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Moses Divorces Miriam

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

He and his god Jehovah-Adad gang up against his popular half-sister wife

Exactly 2 years, 2 months, and 20 days since the Nation of Israel’s departure from Egypt,  the sentient cloud that hovered over the Tabernacle lifted. It was  a signal for the nation to break camp at Mount Sinai and commence the onward march to the Promised Land. The commencement of the march was indicated by the blast of a trumpet by  Aaron as per the enshrined protocol.  

The movement was not haphazard: it was orderly. The nation was divided into four groups of three tribes each. Group 1, also known as the Eastern Group (because its camp was located east of the Tabernacle),  comprised of the tribes of Judah; Issachar; and Zebulun. It was led by the tribe of Judah.  Group 2, also known as the Southern Group, consisted of the tribes of Reuben, Simeon, and Gad. It was led by the tribe of Reuben. Group 3, also known as the Western Group, was made up of the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin.

It was led by the tribe of Ephraim. And  Group 4, also known as the Northern Group,  constituted the tribes of Dan, Asher, and Naphtali. It was led by the tribe of Dan. However, when the nation was on the move, the Levites marched right behind the tribe of Zebulun and in front of the tribe of Reuben. Marching at the head of each tribe was the tribal leader, who bore the tribal banner.

Whilst the nation was on the march, the tribe charged with responsibility for handling components of the dismantled Tabernacle, also known as the Tent of Meeting, was the Levites. The Levites were divided into three groups, each descended from one of Levi’s three sons, namely Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

The Kohathites took care of what was described as “the most holy things”. Puzzlingly, the Kohathites were not allowed to directly touch these things or even glimpse them. They carried them once the priests had wrapped them up. The items were borne on their shoulders. The Kohathites were supervised by Eleazer, Aaron’s oldest surviving son. The Gershonites carried the Tent itself, the curtains that screened off various areas, and the ropes that supported the curtains. The Merarites carried the wooden structure on which the cloth curtains would be hung once the Tent was erected.

Both the Gershonites and Merarites were supervised by  Ithamar, Eleazer’s younger brother.  Whereas the Kohathites carried their burdens on their own shoulders, the Gershonites and Merarites were provided with two wagons  and four oxen and four wagons and eight oxen respectively. The Levites were eligible to do Tabernacle-related duties between ages 25 and 50.

ISRAELITES SET UP CAMP AT KADESH

When the Israelites set out from Mt Sinai, their guide was neither Moses nor Aaron. It was Hobab, a brother-in-law of Moses by his Midianite wife Zipporah. Moses had prevailed upon Hobab to head the procession because of his thorough logistical knowledge of the Arabian region. Throughout the entire journey, Moses kept communicating with Adad using the Ark of the Covenant as well as invoking his name both for protection and overall guardianship.

The caravan marched 11 days before they set up camp at an oasis called Kibbroth-Hataavah in the greater  Kadesh Barnea region just on the border with Edom, today’s Jordan. At the time, Edom was controlled by the Amorites,  a nation of rather tall people who were descended from  Canaan, Ham’s fourth-born son.

Having set up camp and erected the Tabernacle, the Israelites camped according to a predetermined arrangement.  Immediately surrounding the Tabernacle were the Levites, with the Merarites to the north; the Kohathites to the south; and the Gershonites to the west. The eastern flank of the Tabernacle was reserved for Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s sons.

The outer boundaries were occupied by the 12 tribes. They were Asher, Dan, and Naphtali to the north; Gad, Reuben, and Simeon to the south; Benjamin, Ephraim and Manasseh to the west; and Issachar, Judah, and Zebulun to the east. It is not stated where the Egyptians who had come along in the exodus were camped. Most likely they affiliated themselves to an adopted tribe.

MOSES ACCUSES ADAD OF CAUSING  EVIL

Meanwhile, the Israelite multitude had been pestering Ishkur-Adad, the Anunnaki Jehovah of the exodus, through Moses as early as the third day of their journey. They kept complaining about the gravity of the hardships they were facing. If there was one thing Adad hated, it was whining. Adad abhorred whingers, especially in light of what transpired in relation to the case of the Golden Calf. He thought such people were rabble rousers who could instigate the entire nation to rise up against him.

So this time around, Adad didn’t even talk. He acted there and then, without warning, as captured in NUMBERS 11:1-3 thus: “Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.  When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died down.   So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the LORD had burned among them.”     

Of course the fire did not simply strike from the void of space: it was unleashed from Adad’s flying saucer, referred to as “the Glory of God” in the Bible. But the Israelites simply did not learn lessons, for this was not the last time they would ever step on Adad’s toes. For not very long after, Moses again was approached by a deputation of the nation led by what the Pentateuch authors call “the rabble”, their characterisation of the non-Israelite component of the exodus. 

These ring leaders made it clear to Moses that they were fed up of living on manna (not Ormus but Tamarisk manna, the flat cakes made from sweet, coriander-like seeds that were their main source of livelihood) and that they wanted proteinaceous food in the form of meat, failure to which they would hasten off and a beat a path back to Egypt, where they enjoyed “fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, and garlic”.

Now, in hankering after meat, the people were not demanding the impossible: there was a precedent. Adad had supplied them with quail meat – not miraculously but naturally – whilst  they were camped at the Wilderness of Sin. So what they were basically asking for was a repeat of the same treat.  In fact, Moses sympathised with them because when he approached Adad over the matter, he put it to him that he wasn’t doing enough to cater to the needs of his chosen people and if things continued as they were, he (Moses) would rather Adad killed him and thus spare him the agony of seeing his people in perpetual misery.

These were Moses’ exact words as per NUMBERS 11:11-15:  “Why have You dealt evil to Your servant? And why have I not found grace in Your eyes  that You placed the load of all this people on me? Was I myself pregnant with all this people, or did I generate it, that You should say to me: Carry it in your bosom just as a foster father carries a suckling child, to the ground about which You had sworn to their fathers? From where would  I find flesh to give to all this people? For they are lamenting to me,  saying: Do give  us flesh, and let us eat.  I am not able, by myself alone, to bear all this people, for it is too heavy for me. So if  thus You are doing to me, kill me, I pray, yea kill me. If I have found grace in Your eyes then do not let me see  Your evil.”
    
ADAD SMITES “GLUTTONIES”

In the Bible, the repercussions of this statement have been downplayed, but it was a rather rash and reckless outburst. In point of fact, it was this outrage at Adad THAT FORFEITED MOSES THE OPPORTUNITY TO SET FOOT IN THE PROMISED LAND. First, Moses accused Adad of sabotaging him, of virtually leaving him to his own devices. He thought Adad was evil and inconsiderate as he had saddled him with a responsibility he could not bear.

He contended that he had been given a role Adad well knew was certain to fail – call it a booby-trap. You could not level such an accusation against the hot-tempered Adad and get away with it. Second, Moses basically threw in the towel. He made it clear that he simply did not have what it took to lead the nation of Israel. That was outright surrender folks. For put differently, Moses was pleading with Adad to replace him, short of killing him,  with somebody else.

The Pentateuch writers make rather light of Adad’s response when in truth Adad snorted with rage and told Moses point blank that his role as leader of the Nation of Israel would be restricted to the wilderness only: when Canaan was won, Moses would have no part to play in its affairs whatsoever.  Thanks to his foolishly indiscrete remarks to his own god, Moses had wrecked his chances of leading his people into the Promised Land.

In order to demonstrate to Moses that he actually was not indispensable, Adad ordered him to appoint 72 people who were to be groomed as prophets. The Pentateuch writers obviously over-dramatise the event  when in reality it was not as theatrical as they put it. The 72 were subjected to the full spectrum of training prophecy entailed, which must have taken weeks or months:  we know, from Sumerian records, that one did not simply become a prophet overnight. It was a skill that had to be honed because it also involved knowledge of astronomy and astrology.  The 72 later began to prophesy though the exact nature of their prophecy is not specified.

The quails, the birds that seasonally flew in the direction of the Arabian Peninsula from the Mediterranean region, soon began to flood in. It was either it was the season they did so or Adad used his “magic” to set them on the inland journey. Remember, the Anunnaki had technology that interfered with nature and so it was easy for Adad to so tamper with the weather and have the quails set course for Arabia.

The result was such a haul of quails there was enough meat to sustain the Israelites for a full month. That was the brighter side of the coin. On the flipside, Adad still nursed a grudge against his chosen people for their incessant grumblings and naggings about his capacity to provide for them. Even as the people were gorging their mouths full with quail meat, Adad struck: he unleashed a plague that claimed a unspecified number of scalps. The body count must have been in the thousands as the plague is described as “severe” as Kibroth Hattaavah (NUMBERS 11:34), the name the camp site was given, meant graves of lust”. Apparently, Adad equated his people’s yearning for fleshy food to sheer greed.

MOSES TERMINATES MARRIAGE WITH SISTER-WIFE MIRIAM

From Kibroth, the Israelites moved to Hazeroth. There, Moses had a dream on the basis of which he prophesied.  Summoning Aaron and Miriam over, he told them that Adad, had spoken to him in a dream and exhorted him to divorce Miriam, his half-sister wife,  and take a new wife,  a Cushite. (Of course NUMBERS 12, in which the story is related, does not put it as blunt as the Pentateuch writers didn’t want the readers to get to know that Moses and Miriam were husband and wife, just as they didn’t want to  disclose the fact that Moses was once pharaoh of Egypt.)

Both Miriam and Aaron, who had a very high regard for Miriam, were  outraged. What  had Miriam done? And if it was indeed Adad who spoke to Moses by way of a prophecy dream, why didn’t he also talk  to Aaron and Miriam using the same medium? Was Moses the only prophet amid the Israelites? Hadn’t Adad ordained 72 prophets? Weren’t Aaron and Miriam part and parcel of the trinity of the Israelite leadership (as MICAH 6:4 lays bare)?

Of course Miriam had not done anything amiss that warranted her being given the boot by her husband. Her only sin was that she did not shrink from challenging him and she was more popular to the Nation of Israel than he was.  As such, Moses looked askance at her and suspected that she harboured designs to topple him.

Who was the Cushite woman Moses had decided or had been ordered to hitch by Adad? Kush was the Hebrew name for ancient Ethiopia, which included modern-day Sudan.   The Cushites were the  descendents of  Kush, the eldest son of Ham, one of Noah’s three children. Cushites, however,  not only were found in Ethiopia: there were Cushites in the land of Midian, which the Israelites had departed, as well as in Canaan. HABAKKUK 3:7 identifies a place called Cushan with  Midian.

In 2 CHRONICLES 14:11, Asa, King of Judah, defeated the Cushites of a place called Gerar and Gerar was not in Ethiopia but  Canaan. 2 CHRONICLES 21:16 mentions that the Arabs (of Arabia) were neighbours of the Cushites. Clearly, the Cushite woman Moses married was a Canaanite. He did so for strategic purposes in that the Israelites now were poised to invade Canaan  and the unnamed Cushite woman was valuable for intelligence purposes.

ADAD AFFIRMS MOSES’DECISION, PUNISHES MIRIAM

Whatever the case, Miriam, emboldened by the knowledge that Moses had of late not been in Adad’s very good graces, was adamant that she was not going to consent to the divorce, whereupon Moses brought the matter before Adad. Using his alter ego, the mysterious, sentient Pillar of Cloud, Adad summoned the three to the Tent of Meeting. There, he angrily   lashed out at Aaron and Miriam as captured in NUMBERS 12:6-9. Adad stressed to the duo that he did talk to Moses in dreams and visions as he was his leading  prophet and that they were wrong in attempting to pick up a quarrel with him for whatever Moses told them had his blessings.

But of the two, it  was Miriam who was punished, which suggests she was the real thorn in the side of Moses and Aaron was no more than a morale-boosting ally. The Pentateuch says Adad struck Miriam with leprosy for her intransigence, after which she was kept in quarantine for seven days. However, the more reliable apocryphal BOOK OF JASHER documents that  Moses had Miriam imprisoned indefinitely, releasing her seven days later after the Israelites almost  rose up in arms to have her freed.

“The voice of the tribes of the congregation were on the side of Miriam,” the BOOK OF JASHER says. “They gathered themselves unto Moses and said, ‘bring forth into us Miriam our counsellor’”. Both accounts, however, are in one accord about one thing – that the Israelites only set off from Hazeroth once Miriam was freed, evidence of here rock-star popularity. The Nation of Israel not only had sympathy for her in respect of her being dumped by Moses: they identified with her.  

The differing accounts further exposes the Pentateuch writers’ penchant for  undermining Miriam at every opportunity and their predilection to sullying her standing consistent with their misogynistic undertones. It is also probable that the story was not remotely close to the way it is related in Numbers. The Pentateuch writers most likely invented it simply  to justify Moses’ divorce of Miriam.

NEXT WEEK: ADAD’S ORGY OF KILLINGS

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DIS Parley Committee selection disingenuous 

25th November 2020

Intelligence and Security Service Act, which is a law that establishes the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DIS), provides for establishment of a Parliamentary Committee. Recently, the President announced nine names of Members of Parliament he had appointed to the Committee.

This announcement was preceded by a meeting the President held with the Speaker and the Leader of Opposition. Following the announcement of Committee MPs by the President, the opposition, through its leader, made it clear that it will not participate in the Committee unless certain conditions that would ensure effective oversight are met. The opposition acted on the non-participation threat through resignation of its three MPs from the Committee.

The Act at Section 38 provides for the establishment of the Committee to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Directorate. The law provides that the Parliamentary Committee shall have the same powers and privileges set out under the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act.

On composition, the Committee shall consist of nine members who shall not be members of Cabinet and its quorum shall be five members.  The MPs in the Committee elect a chairperson from among their number at their first meeting.

The Members of the Committee are appointed by the President after consultation with the Speaker of the National Assembly and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly. It is the provision of the law that the Committee, relative to its size, reflect the numerical strengths of the political parties represented in the National Assembly.

The Act provides that that a member of the Committee holds office for the duration of the Parliament in which he or she is appointed.  The Committee is mandated to make an annual report on the discharge of their functions to the President and may at any time report to him or her on any matter relating to the discharge of those functions.

The Minister responsible for intelligence and security is obliged to lay before the National Assembly a copy of each annual report made by the Committee together with a statement as to whether any matter has been excluded from that copy in pursuance of the provision of the Act.

If it appears to the Minister, after consultation with the Parliamentary Committee, that the publication of any matter in a report would be prejudicial to the continued discharge of the functions of the Directorate, the Minister may exclude that matter from the copy of the report as laid before the National Assembly.

So, what are the specific demands of the Opposition and why are they not participating in the Committee? What should happen as a way forward? The Opposition demanded that there be a forensic audit of the Directorate. The DIS has never been audited since it was set up in 2008, more than a decade ago.

The institution has been a law unto itself for a longtime, feared by all oversight bodies. The Auditor General, who had no security of tenure, could not audit the DIS. The Directorate’s personnel, especially at a high level, have been implicated in corruption.  Some of its operatives are in courts of law defending corruption charges preferred against them. Some of the corruption cases which appeared in the media have not made it to the courts.

The DIS has been accused of non-accountability and unethical practices as well as of being a burden on the fiscus.  So, the Opposition demanded, from the President, a forensic audit for the purpose of cleaning up the DIS.  They demand a start from a clean slate.

The second demand by the Opposition is that the law be reviewed to ensure greater accountability of the DIS to Parliament. What are some of the issues that the opposition think should be reviewed? The contention is that the executive cannot appoint a Committee of Parliament to scrutinize an executive institution.

Already, it is argued, Parliament is less independent and it is dominated by the executive. It is contended that the Committee should be established by the Standing Orders and be appointed by a Select Committee of Parliament. There is also an argument that the Committee should report to Parliament and not to the President and that the Minister should not have any role in the Committee.

Democratic and Parliamentary oversight of the intelligence is relatively a new phenomenon across the World. Even developed democracies are still grappling with some of these issues. However, there are acceptable standards or what might be called international best practices which have evolved over the past two or so decades.

In the UK for instance, MPs of the Intelligence and Security Committee are appointed by the Houses of Parliament, having been nominated by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. This is a good balancing exercise of involvement of both the executive and the legislature. Consultation is taken for granted in Botswana context in the sense that it has been reduced to just informing the Leader of Opposition without much regard to his or her ideas; they are never taken seriously.

Furthermore, the current Committee in the UK has four Members of the ruling party and five MPs from the opposition. It is a fairly balanced Committee in terms of Parliamentary representation. However, as said above, the President of Botswana appointed six ruling party MPs and three from the opposition.

The imbalance is preposterous and more pronounced with clear intentions of getting the executive way through the ruling party representatives in the Committee. The intention to avoid scrutiny is clear from the numbers of the ruling party MPs in the Committee.

There is also an international standard of removing sensitive parts which may harm national security from the report before it is tabled in the legislature. The previous and current reluctance of the executive arms to open up on Defence and Security matters emanate from this very reason of preserving and protecting national security.

But national security should be balanced with public interest and other democratic principles. The decision to expunge certain information which may be prejudicial to national security should not be an arbitrary and exclusive decision of the executive but a collective decision of a well fairly balanced Committee in consultation with the Speaker and the minister responsible.

There is no doubt that the DIS has been a rogue institution. The reluctance by the President to commit to democratic-parliamentary oversight reforms presupposes a lack of commitment to democratization. The President has no interest in seeing a reformed DIS with effective oversight of the agency.

He is insincere. This is because the President loathes the idea losing an iota of power and sharing it with any other democratic institution. He sees the agency as his power lever to sustain his stay in the high office. He thought he could sanitize himself with an ineffective DIS Committee that would dance to his tune.

The non-participation of the opposition MPs renders the Committee dysfunctional; it cannot function as this would be unlawful. Participation of the opposition is a legal requirement. Even if it can meet, it would lack legitimacy; it cannot be taken seriously. The President should therefore act on the oversight demands and reform the DIS if he is to be taken seriously.

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The Maccabean Uprising

25th November 2020
Jewish freedom fighters

 Jews drive away occupying power under the command of guerrilla leader Judas Maccabees but only just

Although it was the Desolation Sacrilege act, General Atiku, that officially sparked the Maccabean revolt, it in truth simply stoked the fires of an already simmering revolution. How so General?

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Atomic (CON)Fusion

25th November 2020

For years I have trained people about paradigm shifts – those light-bulb-switch-on moments – where there is a seismic change from the usual way of thinking about something to a newer, better way. 

I like to refer to them as ‘aha’ moments because of the sudden understanding of something which was previously incomprehensible. However,  the topic of today’s article is the complete antithesis of ‘aha’.  Though I’d love to tell you I’d had a ‘eureka ‘, ‘problem solved’ moment, I am faced with the complete opposite – an ‘oh-no’ moment or Lost Leader Syndrome.

No matter how well prepared or capable a leader is. they often find themselves facing perplexing events, confounding information, or puzzling situations. Confused by developments of which they can’t make sense and by challenges that they don’t know how to solve they become confused, sometimes lost and completely clueless about what to do.

I am told by Jentz and Murphy (JM) in ‘What leaders do when they don’t know what to do’ that this is normal, and that rapid change is making confusion a defining feature of management in the 21st century.  Now doesn’t that sound like the story of 2020 summed up in a single sentence?

The basic premise of their writing is that “confusion is not a weakness to be ashamed of but a regular and inevitable condition of leadership. By learning to embrace their confusion, managers are able to set in motion a constructive process for addressing baffling issues.

In fact, confusion turns out to be a fruitful environment in which the best managers thrive by using the instability around them to open up better lines of communication, test their old assumptions and values against changing realities, and develop more creative approaches to problem solving.”

The problem with this ideology however is that it doesn’t help my overwhelming feelings of fear and panic which is exacerbated by a tape playing on a loop in my head saying  ‘you’re supposed to know what to do, do something’. My angst is compounded by annoying motivational phrases also unhelpfully playing in my head like.

  • Nothing happens until something moves
  • The secret of getting ahead is getting started

and

  • Act or be acted upon

All these platitudes are urging me to pull something out of the bag, but I know that this is a trap. This need to forge ahead is nothing but a coping mechanism and disguise. Instead of owning the fact that I haven’t got a foggy about what to do, part of me worries that I’ll lose authority if I acknowledge that I can’t provide direction – I’m supposed to know the answers, I’m the MD!  This feeling of not being in control is common for managers in ‘oh no’ situations and as a result they often start reflexively and unilaterally attempting to impose quick fixes to restore equilibrium because, lets be honest, sometimes we find it hard to resist hiding our confusion.

To admit that I am lost in an “Oh, No!” moment opens the door not only to the fear of losing authority but also to a plethora of other troubling emotions and thoughts:  *Shame and loss of face: “You’ll look like a fool!” * Panic and loss of control: “You’ve let this get out of hand!” * Incompetence and incapacitation: “You don’t know what you’re doing!”

As if by saying “I’m at a loss here” is tantamount to declaring “I am not fit to lead.” Of course the real problem for me and any other leader is if they don’t admit when they are disoriented, it sends a signal to others in the organisation stating it’s not cool to be lost and that, by its very nature encourages them to hide.  What’s the saying about ‘a real man never asks for direction. ..so they end up driving around in circles’.

As managers we need to embrace the confusion, show vulnerability (remember that’s not a bad word) and accept that leadership is not about pretending to have all the answers but about having the courage to search with others to discover a solution.

JM point out that “being confused, however, does not mean being incapacitated.  Indeed, one of the most liberating truths of leadership is that confusion is not quicksand from which to escape but rather the potter’s clay of leadership – the very stuff with which managers can work.”

2020 has certainly been a year to remember and all indications are that the confusion which has characterised this year will still follow us into the New Year, thereby making confusion a defining characteristic of the new normal and how managers need to manage. Our competence as leaders will then surely be measured not only by ‘what I know’ but increasingly by ‘how I behave when I accept, I don’t know, lose my sense of direction and become confused.

.I guess the message for all organizational cultures going forward is that sticking with the belief that we need all-knowing, omni-competent executives will cost them dearly and send a message to managers that it is better to hide their confusion than to address it openly and constructively.

Take comfort in these wise words ‘Confusion is a word we have invented for an order not yet understood’!

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