By NELLY FAVIS VILLAFUERTE
Nelly Favis Villafuerte
A few days ago Iranian missiles hit two Iraqi bases hosting US troops. The Iranian missiles were reportedly fired in retaliation for the US killing of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani. The Iranian missiles did not harm any US or Iraqi troops. Some countries, however, reacted and cautioned US and Iran not to escalate conflict and to exercise restraint and restart dialogue.
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One may ask: Does Iraq, which is at the center of the US-Iran tug of war, have any historic and biblical relevance? Is Iraq one of the ancient sites that are part of Biblical prophecy? Iraq is known in the modern world as one of the flourishing centers of Islamic art and culture. It is also a place of religious pilgrimage of our Muslim brothers. But unknown to many, Iraq has a rich cultural herie. The land area now known as modern Iraq is Mesopotamia, the land between the two rivers, Tigris and Euphrates mentioned in the Holy Bible. The Euphrates-Tigris Valley, referred to sometimes as the Mesopotamian plain/region, was called the Fertile Crescent. Mesopotamia is a Greek word that means the land between two rivers. This is where the earth’s earliest people lived. This is where the Bible story begins. This is where many dynasties and empires rose and fell, such as Sumer, Akkad, Assyria, and Babylonia.
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The site of the ancient Mesopotamian capital of Babylon is 55 miles south of modern-day Baghdad the city that began its story with a river in pre-Islamic times. Babylonia was located in what is now southern Iraq. Iraq came to the limelight in modern times during the time of Saddam Hussein. In the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, Babylonia was variously known as Shinar, Akkadia, and Sumer, as well as the Land of the Chaldeans.
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From our recollection of Babylonia in ancient history, we remember the Code of Hammurabi (a collection of the laws and edicts of the Babylonian King Hammurabi and considered the earliest legal code); the legendary Hanging Gardens built by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar for his wife and considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world; and cuneiform symbols which are the earliest writing. Also, the Babylonians were the ones who spanided the day into 24 hours; the hour into 60 minutes; and each minute into 60 seconds. This system of determining time has survived for 4,000 years. The Sumerians, the earliest people of Babylonia also developed sophisticated irrigation systems and other complex agricultural techniques that have improved our agricultural production. No wonder Mesopotamia is known as the Cradle of the Human Race.
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Modern Iraq which is now at the epicenter of world attention was the center of the greatest powers in the ancient world. No wonder Iraq has hundreds of thousands of archeological sites. About 10,000 sites have been identified but only a few have been excavated. Meaning that many of Iraq’s ancient material past still remains buried. If the war in Iraq will push through, archaeologists fear that Babylon’s history will be destroyed and erased with no possibility of being recovered. The archeological sites and artifacts that have been buried for thousands of years will be destroyed. As someone said: “War can destroy more than a people, an army, or a leader. Culture, tradition, and history also lie in the firing line.”
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Because of the Mesopotamia connection, Iraq has indeed a rich national herie and Biblical relevance. The Garden of Eden and the Tower of Babel that are mentioned in the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Holy Bible, are said to have been sited in this land. Ur, identified as the birthplace of Abraham (described in the Book of Genesis as the father of many nations, the father of Ishmael and Isaac) is also located in modern Iraq. During the Persian Gulf War in 1991, one archeological monument – the famous temple-tower known as the Ziggurat of Ur was bombed. There are other biblical archaeological sites in Iraq that are endangered by war. In Baghdad, is located the country’s largest archaeological museum with collections of the finest Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian art in the world.
(To be continued)
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This column continues to give out copies of the Holy Bible for free to those who cannot afford to buy their own copies. If interested, please send your letter-request to Ms. Nelly Favis Villafuerte, 5233 Fahrenheit St., Palanan, Makati City. Kindly mention if it is the Tagalog, English, Cebuano, or Ilocano Bible that is preferred.
Be joyful and forgiving!
(Comments may be sent to Ms. Villafuerte’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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