Archive for Bible “prophets”

Elijah: Prophet or Propaganda?

Posted in Atheist, Bible, faith, Hebrew scripture, random, religion, scriptures with tags , , , , , on June 18, 2014 by chouck017894

In Jewish and Christian traditions a special status has existed for persons (almost always male) whose alleged prophetic talents were claimed to have come from their direct connection with a divine being. The utterances of these alleged specialists are, however, salvaged only in fragments such as in the prophetical divisions of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) in which the prophecies were concerned principally with the wrongdoings of the local people who cringed under the guidance of the priests and prophets of Yahweh. In that context the prophecies routinely pivoted upon threats of divine punishment for disobedience to Yahweh’s will–as God’s will was allegedly revealed to the priests. In this regard the holy Jewish prophets differed from the Pagan diviners, soothsayers and oracles only in that the Pagan equivalents more often employed females and more theatrical oracular devices to determine the will of the gods and thereby predict a course of events.

The 9th century BCE prophet Elijah (c. 850 BCE)–Elias in NT version–is one of the earliest examples of the Hebrew major “prophets” and known to us through the priest-written books of 1 and 2 Kings, and he is representative of a timeframe of turbulent social and religious change in that narrow Near East region. Elijah was an alleged prophet in the northern kingdom of the alleged divided monarchy Israel/Judah. (We must ignore the fact that Judah did not become a kingdom until after the kingdom of Israel had fallen to the Syrians.) Elijah is cast as the star of a local drama (so it is not a godly judgment of the world) in which the Yahweh priests were in opposition to the idolatrous religious practices performed to address the god Baal.

In considering this “prophet” from priest-written Hebrew scriptures we should bear in mind the phonetic part of the character’s name: the prefix Eli means “god,” and the suffix jah is sacred language reference to Yahweh (coded), the creative energies personified. Thus the character of Elijah is a metaphoric personification of the Life Principle’s creative activity which precedes formation as matter. Consider: Elijah, according to Hebrew Scripture, spent a lot of time in the “desert” and in sacred language “desert” and/or “wilderness” always alluded to the primordial energy phases out of which matter is made manifest. These primal stages are to be passed over as they involve toward and into a defined energy-matter form. For this reason the circumstances of Elijah’s birth and youth were never recorded, and even the name of his father is strangely absent–a true oddity in scriptural obsession for listing all fathers. Nonetheless, we are assured that he was a native of Tishbe in Gilead–only no one knows where that Transjordan site was supposedly located.

The alleged prophetic activity of Elijah is cast as having begun in the timeframe of King Ahab of northern Israel (king c. 875-853 BCE), who had the misfortune of inheriting from his father, Omri, a kingdom in extreme peril from the expanding Assyrian kingdom. Ahab made his kingdom of Judah an ally (perhaps a vassal) of the kingdom of Tyre by marrying princess Jezebel, thereby achieving a semblance of uneasy neutrality. Regrettably King Ahab’s young wife was psychologically conditioned to believe that the ruling power of Creation was the Baal (more accurately the tutelary god of Tyre) which was worshipped as Melkart. Ahab was guilty only in allowing his wife the freedom of having a place to worship the lone deity that she had ever known. (Her father, King Ethbaal of Sidon, had formerly served as a priest of the Tyrian religion, after all.) The extremist priests of Yahweh, of course, found this allowance of spiritual freedom to be an offense to their imagined god Yahweh even though an alliance among Semite people had traditionally meant a mutual honoring of gods. In fact even Yahweh had been worshipped earlier as a baal–a local deity. Nonetheless, the Yahweh priest authors cast Jezebel as the bitterest opponent of the prophet Elijah, and further libeled her as the instigator of the murder of Nathor for his vineyard!

By the priest-historians’ twisted version, however, King Ahab’s political dilemma was purposely intermingled with features drawn from the Babylonian storm-god Adad, the “rainmaker” whom the Babylonians regarded as the cosmological flood maker. Thus we read that Elijah supposedly said to King Ahab “…Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain” (1 Kings 18:41). The storm-god model in association with King Ahab is then reinforced in verses 44-45: “…Behold there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he (god) said (to Elijah), Go up say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the meanwhile, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.”

The Elijah tale is, first and foremost, a one-sided priestly account of the struggle in the north for the survival of the Yahweh priests’ influence. By legitimate account, King Ahab (and his son-successor Ahaziah) acknowledged not only Yahweh but also Baal (and Baal’s consort Asherah) for providing the winter rains as well as for the summer dew which was necessary for crop growth (1 Kings 17-19). The ambitious Yahweh priests certainly did not appreciate any competition from the “prophets” (priests) of Baal, and thus in the Yahweh priests’ writings Elijah supposedly appeared to take center stage in Yahweh’s behalf. The north-south tensions, fanned by the vying priesthoods, were deeply rooted and thus we receive the priest-written story of the alleged antagonism between King Ahab and Elijah. As a consequence this slanted “history” has been passed down to spiritual seekers for many centuries as a highly contemptuous version of Ahab.

Even so, the scriptural narrative regarding King Ahab inadvertently carries evidence of two different points of view of Ahab: one which more honestly presented Ahab as a competent, brave and popular king; the other is the Yahweh priests’ fabrication which painted Ahab as a bad man and a faithless monarch. The religious fanaticism which the character of Elijah personifies is pointedly suggestive of priestly propaganda rather than any actual reporting of some genuine prophetic person with divine connections. Remember, the priests’ version recorded that 400 priests of the Yahweh cult had supposedly prophesied just before Ahab departed on his final campaign. Without question the character of Elijah represents the consolidation of all that vicious priestly fervor. The story goes that Elijah engaged in a contest of miracles with the prophets of Baal for the command of rain, and of course Elijah won. Elijah, in the name of the Life Principle, then had all the prophets of Baal killed—and the needed rains came. But underlying all that political propaganda of the priests the truth shines through that deep north/south tensions were fanned by the priests, and those authors deceptively pictured it as hard antagonism between King Ahab and the alleged prophet Elijah.

Elijah was not the only prophet of Yahweh in this timeframe, but it is averred that only Elijah had foretold a drought (1 Kings 17:1), and that he was shielded from its effects as well as protected from the king’s disfavor (1 Kings 17:2-24). Elijah comes across more as a conman than a prophet, for it was he who challenged the prophets of Baal (falsely cast as Ahab’s prophets) to a duel of deities, so to speak, to determine whose god could end the drought. There are two versions of this contest: one has it that Yahweh displayed his power by consuming a sacrified bull by fire, and the other says Elijah proposed that he and other prophets each build an altar (on Mt. Carmel) and whichever god could bring forth fire upon it without being lighted by them would show which deity was capable of ending the drought. To be brief, Elijah’s altar burst out in flames. The power of Yahweh-Jehovah was allegedly revealed by the miraculous automatic fire. This pivotal “miracle” by Elijah solidly established his political power. Remember: the contest was proposed by Elijah himself.

Note: Even in the timeframe of Elijah there were persons from certain parts of the Near East who were well aware of crude petroleum. Sodom and Gomorrah, for example, had once been centers where that tar-like substance was obtained to seal boats. There were actually some persons who had discovered how to make what is now known as naphtha, a colorless flammable liquid obtained from crude petroleum. It had been discovered that piles of combustible materials would suddenly ignite by chemical reaction in certain circumstances. It is known today that oxidation creates heat that will intesify if not dissipated and it will eventually ignite within piles of fibrous material–as in the “two measures of seed” mentioned in verse 32. The stacking of stones (as described) would certainly concentrate the build up of heat by slowing the heat from being released into the air and thus result in spontaneous combustion. And Elijah had instructed that “water” was to be poured upon the altar–not once but three times—and the aforementioned naphtha is colorless as water and highly flammable. Hence a “miracle” was provided (1 Kings 18:38). Tellingly the verse concludes that the fire “…licked up the water in the trench.”)

To make priestly animosity toward Ahab and Jezebel sound murderously greedy the plot line then avers that Ahab coveted his neighbor’s vineyard, and Jezebel is said to have instigated the murder of Naboth. This in turn provided reason for Elijah to arrange to have Jezebel killed–with Yahweh’s approval. In this timeframe such priest promoted viciousness was routine. Consider: in the bulk of priest-written scriptural accounts killing was a favorite indulgence of Yahweh followers. Characters such as Joshua were held up as spiritual models for having indulged in holocaustic killings to acquire the god-promised land of Canaan. (Archeological digs have shown conclusively the Canaan was never under violent invasion tactics as related in scripture. Suggested reading, The Bible Unearthed, by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman.) Why god could not have provided his chosen ones with virgin territory as their “inheritance” is never explained.

The Elijah account is really a priest-written hindsight tale that masks the priestly rivalries which seethed in only one small region on planet Earth in the 9th century BCE. Unfortunately that hateful priestly propaganda recited by three sister faith systems has continued as example of spiritual “guidance” which has prevailed to this day.

Abortion and Personhood

Posted in belief, Bible, culture, faith, random, religion, sex, Social, thoughts with tags , , , , , on April 7, 2013 by chouck017894

Read the Holy Bible word by word from front to back and you will never once come upon the word abortion.  No such situation is ever advanced as a “sin,” and considering the many denunciations labored over, that omission concerning abortion is bewildering if it is true that standing sentinel over sensible allowance of life production is a sin.  So where do the overconfident “true believers” get all their divine memos?

When the sin seekers choose to ignore what the Bible does not say, but instead listen to some faith system hawker who cunningly incites naive followers to commit acts of protest, the seekers indulge themselves in judgment passing which holds no genuine spiritual benefit.  The instigator of such rallies may possibly think that he or she is defending a holy principle, in which case he or she has not really read the Bible which, nonetheless, they often hold aloft like some battle flag.  The spiritual benefit that the provokers really achieve from these demonstrations is ego stimulation, a kind of ego masturbation.  To accomplish gratification they use as stimulants a few cherry picked verses that can be fashioned to slip-slide around their desire.

One of these spiritual lubricants used by the self-proclaimed “pro-lifers” is often lifted out of The Ten Commandments; the sixth one which says, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.”  That commandment is not at all specific, however.  If that commandment is taken as an all-inclusive directive it would mean that we should not even squash a mosquito.  The intent of that sixth commandment is that we are to revere the moral rights which are active within all conscious life.  Considering that the “pro-lifers” murder doctors at women’s clinics, their stance is beyond hypocrisy.  Nothing in the Bible equates a developing fetus as a cognizant human being.  That is actually made clear in Exodus 21:22-25 where it is judged that even if a man should accidently kill a pregnant woman while in a conflict with another man, he is held to be guilty of murder.  If, however, that pregnant woman is caused to miscarry–i.e. the fetus is killed–it is not considered, according  to Exodus, to be a case of murder.  Just as an acorn is not an oak tree, a fetus–a seedling or potential person–was not declared by God’s secretary-priests to be a comprehending entity which is equipped for directing authority over life

Quick!  Find another stimulant!  Eager hands grasp at Psalms 139:13-16, allegedly the poetic work of David, which avows that God formed him in his mother’s womb.  The claim is made that the Lord used some especial means to create a male who was preordained to be King of Israel.  That was openly declared to be a special case carried out by God who apparently had nothing better to do in the universe, and so took up dabbling in the politics of Israel.  Clearly that birthing method is not applicable to your average conception routine.  In today’s terms, Dave was hot wired to play the lead role in a manufactured history.  Oddly, most of his story in the books of Samuel pivots on his adulterous romp with Bathsheba and his arrangement to have her husband killed.  Oh my, that wasn’t very pro-life of that glorious king.

Hey, there’s gotta be something in Bible tales for antiabortionists to use that seem almost rational.  Ah, here it is; good old Jeremiah!  It is clear here; it says that God knew him before he was  even conceived in the womb.  You mean even before the sperm and egg linked up?  Jeremiah 1:5 declares that God told Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”  And that must mean also that each and every one of us is preordained and sanctified to be a prophet!  So how come so few of us know what is destined to happen around us?  Oh, I remember: Jeremiah was pre-formulated to fulfill a designated purpose because God was once again dabbling in Israel politics.  Even so, somehow that must indicate that God is right in there at the very instant of every conception and that He regards that undefined squirming mass that he is supervising to already be a full-term self-aware person, right?  A rational person does not have to possess prophetic capabilities to know that God is not in every vagina at the very instant of conception.  That claim is directly opposite to the Genesis command (1:24-25) that each life form is endowed so it may multiply “after its own kind.”  Nowhere in the Bible is it ever claimed that God was going to be present to supervise over every act of “multiplication.”

Leaving the Creator’s alleged political obsession over 8th century BCE Israel politics to be checked only occasionally in the rearview mirror, let us focus on some vital clues concerning personhood that the Creator provides.  Consider the brain.  The  organ of the brain does not begin to develop as a unit of definable energy substance until after the third week of conception.  This initial unit of energy-substance is referred to in medical terminology as the neural plate, a discernable formation of around 125,000 cells from which the physical form is to develop (evolve).  From this initial period of evolutionary development through the remaining months of gestation new neutrons then begin to appear at the rate of 250,000 per minute!  As awesome as this is, it does not mean that God is right there overseeing every gene placement.  It is simply energy-substance interacting within an energy field (the human body) which is the process by which every energy-matter form assumes visible manifestation. 

At birth each human does happen to be in possession of all his or her nerve cells.  Technically, however, the newborn baby can be said to be a mindless organism, for the cerebral cortex–the portion of the brain-matter which holds the seat of higher intellect–scarcely functions.  The newborn’s actions are almost totally dictated by the lower brain stem, a portion of the brain which humans share in common with all primate animals and reptiles.

In the first days of separate existence outside the mother’s body, the situation changes very rapidly with the cerebral cortex then bursting forth with growth.  The first few months of independent survival is the most crucial period of brain development for every human being.  The intense network of interconnecting nerve fibers swiftly develops so that by the age of one year the infant’s brain has reached around fifty percent of its adult weight.  Even so the infant cannot be said to be self-aware in a mindful sense.  The entity does not yet have any consciousness of “I”; that self-awareness emerges around the age of three.  The accelerated growth of the cerebral cortex reduces around this developmental time, and the brain then gradually acquires around ninety percent of its adult weight by the age of six years.

The first six years in general serve as the crucible where the child’s basic values and ethics are set into a pattern, and their interest, abilities and talents develop which shape their personhood and sets the direction of social behavior.  Brain development, the structure that establishes personhood, reaches its average adult weight of about three pound around the time of puberty, when physical growth begins to taper off.

The brain of every individual is assembled from a narrow spectrum of genetic material provided by the parents.  The interaction that will develop as a physical body is itself composed of only about one hundred thousand genes.  This sounds like an enormous quantity, but is a relatively small amount considering that it is from this modest quantity of genes that the brain, the nucleus of personhood, produces in excess of one hundred trillion-trillion nerve cells.  And each of these nerve cells may in turn form as many as ten thousand connections with its neighbor cells!  All this is done “after its own kind” as commanded in Genesis.  The physical brain is established with polar fields: the front portion is active with a “negative” charge, the back of the brain is active with a “positive” charge.  In other words, every living entity is a charged energy pack, and that allowance of creative power is free to progressively define itself in limited expressions of personhood, all of which are valid before the Absolute.

So the broad aspect alluded to in the book of Exodus 21:22-25 regarding the accidental termination of fetal development was correctly understood as NOT the killing of personhood.  And the alleged especial circumstances claimed for a few starring biblical characters who were said to be “chosen” for some special story line purpose clearly cannot be said to be applicable to circumstances of every conception.

Two Hothead “Prophets” of Scriptural Myth

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, culture, faith, freethought, Hebrew scripture, history, life, prehistory, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , on November 13, 2010 by chouck017894

Accepting Bible stories literally is always an indulgence in naivety for at least two reasons: 1) All biblical accounts were penned long after the timeframes in which the event allegedly occurred; and 2) Few, if any, genuine historical records ever support the contention that the starring figure in the religious myths even existed.  Where any person or persons can be verified by historical records, they always serve only in peripheral roles, which any writer of fiction knows will add the illusion of reality to a made-up tale.  Take the two “prophets” Elijah and Elisha, for example.

Elijah.  The priest-authors of the “prophet” tales—as they did with every Hebrew scripture tale—took great liberty in use of cosmological facts known to prehistory cultures, and plagiarized myth from neighboring cultures to play upon people’s gullibility.  Regarding the two “prophets” here referred to, both were named by incorporating the word Eli, which means “god,” and using a suffix that referred to life.  In the Ecclesiasticus, an apocryphal or New Testament version, which consists mainly of a series of maxims concerning the practical and moral (?) aspects of life, Elijah was altered to Elias.

Elijah (said to mean “Yah[weh] is my God) is cast as a 9th century BCE Hebrew “prophet” (traditionally c. 910 BCE), which was indeed a timeframe of social and religious changes.  According to priest-authors writing in Jerusalem in the seventh century BCE, Elijah supposedly led the struggle against the idolatrous worship of the Phenician god Baal.  This is told in 1 Kings 17-18 and in 2 Kings 2:15, both composed, remember, in the seventh century BCE Jerusalem.  Elijah is featured in the tale of King Ahab of Israel who married Jezebel of Tyre, and built a temple of Baal for her, which led to a contest of “miracles” between Elijah and the “prophets” of Baal.  According to biblical myth, Elijah commanded that no rain or dew was to fall except by his okay.  Three years allegedly passed with no rain or even any dew falling.  Myth disguises that King Ahab is actually the Babylonian storm god who was named Adad.

To pursue this tale further, we must recognize that it is a variation of the Deluge scenario from the Noah myth of Genesis.  According to 1 Kings, chapter 18, God told Elijah to go show himself to King Ahab, and then God would send rain upon the Earth (as Noah was told to get ready before the Flood).  Here the plot deviates somewhat:  Elijah goes to the top of Mount Carmel where  he awaits the rain, and seven times he had to send his servant to look toward the sea (symbol of the Source of Creative energy) for what we might think of as a weather forecast.  Finally, at the seventh try “…the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain” (flooding).  It was then that “…Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel” (1 Kings 18:45).  And so too did Elijah go, who had “…girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab (the storm god) to the entrance of Jezreel;” meaning the passing over into the first dimension of material matter, just as Noah’s landing on Ararat symbolized.  And what happened?  The queen, Jezebel (symbol of energy-substance in early formation of matter) sought to kill the “prophet.”  But Elijah escaped; he withdrew to the “wilderness,” which is always used as the symbol for the pre-physical energy dimensions.  And guess what: he had to stay there for “forty days and forty nights.”

To cut this story summary short, Elijah was told by God to return—just as Moses had been told to leave the unfulfilling conditions of Egypt and renew the movement through the wilderness to continue the process of energy evolving as matter, i.e. the promised land.  Having demonstrated the supremacy of the god Yahweh over Baal, according to the priest-authors, Elijah then had the “prophets” of  Baal put to death.  Typically, the Hebrew priest account implies that omnipotent, omniscient creative power likes to indulge in fiddling around in the political affairs of one tiny region on planet Earth—Israel.  And a later episode tells of Elijah having 102 innocent soldiers burned alive, for following orders to take the “prophet” into custody.  This is the character that is hailed by some Christians as the precursor of the Messiah—a claim based only on the myth of Elijah being carried to heaven in a chariot of fire (a symbol of the sun).

Elisha.  Elisha’s name is Hebrew meaning “God is deliverance.”  The death of this alleged “prophet” is traditionally set in the 8th century BCE.  Elisha was portrayed as having been a farmer who was chosen by Elijah to be his disciple.  When Elijah supposedly ascended to heaven in his fiery chariot he cast his mantle upon Elisha to indicate that Elisha then bore the responsibility of continuing the struggle against the idolatrous Baal cult.  Although Elisha was portrayed as less fervent than his  predecessor, he is credited with attaining much greater political influence through his alleged power to work miracles.   But he, too, had an impulsive murderous streak.  And the tale of Elisha is strangely reminiscent of the Moses/Joshua involvement, even to the point of repeating their miracles.  For example, in 2 Kings 2:14 it says, “And he (Elisha) took the mantle of Elijah that fell  from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of  Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.”  How many Bible interpreters recognize that God separating the “waters” for Creation is repeated in Moses, Joshua, and Elijah myths, and symbolize the same cosmological circumstances?  The initiation of energy toward definition as matter.

Later, after passing over into the intended land (commonly accepted as having taken place c. 896 BCE), bald-headed Elisha trudged his way for fifteen miles from Jericho to Jerusalem.  His “prophet” status got off to a rough start, however, when he was accosted by 42 mocking boys near the town of Bethel who taunted him, “Go up, thou bald head: go up, thou bald head.”  Elisha lost his cool, cursed the youngsters in the name of the Lord, and immediately two bears miraculously appeared and tore all the juvenile delinquents to shreds.  Biblical scholars disagree as to the authenticity of this tale.  (But who could ever doubt it!)  True or not, Elisha using the power of the Lord to destroy 42 youth still amounts to murder.  Thus, not only Elisha but the Lord himself stand guilty of disobeying the Sixth Commandment.

Elisha, nonetheless, is allowed a  passing report card; the reason being that he supposedly allowed himself some compassionate acts later in his “prophet” career.  Priest-authors claim that he made a poisonous spring wholesome, made poison soup palatable and harmless, saved a woman who was deeply in debt from having  to sell her sons into slavery, cured a barren woman and raised her dead son, and other standard miracles.  And Elisha even cured the Syrian king Naaman of  leprosy; this kindness was much appreciated by the king, but not so much by the king’s servant, Gehazi, to whom the ghastly disease was transferred!  Hey, God thought it was okay.

But, as with Elijah, impulsiveness was never abandoned in Elisha’s character.  He is credited with having played a role in two assassinations years later for political reasons.   The first assassination involved Hazael who murdered Ben-hadad (2 Kings 7-15), and the second assassination allegedly took  place after Elisha instigated an uprising following the idolatrous Jehu gaining the throne of Israel (2 Kings 1:37).  It all seems to have amused God, for apparently nothing else on this little planet was worth looking into.

Again it becomes rather obvious why the fundamentalists and those who want the US government to be Bible-based or “God-led” find the holy book so inspiring.  Upon Elisha’s death, traditionally placed c. 841 BCE, the king of Israel is said to have wept copiously for the “prophet,” and the bald man was buried with highest honors.  Holy word remains frustratingly silent as to whether the townspeople of Bethel, where the 42 children were killed, felt the same grief at the “prophet’s” demise.