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what is true and false from this book?

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  • what is true and false from this book?

    I. FEMININE IMAGERY OF GOD
    BIBLICAL PERIOD


    A. A FEMININE GOD

    Although the Hebraic tradition early perceived God to be transcendent, beyond limitations, including sex, it nevertheless persisted in referring to God in terms and images that included sexuality. It is inevitable that this would happen, for so many things which humans value highest are found in other human beings (who normally are female or male)-such as being a knowing, loving person-that to speak of God as “It” would denigrate God. Thus the tradition often speaks of God in masculine-and feminine-images, although it also continues to affirm God’s transcendence of sexuality and all else, following the apophatic way, the via negativa, what the Hindus call the path of neti neti (not this, not that). The masculine images of God in the Hebrew Bible are well known (e.g., God as father, jealous husband, warrior). They are far more pervasive throughout the Bible than feminine imagery of God, reflecting that patriarchal, male-oriented society. But the feminine divine imagery is there too, albeit in a much lesser degree. A selection of it will be given below. In order to appreciate better the trajectory which some of the female imagery of God followed, examples of how this imagery developed into the early Christian as well as the early Jewish era will be presented below in their chronological places.

    But first it would be helpful to spell out in a little detail something of the Goddess-worshiping culture that lay behind, around, and within the biblical religion.

    §1. Goddess Worship
    The earliest evidence we have of human religious activity in the Old World points to the worship of the Goddess-the divine would seem to have first been worshiped as female. The archaeological excavations at the upper paleolithic levels (25,000-8,000 B.C.E.) have produced innumerable female statuettes that appear to be either figurines of the Goddess or perhaps at least attempts at sympathetic magic, endeavoring to induce the fertility that all life depended on (see Edwin O. James, Prehistoric Religion, pp. 147, 153; Barnes & Noble, 1961; J. Edgar Bruns, God as Woman, Woman as God, pp. 8-10; Paulist/Newman Press, 1973). There would appear to have been no male God at this early period (see Edwin O. James, The cult of the Mother Goddess, pp. 21 f.; Frederick A. Praeger, 1959). As the paleolithic period gave way to the mesolithic (8,000-4,000 B.C.E.) and the neolithic (4,000-2,500 B.C.E.), the worship of the Goddess became even more vigorous and explicit. All of the Old World areas that cradled major civilizations (i.e., complex societies in which towns and cities, and the differentiation of culture that accompanies them, developed) show strong evidence of having initially been Goddess worshiping. That includes the Indus Valley, the Near East, Old Europe (i.e., the Balkans, Asia Minor, and the Eastern Mediterranean islands), and Egypt.

    The gradual shift away from total dominance of the Goddess (except perhaps with Egypt, whose history is even more complex than the others) to the participation of a clearly subordinate male God seems to have been connected with the development of animal husbandry, whence the role of paternity became apparent. There never was any question about the female’s essential role in bringing new life into the world; but the role of the male and sex was not always so obvious. Still, even at this stage the male God played a vastly subordinate role vis-a-vis the Goddess.

    The role of the God, however, in a number of instances advanced to that of an equal and even that of a superior of the Goddess, apparently under the impact of waves of attacks of patriarchal, male God worshiping, animal-herding Indo-Europeans who came down out of the northern mountains, perhaps originally from around the Caspian Sea (see James, Cult of the Mother Goddess, pp. 47, 99, 138). They appear, e.g., as Hittite conquerors of Anatolia, sometime before 2,000 B.C.E., ranging eventually down into Palestine. In the second millennium B.C.E. the patriarchal father-God worshipers swept into almost all the Goddess-worshiping civilizations, from the Indus Valley on the east through Mesopotamia and Asia Minor to Old Europe on the west (see H. R. Hays, In the Beginnings, pp. Calif.; G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1963). Perhaps only Egypt was unconquered by the patriarchal Indo-Europeans, though even it was dominated at times by Asian nations that were probably “carriers” of Indo-European patriarchal ideas, e.g., the Hyksos in the seventeenth and sixteenth centuries B.C.E. Marija Gimbutas describes in detail the world of the early Goddess worshipers in Old Europe and notes that “it is then replaced by the patriarchal world with its different symbolism and its different values. This masculine world is that of the Indo-Europeans, which did not develop in Old Europe but was superimposed upon it. Two entirely different sets of mythical images met.... The earliest European civilization was savagely destroyed by the patriarchal element and it never recovered, but its legacy lingered in the substratum” (Marija Gimbutas, The Gods and Goddesses of Old Europe, p. 238; University of California Press, 1974).

    §2. Male-God Invaders
    A little should be noted about the characteristics of the God of those Indo-European tribes who over a period of centuries, perhaps starting in earnest in the latter half of the third millennium B.C.E., invaded in waves all of the existing civilizations. He was a father God, a warrior God, a supreme God, a God who dwelt in light and fire, on a mountaintop (the Indo-Europeans came from a mountainous area and perhaps originally worshiped volcanoes). He took the Goddess of the conquered nation as his heavenly consort and soon (usually) totally dominated her, as the Indo-Europeans dominated the conquered peoples. The Indo-European dead were said to dwell in “realms of eternal light,” in “glowing light, light primeval.” Their God was described as “be whose form is light.” The Sanskrit word for God, dev, literally means “shining” or “bright.” And in Iran, God-Ahura Mazda-was a great father who was referred to as the Lord of Light, dwelling on the top of a mountain, glowing in golden light; this mountain is supposedly Mount Hara, the first mountain ever created. In Greece there was the Indo-European Zeus with his fiery lightning and thunderbolts on top of Mount Olympus; the Indo-European Hittites and Indo-European-ruled Hurrians bad storm Gods with lightning bolts in their hands standing on a mountain; Indra of India, glowing in gold, holding a lightning bolt, was called Lord of the Mountains. Almost none of this was characteristic of the Goddess (see, e.g., Merlin Stone, When God Was a Woman pp. 72, 114; Dial Press, 1976).

    §3. Yahweh, a God of Mountain and Light
    Much of the imagery connected with the Hebrew Cod Yahweh is startlingly similar to the Father of Lightning, dwelling on a mountaintop, of the Indo-European patriarchal people. Consider the following:

    [And Moses said to the people of Israel:] “Do not forget the things your eyes have seen; ... rather, tell them to your children .... The day you stood at Mount Horeb in the presence of Yahweh your God .... you came and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountains flamed to the very sky, a sky darkened by cloud, murky and thunderous. Then Yahweh spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sounds of words but saw no shape, there was only a voice.... Since you saw no shape on that day at Mount Horeb when Yahweh spoke to you from the midst of the fire, see that you do not act perversely, making yourselves a carved image in the shape of anything at all, whether it be in the likeness of man or of woman* ... for Yahweh your God is a consuming fire.... Did ever a people hear the voice of the living Cod speaking from the heart of the fire, as you heard it, and remain alive? ... He let you see his great fire, and from the heart of the fire you heard his word.... These are the words Yahweh spoke to you when you were all assembled on the mountain. With a great voice he spoke to you from the heart of the fire, in cloud and thick darkness ... while the mountain was all on fire.” (Deut 4:9-12, 15-16, 24, 33, 36; 5:22-23)

    *[In fact the Israelites did later make an image, a golden calf, a widespread image in Egypt of the Goddess.]

    There are of course many, many other references to Yahweh as a pillar of fire (Ex 13:21), Father of lights (Jas 1:17), as “wrapped in a robe of light” (Ps 104:2), as one asked to “touch the mountains, make them smoke, flash your lightning” (Ps 144:5), and as a rock (Ps 18; 19; 28; 3 1; 42; 62; 7 1; 89; 92; 94); and it is on Mount Zion that he is to be worshiped, though the northern tribes of Israel argued for Mount Gerizim. Yahweh is very often imaged as a father, a warrior God who slays his enemies in battle, the supreme creator of all; and in Elephantine Judaism the goddess Anath was the consort of Yahweh (see § 5).

    Exactly what connection there might be between the patriarchal Hebrews and their God Yahweh and the patriarchal Indo-Europeans and their Gods remains unclear. But whatever the direct connections may or may not be, it is clear that the stance of both patriarchal peoples and their theologies vis-a-vis the religion of the Goddess would be, and was, very similar-hostile.

    §4. Hebrews Worship the Goddess
    The Yahwists struggled for hundreds of years to suppress the worship of the Goddess among the Hebrews. In tracing the history of this struggle, it should be noted first that in the Land of Canaan the Goddess worship was quite diversified by biblical times, so that there were at least three names of the Goddess: Anath, Astarte, and Asherah, who were subordinate to the male god Baal. (These three were probably originally one; Asherah is the Canaanite name for the earlier Sumerian goddess Ashratum, the consort of the god Anu, who closely corresponded to the Canaanite god El-a name for God also used by the Hebrews in many forms, e.g., El, Elohim (see §22), as they were both the God of Heaven; see William F. Albright, Archaeology and the Religion of Israel, p. 78; Johns Hopkins Press, 1942. Astarte is related to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, and she in turn to the Sumerian Inanna.)

    There have been thousands of female figurines, many of which represent the Goddess, dug up all over Palestine at pre-, early, and middle biblical levels, though little in the way of male-God figurines (see Raphael Peter, The Hebrew Goddess, pp. 58-6 1; KTAV Publishing House, 1967).

    Kathleen M. Kenyon (Archaeology in the Holy Land, p. 214; Frederick A. Praeger, 1960) in writing of the Late Bronze Age states that “the Astarte plaques ... are the most common cult object on almost all sites of the period .... Tell Beit Mirsim [in Palestine] itself provides clear evidence for the occurrence of such plaques or similar figurines right down to the 7th century B.C. The denunciations by the prophets are enough to show that Yahwehism had continuously to struggle with the ancient religion of the land.” Although biblical texts give us only a glimpse of the pervasiveness of the Goddess worship among all the Hebrews, mostly by way of condemnations of it by Yahwist prophets and destruction of Goddess images, etc., by reforming Yahwist kings, it is worth outlining this history briefly to gain some sense of the implacable fury vented by the Yahwists on the Goddess worshipers.

    In the time of the judges (before 1000 B.C.E.) the people of Israel stopped worshiping Yahweh and served the Baals and Astartes (Judg 2:13). Later Solomon (961-922) “worshiped Astarte, the goddess of Sidon” (I Kings 11:5). Then the prophet Ahijah said: “Yahweh the God of Israel says to you, ‘I am going to take the kingdom away from Solomon.... I am going to do this because they have rejected me and have worshiped Astarte, the goddess of Sidon’” (I Kings 11: 31-33). In the next generation Ahijah said to the wife of Jeroboam, king of Israel (922-901), that “Yahweh will punish Israel ... because they have aroused his anger by making idols of the goddess Asherah” (I Kings 14:15). Meanwhile in Judah the people “put up stone pillars and symbols of Asherah to worship on the hills and under shady trees. Worst of all there were cult prostitutes (sing. qadesh) in the land. And they imitated all the abominations of the people Yahweh had thrown out before the Israelites came” (I Kings 14:23f.). Then in Judah the next king, Asa (913-873), “expelled from the country all Temple prostitutes (qedeshim) from the land and removed all the idols his fathers had made. He removed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother, because she had made an obscene idol of the goddess Asherah. Asa cut down the idol and burned it in the Kidron valley” (I Kings 15:12f.). In the next generation King Ahab (869-850) of Israel “put up an image of the goddess Asherah” (I Kings 16:33). “At that time there were at least four hundred prophets of Asherah” (I Kings 18:19) in Israel. Under King Jehoahaz (815-801) the people of Israel “still did not give up the sins into which King Jeroboam had led Israel, but kept on committing them; and the image of the goddess Asherah remained in Samaria” (2 Kings 13:6). The Goddess cult in the Northern Kingdom apparently continued, for in 721 when Israel fell to the Assyrians it was recorded that it fell “because the Israelites sinned against Yahweh their God. ... They worshiped other gods.... On all the hills they put up stone pillars and images of the goddess Asherah” (2 Kings 17:7-10).
    Deuteronomy 6:4. Hear, O Israel: The LORD [Jehovah] your God [Elohim] is one LORD [Jehovah].

  • #2
    The Bible redactors report somewhat more favorably on the attempts at reform led by some of the kings of Judah, but in the process indicate the pervasiveness and persistence of the Goddess worship among the Hebrews. After early reforms under King Joash (837-800) of Judah it was said that the “people stopped worshiping in the Temple of Yahweh, the God of their ancestors, and began to worship idols and the images of the goddess Asherah” (2 Chron 24:18). Goddess worship obviously continued until King Hezekiah (715-687) of Judah “broke the stone pillars and cut down the image of the goddess Asherah” (2 Kings 18:4). But his own son Manasseh followed as king and “made an image of the goddess Asherah” (2 Kings 21:3). Then came the last great reform efforts before the exile, under King Josiah (640-609) of Judah, who “removed from the Temple the symbol of the goddess Asherah, took it out of the city to the Kidron valley, burned it, pounded its ashes to dust.... He destroyed the living quarters in the Temple occupied by the Temple prostitutes. It was there that women wove robes for the Asherah” (2 Kings 23:6-7).

    All three of the greater prophets mention the worship of the Goddess. The oldest, Isaiah, predicts around 735 B.C.E. that when Yahweh punishes Israel the people “will no longer rely on altars they made with their own hands, or trust in their own handiwork-symbols of the goddess Asherah” (Is 17:8). At another place he adds that “Israel’s sins will be forgiven only when the stones of pagan altars are ground up like chalk, and no more symbols of the goddess Asherah or incense altars are left” (Is 27:9). Ezekiel, who traditionally is said to have been active around the time of the fall of Jerusalem a generation after King Josiah in 586, reported being shown “at the inner entrance of the north gate of the Temple an idol that was an outrage to God” (Ezek 8:3). In line with most scholarship the New American Bible notes here that “this was probably the statue of the goddess Asherah erected by the wicked King Manasseh-cf. 2 Kgs 21:7; 2 Chr 33:7, 15. Though it had been removed by King Josiah-2 Kgs 23:6-it had no doubt been set up again.” In the same vision Ezekiel reported on a sight three times more abominable, namely, at the north gate of the Temple were “women weeping over the death of the god Tammuz” (Ezek 8:14; a part of a seasonal ritual in which the death of plants in fall was likened to the descent into the nether world by the subordinate male god Tammuz, to be triumphantly restored to life in spring by the source of life, the goddess Astarte-or Ishtar in Babylonian or Inanna in Sumerian traditions).

    Some years before, Jeremiah complained that the people of Judah 41 worship at the altars and symbols that have been set up for the goddess Asherah by every green tree and on the bill tops and on the mountains in the open country” (Jer 17:2-3). Later the same prophet Jeremiah was taken with the remnant of Judeans, after the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586, into Egypt. He berated the people for having brought on the disaster by worshiping other Gods. Who the “other God” was is made clear by the people’s response:

    Then all the men who knew that their wives offered sacrifices to other gods and all the women in the crowd ... said to me “We refuse to listen to what you have told us in the name of Yahweh. We will do everything that we said we would. We will offer sacrifices to our goddess, the Queen of Heaven,* and we will pour out wine offerings to her, just as we and our ancestors, our king and our leaders, used to do in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. Then we had plenty of food, we were prosperous, and had no troubles. But ever since we stopped sacrificing to the Queen of Heaven and stopped pouring out wine offerings to her, we have had nothing, and our people have died in war and starvation.” And the women added, “When we baked cakes shaped like the Queen of Heaven, offered sacrifices to her, and poured our wine offerings to her, our husbands approved of what we were doing.” (Jer 44:15-19)

    *[Anath-Astarte was addressed as Queen of Heaven in Egypt-Patai, Hebrew Goddess, p. 55 .]

    The Oxford Annotated Bible also links this Queen of Heaven with the Babylonian Ishtar and the Canaanite Astarte (likewise with the Greek Aphrodite and Roman Venus), and states that “the cult was especially popular among women, who had an inferior role in the cult of the LORD [Yahweh]. . . . The cult persisted into the Christian centuries, and features of it were incorporated by the early Syrian church in the adoration of the Virgin.” It is clear from the Jeremiah text that the women too were “priests” in the ancient Hebrew cult of the Queen of Heaven.

    §5. Hebrew Goddess at Elephantine
    Probably from around this time onward a colony of Jews lived at Elephantine, Egypt, an island in the Nile river, opposite Aswan, about four hundred miles south of Cairo. From their papyrus letters and documents of the late fifth century B.C.E. we know not only that the Jewish women as well as men contributed money to the Temple, and that the women could divorce their spouses as well as the men could, but also that in the Temple along with Yahu (as Yahweh was addressed there) the goddess Anathbethel was also worshiped (Arthur E. Cowley, Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth Century B.C., p. 72; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1923).

    The name Anath-Bethel literally means “Anath the House of El [the God of Heaven]”-cf. Cowley, Aramaic Papyri, p. 72. Since in Hebraic culture a wife is referred to as the husband’s “house,” this name suggests that the goddess Anath was understood as the “God of Heaven’s” consort. This is further confirmed by the fact that Yahu (derived from a variant of an older spelling of Yahweh) is called the “God of Heaven” in the same Elephantine papyri (ibid., p. 114) and that Anath is often referred to as the “Lady of Heaven,” especially in Egyptian culture (see Patai, Hebrew Goddess, p. 55). Still further, the Jewish writings of Elephantine also include an oath to Yahu and to Anath, “consort of Yahu”: “He swore to Mesbullam b. Nathan by Yahu the God, by the temple and by Anathyahu” (Cowley, Aramaic Papyri, p. 148). (Alternatively, Kraeling suggests that Bethel in Anath-Bethel is simply an alternative name for Yahu, and offers reasons-Emil G. Kraeling, ed., The Brooklyn Museum Aramaic Papyri, pp. 88-90; Yale University Press, 1953.)

    Moreover, it is likely that refugees from Bethel, some fourteen miles north of Jerusalem, played an important part in the development of this syncretistic worship in Elephantine Judaism, for Bethel was known not only as a place where Yahweh was early worshiped; Bethel was a place where later the Goddess was also worshiped, as indicated by the calf image there (cf. e.g., Hos 10:5-the cow, the calf, was a symbol of the Goddess, the source of life, fertility; see James, Cult of the Mother Goddess, p. 8 1). After describing temples of the Goddess and of Yahweh alongside each other at Tell-en-Nasbeb in Palestine, Edwin O. James goes on to state:

    This equipment suggests that it was a centre of the Goddess cult where Astarte was worshipped, probably in later times alongside of Yahweh at the neighbouring shrine, possibly as his consort. If this were so, the goddesses under Canaanite names (e.g., Anath-Yahu comparable to Yo-Elat in Ugaritic texts) assigned to Yahweh in the Jewish community at Elephantine after the Exile can hardly have been an innovation. (James, Cult of the Mother Goddess, p. 80)

    §6. Goddess Worship “Suppressed”
    After the return of the Jewish people to Jerusalem from the Babylonian exile the public worship of the Goddess seems to have been successfully suppressed, being relegated largely to feminine manifestations of God as in the post-exilic Wisdom books’ praise of the feminine Hokmah (Hebrew) or Sophia (Greek), “Wisdom,” and the growing reference to God’s feminine Presence, Shekhinah, an Aramaic term first found after the beginning of the Christian Era in Rabbinic and Targumic writings. One of the high-cost ways this was accomplished was by the banning of intermarriage. By this time Jewish women in any case normally could not marry non-Jews; Jewish men also were not supposed to marry non-Jewish women, though in fact they did. The reason foreign wives were not to be taken is that they were seen as the source of corrupting Goddess worship, e.g., Jezebel and her worship of Asherah and Baal. This enforcement of the Deuteronomic prohibition (Deut 7:1-4) took the drastic form of the divorce and driving out by the Jewish men of their non-Jewish wives and children (Ezra 9 and 10; cf. Neh 13:23-28). Despite all the efforts, however, to eliminate the feminine dimension of the deity, it persisted in biblical writers perhaps far more than is often realized. Some examples follow.

    §7. God a Seamstress
    Already in the most ancient part of the Bible, the Yahwist’s story of the Fall, one finds Yahweh performing a customarily female task in Hebrew society (cf. Prov 31:10-31): Yahweh God acts as a seamstress:

    And Yahweh God made tunics of skins for the man and his wife and clothed them. (Gen 3:21)

    §8. God Mother and Nurse
    When the Israelites in the desert complained of their problems to Moses, he in turn complained to Yahweh with rhetorical questions that by negative implication project onto Yahweh the images of a mother and a wet nurse-and this also in the ancient Elohist-Yahwist portion of the Bible.

    Was it I who conceived all this people, was it I who gave them birth, that you should say to me, “Carry them in your bosom, like a beloved little mother with a baby at the breast?” (Num 11:12)

    §9. God a Loving Mother
    While the eighth-century prophet Hosea makes heavy use of the image of Yahweh as the husband of a faithless Israel, he also projects Yahweh in the image of a parent teaching a child to walk, healing its hurts, feeding it-all tasks a mother, not a father, normally performed in that society. Yahweh further frets and agonizes over the wayward child, but in the end declares in favor of mercy instead of deserved punishment by clearly rejecting any identification with the male-ish, meaning male, is the term used.

    When Israel was a child I loved him, and I called my son out of Egypt. ... I myself taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in my arms; yet they have not understood that I was the one looking after them. I led them with reins of kindness, with leading-strings of love. I was like someone who lifts an infant close against his cheek; stooping down to him I gave him his food. ... I will not give rein to my fierce anger, I will not destroy Ephraim again, for I am God, not man (ish). (Hos 11: 1, 3, 4, 9)

    §10. God Who Gave Birth to Humanity
    In the last book of the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy (possibly seventh century), in the Song of Moses, God describes herself in clearly feminine, motherly imagery (if the first verb is understood in the less likely paternal sense, then an androgynous parental image of God is projected):

    You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you (yiladeka) and you forgot the God who writhed in labor pains with you (meholeleka). (Deut 32:18) [Note: yiladeka almost always means “that bore you,” and only rarely can mean “begot,” as it is almost always translated-see P. A. H. DeBoer, Fatherhood and Motherhood in Israelite and Judean Piety, p. 52; Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1974.]

    § 11. Humanity in Yahweh’s Womb-I
    Deuteronomy 6:4. Hear, O Israel: The LORD [Jehovah] your God [Elohim] is one LORD [Jehovah].

    Comment


    • #3

      § 11. Humanity in Yahweh’s Womb-I
      In Hebrew, rechem means womb. The plural form, rachamim, extends this concrete meaning to signify compassion, love, mercy. The verb form, rchm, means to show mercy, and the adjective, rachum, means merciful. Thus to speak of compassion or mercy automatically calls forth maternal overtones. This motherly compassion is attributed to God in a number of places; it is especially striking in a passage from Jeremiah, a seventh-century prophet. After a careful, penetrating analysis, Phyllis Trible (God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality, p. 45; Fortress Press, 1978) provides a translation of the passage that is much more accurate and sensitive to the Hebrew poetry in general and the words related to rechem in particular. In the last line Yahweh speaks of herself with the doubly uterine words rachem, arachamennu, “motherly womb-love.”

      Is Ephraim my dear Son? my darling child?
      For the more I speak of him
      the more do I remember him.
      Therefore, my womb trembles for him;
      I will truly show motherly-compassion
      (rachem arachamennu) upon him.
      Oracle of Yahweh (Jer 31:20)

      12. Humanity in Yahweh’s Womb-II
      The above passage of Jeremiah is a key one in a larger poetic structure where the very form expresses a superiority of the female over the male in that the male came forth from the female’s womb, is “ surrounded by” the female, therefore. The passage Jer 31:15-22 reaches its climax with the statement: “For Yahweh has created a new thing in the land: female surrounds [tesobeb] man.” (v.22) This “female surrounding man” has manifold referents: Rachel the mother embracing her sons (v.15), Yahweh consoling Rachel about Ephraim (vs.16-17), Yahweh proclaiming motherly compassion for Ephraim (v. 20), the daughter Israel superseding the son Ephraim (v. 2 1).

      [Words of a woman] A voice is heard in Ramah,
      lamenting and weeping bitterly:
      it is Rachel weeping for her children
      because they are no more.
      [Words to a woman] Yahweh says this:
      Stop your weeping,
      dry your eyes,
      your hardships will be redressed:
      they shall come back from the enemy country.
      There is hope for your descendants:
      your sons will come home to their own lands.
      [Words of a man]
      plainly hear the grieving of Ephraim,
      “You have disciplined me, I accepted the discipline
      like a young bull untamed.
      Bring me back, let me come back,
      for you are Yahweh my God!
      Yes, I turned away, but have since repented;
      I understood, I beat my breast.
      I was deeply ashamed, covered with confusion;
      Yes, I still bore the disgrace of my youth.”
      [Words of a woman-Yahweh]
      Is Ephraim my dear son? my darling child?
      For the more I speak of him,
      the more do I remember him.
      Therefore, my womb trembles for him;
      I will truly show motherly-compassion upon him
      [Words to a woman-Jeremiah’s comma
      Set up signposts,
      raise landmarks;
      mark the road well,
      the way by which you went.
      Come home, virgin of Israel,
      come home to these towns of yours.
      How long will you hesitate, disloyal daughter?
      For Yahweh has created a new thing in the land:
      female surrounds man. (Jer 31:15-22)

      As Phyllis Trible notes (God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality, p. 50): “The very form and content of the poem embodies a womb: woman encloses man. The female organ nourishes, sustains, and redeems the male child Ephraim. Thus our metaphor is surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.”

      §13. God in Birth Pangs
      This feminine divine imagery is, if possible, intensified in the middle of the sixth century by Second Isaiah through whom Yahweh God speaks of herself as crying out with labor pains-a ne plus ultra in feminine divine imagery.

      Yahweh God goes forth.... “But now, I cry out as a woman in labor, gasping and panting.” (Is 42:13, 14)

      §14. Israel in the Womb of God the Mother
      Yahweh continues, in the mouth of Second Isaiah, to liken herself to a mother, describing her concern for exiled Israel as that of a mother for her own baby:

      Listen to me, house of Jacob and all the remnant of the house of Israel who have been borne by me from the belly (beten), carried from the womb (racham), even until old age I am the one, and to gray hairs am I carrying you. Since I have made, I will bear, carry and save. (Is 46:3-4)

      §15. God a Nursing Mother
      Yahweh goes on, through Second Isaiah, to liken her loving memory of Zion to that of an affectionate mother with a child at the breast.

      For Zion was saying, “Yahweh has abandoned me, the Lord has forgotten me.” Does a woman forget her baby at the breast, or fail to cherish the son of her womb? Yet even if these forget, I will never forget you. (Is 49:14-15)

      §16. God a Comforting Mother
      Third Isaiah expresses the words of Yahweh wherein she again likens herself to a mother consoling her son. As Phyllis Trible notes (God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality, p. 67): “‘So I (‘anoki) will comfort you.’ The use of the first-person pronoun, ‘anoki, stresses the divine agent. Although the comparison stops just short of calling God mother, it does not stop short of this meaning. Yahweh is a consoling mother to the children of Jerusalem.”

      For thus says Yahweh: . . . Like a son comforted by his mother, so will I comfort you. (Is 66:12-13)

      §17. God a Mother and a Father
      Elsewhere Third Isaiah projects Yahweh with both maternal and paternal imagery. This androgynous balance is lost in most translations, but Phyllis Trible’s analysis and translation makes the alternation between the God of the womb and God the Father clear (God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality, p. 53):

      Yahweh.... where is your ardor and your might,
      the trembling of your womb and your compassion?
      Restrain not yourself, for you are our Father. (Is 63:14-15)

      §18. Yahweh the Midwife
      In Ps 22:9, Yahweh is depicted in an intimate female role, that of a midwife:

      Yet you drew me out of the womb,
      you entrusted me to my mother’s breasts. (Ps 22:9)

      §19. Mistress Yahweh
      The psalmist projects an image that by association likens Yahweh to both a master and a mistress.

      I lift my eyes to you,
      to you who have your home in heaven,
      eyes like the eyes of slaves
      fixed on their master’s hand;
      like the eyes of a slave-girl
      fixed on the hand of her mistress,
      so our eyes are fixed on Yahweh our God. (Ps 123:2)

      §20. God Motherlike
      In The Psalms there is also an image of a motherly Yahweh who comforts her weaned child, the psalmist, on her divine motherly lap:

      O Yahweh.... I have calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child, like a weaned child on its mother’s lap. (Ps 131:1, 2)

      §21. God a Mother and a Father Even in Irony
      In the early fifth-century Book of Job an ironic rhetorical question is put to Job. He is asked whether the dew and frost have a father and a mother. The answer is both, “no, for they come from God,” and “yes, they both come from God”: it is through human imagery that we come to a knowledge of the transcendence of God (see Trible, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality, pp. 67f.).

      Has the rain a father?
      Who begets the dewdrops?
      What womb brings forth the ice,
      and gives birth to the frost of heaven? (job 38:28-29)
      (swidler biblical affirmation)
      Deuteronomy 6:4. Hear, O Israel: The LORD [Jehovah] your God [Elohim] is one LORD [Jehovah].

      Comment


      • #4
        http://astro.temple.edu/~swidler/swi...ffirmation.htm

        above is the link to the book, if you want to check for context. I do not know anything about the author.
        Deuteronomy 6:4. Hear, O Israel: The LORD [Jehovah] your God [Elohim] is one LORD [Jehovah].

        Comment


        • #5
          These super large copy-pastes are not very conducive to discussion, especially when you tend to disappear from threads you've started.
          "YECism is a collection of tall tales and nonsense and no science" - me
          HOSEA 13:16
          "One mechanism is the odds." - YEC

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Daniel Marsh View Post
            I. FEMININE IMAGERY OF GOD
            BIBLICAL PERIOD


            A. A FEMININE GOD

            Although the Hebraic tradition early perceived God to be transcendent, beyond limitations, including sex, it nevertheless persisted in referring to God in terms and images that included sexuality. It is inevitable that this would happen, for so many things which humans value highest are found in other human beings (who normally are female or male)-such as being a knowing, loving person-that to speak of God as “It” would denigrate God. Thus the tradition often speaks of God in masculine-and feminine-images, although it also continues to affirm God’s transcendence of sexuality and all else, following the apophatic way, the via negativa, what the Hindus call the path of neti neti (not this, not that). The masculine images of God in the Hebrew Bible are well known (e.g., God as father, jealous husband, warrior). They are far more pervasive throughout the Bible than feminine imagery of God, reflecting that patriarchal, male-oriented society. But the feminine divine imagery is there too, albeit in a much lesser degree. A selection of it will be given below. In order to appreciate better the trajectory which some of the female imagery of God followed, examples of how this imagery developed into the early Christian as well as the early Jewish era will be presented below in their chronological places.

            But first it would be helpful to spell out in a little detail something of the Goddess-worshiping culture that lay behind, around, and within the biblical religion.

            §1. Goddess Worship
            The earliest evidence we have of human religious activity in the Old World points to the worship of the Goddess-the divine would seem to have first been worshiped as female. The archaeological excavations at the upper paleolithic levels (25,000-8,000 B.C.E.) have produced innumerable female statuettes that appear to be either figurines of the Goddess or perhaps at least attempts at sympathetic magic, endeavoring to induce the fertility that all life depended on (see Edwin O. James, Prehistoric Religion, pp. 147, 153; Barnes & Noble, 1961; J. Edgar Bruns, God as Woman, Woman as God, pp. 8-10; Paulist/Newman Press, 1973). There would appear to have been no male God at this early period (see Edwin O. James, The cult of the Mother Goddess, pp. 21 f.; Frederick A. Praeger, 1959). As the paleolithic period gave way to the mesolithic (8,000-4,000 B.C.E.) and the neolithic (4,000-2,500 B.C.E.), the worship of the Goddess became even more vigorous and explicit. All of the Old World areas that cradled major civilizations (i.e., complex societies in which towns and cities, and the differentiation of culture that accompanies them, developed) show strong evidence of having initially been Goddess worshiping. That includes the Indus Valley, the Near East, Old Europe (i.e., the Balkans, Asia Minor, and the Eastern Mediterranean islands), and Egypt.

            The gradual shift away from total dominance of the Goddess (except perhaps with Egypt, whose history is even more complex than the others) to the participation of a clearly subordinate male God seems to have been connected with the development of animal husbandry, whence the role of paternity became apparent. There never was any question about the female’s essential role in bringing new life into the world; but the role of the male and sex was not always so obvious. Still, even at this stage the male God played a vastly subordinate role vis-a-vis the Goddess.

            The role of the God, however, in a number of instances advanced to that of an equal and even that of a superior of the Goddess, apparently under the impact of waves of attacks of patriarchal, male God worshiping, animal-herding Indo-Europeans who came down out of the northern mountains, perhaps originally from around the Caspian Sea (see James, Cult of the Mother Goddess, pp. 47, 99, 138). They appear, e.g., as Hittite conquerors of Anatolia, sometime before 2,000 B.C.E., ranging eventually down into Palestine. In the second millennium B.C.E. the patriarchal father-God worshipers swept into almost all the Goddess-worshiping civilizations, from the Indus Valley on the east through Mesopotamia and Asia Minor to Old Europe on the west (see H. R. Hays, In the Beginnings, pp. Calif.; G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1963). Perhaps only Egypt was unconquered by the patriarchal Indo-Europeans, though even it was dominated at times by Asian nations that were probably “carriers” of Indo-European patriarchal ideas, e.g., the Hyksos in the seventeenth and sixteenth centuries B.C.E. Marija Gimbutas describes in detail the world of the early Goddess worshipers in Old Europe and notes that “it is then replaced by the patriarchal world with its different symbolism and its different values. This masculine world is that of the Indo-Europeans, which did not develop in Old Europe but was superimposed upon it. Two entirely different sets of mythical images met.... The earliest European civilization was savagely destroyed by the patriarchal element and it never recovered, but its legacy lingered in the substratum” (Marija Gimbutas, The Gods and Goddesses of Old Europe, p. 238; University of California Press, 1974).

            §2. Male-God Invaders
            A little should be noted about the characteristics of the God of those Indo-European tribes who over a period of centuries, perhaps starting in earnest in the latter half of the third millennium B.C.E., invaded in waves all of the existing civilizations. He was a father God, a warrior God, a supreme God, a God who dwelt in light and fire, on a mountaintop (the Indo-Europeans came from a mountainous area and perhaps originally worshiped volcanoes). He took the Goddess of the conquered nation as his heavenly consort and soon (usually) totally dominated her, as the Indo-Europeans dominated the conquered peoples. The Indo-European dead were said to dwell in “realms of eternal light,” in “glowing light, light primeval.” Their God was described as “be whose form is light.” The Sanskrit word for God, dev, literally means “shining” or “bright.” And in Iran, God-Ahura Mazda-was a great father who was referred to as the Lord of Light, dwelling on the top of a mountain, glowing in golden light; this mountain is supposedly Mount Hara, the first mountain ever created. In Greece there was the Indo-European Zeus with his fiery lightning and thunderbolts on top of Mount Olympus; the Indo-European Hittites and Indo-European-ruled Hurrians bad storm Gods with lightning bolts in their hands standing on a mountain; Indra of India, glowing in gold, holding a lightning bolt, was called Lord of the Mountains. Almost none of this was characteristic of the Goddess (see, e.g., Merlin Stone, When God Was a Woman pp. 72, 114; Dial Press, 1976).

            §3. Yahweh, a God of Mountain and Light
            Much of the imagery connected with the Hebrew Cod Yahweh is startlingly similar to the Father of Lightning, dwelling on a mountaintop, of the Indo-European patriarchal people. Consider the following:

            [And Moses said to the people of Israel:] “Do not forget the things your eyes have seen; ... rather, tell them to your children .... The day you stood at Mount Horeb in the presence of Yahweh your God .... you came and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountains flamed to the very sky, a sky darkened by cloud, murky and thunderous. Then Yahweh spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sounds of words but saw no shape, there was only a voice.... Since you saw no shape on that day at Mount Horeb when Yahweh spoke to you from the midst of the fire, see that you do not act perversely, making yourselves a carved image in the shape of anything at all, whether it be in the likeness of man or of woman* ... for Yahweh your God is a consuming fire.... Did ever a people hear the voice of the living Cod speaking from the heart of the fire, as you heard it, and remain alive? ... He let you see his great fire, and from the heart of the fire you heard his word.... These are the words Yahweh spoke to you when you were all assembled on the mountain. With a great voice he spoke to you from the heart of the fire, in cloud and thick darkness ... while the mountain was all on fire.” (Deut 4:9-12, 15-16, 24, 33, 36; 5:22-23)

            *[In fact the Israelites did later make an image, a golden calf, a widespread image in Egypt of the Goddess.]

            There are of course many, many other references to Yahweh as a pillar of fire (Ex 13:21), Father of lights (Jas 1:17), as “wrapped in a robe of light” (Ps 104:2), as one asked to “touch the mountains, make them smoke, flash your lightning” (Ps 144:5), and as a rock (Ps 18; 19; 28; 3 1; 42; 62; 7 1; 89; 92; 94); and it is on Mount Zion that he is to be worshiped, though the northern tribes of Israel argued for Mount Gerizim. Yahweh is very often imaged as a father, a warrior God who slays his enemies in battle, the supreme creator of all; and in Elephantine Judaism the goddess Anath was the consort of Yahweh (see § 5).

            Exactly what connection there might be between the patriarchal Hebrews and their God Yahweh and the patriarchal Indo-Europeans and their Gods remains unclear. But whatever the direct connections may or may not be, it is clear that the stance of both patriarchal peoples and their theologies vis-a-vis the religion of the Goddess would be, and was, very similar-hostile.

            §4. Hebrews Worship the Goddess
            The Yahwists struggled for hundreds of years to suppress the worship of the Goddess among the Hebrews. In tracing the history of this struggle, it should be noted first that in the Land of Canaan the Goddess worship was quite diversified by biblical times, so that there were at least three names of the Goddess: Anath, Astarte, and Asherah, who were subordinate to the male god Baal. (These three were probably originally one; Asherah is the Canaanite name for the earlier Sumerian goddess Ashratum, the consort of the god Anu, who closely corresponded to the Canaanite god El-a name for God also used by the Hebrews in many forms, e.g., El, Elohim (see §22), as they were both the God of Heaven; see William F. Albright, Archaeology and the Religion of Israel, p. 78; Johns Hopkins Press, 1942. Astarte is related to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, and she in turn to the Sumerian Inanna.)

            There have been thousands of female figurines, many of which represent the Goddess, dug up all over Palestine at pre-, early, and middle biblical levels, though little in the way of male-God figurines (see Raphael Peter, The Hebrew Goddess, pp. 58-6 1; KTAV Publishing House, 1967).

            Kathleen M. Kenyon (Archaeology in the Holy Land, p. 214; Frederick A. Praeger, 1960) in writing of the Late Bronze Age states that “the Astarte plaques ... are the most common cult object on almost all sites of the period .... Tell Beit Mirsim [in Palestine] itself provides clear evidence for the occurrence of such plaques or similar figurines right down to the 7th century B.C. The denunciations by the prophets are enough to show that Yahwehism had continuously to struggle with the ancient religion of the land.” Although biblical texts give us only a glimpse of the pervasiveness of the Goddess worship among all the Hebrews, mostly by way of condemnations of it by Yahwist prophets and destruction of Goddess images, etc., by reforming Yahwist kings, it is worth outlining this history briefly to gain some sense of the implacable fury vented by the Yahwists on the Goddess worshipers.

            In the time of the judges (before 1000 B.C.E.) the people of Israel stopped worshiping Yahweh and served the Baals and Astartes (Judg 2:13). Later Solomon (961-922) “worshiped Astarte, the goddess of Sidon” (I Kings 11:5). Then the prophet Ahijah said: “Yahweh the God of Israel says to you, ‘I am going to take the kingdom away from Solomon.... I am going to do this because they have rejected me and have worshiped Astarte, the goddess of Sidon’” (I Kings 11: 31-33). In the next generation Ahijah said to the wife of Jeroboam, king of Israel (922-901), that “Yahweh will punish Israel ... because they have aroused his anger by making idols of the goddess Asherah” (I Kings 14:15). Meanwhile in Judah the people “put up stone pillars and symbols of Asherah to worship on the hills and under shady trees. Worst of all there were cult prostitutes (sing. qadesh) in the land. And they imitated all the abominations of the people Yahweh had thrown out before the Israelites came” (I Kings 14:23f.). Then in Judah the next king, Asa (913-873), “expelled from the country all Temple prostitutes (qedeshim) from the land and removed all the idols his fathers had made. He removed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother, because she had made an obscene idol of the goddess Asherah. Asa cut down the idol and burned it in the Kidron valley” (I Kings 15:12f.). In the next generation King Ahab (869-850) of Israel “put up an image of the goddess Asherah” (I Kings 16:33). “At that time there were at least four hundred prophets of Asherah” (I Kings 18:19) in Israel. Under King Jehoahaz (815-801) the people of Israel “still did not give up the sins into which King Jeroboam had led Israel, but kept on committing them; and the image of the goddess Asherah remained in Samaria” (2 Kings 13:6). The Goddess cult in the Northern Kingdom apparently continued, for in 721 when Israel fell to the Assyrians it was recorded that it fell “because the Israelites sinned against Yahweh their God. ... They worshiped other gods.... On all the hills they put up stone pillars and images of the goddess Asherah” (2 Kings 17:7-10).
            Not even God and His Voice knew what the Truth was back in those days.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Daniel Marsh View Post
              http://astro.temple.edu/~swidler/swi...ffirmation.htm

              I do not know anything about the author.
              It's remarkably easy to check up.

              Professor of Catholic Thought and Interreligious Dialogue at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he has taught since 1966.

              You could also try reading Religious Diversity in Ancient Israel and Judah Eds: F Stavrakopoulos and J Barton and Of God and Gods: Egypt, Israel, and the Rise of Monotheism J Assmann.
              On the evidence:

              If there were no Patriarchs, no Exodus, no conquest of Canaan, no united monarchy under David and Solomon. Can the early biblical Israel described in the books of Moses, Judges, Joshua, and Samuel, ever have existed at all?

              Comment


              • #8
                Another book of a similar nature is "When God Was A Woman" by Merlin Stone..Here is a summary:

                In When God Was a Woman, Merlin Stone provides abundant information about early female religions that can make up for the disinformation and censorship that retard the liberation of women today.

                Creation myths from across the ancient show that Genesis is one attempt at explaining human existence rather than a prescription for stereotyping and oppressing women. The Great Goddess has been worshiped under many titles since at least Neolithic times (7000 BCE) as a singular entity, precisely like God is today. She invents agriculture and writing, heals, and gives laws that provide women full rights. Women control Her rituals, which often include annual lamentations for a young lover/consort who dies. Priestesses are Her incarnation, and sex with them is a means of communion. This changes as "battle ax cultures" invade (2400 BCE) and transfer dominance to males. Everywhere, women slip in status from clergy to musicians, and the Goddess devolves into the "Great Wife" of her former consort. The new male deities are storm gods, blazing on mountains in fire or lightning. In Palestine, this occurs as Yahwehism develops, through Abraham (1800-1700 BCE), Moses (1300-1250 BCE), and the Levite priests who write it down (1000-600 BCE). In many myths, the female deity becomes a serpent/dragon, associated with darkness/evil. Dualism is prevalent in the Indo-European belief system.

                Hebrew women are, unlike anywhere else, stripped of rights in this patriarchal society. The Canaanites are dispossessed for committing sexual abominations, which are but continuations of what has been licit and holy for millennia. The Levites invent a new morality that demands virginity until marriage for all women and fidelity of wives to husbands—both on threat of death. Clear paternity is needed to suppress matrilineal social patterns characteristic of Goddess worship. Yahweh commands his armies to destroy the existing religion and occupy the territory through bloody sieges. Many women enter the Hebrew tribes traumatized by what they have seen and remember childhood religions in which women are not maltreated. Prophets continually threaten destruction for forsaking Yahweh and worshiping Ashtoreth/Baal, and the Levites order whole towns massacred to end assimilation to surrounding culture. Despite centuries of suppression and persecution, Goddess religion continues.

                In antiquity, sacred serpents are instruments of divine revelation and, like fig trees, are associated with sexual pleasure and reproduction. The Levites use these common images to attack the tenets of Goddess religion, disregarding all the elements of how She creates humans in pairs. The Levites create Adam first and make Eve serve his pleasure. They have the fruit make them aware of their sexuality, but make it a shameful thing to them. They undercut the ancient oracular tradition, allowing women to be transformed from wise counselors into silent and ignored beings. Christianity embraces the theme wholeheartedly.

                Only in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries do women begin to speak out courageously against this injustice, and the church fights to protect male supremacy even in matters of voting. Non-believers should be concerned over the church's continuing influence and power in thwarting women's liberation. Many values are so ingrained as to be almost instinctive, but knowing about early female religions helps fight ignorance, which is inculcated by censorship, disinformation, and pious denial.

                http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-w...man/#gsc.tab=0
                The floggings will continue until morale improves.

                Never argue with a fool. They will only drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Only God can be all places and time at the same time. I ask questions to learn from others because I do not know everything as "the complainer" tends to think they know what everyone is doing without having a clue that I am recovering from surgery and a related respiratory disease. To those who were kind enough to respond with other sources thank you, I will be checking my public library for loan.
                  Deuteronomy 6:4. Hear, O Israel: The LORD [Jehovah] your God [Elohim] is one LORD [Jehovah].

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Daniel Marsh View Post
                    Only God can be all places and time at the same time. I ask questions to learn from others because I do not know everything as "the complainer" tends to think they know what everyone is doing without having a clue that I am recovering from surgery and a related respiratory disease. To those who were kind enough to respond with other sources thank you, I will be checking my public library for loan.
                    Good luck and best wishes with your recovery. The Assman work is a "weighty" work (intellectually) but worth it.
                    On the evidence:

                    If there were no Patriarchs, no Exodus, no conquest of Canaan, no united monarchy under David and Solomon. Can the early biblical Israel described in the books of Moses, Judges, Joshua, and Samuel, ever have existed at all?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by LastServant View Post

                      Not even God and His Voice knew what the Truth was back in those days.
                      Gender identification or "discrimination" is not allowed.

                      Treat others,
                      as you would have them treat you.

                      See? Gender consideration is not allowed.

                      - Do for others as you would want them to do for you: this is the foundation of the Law of Moses and of the teachings of the prophets. -

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        read to here
                        Deuteronomy 6:4. Hear, O Israel: The LORD [Jehovah] your God [Elohim] is one LORD [Jehovah].

                        Comment

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