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Old 9th February 2017, 12:06 AM
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Default Was Judaism Originally Polytheistic?

I am sure that this topic has been brought up previously, but I would like to get member's take on it. From the very first phrase in the bible, it talks of god in the plural;

Genesis 1
King James Version (KJV)
1 In the beginning Elohim (gods) created the heaven and the earth.

The Bible also talks frequently about other gods as if they were real competitors and makes mention of "son's of God"

Do you think that from the get go, ancient Jews and early Christians believed in other gods?
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Old 9th February 2017, 12:10 AM
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Default Re: Was Judaism Originally Polytheistic?

The jury is out, but I think it likely that Judaism originally stemmed from Atenism, which was the first monotheism
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Old 9th February 2017, 01:21 AM
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Default Re: Was Judaism Originally Polytheistic?

Yes, I think it was.. Though hard to know if it started as monotheistic and adopted Asherah and touches of the Canaanite faith such as name of the Canaanite god (El) who collectively with Asherah was coincidentally known as Elohim (another Torah name for god), then dropped her again, or started as an offshoot of the Canaanite polytheism and filtered down into monotheism.. I have an interesting book on this called 'the early history of god, yahweh and the other deities in ancient israel" that argues the later.

El, the supreme Canaanite god that happened coincidentally to share his name with one of Yehweh's names in the Torah though the argument is El was a generic name for god at the time? - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_%28deity%29

I have talked about Elohim and it's plural status before on here with another member.. El is also a name for god, but was a Canaanite god, head of the pantheon and consort of the goddess Asherah, who also appears in the Torah in Kings (first temple) when there was a shrine to her still in the temple. Of course they translate her name as something else, but I think around Solomon's time it was said to be removed...

Some interesting pottery from ancient times showing that some ancient jews knew who Asherah was at least.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuntillet_Ajrud

Image on pithos sherd found at Kuntillet Ajrud below the inscription "Yahweh and his Asherah”"
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Last edited by joele; 9th February 2017 at 01:32 AM.
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Old 9th February 2017, 11:30 AM
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Default Re: Was Judaism Originally Polytheistic?

Pre-Yahweh, there was also a mummy-god, but I think the misogynist priests done killed her off.
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Old 9th February 2017, 12:31 PM
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Default Re: Was Judaism Originally Polytheistic?

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Darwinsbulldog said View Post
Pre-Yahweh, there was also a mummy-god, but I think the misogynist priests done killed her off.
yes, Asherah

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asherah

As the image and link I posted in my previous insomnia post, she survived into the time of Yahweh and was worshipped along side him by some for a while at least, the asherah pole was also in the first Jewish temple.

Then as you say the priests removed her from the temple around Solomon's supposed time, as the story goes.

2 kings 23:6
Quote:
he took the Asherah pole from the temple of the LORD to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it there. He ground it to powder and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people.
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Last edited by joele; 9th February 2017 at 12:42 PM.
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Old 9th February 2017, 05:18 PM
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Default Re: Was Judaism Originally Polytheistic?

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The jury is out, but I think it likely that Judaism originally stemmed from Atenism, which was the first monotheism
Yes, and I have heard that it also stemmed from Zoroastrianism, that's where they gathered the concepts of heaven, hell and free will. It's interesting that they seemed to think that THEIR god was superior to other nation's gods. See:

Psalm 95:3 King James Version (KJV)

3 For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

Psalm 97:7 King James Version (KJV)

7 Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.

Psalm 135:5 King James Version (KJV)

5 For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.

So they believed in other gods. What I find strange is that they use the plural form as below:

Genesis 1:26 King James Version (KJV)
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

I've spoken to Christians about this and they reckon it is all about the Trinity, but that doctrine of the didn't surface until many years later. You also have all the sons of God, angels and devils which could be thought of as lower gods. They all have god-like qualities, only with different labels.
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Old 9th February 2017, 05:19 PM
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Default Re: Was Judaism Originally Polytheistic?

I remember having an argument over this on youtube. the word Ashera was sung repeatedly in the exodus scenes of the animated movie 'The Prince Of Egypt' I think the producers snuck it in there for fun. A comment said it meant something else, a few words rather than one. I dunno.
https://youtu.be/Gur8ccqrQ9c
Quite a nice movie actually, too bad it was loosely based on the bible. If the bible never existed, it would be a cool made up story.
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Old 9th February 2017, 05:38 PM
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Default Re: Was Judaism Originally Polytheistic?

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knowledge is power said View Post
I remember having an argument over this on youtube. the word Ashera was sung repeatedly in the exodus scenes of the animated movie 'The Prince Of Egypt' I think the producers snuck it in there for fun. A comment said it meant something else, a few words rather than one. I dunno.
https://youtu.be/Gur8ccqrQ9c
Quite a nice movie actually, too bad it was loosely based on the bible. If the bible never existed, it would be a cool made up story.
Anyway, when the priests killed off Ms God, Yahweh lost all credibility as a good god and just became another supernatural, pretty, obnoxious warlord tosser like all the rest.
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Old 9th February 2017, 07:52 PM
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Default Re: Was Judaism Originally Polytheistic?

Quote:
SEG said View Post
I am sure that this topic has been brought up previously, but I would like to get member's take on it. From the very first phrase in the bible, it talks of god in the plural;
caveat: I am not a linguist, etymologist, bible scholar, but ...

The word "elohim" is used in the singular. "Bereshit bara elohim ....". "Bara" is the past form of create, or brought into being. if it had been plural it would have been "Bar'ou". moreover, the word in Hebrew is always singular, despite the suffix "im" which indeed usually denotes plural masculine.

I am speculating here but it is possible that this word was reserved by jews for their god. the standard word for just any god is "el" (with "elim" being the plural). there is no plural for "elohim", or should I say I have never read or heard it. elohim is pretty quickly replaced with either YHWH or Adonai (our lord/master) or Adonai Eloheinou (our lord, our god)
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Old 9th February 2017, 07:55 PM
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Default Re: Was Judaism Originally Polytheistic?

I think I meant "petty" rather than "pretty".

I have got to watch my arse.
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