Archive for Judah

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.

Scripture’s Contrived History

Posted in Atheist, belief, Bible, culture, faith, history, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2010 by chouck017894

According to scriptural accounts a Jewish kingdom of Israel was welded in the land of Canaan by David, and his kingdom is portrayed as having prospered as a great unified kingdom under David’s son, Solomon.  That account was long accepted as a given truth by biblical scholars until the science of archaeology showed conclusively that the claimed powerful kingdom said to have been ruled from Jerusalem could not have existed as portrayed in the priest-writings.  No hard archaeological evidence has ever been found to support the priest compiled story, but has revealed instead that Jerusalem was simply a modest, economically borderline village in the era when David, Solomon and Rehoboam (son of Solomon) are claimed to have ruled. 

Archaeology has revealed that the territory north of Jerusalem in the claimed timeframe was considerably more populated and flourishing economically than the region around Jerusalem.  However, in biblical myth the northern territory is claimed to have broken away from the alleged unified kingdom under Solomon’s son (c. 931-913 BCE), and developed as the kingdom of Israel.  Both territorial areas did worship YHWH among other gods, spoke dialects of Hebrew, and wrote in the same script, but the southern territory (Judah) became more developed much later than the northern; it had remained sparse due to its more rugged terrain.  The bond of blood kinship of the northern and southern territories was openly acknowledged, but they had become politically divided.  Until the northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians (c. 734 BCE), the little “kingdom” of Judah languished in the shadow of Israel.  The fall of Israel was a blessing for the priests based in the village of Jerusalem who had long lusted to impose their method of religious observance upon all Hebrew people and wished to make the temple in Jerusalem the holiest place of their faith. 

Josiah, son and successor of Judah’s King Amon, came to the throne at the age of eight (c. 639 BCE), and was tutored by priests during his youth.  Because of this background Josiah soon reestablished the worship of Yahweh/Jehovah.  And it was during Josiah’s reign, apparently by divine providence, that a book of law was allegedly discovered by the high-priest Hilkiah when workmen were repairing the temple (as recorded in II Kings 22).  Josiah was inspired by the miraculously produced writing which has ever since been accepted as the book of Deuteronomy, supposedly the work of Moses.  Deuteronomy only recapitulated the law already recorded in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, but the framework in which the laws are set is notably (suspiciously) different from that of the other codes.  Notable in Deuteronomy is the contention that the Exodus version of the Covenant with Yahweh/God at Sinai was not made on the basis of the Decalogue; instead it is implied that only ten laws (Commandments) were given to the people at Sinai, with the rest delivered to Moses alone, and promulgated later at the Jordan.  This conveniently allowed enormous leeway for the high-priest Hilkiah to restructure and reform religious practice that gave greater prominence to themes of God’s sovereignty, justice, mercy and love rather than to outward observances of ritual and ceremonial emphasis.  In the discovered sermon of Moses it reads, “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 peoples of the earth.”  This happily aligned priestly ambitions with that of Josiah’s inherited  dominion, and just happened to inspire a narrow national outlook.

With Israel reduced to secondary power and refugees fleeing south into Judah, the priests devoted to YHWH moved to expand, and they established shrines and sanctuaries at Dan and Bethel.  And as refugees poured in from the north the Yahweh priests in Jerusalem quickly embarked on a prodigious propaganda campaign of rewriting history and codifying material that now makes up the early books of the Old Testament.  Additional books were compiled to promote the impression that the little kingdom of Judah had been divinely ordained.  To account for the alleged split in the united kingdom into rival kingdoms, the blame for it was given with the myth of Solomon having his heart turned from YHWH by his foreign wives.  Sadly, for trusting believers, over one hundred years of intensive archaeology investigation have never been able to confirm David or Solomon as historical persons.

Hanky-Panky in the Promised Land

Posted in agnoticism, Atheist, Bible, culture, freethought, history, nontheism, prehistory, random, religion, sex taboos with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2009 by chouck017894

As the stories in the Bible have been passed down from the editing pens of priest-authors, the deliberate misinformation that was incorporated as “holy word” has well served them as the core of a mind control system that is held in regard as religion. We have also seen in previous web postings that modern archaeological and anthropological finds have proven that a heady amount of revered “holy” accounts simply do not jibe with evidence that has been systematically unearthed and studied. The conquering of the “Promised Land” known as Canaan, it is shown, did not occur through an invasion of war as the “holy book” stories imply.

This means that all the blood and guts of Joshua’s holocaustic indugences was simply priestly abuse of facts–probably fabricated in the hope of intimidating the more powerful neighbor-nations around them.

The priest-authors were often sloppy about characterization and plotlines, and certainly would have made lousy generals. But taking of Canaan–supposedly promised to them by god, of course–was made into an epic with a cast of thousands. Moses and Aaron are portrayed as leading the Israelites out of Egypt under god’s promise that “…you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and an holy nation.” Exodus 19:6. Curiously, the Creator of all things seems always to have to rely on the bestial side of his favorites to accomplish anything of merit among humans.

There are a number of things that are rather sidestepped in the epic of “capturing” Canaan for god–and his priests. After the invasion was set, Moses appointed twelve men to advance and reconnoiter the land to be occupied. Among those men selected were Joshua, son of Nun, and Caleb, a member of the tribe of Judah. Much is made over Joshua’s bloodlust as a heroic obsession which propelled him into virtual savior status among Jews. (So admired was he that even the name Jesus is derived from the name Joshua.) But of Josua’s buddy, Caleb, there are some tolerable references but a sparse storyline.

Part of the priest-authors’ downplay of Caleb rests in the name itself, which is Keleb in Hebrew, and means “dog.” Although Caleb had been admitted into the tribe of Judah, the later account says that Caleb “…again separated himself from god, while remaining faithful to the q’deshim” (or “holy ones”). The part that is brushed aside with this statement is that Caleb adopted Canaanite religious customs, the q’deshim cult in particular, according to Deuteronomy.

Genuine history shows that early Hebrews had sacred prostitutes in their temples–a common custom in Babylonian, Assyrian and other neighboring cultures of the time. Female prostitutes were known as q’deshah–and the male equivalents were the q’deshim, who were known as dog-priests for the positions they assumed for their service. That Caleb was an acknowledged member of the tribe of Judah is consistent with the legend that Judah himself was an unashamed user of temple prostitutes.

Apparently in that historic age the Lord had not yet gotten all his prejudices sorted out, for a personal favorite of his, David, came from the tribe of Judah (and he had loved Johathan), and David had used Caleb’s territory, Hebron, as his capital until he supposedly captured Jerusalem.

Pre-Biblical Hebrew Documents

Posted in Atheist, Bible, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2009 by chouck017894

Long before the Torah account became the official declaration–and well before the version known as the Old Testament became installed as the official accounting of how everything came into being, there were many documents written in Hebrew that were held as sacred but which over time became conveniently lost or purposely suppressed. Among those was a text known as The Book of the Story of Adam, which is alluded to in Genesis 5:1 (where it reads, “This is the book of the generations of Adam”) and which implies that the ten generations from Adam to Noah had been more detailed.

In spite of heavy censoring of pre-biblical texts, a few of those early poetic Hebrew-style writings have been discoverd, but most are known primarily through brief fragments that have been quoted from in authorized books such as Numbers 21:14 (“Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the Lord…”); Joshua 10:13 (“Is it not written in the book of Jasher?”); and in Samuel 1:18 (“…behold, it is written in the Book of Jasher.”)

Among the documents that were shoved into oblivion were epic accounts such as The Book of the Wars of Yahweh; another was known as the Book of Yashar. Both of these covered a more in-depth account of the Israelites’ alleged desert ordeal and a more grandiose version of the invasion of Canaan than the account passed down as the authorized version now found in Exodus and Numbers. From the book of Joshua 18:9 it can be discerned that another seven-part version once existed which glowingly described the coveted land of Canaan and its cities. In the book of Isaiah, 34:16, it says, “Seek ye out the book of the Lord, and read…” The book referred to there was the text known as The Book of Yahweh which was likely a collection of allegorical fables about the habits and traits of animals from which moral significance could be drawn.

Other books which would probably throw a different light on things held sacred by their mythic references might well have been presented in documents known as: 1) Acts of Solomon, 2) the Book of Geneaology, 3) the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah, 4) Of Kings of Israel, and 5) Of the Sons of Levi.

It would be up to much later generations to add to the sacred accounts in attempts to clarify Mosaic Law and add moral, historical and anecdotal texts. But they, too, dipped into mythic material to validate the prescribed laws, social customs and rituals. With these little pieces of an ancient puzzle we are privileged to see how the so-called “revealed word of God” evolved.