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So says Israel Ba'al is Yahweh, do you agree?

Discussion in 'Christian Apologetics' started by ShamashUruk, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. ShamashUruk

    ShamashUruk Hello

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    Various West Semitic descriptions emphasize Baal’s theophany in the storm (KTU 1.4 V 6-9, 1.6 III 6f., 12f., 1.19 I 42-46) or his role as warrior (KTU 1.2 IV, 1.5 I 1-5, 1.119.26-29, 34-36; RS 16.144.9 334). These two dimensions of Baal are explicitly linked in KTU 1.4 VII 29-35, 1.101.1-4, and EA 147.13-15 as well as some iconography. F. M. Cross treats different descriptions of Baal as a single Gattung with four elements, which appear in these passages in varying degrees. The four components are: (a) the march of the divine warrior, (b) the convulsing of nature as the divine warrior manifests his power, (c) the return of the divine warrior to his holy mountain to assume divine kingship, and (d) the utterance of the divine warrior’s “voice” (i.e., thunder) from his palace, providing rains that fertilize the earth.336 Biblical material deriding other deities reserves power over the storm for Yahweh (Jer. 10:11-16; 14:22; Amos 4:7; 5:8; 9:6). Biblical descriptions of Yahweh as storm-god (1 Sam. 12:18; Psalm 29; Job 38:25-27, 34-38) and divine warrior (Pss. 50:1-3; 97:1-6; 98:1-2; 104:1-4; Deut. 33:2; Judges 4-5; Job 26:11-13; Isa. 42:10-15, etc.) exhibit this underlying unity and pattern explicitly in Psalm 18 (= 2 Sam. 22):6-19, 68:7-10, and 86:9-19.337 Psalm 29, 1 Kings 19, and 2 Esdras 13:1-4 dramatize the meteorological progression underlying the imagery of Yahweh as warrior. All three passages presuppose the image of the storm moving eastward from the Mediterranean Sea to the coast. In 1 Kings 19 and 2 Esdras 13:1-4 this force is portrayed with human imagery. The procession of the divine warrior is accompanied by a contingent of lesser divine beings (Deut. 32:34; 33:2; Hab. 3:5; KTU 1.5 V 6-9; cf. Judg. 5:20). The Ugaritic antecedent to Resheph in Yahweh’s entourage in Habakkuk 3:5 may be KTU 1. 82.1-3, which perhaps includes Resheph as a warrior with Baal against tnn, related to biblical tannînîm.338 Though the power of other Near Eastern warrior-gods was manifest in the storm (e.g., Amun, Ningirsu/Ninurta, Marduk, and Addu/Adad),339 the proximity of terminology and imagery between the Ugaritic and biblical evidence points to an indigenous cultural influence on meteorological descriptions of Yahweh. Israelite tradition modified its Canaanite heritage by molding the march of the divine warrior specifically to the element of Yahweh’s southern sanctuary, variously called Sinai (Deut. 33:2; cf. Judg. 5:5; Ps. 68:9), Paran (Deut. 33:2; Hab. 3:3), Edom (Judg. 5:4), and Teiman (Hab. 3:3 340 and in the Kuntillet ‘Ajrûd inscriptions; cf. Amos 1:12; Ezek. 25:13). This modification may underlie the difference between Baal’s epithet rkb ‘rpt, “cloud-rider” (e.g., CTA 2.4[KTU 1.2 IV].8), and Yahweh’s title, rokeb bāa‘ărābôt, “rider over the steppes,” in Psalm 68:5 (cf. Deut. 33:26; Ps. 104:3),341 although a shared background for this feature is evident from other descriptions of Baal and Yahweh. The notion of Baal riding on a winged war chariot is implicit in

    mdl, one element in Baal’s meteorological entourage in KTU 1.5 V 6-11.342 Psalm 77:19 refers to the wheels in Yahweh’s storm theophany, which presumes a divine war chariot. Psalm 18 (2 Sam. 22):11 presents Yahweh riding on the wind surrounded by storm clouds. This image forms the basis for the description of the divine chariot in Ezekiel 1 and 10. Psalm 65:12 (E 11) likewise presupposes the storm-chariot image: “You crown your bounteous year, and your tracks drip with fatness.” Similarly, Yahweh’s storm chariot is the image presumed by Habakkuk 3:8 and 15:


    Was your wrath against the rivers, O Yahweh?


    Was your anger against the rivers,


    or your indignation against the sea,


    when you rode upon your horses,


    upon your chariot of victory?


    You trampled the sea with your horses,


    the surging of the mighty waters.


    The description of Yahweh’s horses fits into the larger context of the storm theophany directed against the cosmic enemies, Sea and River. (The horses in this verse are unrelated to the horses dedicated to the sun in 2 Kings 23:11, unless there was a coalescence of the chariot imagery of the storm and the sun ) The motif of chariot-riding storm-god with his divine entourage extends in Israelite tradition to the divine armies of Yahweh riding on chariots with horses (2 Kings 2:11; 6:17). Other features originally attributed to Baal also accrued to Yahweh. Albright and other scholars 344 have argued the epithet ‘ly, “the Most High,” belonging to Baal in the Ugaritic texts (KTU 1.16 III 6, 8; cf. RS 18.22.4’), appears as a title of Yahweh in 1 Samuel 2:10, 2 Samuel 23:1, Psalms 18 (2 Sam. 22):14 and 68:6, 30, 35 (cf. Dan. 3:26, 32; 4:14, 21, 22, 29, 31; 5:18, 21; 7:25), in the biblical hypocoristicon ‘ē/î, the name of the priest of Shiloh,345 and in Hebrew inscriptional personal names yhw‘ly, “Yahu is Most High,” yw‘ly, “Yaw is Most High,” ̔lyhw, “Most High is Yahu,” and ‘lyw, “Most High is Yaw.”346 The bull iconography that Jeroboam I sponsored in Dan and Bethel (1 Kings 12:28-31) has been attributed to the influence of Baal in the northern kingdom. This imagery represented an old northern tradition of divine iconography for Yahweh used probably as a rival symbol to the traditional royal iconography of the cherubim of the Jerusalem temple.347 The old northern tradition of bull iconography for Yahweh is reflected in the name ‘glyw, which may be translated, “Young bull is Yaw,” in Samaria ostracon 41:1.348 The ca. twelfth-century bull figurine discovered at a site in the hill country of Ephraim and the young bull depicted on the tenth-century Taanach stand likewise involve the iconography of a god, either Yahweh or Baal. 349 Newer discoveries have yielded iconography of a deity on a bull on a ninth-century plaque from Dan and an eighth-century stele from Bethsaida.


    Indeed, evidence for Yahweh as bull appears in Amherst Papyrus 63 (column XI): “Horus-Yaho, our bull is with us. May the lord of Bethel answer us on the morrow.”351 Despite later syncretism with Horus, the text apparently preserves a prayer to Yahweh in his emblem-animal as a bull invoked as the patron-god of Bethel. The further question is whether these depictions were specific to either El or Baal (or both) in the Iron Age. The language has been thought also to derive from El, frequently called “bull” (tr) in the Ugaritic texts. There is some evidence pointing to the application of this iconography to El in the IronAge.


    The title, ‘ăbîr ya‘ăqōb, “bull of Jacob” (Gen. 49:24; Ps. 132:2, 4), derived from the bovine imagery of El. The image of Yahweh having horns “like the horns of the wild ox” (kĕtô ̔ăpōt rĕ’ēm) in Numbers 24:8 also belongs to this background. Other Late Bronze and Iron I iconographic evidence might favor a connection with Baal.352 The reference to kissing Baal in 1 Kings 19:18 and the allusion to kissing calves in Hosea 13:2 353 would seem to bolster the Baalistic background to the bull iconography in the northern kingdom. However, the mention of kissing bulls in the apparent context of the Bethel cult in Papyrus Amherst 63 (column V) would point to the Yahwistic background of this practice.354 It is also possible that a number of major gods could be regarded as “the divine bull,”355 as this title applies also to Ashim-Bethel in Papyrus Amherst 63 (column XV).356 The polemics against the calf in Samaria in Hosea 8:5 and 10:5 may reflect indignation at the Yahwistic symbol that was associated also with Baal. Similarly, Tobit 1:5 (LXX Vaticanus and Alexandrinus) mentions the worship of “the Baal the calf” ( te Baal tē damalei) in the northern kingdom. Despite the evidence for the attribution of “bull” to Baal in the first millennium, a genetic solution tracing the imagery specifically to either El or Baal may not be applicable. B. Vawter argues that “bull” means no more than chief “male,”357 a point perhaps supported by the secular use of this term in KTU 1.15 IV 6, 8, 17, 19 and 4.360.3.358 The anti-Baalistic polemic of Hosea 13:2 and Tobit 1:5 may also constitute a secondary rejection of this Yahwistic symbol, because bull iconography may have represented both gods in the larger environment of Phoenicia and the northern kingdom.


    In any case, the Canaanite tradition of the bull iconography ultimately provides the background for this rendering of Yahweh. Common to both Yahweh and Baal was also a constellation of motifs surrounding their martial and meteorological natures. The best-known and oldest of these motifs is perhaps the defeat of cosmic foes who are variously termed Leviathan, ‘qltn, tnn,


    The seven-headed beast, Yamm, and Mot. A second-millennium seal from Mari depicts a god thrusting a spear into waters, apparently representing the conflict of the West Semitic war-god with the cosmic waters (cf. the piercing, *hll, of the serpent in Job 26:13 and of tannîn in Isa. 51:9).359 This conflict corresponds at Ugarit with Baal’s struggle with Yamm in KTU 1.2 IV, although Yamm appears as Anat’s adversary in KTU 1.3 III 43. Yamm appears as a destructive force in the Ugaritic texts (KTU 1.14 I 19-20; cf. 1.2 IV 3-4) and a proud antagonist to the divine warrior in the biblical record (Job 38:11; Ps. 89:10 [E 9]). Baal’s victory over Yamm in KTU 1.2 IV 27-34 presents the possibility of Yamm’s annihilation (*kly; cf. KTU 1.3 III 38-39, 46) and then proclaims his death, an image that appears rarely in biblical material (Rev. 21:1; cf. Testament of Moses 10:6). 360 Various biblical texts depict the divine defeat of Yamm with other images: the stilling (*sbhl *rg’) of Yamm (Pss. 65:8 [E 7]; 89:10 [E 9]; Job 26:11); the crushing 361 (*prr) of Yamm (Ps. 74:13; cf. the crushing, *dk’, of Rahab in Ps. 89:11 [E 10]); the drying up (*hrb) of Yamm (Isa. 51:10); the establishment of a boundary (gĕbûl) for Yamm (Ps. 104:9; Jer. 5:22; cf. Prov. 8:29); the placement of a guard (mišmār) over Yamm (Job 7:12); and the closing of Yamm behind doors (Job 38:8, 10); compare the hacking of Rahab into pieces (*hsb; Isa. 51:9); and the scattering (*pzr) of cosmic enemies (Ps. 89:11 [E 10]).


    A seal from Tel Asmar (ca. 2200) depicts a god battling a seven-headed dragon, a foe identified as Baal’s enemy in CTA 5.1 (KTU 1.5 I).3 (and reconstructed in 30) and Yahweh’s adversary in Psalm 74:13 and Revelation 13:1.362 A shell plaque of unknown provenance depicts a god kneeling before a fiery seven-headed dragon.363 Leviathan, Baal’s enemy mentioned in CTA 5.1 (KTU 1.5 I).1 (and reconstructed in 28), appears as Yahweh’s opponent and creature in Isaiah 27:1, Job 3:8, 26:13, 40:25 (E 41:1), Psalm 104:26, and 2 Esdras 6:49, 52.364 In Psalm 74:13-14 (cf. Ezek. 32:2), both Leviathan and the tannînîm have multiple heads, the latter known as Anat’s enemy in 1.83.9-10 and in a list of cosmic foes in CTA 3.3(D).35-39 (= KTU 1.3 III 38-42). This Ugaritic list includes “Sea,” Yamm//“River,” Nahar, Baal’s great enemy in CTA 2.4 (KTU 1.2 IV). In Isaiah 11:15 the traditions of Sea//River and the seven-headed dragon appear in conflated form:


    And the Yahweh will utterly destroy the tongue of the sea of Egypt, and will wave his hand over the River with his scorching wind, and smite it into seven channels that men may cross dry-shod. Here the destruction of Egypt combines both mythic motifs with the ancient tradition of crossing the Red Sea in Egypt. The seven-headed figure is attested in other biblical passages. In Psalm 89:10 the seven-headed figure is Rahab, mentioned in Isaiah 51:9-11 in the company of tannîn and Yamm. The seven-headed enemy also appears in Revelation 12:3, 13:1, 17:3 and in extrabiblical material, including Qiddushin 29b, Odes of Solomon 22:5, and Pistis Sophia 66.365 Yamm appears in late apocalyptic writing as the source of the destructive beasts symbolizing successive empires (Dan. 7:3). J. Day has suggested that this imagery developed from the symbolization of political states hostile to Israel as beasts.366 For example, Rahab stands for Egypt (Isa. 30:7; Ps. 87:4), the River for Assyria (Isa. 8:5-8; cf. 17:12-14), tannîn for Babylon (jer. 51:34).367 This type of equation is at work in a less explicit way in Psalm 18 (2 Sam. 22):4-18. In this composition, monarchic victory over political enemies (w. 4, 18) is described in terms of a storm theophany over cosmic waters (w. 8-17). Because of the political use of the cosmic enemies, Day suspects that a political allusion lies behind the figure of Leviathan in Isaiah 27:1.368


    Finally, the figure of Mot, “Death,” is attested in KTU 1.4 VIII-1.6 and 2.10 and in several biblical passages, including Isaiah 25:8, 28:15 and 18, Jeremiah 9:20, Hosea 13:14, Habakkuk 2:5, Psalm 18(2 Sam. 22):5-6, Revelation 21:4 (cf. Odes of Solomon 15:9; 29:4).369 Biblical Mot is personified as a demon, in the manner of Ugaritic Mot in KTU 1.127 and Mesopotamian mütu. As J. Tigay has observed, this background would explain the description of Mot in Jeremiah 9:20 better than either U. Cassuto’s recourse to the episode of the window in Baal’s palace (KTU 1.4 V-VII) or S. Paul’s comparison with the Mesopotamian demon Lamashtu.370 Biblical descriptions of the east wind as an instrument of divine destruction may have derived from the imagery of Mot in Canaanite tradition, although mythological dependency is not necessarily indicated in this instance. The juxtaposition of the east wind and personified Death in Hosea 13:14-15 may presuppose the mythological background of Mot as manifest in the sirocco.


    Like the motif of the divine foes, the biblical motif of the divine mountainous abode derives primarily from the Northwest Semitic tradition of divinely inhabited mountains, especially the Baal’s mountainous home of Sapan (ṣpn), modern Jebel el-Aqra‘. This dependency on language connected with Sapan in Ugaritic tradition is especially manifest in the identification of Mount Zion as yarkĕtê sāpôn, “the recesses of the north,” in Psalm 48:3 (cf. Isa. 14:13) and the MT’s apparent substitution of Zion for spn in the Aramaic version of Psalm 20:3 written in Demotic.372 According to Josephus (Antiquities 7.174), Belsephon was a city in the territory of Ephraim.373 Saphon is the site of conflict between Baal and his cosmic enemies, Yamm (KTU 1.1 V 5, 18) and Mot (KTU 1.6 VI 12). The same mountain, modern Jebel el-Aqra‛, Mount Hazzi in Hittite tradition, occurs in the narrative of conflict between the storm-god and Ullikumi.374 In classical tradition, the same peak, Mons Cassius, was one site of conflict between Zeus and Typhon (Apollodorus, The Library 1.6.3; Strabo, Geography 16.2.7).375 Herodotus (History 3.5) records that Typhon was buried by the Sirbonian Sea, which was adjacent to the Egyptian Mount Saphon.376 Similarly, Zion is the place where Yahweh will take up battle (Joel 3:9-17, 19-21; Zech. 14:4; 2 Esdras 13:35; cf. Isa. 66:18-21; Ezekiel 38-39). The descriptions of Yahweh’s taking his stand as warrior on top of Mount Zion (Isa. 31:4; Zech. 14:4; 2 Esdras 13:35) also echo depictions of the Hittite and Syrian storm-gods standing with each foot on a mountain.377 Saphon and Zion share a number of epithets. For example, KTU 1.3 III 13-31 (cf. IV 7-20), cited in full in the previous section, applies qdš, “holy place,” n‛m, “pleasant place,” and nḥlt, “inheritance,” to Baal’s mountain. Similarly, Psalms 46:5 and 48:2 describe Zion as *qōdeš (cf. Exod. 15:13; Pss. 87:1; 93:5; KAI 17:1, 78:5 [?]), while Psalm 27:4 calls Yahweh’s mountain nõ‛am (cf. Ps. 16:6).378 As Greenfield has observed, nō‛am in Psalm 27:4 is followed in the next verse by wordplay or paronomasia on the root *ṣpn.379 Yahweh’s mountain is called a naḥălāh, “portion” (Ps. 79:1; Jer. 12:7; cf. Exod. 15:17; Ps. 16:6). The epithets for Zion and the way they are listed together in Psalm 48:2-3 likewise recall the titles for Sapan in KTU 1.3 III 29-31.380 The mountainous temple home from which Baal utters his voice and rains lavishly upon the earth (KTU 1.4 V-VII) appears not only in descriptions of Yahweh roaring from Zion (Joel 3:16; Amos 1:2) or giving forth rains (Isa. 30:19; Jer. 3:3; 5:24; 10:13;

    14:4; 51:16; Amos 4:7) but also in postexilic discussions of the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. The tradition of the temple home that guarantees the life-giving rains underlies the relationship between tithe and temple in Malachi 3:10. This passage reflects the notion that payment of the tithe to the temple would induce Yahweh to open the windows of heaven and pour down crop-producing rains. Similarly, Haggai 1:7-11 attributes drought and scarcity to the failure to rebuild the temple.381 Yahweh’s role as the divine source of rain appears elsewhere in postexilic prophecy (Zech. 10:1). Joel 4 (E 3) presents various aspects of the mountain tradition. It is the divine home (4:17 [E 3:17]), the location of Yahweh’s roar (4:16 [E 3:16]), the site of divine battle (4:9-15 [E 3:9-15]) with heavenly hosts (4:11-13 [E 3:11-13]; cf. 2:1-11), and the origin of the divine rains issuing in terrestrial fertility (4:18 [E 3:18]).


    In sum, the motifs associated with Baal in Canaanite literature are widely manifest in Israelite religion. The Baal cycle (KTU 1.1-6) presents the sequence of defeating the enemy, Sea, followed by the building of the divine palace for the divine warrior, and concluding with the vanquishing of the enemy, Death. This pattern of features appears in a wide variety of biblical texts describing divine presence and action. Rabbinic aggadah and Christian literature continue these motifs. Indeed, the defeat of Sea, the building of the heavenly palace, and the destruction of death belong to the future divine transformation of the world in Revelation 21:1-4. These motifs are of further importance for the long life that some of them enjoyed; for example, the motif of Leviathan is attested in religious documents into the modern period.
     
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