Archive for evolution of faith systems

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  Isolated from the rest of the evolved Jewish world, the Ethiopian priesthood had never been replaced by rabbis.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.