Age of Cities
Despite Noah’s bitter end, and the first wars between fear and power, her art spread. A new age dawned.
Unlike the Fruit of Knowledge, which gave the humans the mind of God, art gave them the power of God. The power of Creation. First, they created music.
They turned vibration into song, into dance, into story, into religion. They turned the rhythms of life into art which they could understand. They whipped the wavelengths of light into visions. They spread across the face of the Earth like few animals could; such as their erstwhile companions: dog, cat, rat, and fly.
Humans were still animals of flesh. They were still simple creations, children of a cosmos dancing to God’s music. But with art, they could reinvent the way they lived with every generation. They could also stay the same. Traditions, stories, and images of God’s majesty connected them to a permanence. They could tell stories of who they were, and who they wished to be. Everything around them was turned into characters in the cosmic drama. Characters who, if not more like themselves, at least with desires and needs and the power appropriate for the telling. With art they could glimpse God again.
Tower of Baubles
Nimrod hated art like he hated all things that did not feed his appetites. He had learned a truth, a most dangerous one. His heart was the center of the universe. The cosmos was an extension of him. His fear was Your fear, so all he needed to do was to wake it up in anyone whom slept uneasily. He could do this with his pain, his anger, and his hatred. Of course, today, now many humans have harnessed this power and a few are even strong enough to resist it, but in these days, no one had felt or seen anything like it ever before.
There were few strong enough to resist, however, it would be ages before many of them new they were not alone. Nimrod relished proving the lengths he would go to ensure his power was not threatened. Of course, he spread pain like a child spreading laughter. Those who would not join him in the hunt became hunted.
Not all who joined him were as terrible or as bloody, but they killed something in theirselves to survive and remain in his confidence. Poets spread the power of his emotions, capturing the hearts of audiences as a time, hearing of the horrors of not belonging contrasted with the beauty of being safe from them. Philosophers increased his power, writing laws that gave his appointees the power to use pain in the name of safety. Painters gave image to his fears, a lasting image that minds seeking sources of fear could hold onto.
Nimrod had hunted all the humans he could. The most greedy of his slaves ruled over the others. The most cunning ruled over them. Humans grew his food. Kept his home. They dressed him. Bathed him. Humans played and danced for him, and none relished their roles for long, if they ever could. They gave him every pleasure he demanded, and when they failed, he reveled in new ways to watch them suffer in pain. But still, he grew bored.
The food grew tiresome. The shelter was forgettable. The clothes became uncomfortable. The art cluttered the walls and halls of his palace. He even tired of the men and women dancing for him, tired of the cycle of sating his desires only to have them empty again.
Then the thought struck him. Creation was the power of the gods, and art could be much larger. The buildings could be so much more than protection from the atmosphere. He could reach gods with art! And if there was to be power found among the gods, then it would soon be his.
Nimrod commanded: “Use these bricks and build a temple! Let God see our faith!”
And the people did as they were told because they wanted to eat and Nimrod controlled food distribution. They built a temple twice as large than any other building. Two whole stories.
Nimrod screamed angrily: “That is not large enough! Build it taller!”
But the people had been fed and refused and called him Nimrod for demanding so much. So, Nimrod interviewed the people. He found some willing to hurt others to gain more for themselves. He gave them whips and put them in command of the others.
The people commanders were paid well, but others complained about the unfairness. The commanders came up with stories: “Do you think God made a just a fair world? Do not listen to the other people. They are spoiled and wish to be coddled. Nimrod is not your father. He is impartial, this makes him just.” (People dared not call him Nimrod in public)
They built the Tower four stories, and Nimrod threw his arms and stomped his feet: “Not tall enough!”
More people were added. Some were given swords to oversee the commanders, who grew jealous over their diminished power. The commander overseers were paid very well, and this came out of the wages of those below them.
The people commanders talked of how hard they worked, and how this was no way for Nimrod to honor them. The overseers with swords came up with stories: “Who are you to be honored? We are here to honor God. Don’t listen to the others, they have grown full and lazy. You are doing the true work.”
They built the temple larger.
When it was eight stories. Spiraling up its sides were stairs carved from stone. The height that made all men but Nimrod dizzy before they even reached the top. A few fell, dropping to the ground in a scream, and the people watching in horror laughed because Nimrod laughed.
People came to marvel at the Nimrod’s Tower to God. Since there was no need to build more, all the workers were sent away. They asked “Can we build something else for God, or for you?” And Nimrod threatened them with his sword and said: “Leave my sight.”
People began to sell art to the arriving strangers before they became neighbors. Others realized they could sell them lies. Others didn’t want to sell them anything, but waited for them and took anything of value. The merchants of both art and lies began to complain about the criminals, the orphans, the injured and sickly, and the workers who had nothing to do. The people offered, “We can house them if you would like to help pay for their food and care.” The merchants replied, “Too expensive. We are here to make an honest living, help undesirables to be lazy. Just get rid of them cheaply.” But the people offered no solution, each person hoping someone else would just make the problem go away. Eventually, the merchants got the attention of Nimrod. He solved the problem very cheaply, new laws and new punishments were written.
The city grew around the great work. Those who acted like Nimrod were awarded by his regime. Those who protested were punished, enslaved, or simply executed.
Nimrod hunted more people to build his society. He gave fewer and fewer people more and more power. Their job was to control the people under them. There were so many people, some had careers to take care of someone that was not friend or family. People came from all regions. Languages got confused. Accents got confused. Fights broke out and guards were hired to beat people up for beating people up.
Word got around that Nimrod was the toughest man in the known world. He was stronger and wiser than Gilgamesh, the transcendant. He was more favored by God than Etana, the king who was taken to Heaven. He could defeat any army, even an army of demons. Perhaps he was not even a man. This land was given to him by God, forever, and ever. They said these things across the land because Nimrod was very kind to storytellers when stories such as these became famous.
This is what they said, so when Sargon the Conquerer approached him in the disguise of a ragged beggar, Nimrod berated him, and lifted his whip to shout: “Now get back to–” which was cut short. And Sargon pulled the knife from Nimrod and shouted, “Regime change!”
Sargon of Kish had been conquering cities ever since he killed his king. His soldiers rampaged through Nimrod’s holdings and cheered over the bodies of Nimrod’s closest servants and guards.
That is why they say, “Don’t be a Nimrod, a mighty jerk before God.”
City of Babylon
The survivors of the floods began to look inland, towards the fertile and reliable rivers. They no longer trusted the sea to stay where she was. One of the survivors was Sargon, who came with his people from the sea into Sumer. They spread over the land, becoming the rulers. They were a Semitic people whose roots were more recently from Africa, the Garden of Humanity, than the desperate survivors of Nimrod.
Sargon established a new dynasty of relative peace, with trade between the many cities and building the first vocabularies from familiar sounds and gestures and build from the language Nimrod forced all to speak. But centuries past, and peace and equality agitate human beings. Though Akkad had fallen, the people spread and were now called Akkadians.
Some of them wanted to hold all the power instead of share it. They believed if they held the power, if they made the rules, they would ensure peace and stability. They wanted to be Nimrod.
Sumu-abum, one of the Akkadian kings, rebelled against his neighbors and founded a new city he called Gods Gates. In his language, Babilii. He did not teach his children how to kill, but how to be strong. He taught his children to study the ways that Sargon’s dynasty fell, and learn how they might avoid making those same mistakes. His children, and their children did not build an empire. Neither did their children or even grand children, but they all studied the histories and the mistakes, of not just Sargon’s rule of Akkadia, but their father, and his father’s rule in Babilii. The stories had been written down using Sargon’s marks, and now they could be studied. With writing, the first dynasty was born and the dead were made immortal. Nimrod really missed out. Eventually, Sumu-abum’s thrice-grand-child, named Hammurabi, unlocked the laws from God written into the patterns of life. He put the laws into practice as best he could, and peace and sharing ruled with him.
Into this community, a woman named Sarai was born. She came of age at 25 years, the year Hammurabi died. The son of Hammurabi did not believe the laws had anything to do with God, and that God wanted whatever he wanted. Sumu-abum’s thrice-grand-child unlocked the secret of glorious rule, and his fourthly-grand-child ignored it to satisfy his own desires. The year uprisings against Hammurabi’s crueler heir began. Sarai knew there was to be no promise for the future except danger. Nimrod’s hatred of women still rang in the ears of men, so she also knew she would need a man to take her away from the unrest.