________________________________ | | | IV. THE EGYPTIAN EMPIRE | | pprox. 2100 B.C. to 1491 B.C.) | |________________________________|
Egypt, with its capital at Memphis, was the first great world empire to arise after the Flood. The Egyptian word "ham," means "black," and the Bible calls Egypt "the Land of Ham." Ham, as you recall, was one of the three sons of Noah. The Bible also tells us that in the early days after the Flood, Ham committed a sin against Noah, while Noah was drunk. As a result, Noah cursed [Ham's son, Canaan], saying that they [the Canaanites] would be, "the servants of servants." History, however, tells us that it was the descendants of Ham who helped establish the first great world power. ?ESo the Egyptians became the masters of the world and soon made the Children of Israel their slaves and servants. It was this mistake, however, that eventually caused the rather sudden collapse and fall of Egypt.
Mizraim (Menes), the son of Ham was the first king of Egypt. "The Flood, according to the Bible occurred about 2500 B.C., and Egypt began to flourish sometime after this date." It is also quite possible that there had been people settled in Egypt before the Flood as well.
"The Word of the Lord came unto Abraham in a vision, saying, fear not, Abraham: I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward. ... Look now towards heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them. ... So shall thy seed be ... and he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it ... from the great river of Egypt unto ... the river Euphrates. ... And he believed the Lord, and (the Lord) counted it to him for righteousness.
" ...And he said unto Abraham. Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years. And also that nation, who they shall serve, will judge: and afterwards shall they come out with great substance." (Selections from the Book of Genesis) "Abraham was such a man of faith, so empowered by God, so anointed with his vision that he obeyed and moved in God's direction and got things started even thought he never got to see the fulfillment of these promises."
"Abraham, a Shemite, was the father of Isaac and grandfather of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel ... who thereby became the father of the Children of Israel later nicknamed "Jews" by the Babylonians because their leading tribe was Judah. ... The Arabs descended from Ishmael, the son of Abraham by an Egyptian woman named Hagar ... and spread across both Asia and Africa as they are today in twelve major Arab nations." Early history makes a few references to Abraham, and it seems that he had some influence on the Egyptians in the early days of their Empire.
Here is one historical account taken from the historian, Flavius Josephus, who wrote, The Antiquity of the Jews, a little after the time of Jesus:
"In the tenth generation after the flood, there was among the Chaldeans a man righteous and great, and skilled in the celestial science..." (Berosus, Ancient Babylonian Historian):
"If these bodies (the sun, the moon, and the stars) had power of their own, they would certainly take care of their own regular motions; but since they do not ... they make it plain ... they are subservient to Him that commands them; to whom alone we ought justly to offer our honor and thanks giving," (supposedly a quotation from Abraham himself.)
"For which doctrine (believing in one God and opposing the Sun and Moon worship of the people in and around the city of Ur) when the Chaldeans and other people of Mesopotamia raised a turmult against him, he thought fit to leave that country; and at the command, and by the assistance of God, he came and lived in the land of Canaan.
"Now, after this, when a famine had involved the land of Canaan, and Abram had discovered that the Egyptians were in a flourishing condition, he was disposed to go down to them. ...
"[Pharaoh] also made him a large present in money, and gave him leave to enter into conversation with the most learned among the Egyptians. ... [Abraham] was admired by them in those conferences as a very wise man. ... He communicated to them arithmetic, and delivered to them the science of astronomy, for, before Abram came into Egypt, they were unacquainted with those parts of learning; for that science came from the Chaldeans into Egypt, and from thence to the Greeks also." (Excerpts from Flavius Josephus (A.D. 37 to 100, Jewish Historian, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 1, Chpt. 7, Para. 1 and Chpt. 8, Paras. 1 and 2.)
The Egyptians were learned in all wisdom, good and bad. They also practised supernatural magic, so much so that by the time of Moses, black magic as it is called, was rampant in Egypt. Pharaoh's magicians were able to do very many feats. They could do miracles of God. In the Bible, God turned Aaron's rod into a serpent but the magicians of Pharaoh did the same feat with their rods. However, God's snake was more powerful and gobbled up the serpents of the magicians. Pharaoh was little impressed and looked lightly upon the incident and only when the plagues of God nearly ruined Egypt and his own son died, did he let Moses and the Hebrews leave.
The Egyptians worshipped the Nile river, the sun, cats and as many as 2000 other strange gods. "The Sphinx is sort of a symbol of Egypt. I guess that huge Sphinx in Egypt must be one of the world's largest statues! Egyptians, of course, used to worship it. They used to worship the cat--the cat-god." The Sphinx goddess would tell riddles to her victims and then strangle them when they could not answer her correctly. "That's where we get the word `sphincter', for muscles that close body openings!"
"The Phoenix was a very unusual and supposedly mythological spirit being with the form of a fabulously beautiful large scarlet and gold-coloured bird." "In Egyptian religion, the Phoenix was the soul of Osiris ... God of all nature and the life-giving Nile, ruler of the spirit world, lord of resurrection and new life, the best, greatest and most beneficient of all Egyptian gods! His wife became the virgin Isis...who introduces the departed spirits to Osiris in their second life in the spirit would. " [The Phoenix] appears throughout the religions of the Orient ... but is particularly associated with Egypt and the Arabs, especially the sun worship of ancient Egypt, whose principal magnificent temple was at Heliopolis, near Cairo." "The Phoenix was also symbolic of the eternal spirit which cannot be destroyed, but, despite seeming death, shall always rise again. ... It's presence was considered a blessing, but its departure was a warning of impending doom!"
"I am convinced ... that many of these ancient mythological characters, events and religions had some original basis in actual facts, spiritual personalities and past battles, struggles and occurrences in the spirit world. ... In the process of time and through lack of specific recording, or the loss of written recording, or the loss of written records, some of these accounts have became considerably contorted, distorted and embellished by word of mouth into some of the odd tales which we have in mythology today."
400 years before the fall of Egypt, the Patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, and delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, King of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. When a famine forced his father Jacob and his brothers to move to Egypt, Pharaoh gave them the very best land in all of Egypt--the Nile delta, the land of Goshen--for all their flocks and cattle.
And so "God used the Pharaohs of Egypt to protect and provide for them for over four hundred years--to give them time to grow in numbers from some seventy souls to nearly seven million, and to learn all the wisdom and skills of Egypt." "However, the Children of Israel got so numerous there in Egypt that the land was not able to to hold them. The Egyptians began to get worried about them because they were beginning to outnumber the Egyptians." "Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we."
So "there arose in Egypt a Pharaoh that knew not Joseph, a ruler who was no friend of the Israelites, and he began to persecute them and to oppress them and to lay heavy burdens upon them that they could not bear--they built for Pharaoh the treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses--until they began to cry out to God for help!"
"[Egypt] was not the country that God had promised to Abraham. ... That land belonged to the Egyptians." "God hadn't promised them Egypt!--He'd promised them Israel! ... They didn't belong in Egypt." "They weren't about to begin to want to expand of their own free will and accord! They hadn't the faintest notion to want to start hiking across hundreds of miles of Sinai couldn't care less about!" "So what did God do? ... He stirred up persecution, pressure, judgement, criticism, and all the rest." He made it so hard for them that they had to leave!
The Egyptians made a law saying, "Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river"--all the male babies were to be thrown to the crocodiles in the Nile River! "Moses' mother obeyed the Egyptian laws and cast her newborn son into the Nile, but in a drifting basket to be found by Pharaoh's daughter and reared ... as Pharaoh's own son!"
"When Moses was grown, he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens." "Moses was a real smart young man, 40 years of age, and really thought he knew how to do the job, but he made a helluva mess out of it." He killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave, and had to flee for his life and live for forty years in the wilderness caring for his father-in-law's sheep. That would seem like a terrible setback to the Cause and the deliverance of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt, but it was necessary that Moses go into exile to learn the lessons that God had to teach him to make him the man he needed to be to make him the man he needed to be to deliver his people. A man totally dependent on God--not himself. "Moses had to learn that it couldn't be Moses."
"There [was] Moses sitting alone and dejected on the semi-desert mountainside watching a mere flock of little sheep and wondering why he [couldn't] be out saving his people from the slavery of Egypt, and feeling like such a failure after 80 years of nothingness and seeming to be further from his goal than ever, now just a shepherd when he could have been Pharaoh! What a picture of defeat with only a wooden rod instead of a golden sceptre! ... 'What is that in thy hand?' God said to Moses while alone in the wilderness tending his tiny lambs! ... In effect Moses answered, 'Only an old wooden rod Lord, only a poor old shepherd's crook and a few dumb sheep in the wilderness of a strange land amongst strangers! ... I guess I've really failed because now you can't trust me with any thing but a few dumb sheep and no more authority than this old wooden rod and I've failed to save thy people, and now it's too late!'"
"Then God lit [Moses'] fuse--and he exploded in such a blaze of glory that six million children of God were liberated, and the laws of the lands of the world were enlightened by God's voice through him; thought he never got to see the complete fulfillment of God's children totally possessing the promised Land. ... This explosion of the first Moses and the children of God has echoed around the world never since, and is still a powerful sample to us, their spiritual counterparts, to this very day!"
Why did Egypt, the first great world Empire come to the end of its glory about 1500 B.C.? What event broke the power of Egypt? "What happened to Egypt and Pharaoh, and Pharaoh's army, and all his weapons, and all his chariots, and all of his horses, and all of his soldiers, and all of his captains and all of his officers, and virtually all of the major manpower and military power and even material wealth of Egypt? They were buried beneath the flood waters of the Red Sea! ... The power of Egypt was broken by God and God's man, Moses, at the exodus!" "The slaves ... stripped their masters of their wealth and fled across the Red Sea into the wilderness." "Moses himself pretended to borrow the wealth of Egypt for a temporary pilgrimage into for good with ... Egypt's gold, silver jewels and six million slaves."
When Moses moved out of Egypt with six million people it was an example to the world. The world heard about them, and they survived by their cohesiveness, their unity, and their resulting growth in strength and power. Otherwise the world would have clobbered them and wiped them out. However it was "the younger generation of Israel who had the faith to go in and take the Promised Land away from the giants at the border of Kadesh Barnea. ... The older Jews had refused to believe God and preferred to wander another 40 years in the wilderness to their deaths, so that only their children were finally permitted to enter into the Promised Land." "Their hour finally came, when they exploded out of the borders of the heathen and stepped across the Jordan by faith on that fateful day of decision--and blew the heathen out of God's possession." "Joshua and Caleb, the only remaining ones of that older generation--the only ones left with enough faith--led the possession of the land with the faithful younger generation.
_______________________________ | | | V. THE ASSYRIAN EMPIRE | | Approx. 1100 B.C. to 606 B.C. | |_________________________ _____|
The second great world power didn't just immediately, upon the destruction of Egypt, declare itself the top world power! It took many years, even hundreds of years, before the Assyrians became the dominant and ruling power. Civilization, as you recall, had originated in the Fertile Crescent, at the Garden of Eden, somewhere in the Euphrates-Tigris valley; and civilization resumed there after the flood. Many cities were built right on top of the ruins of the cities that had been there before the Flood. Nimrod, "the mighty hunter" mentioned in Genesis 10:9, a grandson of Ham, is credited with having founded four cities and also was very instrumental in building the Tower of Babel.
It seems that Nineveh also was founded in those early days after the Flood by migrants from Babylon who journeyed north along the Tigris River and built on the east side of the river. The land of Assyria gets its names from Asshur, one of the sons of Shem, who settled in that part of the world. The Babylonians in the south continually tried to exercise control and influence over Assyria. In fact, there were many cities in the Fertile Crescent in those days: Ebla, Ur, Kish, Erech, Accad (Sippor), Nippur, Larsa, Susa, and Lara. These cities were all trying to extend their own rule and power over the others. This struggle seems to have prevented any one city from getting powerful enough to rule the world, although several tried. So it was the far off kingdom of Egypt, protected by sea and desert, that grew sufficiently in size, wealth, and power, to conquer the world of its day.
Until recently, the actual site of Nineveh was lost and forgotten. Moses mentioned Assyria in Genesis 2:14 and elsewhere, so it must have been recognised as a Kingdom in his day (about 1500 B.C.) The famous prophet Jonah went to Nineveh and preached the Word of the Lord there. Various dates are given for Jonah, 862 B.C. being one; other scholars feel he lived sometime between 790-749 B.C. during the reign of Jereboam II.
Note: History tells us that on June 15, 763 B.C., there was a total eclipse of the sun visible at Nineveh, from which event the Assyrians based a lot a of their calender dates. It may also have have served to put a little more of the fear of God into them that what Jonah said was true.
"So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three day's journey. (This means it took three days to cross the city!) And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes." (Jonah 3:3-6.)
"...That great city, wherein are more than six-score thousand persons (120,000) ... and also much cattle." (Jonah 4:11.)
In relation to Bible history this was the Period of the Kings, when Judah and Israel were divided. From the fall of Egypt with the Exodus until Assyria became dominant, the Hebrews had been ruled mostly by Judges; almost 400 years of Judges.
Assyria was not yet conquered by the Babylonians at the time that it conquered Israel. The fall of the Northern 10 tribes of Israel to the Assyrians was about 722 B.C. with the fall of Samaria. "And it came to pass in the fourth year of King Hezekiah (King of Judah) which was the seventh year of Hoshea, son of Elah, King of Israel, that Shalmaneser, King of Assyria came up against Samaria and beseiged it. And at the end of three days they took it. ... And the King of Assyria, did carry away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Harbor by the river Gozan, and in the cites of Medes." (2Kings 18:9-11.)
"After these things ... Sennecherih, King of Assyria came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fenced cities, and thought to win them for himself.
"For this cause Hezekiah, the King (of Judah) and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amos, prayed and cried to heaven, And the Lord sent an angel, which cut off the mighty men of valour and the leaders and captains in the camp of the King of Assyria. So he returned shame faced to his own land." (2Chronicles 32:20,21.)
"Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness is come up before me." (Jonah 1:1,2.)
But Nineveh did not get destroyed in 40 days as Jonah had said because the people repented enough for the Lord to let them continue for a couple of hundred years more. But in the end Assyria again became more wicked than "righteous" and the Assyrian Empire fell to the Babylonians with the destruction of Nineveh in 606 B.C. Just before Nineveh fell, however, God gave her a second warning from His prophet Nahum in about 630 B.C.
"And it shall come to pass that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste, who will bemoan her? Whence shall I seek comforters for thee? Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite...Thy shepherds slumber, O King of Assyria: Thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them." (Nahum 3:7,18.)
Nineveh was totally destroyed and the Assyrian Empire fell to the Babylonians. The City was laid to waste and its inhabitants scattered and it never rose again and soon disappeared completely. Three hundred years later Nineveh was all but forgotten and Alexander's army must have marched right over the original site of the city, but he left no mention of it in his records as it had almost passed completely from the memory of men except for the Biblical accounts of it.
________________________________ | | | VI. THE BABYLONIAN EMPIRE. | | Approx. 606 B.C. to 538 B.C. | |_______________________________|
Only Judah remained of the Hebrews, or "Jews" as the Babylonians called them, with their capital city, Jerusalem. Northern Israel had gone into the captivity of the Assyrians. In those last days of Judah (the southern kingdom of Israel) God raised up a prophet called Jeremiah, about 626 B.C., a man of Anathoth, to warn the people. Jeremiah lived about 100 years after Isaiah had saved Judah from the Assyrians when the Lord had sent an angel to destroy the Assyrian army. Jeremiah also tried this time to save Judah from the Babylonians, but he failed. The Jews virtually forced Babylon to conquer them by their violent rebellion against Babylonian world domination. They offended Nebuchadnezzar's ambassadors and dared him to attack!--Which he did, and destroyed them!
God warned the people of Judah not to resist the Babylonians. Jeremiah begged the Jews to even flee the city and join the enemy to save their lives, saying, "Why will ye die, O Jerusalem!" Judah was going to fall to the Babylonians for her sins but Jeremiah went everywhere telling the people that God would temper the judgment and not make it so severe if they would follow His instructions. But they refused. Jeremiah was hung in the stocks before the church door so the people could spit in his face, and he was dropped in the mud to his armpits to die. Fortunately, an Ethiopian friend, Ebed, came secretly and pulled him out. If you were to judge Jeremiah by his success, he was a flat failure, but he was faithful and delivered his soul! His own country branded him a traitor and a criminal, disloyal to his nation and his own people--they claimed that his preaching was helping to destroy Judah, which it was! But Jeremiah stayed loyal to God, and it was God who was destroying Judah for her sins, using her enemies to do it with the help of Jeremiah. God protected Jeremiah during the destruction and had the Babylonians rescue him from prison. "They ... treated him royally, giving him everything he needed, and told him he could live under the Governor's protection...and continue to dwell with his people."
Ezekiel, was a prophet during the Captivity, and was carried to Babylon about 597 B.C. and was there until at least 570 B.C. Daniel also was among those carried away to Babylon.
Why would God let a wicked, pagan, heathen king like Nebuchadnezzar conquer his own people? In fact, Nebuchadnezzar even seemed to think that God was on his side, and God was! It seems that though the people claimed to be God's people and were going through the motions and traditions of believing--yet they were so wicked that they made even the heathen around them ashamed. The Lord said in prophecy, "These people worship me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me!"
The fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. and their captivity in Babylon marked the end of a time when the Jews were a significant nation, a people, and a power in the world until this present day.
"In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, came Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, into Jerusalem, and beseiged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim, king of Judah, into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: (Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the famous temple of King Solomon at that time) ... and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
"And the king spoke unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel ... in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning on knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and to whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. Now among these were the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
"And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, the king inquired of them, he found them better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in the realm. And Daniel continued even unto the first year of King Cyrus." (Daniel 1:1-4,6,20-21)
"And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him." (Daniel 2:1) "Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, was given a dream but had forgotten it. He was troubled by it and said that he was going to kill all his wise men if they couldn't tell him not only the dreams interpretation, but also the dream itself."
"Daniel was a slave in Babylon at the time (about 600 B.C.), and was serving with some fellow Jews as one of the King's wise men. ... They started praying about the matter and God revealed the whole thing to Daniel, both dream and interpretation. The result was the famous prophecy of Daniel, Chapter Two, which is probably the briefest most concise overall picture of the history and future of the world in the entire Bible. This prophetic dream describes five of the great empires of man from ancient Babylon to the final world empire of the Antichrist, which will be destroyed by the Kingdom of God. The dream does not include the first two world governments [which arose after the flood] Egypt and assyria, because they had already passed on at the time of this dream." Ninevah had been destroyed some twenty years before.
The Bible however, makes it very clear that there were to be a total of Seven Great World Empires. In the Book of Revelation by St. John, these Empires are depicted as a seven-headed beast (Revelation 13 and 17). But since Nebuchadnezzar's dream was given to him, the prophecy begins with him, the Third World Empire, as "the head of gold." Daniel also had another vision and saw Babylon represented as a lion with wings, but its wings were plucked. Strangely enough, Nebuchadnezzar himself was abased by God for his pride and became as a beast.
"One of the famous enchantments to wizards and witches was to change a human being into a beast. King Nebuchadnezzar became enchanted this way by God's own wizard, the Prophet Daniel, until the king thought he was an ox, and he was down on all fours eating grass for seven years."
The capital of Babylon was the city of Babylon, built on the Euphrates River. Babylon had great gates of brass, and was modeled in many ways like the heavenly city of the future. It was an impregnable and unconquerable fortress.
Ancient historians said that Babylon's wall was 60 miles around--15 miles on each side, 300 feet high, 80 feet thick, and extending 35 feet below the ground so that enemies could not tunnel under; built of brick 1 foot square and 3 or 4 inches thick.--The wall was protected by wide and deep moats filled with water, 250 towers on the walls. ... The city was divided by the Euphrates into two almost equal parts...The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the seven wonder of the ancient world. "In looking at the ruins, it is hard to realise that here once stood Great Babylon, the city of extravagance and wicked luxury beyond imagination, unsurpassed in the history of the World, now a scene of utter desolation and ruin." (Halley's Bible Handbook, Zondervan.)
Babylon remained an important city during the Medo-Persian Empire. Alexander the Great also planned to restore it to its former glory just before he died, but by 100 A.D. Babylon was no more, only ruins.
"Behold," wrote Isaiah many years before, "I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver, and as for gold, they shall not delight in it. Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children. "And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees excellency, shall be as when God over threw Sodom and Gomorrah." (Isaiah 13:17-19.)
And Jeremiah also added in prophecy, "And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling place for dragons, an astonishment, and a hissing, without inhabitant. In their heat I will make their feasts, and I will make them drunken, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the Lord. ... The nations shall not flow together any more unto him: yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall." (Jeremiah 51:39,44.)
The night that Babylon fell, the ruler Belshazzar was having a great feast when a finger wrote on the wall, "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin." Daniel was now an old man, as he had been in Babylon nearly 70 years. The king called Daniel to interpret the message: "This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. Then commanded Belshazzar, [the king] and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom." (Daniel 5:26-29)
"However despite the hand-writing on the wall, the Babylonians ate, drank, and made merry while the Medes and Persians were crawling under the wall to capture Babylon." That night Belshazzar, the king of the Chaldeans, was slain and Darius the Mede took the kingdom, himself about 62 years old.
The Median army diverted and shallowed the water of the Euphrates flowing under the walls of Babylon, and sent men into the city who swam under the walls with their heads just above the water. These men then ran in and opened the great brass gates and the Medo-Persian Army marched in without any great battle. Daniel was made one of the rulers in the Medo-Persian government over the city of Babylon perhaps because he had foretold the victory of the Medes. A couple of years later Cyrus arrived to be the king of Babylon, about 536 B.C.
Next to Part III of 7000 years of World History -- the rise and fall of the next three Empires: Medo-Persia, Greece, and finally Rome itself.
Back to Part 1 of 7000 years of World History
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