Israelities so easily influenced by foreign Gods, Why.

by jam 43 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Leolaia

    I know the feeling Mebaqqer....I have written some very lengthy researched posts as well. :)

    And you said exactly what I was going to write to Band re the Melchizedek tradition and the El qone 'arets title; I would add that it appears early in the Hittite DN Ilkunirsha. The El-Elyon DN in the same passage also may suggest a merger between El and an originally independent deity Elyon; Philo of Byblos attests Elioun as a deity distinct from Elus (Kronos). OTOH it was likely an epithet that could have been attached to whatever god was the highest in the pantheon, whether El or later under El-Yahweh syncretism, Yahweh.

    In addition to the Melchizedek tradition, there are two other deities associated with Jerusalem. The name, originally Uru-Shalimu "Foundation of Shalem", points to the site as a place of veneration of Shalem, the god of the dusk. The Melchizedek tradition in Psalm 110 refers to the "womb of dawn", and this expression has links to the Ugaritic myth of the birth of the gracious gods in KTU 1.123 (Rahmay "womb" as an epithet of Asherah and the twin sons Shahar "dawn" and Shalem "dusk); cf. the use of "breasts and womb" as divine epithets in the Blessing of Jacob in Genesis 49, and Shahar as the father of the morning star in the mythological fragment in Isaiah 14. Another deity with connections with Jerusalem was the Hurrian goddess Hebat. The ruler of Jerusalem in the LBA Tell el-Amarna correspondence, Abdi-Heba, indicates that the local chiefs were devotees of this goddess (thought by some to underlie the goddess Chawat in Phoenician/Punic sources corresponding to Elat/Asherah, a name that is identical to Eve in the OT). Further evidence of a specific Hurrian link with Jerusalem may also lie with the personages of Uriah the Hittite and Araunah the Jebusite.

  • Witness My Fury
    Witness My Fury

    I've just bought the 1st book suggested, The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel, 2nd ed. (2002)

    Thanks for the info Mebaqqer!

  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    Thanks so much. I only had a few courses in NT during college. You've answered questions I've pondered since high school, many decades ago. Thank you for posting here. Please, Please stay. Knowing the factual data makes it much easier to divorce oneself from a literal view of the Bible. I guess that the post took hours to prepare.

  • Joe Grundy
    Joe Grundy

    Thanks for the information posted here and the effort and time that went into it.

  • Mebaqqer2

    Band, I wasn't planning on leaving. I just can't respond in great detail to every post. The problem is that I know when I do not fully explain something, then it leaves my post open to criticisms which will then take even more time to address. That's the only reason I have to be so wordy and spend so much time on a post.

    Leolaia, I too would have mentioned the DN Ilkunirsha, but I thought the connection would not have been obvious to many which would have required me to explain even further so that others could clearly see the connection (the article reference, if any wished to check it, would have given them this information). On an original distinction between DN El and DN Elyon, this appears to me to be contested, that is, Philo of Byblos' distinction has alternative explanations as do the supporting evidence, and I have not examined the issue enough to argue one way or the other (for a summary of the debate, see Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 2nd ed. (Brill, 1999) s.v. Elyon). However, your statement that Elyon "was likely an epithet that could have been attached to whatever god was the highest in the pantheon" seem reasonable to me since the texts from Ugarit ascribe the epithet Elyon to Baal. One can well imagine people arguing "My God is the highest" "No my God is the highest" in a theological game of king of the mountain. The other stuff you mentioned certainly deserve further consideration. Since my focus is the Second-Temple period, I have only really considered the biblical material and related Canaanite material from the earlier periods to get a general outline of the issues since the Canaanite divine council serves as the backdrop for the Jewish Scriptures' imagining of Yahweh which in turn gets further reworked in the Second-Temple period and thus requires some understanding. When I am able to find the time I will return to the deeper connections you mentioned which will no doubt be very enlightening.

    Witness, I think you made a good move and I hope you enjoy the read.


  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    No, I just wanted you to know how valuable I view your presence here. It was no reaction to the fact that you can't write detailed answers to every question posed. Since I know so little, I would have been satisfied with any response. The sad fact is that I do not have the background to evaluate the answer. It does seem strange to me that society believes it worships a god from so long ago. I prefer this version of God.

  • Woldeyesus

    Given the choice between the "tree of life" (representing God reliance) and the "tree of knowledge of what is good and what is bad" (representing self-reliance), all human beings without exception opt more easily and naturally for the latter.

    Worship of God, as he really is, requires obedience to his known commandments and knowledge and active faith. Worship of foreign gods, on the other hand, is their disobedience and following of man-made and stale religions which are fully exploited by leaders.

  • Mebaqqer2

    "all human beings without exception opt more easily and naturally for [self-reliance]" Well actually no. Humans are social creatures who form hierarchial societies. This means that they have a pronounced propensity for deferring to authority figures. The extent to which regular human beings will blindly follow authority is repeatedly shown throughout history and psychology has demonstrated that normal, every day people are able to transcend the bounds of their own "morality" under the influence of authority (think Milgram experiment). When you speak of "relying on God" that too is deferring to authority. But there are many "Gods" on the field so why defer to one over the other? And here is the quandary, for either your knowledge of what God is comes from some source that has had men as supposed conduits (priests, prophets, etc.) or you have an "experience" that confirms a particular view of God (indwelling of the spirit, burning bossom, possession, etc.). The former is to rely on "man-made" constructs which you seem to abhor. However, your acceptance of the Bible as the inspired word of God, implied in your mention of the trees, is relying on other authorites to form your views. You might say, "well I have experienced/now experience things that confirm those truths." Well, that is actually a form of self-reliance because your "experience" has no way to be externally validated as true relative to anyone else's experiences other than the criteria you have already accepted. So, for my part, I will use my mind to examine ideas (a kind of self-reliance), but always check them against the collective knowledge of the world we live in (admittedly, authority, but authority whose basis can be independently researched and verified) to see if my ideas are just crazy ramblings or have some real basis in reality.


  • Resistance is Futile
  • Dogpatch

    I'll propose a dilemma that faces many 21st century people - The shock of leaving the WT is that you find out...

    The 66 "books" we call the Bible weren't even agreed upon by the larger Christian sects at the time and still aren't to this day.

    Man got here by evolution. Ignoring that indicates lack of schooling or a overwhelming need to be a part of an imaginary perfect world in the end.

    Life quality for 90% of all people on this earth has gotten much better over the last few hundred years. And you believe we are in the last days? So did everyone in the New Testament, including Jesus (2000 years ago).

    Jesus made prophecies that did not come true in their original context. Nothing he said indicates there is any kind of "greater fulfillment" in prophecies that were intended for his day but didn't come true so it was "spiritually" reinterpreted.

    Technically, Christianity is a sect of Judaism that distorted completely how the Jews wrote it. The Messiah they were looking for was nothing like Jesus.

    Jehovah was a tribal god with as much animosity as many of the other dieties. He called destruction down upon all "apostates." His personality is worlds apart from that of Jesus as portrayed in the NT. Why?

    Evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity bears little if any resemblance to the early church. They were "one" because they were persecuted. Once that lifted, the Roman wives of wealth took Christianity as their religion and it became the True Religion. Revelation ch. 1-5 indicates that the early church became split into a thousand sects, just like those who call themselves Christian today. The Watchtower will soon be split by sectarianism. It's always a cycle of birth and death with cults. Cults can become virtually mainstream religions, but then must compromise and new sects of it form as it slowly dies.

    A good model is the Worldwide Church of God. Power moguls have a short life cycle but the mainstream reps will survive, though like a lion with no teeth. There is only real power in a small group of truly dedicated men. The Watchtower will split logically into 3 types:

    1. a small group of "true believers" that will belong no matter what.

    2. Those whose quality of life will greatly suffer if they were to leave the religion. That's why cults have a life cycle that is very short compared to mainstream religions. Education of the masses curtail them and mock them.

    3. small groups of new "Bible Students" type of congregations, never united because of the egos of their leaders.

    4. Those who give up on mainstream religion or religion itself altogether.

    5. Many will become mainstream (but wary) Christians. They would rather forget the whole JW experience.

    Mainstream churches offer legitimate returns. Cults offer something more equivalent to strong drugs.

    Every culture eventually deifies it's dead heroes as gods.

    All church leaders are appointed by men.

    You can curse Jehovah a million times and he won't kill you. He demonstrates no supernatural intervention in man.

    If you believe in the devil, fear will rule your life. Curse him and he won't kill you either.

    So why do I believe in Jesus as my Lord? (For a fact, I do myself.)

    Let's see if you can figure it out.


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