Sunday, February 20, 2005

Total Bible Geekdom

Total Geekdom alert:

In Genesis 1, the sun and moon are not specifically mentioned:

Gen 1:14 - 19
And God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years,and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

Note here just the words "greater light" and "lesser light." Not "sun" and "moon."

In the Hebrew Bible, the word shemesh is Hebrew for "sun." Elsewhere the word is Hebrew SHAMESH = South Arabic SHFSH = Ugaritic SHPSH which is pronounced Shapshu. Shapshu is the Caananite sun goddess.

In the Hebrew Bible, the word yareach is Hebrew for "moon." The word undergoes then same type shifts as above and becomes the Caananite word Yarikh who is the moon god. These are the same people who worshiped El (god), his consort Asherah and their son Ba'al. These words are also in the Bible, and are usually not translated.

In order to distinguish themselves totally from the Caananites, the Apiru (Hebrew) people (the nation of Israel) did not use the words "sun" and "moon" in Genesis 1. They wanted to avoid any hint of the Caananite religion and shunned the use of these words in their Creation hymn.

There are other instances of the writer of Genesis being aware of other culture's deities -- the word tehom is related to the Babylonian word for "sea" which is tiamat -- the name of the Babylonian Goddess from whose dead body the world is said to have been created. There is tremendous debate about if the Babylonian myth influenced the Bible or the Bible informed the Babylonian myth. Nonetheless, it is obvious that they are somehow in conversation.

It is interesting to note these influences. Reguardless if you are a Creationist or a Liberal or an Orthodox or an Neo-orthodox or Agnostic or whatever, the message seems to be clear in Genesis 1 -- by avoiding the names of Caananite gods, we are affirming that our God is in control, that our God had order and purpose in mind. Unlike the Babylonian myth in the Enuma Elish, where the world is created out of the split body of Tiamat and mankind is created accidentally from spilled blood, God tells us in the Bible that He lovingly created the Universe by His Word, speaking the world into creation and that He formed us delibrately, lovingly and in His image -- with tremendous expectations, breathing His spirit into us.

1 comment:

Rob said...

I take it trackbacks didn't work in Biblical times, either...