The Semitic gods and the Bible
|Semitic gods and the Bible - by D. M. Bennett -|
Being over three hundred pages from "The gods and religions of ancient and modern times." Written while unjustly
D. M. Bennett illustrates the stories of gods in the middle east and Arabia before the bible and their relations with the stories that were written later in the Bible and Quran.
The home of the Semitic races is in the western part of Asia on the Arabian Gulf. They comprise the Syrian tribes, the Arabs, the Jews, the Assyrians, Babylonians, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, etc. Of the home from whence the old Semitic races originally migrated a considerable degree of uncertainty exists. Some think it was the country watered by the rivers Euphrates and Tigris, while others regard Arabia as their original home.
These nations have filled an important place in human history, though they have not spread themselves over the earth to the extent that has the Aryans. Religion has been a leading feature v/ith the Arabs and the Jews, while the Phoenicians led the world for a time in commerce, and the Babylonians established a great empire and built the most splendid city in the Old World. Time Phoenicians gave us the alphabet, and tlie Arabians gave us today. math empties.
Each branch has contributed its quota of tli^it which lias become the property of the world. The most noted cities of the Semitic races were Nineveh, Babylon, Tyre, and Jerusalem, but they have nearly all passed away, and the sites of some of them can hardly be found.
The names of the Semitic deities, or their variants, generally express moral qualities j thus, instead of a name that means storm, fire, or sky, we have the Strong, the Exalted, the Lord, the King, etc. It occurs in the Babylonian inscriptions, as the God, and in the very name of Babil, the gate or temple of II The same is seen in Bethel, the house of God, and in many other similar names.
All was worshipped at Byblus by the Phoenicians, and was called the " Son of heaven and earth." Eloah is the same word as the Arabic Allah, God; old without the article means a god in general; with the article Al-IlaJi, or Allah, it becomes the god of Mohammed.
It will not be undertaken here to give an account of all the old Semitic gods, as their number is great and the data within reach referring to them is hardly sufficient to justify it; but enough will be given to answer all reasonable desires.
Besides being the god of the ancient Chaldeans, was the supreme god of the Babylonians, the Assyrians, and the Phoenicians. He represented the sun and was extensively worshipped as the "God of Light," the "Lord of Heaven," the "Exalted," the "Most Excellent One," the "Upright," the "Ruler of the Heavens," the "Answerer of Prayer," and r.umerous other names of similar import. He was regarded as the author of the world and all forms of life, and particularly was regarded as tlie god of reproduction and generation.
This was placed beyond a doubt by the images and representations of him, whereon the male reproductive organs were unmistakably given; many of the names applied to him were decidedly in the same direction.
A large and magnificent temple was erected in his honour in the city of Babylon, which remained long after the city went to ruins. It was of such immense size that much lias been written to prove that the foundation of the Tower of Babel was taken for the temple of Baal, but the evidence in that direction is weak.
The fact that a large temple was erected in Babylon to Baal is not sufficient to prove that it was the edifice that Nimrod was said to* have commenced at Babel. Smaller temples to the brilliant god were built in other cities.
His worship was the prevailing one for many centuries and was adopted by neighbouring nations. Called also Ishtar, Astarte, and Asherah.
This goddess was the counterpart of the preceding god Baal and was the Yunus, cr goddess of love and beauty, of the Babjdonians and contiguous nations. She was called the ' Queen of Heaven," and was sometimes represented in works of art as a virgin mother and child, and was termed the " Celestial Virgin Mother;" and though it may seem somewhat paradoxical she was also regarded as the goddess of prolificness, fertility, and sexual love.
She was also the goddess of war, and a stern, relentless character was in consequence accorded to her. In Tyre she came to be connected with Melkart, the Tyrian god of the sun, becoming his spouse, and her character was considerably modified, parting with her severe and cruel traits as a goddess of war and chastity, and becoming a gentle patron of love and fruitfulness.
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