'“The finest trick of the devil, Charles Baudelaire wrote, is to persuade you that he does not exist”. Perhaps he was mistaken. His finest trick, I believe, is to convince the world that he is God.'
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
Laurent Guyénot is the author of From Yahweh to Zion: Jealous God, Chosen People, Promised Land … Clash of Civilizations, 2018 ($30 shipping included from Sifting and Winnowing, PO 221, Lone Rock, WI 53556). RI published a review of it in June, 2018: Small Minority of Jews Are the Real 'Jewish Question' - Laurent Guyenot's Important New Book
This article follows and concludes a series of four articles I wrote recently for the Saker blog. In the first one, “How Biblical is Zionism?” (reproduced under a different title on Russia Insider), I wrote: “When Israeli leaders claim that their vision of the global future is based on the (Hebrew) Bible, we should take them seriously and study the (Hebrew) Bible.” In the second one, “How Zionist is the New Word Order?”
I explained that Zionism was never a nationalist movement like others; insofar as it is rooted in the biblical narrative, it contained from the outset a plan for world domination. In the third article, “Who the Hell is the Prince of this World?” I contended that the core characteristic of the biblical ideology—and the best-kept secret of Judaism—is its materialistic anthropology, best summarized by American rabbi Harry Waton: “the only immortality there is for the Jew is the immortality in the Jewish people.” In the fourth article, “Is Israel a Psychopath?”
I argued that “Israel is the psychopath among nations, and that means a tremendous capacity to manipulate, intimidate, corrupt morally, and get what they want.” In this fifth and final part, I wish to address once again the issue of the biblical root of Jewishness, by arguing that the psychopathic behavior of Israel—understood both as a national state and as an international organized community—is the end result of the psychopathic “personality” of the Jewish God portrayed in the Bible.
Let me first state that I take no pleasure in offending anybody’s religious faith. Some Christians tell me that I do not read the Old Testament correctly, through New Testament glasses. My answer is: read it as you like, and convert the Jews to your reading if you can.
My purpose is to explain how the Jews, by whom and for whom it was written, have been reading it for more than a hundred generations, and how it has shaped their worldview, and continues to shape the worldview of many elite Jews. I understand and even empathize with Christians’ difficulty to engage in this effort, but I believe there will be no lasting cure from the corrupting influence of international Jewry without unprejudiced etiological inquiry.
To assess correctly the underlying ideology of the Hebrew Tanakh and its influence on those who hold it as their “roman national”, requires that we put aside the notion that it was inspired by “God” in any way, for this notion induces a cognitive dissonance which impairs our rational and moral judgment.
In fact, we should perhaps renounce looking at the Hebrew Bible as a religious book, because the category of “religion” fails to account for its strong influence on non-religious Jews. As I have shown in “How Biblical is Zionism?” most Israeli leaders, from Ben-Gurion to Netanyahu, are non-religious, but their worldview is profoundly biblical nonetheless.
The biblical outlook is the essence of Jewishness, of which Nahum Goldman said that it is impossible to decide if it “consists first of belonging to a people or practicing a religion, or the two together.”i This ambivalence is strategic: it is used by organized Jewry to ward off criticism by qualifying it either as anti-Semitic or as an assault on religious freedom, depending on the circumstance.
We should not fall into this trap. What I am dealing here is biblical ideology. Whether this ideology should be categorized as religious is irrelevant. Any idea, any ideology may be criticized, no matter how sacred or ancient it is held to be. And since the first victims of a toxic idea are the men and women who believe it, they are the first who need to be enlightened on its toxicity.
The most appropriate category to understand both the Torah and Jewishness is not “religion” but “covenant” (berit in Hebrew, meaning also treaty or oath of allegiance). The foundation of Jewishness is the Mosaic Covenant. While religious Jews consider it a covenant of Jews with God, non-religious elite Jews such as members of the B’nai B’rith (“Children of the Covenant”) or the Alliance Israélite Universelle, regard it as simply a covenant between the Jews themselves. That is why Jewishness could so easily shift from being defined as an oath of allegiance to Yahweh, to being today indistinguishable from an oath of allegiance to Israel.
The Jealous One
Ancient Egyptians believed that “the gods are social beings, living and acting in ‘constellations,’” wrote German Egyptologist Jan Assmann.ii Yahweh, on the other hand, is “the Jealous One” (Exodus 34:14). He is a solitary god who manifests toward all other gods an implacable intolerance that characterizes him as a sociopath among his peers. Egyptians tried to explain this aggressive exclusiveness of Jewish religion by identifying the Jewish god with Seth, the evil god of the desert, famine, disorder and war, who had been banished by the council of the gods after having murdered his elder brother Osiris out of jealousy.iii
From the third millennium BCE onward, nations founded their diplomacy and foreign trade on their capacity to match their gods, thus acknowledging that they were living not only on the same earth, but under the same heavens. “Contracts with other states,” explains Jan Assmann, “had to be sealed by oath, and the gods to whom this oath was sworn had to be compatible.
Tables of divine equivalences were thus drawn up that eventually correlated up to six different pantheons.” But Yahweh could not be matched up with any other god; his priests forbade doing so. “Whereas polytheism, or rather ‘cosmotheism,’ rendered different cultures mutually transparent and compatible, the new counter-religion [Yahwism] blocked intercultural translatability.”iv And when Yahweh directed his people, “You will make no pact with them or with their gods” (Exodus 23:32), or “Do not utter the names of their gods, do not swear by them, do not serve them and do not bow down to them” (Joshua 23:7), he was in effect preventing any relationship of trust and fairness with the neighboring peoples.
Yahweh taught the Hebrews contempt for the deities of their neighbors, making them, in the eyes of these neighbors, a “race hated by the gods” (Tacitus), and therefore a threat to the cosmic and social order. For, wrote Tacitus (and that was long before the Talmud), the Jews show a “stubborn loyalty and ready benevolence towards brother Jews. But the rest of the world they confront with the hatred reserved for enemies” (Histories V.3–5).
Not other nation, in fact, treated its enemies as are said to have done the Hebrews in biblical times. The war code of Deuteronomy 20, which commands to exterminate “any living thing” in nearby conquered cities, and which was applied to the people of Jericho (Joshua 6:21) and to the Amalekites (1Samuel 15:3)—whereas among the Midianites were spared, as booty, the “young girls who have never slept with a man” (Numbers 31:18)—is unheard of in other nations’ archives.
The Assyrians, whose god Assur was no angel, did not slaughter the Israelites, but deported and resettled them, and the Babylonians did the same to the Judeans, who were even allowed to keep their tradition and their cohesion, and to prosper on the riverbanks of the Euphrates.
Yahweh is the most cruel of all national and military gods, even by the standards of biblical time. But Yahweh would have us believe that all other gods, not him, are abominations that need to be eradicated from the face of the earth. It all started with Assur. Yahweh’s jealousy really became pathological after the destruction of Israel by Assyria. In the oldest strata of the book of Isaiah, composed around that time, we hear Yahweh unable to cope with the frustration and humiliation, and consumed with the lust of vengeance:
“Yahweh Sabaoth has sworn it, ‘Yes, what I have planned will take place, what I have decided will be so: I shall break Assyria [Assur] in my country, I shall trample on him on my mountains. Then his yoke will slip off them, his burden will slip from their shoulders. This is the decision taken in defiance of the whole world; this, the hand outstretched in defiance of all nations. Once Yahweh Sabaoth has decided, who will stop him? Once he stretches out his hand, who can withdraw it?’” (14:24–27).
Listen to Yahweh raging after his defeat, and you hear a narcissistic megalomaniac:
“By my own self I swear it; what comes from my mouth is saving justice, it is an irrevocable word: All shall bend the knee to me, by me every tongue shall swear.” (Isaiah 45:23)
Children of the sociopathic god
In the Bible, the fate of the Jewish people is linked exclusively to the criterion of their obedience to Yahweh’s covenant, which includes prohibition of any alliance with the people inhabiting the promised land, and the destruction of their sanctuaries (Exodus 34:12-13). Every reversal of fortune is explained by a breach of contract on the part of the people, and serves to strengthen the submission of the people. When a hostile people attacks the Hebrews, it is never because of what the Hebrews did to them, but because of the Hebrews’ infidelity to Yahweh. In Kevin MacDonald’s words:
“The idea that Jewish suffering results from Jews straying from their own law occurs almost like a constant drumbeat throughout the Tanakh—a constant reminder that the persecution of Jews is not the result of their own behavior vis-à-vis Gentiles but rather the result of their behavior vis-à-vis God.”v
It is important to recognize that, in the Bible, the first victims of Yahweh’s violence are the Jews themselves. Deuteronomy orders the stoning of any parent, son, brother, or wife who “tries secretly to seduce you, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ […] since he has tried to divert you from Yahweh your God.” Worse still, Yahweh orders the complete slaughter and burning of any town where such “scoundrels from your own stock […] have led their fellow-citizens astray, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods.’” For that is “what is right in the eyes of Yahweh your God” (Deuteronomy 13:7–19).
When some Israelites married Moabite women, who “invited them to the sacrifices of their gods,” “Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Take all the leaders of the people. Impale them facing the sun, for Yahweh’” (Numbers 25:1-4).
Those Jews who socialized with their neighbors rather than slaughtering them, who ate with them, who intermarried with them, and who, while doing all this, showed respect to their gods, are the dregs of the Jewish people, according to the Bible. This is how Jews have been taught to see things for a hundred generations (and Christians too, for that matter).
The biblical message is, in essence: “Do not socialize with idolaters (non-Jews), despise their traditions, and—if possible—exploit them, enslave them, and exterminate them. If, after that, they violate you, it is your fault: you have not obeyed scrupulously enough.” Such is the insane cognitive logic, internalized over 25 centuries, that encloses the Jews in the infernal dilemma of election and persecution.
This mode of thinking is based on the denial of the other’s humanity, which is indeed the essence of psychopathy. It does not occur to the psychopath to question the feelings of the other in order to try to understand his anger, because the other is fundamentally an object and not a person: his motivations are irrelevant. Never does the Jewish community take into account the grievances of its persecutors. Its elites forbid it.
To his chosen people, the biblical Yahweh is behaving as a psychopath preventing his only son from building nurturing bonds with others, in order to keep total control over him and make him an extension of himself. If such a psychopath father succeeds, his son will find no comfort, no substitute parent figure, and therefore no lever of resilience.
He will be trained to perceive all generous attention as a threat, any gesture of sympathy as an aggression. All around him he will learn to see only potential enemies. Yahweh convinces the Jews that all non-Jews who wish to be their friends are in fact their worst enemies; that any confidence in Gentiles leads only to disaster. The cultic and food prohibitions are there to prevent any socialization outside the tribe. “I shall set you apart from all these peoples, for you to be mine” (Leviticus 20:26).
Strict endogamy is the central command, and it is directly linked to Yahweh’s demand for exclusive worship. After the conquest of Canaan, it was forbidden to marry one’s children to the natives, “for your son would be seduced from following me into serving other gods; the wrath of Yahweh would blaze out against you and he would instantly destroy you” (Deuteronomy 7:3-4).
In the ancient world, marriage required the mutual adoption of each other’s gods, or at least their cohabitation in the same household. This does not pose a problem to the extent that the gods are social beings who accept each other. But the god of the Hebrews is a jealous god, who tolerates no other. Although most Zionists pretend to be atheists, the fundamental rule has not changed, because it is the essence of Jewishness. To intermarry is, according to Benzion Netanyahu, father of the Israeli prime minister, equivalent to “an act of suicide.”vi What better proof do we need that the Israeli elite think biblically?
We need a revisionist approach to biblical history. It portrays all other nations than Israel as repulsive idolaters. But they were not. The abominable Egyptians had built the first great civilization; they had introduced wheat growing to the world. They were a peaceful and highly spiritual people. So were the Canaanites. Whenever the biblical Israelites resisted Yahweh’s antisocial order to keep separate from them, they are called “stiff-necked.”
But should we not feel sympathy for those rebellious Jews, who tried to befriend their neighbors, and assimilate into the civilizations that hosted them? What about those Jews who resist Yahweh’s orders to kill men, women and children indiscriminately? How should we judge King Saul, who was deposed for sparing one man? If we insist that Yahweh is God, how can we criticize the Jews of today for their strong communitarian loyalty? They learned it from the Bible!
Are Yahweh and Molech the same?
A quick look at Yahweh’s unauthorized biography by biblical scholars will enlighten us on his personality. Long before he claimed to be the Creator of the Universe—that is, long before Genesis was written—Yahweh was a local and tribal god attached to Mound Sinai (also called Horeb), located in Midian, north-west Arabia, according to Exodus 2 (and not in Egypt, as the Roman church would locate it in the 4th century, despite the fact that even saint Paul knew that “Mount Sinai is in Arabia” Galatians 4:25).
This region is volcanic, with eruptions recorded up to the Middle Ages, and Mount Sinai is clearly a volcano: when Yahweh spoke to Moses on the mountain, others only perceived “peals of thunder and flashes of lightning, dense cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast. […] Mount Sinai was entirely wrapped in smoke, because Yahweh had descended on it in the form of fire.
The smoke rose like smoke from a furnace and the whole mountain shook violently. Louder and louder grew the trumpeting. Moses spoke, and God answered him in the thunder” (Exodus 19:16-19).vii Yahweh would never totally forget his volcanic background. He remained “a consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24), especially in apocalyptic literature: in the Last Days, “glowing like a furnace,” Yahweh will “set ablaze” all evil-doers, “leaving them neither root nor branch” (Malachi 3:19).
Yahweh retained other primitive traits. He is known as the God who ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son, but then held back his hand and satisfied himself with a ram (Genesis 22). He has therefore been compared favorably with the Canaanite god Molech, to whom firstborn infants were said to be ritually sacrificed. But biblical scholars like Thomas Römer believe that Molech was in fact none other than Yahweh himself.
The name mlk, vocalized as Molech in the Masoretic text (the 9th century Tanakh which first introduced vowels into the Hebrew script), but Melech in the Greek Septuagint, is identical to the Hebrew word for “king”, applied more than fifty times to Yahweh and used to form such Hebrew names as Abimelech (“Melech is my father”) in Genesis 20:2 or Elimelech (“Melech is my god”) in Ruth 1:2.
Some psalms contain the acclamation Yahweh melech, “Yahweh is king,” still in use in Jewish religious songs. The Leviticus verses which prohibit infant sacrifice indirectly testify that they were done in Yahweh’s name and in Yahweh’s sanctuary: “You will not allow any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, thus profaning the name of your God. I am Yahweh” (18:21); “Anyone, be he Israelite or alien resident in Israel, who gives any of his children to Molech, will be put to death. […] for by giving a child of his to Molech he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name” (20:2-5). Jeremiah 7:30-31 confirms that “the people of Judah” continued “to burn their sons and daughters […] in the Temple that bears my name, to defile it.”
Although Yahweh declares it to be “a thing I never ordered, that had never entered my thoughts,” the very fact that a scribe wrote this indicates, according to Thomas Römer, that the people who sacrificed their children did claim it was required by Yahweh. It is only in the Persian era that human sacrifices became taboo, and that they were dissociated from the cult of Yahweh.viii Nevertheless, Israelites are portrayed as believing in their efficiency, for when the Moabites (Israelites’ relatives as descendants of Abraham’s nephew) were besieged by the Israelites, the king of Moab “took his eldest son who was to succeed him and offered him as a sacrifice on the city wall. Alarmed at this, the Israelites withdrew and retired to their own territory” (2 Kings 3:26-27).
Is the Mosaic Alliance satanic?
The Exodus story probably reflects a very ancient and sacred tradition regarding the origin of the Mosaic covenant. This covenant, or alliance, was sealed with a ritual sacrifice: altars were built at the foot of Mount Horeb, and oxen were killed as “communion sacrifices”. “Moses then took half the blood and put it into basins, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar.” After reading the “Book of the Covenant,” he “took the blood and sprinkled it over the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which Yahweh has made with you, entailing all these stipulations’” (Exodus 24:4-8). As orientalist William Robertson Smith has shown, this manner of sealing in blood an alliance between tribes, or an oath of loyalty to a chief, was common in pre-Islamic Arabia.ix
The “Book of the Covenant” mentioned in Exodus refers to the complex code of laws that the Hebrews are to follow, which is detailed in the rest of the Torah (Pentateuch). Moses’s speeches in Deuteronomy give us the basic terms of the covenant. When reading it, we should keep in mind that, at this stage of the story, Yahweh is not believed to be God; he has only introduced himself to Moses as “the god of your ancestors” (Exodus 3:6).
“Today you have obtained this declaration from Yahweh: that he will be your god, but only if you follow his ways, keep his statutes, his commandments, his customs, and listen to his voice. And today Yahweh has obtained this declaration from you: that you will be his own people—as he has said—but only if you keep all his commandments; then for praise and renown and honour, he will raise you higher than every other nation he has made, and you will be a people consecrated to Yahweh, as he has promised.” (26:17-19)
“Yahweh will make you abound in possessions: in the offspring of your body, in the yield of your cattle and in the yield of your soil, in the country which he swore to your ancestors that he would give you. For you Yahweh will open his treasury of rain, the heavens, to give your country its rain at the right time, and to bless all your labours. You will make many nations your subjects, yet you will be subject to none.” (28:11-12)
What Yahweh promises is material prosperity, to the detriment of other peoples. On this point, the Tanakh is remarkably consistent: “You will suck the milk of nations, you will suck the wealth of kings” (Isaiah 60:16); “the wealth of all the surrounding nations will be heaped together: gold, silver, clothing, in vast quantity” (Zechariah 14:14). Spiritual rewards are not part of the bargain.
In fact, if we remember that Yahweh taught the Jews that they have no individual souls (read my article “Who the Hell is the Prince of this World?”), which is tantamount to claiming their souls for himself, we can say that the Mosaic covenant has the nature of a Faustian pact: Israel will obtain every worldly success in exchange of his soul: “you, out of all peoples, shall be my personal possession” (Exodus 19:5).
It is instructive to compare Yahweh’s promise to his people that they will rule over “every other nation in the world” if only they “faithfully obey the voice of Yahweh your God, by keeping and observing all his commandments” (Deuteronomy 28:1), with Satan’s bargain with Jesus in Matthew 4:8-10: “the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. And he said to him, ‘I will give you all these, if you fall at my feet and do me homage.’”
At the least, it is hard to see what distinguishes Yahweh from Mammon (a personification of Wealth in Matthew 6:24), when he shows himself possessed by greed for precious metals: “I shall shake all the nations, and the treasures of all the nations will flow in, and I shall fill this Temple with glory, says Yahweh Sabaoth. Mine is the silver, mine the gold! Yahweh Sabaoth declares” (Haggai 2:7–8). This can be contrasted with Jesus’s admonition “store up treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20–21), which is totally foreign to Yahwism.
Yahweh against Baal
Yahweh alone is the true god, he says, whereas all other gods are demons. This is called blame shifting and is typical of psychopaths. We need to see through it and break the spell.
Let us take an unprejudiced look at Baal, Yahweh’s most formidable rival in the Bible. In the Books of Kings, Baal is presented as a foreign god imported by Jezebel, the Phoenician wife of Ahab (1Kings 16:31–32). But Baal was actually worshipped all over Syria long before Yahweh was imported from the semi-desert lands south of Judah.x Baal Shamem, the “Heavenly Lord,” was identified as the God of Heaven and his worship transcended ethnic boundaries.xi So it is ironic that Yahweh, the god of the Jews exclusively, should compete with him for the status of supreme God.
The Cycle of Elijah (from 1 Kings17 to 2 Kings 13) admits that the cult of Baal received royal support in the powerful kingdom of Israel under the Omrid dynasty (9th century BCE). The priests of Yahweh condemned Baal worship, and the biblical tale shows Elijah challenging 450 prophets of Baal to conjure lightning upon the burnt offering of a bull: “You must call on the name of your god, and I shall call on the name of Yahweh; the god who answers with fire, is God indeed.” The prophets of Baal exhaust themselves by shouting to their god, performing “their hobbling dance” and gashing themselves with swords and spears, with no result, while Yahweh sets fire to Elijah’s bull after Elijah has drenched it with twelve jars of water to spice up the challenge.
People then fall on their faces and scream “Yahweh is God!” Then they seize all the prophets of Baal, and Elijah slaughters them (1Kings 18). Thus was proven Yahweh’s superiority, in a showdown worthy of Hollywood. Elijah, however, had to flee retaliation and walked 40 days to Mount Horeb, where after a hurricane, an earthquake and a fire eruption, he received the word of Yahweh. He was to go back to Israel and anoint the general Jehu who, after a coup against the Omrid king in 842 BCE, would first promote the cult of Yahweh in the kingdom of Israel.
Baal was for the Syrians what Osiris was for the Egyptians: both god of fertility and lord of the dead. So Baal worship was associated with the afterlife and what is presented pejoratively as necromancy.xii Such religious beliefs and practices had also strong connections with the symbol of the serpent, associated to the ambivalent nature of death. We are told that the Israelites worshiped and offered sacrifices to a bronze serpent called Nehushtan, supposedly built by Moses, until the great king Hezekiah “smashed” it (2 Kings 18:4).
In Genesis, the serpent has undergone an inversion, as part of the campaign to demonize other religions: when the serpent offers to the first humans the means of “having their eyes opened and be like gods” (Genesis 3:5), it borrows the language of initiatory mysteries meant to acquire immortality; but the Yahwist scribes present him as a liar. As a result, the idea of trying to become like gods passes today as Luciferian, although the Greek fathers of the Christian Church stressed man’s potential for deification (theosis) under the logic that “God became man so that man might become a god.”xiii
The Queen of Heaven
Yahweh’s hatred for Baal is matched only by his repulsion for Asherah, the Great Goddess worshipped throughout the Mediterranean world under many names. Under the name of Ishtar, she was the “Queen of all the inhabited places, who keeps the people in order,” according to a Mesopotamian anthem.xiv Asherah and Ishtar were also identified to the Egyptian Isis, sister-spouse of Osiris, the “myrionyme” goddess (“of ten thousand names”), who calls herself the “Queen of Heaven” in Apuleius’s novel The Golden Ass, and declares: “My name, my divinity is adored throughout all the world in diverse manners, in variable customs and in many names.”xv More than Baal, the Queen of Heaven (a title which would later be inherited by Christ’s mother) was a truly universal deity, with no “chosen people”, and that is perhaps the deeper reason of Yahweh’s hatred towards her.
In chapter 44 of the Book of Jeremiah, Yahweh declared to the Judeans who had fled to Egypt, that the destruction of Jerusalem was his punishment for their “wicked deeds […] committed to provoke my anger, by going and offering incense and serving other gods” (44:2-3). Yahweh, said his spokesman Jeremiah, could not bear the smell of incense offered to other gods (what he liked is the “pleasing smell” of carbonized animal offerings called holocausts, as we know from Genesis 8:21). Yahweh threatens the Judeans exiles in Egypt with complete extermination if they persist.
Unimpressed, they responded to Jeremiah: “We have no intention of listening to the word you have just spoken to us in Yahweh’s name, but intend to go on doing all we have vowed to do: offering incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring libations in her honour, as we used to do, we and our ancestors, our kings and our chief men, in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem: we had food in plenty then, we lived well, we suffered no disasters. But since we gave up offering incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring libations in her honour, we have been destitute and have perished either by sword or by famine” (44:16-18).
Why not lend a friendly ear to those Judeans’ alternative interpretation of the fall of Jerusalem: it is not because they worshipped other gods than Yahweh that their plight started, but on the contrary because, since the reform of Josiah, they gave up worshipping the Queen of Heaven. For what reason, other than ancestral habit, should we believe Jeremiah and his Deuteronomistic scribes?
In fact, we know they were wrong. Josiah’s grandfather Manasseh is loathed for having done “what is displeasing to Yahweh, copying the disgusting practices of the nations whom Yahweh had dispossessed for the Israelites. He rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had destroyed, he set up altars to Baal and made a sacred pole [an Ashera], as Ahab king of Israel had done, he worshiped the whole array of heaven and served it. […]
He built altars to the whole array of heaven in the two courts of the Temple of Yahweh” (2 Kings 21:2–5). But historians tell us today that Manasseh’s 55-year reign, when the Queen of Heaven was worshipped inside the Jerusalem temple, was a time of peace and prosperity.
It is Josiah, Manasseh’s grandson, who brought disaster to Judea, by removing from the temple “all the cult objects which had been made for Baal, Asherah and the whole array of heaven. […] He exterminated the spurious priests whom the kings of Judah had appointed and who offered sacrifice on the high places, in the towns of Judah and the neighborhood of Jerusalem; also those who offered sacrifice to Baal, to the sun, the moon, the constellations and the whole array of heaven” (2Kings 23:4–5). In Samaria, over which he regained partial control, Josiah ordered the sanctuary of Bethel destroyed, and “All the priests of the high places who were there he slaughtered on the altars, and on those altars burned human bones” (2 Kings 23:20). It was Josiah’s reign that was to provoke Babylonian anger and the ultimate destruction of Jerusalem.
The Jewish Question is the Biblical Question
According to the biblical paradigm, the Creator of the Universe became the God of Israel when he chose the Hebrews. But according to biblical scholarship, the historical process was the reverse: it is the god of Israel who became the Creator of the Universe. This process, which was only completed during the Persian period, was not so much due to a progress in metaphysical thought as to a political cunning. The book of Ezra betrays a calculated effort from the Levites to confuse, in the mind of the Persians, “the god of Israel who resides in Jerusalem” (7:12–15) with the “God of heaven” whom the Persians also called Ahura Mazda, with the aim of obtaining the support of the Persian king for their theocratic project in Palestine.
In Ezra, only the kings of Persia, in the various edicts attributed to them, recognize Yahweh as “the God of Heaven,” while in the rest of the text, Yahweh is merely “the god of Israel”. The same can be observed in the book of Daniel, when Nebuchadnezzar, impressed by the gifts of Daniel’s oracle, prostrates himself and exclaims: “Your god is indeed the God of gods, the Master of kings” (Daniel 2:47). Such passages give away, for those willing to see it, the deepest secret of Judaism, which is the key to understanding the relationship of Judaism to universalism: Yahweh is really the god of the Jews, while Gentiles are led to believe that he is the supreme and only God. “In the heart of any pious Jew, God is a Jew,” confirms Maurice Samuel in You Gentiles (1924).xvi
This secret is not a fully conscious thought for most Jews, it is more like a family secret running unconsciously through generations. Nevertheless, it is the binding force of the Jewish people, and I am reminded of Carl Jung’s remark that secrets “are of vital importance on the primitive level, for the shared secret serves as a cement binding the tribe together. Secrets on the tribal level constitute a helpful compensation for lack of cohesion in the individual personality.”xvii
As he usurped the majesty of the Heavenly Father of all mankind, Yahweh in no way lost his character as a military god bent on looting and slaughtering the enemies of his only chosen people. Against the Babylonians, his sword is expected to “devour until gorged, until drunk with their blood” (Jeremiah 46:10). Against the Edomites, “it is greasy with fat” (Isaiah 34:6).
If Yahweh had remained a tribal god from the desert, he would simply be recognized as particularly primitive and cruel, perhaps a demon escaped from hell though an Arabian volcano. But his successful claim to be honored as the true and only God is the biggest sham in human history, and a civilizational disaster of incomparable magnitude.
It is ultimately responsible for the spread of atheism in the West. As long as Christians were discouraged from reading the Old Testament, they were not much disturbed by it. As soon as it became widely available, it started corroding Christianity. Philosophers like Voltaire had an easy job denigrating Christianity by quoting the Old Testament: “Never was common sense attacked with so much indecency and fury” (Sermon of the Fifty). Rather without God than with such a God, became the logical and morally decent thinking.
“The finest trick of the devil, Charles Baudelaire wrote, is to persuade you that he does not exist” (Paris Spleen). Perhaps he was mistaken. His finest trick, I believe, is to convince the world that he is God.
i Nahum Goldmann, Le Paradoxe juif. Conversations en français avec Léon Abramowicz, Stock, 1976 (archive.org), p. 9.
ii Jan Assmann, Of God and Gods: Egypt, Israel, and the Rise of Monotheism, University of Wisconsin Press, 2008, p. 47.
iii According to an Egyptian legend recorded by Plutarch (Isis and Osiris), Seth wandered in Palestine where he fathered two sons, Hierosolymos and Youdaios, that is, “Jerusalem” and “Judah”. Tacitus and other historians also mention rumors that the Jerusalem Temple harbored a golden donkey’s head, the donkey being the symbol of Seth.
iv Jan Assmann, Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism, Harvard University Press, 1998, p. 3.
v Kevin MacDonald, Separation and Its Discontents: Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism, Praeger, 1998, kindle 2013, e. 6187–89.
vi Benzion Netanyahu, The Founding Fathers of Zionism (1938), Balfour Books, 2012, k. 2203–7.
vii The volcanic nature of Mount Sinai and its location in Arabia were first argued by Charles Beke in Mount Sinai a Volcano (1873) and in Sinai in Arabia and of Midian (1878). It is today largely accepted by biblical scholars, and has been popularized in books and films by adventurers such as Bob Cornuke and Larry Williams. Read also Howard Blum The Gold of Exodus: The Discovery of the True Mount Sinai, Simon & Schuster, 1998.
viii Thomas Römer, The Invention of God, Harvard UP, 2015. I read the original French version, L’Invention de Dieu, Seuil, 2017, pp. 181-183.
ix William Robertson Smith, Lectures on the Religion of the Semites: The Fundametal Institutions, A&C Black, 3rd ed., 1927, p. 314, quoted in Thomas Römer, L’Invention de Dieu, op. cit., p. 112.
x Thomas Römer, L’invention de Dieu, op; cit., pp. 71-93.
xi Norman Habel, Yahweh Versus Baal: A Conflict of Religious Cultures, Bookman Associates, 1964, p. 41.
xii Klass Spronk, Beatific Afterlife in Ancient Israel and in the Ancient Near East, Verlag Butzon & Bercker, 1986, pp. 344–345.
xiii John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, Fordham University Press, 1974.
xiv Gérard Chaliand, Les Voix du Sacré, Robert Laffont, 1992, p. 32.
xv Françoise Dunand, Isis, mère des dieux, Actes Sud, 2008, p. 232.
xvi Maurice Samuel, You Gentiles, New York, 1924 (archive.org), pp. 74–75.
xvii Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflexions, Pantheon Books, 1963, p. 342.
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