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End of human sacrifice

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  • Clark Whelton
    ... 29 וַתְּהִי עַל־יִפְתָּח רוּחַ יהוה וַיַּעֲבֹר אֶת־הַגִּלְעָד וְאֶת־מְנַשֶּׁה
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 30, 2009
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      gfsomsel wrote:
      >>>>>>>I suppose (Hyam) Maccoby can say whatever he chooses; however, I challenge you to find an instance of human sacrifice which is approved in the religion of Israel anywhere else in the Hebrew Bible. To say that it is "the act of one man, not as a rite required or approved by the people of the land" is to ignore the significance of the text itself.
      29 וַתְּהִי עַל־יִפְתָּח רוּחַ יהוה וַיַּעֲבֹר אֶת־הַגִּלְעָד וְאֶת־מְנַשֶּׁה וַיַּעֲבֹר אֶת־מִצְפֵּה גִלְעָד וּמִמִּצְפֵּה גִלְעָד עָבַר בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן׃
      30 וַיִּדַּר יִפְתָּח נֶדֶר לַיהוה וַיֹּאמַר אִם־נָתוֹן תִּתֵּן אֶת־בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן בְּיָדִי׃
      31 וְהָיָה הַיּוֹצֵא אֲשֶׁר יֵצֵא מִדַּלְתֵי בֵיתִי לִקְרָאתִי בְּשׁוּבִי בְשָׁלוֹם מִבְּנֵי עַמּוֹן וְהָיָה לַיהוה וְהַעֲלִיתִהוּ עוֹלָה׃
      This was a vow made "to YHWH."



      A main thesis of Maccoby's book is that stories of human sacrifice in the
      ANE, including ancient Israel, often come down to us disguised as accidents,
      misfortune or murder. Maccoby says these "modulations are intended to
      absolve society of responsibility for the violent deaths that occur in the
      stories. For human sacrifice seems almost never to have been unaccompanied
      by guilt on the part of the society in which it occurred and by a consequent
      desire to shift the blame, despite the desperate need that was felt to
      accomplish the deed."


      Maccoby analyzes the Cain-Abel legend at length and concludes that Cain
      sacrificed his brother -- a foundation sacrifice that was done for the
      benefit of all. Ditto Romulus-Remus, and similar stories from other
      cultures. Beneath the veil of guilt evasion, however, human sacrifice can
      be recognized by "the good consequence (that) will be seen to flow from the
      slaying: a city will be founded, or a nation will be inaugurated, or a
      famine will be stayed, or a people will be saved from the wrath of the gods,
      or a threatening enemy will be defeated. Such good consequences are exactly
      the results that were hoped for by the performance of human sacrifice."


      In Judges 11, Jephtha vows to YHWH to sacrifice the first creature that
      emerges from his home, in return for victory over the Ammonites. The
      battle is won and Jephtha's daughter is the first to emerge. Jephtha blames
      her for the fate that awaits her, and eventually carries out his vow.


      Was this just a tragic case of bad luck or, in reality, did Jephtha pledge
      his daughter's life in return for victory?


      Maccoby writes, "...the hidden character of (a sacrifice story) is betrayed
      by the equivocal nature of the punishment meted out to the slayer. He will
      be cursed, but not put to death; he will acquire special magic powers; he
      will be driven out of society, but special pains taken to ensure that he
      survives. By taking the blame for the slaying, he is performing a great
      service to society, for not only does he perform the deed, but he takes upon
      himself the blame for it, and thus absolves society as a whole completely
      from the guilt of a slaying for which they, in fact, are responsible and by
      which, in theory at least, they benefit."



      gfsomsel wrote:
      >>>>>>When the condition of the vow was fulfilled, so also was the consequence. This was not a simple slaying as Samuel is said to have slain Agag but rather a holocost (וְהָיָה לַיהוה וְהַעֲלִיתִהוּ עוֹלָה).





      Was the sacrifice of Jephtha's daughter was carried out in violation of the laws and mores of ancient Israel, and the ancient world? Clearly, the peoples of the ANE were repelled by the idea of human sacrifice, thus their feelings of guilt. Nevertheless, in times of danger and emergency, they resorted to it. Maccoby holds that Judges 11 conceals the true nature of Jephtha's deal with the Almighty. It was a straightforward quid pro quo, carried out for the benefit of the nation, an interpretation supported by subsequent events. Jephtha is not punished, denounced or ostracized, and wins more victories. When he dies, no blame or disgrace is attached to his name. At the annual ceremony of commemoration for his sacrificed daughter, Jephtha -- unlike many others in Judges -- does not seem to have been cursed as someone who "did what was wrong in the eyes of the Lord." A veil descends. Collective guilt is eased. The sacrifice of Jephtha's daughter is remembered as a tragic accident.



      Clark Whelton
      New York

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • George F Somsel
      In other words, he goes well beyond the evidence into pure speculation -- much like the speculation that the HB is dependent upon Berossus and Manetho.  No
      Message 2 of 4 , Jun 30, 2009
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        In other words, he goes well beyond the evidence into pure speculation -- much like the speculation that the HB is dependent upon Berossus and Manetho.  No evidence, assertion only.  Why should we understand Cain and Abel as anything other than what it is presented as being?  We have the agriculturalist and the pastoralist who are brothers ("alle Menschen werden Brüder").  The agriculturalist kills the pastoralist out of envy.  God imposes punishment but protects the miscreant from human retribution.  From this line comes the development of the arts.
         george
        gfsomsel


        … search for truth, hear truth,
        learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth,
        defend the truth till death.


        - Jan Hus
        _________




        ________________________________
        From: Clark Whelton <cwhelton@...>
        To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 11:35:06 AM
        Subject: [ANE-2] End of human sacrifice






        gfsomsel wrote:
        >>>>>>>I suppose (Hyam) Maccoby can say whatever he chooses; however, I challenge you to find an instance of human sacrifice which is approved in the religion of Israel anywhere else in the Hebrew Bible. To say that it is "the act of one man, not as a rite required or approved by the people of the land" is to ignore the significance of the text itself.
        29 וַתְּהִי עַל־יִפְתָּח רוּחַ יהוה וַיַּעֲבֹר אֶת־הַגִּלְעָד וְאֶת־מְנַשֶּׁה וַיַּעֲבֹר אֶת־מִצְפֵּה גִלְעָד וּמִמִּצְפֵּה גִלְעָד עָבַר בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן׃
        30 וַיִּדַּר יִפְתָּח נֶדֶר לַיהוה וַיֹּאמַר אִם־נָתוֹן תִּתֵּן אֶת־בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן בְּיָדִי׃
        31 וְהָיָה הַיּוֹצֵא אֲשֶׁר יֵצֵא מִדַּלְתֵי בֵיתִי לִקְרָאתִי בְּשׁוּבִי בְשָׁלוֹם מִבְּנֵי עַמּוֹן וְהָיָה לַיהוה וְהַעֲלִיתִהוּ עוֹלָה׃
        This was a vow made "to YHWH."

        A main thesis of Maccoby's book is that stories of human sacrifice in the
        ANE, including ancient Israel, often come down to us disguised as accidents,
        misfortune or murder. Maccoby says these "modulations are intended to
        absolve society of responsibility for the violent deaths that occur in the
        stories. For human sacrifice seems almost never to have been unaccompanied
        by guilt on the part of the society in which it occurred and by a consequent
        desire to shift the blame, despite the desperate need that was felt to
        accomplish the deed."

        Maccoby analyzes the Cain-Abel legend at length and concludes that Cain
        sacrificed his brother -- a foundation sacrifice that was done for the
        benefit of all. Ditto Romulus-Remus, and similar stories from other
        cultures. Beneath the veil of guilt evasion, however, human sacrifice can
        be recognized by "the good consequence (that) will be seen to flow from the
        slaying: a city will be founded, or a nation will be inaugurated, or a
        famine will be stayed, or a people will be saved from the wrath of the gods,
        or a threatening enemy will be defeated. Such good consequences are exactly
        the results that were hoped for by the performance of human sacrifice."

        In Judges 11, Jephtha vows to YHWH to sacrifice the first creature that
        emerges from his home, in return for victory over the Ammonites. The
        battle is won and Jephtha's daughter is the first to emerge. Jephtha blames
        her for the fate that awaits her, and eventually carries out his vow.

        Was this just a tragic case of bad luck or, in reality, did Jephtha pledge
        his daughter's life in return for victory?

        Maccoby writes, "...the hidden character of (a sacrifice story) is betrayed
        by the equivocal nature of the punishment meted out to the slayer. He will
        be cursed, but not put to death; he will acquire special magic powers; he
        will be driven out of society, but special pains taken to ensure that he
        survives. By taking the blame for the slaying, he is performing a great
        service to society, for not only does he perform the deed, but he takes upon
        himself the blame for it, and thus absolves society as a whole completely
        from the guilt of a slaying for which they, in fact, are responsible and by
        which, in theory at least, they benefit."

        gfsomsel wrote:
        >>>>>>When the condition of the vow was fulfilled, so also was the consequence. This was not a simple slaying as Samuel is said to have slain Agag but rather a holocost (וְהָיָה לַיהוה וְהַעֲלִיתִהוּ עוֹלָה).

        Was the sacrifice of Jephtha's daughter was carried out in violation of the laws and mores of ancient Israel, and the ancient world? Clearly, the peoples of the ANE were repelled by the idea of human sacrifice, thus their feelings of guilt. Nevertheless, in times of danger and emergency, they resorted to it. Maccoby holds that Judges 11 conceals the true nature of Jephtha's deal with the Almighty. It was a straightforward quid pro quo, carried out for the benefit of the nation, an interpretation supported by subsequent events. Jephtha is not punished, denounced or ostracized, and wins more victories. When he dies, no blame or disgrace is attached to his name. At the annual ceremony of commemoration for his sacrificed daughter, Jephtha -- unlike many others in Judges -- does not seem to have been cursed as someone who "did what was wrong in the eyes of the Lord." A veil descends. Collective guilt is eased. The sacrifice of Jephtha's daughter is remembered
        as a tragic accident.

        Clark Whelton
        New York

        .






        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Clark Whelton
        ... Maccoby bases his arguments on evidence. He notes that in the original version of the Cain story, Cain was not a murderer at all. He was the performer of
        Message 3 of 4 , Jun 30, 2009
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          gfsomsel wrote:
          >>>>>>In other words, (Hyam Maccoby) goes well beyond the evidence into
          >>>>>>pure speculation -- much like the speculation that the HB is dependent
          >>>>>>upon Berossus and Manetho. No evidence, assertion only. Why should we
          >>>>>>understand Cain and Abel as anything other than what it is presented
          >>>>>>as being?



          Maccoby bases his arguments on evidence. He notes "that in the original
          version of the Cain story, Cain was not a murderer at all. He was the
          performer of a human sacrifice, and in the very earliest form of the story,
          there was no guilt attached to his deed; on the contrary, it was a
          meritorious act, just as the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham would have been,
          if God had allowed it."

          Like Romulus, Cain becomes the founder of a city. Supposedly, the two men
          are murderers, and yet the crimes they commit have only good consequences.
          We can accept their legends at face value or we can look behind the
          "distancing devices," to use Maccoby's term, that, over time, have been
          added to their stories. These devices make it difficult to see the truth
          about their notorious deeds. They help to diffuse guilt but they also tend
          to obscure the subject of human sacrifice in general..


          Thus, Jascha Kessler accepts the distancing device that bad luck -- "Hebrew
          roulette" -- was the cause of Jephtha's sacrifice of his only child. Kevin
          Edgecomb sees "parallelomania" in the suggestion that the sacrifice
          stories of Iphigenia and Jephtha's daughter are "in any way related in their
          composition, whether in one direction or the other."

          It's not composition that necessarily links these stories but the ways that
          elaborate distancing devices have been employed to deny that either girl was
          actually killed. Many commentators interpret the text in Judges 11 to mean
          that Jephtha's daughter was really sent away to spend her life in temple
          service. Numerous Greek myths save Iphigenia from the altar. She is
          mysteriously whisked away to Tauris or is rescued by Artemis, the very
          goddess who demanded her sacrifice in the first place.

          What separates these stories are the fates of the two sacrificing fathers.
          Jephtha is a classic 'sacred executioner,' who seeks to evade guilt by
          blaming the victim and who goes on to lead a respected and successful life.
          Agamemnon, otoh, blames his evil deed on the demands of Artemis and on the
          needs of the state. But he never escapes the "legacy of guilt" for
          sacrificing Iphigenia. Unlike Cain, Romulus and Jephtha, Agamemnon is not a
          sacred executioner. The fate of his daughter leads directly to his own
          degrading death.



          Clark Whelton
          New York
        • George F Somsel
          What evidence?  That is pure fabrication.  Cite the evidence, I dare you.   george gfsomsel … search for truth, hear truth, learn truth, love truth,
          Message 4 of 4 , Jul 1, 2009
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            What evidence?  That is pure fabrication.  Cite the evidence, I dare you. 
             george
            gfsomsel


            … search for truth, hear truth,
            learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth,
            defend the truth till death.


            - Jan Hus
            _________




            ________________________________
            From: Clark Whelton <cwhelton@...>
            To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 11:25:08 PM
            Subject: Re: [ANE-2] End of human sacrifice





            gfsomsel wrote:
            >>>>>>In other words, (Hyam Maccoby) goes well beyond the evidence into
            >>>>>>pure speculation -- much like the speculation that the HB is dependent
            >>>>>>upon Berossus and Manetho. No evidence, assertion only. Why should we
            >>>>>>understand Cain and Abel as anything other than what it is presented
            >>>>>>as being?

            Maccoby bases his arguments on evidence. He notes "that in the original
            version of the Cain story, Cain was not a murderer at all. He was the
            performer of a human sacrifice, and in the very earliest form of the story,
            there was no guilt attached to his deed; on the contrary, it was a
            meritorious act, just as the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham would have been,
            if God had allowed it."

            Like Romulus, Cain becomes the founder of a city. Supposedly, the two men
            are murderers, and yet the crimes they commit have only good consequences.
            We can accept their legends at face value or we can look behind the
            "distancing devices," to use Maccoby's term, that, over time, have been
            added to their stories. These devices make it difficult to see the truth
            about their notorious deeds. They help to diffuse guilt but they also tend
            to obscure the subject of human sacrifice in general..

            Thus, Jascha Kessler accepts the distancing device that bad luck -- "Hebrew
            roulette" -- was the cause of Jephtha's sacrifice of his only child. Kevin
            Edgecomb sees "parallelomania" in the suggestion that the sacrifice
            stories of Iphigenia and Jephtha's daughter are "in any way related in their
            composition, whether in one direction or the other."

            It's not composition that necessarily links these stories but the ways that
            elaborate distancing devices have been employed to deny that either girl was
            actually killed. Many commentators interpret the text in Judges 11 to mean
            that Jephtha's daughter was really sent away to spend her life in temple
            service. Numerous Greek myths save Iphigenia from the altar. She is
            mysteriously whisked away to Tauris or is rescued by Artemis, the very
            goddess who demanded her sacrifice in the first place.

            What separates these stories are the fates of the two sacrificing fathers.
            Jephtha is a classic 'sacred executioner, ' who seeks to evade guilt by
            blaming the victim and who goes on to lead a respected and successful life.
            Agamemnon, otoh, blames his evil deed on the demands of Artemis and on the
            needs of the state. But he never escapes the "legacy of guilt" for
            sacrificing Iphigenia. Unlike Cain, Romulus and Jephtha, Agamemnon is not a
            sacred executioner. The fate of his daughter leads directly to his own
            degrading death.

            Clark Whelton
            New York

            .






            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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