the order of the day, especially in the developed world. We have seen live-streamed religious services and of course some people have been working from home.
Even before COVID-19 struck, we were routinely conversationally engaging with family and friends on social media platforms such as Facebook and Whatsapp. Some of our monthly transactions, like telephone bill settlements and DStv subscriptions, were effected online. Needless to say, we have literally been living our lives online. Electronic transacting in any case, whether by mobile phones or via the web, substantially curtail queuing time at banks and precious other pay points anywhere, gets people to spend more time in the workplace than out of it, and therefore boosts productivity as personal errands to do a thing or two are notorious for eating into invaluable man-hours.
There’s also government’s espoused vision of having Botswana transformed into a knowledge-based economy. Without universal access to the Internet, this aspiration will remain a pipe-dream. Knowledge certainly is power, whether this be political, economic, or scientific. Botswana will never come to be anywhere near the economic might of Singapore or the technological feats of South Korea if it relegates knowledge attainment to the back burner of its core aspirations. An Old Testament prophet was spot-on when speaking on behalf of his god Yahweh lamented that “my children perish for lack of knowledge”, HOSEA 4:6.
The paradox is that the digital divide both on the continent of Africa and in Botswana is as glaring as ever. Only four out of ten people in Africa have Internet access and according to the global business data platform Statista, which has insights and facts about 170 industries and more than 150 countries, Botswana has an Internet penetration of only 47.5 percent. It lags 20 other countries on the continent, who include Kenya (the continental leader at 87.5 percent); Mauritius (67 percent); Nigeria (61.2 percent); Swaziland (57.3 percent); Zimbabwe (56.5 percent); South Africa (55 percent); and Zambia (53.7 percent).
A study by the Mc Kinsey Global Institute postulates that if Internet use proliferates in Africa at the rate mobile phones did in the early 2000s, the continent stands to add as much as $300 billion to its economic growth by 2025. The World Bank also says achieving universal, affordable, and good quality Internet access in Africa by 2030 will require an investment of $100 billion. In Botswana, the National Broadband Strategy (NBS) aims to achieve universal broadband by 2023. It is aligned to BOCRA’s 2019-2024 Strategic Plan, whose main goal is to deliver the NBS aims at an affordable price tab. Is the time frame realistic?
THE PRICE OF AN ARM AND A LEG!
For universal Internet access to be tenable, first both the access and the medium of access have to be affordable to every literate person out there. Sadly in Botswana, smart phones, which allow for Internet access anywhere where there is a cellular network, do not come cheap. The asking price at the very least is upwards of a thousand Pula. That is a prohibitive price for the greater majority of our population who struggle to eke out a living just to keep body and soul together. The likes of BOCRA and BoFiNet should help out here by subsidising the price of these devices, at least for a period of time till economies of scale result in a natural reduction of the price.
As for the going price of Internet access in Botswana presently, a study of 228 countries earlier this year by cable.co.uk found that Botswana was among the 14 most expensive countries in this regard. I can attest to this myself as I have to fork out a minimum of about P400 a month to enable me the use of the Internet without any hiccup save for the sporadic network downage or the now endemic power outages. To many a people, P400 a month amounts to the proverbial cost of an arm and a leg as it constitutes a substantial proportion of average monthly income. In countries such as Egypt and Mauritius, one can have Internet use every day of the week at any time of the day for only 0.5 percent and 0.59 percent of average monthly income.
In a bid to ameliorate the prohibitive Internet access price in our country, the University of Botswana was forced to shell out a whopping P7.8 million to provide the student populace with free SIM cards to enable them download teaching material under the restrictive COVID-19 climate. Botho University also entered into an arrangement with Orange whereby their students could have online access to learning materials and teaching instruction at only P2 a day, P10 a week, or P30 a month, though data was capped at 200 megabytes a day. Both these initiatives by two of the country’s premier institutions of higher education must be lauded.
If the cost of mobile broadband data has to organically come down drastically, it is essential that we move from a consolidated market – the triopoly of Mascom (with 51 percent market dominance), Orange (34 percent), and Be-Mobile (15 percent) we have in Botswana – to a multi-operator market. In its latest annual report, BOCRA reports that in 2018, the three operators had combined revenues of P4.4 billion and combined profits of P826 million. One wonders why this rather brisk bottom line does not translate to a proportionate paring down of the consumer price or does it have to do with the fact that the operators’ greed knows no bounds?
BOTSWANA NEAR TAIL-END OF GLOBAL BROADBAND SPEED LEAGUE
If the truth may be told, Internet speed in Botswana is no longer as glacially slow as it was a year or two back. That does not mean it is lightning swift. In fact, it is among the slowest both on the globe and on the African continent. At the download average of 1.92 megabytes per second (mbps), Botswana ranks 165th in the world and is 22nd in Africa according to statistics furnished by cable.co.uk. Our case is all the more stigmatic as we trail even comparatively poorer countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Sudan.
Taiwan has the fastest Internet in the world at 85.02 mbps, followed by Singapore at 70.86 mbps. Whereas it would take 22 hours for one to download a 5 gigabyte movie in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, the worst-ranked African country, and 6 hours for Botswana, it would take only 8 minutes in Taiwan. In Africa, it is not South Africa (8.4 mbps, 75th in the world), the wealthiest country, which leads the pack. It is Madagascar at 22.57 mbps (33rd globally). This is one of the poorest countries on Earth, with four out of every four citizens living on less than $2 a day.
Botswana in fact is way below the minimum speed of 10 mbps required for consumers to fully participate in a digital society according to tech experts. I need not emphasise that time is money. It is time BOCRA and BoFiNet saw to it that we pulled up our socks in broadband speed to serve on trawling time. Regrettably, in Botswana things move very slowly and it will probably be another ten years or so before we come to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Madagascar. As for ever catching up with Taiwan, well, the less said the better.
Nebuchadnezzar has the Jews exiled to his own domain to sabotage Jerusalem’s prospects of hosting King Anu, “Our Heavenly Father”
In 590 BC, General Atiku, King Zedekiah decided he would no longer be the puppet of Babylon. Just like Nebuchadnezzar, he wanted to be in full and unmitigated control of the Holy City in the event King Anu pitched. But he was under no illusion he could throw off the yoke of Babylon singlehandedly. So in the fourth year of his reign he – once again against the advice of the far-sighted prophet Jeremiah – joined a coalition that was being formed by Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon resist Nebuchadnezzar.
Upon getting wind of the rumours of this scheme, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Zedekiah to Babylon to administer to him a warn and caution statement but it seemed he took no heed. The following year, Nebuchadnezzar decided to pounce: he captured all the cities of Judah except three, one of which was Jerusalem and which he proceeded to besiege for the third time.
Finding himself in dire straits, General, Zedekiah made an alliance with Pharaoh Apries of Egypt and indeed the latter rushed to reinforce him. In the ensuing lull in hostilities, Nebuchadnezzar pulled a stunt by lifting the siege and Apries withdrew. No sooner had Apries done so than Nebuchadnezzar hemmed in on Jerusalem once again: Zedekiah was on his own. Jerusalem was under siege from January 587 to July 586 BC. The following, General, are the circumstances and aftermath of the siege according to one chronicler:
“Conditions in the city became increasingly desperate. Although the people had had time to prepare, their food supplies eventually began to run out. Cannibalism became a grim reality. Despite Jeremiah’s counsel to surrender, the King refused to do so and just as the last of the food in the city was exhausted the Babylonians broke through the wall.
“Zedekiah fled with remains of his army, but was overtaken and captured near Jericho. From there, he was brought before Nebuchadnezzar at his field headquarters at Riblah, his sons were executed in front of him, and he was blinded. From there, he was taken in chains to Babylon. The key members of his cabinet were executed before Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah shortly afterwards.
“A large part of the population of Jerusalem was put to the sword and everything of value plundered. The bronze articles from the Temple were cut up and removed and the building together with the palace and the important houses were set on fire. “In order to ensure that the city would never rebel against him again, Nebuzaradan, the commander of the Imperial Guard, ordered that the walls be demolished. All who survived in the city were carried off into exile in Babylon, with the exception of the very poor of the land.
The starving population exchanged whatever riches they had left for food, its leadership and priesthood were gone and the Temple burnt. The Babylonians soldiers oppressed the survivors and forced them to work for their food.” The remnant of poor people that were spared, General, were meant to serve as farmers and wine dressers. These people had previously been landless peasants and presented the least risk to the Babylonians, but were required to work the land to prevent the fields falling into disuse.
WOULD KING ANU CONDONE NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S ACT?
Nebuchadnezzar was not the first King to deport a people from their own country, General. The pace was actually set by the Assyrian King Adad Nirari I (c. 1307-1275 BC), who thought the best way to prevent any future uprising was to remove the occupants of the land and replace them with Assyrians. But Nebuchadnezzar, General, had an ulterior motive for the deportations, which only the “Illuminati” of the day were privy to. He wanted to make Jerusalem desolate and decrepit so that when King Anu arrived, he would avoid it like the plague and instead focus on the glittering Babylon.
His aim was to kill off entirely the competition posed by Jerusalem. Says Zechariah Sitchin: “The expectation, it seems, was that the arriving god (Anu) of the Winged Disk (symbol for planet Nibiru) would come down at the Landing Place (Baalbek) in Lebanon, then consummate the Return by entering Babylon through the new marvelous Processional Way and imposing Ishtar Gate.” But in the event that he indeed pitched, would the pro-Enlilite Anu take kindly to being deflected to a city (Babylon) other than Jerusalem when it had been specifically designated for his ultimate hosting on the planet by virtue of its geometrical centrality?
Having taken over Nippur’s prediluvial role to serve as Mission Control Center after the Deluge, Jerusalem was located at the center of concentric distances to the other space-related sites. Aptly calling it the “Navel of the Earth” (EZEKIEL 38:12), the prophet Ezekiel had announced that Jerusalem had been chosen for this role by God himself. “Thus has said the Lord Yahweh: ‘This is Jerusalem; in the midst of the nations I placed her, and all the lands are in a circle round about her,” EZEKIEL 5:5. “Determined to usurp that role for Babylon,” Sitchin further notes, “Nebuchadnezzar led his troops to the elusive prize and in 598 BC captured Jerusalem.”
CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE EXILE SITUATION
Altogether, General, the Babylonian captivity – the deportation of the Nation of Israel to Babylon – spanned 70 years counting from the first deportation of 598/597 BC. Meanwhile, Judah was renamed Yehud Province by the Babylonians and a puppet Jewish governor was appointed to administer it. (The post of King was abolished, making Zedekiah [reign: 597-586 BC] the last substantive linear King of the Jews.) His name was Gedalia, whose father had been an advisor to King Josiah (reign: 640-609 BC).
Gedalia set up his capital not in Jerusalem but in Mizpah. That, plus the fact that he didn’t have a drop of Davidic blood in him, made him a marked man to Jewish nationalists and traditionalists from the word go. Not long after his appointment, Gedalia was assassinated by a family member of the deposed king Zedekiah. From that point on, General, no Jewish governor was installed until after the end of the Babylonian captivity.
Exactly what were the circumstances of the deportees, General? The image that immediately comes to mind is that of a concentration camp kind of setting reminiscent of the Jewish people’s fate at the hands of Nazi Germany. That, General, is a gross misconception. In Babylon, the Jews enjoyed every privilege, including citizenship if they so desired. They were not enslaved or in bondage of any kind. Their own individual abilities were even tapped into to help advance Babylon in one way or the other.
Reading PSALM 137:1–2, the surface impression one gets, General, is that the Jews in Babylon were beset by a most disagreeable set of circumstances. “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat, sat and wept, as we thought of Zion (Jerusalem). There on the poplars we hung up our lyres.” Well, that was pure nostalgia, which is a natural impulse when a people have been displaced, General. A notable historian presents to us the more accurate picture in the following words:
“The deportees, their labour and their abilities, were extremely valuable to the Babylonian state, and their relocation was carefully planned and organised. We must not imagine treks of destitute fugitives who were easy prey for famine and disease: the deportees were meant to travel as comfortably and safely as possible in order to reach their destination in good physical shape.
Whenever deportations are depicted in Babylonian imperial art, men, women and children are shown travelling in groups, often riding on vehicles or animals and never in bonds … Deportees were carefully chosen for their abilities and sent to regions which could make the most of their talents. Not everyone in the conquered populace was chosen for deportation and families were never separated. Those segments of the population that had actively resisted the Babylonians were killed or sold into slavery, but the general populaces became absorbed into the growing empire and were thought of as Babylonians.”
Another historian has this to say, General: “It is assumed that the Jews had to render labour to the Babylonians, but generally they enjoyed a great deal of freedom. Some of the exiles, like Daniel and his three friends, rose to positions of power within the Royal Court of Babylon and many others became wealthy. Later, during the Persian period Jews like Mordecai, Esther, and Nehemiah all found themselves in key positions in the government and were able to act on behalf of their people because they took Jeremiah’s advice.” Indeed, General, Nehemiah rose to become the cup-bearer of the King, that is, the King’s most trusted official.
The King-in-exile himself, Jeconiah, enjoyed particularly special privilleges both when he was in prison and after his release. Captive kings and high-ranking officials received monthly rations of grain and oil. Archaeological evidence recovered from the Royal palace in Babylon provides support for Jeconiah’s presence there and lists the daily rations set aside for him and the members of his family.
The Bible itself, General, does not shy away from underscoring Jeconiah’s privileged status in Babylon as highlighted in JEREMIAH 52:31-34 thus: “In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jeconiah King of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became King of Babylon, on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month, he released Jeconiah King of Judah and freed him from prison. He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honour higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jeconiah put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the King’s table. Day by day the King of Babylon gave Jeconiah a regular allowance as long as he lived, till the day of his death.”
JEREMIAH PAINTS SORRY PICTURE OF MARDUK’S FATE
The destruction of Solomon’s Temple by King Nebuchadnezzar, General, was according to the Bible the ultimate blasphemy. Ishkur-Adad, the Jehovah under whose auspices the Temple was built, was not in the least bit amused. He straightaway had the prophet Jeremiah step forward and pronounce the comeuppance both on the King and his colossal empire.
Now, biblical prophecies, General, should not be taken at face value. Their fulfillment were documented after the events they purported to foretell had already taken place, not before they happened. Much of the Old Testament corpus was compiled in the 6th century BC, during and after the Babylonian captivity (the Book of Malachi, the last prophet, was written circa 400 BC, and the Book of Daniel was compiled just after 164 BC). So we have to bear that in mind, General, when we read of fulfilled prophecies so that we decide whether to contemplate the story warily or give it the benefit of the doubt.
Jeremiah announced that the destruction of the Temple was going to be avenged by Yahweh (JEREMIAH 50:28). In addition, Adad instructed him to make the following proclamation: “Declare among the nations and proclaim, set up a banner and proclaim, do not conceal it, say: Babylon is taken; withered is Bel; confounded is Merodach … For out of the north a nation has come up against her; it shall make her land a desolation, and no one shall live in it; both human beings and animals shall flee away.” – JEREMIAH 50: 1-3.
Jeremiah, General, made this statement circa 561-60 BC. It can be easily dated because it was in this timespan that Merodach, Nebuchadnezzar’s successor, was on the throne. Jeremiah served notice to the world that Babylon was to be supplanted by a new power from the north, who turned out to be Persia. Jeremiah also spelt out the imminent fate of the Babylonian god Marduk, who was also known as Bel, meaning “The Lord”: he was to “wither”, or cease to be a factor in the affairs of mankind. In the case of Merodach, all Jeremiah said of him was that he was to be “confounded”, that is, so overwhelmed by problems as to lose a sense of focus. One wonders, General, why Jeremiah, if he was the great prophet he was touted to be, didn’t foresee the assassination of Merodach and directly allude to it in his prophecy.
The prophet Daniel says in his waning days, Nebuchadnezzar had his mind taken away and ate grass like an ox. This, General, is a fanciful story which is found only in the Bible and nowhere in the Babylonian annals. “There is no independent support for the tradition in Daniel of Nebuchadnezzar’s seven years’ madness, and the story probably arose from a fanciful later interpretation of texts concerned with events under Nabunaid, who showed apparent eccentricity in deserting Babylon for a decade to live in Arabia,” says Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Meanwhile, did Marduk indeed get to wither, General?
In Botswana, the Trade Disputes Act, 2016 (“the Act”) provides the framework within which trade disputes are resolved. This framework hinges on four legs, namely mediation, arbitration, industrial action and litigation. In this four-part series, we discuss this framework.
In last week’s article, we discussed the second leg of Botswana’s trade dispute resolution framework-arbitration. In this article, we discuss the third leg, namely industrial action.
Industrial action is generally defined as a situation where the employer and employees use their bargaining power to exert pressure on the other to achieve a particular result. It entails such things as strikes and lockouts. In terms of section 2(1) of the Act, Industrial action means “a strike, lockout or action short of a strike, in furtherance of a trade dispute”.
In terms of section 2(1) of the Act, “a strike means the cessation of work by a body of employees in any trade or industry acting in combination or under a common understanding or a concerted refusal or a refusal under a common understanding by such body of employees to continue work.”
A lock-out is the employees’ equivalent of a strike. In terms of section 2(1) of the Act, a lock-out is defined as “ the closing of a place of employment by an employer in any trade or industry or the suspension of work by such an employer or the refusal by such an employer to continue to employ any number of his or her employees in that trade or industry.”
While on a strike, employees use their numbers to inflict economic pain on the employer by withdrawing their labour, in a lock-out, the employer uses its power by not providing employees with work, thereby inflicting economic harm on them in terms of the ‘no-work, no pay’ principle. In terms of section 2(1) of the Act, an action short of a strike means “any method of working (other than the method of working commonly known as working to rule) undertaken by a body of employees in any trade or industry acting in combination or under a common understanding, which method of working slows down normal production or the execution of the normal function under their contracts of employment, of the employees undertaking such method of working.”
In terms of section 42(1) (a) of the Act, it is obligatory to refer a dispute of interest for mediation before resorting to a strike or lockout. Also, in terms of section 42(1) (b) of the Act, a party must give the other party a 48-hour notice before the commencement of a strike or lockout. In terms of section 43(1) of the Act, before a strike or lockout commences, the parties have to agree on the rules regulating the action, failing which the mediator must determine the rules in accordance with any guidelines published in terms of section 53 of the Act.
These rules include those concerning the conduct of the strike or lockout and any conduct in contemplation or furtherance of the strike or lockout including picketing and the use of replacement labour. In terms of section 43(2) of the Act, the latter is, however, subject to the provisions of subsection (4) of the Act.
Employers are not allowed to engage replacement labour if the parties have concluded an agreement on the provision of a minimum service. In terms of section 43(3) of the Act, such prohibition also applies if no minimum service agreement is concluded within 14 days of the commencement of the strike or lockout.
In terms of section 43(4) of the Act, a trade union is allowed to picket outside the employer’s premises during a strike or lockout if the parties have concluded an agreement on the provision of a minimum service or if no such agreement is concluded within 14 days of the commencement of the strike or lockout.
The Act prohibits strikes and lockouts that do not comply with the aforesaid provisions or an agreed procedure. The prohibition also applies if the strike or lockout is in breach of a peace clause in a collective labour agreement.
In terms of section 45(1) of the Act, strikes or lockouts are also regarded as unprotected if the subject matter of the strike or lockout is not a trade dispute, is regulated by a collective labour agreement, is a matter that is required by the Act to be referred for arbitration or to the Industrial Court for adjudication, or is a matter that the parties to the dispute of interest have agreed to refer for arbitration.
In terms of section 47 of the Act, employees in essential services are not allowed to take part in a strike. Similarly, employers in essential services are not allowed to take part in a lockout. It is, however, worth noting that, although an essential service employee who engages in a strike commits an offence and is, in terms of section 48(1) of the Act, liable to a fine not exceeding P 2 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or to both, there is no punishment for an essential service employer who locks out its employees.
In terms of section 48(2) of the Act, the punishment applicable to an essential service employee who engages in a strike, is also applicable for any person who causes, procures, counsels or influences any essential service employee to engage in a strike.
Where there is a trade dispute involving parties in an essential service, it should be reported to the Commissioner by an organisation acting on behalf of the employer, employers or employees. The provisions of section 6(3) apply in respect of a report of the trade dispute made in accordance with section 6 (1).
Where a trade dispute is reported in accordance with that section, it is deemed to have been reported to the Commissioner under section 6. Where there is failure to settle a trade dispute reported to the Commissioner in accordance with section 6 (2) within 30 days from the day on which the trade dispute was reported, the Commissioner may immediately refer the trade dispute to an arbitrator if the dispute is a dispute of interest, except in the case of a collective dispute of interest where the employees are represented by a trade union, or to the Industrial Court if the trade dispute is a dispute of right.
*Ndulamo Anthony Morima, LLM(NWU); LLB(UNISA); DSE(UB); CoP (BAC); CoP (IISA) is the proprietor of Morima Attorneys. He can be contacted at 71410352 or HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com