Was The Pre-Mosaic God of The Bible The Mother Goddess?
Debate Rounds (4)
You will argue that The Pre-Mosaic God of the Bible was not a feminine deity, but was Yahweh.
First round is for accepting the debate
Second Round is Opening Arguments
Third Round is for rebuttals
Fourth Round is for conclusion
It is quite plausible that the Semitic Mother Goddess of ancient times was venerated by Pre-Mosaic patriarchs. It appears the monotheistic presupposition of biblical translators and narrators allowed them to superimpose values on biblical text. By amalgamating deities the priestly sources of the biblical narrative reduced the gods worshiped by the patriarchs of Pre-Mosaic times to Yahweh. It is my contention that El Shaddai was originally The Mother Goddess.
In "Shadday as a Goddess Epithet," Vetus Testamentum 48 (1998) Harriet Lutzky contemplated if El Shaddai was the Semitic goddess Asherah. Lutzky demonstrated how the interpretation of El Shaddai for Yahweh was based on priestly tradition. Scholars estimate these priestly source were composed c. 600-400 BCE. Contemporary sources list a date of 2091 BC for "God" sending Abram to Egypt . I argue that El Shaddai was a Goddess to the patriarchs of Pre-Mosaic times, and that the monotheistic disposition of the authors of the priestly sources created a tendency to promulgating Yahweh's veneration in priestly accounts of the biblical narrative. This demoted other gods to being mere epithets for Yahweh;
Gen 17:1 "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am El Shaddai; walk before me, and be thou perfect."
Exodus 6:3 "And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of El Shaddai, but by my name Yahweh was I not known to them."
"I am Yahweh. And I showed myself to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob in the character of El Shaddai, but in the character expressed by my name Yahweh I did not make myself known to them." (Charles R. Gianotti, "The Meaning of the Divine Name YHWH,)
Let the above quotes established that neither Abraham, Isaac, nor Jacob knew Yahweh, but they knew and worshiped El Shaddai. This should also expose the narrative in the Bible which is responsible for equating El Shaddai with Yahweh by attempting to make El Shaddai an alternate name for Yahweh. Furthermore It is common knowledge in the field of biblical studies that "God All Mighty" is another inaccurate interpolation superimposed on El Shaddai;
"translating "El Shaddai" as "Almighty God" is inaccurate. New Jerusalem Bible Standard Edition. London: Dartman, Longman & Todd. 1985. pp. 908."
In the Journal of Biblical Literature (Vol. 87, No. 4 (Dec., 1968), Lloyd R. Bailey's article pondered if El Shaddai was the Amorite god Bel Shade. The point of emphasis is reiterated; for some time now scholars have raise the question of El Shaddai existing as a separate god, other than Yahweh. I continue to argue the denotative meaning of El Shaddai is "The God with Breast", as the connotative meaning is "The God of the Mountain".
In "History Of Religions" David Biale gives us wonderful information regarding "The God With Breast:El Shaddai in the Bible" being a feminine deity. Although Biale equates El Shaddai with Asherah, his work offers tons of sources used to substantiate his claim. The scholarly consensus on the etymology of Shaddai is based on an Akkadian etymon, "Shadu, which means "mountain". William F. Albright argued that shadu was derived from the Ugaritic root "tod", for breast, Old-Akkadian "shadui", "shad" in Hebrew. Albright also connects El Shaddai to Bel Shade.
My argument attempts to expand the work of previous scholars by including the Deir Alla inscription as archeological evidence that "Shaddai" was indeed based on the feminine principle. El Shaddai was merely a Hebraic representation of the Ugartic "Shaddayin"-The Malevolent Goddesses, who formerly appeared in opposition to the Goddess Astarte and Shugar, but are now theologically eradicated and linguistically condensed into an epithet for Yahweh. The Deir Alla Inscription predates the priestly narrative in the Hebrew bible. It is key to note the inscription found in Deir Alla shows El and the Shaddayin as separate gods/goddesses. This is more evidence to prove "El Shaddai" is merely a combination of El and Shaddayin. The discovery of the term Shaddayin used for Canaanite goddesses in Balaam's Deir Alla Inscription serve the premise set forth in my opening argument, that El Shaddai signifies The Mother Goddess.
Gen 49:25 "Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by El Shaddai, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts[Shadayim], and of the womb:"
Lutzky says Gen 49:25 "has demythologized references to Canaanite old gods". She also proposed that the Hebrew text was corrupted "to get rid of an even more explicit mythological heritage of a maternal deity"(pg 25). It is my stance that this maternal deity was The Mother Goddess. Kerry Shirts, one of the leading modern researchers on the subject also claims El Shaddai was a Mother Goddess worshiped by Pre-Mosaic patriarchs of the Hebrew Bible. Shirts writes;
"The translation of El Shaddai here is as "God Almighty." It is assumed to be a male deity, but El Shaddai is "... connected with nurturing, for it is associated with the Hebrew word shad, which means "breast" - so Shaddai is at times called "the breasted God," which could also be interpreted as the "protector of the hearth." Mark Smith declared that Genesis 49:25e-26a ""Breasts and womb" might be a title attributed to a goddess, paired with the standard male imagery of El as father" the Ugaritic background of the epithets favors Asherah. Furthermore, the pairing of sadayim waraham with El would further point to Asherah, since Asherah is the goddess paired with him in the Ugaritic texts."
I believe instead of Asherah the Ugaritic Shaddayin Goddess were amalgamated with El to make "El Shaddai", The Goddess of the Breast, The Mother Goddess.
I conclude my opening argument with the following statements;
Abraham worshiped El Shaddai.
El Shaddai was not Yahweh until the priestly narrative merged the gods.
The Shaddayin Goddesses indicate Shaddai quite possibly refer to feminine deity.
El Shaddai may have been a fertility goddess who blessed the patriarchs with "The Blessing of The Breast, and of the womb"; a Mother Goddess.
New Jerusalem Bible Standard Edition. London: Dartman, Longman & Todd. 1985. pp. 908.
Kerry A. Shirts. "Zohar Shekhinah, the Heavenly Mother & Bride of God"
David Biale. "History Of Religion-The God With Breast:El Shaddai in the Bible", 240-256.
W. F. Albright. "The Names Shaddai and Abraham," Journal of Biblical Literature 54 (1935): 173-204.
Harriet Lutzky. "Shadday as a Goddess Epithet." Vetus Testamentum 48 (1998): 15-36.
Charles R. Gianotti, "The Meaning of the Divine Name YHWH," in Bibliotecha Sacra, Vol. 142/No. 565, (Jan-Mar, 1985): 38.
G. Stein, "Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament." Vol. 14. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 204), 418-446.
Lloyd R. Bailey, "Tee Israelite El Shadday and Amorite Bel Shade" Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 87, No. 4 (Dec., 1968), pp. 434-438
Jean Ouellette, Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 88, No. 4 (Dec., 1969) contains: More on 'El "Shadday and Bel had"
pp. 470-471 (2 pages)
Deir Alla Inscription; http://www.livius.org...
(The other name by which the deity is most often referred to in the Hebrew Bible is Elohim [translated "God"], an originally plural form meaning "gods." "The LORD" in English versions translates Yahweh--the assumed pronunciation of YHWH [a name of uncertain meaning], there being no vowels in the original Hebrew text.)
The perception of God as masculine is of course not surprising in a patriarchal or male-ruled society. As noted by Susan Ackerman, there are some feminizations of Yahweh in Isaiah (e.g., "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you" [66:13]; see also 42:14 and 49:15).
But then Isaiah also refers to kings as "nursing fathers" (49:23) and to daughters who "shalt suck the breasts of kings" (60:16), words that cannot be taken literally. In any case, Yahweh outside of some Isaianic imagery is masculine in the Hebrew Bible.
In the New Testament, "God" translates the Greek Theos, with God remaining a male deity. Thus Jesus regularly uses the word Father (Greek Pater, in Jesus" Aramaic Abba) for God (e.g., Matt. 6:8-9; Mark 14:36; Luke 10:21; John 17:1; see also Paul"s use in Rom. 8:15 and Gal. 4:6).
Elaine Pagels points out that some Christian Gnostics thought of the divine in both masculine and feminine terms, with Jesus referring to the Holy Spirit as his Mother in the Gospel of Thomas and in the Gospel to the Hebrews, and with the Apocryphon of John describing the Trinity as Father, Mother, and Son.
As Pagels notes, however, such views were suppressed as heretical, with none of the Gnostic texts included in the New Testament canon. (The Nag Hammadi Library)
There is archeological evidence that at least some ancient Hebrews perceived of Yahweh as having a consort or female companion. This could be the origin of the mysterious Lady Wisdom found in Proverbs and the Apocrypha. (She is in some of the Gnostic texts as well.)
Wisdom (Hebrew hokma, a feminine noun) is personified in Proverbs not only as a woman but as a preexistent entity with Yahweh.
"The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way," says Lady Wisdom, "before his works of old,... and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him"
It was through Wisdom that Yahweh "founded the earth" (3:19), she is "a tree of life" to those who lay hold of her (3:18), and she offers to reward all who seek her:
"I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me" (8:17).
In the Apocrypha, Lady Wisdom is identified with the Torah or biblical law (Sirach 24:23; Baruch 4:1). In the New Testament, the preexistent Word (Greek Logos) at the beginning of the Gospel of John is reminiscent of Wisdom, and in 1 Cor. 1:24 Paul calls Christ "the wisdom of God" (Greek Theou Sophia).
The metaphor of Yahweh and the Hebrew people as husband and wife is found first in the book of Hosea, and continues in the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. It is a troubled marriage, for despite Yahweh"s "love toward the children of Israel," they "look to other gods" (Hos. 3:1).
The wife"s infidelity is thus a metaphor for the Israelite people"s idolatry.
"Thy maker is thine husband," Isaiah tells Israel, yet she beds down with others (Isa. 54:5; 57:7-8).
"Turn, O backsliding children," Yahweh pleads in Jeremiah (3:14), "for I am married unto you."
At one point Yahweh divorces Israel for her adultery, only to have "her treacherous sister Judah" commit adultery also (Jer. 3:8). Ezekiel 23 allegorizes Samaria and Jerusalem, the Israelite and Judahite capitals, as two sisters with a host of foreign lovers while both are married to Yahweh.
Particularly disturbing to feminist commentators are the biblical passages that describe Yahweh"s brutal punishment of the women who symbolize Israel"s unfaithfulness. As noted by Kathleen M. O"Connor, the portrayal of physical abuse by the divine in such passages implicitly condones such behavior in humans. Yahweh strips "the virgin daughter of Babylon" in Isa. 47:1-4, and helps the Babylonians rape Jerusalem in Jer. 13:26.
In Lamentations, Yahweh trods "the virgin" Jerusalem "as in a winepress" (1:15), and in Ezekiel he tells his wife Oholibah (Jerusalem),
"I will raise up thy lovers against thee," and they will "strip thee out of thy clothes"; they will take away not only "thy sons and thy daughters" but "thy nose and thine ears," and "thus will I make thy lewdness to cease from thee"
Needless to say, the thought behind these metaphors of Yahweh the husband physically abusing his wife presents a challenge to modern biblical interpreters. Through such imagery "the Bible," writes Sharon H. Ringe in The Women"s Bible Commentary,
"seems to bless the harm and abuse with which women live and sometimes die."
The brutality seems hardly ameliorated by Yahweh"s assurances to his mutilated wife of a brighter tomorrow, for they make God sound like the stereotypical wife beater who minimizes what he has done and promises not to do it again:
"In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee... Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel,... and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry"
(Isa. 54:8; Jer. 31:4).
ASHERAH - The Lord God"s Lady?
The goddess Asherah was the consort of El ("god"), the supreme god of Canaan and father of the popular Baal.
In the Bible her name often appears as ha asherah, meaning "the" asherah. In such instances the reference is not to the goddess but to a symbol of her, an object (in the plural asherim) that was apparently a sacred pole, tree, or group of trees (hence the translation "groves") at Israelite sanctuaries or "high places" as well as by altars of Baal. The erecting of asherim was among the "evil" deeds of kings like Ahab and Manasseh, and cutting the things down was a regular chore of "right" kings like Hezekiah and Josiah.
The presence of Asherah or her symbol at places where Yahweh, the biblical God of the Hebrews, was worshipped raises the question of whether the Canaanite goddess was considered also to be the consort of Yahweh.
We know from references to,
"the sons of God" (Gen. 6:1-4; Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7)
"the host of heaven" (1 Kings 22:19)
"angels" (Gen. 19:1; Ps. 103:20)
God"s statement "Let us make man in our image" (Gen. 1:26),
...that Yahweh was not alone in his heaven.
We know also that Yahweh supplanted the Canaanite El to the extent that God"s other names in the Hebrew Bible include El, El Elyon ("God Most High"), El Shaddai ("God Almighty"), and the (originally) plural form Elohim (as in Gen. 1:1).
But did Yahweh take El"s woman too?
The answer may well be found, appropriately enough, in some graffiti, inscriptions dating from the eighth century B.C.E., found on walls and storage jars at two sites, Khirbet el-Kom and Kuntillet Ajrud, in Israel. (See Dever"s Recent Archaeological Discoveries and Biblical Research.)
The graffiti includes blessings such as,
"I bless you by Yahweh of Samaria and by his asherah," and "I bless you by Yahweh of Teiman and by his asherah."
Does this mean by Yahweh and by his goddess? Or is it saying "by Yahweh and by his sacred pole"?
All we may safely assume at this point has been well put by the French epigrapher Andre Lemaire:
"Whatever an asherah is, Yahweh had one!"
In my opening statement I have provided biblical sources that established the fact that Yahweh was not The Pre-Mosaic God of The Bible, and extra-biblical, non-canonical sources, that elude to El Shaddai's femininity.
My partner's opening remarks do not address whether the "Pre-Mosaic God of the Bible" was Yahweh or not. Please note he only gives sources and references to Yahweh's "masculine perception", which is irrelevant if one cannot first establish that Yahweh was venerated by Pre-Mosaic patriarchs. We all know Yahweh's masculinity is irrefutable, but in my partner's rebuttal it would be advantageous for him to first provide non contradictory sources that prove Yahweh was "The Pre-Mosaic God of the Bible", before providing sources to point out what is ever so clear, that Yahweh was a masculine deity.
Please allow me to point all to sources that explain the Documentary Hypothesis; http://imp.lss.wisc.edu...
I argue that It was a concern of Israel's priest to eradicate the feminine principle. Before Israel, In Sumer, at a time when the patriarchy began to usurp the preceding matriarchy, the goddess-priestess authority was relegated and oppressed under the new patriarchal god-priest authority. During this period many goddess took on masculine attributes. The designation of their respective appellations was also relegated or redistributed to masculine deities. This is how the Mother Goddess Nana became the masculine deity Sin-Nanna. After which the Mother Goddess was reinstated but relegated to be the daughter of Sin-Nanna and Ningal, "Inanna"-The Mother Goddess. Inanna was initially venerated ca. 4000-3100 BC. It is quite telling that her "neo-father" Sin-Nanna's veneration reached a paramount about c.2600-2400 BC. This is when Sin-Nanna became "father of the gods","creator of all things" etc. Prior to this Nana was venerated independent of Sin.
" The Semitic moon god Su'en/Sin is in origin a separate deity from Sumerian Nanna, but from the Akkadian Empire period the two undergo syncretization and are identified." Wiki "Sin mythology"
About Nana's new male image, Jenny Kien states;
"Most of the surviving records date from this period when the male aspect of the dual-sex moon was already receiving more attention than the female aspect. At this time the major moon deity was the god Sin, and Nana or Nanaia the moon goddess was his daughter." "The Separation of Women's Bodies from the Cosmic Dance" pp. 54
Nana is considered a Sumerian deity, Sin is said to be Semitic(Akkadian). Sumerians appear before Semites, also the Sumerian language is a language Isolate that preceded Akkadian. The term Nana is a Sumerian loan word to the Akkadian vernacular. This would also mean Nana was a Sumerian goddess before being merged with Sin the Semitic god. Ramesh Chopra list Nana as a Sumerian Virgin Goddess in "Academic Dictionary Of Mythology" (pp. 199). Akanba details Nana"s veneration by the Akan people of Ghana in "Revelation: The Movement of the Akan People from Kanaan to Ghana" (pp.451). In "Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities" Patricia Turner says "Nana was The Mother Goddess. Kien also told how the priestess-goddess faction was aggressively replaced by the priest-god faction in the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC. She explains that as this aggressive replacement occurred the dominant god replaced the dominant goddess to justify priest replacing priestess in all "religious" authoritative matters.
Nana's femininity is confirmed. Nana's "heavy breast" are the subject of verse in a 740 BC Sumero-Akkadian Hymn to Nana. The following verse addresses the perception of her dual nature;
"I have heavy breast in Doduni, I have a beard in Babylon, still I am Nana."
Nana's(whose Semitic name was Ishtar) "heavy breast" may be at the root of the term El Shaddai. If this suggestion is entertained then Baile is at no fault promoting William F. Albright's etymology of Shaddai in the translation of "El Shaddai -The God with Breast".
It is quite possible the goddess Nana entered Canaan and the Sumer area with a migrating group of Ewe people from Keta, Ghana. Mama Zogbe, using the work of Dr.Nana Darkwah describes how the Ewe people eventually settled in Anatolia founding Kheta, or Hatti, the kingdom that preceded the Hittite Empire. "Nanna" can be found used in the theonymic epithet of Hittite queens called "tawananna". The Tawananna was also the Hittite high priestess. This is because Hittite tradition was in part based on an earlier Hattic, or Kheta tradition. Tawananna was originally the name of a Hattic queen, Wife of Labarna I.
The biblical patriarch Abraham would have known of Nana because Nana was venerated from Canaan to India. In "Straight to the Heart of Genesis: 60 Bite-Sized Insights" Phil Moore says" "Since Ur of Chaldees was a city dominated by the Moon God Nanna, Abraham was possibly brought up worshiping the moon in the temple with his father"(Joshua 24:2). Moore speaks of Nana after she was "masculinized" into the Akkadian Nanna.
The bible reads that Yahweh told Abram to leave his father's land in Gen 12:1. After his journey Abram settled in Shechem. Shechem was in Amorite control(Gen 48:22 "shechem" took from Amorites)."Moreh" is also said to be the Amorite oaktree(Gen 12:6). A key point: there is not one instance in the Hebrew Bible where God was called "El Shaddai" before Abraham reached Shechem, Amurru. I inject that this is where Abram started to follow the goddess Nana(Gen 17:1). It is because Nana was an individual goddess before being the feminine aspect of the god Sin, and long before Nanna was a masculine Semitic god. The principle of duality was realized and Nana became Sin-Nanna. Amorites referred to Sin-Nanna, or Sin, as "Bel Shade". To Abraham Bel Shade became "El Shaddai". As Harriet Lutzky points out, at the root of Shaddai we find "breast", I infer these are the "heavy breast" of Nana.
At this point I believe research confirms Lutzky's proposal, that El Shaddai was "The God with Breast", except I don't claim El Shaddai is Asherah. Asherah is not Nana. "Astarte" is Greek for Ishtar, which is Akkadian for The Sumerian Mother Goddess Inanna, or Nana. I am aware Astarte worship is condemned in the bible; what I propose is that Nana was venerated under a name "El Shaddai", a name whose meaning was lost by the time the Kohanim presented the El Shaddai narrative.
There was also a group of local deities in Shaddai called the Shaddayin. Bel Shade linguistically and theophorically depicts El Shaddai "God of Shaddai", except that Bel is a lord/master, and El means God. In the same way Baal was a minor god to El in Canaan, The Shaddayin and Bel Shade were minor deities subordinate to the god Amurru. This is corroborated by the term for the god of the greater state of Amor, "Amurru", called /ilu mar.tu/ "The God of Amor". This makes perfect sense, the classification "bel" for "Bel Shade", which means lord/master for a local god, and a greater classification for the god of the state, "Elu Martu" God of Amurru. It is the now confirmed etymology of the term Shaddai proposed by Albright that eludes to breast, fertility & femininity. It seems Lloyd R. Bailey was correct for pondering "El Shaddai as the Amorite Bel Shade" in Journal of Biblical Literature (Vol. 87, No. 4 (Dec., 1968). If only Bailey would have known Bel Shade was Nana, and that Nana was noted to be a goddess with "heavy breast", then he would have surely concluded, as I do now, that Nana, who is called Sin-Nanna, is Bel Shade, who was called by Abraham, El Shaddai,"The God of Shaddai", "The God with Breast".
"translating "El Shaddai" as "Almighty God" is inaccurate. New Jerusalem Bible Standard Edition. Dartman, Longman & Todd. 1985. pp. 9
Until next time.
1970vu forfeited this round.
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