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

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Fri Mar 11 06:44:20 EST 2005


On 11/03/2005 05:25, Yitzhak Sapir wrote:

>... I say, "We read that
>Elijah performed some ceremony on Mt. Carmel to
>prove Yahweh was the 'real' god.  We may suggest that
>this points to some type of mass conversion to
>Yahweh at this time.  Is there reason to believe that
>there was such a mass conversion?"  And the
>answer relies on the Yahwistic names of the royalty
>starting at this time and totally absent (from royalty)
>previously. ...
>

Not quite true, even if we read Abijam (with Kings) rather than Abijah 
(Chronicles). For Jehoshaphat became king in the fourth year of Ahab, 
and was already 35 years old (according to 1 Kings 22:41,42). While the 
Mount Carmel incident cannot be dated precisely, it could not have been 
before the third year of Ahab, and was probably quite a lot later in his 
reign, in reaction to his introduction of Baal and Asherah worship in 
Samaria (1 Kings 16:31-33) and following the three years of drought. I 
assume of course that you are giving some credence to the Elijah 
narratives in Kings, as apart from them there is nothing to match in 
time with the royal use of Yahwistic names.


>... Because Peter apparently assumed I was
>referring to the Jerusalem Temple, I was not; I was
>referring to the apparent temple in Nebo, although the
>stele does not actually mention a temple there.
>  
>

Thanks for the clarification. Of course the temple in Nebo, if it 
existed, did not necessarily reflect establishment views any more than 
the one at Kuntillet Ajrud. But there can be no evidence that Baal 
and/or Asherah were worshipped at a temple which may not even have 
existed. More speculation on top of speculation.

> ...
>
>First, it seems to me some of these transactions were
>handled by separate officials from the merchants. ...
>

Maybe, but then maybe practices around Kuntillet Ajrud were quite 
different from Mesopotamian ones. Or maybe there was a scribe or a small 
group of them at KA, recording transactions for the passing merchants, 
for a fee no doubt. These scribes were obviously religious people, and 
so wrote religious inscriptions at their shrines (or perhaps they just 
wrote inscriptions to order for those who did worship there), and maybe 
maps as well as records at their place of business but these have not 
survived. As for whether these scribes were connected with the royal 
establishment, we have zero evidence either way.

>>I would hold that small inconsistencies in Kings suggest 
>>that the author was faithfully (although maybe selectively) 
>>reproducing sources and putting a theological spin on 
>>them
>>    
>>
>
>How can he be reproducing faithfully if the reproduction is
>selective and also twisted to match the author's theological
>aim. ...
>  
>

Well, perhaps "faithful" is not the best word, but what I mean is that 
words were copied selectively from sources without detailed editing, the 
"spin" coming from additions rather than edits. This is the process that 
is assumed to have happened with the Pentateuch, allowing us to 
reconstruct J etc. Of course if such processes could not have happened, 
J is irrecoverable if it ever existed, so we might as well stop 
speculating about its theology.

> ...
>
>>OK, but I would also say that the opposite, that there
>>is no reason that Kuntillet Ajrud should be assumed to 
>>represent the established religion of the time. There is
>> simply insufficient evidence either way.
>>    
>>
>
>No.  I think there is some evidence.  The fact that the
>earliest inscriptions referring to Yahweh include a 
>reference to Asherah, and the fact that apparently early 
>sources (possibly J, possibly the sources for the book of
>Kings) do seem to imply royal sanction of Asherah
>worship with Yahweh, ...
>

No, you cannot say this. Kings condemns Asherah worship. You remove from 
Kings any such condemnation as anachronistic, and you may be right to do 
so for indeed such condemnations may have been later. But the reason 
that your expurgated version includes no such condemnations is because 
your method does not allow it to do so. But in fact the condemnations 
may have been older, or there may have been weaker condemnations in the 
source which were strengthened by the later editors. We don't know, 
because this aspect of the source seems to have been completely 
destroyed by the later editors.

>... suggests there is some evidence
>that Yahweh worship with Asherah was sanctioned by
>the establishment in earlier times such as the 9th
>century BCE.  I consider this a little evidence, but
>still some evidence, as opposed to no evidence for
>the contrary claim.
>  
>

I still see no evidence for establishment sanction, just a lack of clear 
evidence for establishment condemnation which is of course not the same 
thing.

-- 
Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
http://www.qaya.org/



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