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View Full Version : Jewish borrowing or relics of jewish history?



ninurta2008
August 3rd, 2009, 07:58 AM
Okay, we all heard how christianity borrowed from other religions, and we all heard about how judaism borrowed lilith and other things from its neighbors. but i have an alternative view that developed from my reading about the assyrian religons, the place where Abraham and his father lived.

What was striking to me is that ancient assyria wasn't all monotheist, sometimes they were henotheist, and even duotheist. the duotheists believed the gods were just descriptions of the gods performing one role or another. henotheists usually saw the king of gods as the God and the rest as lesser divine beings, similar in many ways to zoroastrian yazatas and some jewish angels.

Besides the similarities, there is also, according to the jewish Tanakh, a common motherland, or place of origin. So what if while they were in Assyria, they had beliefs their pagan ancestors had still, just now with a one god theology? If Abraham really did come from Haran, then he must of known about these local religions. they weren't mystery cults, at least not for the most part.

David19
August 3rd, 2009, 08:10 AM
I'm not sure if I understand your question properly, but, while Jews may have borrowed some things from their neighbours (although I'd say Lilith more came into her own with Judaism, she was just a minor demon in a minor demon family in Mesopotamia before them), that doesn't mean everything in Judaism is really "pagan" in origin, and, also, many archaeologists have stated it's more likely Jews have their origin in Canaan, they seem to have been Canaanites who lived in the hills (even YHWH was said to be more powerful on the hills and mountains, which didn't escape the attention of some of the enemies of the Jews).

john.a
August 5th, 2009, 01:27 AM
The Hebrews are related linguistically to the Canaanites and scholars such as Karen Armstrong suspect they are descended from the Canaanites. There are hints in the Old Testament possibly indicating that the Hebrews and the subsequent Israelites often toed the line between henotheism and polytheism - hence the bazillion and one admonishments in the Old Testament about "no other Gods before me." Theoretically, the henotheistic Hebrews may have acknowledged the existence of other Gods but worshipped only YHWH or Elohim but every now and then, they couldn't help but worship the deities of their ancestors (of which the golden calves were metaphors) and so YHWH sends another prophet to keep them in their place.

Given this theory, it's hard to reconcile the idea that the Hebrews were descended from the Canaanites who were later influenced by their exile to Babylon and the idea that Abraham, the first "ivri" was a Babylonian, with Babylonian "beliefs with a one-god theology" who came to Canaan.

We know historically that many Jews were exiled to Babylon and so it's much easier to posit Babylonian influence during the time of the exile than to posit Babylonian influence from a time when a "legendary" ancestor made his way from Babylon to Canaan. The latter would require much, much more evidence - particularly a side-by-side comparison of Babylonian religion and First Temple-era Israelite practice showing that it was the same religion, with a difference of only the number of gods worshipped.

Basically, it takes a lot to claim "same 'belief' with a one-god theology." I mean, what do you mean by "same beliefs?" Which ones, are you positing are the "same" ones? Surely, you're not talking about modern-day Judaism?

ninurta2008
August 5th, 2009, 11:13 AM
I'm not sure if I understand your question properly, but, while Jews may have borrowed some things from their neighbours (although I'd say Lilith more came into her own with Judaism, she was just a minor demon in a minor demon family in Mesopotamia before them), that doesn't mean everything in Judaism is really "pagan" in origin, and, also, many archaeologists have stated it's more likely Jews have their origin in Canaan, they seem to have been Canaanites who lived in the hills (even YHWH was said to be more powerful on the hills and mountains, which didn't escape the attention of some of the enemies of the Jews).
No, what I am saying is that Abraham is said to have lived in mesopotamia. And like with Zoroastrians, parts of the older religion, relics of it anyway, remained as they became monotheist. I am saying that what if they didn't borrow from it, but simply were part of it until El'Shaddai told Abram to follow him to Canaan. you see what I am saying. I was pointing out that there was trends of the mono-theistic sorts in northern mesopotamia at the time.

AS for John, yeah but they may have taken on a canaanite language. Canaanite languages and mesopotamian semitic weren't all that different, so maybe they just got used to talking like the canaanites.

The golden calf seems to me to hint at Marduk. In sumerian, Marduk is written AMAR.UTU (Not yelling at you, that's the way cuneiform logograms are transliterated), or Solar/Sun Calf. maybe golden was a symbol of the sun. Marduk wasnt a sun god, maybe he was just golden.

Other instances where the hebrew is closer to mesopotamian than canaanite religion is their plural for gods is: Tammuz, Ark of the Covenant (mesopotamians had arks in their temples to their gods), and possibly others. but living alongside canaanites for so long would have them sounding like them. Like the akkadians talking like the sumerians along the ethnical borders in places where you find both languages.

darkNight
August 5th, 2009, 11:18 AM
Prior to adopting monotheism, the semites were polytheistic from what I have read.

Since the Christo-Judaic view of Yahweh is that Yahweh always existed, I would have to believe that in one form or another they were always worshipping him.

Don't know if it is really related, just wanted to boost my post count :):):)

ninurta2008
August 6th, 2009, 09:33 AM
Prior to adopting monotheism, the semites were polytheistic from what I have read.

Since the Christo-Judaic view of Yahweh is that Yahweh always existed, I would have to believe that in one form or another they were always worshipping him.

Don't know if it is really related, just wanted to boost my post count :):):)
I'm pretty sure that's what is even written in jewish folklore too, and I agree. Though that is my point, like Irish people still celebrating st.patty's day, and us of celt decent celebrating holloween, parts of what they used to be remain with them even into their new religion.

And if that is the case as they themselves claim even, then how would it be called borrowing if it was yours too to begin with?