John's research on Miriam and Carmel should not go to waste.
> What, no one is taking me up on my long posting on "Miriam, Mount
> Carmel and Sutekh"? Does that mean you all agree? All disagree?
> All that work for nothing :-( John
I find this topic quite interesting but it is always going to be
limited because of the Noachian theory that Noah at the time of the
flood passed down what happened in Eden to his children who then
developed more and more distorted adaptations of the basic original
events. So unless one can directly show the origin of a
specific "concept" that clearly is linked to something in the Bible,
there is no way to establish whether the similarities come from a
common source. There are always those two choices:
1) Whether similarities are due to direct influence of one upon the
2) Whether two similar stories are based upon an earlier common
Because of this, it is impossible to sort out even from the most
Secondly, clearly in regard to the Jews there is what is "orthodox"
and un-orthodox. What was the official religion of the people and
that which became corrupted by outside influence that became part of
the culture. So at times you clearly had the Jews trying to worship
other gods or combine the worship of yahweh with some of the pagan
concepts, but that was apart from what comes down to us in the Bible
as the "orthodox" belief.
Complicating this you have some other nations, impressed with Yahweh
who incorported the concept of Yahweh into their own belief system.
Syncretism was a great way to keep everybody happy. So ultimately you
still have to be able to separate what was the official orthodox
belief and what we might find as evidence of some unorthodox form of
syncretism. I don't think we can actually do that with
For instance, a shard found mentioning Yahweh as the consort of
Asherah. Did that come from the high priest? or was this someone who
wanted to combine the pagan goddess with Yahweh? Was this a movement,
or just an individual? I don't think we can ever know that. Thus we
will be left with no real conclusions, though it is fascinating to
Another "complication" is that some of the mythological concepts in
the Bible are quite subtle whereas in paganism they are more obvious.
Thus lacking in many comparisons is a clear concept of "Biblical
mythology" that was understood, even in the culture of the Jews, but
is not clearly included in the concepts of formal Christianity or
Judaism. Case in point is that the "woman and her seed" mentioned in
Genesis is a reference to Satan, who became the "mother goddess" among
pagans. The story of Lilith, who assigns that goddess to the woman-
serpent who tempts Eve, is thus more accurate in concept than some
Christians who simply obviate that the Devil is in reference when it
talks about the head of the serpent being bruised by Jesus and the
heel of Jesus being bruised by Satan, etc. In reality, Satan and
Jesus, are actually husband and wife. They are the two "covering
cherubs" that are on top of Ark of the Covenant. Thus these two
angels are not simply general symbols but specific individual angels
(gods). Thus on the temple curtains the alternating symbols of these
angels appear, one as a cherub with the face of a man the other as the
feminine figure of a palm tree. The palm tree angel represents
the "woman" who became Satan.
My point here is, that the esoteric concepts of who Satan was and what
happened between Michael the archangel and Satan that survives in both
paganism and Jewish mythology are not usually part of the comparison
with the more direct Biblical references. In other words, one might
presume that the marriage between Yahweh or Baal and Asherah is based
upon that original marriage between Jesus and Satan from the Garden of
Eden, and those original conflicts.
Or take for instance the concept of child sacrifice. That could be
interpreted by some who follow the esoteric references in the Bible of
who Satan was and what God (El, Yahweh) did to get rid of Satan is
related to that. That is, in order to destroy Satan and his
followers, God decided to put all the angels to death. The idea is
that in the concept of competition between worshipping Satan (Asherah)
or God (Yahweh), each should be willing to die for the god they
worshipped. So to prove it, all serving Yahweh had to willingly
die. This is linked with Jesus giving up his life, etc. But in
paganism, Satan viewed this as God forcing all his children, the
angels, to "pass through the fire"; that is, the firey test of how
much they were willing to give up for the God they worshipped. But
Satan got tricked. That's because while death was now a requirement
to show love of El/Yahweh, and those not proving such love were put to
death as well, El/Yahweh had a choice after everybody was dead to
bring back to life his favorites, namely those who died willinging and
remained in support of El/Yahweh. When Satan inspired pagan worship
of himself in the form of many gods, however, the killing of babies
became part of that theme in the name of having the children "pass
through the fire."
But notice the historical complication of comparison here. We have
Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac, clearly representing God
sacrificing Jesus. We have the orthodox rituals of Jewish tradition
pointing to this very same sacrifice, such as at Passover where Christ
is represented by the lamb that is killed that then brings
salvation. But do we presume this is based upon the paganized
concept of child sacrifice, or the original events that happened in
Eden and in heaven upon which both are related? In other words, I
also agree the stories are CONNECTED, but I'm connecting them at
another level, and in a more parallel manner, than simply presuming
that every similar story must always be father and son, one
originating from the other.
So you see, there is always going to be several options on the table.
That being the case, I tend to maintain a conservative view, to give
the Jews and the Bible the "benefit of the doubt" that their history
is as presented and was individually developed apart from the paganism
all around them.
Finally, you have another complication here that is not recognized.
Remember Melchizedek? He was a king-priest of Salem of Yahweh.
Abraham paid him tithes. So some form of official Yahweh worship was
going on at that time among the Canaanites (Melchizedek was a
Canaanite). Further, after the Ten Plagues, Akhenaten converted to
Yawism as well and according to the Bible the Ten Plagues influenced
for a time Yahweh worship in Assyria as well. I think it is
reasonable to presume that over time the initial concepts of Yahweh
worship occurring immediately after the Ten Plagues became syncretized
and adapted into the pagan culture. So that's another historical
aspect to consider; that is, whether we are looking at Yahweh worship
from the Egyptian adaptation of Yahweh at the time of Akhenaten that
influenced the entire sphere of influence of Egypt at the time at
various levels, or are we looking at a more ancient concept of Yahweh,
one that some of the Canaanites and others like Abraham worshipped?
That is, Abraham worshiped El/Yahweh but that worship was not
influenced by the worship of El/Yahweh already set up in some parts of
Canaan, though historically it was clearly the same religion.
But in conclusion, considering the above complexities, I generally
don't comment on those who would try to presume Biblical revisionism
in the postexilic period to try and match up with a concept of Jewish
traditions, orthodox or non-orthodox with what was going on in the
pagan nations nearby, since a more obvious source, that being Noah,
more than explains any similarities. That is, it is quite easy to
identify Asherah/Ishtar with Satan as the "woman and her seed" from
Eden, even from the ancient concepts of Ishtar as VIRGO from Sumer.
VIRGO is a "virgin" holding a branch. A branch represents lineage,
the family tree, or a son. Thus Virgo represents the "woman and her
seed" just a variation of the Madonna and Child that we have
syncretized into the Christian cult. But in the Bible, the "woman
and her seed" was the former wife of Jesus, Satan. And Satan as the
wife of Jesus has an "official" representation in orthodox Jewish
lithurgy, being depicted as one of the "covering cherubs" on the Ark
of the Covenant. So the Bible's history is more accurate to the
actual evidence, that is, that the pagans worshipping
Asherah/Satan/The Woman and Her Seed are in competition with Yahweh.
This is the original "enmity between you [Christ] and your seed and
the woman [Satan] and her seed." That is, those who would follow
Yahweh and those who would join in Satan's rebellion.
This reflects another academic issue, however. That is,
interpretation of the Bible and the esteric pagan and mythological
beliefs maintained by the Jews (like as respects Lilith) which are
extrapolations of what happened in Eden, compared to a more narrow
view of what we read in the Bible. That is, depending on how you
interpret the Bible and the origin of all these myths will directly
affect presumptions about what influenced what. Is the Jewish
concept of Lilith orginated from the original traditions from the
Garden of Eden, or did they adapt it from the Canaanites? Or after
adapting the Genesis story, did they then adapt the two? Or did they
already consider and understand precisely that the two were related?
That Lillith was just a form of Ishar and Isis and represented the
original Mother Goddess in heaven, the "Queen of the Heavens", Satan
himself/herself? Thus I think it would be impossible to claim Lilith
was 100% a gift from the Canannites, when the Jews might have adapted
a pagan form of their own based on its original traditional knowledge
handed down by Noah, perhaps influenced by the pagans, and thus a
combination of the two sources.
See? It's a huge tangled web and labyrinth we from our point of
observation can likely never sort out completely. Certainly, this is
far from presuming aggressive revisionism of the Jewish history to
adapt to these vague concepts.
I will note, however, that also in this comparisons, the three books
must be dismissed from the OT as "orthodox". The Book of Esther,
Canticles, and Ecclesiates. These books were not cross-quoted from by
the NT Bible writers and thus are considered by some not to be
inspired. Having noted that, a couple of those books are clearly
dismissible based upon content that conflict with the rest of the OT.
So all is well in the dismissal of those books. But even so, the
Song of Solomon, becomes a perfect example of how pagan Jews adapted
the concept of the Mysteries into a Jewish religious concept. So
indeed, the Song of Solomon is a pagan-influenced book. It shows
perfectly how Yahweh got syncretized into an aggressively pagan
setting. But we can conclude in the case of the Song of Solomon that
it is of recent influence, since the Mother Goddess it depicts is of
late form, that is, the Mother Goddess in the form of the multi-
breasted with "goats in her hair" version of Artemis of Ephesus, a
goddess appearing long after the time of Solomon.
As a result, I believe the Bible stories presented as "history" are
just that: history. That will always be one of the alternatives among