CODEX Entry 1030: Yahweh
Son of El, and God of the Israelites, later adopted by the Christian religion. In the Enuma Elish, or Babylonian creation myth, El has divided the waters into the fresh and the salty. His grandson, Marduk, has been killed by the Goddess of the Sea, Tiamat. Marduk is then resurrected to kill her in revenge. Marduk orders El to make the first man Lullu from the corpse of Tiamat’s son. In Egypt Ra created the air, Shu, and water, Tefnut. He created Geb and Nut whose first born was Osiris. His brother Seth killed Osiris who was resurrected by his wife long enough to give birth to Horus. In the Canaanite creation myth, taken from the Ugarit Baal Cycle¹, El has divided the water and air, and his son Baal has killed his brother Yam, the God of the Sea. Another brother, Mot, the God of the Underworld, then kills Baal, who is resurrected by his wife to kill him in revenge. In the somewhat less bloodthirsty Israelite version, El has divided the waters, and Yahweh has created the first man Adam. All three creation depictions confirm El as the ‘Creator of the Earth’² , or bny bnwt, ‘Creator of all Made Things’.
Yahweh makes his first appearance in the Bible in Genesis 2:4. Prior to this El, or Elohim, which means either ‘the gods’ or ‘the sons of El’, has already done the six days of creating and taken a day of rest before Yahweh waters the plants of the earth and creates הָֽאָדָ֖ם, hā-’ā-ḏām, a man. This was replaced with the proper noun, Adam, in English. Yahweh built a garden in the East, somewhere within the confluence where the Euphrates and Diyala rivers flow into the Tigris, in modern day Iraq, or the ancient region of Babylonia³. He planted Orchards of Longevity and Wisdom in the garden. The man was put to sleep by Yahweh and had a rib removed. This was used in the making of אִשָּׁ֔ה, ’iš-šāh, a woman, called Eve in the English Bible. This use of proper nouns Adam and Eve, when the text uses the generic terms for a man and a woman, has caused immense confusion, not least the idea that there was a singular couple from whom all humankind was generated. Confusion multiplied further by liberal translations. For example, in Genesis 2:24 the hebrew is translated as ‘Adam and his wife lay naked together, and they felt no shame’. וְלֹ֖אbe יִתְבֹּשָֽׁשׁוּ׃ . These few lines are the inception of the concept of original sin. This word actually means either ‘but they were not cooked through’, or ‘but they were not asked’. There is no precedent of it meaning ashamed in any other text, biblical or otherwise. In ancient times a woman was perceived as a passive incubator, Aristotle’s much quoted statement, ‘the male semen cooks and shapes the menstrual blood into human beings’ summarized the views of the period of the mechanics4 of procreation. The ancient terms for fermentation were also often used to represent pregnancy5. The expression ‘they were not cooked through, after coital intercourse, could infer that they failed to produce a child. The concept of the difficulties in creating early humans mimic those described in the Mesopotamia Epic of the Iggigi Revolt6, where the Goddess Nintu struggles with some initial still born and infertile humans7. This would bring the text closer in line with the Mesopotamian myths, rather than later concepts of sexual or intellectual guilt.
At the turn of the 20th century scholars, led by Hermann Gunkel8 and Friedrich Delizsche9, concluded that the creation story in the Old Testament was a re-rendering of the Canaanite and Babylonian creation stories, with Yahweh replacing his brother, Baal, and nephew, Marduk. Christians have increased the similarities by adding a murdered and resurrected son.
Babylonian and Canaanite texts are rife with conflicts between the brothers, and the Bible is no different, with much of the text dedicated to Yahweh’s profound hatred for Baal. There are countless examples of Yahweh’s rage and revenge when the Israelites return to Baal worship10. Over a dozen cities named in Baal’s honour, erased and renamed, after the Israelites have taken the towns11 and massacred the inhabitants. Regular references are also made to the destruction of Baal temples, Astoreth poles, and the killing of his priests, both during the invasion of Canaan, and later in the time of the Kings.
Yahweh disappeared from the Old Testament around the time of Joshua’s death, just after Judah had successfully conquered Jerusalem and the remaining Canaanite settlements in Gaza. With Yahweh present, victory was assured, and for many years the Israelites practised genocide in every farm, hamlet, village or town under Yahweh’s protection12. Kings were skewered on poles at the gate of each settlement and only the unmarried women were spared as servants and wives for the Israelites.
¹ Ras Shamra tablets
² The Inscription of Azitawadda
³ Gen. 2:8
4 Suttie, Ian D; The Origins of Love and Hate
5 Andrew Gray, Mythology, Spirituality, and History
6 Original Sumerian Text (I:178-220)
7 Maximillien De Lafayette, Comparative Encyclopedic Dictionary of Mesopotamian Vocabulary
8 Hermann Gunkel, Schöpfung und Chaos in Urzeit und Endzeit
9 Friedrich Delitzsch, Babel and Bible: Two Lectures
10 Num. 25:3-5; Deut. 4:3; Judg. 2:11-13; Judg. 3:7; Judg. 8:33; Judg. 9:57; Judg 10:6-10; 1 Sam. 7:4; 1 Sam, 12:10; 1 Kings 16:31; 1 Kings 18:18
11 Num. 32:38
12 Josh. 5:13-6:27, Josh. 8, Josh. 10-12