Archive for Saul

What Marked Jerusalem as Holy

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, faith, history, prehistory, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2010 by chouck017894

What was it about the location that became Jerusalem that inflamed Yahweh priests with the obsession that a temple must be built upon one certain mount in Judaea?  Even before the priests of Yahweh arrived at the mount, the site had been regarded as sacred by inhabitants of the region.  The earliest known name for the site was Ur-Shalem (or Yeru-Shalem), and from as far back as can be traced the hub area of Ur-Shalem encompassed three particular mounts.  The most ancient names of the mounts seem to point to some singular association that is yet to be discovered.  The southernmost mount had the name of “Mount of the Signal” in antiquity; the northernmost peak is said to have been known as “Mount of the Observers.”  The central mount, however, seems to have been central in more ways than one, for it bore the name “Mount of Directing.”  This is the mount which is claimed to have been seen by Abraham from a distance; he is alleged to have  witnessed a heavy cloud over this mount in which the glory of god was seen.  The word Ur translates roughly as fire or light, but the word Shalem is remarkably similar to the Hebrew shalom, the greeting or farewell meaning peace.  Jerusalem has thus been said, rather ironically considering its history of discord, to mean light and peace.  Another speculation is that shalem means something like the perfect place.

Curiously the barren mountain site that would become Jerusalem lacked the basic needs for a center of religious or political pursuits.  There was neither water nor food sources near the site, nor even any trade or military routes anywhere near.  One might be inclined to call it a god-forsaken place!  Around c. 2000-1800 BCE there was little in the region but small sparsely inhabited highland areas.  When the Yahweh priests arrived they were already determined that one particular spot there was marked out as a center that god favored.  What was the supposed special indicator that the place was blessed by heaven?  It was a massive artificially cut rock.  The priests were divinely certain that despite the stone’s antiquity it had all been fashioned just for them.

The sacred rock was  known in Hebrew as Eben Sheti-yah, and translates as the “Stone from which the world was woven.”  This reference seems to hold an intricate relationship to the more ancient names for the three mounts mentioned earlier upon which Jerusalem evolved.  The sacred rock can be deduced as once having served as a kind of platform that was put in place atop artificially cut massive stone blocks—in pre-diluvial times.  The sacred rock at the Jerusalem location has a startling similarity in age and structure to the more massive stone platform located at Baalbeck, in today’s Lebanon.  This sacred rock, therefore, existed for millennia before c 1000 BCE—which is the timeframe when David is alleged to have captured the sparse area (today’s Mount Zion) from the Jebusites (an early tribal league).

Tradition says that the sacred rock was cube-like, with its corners precisely facing the four directions of the compass.  In addition, it is said that two tube-like funnels had been bored out of the rock, and these connected to a subterranean tunnel.  How these feats could have been accomplished in prehistory times, or the purpose they served is unknown.  Tradition has it also that the construction plans for the temple that was erected later had been provided directly by an unnamed source which holy myth, of course, credits to “the Lord.”

We should also note that ancient names of the valleys in the area carried special implication as well.  For example, Isaiah spoke of one of them as the Valley of Hizzayon, which loosely translates as Valley of Vision.  Ugaritic texts tell of divine healers in a valley they called Valley of Repha’im (the healers).  Legends from prehistory times also tell of a subterranean region in “the Valley of Hinnom,” where the entrance could be discerned by a column of smoke that rose between two palm trees. 

Archeological research has shown that the biblical accounts of Canaan-Israel-Judah history are far from reliable.  A brief example: the character of Saul (c. 1025-1005 BCE), the alleged first king of Israel, was supposedly installed by the eleventh century BCE judge and “prophet” Samuel.  This places it in the Iron Age I period.  Nothing has ever been unearthed in archeological digs that even suggests that a prosperous united monarchy existed then.  And no archeological evidence has ever been found of David’s alleged kingdom, and no indication of the conquests attributed to David have been unearthed either.  In fact, evidence reveals that settlements in the Jerusalem region in this Iron Age I timeframe experienced no interruption of Canaanite culture.  Likewise, in regard to David’s alleged son Solomon (time setting c. 970-931 BCE), nothing has ever been brought to light of any monumental architecture in Jerusalem, Megiddo or Hazor in this timeframe as has been attributed to Solomon. 

The holy truth is that precious little reliable priestly accounting of Israel or Judah surfaces until around 800 BCE.  Even then much of the priest-written “history” has been freely embroidered upon.  It is wise to remember that Jews are never mentioned until the Maccabees (Hasmonaeans), a Jewish dynasty of “patriots,” high priests and kings of the 2nd and 1st century BCE who sought to rouse the Jews against their Seleucid ruler.

  •  See related posts, The David Saga, parts 1 and 2; and  Solomon’s Majesty, August 2009.
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Bible-Based Examples for Governing

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, culture, faith, freethought, history, humanity, life, logic, politics, random, religion, thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2009 by chouck017894

By biblical clues it was once determined that the murder of Abel by his brother Cain had occurred in 3875 BCE.  Interestingly, the first year of the Jewish calendar is set as beginning in 3760 BCE—a mere 115 years later.  The brief and incomplete list that follows here, taken from  “holy Bible” stories, make it dishearteningly clear that the respect for life was not especially a high priority of too many biblical characters.  Perhaps this was inspired by god’s indifference.

The Deluge, whipped up by god himself with the sole intention of obliterating the human species, supposedly occurred in 2348 BCE—1,527 years after Abel was slain.  Oddly, part of the Lord’s instruction to Noah after unleashing the killing deed upon the Earth was the admonishment that Noah and his progeny must, among other listed immoral acts, refrain from committing homicide.  A case of do as I say, not as I do.  As you scan over these brief highlights from biblical tales, remember that the definition of murder is the unconscionable killing of a human being.  Of course there had been no code of law established in Eden; an embarrassing oversight for an all-knowing Creator.

In the time of Abraham, the alleged progenitor of the Israelites, the Lord is said to have saved Abraham’s son Isaac from being sacrificed by Abraham in 1860 BCE.  Obviously any tradition handed down from the time of Noah 488 years earlier did not include the admonishment to refrain from taking another person’s life.

By the most commonly accepted calculations, Moses did not receive any announcement against homicide until c. 1491 BCE—or 369 years after Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of his son, and 2384 years after Abel’s untimely demise.  It might be said that the commandment “thou shalt not kill” was a case of too little too late.  Even with this commandment as counsel, good old Joshua, the god-favored successor to Moses, is portrayed as happily indulging himself in holocaustic slaughter of countless Canaanites.

Then there is the tale of Jephthah, a blustery Israelite who was called upon by the Israelite elders to head off a threatened Ammonite attack in 1143 BCE.  Jephthah swore that if he won in battle then “…whatsoever cometh forth out of the doors of my house to meet me…” I will then offer it up for a burnt offering (2 Judges).  Well, Jephthah won the battle.  His “honor” supposedly demanded the ritual murder of his daughter, for in her joy to see his safe return his daughter had rushed out to meet him.  Was it Jephthah’s fault or god’s indifference that caused the girl to be burned to death?  Even god seems to have ignored his own edict not to kill that he had handed down only 348 years before, for he did nothing to save the girl.

412 years after the commandment not to kill had been handed down, King Saul of Israel is said to have indulged himself in a swift war of extermination against the Amalekites in 1079 BCE in which, the boast goes, every man, woman, babe, and child were “utterly destroyed.”  This was poor press for the children of god, but was made even worse by King Saul’s pitiless “prophet,” Samuel, depicted as having savagely chopped the captured and defenseless Amalekite King Agag into mincemeat with a sword.  Samuel also contributed to Israel’s gory glory by then promoting David (1040-973? BCE) for the throne.  And ultimately, 23 years after Saul’s slaughter of Agag, David is said to have succeeded Saul as King of Israel.

David was a master of deceit, mendacity, and bloodshed, and he followed the traditional pattern of killing everyone among a conquered people, including women, babes, and children..  He even had people killed “…lest they should tell on us…” (1 Samuel 27:11).  David’s list of slaughters and atrocities are too many to present here, but his open disregard for the sixth commandment makes it questionable why god could ever have considered him a worthy founder of a royal dynasty or to be the protector of the Ark of the Covenant.  David is commonly excused under the pretext that he displayed unfailing devotion to Jehovah.  Say What? 

Elijah, c. 910 BCE, had the Phenician prophets of Baal put to death to prevent them from muscling in on his hold on the official religion in Israel.  The myth goes that after the slaughter of Baal priests, rain and dew which god had grudgingly withheld for three years finally fell.  Besides destroying the priests of Baal, Elijah also caused the destruction of two companies of fifty innocent messengers c. 852 BCE who had been sent to him by King Ahaziah of Israel.  The eager anticipation of this “holy” man’s return to Earth became incorporated in Christian myth as spiritually fulfilled in John the Baptist.

Elisha, c. 896 BCE, another typically short-tempered and irascible Israelite “prophet,” displayed his disregard for the sixth commandment in his encounter with 42 unruly children on the road to Bethel.  The young delinquents allegedly teased him about his bald head.  In angry retaliation, holy Elisha is said to have cursed the children in the name of the lord and immediately two bears appeared and ripped the children to pieces.  The weak excuse for the god-assisted murder of 42 children is that the “prophet’ was weary and agitated from his fifteen mile hike from Jericho.  Elisha was not weary, however, when he hatched the conspiracy to seize the throne of Israel and elevate Jehu, the last son of Joram, as king.

Jehu, appointed by god and anointed by the “prophet” Elisha as king of Israel (c. 843? BCE), lost little time in setting out to exterminate his predecessor King Ahab’s seventy children as well as the priests of Baal.  (Hadn’t Elijah done away with Baal priests already?)  But true to form, here is what 2 Kings 10:30 says:  And the Lord said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.  Thus blessed by god for his killing, Jehu, without an ounce of scruple, later ordered two or three eunuchs to throw his wife Jezebel out of a window to fall to her death. 

This brief and incomplete list of biblical characters from “the good book” have been offered as spiritual inspiration for countless generations.  Do these bloody tales really exemplify the most exalted way of attracting peace, justice, love, and mercy that is so yearned for in the world?  Do the citizens of the United States really aspire to use these “Bible based” or “Faith Based” examples as our principles of a just government?

Time Honored Holy Examples

Posted in Atheism, Atheist, Bible, culture, random, religion, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2009 by chouck017894

By biblical clues it was once determined that the murder of Abel by his brother Cain happened in 3875 BCE.  Interestingly, the first year of the Jewish calendar is set as beginning in 3760–a mere 115 years later.  The brief and incomplete list that now follows, taken from “holy Bible” stories, make it distressingly clear that the respect for life was not especially a high priority of too many biblical characters.  Perhaps this was inspired by god’s divine indifference.

The Deluge, whipped up by god himself with the sole intention of obliterating the human species, supposedly occurred in 2348 BCE.  Oddly, part of the Lord’s instruction to Noah after unleashing the killing deed was the admonishment that Noah and his progeny must, among other listed immoral acts, refrain from committing homicide.  A case of do as I say, not as I do.  So as you scan over these brief highlights taken from biblical tales, remember that the definition of murder is the unconscionable killing of a human being.

In the  time Abraham, the alleged progenitor of the Hebrews, the Lord allegedly saved Isaac, Abraham’s son, from being sacrificed to the Lord by Abraham in 1860 BCE.  Obviously any tradition handed down from the time of Noah 488 years earlier had not included the admonishment to refrain from taking another person’s life.

By the most commonly  accepted calculations, Moses did not receive any announcement against homicide until 1491 BCE—or 369 years after Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of his son, and 2384 years after Abel’s untimely demise.  It might be said that the commandment “thou shalt not kill” was a case of too little too late.  Even with this commandment as counsel, good old Joshua (from which the name Jesus was derived), the god-favored successor to Moses, indulged himself in holocaustic slaughter of countless Canaanites.

Then there is the tale of Jephthah, a blustery Israelite who was called upon by the Israelite elders to head off a threatened Ammonite attack in 1143 BCE.  He swore that if he won in battle then whatsoever cometh forth out of the doors  of  my house to meet me…” I will offer it up for a burnt offering (II Judges).  Well, Jephthah won, apparently with god’s help.  His “honor” supposedly demanded the ritual murder of his daughter, for in her joy to see his return, she had rushed out to meet him.  Was it Jephthah’s fault or god’s indifference that caused the girl to be burned to death?  Even god seemed to ignore his own edict handed down only 348 years before, for he did nothing to save the girl.

412 years after the commandment not to kill had been handed down, King Saul of Israel indulged himself in a swift war of extermination against the Amalekites in 1079 BCE in which, the boast goes, every man, woman, babe and child were “utterly destroyed.”  This was bad enough, but then Saul’s pitiless “prophet” Samuel is recorded as having savagely chopped the captured and defenseless Amalekite King Agag into mincemeat with a sword.  Samuel also contributed to Israel’s gory glory by then promoting David (1040?-973? BCE) for the throne.  And ultimately, twenty-three years later after the slaughter of Agag, David did allegedly succeed Saul as King of Israel.

David was a master of deceit, mendacity and bloodshed, and followed the traditional pattern of killing everyone among a conquered people, including women, babes, and children.  He even had people killed “lest they should tell on us” (1 Samuel 27:11).   David’s list of slaughters and atrocities are too many to present here, but his open disregard for the sixth commandment make it questionable why god could ever have considered him worthy of a royal dynasty or to be the protector of the Ark of the Covenant.  David is commonly excused under the pretext that he displayed unfailing devotion to Jehovah.  Say what?

Elijah, c. 910 BCE, had the Phenician prophets of Baal put to death to prevent them from muscling in on his hold on the official religion of Israel.  The myth goes that after the slaughter of Baal priests, rain and dew which god had withheld for three years finally fell again.  Besides destroying the priests of Baal, Elijah also caused the destruction of two companies of fifty innocent messengers c. 825 BCE sent to him by King Ahaziah of Israel.  The eager anticipation of this “holy” man’s return to earth was later incorporated into Christian myth as the spiritual fulfillment in John the Baptist.

Elisha, c. 896 BCE, was another short-tempered and irascible Israelite “prophet” who showed his disregard for the sixth commandment in his encounter with 42 unruly children on the road to Bethel.  The young delinquents allegedly teased him about his bald head.  In angry retaliation holy Elisha is said to have cursed the children in the name of the lord and immediately two bears appeared and ripped the children to pieces. The weak excuse for the god-assisted murder of 42 children is that the “prophet” was weary and agitated from his fifteen mile hike from Jericho.  Elisha was not weary, however, when he hatched the conspiracy to seize the throne of Israel and elevate Jehu, the last son of Joram, as king.

Jehu, appointed by god and anointed by Elisha as king of Israel (c. 843? BCE), lost little time in setting out to exterminate his predecessor King Ahab’s seventy children as well as the priests of Baal.  (How the priests had to be exterminated is a mystery, for Elijah had supposedly done all that before.)  But true to form, here is what chapter10, verse 30 of 2 Kings says:  And the Lord said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in  executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.  Thus blessed by the Lord, Jehu, without an ounce of scruple, later ordered two or three eunuchs to throw his wife Jezebel out of a window to her death.

This brief and incomplete list of biblical characters from the “good book” have been offered as spiritual inspiration for countless generations.  Do they really exemplify the most exalted way of attracting peace, justice, love and mercy that is so yearned for in the world?

Where’s the Proof?

Posted in Atheist, freethought, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2009 by chouck017894

Intensive modern archaeological research of the “Holy Land” conducted on up-to-date stratigraphic principles has been going on for well over a century. The century-plus search to confirm the claimed biblical past has unearthed absolutely nothing to verify the existence of any of the legendary persons such as Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Saul, David, Solomon, John the Baptist, Jesus or the alleged twelve apostles.

There have been hundreds of excavations conducted through the Near East region, especially modern Israel and Palestine, that did indeed serve to identify numerous sites used as the setting for biblical stories. From those careful digs there have been amassed detailed chronologies that range from the earliest permanent settlements of the Paleolithic Age up to the Late Bronze Age city-states. Atop these there has been unearthed an impressive hoard of material evidence of later Judean kingdoms on through the Roman and Byzantine periods. Even so, there is yet to be found any archeological find that provides evidence that any of the starring characters of the biblical tales were real persons. The names of minor biblical characters have been found, however, on inscriptions, seals and seal impressions. But inclusion of precise atmospheric details such as political names do not attest that the stars of biblical lore were real any more than using world-known personalities of today in some fictional story mean the main characters are real.

Surveys and excavations of early settlement sites on the West Bank which have long been claimed to be of Israelite origin have brought into doubt the scriptural accounts of the ancient “conquest” of Canaan. Territories traditionally claimed as “god given” to the Israelites have yielded nothing to lend verification that the claim carries historical truth. This presents an ominous threat to the traditions of the three major religions of the western world. As another example, there has been nothing unearthed that could support the traditional accounts of the Islamic Conquest; rather the carefully sifted evidence shows that Islamic domination over the region was not the result of a swift military campaign but resulted as a gradual shift in social structure.

What has to be acknowledged is that religious and political “traditions” most commonly arise from storyline manipulation of various events for the purpose of mass control. This in turn demonstrates that religious belief systems are history’s most powerful form of brainwashing.