The ancient Hebrews left two bequests:
- a universal, single God named Yahweh;
- a series of writings identified as sacred Scripture.
Using highly credentialed sources, this Study examines how these bequests were formed:
I after wonder if this so called god Yahweh is really what they say he is a dessert god from Edom that the News made their own and combined with El. Almost every writing about this god is motifs of El and then one of his created beings Baal Hadad. Some say they could have just a easily taken the moon god of Egypt and morphed him with El. In the Canaanite pantheon both El and Hadad are the the husband of Asherah.
When they get to Babylon it would seam as though they switched to worshipping Enki and or Marduk. In the Canaanite religion it looks as though Enki was the god Dagon. The reason a lot of scholars may reject this idea that the Jew's worshipped him is because the Bible talking about rejecting Baal and their enemy the Sea people worshiped Dagon. The important question one should ask was the Baal they were told to not worship was he in fact the same Baal Hadad or just the Baal of a certain city.
Some say that the Jew's were not polythiastic at all since most of the time the word used in the Bible was Elohim which is plural for god's not god. Also everytime one sees the word lord what he really is seeing is the original word Baal. So as I see it El was the same god as the earlier Sumerian god Anu. Baal Hadad replaced him as the top god when he cheated death and defeated the dragon Logan. Marduk does the same in the Babylonian pantheon. Dagon is the father of Hadad and Enki is the father of Marduk. Just a reminder Yahweh is written as being and accomplishing the same things as El and Hadad and their is writings in the Emu Elish about Marduk that are very similar to what is said about Yahweh in the Bible. It's hard to connect all the gods together because each city or region would change things about their gods a bit. Anyway I don't know if this desert god ever really got into the pantheon of the Jew's. It's my opinion that they worshipped El, then Hadad. Enki is Dagon both of their sons rise up to defeat the dragon, Hadad and Marduk. Dagon and Enki are associated with fish. Dagon with bread as well. Jesus is associated with fish and bread and sends his champion Michael to fight the dragon and defeat death in the book of revelations. Their are also similarities in the pantheon of the Egyptians and Greeks. I believe that by the first century the writers where using the pantheons of the Egyptians and Babylonian's to write the epic of this new Savior Jesus. In the end it's all about worship of the Sun but connecting the gods is not an easy task next week I may find another clue that makes me change my opinion which god is which. Like you Doug, I'm just a student of all this. I downloaded this document and will read it with hopes it will add to my knowledge of the gods. One question for you is do.you believe in the exodus or do you believe it to be a retelling of an older story either from the Hyksos, story from Assyria or possibly a story about the Jews returning from Babylon?
I will start reading tonight. It looks like a good summary for those who find the 400 page books of Introduction to Hebrew Scripture a bit too burdensome.
My position is far more simple than the suppositions you propose.
I understand that the Hebrews were hill-dwelling Canaanites, that they were always there. The Patriarchs would have lived during the late Bronze Age but the earliest likely historical evidence comes from the "Tribal/Judges" period of the subsequent Iron Age I.
Their worship evolved from and remained consistent with their Canaanite roots. The Hebrews shared the gods and goddesses of the Canaanites and of their neighbours, although the size of the Hebrew pantheon was smaller.
The Scriptures we now read come from the latter part of the Babylonian Exile and the subsequent Persian Period. These authors were Yahweh-aloneists (see their Isaiah 40-55) demanding all worship to be centralised in Jerusalem. Hence their skew of the "historical" record. However, in their denunciations, such as of the god Baal, the writers inadvertently reveal that the Hebrews were worshiping that god, other gods and several goddesses.
I find it interesting how the Watchtower complains that the word "LORD" hides "Jehovah" yet they inconsistently ignore the fact that in many cases (such as at Genesis 1) the word "God" hides the name of "EL" (the supreme god of the pantheon - the "Elohim").
I am not in the position to state which of the Babylonian gods were espoused by some of the exiles.
You ask specifically about my views on the Exodus: I doubt that it took place; I doubt there was a Hebrew known as Moses (an Egyptian name), since there is no archaeological evidence of that person nor is there any archaeological evidence of an exodus, despite millions of people and animals supposedly moving in an area for 40 years. The source of the final story is open to speculation but I suspect that its purpose was to ensure the authority of the people writing the story.
I asked you the question about the
exodus story because it's during this story that we are seemingly introduce to this god Yahweh by Moses father in law. So it's curious that if the story didn't happen where did they come up with this god and why would they grab a god from the Mideonites and then make him their own Supreme god especially while most likely in captivity in Babylon? Could it be these priests were not Jews but Mideonites? Or was this Yahweh a later invention since we never get this name just the tetrogramitton?
The Gods such as El, Asherah, Baal, and so on came from the north, from the Canaanites. Yahweh apparently came from the south, from the Midianites.
The stories you read, such as the introduction of Yahweh in the Moses' story, are religious "histories", not literal ball-by-ball literal records. The story you refer to was a mechanism for introducing the change of name to Yahweh.
The purpose of these stories was to create the power base of the writing group. Those who came from Israel wrote of "El", hence their documents are known as "E"; those from Judah, who were intent in having Jerusalem as the center of all religious activities, wrote of "Yahweh", hence their documents are known as "J". (I shall comment on that below).
Each of the other sources of documents (DTr; P, etc) also sought to legitimize their own power base. Chronicles was written well into the Persian Period because the writer wanted to "correct" the record at the Books of Kings.
The introduction of Yahweh started with a minority of Hebrews during the 8th century BCE. It took until the Babylonian Exile (6th century) and the Persian Period for them to evolve their focus on Yahweh and at that time they moved Yahweh from Israel's god to the sole universal God. They placed the story back into the past to make it look as if they were always monotheists. They were not.
(Comment: the letter "J" in German, which is the source of this nomenclature, is pronounced as if it were the letter "Y" - as in Yahweh. My mother's maiden surname was Jellinek and it was always pronounced as "Yellinek").
Whoever HE was HE was a man's GOD. Men created HIM for their own purposes and the women got screwed because HE said it was ok. Sort of like the situation today in the middle east for women. HE has many names and HE's still a man's GOD over there.
If you read my Study you will see that history agrees with you. The Bible was written by a small group of men for men about men who had a male God. The vast majority of the Hebrews worshiped several gods and many more goddesses, and the women played a significant role in that worship, family based. However, these people, being illiterate, did not write their story, and so we have been left with a biased account of true Hebrew worship.
Maybe women should now stand up and write their accounts,
Some of the details and conclusions are slightly different, but current Jewish thought and scholarship agree with Doug.
A good support from a reputable Jewish source is the recent BBC/PBS television series, "The Story of the Jews" by Simon Schama. it can found on some streaming venues, in the United States for rent on Amazon and Vudu.
YHWH, the G-d of Abraham and Sarah actually had to compete with other tribal gods until the Davidic dynasty made worship of YHWH the state religion of Israel. The Bible accounts are redactions into oral traditions that reflect a bit more fidelity to YHWH than what really existed until David's time.
However I do have one fairly unknown detail to add: the idea that YHWH is male is actually from a Christian invention due to the introduction of formal equivalence translations and word study independent of Jewish participation. The pronouns for G-d in Hebrew are actually neuter, even though they literally translate as "he," and the misogyny often attributed to the patriarchal system is based on an application of New Testament epistles introduced as an anachronistic principle for exegesis. Today only Fundamentalists tend to keep this as a holdover, as does traditional liturgical language in the Catholic Church such as in lectionaries and some psalters.
The strict demand that gender never be attributed to G-d from ancient Judaism become codified doctrine and to this day has affected languages such as English in rendering texts into the vernacular. Current versions of official siddurs, Passover haggadahs, and translations of Torah and the Tanakh in general into English are being produced that never use any type of male or female language for G-d, avoiding terms such as "he," "Lord," and "King," among others.