nothing recedes like progress.

–e. e. cummings

Genesis, Chapter 10

Generations

The survivors of Noah grew in number, feeding off the land. Noah’s friends and children lived on with the bitterness she held at the end.

Humans spread from Africa across the world, following their ancient kin. The climate continued to change, and the once vast savannas of the Sahara turned into endless dunes. The desperation for food prompted new developments.

They found fertile river valleys to grow food, and larger numbers of people were able to live together. They showed the water new places to flow. They made the land give more than it wanted.

They used Noah’s law as an excuse for blood vengeance for any harm and slight.

Two angels watched the human generations wash over the land, like a dark grey sea with lighting in their eyes.

“They grow smarter and crueler. Doesn’t it seem Her plan to eradicate wickedness has failed?” one angel said.

“Your weakness is questions,” said the second.

The humans began to fight over land. Camps demanded blood in exchange for land from nomads. Larger camps demanded resources from smaller ones. They improved upon Cain’s Dagger.

“Each generation invents new tortures, worse than the previous,” the first angel pointed out.

“Your weakness is love,” said the second.

They began to invent buildings and walls, and even more weapons to conquer them. They returned life to the soil almost as quickly as they took it.

“They are lost without Her. They are going to destroy themselves!” the first angel stood, enraged.

“Your weakness is compassion,” said the second. “He does not love them any more than He loves you. You’ve listened to their lies. They tell each other they are special. They only glorify themselves, claiming to glorify God. They will never understand Him like we can.”

Darkness settled over the land. One angel flew away.

Hunters Hunted

Among the settlements arose a powerful and violent man. He had mastered all the cruelties and tortures yet invented. None in the area could oppose him. He soon realized his power, and began to use his might to take rights. He hunted humans to increase his power. He hunted camps and made them his own. He invented the first Empire.

Many rose up against him. He made examples of them. He sowed fear among those with less conviction, and such fear can tear families apart.

He invented a prison to hold them. He invented manacles to chain them. Taking land was not enough. He took their minds, their love, their bodies, their happiness. He took everything he could. And the ones who would not give him everything, especially ones who refused to give him their soul, he slowly and painfully took everything they held dear until they believed their souls were worth nothing.

He gave wealth to those who could be ruled by greed. This might seem like a lessening of his power, but those swayed by such things strengthened him more than the power it took. He used their example to create an illusion of prosperity by his hand, which brought him more power, begging and kissing his feet. The greedy bowed before him, they tortured and enslaved for him, they traded happiness and virtue for luxury and comfort because of him. His grasp grew and the multitudes suffered. Together with his lackeys they build the largest settlement anyone had ever seen.

City, for it was the first of its kind, was a new place. A place where people came to seek wealth from other people, a place where nothing much could grow except the ways humans could devise to worked together. Had this hunter of humans known, he might have ceased his power seeking. It is the fate of all seekers of power to plant the seeds of their own destruction, even as they strive to sweep them away.

Legacy of Power

City was the only thing that lasted, and the second and only other thing he could love because it protected his power. He saw how dangerous the world could be. He lived a hard life. He saw the danger that existed in the world. He survived the cruelty. This made him so afraid, he could not see anything else. He learned how to put his fear into the heart of another.

He loved power, first and foremost because it protected him from this fear. He loved power so much he could not abide anyone else to have it. Noah’s children called him names, which all meant demon, devil, and unholy, but the names did not help their fear. Soon many of their fears were his fears.

We don’t know his actual name. He did not write. He did not see any need for people to think anything of him other than fear of his power. History, art, self-reflection, philosophy, laws, temples, even kindness is the enemy of his singular, selfish power to make everyone obey him.

Unlike so many rulers since, who claim to lust for security instead, who collect power while pretending they do not want it, or who erect temples or libraries or charities to try and change the history of their name — unlike them, he vowed to be honest above all. He did not care to shape his legacy through lies. He learned how to put his fear into the heart of another. He knew no matter what he did, his death would put an end to his own power, and so every fight was one to the death. He did not waste power deluding himself that immortality was within his grasp, although he lived as though it were. Death would rob him of all power, and so anything that happened after was of no concern. The children, the families, and the other broken things he left behind his terrible wake were a problem for the living.

He hated everything that did not bring him power. He was, with certainty, the most powerful man to ever live. Still, he had less power than woman, and he hated all women for that truth. He cared for nothing else. He kept nothing else.

We only know what those who remembered his terrible rule and lusts for power. They called him Nimrod. The next chapter is his story.

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