YHWH a minor pagan god: Ugaritic Texts and the Sons of El

by DoomVoyager 129 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • lil princess
    lil princess

    the god of vengance shall smite the for such insabordinance.

  • nancy drew
    nancy drew

    very interesting info

  • showmeproof

    I noticed quite a few people marking the thread. Leolia got us off to a great start, two years ago, I would like to see some questions from those marking the thread. What would you like to know about this topic?Meanwhile I'll put forth a bit to chew on using a few artifacts already mentioned by Leolia.

    The instructions for the construction of the menorah is given in Exodus 25:31-40. In Exodus, the menorah is clearly a symbol of Yahweh. Not an image of Yahweh, but a cultic symbol used in the tabernacle and later the Temple. The term used to describe its features include branches, blossoms, almond, knobs or calyx (depending upon your translation), and petals. In short, it is a tree in blossom, as far as we know from the description an almond tree. We've all seen a menorah but lets put it in a historical context.

    Look at the commemoration of the destruction of Jerusalem on the Arch of Titus. The menorah here is depicted as described in Exodus and is being carried out of the Temple. Three branches on either side of a central trunk.

    Arch of Titus

    Pithos A from Kuntillet Arjud ca. 8th century has already been mentioned as referring to both Yahweh and Asherah. What I would like to draw attention to is the reverse side of Pithos A.

    Reverse side of Pithos A Kuntillet Arjud

    Here we have two ibex on either side of a tree. It is difficult to count but there are three branches one either side, assuming symmetry, of a central trunk. The top has a curling leaf on either side that extends to the mouth of either ibex which can be mistaken as a fourth branch.

    Now lets go back in time by about 1,000 years and look at the Taanach Cult Stand. On the third register we have a tree flanked by two goats or ibexes. This symbol is used to signify Asherah, as is the Goddess on the bottom stand flanked by two lions. This image with two ibex on either side of the tree is important. This tree has, like the menorah and the reverse side of Pithos A from Kuntillet Arjud, three branches on either side of the central trunk. On the top register is a young bull or calf with a flying sun, a denotation of divinity in the ANE, this calf can be posited by inscriptional and iconographical evidence to be El, Baal, or YHWH. Both the top and second tier have sphinxes and are by virtue linked together just as the bottom and third tiers are linked together. It has been proposed that both the calf on the top and the empty fenestration on the second tier are aniconic representations of YWHW (cf. the cheribum flanking the mercy seat in the Tabernacle and presumably the Temple). Other places where Baal or El are depicted with a bull they are standing on its back. This combination of deities standing on the back of animals is widely attested throughout the ANE. The fact that a deity is absent from the back of the divine calf and the empty fenestration on the second tier is an argument from absence, a possible indication of aniconography. It does remain possible that either EL or Baal were intended.

    Tanaach Cult Stand

    Going back yet further in time another 300 years we see the Lachish Ewer. Here there is also a tree flanked by two male ibexes or rams. Above the tree is the title of the goddess Asherah 'lt, the feminine form of EL meaning lady. Does the tree, the representation of the goddess Asherah, look familiar? Does it look like a menorah?

    Is the menorah an Asherah? Look closer at at drawing of the image of import.

    Drawing of Asherah image
    Yep, it still appears to be three branches on either side of a central trunk.

    Now it is important to understand the usage of Asherah in the bible. She is depicted as a goddess with phrophets in the story of Elijah. The asherah is also described as a stylized tree whether carved from a tree or a living tree for Asherah the goddess. Lastly the Asherah is described as being a stylized or carved symbol for any deity. From the varied use of Asherah in the bible alone we can determine that Asherah was a goddess, a symbol denoting the goddess, and lastly a symbol detached from the goddess.

    In 1 Kings 7:49 we learn that there were five on the north side and five on the south side in front of the inner sanctuary. It is also important to note that they weren't in the holy of holies. However, let us do the math of three branches on either side of a central trunk 3+3+1=7 or the seven lamps described in Exodus 25:37. But there are ten of them in the temple so 7 * 10=70. Leolia had mentioned earlier that Asherah is noted for creating 70 sons with El and Genesis 10, the Table of Nations has 70 Nations, and Deuteronmy has El ELoyn distributing amongst his sons a nation as an inheritance; Yahweh's portion being Israel. Much of this is conjecture, but not baseless conjecture. What I think important to note is that Solomon is internally known within the Hebrew Bible as a polytheist. Why would anyone assume that a polytheist built a temple for only one god? Especially in light of 2 Kings 23 which explicitly states that many of the monuments that Solomon had built in and around Israel were still standing and then destroyed in the reign of Josiah.

  • WontLeave

    People who know a lot more about Hebrew than I do seem to disagree. Here is a site that discusses many names for God in the OT. There are many atheists who want very badly for there to be a paper trail from Christianity to ancient myths. Any similarity is leaped upon as proof positive. This Zeitgeist-quality evidence only appeals to those who already have chosen to believe it and are now seeking the proof they crave.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that all through the books of Kings, there is admission of intermingling of pagan gods and the God of Israel. Israel was not holding to the law of Moses and mixing, socially and spiritually, with the surrounding nations.

    Just because somebody wrote something down a few thousand years ago doesn't make it so. Also, the multiplicity of meanings of the word "el" are a breeding ground for conjecture, even within the confines of Hebrew. The Mormons have decided "Elohim" was a separate entity from "YHVH", using only the Bible. Now, throw in the various Semitic meanings for their idea of "el" or variants thereof and you have a linguistic free-for-all for radicals to see any implication they desire.

  • lovelylil


    I also posted the link to this site which has the same information. It goes to show you it is all in how you look at it. I agree with you, there are many meanings of the term "el". You don't need to be a scholar to understand this simple information;


    Don't worry if others have a different view, your beliefs are personal to you. Peace, Lilly

  • WontLeave


    Sorry to copy your link. Believe me when I say I have no illusions of aligning everyone on the Internet with my beliefs. This is just one of those subjects that the very obscurity of the material lends itself to a one-sided discussion. The El>YHWH information is almost exclusively to be found on atheist websites, so it tends to fly under the radar of anyone else. I have looked into the matter and am attempting to offer a different perspective. Once I realized it was a red herring I didn't waste a whole lot more time with it. I'm not really the type to obsess over the intricacies of BS.

    While I'm not an "expert" on the subject, I'm also not an expert on the techniques used to transmute lead into gold. Perhaps the explanation as to why it's not a legitimate pursuit are not as extensive and interesting. Some prefer a story that's more exiting than reality, but I guess I'm just no fun.

  • showmeproof


    You seem to forget that I'm not the one putting this forward. In fact, it is not atheists that are putting this forward. The foremost scholars that deal with this are Christian and Jewish. I'm glad you found a website. Realize that your website is dealing with Hebrew...specifically for Christians. Now I point this out for a few reasons. Nowhere does this website address why we have good reason to think that Yahweh became equated with El over time. Nowhere does this website deal with extrabiblical data such as toponyms, anthroponyms, or inscriptions, nonetheless artifacts or Ugaritic. The last is very important.

    Why does YHWH not only recieve, in your view, the generic title El, but also specific epithets of EL. I have also asked and will repeat the question here, if Baal and Asherah are specifically listed as being worshipped by the Israelites and they belong to the pantheon that originally included El at its most prominent spot then why do you so readily discount the idea that the use of EL in the bible can be specific rather than merely generic? Furthermore, as I stated already, if as the bible says that the patriarchs who lived in Canaan during the Mid Bronze Age knew God as El do we have evidence of El being a specific god in that socio-historical context...yes we do.

    I'll also point you to anthroponyms found at Mari from the 16th century B.C.E., as described in Amorite Personal Names in the Mari Texts, such as Yahwi-ki-Addu, Yahwi-ki-An, Yawi-Addu, Yawi-Dagan, Yawi-Ya. I'm sure each of the first terms in the name looks familiar to you; that is because it is the same root as Yahweh. Now what of the latter half of those names? Addu is the Mesopotamian hypostatic of Baal Hadad, An the Mesopotamian hypostatic of El, Dagan is the same Dagan as known in both Ugarit and the Hebrew Bible. Yahweh appears to have been equated with the very gods you are attempting to avoid his connection with from a very early time period.

    In short, your website leaves out a lot of relevant information. The information, as its name suggests, is Hebrew for Christians; i.e. Hebrew for a specific theological context that was not part of the mileu from which Hebrew Bible was written.

  • MrFreeze

    Somebody posted a video (not sure if it was 100% accurate, but interesting none-the-less) that discussed how the Israelites used to have many Gods but for whatever reason, their war God Yahweh won out in the end. Through editing text and writing after the fact in the name of others, it was made to seem as if Yahweh was THE God of the Israelites. Yahweh was actually just one of the Pagan Gods adopted by the Israelites.

  • showmeproof


    The information regarding this is very limited on the web. If you are interested you would be best served by looking at the literature produced by the experts in Semitic languages and the history and archaeology of the Ancient Near East.

  • 3Mozzies
    Somebody posted a video (not sure if it was 100% accurate, but interesting none-the-less) that discussed how the Israelites used to have many Gods but for whatever reason, their war God Yahweh won out in the end. Through editing text and writing after the fact in the name of others, it was made to seem as if Yahweh was THE God of the Israelites. Yahweh was actually just one of the Pagan Gods adopted by the Israelites.

    Here you go MrFreeze


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