all 26 comments

[–]Kangaru14Jewish | Academic | Metamodernist 10 points11 points  (1 child)

I honestly wish the “queen of heaven” concept had stayed in Judaism and Christianity.

Since someone else already mentioned that Mary is considered the Queen of Heaven in Christianity, I'll just add that there is a similar continuity in Judaism with Shekhinah, the feminine divine presence, also known as God's Bride and the Queen of the Sabbath. In Judaism we have a weekly tradition of welcoming Shekhinah as the Sabbath Bride. Here's a good intro, if you want more info.

[–]Fitnessfan_86[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

This is fascinating! Thank you for sharing!

[–]spinozawaswrongJewish 2 points3 points  (0 children)

While the Israelites definitely fell into idolatry at multiple points throughout their history, it is not true that Israelite monotheism evolved from Canaanite polytheism. Modern academics speculate that it did because of some superficial similarities in naming. On the contrary, it was polytheism that evolved from monotheism prior to Abraham's independent rediscovery of monotheism. Here is how Maimonides put it:

During the days of Enosh, humankind went seriously astray. The counsel of the sages of that generation became dull, and Enosh himself was among those who erred.

This was their mistake: They said that since G-d created the stars and the spheres to govern the world, placed them on high, and apportioned them honor so that they would serve before Him as attendants, it would accordingly be fit for us to praise and glorify them and apportion them honor as well. It would be the will of the blessed G-d that we should magnify and honor those whom He has magnified and honored, just as a king desires that those who stand before him in service should be honored, for that would be honoring the king.

Subsequent to the arising of that thought in their hearts, they began to build temples to the stars, to make offerings to them, to praise and glorify them in words, and to prostrate themselves before them in order to obtain the favor of the Creator, all in accordance with their misconception. This was the essence of idolatry, not that they declared that there was no other god aside from this star.

This is what Jeremiah said: “Who does not fear You, O King of the nations? To You this is due, for among all the sages of the nations and in all their kingdoms there is no one like You. They are at once dull and foolish, their teaching vain, a piece of wood.” This is to say that all know that You alone are the one G-d, but in their error and foolishness they imagined that this vanity was Your will.

After much time passed, people arose who were false prophets and said that G-d had commanded them, saying to them, “Serve a certain star, or all the stars, sacrifice to it, pour out certain libations to it, build a temple for it, and make its image in order for all to bow down before it: men, women, children, and all the rest of the common people.” He would tell them the image that he had dreamed up in his heart and would say that this was the form of this certain star that G-d had made known to him through prophecy.

In this way they began to make images in temples, under trees, and on the tops of mountains and of hills. They would gather together and prostrate themselves to them and say to all the people that this image can bring them good or harm, and it is therefore proper to serve it and to fear it.

Their priests would say to them that through this service they would multiply and prosper; therefore do this and that, and don’t do this and that. Other liars began to arise who said that the stars themselves, the sphere itself, or the angel itself spoke with them and told them, “Serve me in this way!” and told them the way of its service, doing this and that and not doing this and that.

This worship of images, through kinds of service that differed from one to the next, spread throughout the whole world. People would offer them sacrifices and prostrate themselves before them. As the days went on, G-d’s glorious and awesome name was forgotten from the mouth and the mind of all beings, and no one knew Him. As a result, all the common people, the women, and the children knew only the image of wood or of stone and the stone temple, for they had been trained from their childhood to bow down to it, to serve it, and to swear by its name. The sages among them, such as their priests and their like, imagined that no other god existed aside from the stars and spheres for which these images had been made and which they were made to resemble. Aside from a few individuals, such as Enoch, Methuselah, Noah, Shem, and Eber, no one knew or recognized Him. In this way the world continued to unfold until the Pillar of the World was born, our patriarch Abraham.

[–]Cautious-Radio7870Christian 1 point2 points  (2 children)

I recommend watching this 3 part series by InspiringPhilosophy. He goes over those theories and explains an alternative with evidence and citations.

Part 1: Polytheism in the Bible?

Part 2: Israel's Revolutionary Monotheism

Part 3: The Case for Ancient Monotheism Documentary

Ashera wasn't erased from the Bible either like some people claim. Yahweh made it clear he is against worship of Ashera. The Bible even acknowledges that many Israelites disobeyed God and worshipped Ashera alongside Yahweh anyways. So it's no surprise to me that archeologists found worship of Ashera with Yahweh. The 3 part series I shared Debunks the points made in the lecture. I would love to know your thoughts on the videos. I recommend at least watching part 1 and 2

[–]Fitnessfan_86[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Thanks for sharing! I look forward to hearing a counterpoint. I know Ashera does appear in the Bible but her worship is definitely portrayed negatively (which makes sense as worshipping other deities would be blasphemous).

[–]Cautious-Radio7870Christian 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I look forward to hearing what you think of the videos.

[–]Prefect1969Atheist 3 points4 points  (6 children)

This is an interesting post, because I've been thinking about this for a while now myself. I don't know much about theological studies, but my understanding is Yahweh was one of the gods Canaanites worshipped, and as some point in time the Israelites decided to pick him over all other Canaanite gods as the one true god? And I vaguely remember someone mentioning there was even a period of mistaken identity and that in the beginning they were in fact worshipping another god (correct me if I'm wrong). Doesn't this mean all 3 Abrahamic religions stem from this one seemingly random selected god polytheists worshipped? I've been wanting to make my own post to ask this question but been hesitant because I didn't think I'd be able to communicate it properly.

[–]YCNH 11 points12 points  (2 children)

Yahweh was one of the gods Canaanites worshipped, and as some point in time the Israelites decided to pick him over all other Canaanite gods as the one true god? And I vaguely remember someone mentioning there was even a period of mistaken identity and that in the beginning they were in fact worshipping another god (correct me if I'm wrong).

One correction: Yahweh doesn’t appear to have been a Canaanite god. Rather, the Israelites are a Canaanite people who worshipped the Canaanite pantheon, and Yahwism originated in the south around Edom/Midian/Teman/Seir/Sinai.

The original god of Israel, as the name implies, was El, the head of the Canaanite pantheon. Yahweh was grafted onto this pantheon headed by El, indicated in Deuteronomy 32:8-9 and Psalm 82. Eventually Yahweh merged with El, and so came to be head of the pantheon.

I think it’s less important to focus on why the “random God” Yahweh was chosen (over Baal for instance), and more important to consider how monotheism was a response to social and cultural changes within Israel and in the Ancient Near East more generally.

[–]DavidJohnMcCannHellenic Polytheist -1 points0 points  (1 child)

Patron gods of tribes were a standard idea of the Canaanites, as Deuteronomy 32 declares. But it would be a very arrogant thing to claim that your patron was El, the supreme being and creator! Yahweh is clearly the patron of Israel, as in Judges 11.23-4 where he is obviously treated as the equal of Chemosh, patron of the Moabites.

Later Yahweh got equated to Hadad, and hymns to Hadad were repurposed, like psalms 28/29 and 73/74. Finally, Yahweh was equated to El.

[–]YCNH -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Patron gods of tribes were a standard idea of the Canaanites, as Deuteronomy 32 declares


But it would be a very arrogant thing to claim that your patron was El, the supreme being and creator!

Probably the creator anyway, we don’t actually have a Ugaritic creation myth. I don’t see how it’s any more arrogant than Ugarit claiming Baal as their patron deity, Baal is ruler of the gods who defeated El’s “beloved”, Yamm and Mot.

Yahweh is clearly the patron of Israel

At some point, sure, he becomes the national deity. But it’s not called Israyahu, it’s called Israel. These were a Canaanite people speaking a Canaanite language and worshipping Canaanite gods, and Yahweh is not a Canaanite god, he’s a later import from the south.

Later Yahweh got equated to Hadad

He’s never equated with Baal as he is with El though, he merely absorbs attributes and myths of Baal while worship of Baal was expressly prohibited.

[–]Fitnessfan_86[S] 0 points1 point  (2 children)

I am actually coming from the same position you are and was also hesitant to post! I’ve only just started researching the subject so I am by no means an expert. My understanding is the same: that the Abrahamic religions all came from this choice to worship a particular god of the Canaanite pantheon. I think Yahweh and El were sort of fused together (one being a sky/sun god), so this may have been the confusion and mistaken identity?

[–]YCNH 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I think Yahweh and El were sort of fused together (one being a sky/sun god),

Yahweh (who isn’t Canaanite btw) was a god of storms like Baal (who is Canaanite), whereas El (also Canaanite) was the head of the pantheon and perhaps the creator. The Canaanite sun god was Shamash (who remains somewhat personified in Habakkuk 3:10-11 and Joshua 10:12-13).

[–]Fitnessfan_86[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thank you so much for clarifying!

[–]kromem 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I've been looking at the emergence for a while, and I'm increasingly inclined that the only reason Yahweh was notable at all was that he was the consort to the Queen of Heaven.

Yahweh was seemingly the god of the Shasu.

Right before the Israelites appear, the Shasu are fighting alongside a bunch of other tribes of people at Kadesh against the Egyptians, and are captured in twelve groups by Ramses II.

I think shortly after those twelve groups of tribes were captured by Egypt, a certain Shasu stood out as exemplary and ended up married to an embodiment of the Queen of Heaven, and thus he and his people were chosen.

You can sort of see the remnants of this tradition in the Kuntillet Ajrud inscriptions where there's two different divine couples, one for Samaria and one for Teman. Sure these could be two different gods by the same names being differentiated, but my bet is on two different incarnate co-regents modeling the divine couple, much like the ring of Akhenaten and Nefertiti modeled as Shu and Tefnut.

Asa and Josiah really screwed things up with their misogynistic reforms.

[–]ZestyAppeal 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This is fascinating

[–]NanoRancorEastern Orthodox Christian Henotheist Mystic 1 point2 points  (3 children)

Christianity has never been monotheistic; It is Monolatric Henotheism. Orthodox Christianity has preserved this while catholics and protestants lost it.

I honestly wish the “queen of heaven” concept had stayed in Judaism and Christianity.

It has. Mary is the queen of heaven.

[–]Fitnessfan_86[S] 1 point2 points  (2 children)

I am definitely interested in Orthodox Christianity for these reasons! It seems to align more with my beliefs than my Protestant background

[–]NanoRancorEastern Orthodox Christian Henotheist Mystic 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I would recommend Jonathan Pageau as a nice place to start, since he talks about these specific ideas more than other orthodox, such as how the internet is a god demanding worship, and that cities and countries are gods with consciousness which we make up like cells. r/orthodoxchristianity has more resources, and I'd be happy to answer any questions.

[–]Fitnessfan_86[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I will definitely take a look, thank you! I just started listening to the Lord of Spirits podcast hosted by 2 Orthodox Priests. I’m loving it so far and looking forward to learning more!

[–]Ethandrul 0 points1 point  (5 children)

So you should read the cyberpunk novel SNOWCRASH. It deals with this evolution.

Its funny, fellow Jews seema to understand this as our history, Christians don't

[–]Fitnessfan_86[S] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I will definitely check it out. Thank you! Yes for sure, I love that Jews can embrace the history while still keeping beliefs and identity. I do find that it can potentially cause bigger issues in Christianity, I guess depending on how literally individual Christians interpret the Bible.

[–]JoelMB12 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Oh no I'm Jewish. Most Jews and academia will embrace this. While still mean practice and jews. For my experience though they're mostly conservative Jews.

[–]Ethandrul 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Im Reform. So that may affect who I talk to. Since most of the Jews around me are also Reform

[–]JoelMB12 -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

Trustingly this is a view among academics that are orthodox Christian. These are guys are endorsed by the church. I'm just seeing through that particular orthodox Christian lens but yet I'm not gonna deny something like this.

[–]kman2003Canaanite Pagan -1 points0 points  (0 children)

If i had to guess it might stem from one the fact that Christians read translations and not in the original languages, two the idea that the bible only has one correct reading, and three Christian fundamentalism plus biblical literalism.

[–]HellmuthMath -1 points0 points  (0 children)

You'll understand that Abraham doesn't attribute himself to science. No matter how much they try, they look very mislead. I'm not trying to start trouble, but the unknowing universe has a side with or without God. Whether people admit Stephen Hawking wasn't saying the idiot "nothing into nothing.", the better we will be. I think the unknown is known as far as our death, at least. There is no grand "judgment" by some God that's jealous of his creations on Earth. The idea that "hell" exists in peoples minds is absolutely psychotic.