The Adam and Eve account of Genesis 3 is the first epic story of love, intrigue, betrayal, power and death in the bible. It is so well written and displayed such colour and effective use of figurative speech and of anthropomorphism that even today, many scholars are still baffled and at odds about its true meaning….if any.
By the way, have you ever wondered what was the forbidden fruit or if a snake can really talk? Can God really walk? Even more concerning, what is meant by being “made in god’s image?
To refresh the memory, let’s revisit the Genesis 3 story. See picture and note that Adam was with Eve when she ate the forbidden fruit so the idea of infidelity is a bit stretched.
“ At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.” (Genesis3:7)
IS THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT A REAL FRUIT?
Naturally, to think the forbidden fruit is an actual fruit is logical. After all, the bible said so and many scholars and “Rabbinic commentators variously characterized the forbidden fruit as a fig, a pomegranate, a grape, an apricot, a citron, or even wheat. The importance and potency of these fruits can not be denied but none has been proven to have any real extra super natural power, that would give extra knowledge or result in death.
An apple a day keep the doctor away according to a popular proverb but reality is, there were no apples in bible time. Apple was also considered as the forbidden fruit simply because during translation, in Latin, the Hebrew word for evil is malus but in Latin, malus also means apple. ”
IS THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT SEX OR THE VAGINA?
This one is hilarious if not erotic and maybe sad. According to this line of reason, sex is the forbidden fruit. Adam and Eve were told not to have sex as the day they do so they would die. However the devil seduced Eve, in front of Adam, and had sex with her. Eve then went and shared the joys of sex with her hubby, Adam.
Interestingly, the Serpent seed, dual seed or two-seedline controversial religious belief took it a bit further and claimed that the Eve/Serpent sexual intercourse resulted in the birth of Cain, hence Cain was illegitimate and a bastard if not a “jacket”. This is so despite Gen 4: 1And Adam had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain. “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man. ” she said.
These could be nice scenes in “Days of our Lives” or other soap opera but the reality is such philandering and adulterous behaviour would be appalling in the Genesis.
Also note that according to the bible, Adam was alone when the lord first forbade him to eat of the the fruit of knowledge of god and evil. Sex requires two people, at least and the forbidden fruit could be eaten by one person.
Most importantly, man was commanded to multiply. Its difficult to tell people to multiply and then forbid them to have sex. Genesis 1: 28. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.
Critical, is the fact that sex cannot be forbidden as it is instinctual and occurs as if natural and without teaching or model. Human beings were also made with sex organs that prompts them towards reproduction. Actually, maybe, the sole purpose for sex is to bring young ones as is obvious for all of creation with the exception of man and a few dolphin species. One can abstain from or restrict it, however
WOW. Man does sex for recreation (fun) and stop its original intention of procreation (reproduction) by using their intellect to develop birth control methods such as “safe period”, condoms, pills, etc. An instance when the intellect can be contrary to nature and evil.
THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT AS REASON AND OWN WILL?
So, if it is not a real fruit nor sex, what was the forbidden fruit. Basically, thoughts are fruits. Your thoughts can conjure, plant and bear seeds and images that are literally out of this word. Your thoughts can let you become inquisitive and seek knowledge. Of course as individuals, it is okay to have thoughts but some thoughts are best left ALONE. Your deep rational thoughts that seek to reason, discern and determine time, things and events contrary to truth are forbidden fruits.
This simple and maybe naive view is that the forbidden fruit is “reason, thinking and freewill”. We have the capacity of intellect but we should not use it to pursue our vain ways. We should enjoy all our thoughts and the earth but no bother with inventions and intentions. Just as how insects, birds, animals and fish enjoy nature without trying to manipulate it needlessly. This reliance on nature or god was also expected of man.
Here is a superb example of the Lord being upset at reason and self determination. Remeber the creation of the tower of babel:
Genesis 11 . 1. Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.2 As people moved eastward,[a] they found a plain in Shinar[b] and settled there.
3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
So reason and intellect without the Creator’s guidance is forbidden fruit and leads to death and confusion.
Another problem with reasoning is that sometimes the things that the mind perceives intellectually are not intelligent nor the “truth” or even necessarily in harmony with the natural design of nature.
This is so since man is intellectual but not intelligent. Intelligence is an individual’s ability to acquire skills and knowledge and apply them while intellect is the faculty of objectively understanding and reasoning abstract matters.
The amount of knowledge needed to make an intelligent and “good” decisions can only be done by an Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnipresent being. Since man is far from being all knowing, all powerful and ever present, he is reduced to making intellectual decisions based on limited knowledge and eventually faulty reasoning. THIS IS DANGEROUS AND WILL RESULT IN DEATH.
In short, knowledge/reason is the tree of good and evil while wisdom is the tree of life. Although knowledge is good to have, wisdom which requires both understanding and knowledge is the greatest ideal and pursuit. The fruits of wisdom is better than the fruits of knowledge. One sustains while one kills. The problem is, one cannot gain wisdom without obedience and recognition of the order of life. Using time and effort to determine and getting knowledge about life is a waste (death) as without understanding there can be no wisdom.
THE SNAKE IS YOUR MOST SURREPTITIOUS THOUGHT?
The idea that a snake spoke to Eve can be appreciated bearing in mind in the bible a donkey also spoke. Num:22:28: And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?
However, the bible uses figurative speech and anthropomorphism a lot. In this case it was both figurative and anthropomorphic. Your mind and thoughts are like subtle yet dangerous animals in your head. Eve did not see a snake but was simply thinking and reasoning with herself. This colourful expression underscore the fact that eve knew that she was wrong to disobey but justified in the possible favourable outcomes. In short, she wondered and even wandered away from “being subservient and restricted to nature’s way”.
Jesus puts this thought process neatly in Matthew 10: 16 “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves”.
MAN IN GODS” IMAGE
Philosophers and theologians have debated the exact meaning of the phrase for millennia. Many argued that being made in the Image of God does not mean that God possesses human-like features as God is a spirit. Rather that the statement is figurative language for God bestowing special honor unto humankind, which He did not confer unto the rest of Creation.
These include mind, will and emotion and consequently the ability to think, reason and free will.
Although it would feel special to think that the Creator has two arms, two eyes, two ears and a head, the reality is that animals also have the same features and they were made before mankind. According to the Bible and Science, man was the last of creation, hence man resembles monkey and monkey resembles god if we subscribe to the physical image scenario.
REASON AND INTELLECT ARE MAJOR KILLERS OF HUMAN BEINGS
No doubt, we could argue that if man did not use up his intellect and try to control nature to his benefit life might be worse on earth. Man’s intellect created most of the food we now eat and taken for granted such as rice, corn, wheat, carrots, banana. Similarly without man’s reasoning and intellect there would be no factories, and internet, and cars etc.
Despite these achievements, the day we begin determining our destiny we start to die. Today, chronic diseases are a major public health problem worldwide. In 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 61 per cent of all deaths — 35 million — and 49 per cent of the global burden of disease were attributable to chronic diseases due to life style. By 2030, the proportion of total global deaths due to chronic diseases is expected to increase to 70 per cent and the global burden of disease to 56 per cent. These deaths are simply because we use our intellect to reason and try to determine our life style.
Apart from life style diseases, many deaths are due to wars, ethnic cleansing, ill effects of technology, GMO related health problems. flooding, Electricity and gas related deaths etc. The reality is that hunger and poverty are a result of man’s reasoning and intellect. Religion was created by the Sumerians due to their reasoning and use of knowledge of the stars and astrology.
So that is the problem. A jealous omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent creator which made man in its image and likeness of intelligence and free will YET still insisted and required man to not use this free will and intellect for self determination, as the day man doeth such, man dies.
February 14, 2018 is very very special as Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday will be sharing centre stage on that day. Makes for great drama and intrigue. Romance vs Penance. No doubt, Valentine Day and Ash Wednesdays are not jokes and silly notions, however they have set up a climax with Easter Sunday falling on April 1, All Fools’ Day. Hoping no one gets fooled.
Chances are, this is the first time you are experiencing this unusual occurrence as the last time it happened was in 1945. Most of us know February 14 as the day when we deck out our red and white outfits; send poems and buy gifts; express love and romance and of course a lot of sex, lewdness and at times even debauchery.
Well, this year, Ash Wednesday finds itself on February 14 and is threatening to temper this aura of romance with its insistence on penitence, repentance, sadness, and mourning. What a contrast. Imagine mourning and fun and frolicking on the same day. Is this a choice?
Of course, you might be wondering which of the two rituals will win. Which will get more recognition? Valentine’s Day or Ash Wednesday? Will there be romance or penance? Maybe, there could be a draw with no clear winner. A bit of romance and a bit of penance. Hmmm, now that is complicated.
Then again it might not matter which one wins because they both serve the same purpose: they both are agrarian/pastoral attempts to get the favours of the gods to ensure a great Spring and farming. One does it with lewdness and one does it with shrewdness. The winner is the seasons or more simply, nature.
The Origins of Valentine’s Day (February 13 – 15)
(Februarius) February got its name from the thongs (known as februa) cut from the flayed skin of sacrificial male goats and dogs which were killed to favour the agricultural gods during that time of the year. Most of the observances in this month concerned the dead or closure, reflecting the month’s original position at the end of the year. It must be noted that the calendar had February at the end of the year but Julius Caesar decided in 46 BC to move the start of the calendar from the traditionally beginning of March to the beginning of January.
The spring cleansing ritual of Februa (February 13 – 15) involved sacrifices, lewdness and eroticism. It evolved into the Lupercalia as called by the Romans or Pan as called by the Greeks. The Lupercus (god of the flocks) was nude, save for a goatskin girdle.
At the Lupercal altar, a male goat (or goats) and a dog were sacrificed under the supervision of the chief priest. Goats and dogs were chosen as they are animals remarkable for their strong sexual instinct, and thus most appropriate sacrifices to the god of fertility.
An offering was also made of salted mealcakes, prepared by the vestal virgins. After the blood sacrifice, two Luperci (priests) approached the altar. Their foreheads were anointed with blood from the sacrificial knife, then wiped clean with wool soaked in milk, after which they were expected to smile and/or laugh. (Red and White on February 14?).
The sacrificial feast followed, after which the Luperci cut thongs (known as februa) from the flayed skin of the victim, and ran with these, naked or near-naked, up and down through the streets, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. Many women purposely get in their way, hoping to be struck, believing that the if they are pregnant it would help with delivery and if they were are barren they would get pregnant. (Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday?).
The rituals also included a matchmaking kind of pixie draw, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then have sex for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right.
Note that the Lupercali festivals and worship were practiced before the birth and death of Christ and was quite acceptable among the common folks and gentry. However, it was considered abominable by Jehovah and the Jews. With the conversion of Rome to Christianity in AD 326, attempts were made to “reposition” the idol worships of the ancient fathers into a frame of mind that would be palatable and more becoming for purists and folks who were “trying to serve Jehovah”.
Fortunately, by coincident or design, a priest named St. Valentine, was imprisoned by the emperor of Rome, Claudius II for assisting persecuted Christians and secretly marrying Christian couples in love. As the story goes, during Valentine’s imprisonment he tried converting Claudius to Christianity. Claudius became enraged and ordered Valentine to reject his faith or be killed. He refused to forsake his faith, so Valentine was beheaded on February 14.
The story also included an account that happened during Valentine’s imprisonment after he tutored a girl named Julia, the blind daughter of his jailer. The legend states God restored Julia’s sight after she and Valentine prayed together. On the eve of his execution, Valentine supposedly penned a note to Julia and signed it, “From your Valentine.”
The Catholic Church declared him a saint and listed him in Roman Martyrology as being martyred on February 14. In the late 5th century A.D., Pope Gelasius I eliminated the pagan celebration of Lupercalia and declared February 14 a day to celebrate the martyrdom of Saint Valentine.
Interestingly, many of the traditions of Februa and Lupercalia were usurped or continued under the banner of Valentine’s Day. As mentioned, use of red represented the blood sacrifice during Lupercalia and the color white signified the milk used to wipe the blood clean and represents new life and procreation. The sex, promiscuity and romance were done to enhance fertility.
As seen, the rebranding of February 14 and Lupercalia worship as Valentine’s Day is an easier sell to get converts. Today’s discerning population will prefer to buy a product packaged with a chubby priest than the use of that horrible looking half naked man dressed in goat clothing. Of course, we know an apple called by any other name is still an apple.
Such is the story of Valentine’s Day origin. Let’s look at the seemingly contradictory approach to fertility, called Ash Wednesday, that suggests penance and abstinence.
The worship of Lent is a fore runner to Ash Wednesday. Similar to how Lupercalia became Valentine’s Day. The term Lent is a shortened form of Lenten, which derives from the Old English term lencten, which means spring. This word is from the Old English root word lang which means long. Lent thus refers to the Spring because it is the season when the days begin to lengthen.
In biblical times, Lent was a period of penance and abstinence for forty (40) days to mourn the death of Tammuz (a day for each year of his life as he was killed at age 40). At the end of the mourning, on a Sunday near the Spring Equinox, Tammuz would come back to life and the agriculture would flourish and the animals fertile. The 40 day mourning and penance had to end on the Sunday after the first full moon after March 21 to coincide with the worship of Easter, the goddess of fertility.
You may be curious as to who was Tammuz. As we will soon realize, man also made gods in his own image and likeness. Tammuz, the god of fertility, was one such god. He was paraded as the immaculate conceived son of a great woman called Semiramis who, some legend has it, later became the Queen of Heaven, Easter or Ashtoreth as Isaiah and Ezekiel called her. (see below for more information on this mother/child relationship).
Lent was accepted into the beliefs of the Catholic Church at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. The council also settled upon the 40-day fast period as the standard length to celebrate Lent. During this time period Constantine’s (emperor of Rome) goal was to combine pagans and Christians into a peaceable unit within the Roman kingdom.
In 601, Pope Gregory moved the beginning of Lent from the fourth Sunday of the year to Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter. This changed allowed for 40 days of fasting with six Sundays counted as feast days, for a total of 46 days for Lent.
The interesting thing about Lent or Ash Wednesday is that it is attached to Easter. Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, is determined after the date of Easter has been designated. Easter begins on the Friday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox, which is March 21. By ecclesiastical rules, which fixes the date of the equinox to March 21, the earliest possible date for Easter is March 22 and the latest possible is April 25.
Accordingly, Ash Wednesday can be as earl y as February 4 and as late as March 11. It all depends on when the moon fulls after March 21 and counting backwards for 46 days from Easter Sunday to determine the beginning of Lent.
Wait a minute. I am sure if you were brought up in a nice Christian home like I did, you will be getting a bit puzzled now. What does the full moon, and beginning of Spring (March 21) got to do with Lent and Easter? The answer is everything. They both depends on the full moon after the spring equinox.
To fully appreciate the origins of Lent and Easter we must look back at where it all started. Thousands of years ago, man was very dependent on nature and its predictable yet uncertain behaviour. They quickly realized that the Sun, Moon and stars had a far-reaching impact and influence on harvests and live stocks.
As reasonable folks or better yet, as shrewd folks, they tried to give reverence and recognition to this profound fact. Common sense would dictate that the reverence be given to the Creator of the sun and moon but guess what, so far, no one has seen the maker of the sun and moon.
So man, being as creative as he is, decided to make gods in his own image, likeness and understanding. A god for everything of great importance. The sun was called the god of life and the moon was the goddess of fertility. Venus and Cupid took care of Love and Thor took care of war. You get the drift.
The greatest thing about this multi theism was that these gods were not jealous of each other. Each had his or her own affair and actually worked together. (Contrast this with Jehovah who is said to be so Jealous that he is biased and prejudiced in that he will destroy those who serve other gods and take care of those who serve him).
Sentiments aside, let’s look at how the myths and legends explain the rituals and practices surrounding the worshipping of Lent and Easter.
According to the original and genuine Easter story, Ashtoreth/Easter (the goddess of fertility) was worshipped as the provider and re-starter of all life at Spring (March 21). She is also believed to be the deification of the infamous Semiramis, the wife of Nimrod, of bible fame. Recall the tower of babel great hunter. We learnt about him at Sunday School and how he was against Jehovah.
It is unclear how Nimrod died as in in the Book of Jasher it is said that Esau, son of Isaac) killed him; while Josephus states that Shem, the son of Noah, killed nimrod. However, after his death, Nimrod body ascended into the heavens and became the sun god himself. A bit horrifying but here comes the romantic part. Nimrod, the sun god, became rays of light and implanted his seed into his wife, Semiramis now a widow, and impregnate her. (Virgin mother and child?).
The myth further stated that the child was called Tammuz , son of the sun god. He was responsible for bringing light into the world and to fight darkness. Can you guess when Tammuz was born? If you said at the Winter Solstice (December 22 – 25) you are correct. For those steeped in religious studies, you will recall that Invictus Sol (the unconquerable sun) was born on the shortest day of the year or the Saturnalia (December 22 -25) and we worship him today every December 25. That is Tammuz. Some customs called him Baal, or Mithra and more recently Jesus Christ, to legitimize its worship. Again, an apple by any other name is still an apple. Click here to See my blog on December 25 worship
The myth climaxed with the idea that Tammuz, at age 40, went hunting and was killed by a boar (hog, pig..same thing….how fitting). In order to bring back her son (Tammuz) to life an elaborate scheme was devised. The idea required forty (40) days of mourning for Tammuz (a day for each year of his life). At the end of 40 day mourning, Tammuz returns to life on the Sunday after the first full moon after March 21. Abstinence from meat, self and lust was the order of the day for the 40 days of Lent. At the end of Lent, a boar is killed and ham is eaten. Sweet revenge on the pig that killed Tammuz.
As the myth would have it, Tammuz mother, Semiramis died and the gods looked favorably on her as she was the mother of the son of the sun god. She was sent back to earth as the Spring fertility goddess, Ashtoreth/Easter, always shown as a well endowed bare breasted queen of fertility. According to the myth, she emerged from a giant egg that landed in the Euphrates river at sunrise on the Sunday after the full moon after the Spring equinox.
Semiramis, the queen of heaven, was “born again” as the goddess Easter (Ashtarte). To prove her divine authority, Semiramis, now Ashtoreth/Easter, changed a bird into an egg laying rabbit. Decorated eggs and stories about rabbits are still part of today’s Easter ritual.
As the cult of Ishtar developed, the priests would impregnate young virgins on the altar of the goddess of fertility at sunrise on Easter Sunday. A year later the priests of Easter would sacrifice these three-month old babies on the altar at the front of the sanctuary and dye Easter eggs in the blood of the sacrificed infants.
You must be saying wow. You knew Easter was bloody but it was suppose to be the blood of Jesus, that was shed to save the sins of the world.
Indeed, Christians are quick and proud to recognized Good Friday and Easter Sunday as Christ’s death and resurrection day. It is with good intentions that they do such acts of passion but the evidence show that the crucifixion of Christ was only attached to Easter, 300 years after Christ died. Furthermore, the math and prophecies suggest that a Friday death and Sunday resurrection would not fit in with the “three days and three nights” requirement for the Christ to be dead and then resurrected. (Friday evening to Sunday morning is one day and two nights).
Interestingly, it should be noted that the new testament even mention Easter by name and being around at the time of Christ and the Peter the disciple. Acts 12: 4 state that 4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. (Seems the Romans were already worhsipping Easter).
So the true meaning of Easter Sunday is originally for the day Tammuz was resurrected and neatly too the day when his mother, Semiramis, was returned to earth as Ashtoreth/Easter/Ishtar the goddess of fertility.
The major contention that many people have with the Friday and Sunday idea of Christ’s death and resurrection has to do with the fact that the Gospels mentioned Christ as being killed the day before the Sabbath. Of course we all know that Friday is the day before the weekly Saturday Sabbath. However, most elementary school students will let you know that if Christ was killed on “Good Friday” evening and raised from the dead on Easter Sunday morning, he would be lying or his math poor as this is only one day and two nights.
Why is this contentious? Well, if we are to believe the scriptures and Christ, then Christ must be dead for three days and three nights. “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:38-40).
WHICH DAY DID CHRIST DIED?
If according to the “new” Easter story Christ died on a Friday and raised on a Sunday then we have a problem. Are the gospels wrong? The answer is no. Christ was actually killed on a Wednesday, the day before a Sabbath but it was not the regular weekly Saturday Sabbath. Many of us do not know that the Jews had annual Sabbaths. As a matter of fact, two extra Sabbaths called High Sabbaths are observed every year in Nissan 14 (March or April). As a result, there are two Sabbaths every year in March/April.
These High Sabbaths don’t have to be on a Saturday as they are dates not days. They are celebrated to recognize the Passover and Israel’s miraculous exodus from Pharaoh’s Egypt.
Recall the Exodus story and the Passover? Well, before I graduated from Sunday School, I was taught the Passover story of how Moses got the Hebrew people out of the land of Egypt after being enslaved for years. Of course, the Hebrews were only set free after Jehovah killed all first born in Egypt. During the slaughter, the Hebrews who had killed animals for the last meal in Egypt, use the blood to smear the posts of their houses and the Lord passed over them and none was killed. Exodus 11:4-5.
Hence the creation of the Passover and the two High Sabbaths which were required to be commemorated annually by the Israelite. Leviticus 23:5-8. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is Yahweh’s Passover. 6 ‘Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to Yahweh; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. 7 ‘On the first day of the 7 days you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work.'”
As mentioned, these two holy convocation or High Sabbath sometimes fall in the same week of Easter and sometimes they are not. The year when Christ was killed, the week of Passover and the Feast of the Unleavened bread fell in Easter week, Wednesday (High Sabbath) and on Saturday, normal Sabbath.
For example, this year Passover 2018 will begin in the evening of Friday, 30 March and ends in the evening of Saturday, 7 April. As such this year we will see two Sabbaths in one. The High Sabbath and the weekly Saturday Sabbath will both occur on Friday evening March 30, to Saturday evening March 31. On the other hand Easter is Sunday April 1. Noticed how Easter is always a Sunday while the High Sabbath and Passover can be week days or even the Saturday Sabbath.
Summarily, the bible mentioned two Sabbaths during the week of Christ’s death. The annual High Sabbath which occurred the Wednesday Christ was killed and the weekly Saturday Sabbath, the evening he rose.
Still a bit fuzzy? Let’s use the Gospels as our guide to get a clear idea of the timeline for Christ’s death.
For the fun of it, let’s take a quick look at Easter, as it was in the time of the prophets such as Isaiah and Ezekiel, thousands of years before Jesus Christ was born. Yeah,as we noted, Easter was around long before Christ was even born. Ashtoreth/Easter is mentioned in the old testament and in every instance that Easter is mentioned, Jehovah, the god of the Hebrews/Isrealites is pretty much annoyed, and in vengeance mode. A top flight Jamaican DJ, Bounti Killer, would say.. “cross, angry and miserable”.
Ezek 8:14 Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD’S house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. (Lent)
2 Ki 23:13 And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile.
1 Kings 11:5-6. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of Yahweh; he did not follow Yahweh completely, as David his father had done.
1 Kings 11:33. I will do this (split the nation) because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians…., , and have not walked in my ways, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my statutes and laws as David, Solomon’s father did.
So the people of Israel removed the Baals and images of Ashtoreth. They served only Yahuwah. (1 Samuel 7:3,4)
These “images” are referring to the idols and statues of Ishtar, the fertility goddess of the Philistines, who is depicted with large, bare breasts. (Some say she is now the Statue of Liberty).
Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday have both been dear to our hearts for years. The romance associated with Valentine’s Day has allowed us to express love in many ways. The penance shown during Lent starting at Ash Wednesday, reminds us of our mortality and dependence on nature.
History, however is muddling this rosy picture of Valentine’s Day and is suggesting that Valentine’s Day is a mere continuation of Lupercalia, an ancient agrarian erotic fertility festival that was held near the Ides of February (February 13-15). The festival involved shedding the blood of a sacrificial goat and then dipping a piece of its skin in its blood after which it was used to smear the priests and then wiped clean with milk. (Is this the red and white).
Ash Wednesday has not escaped the glare of history. Many myths and legends suggest that Lent was also an ancient pagan festival devoted to Tammuz, the god of fertility who was the son of the infamous Semiramis who became Easter, on the Sunday after the full moon at the Spring Equinox. . The horrifying stories of three month old children being killed to appease these gods at Easter might make Satan blush. Then again, they might just be his proxies.
With this in mind, it seems that although both Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday have served us well and seems to be good for us, they can be poisonous. Hmmm, Poisoning. Poison, but you are good for me?
Can’t resist the temptation to share a song done by my daughter, Aneil, called Poison. It’s quite befitting for Valentine’s Day. It tells of a heart that is being motivated and being made special albeit by something that is already “owned”. This dilemma is profound as it provides the choice of running away or staying and fighting and ruling the world with it. Seems, it can be poisoning but also good for you. Verse 1 lyrics are below. Please watch the video on YouTube by clicking here… ANEIL – POISON (Official Lyrics Video)
Your love is poison
But oh baby I want it
And oh baby I’m ‘on it’ (ye ey ey ey ey)
Ya take my mind on a roadtrip
My mind can’t behold it
All the tantalizing things that you say
You do for me what sanity won’t
And that is to be your only girl
In reality it’s so wrong
Because you are already ‘owned’
Your love’s like that drug; can’t get enough
ECG shows my heart all over the charts
You make me wanna ru-u-un, sta-a-ay, fight and rule the world (x2) with you
You’re poison, but you good for me
Do check out the song on YouTube by clicking on the Poison logo.
Maybe, this February 14, we can make it special with love and penance by sharing our time and resources with the less fortunate. That is godly and requires no ritual such as those on Valentine or Ash Wednesday. Just natural out-flowing love and sorrow that should be shown 365 days a year and 366 days in a leap year. Oh what a lovely world it would be.
Some years ago, a very good female friend of mine tried to convince me that the creation story, as we know it, was fabricated. She claimed that in the beginning God had actually created woman before man but because man was expected to be proud, arrogant, controlling and maybe narcissistic, it was thought prudent to tell him that he was created first. My friend also noted that God told Eve that this idea that male was created before female was to be a secret between God and Eve, woman to woman.
Stop a minute. Hold it right there! Let’s absorb this thought. In the beginning, not only was woman created before man but God was also a woman. A feminine god? Now, every good Christian knows that it is heretical, blasphemous, insane, presumptuous, and unpardonable to imagine God with any other gender but male. Fortunately, this is the 21st century so instead of burning my friend at the stakes, we simple write off her views as being feminist and poppycock. In defence, she was however quick to point out that the same merit for a masculine god is just as poppycock as the idea of a feminine god.
Hmmmm. Thinking. Thinking. Not thinking. Hold the horses. The idea of a gender for God apart from masculine was very difficult for me as I grew up as a Baptist. Indeed, as a child I could recite the 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He leadeth me…” as well as the Lord’s prayer as stated by Jesus Christ in Matthew 6 vs 9: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name……”
Now, every good Baptist “knows” that Jesus spoke with “authority” and on behalf of “God” so if Jesus say God is father, then God is father. Argument done. Male sexism has won.
Suffice to say, it is a beautiful comforting idea having a father-god who is both caring and nurturing while being protective and strong. Maybe if you take away this belief of a father- god from me, I might become distraught. Yeah, change can make the comforted become uncomfortable and the uncomfortable become comforted. It is a real dilemma: childlike simplicity vs adult complexity.
Seriously now, does it matter if the creator is male or female? Do we have to get God involved in the battle of the sexes. The simple answer is a profound yes, it matters profoundly: a male god will create a male world and a male world is a dangerous world for both males and females. Testosterone is a mighty thing.
Most likely if you are a woman you might have suffered immensely from this seemingly inequity, sexist and chauvinistic approach to running society, countries, villages and families where the male gets preference.
For example, despite the fact that a woman spends nine months nurturing the fetus until birth, the child upon birth, whether it be a male or female, is given the father’s surname. This is “naturally” so even if the father is a bum. Similarly, birthright and even royalty are passed on with first choice to the male even if he is the last born in the family of otherwise all girls. In some cases, women cannot become heads of church, state, organizations or even the home, even if the male is a bum.
Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if it was not a patriarchal, male dominated world? Have you ever imagined a world where women and men are equals with same pay and recognition for same type jobs? Have you ever wondered what it would be like without glass ceilings where equal opportunities for advancement in the corporate world exist?
These are real and troubling thoughts but most people, including I, would normally avoid them, pointing them out as revolutionary in nature or simply as idle and careless. Similarly, we would write off as fantasy or nonsensical to imagine what it would be like if god was not masculine. Poppycock? Definitely not. Dreams? Maybe. After All, some religions already view the creator of the earth as being feminine and have goddesses such as Isis, Ishtar, Venus etc.
THE BEGINNING OF A MALE GOD
Even before the Old Testament times, virtually every culture in the entire world was patriarchal in structure. The real justification for this tendency and status of history depends on the religion and the political constructs. In our Judaeo -Christian environment, the justification is found in the Genesis story, especially Genesis 1 vs 26 – 27.
“And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So god created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them”.
Let us naively look at this part of the creation story. First thing we noticed is that God doesn’t seem to be alone when he was making man. “Let USmake man in OUR image and likeness”. This begs the questions: who are us and ours? Are they plural, discrete and separate in nature? Do they represent male and or female gender? (This is a blong in itself)
The second thing of note is “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them”. Of interest here is that, for the first time, God is now HIS and HE, which is a masculine and singular entity. Why is this assumption? (This is a blong in itself but see below)..
The next thing to note is that man was made in God’s image and likeness. Does this mean physical features (hands, head, eyes, mouth and brain) or is it image in terms of intellectual creative traits?
Physical features such as limbs, one head, two eyes, one mouth and a brain are not unique or special to man as most living things, including monkeys which were made before man, have them. If physical features were in God’s image then monkeys would have first claim to being in God’s image as they were made before man. Then again, even the monkey would not have first claim as fish and birds all have one head, two eyes, one mouth and a brain and they were made before monkeys and would also be in God’s image if it was a physical thing..
Maybe a more noble and fitting idea of God’s image would be man’s ability to think, create and make moral decisions. This high level of intelligence is what separates man from other creatures. Intellect vs intuition.
The final thing to note in that verse is that “in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them”. This could be construed that male and female are made in God’s image (intellectual) and that man or mankind refers to both man and woman rather than as simply a male human.
THE REAL GENDER OF GOD
Gen. 1 vs 1 – 3 gives us the nature of God before and at the beginning. “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void: and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said let there be light: and there was light”.
Common sense, although uncommon, suggests that before creation, the Creator did exist but time, space and matter did not exist. It follows that the Creator is spiritual in nature and does not need or possess any form of physical human characteristic to exist. Indeed, try and imagine a god that has feet, hands and a mouth to feed trying to live in nothing: an earth without form, and void.
Job 33:4 “The Holy Spirit is God the creator” is blaring and it is strongly supported by John 4:24, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” Of course, it is hard to worship a spirit or creator one cannot
see and many religions have created physical gods and or use figurative language to assign human characteristics to God.
This Anthropomorphism, simply putting human characteristic to a non-human element, can be accommodating as it allows us to personalize our relationship with an inanimate or invisible thing. It can however result in a level of enslavement and dogma if the figurative idea is repeatedly taught and justified as literal and is used to control mankind activities. After-all, even lies if told repeatedly become “truth”.
Controversial philosophers such as Engel and Marx even believed that “In the beginning man created god in his own image and likeness”. They believed that man created god as a male and used the precept to develop a patriarchal society which put males as superior over females, family, private property and the state. This male dominated status quo is today’s product of a dangerous world littered with war, poverty and injustice.
Of course there is no guarantee that the notion of a feminine-god would provide a peaceful and poverty free world. Women can be very temperamental with dispositions that at times make men look like saints. The popular saying “There is no fury in hell like that of a woman scorned” was coined because of this awareness.
Albert Einstein sums up the god and gender issue neatly in the following excerpts from his writings circa 1941:
“During the youthful period of mankind’s spiritual evolution human fantasy created gods in man’s own image, who, by the operations of their will were supposed to determine, or at any rate to influence, the phenomenal world. Man sought to alter the disposition of these gods in his own favour by means of magic and prayer. The idea of God in the religions taught at present is a sublimation of that old concept of the gods. Its anthropomorphic character is shown, for instance, by the fact that men appeal to the Divine Being in prayers and plead for the fulfillment of their wishes.
Nobody, certainly, will deny that the idea of the existence of an omnipotent, just, and omni beneficent personal God is able to accord man solace, help, and guidance; also, by virtue of its simplicity it is accessible to the most undeveloped mind. But, on the other hand, there are decisive weaknesses attached to this idea in itself, which have been painfully felt since the beginning of history”.
Einstein continued, “God is a mystery. But a comprehensible mystery. I have nothing but awe when I observe the laws of nature. There are not laws without a lawgiver, but how does this lawgiver look? Certainly not like a man magnified.” He added with a smile, “some centuries ago I would have been burned or hanged. Nonetheless, I would have been in good company.”
Chances are I would be in Einstein’s company although today they don’t burn you at the stakes or hang you at the gallows, they simply call you crazy. Nonetheless, crazy or not, an omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscience creator would not need a physical form much less gender and testosterone to exist. Indeed, a male god concept and patriarchal society have resulted in the creation of a dangerous world filled with wars, poverty and the exploitation of women and other less fortunate creatures. On the other hand, a female god may not do much better as estrogen would affect her behaviour.
Maybe we should not “get into God’s business” by including it in the battle of the sexes but the reality is that if we accept the notion of a male god, not only are we in God’s business but we are putting God on the side of males. Indeed, the battle of the sexes for God is one war if won by either side will be fatal to society. We could play it safe and provide for our childlike craving for a fatherly figure and yearning for a motherly figure by having a god with both genders. However, throwing safety to the winds and for the fun of it, we could envision a gender-less god where the battle of sexes doesn’t arise and happiness lies in bringing out the “Good, the True, and the Beautiful in humanity itself”, in spite of and despite your gender.