Archive for kingdom of Israel

A Priest’s Convenient Discovery

Posted in Atheist, belief, faith, Hebrew scripture, history, politics, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , on December 1, 2011 by chouck017894

(Political Purpose of Deuteronomy)

The biblical text known as Deuteronomy, inserted as the fifth book of holy scripture, was composed for political purposes in Jerusalem in the newly established little tribal kingdom of Judah in the seventh century BCE. The little kingdom of Israel to the north had fallen to Assyrian expansion, and the inspiration behind the priest-written text was that the people could be mobilized by giving them an emotional claim to a national identity.

Deuteronomy is the alleged second corpus juris (body of laws) that had purportedly been given to the Israelites through Moses prior to the Israelites entering the land of Canaan.  The delivery of the supplements to the original “laws” had supposedly taken place in the plains of Moab (generally placed in the 1400s BCE).  So the Israelites were not then in the “Promised Land,” and yet the book containing the second corpus of “laws” supposedly had been carried into and inflicted upon those who already inhabited the land of Canaan.  Those undisclosed laws had apparently been lugged around through the Israelite invasion ordeal, even though the Israelites were unaware that what they defended predetermined the framework for a national constitution of Israel that would rise generations later!

The major feature of the top-secret text was the promise from god—or a covenant between God and Israel—to serve as the basis for the Israelites lifestyle in Canaan.  In the time of Moses, remember, no center  of Israelite government or religion existed in Canaan, the “Promised Land,” and yet that “for your eyes only” text supposedly provided the basic summary of every citizen’s rights and duties.  Strangely, those god-ordained laws were not found until the Temple in Jerusalem was being remodeled in the seventh century BCE, which was after the kingdom of Israel to the north had fallen to the Assyrians—or around 700 years after the traditional timeframe accorded to Moses and the Exodus (c. 1576 BCE).  Unlike the Ten Commandments the additional laws conveyed to Moses apparently had not been written on stone.

Whoever the real author(s) was (most likely it was the High Priest named Hilkiah and his secretary Shapan), he undoubtedly built upon already existing traditions, refashioning the legends according to his own outline and political goals.  There is no doubt of the genius of the creator(s) of the 7th century BCE who updated the oral traditions, for the early folklore and stories were woven together so skillfully that the characters, such as Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc., exuded individual distinctiveness.  Equally telling that priestly hands were at work on the text are often detected in the alleged exhortations of Moses, which can only be characterized as preaching the law in a reproachful manner.  The heavy amount of the “laws” are not what can be termed juridical, but primarily concerned religious instructions and regulations for worship, even a festival calendar, and admonitions designed to program the public with a sense of obligation and duty toward God, which—surprise!—cunningly placed the priests in absolute management position.

In 640 BCE, after the assassination of tribal king Amon of Judah, his 8-year old son Josiah became king—and the High Priest Hilkiah became the young king’s tutor.  The convenient “discovery” of the book of Law in this same general timeframe also happened to coincide with the rise of literacy that accompanied the influx of refugees from the fallen kingdom of Israel to the north.  With the arrival in Judah of expatriates from the kingdom of Israel the political atmosphere changed, and until this timeframe there had been little means of producing extensive sacred texts.  With young King Josiah being tutored by the High Priest Hilkiah, the stage was set to institute a unifying code of alleged god-ordained laws within the boundaries that were then being claimed as the kingdom of Judah.

Deuteronomy is the only book of the Pentateuch that asserts that it contains “words of the covenant” which Israelites were instructed to follow faithfully (Exodus 29:9).  Biblical scholars have pointed out that the literary form of the alleged covenant between Yahweh and his people as presented in Deuteronomy has striking similarity to the seventh century BCE Assyrian vassal treaties.  In those Assyrian models the subjected people’s’ rights and obligations were correspondingly detailed.  The major difference from the Assyrian model with the holy “covenant” laws allegedly discovered in the Temple wall at Jerusalem is that Yahweh is acknowledged as Sovereign (with the priests acting as his representatives).  Typical cult ordinances were then stressed such as followers of Yahweh were charged to have no transactions or social interaction, and no intermarriage whatever with the native inhabitants.

The book of Deuteronomy also prohibited numerous Canaanite rites that had been tolerated for generations—rites that included sense-stimulants such as prostitution, ritual sodomy, and use of idols upon which devotees could focus their attention.  After the so-called “second law” was revealed, the books of Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings were compiled in conjunction with Deuteronomy.  The groundwork was then laid down in the plotted reform measures that the High Priest and his scribe sought to impose at that time.  Thus eight years after Josiah had become king in 622 BCE, the suggestible adolescent observed the first-ever Passover sacrifice in the national shrine in Jerusalem.  Holy politics had triumphed.

The imposed cult-like obligations and the emphasis that believers in Yahweh were the only virtuous people—always self-portrayed as surrounded by wickedness and evil and godlessness—insured that Judaism would live at variance not only with neighboring people, but with Nature and universal forces as well.  Over time that spiritual virus would also contaminate the devout affirmations of two later faith systems that would arise to further splinter the western understanding of man’s relationship to the creative forces around him.

Revered Criminals of the Bible

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, culture, faith, freethought, Hebrew scripture, history, prehistory, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , on January 21, 2011 by chouck017894

The Bible, which is constantly held up as holy and as the alleged word of God, and therefore the moral standard by which man is to live,  is a remarkably violent and bloody book.  Old Testament criminals such as Cain, Samuel, David, etc., etc. are repeatedly treated lightly by God and simply put up with like hyperkinetic children.  Cain, for example, who killed his brother, was not punished, just exiled.  In essence he was lifted out of a humdrum dirt farming existence to be set up as a builder of  cities, which happened to make him influential and very wealthy.  What punishment!

But we cannot judge Bible characters by man’s evolved social/moral standards, however.  In the case of Cain, we must set aside our advanced understanding of law and justice, for in the Genesis account with its vague settings before the advent of time, there was not yet an established system of anything, let alone law and order.  On that technicality, therefore, the murderous act of Cain, although morally despicable from our perspective, cannot be judged as a case of murder or even manslaughter.  Indeed, the Lord did not get around to denouncing homicide until he himself had indulged in drowning most of the world population—traditionally presented as having occurred sometime around 2348 BCE.  Be that as it may, the Lord still didn’t bother to hand down the sixth commandment (thou shalt not kill) to Moses until around 1491 BCE, if biblical chronology is to be trusted.  That was only a mere 2,284 years after the slaying of Abel, and Cain was long dead. 

Apparently the Lord had his attention elsewhere after drowning man, and when he finally noticed, mankind had again become corrupt and men were building towers and spoke one language! (Genesis 11:1)  “And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.” (verse 5)  What corruption!  So the Lord says, “…let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech” (Genesis 11:17).  What an absolutely brilliant idea for remedying the corruption which the Lord found: make sure that no one understood each other and they would live in peace!  But with this remedy put in place the corruption did not cease.  That is fortunate, for otherwise we wouldn’t have much to read about in Scripture: like such spirit-inspiring tales as: 1) the annihilation of Sodom and Gomorrah, 2) Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac, 3) Jacob stealing Esau’s birthright, 4) Moses murdering an Egyptian, 5) Joshua’s indulgence in holocaust, 6) a list of 28 priest-approved ways to kill sinners (in Leviticus), 7) the  invasion and slaughter of Canaanites with God’ approval for occupation of the Canaanite’s land, 8) the God-approved “laws” of warfare (Deuteronomy 20).  Etc., etc., etc., etc…

 Things were really not  much better once God’s chosen ones got settled into the Promised Land, and it was a bunch of Judges who were allegedly privy to God’s opinions who set themselves up as leaders after Joshua had fertilized the land with much Canaanite blood.   The stories of the Judges do not actually begin until 3:7 of the book of Judges and conclude with 16:31 (of 21 chapters).  Naturally Israel sinned repeatedly and, the priest-authors assure us, had to be disciplined.

The account given in the Book of Judges, as we have seen (Fables from the Book of Judges, October 2010), supposedly set the scene for the establishment of the kingdom of Israel.  The establishment of a united monarchy is traditionally placed c. 1020-931 BCE.  A throne and regional power thus became a God-directed holy pursuit, if the priest-authors recorded correctly, and worthiness to rule in God’s name could be achieved by any means, fair or foul.  So in the book of Judges (chapter 9) a son of a Hebrew judge (Gideon) who was named Abimelech, nudged things toward a kingdom by making himself king of Shechem and having his seventy half-brothers murdered.  He had borrowed seventy pieces of silver to hire assassins.  The gory details of this are always sidestepped in encyclopedias and in Bible companion crib notes, saying only that Abimelech ruled a mere three years before being “mortally wounded” by a stone thrown by a woman while he was besieging the tower of Thebez.  Well, the story was more lovingly detailed than that by the priests.

If we accept biblical storytelling as unvarnished holy truth, one of the first clashes in all mankind’s history between spiritual and temporal power is accounted for in the tale of Samuel (c. 1140 BCE), the last of the “judges” and the first pitiless “prophet.”  If you are unfamiliar with the tale as juicily told by priest-authors, Samuel  personally “hewed…to pieces” with a sword the lone and defenseless King Agag of the Amalekites for personal and political advantages (1 Samuel 15:33).  It was a premeditated act of murder, and against God’s earlier command Thou shalt not kill.  As we have often seen in biblical tales, that Commandment got vetoed an awful lot by the majority of biblical characters—including God.

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.