A follow up to “Is the Jehovah Moses speaks of the Heavenly Father of Jesus?”
You know when you are putting something together and the pieces just don’t quite go together but the directions say it should or at least you think they do. In my younger days I was the one who would make it work only to find out later how it was supposed to be. Over time you learn that if does not fit don’t force it just be patient. Well this approach has also become the way I have begun to reexamine my faith, the Bible and my life. In Religion we are often given these nice neat packages that have already been assembled but when we begin to use them or examine them we find that everything does not fit all that well or it does not even work, but because we need to get it done we do whatever it takes to get it ready to use. In my questioning of the relationship between Biblical stories some brothers were fine with it others felt it could be dangerous to tamper with it especially in a public way. I guess it is good that both types of brothers exist – for some they need to have these things tampered with but for others it might be dangerous. So I guess I write for those who like myself are not new to the study of the scriptures but are unsatisfied with their own present understanding and are willing and ready to be challenged.
I love the internet for one things in particular – you find writings, old ones that if not for the internet you never would of found them. Three days ago I was surfing the net and came across a book on Google docs entitled Babel and Bible by F. Delitzsch. Recently I had been reading a lot about the Sumerian texts so the title caught my eye but the fact it was written by F. Delitzsch was even more interesting. All through my Bible College the OT commentary I used was by Keil and Delitzsch which was the standard by which I was taught. Well it ends up that Babel and Bible was a book that came out of two lectures that were given by the Son of F. Delitzsch in 1902 and 1903. Friedrich Delitzsch. These two lectures were given before a very pretentious audience and caused a great uproar. You see Friedrich Delitsch was a German Assyriologist one of the best in his field at that time. As Wikipidia says “Friedrich Delitzsch specialized in the study of ancient Middle Eastern languages, and published numerous works on Assyrian language, history and culture. He is remembered today for his scholarly critique of the Biblical Old Testament. “
Introduction – “So far, at any rate, the conviction has steadily and universally established itself that the results of the Babylonian and Assyrian excavations are destined to inaugurate a new epoch, not only in our intellectual life, but especially in the criticism and comprehension of the Old Testament, and that from now till all futurity the names of Babel and Bible will remain inseparably linked together.” pg.2
This was said over 100 years ago – this shows you how long it takes for “FACTS” to even begin to change the way we think.
“The Old Testament formed a world by itself till far into the last century. It spoke of times to whose latest limits the age of classical antiquity barely reached, and of nations that have met cither with none or with the most cursory allusion from the Greeks and the Romans. The Bible was the sole source of our knowledge of the history of Hither Asia prior to 550 B. C.” pg.3
Here is a quote from the story of Sargon I who lived in the third or fourth millennium before Christ and before Moses. – “In Azupiran, on the banks of the Euphrates, she bore me in concealment; she placed me in a box of reeds, sealed my door with pitch, and cast me upon the river, which conveyed me on its waves to Akki, the water-carrier. He took me up in the kindness of his heart, reared me as his own child, made me his gardener. Then Ishtar, the daughter of the King of Heaven, showed fondness for me and made me king over men.”” pg.11
We read in Numbers vi. 24-27: “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”
Countless times has this blessing been given and received! But it was never understood in its full depth, and import until Babylonian usage informed us that ” to lift up one’s countenance or eyes upon or to another,” was a form of speech for “bestowing one’s love upon another, for gazing lovingly and feelingly upon another, as a bridegroom upon a bride, or a father upon a son.” This ancient and glorious benediction, therefore, invokes on man with increasing emphasis God’s blessing and protection, God’s benignant and gracious consideration, and lastly God’s own love,—finally to break forth into that truly beautiful greeting of the Orient, “Peace be with thee!” pg.29-30
Yet the greatest and most unexpected service that Babel ever rendered the philological interpretation of the Bible must yield the palm for wide-reaching significance to the fact that here on the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris as early as 2250 B. C. we find a highly organized constitutional state. Here in these Babylonian lowlands, having an area not greater than that of Italy, yet extraordinarily rich by nature and transformed by human industry into a veritable hotbed of productiveness, there existed in the third millennium before Christ a civilization comparable in many respects with our own. pg.30
Origins of the Sabbath, Babylonian?
“When the twelve tribes of Israel invaded the land of Canaan, they entered a country which belonged absolutely to the domain of Babylonian civilization. It is an unimportant but characteristic feature of the prevailing state of things that a Babylonish garment excited the avarice of Achan when the first Canaanite city, Jericho, was stormed and plundered (Joshua 7:21). And not only the industry, but also the commerce and law, the customs and the science of Babylon were the standards of the land. Knowing this, we comprehend at once why the systems of measures, weights, and coins used in the Old Testament, and the external form of their laws (“if a man do this or that, he shall be punished after this manner or that”) are Babylonian throughout. So also the sacerdotal customs and the methods of offering sacrifices were profoundly influenced by Babylonian models; and it is a remarkable fact that Israelitic traditions are altogether at variance in their accounts of the origin of the Sabbath,— as will be rendered apparent by a comparison of Exodus 20:11 and Deuteronomy 5:15. But now the matter is clearer.
The Babylonians also had their Sabbath day (shabattu], and a calendar of feasts and sacrifices has been unearthed according to which the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th days of every month were set apart as days on which no work should be done, on which the king should not change his robes, nor mount his chariot, nor offer sacrifices, nor render legal decisions, nor eat of boiled or roasted meats, on which not even a physician should lay hands on the sick. Now this setting apart of the seventh day for the propitiation of the gods is really understood from the Babylonian point of view, and there can therefore be scarcely the shadow of a doubt that in the last resort we are indebted to this ancient nation on the banks of the Euphrates and the Tigris for the plenitude of blessings that flows from our day of Sabbath or Sunday rest.” pg.37-38
The Flood Story Babylonian
The Babylonians divided their history into two great periods: that before the Flood and that after the Flood. Babylonia was in the true sense of the word the land of deluges. Like all alluvial lowlands bordering on great streams that flow into the sea, it was exposed to floods of the direst and most unique character. It is the home of the cyclone or tornado, with its accompaniment of earthquake and cloudburst. Only twenty-five years ago, in the year 1876, a tornado of this character gathered in the Bay of Bengal, and amid the crashing of thunder and with a violence so terrific as to dismast ships distant nearly two hundred miles, approached the delta of the Ganges, met the ebbing tide, and engulfing it in its own titanic tidal-wave, hurled oceans of water over an area of 141 square leagues to a depth of 45 feet, drowning 215,000 human beings, and only losing its strength as it broke against the highlands that lay beyond. Now the credit belongs to the celebrated Viennese geologist, Eduard Suess, for having discovered the exact and detailed description of just such a tornado in the Babylonian story of the Flood inscribed on this tablet from the library of Sardanapalus at Nineveh and committed to writing 2000 years before Christ. The sea plays the principal part in this flood, and therefore the ark of the Babylonian Noah, Xisuthros, is cast back upon a spur of the Armenio-Medean mountains; but in other respects it is the same old story of the Flood, so familiar to us all.
Xisuthros receives from the god of the watery deep the command to build a ship of certain dimensions, to coat it thoroughly with pitch, and to put on board of it his entire family together with the seeds of all living things. The ship is entered, its doors are closed, it is cast adrift upon the devastating waves, and is finally stranded upon a mountain bearing the name of Nizir. Then follows the famous passage : ” On the seventh day I took forth a dove and released it; the dove flew hither and thither, but finding no resting-place returned.” We then read that a swallow was sent forth; it also found no resting-place and returned. Finally a raven was sent forth, which, noticing that the waters had subsided did not return. Xisuthros then abandons his ship and offers sacrifices on the summit of the mountain. The sweet odor was scented by the gods, etc., etc. This entire story, precisely as it is here written, afterwards travelled to Canaan, but owing to the totally different conformation of the land in this latter country, it was forgotten that the sea had played the principal role, pg.39-40
The Creation Story – Babylonian
In the primordial beginning of things, according to this epic, down in the gloomy chaos, surged and u ‘aged the primeval waters, the name of which was Tiamat. When the gods declared their intention of forming * an orderly cosmos out of the chaos, Tiamat arose (usually represented as a dragon, but also as a seven-headed , serpent) , and made ready for combat to the death. Monsters” of all descriptions she spawned from her mighty depths, especially gigantic venom-blown serpents; and in their company she set forth bellowing and snorting to her conflict with the gods. The Celestials quaked with terror when they saw their direful foe. The god Marduk alone, the god of light, of dawn, and of the vernal sun, came forward to do battle with her, his sole stipulation being that sovereign rank among the gods should be accorded him.
Then follows a splendid scene. First the god Marduk fastened a gigantic net to the East and the South, to the North and the West, lest any part of Tiamat should escape. He then mounted in shining armor and radiant with majesty his celestial chariot, which was drawn by four spirited steeds, the admired cynosure of the eyes of all the surrounding gods. Straightway he made for the dragon and her dread embattled train, sending forth his challenge for the contest. Then Tiamat shrieked loudly and fiercely, till her deepmost foundations trembled and shook. She opened her maw to its uttermost, but before she could shut her lips Marduk made enter into her belly the evil hurricane. He seized his lance and pierced her heart. He cast her carcass down and placed himself upon it, whilst her helpers were taken captive and placed in close confinement. Thereupon Marduk cut Tiamat in twain, as cleanly as one would sever a fish, and of the one half he made the roof of heaven and of the other he made the earth ; and the heaven he inlaid with the moon, and the sun, and the stars, and the earth he covered with plants and animals, until finally the first man and the first woman, made of mingled clay and celestial blood, came forth from the hand of their creator. .
Since Marduk was the city-god of Babel, it is quite intelligible that this story found widespread diffusion in Canaan. Nay, the poets and prophets of the Old Testament went so far as to attribute directly to Yahveh the heroic deeds of Marduk, and to extol him as the champion that broke the head of the dragons in the water (Psalms 74:13 et seq.; 89:10), and under whom the helpers of the dragon stooped (Job 9:13).
Passages like the following from Isaiah 51:9: “Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of Yahveh; awake, as in the days of old, in the generations of ancient times. Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab in pieces and pierced the dragon?”
or passages like that from Job 26:12 “He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth the dragon,”
read like explanatory comments on the little image which our expedition found representing the god Marduk, of the powerful arm, the far-seeing eye, and the far-hearing ear, the symbol of intelligence clad in majestic glory, with the conquered dragon of the primeval waters at his feet pg.41-42
The priestly author that wrote the first chapter of Genesis took infinite pains to eliminate all mythological features from his story of the creation of the world. But since his story begins with the gloomy, watery chaos which bears precisely the same name as Tiamat, namely Tehom, and since this chaos was first divided by the light, and heaven and the earth appeared afterwards, and heaven was set with the sun, the moon, and the stars, and the earth was covered with flowers and with animals, and finally the first man and woman went forth from the hand of God, it will be seen that there is a very close relationship between the Biblical and the Babylonian story of the creation of the world; and it will be obvious at the same time how absolutely futile all attempts are and will forever remain, to harmonise our Biblical story of the creation with the results of natural science. pg.45
The Fall of Man
The question as to the origin of the Biblical story of the Fall of Man is of the utmost importance from the point of view of the history of religion as well as from that of the theology of the New Testament, which, as is well known, contrasts with the first Adam by whom sin and death were brought into the world, a second Adam.
May I lift the veil, may I point to an old Babylonian cylinder-seal, on which may be seen in the center a tree bearing pendent fruits, to the right a man,
distinguishable by his horns, which are the symbol of strength, to the left a woman, both with their hands outstretched toward the fruit, and behind the woman the serpent? Is it not the very acme of likelihood that there is some connection between this old Babylonian picture and the Biblical tale of the Fall of Man?
The serpent again? That has an unmistakably Babylonian ring. It was doubtless the same serpent, the primordial foe of the gods, that sought to revenge itself on the gods of light by seeking to estrange from them their noblest creature? Or was it the serpent of which it is once said that it ” destroyed the dwelling-place of life” ? pg.47-48
Is it from God or Babylon?
This drastic intrusion of Assyrian antiquity upon our own days naturally fills us with amazement, and yet it is nothing more than what has happened in the intellectual domain. When we distinguish the twelve signs of the zodiac and call them Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc., when we divide the circle into 360 parts, the hour into 60 minutes, and the minute into 60 seconds, and so on,—in all this, Sumerian and Babylonian civilization still lives with us to-day.
And possibly I have also been successful in my endeavor to show that many Babylonian features still cling, through the medium of the Bible, to our religious thinking.
The elimination from our religious thought of the purely human conceptions derived from these admittedly talented peoples, and the liberation of our thought generally from the shackles of deep-rooted prejudices, will in no wise impair true religion and the true religious spirit, as these have been taught us by the prophets and poets of the Old Testament, but most sublimely of all by Jesus; on the contrary, both will come forth from this process of purification far truer and far more intensified than ever they were before. pg.59-60
Yahveh know and written about by the Babylonians
Clay Tablets Containing The Words ” Yahveh is God.”
(Time of Hammurabi or Amraphel. British Museum.)
But more! Through the kindness of the director of the Egyptian and Assyrian department of the British Museum I am able to show you here pictures of three little clay tablets. What, will be asked, is to be seen on these tablets, fragile broken pieces of clay, with scarcely legible characters scratched on their surface? True enough, but they are valuable from the fact that their date may be exactly fixed as that of the time of Hammurabi (1790 BC – around the same time as Abraham) (Moses is given the Law in about 1313 BC) , one of them having been made during the reign of his father, Sin-muballit; but still more so from the circumstance that they contain three names which are of the very greatest significance from the point of view of the history of religion. They are the words :
la- hn~ um- ilii
Yahveh is God. Yahveh, the Abiding One, the Permanent One (for such is, as we have reason to believe, the significance of the name), who, unlike man, is not tomorrow a thing of the past, but one that endures forever, that lives and labors for all eternity above the broad, resplendent, law-bound canopy of the stars,—it was this Yahveh that constituted the primordial patrimony of those Canaanite tribes from which centuries afterward the twelve tribes of Israel sprang. pg.62
The Prophet Ezekiel’s Visions – Babylonian?
The Prophet Ezekiel (chap.’1) in his visions of his Lord saw God enter on a living chariot formed of four winged creatures with the face of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle, and on the heads of these cherubim he saw (10:1) a crystal surface supporting a sapphire throne on which God was seated in the likeness of a man, bathed in the most resplendent radiance. Noting carefully these details, can we fail to observe the striking resemblance which his vision presents to the representation of a god which has been found on a very ancient Babylonian cylinder-seal ? Standing on an odd sort of vessel, the prow and stern of which terminate in seated human figures, may be seen two cherubim with their backs to each other and with their faces, which are human in form turned to the front. Their attitude leads us to infer that there are two corresponding figures at the rear. On their backs reposes a surface, and on this surface stands a throne on which the god sits, bearded and clothed in long robes, with a tiara on his head, and in his right hand •what are apparently a scepter and a ring: and behind the throne, standing ready to answer his beck and call, is a servitor of the god, who may be likened to the man “clothed with linen” (Ezekiel 9:3, and 10:2) that executed the behests of Yahveh.
Lecture two continues more into these points but I will just bring up one found on page 101 about laws of God??:
It will be the business of future investigators to determine to just what extent the Israelitic laws both civil and levitical are specifically Israelitic, or general Semitic, or how far they were influenced by the Babylonian code which is so much older and which had certainly extended beyond the borders of Babylon. I think, for instance, of the law of retribution, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, of the feast of the new moon, the so-called “shew bread,” the high priest’s breast plate, and many other things. For the present we must be thankful that the institution of the Sabbath day, the origin of which was unclear even to the Hebrews themselves, is now recognised as having its roots in the Babylonian Sabattu, “the day par excellence.”
On the other hand, no one has maintained that the Ten Commandments were borrowed even in part from Babylon, but on the contrary it has been pointed out very emphatically that prohibitions like the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh spring from the instinct of self-preservation which is common to all men. In fact, the most of the Ten Commandments are just as sacred to the Babylonians as to the Hebrews: disrespect for parents, false witness, and every sort of covetousness are also punished severely in Babylonian law, generally with death. Thus, for instance, we read in the very third paragraph of Hammurabi’s code: ” If in a law suit any one on the witnessstand utters falsehoods and cannot support his testimony, he shall himself be punished with death if the life of another is involved.”
Friedrich Delitzsch ending of second lecture said: –
For my own part, I live firm in the belief that the early Hebrew scriptures, even if they lose their standing as “revealed” or as permeated by a “revealed” spirit, will nevertheless always maintain their great importance, especially as a unique monument of a great religio-historical process which continues even into our own times. The lofty passages in the prophets and the psalms, filled with a living confidence in God and with longing for repose in God, will always find a living echo in our hearts, despite the particularistic limitation of its literal text and its literal meaning, which are largely obliterated anyway in our translation of the Bible. Indeed, words like those of the prophet Micah (6:6-8) : “Wherewith shall I come before Yahveh, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will Yahveh be pleased with thousands of rams, or ten thousands of rivers of oil? Or shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth Yahveh require of thee, but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God! “—words like these, insisting on an ethical manifestation of religion in the life (and which are also found in Babylonian writings), come, as it were, from the very soul of all sincerely religious people today.
But on the other hand, let us not blindly cling to antiquated and scientifically discredited dogmas from the vain fear that our faith in God and our true religious life might suffer harm!
Let us remember that all things earthly are in living motion and that standing still means death. Let us look back upon the mighty, throbbing force with which the German Reformation filled the great nations of the earth in every field of human endeavor and human progress! But even the Reformation is only one stage on the road to the goal of truth set for us by God and in God. Let us press forward toward it, humbly but with all the resources of free scientific investigation, joyfully professing our adherence to that standard perceived with eagle eye from the high watch-tower and courageously proclaimed to all the world : ” The further development of religion.” pg.114
Friedrich Delitzsch took a lot of persecution for giving these lectures and even still to this day. As a German living in 1903 his research is disregarded by many as the misguided work of a anti-Semitic German of his time. Here we sit 107 years later and still Christians today know so little about the origin and nature of the book they claim to follow.
The book Bible and Babel can be found free on-line here at Google books –