The article cited above deals with Messianic beliefs about the resurrection of a future messiah that were known among Jews BEFORE the times of Jesus, and a tablet that was found containing these beliefs.
This bit of news resonates with the news, some years back, of a cup that was found under the water beyond Alexandria, Egypt, that spoke of a "Christ the Mage" and that was dated to the times before Jesus ... which means that Christ was worshiped in Egypt before the time of Jesus and that Jesus and Christ were not one and the same originally, that their identification with each other took place among fringe gnostics, mainly in Egypt.
This would not be the first time this happened in Biblical history: the juxtaposition of two Gods and their merging into one Godhead happened in the "times" of Moses when Jehovah and El Elyon, or El Shaddai were merged for political reasons, to unify nomad tribes from the desert and organize a terrorist campaign against Canaan, where Baal was widely worshiped, in order to take their lands. This is what originates the Zionist religious conspiracy (all prophecies are, really, conspiracies).
The Bible originally says in Genesis that the God of Abraham was El Shaddai (The Powerful) or El Elyon whose name meant the Most High God. El Elyon is often transated as Most High God, which is the literal translation into English, but El Elyon was also the leader of the Canaanite pantheon. El was originally one among many, just as Allah (who shares semantic roots with El) was originally one among many in Mecca before the times of Muhammad. This is reflected in the beginning of Psalm 82, where the God of Abraham speaks to the company of the Gods.
God presides in the great assembly
he gives judgment among the gods
- Psalm 82:1
Ancient Canaanites believed that the Gods held assembly right above the ziggurats in Babylon, a sacred city whose name meant "the Gate (bab) of the Gods (elohim)". The 82nd Psalm reflects the polytheism of early Jews and their neighbors: that is, Jews originally did not deny the existence of other gods, they simply thought they had a peculiar pact with El.
God also said to Moses,
"I am the LORD.
I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob
as God Almighty,
but by my name the LORD
I did not make myself known to them.
In the original text, 'the Lord' was IHVH whereas 'God Almighty' was El Shaddai. One of the purposes of the Biblical text when it was written was to make these two names into one and the same deity.
Another clue that has to be mentioned here to definitely demonstrate the existence of the god Jehovah prior to Moses is the use of the particle 'Yah" in personal names in Canaan prior to the exile, which means that Yehu was known and worshiped prior to the times of Moses: there are tablets in Canaan that reflect such personal names, but we do not need to go that far. In the Bible, Joshua, the Biblical warlord that organized the takeover of Canaan, was a contemporary of Moses and yet his name contains the particle "Yah". This constradicts the Biblical doctrine that the name IHVH was revealed at Mount Sinai, and not before.
We can only conclude that Yah was a Canaanite deity prior to Moses, that children were being named after him and, maybe the more sinister side of this realization, that when the Jews exterminated the population of Canaan they were exterminating many people who already worshiped the same God that they did.
(By the way, has anyone else read this article?: Was Moses high on Mount Sinai?
Study suggests Israelites may have eaten hallucinogens, but scholars scoff)
The anti-Baal rhetoric in the Old Testament also needs to be studied against the background of the hypothesis that has been presented according to which Jehovah was originally the deity Yamm or 'Yaw'.
I don't know if Yaw and IHVH were one and the same, but I do see the violence of the Old Testament as the continuation of religious wars that were waged between followers of rival worshipers of tribal warrior deities in the previous mythological cycle, and their animosity is depicted in the myths.
The slaying of Yam by Baal, and the god El's support of Yam during that battle, can help us to understand the ancient hatreds that ran deep still in Biblical times between the worshipers of El (Jews) and those of Baal, and it would help to make sense of why these primitive Jewish tribes felt the need to articulate a pact with El, and how the war against the Baal-worshipers had everything to do with the Jewish covenant. In fact the book of Exodus, where this covenant was most clearly articulated, says things like:
I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. - Exodus 33:2
The reason why this is of crucial importance for those of us who wish to debunk the Bible is because a HUGE layer of mythology in pre-history would help to explain many of the exploits of 'the Biblical God of history'. In other words, the books of Moses were, among other things, a very well carried out and successful manifesto of vengeance, which gave ideological impetus to the basest of ethnic hatreds. Let me expand on that.
Yamm, also known as Judge Nahar, was one of the elohim, the God of the rivers and seas perhaps comparable to Poseidon in that he was thought to be responsible for cataclisms.
The above cited article presents part of the case for the shared identity of Jehovah and Yamm based on etymology. But I think that the mythos of this God, and how it links to Baal and the later hostilities between Baal and Jehovah, are an important tool to understand why the Old Testament is such a violent book.
Religious wars are not the invention of monotheists. The Epic of Baal tells the tale of how the God Baal, who is later hated throughout the Biblical literature, murdered Yamm and cast him away. This may indicate a series of prehistoric battles between rival Semitic tribes.
In the Epic of Ba'al El king of the Gods, who as you may remember 'presided over the assembly of the gods' even in Psalm 82, appoints Yam to fight BAAL-Hadad the king of heaven. This is how it reads (this is El, with who the Jews would later form a covenant, speaking in the previous mythological cycle:)
"I, myself, Kindly `El the Beneficent, have taken you upon my hands.
I proclaim your name.
Yam is your name,
Your name is Beloved of `El, Yam.
[Go against] the hand of the Mighty Lord Most High (´Aliyan Ba´al ) —
Because he spoke ill to me —
[And] drive him from the throne of his kingship,
From the resting place,
the cushion on the seat of his dominion..."
Now Mighty Baal, son of Dagon, desired the kingship of the Gods. He contended with Prince Yam-Nahar, the Son of El. But Kindly El, Father Shunem, decided the case in favour of His son; He gave the kingship to Prince Yam. He gave the power to Judge Nahar.
Fearsome Yam came to rule the Gods with an iron fist. He caused Them to labor and toil under His reign. They cried unto Their mother, Asherah, Lady of the Sea. They convinced Her to confront Yam, to interceed in Their behalf.
Asherah went into the presence of Prince Yam. She came before Judge Nahar. She begged that He release His grip upon the Gods Her sons. But Mighty Yam declined Her request. She offered favours to the Tyrant. But Powerful Nahar softened not His heart.
Finally, Kindly Asherah, who loves Her children, offered Herself to the God of the Sea. She offered Her own body to the Lord of Rivers.
Yam-Nahar agreed to this, and Asherah returned to the Source of the Two Rivers. She went home to the court of El. She came before the Divine Council, and spoke of Her plan to the Gods Her children.
Baal was infuriated by Her speech. He was angered at the Gods who would allow such a plot. He would not consent to surrendering Great Asherah to the Tyrant Yam-Nahar. He swore to the Gods that He would destroy Prince Yam.
He would lay to rest the tyranny of Judge Nahar. Ba'al Hadad warns Yam that the gods will not allow him to usurp the throne of heaven. After a great war in heaven involving many of the gods, Yam is roundly defeated ...
I won't go into further detail into the Epic of Baal, but I do think it should be studied as the preamble to the Bible. What we see in the Bible is that Moses and the Levites merged Yahu with El Elyon / El Shaddai, and by doing that they consolidated several nomadic tribes to organize a battle against the worshipers of Baal in order to take Canaan by force.
The Bible writers make no secret of the religious nature of their battles. This is the reason why the rhetoric against Baal is so strident in the Old Testament. We know that the God of the Old Testament is quite vengeful. He was venging the killing of his son Yam, or Prince Nahor, by 'killing Baal' (which in reality meant killing his worshipers).
Now, of course, this again may indicate that the ancestors of the early Jewish tribes had been cast away into the desert, probably by the worshipers of Baal who lived in these cities (Baal kills Yam in previous mythical cycle), and so these new Jewish tribes were merely vengeing their ancestral enemies.
This may explain their ancestral God's instructions to have no mercy on them, not only in the book of Joshua where the takeover of Canaan takes place but even much later (as in 1 Samuel 15:3 with the tribe of Amalek). This may be a case where a self-righteous people were wronged, and in their thirst for vengeance they ended up feeling that anything was valid and losing all moral restraint.
And so here we see that the God of Abraham had a pretty messed up moral compass and clouded moral judgement, even before he became prominent in the Bible. He had a very specific personality and was given to political intrigue, and wanted to have Baal killed even in pre-history not necessarily for reasons having to do with morals or justice but "because he (Baal) spoke ill to him", according to the Epic of Baal. He would have allowed one of his sons (Yam) to rape his wife, Asherah, and still sided with him against Baal, although it was clear that Yam was a tyranical ruler.
Jehovah's wife and Eve's husband
By the way, the Samaritans worshiped Ashera as Jehovah's wife until fairly late in history and Samaritan inscriptions bearing her name (votive offerings to Jehovah and 'his Asherah') have been found in recent digs in Israel.
In the times of Jeremiah, the prophet tried to criticize the practice of Jewish women offering cakes and incense to the Queen of Heaven, but they told him that there was abundance in the land whenever she was worshiped and that they would not stop revering her.
But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine. - Jeremiah 44:18
AND speaking of the pre-Jewish mythological cycle and how the authors of the Bible recycled mythical characters, archeology has uncovered another very important document that debunks the Biblical tales: the Letters of Amarna.
This is an example of why it's important for those of us who are critical of religion to be up to date with Biblical archeology, especially now that we're living in an era where Christians want our society to define public policy (as in the case of gay marriage), frequently citing the book of Genesis as if it was history.
The crucial portion of these Tablets has to do with the name of a king of Salem (the pre-historic name for Jerusalem), 'Abdi-Khebat', who is mentioned there and was exchanging letters with Egyptian royalty.
Khebat, the prototype for EVE (Hebat) in the Bible was originally the main Hittite Goddess. Just as today moslems have names like 'Abdullah' (servant of Allah), back in antiquity kings had names like 'Abdi-Khebat' (servant of EVE).
EVE, or Khebat, was apparently the official Goddess of the dynasty that ruled Salem before it became Jerusalem. From what we know of this deity, she mounted a lion, was a solar deity and the 'Mother of all Life'. In the Bible, Eve is the Mother of all humans, so she retains some of her former glory, but then she's married off to Adam. Her previous husband had been TESHUB, a Storm God of the hittites.
Oftentimes when old myths get replaced with new myths, the old gods become demons. The way that Eve's story is retold in Genesis probably reflects the assimilation of an ancestral Goddess into Jewish mythos, and it probably had to do with intermarriage with Hittite women where their stories were allowed to continue to be told, but then were completely changed to fit the Jewish mindset.
In the Letters we read a very revealing portion:
While the king, my Lord, lives, I will say to the commissioner of the king, my Lord: "Why do you favour the Hapiru and are opposed to the rulers?" - "A Letter from Abdu-Heba of Jerusalem", from the Letters of Amarna
One of the possible origins that have been proposed for the name Hebrew (ivrit) is happiru, which are mentioned in several sources and apparently refered to nomadic tribes or to a specific group of foreigners who had no land. If these happiru were the Hebrews, then Abdi-Khebat was already beginning to deal with the rebellion and invasion of the ancient Hebrews, and these people without a land were apparently at the center of a difficult diplomatic process between Egypt and Jerusalem.
If the happiru were the Hebrews, then the opposition to the rulers of the lands that they later took for themselves culminated in the morbid passages of Joshua 12, where dozens of kings from the cities in Canaan were hung from high trees as a terror tactic, to instil fear in the local populations.