Author Topic: Genesis 1:1  (Read 2349 times)

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Online JeffPT

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Genesis 1:1
« on: May 27, 2012, 06:29:33 PM »
I just stumbled on this bit of information and I wanted to know if this was a legit criticism. 

Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."  The earliest manuscripts, however, all use the word Elohim which is a plural form of 'god'.  So a better translation might be, "In the beginning, the gods created the heavens and the earth". 

How solid is this?  Is that really a better translation? 
Whenever events that are purported to occur in our best interest are as numerous as the events that will just as soon kill us, then intent is hard, if not impossible to assert. NDT

Offline Nick

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2012, 06:30:30 PM »
Thats what the Mormons believe.
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

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Offline One Above All

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2012, 06:30:36 PM »
BM
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
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Online jetson

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2012, 07:29:13 PM »
Doctorx had some stuff on the pluralistic gods of the OT.  I really want to dig deeper myself.  It gets ignored by all the Jesus freaks, naturally. 

Offline jynnan tonnix

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2012, 08:06:56 PM »
I suppose they could try to plug the concept of the trinity into it if they had no other viable reasoning...

Offline Quesi

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2012, 08:16:15 PM »
Never heard that before, so I googled it.  Gotta love wikipedia.


Elohim (?????????) is a grammatically masculine plural of the Hebrew noun El (god) meaning gods in both modern and ancient Hebrew language. With the advent of monotheism, Elohim is often taken to be singular. When used with singular verbs and adjectives elohim is usually singular, "god" or especially, the God. When used with plural verbs and adjectives elohim is usually plural, "gods" or "powers".[1][2] It is generally thought that Elohim is a formation from eloah, the latter being an expanded form of the Northwest Semitic noun il (???, ??l [3]). It is usually translated as "God" in the Hebrew Bible, referring with singular verbs both to the one God of Israel, and also in a few examples to other singular pagan deities. With plural verbs the word is also used as a true plural with the meaning "gods".[3] The related nouns eloah (????) and el (???) are used as proper names or as generics, in which case they are interchangeable with elohim.[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elohim

And a bit further down:

Abraham's "the gods caused me"
 
In Gen 20:13 Abraham, before the Philistine king Abimelech, says that "the gods (elohim) caused (plural verb) me to wander".[9] The Greek Septuagint and most English versions usually translate this "God caused", possibly to avoid the implication of Abraham deferring to Abimelech's polytheistic beliefs.[10][/i]

I always wondered about the "I am a jealous God" in the 10 commandments.  Who would the sole omnipotent ominous being be jealous of? 

Offline Death over Life

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2012, 08:52:49 PM »
I would apologize for having a lack of links atm, but the answer is yes. Back in the days when the Jews were trying to invent their own religion, during the Torah days, they were Polytheists, so it made complete sense that they used Elohim instead of El like later on.

It wasn't until after they met with some Zoroastrians did they decide to become Monotheists, and thus, changed it from Elohim to El.

Offline albeto

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2012, 09:24:27 PM »
According to one old testament scholar, the text should read, "in the beginning God separated the Heaven and the Earth."  The idea that Yahweh is the creator of heaven and earth not being original to the story. 

And yeah, I find it scrumptiously ironic that fundies refuse to read the creation story literally because that would do away with the One God theory.  Mormons totally beat them at their own game. Well, that is until they get to their other books and history and all that silly jazz. 

Offline Add Homonym

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2012, 10:13:08 PM »
They do a subtle phase-in through Genesis 2-3, where he is "LORD God" for a while. Then it alternates between LORD and God, with no particular pattern.

By Gen 15:2 : And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?

Suddenly, you have a lower case Lord, meaning adonai, and upper case GOD, meaning Yahweh. Recapping:

LORD = Yahweh
Lord = adonai
God = Elohim
GOD = Yahweh

Gen 17:7 gives some evidence that Elohim is a generic name for a god.

The evidence is scant in the OT that Elohim and Yahweh are two different Gods because, the writers have covered it up; you know, as you would.
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Offline jeremy0

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2012, 11:03:24 PM »
I would apologize for having a lack of links atm, but the answer is yes. Back in the days when the Jews were trying to invent their own religion, during the Torah days, they were Polytheists, so it made complete sense that they used Elohim instead of El like later on.

It wasn't until after they met with some Zoroastrians did they decide to become Monotheists, and thus, changed it from Elohim to El.
This would be my answer - the best way to dig down to the gritty is to analyze what these specific societies were like during the time of the writing.  In another topic, we were discussing 'objective morality', which I argued is always 'subjective' at some point in time - the only thing that makes it objective is if you don't think about it at all, don't let your feelings intervene, and take it at face value from another object (book).  Anyway, what I'm getting at is if you looked at the bible, you would find that the different parts of morality in it reflect changes in morality at given regions and times...

In other words, any writing that you find to be 'holy text', just analyze the culture of the time and region and you will get an exact match.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2012, 08:22:21 AM »
How solid is this?  Is that really a better translation?

It is pretty solid.  god is referred to in the plural at least 5 times in genesis.  This was the straw that broke the back of my faith.

If you would like a better understanding of how polytheistic canaanite religion became monotheistic judaism, I suggest a book called The Evolution of God, by Robert Wright.  Actually, that one explains how religion progressed from animism and belief in nature spirits all the way through islam. But it covers the transformation to judaism. 

I believe this book can be found as a free pdf on the internet.  I have posted a link to it before, so do a search on my posts to find it.
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Offline pianodwarf

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2012, 08:40:06 AM »
How solid is this?  Is that really a better translation?

It is pretty solid.  god is referred to in the plural at least 5 times in genesis.  This was the straw that broke the back of my faith.

There are some other interesting indications in this department as well.  kcrady pointed out a while back, for instance, that at the beginning of Genesis, "God" (Elohim) is an astoundingly powerful being who creates the entire universe, light and darkness, the sun and moon, and so on, just by saying "let there be {whatever}".  Just a bit further on, however, when Elohim becomes Yahweh, he's little more than a stage magician -- to create man, he has to mold a mannequin out of dirt and blow on it to make it come to life.  It's almost like he's a Boy Scout starting a fire or something.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2012, 08:58:51 AM »
when Elohim becomes Yahweh,

Not exactly.  As I understand, the elohim was a pantheon of 70 gods.  El was the top dog.  others were Baal, yhwh and Asherah (yhwh's wife). Each god was a god of a people.  El was the god of the northern kingdom, israel.  yhwh was the god of the southern kingdom, judah.  Israel got trounced and its people emigrated south and the two cultures blended.  While they had similar cultures, their stories were a little different.  This is why you see doublets of stories in the bible so often.  One story is from the E source (for Elohist, or israel) and the other is from the J source (or Jahwist, Judah).

Much later, when they were finally beaten, the two gods became synonymous with each other and eventually became just God. God has all sorts of attributes that neither yhwh nor el had.  God is all powerful, intangible, omnipresent, omniscient.  Neither El nor yhwh have those traits.
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Offline HAL

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2012, 09:02:31 AM »
The earliest manuscripts, however, all use the word Elohim which is a plural form of 'god'.  So a better translation might be, "In the beginning, the gods created the heavens and the earth". 

How solid is this?  Is that really a better translation?

Can anyone post a link to an early transcript that uses plural "gods". I just want to have it bookmarked.

Offline Add Homonym

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2012, 11:47:06 AM »
http://www.tektonics.org/lp/monoelohim.html

They can argue their way out of it... and it's not surprising that the monotheistic priests would have edited it, to be more or less consistent. It's the archeological evidence which is important.
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Offline Mooby

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2012, 12:07:47 PM »
Here's some historical context:

« Last Edit: May 28, 2012, 12:13:30 PM by Mooby »
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2012, 09:45:04 PM »
http://www.tektonics.org/lp/monoelohim.html

They can argue their way out of it... and it's not surprising that the monotheistic priests would have edited it, to be more or less consistent. It's the archeological evidence which is important.

from your link:
Quote
There are many elohim, but only one was ever accorded worship and designated as the Creator. That one is the "elohim" with the capital E, to say it as we might. David and Moses spoke of other elohim, sometimes as objectively real, but never other than one as worthy of praise and worship.

Sort of accurate.  There was only one of the elohim who was worthy of the hebrews' worship. That was sort of the whole point of them form the start.  Each people had their own god. 


The earliest manuscripts, however, all use the word Elohim which is a plural form of 'god'.  So a better translation might be, "In the beginning, the gods created the heavens and the earth". 

How solid is this?  Is that really a better translation?

Can anyone post a link to an early transcript that uses plural "gods". I just want to have it bookmarked.

my understanding is in any bible it will use "god" where in hebrew it said "yhwh" and "the lord" where it said "elohim". 

instances of elohim in the KJV  http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H430&t=KJV

there is also The Bible with Sources Revealed by Richard Elliot Friedman.  He shows which verses were by the E source (Elohist, thus us elohim) and which were by the J source (Jahwist, thus uses yhwh) as well as the other hypothesized writers and editors in the Documentary Hypothesis.
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Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2012, 07:12:44 PM »
Anybody taking note that not one Christian has addressed thisThis God guy went from being a god in a pantheon of gods to being the only God of the universe.

 These theists have active imaginations.....then you point out some major flaw and all you hear are crickets
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2012, 09:04:07 AM »
Anybody taking note that not one Christian has addressed thisThis God guy went from being a god in a pantheon of gods to being the only God of the universe.

 These theists have active imaginations.....then you point out some major flaw and all you hear are crickets

A standard response, which is difficult to argue against, is God has revealed himself to us in stages as we matured socially and spiritually.  The hebrews knew god to be a certain way which reflected their culture and times because that was all they were capable of.  We understand god differently because when jesus H was sent, we had grown and were capable of a better understanding. 

What they will not tell you is that if that is true, our understanding of god may still be growing and more will be revealed later.  They think they have the last word on god. 
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Offline Mooby

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2012, 02:00:51 PM »
What screwtape said, with the exception that I believe God continues to reveal Himself, both in communities and in everyday life.  This is the basis for the Catholic Church's Sacred Tradition, which grows as the Church interprets new revelations.

However, many Protestant churches do not follow this, instead placing the Christ as the fullness of revelation.  Thus, one of these Christians would say that the revelations to the Hebrews were geared to prepare them for a messiah, and when Jesus came he brought the fullness of God's revelation with Him.
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Online Graybeard

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #20 on: May 30, 2012, 03:29:00 PM »
The url does not seem to be extant. Fortunately, I have copied the text. Dr X, who was quite brilliant and  appeared here at one time wrote on the history of the gods as follows

Part I

Doctor X http://www.freethought-forum.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-19920.html
05-06-2009, 04:24 PM
The Hebrew Bible [HB—Ed.] is predominantly a polytheistic and, more specifically, a henotheistic text. “Polytheism” refers to the belief in many gods, while “henotheism” refers to the belief in one god as greater or ruling over other gods. The HB reflects specific religions at the time of the composition of its texts, and each text is really a combination of sources with individual religious views, (Friedman, WWtB; TBwSR). As Dever cautions, they do not represent the religions practices by the people (Dever); indeed, writers condemn popular practices and rival views. In some cases, the writers wrote against the prevailing opinion. The evidence for the polytheism of the religion of the people that produced the texts of the Hebrew Bible exists in extra-biblical inscriptions, iconography, and in the texts themselves (Cross, Handy, Keel, Schmidt). While potentially offensive to the beliefs of modern adherents, understanding the texts and the religions they represent requires an honest reading of them. The texts themselves preserve a fascinating history of religious development.

With regards to the specific texts and inscriptions examined, I preserve the renderings and transliterations offered by the scholars in my quotations of them [Correcting if necessary.--Ed.]. Otherwise, I prefer the consonantal Biblical Hebrew since it avoids confusion and controversy regarding the vowels. For transliteration, I follow the Masoretic choices in this essay for ease of reading.

Exodus preserves unmistakable textual evidence for henotheism. The independent poem “the Song of the Sea,” possibly the oldest composition in the Hebrew Bible (Cross; Friedman, TBwSR), preserved in Exod 15:2-18, asks in verse 11, “Who among the gods is like you, YHWH?” This verse assumes the existence of other gods and considers YHWH greater than them. Similarly, in a verse from a different source (Friedman, TBwSR) Jethro states,“Now I know that YHWH is greater than all other gods,” (Exod 18:11). The following five passages from Exodus and from different authors, reiterate the prohibition of the worship of other gods. These commandments should not be confused with the mere proscription of the worship of idols or statues; it is acknowledge that other gods exist, but they must not be worshipped:

Exodus 20:3 “You shall not have other gods before my face.”

Exodus 22:19 “One who sacrifices to gods shall be completely destroyed--except to YHWH alone.”

Exodus 23:24 “Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices.”

Exodus 23:32 “Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods.”

Exodus 34:14 “Do not worship any other god, for YHWH, whose name is Jealous, and is a jealous god.”

The prohibition against the worship of other gods is anything but infrequent in the HB, to the point that YHWH declares his own jealously on the issue. Exodus 20:4 specifically prohibits the creation and worship idols: “You shall not make a statue or any form that is in the skies above or that is in the earth below or that is in the water below the earth.” Compare the later Deuteronomistic version of the passage, Deut 5:7-10:

You shall not have other gods before my face.
You shall not make a statue, and form that is in the skies above or that is in the earth below or that is in the water below the earth.
You shall not bow to them, and you shall not serve them. Because I, YHWH, your god, am a jealous god, . . . .

Schmidt notes:

Deut 5:7-10 neither unequivocally denies the existence of other gods nor does it address the making of YHWH images. Instead, it assumes the existence of other gods . . . while warning against the total abandonment of YHWH or the diminishing of his importance relative to that of other gods. In other words, if one refrains from reading a monotheistic or an aniconic perspective into these verses, one does not find it present in them (Schmidt).

One version of the Decalogue, Exod 20:2-17, possibly a source independent to the main authors of the text (Friedman, TBwSR), is dependent upon Hosea (Cohn):

Hos 13:4 I am YHWH your god since your days in Egypt, you know no god(s) [Elohim—Ed.] but me, and besides me there is no saviour.

Cohn explains that Hosea is, “. . . the oldest document of the Yahweh-alone movement,” and, “. . . what the Book of Hosea portrays is an official religion that is polytheistic, and which is therefore abomination by Yahweh, . . .” (Cohn).

The existence of multiple gods is assumed throughout the Psalms (Handy). Psalm 82 describes a great assembly of gods, who are all “sons of the Most High”:

Ps 82: 1-7: God [Elohim—Ed.] presides in the great assembly [‘adat ‘el, “the assembly of El,” see below.—Ed.]; he gives judgment among the gods [Elohim—Ed.]:
“How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked?
Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.
Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
They know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
I said, “You are gods [Elohim—Ed.]; you are all sons of the Most High.
But you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler,” (Handy, with reference to the Hebrew)

Handy notes, “Psalm 82 deals solely with the deities of the higher orders and conforms to the understanding of those deities; . . .” (Handy). It refers specifically to “gods,” elohim, and not “angels” or other figures (Handy). Cross notes that YHWH judges in the ‘adat ‘el, “the assembly of El” and condemns the gods of this council to death (Cross), though “YHWH” is not actually attested in the Hebrew.

This henotheism is underscored in the following four excerpts from Psalms:

Ps 86:8 “Among the gods there is none like
you, YHWH, abounding in love to all who call to you.”

Ps 95:3 “For YHWH is the great god, the great king above all gods.”

Ps 97:7 “For you, YHWH, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.”

Ps 135:5 “I know that YHWH is great, that YHWH is greater than all gods.”

Handy concludes: “. . , the Psalms also convey a belief in the existence of other deities in the divine realm and, if these poems did indeed derive from the cult, then it would have to be argued that the Judahite cult recognized several deities. This seems the most reasonable conclusion from the biblical texts,” (Handy). As in Exodus, these Psalms acknowledge the existence of other deities, while subordinating all of them to their god. This contributes to the idea of competition between gods, as in Exodus where YHWH competes and defeats the Egyptian gods where both sides exhibit feats of power and divinity.

However YHWH does not always win. In a curious passage, a foreign king’s sacrifice of his son to his god results in the defeat of the attacking Israelites:

2 Kgs 3:26-27 Seeing that the battle was going against him, the king of Moab led an attempt of seven hundred swordsmen to break a way through to the king of Edom; but they failed. So he took his first-born son, who was to succeed him as king, and offered him up on the wall as a burnt offering. A great wrath came upon Israel, so they withdrew from him and went back to their own land.

Levenson notes, “More serious is the great “wrath” (qesep) that falls on Israel . . , for the implication is clear: Mesha’s sacrifice worked. . . . . . . the term qesep indicates a force external to the people involved. . . . the author saw Mesha’s sacrifice of his first-born son as having a profound effect upon the deity to whom it was offered, in this case presumably the Moabite national deity Chemosh. . . . (Levenson). This is a reasonable presumption since the historical Mesha sacrifices Israelites to Chemosh as described in his Stela:

And Chemosh said to me, “Go, take Nebo from Israel!” (15) So I went up by night and fought against it from the break of dawn until noon, taking it and slaying all, seven thousand men, boys, women, girls and maid-servants, for I have devoted them to destruction for (the god) Ashtar-Chemosh. And I took from there the [ . . . ] of Yahweh, dragging them before Chemosh. And the king of Israel had built Jahaz, and he dwelt there while he was fighting against me, but Chemosh drove him out before me (Albright).

Extra-Biblical evidence of polytheism places the texts in context. Edelman notes:

During the period when Judah existed as a state, from ca. 960-586 BCE, it seems to have had a national pantheon headed by the divine couple, Yahweh and Asherah. As the title Yahweh Sebaot would suggest, Yahweh was king of a whole heavenly host that included lesser deities who did his bidding, having various degrees of autonomy depending upon their status within the larger hierarchy (Edelman).

Excavations of a caravanserai at Kuntillet ‘Ajrud dated to the first half of the eighth century, revealed paintings and inscriptions on two large storage jars or pithoi (Keel). Controversy persists on whether or not the depictions represent YHWH and the goddess Asherah (Keel, Laughlin, Schmidt), however the inscription on pithos A reads: “brkt ’tkm lyhwh šmron wl’šrth,” translated: “I bless you/have blessed you to/before Yahweh of Samaria and his a/Asherah,” (Keel, Laughlin, Schmidt). Pithos B read: “brktk l[y]hwh tmn wl’šrth,” (Keel) translated: “I bless you/have blessed you to/before Yahweh of Teman and his a/Asherah,” (Day, Keel, Smith, OBM). Laughlin notes that while debate continues as to whether or not the inscription intends a cultic symbol, “asherah,” or a consort goddess akin to the Canaanite Asherah, consort of the god and probable equivalent to YHWH, Baal (Cross), “. . . these inscriptions and other material remains . . . all point to the fact that in popular religion, at least, many Israelites associated Yahweh with a female consort,” (Laughlin). Schmidt notes the controversy of having the terminal “h” at the end of “asherah” in that many claim this indicates it is not a personal name but only a cultic object: “I . . . reiterate the point that such suffixes occur on personal names in other Semitic languages (Akkadian, Ugaritic[?], Ethiopic, and Arabic) . . . and that the limited data of biblical Hebrew hardly suffices as an adequate base for dismissing the possibility that such might show up in preexilic epigraphic Hebrew,” and notes Wellhausen’s reconstruction of Hos 14:9: “‘I am his Anat and his Asherah,’ ?????? ???? ??? . (YHWH here lays claim to the powers of fertility attributed to these deities),” (Schmidt). Dever, a firm proponent for the identification of "asherah" with "Asherah"--see further--admits the point that, "in biblical Hebrew, a proper name like 'Asherah' does not usually take a possessive suffix like 'his,' but reaffirms, ". . . there are some occurrences of such a construction in the parent Canaanite language, and also in late Hebrew and Aramaic," (Dever).

Dever pays particular attention to the seated figure in Pithos A: "I proposed in 1982 to identify her with the goddess Asherah, who is of course mentioned specifically in the Hebrew texts at the top of the scene," (Dever). Dever notes first that ". . . this semi-nude, bare-breasted female was not likely to be an ordinary Judean housewife or a worshipper," (Dever). He places particular importance on the chair which he describes as a "lion throne,":

This is not a familiar side chair. Note the splayed, claw-like feet; the "panelled" sides; the slightly tilted back; and the fact that figure's feet are dangling in the air, suggesting a missing footstool, (Dever).

I will grant criticism with this identification; perhaps Dever reads into the depiction a bit of detail and meaning. However, his rationale for this remains trenchant to understanding the position of Asherah as a goddess in general. As he notes, these "lion thrones," ". . . are very common in Ancient Near Eastern art and iconography, stretching back hundreds of years before Kuntillet ?Ajrûd. And as I discovered, 'lion thrones' are always associated with deities or kings--never with ordinary human beings," (Dever). Thus, if this is indeed a "lion throne," Dever is perhaps correct to identify the figure with a goddess. However, he further notes that, ". . . we have a mass of inscriptional evidence from the Levantine Iron Age showing that a frequent epithet of the goddess Asherah was 'the Lion Lady,'" (Dever). For those who find Dever's conclusion highly speculative and problematic, I will merely note that there have been scholars who initially wondered if the one of the paired Bes figures with breasts represented Asherah, which then required them to explain that "tail" between "her" legs. On that point, Dever notes:

. . . Bes is an androgynous deity and can appear as either male or female. In any case, Bes is an apotropaic deity, one who "turns away" bad luck, associated particularly with music, dancing, and celebrations in the cult. He was very popular, both in Egypt and throughout the Levant (even in Mesopotamia). Small faience Bes amulets are quite common in 8th-7th century B.C. Judean tombs, so his presence in cultic art at Kuntillet ?Ajrûd is not at all suprising, (Dever)

In compiling this essay, I initially noted that while a number of scholars refer to these pithoi for the references to YHWH, particularly in connection to Temen, only Keel and Uelinger mention inscriptions to other deities such as El and Ba’al recorded in ink in ancient Phoenician script on the plaster walls (Keel). This may be due to the fact that, “. . . we still wait publication of these inscriptions,” (Keel); nevertheless, there exists blessings to El, Ba’al, and YHWH (Keel). This has happily changed with the publication of Zevit's translations--"based on firsthand examination in the Israel Museum," (Dever, citing Zevit)--and Dever refers to them specifically and provides an example:

To bless Ba ?al on the day of w[ar
To the name of El on the day of w[ar (Dever).

Added to the findings at Kuntillet ‘Ajrud are inscriptions scratched into the bedrock in a at Khirbet el-Qom dated from the second half of the eighth century (Keel). The inscription reads: ’ryhw h‘šr ktbh brk ’ryhw lyhwh wm?ryh l’šrth hwš‘ lh l’nyhw l’šrth wl’[š]rth, translated: “Uriyahu, the honorable, has written [this] (or: “this is his inscription”): Blessed is/be Uriyahu by YHWH and from his oppressors, by his a/Asherah, he has saved him [written?] by Oniyahu.” “. . . by his asherah . . . and by his asherah. . . ” (Keel). Note that Keel and Uelinger feel ’šrth in this and in the Kuntillet ‘Ajrud refer to a cult object that YHWH acts through rather than the actual goddess (Keel). I do not intend to solve the dispute between two theories: whether these inscriptions specifically refer to Asherah or an asherah; however, Asherah certainly seems to have been intentionally diminished to a cult object in the biblical texts. 2 Kgs 21:7 has the condemnation of Manasseh for placing a graven image of Asherah in the Temple; Day argues for this understanding of a graven image of a goddess rather than a cult object based on the Hebrew (Day). 2 Kgs 23:4-7 refer to the Asherah multiple times. I agree with Day that verse 4: “the king commanded . . . to bring out of the temple of YHWH all the vessels made for Ba’al, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven,” refers to the goddess rather than a mere cult object (Day). As Day notes, Smith disagrees with this (Smith, EHG), suggesting that this may be polemic on the part of the Deuteronomistic Historian rather than actual historical observation, (Smith,EHG). I do not find that a convincing argument, particularly in light of 2 Kgs 21:7 While the texts preserve references to her as well as other deities, by the time of their compilation and probable individual composition, there was at least the intent to diminish her as an actual goddess. However, Wyatt notes in his essay on Asherah, the problem with the meaning of "the asherah"--h? ’?š?r?h--?????--". . . not only is the attitude of the biblical writers not entirely consistent but neither is the usage, the article being absent, or not presupposed by suffixes, . . . . . . Furthermore, the matter of reference of a given passage, to cultic object or goddess, is independent of the use of the article. This is clear from the fact that in every instance where 'Baal" is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, the article is used," (Wyatt). That last part is critical, since claims that the texts merely refer to a cult object and not the goddess to the point of separating the object from the goddess entirely, tend to be based on the fact the definite article is use. Wyatt feels the use of the definite article removes, ". . . the proper name status of the noun, making it into a general term for a deity, though the use of the article with ’?l?hîm in its designation of the god of Israel suggests that the mechanical application of grammatical rules may be premature," (Wyatt). Indeed it does.

I have long suspected the reticence of scholars to accept the references to Asherah--particularly the Kuntillet 'Arjud and Khirbet el-Qom inscriptions--arise more from theological than evidentiary concerns. While I accept the existence of the grammatical issues with both inscriptions, I wondered, frankly, at the blessing to YHWH and his tree! I further wondered about it happening twice! Fortunately, Dever puts this quite bluntly:

In any case, some scholars read the consonant ?a-sh-r here not as "Asherah" but as "asherah," the tree-like symbol of the goddess. They read my Kh. el-Qôm inscription . . . the same way, thus "may X be blessed by Yahweh and his 'tree.'" I find that rather desperate, and I suspect that it reflects the reluctance of many biblical scholars even to consider the possibility that Yahweh may have had a female consort. Yet many scholars increasingly acknowledge that the Hebrew word ??sh?r?h sometimes must be read "Asherah," and that this goddess was venerated throughout much of the monarchy. So why not as Yahweh's consort? How can we continue to insist that ancient Israel was "unique?" (Dever)

I do not think it is merely the squeamishness with respect to a consort, but with the obvious polytheism implied. Even though some of the scholars referenced in this essay--and named specifically by Dever--do appear to admit the polytheism of "early" religions, they do seem to want to assume that monotheism became the norm--even if it was really a henotheism! In a way, they buy into the intent of the P author that earlier deities and, even in some myths a superior deity, were "really just YHWH all along!" However, as Dever argues most persuasively, the "biblically sanctioned, monolithic form of Israelite religion," was never "normative," and certainly not in some way enforced, (Dever). As wiser men have noted, that which is condemned in text is that which was widely practiced.

I will then take it a bit further: while many scholars accept the polytheism and then henotheism, they still wish to pretend that underneath their personal beliefs lies a "certainty" preserved in the texts that reflected a "religion," and all of the other considerations such as the religions practiced by actual people are just off-shoots or ultimately minority departures from this "norm."

Given all of that, one must consider the passage which shows YHWH as subordinate to El. Deut 32:8-9 describes how when Elyon--?????--the "Most High,"--an El title--see Psalm 82: "El Elyon"-- parcelled out the nations between his sons, YHWH received Israel as his portion. This should not be surprising given that "Israel" is an El theophoric rather than a YHWH theophoric.

Similarly, Jerusalem is a theophoric of the Canaanite god Shalem, or dusk, "the foundation of Shalem," (Day). Shahar is dawn and is part of the famous Isaiah 14:12-14 taunt against the king of Babylon discussed more completely here (http://www.freethought-forum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=19921).

The text refers specifically states "the stars of El,"--?????? ??--l??ô???ê ’?l--which Herrmann notes represents an attempt by the tyrant, ". . . to exercise dominion over the universe, something traditionally reserved for El, the divine lord," (Herrmann). Smith notes that “Shahar and Shalim seem to continue into Israelite religion,” with both appearing in proper names (Smith, OBM). Shalem, in particular, appears in the biblical texts, “including in the form of proper names such as ’?bîš?l?m,” and proper names with šlm appearing as a theophoric element in inscriptions found in Arad, Ein Gedi, and Lachish, (Smith, OBM). Smith concludes, “Given their earlier and later attestation as deities, the sun and moon likely continued as deities at this stage as well, (Smith, OBM).

Later scribes tried to change this meaning. Day, Schmidt, and Smith note the textual evidence establishes the preferred reading of "sons of God"--more properly "gods": bene elohim--??? ?????--rather than the Masoretic text's "sons of Israel"--bene yisra' el--??? ?????, (Day, Schmidt, Smith, EHG). Tov gives a detailed analysis of this passage and concludes, “It appears, however, that the scribe of an early text, now reflected in [Sigla for Masoretic Text, Samaritan Pentateuch, Targumin, Syriac Peshitta, Vulgate—Ed], did not feel at ease with this possibly polytheistic picture and replaced ‘sons of El’ [Tov appears to equate "elohim" with "El." There is no textual basis for this. It is "elohim," or "gods."--Ed.] with ??? ?????, ‘the sons of Israel,’ (Tov). Tov also notes that this compares well with the earlier reading of Ps 29:1 “Ascribe to YHWH, sons of gods----ascribe to YHWH glory and strength, (Tov), “. . . which also in other details reflects situations and phrases known from Ugaritic [Canaanite—Ed.] texts, does, in this detail, provide a polytheistic picture of the assembly of gods (Tov, citing Cross, BASOR). Curiously, Friedman tries to preserve the now discredited reading, (Friedman, TBwSR). Thus:

When Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
When he separated humanity,
He fixed the boundaries of the peoples
According to the number of sons of gods.
For YHWH's portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted heritage.

As, Schmidt notes:

The relevant Septuagint and Qumran readings of Deut 32:8-9 describe how the Most High or the Canaanite high god, El . . . had allotted to each of the nations one of the members of his pantheon or "sons of El" (la ynb). . . . Deut 32:9 also reveals that YHWH was once viewed as an independent, but subordinate, deity to El and was assigned by El to Jacob/Israel. In other words, the tradition suggests that YHWH was once viewed as a deity possessing equal or lower rank and power to that of the astral gods, (Schmidt).

Did YHWH create the divine pantheon, or, particularly El to whom he was subordinate? No biblical, or extra-biblical, source supports such a belief. A sherd found in excavations of the Jewish Quarter dated in the 7th century BCE demonstrates the importance of an El deity in Jerusalem: l qn 'rs "El, creator of the earth," (Keel). This compares to other inscriptions in Phoenician and neo-Punic: ’l qn ‘rs “El creator of the earth,” (Day). Finally, Day notes that, “. . . the Old Testament never refers to the heavenly court as ‘the sons of Yahweh,’” it is always some form of “sons of El” (Day, YHWH).

Gen 14 is a curious narrative source without the characteristics of J, E, or P (Friedman, TBwSR) which provides further evidence that Elyon was an El title, and El was the deity of the "patriarchal period." Finkelstein notes that it provides information only relevant to the 7th century BCE (Finkelstein). While not remarking on the possible implication that El was the patriarchal deity, Tov discusses a probable theological interpolation in Gen 14:22: "But Abram said to the king of Sodom, 'I swear to YHWH, El Elyon, creator of heaven and earth.'" As Tov notes, the verse uses the same construct for "creator"--??? (Tov)--qnh--of the Earth--'rs--???--as seen in the Ugaritic texts. Recall the the inscriptions cited by Day in the previous paragraph. Tov notes that the addition of "YHWH" occurred in the Masoretic text, as well as the Targum or Aramaic translations and Vulgate, but is missing in the LXX, Syriac, and Qumran text known as 1QapGen or "The Genesis Apocryphon from Qumran, cave 1," (Tov). Interestingly, the Samaritan version "the elohim," (Tov). As Tov notes, "[the] presumably original text of this verse, reflected by the shorter version of [Symbols for LXX, Syriac--Ed.], and 1QapGen, referred to God as ?????, "Most High," (Tov). He further notes Gen 14:19 where the same construct occurs without any addition of "YHWH," (Tov). Gen 14:19 reads, "'Blessed is Abram to El the Highest [El Elyon---Ed.], creator of skies/heaven and earth.'" Clearly, at a later point, the attempt to equate YHWH with El drove the addition in verse 22. However, given Finkelstein's analysis, and the even later witness of the LXX, this would have occurred after the collection of the various texts into the version extant. In other words, El was seen as the deity of the patriarchs, and it was only much later, after the formation of the texts, that attempts were made to equate YHWH with El. Even Elnes & Miller in their essay on the term "Elyon," who unpersuasively try to assert that in the Hebrew Bible the epithet may apply to YHWH, even in Deut 32:8, have to concede that Gen 14 provides evidence of a link of the cult of El-Elyon with Jerusalem (Elnes & Miller).
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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2012, 03:30:28 PM »
Part II


Thus we come to the P passage from Exodus where P reveals the name YHWH:

Exod 6:2-3: “And Elohim spoke to Moses, “I am YHWH, I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as El Shadday, but by my name YHWH I did not make myself known to them, (Smith, OBM, corrected)

Smith notes that this passage “shows that YHWH was unknown to the patriarchs. Rather, they are depicted as worshipers of El,” (Smith, OBM). J, of course, refers to YHWH throughout. The Patriarchs are not historical figures, and the stories are anachronistic. Nevertheless, it appears that P responds to the tradition that, in the past, El rather than YHWH was worshiped. Smith reviews passages where El is a separate figure such as Gen 49, Ps 82, Exod 49, verses 24-25 which presents “. . . a series of El epithets separate from the mention of Yahweh in verse 18,” as well as Deut 32 discussed above (Smith, OBM). Gen 49:25 has:

From the god/El of your father who supports you,
???l-Šadday who blesses you (Cross, who corrects the Hebrew, Dever renders "El your father": see below).

"El Shadday"--??? ???????--"shadday" means "mountain," and while Bibles such as the RSV translate it as "Almighty," Dever argues, in my mind correctly, that "the divine name is really 'El, the One of the mountains,'" as in Gen 17:1, (Dever). That translators of bibles diminish the polytheism with such euphemisms should not surprise, though I am often amused that scholars such as Dever who recognize what El Shadday means then retain the terms "Lord" and "God" for YHWH and El.

Exod 49, known as the “Blessing of Jacob” “is an independent, old composition probably coming from the premonarchic period,” used by J “as a source of information on which to construct part of the history of the tribes of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah,” (Friedman, TBwSR). Dever affirms that many scholars date the text as among the oldest preserved in the HB: "11th century B.C.," (Dever). Dever renders ????? ??????? as "by El of your father," which I would agree is the preferred reading since there is no indication that ??? refers to a generic "god," particularly when Cross argues for the specific "El Shadday." As with Smith, Dever emphasizes the three epithets for this patriarchal deity which all apply to El: "Bull of Jacob," "Shepherd, Rock of Israel," and, of course, "El Shadday," (Dever, Smith, OBM). As Dever, Cross, and others note, "Bull" is a common epithet for El. "Israel" is, of course, an El theophoric.

Part of Smith’s thesis in his Origins of Biblical Monotheism is that El, rather than YHWH, served as the original deity of the Exodus (Smith OBM). Along with the passages previously discusses, ones such as the E texts of Num 23:22, which is equivalent to Num 24:8, identify El as the chief deity of Israel (Smith, EDB): “El, who brings them out of Egypt, is like the horns of a wild ox for them.” Moses prays to El on behalf of Miriam in the E text of Num 12:13 “El, please, heal her, please,” (Smith, EDB). Dever provides a very nice list of the principle appearances of El in the HB texts, which includes Gen 14:18-24; 16:13; 17:1; 21:33; 31:13; 33:20; 35:11; 43:14; 49:25, and Exod 6:3, (Dever). Smith's seems the most reasonable conclusion based on the textual and archaeological evidence.

Who then is this El––??? The answer may appear confusing depending upon the text and period, he was both a distinct deity a generic term for “god,” a duality that appears in the biblical texts. “In many West Semitic languages,” Smith notes, “the name of El Is the same as the word for ‘god,’ perhaps evidence that El was the pre-eminent god of older West Semitic pantheon (or possibly divinity incarnate),” (Smith, EDB). He agrees with Herrmann, Day, and others that the word “El” may derive from the verb ’wl, “to be strong,” or “to be in front,” as into “dominate,” (Dahood, Day, PC, Herrmann, Pope, Röllig, Smith, EDB). Smith notes that texts from Ebla, Mari, and Armarna attest to El as a theophoric element in personal names, which suggest he served as a major deity in Syria-Palestine (Smith, EDB). Keel and Uehlinger provide numerous examples of El iconograph (Keel & Uehlinger).

The greatest source of El mythology are the Ugaritic texts from Ras Shamra. Herrmann notes that in about half of the more than five hundred references to El in the Ugaritic texts, “El denotes a distinct deity who, residing on the sacred mountain, occupies within the myths the position of master of the Ugaritic pantheon,” (Herrmann). He carries such epithets as mlk, “king,” qdš, “holy,” ’ab šnm, “father of years,” and ab adam, “father of mankind,” (Hermmann, Smith, EDB). Considered benevolent, he possesses the wisdom required to judge everything correctly, (Hermmann).

In view of such evidence, particularly Deut 32, Smith concludes as do many other scholars—and I agree—that, “. . . originally El was Israel’s chief god, as suggested by the personal name, Israel. Then when the cult of Yahweh became more important in the land of early Israel, the view reflected in Deuteronomy 32:8-9 served as a mode to accommodate this religious development,” (Smith, OBM). This conclusion is supported by the other evidence presented thus far, including iconography.

Smith contends that the cultural process that lies behind this accommodation, “. . . can be understood better by noting the religious language and imagery associated with specific sanctuaries (Smith, EDB):

1 Sam. 1-3 describes the divine appearance to Samuel in incubation-dreams at the sanctuary at Shiloh, the divine gift of a child to Hannah, and the El name of Elkanah (suggesting an El worshipper?), all of which would cohere with the view that El was the original god at Shiloh (Judg.18:31; cf. 17:5). The tent tradition associated with Shiloh (Ps. 78:60; Josh. 18:1; 1 Sam. 2:22) comports with the Ugaritic descriptions of El’s abode as a tent. It is probably no accident that Ps. 78 repeatedly uses El names and epithets in its discussion of Shiloh. Furthermore, it is arguable from the cult of Shiloh and the Egyptian names in the Shilohite lineage (Moses, Phinehas, Hopni, Merari) that the god of Moses and the levitical priesthood at Shiloh was El (Smith, EDB).

“At Shechem,” Smith continues, “the local god was El-berith, ‘El of the covenant’ (Judg. 9:46; cf. 8:33; 9:4). In the patriarchal narratives, the god of Shechem (’?l) is called ’?l?hê yiš?’?l, ‘the god of Israel,’ and is presumed to be Yahweh. In this case, a process of reinterpretation appears to be at work,” (Smith, EDB). When the cult of Shechem became YHWHistic, as Smith explains, YHWH inherited the old title of El-- ’?l b?rî? (Smith, EDB). Smith concludes:

As these accounts suggest, at various points and under different circumstances Israelite religious centers based in the central highlands identified Yahweh, the god of the southern region, with their local main god, El. In identifying Yahweh secondarily with El, the priesthood at cultic sites of El, such as Shiloh, Shechem, and Jerusalem, melded the religious lore of Yahweh with the indigenous traditions about El, (Smith, EDB).

Herrmann concludes:

It should remarked that the references applying the noun ’?l to Yahweh increase from the Babylonian era onward (Isa 4018; 42:5; 43:10,12; 45:14, 15, 20-22; 46:9; Num 16:22; 1 Sam 2:3; Josh 22:22; Isa 12:2; Lam 3:41). They prove that El did not disappear from the religious sphere and should likewise be judged as an intentionally archaizing element (Herrmann).

What, then is the origin of YHWH--????? To begin, as van der Toorn summarizes, even the correct pronunciation, ". . . was gradually lost: the Masoretic form 'Jehovah' is in reality a combination of the consonants of the tetragrammaton [YHWH--Ed.] with the vocals of ’?d?n?y, [????--"lord"--Ed.]" (Van der Toorn, "Yahweh"). The English transcription "Yahweh," merely represents a scholarly convention based on the Greek transcriptions: ?????, ??????, (van der Toorn, "Yahweh").

Cross’ analysis of biblical and extra-biblical material suggested an interesting answer. Starting with El epithets such as Elyon:

’?l [Cross uses the traditional transliteration of Hebrew to represent the letters as well as the “understood” vowels.—Ed.] as the “ancient one” brings us to the biblical epithet ’?l ‘ely?n qônê šamáyim w?-’?´re?. The title theoretically could mean “the god ‘?ly?n, creator of (heaven and) and earth, “ or “’?l, Most High, creator . . . ,” or “’?l-‘?ly?n, creator . . . ” (that is, a double divine name). Whatever the precise form of the epithet, qônê (šamáyim w?-) ’?´re? (and the shorter form is perhaps original in view of its widespread occurrence documented above), it is patent that ’?l is the creator god of the Canaanites and that q?nê ’ar?, at any rate, applies exclusively to him. Indeed there is no alternative candidate for such an epithet (Cross).

Cross further gives examples of ‘?ly?n in other extra-biblical inscriptions. I will note that “Canaanite” is an artificial distinction based on, obviously, the biblical history. Modern scholarship and archaeology has shown that the distinction between “Canaanite” and “Israelite” are anachronistic and, frankly, invalid. Thus when Cross notes the application of titles to El, he is noting the application to a deity worshipped by the region.

Interestingly, Cross noticed the inclusion of variation on yhwh in cultic titles. For example: “We must ask finally if the phrase ?? yahw? ?aba’ôt, “He who creates the heavenly armies” is not in origin an epithet of ’?l, and if the primitive formula is not better reconstructed in the pattern ’?l z? yahw? (?aba’ôt), (Cross).” This evidence along with a other evidence—and I recommend his classic work highly—lead him to conclude: “The accumulated evidence thus strongly supports the view that the name Yahweh is the causative imperfect of the Canaanite-Proto-Hebrew verb hwy, ‘to be,’ (Cross).” As explained further, “causative imperfect” refers to something that causes an action that is not complete. Further, “If Yahweh is recognized as originally a cultic name of ’?l, perhaps the epithet of ’?l as patron deity of the Midianite League in the south, a number of problems in the history of the religion of Israel can be solved,” (Cross). As he notes in a footnote, “That Yahwê is South Canaanite can hardly be doubted. . . . Its occurrence in South Palestine in a place name of the fourteenth century, that is, in pre-Mosaic times, makes any other supposition precarious,” (Cross). Cross’ conclusion that YHWH originally came from an El epithet, was shared by W.F. Albright, D. N. Freedman, and J.C. de Moor, M. Dijkstra, and N. Wyatt more recently as reviewed by Smith (Smith, OBM). van der Toorn affirms that, ". . . it is widely agreed that the name represents a verbal form. With the performative yod/i], yhwh is a finite verbal form to be analysed as a 3rd masc. sing. imperfect. Analogous finite verbal forms used as theonyms are attested for the religion of pre-Islamic Arabs," citing Ya‘?q, "he protects," and Ya???, "he helps," as well as Akkadian and Amorite examples, (van der Toorn, "Yahweh"). "Morphologically, then, the name Yahweh is not without parallels," (van der Toorn, "Yahweh").

Nevertheless, current scholarship is not so firm on the conclusion that yhwh comes from an El epithet that sort of “broke off,” noting that Cross has not found an extant example of that construct (Day, Smith, OBM; EHG). Day notes that “. . . hyh (hwh) is not attested in Hebrew in the hiphil (‘cause to be’, ‘create’), though this is the case in Aramaic and Syriac. Yahweh in any case more likely means ‘he is’ (qal) rather than ‘he causes to be/creates’ (hiphil): to suppose otherwise requires emendation of the Hebrew text in Exod. 3.14 (’ehyeh, ‘I am’ [????--Ed.]), which explains the name Yahweh,” (Day). Regarding the terms “qal” and “hiphil” with regards to Hebrew verbs, Hostetter explains that, “. . . verbs in Semitic languages tend to signify less time of action (past, present, future) than kind of action (complete, incomplete),” with the perfect tense representing a complete action and the imperfect tense representing an incomplete action,” (Hostetter). Qal verbs represent the “simple active stem,” (Hostetter). “Hiphil” verbs “normally serve as the causative of Qal verbs,” (Hostetter). Hostetter gives the example that, “while ??? translates ‘to kneel’ in Qal, ??? translates ‘to cause to kneel’ in Hiphil,” (Hostetter). Notice that the consonants not change. Thus, Day notes that the “I am” is a qal rather than hiphil. Cross requires a hiphil in his suggestion that YHWH comes from an “El causes to exist ____” epithet. Day cautions that one cannot interpret character of a god by simple interpretation of the original meaning of the name. El, while the etymology is not certain, appears to have had the root meaning of "strong." Ba'al means "lord," but his name was originally a Hadad epithet, whose name means "thunderer." YHWH, then, coming from the verb "to be," which Day explains is "hayah" in Biblical Hebrew, but at an earlier stage would have been "hawah," would mean "He is," though since in Exod 3:14 he speaks in the first-person, one can conjecture "I am," (Day, Personal Communication).

In his discussion of the Exod 3:14 Elohist passage which covers the material above, van der Toorn feels the explanation of the name--’ehyeh ’?šer ’ehyeh--"I am who I am"--"is evidently a piece of theology rather than reliable etymology, it cannot be accepted as the last word on the matter," (van der Toorn, "Yahweh"). van der Toorn reviews a number of proposals, including Cross', as well De Moor's argument that YHWH, "was 'probably the divine ancestor of one of the proto-Israelite tribes,'" but notes that while deified ancestors are known, "they are never found in a leading position in the pantheon. Their worship tends, to remain local, . . ." (van der Toor, "Yahweh," quoting De Moor).

Smith notes that scholars such as T. N. D. Mettinger and K. van der Toorn find the El epithet theory conflicts with the early biblical evidence that YHWH was a storm-and warrior-god from southern sites of Sier/Edom/Teman/Sinai, “in the northwestern Arabian peninsula east of the Red Sea,” known from biblical passages (Smith, OBM, quoting Mettinger, van der Toorn), and I would add the inscription Kuntillet ‘Ajrud. Noting the probable pre-monarchic “Song of Deborah,” Jud 5, verses 4-5 “provides the traditional litany of places where Yahweh marches from, namely, Seir, Edom, and Sinai,” (Smith, OBM). Smith continues:

Furthermore, we may note the enigmatic line in verse 14: “From Ephraim came they whose roots are in Amalek” (NJPS: minnî ’eprayim šorš?m ba‘?m?l?q). This verse shows not simply a neutral mention of Amalek but a positive indication of kinship between the tribe of Ephraim and Amalek, known as a southern group in biblical tradition. . . . . . . Such a neutral reference to Amelekites in Judges 5:14 has a ring of authenticity and suggests cultural contact between the indigenous inhabitants of the central hill-country associated with Ephraim and the southern group of Amakek. . . . In short, biblical data suggest a series of relationships between the central highlanders and sourthern caravaneers in Iron I period (Smith, OBM).

Regarding the “neutral mention of Amalek,” recall the demand of sacrifice of the population to him by YHWH in 1 Sam 15:3. With this evidence of YHWH as a “storm-and warrior-god from the southern region of Edom,” Smith wonders if this would be “. . . propitious as a home for a storm-god such as Baal, because this region has relatively low annual rainfall in contrast to the high rainfall for the Levantine coast,” and suggests that, “. . . perhaps Yahweh’s original character approximated the profile of Athar, a warrior-and precipitation-producing god associated with mostly inland desert sites with less rainfall,” (Smith, OBM). Be that as it may, it may be as Smith concludes: “. . . part of the original profile of Yahweh may be permanently lost, especially if the earliest biblical sources reflect secondary developments in the history of this deity’s profile,” (Smith, OBM).

A major problem in determining the original meaning and etymology of YHWH, van der Toorn reminds, comes from the uncertainty with regards to the actual root. He reviews the arguments for HWY and contends that, "A major difficulty with the explanations of the name Yahweh on the basis of HWY interpreted as 'to be', however, is the fact that they explain the name of a South Semitic deity (originating from Edom or even further south) with the help of a West-Semitic etymology," (van der Toorn, "Yahweh," citing Knauf). Interestingly, van der Toorn notes that the name "YHWH," ". . . has the closest analogues in the pre-Islamic Arab pantheon," and the root HWY has three meanings in Arabic: 1. to desire, be passionate; 2. to fall; and 3. to blow, (van der Toorn, "Yahweh"). van der Toorn feels, "A greater degree of plausibility attaches to those interpretations of the name Yahweh which identify him as a storm god. Thus the name has been connected with the meaning 'to fall' (also attested in Syriac), in which case the verbal form is seen as a causative ('He who causes to fall', scil. rain, lightning, or the enemies by means of lightning," and ". . . his presumed character as a storm god contributes to explain why Yahweh could assume various aspects of Baal's mythological exploits," van der Toorn. Thus, van der Toorn concludes, the meaning of the name may, indeed, reflect the charcacter; "If yhwh does indeed mean 'He blows', :giggle: [Stop that.--Ed.] Yahweh is originally a storm god," (van der Toorn, "Yahweh").

Ba'al--???--

often stands as a rival deity to YHWH, particularly in the DH and later Chronicles. Was this the case? Was Ba'al worshiped by the same people who worshiped YHWH? Textual criticism provides evidence for this rivalry; the implication of which is that Ba'al was, at a time, worshiped in Israel. Tov notes that, "At one stage, the theophoric element Ba?al must have been common in proper names, as is still visible in various layers of the biblical text," (Tov). In other words, at the time of composition of the respective texts, the theophoric was not only recognized but was not disturbing. As Tov notes, an alternative name for Gideon is "Jerubbaal"--?????. However, "at a later stage, such theophoric elements must have become undesirable, at which point they were either removed or replaced with other elements such as the derogatory element ??? , 'shame,'" (Tov). Thus, for 2 Sam 11:21, the name is in the altered form "Jerubbesheth"--?????--in the MT, Targum, and Vulgate, but preserved in the LXX: ???????? (Tov). Interestingly, this theological alteration is especially evident when the Samuel is compared to the later Chronicles.

Chronicles is a post-exilic history based on the Deuteronomistic History [DH--Ed.] of Samuel-Kings. The Chronicler clearly changes the story of DH, as seen by his version of David and Solomon. Whereas in the DH the YHWH orders David to conduct a census--in order to punish him for conducting a census--the results of which will lead to the formation of the Temple, the Chronicler introduces Satan as the one who tricks David. The DH Solomon must plot and scheme to gain his throne and then convince his subjects of his wisdom. For the Chronicler, he is a superman who gains his throne without opposition and does not have to try to slice infants in half to prove his wisdom! Given this, it is curious that it is the DH that contains the alterations and not Chronicles. As Tov notes, "Even though Chronicles was composed after Samuel, in this particular case its manuscripts often preserve earlier textual traditions. Therefore, this phenomenon pertains to the scribe(s) rather than to the author of the biblical books," (Tov). In other words, the Chronicler used a version of the DH which did not have the alterations that occurred in the texts that survived to lead to the witnesses we have now.

Such names with Ba'al theophorics altered include Saul's fourth son, Eshbaal, with alterations, Ishbosheth, Yishvi, and the YHWH theophoric Ishyahu, Jonathan's son Merib-baal/Meri-baal altered to Mephiboseth, and even the first of David's list of heroes Ishbaal changed to Ishbosheth (Tov). As noted previously, David's son Absalom is a theophoric. Thus, the inclusion of these clear theophorics suggest that at the time of composition of these stories, using the names of gods other than YHWH was not offensive. This is supported by the previous evidence of prayers to El, and Ba'al, with perhaps Asherah, alongside YHWH.

Herrmann, in his essay on Ba'al, agrees that the theophoric component of "Baal" in proper names, particularly in the HB, ". . . reveals most bearers of these names to be worshippers of Baal, or to come from a family of Baal worshippers," (Herrmann, Baal). Herrmann rightly discounts attempts to claim that worship of Ba'al proved limited to certain times and places, or even people, while, ". . . the increasingly sharp polemics which came to dominate the Israelite literature . . . attest to the fact that during the early Iron Age the god Baal played a large part in the belief of the Israelite population," (Herrmann, Baal). Citing and agreeing with Eakin, Herrmann claims, ". . . until Elijah, the worship of Yahweh and the cult of Baal coexisted without any problem," (Herrmann, citing Eakin). Further, "It should be remembered, moreover, that the cult of Baal did not cease to be practised, notwithstanding the notice in 2 Kgs 10:28 which says that 'Jehu wiped out Baal from Israel'," (Herrmann). I will remind that the DH is more historical fiction than history.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2012, 03:33:08 PM by Graybeard »
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Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #22 on: May 30, 2012, 10:58:25 PM »
thanks for mining that Graybeard......can't wait for a theist to explain this to us >:(
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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #23 on: May 30, 2012, 11:48:56 PM »
and when Jesus came he brought the fullness of God's revelation with Him.

Fullness, except they needed Paul to channel Jesus and put a new spin on it; exploit his death make up fanciful theology.
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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #24 on: May 31, 2012, 03:49:55 AM »
bm
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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #25 on: June 01, 2012, 06:39:58 AM »
(There has got to be a better way to bookmark a thread than posting in it. :) )
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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #26 on: June 01, 2012, 09:11:14 AM »
(There has got to be a better way to bookmark a thread than posting in it. :) )

there is.  up yonder at the top there is a button that says "Notify".  clickypoo said button to receive notifications of new posts.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #27 on: June 02, 2012, 05:31:04 PM »
...I believe God continues to reveal Himself, both in communities and in everyday life. 

I'm curious to know how god is doing this and how you validate that it is in fact god and not, say, some other godling or powerful being or just some con man fucking with you or mental illness, etc. 

Does this mean you are flexible on the current understanding of what god is and what jesus H is for?  That is, if god revealed something that was radically different - a la jesus H - you would be open to accepting that?  Because, you know, jesus H was totally not what the jews were expecting.  So maybe the next step is totally not what xians are expecting. 

However, many Protestant churches do not follow this, instead placing the Christ as the fullness of revelation.  Thus, one of these Christians would say that the revelations to the Hebrews were geared to prepare them for a messiah, and when Jesus came he brought the fullness of God's revelation with Him.

Those silly protestants.  One thing I like about religious people - and I mean this genuinely - is that I can bond with them while mocking other religious people.  Because every religion is preposterously wrong, except their own.  I have a good friend who is a turban wearing Sikh.  He and I laugh and point our fingers at the Hindus and their goofy gods.  But when I'm with the Hindus, I can laugh with them because my friend thinks god wants him to wear a funny hat! 

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Re: Genesis 1:1
« Reply #28 on: June 03, 2012, 08:10:33 PM »
I'm curious to know how god is doing this and how you validate that it is in fact god and not, say, some other godling or powerful being or just some con man fucking with you or mental illness, etc.
He's doing it in the same ways He always has.  Here's a quick list of some of the ways He does this.

As for validation, in the end I suppose it comes down to faith.  I can't absolutely know that something is a piece of revelation, but then again we can't absolutely know anything in this world.  I accept Descartes' refutation of God as an evil deceiver, so I don't have a strong reason to assume an evil being.  A con man would be acting under human limitations and thus it would be difficult for one person to orchestrate centuries' worth of acts worldwide.  As for mental illness, to my knowledge I do not have any, I certainly have never been diagnosed with any.  So unless I am living in a completely constructed fantasy world (Am I a 90 year old dementia patient?  Are you?  How would we know?), I don't have reason to suspect this. 

So for now none of those alternatives seem particularly viable.  And even if some are possible (evil deceiver, dementia), if that's indeed the case then I can't trust this reality anyways and the point is moot.

Quote
Does this mean you are flexible on the current understanding of what god is and what jesus H is for?  That is, if god revealed something that was radically different - a la jesus H - you would be open to accepting that?  Because, you know, jesus H was totally not what the jews were expecting.  So maybe the next step is totally not what xians are expecting. 
Yes, I think I'm fairly flexible on what God is.  Of course, the biggest hurdle would be in recognizing the new understanding, but assuming I did recognize it, I think I would be open to accepting it.  Of course, I can't know this for sure as I've never experienced it.

Quote
Those silly protestants.  One thing I like about religious people - and I mean this genuinely - is that I can bond with them while mocking other religious people.
Um... I'm not mocking the Protestants.  I'm presenting my understanding of their views matter-of-factly.  I agree with them to the extent that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament scriptures.  And, to be fair to them, the fact that many of them pray and believe that God speaks to them suggests that they do recognize some sort of continuous personal revelation. 

I think the difference is really one of degree: they don't recognize the Catholic Church as a source of continued revelation.  Or, more specifically, they generally think that the Church lost its way sometime after the first 3-4 ecumenical councils and don't recognize anything after that.  You'd have to ask a Protestant for the specifics, but my general point is that most Protestant Churches see the Bible as the primary source of universal revelation (sola scriptura) while the Catholics see it in both Scripture and Tradition.
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