This brief blog post was some interesting information I came across which is connected to and explores further a few things I mentioned at my first post on this blog at “National Security Alert: Foreign Telescamvangelists, Cults, Sects“. Namely, about the real Bronze Age and Iron Age origins of later Abrahamic religions and their various cosmological views and worldviews, their mutating abstract concepts, primitive behaviorisms, desert blood magic and legends and mythologies etc. Things, evidences and truths that are never mentioned or discussed in front of pews and especially by televangelists to their mesmerized audiences and minions fans.
In this instance just about the earliest evidences that the Jewish tribal Yahweh-Jehovah God is proven to be just religious syncretism fiction and mythologies (not surprisingly and quite common in those lands and times of flat earths, talking animals, world’s best hocus pocus magicians and no internets), but also originally was married, see Yahweh and his Asherah links to find out more. (According to all the known facts and evidences most probably being invented and born into existence and then joining an already existing deities pantheon around the 9th century BCE in ancient Canaan as a local tribal warrior deity/storm god (as well as a volcano god), which explains this post title, although “…For I Don’t Know..”Or Care”..If They Exist” could also apply, because it simply had no interest or clearly didn’t even know anything whatsoever, about any people or nations or anything happening on the planet outside a 250 km radius from Jerusalem, and why would this be?…very simply because from the very start of the stories and fictional narratives it was a completely 100% local ethnocentric tribal deity, that is the facts ipso facto, see included map below)…
…because you have to admit it’s pretty hard to be taken seriously as a god of the world and planet and universe if you only hang and float around and vacation from your throne only in the exact same small area all the time and absolutely nowhere else…ever, and on top of that to strangely show up only occasionally as a puff of smoke in a traveling tent in the desert to mainly require and enjoy the aromas of numerous burnt animals sacrifices, when not smiting Israelites and foreigners back and forth that is. Basically, according to the written texts sources, then the Jesus character’s skydaddy really doesn’t come across as all that impressive, all-wise, all-powerful, all-knowing and definitely not omnipresent, instead he/it comes across much more like a Bronze-Iron Age locally invented tribal genie-deity, which is precisely the case as will be unequivocally shown with evidences.
Yep, surely shocking probably to most pew potatoes who nod and agree about stuff being told and not even knowing who, when, why or where the stuff originates from and most of the time what it even really means and who it was actually really meant for, happy-clappy televangelist supporters and many others who probably think all the biblical stories are actually real history and verified facts, real magical superheroes and real hocus pocus blood magic shenanigans and abstract concepts intended for you the reader and every other person on the planet, because nothing could be further from the truth or more absurd.
Yep, just like the fact that most believers would be shocked to know, such as the fact that the “Satan” character people think they know about today, actually started out as a personality trait of the Yahweh-Jehovah God and as his personal friend helper, then turned into an angel agent who personally works for and carries out punishments and suffering “for” God with his full support, then as a position of authority to be an accuser and adversary of humans as “god’s personal prosecuting attorney”, later he becomes a metaphor and symbolic representation of innate human qualities, and only much later still he is transformed into a powerful separate entity with a powerful kingdom and armies of his own angels who took his side (because the greatest minds and thinkers in history are always in the minority not the majority as the saying goes), having his own vast realms and even authority as Lord of the Earth and visible world (eventually mutated over time and given horns, cloven hooves feet, pointy tail, red face, knobby knees, pointy chin and ears, goatee, bad breath, pitchfork, echoing laugh and sometimes even a nefarious cape etc), the included video below explains more about that. And that even the very first time that Satan appears as a proper noun and an actual separate entity in the OT text during the book of Job fable, he is in fact NOT an enemy but is instead a helper and teammates with the Yahweh-Jehovah deity character because they are in fact both on the same team (the original Hebrew in Job 1:6 makes this unequivocal where Satan is described as clearly being one of the “70 Sons of God”, aka the Divine Council…”Now it fell upon a day, that the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan was among them”, however this is before he was mutated by later anonymous writers, priestly scribes and inventors by starting to grow horns, a tail, pointy ears and cloven hooves feet etc, and used as an integral focal point and important selling point for televangelist’s tax-free faith seed shekels donations and expense accounts especially, and books and DVDs also of course, see also previous post excerpt for shocking detailed proof).
Well, just like that case, most believers would likewise be shocked to know that the “Yahweh” god was already a known worshipped deity by many tribal groups in ancient Canaan going back many centuries long before the new on the scene Israelites came into existence. Actually, a large number of biblical scholars, researchers and archaeologists from over the last century especially agree and have put forward undeniable evidences that the origins of the Israelites is from Canaanite origins, which is really not surprising and today is the majority consensus view even by many Jewish researchers and scholars. The culture of the earliest Israelite settlements in the land of Canaan and their cult-objects are clearly those of the Canaanite god El, also in the Hebrew bible it is the name El (Elyon, Elohim, El Roi, El Shaddai and sometimes Baal and even others) used many times when talking about their god Yahweh-Jehovah, it all points to the very evident and not surprising very common proven process of Canaanite religious syncretism, as well as cultural diffusion.
“El” was the original first god of the Israelites before Yahweh, it is El, the head of the Canaanite pantheon, whose name forms the basis of the name “Israel” which literally means “fighter against god” or “the one who fights/wrestles against god” (and many other names such as Gabri-el, Ezeki-el, Immanu-el, Beth-el, Samu-el, Ishma-el, Michae-el, El-isha, Nethani-el, Haza-el and many other names and words) and none of the Old Testament patriarchs, the tribes of Israel, the Judges, or the earliest monarchs, have a Yahwistic theophoric name (i.e. – one incorporating the name of Yahweh).
Since Israelites were indigenous Canaanites, we know they shared the same culture which would mean the same gods also. In Canaan, the chief god was El. El’s wife was Asherah, and his sons include Ba’al and Anut. The Canaanite pantheon is well-understood from the discovery of the Ugaritic texts which are dated to 1300-1100 BCE (Interestingly, the texts describe a “redemption of the first-born son” practice which was to later be practiced by the Israelites also, aka pidyon haben mitzvah today). The Ugaritic texts also show that the later Paleo-Hebrew alphabet script was indistinguishable from and really just is the Phoenician script alphabet.
Scholarly and archaeological evidences show that Yahweh was originally a god of metallurgy especially in northwest Saudi Arabia (aka Midian), and was introduced to Israel in a five-stage process:
1 -Traditional Polytheism. The earliest Israelites worshipped creator god El, his wife Asherah, and his sons e.g., Baal.
2 – Incorporation. Yahweh was incorporated as a 2nd tier god in El’s pantheon.
3 – Elevation. Yahweh and El are identified as the same deity.
4 – Monolatrism. A new yahweh-only movement emerges, and the gods of the second tier are denied.
5 – Monotheism. Gods of other nations are denied, yahweh’s power is deemed universal in scope.
Exodus 15:3 – Yahweh is a man of war. Yahweh is his name.
A common way the Old Testament writers referred to Yawheh is “YHWH OF “HOSTS”. However the word used for that title is actually “tsaba” which in original context meaning and in translated modern context reading of the text more correctly equates to “armies”.
Isaiah 47:4 – Our Redeemer, Yahweh of Armies is his name, the Holy One of Israel
The fact is that the later Hebrew god name of “Yahweh“, in turn is based on the Tetragrammaton which is a four-letter word transliterated as YHWH. And that Yahweh was also an older name already being used by other deserts pagan religions peoples and it actually was just one of a number of major gods being worshipped in ancient Canaanite religions and throughout the Levant/Middle East, such as the Edomites and Midianites others, but later circa. 9th century BCE the Hebrews decided eventually to start making YHWH their own personal storm god and main personal warrior deity, eventually over time becoming their personal “national god of Israel”.
As mentioned, the oldest occurrence of this name is in the phrase “Shasu of yhw” in an Egyptian inscription from the time of Amenhotep III (1402–1363 BCE), the Shasu referring to the nomads from Midian and Edom in northern Arabia. The current consensus based on the known archaeological and paleographical textual evidences is therefore that Yahweh was a “divine warrior from the southern region from northern Arabia associated with Seir, Edom, Paran and Teman”, and probably introduced by the travellers along the caravan routes from northern Arabia (Edom, Midian and Moab) towards Egypt (Even the OT text unequivocally admits this: Habakkkuk 3:3 – “God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran.”, Deuteronomy 33:2 – “Yahweh…rose from Seir unto them; He shined forth from mount Paran”), which would also largely explain why and when the Israelites decided to follow the Egyptian customs of circumcision, owning slaves and likewise enforcing pork prohibitions also (Although El would have still remained the most popular and supreme chief god of the Israelites and others in the lands of Canaan until the post-exilic period (537 to 430 BCE) as their new program was enforced on people by returned new priestly elites, see also Shasu of YWH and Yahwehism for some more interesting background tidbits).
However, it was a long process that took place over centuries, numerous biblical scholars strongly believe that Asherah at one time was worshipped as the consort of Yahweh. There are references to the worship of numerous deities throughout the books of Kings: Solomon builds temples to many deities and Josiah is reported as cutting down the statues of Asherah in the temple Solomon built for Yahweh (2 Kings 23:14). Josiah’s grandfather Manasseh had erected one such statue (2 Kings 21:7), as just a few examples. Between the tenth century BCE and the beginning of their exile to Babylon in 586 BCE, polytheism was quite normal throughout Israel. Worship solely of Yahweh became established only after the Babylonian exile, and possibly only as late as the time of the Maccabees (2nd century BCE). That is when monotheism became universal among the Jews with the return of the priestly elites and scribes along with their new theological and textual reformulations and new adapted concepts and ideas from the Babylonian exile. Competing cults were banished and all sacrifice rituals were eventually centralized and unified in Jerusalem, i.e. – the process of a centuries-long deceptive trickery-theism and concoctions were then well on their way.
Inscriptions were also found at the Kuntillet Ajrud site on plaster walls of the building, taken together, the inscriptions found at the site contain references to the names of several gods besides Yahweh and Asherah, including El and Baal, a transcription below…
…] second time /years[…
]in earthquake. In addition, when El shines forth in the [heights. Y]HW[H…
] R The mountains will melt, the hills will crush […
] earth. The Holy One over the gods […
] prepare (yourself) [to] bless Baʿal on a day of battle […
] to the name of El on the day of bat[tle…
Numerous scholars and overwhelming textual and archaeological evidences clearly show that much of the Old Testament was written only after the first destruction of the Jerusalem temple and post-exilic period (537 to 430 BCE), i.e. – especially after the priestly elites and their scribes and followers returned from the Babylonian captivity. At that time is when new ideas were defined, written information omitted and redefined, many foreign new ideas, beliefs, customs and concepts that were already “in the air” for many centuries among neighboring tribes and peoples suddenly appeared in the OT literature that was not there before…adapting and mutating borrowings from the older Zoroastrianism religion, from Mesopotamian religions, Babylonian, Egyptian, Akkadian, Assyrian, Phoenician and other Levant and Canaanite pagan religions, which is just what the first original Israelites really were anyway and which the vast majority of biblical scholars, including even many Jewish scholars, agree, Originally just one tribe of the Canaanites yet sharing the same gods…and names of their gods, and yes even and particularly….Yahweh.
Ezekiel 20:26 – “I defiled them through their gifts—the sacrifice of every firstborn—that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the LORD.“
The documentary model developed originally in the 1870s, identifies that different authors – the Jahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomist, and the Priestly source – were responsible for editing the various OT stories from a polytheistic religion into those of a monotheistic religion…Yahwehism-Jehovahism (all the couch church television viewers and pew audiences and fans are probably going to be shocked now when their speeching guru tells them the blasphemous abomination information at the next sermon or fake miracles heal-a-thon, it may even affect the various temples coffers).
Because only after the return from the Babylonian captivity is actually when the OT was written (the first 5 books were not written by any Moses character which is proven in the text itself and who is also absent from any and all contemporaneous and historical sources, including the hocus pocus magics)…It is at this time suddenly that the up to then known Wife of Yahweh…out…Dualism and eternally at war cosmic battling deities…in…Wandering demons/spirits, Egyptian eternal lake of fire punishments…in…future apocalyptic victory over the planet…in…astrotheology, talking serpents, gardens, dragons, world flood legend, future raised immortal zombifications and zapping-melting of enemy Non-Jewish gentile nations with fire…in…in…in…etc…etc…etc. The equivalent of Bronze/Iron Age fabulist charlatan televangelists actually just without the suits, microphones and 24 hour telephone hope and wish lines.
And you have to admit it’s very, very strange, odd and yes even yet another example of a contradiction (among numerous contradictions evident in the biblical literature) that when the returned elitist priests and scribes continued their writings, that the “dualism” of a Yahweh with a wife/queen/consort Asherah was a big huge problem for them suddenly, but the newly devised “dualism” of 2 battling deities in the cosmos and heavens for control of the planet and universe was quite acceptable. I mean they give their Yahweh many times attributes of a male, as well as refer to him as “he”, “he” has this and that or did such and such, “he” smites, “he” is angry, “he” kills, massacres, destroys, floods, “he” creates the evil, “he” has sons even (eventually even Jesus supposedly which would mean he lived motherless in heaven for millions and billions and trillions and gazillions of years, just hanging around bearded old guys in heaven I guess floating around listening to trumpets and choirs all the time, all the angels are a “he” also apparently, I’m not sure about all those floating chubby cherubim winged babies in the paintings though who the heck knows). But doesn’t everyone and every animal on the planet need a mother to be born? I know I did I don’t know about you (Oh sure there are some animals and organisms on the planet that can reproduce themselves, mainly bacterias, hydras and some other anthoathecatas, various worms, fungi and water microorganisms, so god is like a bacteria, fungus or worm then?).
But those priests, elites and scribes coming back from Babylon with their newly adapted ideas and scrolls apparently thought that was ludicrous and blasphemous now or just not cool enough for their new emerging national god, and they also had to come up with a scapegoat excuse to blame for all the evil and things that they didn’t agree with that was going on, it appears “he” now had to be something more like what the Zoroastrians had all along (they had to give their Yahweh an upgrade to compete and be more powerful to impress the masses, sort of like a revamp and refurbishment of a bus or jet plane as an analogy)…except now after adding some religious syncretism into the mix their newer and improved Yahweh national genie-god would instead zap and melt the Babylonians and Zoroastrian Persians, Akkadians, Assyrians, Egyptians and just about everyone else on earth (i.e. – zap and melt the Non-Jews, including the Greeks and Romans afterwards…hint – it never happened because the opposite happened instead), and then that instead the Israelites will be the future victorious ruling risen zombified priest kings of the planet favored by Yahweh (coincidentally, or not coincidentally actually, after this time is when the bickering Sadducees and Pharisees sects appear for the first time, with the following centuries of competition and conflict between them in deciding what the various official Jewish political, social, and religious roles and beliefs should be for the people and nation). However according to the known facts and even their own written biblical sources the opposite always kept happening time and time again (Maybe Yahweh needed yet another theological upgrade and magic powers refurbishment perhaps? or maybe the new temple should have rightfully been built more fancier with waterfalls and revolving door perhaps?, possibly, the best real god should have the best real temple after all, everyone knows that it’s common sense).
At my previous introductory post I already showed how the ancient Croatian Hyperboreans already existed for many 10’s of thousands of years on the European continent before the OT and Abrahamic religions world and universe even came into existence, they already lived during the Upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Bronze Age periods in Europe, they had functioning societies, manufacturing of tools and artistic objects, they charted the skies and cosmos to know the seasons and moon cycles and to know when the rivers rise and they had their deities pantheon during the LGM Ice Age and after the beginning of the Holocene period, and they even left behind many proofs and evidences…archaeological remains, cave paintings, pottery, mammoth bones carvings, bronze and iron artifacts and much more, and even they were intelligent enough to know that they had a mother and likewise females were also part of their deities pantheon, it only made sense. I’ll return to this topic a little more after the main included information from https://mythologymatters.wordpress.com
Yahweh’s Divorce from the Goddess Asherah in the Garden of Eden
Hebrew Bible scholars have long recognized that the writer who penned the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and much other narrative in the first 5 books of the Hebrew Bible (called the Pentateuch, or Torah) had a distinctly anti-Canaanite agenda, and that his anti-Canaanite polemic started in his Eden story. Focusing on this helps us to decipher the meaning of that story, as I have stressed in my new book, The Mythology of Eden, and in talks that I’ve given on the subject at scholarly conferences.
This author, known as the Yahwist (because he was the first author of the Hebrew Bible to use the name Yahweh for God), most clearly set out his anti-Canaanite views at the beginning of his version of the Ten Commandments, in Exodus 34:12-15, where Yahweh warns the Hebrews against associating with the Canaanites, intermarrying with them, and worshipping their deities; Yahweh also orders the Hebrews to tear down Canaanite altars, pillars, and asherahs (wooden poles (stylized trees) in sanctuaries that were the cult object of their goddess Asherah (in Hebrew pronounced ah-shei-RAH) and symbolized her). Against this background, the anti-Canaanite polemic in the Eden story becomes apparent, especially that against the goddess Asherah, who at the time was widely viewed by Israelites as Yahweh’s wife or consort. As official Israelite religion trended toward monotheism, the other local deities had to be eliminated (Asherah in particular), and Yahweh appropriated their powers and functions. Insofar as this process affected Asherah, I call this “Yahweh’s Divorce,” and the proceedings began in the Yahwist’s Eden story.
Before the rise of Israel, Asherah was the wife of El, the head god of the Canaanite pantheon. According to the archeological evidence, the people who became Israelites were mostly native Canaanites who settled in the hills of what is now the West Bank, while it seems that small but influential groups also migrated there from the south in the Midian (in and around the Araba Valley in Sinai). As the Bible itself testifies, that is where Yahweh veneration appears to have originated, and, in a process that in this respect resonates with the Moses story, the migrants introduced Yahweh to the native Canaanites who were becoming Israelites. Over time, El declined and merged into Yahweh. As part of that process, Yahweh inherited Asherah from El as his wife.
The Hebrew Bible refers to Asherah directly or indirectly some 40 times, always in negative terms (so she must have been a challenge). Most references are indirect, to the asherah poles that symbolized her, but a number of them clearly enough refer directly to the goddess Asherah (e.g., Judges 3:7; 1 Kings 15:13; 1 Kings 18:19; 2 Kings 21:7; 2 Kings 23:4-7; 2 Chron. 15:16). Evidently she was part of traditional official Israelite religion, for an asherah pole even stood in front of Solomon’s Temple for most of its existence, as well as in Yahweh’s sanctuary in Samaria. There is also much extra-biblical evidence of Asherah in Israel from the time of the judges right through monarchical times, including in paintings/drawings, pendants, plaques, pottery, (possibly) clay “pillar” figurines, cult stands, and in inscriptions. Several inscriptions specifically refer to “Yahweh and his Asherah [or asherah].” (It is not entirely certain whether the goddess herself or the asherah pole symbolizing her is being referenced here, but either way ultimately the goddess is meant, and she is being linked with Yahweh.)
The Yahwist and the other biblical writers could not accept the presence of this goddess as a deity in Israel, much less as the wife of Yahweh, who they specifically depicted in non-sexual terms. So they declared war on her, in part by mentioning her existence sparingly in the Bible, by referring to her and asherahs negatively when they did mention her, and by waging a polemic against her by allusions that would have been clear to the Yahwist’s audience. These tactics are apparent in the Eden story, from the kinds of symbols used and the trajectory of the narrative. These symbols include the garden sanctuary itself, the sacred trees, the serpent, and Eve, herself a goddess figure. In ancient Near Eastern myth and iconography, sacred trees, goddesses, and serpents often form a kind of “trinity,” because they have substantially overlapping and interchangeable symbolism and are often depicted together. Let’s examine each of these symbols briefly.
The Garden. Originally in the ancient Near East, the Goddess was associated with and had jurisdiction over vegetation and life, which she generated herself. People partook of the first crops (including fruit) as her bounty – indeed her body and her divinity – and set up her sanctuary with garden of crops for this purpose. Such a sacred garden sanctuary was “estate” over which she exercised jurisdiction. Examples include Siduri’s vineyard with a sacred tree in the Gilgamesh epic, Inanna’s garden precinct with sacred tree in Sumer, Calypso’s vineyard sanctuary in Homer’s Odyssey, and Hera’s Garden of the Hesperides. Garden sanctuaries of gods and kings evolved later, when religion became more patriarchal, sky gods came to dominate, and goddesses were substantially devalued. In the Eden story, Yahweh’s both creating the garden (i.e., life) and being in charge of it can be viewed as part of this process: There the Goddess (here Asherah) was eliminated from the garden sanctuary and from her functions there.
Sacred trees were thought to connect with the divine realms of both the netherworld and the heavens, and therefore were considered conduits for communicating with and experiencing the divine and themselves are charged with the divine force (thought of as “serpent power”; see below). In harmony with the seasons, trees embody the life energy and symbolize the generation, regeneration and renewal of life. Therefore, they are associated with the source of life, the Earth/Mother Goddess. Accordingly, sacred trees were venerated in Palestine in sacred sanctuaries known as “high places,” as means of accessing and experiencing divinity, principally the goddess Asherah. (Similarly, the divinity of the male deity was accessed through vertical stone pillars, e.g., the one set up by Jacob at Bethel.) In the Eden story, the two sacred trees of knowledge of good and evil and of life allude to this traditional role of sacred trees, but the meaning is turned upside down. In the story, Yahweh even creates the trees. In ordering Adam not to partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, by implication Yahweh was telling the audience not to venerate sacred trees in the traditional fashion. And in any event, the theretofore divine knowledge of good and evil that was acquired through eating the fruit is linked with Yahweh, not any goddess. And at the end of the story the tree of life is clearly designated as Yahweh’s, being guarded by his trademark symbols, the paired cherubim.
Serpents. In the ancient Near East, serpents had both positive and negative connotations, and in the Eden story the Yahwist played on each. In its positive aspect, the serpent represented the divine force itself, responsible for creation, life, and rebirth, as symbolized by its constant shedding of its skin. This and the fact that it lives within the earth (the netherworld) made for a natural association with the Mother Earth Goddess. As a result, the serpent was venerated as having divine powers and was used in rituals, including in marriage (to secure conception of children) and to maintain health. Serpents were also considered wise and sources of knowledge, and thus were used in divination. (The Hebrew noun for serpent (nāḥāš) connotes divination; the verb nāḥaš means to practice divination, and observe omens/signs.) Hence the serpent’s connection with transmission of the knowledge of good and evil in the Eden story. This “good” serpent was typically depicted in an upright or erect form, as in the case of the Egyptian erect cobra (in the illustration above), Moses’ bronze serpent on a pole, and the serpent on Asclepius’ staff (now the symbol of our medical profession).
But the serpent also was represented negatively as unrestrained divine power, which produces chaos, which is evil. Therefore, in creation myths the serpent/dragon represents the primordial chaos that must be overcome in order to establish the created cosmos (known as the “dragon fight” motif). This primordial chaos serpent is most often a serpent/dragon goddess (e.g., Tiamat in the Babylonian Enuma Elish) or her proxy (Typhon was the creation of Gaia). The serpent in this “evil” aspect is most often depicted horizontally. In the Eden story our author used this negative aspect, while parodying the traditional positive associations, which Yahweh appropriated. Thus, in the story, the serpent connoted chaos and symbolized the chaos in Eve’s heart as she deliberated. At the end of the story, Yahweh cursed the serpent and flattened its posture (compared with the upright/erect posture it had when talking with Eve). As a result, Yahweh was victorious over the serpent and chaos and, by implication the Goddess, in a mini version of the above-mentioned dragon fight motif. Bible scholars overwhelmingly agree that the serpent in the Eden story was not the Satan or the Devil character (nor was ever implied to be so rather just an animal), whose figure appeared much later in Judaism and Christianity and Islam. The chaos that this serpent represented existed even before the creation and before Yahweh created the serpent (which creation also conveys Yahweh’s superiority over it). The audience of the Eden story knew that some degree of chaos (evil) is naturally present in the fabric of the cosmos (and so too in humans), so no additional outside agency was needed to bring evil into being. Thus, the serpent was only a symbol of already existing evil, not its source.
The Goddess. As noted by numerous biblical scholars, the Goddess is also seen in the figure of Eve herself, the last figure in our trinity of tree-serpent-Goddess. In the Eden story she is given the epithet “the mother of all living,” an epithet like those given to various ancient near Eastern goddesses including Siduri, Ninti, and Mami in Mesopotamia and Asherah in Syria-Palestine. Eve’s actual name in Hebrew (ḥawwâ), besides meaning life (for which goddesses were traditionally responsible), is also likely wordplay on an old Canaanite word for serpent (ḥeva). The name of the goddess Tannit (the Phoenician version of Asherah) means “serpent lady,” and she had the epithet “Lady Ḥawat” (meaning “Lady of Life”), which is derived from the same Canaanite word as Eve’s name (ḥawwâ). At the end of the story, Eve is punished by having to give birth in pain, whereas goddesses in the ancient Near East gave birth painlessly. Further, in Genesis 4:1, Eve needs Yahweh’s help in order to become fertile and conceive, a reversal of the Goddess’ power and function. (Indeed, Eve is even created from Adam!, and very strangely and absurdly only after all the animals were deemed not a suitable partner for him) Adam’s only fault was “listening” to Eve in order to attain divine qualities. Here the Yahwist may be alluding to Goddess veneration, saying not to worship her. This seems to be one reason for the punishment consisting of woman’s subjugation to man in Genesis 3:16.
As a result of these events, by the end of the story Yahweh is supreme and in control of all divine powers and functions formerly in the hands of the Goddess, and Canaanite religion in general has been discredited. Yahweh is in charge of the garden (formerly the Goddess’ province), from which chaos has been removed. Sacred tree veneration has been prohibited and discredited, while Yahweh appropriates and identifies himself with the Tree of Life (see also Hosea 14:8, where Yahweh claims, “I am like an evergreen cypress, from me comes your fruit.”). The serpent has been vanquished, flattened, and deprived of divine qualities, and thus is not worthy of veneration, and enmity has been established between snakes and humans. The Goddess has been discredited, rendered powerless, and is eliminated from the picture and sent into oblivion. Yahweh’s divorce from her has been made final, at least in the author’s mind. But in fact she persisted, and her equivalents in the psyche inevitably have persisted to this day, as they must.
Sources and Bibliography
Becking, Bob, Dijkstra, Meindert, et al. Only One God? Monotheism in Ancient Israel and the Veneration of the Goddess Asherah. London: Sheffield Academic Press (2001).
Billing, Nils. Nut: The Goddess of Life in Text and Iconography. Uppsala: Akademitryck (2002).
Dever, William. Did God Have a Wife? Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans (2005).
George, Arthur, and Elena George. The Mythology of Eden. Lanham, Maryland: Hamilton Books (2014).
Hadley, Judith. The Cult of Asherah in Ancient Israel and Judah: Evidence for a Hebrew Goddess. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press (2000).
Keel, Othmar, and Christoph Uehlinger. God, Goddesses, and Images of God in Ancient Israel. Minneapolis: Fortress Press (1998).
Kikawada, Isacc. “Two Notes on Eve,” Journal of Biblical Literature, 91:33-37 (1972).
Olyan, Saul. Asherah and the Cult of Yahweh in Israel. Atlanta: Scholars Press (1988).
Patai, Raphael. The Hebrew Goddess. 3rd ed. Detroit: Wayne State University Press (1990).
Wallace, Howard. The Eden Narrative. Atlanta: Scholars Press (1985).
Just one more very eye-opening fact is that just like the previous points discussed about the origins of and the influencing factors of and the borrowed fables themselves into the Old Testament and Bible from other older pagan religions, including their abstract concepts, characters, astrotheology, deities pantheons, concepts of hell, resurrections, resurrecting saviour messiahs, spirits/demons, a Devil, “Dualism” concepts of a devil and other god being in eternal conflict etc, is just how oblivious and clueless most people are about these real factors and facts involved, these are all things imported into the Old Testament written sources by scribes that were originally ideas from other Mesopotamian, Sumerian, Zoroastrian, Egyptian and other Canaanite religions and their beliefs, and later still esoteric secret mysticism religions, gnosticism, Greco-Roman religions and Hellenistic Judaism philosophies and ideas etc. It’s really laughable and just plain pathetic when some fraudster prophet-wannabe thinks he/she knows prophetic meanings and then start their shtick on pulpits or behind desks and microphones and especially in their slick fakery DVDs and books (hardcover and paperback of course). And gullible believing people fall for it, even circling passages and underlining verses or sentences and all that like they know what they’re doing, thinking they’re onto something, onto the truth and revealed mysteries and godly supertruths. But it’s even more pathetic that all these things which they think are some inspired holy prophetic and new glorious god or heavenly wisdom secrets and holy news scoop hunches…..are in reality just much older pagan religions ideas, fables and wisdom secrets.
Like I said, now the reader might be wondering just what the heck Godzilla, a sea monster illustration from OT text sources and an ancient Mesopotamian religious stone carving from circa. 2450 BCE really does have to do with the Yahweh-Jehovah deity character, with the Old Testament and the Hebrew bible?, as well as the book of Revelation science-fiction novel, well I’m glad you asked because it’s much more all related than you probably think. Because it’s actually just yet another of many evidences that the newly appearing Yahweh-Jehovah deity character and Yahwehism-Jehovahism of the Hebrew bible is not something new or a newly appearing personal skydaddy supremo with all the perfect answers, laws, rules and the best most powerful smartest magical powers etc etc etc, but is instead just a borrowing of concepts and ideas from other older surrounding religions and their beliefs and legends (the whole Adam & Eve, Noah’s ark, creation narrative, wandering demons (originally Daemons/Daimons), the powerful Devil character and Dualism concepts, resurrections, circumcisions, dietary and slavery laws and eating pork prohibitions etc, already mentioned earlier). Because in this particular case in Psalm 74:14 right in the middle of God’s ordering of the sea and dry land, his establishing of the sun, moon, stars, and the seasons etc, we find another event…God destroying sea monsters!
The text excerpt reads…”…You divided the sea by your might; you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters. You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as meat for the people inhabiting the wilderness…”. Yep how about that?, so it seems when their Yahweh-Jehovah deity was creating the earth he was apparently also battling multi-headed and giant sea monsters living in the oceans and then feeding the ancient Hebrews with its destroyed carcass, and that’s straight from biblical text so you can’t disbelieve or deny it. And in Isaiah 27:1 we have another future “prophecy”….”…In that day, the LORD will punish with his sword, his fierce, great and powerful sword, Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent; he will slay the monster of the sea”. Leviathan is also mentioned in the book of Job. However we know today that this imagery, legends, magical characters and related concepts are yet again just borrowings from the older Mesopotamian and surrounding Canaanite religions traditions and beliefs. Hadad was the storm and rain god in the Canaanite and ancient Mesopotamian religions (seen pictured above on stone where Hadad battles the great sea dragon creature Lotan-Litan-Leviathan, notice also the obvious parallels and symbologies continuum with the much later book of Revelations symbologies), the Baal Cycle, also known as the Epic of Baal, is a collection of stories about the god Baal from the Canaanite area who is also referred to as Hadad, the storm-god. This collection of stories is dated between 1400 and 1200 BCE and was found in Ugarit, an ancient city located in modern-day Syria, the tradition of Hadad the storm god is believed to originate from ancient Mesopotamia (Iraq), Canaan (Palestine), Ugarit (Syria) from already in 2500 BCE then extending elsewhere. In the literature of ancient Ugarit, the god Hadad-Baal battles Yamm, who is portrayed as a chaotic, churning sea and a terrifying sea dragon named Tannun or Litanu (Lotan), which are terms equivalent to the Hebrew words used in Psalm 74 Tanninim and Leviathan, other parallels are found elsewhere in the Old Testament (Isaiah 27:1; Job 26:13) which are directly adapted from the older Ugaritic stories. Ugaritian Litanu, Lotan and Yamm and the later biblical Leviathan are in fact one and the same, that’s not too surprising since Ugarit’s culture had a lot in common with the Canaanite one from which the Hebrews later emerged. According to scholars the composition of the psalms spans clearly from the post-Exilic period (not earlier than the fifth century BCE), although according to Jewish tradition the Book of Psalms was composed even by the very First Man…Adam, which besides laughable is also bizarrely absurd and already easily proven incorrect and refuted by reality.
(The myth of Hadad defeating Lotan, Yahweh defeating Leviathan, Marduk defeating Tiamat etc, in the mythologies of the Ancient Near East are classical examples of the generic cosmogony “struggle against chaos” mytheme, also reflected in Zeus’ slaying of Typhon in Greek mythology and Thor’s struggle against Jörmungandr in the Gylfaginning portion of the Prose Edda, among other examples. Many scholars claim that Isaiah 27:1 is a direct quote lifted from the Ugaritic text, correctly rendering Ugaritic bṯn “snake” as Hebrew nḥš “snake).
The main point though is that even just this example again clearly shows and proves that the OT Hebrew bible Yahweh-Jehovah deity (aka El, Hadad, Lord, God, Allah, Mo, The Big Kahuna, the One and Only Who Tips the Rain Jars etc) character and ideas is overwhelmingly religious syncretism, just a borrowed mixed bag assemblage of surrounding much older Semitic people’s pagan religions and their concepts, stories traditions, magical characters and ideas, a hodgepodge jumble patchwork deity relying on the exploits of other surrounding older deities basically and just imitating their magical deeds and powers. The relationship between the OT and the new Yahwehism-Jehovahism is that they are largely assimilated from the various older gods and goddesses of Canaan, including the leading gods El, Yahweh and Baal, the great goddesses (Asherah, Astarte and Anat), astral deities (Sun, Moon and Lucifer-Venus), and underworld deities (Mot, Resheph, Molech and the Rephaim etc) so including stories about battling Leviathian sea monsters are really not that surprising and it’s not surprising that similarly described sea creatures, serpent dragons and sea battles plots are in the Revelation book also. These are all much older pagan ideas and creatures/characters and plots floating around the Middle East since the time of the Mesopotamian religions and only much later was absorbed by the new on the scene Jews, and later Christian cults and sects. But why would they do this in the first place anyway? the answer is very simple and extremely self-evident…
…because the biblical Yahweh-Jehovah god does not exist and Old Testament passed down recorded textual material is overwhelmingly mostly just fiction, adaptions and borrowings, which makes the Yahweh-Jehovah god a complete fraud and a many centuries-long deceptive trickery-theism concoction (And you know what that means, it means all the John Hagees, Jack Van Impes and whole plethora of other similar prophet-wannabe preachers and telescamvangelists predictor fraudsters are probably disappointed now that for their entire lives they’ve actually been preaching and writing books and making DVDs and sermoning about 4500+ year old pagan Mesopotamian-Canaanite-Egyptian and other Semitic people’s pagan magical characters, ideas, concepts, stories and fables (as well as heavily influenced by Zoroastrian, Greco-Roman mythologies and concepts etc), so they’re all going to hell now without a doubt for deceiving people and the whole burning/pitchfork/burning worms thing of course, and even their favorite wowing theme of the eternal burning punishments and a “Lake of Fire” are from pagan Egyptian religious beliefs, so the nefarious scamvangelists are blatantly spreading Egyptian religions concepts that aren’t originally in the bible and they don’t even know it or even seem to care, lol, i.e. – which would mean that today in the year 2021 CE televangelists are then intentionally trying to brainwash and mold the minds of their audiences/fans into believing that Bronze Age pagan Mesopotamian, Canaanite and Egyptian religious beliefs, desert blood magic witchcraft and astrotheology concepts are from their Yahweh-Jehovah god, but importantly for faith seed shekels for some sort of harvest somewhere).
It’s just one of many Old Testament parallels and borrowings from older pagan religions in the Middle East and not anything given by any later made up Yahweh-Jehovah god deity, most well known is probably the Epic of Gilgamesh from circa. 2100 BCE being the primary source fo the later biblical Garden of Eden, Noah’s flood and other stories. (Later various invented gematria numerology modus operandi was concocted to bring new magical meanings and predictions to former meanings and failed prophecies, but it’s mainly just feeble attempts to hide the truth and actual written texts). Although now when watching Godzilla movies you can have a whole new perspective and exciting popcorn eating viewing experience about them olden days real Leviathan battles, and the one still to come also…hehehe.
It’s very interesting for those unaware to also know that the word “Demon” actually comes from the word “Daemon” which is the Latin word for the Ancient Greek word “Daimon” (meaning: god, godlike, power, fate etc), which originally referred to a lesser deity. Daimons were also possibly seen as the souls of men of the golden age acting as tutelary deities, a religious, philosophical, literary and psychological concept also meaning “provider of destinies”, benevolent or benign nature spirits, similar to ghosts, chthonic heroes, spirit guides, forces of nature etc, having absolutely no negative connotations. However later Abrahamic religions have borrowed and twisted the word’s original etymology and meaning by applying it to various Ancient Mesopotamian and ancient Semitic Canaanite and Egyptian deities, guardian and wandering spirits (the “wanderers” are associated with possession, mental illness, death and plagues), underworld spirits/deities that could terrorize mortals on earth and even drag them back down with them. Later the Tanakh-Hebrew bible mentions two classes of “demonic” spirits, the se’irim and the shedim. The word shedim appearing in two places in the Tanakh (Psalms, Deuteronomy), the se’irim are mentioned once in Leviticus and probably a re-calling of Assyrian demons in the shape of goats. The shedim in return are not pagan demigods, but the very foreign gods themselves. From Chaldea, the term shedu traveled to the Israelites and they eventually applied the word to all surrounding Canaanite deities. There are indications that demons in popular Hebrew mythology were believed to come from the nether world who brought various diseases and ailments and particularly those affecting the brain and those of an internal nature. Examples include catalepsy, headache, epilepsy and nightmares etc. There also existed a demon of blindness, “Shabriri” (“dazzling glare”) who rested on uncovered water at night and blinded those who drank from it…
…The later word “Demon” was used as an umbrella term for all these previous Middle Eastern-Canaanite/Egyptian/Mesopotamian religion’s deities and spirits and then applied on various ailments and diseases supposedly brought by them onto humans. In this primitive hocus pocus worldview of theirs the germs, bacterias, chromosome abnormalities, viruses, DNA mutations etc that actually caused blindness, abnormal births, deformities etc actually had nothing to do with it because they thought it was all just floating around demons.
As just one example, above is the opinion of Ze’ev Herzog, an Israeli archaeologist, professor of archaeology at The Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures at Tel Aviv University specializing in social archaeology, ancient architecture and field archaeology. He just might…just might know a little more than John Hagee, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Pat Robertson, Billy Graham and, well, more than lots of people writing and spreading fabulist fiction stories and abstract concepts histories behind microphones, on stages and on television and Youtube sermons. Here’s an excerpt of what else he thinks based on his “years of research”…..”This is what archaeologists have learned from their excavations in the Land of Israel: the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is the fact that the united monarchy of David and Solomon, which is described by the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom. And it will come as an unpleasant shock to many that the God of Israel, Jehovah, had a female consort and that the early Israelite religion adopted monotheism only in the waning period of the monarchy and not at Mount Sinai. Most of those who are engaged in scientific work in the interlocking spheres of the Bible, archaeology and the history of the Jewish people – and who once went into the field looking for proof to corroborate the Bible story – now agree that the historic events relating to the stages of the Jewish people’s emergence are radically different from what that story tells…”. It appears then that the archaeological records also support many of the biblical mythicist’s findings and their source materials/literary/historical evidences (and statements based on overwhelming lack of evidences).
Francesca Stavrakopoulou is a biblical scholar and broadcaster, currently Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion at the University of Exeter, with a main focus of research on the Hebrew Bible and on Israelite and Judahite history and religion. She also explores and discusses various biblical historical subjects, Abrahamic religions real historical realities, archaeological evidences and their origins and texts development as a TV presenter on BBC2 and Channel 4.
In her most recent book God: An Anatomy, her scholarly findings from many years of research also likewise show that about three thousand years ago, in the Southwest Asian lands we now call Israel and Palestine, aka ancient Canaan, a group of people worshipped a complex pantheon of deities, led by the father god called El. El had seventy children, who were gods in their own right. One of them was a minor storm deity, known as Yahweh. But not only that, Yahweh had a body, a wife, offspring and colleagues. He fought monsters and mortals. He gorged on food and wine, wrote books, and took walks and naps. But he would eventually become something far larger and far more abstract: the God of the monotheistic religions, aka Abrahamic religions (Blog author’s note – this would eventually become the Jesus character’s dad a few centuries later btw, who of course would go on to declare that shopping, uploading Youtube videos and mowing the lawn on the new Sunday sabbath was OK, that everyone in the world, including even the Japanese and North American Native Peoples, can become a risen floating zombie some day, and that garlic butter shrimp pasta, lobster, bacon and crab salad were permissible to eat, well he didn’t actually really say that anywhere but some guy on tv said that he was 110% sure that he allegorically and metaphorically said it probably, anyway…).
Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou reveals that this Abrahamic God’s cultural DNA stretches back centuries before the Bible was even written, and persists in the tics and twitches of our own society, whether we are believers or not. Examining God’s body, from his head to his hands, feet and genitals, she shows (with textual and archaeological evidences) how the much later invented Western idea of “God” developed and mutated from this original Late Bronze/Iron Age primitive desert alpha male tribal god. That it was at first the “high god”, El, who presides over a heavenly court of deities; he has a divine consort and a son or deputy who is depicted as a military champion, often a storm-spirit, subduing the primordial sea monster so as to bring order to the world. This deputy is often encountered and worshipped on wild and exposed mountain tops. In Syria, his name is Ba’al, “the master”. But in fact the texts of Hebrew scripture depict the later god of Israel, Yahweh, as behaving in almost exactly the same way as Ba’al: he is a storm-god, a warrior, the conqueror of primeval chaos, a habitue of sacred mountain tops such as Sinai. More startlingly, he is spoken of with much the same level of intensely physical vocabulary as the gods of the earlier pantheon, and over centuries eventually El has mutated to become the new tribal version Yahweh.
Language that most religious readers have unreflectively treated as vaguely poetic licence (God’s right arm, the soles of his feet, his internal organs, his face, his breath, even his genitals) is shown to be rooted in mythical conventions that cannot be taken as straightforwardly metaphorical. It belongs in a mindset for which the divine is a hugely magnified version of physical human dominance – male (and sexually predatory as his followers were), aggressive, imagined in terms of conventional primitive Levantine masculine glamour. But, in this revelatory study, Francesca Stavrakopoulou presents a vividly corporeal image of God: a human-shaped deity who walks and talks and weeps and laughs, who is jealous, angry, repents and seeks vengeance, who eats, sleeps, feels, and breathes, and who is undeniably seen as visitations of the Levant warrior alpha male. The biblical god may have had a comprehensive theological makeover by the time the Hebrew Scriptures reached their present form, but the invented Iron Age untamed desert alpha male deity of archaic west Asian and Middle Eastern myth is behind the later added literary makeup and never far away. There is even solid archaeological evidence for the god of Israel, like his earlier counterparts in the region, as originally having a female divine consort. Here is a portrait – arrived at through the author’s close examination of and research into the Bible – of a god in ancient myths and rituals who was a product of a particular society, at a particular time, made in the image of the people who lived then, shaped by their own circumstances, experiences, wishes and of their primitive views of the world and of others living in that world. More information in the included interview video below.
*Author’s note – To better explain this post title choice of wording it should be known that today’s word “god” is actually from an etymology that is Gothic and Proto-Germanic from ǥuđán, originally a pagan religion word meaning “pouring forth” as in libation, pouring forth a liquid as an offering to an idol or spirit or an invocation at a burial mound, first introduced into Wulfla’s 4th century Gothic Bible. Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary says that the origin of the word ‘God’ comes from a Germanic word ‘Gad,’ pronounced as “Gohdt” and coming from a word simply meaning the “invoked one” and even “Lord Moon”, as in conjuring forth and summoning up spirits and power, therefore it’s not a name. And the included “-Jehovah” name is just an often used wrongly pronounced and spelled version of Yahweh, and if anything should be properly pronounced as “Yehovah”, the same actually goes for Jesus and Joshua and Judah and many others (Yeshua, Yehoshua and Yahuda etc), “Jehovah” is a Latinization version from the reformation in the 16th century and so is incorrectly pronounced today because there is no “J” sound in Hebrew. Jehovah’s Witnesses are especially constantly wrong and shooting themselves in the foot regarding even just this topic, knowingly pronouncing their god’s name could very well be blasphemous or at the very least heretical. (More information and examples of very evident and easy to see numerous contradictions, errors, failed predictions, invented mythologies/fables, (largely anonymously written at that actually and proven spurious forged writings along with interpolated mutating absurd ideas), ignorance of the actual real natural world processes, primitive Bronze-Iron Age worldviews, cosmological and deserts blood magic beliefs and basically just plain made-up rubbish in the bible and Abrahamic religions in general, as well as among many of their propagandists even today of course, at National Security Alert: Foreign Televangelists, Cults, Sects).
This is some bonus article material I came across after finishing this post, and information which falls in line with a number of the points I mentioned so I’m including it here. Coincidentally the scholarly input and article is even from a respected Israeli newspaper as well as being the longest running newspaper in the country, so it’s not some floating multi-headed creatures and beasts jimble jamble ramblings on a fringe hocus pocus blood magic tin foil hat website. As a result without a doubt this information will then anger many hocus pocus charlatans, fabulist gurus and of course all the telescamvangelists I mentioned here (who will probably pronounce the newspaper and the findings of the scholars and archaeologists as blasphemous and heretical and being under the power of the great dragon and his fiery locusts and demon goats etc), the article information will also cause much lamenting and weeping among their various temples coffers guardian angels undoubtedly, which is the unpardonable transgression of course.
Article from haaretz.com.
Jewish God Yahweh Originated in Canaanite Vulcan, Says New Theory
- The cult of YHWH as god of metallurgy originated among semi-nomadic copper smelters between the Bronze and Iron Age, suggests biblical scholar: And he was not worshipped only by Jews
TIMNA – Around 3,200 years ago, the great empires around the Mediterranean and the Middle East suddenly imploded. The Egyptians retreated from Canaan and the copper mines of Timna in the Negev, skulking back to the banks of the Nile. And in the arid wastes of southern Canaan, a new power arose.
The Timna mines were taken over by semi-nomadic tribes, which set up a mining operation that dwarfed the previous Egyptian industry.
This new desert kingdom would leave its mark on the main building at Timna: the Egyptian temple of Hathor, protector of miners. The new masters smashed the effigy of the Egyptian deity – leaving the fragments to be found by archaeologists more than 3,000 years later – and set up over the ruins of the temple a tent sanctuary, judging by the remains of heavy red and yellow fabric found in the 1970s.
There they worshipped a new god, one that had no apparent name or face.
That miners’ god was none other than the deity known by the four Hebrew letters YHWH, who would become the God of the Jews and, by extension, of Christians and Muslims, claims Nissim Amzallag, a biblical studies researcher at Ben-Gurion University.
According to Amzallag, long before becoming the deity of the Israelites, Yahweh was a god of metallurgy in the ancient Canaanite pantheon, worshipped by smelters and metalworkers throughout the Levant, not just by the Hebrews. His theory is not exactly widely accepted, but has recently been gaining traction.
Roughly from the 19th century, biblical scholars began looking at scripture less as records of divine revelations and more as historical and literary documents. This has led, for example, to the so-called “Documentary Hypothesis,” which considers the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, to be a compilation from multiple sources, each produced by different authors with their own beliefs and agendas.
But mysteries remain: where did the YHWH cult originate? Who were the first people to worship him? And how did he end up being the sole deity of a group called Israel, who, as their very name says (in Hebrew), didn’t even start out as a Yahwistic people, but as followers of El, the main god of the Canaanite pantheon?
Fire and brimstone
Most scholars already believe that the cult of Yahweh first emerged somewhere in the southern Levant, partly based on Egyptian texts from the late second millennium B.C.E. These documents describe groups of Canaanite nomads collectively known as Shasu, including one tribe named Shasu Yhw(h) – perhaps the first recorded Yahweh worshippers in history.
The Bible itself may contain a memory of this southern origin of Yahweh, as it tells us explicitly that God “came from Teman” (Habbakuk 3:3) or that he “went out of Seir” and “marched out of Edom” (Judges 5:4-5) – all toponyms associated with the area ranging from Sinai to the Negev and northern Arabia.
“Everybody recognizes these southern origins of Yahweh, but most scholars stop there,” Amzallag says. “This forms the basis of my theory as well, but I take it a step forward.”
Reading between the lines, the Bible contains clues pointing to an original identity for Yahweh as a metallurgical deity, he says.
In the Bible, Yahweh’s appearance is usually accompanied by volcanic-like phenomena. When he descends upon Mt. Sinai to reveal the Torah to the Jews, the mountain erupts in fire, spewing lava and billowing clouds accompanied by earthquakes and thunderstorms (Exodus 19:16-19).
In antiquity, metallurgical deities like the Greek Hephaestus or his eponymous Roman equivalent, Vulcan, were associated with volcanic descriptions – which closely mirror the smoke, fire, black slag and molten red metal produced in the smelting process, Amzallag says.
Poetic metaphors throughout the Bible describe Yahweh as a fiery deity who makes the mountains smoke (Psalms 144:5) and melts them down (Isaiah 63:19b), just like smelters melt down ore to obtain copper and other metals, the researcher notes. In fact, in Psalm 18:18 Yahweh is depicted as an anthropomorphized furnace: “smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it.”
To ancient people, the process of melting down rocks to extract metal would have “appeared completely preternatural and required a divine explanation,” Amzallag told Haaretz.
Yahweh’s metallurgical attributes were also on display in the pillar of fire and smoke by which he guides the Hebrews in the desert (Exodus 13:21) and the cloud that accompanies his visits to the Tent of Meeting (Exodus 33:9-10), a simpler version of the Tabernacle in which Moses speaks face to face with God.
The description of this tent bears remarkable similarities to the sanctuary in Timna, further suggesting that 3,000 years ago, this place may have been dedicated to the worship of Yahweh, Amzallag maintains.
Yahweh, god of the Edomites?
But wait a minute – the Bible and most archaeologists agree that after the collapse of the Egyptian empire in the 12th century B.C.E., Timna was taken over by the Edomites, not the Israelites.
While the Bible goes to great lengths to describe Israel’s neighbors – such as the Edomites, the Midianites and the Moabites – as dastardly pagans, the text also betrays that Yahweh was worshipped by these nations too, possibly even before the Israelites did so, Amzallag notes. Genesis 36, for example, makes it clear that the Edomites are descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother, and lists Edomite monarchs who ruled “before any Israelite king reigned” (Genesis 36:31).
The Ammonites and Moabites are listed as descendants of Lot (Genesis 19:37-38), the nephew of Abraham and pious Yahweh-believer who escaped the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
In other words, the genealogies of the Bible contain the memory of an ancient confederation of Canaanite peoples, who may have considered themselves all descendants of Abraham and who all worshipped Yahweh alongside other gods, Amzallag posits.
We should trust the Bible on this, he says, because its editors wouldn’t have wanted to admit that the cult of Yahweh was not exclusive to Israel. “So, if they reference it, it must be true,” Amzallag concludes.
Further biblical evidence of this broadened base of worshippers can be found in the Book of Exodus, where a key role is played by Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, who lives near the mountain of God (alternatively called Horeb and Sinai).
It is Jethro who indirectly leads Moses to his first meeting with Yahweh at the burning bush. And it is he who inaugurates the Tent of Meeting with a sacrifice and proclaims that “Yahweh is greater than all other gods” for having freed the Hebrew slaves from Egypt (Exodus 18:7-12).
But Moses’ father-in-law is not an Israelite: he is described alternatively as a Midianite priest (Exodus 3:1) and a Kenite (Judges 1:16).
Now, according to Bible, the Midianites were descendants of Midian, another son of Abraham, which again supports the idea of the existence of an extended family of Yahwistic peoples. The Kenites, on the other hand, are a tribe descended from Cain and described as living among all the peoples of the Levant and specializing in crafts and metalworking, which, according to Amzallag, is further evidence that Yahweh’s first incarnation was as a smelting god.
Note that the so-called Midianite-Kenite hypothesis goes back to the 19th century, when biblical scholars saw Jethro’s story as evidence that these groups introduced the Israelites to the worship of Yahweh. Amzallag seems to be the first to stress the metallurgical side of this hypothesis and link Yahweh specifically to the rites and cults of ancient miners and smelters.
Copper mining at Timna and at other remote sites like Faynan, today in southern Jordan, was central to the region’s economy, employing not just miners and smelters, but blacksmiths, traders and other workers in every town and village of Canaan. These people, identifiable as the biblical Kenites, would have been held in high regard and seen as being close to the divine because they possessed knowledge about the secret and mysterious process of copper smelting, Amzallag says.
Or maybe the god of storms
“There is no doubt that at least for the Edomites, and possibly for their neighbors, religion had to go hand in hand with what was their most important activity,” says Erez Ben-Yosef, an archaeologist from Tel Aviv University who leads a team excavating at Timna. “They depended on the success of these operations and they definitely would have felt they needed the help of a god in the complex smelting process and in organizing these mining expeditions to distant, arid areas.”
We have no direct proof that the metallurgical god, worshipped at the Edomite sanctuary in Timna from the 12th to the 10th century B.C.E., was Yahweh: there is no inscription invoking his name. But the kinship described in the Bible between the Israelites and the Edomites, and the metallurgical attributes of Yahweh in the holy text, are “compelling arguments” supporting Amzallag’s theory that this god was worshipped by multiple peoples as a deity connected to metallurgy, Ben-Yosef concludes.
There are skeptics.
“The theory is interesting but I don’t think there is enough evidence to say that the first worshippers of Yahweh were metallurgists,” says Thomas Romer, a world-renowned expert in the Hebrew Bible and a professor at the College de France and the University of Lausanne. There is strong evidence connecting the Israelites and the Edomites, and maybe the latter worshipped Yahweh as well, says Romer, author of “The Invention of God,” a book about the history of Yahweh and the biblical text.
However, Romer disagrees with Amzallag’s interpretation of the supposed volcanic phenomena described in the Bible. He thinks they are more indicative of a god of storms and fertility, similar to the Canaanite god Baal.
“It is quite common for storm gods in antiquity to make the mountains tremble, but is this really an allusion to volcanism or is it just showing the power of the god?” Romer says.
Iron trumps bronze
If, and that’s a big if, Amzallag’s theory is correct, a niggling question remains: how did this smelting god, worshipped by the semi-nomadic peoples all over the southern Levant become the solitary national deity of just one of these nations, the Israelites?
That may have had to do with the rise of the Iron Age, Amzallag says. Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, two relatively rare elements. Iron is much easier to find and just needs to be combined with another common element, carbon, to produce one of the strongest metals known to man: steel.
By the 9th century B.C.E., copper production at Timna and the rest of the Levant had all but shut down and the process of smelting had lost much of its mystique. In the Iron Age, Mediterranean metal workers lost their elite status and were simply seen as skilled craftsmen rather than quasi-priests or magicians.
In parallel, their gods either lost their importance in the local pantheon and were forgotten, or were transformed, acquiring different attributes and characteristics, Amzallag says. Meanwhile, the loose coalition of Canaanite nomadic tribes who once saw themselves as descendants of the same patriarch, had morphed into a patchwork of small, centralized kingdoms, each vying for the status of regional power. Conflict became inevitable, and indeed the Bible is filled with stories of wars between the Israelites and their neighbors, who are invariably depicted as evil.
As each nation attempted to gain political and military supremacy over the other, the Israelites may have also tried to establish their spiritual superiority, depicting themselves as favored children of a powerful god, or, to use a biblical turn of phrase – a Chosen People.
“To gain primacy and become the chosen people of God, they had to remove the metallurgical origins of Yahwism and disconnect him from the other nations,” says Amzallag. But while weeding out explicit mentions of Yahweh’s roots, the editors of the Bible could not completely ignore the traditions and stories that were already an integral part of the identity of this cult, he suggests.
Yahweh’s fiery attributes or the stories of a shared Abrahamic origin for the peoples of the Levant are echoes of more ancient beliefs, he says, clues that remind us that “once there was no exclusive connection between a God and Israel. Initially, it was the God El that belonged to all.”