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Old 10-16-2011, 12:27 AM
 
Location: New York City
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whoppers View Post
You're welcome!

AS for the image - I'm sorry, I don't remember where I grabbed it from. It might be from a publicly usable font used in Akkadian and cuneiform studies - I know there are several available for use on the computer. Perhaps I can figure out where the image is from - if I do so, I'll give you a link.

There's another aspect to this conversation that hasn't been touched on very much, and that's the aspect of taking the term "worshipped other gods" and applying it idiomatically, and not so literally.

First things first, in case they are not clear:
1. The religion of Israel is not the same thing as the religion of the Bible, or of later Judaism, or later Christianity:
"...biblical religion is not, strictly speaking, "biblical" because, unlike Judaism and Christianity, it is not a religion based on the Bible - i.e., the canonized record of past divine revelation - but on that revelation itself. Also, it is not a "religion", in the sense of the beliefs and practices of an actual community. Rather, biblical religion was a minority, dissident phenomenon, always at odds, as the Bible itself states, with the actual religions of the small kingdoms of Israel and Judah....
....Moreover, biblical religion is not a unity but rather a congeries of differing and often competing opinions and traditions." (The Jewish Study Bible, The Religion of the Bible, Stephen A. Geller, p. 2021)

It might be appropriate to term the actual religion as the Religion of Ancient Israel (as I usually prefer to do), or Israelite-Judean Religion (as many scholars prefer). The next important point is:
2. The Religion of Ancient Israel was not a strict monotheism, as should probably be clear by now from this thread, but could be labelled as monolatrism. Monotheism is essentially the belief in one god, and only one god - the rest are delusions. This is what Israel adopted during the Exile. A monolatrism is slightly different, but there's a very important difference:
"There is no question that the national deity of both Israel and Judah was YHWH (LORD in NJPS [and most translations]), but the relationship to this deity might be better called monolatrous, the worship of one god without denying the existence of others, rather than strictly monotheistic. YHWH is the name regularly, but not exclusively, appearing as the theophoric or divine element in Israelite-Judean names." (ibid)

So, a typical Israelite would have understood the existence of other gods, and this is reflected in the Bible - at least up until the point where the prophets began the change from monolatry to monotheism (see Isaiah). In the older monolatrous stage, it was typical of the Ancient Near East to see gods as being national or local. I mentioned this with my post on the Patriarchs, local numena and the Gods of the Fathers - they were tied to specific places or sites. Constantly we find pillars being set up for the worship of a particular god by a Patriarch, and many of these later became important cultic centers or high places later. These cultic centers and high places suffered greatly once it was established that the worship of Yahweh was to take place in only one official place: the Temple. This created enormous problems for the Northern Kingdom during the Divided Monarchy - were they really expected to migrate South to make sacrifices? All the way to Jerusalem? To establish an easier place of worship for his people, Jeroboam created the Golden Bulls (calves is a bit innacurate, and meant as a slur) - which some of the prophets vocally opposed. It's been theorized that the entire "Golden Calf" episode at the foot of Mount Sinai was written (or at least altered to include Golden Bulls) as a polemic against the Northern worship centers Jeroboam established. An interesting theory!

Richard Elliott Friedman puts it well, in Who Wrote The Bible:
"The story is all questions.
Why did the person who wrote his story depict his people as rebellious at the very time of their liberation and their receiving the covenant?
Why did he picture Aaron as leader of the heresy?
Why does Aaron not suffer any punishment for it in the end?
Why did the author picture a golden calf?
Why do the people say "These are your gods, Israel...," when there is only one calf there?
And why do they say"...that brought you up from the land of Egypt" when the calf was obviously not made until after they were out of Egypt?
Why does Aaron say "A holiday to Yahweh tomorrow" when he is presenting the calf as a rival to Yahweh?
Why is the calf treated as a god in this story, when the calf was not a god in the Ancient Near East?
Why did the writer picture Moses as smashing the tablets of the Ten Commandments?
Why picture the Levites as acting in bloody zeal?
Why include Joshua in the story?
Why depict Joshua as dissociated from the golden calf event?" (p. 71)
He suggests that the person who wrote E (the Elohist source containing this story) was "a Levitical priest, probably from Shiloh, and therefore possibly descended from Moses....the priests of Shiloh suffered the loss of their place in the priestly hierarchy under King Solomon...The Shiloh priests' hopes for the new kingdom [Israel in the North after the Division], however, were frustrated when Jeroboam established the golden calf religious centers at Dan and Beth-EL, and he did not appoint them as priests there...The symbol of their exclusion in Israel was the golden calves. The symbol of their exclusion in Judah was Aaron." (ibid, p.72)
Essentially, the story was a polemic against the Aaronite priesthood, and the Northern worship centers established by Jeroboam. But I digress!

3. Monolatrous events in the Bible.
One of the most interesting stories pertinent to our subject, and one that shows the efficacy of sacrifice, is the story in 2nd Kings 3 when King Mesha of Moab decides that his people has had enough of servitude to the Israelites, and he leads a rebellion. This occures during the Divided Monarchy and perfectly illustrates how the power of a god was limited to that god's locality, usually:

Now King Mesha of Moab was a sheep breeder; and he used to pay as tribute to the King of Israel a hundred thousand lambs and the wool of a hundred thousand rams. But when Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.... (2 Kings 3:4-5, NJPS)
Eventually, the king of Judah and the king of Edom join him - (finally, Esau's clan gets to join in on the fun!) The prophet Elisha is consulted and after the three kings have the temerity to suggest that "Yahweh has brought these three kings together only to deliver them into the hands of Moab" angrily gives them a prophecy to the contrary:
"Thus said [Yahweh]:....He will also deliver Moab into your hands. You shall conquer every fortified town and every splendid city...." (2 Kings 3:16, 18-19)
But first - he needs a little music to get him in the prophesying mood:
"As [Yahweh] of Hosts lives, whom I serve," Elisha answered, "were it not that I respect King Jehoshaphat of Judah, I wouldnt look at you or notice you. Now then, get me a musician."
As the musicians played, the hand of [Yahweh] came upon him,... (2 Kings 3:14-16)

Things go fairly well for the trio until:
Seeing that the battle was going against him, the king of Moab led an attempt of seven hundred swordsman to break a way through to the king of Edom; but they failed.
So he took his first-born son, who was to suceed him as king, and offered him up on the wall as a burnt offering [to the Moabite god Chemosh]. A great wrath came upon Israel, so they withdrew from him and went back to [their own] land." (2 Kings 3:26-27)

In this instance, a perfect example of monolatry and a god's local power, we see that the biblical authors support the above statements that the Ancient Israelites recognized other gods beside their own Yahweh and their power occasionally. They also had the worse time of it fighting in another god's "territory", if you will. In the Exodus account, the Pharoah does not question why the Israelite slaves feel the need to go out into the desert to worship their god - he realizes they cannot do so in the land of Egypt. But what does this have to do with "Terah or Abram serving other gods"?

4. Serving other gods.
After David has annoyed Saul with his various exploits and shenanigans, he must flee from Saul's wrath. After one of the accounts involving a cave, bodily functions, cut-off-pieces of clothing, and Saul's life spared (there are two accounts - doublets of the same story, no doubt) - David speaks his mind and wants to know why Saul keeps pursuing him:

"If [Yahweh] has incited you against me, let Him be appeased by an offering;
but if it is men, may they be accursed of [Yahweh]!
For they have driven me out today, so that I cannot have a share in [Yahweh's] possession, but am told 'Go and worship other gods'.
Oh, let my blood not fall to the ground, away from the presence of [Yahweh!]" (1 Samuel 26:19-20)

A few notes:
1- Yahweh's possession means "the Land of Israel".
2- Expulsion from Israel means expulsion from the worship of Yahweh - the God of Israel. Even though David will end up a mere 20 or so miles away among the Phillistines - he is essentially prevented from worshipping Yahweh. In this context, then, "serving other gods" may simply involve the subject of the clause being in a foreign land, or originating from a foreign land.

So - it's possible that the reference to Terah or Abram as "serving other gods" is merely an indication that they came from a land in which Yahweh was not worshipped. From the Bible, we receive indications that Yahweh was a desert god, and then eventually a god situated in Israel - from a pastoral god of familial nomads, to a sedantary god of a people's country.
Don't forget Judges 11:19-24. Verse 4 is an example of Israelite henotheism, as the Israelite delegation acknowledges the Amorite god Chemosh (and his alleged powers) and their own god, Yahweh, and his powers.
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Old 10-16-2011, 01:59 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InsaneInDaMembrane View Post
Don't forget Judges 11:19-24. Verse 4 is an example of Israelite henotheism, as the Israelite delegation acknowledges the Amorite god Chemosh (and his alleged powers) and their own god, Yahweh, and his powers.

Thank you, Insane, for the reminder.
I had a long post typed out, made the mistake of waiting too long to post it, and the forum told me I was no longer logged on - and erased it. Damn it - I spent a lot of time on that post.... Anyone have any ideas how to retrieve it?
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Old 10-16-2011, 03:15 PM
 
Location: New York City
5,556 posts, read 6,712,380 times
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Originally Posted by whoppers View Post
Thank you, Insane, for the reminder.
I had a long post typed out, made the mistake of waiting too long to post it, and the forum told me I was no longer logged on - and erased it. Damn it - I spent a lot of time on that post.... Anyone have any ideas how to retrieve it?
I've never had the forum do that to me so I have no idea how to do that or if it can be done.
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Old 10-16-2011, 04:46 PM
 
3,488 posts, read 3,149,618 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InsaneInDaMembrane View Post
I've never had the forum do that to me so I have no idea how to do that or if it can be done.
Well dang it - I had the story from Judges relate to the Song of Deborah, the briefly mentioned judge from 3:31 Shamgar son of Anath (the Ugaritic goddess who was a goddess of both fertility and war), the two warrior women related to Anath the warrior, Jephthah's birth as the son of a prostitute and expulsion from his home related to Ishmael's birth as the son of a slave and expulsion from his home, some discussion of the theophoric elements in the various names of our stories as an indication of the Book of Judges' very Canaanitish nature, etc.

Oh well! I can at least show Anath and note the common depiction of a god standing or sitting upon it's animals - exactly as the Holy of Holies of Yahweh had two Cherubim (actually not the little angels we think of today) as his footstools:

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Old 10-16-2011, 07:17 PM
 
Location: New York City
5,556 posts, read 6,712,380 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whoppers View Post
Well dang it - I had the story from Judges relate to the Song of Deborah, the briefly mentioned judge from 3:31 Shamgar son of Anath (the Ugaritic goddess who was a goddess of both fertility and war), the two warrior women related to Anath the warrior, Jephthah's birth as the son of a prostitute and expulsion from his home related to Ishmael's birth as the son of a slave and expulsion from his home, some discussion of the theophoric elements in the various names of our stories as an indication of the Book of Judges' very Canaanitish nature, etc.

Oh well! I can at least show Anath and note the common depiction of a god standing or sitting upon it's animals - exactly as the Holy of Holies of Yahweh had two Cherubim (actually not the little angels we think of today) as his footstools:

That dude to the left seems to have something he wants to share with her.
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Old 10-16-2011, 07:43 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InsaneInDaMembrane View Post
That dude to the left seems to have something he wants to share with her.
Lol!
It must be some sort of physical reaction from those flowers she is shoving in their faces.
Not the fact that she's totally HAWT...

She liked flowers....

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Old 10-16-2011, 07:56 PM
 
Location: New York City
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Originally Posted by whoppers View Post
Lol!
It must be some sort of physical reaction from those flowers she is shoving in their faces.
Not the fact that she's totally HAWT...

She liked flowers....

And we think bikinis are a modern thing, huh?

Wait! Did some [later] over-zealot, self repressive, fanatic slap that bikini on her???
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Old 10-16-2011, 10:29 PM
 
3,488 posts, read 3,149,618 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InsaneInDaMembrane View Post
And we think bikinis are a modern thing, huh?

Wait! Did some [later] over-zealot, self repressive, fanatic slap that bikini on her???
Lol - I often wonder about that.
The strange thing about the Anath bikini bottoms are that they are so modern - not just as bikinis - but the style. Just compare bikini bottoms from the 1970s to our modern bikini bottoms - Anath seems to prefer the latter heh heh!

It's that - or it's an over-emphasis of the pubic area on the older representations. Hard to tell, sometimes. Here's one attributed to Asherah, though I've also seen it referenced as Maat:

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Old 10-16-2011, 10:36 PM
 
Location: New York City
5,556 posts, read 6,712,380 times
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Originally Posted by whoppers View Post
Lol - I often wonder about that.
The strange thing about the Anath bikini bottoms are that they are so modern - not just as bikinis - but the style. Just compare bikini bottoms from the 1970s to our modern bikini bottoms - Anath seems to prefer the latter heh heh!

It's that - or it's an over-emphasis of the pubic area on the older representations. Hard to tell, sometimes. Here's one attributed to Asherah, though I've also seen it referenced as Maat:
Fascinating!

I know some of the things mentioned here undermines the lofty ideas [some] Christians have of their deity, but to be honest, when seen for what it really is, it really illuminates so much of religious history and strips away some of the "mysteries" found in the bible. It's also amazing to me how some things have come all the way down to us 4,000 years later via religious evolution over the ages.
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Old 10-16-2011, 10:43 PM
 
Location: OKC
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What a great thread. Keep up the good work everyone, this is endlessly fascinating.
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