Animistic, Totemistic, and Paganistic Superstition Origins of bible god and the bible’s Religion.
Animism: the (often hidden) religion thinking all religionists (as well as most who say they are the so-called spiritual and not religious which to me are often just reverting back to have to Animism (even though this religious stance is often hidden in their realization so they are still very religious whether they know it or not) some extent or another. Ref
Exodus 3:12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” Exodus 13:21 By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light so that they could travel by day or night. Exodus 15:7 In the greatness of your majesty you threw down those who opposed you. You unleashed your burning anger; it consumed them like stubble. Exodus 19:18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently.
Exodus 24:17 To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.
Exodus: 32:14 And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
Exodus 40:38 So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.
Provide information on practices and rituals of Judaism. Where do they come from? What are some of the reasons given for some of the rituals? Do all Jews follow all these practices and rituals? Give specific examples. This was a both interesting as well as informative religion to learn and investigate due to its close ties to my personal religion of Christianity since parts of the Jewish Bible parts are parts in my Christian bible. Practices and rituals of Judaism come from Jewish law or halakhah, meaning “the path one walks” which governs not just religious life, but the daily life of all practicing Jews. Jewish law is a construction made up of the divine mitzvot, meaning commandments, Although the word is sometimes used more broadly to refer to rabbinic (Talmudic) law or general good deeds in its strictest sense it refers to the divine commandments given by God in the Torah. Which is the book of Jewish secret writings known as the Jewish Bible parts of which are known to Christians as the old testament? There are over 600 commandments he found in the Torah. Here is a link to all 613 as compiled by the important Jewish philosopher Maimonides (Religion Facts, 2007). Ref One practice of Judaism that is the greatest observed and understood by non-Jews is the Jewish Dietary Laws on keeping food Kosher. “One of the most well-known Jewish religious practices is that of eating kosher foods. The laws of kashrut (Jewish dietary laws) may be puzzling or meaningless to the outsider, but they have held great meaning for the Jewish people throughout their history. Not only are they an opportunity for obedience to God, they also strongly contribute to Jewish unity and identity” (Religion Facts, 2007). Another widely known practice of Judaism is circumcision. “Boys are ritually circumcised when they are eight days old, to honor the seal of Gods commandment to Abraham” (Fisher, 2002). A lot of the reasons for the practices and rituals of Judaism could be described as designed to be in obedience to God. This is because to be a follower of Judaism is to be in a living covenant with their god and creator. In the thinking of Judaism followers, there is no difference between sacred and secular life. Practices of Judaism stem all aspects of life from things like land ownership to civil, family and criminal laws and procedures to diet, marital sex, Sabbath, holidays and memorials. Like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Hanukkah, Tu B’shvat, Purim, Pesach or Passover, Shavuot, and Tisha Be-Av (Fisher, 2002). Orthodox and traditional jews are strict followers and have strong practices that require strict devotion. Were as liberal are less stringent in there following every law and Hasidic jews are mainly concerned by the intensity of praying (Fisher, 2002). Ref
References: Fisher, M. P. (2002). Living religions. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
In Genesis and Exodus, Moses tells the story of the God of Abraham who is the one and only God. This doctrine is accepted by Jews, Christians and Muslims. In the Hebrew text, the name of God is considered so sacred, it is hidden, and meant to be unspoken. The most accepted transliteration of the name of God is YHWH. The Jehovah’s Witnesses use the more pronounceable version “Yahweh”. Is the Genesis account really the first account of the God who Moses calls YHWH? In the book of Genesis, Terah, Abraham’s father, along with Abraham and Lot made a journey from the city of Ur to Canaan. If YHWH is the God of Abraham, could it be that YHWH is also the God of Terah? If so, how did Terah come to worship YHWH? To answer these questions, let’s develop some background on the city of Ur. Ur was one of the twelve cities. It survived through the Babylonian times into Terah’s time. In Sumerian mythology, each city had a patron god. The patron god of the city of Ur was NANNA who is the heavenly moon. Later, the Semites named NANNA as SIN. Sumerian mythology is ancient. Scholars place the time at around 3500 BCE to 2500 BCE. This time estimate is highly uncertain because the astronomical and carbon dating observations are so sketchy. If we accept this time estimate, we can conclude that historically speaking, the Sumerian myths are as far away from the time of Moses as we are from the time of Moses. Many of the Sumerian myths are inferred from cuneiform tablets. Our interpretation of these writings is no doubt less certain than our interpretation of modern writing or greek manuscripts of the gospel about Jesus Christ. In spite of these uncertainties, these texts give us a faint clue of what people believed so many years ago. I propose that they give us a clue as to the genealogy of YHWH. Because of the fragmentary state of the material, I will only refer to portions of the myth which, in my opinion, are relevant to YHWH’s genealogy. In Sumerian mythology, there is a transcendental god named ANU, who is considered the god of the heavens. His wife ANTU is at his side in their heavenly abode. Because of their transcendental nature, ANU and ANTU generally are not involved in day to day affairs of the world. The day to day job is delegated to ENLIL (god of the firmament), the god of the heavens and the earth. To compare the organization with our modern day corporate structure, ANU would be the Chairman of the Board, and ENLIL would be the President and Chief Executive Officer. ENLIL has a younger brother named ENKI (god of the earth) whose role appears to be as chief scientist of the gods. The EN prefix in their names classifies these gods as having universal powers. So although they may actually be patron gods of some of the cities, their domain includes all 12 cities and other areas like the heavens and the oceans. ENLIL is finds his mate in SUD(“the nurse”). The following cuneiform fragment describes ENLIL’s desire: The shepherd Enlil, who decrees the fates, The Bright-Eyed One, saw her. The lord speaks to her of intercourse; she is unwilling. Enlil speaks to her of intercourse; she is unwilling: “My vagina is too small [she said], it knows no copulation; My lips are too little, they know not kissing.” Different fragments show different versions of how SUD becomes ENLIL’s wife. One version implies that after consulting with his chamberlain NUSHKU, ENLIL hatches a plan to persuade SUD to go sailing with him. Once they were alone in the boat away from the shore, ENLIL rapes SUD. Later, a repentant ENLIL sends NUSHKU to find SUD and ask her mother for the girl’s hand. The mother agrees and that is how SUD becomes the wife of ENLIL. After the marriage, SUD’s name is changed to NINLIL (“lady of the airspace”). When the gods learn of ENLIL’s misdeed, he is punished (but no detail is available). Long after the marriage, it is discovered that the truth of the matter is that SUD was bathing naked in the stream near the path where ENLIL takes his daily walk on her mother’s instructions, with the hope that ENLIL will notice SUD and “forthwith embrace and kiss you.” From this episode came NANNA the moon god, as hinted in this dialogue from another fragment:
- NINLIL: “True, Enlil is thy king, but I am thy queen.” ENLIL: “If now thou art my queen, let my hand touch thy … NINLIL: “The ‘water’ of thy king, the bright ‘water’ is in my heart, the ‘water’ of NANNA the bright ‘water’ is in my heart.” ENLIL: “The ‘water’ of my king, let it go toward heaven, let it go toward the earth.” Enlil as the man of the gate lay down in the …, He kissed her and cohabited with her, The ‘water’ of … Mestamataea he caused to flow over (her) heart. ENKI (the Serpent, and god of the Earth), being the Chief Scientist of the gods, was the actual formulator of man. Man was needed by the gods because they needed labor to help produce food and other economic goods. The first experiment was a collaboration between NINHURSAG (ENKI’s sister, and maybe wife). In the following quote from the 12th Planet: … according to Sumerian texts, Man was ncreated by Ninhursag following processes and formulas devised by Enki. She was the Chief Nurse, and one in charge of the medical facilities; it was in that role that the goddess was called NINTI (“lady of life”).
Some Scholars read in Adapa (the model man of Enki) the biblical Adama, or Adam. The double meaning of the Sumerian TI also raises biblical parallels. For TI could mean both life and rib, so that NIN.TI’s name meant both “lady of life” and “lady of the rib.” The biblical Eve — whose name meant “life” — was created out of Adam’s rib, so Eve, too was in a way a “lady of life” and a “lady of the rib”. As the actual “inventor” of Man, ENKI was constantly trying to improve Man by teaching him. ENKI was also in constant rivalry with ENLIL, who was the all-powerful being. The Hebrew god YHWH is probably NANNA, the son of ENLIL and rival of ENKI; because observer that the Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar in honor of the moon god, the name YHWH is almost YHRH which in Hebrew means “moon”, and n the me of the holy mountain considered to be YHWH’s place is SIN.AI meaning SIN (Semitic for NANNA) AI (place). At this point, the reader may asking: “So what?” Well, if SIN is the God of Abraham, then all the stories pertaining to NANNA in the Sumerian myths also refer to SIN. This means that YHWH is the Sumerian god NANNA who is a descendant of ENLIL and NINLIL. According to Sumerian and Babylonian Myths NANNA is not the creator/formulator of Man. As a mater of fact, ENKI and NINHURSAG who are the creators of Man, are rivals of ENKI and NINLIL. Moses was rewriting the Sumerian myth to turn NANNA into the creator of Man. However, from the context of Sumerian myth we can interpret Man’s fall from grace with less guilt. NANNA, in collaboration with ENLIL, banished Man from the Garden of Eden because they were angry at ENKI for teaching too much knowledge to Man (eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil). Consider this in Genesis 3:22: “And YHWH said: ‘The man has now become like one of us knowing good and evil …” I would say, YHWH was genuinely concerned that if ENKI would have continued providing the lessons, Man will have improved towards becoming just like God. Maybe the story about the fall from grace is simply an account of a political maneuvering involving pretty “heavy” hands. Ref
The bible’s hidden link to Elam?
In Elamite Elam may mean “the lord-country,” but in Mesopotamian languages, it was understood as “The Heights.” The word Elam probably derives from the Elamite, relying on a popular etymology in Akkadian relating it to elû, “high.” In the 21st century B.C.E., the kings of the third dynasty of Ur in Mesopotamia annexed Elam, and Susa became a seat of Sumerian. God is going to set His throne in Elam. This is an astonishing verse! This is the only nation other than Israel, where God states He is going to set His throne! It is clear from many scriptures that God is going to set His throne in His Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It appears that this verse is indicating that God’s authority will be over Elam. In the Hebrew Bible (Genesis 10:22, Ezra 4:9;) is said to be one of the sons of Shem, the son of Noah. It is also used (as in Akkadian), for the ancient country of Elam in what is now southern Iran, whose people the Hebrews believed to be the offspring of Elam, son of Shem. This implies that the Elamites were considered Semites by the Hebrews. Elam (the nation) is also mentioned in Genesis 14, describing an ancient war in the time of Abraham, involving a king of Elam it calls Chedorlaomer. The prophecies of Isaiah (11:11, 21:2, 22:6) and Jeremiah (25:25) also mention Elam. The last part of Jeremiah 49 is an apocalyptic oracle against Elam which states that Elam will be scattered to the four winds of the earth, but “will be, in the end of days, that I will return their captivity,” a prophesy self-dated to the first year of Zedekiah (597 BC). Shushan (or Susa) was the ancient capital of the Elamite Empire. (Dan. 8:2). Elam as a personal name also refers to eight other figures appearing in the Hebrew Bible:
Elam is a son of Shashak of the tribe of Benjamin in 1 Chronicles 8:24 .
Elam is the son of Meshelemiah, a Levite of the family of Kohath in 1 Chronicles 26:3.
Elam is the ancestor of a family that returned with Zerubbabel in Ezra 2:1-2,7.
Elam is the ancestor of a family that returned from the Captivity in Ezra 2:31. This is possibly the same man and family as in Ezra 2:1-2,7.
Elam is the ancestor of a family that returned with Ezra in Ezra 8:7 .
Elam is the grandfather of Shechaniah in Ezra 10:3.
Elam is one of the men who joins Nehemiah in sealing the new covenant in Nehemiah 10:14.
Elam is a priest who helps in the rededication of the rebuilt walls of Jerusalem in Nehemiah 12:42.
According to Ezra 4:9–10, Elamites were deported to Northern Israel in the aftermath of the Assyrian king Assurbanipal’s victory in the 640s, and thus constituted part of the people’s Jews later regarded as Samaritan non-Jews. In Isaiah 11:11 Elam is seen as a place of exile, in Ezekiel 32:24 as a typical foreign nation, and in Dan 8:2 as a site of a vision. Elam also appears as a personal name among returnees from exile, but also as a clan of Benjamin in I Chronicles 8:24. Ref
ABIYMA’EL (אֲבִימָאֵל): Hebrew name meaning “my father is El (God).” In the bible, this is the name of Joktan’s ninth son (of 13), a descendant of Shem.
ABIY’EL (אֲבִיאֵל): Hebrew name meaning “El (God) is (my) father.” In the bible, this is the name of Saul’s grandfather.
AMMIEL: Anglicized form of Hebrew Ammiy’el, meaning “one of the family of God.”
Lion of Elamits in Protoliterate period of Mesopotamia, 3000 AD
Gebel el-Arak Knife
Pre-historic Egypt, Naqada II (3500-3100 B.C.)
Petrie, W.M. Flinders. The Making of Egypt, London. New York, Sheldon Press; Macmillan, pp. 65-66, 1939.
Petrie was famously known “The Father of Pre-history”.
The Bible imagines the religion of ancient Israel as purely monotheistic. And doubtless there were Israelites, particularly those associated with the Jerusalem Temple, who were strict monotheists. But the archaeological evidence (and the Bible, too, if you read it closely enough) suggests that the monotheism of many Israelites was far from pure. For them, Yahweh (the name of the Israelite god) was not the only divinity. Some Israelites believed that Yahweh had a female consort. And many Israelites invoked the divinity with the help of images, particularly figurines. I call this Israelite religion pagan Yahwism. The archaeological evidence we will look at comes mostly from Judah in what is known in archaeological terms as the Assyrian period, the span from 721 B.C.E., when the Assyrians destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel, until 586 B.C.E., when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple and brought an end to the Davidic dynasty in Judah. This period, to put it into perspective, is several centuries after King Solomon built the Jerusalem Temple in about 950 B.C.E. So the archaeological evidence we are about to discuss documents a level of Israelite paganism long after Solomon built an exclusive home for Israel’s god. While Yahweh was the god of the Israelites, other nations had their own national gods. The chief god of the Phoenicians was Ba‘al. For the Philistines, the chief god was at first Dagon and later also Ba‘al (Judges 16:23; 2 Kings 1:2). For the Ammonites it was Milkom. For the Moabites, Chemosh. For the Edomites, Qos. And for the Israelites and Judahites—Yahweh. Except for the Edomite god Qos, who appears only in the archaeological record, all of these gods are mentioned in the Bible (1 Kings 11:5, 7, 33). Interestingly, while each nation’s chief god had a distinctive name, his consort, the chief female deity, had the same name in all these cultures: Asherah or its variants Ashtoreth or Astarte. (As we shall see, this was even true of Yahweh’s consort.) Not only was the female consort the same, the various nations used the same cult objects, the same types of incense altars made of stone and clay, the same bronze and clay censers, cult stands and incense burners, the same chalices and goblets and the same bronze and ivory rods adorned with pomegranates. It was easy to take cult vessels of one deity and place them in the service of another one—and this was commonly done. Ref
Canaanite religion describes the belief systems and ritual practices of the people living in the ancient Levant region throughout the Bronze Age and Iron Age. the Canaanite religion seems to have involved a rich mythological tradition which served as a bridge between the more ancient Mesopotamian religions and the later Greek and Roman gods. Several of the most famous Greek gods, for example, clearly evolved from Canaanite antecedents, just as several of the Canaanite gods grew out of Mesopotamian roots. The supreme deity of the Canaanite pantheon was El, together with his consort, Asherah. As with the Greek tradition, these early gods were later supplanted by younger, more immediate presences, especially the rain/thunder god Ba’al and his cpresencesuch as the warrior goddess Anat and the love/fertility goddess Astarte. Early Israelite religion may once have shared the Canaanite belief in El and other gods, before the Jewish monotheistic tradition emerged. study of the Ugaritic material from Ras Shamra—together with inscriptions from the Ebla archive at Tel Mardikh and various other archaeological finds—have cast more light on the early Canaanite religion. Canaanite mythology was strongly influenced by Mesopotamian and Egyptian traditions. At the same time, Egypt appears to have inherited certain religious traditions from the Canaanites as well. Canaanite religious beliefs were polytheistic, with families typically focusing worship on ancestral household gods and goddesses, while honoring major deities such as El, Ashera, Baal, Anat, and Astarte at various public temples and high places. Kings also played an important religious role, especially in certain ceremonies, such as the sacred marriage of the New Year Festival, and may have been revered as gods. The Canaanite pantheon was conceived as a divine clan, headed by the supreme god El; the gods collectively made up the elohim. Through the centuries, the pantheon of Canaanite gods evolved, so that El and Asherah were more important in earlier times, while Baal and his consorts came to fore in later years. Many of the Canaanite deities found their way into the Greek and Roman pantheon. For example, the characteristics of both El and Baal may be seen in Zeus, while Astart resembles Aphrodite, Anat is similar to Athena, Yam to Poseidon, and Mot to Hades or Thanatos. Some of the deities listed below are mentioned only briefly in the Canaanite texts, while others were important locally or nationally—such as Chemosh—but not throughout the region. Still others, such a Moloch, are known mainly from Hebrew texts
Anat—goddess of war, ever-virgin sister-wife of Baal, honored as a protector, agent of vengeance, and bearer of life
Asherah—early semitic Mother goddess, “Lady of the sea,” consort of El, also called Athirat, the mother of 70 gods
Astarte—goddess of love and fertility, sometimes the consort of Baal/Hadad
Baalat or Baalit—the chief deity of Byblos, also identified with Astarte and Aphrodite
Ba’al—meaning “Lord,” god of rain, thunder, and fertility, sometimes synonymous with Hadad; also used as a title prefixing the names of local deities
Baal-Hammon—god of fertility and renewal in the Phoenician colonies of the Western Mediterranean
Chemosh—the national god of Moab, referred to in both Moabite and Hebrew texts
Dagon—god of crop fertility, sometimes identified with Hadad
El—the chief deity, god of the sky, father of many lesser gods and ruler of the divine assembly, also worshiped by the Israelites
El Elyon—Special title of El as “God most High”
Eshmun—Phoenician god of healing
Kathirat—a group of goddesses appearing in the Ugartic texts as divine midwives
Kothar—full name Kothar-wa-Khasis, the skilled, clever god of craftsmanship and weapon-making
Lotan—the seven-headed sea serpent or dragon, the pet of Yam or Yam’s alter ego, related to the biblical Leviathan
Melqart—also called Baal-Melkart, the god who is king of the city, the underworld, and the cycle of vegetation in Tyre, also the patron of the Israelite queens Jezebel and Athaliah
Moloch—title for the god who is “king,” probably identical with Milcom and known mainly from the Hebrew Bible as the deity to whom child sacrifices were offered
Mot—god of the underworld, sterility, death, and the waterless desert
The eastern Canaanite prophet Balaam is represented in the Bible as a worshiper of the Hebrew god Yahweh, as were the Shashu, a people located in the land of Edom.
Nikkal—goddess of fruit and orchards, married to Yarikh
Qadeshtu—the Holy One, goddess of love, also a title given to Asherah and related to the Egyptian goddess Hathor
Resheph—God of plague and healing
Shalim and Shachar—twin gods of dusk and dawn
Shamayim—the god of the sky or the heavens
Shemesh—Mesopotamian god of the sun also worshiped in Canaan, meaning “sun” in Hebrew possibly related to the hero, Samson
Tanit—Phoenician lunar goddess, worshiped as the patron goddess at Carthage, and sometimes identified with Astarte or Anat
Yam—god of the sea
Yarikh—god of the moon, after whom the city of Jericho was named; Lord of the sickle, provider of nightly dew; married to the goddess Nikkal
Yahweh—The Israelite god, worshiped not only by the Hebrews but also by eastern Canaanites such as the prophet Balaam (Numbers 22) and the Shashu of Edom
In Ugarit, the gods were called ‘ilhm (elohim), or the children of El, a probable parallel to the biblical “sons of God.” The chief god, a progenitor of the universe, was El, also known as Elion (biblical El Elyon), who was the father of the divinities. In the Urgaritic material, El is the consort of Ashera, who is described as the “mother of 70 gods.” In the Urgaritic Baal cycle, Baal, the god of storms and fertility, earns his position as the champion and ruler of the gods by defeating the tyrannical Yam, the god of the sea, and later triumphing over Mot, the god of death. Yam had been placed over the other gods by El but ruled them tyrannically. Asherah offered herself as a sacrifice if Yam will ease his grip on her children. He agreed, but Baal boldly declared that he will defeat Yam, despite Yam’s being endorsed by El. With the aid of magical weapons given to him by the divine craftsman Kothar-wa-Khasis, Baal is victorious. However, the god of death and the underworld, Mot, soon lures Baal to his own death in the desert, spelling drought and ruin for the land. Baal’s sister/wife Anat retrieves his body and assaults Mot, ripping him to pieces and scattering his remains over the fields. El, meanwhile, has had a dream suggesting that Baal would be resurrected, which indeed takes place. However, Mot, too, had revived and mounted a new attack against Baal. After their titanic but indecisive battle, Mot finally bows before Baal, leaving Baal in possession of the land and the undisputed regent of the gods. Thus, Baal came to replace even El as the most important deity, although El himself remained theoretically supreme. In practice, temples to Baal were fairly common in Canaanite culture, and many ritual objects devoted to Astarte and Anat have also been uncovered. Even the Israelites honored Baal and the “asherim,” the latter term referring to poles, standing stones, and even trees devoted to a goddess and accompanying altars to both Baal and Yaweh/El. In the Greek sources describing Canaanite religion, the union of El Elyon and his consort bore Uranus and Ge, Greek names for the “Heaven” and the “Earth.” Biblical scholars see a parallel between this and the opening verse of Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning Elohim created to the Heaven and the Earth.” A further parallel is seen with the story of the Babylonian creation myths. The Greek sources also describe El as married to Beruth. This marriage of the divinity with the city seems to have biblical parallels with the stories of the link between Melkart and Tyre, Yahweh and Jerusalem, Chemosh and Moab, and both Tanit and Baal Hammon with Carthage. El Elyon is called “God Most High” in Genesis 14.18–19 as the God whose priest was Melchizedek king of Salem. Psalm 78:35 appears to identify El Elyon and the Hebrew God, Elohim, also called Yahweh (the Lord). The earliest Canaanite places of worship were simple stone or brick altars usually located at a high place. Sacred groves are also indicated, especially in Israelite texts, which speak of fertility rites practiced under trees: “Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there” (Jer. 3:6). Bronze Age Canaanite temples usually consisted of a large room, together with a porch and courtyard. A stone altar for sacrifices is often found outside the entrance to the inner temple. Later examples sometimes contain inner sanctums within the main temple, referred to as a “Holy of Holies.” Sacred objects unearthed include incense altars, sacrificial offering stands, tables for drink offerings, bronze statuettes, numerous nude clay figurines of goddesses, vessels for oil and wine, seals, and standing stones. El is seen in Canaanite religious art as a seated male figure, often with arms raised in blessing. Asherah—and later Ba’al and Astarte or Anat—was associated with a cult of fertility. Asherah’s sacred animal was the lion, and Astarte is sometimes associated with a serpent. Priests or priestesses clothed and sometimes “fed” the deity through various rituals and offerings. In cities, the king had a particularly important relationship with the local patron deity. Family devotions, especially to the female deity, are indicated by large numbers of goddess figurines found in private homes, as well as by biblical references such a Jeremiah’s: “The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes of bread for the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to provoke me to anger.” (Jeremiah 7:18). Although the biblical writers cast Canaanite religion as the antithesis of Israelite monotheism, historians of religion tend to view the early Israelite religion as largely evolving out of Canaanite culture, of which it was once part. The Book of Genesis itself describes the patriarch Abraham as a worshiper of El—also called El Shaddai and El Elyon—building altars, offering sacrifices, and paying tithes to him. Exodus indicates that the Hebrews knew God only as El Shaddai until the time of Moses, who learned God’s true name, Yahweh (the Lord), at Mount Sinai: “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty (El Shaddai), but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them” (Exodus 6:3). Certain passages in the Bible imply that Israelite religion was once polytheistic. For example, Deuteronomy 32:8-9 indicates a moment when El Elyon assigned Israel to Yahweh: When the Most High (Elyōn) divided to the nations their inheritance, he separated the sons of man… the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance. Similarly, Psalm 82:1-6 says that “God (Elohim) presides in the great assembly; he gives judgment among the gods… I said, ‘You are gods; you are all sons of the Most High (Elyon).’ But you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler.” What may be described in these verses is a process of El and Yahweh merging into the one supreme God and then reducing the other Canaanite deities into something less than gods altogether. Indeed, some versions of Psalm 82 render the word “gods” as “heavenly beings” or even “angels.” Similarly, Job 1:6 states that “One day the sons of God (also sometimes translated as “angels”) came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them.” According to many historians of religion, the angels of later Jewish mythology were once members of the divine assembly consisting of El and the ben-elohim (sons of God), who were originally the lesser deities described in the Canaanite pantheon. Such a divine assembly appears several times in the Canaanite texts. The Hebrew prophets not only denounced Canaanite religion for its polytheism and idolatry but also for its sexual immorality and practice of human sacrifice. That the Canaanites practiced the rite of hieros gamos, involving ritual sex between the king or priest, representing a god, and a woman or priestess, representing a goddess, seems well attested—even if it was not as common as the prophets claimed. The practice of human sacrifice also seems to have occurred among the Canaanites, as it once did among the Israelites in the case of Jephthah’s daughter, for example (Judges 11). In the time of Jeremiah, Israelites still offered their children as sacrifices, a practice apparently intended to satisfy Yahweh Himself, who insists through the prophet that He never commanded such a thing, “nor did it ever enter my mind” (Jeremiah 7:31). Jeremiah similarly denounces the common practice of Israelite families of offering honey cakes to the Queen of Heaven. Archaeological evidence also supports the fact that not only Canaanites, but Israelites as well, kept figurines of goddesses in their homes at least until the time of the Babylonian exile. Whether one sees Israelite religion as growing out of Canaanite religion or being perverted by it, the reality seems to be that Israelite religion did not completely separate from its Canaanite counterpart until the return of the Jews from Babylon or later. Joshua 24:11 – And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand. Judges 3:3 – [Namely], five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baalhermon unto the entering in of Hamath. Deuteronomy 20:17 – But thou shalt utterly destroy them; [namely], the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee. Their final fate, too, was a puzzle. The Hebrew text offers one explanation for the destiny of the Canaanites: annihilation. The Israelites, per Deuteronomy 20:16-18, were commanded to “utterly destroy” the cities of various tribes including the Canaanites. Those who survived fled or became servants. A fragment of a painted limestone relief dating to about 3,400 years ago from Thebes in Egypt depicts defeated Canaanites. For three centuries, Egyptians ruled the land of Canaan. Armies of chariots and 10,000 foot soldiers under the pharaoh Thutmose III thundered through Gaza and defeated a coalition of Canaanite chiefdoms at Megiddo, in what is now northern Israel, in 3,458 years ago. The Egyptians then built fortresses, mansions, and agricultural estates from Gaza to Galilee, taking Canaan’s finest products—copper from Dead Sea mines, cedar from Lebanon, olive oil and wine from the Mediterranean coast, along with untold numbers of slaves and concubines—and sending them overland and across the Mediterranean and Red Seas to Egypt to please its elites. As with many colonial ventures before and since, military conquest led to a new cultural order in the occupied lands. Across Israel, archaeologists have found evidence that Canaanites took to Egyptian customs. They created items worthy of tombs on the Nile, including clay coffins modeled with human faces and burial goods such as faience necklaces and decorated pots. They also adopted Egyptian imagery such as sphinxes and scarabs. For the Egyptians, Canaan was a major trophy. Artists in Egypt carved and painted narratives on the stone walls of temples boasting about vanquished subjects and depicting Canaanite prisoners naked and bound at the wrists. Yet Egypt’s presence in Canaan ended sooner than the pharaohs might have expected. With Canaan under assault from seaborne invaders and hit by drought so severe it caused food shortages, Egypt’s colonial rule began to crumble around 3,200 years ago, starting in the north and gradually spreading south. Egypt did not fall alone. The eastern Mediterranean’s two other great powers of the day, the Hittites in central Turkey and the Mycenaeans in Greece, saw their capitals sacked and their governments fail. They all toppled in the pan-Mediterranean Late Bronze Age collapse of the 3,200 years ago. Egypt’s 2,000-year-old dynastic system survived, but it lost its trade ties throughout the Mediterranean and its valuable outposts in Canaan. At the port of Jaffa, on Tel Aviv’s south side, archaeologists Aaron Burke of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Martin Peilstöcker of Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz are finding that the fall of Egypt’s rule came the way Hemingway famously described bankruptcy—gradually, and then suddenly—and was at least partly due to homegrown factors. The Egyptian outpost at Jaffa had an uneasy relationship with the locals, and it apparently met a fiery end. Burke and Peilstöcker have found evidence of two catastrophic blazes, ten years apart, that destroyed Jaffa, the second one occurring in about 3,125 years ago. That fire, Burke believes, marked the end of Egypt’s presence not just in Jaffa, but in all of Canaan. “Jaffa was the only Egyptian outpost that was purely military. This was their last line of defense, and once it fell, any remaining Egyptian centers in Canaan would have been cut off from Egypt,” says Burke. Egypt and Canaan were neighbors whose histories of war, trade, and migration intersected and intertwined over millennia. Egypt’s powerful centralized government ruled along the Nile, where pharaohs built the pyramids of Giza and reigned like gods over people who worshipped them. In contrast, Canaan was a land of warring city-states and hill tribes, spread out over what are now Israel, Lebanon, southwestern Syria, and the West Bank. At Canaan’s peak, there were about 20 such city-states in the southern area alone. Their culture was rustic, their power decentralized and weak. Canaan had great mineral and agricultural wealth—and the Egyptians coveted it. As early as around 3,000 years ago, the Egyptians established busy trading posts in the coastal city of Ashkelon and in Gezer in the center of the region to buy up exotic products and transport them to Egypt on donkeys, which had only recently been domesticated. A few centuries later, the Egyptians began trading by ship with the seaport of Byblos on the coast of modern Lebanon, bypassing southern Canaan, whose ties with Egypt languished. Over time, Canaan’s states strengthened and, around 3,700 years ago, they invaded northern Egypt with a devastating innovation—the horse-drawn chariot—followed by settlers who built cities in the marshy Nile Delta. Known as the Hyksos, a Greek version of an Egyptian phrase that meant “foreign rulers,” they maintained their cultural habits and clashed with Egyptian rule to the south. Ultimately, the Egyptian state, reunified under the pharaoh Ahmose (3,550–3,525 years ago), expelled the Hyksos and sent them back to their homeland around 3,540 years ago. A century later, newly self-confident and thirsty for expansion, the Egyptians found the right agent for their ambitions in Thutmose III (3,479–3,425 years ago). His lithe, commanding figure can still be seen today smiting Canaanite masses in temple carvings in the old dynastic capital of Luxor. To the south, Nubia fell under Egypt’s military might, too. “Egypt now saw itself as the center of the universe, and all its neighbors were considered enemies and targets for invasion,” says Daphna Ben-Tor, former curator of Egyptian archaeology at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Egypt was at the threshold of the New Kingdom (1550–1070 years ago), the artistic golden age of Hatshepsut, Akhenaten, and Tutankhamun. “As it became richer and reunified,” Ben-Tor says, “its appetite grew for the kinds of high-status goods that Canaan offered, such as copper, turquoise, and high-quality wood.” At Hazor, one of ancient Canaan’s largest cities, a team from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem recently found part of a sphinx made of gneiss, a valuable stone used by the Egyptians for statues of gods and rulers. The sphinx bears an inscription to Menkaure (r. 2490–2472 years ago), a pharaoh who was originally interred in one of Giza’s pyramids. Yet the layer of the excavation in Hazor where the statue was found dates from centuries later in the 3,500 years ago. The sphinx had probably been imported from Egypt to lend status to a temple, a relic from the old days meant to lend prestige to Egypt’s new colony. Egypt’s power wasn’t felt only in mighty sculptures. It also wielded a strong cultural pull on Canaan’s elite, who were attracted to Egypt’s graceful jewelry and symbols. Archaeologists have found hundreds of Egyptian-style objects in Canaanite burials, including alabaster, glass, and carnelian jewelry, scarabs decorated with sphinxes and hieroglyphs, and clay pots. Wealthy Canaanites liked to stock their tombs with imitations of Egyptian ushabti, figurines of people who would tend to the dead in the afterlife. “There was an Egyptianization, so to speak, of Canaan’s material culture,” says Ben-Tor. “The Canaanites were burying their dead with objects imported from Egypt or with local imitations of them.” Around 5,000 years ago, the Canaanites now generally recognize as Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. The Canaanites created the first alphabet, established colonies throughout the Mediterranean, and were mentioned many times in the Bible. But who were they and what ultimately happened to them? Were they annihilated like the Bible says? Over 90 percent of the genetic ancestry of present-day Lebanese was derived from the Canaanites referenced from the genomes of five Canaanite individuals who lived almost 4,000 to 3,700 years ago, one in a large jar burial along with genomes representing people from modern-day Lebanon, in addition a small proportion of Eurasian ancestry that may have arrived via conquests by distant populations such as the Assyrians, Persians, or Macedonians. An estimate that new Eurasian people mixed with the Canaanite population about 3,800 to 2,200 years ago at a time when there were many conquests of the region from outside. “The Bible reports the destruction of the Canaanite cities and the annihilation of its people; if true, the Canaanites could not have directly contributed genetically to present-day populations. However, no archaeological evidence has so far been found to support widespread destruction of Canaanite cities between the Bronze and Iron Ages. We show that present-day Lebanese derive most of their ancestry from a Canaanite-related population, which therefore implies substantial genetic continuity in the Levant since at least the Bronze Age.” the study read. In this study, we sequenced five whole genomes from around 3,700-year-old individuals from the city of Sidon, a major Canaanite city-state on the Eastern Mediterranean coast. We also sequenced the genomes of 99 individuals from present-day Lebanon to catalog modern Levantine genetic diversity. We find that a Bronze Age Canaanite-related ancestry was widespread in the region, shared among urban populations inhabiting the coast (Sidon) and inland populations (Jordan) who likely lived in farming societies or were pastoral nomads. This Canaanite-related ancestry derived from mixture between local Neolithic populations and eastern migrants genetically related to Chalcolithic Iranians. We estimate, using linkage-disequilibrium decay patterns, that admixture occurred 6,600–3,550 years ago, coinciding with recorded massive population movements in Mesopotamia during the mid-Holocene. We show that present-day Lebanese derive most of their ancestry from a Canaanite-related population, which therefore implies substantial genetic continuity in the Levant since at least the Bronze Age. In addition, we find Eurasian ancestry in the Lebanese not present in Bronze Age or earlier Levantines. We estimate that this Eurasian ancestry arrived in the Levant around 3,750–2,170 years ago during a period of successive conquests by distant populations. The Near East, including the Levant, has been central to human prehistory and history from the expansion out of Africa 50–60 thousand years ago,1 through post-glacial expansions and the Neolithic transition around 10,000 years ago, to the historical period when Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Phoenicians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Romans, and many others left their impact on the region. Aspects of the genetic history of the Levant have been inferred from present-day DNA, but the more comprehensive analyses performed in Europe have shown the limitations of relying on present-day information alone and highlighted the power of ancient DNA (aDNA) for addressing questions about population histories. Unfortunately, although the few aDNA results from the Levant available so far are sufficient to reveal how much its history differs from that of Europe, more work is needed to establish a thorough understanding of Levantine genetic history. Such work is hindered by the hot and sometimes wet environment, but improved aDNA technologies including use of the petrous bone as a source of DNA14 and the rich archaeological remains available encouraged us to further explore the potential of aDNA in this region. Here, we present genome sequences from five Bronze Age Lebanese samples and show how they improve our understanding of the Levant’s history over the last five millennia. The Near East, including the Levant, has been central to human prehistory and history from the expansion out of Around 4,000 to 3,000 years ago, in the Levant, a distinctive culture emerged as a Semitic-speaking people known as the Canaanites. The Canaanites inhabited an area bounded by Anatolia to the north, Mesopotamia to the east, and Egypt to the south, with access to Cyprus and the Aegean through the Mediterranean. Thus, the Canaanites were at the center of emerging Bronze Age civilizations and became politically and culturally influential. They were later known to the ancient Greeks as the Phoenicians who, 3,500 to 2,300 years ago, colonized territories throughout the Mediterranean reaching as far as the Iberian Peninsula. However, for uncertain reasons but perhaps related to the use of papyrus instead of clay for documentation, few textual records have survived from the Canaanites themselves and most of their history known today has been reconstructed from ancient Egyptian and Greek records, the Hebrew Bible, and archaeological excavations. Many uncertainties still surround the origin of the Canaanites. Ancient Greek historians believed their homeland was located in the region of the Persian Gulf, but modern researchers tend to reject this hypothesis because of archaeological and historical evidence of population continuity through successive millennia in the Levant. The Canaanite culture is alternatively thought to have developed from local Chalcolithic people who were themselves derived from people who settled in farming villages 10,000 to 9,000 years ago during the Neolithic period. Uncertainties also surround the fate of the Canaanites: the Bible reports the destruction of the Canaanite cities and the annihilation of its people; if true, the Canaanites could not have directly contributed genetically to present-day populations. However, no archaeological evidence has so far been found to support widespread destruction of Canaanite cities between the Bronze and Iron Ages: cities on the Levant coast such as Sidon and Tyre show continuity of occupation until the present day. Ref Ref Ref Ref Ref Ref Ref
The interconnectedness of religious thinking Animism, Totemism, Paganism and Beyond?
So, it all starts in a general way with Animism (theoretical belief in supernatural powers/spirits), then this is physically expressed in or with Totemism (theoretical belief in mythical relationship with powers/spirits through a totem item), which then enlists a full-time specific person to do this worship and believed interacting Shamanism (theoretical belief in access and influence with spirits through ritual), and then there is the further employing of myths and gods added to all the above giving you Paganism (often a lot more nature-based than most current top world religions, thus hinting to their close link to more ancient religious thinking it stems from). My hypothesis is expressed with an explanation of the building of a theatrical house (modern religions development).
* “totemist” Believe in spirit-filled life and/or afterlife can be attached to or be expressed in things or objects (you are a hidden totemist/Totemism: an approximately 50,000-year-old belief system (though it may be older as there is evidence of what looks like a Stone Snake in South Africa which may be the “first human worship” dating to around 70,000 years ago) (possibly extending to or from Neanderthals Likewise a number of archeologists propose that Middle Paleolithic societies — such as that of the Neanderthals — may also have practiced the earliest form of totemism or animal worship in addition to their (presumably religious) burial of the dead. Emil Bächler in particular suggests (based on archeological evidence from Middle Paleolithic caves) that a widespread Neanderthal bear-cult existed. Animal cults in the following Upper Paleolithic period — such as the bear cult — may have had their origins in these hypothetical Middle Paleolithic animal cults. Animal worship during the Upper Paleolithic intertwined with hunting rites. For instance, archeological evidence from art and bear remains reveals that the bear cult apparently had involved a type of sacrificial bear ceremonialism in which a bear was shot with arrows and then was finished off by a shot in the lungs and ritualistically buried near a clay bear statue covered by a bear fur, with the skull and the body of the bear buried separately. 100,000 to 50,000 years ago – Increased use of red ochre at several Middle Stone Age sites in Africa. Red Ochre is thought to have played an important role in ritual. 42,000 years ago – Ritual burial of a man at Lake Mungo in Australia. The body is sprinkled with copious amounts of red ochre. 40,000 years ago – Upper Paleolithic begins in Europe. An abundance of fossil evidence includes elaborate burials of the dead, Venus figurines (depiction of female) and cave art also involving red ochre. Aurignacian figurines have been found depicting faunal representations of the time period associated with now-extinct mammals, including mammoths, rhinoceros, and Tarpan, along with anthropomorphized depictions that may be interpreted as some of the earliest evidence of religion. Many 35,000-year-old animal figurines were discovered in the Vogelherd Cave in Germany. One of the horses, amongst six tiny mammoth and horse ivory figures found previously at Vogelherd, was sculpted as skillfully as any piece found throughout the Upper Paleolithic. The production of ivory beads for body ornamentation was also important during the Aurignacian. There is a notable absence of painted caves, however, which begin to appear within the Solutrean. Venus figurines are thought to represent fertility. The cave paintings at Chauvet and Lascaux are believed to represent religious thought. The oldest cave art is found in the Cave of El Castillo in Spain, in early Aurignacian dated at around 40,000 years, the time when it is believed that homo sapiens migrated to Europe from Africa. The paintings are mainly of deer. The next oldest cave paintings are found in the Chauvet Cave in France, dating to around 37,000 to 33,500 years ago and the second from 31,000 to 28,000 years ago with most of the black drawings dating to the earlier period. Chauvet Cave appears to have been used by humans during two distinct periods: the Aurignacian and the Gravettian. Most of the artwork dates to the earlier, Aurignacian, era (30,000 to 32,000 years ago). The later Gravettian occupation, which occurred 25,000 to 27,000 years agoThe paintings feature a larger variety of wild animals, such as lions, panthers, bears and hyenas. It’s strange to think that these animals were roaming around France at that time. There are no examples of complete human figures in these cave paintings. ref, ref, ref, ref, ref
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