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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
HEBREW RELIGION (I) Introductory.-To trace the history of the religion of the Hebrews is a complex task, because the literary sources from which our knowledge of that history is derived are themselves complex and replete with problems as to age and authorship, some of which have been solved according to the consensus of nearly all the best scholars, but some of which still await solution or are matters of dispute. Even if the analysis of the literature into component documents were complete, we should still possess a most imperfect record, since the documents themselves have passed through many redactions, and these redactions have proceeded from varying standpoints of religious tradition, successively eliminating or modifying certain elements deemed inconsistent with the canons of religious usage or propriety which prevailed in the age when the redaction took place. Lastly it should be recollected that the entire body of the fragments of tradition and literature belonging to northern Israel has come down to us through the channel of Judaean recensions.
The influence of the Deuteronomic tradition in redaction is seen in such passages as Genesis xxxiii. 20 (cf. xxxi. 45 fol.); Josh. iv. 9-20, xxiv. 26 fol.; I Sam. vii. 12, where the massebhah or stone symbol of deity (forbidden in Deut. xii. 3, xvi. 22) is in some way got rid of (in Gen. xxxiii. 20 the word " altar " in Hebrew is substituted). Similarly in Gen. xiii. 18, xiv. 13, xviii. 1, the Septuagint shows that the singular form " terebinth " stood in the original text. But the Massoretes altered this to the plural as this form was less suggestive of tree-worship (see Smend, A.Tliche Religionsgesch. i. p. 134, footnote I; Nowack, Heb. Archdol. p. 12, footnote 1). Many other examples might be cited, as the " suspended nun " which transforms the pronunciation of the original Mosheh (Moses) into Menashsheh (Manasseh) owing to the irregular practices of his descendant, Jonathan ben Gershom (Jud. xviii. 30). It is not improbable that in 2 Kings iii. 27 the words " from Kemosh " stood after " great wrath " in the original document, as the phraseology seems bald without them, and the motives for their suppression are obvious.
So far as concerns the critical problems which stand at the threshold of our task, it must suffice to say that the main conclusions reached by the school of Kuenen and Wellhausen as to the literary problems of the Old Testament are assumed throughout this sketch of the evolution of Hebrew religion. The documents underlying the Pentateuch and book of Joshua, represented by the ciphers J, E, D and P, are assumed to have been drawn up in the chronological order in which those ciphers are here set down, and the period of their composition extends from the 9th century B.C., in which the earlier portions of J were written, to the 5th century B.C., in which P finally took shape. The view of Professor Dillmann, who placed P before D in the regal period (though he admitted exilic and postexilic additions in Exod., Levit. and Numb.), a view which he kabbalah was cultivated by Moses Hayyim Luzzatto (d. 1747) and by Elijah ben Solomon, called Gaon, of Wilna (d. 1797), who commented on the whole Bible and on many Talmudic and kabbalistic works. In spite of his own leaning towards mysticism he was a strong opponent of the IIasidim, a mystical sect founded by Israel Ba'al Shem Tobh (Besht) and promoted by Baer of Meseritz. Elijah's son Abraham (d. 1808), the commentator, is valuable for his work on Midrash. An historical work which makes an attempt to be scientific, is the Seder ha-doroth of Yehiel Heilprin (d. 1746). These, however, belong in spirit to the previous century.
The characteristic of the 18th and 19th centuries is the endeavour, connected with the name of Moses Mendelssohn, to bring Judaism more into relation with external learning, and in using the Hebrew language to purify tend- and develop it in accordance with the biblical standard.
maintained in his commentary on Genesis (edition of 1892), has now been abandoned by nearly all scholars of repute. In the following pages we shall not attempt to do more than to sketch in very succinct outline the general results of investigation into the origins and growth of Hebrew religion.
2. Pre-Mosaic Religion. - Can any clear indications be found to guide us as to the religion of the Hebrew clans before the time of Moses ? That Moses united the scattered tribes, probably consisting at first mainly of the Josephite, under the common worship of Yahweh, and that upon the religion of Yahweh a distinctly ethical character was impressed,is generally recognized. The tradition of the earliest document J ascribes the worship of Yahweh to much earlier times, in fact to the dawn of human life. A close survey of the facts, however, would lead us to regard it as probable that some at least of the Hebrew clans had patrondeities of their own.
(a) Both Moab and Ammon as well as Edom had their separate tribal deities, viz. Chemosh (Moab) and Milk (Milcom), the god of Ammon, and in the case of Edom a deity known from the inscriptions as KOs (in Assyrian Kaus). 1 From the patriarchal narratives and genealogies in Genesis we infer that these races were closely allied to Israel. That in early pre-Mosaic times parallel cults existed among the various Hebrew tribes is by no means improbable. It would be reasonable to assume that Moab, Ammon, Edom and kindred tribes of Israel in the 15th and preceding centuries were included in the generic term Habiri (or Hebrews) mentioned in the Tell el-Amarna inscriptions as forming predatory bands that disturbed the security of the Canaanite dwellers west of the Jordan. Lastly pre-Mosaic polytheism seems to be implied in the Mosaic prohibition Ex. xx. 3, xxii. 20.
(b) The tribal names Gad and Asher are suggestive of the worship of a deity of fortune (Gad) and of the male counterpart of the goddess, Asherah. Under the name Shaddai (which Neldeke suggests 2 was originally Shed' " my demon ") it is possible to discern the name of a deity who in later times came to be identified with Yahweh. On the other hand, the connexion of the name Samson with sun-worship throws light on the period of the Hebrew settlement in Canaan and not on pre-Mosaic times. Nor is it possible to agree with Baudissin (Studien zur semit. Religionsgesch. i. S5) that Elohim as a plural form for the name of the Hebrew deity " can hardly be understood otherwise than as a comprehensive expression for the multitude of gods embraced in the One God of Old Testament religion," in other words that it presupposes an original polytheism. For (I) Elohim is also applied in Judges xi. 24 to the Moabite Chemosh (Kemosh); in 1 Sam. v. 7 to Dagon; in i Kings xi. 5 to Ashtoreth; in 2 Kings i. 2, iii. 6, 16 to Ba'al Zebul of Ekron. (2) It is merely a plural of dignity ( pluralis majestatis ) parallel to adonim (applied to a king in i Kings xviii. 8, whereas in the previous verse the singular form adoni is applied to the prophet Elijah). (3) The Tell el-Amarna inscriptions indicate that the term Elohim might even be applied in abject homage to an Egyptian monarch as the use of the term ilani in this connexion obviously implies.3 The religion of the Arabian tribes in the days of Mahomet, of which a picture is presented to us by Wellhausen in his Remains of Arabic Heathendom, furnishes some suggestive indications of the religion that prevailed in nomadic Israel before as well as during the lifetime of Moses. It is true that Arabian polytheism in the time of Mahomet was in a state of decay. Nevertheless the life of the desert changes but slowly. We may therefore infer that ancient Israel during the period when they 1 See Bathgen, Beitrdge zur semit. Religionsgesch. p. 11 (Edom); and cf. Schrader, C.D.T. i. 137; K.A.T. (3rd ed.), p. 472 foil. See also Beitrdge, pp. 13-15; K.A.T. (3rd ed.), pp. 469-472.
2 Z.D.M.G. (1886). It is impossible to discuss the other theories of the origin of this name. See Driver, Commentary on Genesis, excursus i. pp. 404-406.
The Tell el-Amarna despatches are crowded with evidences of Canaanite forms and idioms impressed on the Babylonian language of these cuneiform documents. Ilani here simply corresponds to the Canaanite Elohim. See opening of the letters of Abimelech of Tyre, Bezold's Oriental Diplomacy, Nos. 28, 29, 30.
inhabited the negebh (S. of Canaan) stood in awe of the demons (Jinn) of the desert, just as the Arabs at the present day described in Doughty's Arabia deserta. We know that diseases were attributed by the Israelites to malignant demons which they, like the Arabs, identified with serpents. The counterspell took the form of a bronze image of the serpent-demon; see Frazer, Golden Bough, ii. 426; and 1 Sam. v. 6, vi. 4, 5 (I,XX. and Heb.) as well as Buchanan Gray's instructive note in Numbers, p. 276. The slaughter of a lamb at the Passover or Easter season, whose blood was smeared on the door-post, as described in Ex. xii. 21-23, probably points back to an immemorial custom. In this case the counterspell assumed a different form. Westermarck has shown from his observations in Morocco that the blood of the victim was considered to visit a curse upon the object to whom the sacrifice is offered and thereby the latter is made amenable to the sacrificer. 4 It is hardly possible to doubt that in the original form of the rite described in Exodus the blood offering was made to the plague demon (" the destroyer ") and possessed over him a magic power of arrest.
It is therefore certain that belief in demons and magic spells prevailed in pre-Mosaic times' among the Israelite clans. And it is also probable that certain persons combined in their own individuality the functions of magician and sacrificer as well as soothsayer. For we know that in Arabic the Kahin, or soothsayer, is the same participial form that we meet with in the Hebrew Kohen, or priest, and in the early period of Hebrew history (e.g. in the days of Saul and David) it was the priest with the ephod or image of Yahweh who gave answers to those who consulted him. How far totemism, or belief in deified animal ancestors, existed in prehistoric Israel, as evidenced by the tribal names Simeon (hyena, wolf), Caleb (dog), IIamor (ass), Rahel (ewe) and Leah (wild cow), &c., 6 as well as by the laws respecting clean and unclean animals, is too intricate and speculative a problem to be discussed here. That the food-taboo against eating the flesh of a particular animal would prevail in the clan of which that animal was the deified totem-ancestor is obvious, and it would be a plausible theory to hold that the laws in question arose when the Israelite tribes were to be consolidated into a national unity (i.e. in the time of David and Solomon), but the application of this theory to the list of unclean foods in Deut. xiv. (Lev. xi.) seems to present insuperable difficulties. In fact, while Robertson Smith (in Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia, as well as his Religion of the Semites, followed by Stade and Benzinger) strongly advocated the view that clear traces of totemism can be found in early Israel, later writers, such as Marti, Gesch. der israelit. Religion, 4th ed., p. 24, Kautzsch in his Religion of Israel already cited, p. 613, and recently Addis in his Hebrew Religion, p. 33 foll., have abandoned the theory as applied to Israel. ? On the other hand, the evidence for the existence of ancestor-worship in primitive Israel cannot be so easily disposed of as Kautzsch ( ibid. p. 615) appears to think. We have examples (r Sam. xxviii. 13) in which ElOhim is the term which is applied to departed spirits. Oracles were received from them (Isa. viii. 19, xxviii. 15, 18; Deut. xviii. 10 foll.). At the graves of national heroes or ancestors worship was paid. In Gen. xxxv. 20 we read that a massebah or sacred pillar was erected at Rahel's tomb. That the Teraphim, which we know to have resembled the human form (1 Sam. xix. 13, 16), were ancestral images is a reasonable theory. That they were employed in divination is consonant with the facts already noted. Lastly, the rite of circumcision, which the Hebrews practised in common with their Semitic neighbours as well as the Egyptians, belonged to ages long anterior to the time of Moses. This is a fact which has long been recognized; cf. Gen. xvii. 10 foll., 4 " Magic and Social Relations " in Sociological Papers, ii. 160.
5 See Kautzsch, " Religion of Israel," in Hastings's Dict. of the Bible, extra vol., p. 614.
6 See Benzinger, Hebrdische Archdologie, pp. 152, 297 foll. (1st ed.).
7 The theory was opposed by Noldeke, 1886 (Z.D.M.G. p. 157 foil.), as well as Wellhausen, and since then by Jacobs and Zapletal (Der Totemismus u. die Religion Israels). See Stanley A. Cook, " Israel and Totemism," in J.Q.R. (April, 1902).
Herod. ii. 104, and Barton, Semitic Origins, pp. 98-Too. Probably the custom was of African origin, and came from eastern Africa along with the Semitic race. Respecting Arabia, see Doughty, Arabia deserta, i. 340 foil.
It is necessary here to advert to a subject much debated during recent years, viz. the effects of Babylonian culture in western Asia on Israel and Israel's religion in early times even preceding the advent of Moses. The great influence exercised by Babylonian culture over Palestine between 2000 and 1400 B.C. (circa ), which has been clearly revealed to us since 1887 by the discovery of the Tell el Amarna tablets, is now universally acknowledged. The subsequent discovery of a document written in Babylonian cuneiform at Lachish (Tell el Hesy), and more recently still of another in the excavations at Ta`annek, have established the fact beyond all dispute. The last discovery had tended to confirm the views of Fried. Delitzsch, Jeremias (Monotheistische Stromungen ) and Baentsch, that monotheistic tendencies are to be found in the midst of Babylonian polytheism. Page Renouf, in his Hibbert lectures, Origin and Growth of Religion as illustrated by that of Ancient Egypt (1879), p. 89 foll., pointed out this monotheistic tendency in Egyptian religion, as did de Rouge before him. Baentsch draws attention to this feature in his monograph Altorientalischer u. israelitischer Monotheismus (1906). This tendency, however, he, unlike the earlier conservative writers, rightly considers to have emerged out of polytheism. He ventures into a more disputable region when he penetrates into the obscure realm of the Abrahamic migration and finds in the Abrahamic traditions of Genesis the higher Canaanite monotheistic tendencies evolved out of Babylonian astral religion, and reflected in the name El `Elyon (Gen. xiv. 18, 22). Further discoveries like Sellin's find at Ta`annek may elucidate the problem. See Baudissin in Theolog. lit. Zeitung (27th October 1906).
3. The Era of Moses. - We are now on safer ground though still obscure. Moses was the first historic individuality who can be said to have welded the Israelite clans into a whole. This could never have been accomplished without unity of worship. The object of this worship was Yahweh. As we have already indicated, the document J assumes that Yahweh was worshipped by the Hebrew race from the first. On the other hand, according to P (Ex. vi. 2), God spake to Moses and said to him: " I am Yahweh. But I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as El Shaddai and by my name Yahweh I did not make myself known to them." According to this later tradition Yahweh was unknown till the days of Moses, and under the aegis of His power the Hebrew tribes were delivered from Egyptian thraldom. The truth probably lies somewhere between these two sharply contrasted traditions. So much is clear. Yahweh now becomes the supreme deity of the Hebrew people, and an ark analogous to the Egyptian and Babylonian arks portrayed on the monuments' was constructed as embodiment of the rumen of Yahweh and was borne in front of the Hebrew army when it marched to war. It was the signal victory won by Moses at the exodus against the Egyptians and in the subsequent battle at Rephidim against `Amalek (Ex. xvii.) that consolidated the prestige of Yahweh, Israel's war-god. Indications in the Old Testament itself clearly point to the celestial or atmospheric character of the Yahweh of the Hebrews. The supposition that the name originally contained the notion of permanent or eternal being, and was derived from the verbal root signifying " to be," involves too abstract a conception to be probable, though it is based on Ex. iii. 15 (E) representing a tradition which may have prevailed in the 8th century B.C. Kautzsch, however, supports it (Hastings's D.B., extra vol. " Rel. of Isr." p. 625 foil.) against the other derivations proposed by recent scholars (see Jehovah). That the name also prevailed as that of a god among other Semitic races (or even These sacred arks were carried in procession accompanied by symbolic figures. We note in this connexion the form of a sacred bark represented in Meyer's Hist. of Egypt (Oncken series), p. 257, viz. the procession carrying the sacred ark and the bark of the god Amon belonging to the reign of Rameses II. (Lepsius, Denkmeiler, iii. 189b). See also Birch, Egypt (S.P.C.K.), p. 151 (ark of Khonsu); cf. Jeremias, Das A.T. im Lichte des alten Orients (2nd ed.), pp. 436-441.
non-Semitic) is rendered certain by the proper names Jau-bit-di (= Ilu-bi`di) of Hamath in Sargon's inscriptions, Ahi-jawi (mi) in Sellin's discovered tablet at Ta'annek, to say nothing of those which have been found in the documents of Khammurabi's reign. It has generally been held that Stade's supposition has much to recommend it, that it was derived by Moses from the Kenites, and should be connected with the Sinai-Horeb region. The name Sinai suggests moon-worship and the moon-god Sin; and it also suggests Babylonian influence (cf. also Mount Nebo, which was a place-name both in Moab and in Judah, and naturally connects itself with the name of the Babylonian deity). Several indications favour the view of the connexion in the age of Moses between the Yahweh-cult at Sinai and the moon-worship of Babylonian origin to which the name Sinai points (Sin being the Babylonian moon-god). We note (a) that in the worship of Yahweh the sacred seasons of new moon and Sabbath are obviously lunar. Recent investigations have even been held to disclose the fact that the Sabbath coincided originally, i.e. in early pre-exilian days, with the full moon. 2 ( b ) It also accords with the name bestowed on Yahweh as " Lord of Hosts " (sebaoth ) or stars, which were regarded as personified beings (Job xxxviii. 7) and attendants on the celestial Yahweh, constituting His retinue (T Kings xxii. 19) which fought on high while the earthly armies of Israel, His people, contended below (Judges v. 20).
The atmospheric and celestial character which belonged from the first to the Hebrew conception of Yahweh explains to us the ease with which the idea of His universal sovereignty arose, which the Yahwistic creation account (belonging to the earlier stratum of J, Gen. ii. 4b foll.) presupposes. How this came to be overlaid by narrow local limitations of His power and province will be shown later. It is probable that Moses held the larger rather than the narrower conception of Yahweh's sphere of influence. While the ark carried with Israel's host symbolized His presence in their midst, He was also known to be present in the cloud which hovered before the host and in the lightning (' esh Yahweh or " fire of Yahweh ") and the thunder ( kol Yahweh or " voice of Yahweh ") which played around Mount Sinai. Moreover, it is hardly probable that a great leader like Moses remained unaffected by the higher conceptions tending towards monotheism which prevailed in the great empires on the Nile and on the Euphrates. In Egypt we know that Amenophis IV. came under this monotheistic movement, and attempted to suppress all other cults except that of the sun-deity, of which he 2 Cf. Zimmern in Z.D.M.G. (1904), pp. 199 foil., 458 foil. This view is based on Dr Pinches's discovered list in which Sapatti is called the 15th day ( Proc. of the Soc. of Biblical Arch., p. 51 foll.). See A. Jeremias, Das A. T. im Lichte des alten Orients (2nd ed.), pp. 182187. Marti, in his stimulating work Religion des A.T., pp. 5, 72, advocates the exclusive reference of the word Sabbath to the full moon until the time of Ezekiel on the basis of Meinhold's arguments in Sabbat u. Woche im A.T. The latter regards Ezekiel as the organizer of the Jewish community and the originator of the sanctity of the Sabbath as a seventh day (Ezek. xlvi. 1; cf. Ezek. xx. 12, 13, 16, 20, 24, xxii. 8, 26, xxiii. 38, in which the reproaches for the profanation or neglect of the Sabbath in no way sustain Meinhold's view). In opposition to Meinhold, see Lotz in P.R.E. (3rd ed., art. " Sabbath," vol. xvii. pp. 286-289). To this Meinhold replies in Z.A.T.W. (1909), p. 81 f. Cf. also Hehn, Siebenzahl and Sabbat. While admitting that a special significance may have been attached in pre-exilian times to the full-moon Sabbath, and that the latter may have been specially intended in the combination " new moon and Sabbath " in the 8th-century prophets (Hos. ii. 13; Amos viii. 5; Isa. i. 13), we are not prepared to deny that the institution of a seventh-day Sabbath was an ancient pre-exilian tradition. The sacredness of the number seven is based on the seven planetary deities to whom each day of the week was respectively dedicated, i.e. was astral in origin. Cf. C.O.T. i. 18 foll., and Winckler, Religionsgeschichtlicher u. geschichtlicher Orient, p. 39. See also K.A.T. (3rd ed.), pp. 620-626. In the Old Testament the sanctity of the number seven is clearly fundamental (e.g. in the Nif'al form nisba`, " to swear," in the derivative subst. for " oath," in Beer-sheba', &c.). The seventh day of rest was parallel to the seventh year of release and of the fallow field. It is, therefore, impossible to detach Ex. xxiii. 12 from Ex. xxi. 2, xxiii. To foll.; cf. Ex. xxxiv. 21. We therefore hold that the law of the seventh-day Sabbath goes back to the Mosaic age. The general coincidence of the Sabbath or seventh day with the easily recognized first quarter and full moon established its sacred character as lunar as well as planetary.
was a devoted worshipper. We also know that between 2000 and 1400 E.C. the Babylonian language as well as Babylonian civilization and ideas spread over Palestine (as the Tell el Amarna tables clearly testify). The ancient Babylonian psalms clearly reveal that the highest minds were moving out of polytheism to a monotheistic identification of various deities as diverse phases of one underlying essence. A remarkable Babylonian tablet discovered by Dr Pinches represents Marduk, the god of light, as identified in his person with all the chief deities of Babylonia, who are evidently regarded as his varying manifestations.' Through the influence of Mosaic teaching and law a definitely ethical character was ascribed to Yahweh. It was His " finger " that wrote the brief code which has come down to us in the decalogue. At first, as Erdmanns suggests, it may have consisted of only seven commands. So also Kautzsch, ibid. p. 634. The most strongly distinguishing feature of the code is the rigid exclusion of the worship of other gods than Yahweh. Moreover, the definitely ethical character of the religion of Yahweh established by Moses is exhibited in the strict exclusion of all sexual impurity in His worship. Unlike the Canaanite Baal, Yahweh hasnofemale consort, and this remained throughouta distinguishing trait of the original and unadulterated Hebrew religion (see Bathgen, Beitreige, p. 265). Indeed, Hebrew, unlike Assyrian or Phoenician, has no distinctive form for " goddess." From first to last the true religion of Yahweh was pure of sexual taint. The kedeshim and kedeshoth, the male and female priest attendants in the Baal and `Ashtoreth shrines (cf. the kadishtu of the temples of the Babylonian Ishtar) were foreign Canaanite elements which became imported into Hebrew worship during the period of the Hebrew settlement in Canaan.
Lastly, the earliest codes of Hebrew legislation (Ex. xxi.- xxiii.) bear the distinct impress of the high ethical character of Yahweh's requirements originally set forth by Moses. Of this tradition the Naboth incident in the time of Ahab furnishes a clear example which brings to light the contrast between the Tyrian Baal-cult, which was scarcely ethical, and of which Jezebel and Ahab were devotees, and the moral requirements of the religion of Yahweh of which Elijah was the prophet and impassioned exponent. It was this definite basis of ethical Mosaic religion to which the prophets of the 8th century appealed, and apart from which their denunciations become meaningless. To this early standard of life and practice Ephraim was faithless in the days of the prophet Hosea (see his oracles passim - especially chaps. i.-iv. and xiv.), and Judah in the time of Isaiah turned a deaf ear (Isa. i. 2-4, 21).
4. Influence of Canaan. - The entrance of Israel into Canaan marks the beginning of a new epoch in the development of Israel's religious life. For it involved a transition from the simple nomadic relations to those of the agricultural and more highly civilized Canaanite life. This subject has been recently treated with admirable clearness by Marti in his useful treatise Die Religion des A.T. (1906), pp. 25-41.
It is in the festivals of the annual calendar that this agricultural impress is most fully manifested. To the original nomadic Pesah (Passover) - sacrifice of a lamb - there was attached a distinct and agricultural festival of unleavened cakes ( ynassoth) which marks the beginning of the corn harvest in the middle of the month Abib (the name of which points to its Canaanite and 1 The tablet is neo-Babylonian and published by Dr Pinches in the Transactions of the Victoria Institute, and is cited by Professor Fried. Delitzsch in the notes appended to his first lecture Babel u. Bibel (5th German ed., p. 81 ad fin. and p. 82). On this subject of Babylonian influence over Israel see Jeremias, Monotheistische Stromungen innerhalb der babylonischen Religion, and E. Baentsch, Altorientalischer u. israelitischer Monotheismus. The text and rendering of the passage are doubtful in the cuneiform letter discovered by Sellin in Ta'annek (biblical Ta'anach, near Megiddo) addressed by Abi-jawi (? Abijah) to Ishtar-wasur, in which the following remarkable phrases are read: " May the Lord of the gods protect thy life.
. Above thy head is one who is above the towns. See now whether he will show thee good. When he reveals his face, then will they be put to shame and the victory will be complete." The letter appears to belong to about 1400 B.C. See A. Jeremias, Das A.T. im Lichte des alien Orients (2nd ed.), pp. 315, 316, 323. Sellin, Ertrag der Ausgrabungen im Orient. agricultural origin). The close of the corn-harvest was marked by the festival Shabhuoth (weeks) or Kasir (harvest) held seven weeks after massoth. The last and most characteristic festival of Canaanite life was that of Asiph or " ingathering " which after the Deuteronomic reformation (621 B.C.) had made a single sanctuary and therefore a considerable journey with a longer stay necessary, came to be called Succoth or booths. This was the autumn festival held at the close of September or beginning of October. It marked the close of the year's agricultural operations when the olives and grapes had been gathered [Ex. XX111.14-17 (E), XXXiV. 18, 22, 23 (J)]; See Feasts, Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Another special characteristic of Israel's religion in Canaan was the considerable increase of sacrificial offerings. Animal sacrifices became much more frequent, and included not only the bloody sacrifice (Zebah) but also burnt offerings ( kalil, `olah ) whereby the whole animal was consumed (see Sacrifice). But we have in addition to the animal sacrifices, vegetable offerings of meal, oil and cakes (massoth, ashishah and kawwan, which last is specially connected with the `Ashtoreth cult: Jer. vii. 18, xliv. iv), as well as the " bread of the Presence " ( lehem happanim ), I Sam. xxi. 6. Whether the primitive rite of water-offerings (I Sam. vii. 6; 2 Sam. xxiii. 16) belonged to early nomadic Israel (as seems probable) it is not possible to determine with any certainty.
Again, the conception of Yahweh suffered modification. In the desert he was worshipped as an atmospheric deity, who manifested himself in thunder and lightning, whose abode was in the sky, whose sanctuary was on the mountain summit of Horeb-Sinai, and whose movable palladium was the ark of the covenant. But when the nomadic clans of Israel came to occupy the settled abodes of the agricultural Canaanites who had a stake in the soil which they cultivated, these conditions evidently reacted on their religion. Now the local Baal was the divine owner of the fertile spot where his sanctuary (0 - desk ) was marked by the upright stone pillar, the symbol of his presence, on which the blood of the slaughtered victim was smeared. To this Baal the productiveness of the soil was due. Consequently it was needful to secure his favour, and in order to gain this, gifts were made to him by the local resident population who depended on the produce of the land (see Baal, especially ad init.). Now when the Hebrews succeeded to these agricultural conditions and acquired possession of the Canaanite abodes, they naturally fell into the same cycle of religious ideas and tradition. Yahweh ceased to be exclusively regarded as god of the atmosphere, worshipped in a distant mountain, Horeb-Sinai, situated in the south country ( negebh),and moving in the clouds of heaven before the Israelites in the desert, but he came to be associated with Israel's life in Canaan. He manifested His presence either by a signal victory over Israel's foes (Josh. x. 10, I I; I Sam. vii. 10-12) or by a thunderstorm (I Sam. xii. 18) or through a dream (Gen. xxviii. 16 foil.; cf. I Kings iii. 5 foll.) at a sacred spot like Bethel. Accordingly, whenever His presence and power were displayed in places where the Canaanite Baal had been worshipped, they came to be attached to these spots. He had " put his name," i.e. power and presence ( numen ) there, and the same festivals and sacrifices which had previously been devoted to the cult of the Canaanite Baal were now annexed to the service of Yahweh, the war-god of the conquering race. The process of transference was facilitated by two potent causes: (a) Both Canaanite and Hebrew spoke a common language; (b ) the name Baal is not in reality an individual proper name like Kemosh (Chemosh), Ramman or Hadad, but is, like El (Ilu)" god," an appellative meaning " lord," " owner " or " husband." The name Baal might therefore be used for any deity such as Milk (Milcom) or Shemesh (" sun ") who was the divine owner of the spot. It was simply a covering epithet, and like the word " god " could be transferred from one deity to another. In this way Yahweh came to be called the Baal or " lord " of any sacred place where the armies of Israel by their victories attested " his mighty hand and outstretched arm." (See Kautzsch in Hastings's D.B., extra vol., p. 645 foil.) Such was the path of syncretism, and it was fraught with peril to the older and purer faith. For when Yahweh gradually became Israel's local Baal he became worshipped like the old Canaanite deity, and all the sensuous accompaniments of Kedeshoth,' as well as the presence of the asherah or sacred pole, became attached to his cult. But the symbol carried with it the numen of the goddess symbolized, and there can be little doubt that Asherah came to be regarded as Yahweh's consort. In the days of Manasseh syncretism went on unchecked even in the Jerusalem temple and its precincts, and it was not till the year of Jcsiah's reformation (621 B.C.) that the Kedeshim and Kedeshoth as well as the Asherah were banished for ever from Yahweh's sanctuary (2 Kings xxi. 7, xxiii. 7), which their presence had profaned.
Now local worship means the differentiation of the personality worshipped in the varied local shrines, in other words Ba`alim or Baals. Just as we have in Assyria an Ishtar of Arbela and an Ishtar of Nineveh (treated in Assur-bani-pal's (Rassam) cylinder 2 like two distinct deities), as we have local Madonnas in Roman Catholic countries, so must it have been with the cults of Yahweh in the regal period carried on in the numerous high places, Bethel, Shechem, Shiloh (till its destruction in the days of Eli) and Jerusalem. Each in turn claimed that Yahweh had placed his name (i.e. personal presence and power or numen) there. Each had a Yahweh of its own.
On the other hand, old deities still lurked in old spots which had been for centuries their abode. It was no easy task to establish Yahweh in permanent possession of the new lands conquered by the Hebrew settlers. The old gods were not to be at once discrowned of might. Of this we have a vivid example in the episode 2 Kings xviii. 2 4 -28. The inhabitants of Babylonia and other regions whom the Assyrian kings had settled in Ephraim after 721 B.C. (cf. Ezra iv. io) are described as suffering from the depredations of lions, and a priest from the deported Ephraimites is sent to them to teach them the worship of Yahweh, the god of the land. Similarly in the earlier pre-exilian period of Israel's occupation of Canaanite territory the Hebrews were always subject to this tendency to worship the old Baal or `Ashtoreth (the goddess who made the cattle and flocks prolific).3 A few years of drought or of bad seasons would make a Hebrew settler betake himself to the old Canaanite gods. Even in the days of Hosea the rivalry between Yahweh and the old Canaanite Baal still continued. The prophet reproaches his Ephraimite countrymen for going after their " lovers," the old local Baals who were supposed to have bestowed on them the bread, water, wool, flax and oil, and for not knowing that " it is I (Yahweh) who have bestowed on her (i.e. Israel) the corn, the new wine and the oil, and have bestowed on her silver and gold in abundance which they have wrought into a Baal image " (Hos. ii. io).
External danger from a foreign foe, such as Midian or the Philistines, at once brought into prominence the claim and power of Yahweh, Israel's national war-god since the great days of the exodus. The religion of Yahweh (as Wellhausen said) meant patriotism, and in war-time tended to weld the participating tribes into a national unity. The book of Judges with its " monotonous tempo - religious declension, oppression, repentance, peace," to which Wellhausen 4 refers as its ever-recurring cycle, makes us familiar with these alternating phases of action and reaction. Times of peace meant national disintegration and the lapse of Israel into the Canaanite local cults, which is interpreted by the redactor as the prophets of the 8th century would have interpreted it, viz. as defection from Yahweh. On the other hand, times of war against a foreign foe meant on the religious side the unification, partial or complete, of the i The allusion in Amos ii. 7; Hos. iv. 13, 14 is sufficiently explicit; cf. Jer. ii. 20-23, iii. 6-11, v. 7, 8. The practice is prohibited in Deut. xxiii. 17.
2 Column i. 15, 16, 42, 43, ii. 128, iii. 30, 31, iv. 47, 48, &c. Probably we should regard them as differentiated hypostases. 3 Hence the `Ashtaroth or offspring of flocks in Deut. vii. 13, xxviii. 18. A like function belonged to the Babylonian Ishtar. See " Descent of Ishtar to Hades," Rev. lines 6-10, where universal non-intercourse of sexes follows Ishtar's departure from earth to Hades.
4 Proleg. Gesch. Israels (2nd ed.), p. 240 foll., cf. p. 258.
Israelite tribes by the rallying cry " the sword of Yahweh " (Judges vii. 20). In this way `Ophrah became the centre of the coalition under Gideon in the tribe of Manasseh. Its importance is attested by Judges viii. 22-28, and we may disregard the " snare " which the Deuteronomic writer condemns in accordance with the later canons of orthodoxy. What `Ophrah became on a small scale in the days of Gideon, Jerusalem became on a larger scale in the days of David and his successors. It was the religious expression of the unity of Israel which the life and death struggle with the Philistines had gradually wrought out.
Despite the capture of the ark after the disastrous battle of Shiloh, Yahweh had in the end shown himself through a destructive plague superior in might to the Philistine Dagon. There are indeed abundant indications that prove that in the prevalent popular religion of the regal period monotheistic conceptions had no place. Yahweh was god only of Israel and of Israel's land. An invasion of foreign territory would bring Israel under the power of its patron-deity. The wrath with which the Israelite armies believed themselves to be visited (probably an outbreak of pestilence) when the king of Moab was reduced to his last extremity, was obviously the wrath of Chemosh the god of Moab, which the king's sacrifice of his only son had awakened against the invading army (2 Kings iii. 27). In other words, the ordinary Israelite worshipper of Yahweh was at this time far removed from monotheism, and still remained in the preliminary stage of henotheism, which regarded Yahweh as sole god of Israel and Israel's land, but at the same time recognized the existence and power of the deities of other lands and peoples. Of this we have recurring examples in pre-exilian Hebrew history. See i Sam. xxvi. 19; Judges xi. 23, 24; Ruth i. 16.
5. Characteristics and Constituent Elements
It is only possible here to refer in briefest enumeration to the material and external objects and forms of popular Hebrew religion. These were of the simplest character. The upright stone objects. ob/ect. (or massebah ) was the material symbol of deity on which the blood of sacrifice was smeared, and in which the numen of the god resided. It is probable that in some primitive sanctuaries no real distinction was made between this stonepillar and the altar or place where the animal was slaughtered. In ordinary pre-exilian high places the custom described in the primitive compend of laws (Ex. xx. 24) would be observed. A mound of earth was raised which would serve as a platform on which the victim would be slaughtered in the presence of the concourse of spectators. In the more important shrines, as at Jerusalem or Samaria, there would be an altar of stone or of bronze. Another accompaniment of the sanctuary would be the sacred tree - most frequently a terebinth (cf. Judges ix. 37 " terebinth of soothsayers "), or it might be a palm tree (cf. " palm tree of Deborah " in Judges iv. 5 ), or a tamarisk ('eshel ), or pomegranate(rimmon), as at the high place in Gibeah where Saul abode. Moreover, we have frequent references to sacred springs, as that of sheba, `Enharod (`eyn-harod) (Judges vii. 1; cf. also Judges 19, En-hakkore ['eyn-haggore']). (On this subject of holy trees, holy waters and holy stones, consult article Tree-Worship, and Robertson Smith's Religion of the Semites, 2nd ed., pp. 165-197.) The wide prevalence of magic and soothsaying may be illustrated from the historical books of the Old Testament as well as from the pre-exilian prophets. The latter indeed tolerated the gosesn (soothsayer) as they did the seer (ro`eh). The rhabdomancy denounced by Hosea (iv. 12) was associated with idolatry at the high places. But the arts of the necromancer were always and without exception treated as foreign to the religion of Yahweh. The necromancer of ba`al 'obh was held to be possessed of the spirit who spoke through him with a hollow voice. Indeed both necromancer and the spirit that possessed him were sometimes identified, and the former was simply called obh. It is probable that necromancy, like the worship of Asherah and `Ashtoreth, as well as the cult of graven images, was a Canaanite importation into Israel's religious practices. (See Marti, Religion des A.T., p. 32.) The history of the rise of the priesthood in Israel is exceedingly obscure. In the nomadic period and during the earlier years of the settlement of Israel in Canaan the head of every family could offer sacrifices. In the primitive codes, Ex. xx. 22-xxiii. 19 (E), xxxiv. 10-28 (J), we have no allusion to any separate order of men who were qualified to offer sacrifices. In Ex. xxiv. 5 (E) we read that Moses simply commissioned young men to offer sacrifices. On the other hand the addendum to the book of Judges, chaps. xvii., xviii. (which Budde, Moore and other critics consider to belong to the two sources of the narratives in Judges, viz. J 1 as well as E), makes reference to a Levite of Bethlehem-Judah, expressly stated in xvii. 7 as belonging to a clan of Judah. This man Micah took into his household as priest. This narrative has all the marks of primitive simplicity. There can be no reasonable doubt that the Levite here was member of a priestly tribe or order, and this view is confirmed by the discovery of what is really the same word in south Arabian inscriptions. 2 The narrative is of some value as it shows that while it was possible to appoint any one as a priest, since Micah, like David, appointed one of his own sons (xvii. 5), yet a special priest-tribe or order also existed, and Micah considered that the acquisition of one of its members was for his household a very exceptional advantage: " Now I know that Yahweh will befriend me because I have the Levite as priest." 3 In other words a priest who was a Levite possessed a superior professional qualification. He is paid ten shekels per annum, together with his food and clothing, and is dignified by the appellation " father " (cf. the like epithet of " mother " applied to the prophetess Deborah, Judges v. 7; 'see also 2 Kings ii. 12, vi. 21, xiii. 14). This same narrative dwells upon the graven images, ephod and teraphim, as forming the apparatus of religious ceremonial in Micah's household. Now the ephod and teraphim are constantly mentioned together (cf. Hos. iii. 4) and were used in divination. The former was the plated image of Yahweh (cf. Judges viii. 26, 27) and the latter were ancestral images (see Marti, op. cit. pp. 27, 29; Harper, Int. Comm. " Amos and Hosea," p. 222). In other words the function of the priest was not merely sacrificial (a duty which Kautzsch unnecessarily detaches from the services which he originally rendered), nor did he merely bear the ark of the covenant and take charge of God's house; but he was also and mainly (as the Arabic name kahin shows) the soothsayer who consulted the ephod and gave the answers required on the field of battle (see 1 Sam. and 2 Sam. passim) and on other occasions. This is clearly shown in the " blessing of Moses " (Deut. xxxiii. 8), where the Levite is specially associated with another apparatus of inquiry, viz. the sacred lots, Urim and Thuminim. The true character of Urim (as expressing " aye ") and Thummim (as expressing " nay ") is shown by the reconstructed text of 1 Sam. xiv. 41 on the basis of the Septuagint. See Driver ad loc. The chief and most salient characteristic of the worship of the high places was geniality. The sacrifice was a feast of social communion between the deity and his worshippers, Geniality and knit both deity and clan-members together in the bonds of a close fellowship. This genial aspect of Hebrew worship is nowhere depicted more graphically than in the old narrative (a J section = B udde's G) 1 Sam. ix. 19-24, where a day of sacrifice in the high place is described. Saul and his attendant are invited by the seer-priest Samuel into the banqueting chamber ( lishkah) where thirty persons partake of the sacrificial meal. It was the asiph or festival of ingathering, when the agricultural operations were brought to a close, which exhibited these genial features of CanaaniteHebrew life most vividly. References to them abound in preexilian literature: Judges xxi. 21 (cf. ix. 27); Amos viii. 1 foll.; Hos. ix. 1 foil., Jer. xxxi. 4; Isa. xvi. io (Jer. xlviii. 33)
These festivals formed the veins and arteries of ancient Hebrew Internat. Crit, Commentary, Judges, Introd. p. xxx., also p. 367 foil.
2 His " priest," r o ' " priestess "; see Hommel, Rid-arabische Chrestomathie, p. 127; Ancient Hebrew Tradition, p. 278 foil.
3 Moore regards this verse as belonging to the J or older document, op. cit. p. 367.
clan and tribal life. 4 Wellhausen's characterization of the Arabian hajj 5 applies with equal force to the Hebrew hagg (festival): " They formed the rendezvous of ancient life. Here came under the protection of the peace of God the tribes and clans which otherwise lived apart from one another and only knew peace and security within their own frontiers." i Sam. xx. 28 foil. indicates the strong claims on personal attendance exercised on each individual member by the local clan festival at Bethlehem-Judah.
It is easy to discern from varied allusions in the Old Testament that the Canaanite impress of sensuous life clung to the autumnal vintage festivals. They became orgiastic in character and scenes of drunkenness, cf. Judges ix. 27; 1 Sam. 14-16; Isa. xxviii. 7, 8. Against this tendency the Nazirite order and tradition was a protest. Cf. Amos ii. 11 foll.; Judges xiii. 7, 14. As certain sanctuaries, Shiloh, Shechem, Bethel, &c., grew in importance, the priesthoods that officiated at them would acquire special prestige. Eli, the head priest at Shiloh in the early youth of Samuel, held an important position in what was then the chief religious and political centre of Ephraim; and the office passed by inheritance to the sons in ordinary cases. In the regal period the royal residence gave the priesthood of that place an exceptional position. Thus Zadok, who obtained the priestly office at Jerusalem in the reign of Solomon and was succeeded by his sons, was regarded in later days as the founder of the true and legitimate succession of the priesthood descended from Levi (Ezek. xl. 46, xliii. 19, xliv. 15; cf. 1 Kings ii. 27, 35). His descent, however, from Eleazar, the elder brother of Aaron, can only be regarded as the later artificial construction of the post-exilian chronicler (1 Chron. vi. 41 5, 5 0 -53, xxiv. 1 foll.), who was controlled by the traditions which prevailed in the 4th century B.C. and after.
6. The Prophets. - The rise of the order of prophets, who gradually emerged out of and became distinct from the old Hebrew " seer " or augur (r Sam. ix. 9), 6 marks a new epoch in the religious development of the Hebrews. Over the successive stages of this growth we pass lightly (see Prophet). The lifeand-death struggle between Israel and the Philistines in the reign of Saul called forth under Samuel's leadership a new order of " men of God," who were called " prophets " or divinely inspired speakers.' These men were distributed in various settlements, and their exercises were usually of an ecstatic character. The closest modern analogy would be the orders of dervishes in Islam. Probably there was little externally to distinguish the prophet of Yahweh in the days of Samuel from the CanaanitePhoenician prophets of Baal and Asherah (1 Kings xviii. 19, 26, 28), for the practices of both were ecstatic and orgiastic (cf. 1 Sam. x. 5 foll., xviii. 10, Rix. 23 loll.). The special quality which distinguished these prophetic gilds or companies was an intense patriotism combined with enthusiastic devotion to the cause of Yahweh. This necessarily involved in that primitive age an extreme jealousy of foreign importations or innovations in ritual. It is obvious from numerous passages that these prophetic gilds recognized the superior position and leadership of Samuel, or of any other distinguished prophet such as Elijah or Elisha. Thus 1 Sam. xix. 20, 23 et seq. show that Samuel was regarded as head of the prophetic settlement at Naioth. With reference to Elijah and Elisha, see 2 Kings ii. 3, 5, 15, iv. I, 38 et seq., vi. 1 et seq. There cannot be any doubt that 4 Similarly in ancient Greece. See the instructive passage in Aristotle, Nic. Eth. viii. 9 (4, 5), on the relation of Greek sacrifices and festivals to Kou'wviac and politics: al yap apxaiac Ovotac Kai vuvoSoa 4aivovrac yiyveo-Oat uera rhs Kaplrcov crvyKoptSas olov airapxai; cf. Grote on Pan-Hellenic festivals, History of Greece, vol. iii.; ch. 28.
Wellhausen, Reste arabischen Heidentums (2nd ed.), p. 89.
6 Though this be an interpolated gloss (Thenius, Budde), it states a significant truth as Kautzsch clearly shows, op. cit. p. 672. In Micah iii. 7 the hozeh is mentioned in a sense analogous to the ro'eh or " seer," and coupled with the gosem or " soothsayer," viz. as spurious; cf. Deut. xviii. 10. 7 No better derivation is forthcoming of the word nabhi', " prophet," than that it is a Katil form of the root naba = Assyr. nabu, " speak." such enthusiastic devotees of Yahweh, in days when religion meant patriotism, did much to keep alive the flame of Israel's hope and courage in the dark period of national disaster. It is significant that Saul in his last unavailing struggle against the overwhelming forces of the Philistines sought through the medium of a sorceress for an interview with the deceased prophet Samuel. It was the advice of Elisha that rescued the armies of Jehoram and Jehoshaphat in their war against Moab when they were involved in the waterless wastes that surrounded them (2 Kings iii. 14 foll.). We again find Elisha intervening with effect on behalf of Israel in the wars against Syria, so that his fame spread to Syria itself (2 Kings v.-viii. 7 foil.)'. Lastly it was the fiery counsels of the dying prophet, accompanied by the acted magic of the arrow shot through the open window, and also of the thrice smitten floor, that gave nerve and courage to Joash, king of Israel, when the armies of Syria pressed heavily on the northern kingdom (2 Kings xiii. 14-19).
We see that the prophet had now definitely emerged from the old position of " seer." Prophetic personality now moved in a larger sphere than that of divination, important though that function be in the social life of the ancient state as instrumental in declaring the will of the deity when any enterprise was on foot. For the prophet's function became in an increasing degree a function of mind, and not merely of traditional routine or mechanical technique, like that of the diviner with his arrows or his lots which he cast in the presence of the ephod or plated Yahweh image. The new name nabhi' became necessary to express this function of more exalted significance, in which human personality played its larger role. Even as early as the time of David it would seem that Nathan assumed this more developed function as interpreter of Yahweh's righteous will to David. But both in 2 Sam. xii. 1-15 as well as in 2 Sam. vii. we have sections which are evidently coloured by the conceptions of a later time. We stand on safer ground when we come to Elijah's bold intervention on behalf of righteousness when he declared in the name of Yahweh the divine judgment on Ahab and his house for the judicial murder of Naboth. We here observe a great advance in the vocation of the prophet. He becomes the interpreter and vindicator of divine justice, the vocal exponent of a nation's conscience. For Elijah was in this case obviously no originator or innovator. He represents the old ethical Mosaism, which had not disappeared from the national consciousness, but still remained as the moral pre-supposition on which the prophets of the following century based their appeals and denunciations. It is highly significant that Elijah, when driven from the northern kingdom by the threats of the Tyrian Jezebel, retreats to the old sanctuary at Horeb, whence Moses derived his inspiration and his TOrah.
We have hitherto dealt with isolated examples of prophetism and its rare and distinguished personalities. The ordinary Hebrew nabhi' still remained not the reflective visionary, stirred at times by music into strange raptures (2 Kings iii. 15), but the ecstatic and orgiastic dervish who was meshuggah or " frenzied," a term which was constantly applied to him from the days of Elisha to those of Jeremiah (2 Kings ix. 11; in Hos. ix. 7 and Jer. xxix. 26 it is regarded as a term of reproach). It is only in rare instances that some exalted personality is raised to a higher level. Of this we have an interesting example in the vivid episode that preceded the battle of Ramoth-Gilead described in 1 Kings xxii., when Micaiah appears as the true prophet of Yahweh, who in his rare independence stands in sharp contrast with the conventional court prophets, who prophesied then, as their descendants prophesied more than two centuries later, smooth things.
It is not, however, till the 8th century that prophecy attained its highest level as the interpreter of God's ways to men. This is due to the fact that it for the first time unfolded the true character of Yahweh, implicit in the old Mosaic religion and submerged in the subsequent centuries of Israel's life in Canaan, but now at length made clear and explicit to the mind of the 1 In Isa. iii. 2 the soothsayer is placed on a level with the judge, prophet and elder.
nation. It became now detached from the limitations of nationalism and local association with which it had been hitherto circumscribed.
Even Elisha, the greatest prophet of the 9th century, had remained within these national limitations which characterized the popular conceptions of Yahweh. Yahweh was Israel's wargod. His power was asserted in and from Canaanite soil. If Naaman was to be healed, it could only be in a Palestinian river, and :two mules' load of earth would be the only permanent guarantee of Yahweh's effective blessing on the Syrian general in his Syrian home.
That larger conceptions prevailed in some of the loftier minds of Israel, and may be held to have existed even as far back as the age of Moses, is a fact which the Yahwistic cosmogony in Gen. ii. 4b-9 (which may have been composed in the 9th century B.C.) clearly suggests, and it is strongly sustained by the overwhelming evidence of the powerful influence of Babylonian culture in the Palestinian region during the centuries 2000-1400 B.C. 2 Probably in our modern construction of ancient Hebrew history sufficient consideration has not been given to the inevitable coexistence of different types and planes of thought, each evolved from earlier and more primordial forms. In other words we have to deal not with one evolution but with evolutions.
The existence of the purer and larger conception of Yahweh's character and power before the advent of Amos indicates that the transition from the past was not so sudden as Wellhausen's graphic portrayal in the 9th edition of this Encyclopaedia (art. Israel) would have led us to suppose. There were pre-existent ideas upon which that prophet's epoch-making message was based. Yet this consideration should in no way obscure the fact that the prophet lived and worked in the all-pervading atmosphere of the popular syncretic Yahweh religion, intensely national and local in its character. In Wellhausen's words, each petty state " revolved on its own axis " of social-religious life till the armies of Tiglath-Pileser III. broke up the security within the Canaanite borders. According to the dominating popular conception, the destruction of the national power by a foreign army meant the overthrow of the prestige of the national deity by the foreign nation's god. If Assyria finally overthrew Israel and carried off Yahweh's shrine, Assur (Asur), the tutelary deity of Assyria, was mightier than Yahweh. This was precisely what was happening among the northern states, and Amos foresaw that this might eventually be Israel's doom. Rabshakeh's appeal to the besieged inhabitants of Jerusalem was based on these same considerations. He argued from past history that 2 Kautzsch, in his profoundly learned article on the " Religion of Israel," to which frequent reference has been made, exhibits (pp. 669-671) an excess of scepticism, in our opinion, towards the views propounded by Gunkel in 1895 ( Schopfung and Chaos ) respecting the intimate connexion between the early Hebrew cosmogonic ideas and those of Babylonia. Stade indeed (Z.A.T.W., 1903, pp. 176178) maintained that the conception of Yahweh as creator of the world could not have arisen till after the middle of the 8th century as the result of prophetic teaching, and that it was not till the time of Ezekiel that Babylonian conceptions entered the world of Hebrew thought in any fulness. Such a theory appears to ignore the remarkable results of archaeology since 1887. At that time Stade's position might have appeared reasonable. It was the conclusion to which Wellhausen's brilliant literary analysis, when not supplemented by the discoveries at Tell el-Amarna and Tell el-Hesi, appeared to many scholars (by no means all) inevitably to conduct us. But the years 1887 to 1891 opened many eyes to the fact that the Hebrews lived their life on the great highways of intercourse between Egypt on the one hand, and Babylonia, Assyria and the N. Palestinian states on the other, and that they could scarcely have escaped the all-pervading Babylonian influences of 2000-1400 B.C. It is now becoming clearer every day, especially since the discovery of the laws of Khammurabi, that, if we are to think sanely about Hebrew history before as well as after the exile, we can only think of Israel as part of the great complex of Semitic and especially Canaanite humanity that lived its life in western Asia between 2060 and 600 B.C.; and that while the Hebrew race maintained by the aid of prophetism its own individual and exalted place, it was not less susceptible then, than it has been since, to the moulding influences of great adjacent civilizations and ideas. Cf. C. H. W. Johns in Interpreter, pp. 300-304 (in April 1906), on prophetism in Babylonia.
Yahweh would be powerless in the presence of Ashur (2 Kings xviii. 33-35).
This problem of religion was solved by Amos and by the prophets who succeeded him through a more exalted conception of Yahweh and His sphere of working, which tended to detach Him from His limited realm as a national deity. Amos exhibited Him to his countrymen as lord of the universe, who made the seven stars and Orion and turns the deep midnight darkness into morning. He calls to the waters of the sea and pours them on the earth's surface (chap. v. 8). Such a universal God of the world would hardly make Israel His exclusive concern. Thus He not only brought the Israelites out of Egypt, but also the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from Kir (ix. 7). But Amos went beyond this. Yahweh was not only the lord of the universe and possessed of sovereign power. The prophet also emphasized with passionate earnestness that Yahweh was a God whose character was righteous, and God's demand upon His people Israel was not for sacrifices but for righteous conduct. Sacrifice, as this prophet, like his successor Jeremiah, insisted (Amos v. 25; cf. Jer. vii. 22) played no part in Mosaic religion. In words which evidently impressed his younger contemporary Isaiah (cf. esp. Is. chap. i. 11-17), Amos denounced the nonethical ceremonial formalism of his countrymen which then prevailed (chap. v. 21 foil.): " I hate, I contemn your festivals and in your feasts I delight not; for when you offer me your burnt-offerings and gifts, I do not regard them with favour and your fatted peace-offerings I will not look at. Take away from me the clamour of your songs; and the music of your viols I will not hear. But let judgment roll down like waters and justice like a perennial brook." In the younger contemporary prophet of Ephraim, Hosea, the stress is laid on the relation of love ( hesed ) between Yahweh, the divine husband, and Israel, the faithless spouse. Israel's faithlessness is shown in idolatry and the prevailing corruption of the high places in which the old Canaanite Baal was worshipped instead of Yahweh. It is shown, moreover, in foreign alliances. Compacts with a powerful foreign state, under whose aegis Israel was glad to shelter, involved covenants sealed by sacrificial rites in which the deity or deities of the foreign state were involved as well as Yahweh, the god of the weaker. vassal-state. And so Yahweh's honour was compromised. While these aspects of Israel's relation to Yahweh are emphasized by the Ephraimite prophet, the larger conceptions of Yahweh's character as universal Lord and the God of righteousness, whose government of the world is ethical, emphasized by the prophet of Tekoah, are scarcely presented.
In Isaiah both aspects - divine universal sovereignty and justice, taught by Amos, and divine loving-kindness to Israel and God's claims on His people's allegiance, taught by Hosea - are fully expressed. Yahweh's relation of love to Israel is exhibited under the purer symbol of fatherhood (Isa. i. 2-4), a conception which was as ancient and familiar as that of husband, though perhaps the latter recurs more frequently in prophecy (Isa. i. 21; Ezek. xvi. &c.). Even more insistently does Isaiah present the great truth of God's universal sovereignty. As with his elder contemporary, the foreign peoples - (but in Isaiah's oracles Assyria and Egypt as well as the Palestinian races) - come within his survey. The "fullness of the earth " is Yahweh's glory (vi. 3) and the nations of the earth are the instruments of His irresistible and righteous will. Assyria is the " bee " and Egypt the " fly " for which Yahweh hisses. Assyria is the " hired razor " (Isa. vii. 18, 19), or the " rod of His wrath," for the chastisement of Israel (x. 5). But the instrument unduly exalts itself, and Assyria itself shall suffer humiliation at the hands of the world's divine sovereign (x. 7-15).
And so the old limitations of Israel's popular religion, - the same limitations that encumbered also the religions of all the neighbouring races that succumbed in turn to Assyria's invincible progress, - now began to disappear. Therefore, while every other religion which was purely national was extinguished in the nation's overthrow, the religion of Israel survived even amid exile and dispersion. For Amos and Isaiah were able to single out those loftier spiritual and ethical elements which lay implicit in Mosaism and to lift them into their due place of prominence. National sacra and the ceremonial requirements were made to assume a secondary role or were even ignored.' The centre of gravity in Hebrew religion was shifted from ceremonial observance and local sacra to righteous conduct. Religion and righteousness were henceforth welded into an indissoluble whole. The religion of Yahweh was no longer to rest upon the narrow perishable basis of locality and national sacra, but on the broad adamantine foundations of a universal divine sovereignty over all mankind and of righteousness as the essential element in the character of Yahweh and in his claims on man. This wa
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Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Hebrew Religion'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/bri/h/hebrew-religion.html. 1910.
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