A Nearly Forgotten Hypothesis about YHWH

by peacefulpete 5 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • peacefulpete

    As we know there have been many proposals as to the origins of the god and name YHWH. The folk etymology of Ex 3 aside, there have been a number of suggested roots, many of which seem to be well argued and not without possibility. However, of particular interest to me are those proposals consistent with the fairly well agreed upon south-eastern origins of the cult. The Kennite Hypothesis, as it is often called, uses OT and other epigraphic evidence to conclude the cult of YHWH was imported north via traders from Arabia. If this is correct it seems logical to seek a proto-Arabic root behind the name of the deity. A number of scholars have suggested HWY as that root.

    The Arabic root HWY has three meanings. 1. To be Passionate/Jealous, desirous 2. to fall 3. to blow.

    2 and 3 both make sense as weather terms. And the well known storm god aspects of YHWH make this a very attractive suggestion. The falling rain and wind associations would explain many aspects of the theophanic description of YHWH and why he is depicted as in constant struggle with the indigenous storm god Baal.

    Even more, the first definition "Passionate" may go a long way in explaining declarations like that at EX 34:14, and Deut 5:7,9

    For you must not worship any other god, because YHWH, whose name is Impassioned, is an impassioned God.

    5:7You shall have no other gods besides Me… 5:9 You shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I YHWH your God am an impassioned God….

    This may also further explain the often-repeated analogy of a husband/wife jealousy in describing the relationship of YHWH with his worshipers. Also, the use of adultery as the metaphor of worship of other deities. This one root word having multiple meanings offers a parsimonious solution to a number of disparate aspects of the YHWH character. To take it a step further it may explain the earliest beginnings of monolatry/monotheism. This god whose very name means 'passionately jealous' demanded exclusive commitment in the eyes of his priests.

    I find this proposal to be attractive and persuasive in its explanatory power and its recognition of the Kennite hypothesis.

  • TonusOH

    I like it... God may be love, but life is a HWY!

  • Anony Mous
    Anony Mous

    I think there are a lot of modern hypothesis and they may all have a piece of truth embedded into them.

    I was recently also introduced to some of the Arabic pre-Islamic influences/origins on Judaism/Christianity. It seems a transliteration of the Jesus character was also introduced in pre-Islamic religious lore and versions of this character made it as far as Indo-China and became what we now know as the Buddha.

    It seems Yahweh was indeed a Canaanite god (related to the older story of Marduk and Tiamat) and then bits and pieces of Babylonian, Egyptian, Persian, Roman and Hellenistic stories were all taken up into the modern day Bible to make up the story of Yahweh. It is very likely things were borrowed, especially names, from Arabian sources as well as things were translated and retold.

  • stan livedeath
    stan livedeath

    as ive said before...

    if hebrew was read from left to right,,,YHWH would have been pronounced HWHY huweee

  • peacefulpete

    Anony Mous...just to make clear this hypothesis is that YHWH was not indigenous to Canaan but introduced at some point around the 13th century BCE. This explains the constant struggle the YHWH priests had trying to oppose the worship of indigenous deities until Josiah made it a state religion by force.

    This proposal also may offer some explanation for the aniconism prohibitions. It is felt that the prohibition is rooted in the notion of jealousy in Deut 5

    You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,...

    Interestingly, there appears to be support for Midianite aniconism. According to Prof. Israel Knohl a couple expeditions to the region in the 1960's found no signs of the use of idols.

  • peacefulpete

    Anony mous.....Yes , the Israelites and Judahites were originally Canaanite in cult and culture and worshipped the deities of the land. The most ancient poems and song in the OT preserve this heritage. However, in the standard model of the introduction and adoption of Yahweh, the priests subsumed language and metaphor of the indigenous gods El and Baal especially. It does seem well supported to say that as El receded into the background throughout Canaan his imagery was incorporated into Yahweh's. Baal however remained very popular throughout much of the so-called first temple period, The two cults were in near constant rivalry for centuries. This thread's proposal suggests the etymology of the name itself contributed to this conflict by describing Yahweh as a storm god as well as a passionate/jealous one. There was only room for one deity in this role.

    Reformers during and after the exile revised Yahweh into a universal god no longer concerned with just Israel/Judah but conceived to be the King of all nations.

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