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Polytheism In The Bible?


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In the Hungarian Bible in Leviticus 16:7-10 there is a character mentioned called Azazel. The Scripture says there that the Israelites should sacrifice two goats - one for the Lord and the other for Azazel.

 

Who is Azazel, I wondered and why should they sacrifice for him, isn't it written there is only one God who should be honored?

 

To my surprise (or maybe it's not that surprising...) in most English translations the name Azazel is omitted and it's translated as such:

 

7 Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 8 He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat.[a] 9 Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and sacrifice it for a sin offering. 10 But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.

 

(New International Version)

 

The King James Version is the same. So they translated it as "for the scapegoat", instead of "for Azazel".

 

However I did find English Bibles which leave the word Azazel in it:

 

7 He will take the two male goats and place them before the LORD at the meeting tent’s entrance. 8 Aaron will cast lots over the two goats: one lot labeled “the LORD’s” and the other lot labeled “Azazel’s.”[a] 9 Aaron will present the goat selected by the LORD’s lot and perform a purification offering with it. 10 But the goat selected by Azazel’s lot will be left standing alive before the LORD in order to make reconciliation upon it by sending it away into the wilderness to Azazel.

 

(Common English Bible)

 

 

 

 

Looks like some other god or something!

 

I found a Wikipedia entry on Azazel: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azazel

 

Azazel or Azazael or Azâzêl (Hebrew: עזאזל, Azazel) is a term used three times in the Hebrew scriptures, and later in Hebrew mythology as the enigmatic name of a character.

 

The term in the Bible is limited to three uses in Leviticus 16, where a goat is designated לַעֲזָאזֵֽל la-aza'zeyl; either "for absolute removal" or "for Azazel" and outcast in the desert as part of Yom Kippur.

 

Later Azazel was considered by some Jewish sources to be a supernatural being mentioned in connection with the ritual of the Day of Atonement (Lev. xvi.).

 

The ESV provides the footnote "16:8 The meaning of Azazel is uncertain; possibly the name of a place or a demon, traditionally a scapegoat; also verses 10, 26". Most scholars accept the indication of some kind of demon or deity,[5] however Judit M. Blair notes that this is an argument without supporting contemporary text evidence.[6]

 

Ida Zatelli (1998)[7] has suggested that the Hebrew ritual parallels pagan practice of sending a scapegoat into the desert on the occasion of a royal wedding found in two ritual texts in archives at Ebla (24th C. BC). A she-goat with a silver bracelet hung from her neck was driven forth into the wasteland of 'Alini' by the community.[8] There is no mention of an "Azazel".[9]

 

The translators of the Greek Septuagint understood the Hebrew term as meaning the sent away, and read:"

 

8and Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat (Greek apompaios dat.).

9And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord, and offer it as a sin offering; 10but the goat on which the lot of the sent away one fell shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away (Greek eis ten apompen acc.) into the wilderness."

 

Following the Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate,[10] Martin Luther[11] and the King James Bible also give readings such as Young's Literal Translation: 'And Aaron hath given lots over the two goats, one lot for Jehovah, and one lot for a goat of departure;'

 

In the Dead Sea Scrolls the name Azazel occurs in the line 6 of 4Q203, the Book of the Giants. This is a part of the Enochic literature about fallen angels found at Qumran.[20]

 

According to the Book of Enoch, which brings Azazel into connection with the Biblical story of the fall of the angels, located on Mount Hermon, a gathering-place of demons from of old (Enoch xiii.; compare Brandt, "Mandäische Theologie," 1889, p. 38). Azazel is represented in the Book of Enoch as one of the leaders of the rebellious Watchers in the time preceding the flood; he taught men the art of warfare, of making swords, knives, shields, and coats of mail, and women the art of deception by ornamenting the body, dying the hair, and painting the face and the eyebrows, and also revealed to the people the secrets of witchcraft and corrupted their manners, leading them into wickedness and impurity; until at last he was, at the Lord's command, bound hand and foot by the archangel Raphael and chained to the rough and jagged rocks of [Ha] Duduael (= Beth Ḥadudo), where he is to abide in utter darkness until the great Day of Judgment, when he will be cast into the fire to be consumed forever (Enoch viii. 1, ix. 6, x. 4-6, liv. 5, lxxxviii. 1; see Geiger, "Jüd. Zeit." 1864, pp. 196–204).“ The whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azazel: to him ascribe all sin. ”

— 1 Enoch 10:8

 

According to 1 Enoch (a book of the Apocrypha), Azazel (here spelled ‘ăzā’zyēl) was one of the chief Grigori, a group of fallen angels who married women. This same story (without any mention of Azazel) is told in Genesis 6:2-4:

 

 

That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. […] There were giants in the earth in those days; and also afterward, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

 

1 Enoch portrays Azazel as responsible for teaching people to make weapons and cosmetics, for which he was cast out of heaven. 1 Enoch 8:1-3a reads:

 

 

And Azazel taught men to make swords and knives and shields and breastplates; and made known to them the metals [of the earth] and the art of working them; and bracelets and ornaments; and the use of antimony and the beautifying of the eyelids; and all kinds of costly stones and all colouring tinctures. And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray and became corrupt in all their ways.

 

 

It's odd that the Jews would make sacrifice to such a character. It's like pagan practice of making sacrifices to good and bad gods alike...

 

 

Are there any other texts in the Bible which might suggest polytheism?

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Hi Suzy!

 

Perhaps not Polytheism, so much as Henotheism.

 

Please see here... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henotheism ...and go to the section on Judaism.

 

As far as I can see, this indicates an evolution of religious practices in the Middle East. First, there was out-and-out Polytheism, then this was displaced by Henotheism (acceptance of the existence of other Gods, but the supremacy of just one becoming prevalent) and finally we arrive at the absolute monotheism of Yahweh, as accepted by the Jews thereafter.

 

Naturally enough, Christians and Jews would reject this evolutionary model of their faith and say that their God was the only one who ever existed. These 'other' gods are then explained away as being manifestations of Satan and his demons, who have always sought to mislead and beguile weak-minded humans.

 

That help?

 

Thanks,

 

BAA.

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I don't have a source on hand but I think I recall reading somewhere that some of the secular biblical scholars believe Asherah from the bible was believed by some of the Israelites to be Yahweh's wife.

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yahweh_asherah.jpg

 

The 8th Century BC Israeli pottery inscription above reads, "I bless you by Yahweh of Samaria and by his Asherah,"

 

Kind of cool to see Yahweh as a Bull, with his consort Ashera. Not exactly the image you might imagine today as portrayed in churches. But there it is. There's the god Yahweh, with Jesus' 'other' Mother. Moo Moo.... :) For some reason it doesn't instill a lot of fear and trembling.

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My understanding is that the Yahwehvists were the fundamentalists, purging Judaism of what they perceived as impurities (hence all the instances in the OT of tearing down the Asherah poles and high places and smashing idols).

 

Also Yahweh was one god among many in the region. That's why he couldn't do sweet FA outside his influence and couldn't withstand iron chariots because the Hittite gods were stronger.

 

That evolved over time as those other regions were wiped out and absorbed by other greater powers and the Jews wrote their stories to explain those events as Yahweh punishing the other nations.

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The 8th Century BC Israeli pottery inscription above reads, "I bless you by Yahweh of Samaria and by his Asherah,"

 

Kind of cool to see Yahweh as a Bull, with his consort Ashera. Not exactly the image you might imagine today as portrayed in churches. But there it is. There's the god Yahweh, with Jesus' 'other' Mother. Moo Moo.... :) For some reason it doesn't instill a lot of fear and trembling.

 

Do you have a source for that? This image is going to come in handy :)

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The 8th Century BC Israeli pottery inscription above reads, "I bless you by Yahweh of Samaria and by his Asherah,"

 

Kind of cool to see Yahweh as a Bull, with his consort Ashera. Not exactly the image you might imagine today as portrayed in churches. But there it is. There's the god Yahweh, with Jesus' 'other' Mother. Moo Moo.... :) For some reason it doesn't instill a lot of fear and trembling.

 

Do you have a source for that? This image is going to come in handy :)

This is pretty well known amongst modern archeologists and Biblical scholars. One book I have that talks about it is this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0295972610/ref=wms_ohs_product_img_T2 However oddly, the price on it now is unbelievable. I paid less than $5 for it!

 

Other references online: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/125891/20110323/asherah-asherah-edited-bible-asherah-edited-from-bible-fertility-asherah-god-s-wife-god-s-wife-asher.htm

 

here: http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/biblianazar/esp_biblianazar_jehovah02.htm

 

An apologist trying to explain it away here: http://www.yahwehism.com/html/yahweh-samaria.html

 

And so forth. In either case, it's there and it's pretty safe to say that how your average believer conceives of how the ancient Israelites thought is to say the least a revisionist history.

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This is pretty well known amongst modern archeologists and Biblical scholars. One book I have that talks about it is this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0295972610/ref=wms_ohs_product_img_T2 However oddly, the price on it now is unbelievable. I paid less than $5 for it!

I don't think I have that book (I have "Does god have a wife?" or something like that but I flipped through and didn't see this pic).

 

Are we assuming that YHWH is the calf? And Asherah is the large cow feeding him? While possible that is an odd arrangement for a consort. Since you have the book could you look and see if it explains this image? I can't spot anything else that looks to be something I might associate with Asherah (I would normally look for a large breasted woman, a pole/grove, or something like that).

 

There's no doubt that YHWH and Asherah were connected somehow. Graffiti keeps tying them together. I'm just curious about this image. Is the text even connected to the images with any certainty?

 

mwc

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This is pretty well known amongst modern archeologists and Biblical scholars. One book I have that talks about it is this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0295972610/ref=wms_ohs_product_img_T2 However oddly, the price on it now is unbelievable. I paid less than $5 for it!

I don't think I have that book (I have "Does god have a wife?" or something like that but I flipped through and didn't see this pic).

 

Are we assuming that YHWH is the calf? And Asherah is the large cow feeding him? While possible that is an odd arrangement for a consort. Since you have the book could you look and see if it explains this image? I can't spot anything else that looks to be something I might associate with Asherah (I would normally look for a large breasted woman, a pole/grove, or something like that).

 

There's no doubt that YHWH and Asherah were connected somehow. Graffiti keeps tying them together. I'm just curious about this image. Is the text even connected to the images with any certainty?

 

mwc

The text is definitely connected to the images. I don't have Dever's books with me here as I'm on vacation. It's the image of the dude with bull's tail between his legs (I don't believe its a phallus) that is supposed to be Yahweh. Ashera is the other shorter figure next to him with the two-circles on the chest. It's a shame that book when up in price like that from what I paid. Dever is someone I enjoy reading.

 

I'm hardly an authority on this by any means, and I first encountered it in a lecture locally this last summer from an OT studies student I know going after his Masters and then on to his Ph.D. He's doing so not for religious reasons, but rather an area of interest. I remember my eyes getting big and my jaw dropping. In hindsight, why should we be at all surprised, but it was something to see Yahweh portrayed this way considering the way modern myth imagines him. Sort of took him down a notch. :)

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The text is definitely connected to the images. I don't have Dever's books with me here as I'm on vacation. It's the image of the dude with bull's tail between his legs (I don't believe its a phallus) that is supposed to be Yahweh. Ashera is the other shorter figure next to him with the two-circles on the chest. It's a shame that book when up in price like that from what I paid. Dever is someone I enjoy reading.

You need ebooks. :) (Of course *I* need ebooks and a reader and all that jazz)

 

I got thrown off when you said it was the bull. So we're looking at the two in the middle then? I don't know if I'd hesitate to call that a penis but it might look different on the clay. A nice huge penis wouldn't be out of line. And large breasts and an engorged vulva would be just fine on the female. This would make them very fertile and powerful. Any/all of these images wouldn't be at all surprising. If that's what we're looking at.

 

I'm hardly an authority on this by any means, and I first encountered it in a lecture locally this last summer from an OT studies student I know going after his Masters and then on to his Ph.D. He's doing so not for religious reasons, but rather an area of interest. I remember my eyes getting big and my jaw dropping. In hindsight, why should we be at all surprised, but it was something to see Yahweh portrayed this way considering the way modern myth imagines him. Sort of took him down a notch. :)

I'd be more surprised to see a nice typical drawing of a bearded man on a cloud surrounded by putto during this time. That could shock me and cause me to rethink a great many things.

 

mwc

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no matter what they want to belive judaism did not start out as monotheistic, i rember reading or hearing some where where YHVH (Yahweh) was actualy a god of war and latter evolved into the "singular" god as other gods were forced out based by importance.

 

Genisis 1:26 "let us make man in our image"

 

most christians will inturpret this as the holy spirit trinity mess but the jews at the time had no concept. he was probly talking to the other gods who were becoming less imortant as the oral stories were being writen down finaly.

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I only get ebooks now. It's so much better.

I do actually have quite a few ebooks but no reader so I'm stuck in front of my desktop if I want to read them. I don't want a tablet since I want something that's not reflective and I don't have to charge all the time but I want color. I was waiting for a Mirasol reader but Qualcomm killed theirs. I see e-ink has something coming real soon so maybe I'll jump on board when that hits.

 

mwc

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I only get ebooks now. It's so much better.

I do actually have quite a few ebooks but no reader so I'm stuck in front of my desktop if I want to read them. I don't want a tablet since I want something that's not reflective and I don't have to charge all the time but I want color. I was waiting for a Mirasol reader but Qualcomm killed theirs. I see e-ink has something coming real soon so maybe I'll jump on board when that hits.

 

mwc

I'm actually quite pleased with my iPad. Yes, it's not perfect for reading outside, but it's usually very hot outside here so I prefer to set inside while reading.

 

Maybe you should by Border's Kobo now. They're dumping the prices this week, and I think it can read PDFs and any open format.

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I'm actually quite pleased with my iPad. Yes, it's not perfect for reading outside, but it's usually very hot outside here so I prefer to set inside while reading.

 

Maybe you should by Border's Kobo now. They're dumping the prices this week, and I think it can read PDFs and any open format.

I might just look into that. I don't know if I can justify an iPad for what I know would be mainly book reading. And I'm constantly forgetting to charge things so I need something that can deal with that as well. I do also like the look of the e-ink type reader screen as well. I think all of this is why I don't have anything yet. ;)

 

mwc

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I found a journal paper by Dever (Asherah, Consort of Yahweh? New Evidence from Kuntillet ʿAjrûd, Author(s): William G. Dever, Source: Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 255 (Summer, 1984), pp.21-37) and his explanation is the sitting figure with the lyre is Asherah. The two standing figures are both Bes. Anat and Baal are the cow/bull. (Assuming I read it all correctly...I didn't have a lot of time today). Maybe he expands on this in the book?

 

mwc

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I found a journal paper by Dever (Asherah, Consort of Yahweh? New Evidence from Kuntillet ʿAjrûd, Author(s): William G. Dever, Source: Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 255 (Summer, 1984), pp.21-37) and his explanation is the sitting figure with the lyre is Asherah. The two standing figures are both Bes. Anat and Baal are the cow/bull. (Assuming I read it all correctly...I didn't have a lot of time today). Maybe he expands on this in the book?

 

mwc

I'll have to double check on this when I get back to town. I only read through that book once a few months ago. My understanding was that it was Ashera both next to Yahweh and playing the lyre. So where does he identify Yahweh in the drawing in what you're looking at?

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I was very rushed all yesterday so I plan I re-reading the paper just to be sure but from my initial reading none of the images were assigned to YHWH. The only connection would have been the written statement and all the rest as I already posted yesterday. This is why I'm curious if this was different, or expanded on, in the book. I know you don't have it handy but I figure if I post it as I come across it it can stand as a reminder for at least one of us. :)

 

Anyhow, as I said, I'm planning on re-reading the whole thing in case I missed it and I'll see if I can maybe find some other info that can shed light on this in the meantime.

 

mwc

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