Archive for category The Bible
I saw on some facebook page a bit of a self indulgent reminiscence by one of my generation recalling the good old days when we had face-to-face friends not face-book friends; when we built go carts to race downhill against our mates rather than played X Box games against avatars. When someone else took photos of us if the occasion was significant and we kept those photo prints in a private album. There is nothing new in the older generation despairing for the younger generation; that has been going on since at least the time of Socrates, but the difference today is not so much attitudinal as it is technological. Today’s technology has had an influence on the behaviour of youth that Socrates could never imagine in his wildest philosophies.
The facebook post put the timing of this quantum shift in normality at the mid 1980’s. Those of us born before that time had real lives, but the post 80’s generation are now living a fake online life and they seem to be really struggling, emotionally, to adapt their natural human psyche to this self-created virtual world.
Computers in primitive form had been around well before the 1980’s but they were just big, cumbersome calculating machines. I tried, unsuccessfully, to learn to speak to one of these great machines when I did accounting at university in the early 1970’s. The computer then needed its own room, actually it was the size of a small room itself. It spake strange tongues of Portran and Fortran. It told me, numerically speaking, that it was in control of me, not the other way around. If what I put in did not compute, it spat it back out. Start again human.
But it was in the late 1970’s that Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs started a business to bring these giant computing machines down to size and into our homes. They wanted computers to be fun for all. They named the company Apple. In his biography Steve Jobs said that it was just a serendipitous choice; that he was on a fruitarian diet at the time and had just returned from an apple farm and thought the fresh, fun name suited his company’s vibe. If so, the coincidence is uncanny. The apple has an established historical connection with a quantum leap in mankind’s knowledge of universal law when Isaac Newton said he had his ‘eureka’ moment about gravity when he watched an apple fall from a tree.
The apple also has a prehistorical connection with man’s quest for knowledge and even immortality.
In Norse mythology the goddess Idun was the keeper of the apples of the tree of knowledge and life and is known as the goddess of eternal youth.
In Greek mythology, the goddess Hera, wife of Zeus, ruled the Garden of the Hesperides (nymphs) where there was an orchard in which trees bearing golden apples had the power to heal and renew.
The Hebrew mythology, which is the one most well known in the Judaeo-Christian world, is that Lucifer (the enlightened one) gave Eve, the mother of all mankind, an apple from the tree of knowledge in the garden of Eden. Yahweh was most displeased because mortal man was not ready for such knowledge and so was banished from the lush farmlands of Eden; sent back to the wild to forage like the beasts lest man also eats the apple from the tree of eternal life.
And yet still mankind flourished. According to Genesis 6, the sons of God mated with the daughters of man to create ‘great men’. However the next chapter of genesis describes a cataclysmic forty day flood over all the earth that might well have resulted in our species becoming extinct. Geological and climatic research has now shown us that the biblical and mythical global flood that killed most of humankind, at least in the northern hemisphere, did actually happen 13,000 years ago and the cause was a massive meteor strike on earth, just like the one that had caused the dinosaurs’ extinction 66 million years earlier.
At the time, planet earth was emerging from an ice age; but still the whole of Canada and countries across northern Europe were under an ice cap that would have been about two kilometres thick. And this is where the biggest chunks of the comet hit. The evidence it left behind is in the form of nano diamonds; beds of micro diamonds that were created from a massive explosion creating heat of over 2,200 degrees centigrade. By comparison, fire is 600 degrees C and volcanic molten larva is 700-1200 degrees C. The immediate impact was the instantaneous melting of large parts of the ice cap and an unimaginable tsunami that washed over much of the known world. The meteorological evidence shows that 13,000 years ago, just as earth was emerging naturally from an ice age, it was suddenly plunged back into a big chill referred to as the ‘Younger Dryas.’ This winter lasted 1200 years before the climate recovered again.
Archeological evidence of civilisation pre deluge is understandably a bit thin on the ground. Such a cataclysmic event would not leave much behind. But we do have writings from the middle east region; the authors of the Book of Genesis, the authors of Gilgamesh and those writings of a prophet called Zarathustra. The first two write of an ark in which the selected humans, plants and animals floated above the flood and survived to restart civilisation again. Zarathustra wrote of a prediction that a giant serpent would fly through the sky and that, in readiness for this event, underground, multi level caverns called Vara were built with sophisticated entranceways between the levels and artificial lighting. Such multi-level caverns have recently been excavated in Cabbadicia, southern Turkey. Only the highest quality human, plant and animal species were housed there and they were control- bred to maintain the population levels. When the long winter was over, they were sent out in boats to repopulate the world and to utilise, in secret, the technological knowledge that had been preserved.
But the knowledge that these great men, survivors of the great deluge, possessed must have been quite advanced. The meteor would have done a few circuits around the solar system before zooming in for the kill; so if we, or the gods, had prepared for it then then we must have had sophisticated astronomical knowledge. And as all myths record that there was indeed a plan to save the best of humanity, animal life and plants, so there must have been that astronomical knowledge to allow those plans to be made and executed. Soon human civilisation re-established itself to the level that we now have archeological evidence of sophisticated buildings and civilisations dating back 10,000 years in Gobekli Tepe in southern Turkey. We know of sophisticated cities, such as Babel in Mesopotamia. Babel meant a place where many people gather to talk together. A place of debate and learning. Its modern meaning is voices talking over the top of each other in excited discussion. And it was here, in Babel, that the idea of building a tower with which they would endeavour to reach the heavens was conceived.
Was the tower of Babel a bricks and mortar tower as we assume? Or was it actually a rocket ship, which is also a tower, designed to reach the heavens. Interestingly the discovery of 5,000 year old clay tablets in southern Iraq, ancient Mesopotamia, showed an astronomical map of our solar system that included the outer planets of Uranus and Neptune which were not discovered by the post-flood modern man until the 18th and 19th centuries, after the invention of the telescope. It also shows the two largest dwarf planets of Pluto and Eris. Prior to the re-invention of the telescope only the planets visible to the naked eye were known to ancient sky watchers. As we know, Yahweh ‘confused’ the Babel, scattered the men who conceived it across the lands and the project to reach the heavens apparently never got off the ground.
But after the deluge we redeveloped our knowledge of agriculture, pottery, metallurgy, astronomy and technology. Mankind survived and flourished; the scattered regrouped, their babel no longer confused. And the two Steve’s have brought the Apple computer into our homes. Well they did not immediately arrive into our homes; in the 1970’s and 80’s they were still a geeky, impractical and expensive machine that most homes could happily live without. But while Wozniak was the brains behind the machine itself he would never have taken it beyond the techno geek market and as such would not have survived commercially. His Apple would have withered on the branch. Jobs was most certainly the man (the Satan, the enlightened one) responsible for giving the Apple to mankind. And in a very strategic move, he first took it into the classroom, actually donating the original Apple 1 to some schools just to whet the appetite. He was less interested in wasting the fruits of the Apple on the elders of humankind, he wanted to give it to the children. In 1978 he won a contract to supply 500 Apple II computers to schools in Minnesota. In 1983 he sold a computer package (including floppy disc) to over 9,000 schools in California at a cost per package then for what you would now get a decent I-Mac. The Macintosh (an actual variety of apple) was launched in 1984 and the flood gates started to open. One generation after the Apple from the tree of knowledge was fed to our children, we could no longer imagine education without computers. We could not imagine homes without computers, or people without smartphones.
My little grand daughter is two years old. Her innate demand for language, knowledge and technology led us to the conclusion that we had no option but to give her her own personal connection into the universal consciousness. Her very own Apple i-pad. She took to it like a duck to water. Her knowledge, understanding and communication skills have taken quantum leaps; she swipes through the icons as though she invented them.
So once again an apple from the tree of knowledge is the means by which knowledge and imagination is being spread throughout humanity. It is the means by which we have built our rocket propelled towers with which to explore the heavens. In history Babel was the place where many voices come to speak together. Could the modern day Babels be the headquarters of Google, Apple, NASA and Spacex? Or is 21st century Babel located in the cloud and refers to the inanity of Twitter? The fake lives of Instagram? The pretend friends of Facebook? Interestingly while the Bible’s Genesis tells us that is was man’s corruption and evil that cause the great flood, the pre-dated original Sumerian clay texts said it was the noise and unending chatter of humans that caused the Gods to bring the great flood.
The changes in our lifestyle are, in reality, just as dramatic as noted in the Facebook post that began this blog. The irony being that he used Facebook to express his concerns; he did not call around to voice his concerns to me in person over a cup of coffee.
If Steve Jobs was the 21st century Lucifer then let us hope that humanity is ready for such knowledge this time around and that we are not once again expelled from our Eden to forage like the beasts in the wild for trying to use the Apple to gain eternal life.
Why did I answer the door? I broke the cardinal rule of people who are at home during the day, which is ‘don’t answer the door’. No-one you want to see ever knocks on your door during the day.”
But they were a lovely, smiling couple of young people holding what could only be a Bible; they were Asians, although I don’t know why I make a point of that, no reason that I can think of but it added a bit of a challenge; the facial expressions and body language differ from the ginger-haired, glazed eye people who normally bring you the ‘GOOD NEWS’.
They were from a Bible study group up in Roslyn, so they informed me (from which I concluded that I was being assessed for my potential to join their group to help defray the cost of hiring the hall and to take my turn at bringing supper). Then they asked if I knew there was also a female god? Points for originality in an opening gambit, where was this going, I wondered. They might just be weird enough to be interesting. “Why no, I didn’t’ know that”, I replied. Two delighted Asian beams told me I had given just the answer they wanted. Step 2, ‘now we have three question for you, ok?’
‘Ok, give me your three best questions; game-on.’
They produce an electronic tablet of some sort, not an i–pad (although I am not a brandist so I don’t know why I said that) which has a question 1 written on it: ‘do you believe in GOD (in red and underlined).
“Well I replied, that depends on your definition of God, doesn’t it?” Confucius reigned on the young faces before me. Not the expected response at all. It was supposed to be yes/no from which they had two pre-planned paths to lead me to the good news about this female god (they should have said goddess, but I can overlook that with English being a second language).
“The person who created you and us and all thing on earth and star in heaven” they countered, tag-teaming to recover their composure.
That was their big mistake. When some stranger answers a fundamental question of faith with an even more fundamental question of faith, and all you wanted out of this meeting is to get a new member for the Bible study group to help defray costs and take a supper turn, then the red flag should go up on their electronic tablet. It should say to them: ‘this is the moment to cut your losses and exit stage right.’ I am sure an i-pad would have had that function.
“Well”, I continued, “if you are talking about god as a person, a him or her in the sense that you and I are hims and hers and you think that this him or her or both, if that’s where you are leading with your opening gender-specific gambit, created humans and animals and all things in heaven and on earth from nothing but dust, then no I do not believe that such a gender-specific person exists.
So they switched; so God was now a spirit not a him or her. Ok now we are getting somewhere even though it seemed to have drifted away from the ‘female God’ opening gambit, but I let it go, for now.
Then they showed me the references to the plural ‘us’ when God talked about creation in Genesis. I am totally with them on all that. There were lots of highlighted underlined verses bouncing between different books in their Bible to continue references to multiple gods; they had done their homework. Yes I quite understand all the Biblical pluralities in reference to multiple gods and have no argument with that although a little surprised that a Biblical study group that normally sticks rigidly to the monotheistic creed would keep pointing it out; normally it would be me who would use it to counter the monotheistic claims and thus send you scampering from my door.
I thought of inviting them into my parlour to see where this was all leading, as their body language suggested would be welcome, but I actually decided against that for their sake. They would find escape much more awkward and they actually did seem genuinely nice people, so I cut them a break and left them on the doorstep. Then I switched them to Genesis 6, that usually sends door-knocking, good news salespeople away quickly. You know the one? ‘the sons of god resorted to the daughters of man and bore children by them’.
Interestingly they also had that passage underlined, presumably as part of their female god theory, although the rationale was lost on me. Then, before we could clarify that, he quickly shifted back to his plan, backing up to the start of the Bible, Genesis. Then with excitement he points out ” Look Adam and Eve have two son, Cain and Abel, but Cain kill Abel then Cain have wife!!! Where come from Cain wife?’ He gibbers with frothy excitement. ‘Then Adam is not first man, just first man who know God!’
Amen, young brother I am with you, the Bible is full of weird anomalies. So I reeled him in with ‘so who do you think wrote all this stuff in the Bible? It is, after all, only two or three thousand years old.’ Confucius again reigned briefly in his eyes. Then he replied, “No no, Moses write of course. Moses write five book of Torah” (‘you silly old man’ said his eyes‘). “Well there is some dispute with that, with Moses having been dead before some of the incidents in later books of the Torah, but setting that aside, even if it was written by Moses, that was still only 3,400 years ago and humans have been on earth some 200,000 years, the earth has been around nearly 5 billion years and the sun is 15 billion years old; so, if Moses was the author, then he was writing about stuff that happened a long, long time before he was born’. (‘You annoying bastard old man’ said his eyes).
“So anyhow lets get back to Genesis 6” I suggested. The frustrated young man asked “why? why, when he was explaining things for me, did I keep jumping back to Genesis 6 and making Confucius?” For the simple reason my friend, that until you can explain what it means by ‘the sons of Gods resorted to the daughters of men and bore children by them’, we can go no further. That is a brick wall, you do not pass go, you do not collect two hundred dollars, until this is resolved between us.
Again he switches back to the plan. “Look Genesis say, day 1 God create the light make day that is sun made, ok?” (yes my enthusiastic young friend, that would be the sun), “then day 4 God create two light, sun and moon ok?” (Yes that is what it says). “BUT (he leaped with joy at having sprung his trap) how can be two sun? first sun make day 1 and day 4 make number two sun. How can be?”?
Ok, I am weary of this now, I step it up a bit. So, now that we are talking about suns, there are not just two but many hundreds of billions of stars. We are a small planet in a solar system located in the far corner of a Galaxy, the Milky Way which is only one galaxy in the universe correct and God created all this?” He seemed a little bit annoyed at this topic shift, but he agreed. “So Magellan got in a boat early in the 16th century” I continued, “and sailed continuously to the horizon not knowing whether he would fall off the edge of the planet or hit the sky like a brick wall but, in fact, he came back to where he started. So if you and I, John, (I had extracted his name by now as John) set off in a space ship travelling faster than the speed of light and kept going would we eventually hit a wall, fall off the end of space or come back to where we started?”
In my peripheral vision I see the young woman moving discreetly stage right, this shouldn’t take long now. The young man is slumping, “I don’t know too many big, too many headache.” Of course my young friends, the universe is huge and we are but one planet in the solar system of what is known as a dwarf sun, a minute speck in the far flung corner of an unspectacular galaxy containing tens of billions of stars, which itself is just one galaxy among a hundred billion galaxies (give or take) so answer me this: would the God who created all those hundreds of billions of suns and trillions of planets only put life on one planet? Ours?
“Yes?” he whimpered. No, no, no my little Good News friend. God would have created more life than us somewhere in the universe, surely? And so is it not possible that we were visited by a far more intellectual species in the past and those alien visitors were in fact the sons of god mentioned in Genesis 6?
At the mention of the ‘alien’ word there was horror and fear in his eyes. I was clearly a lunatic. Asians don’t seem to run, not in the classic Greco style, but a very quick shuffle probably covers it. Exit Stage Right.
“Y’all come back real soon now y’hear? We didn’t even get past question one.”
What I would give to be at next week’s Bible Study meeting in Roslyn. “We meet this crazy guy, he say God make other life is somewhere else in universe. He crazy, scary guy; nobody must visit this man again”.
One thing leads to another when the archeologists start lifting stones; and so it is when I start writing blogs about their lifting of stones. For, in my last weblog, considering the evidence for an advanced technological civilisation in existence 13,000 years ago brought me back to Genesis 6 and the “sons of god married daughters of man’ mystery. As Genesis 6 said, the offspring of these unions between divine sons of God and human daughters of man, were the heroes of ancient times. Our own history has a presumption of hereditary leadership based on bloodline. Until very recently it was in legislation that the emperor of Japan was a direct bloodline descendant of the gods. In classical Greece the heroes and leaders were descendants of demi-gods; Achilles, one of the classical Greek military heroes, was son of the goddess Thetis and King Peleus. Egypt also has this blood-line link between ancient pharaohs and the Gods and demi-gods. The question raised is who or what were these gods, or that God, or that divine trinity of three Gods in one, who created not only homo Sapiens but also the aristocracy of homo Sapiens who were divinely gifted with the role of rulership over lesser homo sapiens?
The oldest evidence of homo Sapiens was found in the icy lands of northern Europe, in a cave in Siberia. These icy northern European lands are where the very tall, warrior-like, blond haired, blue eyed, white-skinned homo Sapiens still live. Scandinavians are amongst the tallest race on earth, only challenged by the Dutch with a similar tall, blonde white-skinned dna that originated in Scandinavia. This was in fact the dna that became the aristocracy of Europe as they populated middle Europe from Russia, through Germany, Austria, Holland, France and England, usually through the military exploits of the Vikings.
Genetic scientists have used Icelandic dna studies, the largest ever set of human genomes from a single population, to conclude that the original father of all humans lived 239,000 years ago.
The northern lands of Scandinavia are rich in mines containing copper, silver and gold. The Scandinavian folklore is the source for Tolkein’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ characters, elves, trolls and the dwarves, who burrowed deep beneath the mountains and gained reputations as highly skilled miners, metal-smiths, weapon-forgers and jewellers. But the dominant species were the white-skinned giant wizards who surrounded themselves with myth about their ‘magic’ and technology. These are the Caucasians.
All ancient history? Fables and fancies of primitives? People who did not have the intellect that we have today?
Humour me while I speculate historically based on the information that we do have about our ancestors. Consider that, in Africa, two million+ years ago, lived the branch of hominids whose genes had mutated from primitive chimpanzees to homo Erectus (upright man). It would be quite normal that within these little tribal families of homo Erectus, there were a proportion born with various mutation genes; perhaps deformed, or much larger or much smaller than the norm. Perhaps even a smattering of hominids with ‘mental problems’ (that today we might define as genius, the mad scientist gene). These would be similar to mutations from ‘normality’ that we have today. And, if these ‘freaks’ were isolated from the community and forced out of their territory, could these dwarves, giants, albinos and mad scientists then have progressively moved northwards away from the harassment of the normal hominids? Over many generations, actually over a million year span, did this community of circus freaks continue to migrate, constantly harassed like gypsies by the normal hominids in northern Africa and southern Europe, until they reached the much cooler climes of Northern Europe where they found themselves finally free to live without harassment?
And was ‘up north’ the place that further freaks were subsequently sent by the normal hominids over the millennia? But in these much colder climates they would have faced completely new sets of challenges to survive. So did their brains respond to the challenges? For nature will provide the tools to deal with challenges of nature. Desperation creates the need for smarter thinking, better brain response, greater brain activity creates greater brains, just like exercising muscles; and only the smartest and biggest survive to breeding age or are accepted by females as breeding companions. Shelter against the harsh elements would have been among the first needs; complex clothing and solid constructions to shelter from the winters rather than the flimsy clothing and constructions of the African nomads. Communication skills, organisational skills and laws would become more essential as communal cooperation would be critical to survival. Domestication of animals would be a solution when incessant storms would prevent hunting.
As evidence shows, this northern Europe branch of Homo Erectus evolved into a quite different species, Homo heidelbergensis? They emerged from Africa but were the first human species that were adaptable to colder climates. They were also widely known for their ability to hunt large animals, which was not seen in the human species before them. They were the first human species to build their own living shelter. The Heidelbergensis male was about 175cm tall and weighed around 136 lbs, whereas the female average height was 157 cm tall and weighed 112 lbs. They had a large brain case with a flatter face than that today’s humans. A tall, white skinned tribe, the predecessor of the Neanderthal and also of us, the Sapiens. Did hundreds of thousands of years in fully-clothed protection from the cold change their skin colour permanently. After all the soles of Africans feet and palms of their hands are quite pale. Perhaps over the development period of several hundred thousand years, highly motivated by survival needs in a harsh climate, they had their own Thomas Edison who observed lightning running down a kite string to create electricity? Their own James Watt who studied the power of steam? Their own Galileo who observed the movement of planets and their own Marconi who discovered radio communication?
We know that somewhere along the timeline of history of our ancestors did achieve great engineering feats of pyramids and monuments that astound us even today. Thousands of years ago people had developed astronomical knowledge on which is based today’s space programme; people had developed mathematical knowledge upon which today’s computers are dependent. People could smelt metals from the earth to make tools and weapons and they developed farming principles upon which our population today is completely dependent. Those people who took this intellectual path, however it came about, had been subject to some influence or environment that distinguished them from primitive nomads and hunter gatherers who also lived on earth during those same times.
The last ice age started just over a hundred thousand years ago. During the ice age the north of Europe was covered in ice as far south as Germany and Poland. The climate generally was very dry and in Africa and the Middle East many smaller mountain glaciers formed and the Sahara and Gobi deserts expanded significantly. The Persian Gulf averaged about 35 metres in depth and the seabed between Abu Dhabi and Qatar was mostly less than 15 metres deep. For thousands of years the Ur Shatt river, formed from the Tigris Euphrates rivers, ran through Iraq and Iran and provided fresh water to the Gulf. Bathymetric data suggests there were two palaeo-basins in the Persian Gulf. The central basin may have approached an area of 20,000 km², comparable at its fullest extent to lakes such as Lake Malawi in Africa.
This region is one of the most favoured speculations for God and his angels having set up the garden of Eden. Under the pressure of the ice age in their northern homeland, is it impossible to imagine that some of these white-skinned giants with their ‘magic’ sent exploratory groups to develop southern farmlands to send food home? Did they use the more primitive African/ Asian nomadic hominids of this region as slaves on their farms? These southern hominids had not needed to develop their civilisations beyond the nomadic hunter gather level simply because they lived in a much kinder climate than the Caucasians had experienced. Conversely, having lived in cold climates for millennia, this ‘down south’ climate might have been as hot as hell for the Caucasians. In much the same way that the British found the India excessively hot while they exploited the natives to mine their gold, cut down their mahogany, grow their tea and cook a damn fine curry.
The Caucasians then would have seen these primitive hominids, possibly still barely evolved from the original homo Erectus, as scarcely different to animals. But, while primitive, they were nonetheless of the same species and so is it possible that the Caucasians found the slave women pleasing to the loins? Was this Genesis 6, the sons of gods resorting to the daughters of man and having children by them?
As outlined in the previous weblogs, there is evidence of a huge comet strike just over 12,000 years ago. Fragments of the comet are believed to have hit the North American ice shelf as well as right across the North European ice shelf. Perhaps the civilisation that the Caucasians had established throughout Scandinavia was obliterated in this comet strike and the only pure Caucasian survivors were those who had moved south into the Mediterranean and North African regions. And perhaps it was these survivors who were the sages who preserved human genes, animal genes and seeds (Noah’s Ark myth) and set about regenerating their Caucasian civilisation. And would it then be possible that the golden-skinned offspring of the liaisons between the white-skinned giants and the Negro/ Asian women blended the strength and intelligence genes of their Caucasian fathers, the ‘gods’, with the athleticism of their nomadic mothers’ genes? That such offspring would be remembered as the glorious Greek athletes, Trojan warrior heroes and Babylonian scholars of mythology? That this would be remembered in modern history as our human race’s ‘classical age’ and from these demi gods came the aristocratic blood lines of Europe. And from these aristocratic stocks came the kings and queens of the modern world?
If we arrogantly think that we, this generation, are the pinnacle of human development and its all been building quietly to this point, remember we are trying to place ourselves in the environment of 13,000 years ago and work out how humanity had developed over the 200,000 years prior to that. For relativity, try to fast forward to the year 13,000 ad and assume, for whatever natural process, there is no Eiffel tower, no World Tower, no Sky tower, Opera House or Taj Mahal still in existence. Imagine they are all just rubble buried beneath the earth. That during those 11,000 years between now and 13,000 ad. a comet had struck the earth or super virus had swept the planet and wiped out most of our population. But some humans survived, Mad Max style, and rebuilt our civilisation from scratch over those 11,000 years and it took 13,000 to rebuild it back to what we have now. Could the humans of 13,000 ad then believe that 11,000 years previously we were putting men on Mars? And if there were descendants in that distant time from our own land, would they retell legends of Ed Hillary, Richie McCaw and the giant Jonah Lomu? And while we think of ourselves in very generic terms to be a technologically highly advanced race, in real one-on-one terms, exactly how many of the 7 billion people on the planet today could build a computer, let along conceive of one. Or a mobile phone, or any telephone more complicated than two cans and a piece of string for that matter .
Are we, as current caucasian descendants, primally racist deep in our dna? Do we have an inborn belief that we are a species above other human species? Let us briefly recount the stark black and white issue of our own times. The Ayrian attempt at extermination of the Jews and Negroes may stand as one of the the single most horrific events in our history, but is that just a symptom of a deep rooted attitude of the Caucasian gene globally rather than an isolated crime carried out by a handful of madmen? The racism of the white Americans towards the black African-Americans certainly appeared, from all accounts, to have been deeply rooted in their dna. The abolition of slavery in the USA in 1865 was very much an academic exercise. As slaves, their owners provided them food, clothing and shelter. Primitive it may have been but they considered them as livestock, chattels and as such they had to take reasonable care of their investment. As ‘free men’ the negroes earned a pitiful wage in a caucasian world, if they could even find work. And from that wage they had to provide their own food, clothing and shelter. In effect, was life any different? They were still treated socially like animals, particularly in the Southern States where beatings, murder and rape were quite simply unpunished. It was not, in their minds, man’s inhumanity to man; they believed in their deepest dna that white Caucasians are a completely different, and totally superior, species to black Africans. This was not a tribal conflict as you would find on any continent; this is a belief in a primal difference in the two species. One genetically linked to divine authority and the other genetically linked to apes that had been taught to speak and dress.
And before we write this history off as being isolated to those arrogant, ugly Americans, slavery in America was actually a British venture. Slavery of black Africans goes back as far as historical records reach throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean which were within easy reach of the African source of slaves. As transport by sea became more advanced, more distant countries embraced the slave trade. In the 16th Century, Britain followed the example of the Portuguese in travelling to the west coast of Africa and enslaving Africans. The British slave trade business was started by Sir John Hawkins with the support and investment of Elizabeth I in 1573. The trade became a very lucrative business. Bristol grew rich on it, then Liverpool. London also dealt in slaves as did some of the smaller British ports. The specialised vessels were built in many British shipyards, but most were constructed in Liverpool. Laden with trade goods (guns and ammunition, rum, metal goods and cloth) they sailed to the ‘Slave Coast’, exchanged the goods for human beings, packed them into the vessels like sardines and sailed them across the Atlantic. On arrival, those left alive were oiled to make them look healthy and put on the auction block. Again, death rates (during the voyage) are unknown: one estimate, for the 1840s, is 25 per cent. British immigrant plantation and mine-owners bought the Africans. The enslaved in the British colonies had no legal rights as they were not human – they were not permitted to marry and couples and their children were often sold off separately. Historian Paul Lovejoy has conservatively estimated that between 1701 and 1800 about 40 per cent of the approximately more than 6 million enslaved Africans were transported in British vessels.
Britain dominated its European rivals and became the premier global slave trader from the seventeenth to early nineteenth centuries when the trade was made illegal in Britain in 1807. By then it had been well established as an essential part of the economy in America where British immigrant landowners grew cotton for the British cotton mills. Passing a law against trading in slaves did not, however, prevent British businesses from importing products such as cotton, tobacco and sugar produced by slave labour in America and the West Indies. There is no certainty whether the Laws actually even actually stopped the slave trade until it was abolished in America, their primary market. Slavery was an ‘out of sight’ trade, between West Africa and the Americas and so would have required diligent off-shore enforcement and there is no evidence that it happened at any more than a token level. These were the same British who, until the latter half of the 20th century, still legally classified Australian Aborigines as a species of Australian fauna and where, even into the 20th century, night-time ‘abbo hunting’ was a redneck sport similar to rabbit shooting.
But although the white Caucasians may believe the black Africans to be a completely different species, seen as non-human for which there was no crime attached to rape, torture, or murder, they are genetically quite capable of successfully breeding with them and indeed in modern times the ‘sons of Caucasian’ have found the daughters of negroes to be pleasing and they have, over the centuries, created millions of demi-caucasians. Many are the heroic athletes and warriors of the modern world.
What goes around comes around. So if, as my recently read historian/ author Graham Hancock so convincingly proposed, fragments of a big comet hit earth about 12,800 years ago causing the great Biblical flood, we should be wondering whether there are a few decent-sized remnants of the debris stream still doing the circuit of the solar system and, if so, will they be back?
As already outlined in last week’s blog, Hancock’s theory is that pre-deluge there was a highly intelligent civilisation living on the planet quite separate from the majority of Homo sapiens who were still hunter-gatherer nomads. It was only post-deluge that archeologists see the emergence of farming and domestication of animals and people. And why would there not be an advanced civilisation 13,000+ years ago? Homo sapiens had been around for around 190,000 years at that time; an advanced intelligence could quite conceivably have emerged. And if we look at the Biblical verses in Genesis 6 immediately preceding the story of Noah and the flood, we read the story that “The Sons of God took the daughters of man for their wives and had children by them. These children were the great men of ancient times. At this time the Nephilim (cast down/ giants) were on the earth.” We also note in the Book of Job, that the “Sons of God” were clarified as angels who made up God’s Council, and indeed, also according to the Book of Job, Satan was one of these “Sons of God”. Genesis also tells us that it was Satan who tempted Eve, a daughter of man, with the gift of intelligence (his ‘fruit’ from the tree of knowledge). So far from being a wacky conspiracy, Hancock’s theory actually has the backing of the Bible in addition to his own archeological and astronomical research.
So let’s think about that. A civilisation existed 13,000 years and more ago that was at least as advanced as we are today. According to Hancock’s research there was a huge comet impact around 12,800 years ago that caused massive global flooding and plunged the earth back into an ice age, from which it had been recovering, for another 1,000 years. Post-deluge signs of the emergence of ‘civilisation’ often focus on the megaliths, the pyramids of Egypt, Stonehenge in England etc. These have been carbon-dated and aligned with Egyptian records to date them as approximately 4,000 years old. Carbon-dating however is based on dating organic matter, it cannot actually date stone itself. Hancock’s analysis of Egyptian history concludes that the Pharaohs to whom the pyramids were credited, were in fact quite probably just repairing or extending older constructions. His study was inspired by the discovery of a huge megalithic monument site, Gobekli Tepe in southern Turkey. This massive construction was, for some reason, back-filled with rocks soon after it was completed and so enables the archeologists to precisely date its original construction to 12,600 years ago which is a couple of hundred years after the impact of the comet. The first discoveries of the agricultural revolution on the planet also come from this archeological site.
The Israelite Bible talks about Noah and his ark taking plants and seeds to Canaan, near Lebanon to repopulate the world. Subsequently, Moses’ Israelite army, under the instructions of Yahweh, God, slaughtered the Canaanites who included the ‘giants’ who were descendants of Ham, son of Noah to claim Canaan for themselves as their promised land. Sumerian clay tablets dating back to as far as 5,000 years ago are the oldest written documents discovered. They pre-date the Bible by over 1,000 years. They also have a tale of the Flood, although their hero of the flood is named Ziusudra not Noah. The cause of the flood in Sumerian texts was not so much the ‘evil’ of mankind but rather that they were simply too noisy, bothersome and populous for the gods to tolerate any longer. Just too many of us starting to make a bloody nuisance of ourselves. I do get that. Many is the time that I have been surrounded by a crowd of noisy and bothersome people and wished I could just create a flood and flush them all away. In these Sumerian clay tablets is also reference, post-deluge, to the seven sages, the magicians of the Gods, travelling and sailing to different parts of the globe on a mission to re-civilise the world. Egypt was first port of call for the civilising process, Turkey and Babylon not far after. China was also an early starter in the modern civilisation process followed by Japan. South Americans have similar tales about Gods arriving after the flood and teaching them metal-craft, gold-smithing and the engineering skills to build intricately designed irrigation schemes on the sides of mountains and precision pyramids with accurate astronomical references.
Hancock’s research led him to the Zoroastrian texts referring to Vara, underground multi storey shelters recorded as having been built to preserve the seeds of the best of homo sapiens, plants and animals, awaiting the post-deluge ‘long winter’ to pass. Hancock did then visit the Cappadicia region of Turkey where a large number of these multi-level underground constructions have been discovered, as detailed in my previous blog. His conclusion is that an ancient, highly sophisticated civilisation, at least as technologically advanced as we are today, predicted the arrival of the comet and preserved the seeds of man, plants and animals in these underground laboratory-shelters. Then, when the dust settled and the planet was ready for replanting, a handful of the survivors took ‘civilisation’ including a genetically intelligent species of human, the best plants and animals to distant parts of earth, teaching their technology to the surviving more primitive hunter gatherers, introducing domesticated farming, pottery, metal-smelting, urban development, legal and commercial systems, art and languages. Ten thousand years later, here we are.
If intelligent man (homo sapiens) was recovering lost knowledge it was very gradual in the first few thousand years, to be expected I guess. So often our primitive neanderthal and earlier primate genes got in the way. It took 10,000 years to get to the Industrial Revolution but since then our intelligence growth has been exponential, matched by our population growth. In our own lifetime the computer age has provided us with outcomes for our species well beyond the capabilities of our own brains. Today we are even landing crafts on far distant Mars
and planning a human settlement there. You may recall my earlier blog on our mission to Mars. The reason why our global leaders would commit billions to developing a Mars life-support system when we have so many more immediate needs for that funding here on earth is a mystery at this point. Unless, as Hancock speculates, the remnants of that comet may actually be quite close to returning. His reasoning was complex and, to be frank, I turned off. It may well be possible. If there are those influential astrophysicists who have reason to agree with Hancock, then a life support module on Mars could be our generation’s version of the underground life support complexes found in Turkey where the seeds of man, plants and animals were preserved awaiting the effects of the comet strike to dissipate. If we had been around 12,800 years ago would we have wanted to survive? Freezing, starving, or being one of the lucky ones living underground for a few hundred years to preserve the species. Never seeing the sun through the dense dust in the atmosphere. If it happened again tomorrow, would we want to be a survivor on earth or even living in a bubble on Mars protecting specimens that someone in a few hundred years might take back to planet earth if / when it recovers?
While I am awfully grateful that the sons of the sons of God did survive in the underground Turkish cities for however long it took and then undertook their re-civilisation mission on earth for however long that took, this time around I am very aware that I have either neither the critical intellect nor the billions of dollars to score a seat on the last rocket out of here to Mars. So I think I will sit quietly pour a brandy and toast those wonderful sages who went to so much effort to ensure that I would be able to do so. For I would not want the gods to think me too noisy and bothersome to deal with and I shall set up a ‘lets not make any noise and maybe the comet won’t come’ movement. Surviving on earth for however many minutes, days, months or years in such post-apocalyptic conditions seems a very dreary prospect.
I presume that, like me, you have spent some time over the summer studying up on the great Biblical flood.
Actually, although I have given the whole subject some philosophical thought over the years, I stumbled on a slightly new take on it with one of the books I bought for my summer reading. It was a book by Graham Hancock, who is a well-established researcher and writer of ancient geology, archeology and astronomy.
He started this book looking at another discovery of megalithic pillars, found in Southern Turkey (yawn more big rocks left by the ancients). The only somewhat interesting feature is that a major part of this structure had been so well preserved that it could be accurately dated to 9,600 bc, much older than any of our previous estimates for great monoliths, including the great pyramids of Giza. But then Hancock actually got my interest a bit more when he then turned to a place referred to as the Scablands of North America.
Throughout the 20th century there had been much debate around the formation of these monumental channels. To put them into perspective, what is referred now to as “The Dry Falls” would have, at the time they were formed, been almost three times higher than Niagara Falls and 50% higher than the Victoria Falls in southern Africa. They would also have been six times wider than Niagara. So the great debate in the 20th century community of geologists was the cause. The geological establishment always favoured the gradual erosion theory following the end of the ice age around 12,000 years ago when Canada and this northern part of North America was under two kilometres of ice. A few geologists who did not buy this gradual erosion, arguing the impact on the landscape was just too dramatic for erosion and had to be the result of a catastrophic event. The two camps argued for a few decades and the community eventually ‘met in the middle’ with the theory of the collapse of a glacial lake causing the dramatic creation of the channels. But neither side really believed in this middle ground. The gradual erosion side were just of that geological religion and the catastrophic geologists just thought that the lake in question, Missoula, would never have contained anywhere near enough water volume to result in the scouring today visible. But they simply had no alternative theory to seize.
But enter the 21st century and geologists are now studying an apparently unrelated geological feature: nano diamonds. A team of 25 Geophysicists, with Richard Firestone, a nuclear physicist as its team leader and including Jim Kennett, an oceanographer at the University of California, presented a paper in 2007 claiming that evidence found in a number of 12,900 year old carbon-rich sites (in the form of nano-diamonds) across North America and one site in Belgium, convinced them that a comet had come into earth’s atmosphere in the time of the last ice age, with North America taking the biggest hit, and caused the extinction of the great animals that once roamed through North America. The absence of a crater was explained by the fact that it would have impacted on the 2km deep ice sheet over Canada and Northern USA. The nano-diamond evidence was created by thermal heat up to, or greater than, 2,200 degrees centigrade. The evidence of glass-like carbon is the smoking gun, or at least the residue from a smoking gun. The evidence began to mount over the next few years. The search has now found evidence of this residue over North America and Northern Europe.
Aha, say the catastrophic geologists of the Scablands study. We have our cause. A 2km wide comet (as estimated from the nano-diamond evidence) impact landing on the 2km ice sheet of North America would account for an instant melting of 10% of the icecap which volume of water would certainly be supported by the evidence of the scablands. Further Geophysical evidence from Greenland core studies of the earth’s temperature movements over the millennia show that the earth was emerging from an ice age 13,000 years ago and warming up again quite nicely before it was suddenly plunged back into another ice age. Game, set and match. It’s not rocket science, the idea of a comet hitting earth is not outrageous sci-fi. A little one did land in Siberia in 1908, a meteor land in Russia back in 2013. These things happen. But if this big 2km one hit Canada 12,800 years ago spraying debris over two continents, melting 10% of the Canadian ice cap ice cap in minutes and also some of the ice sheet along northern Europe, then that would have been one very big wall of water plunging into the ocean and sweeping across the globe. Bigger than any tidal wave we have ever known. The Indonesian tidal wave disaster a few years ago would have been just a kid jumping into a paddling pool incident by comparison. So was this the great flood, made most famous by the story of Noah in the Bible but also turning up in other ancient myths? The climatic impact would have caused massive tidal waves, rains for months and the dust in the atmosphere would have blocked the sun and plunged the planet back into ice age conditions.
We learn from the Bible that this event was foretold to Noah who built an ark to survive the impending flood with only his immediate family of wife, three sons and their wives, with plants and animals as the only survivors on the planet. That is where the story beggars belief. That a mating pair of every animal with all the seeds of plants survived on this ark is a bit far-fetched. That the whole of humanity today was based on the interbreeding of first cousins from three marriages is a bit scary.
However Graham Hancock went down this same path of study linking the Comet strike of 12,800 years ago with the great flood myths. One part of his research led him to the writings of the prophet Zarathustra who is reported by Pluto to have lived 5,000 years before the Trojan War. Exactly when that was no one is quite sure, but it is known that Zarathustra borrowed from more ancient writings. His writings talk of the prediction of a great serpent that would sweep through the sky and bring forth a great winter. That sort of aligns with the comet and subsequent plunge back to the ice age. But then the Zoroastrian texts, as they are known, talk of the building of an underground shelter to survive this impending great winter. Into this underground shelter, called a Vara, some remnants of humanity would take refuge, keeping safe the seeds of all animals and plants until the dire winter passed and spring returned. The texts specified that no lepers, lunatics, impotent or deformed humans would be taken into this Vara; and only the seeds of the fruits and vegetables that are ‘fullest of food and sweetest of odour’. Vara was to be constructed on three subterranean levels, each smaller than the one above, the largest with nine streets, the middle with six streets and the smallest three streets. It also described the use of “uncreated lights that shine from below’ since the sun and moon would not be visible. Someone called Yima was given responsibility by the Gods for the construction. He was to bring the seeds of men and women, the seeds of every kind of fruit and of tree. Finally we learn from these texts that ‘every fortieth year, to every couple two are born, a male and a female. And thus it is for every sort of cattle.’ There is also a note that the humans live in Vara for 150 years. Moreover, intriguingly, the births of offspring to every couple do not result from sexual union but from the seeds deposited in the Vara. Actually as sci-fi as this Zorastrian text sounds, it resonates with how we would try to survive a cataclysmic global event today and is much more plausible than Noah and his sons and the animals on their ark being the source of all life today.
Now here’s the thing, being a great traveller and researcher, Hancock went in search of such underground laboratory/ depository and did find that in Turkey’s Cappadicia region there are a large number of underground structures carved out of solid rock and usually, as described with Vara, consisting of multiple levels. He actually visited the one called Derinkuyu, in 2013. Eight of its levels are open to the public, but there are others below still closed off. It also features a subterranean tunnel several kilometres long connecting with another underground ‘city’. Large stone doors shaped like millstones and weighing around half a ton were located ready to be rolled into place to block access. They had a remarkable system of ventilation shafts connecting from the bottom levels to the surface. It was a remarkable feat carved from volcanic rock and extending over four square kilometres. In Turkey over two hundred underground complexes have been found, forty of them at three or more levels. These may have been built before the great Flood to survive the climatic catastrophe of a comet strike or built much later as defence against marauders. We just don’t know.
I will very briefly paraphrase Hancock’s further research, as I am sure you have had enough for one blog already. But he studied ancient scripts in Egypt and Mesopotamia relating to this same period, roughly 12,000 years ago, and found reference to “the seven sages who set forth in ships to all parts of the world to take with them humans, animals and seeds with which to repopulate a world that had been devastated by the great flood”. Possibly Noah was one of these seven sages? And while they may have repopulated the species of a highly civilised and technically advanced race that existed before the flood of 12,800 years ago, no doubt there were still many thousands of simplistic hunter-gatherer humans around the globe, such as those in southern Africa, southern Asia, Australia and South America who had survived the great flood. They were well south of the North American ice sheet and also out of range of the main impact of the comet so possibly were the ones who witnessed the arrival of these god-like humans from the Middle East with their hi-tech magic who came to show them how build great pyramids and temples and how to fashion metals and gems. Uluru, virtually in the centre of Australia, may even have its secrets from the dreamtime.
“So what do you know about the tower of Babel?” I asked Danny over coffee. Seemed as good a morning-talk subject as any. “The one in the Bible? asked Danny, “dunno, why?”.
So the ‘why the subject itself occurred to me’ is that I was thinking about the linguistic challenge facing the multi-national astronauts working in the international space station. I recalled the Biblical story that God confused the one common language on earth in order to prevent men building the Tower of Babel to reach the heavens. So that just seemed an interesting mirror to the past.
The ‘why I asked Danny’ was because he had been raised in a religious school and spent some time of his career teaching in a Jewish school; I thought with that background he might have an insight or at least a conspiratorial opinion on a classic Bible story. But no, it drew a blank. He told me to Google it; that’s school teaching 21st century style.
So to summarise the Biblical story according to Genesis 11: ‘throughout the land mankind spoke one language and they moved eastwards to the land of Shimar (Sumer). And they said: “Come let us build a town and tower with its top reaching to heaven”.’ The Tower of Babel, a baked brick structure intended to reach the heavens, was halted by God and his angels, because (Gen. 11: 6-9) “the Lord said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.’ So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world.”
But what was it about this Babel tower that so concerned the God of the Bible, Yahweh? The Tower in question was built in Shimar (Sumer) which was Mesopotamia (now southern Iraq). Archeology dates the arrival of humans into Mesopotamia between 3500 and 4500 BC. as they moved eastwards from the Mediterranean. This is from carbon dating the virgin soil beneath the earliest records of human occupation. The Bible records in Genesis 10:10, that a descendant of Noah’s son, Ham, a man named Nimrod was the first ‘king’ of this region and built his city called Nippur. We know from unearthed and translated Sumerian tablets that a six-seven story Ziggurat had been built in the city of Nippur where this priest-king lived.
The Sumerians are known for their skilled metalwork, stonework and statues. But more importantly they developed mathematics system based on 60, a twelve-month calendar based on moon cycles and a cuneiform alphabet which they used to keep records on clay tablets using a stylus. We also know that the oldest records of the science of astronomy are from Sumerian tablets dated back to the 3rd millennium bc and that they demonstrate that the Sumerians had a sophisticated knowledge of the solar system.
The tablet VA/243 shows all known planets in the solar system in correct relative size, including Pluto and, importantly, showed planets circuiting the sun (represented by the star of David). It was not until the 16th century AD that modern astronomers worked out that it was the earth travelling around the sun not the sun travelling around the earth.
While the five planets out to Saturn can be seen with the naked eye and were known to ancient astronomers, Uranus was only discovered by William Herschel in 1781, Neptune discovered by Johann Galle in 1846 and Pluto by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930. And yet these three outer planets are depicted accurately on this 3,000 BC Sumerian tablet.
Babylon itself is first mentioned in tablets around 2300 BC as a small city in Akkad. Its status grew and around 1800 BC, a ruler named Hammurabi expanded the borders of the Akkadian/ Babylonian Empire, conquering Sumer. Babylon is recorded as replacing Nippur as the “Holy City of Mesopotamia”. The Babylonians adopted the Sumerians cuneiform alphabet and then adapted it to their own Akkadian language.
The literal words of Genesis 11 are that the whole earth spoke one language. But this is the Bronze age. There were well-established civilisations in Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece, Sparta, Troy, China, Europe, North and South America and archaeology demonstrates that there were already many languages around the world. Being so concerned about this one baked-brick tower trying to reach the heavens also seems a bit pointless when just along the road the Egyptians were building their pyramids, in Britain Stonehenge was built 3000 bc, in South America pyramids were being built and the remains of many ziggurats have been uncovered throughout Mesopotamia, having been built between 3000 BC and 600 BC.
So perhaps it was not the tower itself that was of concern but rather what was actually inside the tower. Perhaps it was no more than an historical account of the Babylonians conquering the Sumerians, plundering the library of knowledge, cosmology and science stored in the Priest-King’s Ziggurat in Nippur and replacing the Sumerian cuneiform language with the Akkadian cuneiform language so that the knowledge contained in the Sumerian tablets would become confused within a generation.
And so it could get all too academically speculative or just dismissed as another Biblical myth that just doesn’t quite stack up against archeological evidence, except for the uncanny message that it is recorded in the Bible which tells us that a common language would enable men to reach the heavens and so a diversity of language was imposed on man to prevent that achievement; and that situation is now being challenged 4-5,000 years later.
While the modern exploration of the heavens was initiated as part of the USA/USSR cold war, it is today very much a global mission. USA launched the space station Freedom in 1987 with support from the European Space Agency (Columbus Laboratory) and Japan (Japan Experimental Laboratory). In 1990 NASA launched the Hubble space telescope into low earth orbit. Russia then abandoned its plans for a successor to the Mir space station and in 1993 became a partner of the International Space Station (ISS). Without Russian support, the Western partners probably would have had to give up the Freedom Space Station.
Though NASA no longer sends its own shuttles into space, it has an agreement to help staff the ISS until 2020 and, as part of this agreement, will continue to send astronauts to the ISS in conjunction with the Russian Federal Space Agency. So astronauts from around the world, including Japan, Canada, Europe in addition to Russia and the United States, travel to the ISS. Several languages are spoken on board. This communication challenge is assisted by the spoken dialogue computer on the ISS, named Clarissa, which is programmed to understand both English and Russian. But future NASA astronauts will be required to learn Russian before they go into space. Because the Russian Federal Space Agency is facilitating the space flight to and from the ISS, it makes sense that the NASA wants astronauts to be able to correspond with their fellow space travelers. For over ten years all European astronaut activities are conducted at the European Astronaut Centre in Germany. In fact all the other astronauts on the ISS: Americans, Russians, Japanese and Canadians are also trained with European laboratory equipment. And European astronauts receive training in either Houston, USA, Star City in Russia, Tsukuba in Japan or Montreal, Canada to learn to operate the systems and components of the partners. The arrangement between the international partners is that any partner who owns a laboratory or another infrastructure element on the station trains the astronauts of all partners for it. We will also soon have to take into account that China, as the emerging dominant global economy, will probably start playing a much larger role in reaching the heavens.
To seriously explore the heavens we need international financial and intellectual co-operation and so we really do need a common language. An Anglo-Asian-Euro common language may possibly evolve in time, but it seems far more likely that Apple.com will much sooner adapt Clarissa into a virtual common language by translating multiple languages instantaneously into a receiving earpiece; sreating a virtual common language. The confusion of language will then be unravelled. Maybe they will name it Nimrod. And when we understand each other, will “nothing we plan to do be impossible for us”?
So from the rubble of the Tower of Babel emerges, 4-5,000 years later, the Satellite of Apple reaching the heavens; such is the imagination of man. But will the Gods intervene again? Will the satellite come crashing down to earth and will Apple’s universal language become confused? And just how did the ancient Sumerians know about the outer planets 4-5,000 years ago?
This is the conversation I was trying to have with Danny. Coffee has that effect on me, its surprising that it is still legal. I must contact Peter Jackson and see if there’s a movie in it before I come down from my caffeine buzz.
in the bosom of Abraham.
Has there ever, through history, been a more troubled piece of earth than the strip of land on the east coast of the Mediteranean sea between Turkey to the north and and Egypt to the south?
The history of Israel begins with Abraham, the Yahweh-annointed father of the Hebrew nation.
Abraham was born in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) around 2000BCE, or a bit earlier, (4,000+ years ago). Abraham, under God’s instruction (Genesis 12) took his family to Canaan, the coastal strip of land that was originally populated by Ham, son of Noah, and is now the modern Israel, including the West Bank and Gaza.
Abraham had a son Isaac with his wife Sarah (plus many more illegitimates by concubines), Isaac married Rebekah and had two sons Esau and Jacob. Esau moved away to Seir (Gen. 36:6) as the land could not support both his and Jacob’s families.
Jacob had twelve sons including Joseph by his second wife Rachel. Through jealousy of Joseph’s favoured status with Jacob, his brothers sold him into slavery and he eventually arrived in Egypt. Some years after the selling of Joseph as a slave, Jacob took his family to Egypt due to famine in Canaan. Genesis 46:27 and Exodus 1:1 names those who went with Jacob and state their total number. With his eleven sons and their families they totalled 70 people.
Egypt was emerging as a strong civilisation as so many farmers from other parts of Africa had progressively migrated to the very fertile land in the Nile valley. There they met Joseph again. Joseph had prospered in Egypt and was now very influential with the Pharaoh himself as a dream interpreter. Around 1400BC a Hebrew called Moses, under the instruction and with the assistance of the God known to the Israelites as Yahweh, persuaded the Pharaoh to let him lead the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12:41).
The assistance of Yahweh was in the form of temporarily creating a powerful wind to hold back the water of the Sea of Reeds to allow a crossing and to safeguard them from the chasing Egyptians whose Pharaoh had apparently had a change of heart about freeing them. Yahweh guided them through the wilderness by way of a “cloud” hovering over them during the day and that cloud becoming a pillar of light for night travel. (Exodus 13:21). Periodically the “cloud” would land beside the tent of meeting and God would meet with the leaders of the Hebrews. (Exodus 33: 7-11).
Exodus 12:41 said the Israelites were in Egypt 430 years. They would have left Egypt with Moses around 1400BC and, according to Exodus 12:37 there were 600,000 Hebrew men plus their families. 600,000 men would have had a similar number of women in the same age, totalling 1.2 million adults plus children. To get that growth rate the Hebrews had to be breeding at several times their base population, so at a minimum four children per breeding pair, which gives a total population of 6 million people. To cross-check those numbers, even assuming the 70 original Israelites arriving in Egypt were equal breeding pairs, and ignoring for the moment that the children are all first cousins, if each breeding pair produced four breeding pairs, that is eight children, over a fifty-year period, there would still only be 80,640 breeding pairs after 400 years. So with every single person producing 4 children (eight per couple), after 400 years the total population would have grown from 70 to 161,280. That 600,000 men plus wives and families left Egypt 430 years after arriving as 11 men plus families seems implausible, however that is what the Bible states. Perhaps other tribes from the Middle East region also settled with them, also seeking a better life in Egypt.
In the wilderness food was clearly a major concern for such a large population. Yahweh was also responsible for an aerial drop of a bread substance, six days a week for forty years to feed the travelling Israelites in the desert. The bread or dough appears to have arrived frozen: “in the morning there was a coating of dew all round the camp. When the coating of dew lifted there was a thing delicate, powdery…that, said Moses is the bread Yahweh gives you to eat.” (Exodus 16: 13-15). “And when the sun grew hot, it dissolved” (Exodus 16:21).
Finally Yahweh led the Israelites in battle to conquer the lands of Canaan Deuteronomy 1:29-30.
Yahweh demanded singularity of recognition as the God of the Israelites. His first commandment of all the rules for conduct he gave to Moses was: “I am Yahweh, your God, you shall worship no other Gods but me. For I, Yahweh am a jealous God. “ (Exodus 20).
However Yahweh never in the Bible said he was the only Deity, his words in the first commandment indicate there are other Gods although Israelites believe He was referring to pagan idols rather than real Gods.
After 40 years in the desert, the twelve tribes finally arrived back in Canaan, although Moses had not lived to reach his destination. It is never explained why Yahweh led them on a 40 year wander around the wilderness when it was actually only an 11-day journey from Egypt to Canaan by the most direct route? The reason for detouring across the Sea of Reeds and into the wilderness was given as avoiding confrontation with the Philistines, (Exodus 13: 17) which, Yahweh was concerned, would encourage the Israelites to return to Egypt. This longer route explains why it would take more than 11 days for the journey, however 40 years is an extraordinarily long detour. The explanation in Deuteronomy 8:2-3 “Yahweh, your God, led you for forty year in the wilderness, to humble you, to test you and know your innermost heart.” But in Joshua 5:6 it says “The Israelites had moved about in the wilderness forty years until all the men who were of military age when they left Egypt had died,” It continued that the reason they died was because they disobeyed God.
After 40 years in the wilderness, 601,750 fighting-age men (plus families) arrived in Canaan (Numbers 26:51), a similar number to that which departed Egypt 40 years earlier and it would appear a reasonable assumption that Yahweh intended that the generation arriving in Canaan would have been raised from a very young age under the laws, guidance and possibly military training of Yahweh.
Despite Yahweh’s original desire to avoid confrontation with the Philistines, there was a great deal of military action, bloodshed, looting and slavery of young women undertaken under Yahweh’s instruction before the Israelites eventually re-established themselves in the land of Canaan forty years after the escape from Egypt. Clearly the new generation of Hebrews had been trained for war during their decades in the wilderness. Perhaps Yahweh had not felt the original enslaved Israelites had the necessary military skill and strength of character to conquer Canaan, which is why He avoided initial military conflict with the Philistines when they first escaped Egypt.
But with an army of 600,000 men, the Hebrews began attacking the inhabitants of Canaan beginning with the Midian people. Numbers 31: 1 “Yahweh spoke to Moses and said ‘exact full vengeance for the sons of Israel on the Midianites.’
The God Yahweh was certainly a God of war, not peace. He brought the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land, but it was a violent intrusion into a land that had been legitimately populated by other tribes, understood to be descendants of Ham, son of Noah, and the Hebrews have not known peace since they arrived there.The Israelites continued their battles against the residents throughout Canaan until they had established themselves in this Promised Land.
The tribes of Israel were allocated their areas of land according to Yahweh’s instruction and continued to live tribal life over the next 3-400 years with neither central government nor central place of worship to Yahweh. The governance was by the tribal Judges (Holy Men) and the military leaders. But it was a life both of integration into Canaanite cities and intermarriage with Canaanites and also constant tribal wars. Many who integrated with the Canaanites abandoned Yahweh and gave their loyalty to the God of the Canaanites, Baal.
Yahweh communicated through the prophets. In one battle with the Philistines, who had become the most powerful race in the region, the Israelites lost the Ark of the Covenant with the Lord Yahweh. The Philistines slaughtered 30,000 Israelites and claimed the Ark, which they brought back to the temple of their god Dagon, in Ashdod, which was on the coast of the West Bank. However the Philistines returned the Ark to the Israelites seven months later when their people had become afflicted with boils and ulcers and other calamities that they attributed to possessing the Ark. The return of the Ark sparked a renewed interest among the Jews in the heritage of Yahweh and the journey from Egypt.
Samuel, who had ‘heard the voice of God’ since a young person was the acknowledged senior Prophet and Judge of Israel. Samuel preached the return to the laws of the Bible, and, under the instruction of Yahweh, anointed a man named Saul as the first King of Israel under whose rule the twelve tribes could be united. This was 1046 BCE, just over 3,000 years ago. It was the same time that Rome was established as a settlement of farmers and shepherds. There was a level of dissatisfaction with Saul during his reign and conversely much support for David, a military hero and leader following his slaying of Goliath. There was much conflict between Saul and David, although David did marry Saul’s daughter. Saul died in the battle of Gilboa against the Philistines when he fell on his sword rather than be captured. David at the time had led a successful battle against the Amalekites.
At this time Saul’s army commander appointed Saul’s son, Ishbaal as king of Israel. The nation became divided between the House of Saul, which was based in northern Israel, and the House of David, which was based in Judea. They met in battle at Gibeon and David was victorious. As the House of Saul became weaker, Ishbaal’s own men eventually murdered him and delivered his head to David. They were put to death for their treachery.
Under King David, Israel was united and the Israelites conquered their old enemy, the Philistines and established Jerusalem as David’s city. David was succeeded by his son, Solomon. After Solomon’s death in 925 BC Israel again became divided between Israel and Judea.
The Kings of Israel ruled until 721 BC when the Assyrians conquered Northern Israel; the Kingdom of Judea lasted until 605 BC when the Babylonians conquered them and the temple was destroyed and over subsequent periods to 582 BC the Jews were deported into captivity in Babylon.
In 538 BC the Persians conquered the Babylonians and ruled Judea; then in 332 BC Alexander the Great conquered the Persians and brought Judea under the Greek Empire. Judea was temporarily independent again when the Jewish tribe of the Maccadees staged a successful revolt in 164 BC but then in 63 BC the Romans acquired the state when they conquered the Greek empire.
The Romans eventually tired of the regular Jewish insurrections and in 135 AD, they brutally crushed the Jewish state with hundreds of thousands of Jews killed, deported or sold into slavery. The Romans renamed Judea as Palestine (Palaestina) derived from “Philistine”.
It was not until 1948 AD, after the Second World War, that the victorious gentile nations re-created the state of Israel, a state that remains in a state of war with the Palestinians as they had from their arrival out of Egypt 3,500 years earlier.
Today, in the 21st century, this region still presents a volatility that threatens the peace of the entire earth. According to their Bible, a very small tribe of descendants of Abraham, 70 people, left the region of milk and honey during very serious famine, when milk and honey was nowhere to be found, and went to live in Egypt; they returned 400+ years later as an army of 600,000 men plus families and brutally waged war on the tribes that lived there. They established their own nation of Israel with bloodshed and they have never known peace since.
footnote: I could not find any record of what became of Essau and his family. Esau was of course Abraham’s grandson but did not travel to Egypt with Jacob’s family. Presumably they joined up after Isaac’s tribe returned from Egypt.