The term â€˜shaâ€™ (burn) can be traced to ancient Mesopotamian times. Indeed, the term appears in two basic forms in many of their ancient texts: as sha and cha. This does not mean that they necessarily originated there.
What it means is that since Sumerian is the earliest known written language, this is where their earliest documented form can be traced to. Indeed, even today, the Tswana language prefers sha while the Sotho language goes with cha for the verb ‘burn’.
In Setswana, a further variation is discernible in the term ‘sa’. Bo-sa (early morning) is when the sun begins to “burn” in the sky. Here, the ‘sh’ and ‘s’ help in distinguishing related morphemes arising from semantic shifts. It can also be a matter of dialect: for instance some Barolong (Tswana) and Pedi (Northern Sotho) tribes may pronounce wickedness or distaste as “boshula”’ while the Tswana tribes of Bangwaketse and Bahurutshe would say “bosula” (the now-standardised spelling).
Similarly, the ancient Sumerians (who populated the area now known as Iraq) employed the term Sar for their period of 3600 years, while the Babylonians – a related culture also based in Sumer that later dominated the region – referred to their own ‘counted period’ as a Shar: 2160 years. (Without digressing too much, the frequent use of this number in Daniel’s biblical prophecy, viz. “a time (360 days), times (2 x 360), and half a time (180 days)” – and later in Revelation, which “unsealed” the “sealed book of Daniel”, demonstrates the deep influence and impact of the Babylonian culture on the Jews that were in captivity there.)
The Hebrew (or Semitic) language is often associated with the Akkadian language – the Babylonian language that evolved out of Akkad/Agade, the nerve centre of their volatile and multi-faceted goddess and Warrior Queen Inanna (called “Ishtar” in Semitic terms). Agade was mysteriously wiped from the face of the earth around 2800 BC with little archaeological trace, and a close reading of the ancient texts indicates that nuclear weapons were utilised. Indeed, in a 1979 excavation of the devastated cities of Mohenjo Daro and Harrapa – cities associated with Inanna – David Davenport and Etorre Vincenti marvelled at the way pottery was fused together at temperatures only a nuclear blast could generate, and skeletal remains were only found away from the centre of a discernible blast area (see also the ancient Mahabharata account of “an unknown weapon, an iron thunderbolt…that [blazed with the heat and light] of ten thousand suns”). I have of course recounted in other articles what angered the gods so much about Inanna for them to resort to this.
This brings me to an important point regarding the term sha. “Forbidden Archaeology” – a term coined by author Michael Cremo – shows that ultra-sophisticated items are occasionally unearthed in rock strata 300 million years and more. This points to an ancient but secretive race of people that are surely what the ancients referred to as ‘gods’. Indeed, a space rocket sculpture complete with a rib-suited astronaut, carved out of hardened volcanic ash, and so astonishingly accurate and modern-looking that Turkish History Museum authorities at first thought that it was a hoax, was unearthed in an archaeological excavation of a 2500-year old site in Turkey. It is now exhibited at the museum.
That, no doubt, is hard, tangible evidence of what Hebrews referred to as a shem. The name is mistakenly (or deliberately) misinterpreted to basically mean “a group oath of intention [that aims to create a name for the group]” whereas this, as we will soon show, was a secondary – perhaps even semantic – meaning or derivation of sha-m: ‘fiery ones’. In Setswana syntax this would be me-sha, but Hebrew places the noun-pointer at the end and thus ma-Eloi (the gods) is Eloi-m(a) – now Elohim – in Hebrew syntax. As such, I have now clearly associated ‘shem’ with ‘burning’. A semantic shift, I can discern, resulted from the use of ‘fire’ as a metaphor for ‘an intense will or intention’, which is why such is often called ‘a burning’. Thus, even in Arabic – another Semitic language – sha is ‘will’, hence the well-known phrase in sha Allah (by the will of God). The secondary meaning was thus ‘an intense will’, not ‘a name’: the latter was simply the reason or motive for the intention, not the intention itself.
A primordial understanding of the term enables us to figure out that when the god Marduk’s subjects in Babylon (which was in Shin’ar – the biblical term for Sumer) began to build a shem for themselves, in actual terms they were attempting to construct a launch tower for a rocket! This was “a tower to reach [i.e. assist in reaching] the heavens” – not a “skyscraper” as is commonly misinterpreted. They had not the technology to construct a shem itself, of course – this was the sole privilege of the gods – but it was a worrisome effort that disconcerted the gods (see Genesis 11:6-9). Reading between the lines, I have deciphered that the gods did not in fact have to do anything. Upon reaching a certain critical height, the tower fell over to the ground on its own, much to their amusement. This, I discern, led to the ancient root of ‘sham’ – a shoddy parody of the real thing – and to ‘shame’, a humiliation which, in people of pale complexion, results in a blush: a “burning” of the cheeks or entire face.
It is indeed plausible that this is when the gods decided to scramble language – as obliquely confirmed by the Lord of Aratta when, in the text Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, he slyly blamed the “recent” Babel incident for now “not understanding” the demands of Enmerkar, the historically-attested king of Uruk (Erech), in Sumer. As this was a tense diplomatic situation, we can be sure that Aratta could not have used the incident as an excuse if it had not indeed occurred. Next week, we look at the proto-term ‘cha’ and its direct use in Sotho, English, Italian, and in the Hebrew bible.
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