Archive for Ezra

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.

Ezra’s Contribution to Sacred Writ

Posted in Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, culture, faith, history, religion with tags , , , , , on July 18, 2009 by chouck017894

Much of what the western world has accepted as explanation of what constitutes “holy” favoritism was framed by disruptive planetary events in the ancient past and a few power seekers who promoted themselves as being privileged to higher instruction.  Thus one’s holiness was determined by who could arouse and inspire the most people. 

And this observation brings us to the biblical character of Ezra (5th century BCE) who was most likely modeled upon a man that had sojourned in Babylon during  “captivity” and had studied astronomy there.  Special understanding of the heavens is conveyed with the character, and that understanding had to be presented to the people in a manner that could impress even the lowest denominator of their clannish culture.  The character of Ezra is thus portrayed as being horrified upon return to Jerusalem at finding his people’s easygoing acceptance of  spiritual conduct–such as intermarriage with Hitties, Ammonites, Egyptians and other Pagan peoples.  He felt duty-bound to set about refashioning the religious literature to inspire the wayward Jews to return to the folds of their ancestral god.  An assemblage of priest-scribes thus set about dusting off the old Moses tale to rework and expand it into Moses-as-savior figure that would serve as the nucleus of Jewish faith.  In elevating  Moses into savior status, new rites had to be dreamed up: thus Passover was elevated to prime rite, and such things as the menorah from Babylonian religious rites appropriated, and the health practice of circumcision more strongly imposed as an alleged “covenant with god.”  Even the Jewish obserance of Sabbath came from the Babylonian word Sabattu, meaning day of rest.

Prior to and during this time of Ezra, planet Earth had experienced frightening episodes of disruptions due to interplanetary jostlings.  That the inspiration for the Moses tale is structured upon and refers to those past worldwide traumas come through in numerous passages.  For example, the fourth book  of Ezra (14:4) refers to the simultaneous changes in the motions of the Earth, moon and planets, with these being accounted for by saying that Moses had been taken to Mount Sinai.  And while Moses allegedly hobnobbed with god on Mount Sinai, god is said to have “…told him many wondrous things, showed him the secrets of the times, declared to him the end of the seasons.”  Another version of the fourth book of Ezra says, “Thou didst bow down the heavens, didst make the Earth to quake, and convulsed the world.  Thou didst cause the deep to tremble and didst alarm the spheres.”  Strangely, religion and science disregard the clues of world disturbances in BCE  times and of planetary turmoil that are hidden in such accounts.

The character of Ezra is thus presented by priest-authors as the veritable second founder of the Jewish nation, having shaped extensive codification of the laws, especially the laws governing temple worship and scriptural canon.  The books of Genesis, Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy were fully redrafted, and it is in this general time that the book of Leviticus was probably composed and jimmied into the scriptural lineup.

Leviticus is a glaring travesty of sacred instruction: its twenty-seven chapters were thrust between the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy, and is devoted entirely to priestly authority and the alleged godly prejudices that have no genuine connection to what was said to have transpired “in the wilderness.”

In the main, all the “laws” presented in this book are crude, shamelessly prejudicial and insensitive, being designed solely for the purpose of establishing uncontested priestly control over the people under the guise of divine installation.  The book labors endlessly on such details as priestly dress, rites, ceremonies, dietary choice, etc., and on the alleged prejudices to which god is prone.  An example of god’s prejudices: chapter 21 lists the physical “blemishes” that god supposedly found so nauseating as to disqualify such persons for priesthood.  Verse 18 says god detests the blind, the lame, “or he that hath a flat nose or any thing superfluous, or has a broken foot or a broken hand.”  Likewise, god is displeased with “…the crookback,  or a dwarf or (those) that hath his stones (testicles) broken” (verse 20). 

If we are to use the monstrosities in this book as our moral guide, we should also stone to death all adulterers and our unruly children.  The book of Leviticus is without question the most shameful excuse to ever be presented as divine word.