Cloud of Sin

We live in the digital world. Its all bits and bytes on computer screens. This is the new age. The battle of minds and hearts is fought over social media platforms, messaging applications and associated media. Move over books and newspapers. TV and movie screens also reflect this trend with increasing digitisation of tech.

So, it logically follows that the battle between G-d and Satan also moves into the new spheres of influence. There are pros and cons in this new age of technology. Everything becomes more transparent, snooping and stalking reaches right into the doors of households, activists have a huge outreach as do those who want to wreck and destroy. As digitisation of old books and records gains pace, one can see the story of mankind like a movie. It gives us a unique perspective.

One thing that stands out from a digitised history scan, is that mankind was ALWAYS inclined to evil. The murderous tales and genocides keep repeating with each age, cloaked with kingdom grandeur, religion or as in the current age — tech. A refusal to accept this fact leads to a very distorted perspective. The Bible is unique in that it points out this fact again and again. It does not even hide the fact that those who professed to follow the ways of G-d turned out to worse than those who did not have the commandments.

Back to this age, the cycle repeats itself. Not surprising is it ? But, the interesting part is the sound bytes used by charlatans wearing different types of face masks. The intention is power grab at any cost. These are present in every culture and pose the same thing over and over again, with surprising success — ‘Our superior civilisation is at risk, consider this as a call-to-arms’. Emphasis on ‘superior‘. This often follows up with attacking other nations and cultures, who are weaker in strength and numbers, while sucking up to the stronger ones in the hopes of wrecking them from inside.

I have tried to compile a Key word cloud that seems to influence ( incite ? ) people of this age, to become what they actually are i.e. top rung predators. Cloud — [ ‘Kaffirs’, ‘pagans’, ‘civilisation’, ‘global dominance’,’jihad’,’crusade’,’logical conclusion’,’race’,’peace’,’science and tech’,’first world’,’savages’,’enlightenment’,’freedom’,’gender’] Will keep expanding on this. Some of these terms are innocuous by themselves but are used as dog whistles to whip up the crowds into a tribal front. Oh yes ! Deep down we are pretty tribe oriented.

I belong to a non-English speaking culture, we have our own share of charlatans, but since this directed to an English speaking audience I am not putting their keywords here.

What is the duty of a believer in this scenario ? In my belief it is to stick close to those who are intent on shooting themselves in their foot. First off to pray that they come to their senses, second to try and make sure that they do not take half of the planet with them, as they go down. Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Unfortunately, in this interconnected global world, one set of idiots does affect the whole. When a pack of idiots vie for ‘global dominance’, the ripples from their head slams will be felt globally.

For us the fight is spiritual, and spirit prayer warriors know what I am talking about. Time to bend those knees and sweat like the Master. These are desperate times. For the lukewarm, kindly brush off your Bibles and check whether there are five Gospels ? Have actually seen a priest check this in a packed Church and come up with no rebuttals. FYI apologists from other faiths know more than most of the faithfuls, albeit in a twisted deformed manner.

P.S. English is not my mother tongue. So, please bear with grammatical and other errors.

The Counterfeit Church

A sickly child had caught fever again. The worried parents debated on going to the doctor for the umpteenth time, and tried to form a strategy to help the child. As the couple racked their brains, the father had a brainwave. He would give the child a harmless pill masked as a miracle cure, with some fruit juice. This should pick up the child’s spirits and possibly help beat the fever and pain ? Against all odds, the plan worked. The thermometer showed a normal temperature.

Medical jargon describes the pill as — a placebo. Its not the real deal but is made to appear like it. Does it work all the time ? NO. But, a few medical experiments with the placebo have been successful. The trick is to make the patient believe that its the real deal, and then somehow the mind connects to the body’s immune system in such a way as to defeat the invader bugs.

In the battle between good and evil, the devil often resorts to this counterfeit placebo stunt. It’s about setting up an elaborate network of Churches and a whole ecosystem that thrives upon slyly doing the exact opposite of what Churches were supposed to do — i.e. guiding people towards a spirit filled lifestyle. The stunt is convincing enough to appear spiritual but the fruits are way way rotten. The talk is well just that … plain talk. And the walk ? The walk would even put the devil to shame.

The counterfeit Church is meant to fool the believer, not the outsiders, who can plainly see what is going on. This way the placebo serves a dual purpose, the believer ends up in a rut, while the outsiders whom G-d also wants in, see the rut plainly and are driven away. Years back, I had read the testimony of a Nigerian believer, who had seen a vision about this counterfeit Church. It had struck me as being the perfect plan to wreck lives.

In my walk with Him, I have come across several such counterfeit establishments and have seen the destruction caused by these. In all the cases important members of these placebo Churches and institutions, have been practising ‘dark’ arts. They are in regular contact with the ‘other’ side while appearing to look spiritual and Biblical in their walk. I am not going to admire them for this evil but have seen them singularly focused and resolute in their foolish resolve to destroy souls. I say foolish because in the end they will go where their master is headed to — eternal damnation.

1 Peter 5:8: Νήψατε  ; γρηγορήσατε  . ὁ ἀντίδικος ὑμῶν  , διάβολος  , ὡς λέων ὠρυόμενος περιπατεῖ  , ζητῶν τινα καταπιεῖν  ,

1 Peter 5:8: Be sober minded and watch. For your adversary, the devil, roars and prowls about like a lion, seeking whom to devour.

The devil is powerful and roars about like a lion, but is also sly and cunning. I must add VERY sly and cunning. The not-so-spiritual believer of this age is not going to stand to the power, fury and cunning of the dragon. Bit-by-bit the counterfeit Church is going to bring the forces of evil into it’s fold, adding to it’s ranks. As the Bible predicts, in the end-times, people are going to appoint preachers who will feed them exactly what they want to hear. This is the ultimate joint trip, as junkies would put it. ‘No more condemnation’, ‘let’s not be judgemental please’, ‘Everything is OK as long you keep it to your bedroom’, ‘amen and awoman*’ etcetra …

The counterfeit Church thrives on key phrases that seem to drive out the offensive nature of the Gospel. Offensive because the works of men are evil and the Gospel plainly says that to their face. I wouldn’t be surprised that one day Christ Himself would be a non-factor in the placebo Church. Sexual assaults, paedophilia and corruption abound but are hushed up and driven under, only to keep rearing their ugly head time and again. Pornography is rife. Marriage fidelity is considered a trivial thing. Racial hate and profiling is everywhere. False prophets keep belting out their numbers like rock bands high on hash. Soon, the land is taken over by ‘aliens’ who bring with them darkness and oppression.

It is my belief that the next phase of the counterfeit Church taking over would be the unleashing of the Dragon’s** raw power throughout the globe. That will start the age of real persecution with people systematically hunted down for their faith, globally. An evil doctrine emanating from a powerful global force will be imposed on the faithful. Worship it or be hunted down. Technology will be advanced enough to tag people who are loyal or otherwise. In fact it already is at the cusp of that age now. The takeover is going on at a dizzying pace, as are technologies meant to identify and monitor individuals on a global scale.

The solution is to stop the rot now, impose roadblocks to check the Dragon’s march and take a stand. Or it may be too late for all of us. It is a battle of minds and souls which will ultimately spill over into the streets, either as a victory parade of the saints or that of the evil.

.תהלם צד׃טז׃ מי-יקם לי ,עם-מרעים; מי- יתיצב לי, עם-פעלי און

Psalm 94:16: Who will rise up with me, against evil-doers ? Who will take a stand with me, against workers of evil ?

References

* https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/emanuel-cleaver-awoman-amen-prayer/

**διαβολος — diabolos is the word for the devil in the New Testament, meaning slanderer or backbiter; but I am using the Dragon to denote the vehicle of the devil, pointing to current world events. May the wise get it.

Tackling a Giant

🎉🎉🎉✨✨✨🎉🎉🎉

!!!חג אורים שמח

दाविद बनाम गोलियथ , דוד-גלית

Inspiring events from our ancient past do have an impact on our psyche and our spirituality. They seem to uplift us from our own shortcomings and failures. They can go as far as encouraging some intrepid souls to act on performing noble tasks. To my mind, the pre-Exodus apocalypses in Egypt, the splitting of the Red sea and then Samson and Delilah; these are stunners. Always fired me up.

Later we do have another titanic event, David (דוד ) vs. Goliath ( גלית ) . Going over the scripture passage in Hebrew, it kind of opened up a new way of looking at the titanic clash between an underdog and a giant. So what happened then ? To bring up the background — Israel as usual was floundering in it’s relationship with Adonai ( אדני ) . With Moses and Joshua gone, it was a free-for-all down the centuries, let’s say through the book of Judges, till we hear of a woman named Hannah (חנה ) .

Hannah was barren and was vexed by the constant taunting of her ‘opponent’ , the second wife of her husband Elkanah (אלקנה ) . She prayed to Adonai and Eli (עלי ), the High Priest at Shiloh, blessed her. She conceived and gave birth to Samuel (שמואל ) , her firstborn. And then in an act of pure selflessness she dedicated her firstborn, born after years of suffering in barrenness, to Adonai. Who does that ???!!!

This act triggered an upswing for Israel, already suffering for their rebellious streak against Adonai. The land had been subjugated and over run by Philistines and though Adonai wanted Israel to rule and be a shining light, they chose to be slaves and live in misery. To cut a long story short Samuel became the chosen prophet who led Israel. The people rebelled again and demanded a king, Saul (שאול ) was appointed as the first King of Israel and did not find favour with Hashem. El-Israel rejected him and replaced him with David (דוד ).

However, Saul was not going to give up his creamy position with ease. He continued to be King while David served him as a sort of personal arms bearer and music player. There was constant war between Philistine and Israel during Saul’s tenure and in one of these wars, the Philistines unleash their ace weapon.

The weapon was a giant warrior called Goliath. Goliath was of the lineage of giants called Rephaimᴿᵖʰ. His stature was enormous and he was a man of war. The Tanakh/OT puts his stature at 6 cubits and a spanᴳᵒˡ, שש אמות וזרת . That should translate to almost 9 feet, maybe more !!! If that was not enough he was wearing a coat of mail that weighed about 60 kilograms and was fully decked and armed for war, carrying a heavy spear and a short sword. His shield was so big that a man was appointed to carry it.

The Philistines were in battle array on one hill, while Israel was arrayed on another hill, a vale separated the two armies. Goliath was dispatched to challenge the Hebrew camp in a one-on-one battle with him. He was on it for 40 days but Israel had no answer for him. This was when a ruddy young lad called David appears on the scene. I am not going to discuss the details about the battle, the reader can refer to 1 Samuel chapter 17. My interest is on the probables that may have decided the fate of the battle, although Adonai was the driving force behind the eventual rout of the Philistines.

The battle has been debated to eternity with some very interesting points put forward. Goliath was huge and his taunts were designed to instil fear in the Israeli camp. This was pure psychological warfare and it was working.

א שמואל יז׃כד ׃ וכל איש ישראל, בראותם את- איש; וינסו, מפניו, וייראו מוד

1 Samuel 17:24: All the men of Israel, when they saw this man, fled from him and were sore afraid.

What struck me was the fact that the Israelis did not take out Goliath using arrows or slingshot volleys. They took his taunts for 40 days. Either the psych warfare had struck Israel to the bone OR the battle arrays were unevenly matched with the scales in favour of the Philistines. Any move to take out Goliath would invite major retribution. The Philistines were wisely letting this play out hoping to minimise casualties. Their plan was to see Goliath win in a one-on-one battle and then force major concessions on Israel without firing a shot.

David appeared in the Hebrew garrison as a delivery lad, supplying replenishment to his brothers engaged in war. He heard about the challenge of Goliath and volunteers. He was then taken to King Saul. This was strange because the Hebrew men of war chose not to volunteer but they accepted David’s quest ! Was this because a lot of people in Israel were already in the know about David’s anointing as a future king ? Saul rejected him initially citing his lack of experience in war fighting, but David persisted citing his previous engagements with lions and bears, as a shepherd. He claimed to be an excellent slingshot. This seemed to have moved Saul to accept David as Goliath’s opponent.

The slingshot ( קלע )ˢˡ, was no ordinary weapon in ~1000 B.C. and, among Saul’s Benjamin tribesmen were elite slingshot marksmen who could sling stones at a hair’s breadth and not miss. Excavations of other more recent ancient historical sites, have unearthed evidence that suggests that lead bullets used in slingshots had almost the same power as a .44 Magnum ! The slingshots could be accurate to ~100 meters. David, as a shepherd lad was adept at this weapon. It did not require a lot of physical strength as much as a lot of training and it was a potent weapon. I’ll give credit to Saul for this, he knew talent when he saw it.

Goliath on the other hand, was weighed down by a tonne of warrior stuff; his brass coat of mail, a gigantic spear, a brass short sword and greaves of brass on his legs. His outlook appeared to have been more for psychological warfare rather than actual war fighting which requires good mobility. At nearly 9+ feet tall and with this heavy fight gear he must have weighed like 200 kilograms, maybe more. In a fast moving fluid battlefield, he would be toast for accurate archers or sling shots. On the other hand, a one-on-one engagement with the sword or even a spear would have tilted the engagement in Goliath’s favour. His reach was simply enormous.

Going back to the events in the Hebrew garrison, Saul tried foisting his heavy, oversized, fight gear on David. An act which exposed his lack of clarity in war fighting. Saul was one of the tallest people in Israel. But, David wisely rejected it and went to battle with nothing but his staff and slingshot. If he would have been wearing the oversized heavy armour, the story would likely have ended with Goliath being victorious. Adonai wins battles by enlightening men’s hearts to act appropriately in actual situations. David had a tried and tested weapon and he could use it with lightening reflexes honed by years of sheep herding. He would stay light and agile. That was all that was required !!

When David did go down to the battle, Goliath held him in contempt. A ruddy lad with a staff !! Goliath seems to have noticed David’s staff but gave a complete miss to his slingshot. A fatal oversight.

;א שמואל יז׃מג ׃ ויאמר הפלשתי אל- דוד, הכלב אנכי, כי- אתה בא- אלי במקלות ויקלל הפלשתי ,את -דוד ,באלהיו

1 Samuel 17:43: The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come upon me with sticks ?” And the Philistine cursed David by his god.

The scripture mentions an exchange of words. This was another oversight by Goliath. He did not know that he was facing an ace marksman with a .44, the talking allowed David to mark out Goliath, calculating probable trajectories. Goliath’s overconfidence aided David to have a definite bead on the weakest spot i.e. the exposed forehead. He had five smooth stones aka five bullets. Goliath’s armour was not without chinks. The bigger you are the more of a target you will be to your opponent and Goliath was huge. Both the opponents moved in for the battle, the .44 Magnum was loaded up swiftly, it’s aim honed by years of experience. Bam !! Goliath came down as a derailed express train. Even if David had missed the first shot, he could in all probability swiftly reload and fire at pre-selected spots on the huge target. Goliath definitely could not move faster than lions or even bears. He was a sitting duck.

In retrospect the outcome was always in favour of David. El-Israel was training him through the tough years as a shepherd in the harsh environment of Judah. When the time was ripe the weapon was unleashed on the Philistines. The more potent weapon was not the heavily armoured giant but the ruddy lad with a honed .44 Magnum or the slingshot. Its the typical way in which El-Elyon always rubs in human pride, by rearing an innocuous unknown, as a very potent weapon and then unleashing it on human pride and arrogance. Just look at Moses, Gideon, Samson and of course the tiny Semitic nation of Israel itself, all chosen to glorify His Mighty Name.

Lesson: There is no chance of winning against El-Israel, He will beat the world hands down. Kapish ?

References:

ᴿᵖʰhttps://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/rephaim

ᴳᵒˡ1 Samuel 17:4, there is an intense debate on the ‘actuals’ of Goliath with many arguing that he was more like 7 feet and the estimates go all the way up to 9+ feet. In my view giants would be far over 7 feet, else they would just be very tall men.

ˢˡhttps://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/05/ancient-slingshot-lethal-44-magnum-scotland/

Featured Image by : Osmar Schindler (1869-1927), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

My Friend

Most of us struggle with friendships as it involves a measure of trust. Trusts can be broken and that fear drives some amongst us to be introverts. Thankfully, a lot of online and offline counselling resources exist for people suffering with the trauma of handling broken relationships. But, the scars never go away.

A lot of us turn to our faith when we see all the brokenness in the world around us. People are finicky and selfish, that’s our DNA. Maybe, it was the fruit at Eden ? So, what does our faith lead us to ? Or to be more precise do we see a ‘friend’ type of relationship with our Elohiymᴱˡ ?

In the Tanakh/Old Testament, Adonaiᴬᵈ is the ראשון, the First and, אחרון, the Lastᴵˢ. El-Elyonᴳᵉ is a Living Entity wreaking havoc on those who defy His miztvotᵐᶦ , warning them before letting loose the hammer. His Name is considered so Holy that it is not usually written or mentioned, unless in the act of quoting scripture. I am referring to the Tertragrammatonᵀᵉᵗ.

One of the mitzvot was that besides ordained priests aka Levites, no one could enter the Inner Temple. The קדש הקדשים or the Holiest of the Holy Place ( literal translation, otherwise Holy of Holiesᴷᵃᵈ ), was only accessible to the High Priest. The Ark of the Covenant was kept in the Holy of Holies, and a veil hid this inner sanctorum. There was a decorum to follow before entering the Holy of Holies, otherwise the priest would be struck down by El.

King Uzziahᵁᶻ was one of those who defied the mitzvah, he barged into the Inner Temple and offered incense. He was immediately struck down by צרעת, Tzaraath, a type of skin condition, ( rendering one ritually unclean and destined to be locked away far from habitation till they are healed ). His was not the only case of fiery Divine Punishment falling down on those defying mitzvot. I am mentioning Uzziah because otherwise he was a splendid king and did much for the betterment of the kingdom of Judah. His tale always brings a pang of remorse in my heart.

El-Israel is thus to be feared and respected. Does that mean that no one could claim Him to be a friend ? The Tanakh mentions just one individual, who was called as a friend by El-Shaddaiˢʰ : Abraham, ( although His face-to-face interaction with Moses also implies that Moses was like a friend ). But, that’s about it, for the rest, it was a different story.

The featured image displays the Hebrew word אהבי, from Isaiah 41:8, used for friend, when the El calls Abraham as His friend and then the Greek word φιλους, used in John 15:15, when Christ calls His followers as His friends.

With the advent of the Messiah, we see a titanic paradigm shift in the human-El relationship. Yeshua called all His followers as His friends !!! ᶠʳ We are not just עבד or servants, ( used frequently for Israel in the Tanakhᵉᵛ ). The Hebrew term ‘eved’ also implies slavery and serfdom. This is not all, we are effectively princes and princesses in His Kingdom ! A royal priesthoodᴾᵉᵗ ! I mean all of us, the street rabble, not just the kings and queens and the important people.

There is a message in this. El-Israel yearns to be with His Creation, so much so that He would walk amongst us, bear our sins, be crucified and rise up again to rule all dominions. In doing so, the veil of the Temple was tornᵛᵉ. The chasm between El and mankind was bridged over. Is this all that this wonderful and fantastic event conveys to us ? I think not, in fact I have just started off here.

Kicking off, in my view, this answers why the Messiah never explicitly emphasised on His Divinity vis-a-vis mankind. ( I am the El you worship –kind of stuff ). He did give sufficient hints both by His Wordsᴶ and His Healing Powers that He is the El-Israel but that was it. The point was that Christ was here not to reinforce the chasm between Him and sinful mankind, but to bridge it. That is why we also do not see His destructive power in play during His stay hereᴹ, which would have more than reinforced His Divinity but would also have proven counterproductive. A point that is missed by opponents.

The other takeaway is that this would be mankind’s last fling at Eternity before the Day of Judgementᴰᵃʸ. A sort of final bridge walk, before Creation is destroyed. There will be no more chances at getting it right. The Retribution ( His Destructive Power ) for mankind’s evil has been kept at abeyance, till the Day of Judgement. It’s like mighty waters that have been kept in check by a dam. The dam will be broken on that Day.

So, in conclusion we end up having an Eternal friend, who will never ditch us, come high or low. The shekinah, שכינהˢʰᵏ now rests in us. The laws are written in our heartsˡᵃʷ, and we are enslaved, or beholden by His Love for us. It works better this way. If men love somebody cause they have been won over, they will obey that person. Now, I do spiritual stuff not because I have to but because I want to. It makes life so much simpler and better.

References:

ᴱˡGenesis 1:26: First occurrence of the word אלהים , which I have literally translated to Elohiym, trying to keep it phonetically equivalent to Hebrew. It means the Deity that we worship.

ᴬᵈGenesis 15:2: First occurrence of the word Adonai, אדני, ‘Lord’.

ᴵˢIsaiah 48:12

ᴳᵉGenesis 14:18: First occurrence of the word לאל עליון, L’El Elyon or God the Most High.

ᵐᶦmitzvot

ᵀᵉᵗTetragrammaton

ᴷᵃᵈHoly of Holies

ᵁᶻUzziah

ˢʰGenesis 17:1: First occurrence of the words El Shaddai, אל שדי‘God Almighty’.

ᶠʳJohn 15:15 φίλους, friends.

ᵉᵛIsaiah 41:8: Another instance of the word , eved, עבדי or ‘Servant’ , used for Israel.

ᴾᵉᵗ1 Peter 2:9: ..βασιλειον ἱερατευμα εθνος ἁγιον..; a royal priesthood, a holy nation.

ᵛᵉMatthew 27:51: ..του καταπετασμα του ναου ἑσχισθη.., the veil of the temple was torn.

John 5:17: ..Πατερ μου ἑος ἁρτι ἑργαζεται καγο ἑργαζομαι, my Father works till now and I am working. Referring to the Sabbath, He is G-d of the Sabbath. At this point He had crossed the line and in the eyes of Jews was claiming to be G-d Himself, hardening the resolve of the religious zealots to kill Him.

Matthew 26:53: ἡ δοκεις ὁτι ου δυναμαι παρακαλεσαι τον Πατερα μου και παραστησει μοι ἁρτι πλειω δωδεκα λεγιωνας ἁγγελων. Don’t you know that I am able to call my Father and He will send 12 legions of angels, presently ? *This has reflections in the OT when King Hezekiah’s prayer was answered by sending ‘one angel’ that slew 185, 000 soldiers of the Assyrian king Sennacherib, who then fled back to his kingdom. 2 Kings 19:35*

ᴰᵃʸIsaiah 13:9 Judgement Day.

ˢʰᵏ2 Corinthians 6:16: ..ἡμεις γαρ ναος Θεου ἑσμεν.., we are the temple of God.

ˡᵃʷHebrews 10:16: ..διδους νομους μου ἑπι καρδιας αυτων.., putting my laws into their hearts.

The snare of Ba’al

Its good to go back to our roots. A sort of homecoming. Going back about 4000 years ago, I guess that is where our journey actually starts with Abram, who would leave Urᵁʳ of the Chaldees, around 2000 B.C.ᶜ to be called later as Abraham, the father of nations.

The script in the featured image of this post means “may it be well with you” in Ugaritic cuneiform.

Abraham shunned the polytheism of Mesopotamiaᴹᵉˢ and embraced worshipping the one true G-d. In my mind that was a drastic step, and it involved shedding a lot of cultural baggage to embrace a dramatically different faith.

The majority scholarly opinion is that Abram lived around the Middle Bronze-Ageᴮʳᶻ. Ur was a major city in the ancient world and Akkadianᴬᵏ was the lingua franca of Ur and its surrounding regions, another language of the time was Sumerianˢᵘ but it did not manage to hold for long. During Abram’s time in all probability Ur was under the control of an Akkadian or a Sumerian dynasty with the king assuming the role of a god king, building several temples dedicated to a pantheon of gods.

My interest zeroes in on another ancient city called Ugaritᵁᵍ, now Ras-Shamra in the northern part of modern Syria. Excavations from this site have led to the discovery of ancient clay tablets which carry the tales of a culture bearing striking resemblance to the religion of Canaanite deities mentioned in the Old Testament. The city rose to prominence around 1400 B.C. and was a major trading centre, connecting the Mediterranean sea route to ancient Mesopotamian land routes.

The Ugaritic scriptˢᶜʳ found on the ancient tablets unravels an ancient pantheon of gods that would ensnare Israel time and again. The chief deity was El, the father/ruler god figure, and his wife, the goddess Ashera, their sons and daughters, chief among them being his son Baalᴮˡ, and Baal’s brother Mot. The ancient religious texts centre around three epics: The Legend of Keret, Tale of Aqhat and The Baal cycle, recorded by the high priest Illimilku; reconstructed from various clay fragments and tablets, even though a few portions were missing.

The Baal Cycle displayed in Louvre. For attribution and License of image, check Referencesᴬᵗᵗ.

Baal, was the storm god of fertility and according to some scholars, he was the central figure in the pantheon, even though El was the supreme deity. Dagonᴰᵍ appears in some texts and was also a deity that was worshipped across several Mesopotamian and later Canaanite cultures.

The point is that this pantheon was well established in the late Bronze-Age as Ugarit was a city port, where several cultures intermingled with each other. The ancient texts recovered from Ras Shamra are in several languages like Ugaritic, Akkadian, Hurrian and Hittite.

This brings us back to our forefathers, and the first mention of Baal as a source of the Creator’s anger against Israel, pops up in the book of Numbers.

במדבר כה.ג ׃ ויצמד ישראל, לבעל פעור: ויחר-אף יהוה, בישראל


Numbers 25:3: Then Israel worshipped Baal-Peor: and this incited God’s anger against Israel.

After this it was pretty much downhill, with the later kings and queens and the people of Israel embarking on a tour of monumental stupidity ( worshipping idols ) culminating in the enslavement and exile of the entire population by 600 B.C.. Evidently the snare of Baal was too hard to resist even at the risk of seeing the kingdom of Israel destroyed.

Looking at the pantheon itself, it’s not quite different from the fertility god cycles of other Semitic cultures. One wonders as to why Baal in various forms was so attractive to Israel ? Maybe the Ugarit and Israelite cultures were connected in some way ? Some scholars point out that the pantheon of Ugarit has reflections in the Tanakh, and was probably the source of some of the legends in the Tanakh. I would argue to the contrary, that it was the Hebrew culture that affected Ugarit, as it preceded the Ugarit civilisation. None of the assumptions carry any backing evidence.

Is there any difference in the El of Israel and the El of Ugarit? I mean if they are similar that could explain Israel falling for Baal worship, time and again. However, to my mind, there is a strong contrast between El-Ugarit and El-Israel. ( I am going to switch to the present tense here because El is a living deity in this present age. ) The El of Israel demands complete obedience with a great stress on holiness. The El of Israel has no consorts and is not a being of flesh and blood that involves in human family like relationships. He is distinct from His Creation, a separate entity.

Holiness was not much of an issue in the Baal pantheon and in the associated polytheistic Semitic cultures; ritual human sacrifice, sexual rites were all too common. The gods had their consorts. Most of the kings and priests identified themselves as being part of the godly bloodline, being born of part human and part godly ancestry, so the gods were part human, but only when it came to kings and queens. They certainly displayed human traits and were constantly warring and fighting with each other. The gods of the Baal type pantheon were ‘flexible’ in that they could be appeased with sacrifices to flow with human wants. In short, the control was with the priests and important dignitaries like kings and courtiers.

The El of Israel in contrast has complete control, none of it rests with the follower. Since He has no competition, and no equals, there is no question of Him warring to save His throne. His views on right and wrong are absolute, and He insists on mankind to follow the path of righteousness and justice.

עמוס ה.כד: ויגל כמים, משפט; וצדקה, כנחל אותנ


Amos 5:24: Let justice flow up as waters; righteousness as a mighty stream.

The masses were not too happy. They saw all kinds of shady dealings and wantonness in the kingdoms around them, and yearned for some ‘action’. They wanted a Baal like god riding on a swashbuckling chariot crushing perceived foes, winking at the evils committed by his followers while destroying the evil ‘others’. The El of Israel is none of this and saw through the hypocrisy of Israel.

ישעיהו כט.יג :ויאמר אדני, יון כי נגש העם הזה, בפי ובשפתיו כבדוני, ולבו רחק ממני — ותהי יראתם אתי, מצות אנשם מלמדה


Isaiah 29:13: Therefore the Lord said, These people draw near me with their mouths and lips, but their hearts are far from me — their fear of me is like a man-made commandment learned by rote.

Unlike the gods of the pantheon, Hashemᴴ is a living and active agency, warning His people before visiting vengeance on them, (for their evil acts). He is not going to wink evil away.

This distinction between the El of Israel and the pantheon becomes more apparent with the Messiach† ,משיח, plan of mankind’s redemption. The gods of the pantheon were elevated and lived in higher spheres, supernatural beings who would never stoop low to walk among the rabble at large i.e. us. El, is different in that He foretold of the arrival of the Messiah and carried out His Redemptive plan. The Messiah would be a Man of sorrows, One who would walk amongst the ordinary. Emmanuel — G-d with us.

The Book of Isaiah, sometimes referred to as the fifth gospel, in Chapter 53, mentions the very ‘un-Baal’ like plan of Redemption. The sins of the world would be ascribed on to the Messiah and He would be scourged and chastised to death. Then, He would rise again in victory, to rule the dominions.

ישעיהו נג.ח׃ מעצר וממשפת לקח, ואת דורו מי ישוחח: כי נגזר מארץ חיים, מפשע עמי נגע למו

Isaiah 53:8: With oppression and judgement He was taken away, who amongst his generation has protested ? He was cut off from the land of the living, because of the transgression of my people, for whom the stroke was due.

Predictably, when the Messiah did arrive, the reception was very hostile. But, this was El-Israel’s plan all along, isn’t it ? These verses in Isaiah are also a slap on the face of those who keep blaming Jews for ‘killing’ Christ. With the advent of Yeshua Christos, the difference between the El of Israel and the Baal pantheon becomes more evident. In one of the Gospel passages He mentions that there are no sexual relations in the heavenly realms.

Μαθαιον 22:30: εν γαρ τε αναστασει ουτε γαμουσιν ουτε γαμιζονται αλλ ως αγγελοι Θεου εν το ουρανω εισιν.

Matthew 22:30: At the resurrection, neither do they marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels of God in Heaven.

The tales of marriage/sexual relationships in spiritual realms was an internalisation of the Baal culture, during His time.

Has the snare of Baal diminished today? I am afraid not. It has simply been carried over into our age, in various forms. Violent pogroms against Jews or the significant ‘other’ are a testimony to the internalisation. Point is if El-Israel decides to slay sinners, it’s going to be pretty much all of mankind. It’s not going to be we the pure-bred holy beings vs. the evil others. I think then that El’s plan of redemption via the Messiach Yeshua Christos was much better.

Ρομαιους 3.23– παντες γαρ ἡμαρτον και ὑστερουνται της δοξης του Θεου,

Romans 3:23– For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God,

This brings me to another issue, that of ‘names’ that Middle-Eastern and surrounding cultures use in calling El. There is a misguided assumption doing the rounds that ‘Allah’ is a pagan deity and that Arab Christians should stop calling the name of Allah. The Syriac Church has been around much before any other Church globally and uses the Biblical Aramaic ܐܠܗܐ or Alaha, to call El-Israel, Elahi, Illahi, Allahᴬˡ and Elohi are all related to El. Semitic languages are related and often use cognates of the same name to call on their deities.

In conclusion, we are not so different from the Ugaritic city folks living their lives around 2000 B.C., and that should keep us on our toes or else we stand to lose everything in the light of the Scripture. We may look and feel more modern but the primal urge to gain imaginary control of our situation is always lurking around the corner, the snare of Baal.

References:

B.C. is Before Christ

ᵁʳUr of the Chaldees

ᴹᵉˢMesopotamia

ᴮʳᶻBronze-Age

ᴬᵏAkkadian language

ˢᵘSumerian language

ᵁᵍUgarit

ˢᶜʳUgaritic Alphabet

ᴮˡBaal in the Baal Cycle texts

ᴬᵗᵗSource photographer, License, No changes were made to the original work.

ᴰᵍDagon

Hashem

Messiach: The Tanakh/Old Testament abounds with references to the arrival of El’s Redemptive work for mankind.

ᴬˡAllah