Friday, December 17, 2004

Sages and Messengers

The Sumerians knew of amphibious sages that came from the East. In Greek renditions of the early "Chaldean" works these sages are said to come swimming across the Indian Ocean. In the Bible, "messengers" come from Eden.

Both examples suggest that these migrants from Dilmun/Eden had something to teach -- a spiritual agenda. Indeed, Oppenheimer has given long lists of myths in Mesopotamia and the Middle East that he believes are ultimately of Southeast Asian origin. And he was not the first scholar to recognize these links.

Some of these messengers were viewed in a positive light while others were not. Indeed, a conflict between two groups of these messengers is apparent. In the Book of Enoch, the two groups are at war. In the Dawenkou and Lungshan cultural development we saw that the gradual increase in social stratification eventually leads to apparent clan warfare. The first cities, were nothing more than glorified forts, with high walls and watchtowers for defense.

The bad messengers in ancient Hebrew literature appear linked with some useful crafts but there also is a reference to the ills of commerce. In the Ezekiel passage, the writer states "Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence." The king of Tyre was linked in the Hebrew mind with the vast Phoenician trade.

Indeed, the evil potential of mercantile trade is found repeatedly in the philosophy of the Bible. Among the early Jewish Christians, the ultimate evil was envisioned as a harlot called "Babylon" that lures the nations to its markets of luxurious goods.

The Sumerians conducted a long-range trade with Dilmun. It is difficult to say exactly what the entire trade consisted of as ships that went to Dilmun had many other stops along the way. Timber though seems to be one product that came directly from Dilmun. Hebrew tradition mentions a trade network involving Phoenicians that brought almug wood from somewhere apparently far to the East. The trade journeys to bring back this hard wood lasted three years.

The almug wood has been variously identified as teak, red sandalwood or some other fragrant tropical hard wood. The timber trade may have been the start of what eventually led to the great spice trade. Indeed, Dilmun was known as the "land of aromatics."

For more on the ensuing spice trade see the following link:

The Spice Routes

Legends of far-off messengers coming with a spiritual agenda also are not limited to this region. Oppenheimer gives a number of examples. And in many of these cases we find these messengers are in conflict with others linked with an opposing often polarized doctrine.

In the dual world of the Nusantao, the eruption of two volcanoes could easily be interpreted as a war between two different polar forces in Heaven. As in Heaven, so on Earth. Diverging clans may have seen the cosmic chaos as the beginning of something on earth that had been brewing for a long time.

When people are forced to migrate they often bring about historical changes. The Phoenicians stated themselves that they migrated to Lebanon after a disaster in their homeland. The Huns ravaged much of the old world after they were forced to flee from their lands near the borders of China.

The Nusantao clans forced to flee from the great volcanic wars, in the same way, appear to have shaken up the trade network in an unprecedented way.

Paul Kekai Manansala