Archive for Babylonian Captivity

Playing Games of Spiritual Monopoly

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

Back in the year 536 BCE the Persian King Cyrus II (The Great), freed the people of Judah from Babylonian Captivity and aided their return to Judah.  After seventy years in exile virtually all that had once been programmed into Judean consciousness as sacred truth by the Yahweh priests–the priest-composed laws and traditions–had been largely forgotten.  In that memorable seventy year exile referred to as the Babylonian Captivity the Judeans had, of course, been heavily influenced by the Chaldeans and Persians who became united into one nation by the might of Cyrus.  This national unity seemed heaven-sent and the Judeans were heavily influenced by the religion of Zoroaster.  Indeed, there is a Talmudic passage which freely acknowledges that the names of the angels (which earlier cultures associated with the planets), the names of the months, and even the letters of the alphabet were brought from the land of exile.  It is from the return of the people of Judah to their homeland that the literature now cherished by Jews as the Torah was assembled and established as law.

The principal architect of the Judean reconstruction period is traditionally claimed to have been a priest named Ezra (c.458 BCE); however nothing has ever been presented to verify that such a person ever existed.  It is more likely that some enterprising men among the returnees discovered versions of priest-written accounts which are now referred to as the E, the J, and the P versions, and edited them into the works now known as Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, and also included the  book Deuteronomy which had allegedly been “discovered” during remodeling of the Temple in 640 BCE.  The returning Judeans set about rebuilding the Temple, and at the early meeting held there this revised anthology was read aloud, which gave origin to the Torah.  To establish it as holy authority, the works were claimed to have been dictated by God to the character Moses.

It was from this general 536 BCE timeframe that the industrious revisionists of Judean faith also introduced the character of Job into their sacred myths, which theistically is not Hebrew but was most likely drawn from a Babylonian source.  It was with this work that Judaism was presented with the premier appearance of “Satan,” with a capital S.  What the returned exiles apparently had not carried back with them was the understanding of what certain elements in the tale represented in the original form.  Unrecognized, or perhaps deliberately ignored, was the zodiacal and astronomical significance that was attached to such things as the names of the months, or the cosmological significance of the purely allegorical “angels.”  It is possible that part of that mix-up may have been due to Zoroaster, the “prophet” of ancient Persia, whose ideas of “angels” became separated from older celestial references and redefined by him as an infernal hierarchy.  The consequences of borrowing from the captors’ interpretations was that the Judeans became hopelessly confused in regard to the symbolism for similar ideas used in the so-called Pagan cultures.  Thus today the western and near-east cultures are still trying to dig out from under that disastrous avalanche of sacred interpretation.

The period of the Judean exiles return and restructuring of their homeland and traditions seem strangely linked to an upsurge in the pursuance of higher awareness in the world which would mark the fifth century BCE.  The teachings promoted by Zoroastrianism, for example, went on to develop as Mithraism, which would have a heavy impact on Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Fragments of the teachings and the hymns attributed to Zoroaster were assembled into a book that is known as the Avesta, or Zend-Avesta, and became the bible of the Persians.  The teachings of Buddha (563?-480?) were passed orally for centuries before being written down as Buddhist scriptures.  In this general timeframe also other thinkers would influence higher thought.  Confuscius, Chinese philosopher (c. 551-479 BCE), Herodotus, the Greek historian (c. 485-425 BCE), Anaxagoras, the Greek philosopher (c. 500?-428 BCE), Pericles, Athenian statesman and orator (C. 500-429 BCE), Socrates, Greek philosopher (c. 470?-399 BCE), and Plato, Greek philosopher (c. 427-347 BCE).  All these men were part of a seeming influx of seekers of life’s meaning which was theorized as radiating from an energy essence, which is commonly termed “soul.”

Rarely is any relationship to such true historical persons such as these acknowledged by the three major organized religions of the western world today.  The Jews, for example, during their reinvention of faith, went to extremes to avoid contact with Greek philosophy, declaring such philosophical searching to be unclean.  Christianity, which became formulated in Rome, embraced much from Greek influence and used it to counter the self-obessed theology of the Jews.  But the Christian focus would also turn in upon itself, and as the Roman Empire declined the life that the Christian faith system came to embrace was firmly anchored upon achieving dominance in all earthly affairs, and from this demanded submission.

Across the centuries the Jews and Christians would spar continuously over which was the true representative of God.  This might seem rather pointless since God is the avowed Creator and Sustainer of all things, but the argument is partly clarified when ego is mistaken for spirit.  The running argument did not keep either faith system from commercial trading with “heathens” however.  And thus it was that an Arab trade merchant assessed the arguments from both sides during his many merchant caravans across the Arabian desert in the 600’s CE.  And eventually God decided to reveal his wishes to Mohammad also.  Since the Creator is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, everything that was revealed to each belief system was relayed from God’s all-seeing (surreal) perspective.  Thus in all these “holy” books–the Torah, New testament and Quran–there are found countless contradictions, which believers will, of course, deny exist.  The escape hatch built into all these texts is always the claim of “revealed” word.  Never do any of the godly representatives explain why would an omniscient being have to resort to such a shoddy method of communication in order to convey his wishes to the world. 

What all this demonstrates–Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc.–is that the spiritual “truth” they each claim to represent is crafted, modified and controlled by those who were/are not well attuned to a true universal perspective.  Thus their limited comprehension regarding the universal interrelatedness of all things has become reduced to dry dogma.  We could, perhaps, conclude from all this that the nuts and bolts used in construction of such faith systems has consisted mainly of nuts.

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Faith System Fashions

Posted in belief, faith, history, random, religion with tags , , , , , , on August 1, 2012 by chouck017894

Truth, it has been said, defines a principle that stands unchanged under any inquiry.  By this measure of dependability, we have a means to evaluate the reliability of claims, traditions and tenets of any faith system (or political faction).  The reason for this thought has been initiated by ongoing events by rabbis in Askelon, Israel where attempts continue to be made to close out an ancient version of Judaism practiced by African people—the Ethiopian practice of pre-Captivity Judaism.

The Ethiopian followers of the early Jewish priest-contrived faith system practices claim to be descendents of the alleged “lost tribe” of Dan.  It is a fact that for well over a millennia those ancient Jewish practices continued to be followed in far-off Ethiopian communities.  Isolated from the rest of the evolved Jewish world, the Ethiopian priesthood had never been replaced by rabbis.  Consequently, the earliest recorded practices for displaying Judaic faith, such as sacrificing animals to gain god’s attention or the collection of the first fruits of the harvest (not for god, but for priest consumption), continued among the Ethiopian hand-me-down faith system.  Divergences such as these in the practices from the earlier fashion of Judaism has resulted in ugly discrimination against Ethiopian immigrants who had thought of modern Israel as the “Promised Land.”   Neither fashion of the faith, apparently, had been notified by god as to which method of devotional indulgence was the fashion that god preferred.

In the memorable seventy year exile that is referred to as the Babylonian Captivity, the people who had been taken from Judah slowly drifted away from the earlier priest-crafted practices that were used in Jerusalem.  Those 8th century BCE displaced immigrants from Judah who had been taken to the more metropolitan cultures of Babylonia, although plagued with a strange sense of homesickness, eventually found their spiritual values had become somewhat vague.  The Persian King Cyrus, “the Great,” managed to unite the Chaldean and Persian cultures, and he then gave permission for the people from Judah to return to their homeland.  But the seven decades of forced exile had also resulted in the loss of tribal recognition, such as the tribe of Dan.

After seventy years, or two generations in exile, the people returning to the land of Judah carried with them an urgent desire for a national unity, and not surprisingly that desire became wrapped up with spiritual ideals.  By this time the Judaic people were accustomed to and influenced by the Persian religion of Zoroaster.  Indeed, there is a Talmudic passage that freely acknowledges that the names of the angels (which were associated with the planets in Babylonian culture) and the names of the months, and even the letters of the alphabet were brought from the land of exile.  It was after the refugee’s return to their homeland that the literature now cherished as the Talmud was first assembled and established as law.

The principal architect of the reconstruction of Judaism is claimed to have been a priest named Ezra—a shadowy character of whom no proof has ever been found in support that such a person ever existed.  The most likely scenario in connection with the Jewish faith system makeover would seem to be that a few enterprising men among the refugees utilized the early version of “history” as compiled in the 8th century BCE by the priests of Yahweh.  These writings were eagerly embraced by the newly returned exiles who then set about editing them under the nom de plum of Ezra into the Talmud version.  The Temple was rebuilt, and at the meetings held there this anthology was then read aloud, which sybolically gave authority to the Talmud as holy communication.

To promote the new anthology as holy authority, the texts were claimed to have been dictated by god to Moses, just as the earlier priests of Yahweh had averred of the texts that had allegedly been discovered in the Temple walls during repair.  It was in this same timeframe of the returning exiles that the authors also utilized the Babylonian character of Job, which, theistically speaking, is not Judaic in tone.  For example, Job, who had alway tried to lead an honorable life, never blamed himself for the calamities he was made to endure: he saw no legitimate reason to think that an all-knowing being would have to resort to testing his character and indulge in sadistic trials.  It was in this literary composition also that Judaism was presented with the premier appearance of “Satan,” with a capital S.  Unfortunately, the anonymous authors misinterpreted the zodiacal and astronomical significance in the original Babylonian story, which clarified the relationship of such things as the names of the months, and the cosmological significance of the purely allegorical “angels.”  For example, the names of angels from astrological association include these:

  • The archangel Michael is the personification of the Sun
  • The archangel Gabriel is the personification of the Moon
  • The angel Raphael is the personification of the planet Mercury
  • The angel Samael is the personification of the planet Mars
  • A lesser known angel, Kadkiel, is the personification of the planet Jupiter
  • Another lesser known angel, Cassiel, is the personification of the planet Saturn. (It is strange that this “angel” is rarely mentioned considering that the planet Saturn has always been held to represent Israel and Judaism: their holy day is Saturday, after all.)
  • The last “angel” to be named was Arnad, personification of the planet Venus.  (Note that the name of this “angel” is the only one that does not terminate in el, the suffix which was added to all angel names to indicate connection to Yahweh-Elohim, which had been the fashion of faith promoted by the 8th century BCE priests in Jerusalem.)

It remains unacknowledged that it was from the Persian “prophet” Zoroaster (628-551 BCE), who founded the dualistic faith system in Persia that ideas of angels became separated from planetary references and reinterpreted by him as an infernal hierarchy.  As a consequence, ancient Pagan knowledge and symbolism, which was based on observation and rationalization, became hopelessly confused.  And subsequent faith systems that splintered off from Judaism (Christianity and Islam) have only added to that confusion.

Every faith system invented by man has evolved over the course of time, generally due to an awakened awareness that some holy mystery and things considered miraculous can be eventually understood by retaining an open, questioning mind.  When faith systems coagulate and close off the natural questing spirit, those faith systems become nothing more than power machines for manipulation of the masses, not for spreading true enlightenment.  A clotted spirit then finds itself at odds with the reality around it, and that spiritual disease finds itself battling everything (especially any other manmade faith system) that seems to be a threat to itself.

And this brings us back to the plight of the Ethiopian Jews and their struggle to fit into the fashion of Talmudic-style Judaism.  More than 120,000 of the Ethiopian “Beta Israel” community reside in Israel under the Israeli “Law of Return.”  The law permits Jews and those with Jewish parents or grandparents as well as their spouses to settle in Israel and obtain citizenship.  Among the 120,000 Ethiopian Jews now in Israel, around 35,000 of them can claim to be native-born Israelis.

There was, of course, a culture shock among the new immigrants from the beginning. The Chief Rabbinate’s questioning the Ethiopians’ traditional religious practices injected great confusion among the new immigrants.  Many of the immigrants ritually observed the major Jewish holidays, followed the laws of Kosher slaughter, and dutifully practiced the circumcision of their sons eight days after the son’s birth.  But the cultural gap could seem baffling—such as the mystifying requirement that all the Ethiopian Jews had to have family names, a situation that did not exist in Ethiopian society.

Most of the Haredim (the inflexible orthodox Jews) choose not to recognize the Beta Israel community as being Jews, let along being Israelis.  The faith system leadership of the Beta Israel community, the Kessim (priests) of the immigrants in Israel, many of whom continue to conduct the older forms of faith, still are not recognized as rabbis.  It is assumed, apparently, that god cannot understand their fashion of devotion.  The Kessim, although having been instructed by the Ministry of Religious Services, tend to be relaxed in enforcing the rules of what is considered to be “proper” observation as derived from the rabbinic Talmud.  Furthermore, according to the Haredim, prayers have to be offered only in accordance with the Jewish Orthodox rite if their prayers are to be heard by god.

Without  question there is also the unspiritual question of racism involved in the undertaking of the all-embracing acceptance of Ethiopian Jews in Israel despite the immigrant’s DNA proof of lineage.  Unfortunately, neither the Torah nor the Talmud seem to have incorporated the foresight to instruct biological secrets which define life distinctiveness, such as DNA.  Thus are faith system fashions condemned to pivot repetitively upon mankind’s inclination toward gratification of ego at the expense of spiritual equality.

Are the Ten Commandments Historically Reliable?

Posted in agnoticism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, Hebrew scripture, history, prehistory, random, religion, Social with tags , , , , , on August 14, 2011 by chouck017894

Once again there is a big stink over whether or not a monument bearing the Ten Commandments should be displayed on public property.  This time it is in Florida (Cross City) where a five-foot, six-ton, $20,000 granite monument with the commandments listed on it has been plunked down on the front steps of the Dixie County courthouse.  This in-your-face devotion may have good intentions, but the display arouses questions in regard to the background of the “laws” allegedly handed down by god to Moses.

The first four injunctions of the Ten Commandments, also called “Decalogue,” are aimed solely at trying to inveigle god’s conditional love.  As presented, these commandments were penned in the 8th century BCE by priests of Yahweh to use as their authority over the people.  Read the first four alleged “commandments” again: they have nothing to do with maintaining justice, evenhandedness and ethics within society; they are fashioned exclusively to flatter the ego of an imagined humanlike deity.

It must be remembered that the Hebrew Scriptures as we know them were fashioned upon collected oral folklore and modified to written accounts in Jerusalem in the 8th century BCE (700s).  These tales were added to and modified through the next century.  In fact the book of Deuteronomy was not added to the lineup of priest-books until around 536 BCE during the reconstruction period  following the “Babylonian Captivity.”  At that time some enterprising men (priests) discovered versions of Judah’s spiritual past, which are now known as the E, the J, and the P versions, and edited them into the works known as Genesis, Exodus and Numbers, and it was at this time that the work now known as Deuteronomy was added. To present it all as “holy” authority, the works were then claimed to have been dictated by god to the character of Moses on Mount Sinai.  Then it was easy to have the assertion accepted that the whole Torah was from Moses’ hand—this despite that such belief meant that Moses often spoke of himself in the third person.

The Hebrew name for what is more widely known as Exodus is We’ elieh semot, which begins, “And these are the names…”  This opening phrase serves as the name for the book, which is a convenient link to the preceding narrative of Genesis.  It is not accidental that the opening words of Exodus which lists the descendants of Israel utilize precisely the same words as found in Genesis 46:8.  So too, there is considerable narrative borrowed from Genesis 12 which revolves around the alleged promise of Yahweh to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob regarding progeny and land ownership.

Where could the inspiration for the lordly commandments have come from?  Certain facts from genuine ancient history provide clues.  Around 2600 BCE a ruler of Sumer, who was named Urukagina, found so much immoral activity in his kingdom that he found it necessary to post laws for the people to obey.  The long inscription is regarded as the first-ever record of social reform, and it was instituted from a noble concept of freedom, equality and justice.  A few of the injustices that Urukagina addressed included the unfair use by supervisors of their power to take the best of everything for themselves; the abuse of one’s official position; and the practice of monopolistic groups to extort unbearable prices.  Sounds discouragingly like GOP politics in the USA today, doesn’t it?

Approximately 842 years later (c. 1758 BCE), Hammurabi of Babylon would decree a similar code upon the immorality found within his kingdom.  These laws were displayed on a stele for the public to see, and the king depicted himself as receiving the law code from the god Shamash.  The code sought to protect the weak and the poor against the injustices practiced at the hands of the rich and powerful.  The Hammurabi code was strictly a civil code of 282 paragraphs, not a pretense of religious worthiness.  Many of the punishments were based on the principle of equal retaliation—the juvenile “eye-for-an-eye” revenge approach.  This, in turn, was utilized in the Hebrew myths by those who presented the tale of the Ten Commandments as having been handed down to Moses by god.

Jump ahead to the timeframe c. 637 BCE.  King Amon of the little state of Judah was assassinated, and his eight year old son, Josiah, became king.  Young Josiah was to bring about religious reform to Judah, and the impetus for this was the suspicious coincidence of the High Priest Hilkiah “discovering” within the walls of the Temple which was being repaired, the “Book of Law”—the alleged last sermon by Moses to the children of Israel.  When the High Priest’s secretary, named Shapan, read the sermon aloud to Josiah, the boy was horrified, for it convinced him that his ancestors had failed to obey the Lord’s strict instructions given to Moses.

The timely “discovery” of this work, which is almost certainly the work of the High Priest Hilkiah and his secretary Shapan, would become the core of the scriptural book known as Deuteronomy, and is widely accepted as meaning “second law.”  In Hebrew this work is called debarim, meaning “words,” taken from the opening verse.  It is from this “discovered” Book of Law that the “Israelites,”which at that time was promoted as the faithful of Yahweh, were charged (with typical cult prohibitions) to have no transactions, no social interaction, and no intermarriage whatever with the native inhabitants of the region.  Followers were to understand that Yahweh was a most psychotically jealous god.  And the “discovered” sermon of Moses clearly stated, “For you are a people consecrated to Yahweh your Elohim; it is you that Yahweh our Elohim has chosen to be his very own people out of all the people of the earth.”  This is now included in Deuteronomy 7:5-6; and so too are all the other alleged demands said to have been listed in the discovered “Book of Law.”  It was in this timeframe that the working foundation of what is now known as the Old Testament was set down.  As a result, the Ten Commandments thus appear in three places in Scripture; Exodus 20:1, Exodus 34:28, and in Deuteronomy 5:6-21.

When considering the Ten Commandments, we should pause to ask, “Which Ten Commandments?”  Even the scriptural accounts relate that the first set of commandments (in Exodus 20) wound up in broken fragments due to Moses falling into a fit of rage (Exodus 32:16-19).  The second version of the commandments (Exodus 34), had little resemblance to the first!  Had god forgotten what he had said originally?

According to the highly edited version from which we are instructed to take as moral guidance, the first four commandments concern only how we are supposed to think about god if we are to receive his conditional love.  The remaining six commandments express no concern on how to be compassionate, impartial, upright, tolerant or enlightened—the very soul of genuine morality.  The single commandment expressed in positive terms is honor thy father and mother.  The remaining commandments (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, as popularly presented) are couched in decidedly negative terms–“thou shalt not.”

Is this questionable background of Moses’ alleged relay of god’s laws a worthy cause to indulge in deliberate disobedience of civil law?

Wheeling Around with Ezekiel

Posted in Astronomy, Atheist, culture, enlightenment, history, life, logic, prehistory, religion, science, UFOs, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2009 by chouck017894

The biblical character of Ezekiel is declared to have played the role of “prophet” of doom from c.597 to c.586 BCE. After the Hebrews were allowed to return to Jerusalem after their Captivity, Ezekiel is then credited with developing a new ecclisiastical system and the theological doctrine of propitiation (god’s favoritism). More than any other character in biblical storytelling, “prophet” Ezekiel stands responsible for the priest-written Levitical Code being imposed upon the people of Israel—a code that gave priests authority over all the people.

But what most people think of when the name Ezekiel is mentioned is the account of a “wheel within a wheel” which he claimed to have seen in a vision and which kicks of chapter one–and rapidly plunges toward the surreal by verse five. “Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.” Then in verse ten he claims: “As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.” So enthralling is the tale of Ezekiel that speculation has been put forth in our technilogical age that perhaps Ezekiel was attempting to describe some UFO and the extraterrestrials that he might have encountered!

The the “likeness” symbolisms used to describe his “visions” are suspicious, however,and it should be taken into account that Ezekiel supposedly received his “prophetic calling” during the time spent in Babylon c.593 BCE. The founders of the Babylonian dynasty in the 7th century BCE were a Semitic people referred to as Chaldeans and are remember chiefly for a series of kings that included King Nebuchadnezzar II in Ezekiel’s time  period.   In biblical references to Chaldean, the term is usually synonymous with “magician” or “wise man,” but what is rarely discussed is that all these were in reference to men who were dedicated astronomers. Even later,well into the second century BCE, about the time that the Babylonian book of Daniel was adjusted to fit into scripture, Chaldea was recognized as a center of ancient esoteric learning.

Ezekiel made use of his time during the Babylonian Captivity by becoming proficient in the science of astronomy–for his was an age of monumental and frightening activity in the heavens. Indeed, around 587 BCE eventful happenings in the heavens affected Earth to such an extent that all civilized nations of the world found it necessary to begin recalculating their manner of chronological measuring. Knowing this, the “prophetic” visions attributed to Ezekiel can be deciphered: the vision of the face of a “man” was in reference to constellation Aquarius; the “face” of the lion referred to constellation Leo; the “face” of an ox alluded to constellation Taurus; and the “face” of an eagle was the Hebrew symbol for constellation Scorpius. So the mysterious “wheel within a wheel” was nothing other than sky positions designated with Zodiac imagery which contains within it the cosmogonical, precessional, annual and diurnal cycles. The “eyes” spoken of in verse 18 as being within the “rings” therefore are but a poetic reference to stars.