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Old 11-30-2018, 08:55 AM
 
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It is interesting to read the oft-repeated exhortations against idolatry in the Old Testament.
It seems the ancient Jews were forever getting seduced by the idea of making and worshipping graven/molten images, cf Aaron's golden calf or the "high places" and groves. The wisest king, Solomon, started adopting his wives' gods at the end of his life.
Yet the Bible seems to think that these people were just idiots (or worse) who did not realize that wood and metal have no divine power. It never considers that idolaters are like people who keep their loved ones' pictures in their wallets and gaze at them lovingly. Do you think that a soldier who kisses his sweetheart's picture before going into battle does not know that he is not really kissing her? It is very hard to understand why the Bible writers missed this point - that idols are representations of gods and their worshippers know that!
To be fair, some (many?) worshippers themselves forget that, and start ascribing divine properties to the idols themselves. But surely the ancient Jews were (IMO) some of the most enlightened and clear-thinking people of their time and would have been less likely to make that mistake. There is no way Solomon would think an idol is magical.
This idol-hate eventually caused the destruction of the Bamian Buddhas by the Taliban, followers of a religion whose opposition of idols can be traced to the OT. Even in the OT there are instances (IIRC Hoseah and Nehemiah) where the rulers destroyed their subjects' places of worship just as Islamic rulers did in in recent history.
So why does the OT deliberately miss the point? The writers are not afraid to record and confront reality in other places in the OT.
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Old 11-30-2018, 01:30 PM
 
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Hard to believe that the Torah or Tanach miss the point. I understand and accept your general argument as relates to Solomon, but one need only look at some branches of "modern" Xtianity (I don't care if it rains or freezes, long as I've got my plastic ***** sittin' on the dash board of my car) to see what folks are STILL up to. While the golden calf incident has several DIFFERING explanations, it is clear that the Torah says nix on certain types of images (or maybe even all), "sacred" trees, etc.

You say, "It is very hard to understand why the Bible writers missed this point - that idols are representations of gods and their worshippers know that!" Who says they missed the point? They ARE representations of GODS, and that is what is forbidden. Remember the ten commandments?

This is all without even getting into some of the things associated with some idol worship in the area, like child sacrifice, etc.

Interesting viewpoint, but I think that the Tanach still stands.
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Old 11-30-2018, 02:11 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ben Shunamit View Post
Hard to believe that the Torah or Tanach miss the point. I understand and accept your general argument as relates to Solomon, but one need only look at some branches of "modern" Xtianity (I don't care if it rains or freezes, long as I've got my plastic ***** sittin' on the dash board of my car) to see what folks are STILL up to. While the golden calf incident has several DIFFERING explanations, it is clear that the Torah says nix on certain types of images (or maybe even all), "sacred" trees, etc.

You say, "It is very hard to understand why the Bible writers missed this point - that idols are representations of gods and their worshippers know that!" Who says they missed the point? They ARE representations of GODS, and that is what is forbidden. Remember the ten commandments?

This is all without even getting into some of the things associated with some idol worship in the area, like child sacrifice, etc.

Interesting viewpoint, but I think that the Tanach still stands.
Good point! Some of the opposition must have been simply because the idols were of not of the Jewish God. And as you say the commandments clearly say to not have any other gods before Him.
Come to think of it, the places of worship that Jews destroyed were where other Jews prayed to other gods. I don't recall (though please correct me if I am wrong) Jews destroying other people's temples and groves. Maybe in the apocryphal story of Daniel proving to the Persian emperor that the worship of Bel and the dragon was futile - but even then he didn't go break the idols himself, as the Taliban did to the Buddhas. Similarly, IIRC, there is some story of the Baal's idol being knocked down when the philistines put the captured Ark of the Covenant in his temple (I think, I could be making this up.)

So let me narrow down the question - why is the Jewish God opposed to Jews worshipping him using images and idols? Just because it often leads to the superstitious practices among the masses (of considering the idol itself to have supernatural power)?
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Old 11-30-2018, 02:37 PM
 
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You are missing the point of what "idol" is. Idol is not a piece of wood or stone or paint or else, a human worships.
Idol is physical REPRESENTATION of a certain deity. That deity is representation of a certain human trait.

As example, "golden calf" was God Mammon, or god of greed, in general. God of possessions, hording, etc. For every one of deadly sins, you can find a corresponding god/idol.

This is dangerous as is shifts one's spiritual aim from the one and only God, to variety of "lesser deities".
I shall dare to say something.
here's a devotee to any religion. Does not matter. Goes to shrine/temple/holy place/church. Prays, obeys and follows. Then, dedicates entire life to, say, growing his possessions, or trumping ones below him, or bloating with his "rightness", or else or else. That person is an idolator. Instead of being in and with God, he is with his idol of choice.

This is why idolatry in its true meaning was uprooted ruthlessly by Moses.

Look around. You will see nothing but idolatry.
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Old 12-01-2018, 10:21 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ukrkoz View Post
You are missing the point of what "idol" is. Idol is not a piece of wood or stone or paint or else, a human worships.
Idol is physical REPRESENTATION of a certain deity. That deity is representation of a certain human trait.

As example, "golden calf" was God Mammon, or god of greed, in general. God of possessions, hording, etc. For every one of deadly sins, you can find a corresponding god/idol.

This is dangerous as is shifts one's spiritual aim from the one and only God, to variety of "lesser deities".
I shall dare to say something.
here's a devotee to any religion. Does not matter. Goes to shrine/temple/holy place/church. Prays, obeys and follows. Then, dedicates entire life to, say, growing his possessions, or trumping ones below him, or bloating with his "rightness", or else or else. That person is an idolator. Instead of being in and with God, he is with his idol of choice.

This is why idolatry in its true meaning was uprooted ruthlessly by Moses.

Look around. You will see nothing but idolatry.
Interesting.
Of course, an idol is not always based on human trait - sometimes it is a force of nature like storms, the ocean (cf Greek gods), mythological beings (Hindu gods) etc; but in general what you say is true, there are no temples of Brahman (Hindu / animist Spirit of the Universe) or the Force (Star Wars.)
I don't want to get into whether the Jewish God is an all-encompassing, all-powerful, all-merciful Allah-like being but for the purpose of this discussion I will assume that to be the intent of the Bible. In that case it makes sense to not have the Jews distracted from the One True Path.
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Old 12-01-2018, 04:41 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ukrkoz View Post
You are missing the point of what "idol" is. Idol is not a piece of wood or stone or paint or else, a human worships.
Idol is physical REPRESENTATION of a certain deity.
Not sure who is missing the point, if anyone. Certainly not cfa-ish, who made exactly this point in his first post. However, there were/are perhaps a few who actually worshipped the idols. Regardless, this is not really a major point in THIS discussion, where most or all seem to agree on this point.
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Old 12-01-2018, 07:16 PM
 
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The Truth is by no means determined by amount of people that believe into it.
"Idol" is what one fixates on. What one is longing for. "graven image" or else, is nothing more than physical embodiment of that fixation, that desire.

It is much easier to "agree" that idol is a statue, or a rock, or a picture. Or else. than to understand that literally everyone living, esteemed posters here, myself included, are idolators, pursuing things ungodly.
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Old 12-02-2018, 08:52 AM
 
Location: US
27,990 posts, read 15,070,149 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ukrkoz View Post
You are missing the point of what "idol" is. Idol is not a piece of wood or stone or paint or else, a human worships.
Idol is physical REPRESENTATION of a certain deity. That deity is representation of a certain human trait.

As example, "golden calf" was God Mammon, or god of greed, in general. God of possessions, hording, etc. For every one of deadly sins, you can find a corresponding god/idol.

This is dangerous as is shifts one's spiritual aim from the one and only God, to variety of "lesser deities".
I shall dare to say something.
here's a devotee to any religion. Does not matter. Goes to shrine/temple/holy place/church. Prays, obeys and follows. Then, dedicates entire life to, say, growing his possessions, or trumping ones below him, or bloating with his "rightness", or else or else. That person is an idolator. Instead of being in and with God, he is with his idol of choice.

This is why idolatry in its true meaning was uprooted ruthlessly by Moses.

Look around. You will see nothing but idolatry.
An idol is anything that is done without G-ds hand in it...Like the translation of the Torah to Greek, G-ds hand was in it because all the sages translated the same thing, the following translations of the remained of the Tanakh did not have G-ds hand in it and was therefore idolotrous...
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Old 12-02-2018, 12:06 PM
 
810 posts, read 595,873 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ukrkoz View Post
The Truth is by no means determined by amount of people that believe into it.
"Idol" is what one fixates on. What one is longing for. "graven image" or else, is nothing more than physical embodiment of that fixation, that desire.

It is much easier to "agree" that idol is a statue, or a rock, or a picture. Or else. than to understand that literally everyone living, esteemed posters here, myself included, are idolators, pursuing things ungodly.
I think we all agree on the two points that came out of this discussion:

1. Wooden/graven/molten images and idols can lead worshippers into the trap of superstition, thinking the idol itself has divine/magical properties. The OT condemns this in many places.
2. Even if they don't fall in the trap, idols are representations of other deities (human traits, natural forces, mythical beings, etc) and the OT clearly says to not worship gods other than YHWH.

So can I attribute the fact that there are no idols of YHWH to #1? #2 would not forbid it.
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Old 12-02-2018, 04:19 PM
 
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cfa-ish,

I myself would not argue against any of the last line of your unedited post #9. It certainly makes sense to me. However, I am not a rabbi, most or all of whom know much more than I do. Who knows what additions one might make to the discussion? In addition, it is Jewish dogma that not quite all commandments have rational explanations. I doubt that this is one of them, but it might be.

I might add that even without reason #1, any physical representation of The One G-d recognized by Jews, Muslims and perhaps Xtians would be so limited and misleading as to be practically a slander or blasphemy just by that inability to represent properly.

Certainly any comments by a rabbi would be welcomed by me.
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