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Rule of Law: George Washington, Nimrod, the Tower of Babel and Today

Common Sense by Thomas Paine (http://www.booktryst.com)

On April 10, 2019, Politico posted an article entitled “Trump’s ‘truly bizarre’ visit to Mt. Vernon.” The article recounted a visit on April 23, 2018, by the French and American Presidents to Mount Vernon, home of George Washington, the first President of the United States.

According to Mount Vernon president and CEO Doug Bradburn, the tour guide for the Presidents, the Macrons were far more knowledgeable about the history of the property than the American President. France, of course, contributed to America’s victory in the American Revolution with the assistance of Marquis de Lafayette and Count Rochambeau, the first but not the last time foreign intervention helped elect an American President.

By contrast, the American President is renowned for not reading a book and being historically ignorant (Canada burned the White House, the Baltic States were responsible for the dissolution of Yugoslavia, and 306 electoral votes is a landslide). It was easy for the trained guide to rapidly discern that the American President was completely bored. Drawing on his experience with school visitors who similarly had no interest in the Father of the Country, Bradburn attempted to engage the person before him. As reported by Politico, the former history professor with a Ph.D, “was desperately trying to get [Trump] interested in” Washington’s house. So he drew on his bag of tricks and informed the uninformed President that Washington had been a real-estate developer.

That approach did the trick. Now the guide had the President’s attention. Not only was Washington a real-estate developer, but for his times, he was one of the richest people in the United States. In today’s terms, he could be compared to Gates, Buffet, and Bezos and not to a comparative pauper like the President. (No, Bradburn did not say that!)  Again according to Politico, “That is what Trump was really the most excited about” said a source.

At that point, our narcissistic President responded to the news in the way that defines him as a person

[H]e couldn’t understand why America’s first president didn’t name his historic Virginia compound or any of the other property he acquired after himself. “If he was smart, he would’ve put his name on it,” Trump said, according to three sources briefed on the exchange. “You’ve got to put your name on stuff or no one remembers you.”

In other words, unless you make your name great, you are not great and will be forgotten.

The concept of making your name great is familiar to biblical students referring to another book he has not read.

Genesis 12:1 Now Yahweh said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.

In the biblical tradition, a person does not make his name great, the Lord does.

It should be noted that in ancient times the people who made their name great were kings. Lost in translation is the recognition that the way one made one’s name great in ancient times was by the king building something. To the deep regret of biblical archaeologists, ancient Israel did not partake of this royal tradition of kings building things with their name on it.

By contrast, Ramses II, the traditional Pharaoh of the Exodus of Passover fame, did make his name great. He built extensively. And when he had not built it, he still carved his name into it. It would be a little like our having the Trumpire State Building or Mount Vertrump. And Ramses did achieve lasting fame. By having approximately 100 children, a condom was named after him so his name is remembered all the time.

Mesopotamian kings followed a generally similarly path. Kings built stairways to heaven (ziggurats) at the cosmic center (the capital) where they ruled the universe from sea to shining sea (the Upper Sea or Mediterranean to the Lower Sea or Persian/Arab Gulf; there maps are oriented at a 90 degree rotation from ours). The baked bricks used in these constructions bore the name of the king.

Nimrod is the first king mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. He is the first king mentioned before Abraham encounters various kings. To understand what he is doing there one must put aside what the name means colloquially today and in rabbinic tradition and focus on the biblical text itself. In the original version of the story:

Genesis 10:8 Cush became the father of Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. 9 He was a mighty hunter before Yahweh; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before Yahweh.” 10 The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, and Accad, and Calneh [Calah] in the land of Shinar.

These verses are descriptive, not accusatory. Nimrod is to be praised for his achievements not condemned. Indeed, he is a figure to be emulated given his success as mighty man or warrior before the Lord. He was the ruler of the Mesopotamian universe.

As biblical archaeologists and Assyriologists eventually learned, Nimrod was not an individual but an exemplar. He was not Sumerian Gilgamesh of Uruk (Erech) as had been originally thought. He was not Akkadian Sargon the Great of Accad, he was not Amorite Hammurabi of Babylon, and he was not Assyrian Tukulti-Ninurta of Calah to name other candidates. Instead he was all of them; he represented that Mesopotamian way of life.

To understand the Nimrod story, it is necessary, I think, to connect this story of the four cities with the inserts of the four rivers in the garden (Gen, 2) and the four kings of the east (Gen.14). A single author supplemented an existing narrative with these episodes. This author thought globally as he also did in transforming local flood songs (Songs of Miriam and Deborah) into a global one. That action undermined the Egyptian-based perspective of the Exodus story and the Canaanites who became Israelites. Having Nimrod be a Yahweh-worshipper long before Moses at the burning bush also undermined the position of Moses and therefore of his priesthood.

I suggest that the author the Nimrod story and these supplements was a Benjaminite/Yaminite Aaronid priest. He wrote not as a scribe or priest but as a player in the political arena. He ended the first cycle of stories (aka the primeval cycle) with Nimrod and a table of nations leading to Abram leaving Ur to start the second cycle. The torch had been passed to a new location. The temple in Jerusalem was now the cosmic center. The Israelite king in Jerusalem was advised to rule like a Mesopotamian king at the new cosmic center. He was to make his name great as Solomon did in building the temple.

So at least claimed one political party in ancient Israel. However, there was another political party, the Levites or Mushites who claimed the law came first. They objected to the claim that Yahweh had sanctioned the royal way of life in Mesopotamia as the Nimrod author had written. Yahweh had first appeared at Sinai to Moses and the law was revealed there. They mocked the Mesopotamian way of life by writing the Tower of Babel story. Look at those mighty stairways to heaven! They all were built for naught. All those mighty and grandiose empires crumbled into dust, lost to history until recovered by archaeologists. It was the law which endured and ruled even when kings and temples were no more.

Exodus 1817 Moses’ father-in-law said to him…19”Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God, and bring their cases to God; 20 and you shall teach them the statutes and the decisions, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. 21 Moreover choose able men from all the people, such as fear God, men who are trustworthy and who hate a bribe; and place such men over the people as rulers of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 22 And let them judge the people at all times; every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves; so it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you do this, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.”

The Babel author highlighted the folly of the Nimrod story ambitions. This author was anti-Aaronid (golden calf story) and anti-monarchy (the Jethro constitution).

Jethro and Nimrod offer two different models of political organization: the rule of law and the king who makes his name great. Two political parties offered two different versions of how society should be organized: one based on the rule by a king and one based on the rule of law. The result was an original narrative now separated into two narratives with different endings to the first cycle of stories. Nimrod and Babel are inconsistent because they originally part of two different narratives based on a common core. Only when they were combined centuries later were the inconsistencies juxtaposed. Imagine having to combine Confederate and Union descriptions of Lincoln and Lee in a single narrative! Again, that was a political process and not a scribal one.

For the first centuries of Israel’s existence, it had had no king. Therefore no one was in a position to abuse power. Only when Israel had a king could someone be a law unto himself. We will never know if ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia debated the powers of a king when he first ascended to the throne in Egypt and descended to the throne in Mesopotamia. But we do know the debates ancient Israel had on the powers of the king. It decided there should be checks and balances on the power of the king. No one was above the law. Even David could be called to task: “Thou art the man.” And when he was confronted he repented.

The best time for the initial battle over whether Jerusalem had replaced Mesopotamia as the cosmic center occurred when Israel could if it were so inclined think of itself it such grandiose terms. This happened when Egypt and Mesopotamia were weak (and Pharaoh’s daughter was an Israelite queen). It happened before the time of Sheshonq and Assurnasirpal II.

This approach is based on the stories originating in a political context as Levites, Aaronids, and Jebusites battled for power. Even stories set elsewhere were always about internal politics. Obviously this scenario is speculative and cannot be proven but it does illustrate how a political approach can produce a different historical reconstruction.

This ancient Israelite dialog on the rule of law and the rule by the king continues on in the United States. In 1776, Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense:

…that in America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.

Once again as in ancient Israel and during the American Revolution, the issue of the rule of law versus the rule by king is being played out. Will the United States be governed by the Constitution or a Nimrod?

 

For more on the stories of Nimrod and the Tower of Babel see my book Jerusalem Throne Games: The Battle of Bible Stories after the Death of David.

Rule of Law: George Washington, Nimrod, and Today

On April 10, 2019, Politico posted an article entitled “Trump’s ‘truly bizarre’ visit to Mt. Vernon.” The article recounted a visit on April 23, 2018, by the French and American Presidents to Mount Vernon, home of George Washington, the first President of the United States.

According to Mount Vernon president and CEO Doug Bradburn, the tour guide for the Presidents, the Macrons were far more knowledgeable about the history of the property than the American President. France, of course, contributed to America’s victory with Marquis de Lafayette and Count Rochambeau, the first but not the last time foreign intervention helped elect an American President.

By contrast, our President is renowned for being incapable of reading of book and being historically ignorant (unless he saw a movie). It was easy for the trained guide to rapidly discern that the American President was completely bored. Drawing on his experience with 7th graders who similarly had no interest in the Father of the Country, Bradburn attempted to engage the person before him. As reported by Politico, a former history professor with a PhD, Bradburn “was desperately trying to get [Trump] interested in” Washington’s house. So he draw on his bag of tricks and informed the uninformed President that Washington had been a real-estate developer.

That approach did the trick. Now the guide had the President’s attention. Not only was Washington a real-estate developer, but for his times, he was one of the richest people in the United States. In today’s terms, he could be compared to Gates, Buffet, and Bezos and not to a comparative pauper like the fake billionaire President. (No, Bradburn did not say that! At least not the last part.)  Again according to Politico, “That is what Trump was really the most excited about” said a source.

At that point, our narcissistic President responded to the news in the way that defines him as a person

[H]e couldn’t understand why America’s first president didn’t name his historic Virginia compound or any of the other property he acquired after himself. “If he was smart, he would’ve put his name on it,” Trump said, according to three sources briefed on the exchange. “You’ve got to put your name on stuff or no one remembers you.”

In other words, unless you make your name great, you are not great and will be forgotten.

The concept of making your name great is familiar to biblical students referring to another book he has not read.

Genesis 12:1 Now Yahweh said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.

In the biblical tradition, a person does not make his name great, the Lord does.

It should be noted that in ancient times the people who made their name great were kings. Lost in translation is the recognition that the way one made one’s name great in ancient times was by the king building something. To the deep regret of biblical archaeologists, ancient Israel did not partake of this royal tradition of kings building things with their name on it.

By contrast, Ramses II, the traditional Pharaoh of the Exodus of Passover fame, did make his name great. He built extensively. And when he had not built it, he still carved his name into it. It would be a little like our having the Trumpire State Building or Mount Vertrump. And he did achieve lasting fame. By having approximately 100 children, a condom was named after him so his name is remembered all the time.

Mesopotamian kings followed a generally similarly path. Kings build stairways to heaven (ziggurats) at the cosmic center (the capital) where they ruled the universe from sea to shining sea (the Upper Sea or Mediterranean to the Lower Sea or Persian/Arab Gulf; there maps are oriented at a 90 degree rotation from ours). The baked bricks used in these constructions bore the name of the king.

Nimrod is the first king mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. He is the first king mentioned before Abraham encounters various kings. To understand what he is doing there one must put aside what the name means colloquially today and in rabbinic tradition and focus on the biblical text itself. In the original version of the story:

Genesis 10:8 Cush became the father of Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. 9 He was a mighty hunter before Yahweh; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before Yahweh.” 10 The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, and Accad, and Calneh [Calah] in the land of Shinar.

These verses are descriptive, not accusatory. Nimrod is to be praised for his achievements not condemned. Indeed, he is a figure to be emulated given his success as mighty man or warrior before the Lord. He was the ruler of the Mesopotamian universe.

As biblical archaeologists and Assyriologists eventually learned, Nimrod was not an individual but an exemplar. He was not Sumerian Gilgamesh of Uruk (Erech) as had been originally thought. He was not Akkadian Sargon the Great of Accad, he was not Amorite Hammurabi of Babylon, and he was not Assyrian Tukulti-Ninurta of Calah. Instead he was all of them; he represented that Mesopotamian life. Now with Abraham leaving Ur and settling near Hebron (David’s first royal capital), the torch had been passed to a new location. The Israelite king in Jerusalem was advised to rule like a Mesopotamian king at the new cosmic center. He was to make his name great as Solomon did in building the temple.

So at least claimed one political party in ancient Israel. However, there was another political party, the Levites or Mushites who claimed the law came first. They objected to the claim that Yahweh had sanctioned the royal way of life in Mesopotamia as the Nimrod author had written. Yahweh had first appeared at Sinai to Moses and the law was revealed there. They mocked the Mesopotamian way of life by writing the Tower of Babel story. Look at those mighty stairways to heaven! They all were built for naught. All those mighty and grandiose empires crumbled into dust, lost to history until recovered by archaeologists. It was the law which endured and ruled even when kings and temples were no more.

Exodus 18:17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him…19”Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God, and bring their cases to God; 20 and you shall teach them the statutes and the decisions, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. 21 Moreover choose able men from all the people, such as fear God, men who are trustworthy and who hate a bribe; and place such men over the people as rulers of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 22 And let them judge the people at all times; every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves; so it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you do this, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.”

Jethro and Nimrod offer two different models of political organization: the rule of law and the king who makes his name great. Two political parties in ancient Israel offered two different versions of how society should be organized: one based on the rule by a king and one based on the rule of law.

For the first centuries of Israel’s existence, it had had no king. Therefore no one was in a position to abuse power. Only when Israel had a king could someone be a law unto himself. We will never know if ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia debated the powers of a king when he first ascended to the throne in Egypt and descended to the throne in Mesopotamia. But we do know the debates ancient Israel had on the powers of the king. It decided there should be checks and balances on the power of the king. No one was above the law. Even David could be called to task: “Thou art the man.” And when he was confronted he repented.

Bonespur Boy is no David. He is no George Washington either who also is remembered for having left the presidency voluntarily. And even though he is no mighty man and is not before the Lord, he still is a Nimrod.

 

For more on the stories of Nimrod and the Tower of Babel see my book Jerusalem Throne Games: The Battle of Bible Stories after the Death of David.

 

The Trump Doctrine versus the Truman Doctrine

https://www.imdb.com

Periodically during the course of American history, individual Presidents are remembered for a doctrine or mantra they have enunciated. The words are not necessarily legally binding in any way. Instead they provide insight into the thinking of the President as to how he (so far) views the world and chooses to guide himself. This vision or guideline may apply during his term and may be considered advice to future Presidents and the American people as well.

GEORGE WASHINGTON

The first such words were issued by our first President. George Washington recommended a policy of no entangling alliances. He offered these words based on a lifetime of experience being caught in the world of British and French interactions along with lesser actions by Spain and the Netherlands. Given the current situation after the French Revolution, it was difficult for him to imagine a Europe that was not consumed by wars. Even the ancient experience of the Thirty Years War would have confirmed that war in Europe is what European countries do so try not to get involved.

Our current President naturally is unaware of Washington’s words. A person who didn’t know Lincoln was a Republican, Frederick Douglas was dead, and the British burned Washington, D.C., cannot be expected to be knowledgeable about American history. Still he seems to share Washington’s aversion to alliances.

In so doing, he is not drawing on any personal experience in war and diplomacy. The serial draft avoider confines his physical competition to the scripted world of the professional wrestling arena and reality shows that aren’t real. What then is the source of his antipathy to alliances?

Once again, here is where it becomes necessary to recognize that we are dealing with an immature child and not an adult. Alliance is an adult term like separation of powers or oaths to the Constitution. These concepts have no meaning to him. It is not that he rejects them but that the seventh-grade smart-aleck/dumb-aleck does not have the mental necessities to grasp such adult concepts. Of course, he can say the word and use it in a sentence but he simply is unable understand its meaning.

Consider the recent words of Cheon Seong-whun, an analyst at the Asian Institute in Seoul:

He sees everything in terms in money but there are values other than money in an alliance (NYT 6/13/18).

Yes, there are values other than money in an alliance, but the immature child really is genuinely not capable of understanding that. The narcissistic seventh-grade smart-aleck/dumb-aleck operates on the basis of TRUMP FIRST, TRUMP ALONE. Relationships are measured in terms of loyalties by subordinates and money for customers/rivals/others. How much does South Korea pay for retaining the services of the United States to protect it? If it is not paying its fair share, then the deal is abrogated. There is no alliance. There is no friendship. There is no shared values or traditions. There simply are deals, transactions between two and only two parties; and if the transaction is costing him, meaning the United States, money, then America is out of there. Nothing else matters. If you were surprised by his unilateral actions in Singapore then you are admitting that you still seek to understand him as an adult instead of the immature child that he is. It is not fair to judge him by adult standards since he isn’t one: TRUMP FIRST, TRUMP ALONE.

If you have doubts, consider his comments about North Korea. Look at all the beautiful beachfront property! Can’t you see opportunity all over the place? Now is the time for the country between China and South Korea to take advantage of the possibilities to build resort communities. And in case you have doubts about who should develop those properties, have I got a real estate developer for you! Think how different the rescue efforts in Puerto Rico could have been had he had a resort there.

In case you still resist the idea of analyzing his actions as those of immature child, I call your attention to my description last August of the seventh grader and another 13 year-old, Tom Hanks in Big. Now consider the words of Roland Paris, a former foreign affairs advisor to the now rotting in a special place in hell Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau (didn’t Madeleine Albright use the same words to condemn (black) woman who didn’t support a female candidate for the Democratic nomination?):

Big tough guy once he’s back on his airplane. Can’t do it in person and knows it, which makes him feel weak. So he projects these feelings onto Trudeau and then lashes out at him. You don’t need to be Freud. He’s a pathetic little man-child (NYT 6/11/18).

Still not convinced he really is an immature child? Now consider NYT reporter Peter Baker’s words later in the same article almost paraphrasing my comments about forcing him to act adult in my Tom Hanks post:

Mr. Trump never really wanted to attend the Group of 7 meeting but aides [meaning adults!] pressed him to go even as they feared it would be a disaster because he was being forced to do something he did not want to do [know any parents who dread taking an immature child out in public?]. He rebelled by showing up late and leaving early….He arrived 18 minutes late for a Saturday session…and did not bother putting his headphones on for the translation [have you ever seen an immature child act out in public when forced to do something he doesn’t want to do?].

For Washington, no entangling alliances meant don’t enter into any so as to maintain peace in our country. TRUMP FIRST, TRUMP ALONE means there are no alliances, only transactional deals that are financially beneficially.

TEDDY ROOSEVELT

Roosevelt like Washington, led a vigorous life. Just as Washington drew on his own personal experiences before recommending no entangling alliance, so Roosevelt drew on his own life when he suggested Presidents should speak softly and carry a big stick. It is hard to imagine any words less appropriate to the whiner-in-chief. Not only is he a constant whining baby thanks to technology not available in Roosevelt’s time, We the People have the good fortune to be able to read every stream-of-conscious whine by the immature child.  We are all trapped in airline with a crying baby with nowhere to go and way to shut him up. I thought the Constitution forbade cruel and unusual punishment.

THE TRUMAN DOCTRINE

Perhaps the most relevant doctrine to understanding our current President is the Truman Doctrine. Truman Burbank was a reality star. And unlike the current celebrity reality-star in chief, Truman’s ratings were boffo at the box office. The difference is that Truman didn’t know he was a celebrity reality star. He did think the artificial reality in which he lived was the real world just as the celebrity reality-star in chief thinks his alternate universe is the real world. The suspense and drama are in the moment of truth, the moment when the reality show star comes face to face with the fact that he is living in a no longer sustainable artificial reality and has to deal with the real world. What will he do then? Can he succeed in banishing the real world and in continuing to live a lie or will he have to adjust for better or for worse to the world as it really exists?

We know what happened to Truman.  SPOLIER ALERT! Through a series of events, the adult Truman seizes the initiative and takes control over his life. He sets sail into the open sea that has always frightened him only to bump into the sky and learn that someone has built a wall. He pierces it and enters the real world. In Truman’s case, the truth sets him free. He leaves the artificial reality that has governed his entire life, takes a chance on real emotions, and goes forth to live a better life.

Nothing like the Truman Doctrine will occur in the TRUMP FIRST, TRUMP ALONE reality. He will never take the initiative to leave the alternate universe for the real world where Russia violated the United States in the 2016 election, 5 million people didn’t vote illegally, and his parade was smaller. Why shouldn’t he remain in the alternate reality, look how far he’s gone?

Whereas Truman left his reality world for the real world, Trump seeks to extend the artificial reality to the world at large. He is likely to fail. But when and how?  Not everyone watches the Bull Trump Network. The seismic shock recorded from North Korea after the Singapore meeting was from the laughter of people who recognize that John Kelly and Rex Tillerson are right: the American President is a stupid ignorant moron. You can get something for nothing. Now the whole world has seen the deal maker in action. Now the whole world has seen the negotiator in action. Now that Iran has seen him at work, is it any wonder it is eager to negotiate a new nuclear arms treaty on the same terms offered North Korea? After all, Iran has beachfront property too. How many resorts do you want to build here?

At this point America’s allies know that no alliance has any meaning in the TRUMP FIRST, TRUMP ALONE universe.

At this point America’s foes know that they have nothing to fear in the TRUMP FIRST, TRUMP ALONE universe as long as they have something to offer him, like a Nobel prize and real estate development opportunities.

At this point America is learning about his fraudulent foundation to match his fraudulent university. Everything in his life is tainted. The world has seen the truth. The only mystery is when will We the People catch on.