IS IT GOD'S WORD?
THE HOLY PRIESTS AND PROPHETS OF YAHVEH
R RTHE HOLY PRIESTS AND PROPHETS OF YAHVEH R R PRIESTS BEFORE MOSES R R A "KINGDOM OF PRIESTS"
R RREVELATION OF PRIESTLY MONOPOLY R R THE PRIESTLY PERQUISITES R R THE HOLY FAKIR PROPHETS R R THE FRENZIED PROPHETS
R RTHE DIVINE TEST OF PROPHECY R R SAMUEL, DEAN OF THE PROFESSION R R ELIJAH R R ELISHA R R ISAIAH R R JEREMIAH
R REZEKIEL R R DANIEL R R YAHVEH'S HOWLING DERVISHES R R PROPHETIC EROTICISM R R PROPHETIC LYING FACTIONS
R RCONFESSIONS OF THE PROPHETS R R THE PROPAGANDISTS OF CHRISTIANITY
R RRETURN TO THE INDEX OF CHAPTERS
TURNING from the self-portrait of the Hebrew chief God, let us view the holy priests and prophets of Yahveh, the votaries of this Hebrew war-god. This examination will show the vague and shadowy notions of pagan deity which they held, as well as the cardinal characteristics of the whole priestly and prophetic hierarchy of Israel.
The system of priests will be seen to have been founded on the basic principle of idle life and greedy graft; while that of the prophets was in most cases the same, plus a crazed fanaticism such as distinguishes the holy fakirs of India and the howling dervishes of Arabia up to the present time. This priestly-prophetic gentry existed from the earliest times, always and in all ancient countries the object of special privilege and rapacious graft. When Joseph, son of Jacob-Israel, organized the first "corner" in food- stuffs, during the grievous seven-year famine in Egypt, be extorted all their money from the people, by profiteering, and all the lands in Egypt from their starving owners in exchange for food, until "the land became Pharoah's; ... except the land of the priests only, which became not Pharoah's" (Gen. 4v2: 20, 26 ). And priests have escaped all fiscal obligation to the civil state ever since.
PRIESTS BEFORE MOSES
The earliest scripture mention of a priest is a curious instance of confused theology, and illustrates the fact, already proved, that the Hebrew El Yahveh was common property of the Semitic heathenism. Abram, during his wanderings into Canaan, came to the heathen Jebusite city of Salem, which later became Jerusalem; and there he met Melchizedek, King of Salem, who is described as "priest of El-Elyon [the most high God]" (Gen. 14: 18 ). The name Melchizedek signifies "king of righteousness." He was a Canaanite heathen, and of course no priest of the Hebrew El-Yahveh, knowing nothing of any special El or Yahveh of Abram. Yahveh himself had first become known to Abram at Haran as he set out on his family migration to Canaan (Gen. 12: 1 ), since which time Yahveh had not further been heard of. Melchizedek, "priest of El-Elyon," at once recognized Abram as a brother pagan, worshipping the same God or gods as himself, and greeted him warmly: "Blessed be Abram of El-Elyon" (14: 19 ). The pagan King of Sodom joined the friendly group, and began bargaining about the spoils of the battle; and Abram swore to him by their common God El-Elyon that he would justly close the bargain (14: 21, 22 ). Thus, clearly, El, exalted as El-Elyon, was a common Semitic deity, which the pagan Melchizedek served as priest just as Abram did, and the pagan King of Sodom shared the same religious cult. As Melchizedek was altogether a pagan priest, and is never shown to have been "converted" to Yahveh, it is curious that Paul several times avers that Jesus Christ was "called of God an high priest after the order of Melchizedek" (Heb. 5: 10 ).
This same Melchizedek was the most original of recorded personages; like the government mule, he was "without pride of ancestry or hope of progeny," according to the anonymous scribe the Epistle to the Hebrews. Here the Holy Ghost, speaking through the sacred writer, assures us that this pagan prototype of the Christ was born and lived "without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life" (Heb. 7: 3 )! It is added, for confirmation of faith, that he was "made like unto the Son of God" and "abideth a priest for ever." This comparison is not borne out in all details, for the Christ is said to have had a Ghostly Father and a carnal mother, and to have gone back to heaven alive after death, while Melchizedek, prototype, too, of the Wandering Jew, must still be serving somewhere as priest.
A "KINGDOM OF PRIESTS"
During the patriarchal times, down to the traditional "giving of the law" on Sinai, and for a thousand years afterwards, every man who pleased was his own priest and made his own bloody sacrifices: Cain, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Aaron, before and after the "law"; and Joshua, Gideon, and all the judges, Samuel, David, Solomon, and other kings, after the "law"; not one of them was specially ordained a priest. No sooner had the fleeing Chosen arrived at Sinai than Yahveh himself is recorded as proclaiming: "Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation" (Ex. 19: 6 ); that is, every man should be at liberty to act for himself as priest and make his own altars and sacrifices "for the atonement of his soul" unto Yahveh.
And under the very shadow of Sinai, the day after the first giving of the law to Moses, Moses himself "builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars [phallic mazzebahs] according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto Yahveh" (Ex. 24: 4, 5 ).
REVELATION OF PRIESTLY MONOPOLY
But Moses had been brought up in the royal-priestly court of Egypt and was "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7: 22 ). Consequently Moses received a "revelation" from Yahveh that Brother Aaron should be high priest, and the four sons of Aaron should be priests: "It shall be a statute for ever unto their generations" (Ex. 27: 21; 28: 1 ) -- just as Mohammed afterwards reserved the priesthood for his own family. Yahveh complaisantly again decreed: "And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations" (Ex. 4: 15 ).
Having got this divine commission in perpetuity for Brother Aaron's family, it was necessary to sanction it with awful Jahvistic pains and penalties, to prevent sacrilegious meddling with the monopoly. The penalty of death was therefore decreed for any interference with the priestly monopolists: "Thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall keep their priesthood: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death" (Num. 3: 10 )! And it was repeated: "The man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest, ... even that man shall die" (Deut. 17: 12 ). The priests of Yahveh were as jealously exclusive as was their God whose name was Jealous; and they were protected in their monopoly by the fatal enactment on Sinai: "He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto Yahveh only, he shall be utterly destroyed" (Ex. 22: 20 ); and these deadly penalties were enforced by their beneficiaries.
Of course, none of this ever historically happened; it was put into the mouth of "Yahveh by the hand of Moses" many centuries later, by Ezra or his priestly successors after the return from captivity, when the ritualistic priestly system was established in the restored remnant of the Jews to give sanction and sanctity to their exclusive system. None of the many priests named in the whole history after Aaron, from Eli to Hulda, the priestess who officiated at the "finding of the law," was of the monopolistic priesthood of Aaron; and none of them, nor of the many non-priestly sacrificers, Gideon, Saul, Samuel, David, and the kings of Judah and Israel, who sacrificed to many "other gods" besides Yahveh, was ever "utterly destroyed" or put to death for either of these flagrant violations of "the law." This is good proof that "the law" prohibiting these practices under penalty of death was not existent through all those centuries. The recorded instances of infliction of these penalties were therefore clearly anachronistic and apocryphal, related only to terrify the "strangers who should come nigh" to question or to meddle with the "restored" priesthood.
Two of the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, who seem not to have been well initiated into the mysteries of their new office, put strange fire into their censers, "and offered strange fire before Yahveh"; and, lo, "there went out fire from Yahveh, and devoured them, and they died before Yahveh" (Lev. 10: 1, 2 ). Moses commanded Brother Aaron, in the name of Yahveh, that he and his family should not mourn for the murdered sons, "lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people" (10: 6 ). Thus decreed the God of all Compassion -- "even as a father pitieth his children."
We are given a horrible example of the jealousy of Yahveh in favor of his priestly monopolists which it is worth while to cite somewhat fully. Yahveh declared, as we have seen, that the whole holy nation of Chosen should be "a kingdom of priests" (Ex. 19: 6 ). Three of the renowned representatives of the Chosen, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, with 250 of the "princes of the congregation," rose up before Moses and Aaron, and said unto them: "Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and Yahveh is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of Yahveh?" (Num. 16: 2 ). Moses was very wroth, as was his wont, at this challenge of his family monopoly, and he taunted them, saying: "Seek ye the priesthood also?" (16: 10 ); and Moses challenged them to a contest of incense-offering, saying: "Yahveh will shew who are his, and who is holy" (16: 6 ). And Moses the meek "was very wroth, and said unto Yahveh, Respect not thou their offering" (16: 15 ).
Yahveh at first told Moses and Aaron to stand aside, and threatened to smite and consume all the rest of the millions of the holy congregation in a moment. But Moses evidently reflected that there would be nothing to the priestly monopoly if all the faithful were consumed; so he expostulated with Yahveh, saying: "O El, Elohe of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?" Yahveh-El-Elohe saw the point, and told Moses to have all the congregation keep away from the tents of "these wicked men"; and he put a taboo upon all their possessions, saying: "Touch nothing of their's, lest ye be consumed" (16: 26 ). Such taboos, of the perfect Hottentot type, riot throughout the holy pages of the Hebrew Bible.
The contest of incense-burning to which Moses had first challenged the anti-monopolists was called off; and Yahveh, after the people had stood aside, caused "these wicked men" to stand forth in the doors of their tents, with "their wives, and their sons, and their little ones," all doomed to a common massacre by the merciful Yahveh, who benignly avows that he visits "the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation." Then Moses stood forth and proclaimed: "Hereby ye shall know that Yahveh hath sent 'Me to do all these works" (16: 28 ); and -- behold the righteous judgments of Yahveh -- "the ground clave asunder that was under them: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods." So they "went down alive into the pit [Sheol], and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation" (16: 31-33 ). The wrath of Yahveh being not yet satiated, "there came out a fire from Yahveh, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense" to their compassionate God. At the further command of Yahveh, and as a fearful warning for all who should dare to meddle with the priestly monopoly, the censers in which these "wicked men" had offered their incense were beaten out into a brazen covering for the bloody altar of Yahveh, "to be a memorial unto the children of Israel, that no stranger, which is not of the seed of Aaron, come near to offer incense before Yahveh" (16: 40 ).
Even yet the wrath of Yahveh was not appeased. For on the morrow all the congregation of the Children of Yahveh murmured against Holy Moses and Brother Aaron, saying: "Ye have killed the people of Yahveh." Then Yahveh ordered Moses to stand aside, "that I may consume them as in a moment" (16: 46 ); and he sent a plague and killed 14,700 more of them (16: 49 ). Yahveh is indeed a merciful and a jealous God. One admission of the falsity of the record mitigates this wholesale murder; for inspiration elsewhere flatly contradicts the inspired assertion that "all their households" were swallowed up alive: "Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not" (Num. 26: 11 ).
To confirm the priestly monopoly of the Aaron family, Yahveh resorted to a rod-conjuring contest reminiscent of the contests in Egypt. He ordered Moses to take twelve rods, according to the twelve tribes, and write the name of the chief of each tribe on the respective rods, putting Aaron's name on the rod of the tribe of Le6: and to lay the rods up overnight. "And it shall come to pass, that the man's rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you" (Num. 17: 1-5 ) -- though their murmurings never did cease. So Moses took the twelve rods, representing the phallic "staff of life," and laid them up overnight in the tent where the Ark of the Covenant was housed; and, lo, on the morrow, "the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded ... and yielded almonds" (17: 7, 8 )! Thus vindicated, 'Yahveh told Moses: "Bring Aaron's rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels; and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not" (17: 10 ). Who would not love such a benign Deity? The Chosen were filled with godly fear, saying unto Moses: "Behold, we die, we perish, we perish all. Whosoever cometh any thing near unto the tabernacle of Yahveh shall die" (17: 12, 13 ). To cap the climax of divine sanction for the priestly monopoly, and everlastingly secure the priests in their power and profit, Moses cajoled from Yahveh on Sinai this fatal and priestly decree: "The man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest, ... even that man shall die" (Deut. 17: 12 ). Thus were the priestly fetters firmly riveted on the neck of the superstitious people, where they have galled humanity until this very year of his Son Christ. But humanity is coming to know the truth, and the truth shall make men free.
THE PRIESTLY PERQUISITES
A large part of the "Five Books of Moses" is taken up with sacred prescriptions by Yahveh for the holy incantations and bloody ceremonials of the sect of priests, and for the enforcement of their sacred perquisites. Yahveh himself fully initiated Moses into the sacred mysteries of smearing the blood of victims on the right ear-tips and big toes of Brother Aaron and his sons, and in teaching them to dip their fingers in the blood of the victims (Ex. 29: 20; Lev. 14 ). But, naturally, the most important feature of the holy ministry was the rules and regulations of their divinely ordained spoils from all Israel.
This was a gigantic guerdon; for when the priestly assistants (the Levites) were "numbered at the commandment of Yahveh, all the males of the Levites were twenty and two thousand" (Num. 3: 39 ). It was ordained amid the fires and thunders of Sinai, that "No man shall appear before me empty when he cometh to make atonement for his soul" (Ex. 23: 15 ). No pay, no atonement.
It would be impossible, in this outline, to go into the details of the priestly system of tribute. Every act of life, from the cradle to the grave, must be accompanied by sacrifices and offerings, at which the priests must officiate, and for which receive their holy pay. There 'were sin-offerings, peace- offerings, trespass-offerings, and other revenue-producing offerings too numerous to catalogue. In most instances, Yahveh got the "sweet savor" of the burnt smell of them, and the holy priests got the solid nourishment which the sacrificed animals afforded. These offerings were frequently simply "waved before Yahveh." After this ceremony, "it shall be thine, and thy sons' with thee, by a statute for ever; as Yahveh hath commanded" (Lev. 10: 15 ).
Chapter 7 of Numbers, with 89 verses, is a marvellous account of rich donations made to the priests by the principal leaders of the Chosen; these just-escaped slaves could only have stolen them when, a few weeks before, they "spoiled the Egyptians" -- unless indeed, it never happened at all, or occurred ages later, when the priestly system was well established and the "law" was "found" by Hilkiali the priest. Numbers 18 gives a precious view of this whole scheme of priestly rewards ordained to Aaron and his kin. A few lines must suffice: "All the best of [everything] have I given thee. And whatsoever is first ripe in the land ... shall be thine. ... Every thing devoted in Israel shall be thine. Every thing that openeth the matrix in all flesh, which they bring unto Yahveh, whether it be of men or beasts, shall be thine: nevertheless the firstborn of man, ... and the firstling of unclean beasts shalt thou redeem" (Num. 18: 12-15 ), for a fixed price, which the priests got. All the gold and silver spoils of war are declared "consecrated unto Yahveh: they shall come into the treasury of Yahveh" (Josh. 6: 19 ), for the priests. "And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance" (18: 21 ). Every time the people were "numbered," every one of them over twenty years old had to pay a half-shekel for "a ransom for his soul unto Yahveh, ... that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them" (Ex. 30: 12 ) -- a very fruitful source of income.
The first-fruits of all the land, and the best of everything else, "Without spot or blemish," and a tenth of everything were, in a word, the perpetual income of these holy servers of Yahveh. It is stated that a common resort of shiftless loafers of Israel shall be to come to a priest and bow down to him for a piece of silver and a loaf of bread, saying,: "Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests' offices, that I may eat a piece of bread?' (1 Sam. 2: 36 ). The custom has ever since been popular.
THE HOLY FAKIR PROPHETS
The prophets, as described by Inspiration, were a precious set of lazy and worthless vagabonds of Israel, the exact counterpart of the howling dervishes and divination-mongers of their cousin Ishmaelites. In speaking of prophets one thinks naturally of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and such reputed "holy men of God": these are but a few signal ones out of thousands of unkempt and unclean loafers, who went publicly naked -- as did Aaron, Saul, Samuel, David, Isaiah -- or wore old bran-sacks for clothes -- like John the Baptist and others -- and wandered about begging, and selling sorceries and magic, and talking in a wild sing-song jargon of which they themselves did not know the meaning. The usual term to describe them was in the Hebrew language meshuggah (frenzied); they wandered about "prophesying," or, as the Hebrew word actually signifies (see the Revised Version) razing through the land. Their current Hebrew name was Nabi, which "signified to speak enthusiastically, 'to utter cries, and make more or less wild gestures,' like the pagan mantics" (Cath. Encyc., Vol. 12:p. 477, art. Prophecy, Prophet, and Prophetess). They were "seers," fortune-tellers, and diviners, through pretended dreams and trances, and by the use of sacred dice and arrows, and phallic images of Yahveh.
The job of a prophet was a free-for-all occupation, which any one who pretended to feel the divine afflatus, or was a fluent liar, could take up at will and without license. The prophet Amos frankly states his own case, which was typical and has passed into a proverb: "I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdsman; ... and Yahveh took me as I followed the flock, and Yahveh said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel" (Amos 7: 14, 15 ). Elisha, the baldpate, was a farmer, who when Elijah passed by, dropped his plough and ran after him, and became a prophet too. After this manner are many modern "divines" self-"called."
Jeremiah describes their single qualification: "Every man that is mad [ish meshuggah], and maketh himself a prophet" (Jer. 29: 26 ). Hosea also declares the same truth: "The prophet is a fool, the man that hath the spirit is mad [meshuggah]" (Hos. 9: 7 ). Elisha is called "this mad fellow [meshuggah]" (2 Kings 9: 11 ). A thousand instances prove the truth of these candid admissions that the prophets were a rabble of frenzied fakirs. We have seen the example of Saul, when "the spirit of Yahveh came mightily upon him, and he prophesied" (Heb., raved), along with the whole band of howling, naked prophets (1 Sam. 19: 6 ); and frequently afterwards it is related of him: "The evil spirit from the gods came upon Saul, and he prophesied" (raved; 18: 10 ). Like the devils that came down from among the tombs, their name was Legion; they infested the land like the locusts of the Egyptian plague. Jeremiah describes them gadding about the country, crying: "I have dreamed, I have dreamed," and, saith Yahveh, "prophesying [raving] lies in my name" (Jer. 23: 25 ).
THE FRENZIED PROPHETS
The word "prophet," as a name for these nomadic conjurers and fortune-tellers, is a late Biblical term; they were originally called -- just as the fortune-tellers and trance- mediums of to-day describe themselves in their advertisements -- "seers"; people who "see things" in their imaginations, or pretend for pay to see them. Samuel, who well describes the grafting practices of this gentry, testifies to this: "Before- time in Israel, when a man went to enquire of the gods [ha- Elohim], thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer [roeh]: for he that is now called a Prophet [Nabi] was beforetime called a Seer [Roeh)" (1 Sam. 9: 9 ). We may note here another sidelight on Bible editorship: as the word "Roeh" ("Seer") is used throughout the Books of Samuel and elsewhere, it is evident that these books were compiled long afterwards, when "Nabi" ("raver," hence "prophet") was the word in current use, so that the original and then obsolete word, "Roeh," had to be explained.
THE DIVINE TEST OF PROPHECY
The ear-marks and badge of authenticity of a prophecy-manger are prescribed in the law, in terms of sufficient vagueness to allow considerable latitude of practice in the craft: "If there be a prophet among you, I Yahveh will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream' (Num. 12: 6 ) -- a test obviously lending itself to the objection afterwards made by Yahveh himself, through Jeremiah: "I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed" (Jer. 23: 25 ). Again, the credentials are thus prescribed by Yahveh: "If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass. whereof he spake unto thee, saying [things idolatrous and mischievous]; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for Yahveh your God proveth you, to know whether ye love Yahveh your God. ... And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death" (Deut. 13: 1-5 ). Certainly an odd sort of roving commission and a barbarous punishment for the poor dupe of Yahveh.
But a more comprehensive and soul-satisfying, though precarious test of the authenticity and veracity of the prophet is again laid down by Yahveh:
"And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which [the prophet] shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
"But the prophet which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.
"And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which Yahveh hath not spoken?
"When a prophet speaketh in the name of Yahveh, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which Yahveh hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him" (Deut. 18: 19-22 )!
That this latter is the real, though negative, test of true prophecy, is not only thus averred by Yahveh, but he gives a remarkable example of its efficiency. When from the burning bush Yahveh ordered Moses to bring the Children of Israel out of Egypt, and Moses demurred, Yahveh reassured him: "And this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve the gods [ha-elohim] upon this mountain" (Ex. 3: 12 ). Though, by the same divine token, Isaiah prophesied "presumptuously" and falsely when be told Ahaz that the two kings would fail before Jerusalem (Isa. 7 ), for the city was captured by them and nearly destroyed (2 Chron. 28 ).
This same safe test of prophecy is stated in its affirmative form by the shifty Jeremiah: "When the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that Yahveh hath truly sent him" (Jer. 28: 9 ). For how long, O Yahveh, must the expectant and impatient votary wait to know whether the "man of the Gods" [ish haelohim] has missed his guess or not, and his message was or was not of Thee? Isaiah prophesied a "sign" in the Virgin-born son Immanuel (Isa. 7: 14 ), and not till 750 years later, as Matthew says, was it "fulfilled which was spoken of Yahveh by the prophet" (Matt. 1: 22 ); whereas Jesus himself prophesied that his second coming would be in the lifetime of those hearing him speak (Matt. 16: 28 ) -- and in nearly two thousand years the event has not proved the truth of the prophecy. Full faith and credence may, however, charitably be awarded to these prophecy-mangers, at least until the event proves that "they speak lies in my name." Having thus satisfied our minds, if not our souls, as to the official character and tests of veracity of prophets, we will return to the revelations of their inspired methods of plying their sacred trade.
SAMUEL, DEAN OF THE PROFESSION
The great "meshuggah" Samuel was stark frenzied, like all of the howling bands of fakir-prophets with whom he paraded naked up and down the land. A graphic picture of them is given by Samuel himself, or whoever wrote his biography. David had fled from the wrath of Saul, and Saul "sent messengers to take David"; but as each squad of messengers came upon "the company of the prophets prophesying [raving], and Samuel standing as appointed over them, the spirit of the Gods was upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied [raved]." After three details of messengers had "failed" in this way, Saul himself went on his own mission; and as he went, "the Spirit of the gods was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesied [raved], until he came" to where all the others were assembled. The whole outfit were stark naked and raving; and Saul "stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied [raved] before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night" (I Sam. 19: 14-24 ). And by this token of rank insanity and phallic idolatry, was "Saul also numbered among the prophets," to the derision of the public.
Samuel himself was a well-known "seer," or fortune-teller and prophecy-monger, as appears from 1 Samuel 9. It is related, by divine inspiration, that Kish, the father of Saul, had several asses which had strayed, and he sent young Saul and one of the family servants to "go seek the asses." After beating the country-side for several days without success, when Saul was on the point of giving up and returning home, the servant said: "Behold now, there is in this city a man of the gods [ish-ha- elohim], and he is a man that is held in honor; all that he saith cometh surely to pass: now let us go thither; peradventure he can shew us" where to find the lost asses. But Saul replied -- showing that he well knew the raison-d'etre of the fortune- telling craft -- that he had no money, nothing with which to pay, -- "there is not a present to bring to the man-of-the-gods" [ish- ha-elohim].
But the servant rescued him from this difficulty: "Behold, I have here at hand the fourth part of a shekel of silver: that will I give to the man of the gods, to tell us our way" (9: 8 ).
As they went into the city, they met some girls, and asked them: "Is the seer [Heb., roeh] here?" And the girls told them that Samuel was in town that day, having come to town expressly to attend a big picnic sacrifice held by the people of the town in the Baalic high-place of the city, "for the people will not eat until he come, because he doth bless the sacrifice" (9: 13 ). This, incidentally, proves the heathenish practices of this holy man of the gods, and of all the people; and proves that the "law" pretended to have been promulgated by Moses long before did not yet exist; for this "law" a thousand times denounces the "high places" as a heathenish abomination, and prohibits under penalty of death the performance of sacrifices by any but the holy monopoly of priests.
Saul and his servant started on their search for Samuel; and as they went along, they met a man to whom Saul said: "Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer's house is." The man replied: "I am the seer." Samuel then invited them to dinner; and without waiting to be asked about the asses, he said: "As for thine asses that were lost three days ago, set not thy mind on them; for they are found." After several other matters which need not be related, Samuel told Saul a number of things which he should see as he returned along the road, among which was a "company of prophets coming down from the high place" (of phallic Baal-worship), playing a diversity of musical instruments, "and they shall prophesy [rave]" (10: 5 ). This proves precisely the wild and incoherent nature of "meshuggah" practice. And Samuel said to Saul: "The Spirit of Yahveh will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy [rave] with them" (10: 6 ). And so it came to pass; and when the people who knew Saul saw that he "prophesied [raved] among the prophets," they said: "What is this that is come unto the son of Kish." Is Saul also among the prophets?" (10: 11 ). Then they all went up to the phallic high-place together. All this I have stated at some length, in order to give a graphic idea, from the Sacred Scriptures, of what manner of men were these holy prophets of Yahveh, and what was the manner of their practices.,
Elijah the Tishbite was a typical "meshuggah"; he was "an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins" (2 Kings 1: 8 ); he lived in deserts and caves, and angels and ravens fed him; he saw and talked with Yahveh in great and strong winds which rent the mountains and brake in pieces the rocks, in earthquakes, in fires, and in a still small voice. He had a wonder-working phallic staff, with which he parted the waters of rivers so that he could walk across dry-shod; and he is said to have raised a dead child to life by laying the stick upon him (2 Kings 4: 29 ).
Elijah murdered two companies of fifty soldiers and their captains by calling down fire from heaven to consume them in order to prove "if I be a man of the gods" (2 Kings 1: 12 ); and he murdered the 450 priests of Baal and the 400 "priests of the groves" (asherah), for the same purpose. As Elijah himself admits: "I, even I only, remain a prophet of Yahveh" (1 Kings 18: 22 ); and as there were at that time only seven thousand persons in all Israel who "bent not the knee to Baal" and kissed not the Baalic phallus, as the sacred text says (I Kings 19: 18 ), it would seem that this mighty "meshuggah" of Yahveh used drastic means to vindicate his very minor dignity and importance.
Even old Elisha, who had a double portion of the spirit of his partner Elijah shed upon him, could not get his prophetic conjuring up until he was put into a trance by music -- the instrument of prophetic trance being preferably (and appropriately) the lyre, as is instanced in 2 Kings 3: 15. Elisha had Yahveh murder forty-two little children because, in their childish simplicity and want of good manners, they said: "Go up, thou bald head." As these two old cronies, Elijah and Elisha, walked along and talked one day, "behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven" -- something more than a million light years distant. How these fiery objects could have come so close to Elisha without burning him or the mantle of Elijah, which fell from him as he went up, is not explained. Elisha organized a posse and beat the woods for Elijah for three days (2 Kings 2: 17 ), thinking evidently that the driver of the fiery chariot had kidnapped him. This would seem to discount the inspired statement that Elijah was visibly whisked away into heaven before the very eyes of Elisha.
Elisha continued to go about alone and do much potent magic, such as making an ax-head swim, "healing" water that tasted bad, by casting salt into it, and going into a weird trance until "the hand of Yahveh came upon him," in order to be able to "prophesy" to the kings, during a drought, that they could get water by digging the low valley of the Jordan full of trenches -- a trick that any farmer's prentice could have told them just as well.
The great Isaiah was a "meshuggah of the meshuggahs." He admits it himself, and everything which he uttered attests it: he appears never to have had a lucid interval. He was certainly stark mad when, as he says, at Yahveh's dread command, he took the old bran-sack from off his loins and the shoes from his feet, and "walked naked and barefoot, three years for a sign and wonder [as indeed it must have been!] upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia" (Isa. 20: 2, 3 ); and he had not recovered when he wrote about it, or he would never have told it.
Isaiah had chronic intestinal trouble, which may have been what caused him to be so "meshuggah"; for he groans "my bowels shall sound [or, Revised Version, "will boil"] like an harp" (Isa. 16: 11 ), and he says his loins are "filled with pain: pangs have taken hold upon me, as the pangs of a woman that travaileth. ... My heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me" (Isa. 21: 3, 4 ); and he despairingly avowed: "I will weep bitterly, labor not to comfort me" (Isa. 22: 4 ). No wonder he saw and said things which even Aristotle could not unriddle. His dream- book is entitled "The Vision of Isaiah"; and his raving "prophecies" are divided into paragraphs headed, in the English translation, "the burden of Jerusalem," of Egypt, of Babylon, etc. The Hebrew word of the original means "the oracle concerning"; like the "prophecies" of all the "meshuggahs," they are just as pellucid in style and innocent of intelligent meaning as the incoherent jargon of the Greek oracles of Apollo or of the Pythoness.
In the year in which King Uzziah died, Isaiah says he "saw Yahveh sitting upon a throne. ... Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly," and the whole place was filled with smoke, until Isaiah cried: "Lord, how long?" (Isa. 6: 1, 2, 11 ). Afterwards he saw Yahveh riding upon a swift cloud going to Egypt; it was on this trip that Yahveh was to be received triumphantly with an "altar to Yahveh in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a mazzebah ["pillar"] at the border thereof" -- a phallic device which he says "shall be for a sign and for a witness unto Yahveh Sabaoth in the land of Egypt" (Isa. 19: 19, 20 ).
In His frenzy, Isaiah calls upon the ships of Tarshish to howl (Isa. 23: 1 ); and says that the earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed; that Yahveh with a great and strong sword shall punish Leviathan the serpent, and shall slay the dragon that is in the sea. He displays his inspired notions of cosmical geography by speaking of the "ends of the earth" (Isa. 4: 28; 41: 5 ) and the "four corners of the earth" (Isa. 11: 12 ) -- a bit of inspired ignorance which held the world benighted for centuries, to the great credit of inspired infallible church and its holy Inquisition, until heretical Columbus proved that uninspired pagan Pythagoras, Aristotle, Seneca, and Ptolemy were better diviners of the truth than was Yahveh's own Prophet. Burns sang of "rapt Isaiah's wild seraphic fire"; it is all that, and something less poetic besides.
But Isaiah, as is well known, did not write the Book of Isaiah, or wrote only fragments of it; the book is a patchwork of various authors and editors, covering two centuries and more after the death of Isaiah. The book describes itself as "The Vision of Isaiah" (Isa. 1: 1 ), and thus, according to the definition of the term "vision" in Numbers 12: 61 is confessedly a "dream-book" rather than a chronicle of actual happenings. The "visions" are supposed to have been seen "in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah," between the years 760-700 B.C., the latter year being accepted as that of Isaiah's death. But they include the story of the murder of Sennacherib by his sons (Isa. 37: 37, 38 ) which occurred in the year 681 B.C. More notorious anachronisms are the references to Cyrus: "Babylon is fallen, is fallen" (Isa. 21: 9 ) -- captured by Cyrus in 538 B.C.; "That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd" (Isa. 44: 28 ); "Thus saith Yahveh to his messiah, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden" (Isa. 14: 1 ); "I will direct all his ways, he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives" (45: 13 ). This relates to the return from captivity, nearly two centuries after the death of Isaiah. Large portions of the book are post-exilic. Chapter 23 howls over the destruction of Tyre, which was wrought by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C. Some portions (e.g., chapter 63 ) are assigned by the scholars to a period as late as the Hasmonean, about 165 B.C. Consequently our prophet must be acquitted of many of the absurdities orthodoxy attributed to him, as well as robbed of the halo of ultra- sanctity ascribed to his "prophetic" oracles.
The Wailing Prophet, Jeremiah, was little less "meshuggah" than Isaiah himself. He says: "Since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil" (Jer. 20: 8 ). He also was diseased: he agonizes and cries out: "My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me" (4: 19 ); he cries aloud: "I am full of the fury of Yahveh; I am weary with holding in" (6: 11 )! He avers that "Yahveh put forth his hand and touched my mouth, and said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth," and told him to "Go, cry against Jerusalem." Jeremiah fulfilled his divine mission to the letter; and then, for good measure, added his weeping Lamentations, in which he again complains: "Behold, O Yahveh; for I am in distress: my bowels are troubled" (Lam. 1: 20 ). And yet after these two pitiful appeals, the "Great Physician" did not so much as prescribe bitters for his poor sick prophet.
The most perfectly frenzied of the whole troupe of prophets, so far as the record goes, is Ezekiel. His regular diet seems to have been bread made of human dung; but for some unrevealed reason, Yahveh indulgently gave him a substitute of cow's dung, and commanded him: "Lo, I have given thee cow's dung for man's dung, and thou shalt prepare thy bread therewith" (Ezek. 4: 15 ). And he assures us that Elohe Yahveh "put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven" (8: 3 ); and that "the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of Yahveh" and things unspeakable.
Neither man nor beast, before or since, except maybe in heaven, ever looked like what Ezekiel tries to describe: "Every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. [Isaiah says (6: 2, 11 ), each one had six wings; but probably he couldn't see to count because of the smoke]. ... They four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle: Thus were their faces.
Their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning." They had wheels (or perhaps it was Ezekiel himself), and works inside like "a wheel in the middle of a wheel"; and they had four rings "full of eyes round about" (Ezek. 1: 6-18 ).
Ezekiel too had cramps of the stomach, even worse than Jeremiah's, if possible, for Yahveh made him eat the roll of a book, and fill his belly with it (3: 1-3 ); and it tasted in his mouth "as honey for sweetness." The apoplectic John of Patmos had to eat a similar book (or maybe it was the same one rehashed), which also tasted like honey, but which, says, made his belly bitter (Rev. 10: 10 ). Both instances are proof of the Shaksperian remark: "Things sweet to taste are to digestion sour." Their dyspepsia must have been something awful, to judge from the nightmare visions they had and the excruciating things they saw and uttered.
The greatest dream-book extant is that of Daniel, to which those of Isaiah and Ezekiel are only close seconds. Daniel avows that Yahveh endowed him with "understanding of all visions and dreams"; so that he was "ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers" in all the king's realm (Dan. 1: 20 ). He several times relates (e.g., in 8: 18 ) that "as [Yahveh] was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground," -- his favorite attitude for wooing nightmare revelation.
He certainly saw some fearful and wonderful things: he describes his "control" as having a "face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in color to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude" (10: 6 ). It is no wonder that all Daniel's "comeliness was turned ... into corruption" within him, all his strength left him (10: 8 ); and he had abdominal disorders, and pains in his head. He says: "I was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me" (7: 15 ).
Poor Daniel spent much time in "prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes" (9: 3 ), and would mourn for three full weeks at a time, without eating or making his toilet (10: 2, 3 ). It was enough to derange anybody. He would hear the terrible voice of Yahveh as he was in his deep sleep on his face, with his face towards the ground; and Yahveh would "set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands" (10: 9, 10 ); and while he was in this graceful but uncomfortable posture, on all fours, Yahveh told him many incomprehensible things, as Daniel himself frankly admits: "I heard, but I understood not" (12: 8 ). Nor has anyone else understood ever since. These visions' which he had, of "all the wonders' that would be," were very explicitly scheduled to come to pass within the very precise period of "a time, times, and a half" (12: 7 ) -- whenever that is. I remark only that among the myriads of Babylonian monuments and records which have so far been unearthed and deciphered, thanks to modern science, the one which records how good old King Nebuchadnezzar, a heathen special friend of the Yahveh of Israel, by whom he was given the dominion of the earth (Jer. 27: 6-8 ), turned ox and ate grass for seven years has not yet appeared, nor is the name of the prince regent during that interregnum yet recovered. And no monument preserves the name of the inspired prime minister Daniel, or records the incidents of the lions' den or the fiery furnace. Perhaps all this will be found on the next monument or in the next court record to be translated by the scholars. Let us hope so, for the sake of dear old Daniel's veracity.
So far as profane history has yet discovered, however, none of these inspiredly related events happened as recorded. Nebuchadnezzar had no son and successor of the name of Belshazzar; there was no such king as Daniel's hero of the "handwriting on the wall," his last King of Babylon, slain at the great feast, from whom "Darius the Median took the kingdom" (Dan. 5.). Babylon was taken by Cyrus in 538 B.C. from Narbonidus, last King of Babylon. Darius (not a personal name, but a title, like "Pharaoh"), whose name was Hystaspes, was chosen king about 522 B.C., after the death of Cambyses, son and successor of Cyrus. He was a Persian, not a Mede. The whole Book of Daniel is simply a legend, a Jewish apocalypse, written, according to the consensus of scholarly opinion, in the Maccabean times, about 165 B.C. The fateful "handwriting on the wall" vanishes before our eyes in the shadows of myth, and Daniel's "prophecies," all ex post facto, go glimmering into the same limbo.
YAHVEH'S HOWLING DERVISHES
The so-called prophets, major and minor, are one and all typical examples of the howling dervish of the desert. Hear them howl! What a string of howls from the great howl-master Isaiah: "Howl ye, for the day of Yahveh is at hand" (Isa. 13: 6 )! "Howl, O gate; cry, O city" (14: 31 )! "Every one shall howl" (16: 7 )! "Howl, ye inhabitants of the isle" (23: 6 )! "Ye shall howl for vexation of spirit" (65: 14 )!' Jeremiah swells the refrain: "Lament and howl: for the fierce anger of Yahveh" (Jer. 4: S)! "All the inhabitants of the land shall howl" (47: 2 )! Ezekiel, he who saw things inexplicable, joins in: "Cry and howl, son of man" (Ezek. 21: 12 )! "Howl ye, Woe worth the day!" (30: 2 ). And the "minor league" joins the chorus: "Howl, ye inhabitants!" cries Zephaniah (Zeph. 1: 11 ); "Howl, O ye oaks of Bashan!" bellows Zechariah (Zech. 11: 2 ); "The songs of the temple shall be howlings!" howls Amos (Amos 8: 3 ). Joel not only howls himself, but wants everybody else to howl: "Awake, ye drunkards, weep and howl! Lament, ye priests! Howl, ye ministers of the altar! Alas, for the day of Yahveh is at hand! How do the beasts groan! Yahveh also shall roar out of Zion!" (Joel, passim). Poor Job -- but then he was not a prophet but a pagan, and it is not known how he got into the Bible. Job is the only one who does not howl; be wails: "My bowels boiled; ... the days of affliction prevented me" (Job 30: 27 )! Micah exults in his frenzy, crying: "I will wail and howl; I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the owls" (Mic. 1: 8 )
These prophets had other peculiarities which are not overmuch to their credit or to that of their Yahveh. Hosea was apparently the subject of neuropathic erotomania. His induction into prophecy was a vision in which Yahveh commanded him: "Go, take thee a wife of whoredoms" (Hos. 1: 2 ), as he proceeds to do without any recorded reluctance. He has by her a couple of children, without being married. He has to make these children "plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband"; begging her to "put away her whoredoms ... and her adulteries" (2: 2 ), so as to indulge in them only with this holy one, who threatens to "strip her naked" (2: 3 ), if she doesn't quit them. But she kept it up; for Hosea tells us, she "went after her lovers and forgat me"; and Yahveh tried to help him win her back, for Yahveh says: "Behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness" (2: 14 ). This kindly divine Go-between seems to have failed of success, for Yahveh tells Hosea: "Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress" (3: 1 ). This also he does without delay. This new lady-love seems to have highly pleased the amorous Hosea, for he tells her: "Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot and thou shalt not be for another man; so will I also be for thee" (3: 3 ). The erotic visions of Hosea quite rival the amatory Canticles of Solomon, and take all the romance out of Don Juan Tenorio.
Amos had visions likening Yahveh to a choleric fisherman, swearing unto his people by his holiness, "that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fish-hooks"; and while they didn't wear trousers in those days, he swears (perhaps of the posterity in pants), "and ye shall go out at the breaches" (4: 2, 3 ). He promises that Yahveh shall break out like a fire and devour Israel, and there will be none to quench it; and he says that Yahveh says he will command the serpent and it shall bite them (9: 3 ).
Jonah should be passed with a sympathetic tear; for surely he had great disappointment, after all his vicissitudes, in Nineveh's being spared after all, and had some reason to complain to Yahveh, "It is better for me to die than to live" -- as nobody these days doubts. He should not be expected to tell us about his experiences with much calmness of reason.
The rest of the herd of "minor" prophets likewise gadded about, with their various "burdens" sore upon them, preaching divine wrath and destruction in like frenzied and incoherent fashion, dealing damnation round the land. Malachi reaches the climax of low-comedy vengeance with the holy Yahveh's picturesque threat: "I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces" (Mal. 2: 3 ); and he winds up with the promise or threat of the "great and dreadful day of Yahveh," that shall burn as an oven, and shall burn up as stubble all those who do wickedly, and Yahveh shall "smite the earth with a curse" (4: 6 ). As if the infliction of the whole of Yahveh's dread and holy Word upon humanity were not curse enough already.
This ends the unprofitable tale of the prophets, told in their own frenzied, incoherent, fury-breathing jargon, and proves their just right to their title of meshuggah. All the foregoing is inspired revelation of what "prophesying" was among the holy fraternity of Hebrew prophets. We have an awesome idea of "prophecy" as the speaking by divine inspiration of the truths of God and the inspired revealing of the hidden things of the future, for so our Sunday schools teach, and pious "divines" preach. But "God's Word" reveals something quite different. All the frenzied fakirs whom we have seen wandering up and down, naked and crazed and "raving," were not "prophesying" truths of God nor revelations of the future. Crazed to start with, and worked into a howling frenzy by wild "jazz" music of a barbarous kind (I Sam. 10: 5; 2 Kings 3: 15; et passim), they truly "raved" frothy and incoherent non-sense.
PROPHETIC LYING FACTIONS
With the division of the kingdom after the death of Solomon, followed by constant civil war and partisan hatreds, the prophets split into factions filled with hatreds -- just like some Christian churches at the time of the American Civil War; and they prophesied lies against each other patriotically. At one time Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, and Ahab, King of Israel, made common cause against the common enemy's the king of Syria; a story which illustrates several tricks of the prophetic trade (I Kings 22 ). Jehoshaphat asked Ahab to "enquire at the word of Yahveh to-day" about the expedition; and Ahab "gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go ... to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up." But these four hundred were prophets of Israel, and the King of Judah mistrusted them, and wanted one of his own party; so he asked: "Is there not here a prophet of Yahveh besides, that we might enquire of him?" Ahab replied that there was one, Micaiah, "but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil" (22: 8 ).
Jehoshaphat insisted, however, and Micaiah was sent for. The messenger told him that all the other prophets had "declared good unto the king with one mouth," and asked him to speak good likewise. But Micaiah replied that he would speak only "what Yahveh saith unto me." So when Micaiah came before the kings, he prophesied also: "Go up, and prosper; for Yahveh shall deliver the city into the hand of the king." Then Ahab, mistrusting, said to him: "How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of Yahveh?" (22: 16 ) Micaiah then retorted with this lying prophecy of conspiracy, which is a blasphemy against any real God of heaven: "Hear thou therefore the word of Yahveh: "I saw Yahveh sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him. ... And Yahveh said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? ... And there came forth a spirit, and stood before Yahveh, and said, I will persuade him. And Yahveh said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so"! And, said Micaiah, "Behold, Yahveh hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and Yahveh hath spoken evil concerning thee" (22: 19-23 ). What precious revelation of God!
It is curious that after Yahveh had framed this conspiracy, and inspired four hundred of his prophets to lie and entice Ahab to his death, Yahveh should be so careless as to let another of his holy prophets "spill the beans" by revealing the conspiracy. All that Micaiah got for his word of truth was the kingly order:
"Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with the bread of affliction and with water of affliction" (22: 27 ). As Micaiah was led away to his doom, be fired this Parthian shot at Ahab: "If thou return at all in peace, Yahveh hath not spoken by me" (22: 28 ). And this time the event proved the case for Micaiah, for Ahab was struck by an arrow shot at a venture, and was killed (21: 35-37 ), and the other four hundred prophets of Yahveh were proved wholesale liars by the "lying spirit from Yahveh."
This scene is not the only instance of unbecoming jealousy and tribal hatred between these holy ones of Yahveh. The kings of Judah and Israel together besought the "word of Yahveh" from Elisha, and this venerable baldpate, being of the faction of Judah, scorned to deal with the king of Israel, saying: "What have I to do with thee? get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother" (2 Kings 3: 13 ). But after expostulation by the king of Israel, Elisha spit back: "As Yahveh liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee" (3: 14 ).
An interesting instance of personal altercation and recrimination between two of the holy men of Yahveh is related by Jeremiah. This holy wailer had prophesied that the king of Babylon, in the pending war, would finish the destruction of Jerusalem; while a rival prophet, one Hananiah, had declared: "Thus speaketh Yahveh Sabaoth, the Elohe of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon" (Jer. 28: 2 ). The altercation proceeds through the chapter to this comical and fatal climax: "Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; Yahveh hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. Therefore thus saith Yahveh; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die. ... So Hananiah the prophet died the same year" (28: 16, 17 )! An edifying instance, this, of post hoc, ergo propter hoc; and a first-class illustration of prophetic ethics, and the inodus vivendi of the whole holy class.
It is impossible to relate all the trumperies and lies and false prophecies of these inspired prophets of Yahveh; the Holy Bible is too full of them. Elisha told a bare falsehood, saying: "This is not the way: ... follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek" (2 Kings 6: 19 ); and he led the blinded messengers astray to capture and all but death. The false prophecy of Isaiah as to the outcome of the war between the kings of Israel and Syria against Judah, warped into a foretelling of Jesus Christ, will in due order be fully shown (Isa. 7 ). Jeremiah tells several patent lies and makes false prophecies, besides being a traitor to his country; for instance, he agreed with the king to make a false report about their conference together (Jer. 3 . win, 25 ); and he prophesied falsely to Zedekiah that he should die in peace (34: 2-5 ), though he himself unblushingly relates that the King of Babylon captured Zedekiah, put out his eyes, and kept him languishing in prison until the day of his death (52: 10, 11 ). Every one of these "prophets" seems to have considered himself the only one who spoke the truth of Yahveh, and all the others impostors and liars, as they unanimously and eloquently testify in the only truthful utterances which grace their gibberish.
CONFESSIONS OF THE PROPHETS
The confessions of the Prophets of Israel of the truth about their sacred profession and fellow-professionals, priests and prophets, are extremely enlightening, and have the unique merit of being the only honestly true things any of them ever said. It is like the fleeing thief's cry of "Stop thief!" pointing to another; or the cordial mutual recriminations of Catholic and Protestant, and sect and sect, denouncing the lies and heresies of all the others -- all alike false and mendacious, while each one for itself, Pharisaically, like old Elijah, says: "I, even I only, remain a prophet of Yahveh"! An acute and apposite observation is that of the historian of civilization: "It is interesting to observe the eagerness with which the clergy of one persuasion expose the artifices of those of another. By comparing their different statements, laymen gain an insight into the entire scheme." (Buckle, History of Civilization in England, Vol. 2 Pt. 1, chap. 2, note 78.)
Isaiah denounced the Chosen of Yahveh as a whole: "This is a rebellious people, lying children" (Isa. 30: 9 ); and then he said, "as with the people, so with the priest." And there is no difference in favor of the prophet. Ezekiel had a special divine mission by the word of Yahveh which came to him, saying: "Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of Yahveh; Thus saith Yahveh: Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts. ... They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, Yahveh saith: and Yahveh hath not sent them" (Ezek. 13: 1-6 ), and "Thus saith Yahveh Elohim, when Yahveh hath not spoken" (Isa. 22: 28 ). These confessional exposures and denunciations run through the whole gamut of prophets, major and minor, embracing priest and prophet in the same sweeping, scathing anathema.
Hear the word of Yahveh out of the mouth of his holy prophets, each telling the truth about all the others. The master-"meshuggah" Isaiah makes this confession of their drunkenness and befuddled wits: "The priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment" (Isa. 28: 7 ). Jeremiah confesses the rapacity, mendacity, and fraud of the whole fraternity: "From the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely" (Jer. 6: 13 ); and chapter 23 entire is an inspired invective against them for the whole teeming catalogue of their crimes: "For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith Yahveh. ... And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err. I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hand of evildoers. ... Thus saith Yahveh of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: ... they speak a vision out of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of Yahveh. ... Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith Yahveh, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies; ... therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith Yahveh. ... And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden [oracle] of Yahveh, I will even punish that man and his house; ... for ye have perverted the words of the living God" (Jer. 23: 11-36 ). He indicts the whole tribe of impostors and people: "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so" (5: 31 ) -- God's truth to this very day!
In Lamentations (4: 13 ) is a lament "for the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just." Hosea confesses their bloodiness and immorality: "The company of priests murder in the way by consent: ... they commit lewdness" (Hos. 6: 9 ). Micah confesses the bribery and corruption of all Jewry: "The heads [of Israel] judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money" (Mic. 3: 11 ). Zephaniah confesses that "her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law" (Zeph. 3: 4 ). For they are all idolaters, admits Jeremiah: "The prophets prophesied by Baal" (Jer. 2: 8 ); and again: "Their priests and their prophets [say] to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth (2: 26 ). By Malachi, the last of the "Meshuggahs," Yahveh addresses the whole tribe: "O Priests, that despise my name" (Mal. 1: 6 )!
The revolting record does not close with the Hebrew Scripture, but continues into the gentile era; it was the priests of Yahveh and the elders of the people who (it is said) delivered the Christ to the martyrdom of the cross.
THE PROPAGANDISTS OF CHRISTIANITY
That doughty pillar of Christianity, Simon Peter, he whose "ministry" was founded on the hope of exceeding great reward: "Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?" (Matt. 19: 27 ); he who like a braggart swore that although all others should desert his Lord, he would stay by him to the end; who like a bully carried a sword to the place of prayer and smote off the ear of one of the Lord's captors, and then cowardly ran away from the scene of capture, and like a thief in the night sneaked along far behind to the place of trial; then like a craven thrice lyingly denied his persecuted Master; and then hypocritically wormed himself into the highest seat in the new priestly propaganda, and falsely wrested a self- serving meaning out of several meaningless mummeries of pretended "prophecy" -- this Peter delivers himself of a solemn bit of inspiration: "Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Pet. 1: 21 )! Oh, Innocence!
This seems highly inept in view of the many inspired definitions and characterizations of prophecy we have just heard from those who were professional prophets, and who knew a good deal more about it than Fisherman Peter did. There was no Holy Ghost on record in those days; but the old "meshuggahs" confessedly "followed their own spirit," as Ezekiel avers (Ezek. 13: 2 ), and Jeremiah confirms: "They prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart" (Jer. 14: 14 ); so that Yahveh himself declares, through Jeremiah: "I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten" (23: 40 ). This book helps Yahveh to that end. Thus Peter is seen to have erred in his interpretation of scripture; which is not to be marveled at, but rather excused, seeing that he was an "unlearned and ignorant man" (Acts 4: 13 ).
This Peter, this "rock" upon which the Christ punningly said that he would build his Church, was later expressly and scathingly repudiated by the Christ: "He turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: Thou art an offence to me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men" (Matt. 16: 23 ). It was this same Peter who scoffed at the reports of the resurrection as "idle tales," and "believed them not" (Luke 24: 11 ); yet later, and to this day through his self-styled "successors," Peter himself is the prime sponsor for the alleged truth of these same idle tales.
Such are confessedly the Holy Prophets of Israel. These are the old fakirs and howling dervishes of Israel, over whom for a score of centuries the credulous Christian world has ecstasized, calling them inspired of God, and the almost divine oracles and ambassadors of their fictitious pagan Yahveh -- Jehovah. Upon their frenzied incoherent "ravings" the dogmatists of Christian theology, errantly, as we shall more than amply see, perverting their "ravings" into inspired "prophecies of Jesus Christ," have founded and built up the labored system of dogmas and creeds, sanctioned by dire threats of hell fire and eternal damnation to him who believes not their Holy Word.
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