[b-hebrew] Yahwism (was: their altar)

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Thu Mar 10 01:04:22 EST 2005


Thank you very much for the websites.

The identification of the site as a trading center seems
to me odd because I do not know what merchants or 
an innkeeper or any type of person who would operate 
such a trading center would have had to do with such 
writing.  But even if this were a trading center, one 
would assume that trade would be an activity related
to the actions of the royal establishments, and hence 
it is unlikely the merchants involved represented views opposed to
that establishment.

The suggestion that the pictures allow us to conclude 
there was syncretism because they show Egyptian gods
is far fetched.  There is no reason to suppose Egyptian 
gods are involved rather than Baal or Yahweh, especially
in light of the text.  In any case, an argument for
syncretism based on the imagery and disregarding the
fact that no god other than Baal-Yahweh-Asherah are
mentioned is problematic.  This comes especially in
view of the fact that these three (Baal-Yahweh-Ashera)
can be connected with the actions of Ahab as
described in Kings.

Your other points seem to center around the
comparison between use of D material from Kings and
use of J material.  If we identify that Kings has
a theological aim in the book to prove that "King
David acted in perfect religious faith to Yahweh and
hence Yahweh preserved his royal line for generations
to come," one cannot now accept historical statements
that seem to have behind them only this theological
aim.  To make sure of this we might suggest that any
claim of the book of Kings may be tested for internal
consistency.  By this, we might suggest that since
Solomon is said to have had idols in Jerusalem, we
cannot be sure he built the Temple to Yahweh.  That
claim seems to overlap the theological aim of Kings
and yet is internally inconsistent with the "idols"
factoid.  On the other hand, since starting with the
Mt. Carmel episode we see a stark contrast between
use of Yahwistic names and non-Yahwistic names,
we may suggest that some type of mass conversion
at this time is internally consistent.  Applying this
very same concept to Ex 34:13, one may argue that
this example, in that it represents the possible use of
Asherah worship in connection with Yahweh, is
internally inconsistent with the aims of the redactor
of the Pentateuch.  Thus, just like the case of idols
and the Temple, we may suggest from this that the
claims of the redacted document (in this case the
Pentateuch), are not necessarily valid for earlier
times while the mention of a possible contradiction
to those claims may be a use of a historical
source (in this case J).  In short, I accept that
Kings may contain historical material and I apply
the same logic to both Kings and the Pentateuch
in my use of information from these sources.

The Mesha stele is ambiguous.  Viewed in light
of the book of Kings, one may suggest worship of
Yahweh alone.  Viewed in light of contemporaneous
inscriptions, one may suggest that the Temple
was to Yahweh, but Baal and Asherah may have 
been present there as well.  In light of the apparent
change between earlier and later religion regarding
Yahweh, one may prefer the comparison to
contemporary inscriptions.  But as this is 
evidence from silence, I'd prefer to make no use
of it.

In the end, I think this statement:

> The D claims are not certain, I agree, but 
> nevertheless they are admissible evidence in 
> favour of the hypothesis, and at least as strong
> as the very weak evidence you present the 
> other way. 

is incorrect.  The D claims, being as they are
very closely related to the theology of D, and
in contradiction to apparent other facts D
brings up, are inadmissible, and in any case
not as strong as the evidence I present the 
other way is.  My final conclusion is not: J 
lived at Kuntillet Ajrud, but rather:  There is
no reason that Kuntillet Ajrud should be 
viewed in opposition to the established
religion of the time.


While the acceptance of the specific sources
JEPD is doubted, that does not mean you can
replace them with an uncritical assessment of
the Biblical sources.  Thus, simply because a
book claims to be from the time of Moses,
David, or Nebuchadrezzar does not mean you
can uncritically accept that claim.  In the case
of Moses, one may suggest that it is unclear
when he lived and that dating his life depends
on the use of other unrelated sources (the
books of Kings and Joshua).  

Yitzhak Sapir

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