Yahweh-Elohim's Historical Evolution (Pre-Biblical)
02 September 2001
(Revisions through 13 January 2010)
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This brief article investigates the "historical evolution" of the Hebrew God, variously called Yahweh, Yaw, Yah, Ya, Yahu, El, Elohim or Ehyeh asher Ehyeh ( "I AM that I AM" Hebrew: Hayah Ex 3:14) over a period of 3,000 years (the 4th -1st Millenniums B.C.) from a Secular Humanist point of view.
In a "nutshell," it is my understanding that Yahweh is an amalgam, a conflation or fusion of various and sundry earlier gods and goddesses, having absorbed their functions, epithets and achievements. That is to say the Latin Motto found on the coins and currency of the United States of America, E PLURIBUS UNUM, "From Many, One," appropriately describes Yahweh-Elohim.
By what "mechanism" did Yahweh-Elohim come to absorb the earlier gods and goddesses, their feats, epithets, titles, and glories? It was via political power. Scholars have noted that as polictical fortunes shifted with the rise and fall of various polities in Mesopotamia the earlier gods came to have their powers usurped by the latest conqueror. Babylon upon coming to power created its Enuma Elish hymn which enumerates how Marduk the son of Ea, has garnered the power and attributes of the earlier gods some 50 of whom are enumerated. They become aspects of his persona. Still later Assyria arose and conquered Babylon. The Assyrians "appropriated" the Enuma Elish and made Asshur the supreme god, and Marduk joined the 50 gods as merely a persona of Asshur. Thus too, I understand that as the political fortunes of Israel "waxed" and she triumphed over the Canaanites, their gods' and goddesses' powers, epithets and feats were ascribed to Yahweh. There was a difference, however, the Hebrews generally challenged or refuted Mesopotamian notions, so instead of enumerating these gods and goddesses as personas of Yahweh, they were altogether "dismissed" as idols of wood and stone and not gods at all, there was only one god, Yahweh. The usurping of earlier gods by later gods went on into Christian times. In the New Testament we are informed that Jesus Christ was Yahweh-Elohim of the Old Testament (John 1:1-18). Christ made Adam and Eve, Christ gave Moses the 10 Commandments, the "God-blinded" Jews unknowingly had been worshipping Christ, not God the Father! Then along came Islam, Jesus was NOT the God of the Old Testament, Allah was! So we have before us some 4,000 years of "Godly usurpations" via the rise and fall of political entities.
Nothing is "lock-tight provable," _all_ is _speculation_ for scholars, myself included. I understand that Yahweh is an almagam of MANY gods and goddesses, Mesopotamian, Hittite, Syrian, Phoenician, Egyptian, and Canaanite. I feel it is a useless methodology to "nit-pick" and stress "the differences" and IGNORE the similarities shared by the various dieties. For me the Hebrews are _not_ attempting to preserve ALL the characteristics of any given god or goddess, they omit what they have no interest in to build their case for there being only one God. So I accept in essence many gods and goddesses as being amalgamated into Yahweh and I DO NOT WORRY about "the inconsistences" which some scholars view as "cancelling-out" identifications. Gods fused into Yahweh's persona are the Sumerian Enki (Akkadian/Babylonian Ea), Enlil (Ellil), An (Anu), Utu (Shamash), _and_ the Egyptian Hyksos' god Baal Saphon (Baal Hadad) as well as Seth (Seth/Set being assimilated to Baal Saphon) and Sopdu of Egypt, said Egyptian gods surfacing in altered form in the Exodus traditions (said associations being made in "other" articles at my website).
Professors Graves and Patai (1963) on the Hebrews borrowing the epithets and achievements of the pagan gods and ascribing them to Yahweh:
"The titles and attributes of many other Near Eastern deities were successively awarded to Yahweh Elohim...Prophets and Psalmists were as careless about the pagan origins of the religious imagery they borrowed, as priests were about the adaptation of heathen sacrifical rites to God's service. The crucial question was: in whose honour these prophecies and hymns should now be sung, or these rites enacted? If in honour of Yahweh Elohim, not Anath, Baal or Tammuz, all was proper and pious." (p. 28. Robert Graves & Raphael Patai. Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis. New York. Greewich House. 1983 reprint of 1963, 1964 editions)
Professor Blenkinsopp (of Notre Dame University) on Atrahasis and Gilgamesh motifs in Genesis:
"...just as Genesis 1-11 as a whole corresponds to the structure of the Atrahasis myth, so the garden of Eden story has incorporated many of the themes of the great Gilgamesh poem." (pp. 65-6. "Human Origins, Genesis 1:1-11:26." Joseph Blenkinsopp. The Pentateuch, An Introduction to the First Five Books of the Bible. New York. Doubleday. 1992. ISBN 0-385-41207-X)
Graves and Patai on Adam's "Fall" being a possible reworking of Enkidu and Adapa:
"Some elements of the Fall of Man myth in Genesis are of great antiquity...The Gilgamesh Epic...describes...Enkidu...shunned by the wild creatures...the priestess ...covered his nakedness...Another source of the Genesis Fall of Man is the Akkadian myth of Adapa...This myth supplies the theme of the Serpent's warning to Eve..." (pp. 78-79. "The Fall of Man." Robert Graves & Raphael Patai. Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis. New York. Greewich House. 1983 reprint of 1963, 1964 edition)
Professor Batto (1992) on the Hebrews recasting of earlier Mesopotamian myths and motifs in the Hebrew Bible:
"...I want to emphasize that this new mythmaking process is a conscious, reflected application of older myths and myhic elements to new situations...In so far as one admits the presence of myth in ancient Babylonian and Canaanite culture, then one must also admit the presence of myth in the Bible...This book, then, is a series of case studies of mythmaking in ancient Israel, or to be more exact, in the biblical tradition." (pp. 13-14. "Introduction." Bernard F. Batto. Slaying the Dragon, Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition. Louisville, Kentucky. Westminster/John Knox Press. 1992)
"Now the Yahwist's primeval narrative is itself a marvelous example of mythmaking based upon prior Mesopotamian myths, notably Atrahasis and Gilgamesh. Interestingly, the reappropriation of mythic traditions and intertextual borrowing posited for biblical writers was already present within ancient Babylonia, and illustrates that biblical writers must be understood within the larger ancient Near Eastern literary and theological tradition." (p. 14. "Introduction." Bernard F. Batto. Slaying the Dragon, Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition. Louisville, Kentucky. Westminster/John Knox Press. 1992)
"The theme of this volume...is, of myth and mythmaking speculation within the Hebrew Bible...biblical writers employed much the same techniques and even the same mythic motifs as their ancient Near Eastern neighbors...Israel...drew heavily upon the Babylonian myth of Atrahasis, supplementing with motifs from Gilgamesh and other traditional myths, to create a specifically Israelite primeval myth...Like their ancient Near Eastern counterparts, Israel's theologians were concerned with the place of humankind -and particularly of their own people- within the realm of being." (pp. 168-169. "Conclusion." Bernard F. Batto. Slaying the Dragon, Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition. Louisville, Kentucky. Westminster/John Knox Press. 1992)
"The focus of this volume has been the various ways in which biblical writers throughout the history of the composition of the Hebrew Bible have used and reused myth...to undergird their religious and/or sociopolitical agenda. My purpose...has been only to show through representative examples how biblical authors actually went about using mythic motifs in their writing and how they consciously manipulated these to serve their specific purposes." (pp. 171-172. "Conclusion." Bernard F. Batto. Slaying the Dragon, Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition. Louisville, Kentucky. Westminster/John Knox Press. 1992)
It is my understanding that the Bible has provided false clues to generations of bible scholars, leading them on a "merry chase" into the Negeb and Sinai for the origins of Yahwehism. One tends to forget that Yahweh's FIRST appearance to Abraham was NOT in the Sinai, but at the city called Ur of the Chaldees in Lower Mesopotamia. I thus understand Yahwehism begins at Ur and this article explores Lower Mesopotamia as "one of the sources" for Israel's God, in addition to N Syria and Haran as well as Phoenicia, Canaan and Egypt (with a "nod" for the Sinai, Negev, Arabah and Midian).
A Jewish savant writing at the time of the Hasmoneans (2d-1st century B.C.) notes that Terah and Abraham FLED Ur of the Chaldees, when their MONOTHEISTIC CHALLENGE was "rejected" by the POLYTHEISTIC populace.
Note that this author understands his Hebrew ancestors were ORIGINALLY CHALDEANS _NOT_ARAMEANS (contra De 26:5), and that ORIGINALLY THEY LIVED IN CHALDEA _NOT_ ARAM (Syria and Haran, here rendered "Mesopotamia"). He also understands that AS CHALDEANS THEY WORSHIPPED MANY GODS, but while IN CHALDEA they came to be aware that there was only ONE GOD, and they were driven from Chaldea (Babylonia) by their CHALDEAN KINSMEN for refusing to worship any longer the ancestral gods. In other words, this anonymous Hasmonean Jewish savant understood that "monotheism" began with Yahweh revealing himself to Terah and Abraham in Chaldea (cf. Ge 11:31-32) rather than at Haran in Aram/Syria (cf. Ge 12:1-4). I have noted, below, that the adventures and feats of Enki/Ea of Eridu, in what later came to be identified with Chaldea by Hasmonean times, were preserved in cuneiform clay tablets at Ur of the Chaldees (a temple to Ea was found at Ur). Ea creates man to work in his Eridu fruit-tree garden, he has man serve him in a state of nakedness denying him the knowledge it is wrong to be naked, he gives man forbidden knowledge but denies him immortality, he causes the one language of mankind to become many languages to spite his brother-god Enlil, and he warns Ziusudra of Shuruppak of a worldwide Flood intended to destroy mankind. And on the 7th day, the sebittu day, Ea with his fellow gods can now at long last achieve a "rest" from man's constant noise, the Flood having destroyed mankind. I am sure that this Jewish Hasmonean savant had _no_ knowledge of Enki/Ea of Eridu in Chaldea being one of the prototypes of Ehyeh, Yah, Yahweh-Elohim, and he probably was also unaware of Enki/Ea's shrine/temple in Ur of the Chaldees (tell Muquyyar) unearthed by archaeologists. Did Terah and Abraham worship Enki/Ea in Ur of the Chaldees at this shrine?
Judith 5:5-9 RSV
"Then Achior, the leader of all the Ammonites, said to him, "Let my lord now hear a word from the mouth of your servant, and I will tell you the truth about this people that dwells in the nearby mountain district. No falsehood shall come from your servant's mouth. THIS PEOPLE IS DESCENDED FROM THE CHALDEANS. At one time they lived in Mesopotamia, because THEY WOULD NOT FOLLOW THE GODS OF THEIR FATHERS WHO WERE IN CHALDEA. FOR THEY HAD LEFT THE WAYS OF THEIR ANCESTORS, and they worshipped THE GOD of Heaven, THE GOD they had come to know; hence THEY DROVE THEM OUT FROM THE PRESENCE OF THEIR GODS; and THEY FLED TO MESOPOTAMIA, and lived there a long time. Then their God commanded them to leave the place were they were living and go to the land of Canaan. There they settled, and prospered..." (Herbert G. May & Bruce M. Metzger. Editors. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. [Revised Standard Version]. New York. Oxford University Press. 1977)
Where possibly is the anonymous author of Judith getting his notions of Terah and Abraham being originally polytheists? Perhaps it is from Joshua's statement that Terah, Nahor and Abraham worshipped "many" gods:
Joshua 24:1-3 RSV
"Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, "YOUR FATHERS lived of old beyond the Euphrates, TERAH, the father of ABRAHAM and NAHOR; and THEY SERVED OTHER GODS. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many."
Genesis has Yahweh revealing to Abraham just how to worship him. In light of the above assertion by the anonymous Jewish Hasmonean Savant, it would appear that Abraham's concepts of the deity "ought to be" _traceable_ to CHALDEAN precepts, or some "re-working" and "transformation" of CHALDEAN beliefs regarding the relationship between man and God:
Genesis 26:5 RSV
"...Abraham obeyed my voice and KEPT my CHARGE, my COMMANDMENTS, my STATUTES, and my LAWS."
Scholars understand that "Ur of the Chaldees" is an _anachronism_ when applied to Abraham who is understood to have flourished circa the 22d century B.C. The city did not become a part of Chaldea until the 8th-6th centuries B.C., when Chaldean tribes who inhabited the marshlands south of Babylonia and extending to Elam, seized the area and ruled it under a "Chaldean dynasty". Thus the 2d century B.C. Hasmonean savant is applying the term Chaldean to Abraham from a "late" geographical convention which equated Babylonia with Chaldea and Babylonians with Chaldeans since the 8th-6th centuries B.C.
Scholars are divided as to Ur's location, positing it is either Urfa in modern Turkey or Ur in Babylonia, modern Tell Mughayir alternately rendered Mugheir, Mugayyar, Muqayyer, Muqqayir or Muqqayyar. This brief article investigates the claims made by both sides. Professor Sarna, favoring it to be Babylonia, notes that the term "of the Chaldees ( Hebrew: Kasdim)," dates the Abrahamic narrative to no earlier than the 7th century B.C.:
"The difficulty, however, lies with the designation "Ur of the Chaldeans." The name "Chaldeans" as applied to lower Mesopotamia does not appear before the eleventh century B.C.E., many hundreds of years after the patriarchs. The city of Ur itself could not have been called "of the Chaldeans" before the foundation of the Neo-Baylonian empire in the seventh century B.C.E. The characterization therefore, as distinct from the tradition, would seem to be anachronistic." (p. 98, "The Problem of Ur," Nahum M. Sarna. Understanding Genesis. New York. Shocken Books. 1966. reprinted 1970)
If Professor Sarna is correct, that the term "Ur of the Chaldeans" must have arisen after the rise of the Neo-Babylonian Empire of the seventh century B.C., then Genesis and the Pentateuch was probably composed no earlier than this period.
2 Kings 25:27 gives a date of ca. 562-560 B.C., this period of time being the reign of the Babylonian king Evil-Merodach (Chaldean: Amel-Marduk), suggesting the sixth century BCE, for the composition of the National History (Genesis to Kings). "Ur of the Chaldeans" serves as a marker that the text is not earlier than the seventh century B.C. (Ur not being a part of Chaldea before that date).
Professor Rogerson's view on the "final dating" of Genesis understands its last redaction or editing was in the Exile (or shortly thereafter):
“The simple answer to the question of date is that Genesis 1-11 is part of the larger work containing Genesis to 2 Kings...This complete work did not reach its final form until during or after the Babylonian Exile in the sixth century B.C.E. However, the date of the final editing does not determine the date of the individual items to be found in Genesis 1-11.” (p. 76. “The Date of Genesis 1-11.” John William Rogerson. Genesis 1-11. Sheffield, England. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament. University of Sheffield]. 1991)
Lambert has noted that for the Mesopotamian cosmographers, their efforts were not so much the creation of new gods and new concepts from whole cloth, but rather the taking of older concepts and adding a "new Twist." This is my understanding in regards to Yahweh-Elohim, he is the result of "new twists" derived from a "re-working and transformation" of older concepts by the Hebrews, who followed in the footsteps of their Mesopotamian counterparts.
"The authors of ancient cosmologies were essentially compilers. Their originality was expressed in new combinations of old themes, and in new twists to old ideas."
(p.107. W.G. Lambert. "A New Look at the Babylonian Background of Genesis." , in Richard S. Hess & David T. Tsumra, Editors. I Studied Inscriptions From Before the Flood. Winona Lake, Indiana, Eisenbrauns, 1994)
Scholars have identified some of the motifs and concepts found in Genesis as existing in Sumerian works of the 3rd millennium B.C. (but said motifs and concepts perhaps being of the 4th millennium). Genesis explains how man in the form of Adam, came to lose out on a chance to obtain immortality. His God denies him access to the Tree of Life, whose fruit, if consumed, confers immortality. This is apparently a later Hebrew reworking of the "Adapa and the South Wind myth." Adapa, symbolizing man, has an opportunity to obtain immortality. All he has to do is eat and drink the food of the gods offered him by Tammuz and Nin-gish-zida on behalf of Anu. Adapa refuses both on the prior advice of his god Ea (Akkadian for "house of water," Sumerian: En-ki, en meaning "lord" and ki meaning "earth"), who forewarned him he would surely die if he consumed anything. So, Mankind lost out on obtaining immortality because HE OBEYED HIS GOD. Ea (Enki) did not want "his servant" Adapa to possess immortality, he was willing though to give great "wisdom or knowledge" to Adapa (teaching him powerful incantations, spells and curses, allowing Adapa to break the wing of the south wind god, and thus stopping sea breezes from reaching lower Mesopotamia). So, in Genesis and Adapa, we have motifs of lost immortality, food conferring immortality, a god denying man immortality, man's aquisition of forbidden knowledge (Anu being upset to learn Ea (Enki) has taught the man powerful incantations to use against the gods) but reworked and transformed. Adam loses out on immortality because he disobeyed, whereas Adapa obeyed. Yahweh-Elohim then, is a re-working and transformation of the Akkadian god of Wisdom and Knowledge, Ea, pronounced aya or ayya (any relation to Iah/Yah ? or ehyeh asher ehyeh, "I AM that I AM, tell them eyheh has sent you" Exodus 3:14). Also of note here is Ea's/Enki's association with freshwater, the Apsu, and Enki's epithet nudimmud naqbi "creator of groundwater", which recalls for me, Yahweh's creating a groundwater spring in the Garden of Eden which became the source of the world's four rivers, the Pishon, Gihon, Hiddekel and Euphrates (Enki is shown on a throne with streams of water flowing from waterpots).
Spoer (1902) on scholars who claimed that Ea of Eridu had been recast into Eden's god Ya, Yah, Yahweh by 1897 and 1898, over 100 years ago:
"Professor Hommel...builds the theory that Ea = Aa, who...is the same as Ya = Yahweh...Margoliouth...identifies Ea...with Yahweh, says that the Israelites received this name from Abraham who came from Ur, in Chaldea..."
(p. 17. note 28: Fritz Hommel: Altisreal, Ueberlieferung, 1897, p. 64; Note 29: George Margoliouth, "Earliest Religion of the Ancient Hebrews." Contemporary Review, October 1898, in Hans H. Spoer. "The Origin and Interpretation of the Tetragrammaton. pp. 9-35. The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literature. Vol. XVIII. Oct. 1901- July 1902)
Pinches (1908) on Ea possibly being a prototype of the Hebrew God Yah (note: Pir-napishtim is now rendered Utnapishtim, he is the "Mesopotamian Noah"), and that the Flood was a flooding Euphrates river (Note :Microscopic inspection of the flood sediments at Shuruppak where the Flood-Hero lived at the time he was warned of the pending flood, revealed freshwater laid silts and clays, suggesting a river flood):
"Professor Hommel, the well-known Assyriologist and Professor of Semitic languages at Munich, suggests that this god Ya is another form of the name Ea..." (p. 59. Theophilus G. Pinches. The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and Babylonia. London. Society For Promoting Christian Knowledge. 1908)
"The reason of the coming of the Flood seems to have been seems to have been regarded by the Babylonians as two-fold. In the first place, as Pir-napishtim is made to say "Always the river rises and brings a flood" -in other words it was a natural phenomenon. But in the course of the narrative which he relates to Gilgamesh, the true reason is implied, though it does not seem to be stated in words. And this reason is the same as that of the Old Testament, namely, the wickedness of the world...Pir-napishtim was himself a worshipper of Ae, and on account of that circumstance, he is represented in the story as being under the special protection of that god...It has been more than once suggested, and Professor Hommel has stated the matter as his opinion, that the name of the god Ae or Ea, another possible reading of which is Aa, may be in some way connected with, and perhaps originated the Assyro-Babylonian divine name Ya'u "god," which is cognate with the Hebrew Yah or, as it is generally written, Jah...There is one thing that is certain, and that is, that the Chaldean Noah, Pir-napishtim, was faithful in the worship of the older god, who therefore warned him, saving his life." (pp.112-114. "The Flood." Theophilus G. Pinches. The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and Babylonia. London. Society For Promoting Christian Knowledge. 1908)
Professor Hilprecht (1903) on Enki/Ea, the "god of the earth and sea," being called Ya or Yi (perhaps alluding to Professor Hommel's proposal that Ea is Ya?) and being the moon-god of Haran where Terah and Abraham took up residence after leaving Ur. Note: Ur's chief god was the moon-god Nannar or Nanna and a shrine at Ur was excavated belonging to Enki of nearby Eridu. I note that some cylinder seals show a crescent moon near Enki/Ea's head and at his Eridu temple the dock for his boat was called the "Quay of the New Moon"):
"...in the Aramean city Haran, the moon (Yi, Ya, or Sin) was the chief deity, being represented as male. The ancient Babylonian god of the earth and sea in the Semitic-Babylonian texts got the surname Ya, while Sin was received in the pantheon as a deity distinct from Ya- these facts belong to the later syncretism and are evidently due to West Semitic, Arabian influence."
(pp. 734-735. Herman V. Hilprecht. Explorations in Bible Lands During the 19th Century. Philadelphia. A. J. Holman & Co., 1903)
"...Ea, or rather Ya...meaning..."moon"..."
(p. 747. Hilprecht. My Note: Today, 2010, Ea is understood to mean "house of water", e= "house," a= "water")
"...worship of the moon-god, in the family of Terah, so important for the history of Hebrew religion..."
(p. 752. Hilprecht)
Israel apparently observed the "day of the New Moon" by blowing a trumpet (1 Chron 23:31; 2 Chron 2:4, 8:13, 31:3) and worshipped "the gods of her fathers," (Josh 24:14-15) Terah and Abraham of Haran and Ur, the moon-god being part of the "Host of Heaven" a polytheistic Israel worshipped at Solomon's Temple (2 Ki 21:3, 5).
Kramer on "when" Enki became Ea:
"...about 2500 BC, Akkadians introduced the name Ea for Enki." (p. 3. Samuel Noah Kramer & John Maier. Myths of Enki the Crafty God. New York. Oxford University Press. 1989)
Leick (1996) on Enki's assimilation with Ea/Ayya:
"Ea - also 'Ay(y)a; Akkadian god.
The name of this god is probably Semitic, although no reliable etymology has yet been found. Ancient Babylonian scribes derived it from Sumerian E.a, 'house of the water'. In the texts from the Old Sumerian and Sargonic periods Ea/Ayya occurs mainly in Akkadian personal names. The pronunciation Ea (Ay-a) is attested since the Ur III period. The original character of this god is impossible to assess because of his syncretism with the Sumerian god Enki, which probably occurred as early as the Sargonic period. Ea's functions in the Babylonian and Assyrian tradition are therefore essentially the same as Enki's. He is a water god (bel naqbi, 'lord of the Spring') a creator (ban kullat, 'creator of everything') a god of wisdom (bel uzni, 'lord of wisdom'), the supreme master of magic (mash.mash ilani, 'incantation specialist of the gods'), the protector of craftsmen and artisans." (p. 37. "Ea." Gwendolyn Leick. A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Mythology. London. Routledge. 1991, 1996, 1998)
Leick on Enki:
"Enki, Sumerian god.
The name can either be taken to mean 'Lord Earth', but Ki also stands for the 'Below' in regard to a two-tiered cosmic structure with An (Heaven) as the 'Above'. Certainly the character of Enki ever since the earliest documents from the Old Sumerian period is formed by his association with water, most notably in the ground-water or Apsu. The Apsu is his dwelling place and in the figure of Enki, the creative potential of the fertilizing humidity is given a dramatic expression...One of his literary epithets is nudimmud- 'who creates', while the appellative nagbu means directly 'source, groundwater'. Enki is also the god of wisdom...His main cult center was the lagoon-based Eridu...but...he also had numerous temples elsewhere...[including] Ur..." (p. 40. "Enki." Gwendolyn Leick. A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Mythology. London. Routledge. 1991, 1996, 1998)
Mankind's acquisition of knowledge brought with it great grief according to Genesis and the author of Ecclesiastes appears to echo this motif:
Ecclesiastes 1:18 KJV
"For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow."
CONTRA this notion the Mesopotamians understood that man's acquisition of knowledge from the gods was a GIFT from the gods _not_ a CURSE for this knowledge IMPROVES man's life in that he began life as a naked beast wandering the desolate edin/eden of ancient Sumer with wild animals for companions. It is when naked man is taken from the naked beasts of edin/eden and clothed by the gods his life improves as the gods' servant, caring for their city-gardens in the midst of the edin/eden. In the cities man acquires from the gods godly knowledge: the rudiments of civilization and all its blessings: law codes, writing, animal husbandry, farming, etc. In other words in the beginning "civilization" and cities was a creation of the gods improving their way of life and later they present this knowledge to man so that he may better serve them. That is to say man comes to "live like a god" instead of living like a wild naked beast when he comes to live in cities with the gods. The Hebrews are apparently _refuting_ the Mesopotamian beliefs regarding man's acquistion of godly knowledge being a BLESSING instead of being a CURSE.
So, then, if the gods freely "gave man knowledge and wisdom" (improving naked primal man's life with the arts of civilization and introducing him to city life) why is Genesis portraying primal man as acquiring "forbidden knowledge" _illegally_ against a God's wishes? That is to say does there exist in Mesopotamian myths a notion that man once upon a time acquired "forbidden knowledge" reserved to the gods that he _wasn't supposed to have_ and this acquisition upset a god and resulted in immortality being denied him?
I understand these motifs appear in the Adapa and the Southwind Myth, but they have been altered and transformed by the Hebrews. Adapa obtained "forbidden knowledge" reserved to the gods, specifically he knew how to cast a spell over the southwind god breaking its wing and preventing breezes or winds from blowing over Lower Mesopotamia. The god Anu who lived in heaven is _upset_ to hear of this and summons Adapa to his heavenly abode to find out where and how he has acquired this "forbidden knowledge." He learns in disbelief that the man (Adapa) was taught by the "trickster-god" Ea of Eridu (Sumerian Enki of Eridug) these spells. However, Anu does _not_ decide to deny man immortality as punishment for acquiring "forbidden knowledge" (the power to control the forces of nature in the form of winds), instead he concludes that if this man has a god's "forbidden knowledge" he might as well be made a full-fledged god with immortality! So he summons "bread and water of life" to be given to Adapa to make him and mankind immortal.
Adapa however refuses to consume these items because his god (Ea/Enki) forewarned him these items were the "bread and water of death" and he would _die_ if he consumed them. Ea/Enki did not want man to have immortality, but he was willing to allow man to have "forbidden knowledge" _against_ Anu's wishes.
What the Hebrews have done is recast these motifs into a series of inversions or reversals. Adam acquired "forbidden knowledge" illegally by disobeying and eating whereas Adapa did not acquire forbidden knowledge against Ea's wishes and he _obeyed_ his god's command and did _not_ eat and therefore lost at a chance to obtain immortality for himself and mankind. Another Hebrew reversal or inversion is that instead of immortality being offered man because he has obtained forbidden knowledge by Anu, he is _denied_ immortality by Yahweh-Elohim. In other words behind Yahweh-Elohim's actions lurk two gods who's intents and actions were in opposition to each other in regards to man: Anu who was _upset_ that man had obtained "forbidden knowledge" and Ea who _denied man immortality_ by tricking him into not eating the food which would give mankind immortality. The Hebrews via a series of brilliantly orchestrated inversions are challenging the Mesopotamian account of how man lost out on a chance to obtain immortality by an act of eating and obtainment of forbidden knowledge. Why did Ea the "trickster-god" _not_ want man to obtain immortality and lie to him? Ea was responsible for creating man at Eridu in Sumer (Lower Mesopotamia, modern Iraq) to be his agricultural slave to work his garden and provide it with water by digging and dredging irrigation canals, replacing the Igigi gods who protested their grievous toil in Ea's Eridu garden in edin. The gods obtained their Shabbat or Sabbath Rest from toil with man's creation. Who would toil on their behalf providing life's neccesities: food, shelter, and clothing if man was allowed to be a god and achieve immortality? The gods would _loose_ their Shabbat or Sabbath Rest from toil and have to return to the grievous agricultural toil in edin's gardens of the gods to raise food to feed themselves.
In other words, man was denied immortality because the gods would loose their Sabbath Rest, the gods would have to bear _again_ the grievous agricultural toil in the edin's gardens in order to obtain their daily food if man was allowed to become an immortal god and freed of agricultural toil in edin's gardens!
Actually, according to the Adapa and the Southwind Myth, it was _one_ god_, Ea (Sumerian: Enki), who willed that man (Adapa) should not possess immortality _presaging_ the later Hebrew notion that it is _one_ god_ (Yahweh-Elohim), who wills that man shall not possess immortality. Ea is pronounced aya or ayya and in the Bible Yahweh-Elohim tells Moses when Israel asks for the "name" of the god who will liberate them from the Egyptian captivity Moses is to tell them "ehyeh sent me" (Ex 3:13-14, ehyeh asher ehyeh, "I Am that I Am"). That is to say in Mesopotamian myths it is aya (Ea) _not_ ehyeh (Yahweh) who warns a man not to eat or he will die and denies him and mankind immortality, having allowed him to obtain forbidden knowledge. That is to say the Mesopotamian notion that it was _one_ god and _one_ god _only_ who _denied man (Adapa) and thereby mankind immortality has been transformed by the Hebrews from Ayya into Ehyeh.
The editors of Sumer: Cities of Eden on mankind being created to "feed" the gods among other duties:
"...gods...required food and shelter in much the same way as people, whom the deities had created in heir own image for the sole purpose of serving these basic needs."
(p. 147. "Servants to the gods." Sumer: Cities of Eden. [Lost Civilizations Series] Alexandria, Virginia. Time-Life Books. 1993)
Remember, man was created to be a slave/servant of the gods, one of his responsibilities was the _feeding_ of the gods. Adapa who lost out on a chance to obtain immortality for himself and mankind was Ea's "servant." Among his "servant-duties" was the _feeding_ of Ea. He was a baker of bread for Ea and provided Ea daily not only bread but fresh water and fish (Adapa was also a fisherman besides being a baker). Ea _feared_ the loss of his servant who provided him his food. In the Mesopotamian belief system gods do _not_ "feed themselves" or toil in their gardens of edin to raise their food, it is man their slave/servant who does this. If man becomes a god by attaining immortality, "Who then will feed the gods and raise their food for them in the gardens of edin?"
Abraham according to the biblical chronology compiled by some scholars was born circa 2100 BCE and lived at Ur of the Chaldees (modern Tell al Muqayyar in Sumer according to some). If Kramer is correct in identifying certain motifs associated with Enki as later ascribed to the Hebrew God Yahweh-Elohim, it is possible that Abraham would have known Enki as Ea, as this name change occured approximately some 400 years before his birth. Did the Aramaic "ear" at Haran where Terah and Abraham later settled, via "assonance" transform Ea (pronounced Ay-a according to Leick) into Ehyeh who allegedly spoke to Moses at the burning bush (Ex 3:14)?
Anderson on Yahweh's different name forms found in the Hebrew Bible:
"It is not certain, however, that 'yahweh' was the oldest form of the name. A short form 'yah' appears 25 times in the Old Testament (Ex 15:2; and cultic cry 'hallelu-yah'= 'praise yah'). Sometimes the short form appears as 'yahu' or 'yo' as in proper names like Joel ('Yo is God') or Isaiah ('Yah is salvation')." (p. 409. vol. 2. B. W. Anderson. "God, Names of." pp. 407-416. George Arthur Buttrick. Editor. The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville. Abingdon Press. 1962)
Diane Wolkstein, in collaboration with the late Sumerologist Professor Samuel Noah Kramer noted that Enki possessed the secret to restoring the dead in the Underworld back to life and a resurrection to the earth's surface. In the myth of Ishtar or Inanna's descent into the Underworld, she tells her servant that if after three days and nights she does not return, he is to notify Enki who will effect her release (cf. pp.54, 61. Diane Wolkstein & Samuel Noah Kramer. Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth, Her Stories and Hymns From Sumer. New York. Harper & Row, Publishers. 1983. ISBN 0-06-090854-8 pbk)
She is killed by her jealous sister, Erishkigal, the Queen of the Underworld and her naked lifeless body is hung on a stake. After three days and nights, Inanna's servant alerts Enki. He sends two servants to restore Inanna to life by sprinkling on her dead body, "the bread of life and the water of life". She revives and is released from the Underworld (pp. 64-67. Wolkstein). Of interest here, is that in another myth, Adapa and the South Wind, Adapa was offered "the bread and water of life" to consume which would have given him and consequently, mankind, immortality, but a "lying" Enki living on the earth at Eridu in Lower Mesopotamia, forwarned his servant, who prepared his sacrificial meals in his shrine, NOT to partake of these items as they would cause him to die if consumed. Adapa obeyed Enki, who wanted man to continue to serve and feed him and not become a god and co-equal (Who would feed the gods if man was allowed to become a god too?).
Enki was also famed in some Mesopotamian myths as being responsible for the creation of Mankind, intending Man to be a servant, to grow, harvest and present food to the Gods, which would include Enki himself. In the Bible Yahweh sets Israel free of an Egyptian bondage declaring they will now be "his servants," and as events later unfold, it will be they who offer him food and drink in the Tabernacle of the Wilderness and later the Temple at Jerusalem.
It is of interest that Yahweh-Elohim is presented by Ezekiel as having the power to restore Israelite dead back to life, a power also enjoyed by Enki, and that Yahweh is credited with creating man, another achievement attributed to Enki. I understand that several different myths about Enki and his powers have been transferred to Yahweh-Elohim. If Abraham and family really were originally of Ur of the Chaldees in Lower Mesopotamia, then the Enki myths of this region were probably "re-formatted" by Abraham and his descendants over the centuries.
Wolkstein on Enki (Inanna alias Ishtar is the "Queen of Heaven" and daughter of Enki):
"Inanna sets out to visit Enki, the God of Wisdom, who is also the God of the Waters...without the presence on earth of Enki, the God of the Waters, no life is possible. With his presence, water, which permeates and fertilizes the land, gives the earth the power of life and creativity. This in part accounts for the dual aspect of Enki's powers, for as well as being God of the Waters, he also has many powers over the earth (In Sumerian, "Enki" means literally God of the Earth). Enki's iconographic emblem, the goat-fish, further indicates his earth-water aspect: the goat goes to the highest point of all earty animals and the fish to the lowest depths.
The fertilizing, free-flowing, purifying, calming, and raging characteristics of waters are personified in the many roles Enki plays in Sumerian stories. He is the Creator of Humankind ("Enki and Ninmah"), the Fertilizer of the Land, and Organizer of his Creations ("Enki and the World Order"). He is a magician and a Master of Ritual and Incantation...He is a Mediator between Men...and a Mediator before the Gods on the part of the Mortals ("Atrahasis")...Enki's sacred shrine, the Abzu, is built above the regions of the underworld. His city Eridu, is located near where the fresh and salt waters meet, where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and the Persian Gulf converge." (pp. 146-147. "Inanna and the God of Wisdom." Diane Wolkstein & Samuel Noah Kramer. Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth, Her Stories and Hymns From Sumer. New York. Harper & Row, Publishers. 1983. ISBN 0-06-090854-8 pbk)
Kramer on the Adapa myth:
"Enki is the god of secrets. The one who would know and use his advice must be prepared to listen carefully when the cunning god speaks...As you stand before Anu, when the bread of death they offer you, you shall not eat it. When the water of death they offer you, you shall not drink it...The words I have spoken to you, hold them tight!"
...Adapa misses his chance at immortality. Where Ea had warned Adapa against eating the "bread of death"
(akala sa muti) and drinking the "water of death" (me muti), what Anu offers Adapa instead is the bread of life and water of life." (pp.114-115. "The Great Magician." Samuel Noah Kramer and John Maier. Myths of Enki, the Crafty God. New York and Oxford. Oxford University Press. 1989)
In Sumerian myths Enki is associated with warning the Babylonian Noah, called variously Ziusudra, Atrahasis or Utnapishtim of an impending Flood which will destroy the world and all mankind, telling him to save himself and animals by building a boat. In the Hebrew re-working En-ki becomes Yahweh-Elohim and Utnapishtim becomes Noah. Kramer noted that Enki was not trusted by the other gods, they made him swear an oath not to reveal to man the Flood they intended to destroy all of mankind. Enki "gets around" his oath by announcing the Flood to "a wall" of the reed house that the Flood hero dwells in. So Utnapishtim, asleep in his house, hears Enki's warning, through the wall, awakes and tears down his reed house and makes a boat of it saving his family and livestock. Later generations embellished this Sumerian myth into a world encompassing flood. Archaeologists later found a _single_ flood deposit which they dated to circa 2900/2800 B.C. at Utnapishtim's city of Shurrupak in Lower Mesopotamian, the Flood was determined to have been a flooding Euphrates river in the 3rd millennium B.C., based on microscopic analysis of the flood sediments. Of interest here, is that some scholars understand Noah's Flood was in the 3rd millennium, circa 2300 B.C. I find it "remarkable" that the Shuruppak Flood is dated to the same millennium as the biblical Flood!
"Advice to the Reed Wall: Enki opened his mouth and addresed his slave: "What am I to seek?" you say: The message I speak to you: make sure you pay attetion! Wall, listen to me! Reed wall, attend to every one of my words. "Destroy a house- build a boat. Property? Hate it. Save life. The boat that you build- let its breadth equal its length. Roof it over like the apsu..." pp.130-131. "The Persistence of the Enki Tradition." Samuel Noah Kramer and John Maier. Myths of Enki, the Crafty God. New York and Oxford. Oxford University Press. 1989)
Enki (called "the Trickster god" who plays "tricks" on the gods as well as man) confounds the language of the people of the earth. Originally they all spoke one language, but he causes many languages to be spoken. This motif is reworked by the Hebrews into God's confounding man's one language because of their hubris in building the Tower of Babel.
Professor Kramer on Enki's confounding man's language:
"The Nam-shub of Enki- The nam-shub is a speech with magical force. This is in the form of a highly compact story. Something like the mythical Golden Age- an age when human beings lived at peace in Nature and with one another- is linked in the story with what looks like a version of the Tower of Babel. All of the known world spoke the same tongue, worshipping the powerful Enlil. It is Enki, who, for reasons that are not made entirely clear, sets up 'contention' in the speech of humankind and brings the Golden Age to an end. He is the "contender" the great rival to Enlil in the story.
"Once, then, there was no snake, there was no scorpion, there was no hyena, there was no lion, there was no wild dog, no wolf, there was no fear, no terror human had no rival. Once then, the lands of Shubur-Hamazi, polyglot Sumer, that land great with the me of lordship, Uri, the land with everything just so, the land of Martu, resting securely, the whole world- the people as one- to Enlil in one tongue gave voice. Then did the contender- the en, the contender- the master, the contender- the king, Enki, the contender...en of cunning, the shrewd one of the land, sage of the gods, gifted in thinking, the en of Eridu, changed the speech of their mouths, he having set up contention in it, in the human speech that had been one." (pp. 88-89. "The Enigmatic Enki." Samuel Noah Kramer and John Maier. Myths of Enki, the Crafty God. New York and Oxford. Oxford University Press. 1989)
Enki's residence is under the earth (which floats upon the freshwater ocean) in the depths of the Abzu/Apsu at Eridu in Lower Mesopotamia (south of Babylon). From this place emerges a freshwater stream that is the source of all the rivers of the world. He sits upon a throne decorated with pots from which flow two streams of water, indicating he is the source of the earth's streams of freshwater. Yahweh's throne is portrayed as being over a stream of freshwater that leaves the temple in Jerusalem and travels eastward to the Dead Sea, rejuvenating it (Rev 22:1).
Kramer, a Sumerologist, notes the indebtedness of Israel's mythographers to Sumerian concepts:
"The literature created by the Sumerians left its deep impress on the Hebrews, and one of the thrilling aspects of reconstructing and translating Sumerian belles-lettres consists in tracing resemblances and parallels between Sumerian and Biblical literary motifs. To be sure, the Sumerians could not have influenced the Hebrews directly, for they ceased to exist long before the Hebrew people came into existence. But there is little doubt that the Sumerians had deeply influenced the Canaanites, who preceeded the Hebrews in the land that later came to be known as Palestine, and their neighbors, such as the Assyrians, Babylonians, Hittites, Hurrians, and Arameans." (pp.143-144. "The First Biblical Parallels." Samuel Noah Kramer. History Begins at Sumer, Twenty-seven 'Firsts' in Man's Recorded History. Garden City, New York. Doubleday Anchor Books.  1959)
Kramer notes a few of the Sumerian motifs found later in the Bible:
"Sumerian literature contained a number of literary forms and themes found much later in the Bible...Some of the more conspicuous themes involve creation of the universe, creation of humankind, techniques of creation (in two ways, by word and by 'making' or 'fashioning'), paradise, the 'Cain-abel' motif, the 'Tower of Babel' motif, the earth and its organization, a personal god, divine retribution and natural catastrophe, the plague, the 'Job' motif, death and the nether world, and concerns with law, ethics and morality. The most conspicuous of all, the story that has the closest connection with biblical literature, is the story of the flood. There are a few twists to the flood story that will be taken up later." (pp.154-155. "Traces of the Fugitive God." Samuel Noah Kramer and John Maier. Myths of Enki, the Crafty God. New York and Oxford. Oxford University Press. 1989)
Marduk, the supreme god of Babylon, in a myth called the Enuma Elish, after slaying Tiamat (who personifies the flooding Salt Sea Ocean), holds his bow up for praise and places it in the heavens as a "bow star constellation," a type of memorial to his ending the threat of a flood to destroy the gods who dwelt on the earth. Yahweh-Elohim, like Marduk, places his bow in the heavens after bringing to an end the Flood, as a rainbow.
"Thanks to the rediscovery in recent times, of considerable portions of Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Hittite, and Canaanite literature, it is now possible to recognize in the Bible several traces of ancient Near Eastern mythology. These appear in three forms : (a) direct parallels; (b) allusions; and (c) survivals in figurative expressions.
In all cases they are accommodated to the religion of Israel by boldly transferring to Yahweh the heroic feats of the older pagan gods..Direct parallels to ancient Near Eastern myths are represented principally by (a) the fight of Yahweh against the dragon; (b) the stories of Creation and Paradise; and (c) the tale of the Deluge...All this is simply the Hebrew version of the story told in the Ugaritic myth of Baal concerning the victory of that god over the draconic Yam (alias Nahar), the genius of the Sea and Rivers..." (p. 481. Vol. 3. T. H. Gaster. "Myth, Mythology." G. A. Buttrick. Editor. The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville, Tennessee. Abingdon Press. 1962)
In Ugaritic myths the supreme god is called El or Bull-El. He is portrayed as bearded and gray-haired. He is the father of the gods and the father of mankind, ab-adm. As Yahweh-Elohim is a type of "father" to man, I suspect a borrowing of concepts by the Hebrews from the Ugaritic motifs. God is alternately called El or Elohim (the latter being a plural of majesty). Bull-El is the father of Baal (alternately called Baal-Hadad) and Yam (alternately called Yaw). Baal is identified with thunderclouds which bring rain to nourish the earth. Thunder clouds are called "Adad's Calves." The thunder is Baal's voice. Baal's brother, who contends with him for rulership of the earth, is Yam, meaning "Sea," alternately called Nahar or "river." He acquires a new name from El, Yaw.
Professor Cohn noted that some scholars suspected that Ugaritic Yaw might be the prototype for Yahweh:
"It is becoming ever more difficult to say with any confidence when, where and how the Israelites first came to know the god Yahweh. It may be that, as Exodus says, he was originally a Midianite god, introduced into the land of Canaan by immigrants from Egypt; or he may have started as a minor member of the Canaanite pantheon...Originally El was the supreme god for Israelites as he had always been for Canaanites. Even if one discounts the pronouncement of El in the Baal cycle,'The name of my son is Yaw'- the import of which is still being debated- one cannot ignore a passage in the Bible which shows Yahweh as subordinate to El. Deuteronomy 32:8 tells how when El Elyon, i.e., El the Most High, parcelled out the nations between his sons, Yahweh received Israel as his portion." (pp.131-132. "Yahweh and the Jerusalem Monarchy." Norman Cohn. Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come, The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith. New Haven and London. Yale University Press. 1993)
Cohn on the pagan god Yaw is Yahweh debate:
"For two opposing views see John Gray, 'The god Yaw in the Religion of Canaan,' in Journal of Near Eastern Studies. Chicacgo. Vol. 12. 1953. pp. 278-283 and Garbini, op. cit., pp. 57-58. Gray cites the scholars who originally identified Yaw with Yahweh but rejects the identification, Garbini reaffirms it. Redford op.cit., p. 272, holds Yahweh was first worshipped by proto-Israelites in Edom." (p.246, note 5, to p. 132. Norman Cohn. 1993)
I have noted that some Phoenican kings appear to me to have names which suggest they may have worshipped some form of the Hebrew God Yahweh. Professor Pritchard on Phoenician kings of Byblos (emphasis mine) :
"This inscription records the dedication of a new building, possibly a temple, and is now quite generally dated in the 10th century B.C. It was found in Byblos in 1929."
"Building Inscriptions, YEHIMILK OF Byblos.
A house built by Yehimilk, king of Byblos, who also has restored all the ruins of the houses here. May Baalshamem and the Lord of Byblos and the Assembly of the Holy Gods of Byblos prolong the days and years of Yehimilk in Byblos, for (he is) a righteous king and an upright king before the Holy Gods of Byblos !" (p. 215. James B. Pritchard.Editor. The Ancient Near East, An Anthology of Texts and Pictures. 1958. Princeton University Press)
"YEHAWMILK of Byblos.
This ex-voto has been known since 1869, but a fragment completing most of its lower right-hand corner was found only 60 years later. It appears to be from the 5th or 4th century B.C. The identity of the second of the the three main objects which Yehawmilk here dedicates to his goddess has not been fully cleared up. Instead of an engraved object, it might have been a door.
"I am Yehawmilk, king of Byblos, the son of Yehar-ba'l, the grandson of Urimilk, king of Byblos, whom the Mistress, the Lady of Byblos, made king over Byblos...May the Lady of Byblos bless and preserve Yehawmilk, king of Byblos, and prolong his days and years in Byblos, for he is a righteous king...." (pp. 220-221. Pritchard. 1958)
I "suspect" that the name Yehaw-milk (alternately rendered Yehi, and perhaps even Yehar?) may mean "Yehaw is king," perhaps _Yehaw/Yehi_ is but the Phoenician form of Hebrew Yah/Yahweh/Yahu? An image of the Phoenician/Canaanite sea-god Yaw or Yeuo exists on a coin from Gaza made in the Persian period of Greek craftsmanship, Langdon has argued that this is an image of the Hebrew God, Yahweh. Please click HERE for the image, then scroll down to the bottom of the page for the coin.
The Phoenicians were famed as builders of the Temple of Solomon, and perhaps they too worshipped Yahweh, but under the name of Yehi-milk (10th century B.C.) or Yehaw-milk (5th/4th century B.C.)?
Not only do the Phoenicians have kings appear to be bearing Yahweh form names, the Phoenicians also show their male and female gods seated on winged sphinx thrones, which have been identified by some scholars as prototypes behind Yahweh's Cherubim throne in the Jerusalem Temple. It should come as no surprise then that if the kings of Byblos bore Yahweh names, and showed their gods seated on Cherubim thrones, that perhaps Phoenicia is one the sources for the Yahweh imagery appearing in the Bible.
The late Professor Albright on Cherubim being human-headed winged sphinxes:
"...in Syria and Palestine it is the winged sphinx which is dominant in art and religious symbolism. The God of Israel was often designated as "He who sitteth (on) the cherubim" (I Sam 4:4. The conception underlying this designation is well illustrated by the representations of a king seated on a throne supported on each side by cherubim, which have been found at Byblus, Hamath, and Megiddo, all dating between 1200 and 800 B.C. One shows king Hiram of Byblus (period of the Judges) seated upon his cherub throne."
(William Foxwell Albright. "What Were the Cherubim ?" pp. 95-97. G. Ernest Wright & David Noel Freedman. Editors. The Biblical Archaeologist Reader. 1961. Quadrangle Books. Chicago. Note on p. 98 is a line drawing of Hiram's seated on his Cherubim throne, from a stone sarcophagus)
In Phoenician/Canaanite myths preserved at Ugarit (13th century B.C.) Baal-Hadad fights his brother Yam/Nahar (Sea/River) for dominion of the earth, and Yam is called dotingly, by his father, Bull-El, my son _YAW_ ! For me, from my Secular Humanist viewpoint, Yahweh of the Bible and his struggle against Baal (Baal Hadad) is nothing more than the continuation of Late Bronze Age (ca. 1560-1200 B.C.) myths of Yaw (Yahweh ?) vs. Baal for supremeacy of the earth in Iron Age times (ca. 1200-587 B.C.).
That is to say, scholars have been misled by the Bible's false clues that Yahweh is "originally" a god of the Sinai, he's really a Canaanite-Phoenician-North Syrian God of Ugarit and Byblos. One sometimes forgets that Yahweh's FIRST APPEARANCE to Abraham is NOT at Sinai, its at Ur of the Chaldees, where a temple existed, according to Leick, to the Mesopotamian god, Enki/Ea/Ayya, and later at Haran in Northern Syria as well as Damascus.
The Lady of Byblos which is appears seated on an Egyptian style throne wears and Egyptian horned head-dress and probably is Hathor, who was called "Lady of Byblos" as this city trades with Egypt since Old Kingdom times. Hathor in Egyptian myths gave birth to the sun each day as a cow-sky-goddess, in the form of a GOLDEN CALF, which at sunset, mounted her as a virile bull, imprgnating her so that he might be reborn the next day as a Golden Calf again. Hathor shrines exist in the southern Sinai at Serabit el Khadim and at Har Timna in the southern Arabah. I understand that Israel worshipped Yahweh as the Golden Calf, which is a fusion of Northj Syrian, Phoenician, Canaanite and Egyptian myths (cf. my two articles on the Golden Calf's pre-biblical origins).
In Ugaritic myths Bull-El or El dwells in the depths of a mountain, at the source of the double deep (tehom), that is the source of the fresh and salt water oceans. So he is to a degree associated with the sea. Enki dwelt in the watery depths of the Abzu, and was associated as being the source of freshwater streams or rivers. I suspect the Ugaritic myths are but reinterpretations of the older Mesopotamian myths. Tiamat the female personification of the salt sea ocean in Babylonian myths has been transformed into a mere body of water, tehom, in the Ugaritic myths, and the Hebrews have drawn from the Ugaritic imagery in associating Yahweh-Elohim in the opening lines of Genesis with tehom (English: "the deep").
Bull-El's wife is Athirat, whose name means "she who treads upon the sea" (Athirat is alternately rendered as Ashirat or Asherah by some scholars). El being called "Bull-El" suggests his sons are born as "bull-calves" and become "bulls" at maturity. Thus Baal-Hadad is shown at times standing on a bull hurling lightning bolts. Thunderclouds were called "Adad's Calves." As Yahweh-Elohim appeared at Mt. Sinai as a Thundercloud, he is in Ugaritic imagery, "a calf" of Adad. I note a golden calf is made at Mt. Sinai shortly after Yahweh's appearance as a Thundercloud. Jeroboam honors Yahweh-Elohim with two golden calves set up at Dan and Bethel. I suspect this is harkening back to the reality that Yahweh-Elohim was portrayed alternately as a "bull-calf" in his manifestation as a Thundercloud. The Bible's Late Iron II writers (ca. 640-560 B.C.) apparently were "ignorant" of the true Late Bronze Age origins of Yahweh-Elohim (ca. 1560-1200 B.C.) and failed to realize he was actually a conflation and fusing together of Bull-El, Baal-Hadad and Yaw/Yam of the Ugaritic Myths as well as Ea/Ayya/Enki of the Mesopotamian myths. Of interest here, is that some scholars have sought to identify the Exodus from Egypt motif with the Hyksos expulsion of ca. 1540/1530 B.C.. If they are correct, it is worth noting that the Hyksos' god was Baal Hadad, who defeated his brother Yam 'Sea', and who assured his worshippers a safe passage via the sea (Some of the Hyksos being understood to be sea-traders or merchants from ports in Canaan and Phoenicia and North Syria).
The Epic of Gilgamesh notes that Baal Hadad (alternately, Adad) is portrayed as a god who dwells with the darkness of a thundercloud, whose thunder is his voice, and whose rains, initiate the Flood which destroys all mankind. I suspect that the Bible's portrayal of Yahweh as a god who dwells within the darkness of the thundercloud (Deut 4:11; 5:22, 23) is borrowing imagery from Baal Hadad, who also dwells in a dark thundercloud and whose voice is the thunder. The Bible aslo relates that Yahweh was called Baal by some Israelites-
"And in that day, says the Lord, you will call me, 'My Husband,' and no longer will you call me, 'My Ba'al.' For I will remove the names of the Ba'als from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more."
Could Yehar-ba'l, the king of Byblos be an archaic echo of the time when Yah was also called Baal ("Yah-Ba`al, "Lord Yah"?)?
Clay, on Adad being within a black stormcloud, which Floods the land, destroying all mankind:
"There rises from the foundation of the heavens a black cloud. Adad thunders in the midst of it." (p.153, "The Gilgamesh Epic." Albert. T. Clay. The Origin of Biblical Traditions: Hebrew Legends in Babylonia and Israel. New Haven. Yale University Press. 1923)
Deut 4:11 (RSV)
"And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while the mountain burned with fire to the heart of heaven, wrapped in darkness, cloud and gloom.
Deut 5:22,23 (RSV)
"These words the Lord spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness with a loud voice...And when you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire...."
These Ugaritic myths are dated ca. 1500-1200 B.C. Circa 1200 B.C. is the beginning of Iron Age I A, when Israel settles the land with hundreds of agrarian settlements extending from Galilee to the the Negeb, as portrayed in the book of Joshua.
We are informed that an agrarian Israel under the Judges, whose simple rural village life appears to be reflected in the Iron I period, worshipped Baal and Yahweh. Some Israelites bore Baal names. Israel's first king, Saul, had sons bearing Baal names. Hosea informs us that at times Yahweh was called Baal.
I suspect that the animosity between Baal and Yahweh, ca. 1200-587 B.C. is arising directly from the 1500-1200 B.C. Ugaritic myths, and the animosity between Baal (Baal-Hadad) and his brother Yam/Nahar ("Sea/River") or Yaw, to see which would become "lord of the earth."
The Hebrews came in later ages to conflate and fuse the earlier (1500-1200 B.C.) mythical protagonists. Eventually Yahweh-Elohim came to absorb the names, epithets, and feats of his rivals and other gods. It is my understanding that Yahweh-Elohim is a conflation and fusing of the sea and river god Yaw (sea is Yam in Hebrew) and Baal-Hadad (Baal being asssociated with thunderclouds and Yahweh-Elohim manifesting himself as a thundercloud at Mt. Sinai), as well as the persona of El (Bull-El), the father of Baal and Yam, and of mankind (Ugaritic ab-adm). Thus Ugaritic adm meaning "mankind" was later transformed by the Hebrews into Adam, the first man and eponymn for mankind.
In the Ugaritic myths Baal conquers the tannin of the sea, so does Yahweh. Cohn noted that Baal-Hadad the storm god was the chief god of the Arameans, and it worth noting that Israel claimed her ancestors were Arameans, and that Yahweh is likened to possessing the epithets and achievements of Baal-Hadad, he appearing at Mount Sinai in the form of a Storm Cloud.
"With the establishment of the monarchy Yahweh became the patron god of the kingdom, and when the kingdom was divided into two kingdoms he remained the patron god of each- just as Chemosh was the patron god of the Moabites, Milcom of the Ammonites, Hadad of the Arameans, Melkart of the Tyrians." (p.132. Norman Cohn. Cosmos, Chaos, and the World to Come, The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith. New Haven and London. Yale University Press. 1993.)
"But if Yahweh was originally subordinate to El, could it be that the Israelites at first imagined him as a god of the same type as Canaanite Baal...?...Yahweh appears as a storm-god...Baal first established his kingship over the world by subduing the unruly cosmic waters, symbolized by a serpent or a dragon. There are psalms that show Yahweh subduing the waters along with the dragons Leviathan and Rahab...Yahweh had been a god who, like Baal, had to fight the waters until they submitted to his will...Like Baal, Yahweh constantly sustained the ordered world..." (pp.132-133. Cohn)
"Yahweh did not -any more than Baal or Marduk- remain subordinate to the supreme god. It was normal for a people to exhalt its patron god to a position of unique dignity, setting him above all other gods. This happened to Yahweh too: he came to be identified with El...A common epithet of El was Elyon, meaning 'the Most High.' In these psalms Yahweh is likewise called 'the Most High,' and his dominance is as absolute as El's." (p.135. Cohn)
Note: Marduk came to become the supreme god of Babylon. Originally the supreme god of Lower Mesopotamia was Anu or An; later, in a national hymn called the Enuma Elish, Marduk, becomes "supreme" and honored above all other gods because of his skill as a great warrior in defeating Tiamat, the raging, flooding Sea, who threatend to destroy all the gods.Marduk is declared "to be" the other 50 gods, that is, they become aspects of his persona, and they are assimilated to him. Yahweh probably came to assimilate like Marduk, the Canaanite gods, El and Baal, as well as others.
Professor Cohn (Professor Emeritus, University of Sussex, England), in passing, mentions mainstream scholarship's understanding that Yahweh assimilated the pagan gods of Canaan:
"All in all, the Israelite world-view in the days of the monarchy had much in common with the world views of the Canaanites, the Mesopotamians, even the Egyptians. Israelites too thought of themselves as living within a divinely appointed order which had been established for their benefit and which would nver basically change. What that order meant to them is indicated by three Hebrew words: mishpat, tsedeq, shalom...For Canaanites tsedeq was the beneficicent manifestation of the sun god- that mighty deity who in Canaan, as in so many other societies, watched over the world as judge, bringing hidden crimes to light and righting wrongs done to the innocent. When the Canaanite gods were merged into Yahweh tsedeq became his attribute, and the visible manifestation of his activity was called tsedaqah." (p.139. Cohn)
It is worth noting here that the Hebrews were NOT alone in having their God, Yahweh, assimilating the personas and feats of other gods. A Babylonian hymn called the "Enuma Elish" portrays 50 gods as nothing more than personas of one god, Marduk. When Babylonia became a part of the Assyrian empire the Assyrians "appropriated" the Enuma Elish and had the 50 gods plus Marduk as personas of the one god, Asshur! Even the Egyptians toyed with this notion of the "many being only aspects of the one." For example in the litany of the sun-god Re, it is said that he has 75 forms or 'acclamations' as for example, Horus and Isis (cf. pp. 30-31. "The sun in all creation: the Litany of Ra." Stephen Quirke. The Cult of Ra, Sun-Worship in Ancient Egypt. London. Thames & Hudson. 2001. ISBN 0-500-05107-0)
In Mesopotamia, since Sumerian times, the 4th-3rd millenniums B.C., Inanna, "the Queen of Heaven," is honored yearly in a marriage ceremony in the Spring. Her human husband Dumuzi/Tammuz, is represented by the king who mates with a priestess representing the goddess. This brings the favor of Inanna upon the people and guarantees good harvests and protection from their enemies. I suspect that the Hebrews have borrowed this sacred marriage concept and transformed it. A God, Yahweh-Elohim, marries his people instead of a Goddess marrying her people.
Yahweh's triumph over other gods in some cases is due to his absorbing these gods, that is their powers and feats are attributed to him and denied to the older gods, who are labeled as "false gods," of wood, stone and metal.
I thus understand that the rantings and ravings of the prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, et al, is over Israel's refusal to give up their cherished traditions and understandings of Yahweh-Elohim as Bull-El, Baal, and Yaw/Yam; these prophets have a "new concept" to offer about God and not all the populace has bought into it.
It follows that if the Israelite Yahweh is really a recast Yaw of the Ugartic myths, that the Hebrew meaning of his name, revealed suppossedly to Moses at Mt. Sinai, ehyeh asher ehyeh "I am that I am," is false, and is probably a speculation from a late period.
Alternately, could ehyeh be derived from Ea/Ayya/Aya (Enki) ? If Terah and son Abraham were Arameans living at or near Ur in Lower Mesopotamia, they could have "heard" Ea as "Aya" or "Ayya" and, rendering it into an Aramaic word form possessing an Aramaic meaning, transformed it.
For example, scholars are aware that a number of place names or geographical sites appearing in the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament are preserved in Arabic. But the Arabic word, while resembling "in sound" the Hebrew word, very often has a different meaning. The late Israeli scholar Yohanan Aharoni proposed that the "wilderness of Paran" appearing in the Exodus account was preserved in the Arabic Feiran Oasis and Wadi Feiran to the west of Gebel Musa and Saint Catherine's Monastery. However, another Israeli scholar, Menashe Har-El noted that Feiran in Arabic means "mice," and thus rejected the identification, despite Aharoni's noting that Hebrew Paran appears as Greco-Roman Pharan in an Early Christian Pilgrimage made by a Spanish or French pilgrimess called either Etheria or Egeria ca. the 5th century A.D., she stating it lay 35 Roman miles west of Mount Sinai (Gebel Musa), and that a Greco-Roman Geographer named Ptolemy of the 1st century B.C.-1st century A.D. had also mentioned a Pharan in the same general area. Both Pharans were in existence BEFORE the Arabs in the 7th centry A.D. conquered this region and began rendering site names into Arabic forms that sounded similar. Professor Menashe Har-El argued that Kadesh Barnea's location _in_ the wilderness of Paran suggested Paran was somewhere in or near the Negev, not the southern Sinai.
A number of scholars have sought Yahweh and its forms Yah, Yahu, Yo in a verb, hayah, but there is NOT universal consensus, some object and suggest this etymology is unsupported in 2nd millennium B.C. examples.
Beitzel's views (1980) on the Tetragrammaton YHWH and Ehyeh (Emphasis mine):
"Arrayed against the inherently improbable conclusions of the first two standpoints, this writer should like to theorize that, with the tetragrammaton, one is most likely dealing with a quadriliteral divine name in which the initial yod is lexically intrinsic. In support of this suggestion, one summons the following evidence. As a second millennium extra-biblical phenomenon, this name is ubiquitious. One is able to locate the name in an onomastically identical or equivalent form in three corpora of second millennium literature. It appears (1) as a Ugaritic divine name [yw], (2) as an Egyptian place name [ya-h-wa/yi=ha] (Amenhophis III text from Soleb, Rameses II text from 'Amara, Rameses III text from Medinet Habu), and (3) as a Byblian divine name ['Ieuw]. Morever, some authorities argue that it may be found as an element in Babylonian proper names from the Cassite period [e.g. Ya-u-ha-zi] and as an element in personal names [e.g. Is-ra-il/lu du-bi-zi-pis, Is-ra-ya lu du-bi-zi-pis; dinger Ya-ra-mu] at Ebla. This list cuts a wide swath linquistically and geographically, and it evidences a great antiquity for the word as a personal name, and as a divine name in particular.
Now Semitic philologists are familiar with the onomastic proposition which states that geographical names and personal names derive from divine names, but that the converse is not generally true. Further, the complexity of phonetics, and orthography between the Akkadian [Babylonian], West Semetic and Egyptian writing systems is profound, but it is a fundamental principle in onomastic studies that "divine names and other substantives lend themselves to borrowing more easily than do adjectives and that borrowing of verbal forms is highly improbable."
This latter dictum of linguistic borrowing is obviously recognizable in the first millennium extra-biblical evidence, where Yahweh is found in Aramaic, Greek, Moabite and Canaanite literature. But the antiquity and ubiquity of the second millennium evidence coupled with these two onomastic axia strongly suggest the word was already a divine name centuries before the Mosaic epoch. Accordingly, it seems preferable to conclude that the tetragrammaton is a quadriradical divine name of unknown lexicographical and ethnic origin, and that its relationship with hayah in Exodus 3:14 is one of paronomasia, not etymology.
Since the use of of paronomasia promoted certain excitement and curiosity to invite a search for meanings not readily apparent, it is not at all surprising to find that a divine revelation like Exodus 3:14 would be couched in paronomastic forms. Nor is such a view inconsistent with those Johannine passages in which Jesus consciously seeks to identify Himself with the "I am" of Exodus. But neither the gospel nor the proclamation of Exodus is attempting to supply us with the etymology of the teragrammaton. Exodus 3:14 becomes, therefore, yet another instance of paronomasia in the Bible." (Barry J. Beitzel. "Exodus 3:14 and the Divine Name: A Case of Biblical Paronomasia." Trinity Journal. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. 1.1. pp. 5-20. 1980)
"In its broadest definition, paranomasia is a comprehensive term first employed by ancient Greek scholastics when referring to rhetorical devices designed to engage and retain the attention of the audience. This extremely persuasive literary embellishment was so-called because one word was "brought alongside" (literally: "to name beside") of another which appeared or sounded similar or identical-- thus producing an aura of literary ambiguity-- but which was actually quite different in origin and meaning.
Paronomasia is a common ancient New Eastern phenomenon, specimens of which are preserved in Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Arabic literatures. It is also attested in the New Testament and postbiblical corpora. Though regarded by contemporary Westerners only as an appropriate form of comedy, paronomasia is characteristically utilized in the Old Testament to arouse curiosity or to heighten the effect of a particularly solemn or important pronouncement, in this way permanently and indelibly impressing the proclamation upon the memory of an audience. This essay will conside the two foci of paronomastic types-- visual and oral-- and advance a paronomastic explanation of Exodus 3:14.
Since the writing of G. R. Driver, a number of scholars have embraced the opinion that the divine name, when it first arose, did not have a readily intelligible form, instead being an emotional cultic outburst, such as dervishes might cry out ecstaticly. In the main basing his conclusions upon extra-biblical evidence, Driver affirmed that the antique form of the deity worshipped by some pre-Mosaic Hebrw ancestors was the digrammaton Ya, a form whose origin was a kind of numinal exclamation. Conclusive for Driver was the fact that whereas Hebrew compound proper names were never formed with Yahweh, many were formed with Ya. Now over a period of time, such primitive ecstatic ejaculations tend to be prolonged. Thus, taken together with Driver's belief that the genius of the Exodus event lay in the creation of a new national Hebrew diety, the evolution from Ya to Yahweh was easily effected. At once, this new form was recognized on the basis of popular etymology as closely resembling the verb hayah, therein facilitating its general acceptance and interpretation by the Mosaic community...As to these presuppositions, it must be asserted that it would be unprecedented for a Semetic divine name to originate in a religious exclamation...Furthermore, leaving aside the problem of how Ya developed into Yahweh and not some other form, Semitic proper names normally begin with transparent appellations or sentences and shorten or disintegrate. They do not become prolonged, as supposed by adherents of this view."
While the present writer has frequently encountered divine names consisting of one-word nouns (e.g. El), genitive compounds (e.g. Dagan-Neri, "Dagon is light"), noun plus pronoun (e.g. Yaum-An, "An is mine"), and verb plus noun (e.g., Itur'-Mer, "Mer returns"), it would be virtually unparalleld for a bare verbal form to exist as a divine name.
What is more, it must be pointed out that a root HWY is inextant in all West Semitic languages which antedate the Mosaic era. That is to say, Phoenician contains no root HWY; Ugaritic, despite its attestation of a divine name yw, bears no witness to this verbal root; and Amorite Akkadian evidences no root HWY. The root HWY is attested only in Aramaic, Syriac, Nabatean and Palmyrian...At the same time, a host of scholars advance the theory that the tetragrammaton derives from the causative stem of a Hebrew verb hayah. In this case, "Yahweh" and the verb "to be" are understood to be fused etymologically, and the divine name is taken to convey the meaning "the One Who causes to be (what is)," "He Who brings things to pass," or "the Performer of the Promise.
But again, one is left with a divine name composed wholly of a finite verb and, in this case, one of a demonstrably non-existent causative stem...In any case, the causative of this root is unattested in Semitic." (Barry J. Beitzel. "Exodus 3:14 and the Divine Name: A Case of Biblical Paronomasia." Trinity Journal. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. 1980)
I note that Moses' name in Egyptian is part of a so-called "sentence name," meaning "is born," as in Thothmoses meaning "Thoth is born." The Hebrews have falsely explained it as "drawn from [the water]" alluding to Pharaoh's daughter drawing him from the Nile as an infant. If Holy Writ can't be trusted for the correct meaning of Moses' name, why should we trust it for the meaning of Yahweh's name ? Some scholars trained in etymology and philology have noted that a number of names whose meaning are given in Genesis, are "folk etymologies" and actually incorrect, philologcially speaking.
Archaeology has found no evidence of the Exodus in Sinai or near the traditional Mt. Sinai, associated with Gebel Musa near Saint Catherine's Monastery. The Bible dates this event to ca. 1446 B.C. (1 Kings 6:1) which is in the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1560-1200 B.C.). There are no graves of the thousands who allegedly perished in the worship of the Golden Calf, yet there are graves in the Sinai from Early Bronze Age times. Some argue the Exodus was ca. 1200 B.C., towards the end of the Late Bronze Age, Israel introducing the Iron Age, yet no Early Iron exists in the Sinai or at Kadesh-Barnea (Ain el-Qudeirat or Ain el-Qadeis in the lower Negeb).
No archaeological evidence in Sinai to substantiate Israel's 600,000 warriors and their families (extrapolated to be 2 million souls!) means No Moses, No Joshua, No Yahweh coming down upon Mt. Sinai -its all a myth! The origins of Yahwehism are not Sinai and the Negeb; Yahwehism is from Northern Syria (as preserved in the myths found at Ugarit) and Phoenicia. Those seeking it in the southern wilderness are following a false trail, provided by the biblical texts, which have proved to be notoriously inaccurate by the findings of archaeology for time periods before 1000 B.C.
Perevolotsky and Finkelstein on the lack of evidence of an Exodus in the Sinai:
"But, so far, no remains from the Late Bronze Age (15th-13th centuries B.C. -the period in which these events were supposed to have taken place) or even from the subsequent Iron Age I have been found anywhere in the whole Sinai peninsula, except for archaeological evidence of Egyptian activity on Sinai's northern coastal strip. Accordingly, no progress has been made in locating the Israelite encampments, in identifying their route, or in fixing the site of Mount Sinai." (p. 28, Aviram Perevolotsky and Israel Finkelstein. "The Southern Sinai Exodus Route in Ecological Perspective." pp. 27-41. Biblical Archaeology Review. July/August. 1985. Vol. XI No. 4)
Finkelstein and Silbermann on a lack of evidence for the Exodus and the traditional Jebel Musa being Mount Sinai near St. Catherine's Monastery:
"Some archaeological traces of their generation-long wandering in Sinai should be apparent. However, except for the Egyptian forts along the northern coast, not a single campsite or sign of occuation from the time of Ramesses II and his immediate predecessors and succesors has ever been identified in Sinai. And it has not been for lack of trying. Repeated archaeological surveys in all regions of the peninsula, including the mountainous area around the traditional site of Mount Sinai, near Saint Catherine's Monastery, have yielded only negative evidence: not even a single sherd, no structure, not a single house, no trace of an ancient encmpment. One may argue that a relatively small band of wandering Israelites cannot be expected to leave material remains behind. But modern archaeological techniques are quite capable of tracing even the meager remains of hunter-gatherers and pastoral nomads all over the world. Indeed, the archaeological record from the Sinai peninsula discloses evidence for pastoral activity in such eras as the 3rd millenium BCE and the Hellenistic and Byzantine periods. There is simply no such evidence at the supposed time of the Exodus in the 13th century B.C. The conclusion -that the Exodus did not happen at the time and in the manner described in the Bible- seems irrefutable when we examine the evidence at specific sites...Israel camped at Kadesh-Barnea for 38 of the 40 years of the wanderings...It has been identified by archaeologists with the large and well-watered oasis of Ein el Qudeirat in eastern Sinai, on the border between modern Israel and Egypt. The name Kadesh was probably preserved over the centuries in the name of a nearby smaller spring called Ein Qadis. A small mound with the remains of a Late Iron fort stands at the center of this oasis. Yet repeated excavations and surveys throughout the entire area have not provided even the slightest evidence for activity in the Late Bronze Age, not even a single sherd left by a tiny fleeing band of frightened refugees." (pp. 62-63, "Did the Exodus Happen ?" Israel Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silberman. The Bible Unearthed, Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. New York. The Free Press. 2001. ISBN0-684-86912-8) I must caution the reader here, that Finkelstein and Silberman have "overstated" the situation about there being not a "single sherd" in the Southern Sinai of the Late Bronze Age period. They are simply wrong. There are sherds from Egypt in the Southern Sinai from the Late Bronze Age period, AT THE TIME THE BIBLE PLACES THE EXODUS IN. Please see my article titled "Exodus Memories of Southern Sinai Linking the Archaeological Evidence to the Biblical Narratives").
My research on the Exodus has determined that as presented in the Bible, the Exodus is fiction, yet I have determined that it is based on real events. One of those events was the Expulsion of the Hyksos ca. 1540 B.C. by Pharaoh Ahmose I. The Hyksos' stronghold was Avaris, a SEAPORT on a branch of the Nile. Bietak, who is in charge of excavating Avaris, understands that via ports from Ugarit in Syria, Phoenicia, Cyprus and Canaan, the Hyksos increased in numbers and in power. The god they worshipped was BAAL-HADAD or BAAL-ZEPHON, the god OF UGARIT, whose home was a mountain called BAAL-ZEPHON, north of Ugarit. Baal the storm-god, is then a god with power of the sea (Yam/Yaw of Ugarit myths). Baal's power over the sea assures the Hyksos good weather for sailing to Egypt and increasing their numbers in Egypt and power via maritime trade. So, the "GOD OF THE HYKSOS EXODUS " WAS BAAL-HADAD, THE STORM GOD." Baal arose from death in the form of a stormcloud, and in myths storm clouds were called Adad's Calves. Yahweh-Elohim manifests himself at Mount Sinai as a Storm Cloud (Adad's Calf), and a Golden Calf is shortly made and declared to be the "God that led Israel up out of Egypt." It is my understanding that Baal is the Golden Calf, and that Yahweh, having assimilated Baal's persona and achievements is the Golden Calf.
Finkelstein and Silberman, utilizing the latest information from archaeological findings have posited that the Primary History, Genesis-2 Kings, was written toward the end of the late 7th century and first half of the 6th century BCE, and that current events and concerns have been retrojected by the biblical narrator,into hoary antiquity and the 3rd and 2nd milleniums BCE.
Finkelstein and Silberman, noting some sites mentioned in the book of Joshua came into being only in the last decades of the seventh century B.C. (meaning this is the earliest that the Primary History, Genesis- 2Kings, could have been written):
"This basic picture of the gradual accumulation of legends and stories- and their eventual incorporation into a single coherent saga with a definite theological outlook- was a product...of Judah in the seventh century B.C.E. Perhaps most telling of all the clues that the book of Joshua was written at this time is the list of towns in the territory of the tribe of Judah, given in detail in Joshua 15:21-62. The list precisely corresponds to the borders of the kingdom of Judah during the reign of Josiah. Mreover, the placenames mentioned in the list closely corrspond to the seventh-century B.C.E. settlement in the same region. And some of the sites were ocupied only in the final decades of the seventh century B.C.E." (p.92, Finkelstein & Silberman)
"All these indications suggest that the Exodus narrative reached its final form during the time of the 26th Dynasty, in the second half of the seventh and first half of the sixth century B.C.E." (p. 68, "Did the Exodus Happen ?" Finkelstein & Silberman)
Yahwehism did not arise from a series of revelations to Abraham in Canaan and the Negeb ca. 2000 B.C. -there was no well of Beersheba before 1200 B.C., the Philistines did not arrive in Canaan until ca. 1174 B.C. Neither did Yahweism arise through a revelation to Moses in the 15th century B.C. while he was wandering the Sinai wilderness (ca. 1446 B.C., cf. 1 Kings 6:1), because archaeology reveals no Late Bronze Age presence at Mt. Sinai/Gebel Musa (2 million people). The fact that Northern Israelite names bear the theophoric Yaw suggests that they remained truer to their polythesistic religious heritage. I have posited that Yahweh is, in part, Yaw/Yam of the Ugaritic Myths (1500-1200 BCE). Later ages apparently fused Ugaritic El (Bull-El), Yaw and Baal together into the persona of Yahweh-Elohim. In taking on the attributes and feats of these gods, Yahweh also took on their wives and consorts. Athirat (Ashtirat, Attart, Asherah) wife of El, became fused with Baal's consort, Anat ("the Queen of Heaven" in Late Bronze Age myths), Yaw/Yam's wife was Ashtoreth/Asherah, "the bride claimed by the tyrant sea" in an Egyptian papyrus. Yahweh was also called Baali by Israel (Hosea 2:16.) Attart-shem-Baal ("Attart-name of-Baal") suggested to Leick, that Attart may be a MANIFESTATION of Baal. If correct, male and female gods could, at times, be aspects of each other. Perhaps Yahweh as Baali became a manifestation of Attart-shem-Baal? Thus Attart as Asherah is a manifestation of Baali-Yahweh (God is bi-sexual, male and female)? Langdon shows a coin from Gaza with a double faced head, male and bearded facing left, female to the right. Perhaps he is right in understanding this to be Yaw/Ashtart?
"Yaw was associated with the Canaanitish Mother-goddess. `Ashart-`Anat, as we know from the name of the deity of the Jews at Elephantine, `Anat-Yaw, where two other father-mother titles of divinities occur, such as Ashim-Bethel, `Anat-Bethel, in which the titles of Astarte are combined with the sun-god Bethel. It is precisely at Gaza. where Yaw as a sun-god appears on a coin (fig. 23), that coins frequently bear the figure of this `Ashtart-Yaw, Anat-Yaw, Anat-Bethel, corresponding to the Phoenician Melk-Ashtart, Eshmun-Ashtart. Fig. 24, of the Persian period, is charcteristic of this male-female, or female-male deity, and the heads, being joined, prove that under these names was worshipped a deity who combines the attributes of both." (p.44, fig. 24. Stephen Herbert Langdon. The Mythology of All Races- Semitic. Vol. 5. Boston. Marshall Jones Company. 1931. pp. 454)
"Attart-shem-Baal (Canaanite Goddess). Her name means 'Astart name of Baal.' In the Baal myths she appears as a manifestation and consort of Baal. Her character resembles that of Anat, as a goddess of war and the chase. Her fertility aspect is more pronounced in the Old Testament, where she is called Ashtoreth. In an Egyptian papyrus from the 19th Dynasty she is called the 'bride of the tyrant sea.' (p.16, "Attart-shem-Baal," Leick)
A number of scholars have suggested that the biblical narratives identifying Yahweh as dawning from Seir and Paran suggest he was originally a god of these areas. They point to Egyptian lists which suggest to them that there was a place called Ya-h-wa, identified with S-r-r, which they claim is Seir. One scholar has challenged these assumptions, Astour, as noted in Thompson's article on Yahweh.
"Yahweh. The Origin of the Name.
"The date and origin of the name has been debated. Its earliest appearances are in the song of Deborah (Judges 5; which has been dated to the 11th century BC), on the Mesha stele (9th century; ANET, 320), in an ostracon from Kuntillet Ajrud (8th century, Freedman 1987: 246), and in the Adad and Lachish letters (6th century; ANET, 569, 322).
To move outside of the Levant, we find Egyptian name lists which include a Syrian site, Ya-h-wa (No. 97), which is identical to Yahweh. A Ramesses II (1304-1237 BC) list is found in a Nubian temple in Amarah West with six names (Nos. 93-98) following the designation "Bedouin area". Nos. 96-98 have been found at Soleb in Nubia on an Amon temple of Amenhotep III (1417-1379 BC). No. 93, Sa-ra-r, has been identified with Seir (Edom) and related to the biblical references (Deut 33:2) which associate Yahweh with Seir and Paran. This could be taken as evidence the name was known in Edom or Midianite territory ca. 1400 BC (EncRel 7: 483-84).
However, Astour (The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible Supplement 1971), notes that the writing "S-r-r" is incorrect as opposed to the spelling in other Egyptian inscriptions. Furthermore, three of the sites, including Yi-ha, on Ramesses III's temple in Medinet Habu, are in a Syrian context suggesting that Ya-h-wa/Yi-ha was also in Syria. Thus the name is not associated with Edom or Midianites but does seem to appear as early as 1400 B.C. in Syria.
From a later time, the 8th century B.C., two Aramean princes have names with the element "Yau." This has been taken to mean that some Arameans may have worshipped Yahweh (Rankin 1950:95). This could relate to the earlier connection of the Patriarchs with the Arameans, e.g., Jacob's sojourn with Laban, the eponymous ancestor of the Arameans (Genesis 29-31). The divine name is not found in any cuneiform texts.
The formative -yw in some personal names from Ugarit (ca. 14th century B.C.) is not a divine element and has no connection with the name Yahweh." (Henry O. Thompson, "Yahweh."pp. 1011-1012. Vol. 6. David Noel Freedman. Editor. Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York. Doubleday. 1992)
The "earliest" clue of possible Yahweh worship in Canaan is of the Amarna Era and the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten, ca. 1350-1334 B.C. A clay tablet was found in an archive in Egypt, from a "Mayor" of Ta'anach in Canaan, called Ahi-Jami.
Professor Clay on a form of Yahweh appearing a theophoric element in a personal name of the "mayor" of Ta`anach, Canaan during the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten, ca. 1350-1334 B.C.:
"It is understood that these tablets belong to the same general period as the Amarna letters; and if that is correct, the name Ahi-Jami, which is very probably equivalent to Ahijah, is most interesting, since it contains the divine name of Israel's God, written Ja-mi. In the Murashu archives found at Nippur, belonging to the reigns of Artaxerxes and Darius, the divine element in Hebrew names is written Ja-a-ma for Jawa." (p. 54. Albert T. Clay. The Empire of the Amorites. New Haven. Yale University Press. 1919)
The origins of Yahwehism are not to be sought in the Negeb or Sinai, the biblical clues are false, archaeology reveals the events could not have occurred in the periods the Bible claims -biblical scholars have been led on a MERRY CHASE into the Negeb and Sinai- the origins are in the north, preserved at Ugarit and Mari in Syria as well as Sumer (Kish, cf. below) and to a degree in Phoenicia as well.
In my opinion, what is being remembered in the biblical texts about Yahweh dawning from Seir and Paran (the Sinai), is the presence in the Southern Sinai and the Arabah of Late Bronze Age miners from South Canaan, working the Egyptian mines in the 18th-20th Dynasties. These miners left Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions at Serabit el Khadim (15th century B.C.) and the Hathor shrine, showing that they had no problem assimilating their god, EL to Egyptian gods and goddesses. "Yah" as an inscription, "Yah of Gat (Gath)," first surfaces in Canaan on a Late Bronze Age ewer found in a temple's debris at Lachish, NOT the Sinai and Edom.
Israel did, however, preserve a notion that their ancestors were Syrians ("Arameans"), the archaeological evidence extrapolated from the Syrian myths found in Ugarit about the struggle for supremacy to claim the title "Lord of the Earth", between Yaw/Yam and Baal seems to bear out the northern Israelite theophoric Yaw vs. Baal scenarios and confirms that Aramaean/Syrian religious beliefs are, to a degree, what is behind Yahwehism.
Deut 26:5 RSV
"And you shall make response before the Lord your God. 'A wandering ARAMEAN was my father; and he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous.
Cf. my article titled "Israel's Iron IA Aramean Origins (the Archaeological Evidence For)," which argues that the Pentateuch is fusing two different origins stories together, Bronze Age Canaanite and Iron I Aramean, it being my understanding that the hundreds of villages suddenly appearing in the Hill Country of Canaan in Iron IA are Arameans driven from Aram/Syria by famine and war. By 560 B.C. when the Exodus story in its present form was written in the Exile (cf. 2 Kings 25:27), the narrator was evidently unaware that his God, Yahweh-Elohim was an amalgum of earlier pagan Late Bronze Age gods from Sumer, Syria (Ugarit & Mari), Canaan and Egypt (the Hyksos' Baal-Zephon/Baal-Hadad, assimilated to the Egyptian god Set/Seth).
Professor Kramer, as noted earlier, pointed out the Bible's indebtedness to motifs found in Sumerian literature of the 4th-3rd millenniums B.C. (which would equate with Canaanite Early Bronze Age). He noted that Enki the Crafty God, is alive and well today, his feats and epithets having been ascribed and assimilated to later gods. Many of Enki's motifs appear in Genesis, ascribed to Yahweh-Elohim. Still later, Christianity ascribed Enki's motifs to Christ, claiming that the God of the Old Testament was none-other than Christ himself as Logos ("The Word"). Then came Islam, understanding that the God of Abraham was Allah, and thus to Allah was ascribed Enki's motifs.
Today millions unknowingly honor Enki/Ea/Ayya, "the trickster god" in his "new guise" as Yahweh/Ehyeh, Christ and Allah.
Kramer wrote a number of books on Sumer, noting that Genesis' Yahweh-Elohim shares some motifs associated in stories about Enki. How to account for this? The Bible tells us that Abraham and his father Terah were from Ur of the Chaldees, identified by some scholars with Ur in Lower Mesopotamia. Ur is between Shurrupak (to its north) where the Sumerian Flood account is fixed and Eridu (to its south) where lay Enki's resdience and principal shrine. Mesopotamian myths allude to Enki's presence in Ur, he decreeing its fate:
"He [Enki] proceeded to the shrine of Ur, Enki, the king of the Abzu decrees (its) fate: "City possessing all that is appropriate, water-washed, firm-standing ox, dais of abundance of the highland, knees open, green like a mountain, Hashur-grove, wide of shade -he who is lordly because of his might (?) has directed your perfect me's, Enlil, the 'great mountain,' has pronounced your lofty name in the universe. City whose fate has been decreed by Enlil, shrine Ur, may you rise heaven high." (p.178. "Literature: The Sumerian Belles-Lettres." Samuel Noah Kramer. The Sumerians, Their History, Culture, and Their Character. Chicago. The University of Chicago Press. 1963. ISBN 0-226-45238-7. pbk)
My research on the "pre-biblical origins" of the Hebrew Shabbat (English: Sabbath) suggests it is an "inversion" of several motifs and concepts found in the Epic of Gilgamesh and Atrahasis, and their Flood accounts. In those myths vengeful gods destroyed the world in 6 days and nights with a Flood in order to annihilate mankind whom they despised and abhorred. On the 7th day the storm and its flood waters abated for man was no-more. On the 7th day, the "Sebittu day", ALL the gods rested at long last, because man no longer existed (except for those on the Mesopotamian Noah's ark). Man's constant noise and clamor on the earth, complaining of the unceasing toil imposed upon them by the gods -without any rest whatsoever for mankind- had prevented the gods from resting by day and sleeping by night. I have proposed that a Hebrew savant, perhaps either Terah or Abraham while at Ur, objected to this portrayal of the relationship between God and Man, and via an "inversion," made the 6 days of the earth's destruction, 6 days of the earth's creation. They replaced ALL the gods resting on the 7th day (seven in Babylonian is "sebittu") with ONE god resting on this day. For my article on the "pre-biblical origins" of the Sabbath/Shabbat please click here.
I am in full agreement with the late Professor Kramer, that Judaism, Christianity and Islam are deeply in the debt of the Sumerians, having borrowed, transformed and reformatted their myths (as well as other gods in the myths of Egypt, Canaan, Phoenicia, and Syria). I find myself wondering at times how many more centuries and millennia must pass before all of mankind comes to realize and acknowledge the Sumerian and Mesopotamian contributions to our religious beliefs, and that Yahweh-Elohim, Christ and Allah are nothing more than transformations and reinterpretations of much earlier PAGAN GODS.
I must remind the reader that at the beginning of this article I noted that Yahweh-Elohim was a fusion of several gods, that is to say Enki is NOT the _only_ god being transformed. According to Genesis it is Yahweh who _sent_ the Flood and it was Yahweh who _warned_ Noah of the Flood. In the Mesopotamian myths, however, it is the Akkadian god El-lil (Sumerian Enlil) who is held principally responsible for instigating the Flood, while Ea (Enki) defied El-lil (Enlil), by warning the Mesopotamian Noah. At the end of the Flood an angry Ellil/Enlil is beseeched by Ea/Enki not to ever again resort to a Flood to control the noisey human population which distubed "his rest and sleep" and Ellil/Enlil agrees to less drastic means. Then Ellil/Enlil "blesses" the Flood survivors, just as Yahweh blessed the Flood survivors (Ge 9:1)!
In other Mesopotamian myths Enki/Ea makes man to tend and till a god's garden at Nippur (the god of Nippur is Enlil/Ellil). However, another contradicting myth has Enki/Ea making man to work in _his_, Enki's garden at Eridu ! These two myths AGREE that man was "made" to work in the irrigated garden of _a_ god located at the city the god dwelt in!
I thus understand that Ea/Enki _and_ Ellil/Enlil have been fused together and lurk behind Genesis' presentation of Yahweh-Elohim, who made "man," Hebrew ha-adam, to tend and till his garden in Eden and later seek his demise in a global flood.
As regards the motifs of a naked Adam being made by Yahweh, and placed in _His_ earthly garden, unclothed and NAKED: I understand this is a fusion of several Mesopotamian myths about how and why the gods came to make man NAKED, leaving him in that condition for an unstated period of time to wander with wild animals in edin ( which means "plain") in Sumer. Another myth has man being created to tend and till a god's garden at Nippur (Enlil's earthly garden), while another myth has man created to work in a god's garden at Eridu (Enki's earthly fruit-tree garden). Please click here for my article explaining how the Hebrews transformed the Mesopotamian myths about man's being created to tend and till the earthly garden of a god in edin-the-plain of Sumer IN A STATE OF NAKEDNESS.
Of interest _to me_ is a passage from The Epic of Gilgamesh speaking of "a garden of the plain," as plain is "edin" in Sumerian, perhaps we what we have here is the earliest or "_first_" mention of a "garden of edin" ? Also of interest is the presence of trees in this "garden of edin," the biblical garden of Eden being famous for its trees.
Professor Kramer (emphasis mine):
"To the...GARDEN OF THE PLAIN he [Gilgamesh] directed his step,
The...-tree, the willow, the apple-tree, the box-tree, the
...-tree he felled there."
(p. 178. "Slaying of the Dragon [Huwawa or Humbaba], the First St. George." Samuel Noah Kramer. History Begins At Sumer, Twenty-seven "Firsts" In Man's Recorded History. Garden City, New York. Doubleday Anchor Books. 1959. paperback)
I have argued, along with others, that the Hebrews have apparently transformed the Mesopotamian myths in Genesis, but how does one account for this from a biblical point of view? Where's the "LINK"? Perhaps the "MISSING LINK" is _Ur of the Chaldees_, where lived Terah and his son Abraham before their departure to Haran in northern Syria? Excavations at Ur (Tell el Muqqayar, south of Babylon) have uncovered tablets from all periods of the city's long history, and some preserve the myths of this region dating back to Sumerian times. Leick noted that at times Syrian (Amorite) influence is detectable in some of these myths, they are not "purely" Sumerian, they have been reworked and augmented. Perhaps Terah and Abraham's ancestors were Syrians who had earlier settled at Ur? Did a "Syrian" Terah and Abraham later come "to make a break" with the local myths and develop their own interpretation of the relationship between God and Man, via inversions of the local myths? Did they leave Ur because the local populace rejected their new insights or "revelations" and return to their ancestral homeland of Haran, to promulgate their new vision to a less hostile audience? Cf. my article on Ur of the Chaldees for more details.
Professor Kramer on Abraham of Ur being Genesis' "missing link":
"To be sure, even the earliest parts of the Bible, it is generally agreed, were not written down in their present form much earlier than 1000 B.C., whereas most of the Sumerian literary documents were composed about 2000 B.C. or not long afterward. There is, therefore no question of any contemporary borrowing from the Sumerian literary sources. Sumerian influence penetrated the Bible through the Canaanite, Hurrian, Hittite, and Akkadian literatures -particularly through the latter, since, as is well known, the Akkadian language was used all over Palestine and its environs in the second millennium B.C. as the common language of practically the entire literary world. Akkadian literary works must therefore have been well known to Palestinian men of letters, including the Hebrews, and not a few of these Akkadian literary works can be traced back to Sumerian protoypes, remodeled and transformed over the centuries.
However, there is another possible source of Sumerian influence on the Bible, which is far more direct and immediate than that just described. In fact, it may well go back to Father Abraham himself. Most scholars agree that the Abraham saga as told in the Bible contains much that is legendary and fanciful, it does have an important kernel of truth, including Abraham's birth in Ur of the Chaldees, perhaps about 1700 B.C., and his early life there with his family. Now Ur was one of the most important cities of ancient Sumer; in fact, it was the capital of Sumer at three different periods in its history. It had an impressive edubba; and in the joint British-American excavations conducted there between the years 1922 and 1934, quite a number of Sumerian literary documents have been found. Abraham and his forefathers may well have had some acquaintence with Sumeriabn literary products that had been copied and created in their home town academy. And it is by no means impossible that he and the members of his family brought some of this Sumerian lore and learning with them to Palestine, where they gradually became part of the traditions and sources utilized by the Hebrew men of letters in composing and redacting the books of the Bible." (p. 292. "The Legacy of Sumer." Samuel Noah Kramer. The Sumerians, Their History, Culture, and Character. Chicago. The University of Chicago Press.  reprint 1972. ISBN 0-226-45237-9. paperback)
"Extra-biblical evidence" suggests a Jewish understanding from as early as the Hasmonean period (late 2nd century B.C.), that the Israelite forefathers were indeed originally of Babylonia, and only later of Haran of Mesopotamia and that because they had departed from the forms of worship embraced by their ancestors, they were apparently driven away as heretics to Haran and later to Canaan. If I am right in suppossing that the INVERSIONS, transformations and reformatting of the Mesopotamian myths are Terah and Abraham's doing, one can see why they would be driven out of Ur of the Chaldees by the local inhabitants who would object to their religious myths being NULLIFIED by the "revelations" of these two men.
Here is the account from Judith (believed by some scholars to date from the late 2nd century B.C.):
Judith 5:5-9 RSV
"Then Achior, the leader of all the Ammonites, said to him, "Let my lord now hear a word from the mouth of your servant, and I will tell you the truth about this people that dwells in the nearby mountain district. No falsehood shall come from your servant's mouth. This people is descended from the Chaldeans.At one time they lived in Mesopotamia, because they would not follow the the gods of their fathers who were in Chaldea. For they had left the ways of their ancestors, and they worshipped the God of Heaven, the God they had come to know; hence they drove them out from the presence of their gods; and they fled to Mesopotamia, and lived there a long time. Then their God commanded them to leave the place were they were living and go to the land of Canaan. There they settled, and prospered..." (Herbert G. May & Bruce M. Metzger. Editors. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. [Revised Standard Version]. New York. Oxford University Press. 1977)
Hoffmeier noted that Hyatt (1971) had argued Yahweh was _originally_ an Amorite or "Syrian" name:
"...J. P. Hyatt, for example, advocated this view, believing that the name Yahweh was originally Amorite and is attested in personal names in the early 2d millennium BC by the element Yahwi. Indeed, there are names at Mari, an Amorite kingdom, that apparently utilized the root from which the divine name Yahweh came (i.e., haya), that may offer clues to the process for the development of new divine names. According to those who see a Syro-Mesopotamian connection, the name came via Mesopotamia and was "the god of one of the ancestors of Moses." (p. 236. "The Origins of Israel's God." James K. Hoffmeier. Ancient Israel in Sinai, The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Wilderness Tradition. Oxford & New York. Oxford University Press. 2005. ISBN 0-19-515546-7. Citing J. Philip Hyatt. Exodus. London. Marshall, Morgan & Scott. 1971. p. 79)
Gordon and Rendsburg suggested Yahweh was honored in Syria not just Israel the brackets [ ] are mine:
"It is of interest to add here a few words about Syrian rulers of this period [1st millennium B.C.E.] with Yahwistic names. The annals of Tiglathpileser III refer to a king named Azriyau, and while the exact locale of his rule cannot be determined, it is clear that he was a local king in Syria. Similarly, later, during the reign of Sargon II, Assyrian records refer to a ruler of Hamath named Yaubidi...If we go further back in history, to the 2d millennium B.C.E., it will be recalled that Yahwistic forms also appear among the Amorite personal names from Syria. The picture that emerges is that Yahwe was worshipped not only in Israel, but to some extent in Syria as well. Probably the Syrian version of Yahwism differed from the Israelite version of a monolatry focused on Yahwe, but it still needs to be recognized that the worship of Yahwe persisted in areas of the Near East outside of Israel." (pp. 250-251. "From Israel's Largest Empire to the Fall of Samaria." Cyrus H. Gordon & Gary A. Rendsburg. The Bible and the Ancient Near East. New York & London. W. W. Norton & Company. 1997. [4th edition, 1965, 1958, 1953])
The 2d millennium B.C. (ca. the 18th century B.C.) Mari archives on the Euphrates give names of Amorites that some scholars have suggested are Yahweh names: Ya-wi-dim (Addu), Ya-wi-AN, Ya-wi-i-i-la, [Y]a-wi-u-um, Ya-wi-dD[agan], and Ya-wi-ya (cf. p. 39. "List of Amorite Personal Names." Herbert B. Huffmon. Amorite Personal Names in the Mari Texts: A Structural and Lexical Study. Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins Press. 1965).
Huffmon (1965) on the derivation of Yahweh and Ya-wi:
"Other name elements are causative verbal forms. The case of ya-aw-si from *wd' (common semitic), "go out," is comparable to ya-aw-si-b-, which was discussed above...The form ya-ah-wi is more difficult. It is probably to be derived from *hwy, "live," (Ugaritic, Phoenician; Arabic hyy; Ethiopian hyw; Hebrew and Aramaic *hyy[?]), since many personal names have elements from this root. This consideration, plus the orthography, makes *hwy [with a diacritical dot under h] preferable to *hwy [no diacritical dot under h], "be, become." Yet the precise form is hard to determine...The verbal form is probably a causative (jussive ?), and as such favors ya-ah-wi. The causitive interpretation is quite possible on semantic grounds as well, in that "give life" is very suitable if the name relates to the birth of a child. The element ya-wi could be an orthographic variant of ya-ah-wi, in which case it likewise should be explained by *hwy. It could also be distinguished from ya-ah-wi and be explained separately. (At the same time, it is conceivable that the two spellings are intermixed and reflect two different roots) As already indicated, the alternative explanation would be based on *hwy (Hebrew hw/yh; Aramaic hwh/y; Akkadian ewu; cf. Arabic hawa, "fall"), "be, become (to)." This root is not known in early West Semitic onomastics except for the name of the Israelite deity, Yahweh, and an Edomite place name, Yhw3, now found in lists of Amenophis III (Soleb) and Rameses II (Amarah)." (pp. 71-72. "List of Amorite Personal Names." Herbert B. Huffmon. Amorite Personal Names in the Mari Texts: A Structural and Lexical Study. Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins Press. 1965)
As regards the meaning of yahwi in Amorite names, suggestions have been: "to manifest [oneself]" or "to be present"; ilum means "god" as also so does ilu. Thus some have suggested yahwi-ilum means "the god manifests [himself]" or "El manifests [himself]".
Iawa-ila, king of Talhayum in northern Syria, notes in a communique to Zimri-lim king of Mari (ca. 1782-1759 BCE), that he has conquered the city of Ulaya and intends to attack Zalmaqum. Could this be a "form" of Amorite Yawi-i-i-la (?), meaning "El is present"or "El manifests [himself]" or "God manifests [himself]"? (cf. A. Finet. "Iawa-ila, roi de Talhayum." Revue du Syria. Vol. 41 (1964). pp. 117-142, especially pp. 188 ff.)
Huffmon (1971) on Yahweh possibly being related to 2d millennium B.C. ya-wi, found as an element in Amorite names from the archives at Mari on the Euphrates river:
"...when the same person appears a number of times, most notably -over fifteen occurrences- in the case of Ya-wi-AN (once, Ya-wi-i-ila), king of Talhayum, the initial element is always spelled the same way. And although it has been suggested that the two names both reflect *hwy [diacritical dot under h], "live," it is clear that if the two belong together they reflect *hwy [no diacritical mark under h], "be, become (to)." Accordingly, we must recognize the existence of a verbal element in Amorite names that parallels the traditional interpretation of Yahweh as an imperfect verb.
Against Fritz Hommel and Heinrich Zimmern (later followed by others), who explained Ya-wi-AN as "God exists," Delitzsch argued that since no personal names compounded from hwy/hyh were known in North Semitic, the name must be understood as meaning "Yahweh is God." Delitzsch's analysis of this name has recently gained the support of Andre Finet in connection with the name of the Mari personage Ya-wi-AN (once, Ya-wi-i-ila). For Finet, a name meaning "Ila -or the God- Is," would be blasphemous, so the name actually means "Ila is Yahwi," Ila being an Amorite form of El, head of the Canaanite pantheon. That is, the name equates two divinities, and -for Finet- the name Ya-wi-dIM means "Dagan is Yawi." Finet comments, "the god Yawi is a newcomer, a syncretistic deity to whom his devotees claim to assimilate the local gods such as Ila/El or Adad [or Dagan]." Yawi, of course, is the same as Yahweh." (p. 284. Herbert B. Huffmon. "Yahweh and Mari." pp. 283-289, in Hans Goedicke. Editor. Near Eastern Studies in Honor of William Foxwell Albright. Baltimore, Maryland. The Johns Hopkins Press. 1971)
"Although a similar explanation is quite possible for Ya-wi-AN, viz., "May God/El be Constant," the balance of probability favors a more common type of name, a name that refers to divine aid in childbearing. Keeping to Amorite names with a comparable structure, we find examples with the following verbal elements: yabni, "(the deity) has built (the line, with a child)" / "may (the deity) build..."; yawsi "the deity) brought out (a child)" / "may (the deity) bring out..." yahwi/*yahwi "the deity) has given life (to a child)" / "may (the deity) give life..."; yakin, (the deity) has created (a child)" / "may (the deity) create..." yantin, "(the deity) has given (a child)" / "may (the deity) give..." Ya-wi-AN (and Ya-wi-dIM, etc.) would fit nicely into this class of names and mean "God/El Has Brought (a child) into Being" / "May God/El Bring (a child) into Being." But whichever interpretation of the Amorite element one follows -simple or causitive- it is clear that we have a verbal form comparable to Yahweh, a name that itself is not necessarily clear even though a causitive sense seems more likely for the divine name also.
Apart from comparable verbal forms, the Mari texts also furnish some clues as to how a divine name such as Yahweh might have risen. Divine names, as is well known, often derive from epithets that are commonly or particularly associated with a deity. In reference to Mesopotamia, whence we have thousands of divine names, W. G. Lambert has remarked that "the epithets more commonly addressed to a deity were often in the course of time transformed into names, and these show the attributes ascribed to the god." Lambert also notes, apropos of the importance of Sumerian litanies for the god lists, that "in some cases the epithets applied to one deity in these litanies appear in god lists as the subdiiary names of that deity."...it must be borne in mind that personal names which thank, implore, or describe the deity are also basic evidence for divine epithets." (p. 286. Herbert B. Huffmon. "Yahweh and Mari." pp. 283-289, in Hans Goedicke. Editor. Near Eastern Studies in Honor of William Foxwell Albright. Baltimore, Maryland. The Johns Hopkins Press. 1971)
"There is no denying that the name Yahweh might have arisen otherwise, but it is worth while to bear in mind that so far as names are concerned, an element such as yahweh is best known in Amorite personal names and, in so far as early Canaanite is concerned, examples are restricted to a place name in Egyptian topographical lists and to a learned lexicographical text from Ugarit." (p. 289.Herbert B. Huffmon. "Yahweh and Mari." pp. 283-289, in Hans Goedicke. Editor. Near Eastern Studies in Honor of William Foxwell Albright. Baltimore, Maryland. The Johns Hopkins Press. 1971)
In regards to Huffmon's above observations on an Amorite personal name rendered Ya-wi-i-ila, there was a still earlier identification (before 1908) by Delitzsch,a German Assyriologist, as noted by Pinches. Note that Pinches understands Yahweh should be rendered ya'wa and thus he has reservations of Hommel's ya'we-ilu being Yahweh of the Israelites:
"Most important of all, however, from a point of view of the history of the religion of the Jews, is what Delitzsch states concerning the name Jahweh (Jehovah). On p. 46 of of his first lecture (German edition) he gives half-tone reproductions of three tablets preserved in the British Museum, which according to him, contain three forms of the personal name "Jahweh is God" -Ya'we-ilu, Yawe-ilu, and Yaum-ilu. The last of these names we may dismiss at once, the form being clearly not that of Yahweh, but of Yah, the Jah of Psalm 114:35 and several other passages. The other two, however, are not so lightly dealt with, notwithstanding the objections of other Assyriologists and Orientalists. It is true that Ya'pi-ilu and Yapi-ilu are possible readings, but Delitzsch's objections to them are soundly based, and can hardly be set aside. The principal argument against the identification of Ya'we or Yawe with Yahwah is, that we should have here, about 2000 years before Christ, a form of the word which is really later than that used by the Jewish captives at Babylon 500 years before Christ, when it was to all appearance pronounced Ya(')awa or Yawa...If, however, we may read the name Ya'wa (Ya'awa) or Yawa, as is possible, then there is nothing against the identification proposed by Delitzsch...Nevertheless, we require more information from the records of ancient Babylonia before we can say, with certainty, that the first component of the name Ya'wa-ilu is the Yahweh of the Hebrews, though we are bound to admit that the identification is in the highest degree probable. Delitzch speaks of the possibility of ya'we being a verbal form (it would be parallel to names like Yabnik-ilu), only to reject it, as a name meaning "God exists"...(pp. 535-536. "Appendix." Theophilus G. Pinches. The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records of Assyria and Babylonia. London. The Society For Promoting Christian Knowledge. 1908. 3rd Revised Edition [2d Edition was 1903])
In Late Old Babylonian Texts (ca. 1800-1600 B.C.) from Kish there appears a king called Yawium, ia-wi-u2-um lugal
( http://cdli.ucla.edu/tools/yearnames/HTML/T16K3.htm ). Kish (Sumerian KIŠKI, modern Tall al-Uhaymir) was an ancient city of Sumer, situated some 12 km east of Babylon, now ca. 80 km south of Baghdad (cf. Wikipedia). Note: 10 kilometers equals roughly 6 miles. Some scholars have suggested Abraham was born about 1800 B.C. (cf. http://www.jewfaq.org/origins.htm), the Bible has him dying at the age of 175 years (Ge 25:7), placing his death about 1625 B.C. Despite the unlikelihood he really lived that long, nevertheless, if he did live sometime between 1800 and 1600 B.C., he would have been a near-contemporary of Yawium of Kish as well as of Zimri-lim the king of Mari who reigned ca. 1778-1758 B.C. The Mari records of this period mention Amorite personal names possessing a yawi element that some scholars (cf. above) have suggested "might be" what is behind the Hebrew yahweh. If they are correct in their suppositions, then Abraham lived about the same period of time and the same general location where yawi names were in vogue amongst some of the Amorites of northern Mesopotamia (he having settled at Haran for a time).
It is of interest that Abraham was later of Upper or northern Mesopotamia (Haran) and Mari lies in this same general region. Mari was an Amorite city-state. Haran was famed for its worship of the moon god Sin, and Abraham was of Ur of the Chaldees (tell el Muqayyar or Mugheir according to some) which honored the moon god under the name of Nanna or Nannar. A Sumerian stele shows a seated and bearded Nanna being served liquid refreshment by a naked man (priest?). The god Enki, called Ea by 2500 B.C., had a temple or shrine at Ur. In the Ur myths Ea, pronounced aya or ayya, was credited with supervising the creation of man to work in his fruit-tree garden at Eridu as well as Enlil's garden at Nippur. In later myths Ea (Aya) confounds the one language of the world into a babel of languages to spite Enlil. In yet another myth, Ea/Aya spites Enlil again when he warns the Mesopotamian Noah, Utnapishtim (also called Atrahasis or Ziusudra) to build a boat and save heimself, family and animals from a flood intending to destroy all mankind at Enlil's instigation. Did the Aramaic "ear" at Haran hear Aya (Ea) as ehyeh or haya (Yahweh)? Yahweh, like Ea/Aya is credited with making man to work in his garden and he warned one man of a flood to destroy mankind.
Is the naked man serving a drink to Nanna at Ur, recalling the Mesopotamian myth (cf. the so-called "Eridu Genesis Myth") of man at first being a savage, knowing nothing of the arts of civilization, wandering the steppe with wild animals and in a naked state? Later the gods civilize man, take him to work their gardens and serve them food and build their cities. Man is taught it is wrong to be naked, for the gods wear clothes and nakedness is an offense to them. Thus naked savage man at first wandered with animals for companions in a naked state because the knowledge of good and evil was denied him (it is wrong to be naked) by the gods in the beginning, only later does man acquire this knowledge, and becomes "like a god," knowing good and evil (to cover his nakedness). That is to say the Sumerian depictions of naked men serving the gods is what is behind the biblical portrayal of Adam's nakedness as Yahweh's agricultural servant?
A Jewish savant writing at the time of the Hasmoneans (2nd century B.C.) notes that Terah and Abraham FLED Ur of the Chaldees, when their MONOTHEISTIC CHALLENGE was "rejected" by the POLYTHEISTIC populace.
Note that this author understands his ancestors were ORIGINALLY CHALDEANS _NOT_ARAMEANS, and that ORIGINALLY THEY LIVED IN CHALDEA _NOT_ ARAM (Syria and Haran, here rendered "Mesopotamia"). He also understands that as CHALDEANS THEY WORSHIPPED MANY GODS, but while in CHALDEA they came to be aware that there was only ONE GOD, and they were driven from Chaldea (Babylonia) by their kinsmen for refusing to worship any longer the gods. In other words, this anonymous Hasmonean Jewish savant understood that "monotheism" began with Yahweh revealing himself to Terah and Abraham in Chaldea (cf. Ge 11:31-32) rather than at Haran in Aram/Syria (Ge 12:1-4). I have noted, above, that the adventures and feats of Enki/Ea of Eridu, in what later came to be identified with Chaldea by Hasmonean times, were preserved in cuneiform clay tablets at Ur of the Chaldees (a temple to Ea was found at Ur). Ea creates man to work in his Eridu fruit-tree garden, has man serve him in a state of nakedness, denying him the knowledge it is wrong to be naked, gives him forbidden knowledge but denies him immortality, causes the one language of mankind to become many languages to spite Enlil, and warns Ziusudra of a Flood intended to destroy mankind. And on the 7th day, the sebittu day, Ea with his fellow gods can now at long last achieve a "rest" with man's demise, man's noise that distrubed the gods' _rest_ being eliminated with man's demise. I am sure that this Jewish Hasmonean savant had _no_ knowledge of Enki/Ea of Eridu in Chaldea being one of the prototypes of Ehyeh, Yah, Yahweh-Elohim, and he probably was also unaware of Enki/Ea's shrine/temple in Ur of the Chaldees (unearthed by archaeologists). Did Terah and Abraham worship Enki/Ea in Ur of the Chaldees at this shrine?
"Then Achior, the leader of all the Ammonites, said to him, "Let my lord now hear a word from the mouth of your servant, and I will tell you the truth about this people that dwells in the nearby mountain district. No falsehood shall come from your servant's mouth. THIS PEOPLE IS DESCENDED FROM THE CHALDEANS. At one time they lived in Mesopotamia, because THEY WOULD NOT FOLLOW THE GODS OF THEIR FATHERS WHO WERE IN CHALDEA. FOR THEY HAD LEFT THE WAYS OF THEIR ANCESTORS, and they worshipped THE GOD of Heaven, THE GOD they had come to know; hence THEY DROVE THEM OUT FROM THE PRESENCE OF THEIR GODS; and THEY FLED TO MESOPOTAMIA, and lived there a long time. Then their God commanded them to leave the place were they were living and go to the land of Canaan. There they settled, and prospered..." (Herbert G. May & Bruce M. Metzger. Editors. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. [Revised Standard Version]. New York. Oxford University Press. 1977)
Some scholars have suggested that the form yawi appearing in personal names found on texts at Mari on the Euphrates in Upper Mesopotamia circa 1800-1700 B.C. as well as at Kish (Yawium being one of its kings) in Lower Mesopotamia circa 1800-1600 B.C. in the Late Old Babylonian period, may be indicators that the origin of the name Yahweh may be Mesopotamian. Abraham according to some scholars lived about the same period of time, 1800-1600 B.C. when yawi names appear in texts of both Lower and Upper Mesopotamia (Kish and Mari), and Abraham is portrayed as living in _both_ of these locations (Ur of the Chaldees in Lower Mesopotamia and Haran in Upper Mesopotamia). The Bible suggests it is _in_ Mesopotamia that Abraham "learns" of a god called Yahweh and yawi names do exist in the timeframe of Abraham's world in this region. That is to say the Bible seems to have remarkably preserved a very old association of Yahweh with a yawi name form from both Lower and Upper Mesopotamia (Ur of the Chaldees being near Kish and Haran being near Mari).
Professor Kramer on Abraham's birth being possibly circa 1700 B.C. which falls in the period of yawi names occurring at Kish and Mari:
"However, there is another possible source of Sumerian influence on the Bible...Father Abraham himself. Most scholars agree that while the Abraham saga as told in the Bible contains much that is legendary and fanciful, it does have an important kernel of truth, including Abraham's birth in Ur of the Chaldees, perhaps about 1700 B.C. and his early life there with his family."
(p. 292. "The Legacy of Sumer." Samuel Noah Kramer. The Sumerians, Their History, Culture, and Character. Chicago & London. The University of Chicago Press. 1963, 1972)
Professor Delitzsch in two lectures given at Berlin Germany in 1902 and 1903 noted that Yahweh appeared in Akkadian cuneiform on clay tablets from the world of Hummurabi and his father. He understood yahweh-el meant "yahweh [is] god." To the degree that some scholars associated Amraphel of Genesis with Hammurabi, the name Yahweh apppears to have been attested in Abraham's time if Abraham has been correctly dated to Hammurabi's world (the 18th century B.C.).
"...through the kindness of the Head of the Department of Assyrian and Egyptian antiquities at the British Museum, I am able to give a representation of three small clay tablets (figs. 45-47)...they belong to the age of Hammurabi, one in particular to the reign of his father Sin-mubalit...they contain three names which, from the point of view of the history of religion, are of the most far-reaching importance: The names are "Yahwe is God."
(pp. 70-71. "Lecture One, Babel and Bible." Friedrich Delitzsch. Babel and Bible. Eugene, Oregon. Wipf & Stock Publishers. 2007. Reprint of the English edition translated by C.H.W. Johns. 1903, Cambridge, England)