The Babylonians were a group of people that lived in the wealthiest city, Babylon. The riches of Babylon were the results of the wisdom of its people. Its very name conjures visions of wealth and splendour. Rich treasures of gold and jewels filled the streets and shops of Babylon.
One of the most outstanding wonders of Babylon is the immense wall surrounding the city. The exact height of these walls is unknown, but it is estimated that they were about 150 feet high.
That is equivalent to a modern 15-storey office building. The walls were further protected by a deep moat of water that surrounds the city. Ambitious kings and conquerors have coveted the treasures of Babylon and laid siege to the wealthy city, but their efforts always end up in vain.
In Babylon, the one that ranked in importance is the Palace of the King, the Hanging Gardens and the temples of the Gods. The Hanging Gardens is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It is the topmost picture you see on this website.
It is made of high stone terraces and they were sloped upwards like an ancient theatre. A wide variety of plant species, shrubs and vines decorated the ascending series of tiered gardens. There were stone pathways, gushing waterfalls and rich foliage that canvased the landscape of Babylon.
Temple of Learning
There were no schools or colleges in the past. But there is a center of learning and it was a very practical one. This building is called the Temple of Learning.
Wisdom of the past was expounded by voluntary teachers and subjects of popular interests were discussed in open forums. Within the walls of the Temple of Learning, all men were treated as equals. The humblest of slaves could dispute with impunity the opinions of a prince from a royal house.
All men, young and old, will gather around with small colourful rugs spread upon the floor in a semi-circle. Different halls can be found in the Temple of Learning and each hosts a different subject for discussion and debate.
The Temple of Learning is our subscription page, the one you see on your right.
Where is Babylon now?
Unfortunately, the beautiful city of Babylon does not exist anymore. It has become a barren land and a deserted ruin. The towering walls of Babylon had disintegrated into a heap of dirt and earthly soils. Gone are the fertile fields, mammoth cities and the long caravans of rich merchandise.
The eons of time have crumbled to dust the proud walls of its temples, but the wisdom of Babylon endures.
How did The Babylonians begin?
After reading the book “The Richest Man in Babylon”, I was inspired by the stories and I love how lessons of investing are being told in an ancient civilization setting. I am always fascinated with those ancient structures, ruins, gods and would always imagine how life is like back then.
The book started out saying money is governed today by the same laws which controlled it when prosperous men thronged the streets of Babylon, 6,000 years ago. Just like the laws of gravity, money has its own laws. Money is plentiful for those who understand the simple laws that govern its acquisition.
The characters depicted in the book would relate to many of our individual’s experience with money. For example, Bansir the chariot builder and Kobbi the musician worked diligently and honestly to the best of their abilities. One wanted to build the best chariots while the other wanted to become the most skilful lyre player in the world.
Bansir and Kobbi dreamed to be a man of means, to own lands and cattle, to travel distant lands and wear fine robes. But all they do is just work, work, work year after year. Even though they excelled in their work, nothing seemed to happen and it is just like an endless pit.
Why are they not rich? I too ask the same question. Is it even possible for a normal person on the street to escape the rat race and become financially free? If it is, why are there only a few people who did it? And if it isn’t, how do we escape?
Bansir and Kobbi decided to consult the richest man in Babylon to seek answers on the secrets to acquiring wealth. I was also interested in the pursuit of their question, so I joined them.
The Richest Man in Babylon
The richest man in Babylon is Arkad.
Bansir and Kobbi were childhood friends with Arkad. They grew up together, studied together under the same master, played together, and Arkad was no smarter or more hardworking than any of them. But why only Arkad gets to enjoy all the finer things in life? Does the Goddess of Luck favour Arkad over the others?
Thereupon Arkad remonstrated saying that “If you have not acquired more than a bare existence in the years since we were youths, it is because you either have failed to learn the laws that govern the building of wealth or else you do not observe them.”
What is this law that Arkad was talking about? Is there a law that, if followed, can bring us to the path road to riches? According to Arkad, there is. And the same law that works in ancient times works exactly the same as in our modern world today.
So how did the city of Babylon became rich?
7 Cures for a Lean Purse
When the king, Sargon, returned to Babylon after defeating his enemies, he was confronted with a serious situation. After the completion of building the great irrigation canals and the mighty temples of the Gods, labourers are left without employment. Poverty is on the rise, merchants have few customers and people do not have enough gold to buy food.
This is when the King made the decree to summon Arkad to his palace the following day. He wanted Babylon to be the wealthiest city in the world. It must be a city of many wealthy men and we must teach people how to acquire riches.
“Is it true thou art the richest man in Babylon?” Tell me, Arkad, is there any secret to acquiring wealth? Can it be taught? “It is practical, your majesty. That which one man knows can be taught to others.” Replied, Arkad.
And so the Chancellor arranged for a class of 100 men for Arkad to teach them the seven cures which fatten thy purse. These 100 men will go on to teach others and so on. It is the king’s desire that the Babylonians will all become masters of financiers.
Together with Bansir and Kobbi, we were part of these 100 men and I went to the great hall of the Temple of Learning to attend Arkad’s teachings. We assembled before him and he sat beside a small taboret upon which smoked a sacred lamp sending forth a strange pleasing odour.
I would share some of the interesting lessons I have learnt at the Temple of Learning.
1. Start Thy Purse to Fattening
This is the first step leading to the temple of wealth. When Arkad was a humble clay tablet scriber, he met Algamish who is a very rich man and he told him this:
“Mark you well my words, for if you do not you will fail to grasp the truth that I will tell you, and you will think that your night’s work has been in vain.” In a low, forceful tone, Algamish began, “I found the road to wealth when I decided that a part of all I earned was mine to keep. And so will you.”
It doesn’t matter the trades and labours at which men may earn the coins. Whether the stream of coins, large or small, keep one-tenth of your earnings for yourself.
It is a law of the Gods that unto him who keepeth and spendeth not a certain part of all his earnings, shall gold come more easily.
2. Control Thy Expenditures
It doesn’t matter how much you earn, the necessary expenses will always grow to equal our incomes unless we protest to the contrary. Budget thy expenditures and touch not the one-tenth that is fattening thy purse.
“Which desirest thou the most? The immediate gratification of desires that are quickly gone and forgotten (food, jewels & clothes) or the substantial belongings that stays with you for life (herds, investments and lands).”
3. Make Thy Gold Multiply
On the third day of his sharing, we have learnt how to save one-tenth of our income and budget our expenditures. Without doing anything, our lean purse is already fattening from the savings.
While gold is gratifying to hold, it earns nothing and does nothing. The gold we retained from our earnings is just the starting point to build our fortunes. How do we put our gold to work and let it multiply for us?
The answer is through investments and that’s why I focus more on dividend investing.
Arkad told the group that a man’s wealth is not the coins he carries in his purse but the income he buildeth, the golden stream that continually floweth into his purse and keepeth it always bulging.
He recounted the words of Algamish, “Every gold piece you save is a slave to work for you. Every copper it earns is its child that also can earn for you.”
So build a hoard of golden slaves, each labouring and earning more gold. As they laboured for me, so their children also laboured and their children’s children until great was the income from their combined efforts.
This is the power of compounding interest.
4. Guard Thy Treasures from Loss
Gold in a man’s purse must be guarded with firmness, else it is lost. We must first prove that we can secure small amounts and protect them before God is willing to entrust us with larger amount.
The first principle of investing is security. When Arkad first started out, he made the mistake of passing his money to a brickmaker to invest in rare jewels. He lost all his money as the brickmaker knows nothing about jewels.
This story reminded me of my ventures into crypto. As mentioned in my previous post, everyone who first started out makes such folly mistakes. Arkad advised not to be too overconfident of thine own wisdom and ignore the pitfalls of investments.
5. Make of Thy Dwelling a Profitable Investment
If 90% of our earnings can be turned into a profitable investment, then the path road to riches can be achieved even earlier.
At some point in time, many men of Babylon will start raising their families. They have to pay rentals to the landlord for a house. This rental is the necessary expenses which formed part of the 90%.
But if we can take a loan and buy a house, the fixed rental we paid to the landlord would now turn to interest payments to the moneylender. Eventually, the payment would be lower as thy indebtedness to the moneylender decreases.
At the end of the repayments, the valuable property will belong to you and thy only cost will be the king’s taxes.
Own thy home.
6. Insure a Future Income
On the sixth day, Arkad addressed the class saying that as one learns to understand the laws of wealth and acquireth a growing surplus, thought must be given to those future days when unexpected events could occur.
No man can afford not to insure a treasure for his old age and the protection of his family, no matter how prosperous his business and his investments may be.
Provide in advance for the needs of thy growing age and the protection of thy family.
In simple words, buy insurance and get adequately covered.
7. Increase thy ability to earn
On the last day, Arkad talks about self. Preceeding accomplishment must be desire. Thy desires must be strong and definite. General desires are but weak longings. Wishing to be rich is of little purpose and a man should set clear tangible desires to his fulfilments.
Desires should be clear, simple and definite. Do not have too many of them else you get confused. Start small, and once you have proven your capabilities to achieve it, larger ones will come your way. This is the process by which wealth is accumulated.
The more of wisdom we know, the more we may earn. Perfect your craft and seek greater skill to better serve those upon whose patronage you depend. Do not stand still for you will be left behind.
As you become more valuable and skilful, your ability to earn would also increase.
These are the 7 cures for a lean purse. As per the king’s decree to teach every man in Babylon to be rich, Arkad taught it to the 100 people that came to the Temple of Learning. They applied the teachings and became rich, they imparted Arkad’s wisdom to their friends and friends of friends and so on.
On the first page and the first sentence of the book, it states that our prosperity as a nation depends upon the personal financial prosperity of each of us as individuals. If everyone in the country is rich, it is certain that the country will also become rich.
And so the word spreads, the Babylonians became wiser with managing their finances, they got wealthy and that is how Babylon became the richest city in the world.
The Story of Arkad’s Son, Nomasir
In Babylon, it is a custom that the sons of wealthy fathers lived with their parents in expectation of inheriting the estate. However, Arkad disapproves of this custom and wants his son, Nomasir, to prove that he is capable of handling money.
Arkad gave Nomasir two things.
- A bag of gold
- A clay tablet which is carved the 5 laws of gold
He was given 10 years to build his wealth and prove himself worthy.
“Ten years from this day come thou back to the house of thy father and give account of thyself.” If thou prove worthy, then I will make thee the heir to my estate. Else, I would give it to the priests that they may barter for his soul the kind consideration of the gods.”
With the bag of gold, the clay tablet which was carefully wrapped in silken cloth, his slaves and the horses they rode, Nomasir went forth to make his own way.
Losing Gold – Part 1
He went to Nineveh as it was a growing city. He sought out for opportunities and he joined a caravan. Nomasir made friends with a few people in the group.
The friends told Nomasir that there is an owner in Nineveh who was so confident that no one could beat his horse in speed. He is willing to wager any sum that no horse could outspeed his. The friends told Nomasir that he is over exaggerating and any horse could easily beat his. It is easy money.
Nomasir joined in the wager and their horse was badly beaten. He lost most of his gold and later discovered that it was actually a deceitful plan. The friends whom he met were actually partners with the owner and they would share the bets he won.
Losing Gold – Part 2
Soon after Nomasir learnt of another bitter lesson in his journey. He met the son of a wealthy parent who is also heading towards Nineveh to search for opportunities.
The young man told Nomasir that there was a merchant who recently died and his shop with its rich merchandise and patronage could be secured at a paltry price.
He suggested an equal partnership but asked Nomasir to invest his gold first. This is because he has to return to Babylon for capital and he said that his gold would be used for later ventures in the business.
However, his trip to Babylon was long and delayed. Before he even returned from Babylon, the merchandise had already deteriorated in value and the goods became unsalable. There was also no more gold to buy other goods. Nomasir later sold it to an Israelite for a pitiful sum.
After losing the entire bag of gold, Nomasir had to sell his horses, his slaves and his fine robes so that he has food and shelter. In those bitter days, he suddenly remembered the clay tablet which was carved the five laws of gold. Had he read it earlier, his gold would not have been lost.
The 5 Laws of Gold
These are the 5 laws of gold written by Arkad.
To him who is without knowledge of the five laws, gold comes not often, and goeth away quickly. But to him who abide by the five laws, gold comes and works as his dutiful slave.
It is interesting to see how both Arkad and Nomasir both made mistakes with their money when they first started out. Arkad lost his gold by giving it to a bronze maker who knows nothing about gold and Nomasir lost his gold to a plotted scam and a failed business venture. I too lost money in crypto because of my greed and ignorance.
Had I abided by the five laws of gold, money wouldn’t have goeth away so quickly. But as I have mentioned in my previous post, it seems that God gave us mistakes and lessons in life so that we may learn and grow.
Both Arkad and Nomasir have learnt their lessons and they guarded their gold even more cautiously than before. Ever since, they went on to make profitable investments and the compounding returns grew exponentially in the long run.
Why The Babylonians?
The Babylonians were the richest people because they know the laws that govern wealth. So the first thought that came to my mind is to name the website, The Babylonians.
I wanted a name that is unique, one-of-a-kind, meaningful and has a story behind it.
As I read about the story of Nomasir, I can imagine myself being him. When Arkad gave his son a timeframe of 10 years to prove himself, I too also decided that 10 years is a good timeframe for me to see how far I can go financially.
As I read about the story of Bansir and Kobbi, I can also imagine myself being like them, a normal hard working person with no special skills and talents. Year after year, just working and dreaming of the rich lifestyle, but never achieving it.
Eventually, everyone in Babylon became rich after following Arkad’s 7 cures of a lean purse and the 5 laws of gold. If Bansir and Kobbi can do it, then is it fair to say that wealth is a science that can be attainable by practical means?
If I can attain the equivalent wealth of a rich merchant in Babylon within 10 years, then the laws of wealth I learnt at the Temple of Learning can be said to be empirically tested and proven to be true.
In a way, I am conducting an experiment and I am the testing subject of this game. Anyways, money is a game and it is God’s desire that we win this game.
On the last day at the Temple of Learning, Arkad ended off saying:
“There is more gold in Babylon, my students, than thou dreamest of. There is abundance for all. Go thou forth and practice these truths that thou mayest prosper and grow wealthy, as is thy right.”