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This week’s we talk about God’s wife, some of the responses to the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting, cover a few regional stories, and the latest on blasphemy around the world.
Dustin’ off the Degree – God’s Wife
Throughout the Old Testament, especially the older books, God is sometimes identified as Yahweh, but more often he’s called El or Elohim, sometimes he’s referred to as the “Heavenly Host”. El was the Canaanite high god whose name means “god” and elohim is the plural of El, meaning gods. Sometimes God is referred to using singular pronouns, but other times they’re plural, which correcting for the translation error in Genesis 2 would read that “the gods made made man in our own image, male and female they created them.” English translations make it“he created them”, but they leave the “our” since it didn’t seem strange to the translators of the King James Version, since King James would have used the royal “we”, even when he was commissioning of the translation that bore his name.
The more likely explanation is that authors of those texts were sometimes talking about the gods, when using Heavenly Host or Elohim, and were talking about a specific god when writing about El or Yahweh. It’s also likely that Yahweh replaced El at some time. Throughout the pre-exile stories in the Old Testament it’s clear that most of the people worshiped the gods, while a select few, sometimes just the prophets of Yahweh worshiped only him.
We also see in the stories in 1st and 2nd Kings where the evil kings are building high places and raising Asherah poles, while the some good kings are tearing down the high places and cutting down the Asherah poles and others are only removing the high places, but not the Asherah poles. These high places were where the people could make sacrifices to Yahweh, the god of war and to Asherah, the goddess of fertility.
One interpretation of this would be that some of the “good” kings wanted people to only worship Yahweh while some only wanted the worship to be in the capital, where he could control it. At the same time the bad kings wanted the people to make their sacrifices to the gods, including Yahweh, near their homes.
Archaeologists working in the Sinai desert found three inscriptions dating back to the 8th century BCE asking for the blessings of Yahweh and his Asherah. Conservative Christian scholars would have you think this is means Yahweh and his sacred tree or Yahweh and his pole, but much more likely would be that they were asking for the blessing of Yahweh, the king of heaven and god of war as well as Asherah, his wife and queen of heaven, the fertility goddess. This makes far more sense considering that even now, if you are free of war and have plentiful harvests, you’ll at least survive.
Before the Babylonian exile, most of the prophets weren’t worried about Asherah worship, they were more concerned with Baal, then they started blaming God’s wrath on their worship of Asherah.
The prophet Jeremiah went to Egypt to join those who had escaped the exile to Babylon. When he found a group of Jews there he was pissed and chastised the people for their idolatry. The people responded:
16 “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not listen to you. 17 But we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we did, both we and our fathers, our kings and our officials, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no disaster. 18 But since we left off making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.”
That was Jeremiah 44:16-18 (ESV)
By the end of the exile, the Jewish people were monotheistic. There was one god, Yahweh, who was responsible for all that is good and one fallen archangel who was responsible for all that was bad. It was no longer that their god would punish them for evil, but he would remove his protection and the evil one would be free to have his way with God’s people.
This paints a picture of the Canaanite tribe that would become the Jews having many gods, then trimming it down to just Yahweh and Asherah. Then a period began where kings would alternate between maintaining the old order of worshiping their war god and fertility goddess and rejecting the fertility goddess. By the time they as a people are destroyed by war, decide that only the war god matters. Then over the course of 2500 years editors and translators have tried to write their theology back into the text of an ancient people and priests and pastors have explained away the bits they failed to edit out.
Kellyanne Conway: “Anti-Religiosity,” Not Anti-Semitism, Fueled Synagogue Killer
As part of the Trump Administration’s official response to the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting, White House Counsel Kellyanne Conway went on FOX and Friends and had a very interesting conclusion as to who is to blame. Let’s listen to her.
‘Rabbi’ At Mike Pence Rally Thinks Jews Who Deny Christ Go To Hell
Mike Pence spoke at a campaign rally in Michigan, but in light of the shooting, they invited “a leader in the Jewish community here in Michigan,” Rabbi Loren Jacobs. Let’s listen to how he opened his prayer:
Muslim groups raise enough money to cover funeral costs for all Pittsburgh victims
Two Muslim groups, Celebrate Mercy and MPower Change, raised $150,000 from 3600 anonymous donors in just 48 hours. This money will cover all funeral and related expenses for those who died in the synagogue shooting.
Christian released from Pakistani death row where she was held for a blasphemy conviction
In 2010 Asia Bibi, a Christian Pakistani woman, was convicted of insulting the Prophet Muhammad and sentenced to death. The Pakistani Supreme Court has now overturned her conviction and released her from prison. After being reunited with her family, they started making plans to accept one of several asylum offers she had received and get out of Pakistan before she gets lynched.
Government officials decided to bar her from leaving the country and massive protests are demanding that the conviction and death sentence be reinstated. It’s bad enough that her lawyer has had to flee the country.
Defaming Prophet Muhammad not free expression, European court rules
An Austrian woman, Mrs. S, was convicted of disparaging religious doctrines in 2011 for two seminars she gave on Islam, including talking about Mohammed’s 6 year old wife. Muslims say that the relationship wasn’t consummated until she was 9, and Mrs. S called that pedophilia. Her appeal finally made it to the European Court of Human Rights where they determined that defaming Mohamed “goes beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate” and “could stir up prejudice and put at risk religious peace”. They determined that protecting religious feelings is more important that free expression.
Ireland votes to oust ‘medieval’ blasphemy law
With 65% voting yes for repeal in the referendum, Ireland’s blasphemy law is history.
‘We are better than this:’ Middleton teachers dress up as border wall, Latinos for Halloween
Fourteen staff members at Middleton Heights Elementary in Middleton, ID have been placed on administrative leave for their halloween costumes. Some dressed as “The Wall” with the words “Make America Great Again” written across it. The rest dressed as characters of Mexicans.
Spokane Valley representative under scrutiny for leaked manifest
Washington State Representative Matt Shea wrote a four page manifesto that he titled “Biblical Basis for War”. He describes the Christian God as a warrior and calls for creating an army to fight against same sex marriage, abortion, and any other violations of what he considers to be “biblical law”. For those who don’t comply, he calls for the killing of all males.
Devils Tower Mileage Marker Sign Vandalized
Someone vandalized a sign telling people near Hulett, WY how far away the nearby Devils Tower is. With red spray paint Christ’s is written over Devils and crosses were painted next to the number of miles.
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