Assembling Bible Style History

The extraordinary “history” of ancient Israel and Judah that make up the early parts of Hebrew Scriptures was composed by Yahweh priest-authors in the small village of Jerusalem in the 7th century BCE.  The alleged historical saga that recounted Moses and the deliverance from Egyptian slavery up to and through the episodic accounts of the rise and fall of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah cannot be supported by either genuine historical documents from the times or by archeological science.  Indeed, the alleged history  is a product of propaganda that implied godly protection of a small segment of the world population and was intended to inspire caution among the heavily armed neighboring countries of Assyria and Egypt from mounting attacks against Judah.  The composed history also served to inspire a unity among the widely varied people around Jerusalem through the implication that they all shared a common ancestry, the Israelites, whom Moses had allegedly led to the borders of Canaan. 

At the time of the feverish assembling of the early books of scriptural history, the kingdom of Israel to the north of Jerusalem had recently fallen to the Assyrians, and the alarmed priests of Yahweh, the scribes, elders, king and members of his court sought any means to protect their independence.  At their disposal was a rich collection of literary works, considered ancient even then—some of which contained remarkable cosmological and astronomical knowledge that were not completely understood by them, but which were highly admired.  The importance of ancient cosmological and astronomical lore in the 7th century BCE should not be underestimated, because for many generations the heavens had not alway presented a peaceful appearance. (See related post, Threats From Heaven, Sept. 2010.)

Jerusalem, in this 7th century BCE timeframe, was not a bustling city as many imagine: the village sat perched on a narrow ridge that bordered along a steep, rocky ravine.  The hill country around the region was sparsely settled, populated mainly by shepherds and cultivators of small, cleared plots of land.  And add to this scene the pugnacious priests of Yahweh who adamantly insisted that their Temple must remain untarnished from any association with any of the numerous sanctuaries throughout the Near East.  The priests of Yahweh, who controlled more social and judicial power over the people than even the king, would resist any ecumenical willingness to conduct relations with others if it required honoring any potential allies who believed in false deities.  As priestly power became stronger, the numerous rural shrines that had been set up through the region were systematically destroyed under the propaganda that they were the same sources of evil that had caused the fall of the  kingdom of Israel.  This purification of the countryside left only the Jerusalem Temple—which the priests declared was imbued with special holiness—upon which the populace could focus their desire for heavenly attention.

Jerusalem grew with refugees arriving from the occupied kingdom of Israel, and the village in this timeframe expanded to cover approximately 150 acres.  And the political ambitions of the priests and the king flared accordingly.  Their city had become the center of Israelite consciousness.  Through the program of inventing a history of the Israelites, the sudden collapse of the kingdom of Israel was widely seen even by the new citizens to be the result of some direct and purer relationship of Jerusalem with God.  Then and only then did the region take on the mantle of “Holy Land,” and so impressive was the sales pitch that the whole world has been willing to accept the assertion for around three thousand years.  But archeological science has shown that there really were no divine circumstances that led to ancient Jerusalem attaining such star quality.  It simply involved a bit of calculated hype, a bit of rigorous purging of competing faiths, and taking advantage of the insecurity of the refugees and displaced peasants.  This is not said in the spirit of deconstruction, but to point out that claims of supernatural nonsense are not really necessary for acknowledging that something greater than ourselves energizes all that exists.  Like Nature, which is the bearing principle of that power, it is indifferent to what it creates or how it is used.  That is not saleable merchandise for the faith system merchants, and so the farce continues.

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