Secret Origins of the Bible
by Tim Callahan
Secret Origins of the Bible
by Tim Callahan
Josephus (Joseph) was a Pharisee and a reluctant leader in the Jewish revolt against Rome (67-70 CE). He was captured by the Romans and, seeing the Jewish cause as hopeless, switched sides and acted as an interpreter for the Roman general (and later emperor) Titus. Joseph eventually became a Roman citizen and took the family name, Flavius, of the Roman emperors Vespasian and Titus, who were his benefactors.
…there is no historical support for certain other famous biblical stories, such as the Exodus. Likewise every attempt to validate Joshua's conquest of Canaan is frustrated by the archaeological record. It is, in fact, doubtful that any of the conquest narrative related in Joshua is true.
Anachronisms are not the only internal clues which reflect on the historical validity of a given biblical narrative. The literary forms used that indicate changes in authorship in a work attributed to one man, as in Isaiah, and the use of words or even a language from a later period, as in the Aramaic laced with Greek words in parts of Daniel, are other clues. So too are internal inconsistencies in the Bible, such as where there are two or more accounts of how something happened within the same book. The two creation stories of Genesis 1 and 2 are an obvious example.
Lack of Original Documents
The real reason ancient inscriptions are given any more credibility than the Bible is that the biblical record was transmitted to us via scribal copies. Unfortunately, neither parchment nor papyrus holds up as well as either stone or clay. Thus, the earliest copies we have of the Hebrew scriptures are the Dead Sea Scrolls from the religious community at Qumran, most of which were made during the lifetime of Jesus, though some date from the second century BCE. The Elephantine papyri, records kept by the community of a Jewish garrison in southern Egypt, date from ca. 400 BCE and mention persons also mentioned in Ezra and Nehemiah. One thing the Dead Sea Scrolls tell us is that once a biblical narrative was considered canonical—that is, once it was thought to be divinely inspired—it was transmitted from one copyist to the next virtually free of error. The books of the Masoretic Text (abbreviated MT, Hebrew scriptures refined in the Middle Ages) though its earliest surviving copies date from about 1100 CE, are nearly identical to those found at Qumran.
Before the Jews Fled Egypt
For anything dating from before the Exile, the only written records we have from Judah and Israel are inscribed medallions, bits of broken pottery on which notes had been written, a few inscriptions scrawled on walls and, of course, that silver scroll bearing the Aaronic benediction—the only preserved biblical text dating from before 200 BCE.
What we know about Babylon
Compared with this paucity of evidence from Palestine we have libraries from several Mesopotamian cities, among them Nuzi, Mari, Nineveh, Babylon, Ur, and Erech, stretching over a time period of literally thousands of years. In some cases these were copies, but in some cases we have not only the copies—often altered to fit political agendas—but the originals as well. The Mesopotamians made these records by inscribing letters into tablets of soft clay with a stylus, then baking the tablets in a kiln. The baked clay tablets are supplemented by monumental inscriptions such as the black obelisk of Shalmaneser III. Thus the Mesopotamian narratives are likely to have been made at or close to the actual time of the events they record. The same is true of the Amarna tablets from Egypt in the time of Akhenaten.
What we know about the Romans
With respect particularly to Roman records, coins and monumental inscriptions are plentiful enough to give us corroborating evidence of the Roman emperors and their conquests. Unfortunately, we have far fewer coins and inscriptions from Israel and from the early Christian church.
Interpretation and Mythmongering
…the vagaries of transmission also impact how we must view myths of various cultures. While we can be reasonably sure when a myth was written down, we cannot know how long before that time it existed in oral form. In the case of ancient Greek myths many were not collected until Roman times. However, we have depictions of scenes from the myths on vases dating into pre-Classical times, often with the names of the characters written on the vases. Yet, as is often the case when pagan myths have been recorded by Christian chroniclers, layers of later mythologizing must be removed to understand the true nature of the original myth. This may well be true of Greek and Phoenician myths recorded in Roman times. Though the original material may well be ancient, the mythographer might have insinuated the bias of his own culture and conformed the material to fit the Classical synthesis of Hellenistic and Roman culture, and again one must sift the material and judiciously strip away cultural contaminants. Only then can one be sure as to whether there are or are not parallels between these myths and the mythic systems of the Near East out of which rose the biblical narratives.
Recurrent Mythological Motifs
One of these motifs is that of the hero who, as an infant, is either left to die of exposure, lost, or spirited away to be hidden from powerful enemies, and is either reared in obscurity, rescued by humble folk, or nursed by animals. Such heroes include Paris and Oedipus (exposed and rescued by shepherds), Romulus and Remus (raised by wolves), and Theseus and Arthur who were raised in obscurity and required to retrieve a sword to prove their kingship. Theseus had to roll away a massive boulder covering the sword. Arthur did the reverse, removing the sword from the stone rather than the stone from the sword. Likewise, the Norse hero Sigurd (Siegfried in German) was raised in the forest by a dwarf-smith and had to pull a sword out of a massive ash tree. Another variant of this motif is the story of the infant Perseus and his mother, Danae, who were shut up in a chest and cast into the sea, only to be washed ashore and rescued by a fisherman. Sargon I of Akkad (2371-2316 BCE) had a similar legendary origin. His mother, a priestess who became impregnated by an anonymous pilgrim—possibly she was a temple prostitute—knew that all children born to her were destined to be sacrificed. Therefore, she gave birth in secret, placed the infant in a tar-daubed basket woven of rushes, and put the basket in the Euphrates river were it floated into an irrigation canal and was discovered by Akki, the royal gardener. The story of the infant Moses hidden in just such a basket among the bulrushes so that he would likewise escape being killed is too close to Sargon's story to be coincidence. Since Sargon's tale dates anywhere from 800 to 1100 years before Moses is likely to have lived, assuming Moses to be a historical character, the story in Exodus was the copy. Therefore the story of Moses' birth was a typological fiction rather than true history.
Three Diverging Accounts of the Taking of Jerusalem
Both the historical validity and the supposed divine inspiration of the Bible are called into doubt when one book contradicts another. For example, Josh. 12:8 says that Joshua gave the land of, among others, the Jebusites, to the people of Israel, and Josh. 12:10 lists the king of Jerusalem as among those defeated by the children of Israel. At the time Jerusalem was also called Jebus. So, according to Joshua 12, it was in Israelite hands before Joshua's death. Yet Josh. 15:63 says that the tribe of Judah could not drive out the Jebusites, who remain there "to this day," and Jud.l:8 says that the men of Judah took Jerusalem after Joshua's death. Judges 1:21 says that the tribe of Benjamin could not drive out the Jebusites who dwelt in Jerusalem, and it is an important part of the story of the outrage at Gibeah that Jebus is still in Canaanite hands (see Jud. 19:10-12). We find, in fact, that Jebus is still a Canaanite city until it is taken by King David (2 Sam. 5:6,7), hundreds of years after the time of the supposed conquest. Here we have three different versions of the conquest of Jebus/Jerusalem: that it was taken by Joshua, that it was taken by the tribe of Judah after Joshua's death, and that it was independent until David took it and made it his capital. Clearly we have a problem in historical validity: They cannot all be right.
Sexual Prohibitions and Sexism
…a couple having sexual relations during the wife's menstrual period would be put to death if the act was discovered. Most of us would consider our decision as to whether to have sex with our wives during menstruation to be our own business. In fact, the prohibition against sex during menstruation has to do with another Levitical code, that of ritual impurity. Leviticus 15:19-30 goes into great detail about how a woman is unclean during her period, how anything she touches becomes unclean, how anyone who touches her or anything she has touched is unclean for a day and must bathe to be cleansed, and how at the end of her period she is to offer two pigeons or doves to be sacrificed, one as a sin offering, so that the priest can "make atonement for her before the Lord for her unclean discharge" (Lev. 15:30).
Hypocrisy and Double Standards
Specifically, Jesus was quite plain both in prohibiting divorce except in cases of adultery (Mk. 10:11,12; Lk. 16:18; Mt 5:31.32) and in his condemnation of wealth and the accumulation of material goods. Yet the divorce rate does not vary greatly between seculars and evengelicals, and fundamentalists are among the most avid of capitalists.
Jesus and Wealth
Among the many attacks on the accumulation of wealth in the Gospels are the famous statements that it will be harder for a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle (Mk. 10:21-27; Mt. 19:21-26; Lk. 28:22-27), injunctions in the Sermon on the Mount against laying up treasures on earth (Mt. 6:19-21; Lk. 12:33,34), and the caution that one cannot serve both God and Mammon (Mt. 6:24; Lk. 16:13). Luke also adds to the Beatitudes a condemnation of the rich (Lk. 6:24,25) and includes two parables condemning the accumulation of wealth (Lk. 12:16-21,16:19-31). In Acts 4:32-35 the early Christian church is depicted as quite communal. And in Acts 5:1 -11 a couple that tries to hold back some of their own property are struck dead supernaturally.)
The Old Testament
...But this "Old Testament" is, of course, a Jewish document. Thus, it could just as logically be presented as it is in the Hebrew scriptures, or Tanakh. The word Tanakh is an acronym for the divisions of the Jewish Bible. These are the Torah or Law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), the Nevi'im or Prophets, and the Kethuvim or Writings. The way in which each of these divisions of the Hebrew scriptures was built up was far from linear. This is particularly true of the Torah.
Moses Not the Author of Torah (or Pentateuch)
In spite of the great antiquity of much of its material, the Torah was probably not in its finalized canonical form until about 400 BCE, well after the return of the exiles from Babylon; nor was the Torah (also called the Pentateuch—Greek for "five scrolls") written by Moses as is the traditional view. It must be remembered that in ancient times it was common to attribute certain kinds of literature to an author of that type of material as a way of legitimizing it. Since Moses was the law-giver, all books pertaining to the law were attributed to him.
The Yahwist School
The earliest holy writing of the Jews, embedded in Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers, was the work referred to by Bible scholars as the "J," or Yahwist document (the J comes from the German spelling of Yahweh-Jahveh), possibly initially written in the reign of Rehoboam, between 960 and 915 BCE, but with probable additions as late as the reign of Jehoram, 849-842 BCE, and probably written at the court by a Judean official with a strong bias toward the Davidic line of kings. The J document starts with the second creation story, and God is portrayed in very human, anthropomorphic terms.
The Elohist School
A rival document, the E, or Elohist material, was written in the northern kingdom, possibly at the court in Samaria ca. 850 BCE. The name of God in this document was more often given as Elohim instead of Yahweh, and the writings have a bias favoring Israel over Judah, and particularly favoring the tribe of Ephraim. It starts with the covenant of Abraham and focuses on Jacob. Many of the stories of Jacob and most of those of Joseph, ancestor of the Ephraimites, who dominated the northern kingdom, derive from this document.
The E School
After the conquest of Israel by the Assyrians in 721 BCE, the E document was brought to Jerusalem by refugees. The material was blended by various redactors who attempted, with limited success, to harmonize the two documents.
Independent of these documents were the writings of those reformers we know of as prophets, particularly Hosea, Amos, the first Isaiah, and Jeremiah. They wrote in a time period from just prior to the Assyrian conquest of Israel to the Babylonian captivity. The prophets represent a faction urging the purification of the worship of Yahweh and the expulsion of the rival cults of Baal and Ashtart. One might wonder why such a purification would be necessary, since the children of Israel are represented in the Book of Joshua as having practically exterminated the Canaanites before the origin of the monarchy.
…during the lifetime of Jeremiah, as repairs were being made on the Temple (621 BCE), a book of laws was found mysteriously hidden in its walls and was brought to King Josiah (2 Kings. 22:8). Once he had read it, Josiah tore his clothes and ordered the nation to beg mercy of God for having previously transgressed God's laws. This was eventually considered the second giving of the law, and so the document was named Deuteronomy (Gr. "second law"). Why God would allow his law to be hidden from the time of Moses to the time of Josiah is never explained, and it seems rather odd that God would allow his people to sin in ignorance for centuries. While the material in Deuteronomy undoubtedly reflects traditional law and religious codes of the Yahwist cult already in existence, most biblical scholars feel the book itself (hence the codification of these laws) was written at the time of its "discovery" and was not, as its so-called discoverers claimed, from the time or hand of Moses. The authors of Deuteronomy, most probably members of the prophetic faction, were referred to collectively as the Deuteronomists (their material being designated D).
History of the Kingdoms
In addition to writing Deuteronomy they also seem to have compiled a history of the kingdom derived from legendary material, kingly chronicles from Israel and Judah, and various other sources. This history eventually became the books of Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings. According to the original Documentary Hypothesis the priestly material (P) was assumed to have been written during the Exile, after the fell of Jerusalem in 586 BCE.
Early Critics and Criticisms
In point of fact, the origins of biblical criticism go back to the early Middle Ages. Jerome (340-420 CE), one of the most important architects of Christian doctrine, and one respected nearly as much as his contemporary and ally, Augustine, accepted the view that the Book of Daniel was written later than 200 BCE (although its authors wrote it as an eye-witness account of events that took place 300 years earlier). At about 500 CE Jewish scholars were having doubts about the Mosaic authorship of the Torah because certain expressions in it obviously came from periods well after the death of Moses. In the eleventh century Isaac Ibn Yashush, court physician to a Moslem ruler in Spain, pointed out that the list of Edomite kings in Genesis 36 had to be from a time long after Moses died. Though he was a devout Orthodox Jew, Ibn Yashush's contemporary, Abraham Ben Meir Ibn Ezra (1092-1167), a scholar and poet from Moslem Spain, also had some doubts about certain passages in the Torah. Despite having castigated Ibn Yashush and saying that his book should be burned, Ibn Ezra suspected that the Book of Isaiah was actually the work of two different authors. With the invention of the printing press access to me Bible and, with it, biblical criticism, increased. Andreas Karlstadt (1480-1541), Protestant reformer and close ally of Martin Luther, noted in 1520 that since the death of Moses takes place near the end of Deuteronomy (Deut. 34:5), verses 34:6-10 had to have been written by someone else. However, he also noted that there was no change in the style in those last verses. Since it appeared that the verses before and after Moses's death were by the same author, Karlstadt reasoned that the author of Deuteronomy could not be Moses. Catholic scholars of the period also found problems with the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch.
In his commentary on the Book of Joshua (1574), Andreas Du Maes (1514-1575) conjectured that the Pentateuch was actually compiled by Ezra, who he assumed had edited ancient documents, including those written by Moses. Du Maes noted that the cities of Dan and Hebron were referred to by those names in Genesis, even though they were not given their names until after Moses's death. Previously they were known as Laish and Kirjaharba, respectively. Joshua 14:35 says that Hebron was named Kirjah-arba before it became the inheritance of Caleb. The conquest and renaming of Laish by the Danites is described in Judges 18. The Catholic Church did not take kindly to what Du Maes wrote and placed his book on the Index of Prohibited Books.
Spinoza Refutes the Torah
The Jewish-Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) published a thorough critical analysis of the Torah showing that it simply could not have been written by Moses. Having already been excommunicated from Judaism, Spinoza now found his work condemned by Protestants and Catholics as well, the latter placing it in the Index of Prohibited Books. In addition, an attempt was made on his life. Writing to refute Spinoza, Catholic priest Richard Simon (1638-1712) stated that the Pentateuch was compiled from several documents, some inspired and some of purely human origin. His contemporary, Jean Le Clerc (1657-1736), believed that the author of the Pentateuch lived in Babylonia during the Exile.
Though these persistent suspicions stretch clear back to the beginnings of the Middle Ages, it was not until the eighteenth century that the first Documentary Hypothesis came into being. French physician Jean Astruc (1684-1766) noticed not only that there were often two different versions of incidents in the Pentateuch (i.e. two creation stories, two versions of how many animals of each kind were taken on Noah's ark, etc.) but that God was referred to in different verses as either Yahweh or Elohim. He also noted that the Yahweh and Elohim verses tended to occur in clusters in which one or the other name predominated. Separating the Yahweh (J) material and the Elohim (E) material into different strands, he noticed that each strand made a fairly coherent story and reasoned that Moses had compiled the Pentateuch from two or more traditions. Though most scholars now agree that the J and E documents were written well after the time of Moses, Astruc did come up with the basic idea of the Documentary Hypothesis. Ironically, his work was intended as a defence against sceptics who had cited the opposing versions as a basis for doubting the divine origin if the Pentateuch. Astruc saw Moses as divinely inspired, but still editing earlier material. Independent of Astruc, J. G. Eichhorn of Leipzig came up with a similar hypothesis in 1785.
Judaism and Paganism
...the monotheistic worship of Yahweh was not separated and purified of its pagan associations until about that same time. As we examine the books of the Bible in greater detail, we shall see that much of what is inexplicable in what is supposed to be the word of God is more easily understood if we remember that the Jewish religion was only extracted by degrees through rough struggle from a pagan system of fertility gods replete with sexual rites and child sacrifice.
Canaanite and Phoenician Originals
…the Greek historian Philo Byblius, who was active during the reign of Nero (CE 54-68), reported that the Phoenicians of his day worshiped a god called Usuos, the Greek version of Esau. Gad ("good fortune") and Dan ("judge"), two of the patriarchs of the 12 tribes, were also originally gods in the Canaanite pantheon and were worshiped in ancient Ugarit.
Philistines and Canaanites
…Gaza was a Philistine city and that the Philistines had, even during the period of the Judges, accepted the Canaanite pantheon.
Sacrifice Among Early Jews
As far as Palestinian excavation illustrates the religious life of the Hebrews it is mostly on the darker side. The standing pillars of Gezer enable us to picture the orgiastic rites at the high places. The jars containing infants' bones are gruesome testimony to the revolting practice of child sacrifice...The nude and coarse Astarte figures that are found in all strata of the pre-exilic period give added emphasis to the fierce denunciations of the prophets...The name Egeliah ("bull-calf of Yah") on a potsherd from Samaria shows how far reaching was "the sin of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin." The religion of Elephantine is a survival of these crudities. (See North's Abingdon Bible Commentary, 1929)
Name of God
Since Semitic alphabets did not originally have vowels, the name Yahweh was written, if transliterated into Roman characters, as YHWH. This is the Tetragrammaton, the unspeakable name of God. In fact, the name as it usually appears in Judah is YHW, or Yahu, and this is how the community at Elephantine wrote it. In Israel it is found as YH, read either as Yo or Yah. In other words, the golden calves (or more properly young bulls) set up by Jeroboam I—the act so excoriated by the Deuteronomist historian in 1 Kgs. 12:26-33—were representations of an aspect of Yahweh. It was common to add "Yah" or "Yahu" to the end of proper names in ancient Israel and Judah. The fairly common name Abdi, recently found on a seal identifying its owner as the "servant of Hoshea," the last king of Israel (see Lemaire, 1995) would have been in full "Abdiyo" or "Abadyahu," which is rendered in Protestant Bibles as Obadiah ("servant of Yahweh"), the name of both a courtier of King Ahab and one of the minor prophets.
Yahweh Among Amorites and Egyptians
The Amorite city of Mari on the Euphrates also has inscriptions of such personal names as Yahu-Ili and Yahwi-Haddu. These names probably do not have anything to do with the worship of Yahweh, however, since his name means roughly "he who brings into existence." Thus Yahwi-Haddu could mean "the god Haddad causes (this child) to be." But the same cannot be said of place names, and an Egyptian list of place names in Edom south of ancient Israel, dating from the reign of Amenhotep III (1417-1379 BCE), includes the name YHW, which would probably read out as Ya-h-wi. In fact the worship of Yahweh seems to have originated in areas south of Israel, whence it was brought by whichever tribes actually did take part in the Exodus (and these were far fewer than the 12 tribes of the initial confederation).
Coin Depicting Yahweh
It is a coin from fourth century BCE Gaza which depicts Yahweh, with the inscription YHW, as a bearded man holding a hawk and sitting on a winged wheel, much the way Sumerian and Babylonian deities were portrayed (see fig. 1). These gods were essentially exalted humans much like the Olympians of ancient Greece. Further, the Sumerians had a rather technological view of how the gods could do miraculous things. How did the gods fly? Unless they were specifically represented as having wings—and most of them were not—they could not do this by themselves. Instead they had winged chariots. The graphic short-hand for a winged chariot was a winged wheel on which the god sat.
Dionysus and Yahweh (Adonai)
Another intriguing aspect of this coin, particularly in view of the possible Greek influence, is that what appears to be a mask lies at the seated figure's feet...That Yahweh's worship had its orgiastic aspects is not its only tie to Canaanite paganism. Yahweh is also referred to in the Bible as El, or its plural Elohim. The name El can merely mean a "god," or can mean the specific deity.
Melchizedek - also referred to as El Elyon.
Jehovah and the Serpent of Chaos
Thou didst divide the sea by thy might;
thou didst break the heads of the dragons of the waters.
Thou didst crush the heads of Leviathan,
thou didst give him as food for the creatures of the wilderness
- Psalm 74:13-14
Was it not thou that didst cut Rahab in pieces, that didst pierce the dragon? - Isaiah 51:9b
In that day the Lord with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea - Isaiah 27:1
Jews and the Goddess
As a result of the conquest of Judah by the Chaldeans, culminating in the sack of Jerusalem in 586 BCE, many Jews fled to Egypt. Eventually, during the Persian period, some of the Jews of the Egyptian Diaspora were settled in a military colony at Elephantine, south of Thebes near the first cataract of the Nile. There they built a temple where they worshiped Yahweh— along with the goddess Anath and two other deities called Eshem and Herem. That the worship of Yahweh was not separated from that of other Canaanite deities in some cases even after the Exile is significant but hardly surprising given evidence from the Bible itself. Jeremiah condemns the Jewish refugees in Egypt for burning incense and pouring libations out to the Queen of Heaven as well as baking cakes bearing her image (Jer. 44:15-28). The Queen of Heaven was the goddess variously known as Anath and Ashtart (Astarte). She was not the only deity other than Yahweh to be worshiped in Israel before the Exile.
Ishtar and Baal
The Canaanite gods were themselves often variants of Sumerian and Babylonian deities. Ashtart (Astarte) is the western version of Ishtar, and Baal is the western version of Bel.
Tammuz as Adonis
The myth of Ishtar and Tammuz was transferred to Greek mythology as the myth of Aphrodite and Adonis. The Greek name Adonis was actually a variant of another name for Tammuz, Adon or Adonai, which simply means "My Lord." In fact, when Abraham and other biblical personages refer to God as "Lord" the word often used in Hebrew is Adonai.
Moloch and Yahweh
Another common appellation of a god was "king," a word represented in the Semitic alphabet by letters equivalent to M- L - K - M - L - Ch or M - L - C. It is part of many western Semitic names such as Elimelech, Abimelech, and, of course, Molech (also spelled Moloch), that dread god to whom the Phoenicians supposedly sacrificed their children. In other variants of the name vowels were not always inserted between the L and the Ch (C), as in Melchizedek and Milcom…Another possibility, however, is that the sacrifices were not for Molech as a foreign god. According to Diodorus Siculus, a Greek historian from Sicily who lived in the first century BCE, human sacrifice in the eastern Mediterranean was limited to Kronos, the Greek equivalent of El. Thus, the god Molech, meaning "king," could be an epithet for El, and neither Ahaz nor Manasseh would have seen anything wrong with the practice of sacrificing their sons to him. (In other words, Moloch was not a specific god. The name referred to Yahweh or El).
Babylonian Origin of Prometheus Myth
In both Atrahasis and Enuma elish the gods find the lullu too obstreperous to deal with and act to limit their powers. This is somewhat echoed in Adapa. There, Adapa, king of Eridu, seems to stand in the place of Adam. For example, he is given great wisdom so that he can give a name to every concept, just as Adam was given the honor of naming all things living. As I noted in the introduction, words were in ancient times thought to have magic power and the right to name something gave the one doing the naming power over what was named. (Having Adam name Eve is a further demotion for one who was once a goddess.) One day Adapa's power got out of hand, however, when he used a spell to break the wings of the south wind. Summoned before the gods, he is told by his father, the god Ea, not to eat or drink anything the gods give him, that what they offer him will be poison. Anu is so impressed by Adapa's contrition and piety that he offers him the bread and water of life that will make him immortal. When Adapa refuses them, Anu elicits from him that Ea had so counseled him. Anu laughs and sends Adapa back to earth doomed to die.
Baal's sister/lover was Anath, one of the deities associated with Yahweh at Elephantine. She is represented in Ugaritic texts as slaughtering the enemies of Baal and wading in their blood. She was also called Astarte or Ashtart in her role as a fertility goddess who was associated with Baal. Given that Anath was worshiped with Yahweh at Elephantine, and that Tammuz was the lover of Astarte, it is not surprising that women were weeping for Tammuz at the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem.
Asherah, Consort of Yahweh
Another prohibition, found in Deut. 16:21, forbids planting a tree as an Asherah, a representation of a goddess of the same name who was the consort of El in the Canaanite pantheon, next to the altar of God. In fact, it is probable that Asherah was considered to be the consort of Yahweh (just as she originally was of El) up until the time of the Exile.
The goddess Asherah, consort of Yahweh, was often represented in statuettes as a woman holding her breasts whose body below her breasts becomes a flaring tree-like base. These "pillar figurines," as they are called, are common in the archeological strata dating from the time of the Israelite kingdoms. Her image, perhaps a large wooden carving, stood next to the altar in the Jerusalem Temple.
Away from the Temple Asherah was worshiped in sacred groves…Indeed, her name means "grove" in Hebrew.
In the Sumerian and Babylonian pantheons Anu was the original ancient patriarch of the gods, and his wife was Ashratum, a variant of Asherah, consort of the West Semitic patriarch god EL.
Eve and Asherah
…it seems readily evident that Eve was at one time a goddess in her own right or at least an aspect of either Astarte or Asherah.
Hurrian origins of the primal conflict
In Hurrian myth the first king of the gods is Anu, just as in Babylonian myth. He is castrated and overthrown by Kumarbi, who is in his turn overthrown by Teshub. This was mirrored in Greek myth by Ouranos (Uranus) being castrated and overthrown by Kronus (Saturn), who is in turn overthrown by Zeus (Jupiter).
The Hurrian (Caucasian) Eve
To understand the significance of Eve we must first consider that her name is the anglicized form of the Hebrew original Hawah (or Hawwah), which is related to the words hay "life" and hayyah "living." It might mean "life giving." It was originally written in Semitic alphabets as the equivalent of HWH. (or ChWH, since the first letter is heth rather than hey). By substitution of related consonants the name Hawwah, with a skeleton (Kh, H) _ (V,W,B,P) _ H, can be shown to be related to Hebe, the Greek goddess of youth. The dropping of the final h, which would be silent if retained in the goddess's name (Hebeh), parallels our own version of Hawwah, Eve (or Heveh, if the letter "h" is retained). Like the semivowels y and w, h is easily dropped in variations of a name. Hebe's role as cupbearer for the gods and as the goddess of youth meant that she was the guardian of the foods that conferred immortality. Hebe is a Greek word meaning "youth," a concept not that far from "life." The relationship of her name to that of Havvah might.
Hurrian Origin of Eve
Yahweh's triumph over the dragon of the sea, which, as we saw, is alluded to in Isaiah and a number of the Psalms, clearly mirrors the Canaanite and Babylonian combat myths, it is equally clear that Yahweh was originally Israel's national variant of Marduk, Baal and Teshub. Hebat is represented as standing on a lion. Thus her iconography fits that of both the Babylonian Ishtar and the West Semitic Ashtart-Anath, who was often shown naked, standing on a lion. Both Hebat and Ishtar are clothed, but the identity of Ishtar with Ashtart is firm. So the iconography of all three goddesses is essentially the Same…once Baal worship was expunged from Israel, Yahweh seems to have also acquired Ashtart-Anath, the "queen of heaven," who eventually seems to have been merged with Asherah. That Hebat's iconography and position so match those of Ashtart, and that her name is related to that of Hawah, indicates that Hawah, "the mother of all living," was originally a title of the mother goddess/consort identified with either Ashtart or Asherah.
Eve as Co-creator of Man
...the gods make primordial humans, the lullu, by mixing the blood of a rebellious deity (Wa'ila in Atrahasis and Kineu in Enuma elish ) with clay, out of which the lullu are made. In both cases the mother goddess (either Nin-tu or Aruru) molds them under the supervision of a male deity (either Enki or Marduk). In Atrahasis when Nin-tu has made the first humans she says, "I have created, my hands have made it." Eve says, upon bearing Cain (Gen 4:lb), "I have gotten a man with the help of Yahweh." The word translated as "gotten" is qanah, which, as previously noted, can also be translated as "created." That Eve says she has created Cain with Yahweh's help hearkens back to the Mesopotamian stories where the mother goddess makes the lullu with the help of a god (Enki, Ea or Marduk). In an article in the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (vol. 4, p. 198) Simon Cohen says of this passage: The utterance of Eve at the birth of Cain is somewhat obscure; the text may be corrupt, and a possible rendering is "I, as well as God have created a man."…Yahweh originally had a consort, and in the original rendering of the myth Hawah as the "mother of all living" and a goddess, was probably taking credit as co-creator of the human race. Another way Eve might be taking credit for creating Cain is that qanah means 'gotten" as in ^gotten. And, given the ambiguities of the verse, it can be translated as, "I have gotten a man by Yahweh." That is, Eve might be claiming Yahweh as Cain's father and that she is the wife of Yahweh.
Yahweh and Hawwah co-create the human race. She initiates ha-adam as its representative into the mysteries, making him wise, civilized and self-conscious of death. Yahweh points out that man's knowledge will lead him to threaten their position by becoming immortal and drives him from the tree of life. Or perhaps the divine pair have created human servants to whom a saraph gives a forbidden secret by which they might become as the gods. For this act Yahweh demotes him, plucking off his wings…Perhaps it is at this point that, armed with his new wisdom, ha-adam recognizes just who Hawwah is and hails her worshipfully as the mother of all living. Having become this wise the human is now a threat, and Yahweh expels him from the garden lest he taste of the tree of life and become fully divine. It is interesting to note in this regard that the Bible does not say that Adam and Eve were driven out of the garden, only that the man or rather ha-adam (humanity) was driven out, a possible indication that Hawwah, as Yahweh's consort, remained behind. Regardless of whether any of these myths ever existed it is plain from the fact that before the Exile the Yahwist reformers were not able to rid the Temple of the images of Asherah on a permanent basis, that Yahweh originally had a consort. It is also plain that Eve has far too many divine antecedents, such as Hebat and Ninti, to have originally been anything other than a goddess.
Woman as Initiator
That woman was considered the initiator into adult life can be seen in the initiation of Enkidu into civilized society by a woman in the epic of Gilgamesh. In that story Enkidu is fashioned of clay by the goddess Arum (maker of the lullu in Enuma dish) to defeat Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, whom the gods see as overweening. It is clear that Enkidu is a lullu, one of the original, unlimited human beings. Set down in the wilderness outside of Uruk, he lives in harmony with the animals, grazing on grass and drinking from the water hole with them. When the sight of him terrifies local herdsmen and their report is brought to Gilgamesh, he decides to send out a temple prostitute named Shamhat to seduce the wild man into civilized ways. Once he has lain with her—an act that would have sacred significance since temple prostitutes were priestesses through whom worshippers experienced sexual union with the deity— Enkidu finds that the animals regard him with fear. His sexual initiation, making him fully human through intimate association with divinity, has estranged him from the natural world since he is no longer just another unselfconscious animal. Psychologically, he sees himself as a separate entity and has lost the childlike identification with the world that he had previously known.
Eve and the Serpent
Another indication of Eve's association with the serpent lies in a possible alternate meaning of her name. Hawwah might well be related to hewya, an Aramaic word meaning serpent. This fits the fact that the Phoenicians worshiped a serpent goddess written as HWT or HVT, a name that would be cognate with that of the Hurrian goddess Hebat (HBT)…Hawwah might at one and the same time be related to HWH, "life giving" and a word for serpent.
The Sumerian Eve
In a Sumerian myth the god Enki violates a taboo by eating forbidden herbs created by Ninhursag, who then curses him with death. Later she relents and revives Enki by creating deities to heal each part of his body. The goddess Nin-ti is created to heal the rib. Nin-ti means literally "lady of the rib." The name is related to Nin-tu, "lady of life," simply one of Ninhursag's titles. In some variants of the story Nin-ti is actually created from Enki's rib. This story, which was already over a thousand years old by the time the J document was written is clearly a precursor of not only the creation of Eve, but as well the Fall of Man and his loss of immortality resulting from eating forbidden fruit.
The story of Atrahasis begins before the creation of human beings, when the lower gods, the Igigi, tired of laboring to keep the high gods, the Anunaki, in luxury, revolt and refuse to do any further work. Since this upsets the divine order, two of the Anunaki, Ea (called Enki by the Sumerians) and the goddess Nin-tu (Ninhursag), kill Wa'ila, leader of the Igigi, mix his blood with clay and mold from the mix seven pairs of "savage" human beings called lullu. These take the place of the Igigi as laborers, allowing all of the gods to rest. However, the din of the new servants disturbs the rest of the gods. Disturbing the rest is a metaphor for rebellion and challenge in the Mesopotamian myths, rest or freedom from labor being the prerogative of gods and kings. After a number of attempts to limit the power of the lullu by plagues, the gods finally decide to destroy humanity in a flood. However, Ea, wisest of the gods, warns the king of Eridu, Atrahasis ("exceedingly wise"), of the coming flood and tells him to build an ark for his household and to fill it with foodstuffs and necessary animals. When Atrahasis survives the flood, the other gods are angry with Ea until they smell the sweet savor of the hero's burnt offering. They realize that they need humans as servants, reconcile themselves to the fact that humans, having the blood of Wa'ila as part of their make up, will always have a rebellious streak, and decide not to try to destroy human beings again. However, they also act to mute the spark of the divine imparted to humans by a god's blood. The new humans, the nisu, are less powerful than the lullu and do not disturb the repose of the gods. The world is now settled, stable and orderly.
…the Akkadian story Atrahasis is replaced by the Babylonian Enuma elish. Yet both stories served as precursors for Genesis, Atrahasis for the J document and Enuma elish for P. We also see that we must often look beneath the surface of a biblical tale to see material that has been buried for religious and political reasons. The combat myth that was an integral part of Enuma elish, though edited out of Genesis 1, survived in fragments scattered among the Psalms and in Isaiah, as well as other books of the Bible.
Related Creation Myths
…we should briefly consider the Genesis 2 creation account and the idea that people were created from the soil. This, of course, is very similar to the creation of the lullu in both Atrahasis and Enuma dish. There is also an Egyptian creation myth in which Ptah creates humans on a potter's wheel. In the Mesopotamian creation myths the blood of a divine being is mixed with the clay to animate it. In Genesis 2 God breathes into the man's nostrils; i.e. he puts his spirit into the clay to animate it. This is similar to Hesiod’s Theogony (800 BCE), which was probably being written down at about the same time as the J document. In this myth Prometheus molds people out of clay under the supervision of Athena, who then breathes life into them. Both the breath and blood were seen by the ancients as carriers of the life force. Hence either the deity's breath or blood was required to animate the inert clay.
Before the Fall
Formerly humans were able to change shape and, taking on an animal form, to communicate directly with the animals. They were also able in the twilight world to communicate directly with the gods. Now they are unable to have either form of direct communion unless it is done through a special ritual. In other words self-consciousness severs humans from their original preconscious identification with the cosmos.
The Deluge Legend
…of the material between the Fall and Noah's flood is from the J document. It consists of three major divisions: the Cain and Abel story, the genealogies of the descendants of Cain and Seth, and the Nephilim. While this material has been ordered in such a way as to demonstrate increasing wickedness in the world, it is quite evident that these stories were originally three separate narratives having nothing much to do with either the original creation story or the flood.
Envy of Cain
The story as told in Genesis 4 is that Cain is a farmer, Abel is a shepherd, and they both bring offerings to God. Cain brings his first fruits, Abel his first lambs. God rejects Cain's offering with the implication that Cain did not do well (Gen. 4:6-7). But in the spare biblical narrative we are not told just what was wrong with Cain's offering. Out of jealousy Cain kills Abel. He tries to hide the deed from God by feigning ignorance, saying when God asks Abel's whereabouts, "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper? (Gen. 4:9b). But God says that Abel's blood cries out from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive it from Cain's hand.
Who Was Cain?
...Qayin means a metalworker, and the nomadic Qeni are considered to be a clan, guild or fraternity of itinerant smiths who bore a mark, possibly on their foreheads, as a sign that their lives were sacrosanct. This would fit Cain's unusual position of being at the same time an outcast and yet protected. But how do we account for the position of the Qen? Why were they outcasts and why were their lives sacrosanct? Smiths were often regarded as sorcerers in ancient times. No doubt guilds or fraternities of smiths closely guarded the secrets of metallurgy, which built up a mystique concerning such metals as bronze, an artificial alloy not found in nature, and iron, which in its reduced form is only found naturally in meteorites. Thus, until ironworking was a commonly held skill, whoever could smelt iron could make something otherwise only made by the gods. This, plus the status of the god of the forge as a creator, made smiths a force to be reckoned with. Such people, while enjoying special rank and privilege, are not likely to be welcome as permanent residents lest their dread magic leak out and cause things to go awry. Furthermore, a group separated out by holy marks and special taboos would not be allowed either by their code or that of the Hebrews to marry into the host peoples in most situations. It is notable that Moses, related by marriage to the Kenites, was, as a Levite, a member of another group segregated from the Israelites in general as a tribe of priests, a tribe that did not have its own territory but was scattered among the others. There were probably two basic ways to deal with smiths in ancient times. One was to do something to weaken them and thus bring them under one's power. This would particularly be the case if one wanted to keep the smith from selling his services as a weapon maker to another city. In Greek myth Hephaestos is lame. In the Norse myth of Volund the smith, King Nithoth captures the famed metalworker then lames him to keep him from escaping. As protection from that kind of treatment the Qayin may well have worn a mark (a tattoo?) on his forehead that was a sign of divine prohibition against harming him. Thus the Qeni were probably dealt with in the second way. They would, in most cases, be excluded from the tribal membership and not allowed private ownership of land. This would make them dependent on the hospitality of the people who came to diem to buy or repair metal goods. Their itinerant way of life was balanced against their sacrosanct status in a way that both limited and protected them.
Cain's descendant Tubal-cain, according to Gen. 4:22, was the first metalworker. Tubal is listed in the table of nations in Gen. 10:2 as a son of Japheth and stands for the kingdom of Tabal in eastern Asia Minor. By substitution of consonants the name Tubal (T-B-L) becomes Tibar (T-B-R). The Tibarenians, some of whom might have filtered into Canaan at the time of the Hittites, were among the earliest peoples to smelt and work iron. Thus, Tubal-cain, or Tibar-qayin, becomes an ironsmith. In Gen. 4:22 his actual description is "forger of all instruments of bronze and iron."
The Leviathan Myth
In Hebrew the words that are translated as "without form" and "void" are tohu and bohu, which, literally translated, are "chaos" and "emptiness." The deep, tehom, is related to tohu, and its intensive form (also its plural), tehomot, is cognate with Ti'amat, the Mesopotamian chaos dragon. Bohu is likewise related to a primeval chaos beast, as can be seen from its related forms, hehom and behomot or Behemoth. In Job 40:15-24 Behemoth is described as a powerful land beast with some characteristics of a hippopotamus, and Job 41 describes the sea dragon Leviathan, or in Hebrew Levyatan. If we consider that the v can be as easily be represented by a w and that the w and the y are both semivowels, then the consonant skeleton would be L-T-N, the same as Lotan, the Canaanite sea dragon killed by Baal.
This oracular serpent has one hundred heads and speaks all of man's languages.
Original Serpent Gods of Olympus
...according to some Greek myths, a goddess named Eurynome and her husband Ophion ("serpent") ruled on Olympus before being overthrown by Kronos and Rhea (who were in turn displaced by Zeus and Hera).
The far west was regarded by the ancients as either the land of the dead or a divine realm, a paradise.
St. George: Caucasian God
The principal deity for all practical purposes is the patron saint of the Caucasian region, St. George of Cappadocia, from whom the land of Georgia is popularly supposed to have received its name...He not only causes the herds to multiply, but he heals animals and men and protects his worshippers in times of peril. He is, furthermore, a storm god and solar deity, with his throne on a lofty mountain, whence he sends upon the fields of the wicked the hail that his servants, the divs (Av. daeva."demon"), bring from the sea at his bidding.
Gospel of Mark
Thus, though biblical scholars generally date the Gospel of Mark from a little after 70 CE, the earliest copy we have of it dates from the third century CE and it was, like all such copies, subject to such vagaries as deliberate alteration to fit political and religious views of the copyists, as well as innocent scribal errors.
The substitution of related consonants, in this case an m for a p, is typical of the way names change over time. Both m and p are part of a family of consonants called bilabials. The first member of this group in our Roman alphabet is b. We make the b sound by putting our lips together, then forcing them apart with our breath. The p sound is made the same way, the difference being that we add our voices to b, but only our breath to p. The m sound is made by putting our lips together, the way we do with b and p, and letting our voices vibrate against the closed lips and resonate through the nasal cavity. Thus, b, p, and m are all related.
Not only is transliteration important and potentially tricky, so too is simple translation. Many languages have far fewer words than English. Thus these words have multiple meanings.
The Name “Adam”
Concerning Yahweh's creation of man from the soil, the name Adam, used by us to specify the proper name of a male human being, should be considered more as it was in Hebrew, where ha-adam merely means "the human." The Hebrew word for man as male is ish, while ishah means woman. Ha-adam is closely related to ha-adama "the soil." Thus, we should probably think of ha-adam as "the earthling"…ha-adam merely meant human and was not originally a discrete person of male gender, since the word could be taken as standing for the human race, male and female as the first people were molded in Mesopotamian and Greek myth; what then do we make of Eve?
Pan - means "all."
Eurynome - similar to Irish goddess Eri.
Arum - similar to Irish Eri. In the legend of Gilgamesh, Enkidu is, like Adam, fashioned from clay by the goddess Arum.
Europa - word is derived from Erebeh, meaning "westerner."
Eden - derives from a Hebrew root dn meaning "abundance" or "luxury." Originally from Norse goddess Idhun.
Hurrian - the name is most probably a variant of Aryan or Arya, since the letter "H" was often a prefix signifying "the." It selection of vowels was most likely a duplicitous attempt on the part of historians to disguise the fact that the Hurrians were most probably members of the Arya.
Note: Officially, the Hurrians are considered to have originated in lands west of the Zagros mountains and perhaps in Armenia. They and their language make an appearance around 2700 BC. The Hurrian civilization was largely situated across modern day Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. They conquered the Hittites and had many kingdoms in Northern Mesopotamia. Their cultural and religious elements and linguistic tropes appear to have been adopted by the Babylonians, Hittites and Sumerians. (Teshub, a prototype of Zeus, and the deities Nergal and Ea find their antetypes in the Hurrian pantheon. This goes for the Biblical Eve who is a later variant of the Hurrian goddess Hebat). In the Old Testament, the kingdom of the Hurrians is referred to as Mitanni. The Bible refers to the Hurrians as Hovites or Hivites. The Hurrians are officially considered an Indo-Aryan people, which means that they are considered racially Caucasian. They were probably related to the Sumerians, Amorites, Hittites and Kassites of Old Babylon. One of the great Hurrian kings was Barattarna or Paratarna. This name indicates that he was of British ancestry. The name British derives from the goddess Bharat, and from the Barats or Parats, and ancient “Aryan” race that once existed throughout Europe. (For more information on the Barats, refer to the works of Professor L. A. Waddell)