Female Angels

by peacefulpete 4 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • peacefulpete

    For some reason I never noticed this before:

    5 Then the angel who talked with me came forward and said to me, “Look up and see what this is that is coming out.” 6 I said, “What is it?” He said, “This is a basket[b] coming out.” And he said, “This is their iniquity[c] in all the land.” 7 Then a leaden cover was lifted, and there was a woman sitting in the basket![d] 8 And he said, “This is Wickedness.” So he thrust her back into the basket,[e] and pressed the leaden weight down on its mouth. 9 Then I looked up and saw two women coming forward. The wind was in their wings; they had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket[f] between earth and sky. 10 Then I said to the angel who talked with me, “Where are they taking the basket?”[g] 11 He said to me, “To the land of Shinar, to build a house for it; and when this is prepared, they will set the basket[h] down there on its base.”

    It's hard not see that Zechariah imagined female spirits. To my knowledge he is the only one in the OT canon. Many commentators dismiss this description as 'symbolic'. Well of course the description is no more or less vivid than that of the description of spirit messengers as "man". So why female? Did someone pick up something interesting in Babylon?

    An interesting note in the Babylonian Talmud (Gittin 68a) mentions in passing that the words in Ecc 2:8 (3rd c BCE) the Quoheleth is said to have Male and Female (singers) yet the word is apparently a Babylonian loan word that means male and female demons.

    It is written: “I got myself sharim and sharot, and human pleasures, shidda and shiddot (Ecclesiastes 2:8). The Gemara explains: Sharim and sharot”: These are types of musical instruments. “And human pleasures”: These are pools and bathhouses. “Shidda and shiddot”:
    Here, in Babylonia, they interpreted these words in the following manner: Male demons [shidda] and female demons [shiddetin].

    The Gemara asks: Why was it necessary for Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, to have male demons and female demons? The Gemara answers: As it is written with regard to the building of the Temple: “For the house, when it was being built, was built of stone made ready at the quarry; and there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was being built” (I Kings 6:7). Solomon said to the sages: How shall I make it so that the stone will be precisely cut without using iron? They said to him: There is a creature called a shamir that can cut the stones, which Moses brought and used to cut the stones of the ephod.
    Solomon said to them: Where is it found? They said to him: Bring a male demon and a female demon and torment them together. It is possible that they know where, and due to the suffering they will reveal the place to you. Solomon brought a male demon and a female demon and tormented them together, and they said: We do not know where to find the shamir. Perhaps Ashmedai, king of the demons, knows.

    OK, a pretty fanciful tale but might it retain some angelology of the post-Babylonian period? Perhaps for a short while some Jews recognized male and female angels/demons. Certainly, as we enter the CE era we find both Jews and Christians adopting this concept in some quarters so it is probably not unrealistic to hypothesize that some held this view earlier.

    So in short, it appears possible that Zechariah included female spirits in his divine cosmology.

  • Diogenesister

    Wow, very interesting.....

    It's funny that (non JW) western kids certainly imagine angels to be female (until they're told otherwise)

  • FFGhost

    That is interesting, I never caught that either.

    The WTS skirts (sorry) the issue of “female angels” in their “literature” by claiming this was a vision of “symbolic women”, despite the author’s pretty clear intention to portray them as angels.

  • peacefulpete
    Broader acceptance of a goddess (female spirit) was retained as late as Ezekiel and Jeremiah, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. Perhaps it's surprising because it escaped the editing process of the sages of the 3rd-1rst c BCE.
  • Atlantis

    The Bible Tract Society Tabernacle, in 1908, written by Russell's sister Margaret Russell Land, published a booklet called: "The Wonderful Story Of God's Love", which displayed a "female" angel with breasts and wings with 3 children.

    Two children were looking down from heaven with a wing showing from the left shoulder of one child, and the child with its arms wrapped around the right leg of the adult female angel had a wing showing from its right shoulder.

    The Bible Tract Society Tabernacle

    Watch Tower Bible And Tract Society (aka; Zion's Watch Tower Society)



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