What can be said about these supposedly ancient Israelite drawings of YHWH and His "wife"


(Jose D) #1

The Canaanites where a polytheistic society who had Baal and Asherah (among many others) as their gods. Baal was like the top god and Asherah was his queen. Some skeptics say that this is evidence that YHWH is really just a copy of Baal, and that they are the same. They say that this proves that ancient Israelites were polytheistic, and that they even believed that YHWH had a wife. Is this a valid conclusion or can this simply be a case of ancient Hebrews being bad in the eyes of God?


(Reggie O'Donoghue) #2

The Bible acknowledges that Israelites committed apostasy and worshipped false Gods, that’s what happens in one of my favourite Bible stories, the story of Elijah.


(Randy) #3

Sounds like syncretism.


(Phil) #4

It always interested me that when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, that Moses asked, “and who shall I say called?” Paraphrased .
Was Moses having been raised in Pharaohs house ignorant of the Hebrew religion and theology? Or perhaps was the Hebrew religion so poorly developed and defined that it did incorporate aspects of polytheism?


(Jacob) #5

Is it possible some Caananites could have adopted YHWH as a secondary god - I am using the word “god” on purpose - they might have vaguely known about this YHWH so why not add YHWH to the list of gods they recognized? Maybe some Caananites just ignorantly put YHWH into a context they understood.


(Jim Lock) #6

@jdd8910 My initial thought is to not place to much weight on these inscriptions. A few things stand out that I think are relevant.

  1. It appears to be a series of drawing and inscriptions done over time by several individuals.

  2. By the mid-8th Century BCE the Assyrians had overrun Israel and Judah.

Given that context, I doubt that we can consider this as an official work. (Sanctioned by the state). More likely some unofficial graffiti. My first thought was that this was ‘mockery.’ Rubbing in that Israel’s god had abandoned them…for a foreign mistress…much like Elijah mocking the Baal priests by asking if their god had stepped out to take a piss. My second thought was that this could also be the work of disillusioned Jewish refugees. Angry that Yahweh had abandoned them. Hard to say for certain.


(Reggie O'Donoghue) #7

Unlikely, they were written in the paleo-hebrew script.


(Reggie O'Donoghue) #8

What do you mean by ‘supposedly ancient’? Do you mean to imply they are fakes?


(George Brooks) #9

@jdd8910

I should point out that the title of this thread is not quite right:

“What can be said about these supposedly ancient Israelite drawings of YHWH…”

I don’t think ANYONE seriously doubts the drawings are ancient. You probably wanted the title to say something more like this:

“What can be said about these ancient drawings that are supposedly depicting YHWH?” < right? or at least MORE right?


(Jon Garvey) #10

The biblical history is about idolatry and syncretism leading to the abrogation of Israel’s covenant with Yahweh, and exile. It includes widespread worship of Baal, and of Asherah, at both a popular and an official level - the kings being largely evaluated on their tolerance or not of these things.

In other words, the Bible history is written from the “prophetic” viewpoint that there is a truth higher than either popular or official religion, which arises from the exlusive monotheism of the Mosaic Covenant.

Now let’s find a parallel (with apologies to any Catholics here). At some stage in the history of Christianity, the virgin Mary became seen as the Queen of Heaven, and her cult was not only popular, but endorsed by the Catholic Church.

This was one of the things that underpinned the Reformation - which was motivated by the belief that whatever the Church tradition or the Government said, or whatever was popular among the people, there was a higher standard to be found in a “covenant document”, the Bible, which said nothing about there being a Queen in heaven. The Reformers saw it, then, as a result of syncretism with polytheistic religion - in effect, apostasy from the true gospel.

And I doubt that, on this Evangelical site, too many of us believe that Mary is the perpetual virgin Queen of heaven interceding with her Son on our behalf.

So, we find some mediaeval graffiti and inscription about Mary, Queen of Heaven and God as King. Or we find a Botticelli painting in a royal palace of the same theme. We even find a quote from proto-reformer John Wyclif:

“It seems to me impossible that we should obtain the reward of Heaven without the help of Mary. There is no sex or age, no rank or position, of anyone in the whole human race, which has no need to call for the help of the Holy Virgin.”

But does any of that tell us that Mary is the Queen of heaven, or ever was? That depends (according to Protestant thinking) on whether there was ever a New Testament from which the cult of Mary was a departure. As a matter of some people’s belief, she is - but the Bible doesn’t teach that the truth is reached by popular consensus.