Archive for ancient Israel

Tribal Heritage of Faith Systems

Posted in Atheist, belief, Bible, faith, Hebrew scripture, random, religion, scriptures with tags , , , , , on October 1, 2013 by chouck017894

Very little is known concerning the ancient history of the alleged twelve tribes which are referred to in Hebrew Scriptures. Genesis 49 speaks of the “blessings of Jacob,” and Deuteronomy 33 speaks of the “blessings of Moses,” but these priestly notations provide only allusions to earlier tribal measures. Always there is presented the insinuation that the twelve alleged tribes always functioned as a united people (as is inferred in the much-edited book of Joshua). The claim that there were twelve tribes drew their identity from the twelve sons of Jacob seem most likely to have been cleverly modeled by the priest-authors, for manipulative reasons, upon the twelve signs of the zodiac.

The perception of “tribe” is of a unity of primitive social organization, commonly living together under a headsman (chief). Even after establishment in Canaan the Hebrew settlers (AKA Israelites) are depicted as clinging to their tribal customs. And it was because of this that Israel was never among the great political powers in the ancient world despite the grandiose claims of the priest-authors of scripture. Nor can it be claimed that either Israel of Judah excelled in architecture or minor arts. But in literature and especially in historiography the Yahweh priests were without equal. Unlike the Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians, etc., the tribal mentality among the Hebrews did not embrace a practice of assimilation: it was always an attitude of us-against-them. The premise of what constituted tribal “law,” for example, was the indulgence in retaliation–the talion–such as an eye for an eye.

In a later timeframe, in the vicinity of ancient Rome (founded c. 753 BCE), there were three tribal divisions which included Latin, Etruscan and Sabine. These cannot be ranked in the same manner with the cruder tribal aspects of the people at the eastern end of the Mediterranean. The Etruscan inhabitants of ancient Etruria (Tuscany region) in Italy was a center of cultured civilization which was absorbed into the Roman way of life during the close of the fifth century BCE. The Sabine people, of Umbro-Sabellian stock NE of Rome in central Italy, was dominated and assimilated by Romans in 290 BCE. Legend has it that a colony of Sabines from Cures occupied the Quirinal Hill in Rome and became incorporated with followers of Romulus on the Palatine. The Sabines were granted Roman citizenship in 268 BCE. It is the granting of citizenship which marks the principled difference between Roman acceptance of outsiders within society as opposed to the tribal mentality of mutual-restriction among the Near East people. This Roman practice of inclusiveness by Latin clan would prove to set a pattern which contributed to a belief system that would be born in Rome and which would, despite internal conflicts, differ markedly from the narrow tribal mentality that shaped Judaism (and Islam later). It would be from these two different approaches of what constituted membership that would determine the flowers of the three manmade faith systems of western cultures.

Considerably later, prior to the mid-seventh century CE there was no central authority to weld the nomadic clans/tribes of the Arab people with any unifying social consciousness. To be more precise, each clan/tribe within the vast arid region existed as a single entity which was in an almost steady state of bitter competition with other clans/tribes for the essentials of life. In such conditions the only “law” was also understood as equal retaliation for wrongs inflicted by others. The natural outcome of this was that a condition of perpetual warlike circumstances continued among the tribes. Tensions among the tribes would be brought to a standstill only during the mutually agreed upon times of spiritual observances at Mecca where three stones (meteorites) had once fallen from heaven (in connection with the planet we know as Venus). This was the atmosphere which shaped Mohammed’s youth.

Mohammed is said to have traveled widely with his tradesman uncle in his youth, as well as when he was himself a prosperous merchant. This gave Mohammed abundant opportunity during caravan travels to hear the religious claims of both the Jews and Christians from which he would develop his own ideas of spiritual regulation. It was from these encounters that the scriptural character of Abraham became claimed by Mohammed as the ancestor of the Arab people through Abraham’s concubine, Hagar. Mohammed became convinced that because the Jewish and Christian holy accounts seemed to him to deviate from the Lord’s directives to Abraham (Ibrahim) that he, Mohammed, had been called to restore the pure religion of Abraham (Ibrahim). Thus was a monotheistic faith introduced into Arab thought which had its spiritual roots transplanted in a piety for an indefinite forebear. Consequently the concept that all Arabs were descended from a mutual forebear became the catalyst for the rapid spread of the Islamic faith. And the old tribal animosity so long cultivated among the old tribes was simply transformed into a jihad attitude against any differing spiritual understanding among more cultured people.

The point being labored for here is that it was tribal mentality and superstition that served as the tap roots from which the flowering of each of these three interrelated faith systems evolved. The political administration of each faith system, whether Jewish, Christian or Islam, suggests that something more secular, more materialistic was at work behind the scenes than a patient, plodding and variable heaven would have pursued. Of the three sister faith systems, it is Judaism and Islam which still hold a closer resemblance to ancient tribal attitude. Both retain that old tribal indifference to the welfare of outsiders—not that Christianity is overly blessed with any love-thy-neighbor consciousness. But that old Roman acceptance of outsiders into the folds of society did happen to flavor the principles of the belief system that developed in the Roman Empire. Add to this that no dutiful divine messenger of the Life Principle (commonly personified as “God”) would ever be inclined to promote the oxymoron “holy war” upon any of life’s intended diversities as being somehow a God-ordained spiritual duty. The idea that God (the Life Principle) would call for a “holy war” is contradictory, for why should that creative power feel any need for worldly conquest? That creative power was/is an all-inclusive power which created and continues to sustain all things.

Priest-Style History

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, culture, faith, history, humanity, life, politics, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2010 by chouck017894

After the little kingdom of Israel fell to Assyria, c. 722 BCE, the more rugged central hill country of Judah south of Israel experienced an influx of refugees and the modest village of Jerusalem burst forth in sudden expansion c. 720-718 BCE.  Until this time Jerusalem had covered no more than ten-and-a-half acres, but it quickly expanded outward from its narrow ridge site to engulf the entire western hill and envelop one hundred and fifty acres with closely packed residences, workshops, businesses and public buildings.

In this timeframe Jerusalem was not yet regarded as a “holy city”—except, perhaps, by the priests of Yahweh who had long dreamed of making their temple in Jerusalem the center of political spirituality.  The common understanding has long been nourished that Jerusalem and the region around it was always devoted to belief in one god and one god only.  In truth there was a widespread diversity of worship practices throughout Judah, and there was a widespread mixing of other gods with that of Yahweh in the Jerusalem Temple.  Archaeology finds have shown conclusively that the claimed golden age of tribal and Davidic fidelity to Yahweh was not a historic reality.  Indeed, cults of various gods and goddesses were prevalent throughout Judah.  So diverse were the customs of the people that some of them regarded the Ugaritic mother-goddess Asherah as the consort of YHWH.  This, of course, was deemed blasphemous by the priests of Yahweh.

Scriptural accounts of coexisting kingdoms of Israel and Judah (as noted in the previous post Scriptures’ Contrived History, June 16) is priestly fabrication, for Judah developed extensively only after Israel’s fall to Assyria.  The priest account of defensive forts said to have been erected by Solomon’s son Rehoboam were actually erected 200 years later than the implied c. 931-914 BCE date as II Chronicles 11:5-12 would have us believe.  The same is true of the palaces and gates that Solomon is claimed to have commissioned.

The political minded priests in Jerusalem recognized that they had to blend the popular Creation myths known in Israel with their own myths if they were to lure the refugees into becoming part of the “chosen people” of Yahweh.  Thus chapters one and two of Genesis present noticeable differences in Creation sequences, as well as the different versions that Adam and Eve allegedly played in the Creator’s scheme of  things.  The two accounts are mismatched enough that Bible scholars refer to them as the “J” and “E” versions.  The “J” version was written by priests in Judah whose God was addressed as Yahweh: the version that was known in Israel is referred to as the “E” account because the authors of that tale referred to the Creator as Elohim.

It should be noted that the “J” version of Genesis does not exactly make it clear as to whether or not Yahweh was the sole creator of heaven and earth and Man.  In trying to bond the two accounts the authors of the revision suddenly have God muse aloud, “Let us create man in our image…” (Genesis 1:26).  But in the second chapter it says, “God (again singular) formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life…” (Genesis 2:7).  The political reason for this description of man being fashioned from dust was to block any idea that man might share some divine attributes of the Creator as other cultures believed.  The “J” authors were determined to bind the act of Creation to ordinary time, which allowed themselves the liberty to compose a “history” in which those who believed in Yahweh could be presented with the status of having been “chosen.”  And with the characters of Moses and Abram/Abraham there was set in place the means by which they could claim the special destiny of owning the land of Canaan. 

For the fundamentalists who assert that every word in scriptures is to be taken as God-sent, it might be wise to note that the uncertainty that is revealed in the two patched together Creation myths is reason to pause for reassessment.  That the scriptures were written with political intent, not spiritual enlightenment, is only faintly disguised somewhat later (in II Kings) with the priestly assessment of Manasseh who came to the throne of Judah at age 12, c. 692 BCE, after his father, Hezekiah, revolted against Assyria and was defeated (even though priests assured him that God approved his policy of religious purification).  It was up the Manasseh to pick up the pieces and try to restore Judah to an operational kingdom.  His subjects were primarily country folks and few of them had ever embraced Yahweh as the one-and-only God that the priests demanded.  As a result, religious pluralism returned.  The priest authors in Jerusalem were a spiteful group, and in their writings expressed only denunciatory outrage at Manasseh for letting this happen.  True to the revisionist style of history making, we find Manasseh being presented by the priest authors as the most sinful monarch that the kingdom Judah ever had (II Kings 21: 1-18).

Archaeological evidence reveals that Manasseh was nothing of the sort.  Under Manasseh the kingdom of Judah was revived and prospered.  For the sake of the kingdom and the people Manasseh became a vassal of Assyria—and went on to reign for fifty-five years—the longest, most prosperous and most peaceful reign of any Israelite or Judean king.  The population grew and the nation flourished under his policies.  But the priests continued to fume with jealousy over the blessings enjoyed under his rule—all of which occurred without the benefit of priestly intercession with Yahweh. 

Fundamentalists, take note:  The settlements and cities that were established during Manasseh’s reign survived and thrived after his death.  Indeed, it was only after the priests had again finagled themselves into political influence that Judah fell c. 587 BCE.

Solomon’s Majesty

Posted in Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, life, prehistory, religion with tags , , , , , , on August 4, 2009 by chouck017894

In The David Saga it was pointed out that the “history” storyline of the character of David followed advanced pre-Hebrew teachings of energy formation into matter.  Part of those ancient lessons on cosmology had to do with the luminous stage of material development—which brings us to the scriptural character of Solomon.

Since David was used allegorically to represent the earlier stages of energy involvement toward matter, it is a natural continuation that the development of the luminous stage of matter would be incorporated into the concocted “history” of Israel.  The continuation of matter development thus became the “son” of David, so the character of Solomon personifies the sun-stage in cosmic development.  This is teasingly hinted in the name Solomon, for it is derived from combining three unrelated cultural addresses to the sun: Sol from the Roman word for sun (“Sol Invictus, unconquerable sun:” remember, these books were edited in early Roman times), Om (or aum) from the Hindu mantra characterizing supreme power, and On the Chaldean-Egyptian address to the sun. 

Once the meaning in the name is known, all the many questions raised regarding this fabled king of Israel begin to provide sensible answers.  The sun, being the provisional energy constituent for Earth life, explains his alleged unparalled wisdom.  Light has always symbolized wisdom, and it also clarifies the alleged enormous wealth Solomon possessed.  His legenday “mines,” therefore, is reference to the sun itself.  His reign is claimed to have been marked by prosperity, prestige, grandiose building projects, and cultural transformation.  The world can sustain life only through benefits of the sun, so of course the world renown claimed for Solomon is understandable—even though such a king  is confirmed nowhere in genuine history.

There is a curious connection of Solomon’s wealth to verses in Revelation.  1 Kings 10:14 relates: “Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold.”  Strange is it not that the 666 talents of gold  pop up in Revelation 13:16 as “…the number of a man, and his number is six hundred threescore and six”?

Scripture tells us (1 Kings 11:1 and 3), “But King Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hitties. 3) And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.”  Obviously a  mortal man could not have long performed such sexual indulgences, so the copious amount and variety of women claimed to have been serviced by him refers to the indiscriminate warmth of the sun.  The great shame of the Deuteronomic judgment that was consequently passed upon him by the priest-authors thus deviously vilified and slandered all women—for it is claimed that his indulgences allegedly infuriated god to “…raise up Hadad the Edomite, Rezon of Damascus,” and especially Jeroboam against him.  This leads us to touch briefly on the Song of Solomon that so embarrasses the uninformed experts on religious meaning.  The “Song” is actually a celebration of the creative action of primordial energies becoming involved (or enamored) with the potentiality of matter that is to form from their union.

The fabulous temple of Solomon, the “temple not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,” clearly admits that such a structure never existed on this planet.  Solomon, personification of the Sun,  is its builder and is said to have labored for seven years on its construction (1 Kings 6:38), an echo of the seven “days” of Creation.  So of course “…there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was building…” (1 Kings 5:7).

On the other hand, Solomon is said to have spent thirteen years constructing his own house.  Did he consider that to be more important than the construction in which to honor the Source?  No.  Again it has to do with the ancient pre-Hebrew lessons that taught a scientific understanding of Creation principles: the “temple” represents only one half of the cosmic house, and from the initiation of energy toward matter on through the evolution of life into refined energy conditions accounts for the other half of the cosmic house—hence 13 years.

Strangely, there is mention in 1 Kings 11:41 of a text called “the Book of Acts of Solomon,” but it seems that nothing is known of it.  Perhaps, just perhaps that lost book might have indicated why all that glory seems to have simply burned out  following his son Rehoboam’s elevation to the throne of Judah.