IS IT GOD'S WORD?
THE PAGAN GOD -- AND GODS -- OF ISRAEL
R RTHE PAGAN GOD -- AND GODS -- OF ISRAEL R R PAGAN ORIGINS OF THE HEBREWS R R THE HEBREWS WERE HEATHENS
R R"EL" -- "BEL" AND "BAAL" R R "BAAL" IS "LORD" R R YAHVEH IS BAAL R R HA-ELOHIM YISHRAEL -- THE GODS OF ISRAEL
R RTHE ORIGINAL HEBREW WORDS R R "THE GODS CREATED" R R PLURALITY OF GODS BETRAYED R R THE "PLURAL OF DIGNITY"
R RYAHVEH -- "E PLURIBUS UNUM" R R THE GOD OF ISRAEL AND THE GODS OF THE NATIONS R R PAGAN BIBLE NAMES
R RRETURN TO THE INDEX OF CHAPTERS
THERE is (it may be) a God, the Supreme Architect, the Creator of the earth and of the fullness thereof, and of the wondrous "finite but unlimited" universe. Lord Bacon has said: "I had rather believe all the fables of the Legend, of the Talmud, and Al-Koran than that this universal frame is without a mind." Beautifully has the Psalmist sung: "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge." The works of God
In the later Hebrew Scriptures, there are many sublime outbursts of the highest and noblest concepts of Yahveh, as Creator God, as the Supreme Being, infinitely great and infinitely good. These, all of them, will be found to be simply fervid pious declamations; the occasional visions of a few ecstatic souls, denouncing the prevailing idolatrous practices of the whole people, and thundering their unheeded appeals for the worship of this ideal and "one true" God. This concept of Yahveh as "one only God" developed very late, however, in the history of Israel, perhaps a little preceding but mostly after the tribulations of the Babylonian captivity. This late-evolved God is very far from being the "Lord God" (Yahveh Elohim) of the Hebrews, as revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures and worshipped throughout their Bible history. Yahveh was but a mythological tribal God, as non-existent as Bel or Baal, or Zeus.
This Yahveh, this God -- or plurality of gods -- as revealed in the Hebrew sacred writings, will now be examined as revealed in the inspired texts, For the purpose of clearly distinguishing between the Hebrew tribal deity and the ideal but "unknown" God of our more refined concept, the Hebrew words El, Elohim,, and the name Yahveh are used in all references to the "revealed Deity of the Hebrew Scriptures, and in the quoted passages where the name Yahveh has been falsely rendered "Lord God."
PAGAN ORIGINS OF THE HEBREWS
Whatever they may have become later, indisputably the people known as Hebrews were a derived people, not always Hebrews, and not always votaries of the God Yahveh: both people and religion had a beginning. It is needful to go back to this beginning in order to get a proper perspective.
The name "Hebrew" is derived from Heber, a reputed descendant of Noah and ancestor of Abraham; just as the appellation "Semite," applied to the whole family of peoples of whom the Hebrews are one branch, derives from Shem, one of the triplet sons of Noah, and reputed common ancestor of the Semitic nations.
Abraham, when he first comes to our knowledge, was, as we have seen, a nomadic Chaldean Semite, of "Ur of the Chaldees," speaking, of course, only the Chaldean language. Naturally, like the rest of his people, he was a heathen or pagan. He came with his family into the land of the Canaanites, descended from Canaan, one of the sons of Ham, another son of Noah, to follow the Scriptural genealogies. So, according to Genesis, these peoples were of like origin, living together in the same section of the country between Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean.
These peoples, the Babylonians, the Assyrians (originally a Babylonian colony), the Syrians, the Canaanites, the Hebrews, and later the Arabians, and the peoples generally of Palestine and western Asia, were all akin; they spoke practically the same language, and had practically the same religion and forms of religious worship -- the same God or gods. These historical facts, gathered from the Hebrew Scriptures themselves, and confirmed (except as to the Noachian traditions) by ethnological knowledge, are stated expressly to disabuse the mind of the common notion that the Hebrews were in some racial or practical sense a "peculiar people" and different from their kindred nations and neighbors. They "had Abraham as their father"; and Abraham was a native Chaldee who left his country and became the reputed founder of a branch of his people, long afterwards called Hebrews. Thus their racial and cultural identity is established.
The Hebrews were also called Israelites, because Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, after fighting all night, according to their legend, with the God, had his name changed to Israel. Now this is very significant of the whole nature and history of the Israelites. The word "Israel" is formed of the two Hebrew words sarah (to fight) and El (God). Jacob's new name, then, meant "fighter or soldier of God"; and, as we shall see, this same "El" or Yahveh was often called, in the Hebrew Scriptures, a "mighty man of war," and was indeed their war-god.
In keeping with their religion, the Hebrews, throughout their history, were simply a nation of fighters or semi-barbarous soldiers, with Yahveh as their war-lord, and with primitive instincts of humanity or culture. They took their characteristics from their notions of their God, for like all primitive peoples they were very religious in their way; or else their notion of God took its form from their own characteristics: it is the same either way. Isaiah had the idea when be said: "Like people, like priest; like servant, like master; like maid, like mistress" (Isa. 24: 2 ); and he could exactly as well have added, "like God, like people," or "like people, like God" -- the terms are convertible. Goethe aptly hits off the truth:
"As anyone is, So is his God; And thus is God Oft strangely odd."
It is wrong to say "the God of the Hebrews," for El or Yahveh was but one of their many gods; the Hebrews had the same gods as their kindred and neighboring nations, and never in Bible times abandoned their "false gods" for the worship of any "one true and living God of all the earth," as Yahveh was ultimately "evolved" by some of the later prophets of Israel, after the captivity. This is abundantly proved by all the scripture writers and prophets without exception.
THE HEBREWS WERE HEATHENS
That the Hebrews had the same God and gods as the peoples around them, and were thus pagan idolaters or "heathen," their own Scriptures declare many times. Up to the reputed times of Moses this fact is indisputable, on the face of the record. Until the traditional "giving of the law" to Moses on Sinai, there is not the slightest hint in the Hebrew Scriptures, covering a space of 2500 years, that the El or Yahveh of the patriarchs was different from any other El, or had or claimed any different cult or form of worship. He never made any such intimation in all his reputed appearances and talks with men, from Adam to Abraham, and from Abraham to Moses.
That the patriarchs down to the time of Moses were ordinary idolatrous heathen is perfectly apparent from the inspired texts. As we have noted, Father Abraham was of Ur of the Chaldees, "the land of his nativity" (Gen. 11: 28 ); and presumably from the silence of the record had never heard of Yahveh until the God appeared to him at Haran and told him to emigrate to Canaan (Gen. 12: 1 ), though he had already voluntarily done so (Gen. 11: 31 ). The Chaldeans were Syrians, certainly not "peculiar" votaries of the God Yahveh, but ordinary idol-worshipping heathens, as naturally were also the ancestors and family of Abram, and all their fellow Syrians, as they are expressly called. Laban, the father-in-law of Isaac, is called "Laban the Syrian" (Gen. 31: 20, 24 ), and he and his family worshipped teraphim (Gen. 31: 30-35 ). Laban was "son of Bethuel the Syrian" (Gen. 28: 5 ); the name Bethu-el shows that "El" was a common Syrian or Chaldean god, who continued as God of the three patriarchs. Abram's grandson Jacob is called "a Syrian about to die" (Deut. 26: 5 ) when he migrated to Egypt, 250 years after Abraham. It was therefore seventy Syrians who went into Egypt, speaking the Chaldean tongue, and becoming in 430 years good pagan Egyptians. After Jacob and his family of seventy migrated to Egypt, he and all his people continued regularly to worship "the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood [i.e., in Syria or Chaldea], and in Egypt" (Josh. 24: 14 ). After 430 years in Egypt, worshipping the ancient local gods, Moses had never even heard of the El-Yahveh: when he first met the strange God, at the burning bush, Moses had to ask: "What is thy name?" (Ex. 3: 13 ) so that he might report it back to the elders of the people in Egypt. Nearly a millennium after the death of Moses, we are expressly told that the Chosen People persisted in the worship of the foreign gods; "neither did they forsake the idols [elohim] of Egypt" (Ezek,. 20: 8 ). This fact is many times declared to be the reason for their being "carried away into captivity."
In a word, until the Book of the Law was promulgated, in the time of Josiah, there was never a hint even that Yahveh was a "jealous God," nor that "thou shalt have no other gods before [i.e., in preference to] me," though this commandment admits the fact of "other gods." That whole part of the world, in other words, had the same gods and one common form of religion and worship; and the Israelites were identical in this respect with all the other kindred peoples, and persisted in being so until the return from captivity, as the record proves.
"EL" -- "BEL" AND "BAAL"
The word usually applied by the Hebrews to designate god, -- any god, true or false, Hebrew or heathen -- was the common noun El. By the Babylonians the word for god in general was Ilu, or Bel; with the Canaanites the form of the name was Baal. They are identical, the same common noun for the same idea of god or lord. It was simply a Semitic word meaning "Lord." This word for deity (El, god, spirit, lord; plural, Elohim, gods, spirits, lords), persists to-day: more millions of Mohammedans than there are millions of Christians and Jews combined prostrate themselves to the earth five times a day and cry the Arabian words: "Lo Illah, il Allah" -- "there is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet." This is the selfsame El, Ilu, Bel, Baal, of the Hebrews, Canaanites, Babylonians, and Assyrians. The Arabians are reputed to be descended from Ishmael ("God heareth"), the bastard son of Abraham and Hagar, and half-brother of Isaac; they to-day hold Abraham as their father, and speak the language nearest to the Hebrew; their "Allah," the Aramaic "Elah," is the Hebrew "El" or "Ilu," God, Lord. And yet the Hebrew-God Christians say that Allah is a false god, and Bel and Baal heathenish abominations.
But God is God in whatever language his name is named. We in English say "God"; the Teutons and their kindred call him "Gott"; the French call him "Dieu"; the Spanish "Dios"; the Italians "Dio"; the Portuguese "Deus" -- exactly the Latin word for God, which in its turn came from the Greek "Theos," and it from the Sanskrit "Dyaus"; but all are words for the same mythic God. The Hebrew, again, was "El" or "Ilu," the Babylonian-Assyrian "Bel," the Canaanite "Baal," the Arabian "Il"; all again the same god-name. These names were all only the common or generic name applied to deity, any god, even to departed spirits, or even as a title of respect, "lord" or "master," to living persons, by these kindred peoples, though the Bible and the Christians say that the El Yahveh was the only true God. But the Bible usage is quite to the contrary.
"BAAL" IS "LORD"
In the Hebrew Bible the ancient Semitic word baal, like the Hebrew adon, or the English "lord," in every sense, is constantly employed as a common noun meaning "lord," "master," or owner of this or that. Joseph is called by his brothers "this baal [master] of dreams," translated "this dreamer" (Gen. 37: 19 ); and again of Joseph it is said: "the archers [baalim of arrows] have ... shot at him" (Gen. 49: 23 ). A man is called baal or "master of the house" (Ex. 22: 7 ); again the "owner" of the house is baal (Ex. 22: 10 ). Certain "sons of Belial spake to the master [baal] of the house, an old man" (Judges 19: 22 ); the law says that "the ox shall be stoned and his owner [baal]" shall be free of blame (Ex. 21: 28 ); Job speaks of the owners [baalim] of a field (Job 31: 39 ). A "baal of hairs" is a "hairy man" (2 Kings 1: 8 ); "baalim of oaths" are "conspirators" (Neh. 6: 18 ); "baal of wings" is "winged creature." The lord and master of a wife is her baal or husband. Yahveh tells Abimelech that Abraham is baal of Sarah -- "for she is married to a baal" (Gen. 20: 3 ); and the law says: "If he were married [a baal], then his wife shall go out with him" (Ex. 21: 3 ). In the very next verse "adon" is used for "master" -- "if his master [adon] have given him a wife" (Ex. 21: 4 ). As a verb baal means "to marry"; the feminine form of the noun, baalah, is "mistress" or "a married woman."
YAHVEH IS BAAL
As the term is applied to deity, the word Baal, which is then always used with the definite article -- the-Baal, the-Baalim -- retains its idea of lordship or ownership. The-baal was the local deity or "lord" who had "put his name" in this or that place, as the-Baal of Tyre, to whom Solomon's friend Hiram built a magnificent temple in his capital; the-baal of Lebanon, the-Baal of heaven; also often Baal-zebub, lord of flies; Baal-peor, the Lord hymen-breaker. Jerub-baal, "who is Gideon," died, "and the children of Israel ... went a whoring after the-Baalim, and made Baal-berith [the Lord-of-the-covenant] their gods [elohim]" (Judges 8: 33 ); and it is revealed that the hosts of Israel went into the house of this their Lord of the covenant -- now called Beth-El-Berith (Judges 9: 46 ). This clearly shows El and Baal to be identical and interchangeable terms. David's son Beeliada (i Chron. 14: 7 ) elsewhere appears as Eliada (2 Sam. 5: 16 ), again showing that El, God, was regarded as the equivalent of Baal; as also clearly appears in the name Bealiah, meaning "Yahveh is Baal," or Lord (1 Chron. 12: 5 ). Crowning proof is the name given by David as a token of victory to a place where, he said: "Yahveh hath broken forth upon mine enemies ... Therefore he called the name of that place Baal-perazim" -- that is, "Baal, the lord of breaches" (2 Sam 5: 20 ). El-Yahveh-Baal was all one and the same, in those good old Hebrew Bible days. [See the dictionary of Bible proper names in any well-edited Bible for scores of corroboratory Instances.]
It was so exactly with the other word "El" Yahveh as the local lord or baal of sundry places or things rendered sacred by his "putting his name" thereon. On Sinai, Yahveh said to Moses: "In all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee" (Ex. 20: 24; Deut. 12: 5; 1 Kings 8: 29, etc.) Thus Jacob said of the place where he dreamed that he saw the ladder: "This is none other but the house of the gods [beth-elohim]"; and he set up a phallic "pillar" or mazzebah, and called it beth-el -- "the house of God" (Gen. 28: 17-19 ). And elohim (gods) came to him in a dream and said: "I am the El of Beth-el" (Gen. 31: 13 ); and Jacob built there an altar and called the place Beth-el, "because there ha-elohim [the-gods] were revealed unto him" (Gen. 35: 7 ). Here the Hebrew text expressly uses the plural, noun and verb -- the-gods were revealed"; but the Authorized Version falsely translates: "God appeared unto him." The Revised Version correctly reads "revealed," but uses wrongly the singular "was."
The pagan Jebusite Melchizedek ("king of righteousness"), was "priest of El-elyon [most high God]" (Gen. 14: 18 ) -- which proves again that El was a common term for deity, pagan and Hebrew alike. Yahveh himself is frequently called El-Elyon -- "God Most High" -- the word elyon being an adjective simply meaning "high" or "lofty." Yahveh tells Moses that he is El-Shaddai (God my Daemon; Ex. 6: 3 ), as he is often peculiarly called; and in Joshua he is called Yahveh-El-elohim, translated "the Lord God of gods" (Josh. 22: 2 ), and so scores of times, proving that Yahveh was merely one El or God of or over the other gods or spirits which abounded in the Hebrew and neighboring pagan mythologies.
Gradually, towards the close of the Hebrew sacred history, particularly after the return from captivity, out of all this jumble of confused local baalim and elohim, evolved a more or less definite idea of the Hebrew Yahveh as a higher or super-el or baal above all the others; then as a supreme El or Baal or Lord of heaven and earth; and then as the One and Only True God, to the exclusion of all others as "false gods" or worse -- "all the gods of the heathen are devils" (Ps. 96: 5, Vulgate).
HA-ELOHIM YISHRAEL -- THE GODS OF ISRAEL
This brings us to the climax of "revelation" of the Hebrew Scriptures, which to many good Christians and Hebrews alike, brought up on professional translations, may well seem startling; but which will now be fully proved by the literal words of the Hebrew Scriptures -- the patent plurality of Hebrew gods in their revelation to man.
The English, Latin, Greek, and other versions "diligently compared and revised" by professional "divines," to which texts the acquaintance of the vast majority of people is confined, diligently and persistently conceal this cardinal fact under a form of translation designed to give us a belief in an Only One God of Israel from "the beginning," who created heaven and earth, and performed the many wonders related as revealed. But this is a pious fraud; for, according to the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures, in their original language, all the works of creation and the many acts appearing in translation and in theology as of a One and Only God are attributed not to any One God, but to "the gods."
THE ORIGINAL HEBREW WORDS
It is no work of pedantic erudition but a simple and easy accomplishment for any one who will take the pains to learn the twenty-two consonantal letters of the Hebrew alphabet to recognize by sight and distinguish between four Hebrew words applied to the Hebrew God and gods, plainly printed in the texts of the "Word of God": first, their word El (Heb., S$ ), meaning God or spirit- shade; the plural forms of that word, elohim (Heb., nli'l?14 ) and elohe (Heb., 6$'lg& ); then their name-word Yahveh (Heb., L%*#!| ), or Jehovah, which is persistently falsely concealed and rendered in translation simply by the title "Lord"; and then the actual Hebrew- Chaldean word for "lord," which is "adon" (Heb., J'I$ ). Equipped with this easy and elementary learning, we shall proceed to pick out and examine these four words in some of the principal instances where they occur in the Hebrew texts, and ourselves "diligently compare" them with the pious mistranslations of the English versions -- asking any scholarly "Doctor of Divinity" to deny the result if he truthfully can.
"THE GODS CREATED"
In the very first sentence of Genesis, the Book of Beginnings, we find the "revelation" of the plurality of gods -- elohim: In- beginning created ELOHIM [gods] the-heavens and-the-earth" (Gen. 1: 1 ). The forms of the sentences show the order of the Hebrew words, and the hyphens indicate the combination of the particles "and," "the," etc., which are joined to the noun in Hebrew and written as one word; e.g., "theheavens," "andtheearth." "And-the-spirit [ruach, wind] of-elohim [gods] moved upon-the-face of-the-abyss" (1: 2 ); "And-said elohim [gods], let-there-be light." And thus, for thirty-three times in the first chapter of Genesis, we read "ELOHIM" (gods) -- always plural, always "gods," but always translated "God."
There is proof of plurality which even translation cannot in this instance conceal: "And-said ELOHIM [gods], Let-make-us man [adam] in-image-our, after-likeness-our" (1: 26 ). And the words of the text indicate there must have been female gods, too; for it is recorded: "And-created elohim the-adam [man]; in-the-image of- elohim [gods] created-he-him; male-and-female created-he-them." This is reiterated for positive assurance: "In-the-day that elohim created adam [man], in-the-likeness of-elohim [gods] made-he-them; male-and-female created-he-them; and-blessed them, and-called name- their adam [man], in-the-day when they-were-created" (Gen. 5: 1-2 ).
Not one God, but a plurality of gods, from the very beginning of Hebrew Scripture is further proved by the familiar dialogue between the serpent and the woman: "And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die; for elohim [gods] do know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods [elohim], knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3: 5 ). And the serpent spoke true; and when Yahveh-Elohim heard that the- man and the-woman had eaten the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge, he (they) said., "Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil" (3: 22 ). Here certainly is one god speaking to another god or a whole assembly or Olympus of gods.
In the second, or Jahvistic, chapter, we first encounter the variants Yahveh and "Yahveh Elohim"' (Yahveh being here, as often, abbreviated: "yy"), which distinguish the use of a second and very often conflicting source, as is elsewhere pointed out. The Elohist account of creation, using the word "elohim, ends with Genesis 2: 3; immediately the totally different "Jahvistic" narrative begins: "In the day [not the six days of the Elohist version] that Yahveh Elohim made the earth and the heavens" (2: 4 ). We find Yahveh Elohim thirteen times in the second chapter, doing a totally different work of creation -- always Yahveh Elohim, always plural, always "gods," but always misrendered "Lord God."
YAHVEH ELOHIM is the ordinary Hebrew "construct" form used to express the genitive, or possessive, case, there being no equivalent for "of" in Hebrew. "The relation of the genitive is regularly expressed by attaching the genitive noun to the preceding nomens regens in the construct state" (Gesenius, Hebrew Grammar, see. 114 ). The reader is already familiar with examples: beth-el, house of god; beth-ha-elohim, house of the gods; ben-adam, son of man, or of men; beni-ha-elohim, sons of the gods; Yahveh elohe- yishrael, Yahveh god of Israel; "Yahveh your God is elohe ha- elohim, and adonai ha-adonim, ha-el haggadol [God of the gods, and Lord of the lords, the great God]" (Deut. 10: 17 ). Yahveh-elohim therefore is simply "Yahveh-of-the-gods," "Yahveh God-of-gods"; precisely, "Yahveh one of, chief of, the gods." In the same way elohe is used in the "construct state" for singular and plural, followed by the genitive of the governed noun, as in the examples just cited; for example, elohe yishrael, God of Israel; elohe ha- elohim, God of the gods; Yahveh elohe-ka, Yahveh thy God.
Chapter 3 is composite, and we find sometimes Elohim, sometimes Yahveh Elohim; but always the plural; and so in chapter 4. Even more explicit are the words of chapter 5, where it is twice recorded: "And Enoch walked with THE-GODS [ha-elohim]; and (gods) [elohim] took him" (22, 24 ). And so of Noah, in chapter 6: "And Noah was a just man; he walked with the-gods" (ha-elohim; 6: 9 ). Chapter 6 is a veritable medley of composition, and of plurality of deity, beginning the fable of the Flood: "The SONS of the GODS [beni ha-elohim -- a Hebraism for 'the gods'] saw the daughters of men" (6: 2 ), and (6: 3 ) "Yahveh said." And again (6: 4 ): "The sons of the GODS [beni ha-elohim] came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children unto them"; and (6: 5 ) "Yahveh saw." "The earth was corrupted before THE GODS [ha-elohim]" (6: 11 ); and (6: 12 ) "Elohim [gods] saw the earth"; and (6: 13 ) "Elohim [gods] said to Noah"; and (6: 22 ) "Noah did all that elohim commanded him." Here again, the word is always plural (except where we have Yahveh), always the gods, but it is always rendered "God."
"The sons of the gods" (beni ha-elohim -- a synonym for Gods) are frequently mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures: "the sons of the gods came to present themselves before Yahveh" (Job 1: 6; 2: 1 ); and "all the sons of the gods shouted for joy" (Job 38: 7 ). The God of the Hebrews was thus plainly not one God, but a plurality of gods and goddesses, who themselves, [Eneye. Bib., Vol. 4: cols. 4690-91; art. Son of God.] or whose children were of so sportive a nature that they corrupted the earth and brought on its fabled destruction by the Flood of Noah.
Now we have a singular confirmation of the plurality of the Hebrew elohim (gods), and of their identity with the elohim (gods) of the other heathen tribes and peoples thereabouts. In Genesis 20, Abraham takes Sarah, his wife, and journeys to Gerar, in the Philistine country, of which the king was Abimelech, whose name signifies "Moloch (or the king) is my father" -- certainly a heathen who knew not the supposed One-God, Yahveh, of Abraham. Abimelech, according to a jovial custom of the country, took Sarah and slept with her, thinking she was Abraham's sister, as he had falsely stated. Lo, "Elohim [gods] came to Abimelech in a dream" (20: 3 ) and warned him of the error of his way; and "the gods [ha- elohim] said unto him in the dream" (20: 6 ). Being a heathen, Abimelech would hardly dream of foreign Hebrew gods; they were clearly the same elohim with which he was familiar. Abimelech was scared sick; but Abraham "prayed unto THE GODS [ha-elohim], and elohim healed Abimelech" (20: 17 ).
In Genesis 22: 1, "it came to pass that the gods [ha-elohim] tempted Abraham" -- as he dreamed -- to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice; and Abraham (22: 3 ) rose up and took Isaac and "went unto the place which THE GODs [ha-elohim] told him"; but fortunately at the critical moment (22: 11 ) "an angel of Yahveh" called out and checked his hand from the human sacrifice. When Isaac came to die, and Jacob, disguised to feel like Esau, came in to receive the stolen blessing, Isaac said: "You smell like a field which Yahveh has blessed" (27: 27 ); "may THE GODS [ha-elohim] give thee," etc. (27: 28 ). Then, in chapter 28:Isaac further says to Jacob: "And El-shaddai [God my Daemon] bless thee" (28: 3 ); "mayst thou inherit the land which elohim [gods] gave unto Abraham" (28: 4 ). Here, again, throughout, is the plural, "THE GODS," (always rendered "God") and a fairly clear distinction is always made between the particular El, Yahveh, and the plural Elohim, gods in general.
Yet a little more, "to make assurance doubly sure" that the God of the Hebrews was "THE GODS" of the other heathens among whom they lived. Jacob had played his notorious cattle-breeding tricks on his heathen father-in-law Laban, who got angry and broke up the family arrangements. Thereupon "an angel Of THE GODS [ha-elohim]" (Gen. 31: 11 ), spoke to Jacob in a dream; and said: "I am THE GOD of Beth-el [ha-el-Beth-el]" (31: 13 ), and advised him to take secret leave of Laban, and return to his own country; and Jacob's wives, who were plain Chaldee heathens, said to him, "all that elohim [gods] said unto thee, do" (31: 16 ). Then Rachel, one of his heathen wives, daughter of the heathen Laban "stole the teraphim [phallic idols] which belonged to her father" (31: 19 ) and the Jacob family fled. Laban pursued after them for a week before he caught them; and "elohim [gods] came upon Laban the Syrian in a dream, and said," etc. (31: 24 ). And Laban said to Jacob: "Why hast thou stolen my GODS [elohim]?" (31: 30 ); and Jacob told Laban to search for them, and said: "Whoever hath THY GODS [elohim] shall not live" (31: 32 ). Laban searched, but Rachel had hidden the idols, and Laban could not find them. After a quarrel between them, Jacob invoked "THE GODS" (elohe) of his father Abraham for making peace between them; and he set up a phallic mazzebah ("pillar") for a testimonial (31: 45 ), and invoked the GODS (elohe) of Abraham, Nabor, etc., to "judge between us" (31: 53 ). Then Jacob went on his way, "and angels Of THE GODS met him" (32: 1 ), and Jacob called them "the hosts of THE GODS" (32: 2 ). Thus all through these chapters and following ones, we find nothing but elohim, ha-elohim and elohe (gods) for heathen Laban's teraphim-gods and Jacob's gods alike.
At Jabbok Jacob fought with a stranger, who asked him his name; and the stranger changed Jacob's name to Israel, for "thou hast fought with GODS [elohim] and with men" (Gen. 32: 28 ); and Jacob called the place Peni-el ("face-of-God"; 32: 31 ), for, he said, "I have seen GODS [elohim] face to face." Jacob erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel (33: 20 ) -- "GOD OF THE GODS of Israel" -- positive proof of belief in a plurality of gods.
In chapter 3v the plurality of GODS, Hebrew and "strange" is further clearly shown: "Elohim [gods] said to Jacob, Go to Beth-el, and make there an altar unto THE GOD [ha-el] who appeared to thee when thou fleddest" (35: 1 ); then "Jacob said unto his household, Put away the strange Gods [elohe] which are in your midst" (35: 2 ); and "I will make there an altar to THE GOD [ha-el] who," etc. (35: 3 ); and "they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods [elohe]" (35: 4 ); and Jacob came to Beth-el and built an altar which he called "El-bethel, because there the gods [ha-elohim] appeared [Heb., were revealed] unto him" (35: 7 ). Thus distinction is clearly made between a particular el (god), and the generality of elohim or elohe, (gods) common to the heathen peoples of those parts.
Pharaoh dreamed a dream, and called on Joseph to interpret it. This "baal of dreams" (dream-master), as his brothers called him (Gen. 37: 19 ), said to Pharaoh: "What ha-elohim [the gods] is about to do, he has told Pharaoh" (Gen. 41: 25 ); and "the thing is settled by ha-elohim" [the gods; 41: 28]; and "ha-elohim [the gods] is hastening to do it" (41: 33 ). Pharaoh certainly knew of no Hebrew only-one God, but all the gods of Egypt, and of them clearly he spoke, saying to his servants: "Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom is the spirit of elohim? [gods; 41: 38]"; and to Joseph he said: "Forasmuch as elohim has shewed thee all this" (41: 39 ). The elohim of Pharaoh and the ha-elohim of Joseph were clearly one and the same gods to whom they both appealed. To his brothers Joseph said: "It was not you that sent me hither, but ha-elohim [the gods]" (Gen. 45: 8 ); and "elohim [gods] has made me lord [adon] of all Egypt" (45: 9 ).
That the Egyptian Pharaohs by elohim meant only their own myriad gods is made evident by the incident of 430 years later, when the Pharaoh of that time commanded the Hebrew midwives to kill all the male Hebrew children as they were born; and it is twice said, "but the midwives feared ha-elohim" (the gods; Ex. 1: 17, 21 ). Surely these were none other than the gods of Egypt, for after 430 years in Egypt the Hebrew slaves knew of no other gods; even Moses knew not Yahveh and had to ask his name; and for centuries, down to the time of Ezekiel, "they did not forsake ha-elohim [the gods] of Egypt" (Ezek. 20: 8 ). It cannot be gainsaid that elohim is plural, and means and reveals more gods than one, wherever used either of Hebrew ha-elohim or of ha-elohim of Egypt and other heathen lands round about Israel.
PLURALITY OF GODS BETRAYED
Plural Nouns and Plural Verbs
All through the Book of Genesis we see "the-gods" of the ancient Hebrews, who are throughout just like the-gods of their heathen neighbors. It is but fair to say, for what it is worth, that the verbs used, for the most part, in the Hebrew texts with this plural elohim are generally in the singular number. The verb- forms "am," "is", "are," "was," "were," and such forms of the present and imperfect tenses of the verb "to be" are not used in Hebrew, as any one may see by glancing down any page of the Authorized Version of the Old Testament, where these words are always written in italics, signifying that they do not occur in the original.
But the actual verb plural-form (which in Hebrew is the tiny vav -- "u" -- tacked on the end, as we add "s" in English to form the plural of nouns), although mostly missing, is a number of times to be found, and is undeniable proof of the plurality of ha-elohim. Father Abraham himself avows this plurality: "When elohim [gods] caused [plural: hith-u] me to wander from my father's house" (Gen. 20: 13 ). Jacob built an altar at Luz, "and called the place El- bethel"; because there ha-elohim were revealed [plural: nigl-u] unto him" (Gen. 35: 7 ). And David makes the selfsame open avowal of the plural gods of Israel: "Israel, whom gods [elohim] went [plural: balk-u] to redeem ... from the nations and their gods [elohim]" (2 Sam. 7: 23 ).
The law says: "At the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established" (Deut. 19: 15 ). Here then is the fulfillment of the law: three witnesses, of the chiefest of Israel, have declared by inspiration the plurality of the gods of Israel. But there is more textual proof of plurality of the-gods of Israel. Moses uses the plural adjective with the plural noun elohim: "hath heard the voice of the living gods [elohim hayyim]" (Deut. 5: 26; Heb. text, 5: 23 ). And twice David threatens Goliath for defying "the armies of the living gods" (elohim hayyim; I Sam. 17: 26, 36 ). Here we have six times the textual admission of the plurality of elohim; the editorial blue- pencil overlooked the little "u" plural-sign of the Hebrew verbs and the unobtrusive "im" of the adjective; as, on the recently discovered throne of Tut-ankh-Amen, the zealous orthodox priests of the king undertook to change the numerous heretical mono-theistic Aten-signs blazoned thereon to Amen-signs of the orthodox faith, but in an instance or two overlooked the Aten-sign left unchanged through the ages, a silent but potent witness to the "One-God" heresy of Amenhotep IV and the youthful Tut-ankh-Amen, before he was forced by the priests back into the prevalent polytheism.
The "Plural of Dignity"
The apologists for the use of the plural, elohim and elohe, reason that this is a "plural of dignity" -- a sort of divine "editorial we"; they even go to the length of saying that elohim connotes the awful sense of "Godhead." If so, there were scores of pagan god-heads-elohim.
But when the Hebrew Deity Yahveh alone speaks or is particularly spoken of, there is no hiding behind the anonymous "editorial plural," but always forthright "I" (Heb., ani, anoki), or the singular El (God), or the personal name "Yahweh." A few instances out of many hundreds must suffice.
Time and again the chief tribal Baal says, "Anoki El" and "Anoki Yahveh," "Anoki El-shaddai" (Gen. 17: 1; Ex. 3: 6 ); "Anoki ha-el beth-el (I am the God of Beth-el)" (Gen. 31: 13 ); "Anoki El, and there are no other elohim" (Isa. 46: 9 ); "I am El" (Isa. 45: 22 ). Yahveh descended in a cloud upon Sinai and proclaimed: "Yahveh, Yahveh El" (Ex. 34: 5-6 ). Moses often quotes Yahveh as saying: "Thou shalt worship no other El: for Yahveh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous El" (Ex. 34: 14; 20: 5; Deut. 4: 24; 5: 9; et passim). Again, "There is none like El" (Deut. 33: 26 ); "This is my El" (Ex. 15: 2 ). Hagar said: "Thou art a god [El] of seeing" (Gen. 16: 13 ). Balaam said to Balak: "El is not a man [ish], that he should lie, neither the son of man [ben adam], that he should repent" (Num. 23: (Num. 23: 19 ). "God [El] who brought them forth" (Num. 23: 22 ); "When El does this" (Num. 24: 23 ); "Who hears the words of El" (Num. 24: 4 ); "El is my salvation; Yah Yahveh is my strength" (Isa. 12: 2 ); "Verily, thou art an El that hidest thyself" (Isa. 45: 15 ). Joshua says: "Hereby ye shall know that El is among you" (Josh. 3: 10 ).
This usage of El for a particular God, Hebrew or other, and of elohim and elohe for gods indiscriminately, as in hundreds of instances in this chapter and elsewhere, quite explodes the pious notions of an "editorial we" and "plural of dignity," and demonstrates the common polytheism of Israel and their neighbor heathens.
YAHVEH -- "E PLURIBUS UNUM"
Many "Other Gods" are Acknowledged
Hundreds of times in the ancient Hebrew sacred books the actual existence of the gods of the surrounding peoples is declared and vouched for by Inspiration; no one thing in Holy Writ is more frequent or more positive than the affirmation and recognition of "other gods" as actual living beings, save only the existence and the asserted superiority of Yahveh God of Israel. So numberless are the inspired texts voicing this unquestioned fact that sundry instances only, picked almost at random, can be cited here.
Yahveh was only God of Israel, as time and again is averred; his holy covenant, as it was first made with Abraham, was: "I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee" (Gen. 17: 7 ); and ever after he called himself and was simply called: "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob," as, for example, he declared himself to Moses at the burning bush (Ex. 3: 6 ). Yahveh chose the "seed of Abraham" to be his "Chosen people"; he was to be their special, national God: "For thou [Israel] art an holy people unto Yahveh thy God, and Yahveh hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth" (Deut. 14: 2 ) -- as to whom Yahveh made no claims at all. But the Hebrew Yahveh, though a "jealous God," demanding that his Chosen People worship him preferably or alone, and claiming superiority over all "other gods," yet admits the existence and divine personality of these "other gods," and recognizes their rights and powers, all but equal to his own.
On Sinai Yahveh solemnly commands: "I am Yahveh thy God, which have brought thee [Israel] out of the land of Egypt. ... Thou shalt have no other gods before [i.e., in preference to] me" (Ex. 20: 2, 3 ), but in perfect recognition of the other nations and their gods: "Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods" (Ex. 23: 32 ); and, "Thou shalt worship no other god; for Yahveh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God"' (Ex. 34: 14 ).
The holy law of Yahveh, promulgated amid the fires and thunders of Sinai, commanded reverent respect for all other gods. It is enacted by Yahveh: "Thou shalt not revile the Gods [ha- elohim], nor curse the ruler of thy people" (Ex. 22: 28 ) -- a solemn, positive recognition by Yahveh's divine law of the fact of other living gods. Again the law confesses the gods and their activities: "Thou shalt not bow down to their gods [elohim], nor serve them, nor do after their work; ... ye shall serve Yahveh thy God" (Ex. 23: 24 ). Never once in the law of Sinai, nor for a thousand years after, is there avowal or hint that "there is no other god"; but "other gods" galore are confessed. In the face of the commands of the "jealous God," his holy Chosen "feared Yahveh, and served their own gods" (2 Kings 17: 33, et seq.).
Moses, "the man of the gods [ish ha-elohim]" (Deut. 33: 1 ), himself, in his famous song of triumph, asserts only superiority for his Yahveh, and proclaims vauntingly: "Who is like unto thee, O Yahveh, among the gods"? (Ex. 15: 11 ). His father-in- law, Jethro, pagan priest of the gods of Midian, seeing some of the wonders of Sinai, admits to Moses: "Now I know that Yahveh is greater than all the gods" (Ex. 18: 11 ). Again, in his last speech, Moses exults to Israel: "For Yahveh thy God is God of gods [Elohe ha-elohim], and Lord of lords [adonai ha-adonim], great El" (Deut. 10: 1,7 ). Moses surveys the gods of the nations around, and appeals to Israel: "What nation is there so great, who hath GODS [elohim] so nigh unto them, as Yahveh our God is?" (Deut. 4: 7 ). By Joshua the God of Israel is proclaimed: "Yahveh God of gods, Yahveh God of gods [El elohim Yahveh, El elohim Yahveh]" (Josh. 22: 22 ) -- admitting the "other gods" and asserting simply Yahveh's superiority to them all, for "God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods [elohim]" (Psalm 82: 1 ).
The Psalmist takes up the refrain, making it the burden of many a sweet song: "O give thanks unto the God of gods [elohe ha- elohim] O give thanks to the Lord of lords [adonai ha-adonim]" (Psalm 136: 2, 3 ); "For Yahveh is a great God [El]; he is to be feared above all gods [elohim]" (Psalm 96: 4 ); and "Thou. ... art Yahveh, exalted far above all gods" (Psalm 97: 9 ). Again he sings: "For Yahveh is a great God [El], and a great King above all gods [elohim]" (Psalm 95: 3 ); "Among the gods [elohim] there is none like unto thee, O Adonai [Lord]" (Psalm 86: 8 ); "All the gods [elohim] of the nations are Devils [elilim]; but Yahveh made the heavens" (Psalm 96: 5 ). But gods or devils, they are living actualities; and David calls on them as immortal beings to render homage to the Yahveh of Israel: "Worship him, all ye ELOHIM -- [gods]" (Psalm 97: 7 ) -- not now elilim, devils. And the Wise Man Solomon echoes the refrain: "For great is our El above all elohim" (2 Chron. 2: 5 ).
So a thousand times the tongue and pen of Inspiration declare the living verity of "all the gods of the nations," Yahveh is simply a god "e pluribus unum" -- a "God above all the other gods"; not "One God of all the earth," until the later idea and dogma of Judaism evolved out of the tribulations of the captivity. But "out of nothing, nothing is made." In view of the reiterated admissions above noted and hundreds of others in the sacred texts, to contend otherwise is ostentation of unscriptural theology.
THE GOD OF ISRAEL AND THE GODS OF THE NATIONS
That Yahveh was only, and claimed only to be, the tribal god of Israel, and that he recognized "all the gods of the nations" as his contemporaries and fellow, though inferior, deities, is as true as anything in the Bible. All these tribal or national divinities were strictly territorial, and their sphere of activity, power, and jurisdiction was limited by the national boundaries to their own "chosen people." Two illustrations of this primal fact of Biblical mythology are recorded by inspiration in the Book of Kings.
Ahaziah, King of Israel, was sick: and he sent messengers, and said unto them, Go, enquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease. But the angel of Yahveh said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to enquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron?" (2 Kings 1: 2, 3 ). Elijah repeated the query about the God of Israel, adding a message from Yahveh to Ahaziah: "Thus saith Yahveh, Forasmuch as thou hast sent messengers to enquire of Baal- zebub the god of Ekron, is it not because there is no God in Israel to enquire of his word? Therefore thou shalt ... surety die" (1: 16 ). And it is solemnly recorded: "So he died according to the word of Yahveh which Elijah had spoken" (1: 17 ). Post hoc ergo propter hoc!
Shalmanezer, King of Assyria, destroyed the nation of Israel, or Samaria, in 721 B.C., and carried away bodily the whole ten tribes into perpetual captivity, leaving their land bare; he then re-peopled Samaria with colonies of other nations subdued by Assyria (2 Kings 17: 24 ). Yahveh, who had not saved his Chosen People, took it upon himself, as local Baal of the land, to harass the newcomers by sending "lions among them, which slew some of them" (17: 25 ). The colonists sent word to the great king, saying: "The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land; therefore he hath sent lions among them" (17: 26 ). The king therefore "commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence, and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner [Heb., mishpat] of the God of the land. Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Beth-el, and taught them how they should fear Yahveh" (17: 27, 28 ). But this first recorded missionary expedition (barring Jonah's) failed, for the newcomers "feared Yahveh, and served their own gods" (17: 33 ), who are named in verses 30, 31.
Here it is recorded, that "every nation made gods of their own" (17: 29 ); the colonists from each nation, Babylon, Cuth, Hamath, and others, established the worship of the gods of their respective countries, now acclimated in Israel. As in the days of Moses the Chosen also "feared Yahveh," and worshipped the gods of Egypt and of "beyond the flood," and of the "Seven nations" among whom they dwelt. In the days of the judges, "the children of Israel ... served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook Yahveh, and served not him" (Judges 10: 6 ); they also "made Baal-berith [lord of the covenant] their god" (Judges 8: 33; 9: 4 ). Dozens of foreign, "strange gods" are named, and their activities indicated, far too many to relate; in a word, "all the gods of the nations" (Deut. 29: 18 ). These gods, like Yahveh, were "their rock in whom they [their chosen peoples] trusted"; and it is declared, as of Yahveh, that these other gods "did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offerings" (Deut. 32: 37, 38 ), as only actual living beings can eat and drink -- a very superstitious belief, but pertinent confession of their supposed divine reality.
Jeremiah complains that "the women ... make cakes to the queen of heaven, and ... pour out drink offerings unto other gods" (Jer. 7: 18 ). Rabshakeh asks: "Have [the gods of Hamath and of Arphad, the gods of Sepharvaim], delivered Samaria out of my hand?" (Isa. 36: 19 ); and he taunts Hezekiah of Judah: "Who are they among all the gods of these lands, that have delivered their land out of my hand, that Yahveh should deliver Jerusalem?" (36: 20 ); and none could answer him a word (36: 21 ). Jeremiah accuses Judah: "According to the number of thy cities are thy gods" (Jer. 2: 28; 11: 13 ). Ahaz "sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him. ... But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel" (2 Chron. 28: 23 ). Yahveh threatened: "I will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt; and against all the gods of Egypt will I execute judgment" (Ex. 12: 12 ). This he did (Num. 33: 4 ), proving that they existed to be smitten. "Woe unto thee, Moab, people of Chemosh," cries Yahveh (Num. 21: 29 ). "Against Moab thus saith Yahveh Sabaoth, Elohe of Israel; Woe unto Nebo" (Jer. 48: 1 ); "Chemosh shall go forth into captivity with his priests and his princes together" (Jer. 48: 7 ). "Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth," asserts Isaiah (46: 1 ). Jephthah, "on whom was the spirit of Yahveh," said to the king of the Ammonites: "Yahveh Elohe Israel had dispossessed the Amorites. ... Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy elohe giveth thee to possess?" (Judges 11: 23, 24 ). Dagon "our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand" (Judges 16: 23 ). Thus the existence and power of the "other gods" is again and again admitted, declared, and illustrated.
Time and again Inspiration couples and distinguishes the rival deities: "I am Yahveh thy Elohe; fear not the elohe of the Amorates" (Judges 6: 10 ). "Chemosh thy elohe and Yahveh our elohe" (Judges 11: 24 ). Full authenticity is asserted for "Dagon our elohe" (I Sam. 5: 7 ); for "Ashtoreth, elohe [goddess] of the Zidonians, and Chemosh, elohe of Moab, and Milcom, elohe of the children of Ammon" (I Kings 11: 33 ); for "Baal-zebub, elohe of Ekron" (2 Kings, 1: 2 ); for "the elohe [gods] of Sepharvaim" (2 Kings 17: 31 ); for "the star of your elohe Moloch" (Amos 5: 26 ); all "true and living gods" during all the centuries of the national life of Israel and Judah.
Allegiance could be transferred from one territorial god to another upon removing from one country to another; when Ruth would go with Naomi, she said: "Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God" (Ruth 1: 16 ).
Regular tournaments or contests of power were staged between Yahveh of Israel and some of his rival gods. The conjuring contests between Yahveh and the magicians of Egypt have already been admired. Gideon staged an effective duel between Yahveh and Baal, in honor of which Gideon was nicknamed Jerubbaal (Judges 6: 25-32 ). The Philistines captured the "ark of the gods" (aron ha- elohim) of Israel, and brought it to Ashdod, "into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon" (I Sam. 5: 1, 2 ); and for several nights Yahveh knocked Dagon off his perch and broke his hands and head off (5: 4 ). When the Philistines saw this, their priests deserted their temple, saying: "The ark of the Gods [ha-elohim] of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god" (5: 7 ). The Philistines sent the ark back to the Chosen, with sundry suggestive tokens; and the holy ones of Yahveh carted the Ark to the heathen Beth-shemesh -- the house of the sun-god Shamash, and left it there (I Sam. 6: 9 ). The notable contest between Yahveh, represented by Elijah alone, and Baal with his four hundred priests (1 Kings 18 ) is another well-known instance. In all these contests Yahveh was triumphant, thus proving "among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Yahveh" (Psalm 86: 8; Ex. 15: 11; 2 Kings 18: 35; Psalm 77: 13, et passim.)
Moses even credits Yahveh with having brought Israel up to be his own "people of inheritance," while he "divided [i.e., set apart] unto all nations under the whole heaven," to be their gods, "the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven" (Deut. 4: 19, 20 ), establishing this form of idolatry in order to appropriate Israel to himself alone.
From the foregoing inspired "revelation," the conclusion is obvious and inevitable: all these "other gods" were, or were regarded by the inspired authors of the "Word of God" to be, as actually real and existent as was Yahveh himself; Yahveh was no more real and existent than any other of the "gods of the nations." All actually existed as gods of their respective nations, or else none of them had any existence outside the superstitious beliefs of their respective votaries. The "Word of God" inspiredly vouches equally for them all; with respect to all it is equally either true or not true. This conclusion is unescapable.
If these gods ever once existed, they all yet exist, for according to all accounts, gods are immortal. To deny the existence of Baal, Chemosh, or Dagon is to deny the existence of Yahveh; to admit Yahveh is to confess "all the gods of the nations." The same inspired record vouches for the one and the others.
It may be here suggested, in anticipation of a later chapter, that, since Yahveh, simply the tribal god of Israel, no more real and existent than Baal, Chemosh, Dagon, and all the "other gods of the nations," never himself existed except in imagination and Hebrew mythology, Yahveh could not have had a son, Joshua or Jesus; and therefore Josliua-Jesus, as Son of Yahveh, is a mythological personage. This too is unescapable.
PAGAN BIBLE NAMES
All through the Old Testament the two names El and Yahveh appear, some preferring one, and some the other; and both inextricably connected with the Canaanitish form "Baal." The names of the Bible worthies are the clearest proof of this preference and combination of titles of their deity. The votaries of El bore his name: Israel, soldier of El; Reuel, friend of El; Samuel, Daniel, Ezekiel, Emmanuel, Elisha, Elihu, Elizabeth. The adorers of Yahveh or Jehovah chose his name: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Joshua, Jehoahaz, Jehoshaphat, Jehu. Such names as Elijah and Joel combined the two.
The names of Baal and Bel shared the same honors: Gideon was nick-named Jerub-baal, which seems to combine Jehovah and Baal. The name of Abimelech, a son of Gideon, who set himself up briefly, during the days of the judges, as first king over Israel, means "Moloch is my father." One of the sons of Saul was named Eshbaal, "son of Baal"; one of the sons of David was Beeliada, "whom Baal has known" (1 Chron. 14: 7 ), and whose name is also given under the form Eliada (2 Sam. 5: 16 ), showing that El and Baal were interchangeable names. This is also shown in the name of one of the "mighty men" of David, Beal-iah, "Yahveh is Baal" or Lord, and in Jezebel, both perfect combinations of the two heathen (Israelite and Canaanite) names for "Lord."
That Baal, Bel, and El were equivalent terms for "Lord," but that Yahveh preferred the figurative term "my husband" to the more formal "Lord," and that a customary name for Yahveh was "Baal," he himself is quoted as declaring: "And it shall be at that day, saith Yahveh, that thou shalt call me Ishi [my husband]; and shalt call me no more Baali [my Lord]" (Hosea 2: 16 ).
Not only the Hebrews, but all the Semitic peoples had this custom of compounding their names with that of their favorite deity, in the desire thus to secure the protection of the local Baal for their children. We may recall such names of Belshazzar, Hasdrubal, Hannibal. In more modern, Christian lands the names of saints, often a long string of them, are fondly bestowed on helpless infants with the like motive; just as others are named after rich uncles and other important relatives -- in the hope of favours, divine or human. The names cited and their significance are none of them fanciful; all but the last two are taken from among many others in the "Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names," printed in the back of every well-edited copy of the Holy Bible. They serve to prove further that the El or Yahveh of the Hebrew Bible was nothing more or less than a heathenish Semitic deity or local god, or "Baal," and was not in any sense a "One God of Israel" or of the whole earth.
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