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Amzallag specifically cites the ancient copper mines of the Timna Valley in southern Israel , biblical and extra-biblical passages, and similarities of Yahweh to gods of metallurgy in other cultures for support. Although the Bible, and specifically the Book of Exodus, presents Yahweh as the god of the Israelites, there are many passages which make clear that this deity was also worshipped by other peoples in Canaan.
Amzallag notes that the Edomites, Kenites, Moabites, and Midianites all worshipped Yahweh to one degree or another and that there is evidence the Edomites who operated the mines at Timnah converted an earlier Egyptian temple of Hathor to the worship of Yahweh. Although the biblical narratives depict Yahweh as the sole creator god, lord of the universe, and god of the Israelites especially, initially he seems to have been Canaanite in origin and subordinate to the supreme god El.
A passage like this reflects the early beliefs of the Canaanites and Israelites in polytheism or, more accurately, henotheism the belief in many gods with a focus on a single supreme deity. Yahweh as the all-powerful creator, preserver, and redeemer of the universe was then later developed by the early Christians as their god who had sent his son Jesus as the promised messiah and Islam interpreted this same deity as Allah in their belief system. The oldest mention of Yahweh was long held to be the Moabite Stone also known as the Mesha Stele erected by King Mesha of Moab to celebrate his victory over Israel in c.
As the first extra-biblical inscription found to mention Yahweh, much was made of the discovery as the stele reported the same event from the biblical narrative of II Kings 3 in which Mesha the Moabite rebels against Israel though with the major difference of the stele claiming a Moabite victory and the Bible claiming Israel the winner. In CE the ruins of the ancient city of Soleb in Nubia was excavated by the archaeologist Karl Richard Lepsius who documented the site in detail but did not excavate.
In CE James Henry Breasted arrived and photographed the site but, again, engaged in no excavation. The temple was built by Amenhotep III c.
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As it has been established they were a nomadic people, attempts have been made to link them with the Hebrews and with the Habiru, a group of renegades in the Levant , but these claims have been refuted. Whoever the Shasu were, they were not Hebrew and the Habiru seem to be Canaanites who simply refused to conform to the customs of the land, not a separate ethnic group.
This fit with the theory that Yahweh was a desert god whom the Hebrews adopted in their exodus from Egypt to Canaan. The descriptions of Yahweh appearing as a pillar of fire by night and cloud by day as well as the other fire-imagery from the Book of Exodus was interpreted by some scholars as suggesting a storm god or weather-deity and, particularly, a desert god since Yahweh is able to direct Moses to water sources Exodus and Numbers It is generally accepted in the modern day, however, that Yahweh originated in southern Canaan as a lesser god in the Canaanite pantheon and the Shasu, as nomads, most likely acquired their worship of him during their time in the Levant.
The Moabite Stone has also been reinterpreted in light of recent scholarship which demonstrates that the people of Moab also worshipped Yahweh and the reference to Mesha taking the vessels of Yahweh to Kemosh most likely means he repossessed what he felt belonged to the Moabites, not that he conquered Israel and its god in the name of his own. The Bible does mention other nations worshipping Yahweh and how the god arrived from Edom to help the Israelites in warfare Deuteronomy , Judges but this is not the central narrative. In the Bible, Yahweh is the one true God who creates the heavens and the earth and then chooses a certain people, the Israelites, as his own.
Yahweh creates the world, and hangs the sun and the moon in the heavens, as the Book of Genesis opens. The Book of Genesis concludes with Joseph dying after telling his brothers that Yahweh will bring them out of Egypt and back to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Many years later, when the Israelites have grown too populous for the Egyptians, an unnamed pharaoh orders them to be enslaved and makes their lives harsh Exodus Even so, the Israelite population continues to grow and so pharaoh orders all male infants killed Exodus Moses learns his true identity as an Israelite and, after killing an Egyptian, flees to the land of Midian where, in time he encounters Yahweh in the form of a burning bush Exodus 3, Moses never reaches the promised land of Canaan himself owing to a misunderstanding he has with Yahweh in which he strikes a rock for water when he was not supposed to Numbers 20 but he turns over leadership to his right-hand-man Joshua who then leads his people in the conquest of Canaan as directed by Yahweh.
Once the land is conquered, Joshua divides it among his people and, in time, they establish the Kingdom of Israel. El was the chief deity of the Canaanite pantheon and the god who, according to the Bible, gave Yahweh authority over the Israelites:.
When the Most High [El] gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the Sons of God. Deuteronomy , Masoretic Text. The Canaanites, like all ancient civilizations, worshipped many gods but chief among them was the sky-god El. In this passage from Deuteronomy, El gives each of the gods authority over a segment of the people of earth and Yahweh is assigned to the Israelites who, in time, will make him their supreme and only deity; but it is clear he existed beforehand as a lesser Canaanite god.
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An essential link between Yahweh and copper is suggested in the Book of Zechariah where the dwelling of the God of Israel is symbolized by two mountains of copper Zech. In Isaiah , Yahweh is explicitly mentioned as the creator of both the copperworker and his work…Such an involvement of Yahweh is never mentioned elsewhere for other crafts or human activities. The god of metallurgy generally appears as an outstanding deity. The overwhelming importance of the god of metallurgy reflects the central role played by the copper smelters in the emergence of civilizations throughout the ancient world.
He further claims that the name of the god of the Edomites, Qos, is an epithet for Yahweh and notes how the Edomites, a people closely associated with metallurgy, were the primary workers and administrators of the copper mines at Timna and, further, that Edom is never mentioned in the Bible as challenging Israel in the name of a foreign god; thus suggesting that the two peoples worshipped the same deity Particularly compelling are his arguments from biblical passages and the archaeological evidence cited from the ruins of the mines of Timna. Yahweh, according to Amzallag, was transformed from one god among many to the supreme deity by the Israelites in the Iron Age c.
Reading it has allowed me to see patterns and connections in history that I never considered before. I know I will continue to think upon what she said and use it as I try to make sense of the world. I highly recommend her talk where she makes her wish. I highly recommend all the TED prize winners' talks! View all 4 comments. The Tendencies of Religions A facebook conversation: Started with this post , with the following Ambedkar quote: "The Hindus criticise the Mahomedans for having spread their religion by the use of the sword.
They also ridicule Christianity on the score of the Inquisition. But really speaking, who is better and more worthy of our respect—the Mahomedans and Christians who attempted to thrust down the throats of unwilling persons what they regarded as necessary for their salvation, or the Hindu who woul The Tendencies of Religions A facebook conversation: Started with this post , with the following Ambedkar quote: "The Hindus criticise the Mahomedans for having spread their religion by the use of the sword.
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But really speaking, who is better and more worthy of our respect—the Mahomedans and Christians who attempted to thrust down the throats of unwilling persons what they regarded as necessary for their salvation, or the Hindu who would not spread the light, who would endeavour to keep others in darkness, who would not consent to share his intellectual and social inheritance with those who are ready and willing to make it a part of their own make-up?
I have no hesitation in saying that if the Mahomedan has been cruel, the Hindu has been mean; and meanness is worse than cruelty. Use force to make others join your faith B. Use force to keep out of those who want to join your faith Me : an additional dimension is there: you keep them out and then you discriminate and degrade based on religion.
What "Yahweh" Really Means - God's Name in the Bible
Me : ah. This man has hit the nail on the head. Hinduism is the only one that opted to have exclusion as a theme and that, I suspect, because there was no occupation effort. The same religion in south east asia saw the need to absorb locals in : Me : Ambedkar claims elsewhere that early Hinduism was an evangelizing religion and that once caste and varna systems were hardened, it had to stop being one. Judaism discourages missionary activities and maintains an exclusivist doctrine, again based on purity of the chosen people.
Does this seem like a useful line of enquiry? Are there any books that explore the tendencies of religions? Would love to read a few. View all 14 comments. Aug 19, Margitte rated it really liked it Shelves: read , history. I haven't finished reading the book. I still plan to though, but not in one sitting.
The official blurb: ' Over , copies of the original hardcover and paperback editions of this stunningly popular book have been sold. One of Britain's foremost commentators on religious affairs, Arms I haven't finished reading the book. However, it is an informative journey, educational in many instances, and thought-provoking throughout. It is not only the historical timeline of the development of religion of God , the evolutionary process of polytheism to monotheism for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but also a philosophical experience.
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I can only hope that all information in the book is accurate and worth learning. It certainly can be essential reading for those studying theology science beliefs , mythology and comparative religion. This book tells the story as it unfolded through the ages, changed according to needs, and ultimately split people into different groups honoring the same God. Someone long ago said that people build different bridges to God, but in the end they worship their bridges instead of God.