… thanks to sonic weapons supplied his army by Ishkur-Adad, the Jehovah of the Exodus
About 13 years (40 years in the numerology-obsessed Pentateuch) prior, Ishkur-Adad, the Jehovah of the exodus, used HAARP technology, apparently, to part the Red Sea. Now he wanted to repeat a similar feat, this time parting the Jordan River to enable over 2.5 million Israelites (if we are to include women and children who were not part of the second census figure of 603,000) and their livestock, which numbered in hundreds of thousands. That’s what the Pentateuch authors would have us believe.
Whilst we could allow for the possibility of a “miracle” (that is, use of sophisticated technology that intervened in nature), we should also allow for the probability that the incident (JOSHUA 3:14-17) was perfectly natural. The Jordan River is not a particularly broad or deep river. Its width ranges from 28 to 31 metres only and its depth from 1 to 3 metres. Any adult can wade through a metre’s height of water and easily traverse a distance of 30 metres: in that case, no miracle would be needed for the Nation of Israel to cross the river.
The Canaanite point at which the Israelites crossed the Jordan is referred to as Adam in the Bible, which is modern–day Damiya. Geological evidence that earthquake-induced landslides have from time to time stopped the flow of the Jordan River waters at Damiya abounds. For example, in 1927, flow ceased for 22 hours; in 1906, 24 hours; in 1834 and 1546, 2 days; in 1534 and 1267, 10 hours. At such times, the Jordan River bed at Damiya is practically bare and one can easily stroll across it from one bank to the other in less than five minutes.
The Book of Joshua, however, seems to suggest that the Ark of the Covenant, borne by priests, had a role to play in the parting of the Jordan. That cannot be entirely discounted as we now know that the Ark was a multi-purpose high-tech device which could even be deployed in warfare. Exactly how the Ark could separate a body of water into two walls leaving dry land in between we cannot really fathom.
The Bible says at the time the Israelites crossed the Jordan, it was in flood. It was therefore at its maximum depth of 3 metres. Maybe a miracle at the hands of Adad was needed yes and the Ark came in very handy here. BUT WHY EMPLOY THE ARK AT THE JORDAN RIVER WHEN IT WASN’T NEEDED IN THE PARTING OF THE RED SEA? Anyway, the Ark was not yet in existence when Moses led his people across the Red Sea but at the Jordan it was already in existence and it too most likely incorporated HAARP technology.
NINURTA DEPLORES MARCH ON JERICHO?
Shortly after the Israelites crossed the River Jordan, four things happened. Adad turned off the Manna tap; mass circumcision was decreed; the first Passover was celebrated; and Ninurta mysteriously tried to intervene in the Israelite advance on Jericho. Now that the Israelites were in the land of “milk and honey” (a figurative statement for a place of abundance), the provision of both forms of Manna, the tamarind kind and the Ormus form, ceased. This was no longer the generally barren wilderness the Israelites had roamed for years: they were amid very fecund land, which was lush-green for the most part and which yielded all sorts of crops and fruit. All they needed to do was to put a hoe to the ground or simply reach a hand out to a branch of a tree and their stomachs would be forever satiated.
Also, given the incessant headache to which his own chosen people had subjected him, Adad did not wish them to live lengthy lives. The shorter their lifespan, the less the ramifications of the troubles they would give him. As such, he forbade the production of Ormus indefinitely, so that there would no longer be the likes of Moses and Aaron to live up to a hundred years. The total lifespan for mankind was now capped at three-score-and-ten – 70 years. Only those who had particularly special genes, or who had privileged knowledge of how to sustain longevity, would breach the cap.
Since the Israelites were constantly on the move, the rite of circumcision for newly-born Israelite children had been suspended. It meant that every male who was born during the wilderness years sported a clothed penis, which was anathema to Adad. Now that the Israelites were to settle into a steady life rhythm, Adad decreed that everybody who was hitherto uncircumcised be made to undergo the rite using “flint knives”. This was at a place they christened Gilgal, a temporary camp site. The circumcision was also in affirmation of the covenant Abraham had made with Nannar-Sin, Adad’s brother who at the time was the god directly dealing with Hebrew affairs.
Aside its own ritualistic merits, the celebration of the first Passover was meant to toast to the Nation of Israel’s arrival in the Promised Land. We all know who Ninurta was. He was Enlil-Jehovah’s firstborn son. Ninurta also went by the name Michael, the lead (arch) “angel” of war (“angel”, or AN-GAL in Sumerian, meaning “Great one of Heaven”, was another term for Anunnaki). In the Bible, this is translated as “Lord of Hosts” or “Commander of the Lord’s Army” in modern versions, the “Lord” being Jehovah-Enlil.
For some reason, Ninurta frowned at the idea of the Israelites’ unconscionably violent invasion of Canaan. So as Joshua led his people toward Jericho, Ninurta intercepted him (JOSHUA 5:13-15), with sword in hand. Surprisingly, the Bible gives no particulars about what transpired thereafter, only that Joshua was asked to take off his sandals as he stood on holy ground, the same admonition Adad had given Moses at the scene of the Burning Bush. It’s possible Adad and Ninurta clashed and the Pentateuch writers decided to sweep the confrontation under the carpet. Remember, although the Enlilites now posed as a single god, they were not always in agreement and aberrations here and there were to be expected.
THE FALL OF JERICHO
According to JOSHUA 6:1-5, this is how Jericho fell: “Now Jericho was shut up inside and out because of the Israelites; no one came out and no one went in. The LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have handed Jericho over to you, along with its king and soldiers. You shall march around the city, all the warriors circling the city once. Thus you shall do for six days, with seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark.
On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, the priests blowing the trumpets. When they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and all the people shall charge straight ahead.”
The Israelites did not wage war on Jericho: they brought down the walls of the heavily fortified city by simply blowing on trumpets. The question we have to ask ourselves is this: is this feasible? Can sound bring down walls of concrete? Or was the incident indeed a miracle by a mighty deity?
Until relatively recently, shattering objects using sound strictly belonged to the realm of fiction. Then in 2005, DSTv’s Discovery Channel demonstrated that such a feat was actually possible in real life. In a reality series titled MYTHBUSTERS, a rock singer and vocal coach Jamie Vendera reduced a wine goblet to smithereens at a 105-decibel blast of his pipe – almost as loud as a jackhammer. This same principle, of directing sound at a brittle object, is used by doctors to break up kidney stones.
What makes the situation in the Jericho case sound rather incredulous is that whilst the walls fell to the trumpet blasts, humans themselves were unaffected. HOW COULD A MIGHTY SOUND THAT REDUCED 12-FOOT-THICK WALLS TO RABBLE LEAVE THE PEOPLE IN BETWEEN INTACT? In fact, that kind of sound, by way mightier than that of thunder, would have shattered the eardrums of both the trumpeters themselves and the residents of Jericho.
Any sound begins to become physically painful at about 120 decibels, although at lower levels it can cause discomfort. At about 130 decibels, it becomes unbearable.So if we discount the biblical version of the event, what is the alternative explanation? Exactly how did the walls of Jericho come tumbling down?
“TRUMPETS” WERE SONIC WEAPONS
What emerges is that the Israelites did not use ordinary trumpets when they marched round Jericho. What they used were what we today call sonic weapons. In modern times, sonic weapons, also called emitters, have been in use since as early as the 70s, although the countries using them (Russia, Britain, the US, UK etc) have not been very open about their use. They can be infrasonic or ultrasonic (both not audible to the human senses) or outrightly audible to the human senses.
Infrasound is usually not heard, but it can be if the power level is sufficient. Ultrasound begins at about 20 kHz, just above human hearing. INFRASOUND TRAVELS GREAT DISTANCES AND EASILY PASSES THROUGH MOST SOLID STRUCTURES SUCH AS WALLS FOR EXAMPLE. Animals such as dogs, cats, dolphins, and bats can hear ultrasound. Some whales and dolphins use ultrasound to detect their prey and as a weapon to stun them.
Sonic weapons are typically basically sonic rifles and canons which can transmit invisible energy over hundreds of metres. The Nazis are said to have developed a sonic cannon capable of shooting down enemy bombers. In the early 1990s, Russia had created a 10 Hz sonic cannon, which consisted of an infrasonic generator connected to a radar dish. It transmitted invisible projectiles the size of a baseball hundreds of metres at a target. The Wind Canon, for instance, is capable of transmitting an invisible whirlwind of force to effect a considerable blunt impact on a target and can traverse a distance of between 50 to 200 metres. It strikes with the force of a solid object and can even bounce off structures.
Other types of sonic weapons can interfere with a person’s equilibrium by sending acoustic pulses of energy which disrupt the chemical and mechanical processes of the vestibular system; emit a tightly-focused beam of audible sound to an individual or group at up to 1 kilometre; fire a focused, painful, audible sound up to 100 yards; knock people to the ground by transmitting a high-decibel sound up to 1 kilometre; and deliver debilitating sound at up to 100 yards.
Now listen to this: SONIC WEAPONS PRODUCE BOTH PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PHYSICAL EFFECTS. Not only can they transmit painful audible sound into an individual’s ear but they can also cause negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, or depression, as well as biological symptoms like nausea, vomiting, organ damage, burns, or deathâ€Š—â€Šdepending on the frequency and power level.
Higher sound levels can liquefy bowels, and resonate the internal organs causing death. Infrasound can also cause feelings of pressure in the chest, choking, irregular breathing patterns, respiratory incapacitation, bowel spasms, pain or damage to internal organs, etc. According to the Acoustic Weapons Prospective Assessment article, which appeared in the Volume 9, 2001 issue of Science and Global Security, infrasound can produce localised earthquakes, avalanches, volcanoes, and waterfalls.
SONIC WEAPONS NEUTRALISE JERICHOANS
The use of sonic weapons by Joshua’s army may explain why the inhabitants of Jericho were so overcome with fear they even shut tight the gates of the great city, much like an ostrich buries its head into the sand out of an overwhelming sense of dread and hopelessness. They were already psychologically defeated thanks to the sonic weapons directed at them.
Their victimisation with sonic weapons could also explain why they were unable to resist the Israelites in the slightest. Once they had brought the walls down, the Israelites simply matched into the city without the merest challenge from the enemy. By the time the walls of the city fell, the Jerichoans had already died en masse or were dying thanks to the effects of the sonic weapons as highlighted in the previous section. It was a literal walkover.
Archaeologists attribute the fall of Jericho to an earthquake that is reckoned to have occurred between the 16th and 15th century BC. The exodus, in our own view as informed by our own research, falls in the 14th century BC timeline, but as we have long demonstrated carbon-dating is not a precise measurement and can be out of kilter for up to 100 years or more. What is of particular significant in the present analysis, however, is that sonic weapons can engender earthquakes and so the walls of Jericho may have come down as a consequence of an earthquake triggered by the so-called “trumpets” furnished the Israelite soldiers by their god Ishkur-Adad. Remember, the Anunnaki technology was typically mistaken for miracles by the mass of ignorant Earthlings.
In the past, we have brought attention to the matter of Adad’s flying saucer, which the Pentateuch writers dub “the Glory of God”. Either they did not fully understand what they were describing or they did do all right but deliberately chose to obfuscate matters so as not to give the game away. By the same token, they would have chosen to call the weapons Israel used against Jericho as trumpets primarily because they closely resembled trumpets and were borne as such.
WAS RAHAB DESERVING OF HER REWARD?
Of the inhabitants of Jericho, only one extended family was spared from the annihilation that affected everybody else. This was Rahab, rewarded for hiding Joshua’s spies. “So the young men who had been spies went in and brought Rahab out, along with her father, her mother, her brothers, and all who belonged to her—they brought all her kindred out—and set them outside the camp of Israel.
They burned down the city, and everything in it; only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. But Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, Joshua spared. Her family has lived in Israel ever since. For she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” (JOSHUA 6:23-25).
The fact that the entirety of Jericho’s walls were brought down except for that particular point of the wall where Rahab lived further attests to the use of sonic weapons. As explained above, sonic weapons can be tightly focused on the target so that there is no collateral damage. But did Rahab deserve the special treatment she received? Doubtless, if the roles were reversed, so that she concealed an enemy of Israel and not Israelites themselves as she actually did, she would have gone into history as the archetypal traitor and might even have been executed.
She would be as notorious in the Bible as are Judas Iscariot and Balaam. But since it is an enemy of Israel she betrayed, she has been practically canonised. Clearly, the rule “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” applied only among the Israelites themselves and did not extend to relations with other nations.
Because of that one pandering act, Rahab, a prostitute, would in time become an icon of the Jewish people. This ex-prostitute married a Jew called Salmon and together they had a son called Boaz. Boaz in turn married a Moabite woman known as Ruth, whose story is related in one of the Old Testament books that bear her name. It is from this union that King David and Jesus descended as the genealogy in the gospel of Matthew clearly lays down.
Meanwhile, General Joshua wanted the ruins of Jericho to be an enduring monument to posterity. Accordingly, he placed a curse on whoever might in future attempt to rebuild the city in the following words: “Cursed before the LORD be anyone who tries to build this city—this Jericho! At the cost of his firstborn he shall lay its foundation, and at the cost of his youngest he shall set up its gates!” (JOSHUA 6:26). In other words, whoever tried to re-establish Jericho would lose his oldest son as well as his youngest son.
Later, when Ahab was King of Israel, a certain Hiel who had come from Bethel set about rebuilding Jericho. As he laid the city’s foundations, he lost his oldest son Abiram, and upon the city’s completion, he lost his youngest son Segub (1 KINGS 16:34). Exactly as the General ordered!
WEAPON THAT RESEMBLES A TRUMPET: The above image precisely captures how an Israelite soldier would have roughly appeared at the siege of Jericho. The Bible describes the weapons used to bring down the walls of Jericho as trumpets, but that is not true at all. The “trumpets” were sonic weapons (which to an ignoramus may appear like trumpets), which use sound to demolish a target.
This is basically sound which is outside the range of human auditory senses but which is extremely powerful in its impact anyway. These same sonic weapons can have negative psychological effects on human targets when they are calibrated for that particular purpose, which explains why the inhabitants of Jericho were so overcome with fear long before the Israelites made their approach.
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