On the Origins of the Yahweh Cult

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On the Origins of the Yahweh Cult

On the Origins of the Yahweh Cult
by Matt Giwer, © 2010 [May 23]

Next to nothing is known about the origin of the cult of the god Yahweh.

There are only three usable sources of information on its origin. The first
is the stories in what Christians commonly call the Old Testament. The
second is historical mention. The third is archaeology.

The insurmountable problem we encounter is the first source, that of the
holy books of the bible, are totally discredited by both history and
archaeology. Not only is there nothing to support the bible stories but also
what is known relegates the stories to realm of fantasy. Even if the stories
are reduced to their minimum essentials there is no credible material in the
stories. Therefore either all known history and archaeology as to be
discarded or the bible books must be discarded.

This is not a matter of science knowing or not knowing everything. It is a
matter of modern Israel being percentagewise the most dug place in the
world. Not just by real archaeologists and biblical archaeologists but also
amateur archaeologists. Amateur archaeologists and antiquties dealers and
road builders and home builders. Home builders and home owners and home
gardeners. Modern Israel is the most dug place in the world. So far
everythign found shows the bible stories are false in the sense of pure
fantasy.

It is natural then to consider what we know of the bible books. What we know
of them is that they first appear in the late 2nd to early 1st c. BC time
frame. They are written in Greek. There are several different surviving
collections of these stories which are commonly called the Septuagint. There
is no evidence of the existence of these stories before this time. There is
no evidence the Greek was a translation of an earlier version in Hebrew.

From here we look to archaeology and find there is no confirmation of any of
the stories or characters in the bible stories. There is no sign of any
independent kingdom of either Judah or Israel although there is evidence of
a kingdom of Samaria.

It is old news there is no evidence for Moses and Hebrews in Egypt much less
any Exodus. It is equally old news there is no evidence there was no
conquest of Palestine. What is still carefully avoided is publicly stating
in the popular media there is no evidence for anything in the bible stories
until Pompey arrives in the region. This includes mention of the priest king
John Hyrancus (both names are of Greek origin) as the ruler of a nothing,
backwater place called Judea. For all intents and purposes this is the
beginning of the Yahweh cult in history.

The only light the Septuagint stories can shed on John Hyrancus is found in
the three books of Maccabes which were commonly found in the collections.
(The fourth book of Maccabe clearly dates from the late 1st c. AD.) These
three recount a civil war in the region between a Yahweh cult leader, Judah
Maccabe, and locals who had adopted Greek culture. The Greek rulers supplied
mercenaries to the side against Judah Maccabe but were not themselves in
direct conflict with him and his cult.

We have to move to Flavius Josephus to pick up the story after Judah
Maccabe. We read his son and grandson set out spread their Yahweh cult by
military force. They successfully imposed it upon the Iodumeans (from whom
Herod arose), the Galileans and the Itureans. They were forced to circumcize
and adopt Judean worship customs and practices. They also conquered the
Samarians but they refused circumcision and were banished.

Reconciling Josephus with what we think we know is not 100% doable but one
assumes he found no contradiction between what he wrote and the situation in
Judea in his time. The problem is in what we think we know. Here the Judean
hatred of the Herods is they were a conquered people who came to rule the
region. It also explains the continuing hatred of the Samarians who to us
have a minor variation upon the Judean Yahweh cult. And finally the hatred
of Jesus the Galilean comes into focus.

The hatred of Jesus the Galilean and his followers by the Judeans is as well
established from the Book of Acts and down through history even to modern
times. Also the Gospels do not stint on reciting the condemnations by Jesus
of the Judean priests whose ancestors forced his ancestors to convert to
their Yahweh cult. None of this tells us if Jesus actually lived but the
context of the political situation in Palestine is a clear framework upon
which the story was hung. And of course there are other themes in the
Gospels which do not fit into this framework.

The fact that there is today a Jewish religion does not imply any of the
stories in the Septuagint have any basis in fact. That we think of it as an
"old" religion does not mean that it is an old religion. That there is a
tradition it is an old religion is meaningless. We have no idea who started
that tradition, nor either when or why it was started.

Putting the Septuagint stories against the rise of a Yahweh cult in a region
around Jerusalem which would be named after a cult leader Judah Maccabe does
not make it any different from Jonestown or the Koresh compound. We know
religions can arise quickly. Islam, the Latter Day Saints and Scientology
are but three examples. Scientology grew from a reaction to the
psychotherapy cult to a religion in the lifetime of many people living
today.

There were some mentions of Moses and the Jews prior to the Septuagint
stories becoming popular. One had it that Moses was a dead character from
whom oracular priests in Jerusalem channeled answers to questions. Another
has it that the people of Judea were philosophers from India. These mentions
have to be taken on face value as we have no contradictory source of
information. In what appears to be a precursor to the story of Exodus, the
Judeans were lepers lead out of Egypt by an Egyptian priest named Moses.

Note here our word Jew is nothing but the current word in English which
derives from Judean, a person living in or show traces his ancestry to
Judea. It is a geographic reference. The gospels make a clear distinction
between Judeans and Galileans even though the choice of translation for
Judean is usually Jews. They also distinguish Samaritans as another
geographical group. Centuries later Justin, the short-lived successor to
Constantine and friend of the Judeans, refered to the Christians as
Galileans.

The Yahweh cult
Archaeology has found numerous inscriptions from Palestine referring to the
local ruling god and goddess as Yahweh and Ashara. [1]Votaries of the pair
have been found. There are other names for apparently the same pair in and
around Palestine. So one quite reasonably refers to this as a cult to the
male god only.

There are written mentions of BYT YHWH and of BYT STRT. These are translated
by the pious as Temple of Yahweh and Strato's Tower. Strato had towers in
Jerusalem, Caesarea and Tyre yet the pious will not tell you that STRT is
aSTaRTe, another name for Ashara the companion goddess of Yahweh. This is
exactly what we would expect to find from the ?????? and the inscriptions.
This would represent the religion of the people not the cult of the priests
of Yahweh.

The religion of the priests is not the religion of the people
Writings representing the religion religion of the people nor of the goddess
have not survived and may not have been written down in the first place.

We know the Judeans were not monotheists
They never say they are. But if there was no worship of Astarte/Ashara then
they Judeans would have been the strangest people in the entire world. They
would have worshipped only one god. Yet no one mentioned this unique
feature. Neither they nor the people who mentioned them remarked upon this
unique characteristic. As there no mention of it not even by the Judeans
there is no reason to assume they had only one god. That an unknown person
at an unkown time for an unknown reason may have invented the idea they had
only one god is not sufficient reason to assume they had only one god. And
the facts are right in our face that they had two principle gods with the
Septuagint stories merely those of the cult of the male god.

It is instructive to look at who did not mention these Judeans in history.
In the mid 5th c. BC Herodotus traveled the region and mentioned no Judeans
nor anyone who could have been a Judean. He mentions the Palestinians (not
Phillistines -- no one knows how that corruption got into the Septuagint)
seven times as well as listing people who practiced circumcision. No Judeans
there. In the late 4th c. Alexander conquers the region. There is no mention
of any Judeans in the inventories of his conquests or his allies or those
who simply surrendered. There is no mention of Judea or Jerusalem.

These show the Judeans appeared after Alexander. As they officially appear
in history with Pompey these two events bracket their appearance and the
invention of the Yahweh cult. Josephus dates the Maccabes to the early mid
3rd c. BC. This would give the region around Jerusalem to absorb some of the
civilization of the Greeks and build modest cities like Jerusalem. It was
Greek policy, starting with Alexander, to export Greek culture.

Another thing we learned from Herodotus is that the Palestinians considered
themselves a branch of the Syrians. The Greek made their local capital in
the Syrian city of Ephesus[?]. Thus what Greek culture would spread from
Syria would naturally find its way to the hill country of Palestine sooner
or later.

Historical mentions and inferences appear to associate the Septuagint
stories as being created in Alexandria. Thus their first appearance in Greek
is even more plausible. Had they been created in Palestine we would expect
them to be written in Aramaic. Note here there is no evidence "hebrew" was
even a spoken language. Rather it appears to be an invented liturgical
language as a polyglot of Aramaic and Greek. The script we call "hebrew" is
the Aramaic script. The script used in inscriptions found by archaeologists
is either Aramaic or Phoenician. No "hebrew" is to be found regardless of
how many believers wish to call it "hebrew".

A long time ago it was believed (for no other reason than religious
tradition) that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament. It
was also believed he was a real person and Exodus really occurred. In Exodus
the people are called Hebrews and thus the language of the first five books
was called Hebrew. The sole basis for the name is a fairytale that first
appears in the 2nd c. BC. That the "hebrew" uses Aramaic script clearly
shows the translation is from the Greek rather than the Greek from it.

It has been known for a century that the "hebraisms" in the Septuagint
stories were common Koine Greek construction. This further supports the
"hebrew" being a polyglot of Aramaic and Greek. In 1982 Hebrew is Greek by
Joseph Yahuda, Preface by Saul Levin, was published by Becket Publications,
Oxford. It shows the Greek component of Hebrew in excruciating detail.
Rather than "hebraisms" in the Septuagint it is the other way around. They
are Greek constructions in Hebrew.

Regardless of the believers no inscription found in Palestine supports the
reality of any of the Old Testament stories so their presence or absence has
no bearing upon the appearance of the Yahweh cult so debate of the matter is
a waste of time in regard to the substance of this essay.

Why write the stories?
Even if one does not accept the time frame I propose one it is a legitimate
question as to why they stories were created. Consider we know the major
events and people in them are all fiction. Therefore no matter who wrote
them or when they were written the writer knew they were just stories. Why
to people write stories? To entertain of course.

Consider we know from Maccabes and Josephus roughly when and where the
Yahweh cult started and how it spread to a few surrounding territories like
Galilee. The Septuagint stories would have a major kingdom decline almost to
the point of extinction in the Maccabes' time and then have a modest
expansion. This is a contraction that goes unremarked and is incompatible
with the stories prior to Maccabes.

On the other hand we can look at it as a new kingdom ruled by a new cult and
the storytellers are creating a marvelous past with their cult diety as a
central figure all through it. There are bits and pieces of the known
history of the region woven into some of the stories. Others are liberally
borrowed from real people and real kingdoms. For example the description of
Solomon's Kingdom "from the river in Egypt to the Eurphrates" is the
description of the New King period of Egypt. There is of course no evidence
whatsoever of any kingdom worth the name in Palestine prior to Roman times
beyond the Phoenician city-states.

If we are to say these stories were for other than entertainment but an
attempt to create history then we could only describe them as forgeries.
They would be creations intended to deceive. But that would be an
anachronism as in those days such stories were intended to be stories. They
were intended to create a fitting national mythology not to recite facts. So
today's idea of taking these stories as real history, regardless of when or
where or by whom created is an anachronism. It is not an idea whoever
created them could have had.

And the contents we impute to them are anachronism on top of anachronism. On
one hand we consider Herodotus and Thuycides to be the first historians. We
do not consider unknown Palestinians to have been the first historians. We
consider the first coherent collection of god stories to have been Theogony
not an anonymous collection from an illiterate land.

Rather what we read is a collection of many types of writings first invented
by the Greeks at their peak. Thus the writers had to be drawing on those
Greek ideas thus dating the creation of these stories after the Greek
inventions and by people who were to some extent familiar with Greek
literature. We do not find the verse style common when transmission was by
memorization but rather the prose style in use when writing was the common
means of transmission.

Beyond the Phoenician coastal cities of Palestine we do not find any
evidence of a literate culture. In all cases of literate cultures we find
the most common form of writing to be legal documents such as sales
contracts. In the middle we find government decrees and laws. The smallest
category of written materials is religious materials. And even in religious
materials many of them are receipts for donations and other temple business.

Thus we would not expect to find the religious writings of Palestine to
appear until after they were far out-numbered by contract and government
material. This time does not appear until after a century of Greek rule.
Before this time there was so little importance to writing that what little
is found is on pieces of broken pottery indicating intact pottery was more
valuable than writing materials. Not even flat tablets specially fired for
writing are found even though they would have been immensely cheaper to
produce than pottery.

If this were their religion why the force?
Something we are struck with over and over is the liberal use of the death
penalty for the violation of Judean customs. Were this truly the religion of
the people then there would be no need for force. That it is a religion
imposed by force explains the need to use force.

The religion of the people has only a peripheral relation to the religion of
the priests. The priests do not mingle. At best they teach and mostly by
punishing transgressions as their preferred teaching method. You can tell
them not to mention the holy name until you are blue in the face but a
bloody stoning for saying Jehovah gets the point across much better. See
"The Life of Brian" for details.

Which brings us to the nature of this Yahweh cult. It is a ritual/taboo cult
with genital mutilation as an initiation rite. It is not a religion as we
recognize one today. In fact in the 1st c. BC it was a savage and primitive
cult in a culture which abjured any kind of body mutilation. Even today
Judaism makes no bones about its classical form and most Jews say its only
form is to govern all of one's life with rituals and taboos. No form of
Judaism today, not even Reform, is a creedal religion, a religion where
beliefs matter in the least.

Passover is a required ritual. It does not matter if one believes the story
in Exodus or even in Exodus itself. This has lead to a wide range of stories
on old testament themes and characters. A five volume collection of these
stories published as THE LEGENDS OF THE JEWS BY LOUIS GINZBERG TRANSLATED
FROM THE GERMAN MANUSCRIPT BY HENRIETTA SZOLD is one source. It has no
parallel in Christianity. Were a Christian to take any of these stories
seriously he would instantly find himself a heretic as it would give a
different meaning from the approved belief about the original story. For a
Jew it does not matter as it is only a belief whereas a Jew is defined by
the rituals and the taboos.

There is no reason to think this was not always the attitude. Thus it is
flat out wrong to think the Septuagint stories were ever taken seriously by
the creator, by the reader, by any Judean. There are no separate categories
of "true" and "entertaining" stories. There are merely stories.
 

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

www.giwersworld.org/made-in-alexandria/index.html

www.giwersworld.org/00_files/zion-hit-points.phtml


Brian37
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Where do you get the notion

Where do you get the notion that nothing is known about the origins of the Yahweh cult?

There might be no known trans pollenation between the Canaanites and early Hebrews that is documented. But the names and motifs overlap in name, even if not in interpretation. And considering the close proximity of the prior polytheists and the early monotheists, it is to me a NO DUH, that people get inspired by prior things.

How many blond jokes have you been told by a person you will never see again, but repeat with your own spin? Is there a record of the joke being told by them to you? No, but the motif is the same?

This is like the bullshit claim that there are no transitional fossils.

The region where the Canaanites lived and used the name Yahweh and El, And Elohim and Baal is the same region where the Hebrews popped out.

The first claim of curing blindness did not come from the Christians, but from the Egyptians and their claim of Thot curing the blindness of Horus, later to be used in the New Testament by Jesus,

Saying that a god is original is like saying Coke was the first beverage because it's can is red. There isn't always a record of overlap in history.

But when given the choice between magic, or the mundane reality of human imagination and marketing in the mundane reality of competition, which makes more sense?

Someone made up a story because they liked what they heard from some else?

Or

There really is a brain with no brain with magical super powers that favors Muslims or Christians or Jews or atheists or..............

The point is, even if one cant make the connection between one culture or another, what can be proven is that humans have proven to make up shit in every culture and try to pass it down to the next culture.

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


Brian37
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In the Ugartic text of the

In the Ugartic text of the Canaanite pantheon the Names "Yahwey, El, Elohim and Baal" exist. And the commonly quoted OT PHRASE "Let me make them in my image"

In the Canaanite version it says "Let us make them in our image"

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


Kapkao
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Brian37 makes a good point.

Brian37 makes a good point. I kinda blocked this "holy land" part out of my head, while taking ancient history in 6th grade. But then, we got to the "phoenicians" chapter, I suddenly became more studious.

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


A_Nony_Mouse
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Brian37 wrote:

Where do you get the notion that nothing is known about the origins of the Yahweh cult?

There might be no known trans pollenation between the Canaanites and early Hebrews that is documented. But the names and motifs overlap in name, even if not in interpretation. And considering the close proximity of the prior polytheists and the early monotheists, it is to me a NO DUH, that people get inspired by prior things.

With such claims I have to ask for the archaeological evidence that there were peoples who were called Canaanites and Hebrews. I have looked for it and have explored every lead and there is no evidence any such peoples ever existed. Do you know of archaeological evidence? The land being inhabited does not provide the names of these peoples. The land has been continuously inhabited for at least 80,000 years.

What we do know from inscriptions and artifacts is that the land had a pair of gods, Ashara and Yahweh. Several votaries to the two gods have been found. The question is when the cult to only one of them started.

Quote:
How many blond jokes have you been told by a person you will never see again, but repeat with your own spin? Is there a record of the joke being told by them to you? No, but the motif is the same?

This is like the bullshit claim that there are no transitional fossils.

As there are fossils in museums [a href="http://www.giwersworld.org/ancient-history/ashara-images/index.html"]there is evidence of the two gods in museums.[/a] I have collected some images of votaries of both and of Ashara/Astarte. You are of course free to present what physical evidence you have.

Quote:
The region where the Canaanites lived and used the name Yahweh and El, And Elohim and Baal is the same region where the Hebrews popped out.

Again, no Hebrews or Canaanites so nothing can be attributed to non-existent people. The other god pairs in the region remained paired male and female. In fact there was a temple to Astarte in Jerusalem in the early 2nd c. AD as well as in Tyre and Caesarea. Yet at some point a cult of priest-kings of the Yahweh cult comes to dominate Judea and spread the cult by force to Galilee and Iodumea and Samaria.

Quote:
The first claim of curing blindness did not come from the Christians, but from the Egyptians and their claim of Thot curing the blindness of Horus, later to be used in the New Testament by Jesus,

Saying that a god is original is like saying Coke was the first beverage because it's can is red. There isn't always a record of overlap in history.

But when given the choice between magic, or the mundane reality of human imagination and marketing in the mundane reality of competition, which makes more sense?

Someone made up a story because they liked what they heard from some else?

Or

There really is a brain with no brain with magical super powers that favors Muslims or Christians or Jews or atheists or..............

The point is, even if one cant make the connection between one culture or another, what can be proven is that humans have proven to make up shit in every culture and try to pass it down to the next culture.

As you note we can trace the origin of Islam to Mohamed. If there were no mention of Mohamed in history it would be an interesting question as to the origin of the Allah cult. It would be similarly interesting for the LDS without a knowledge of Joseph Smith or Scientology without a Hubbard. Here I am trying to trace down the origin of this Yahweh cult as there is no historical mention of the creators the cult.

This is of course interesting in that the currenly popular religious guess has this cult created at a time when archaeologists find no sign of a literate culture in Judea. This is supposed to be after a return from Babylon but when we find there is no evidence for any time in Babylon much less a return that idea goes down the crapper.

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

www.giwersworld.org/made-in-alexandria/index.html

www.giwersworld.org/00_files/zion-hit-points.phtml


Kapkao
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I imagine a few Canaanites

I imagine a few Canaanites wanted 1 god instead of 3.

 

Even Hannibal Barca was a "Baal" adherent.

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


A_Nony_Mouse
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Kapkao wrote:

I imagine a few Canaanites wanted 1 god instead of 3.

The interesting thing about people who believed there was only one god or even only worshipped only one god is that they would be the strangest people in the entire world. Yet no one mentions either the Judeans nor the Christians as believing there was only one god nor of the Judeans worshipping only one god.

With less obscure phrasing, either monotheism or henotheism would be remarkable things in the ancient world. They would be entirely new ideas in the ancient world. Neither is mentioned by anyone when talking about either Judeans or Christians.

Quote:
Even Hannibal Barca was a "Baal" adherent.

Considering the name was Hanibaal that is a near certainty.

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

www.giwersworld.org/made-in-alexandria/index.html

www.giwersworld.org/00_files/zion-hit-points.phtml


Kapkao
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A_Nony_Mouse

A_Nony_Mouse wrote:

Considering the name was Hanibaal that is a near certainty.

Maybe my history book was written by followers of Scipio

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


iwbiek
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Kapkao wrote:A_Nony_Mouse

Kapkao wrote:

A_Nony_Mouse wrote:

Considering the name was Hanibaal that is a near certainty.

Maybe my history book was written by followers of Scipio

as far as i know, it was hannibal's father hamilcar who carried the title barca, not hannibal.

"I have never felt comfortable around people who talk about their feelings for Jesus, or any other deity for that matter, because they are usually none too bright. . . . Or maybe 'stupid' is a better way of saying it; but I have never seen much point in getting heavy with either stupid people or Jesus freaks, just as long as they don't bother me. In a world as weird and cruel as this one we have made for ourselves, I figure anybody who can find peace and personal happiness without ripping off somebody else deserves to be left alone. They will not inherit the earth, but then neither will I. . . . And I have learned to live, as it were, with the idea that I will never find peace and happiness, either. But as long as I know there's a pretty good chance I can get my hands on either one of them every once in a while, I do the best I can between high spots."
--Hunter S. Thompson


Kapkao
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iwbiek wrote:Kapkao

iwbiek wrote:

Kapkao wrote:

A_Nony_Mouse wrote:

Considering the name was Hanibaal that is a near certainty.

Maybe my history book was written by followers of Scipio

as far as i know, it was hannibal's father hamilcar who carried the title barca, not hannibal.

Well, so be it... (after having an exhausting father's day with my uncle & co I'll just assume you are correct )

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)