Thursday, June 17, 2010
"The Hebrew Goddess" by Raphael Patai
Many people may not know it but the Jewish religon through out it's history worshipped a Goddess or at least a feminine life force. First it started out with the worshiping of a Canaanite Goddess Ashera. THrough out the Bible there are constant references to the Israelite worshipping Ashera in the high places and at trees. THis was especially prevalent during Biblical times up until the the Babylonian Exile. THe Israelites have constantly had a debate about worshipping other Gods beside Yahweh. THe prophets have veighed against the worship of Canaanite Baals. However,Asherah cults were never persecuted like the Baals were. THe Israelites also paid Homage to another Goddess from the Canaanite Pantheon, Anattu. She was called Ashtoret in the Bible and reference was made to her in the book of Jeremiah. THe Israelites used to bake cakes as an offering to the Queen of Heaven. They blame their calamity on the fact that they discontinued their worship of Ashtoret. Goddess worship was first introduced into Jerusalem from his idol worshipping wife. Other kings brough it into the temple. The qwueen of Heaven was alaso worshipped in Egypt on the Elephantine Fortress.
THe idea of the femeinine divine evolved with the Cherubim in the Temple who were guarding the Ark of the covenant. Some reports say that the Cherubim were in a sexual embrace. THis would be emabarrasing for the Jews to admit. Their were Cherubim on the curtains of the temple. THe motif of two angels facing eachother is used in Northern Israelite art work, Egyptian ad Phoenicain. It is widely believe that the Israelites got the idea from the Phoenicains. One of the Cherubim was male and the other was female. THe Cherubim faced other when the Israelites were peaceful but when the Israelites engaged in sin the Cherubim faced away from each other. THwe Cherubim also represented the cloud of glory which their God rode upon. It should be noted that Baal was the storm God who rode on clouds. THese attributes later went to the Israelite God.
In Canaanite literature and mythology G Deities oftern had two names which would make for some confusion. Anattu was at time called Ashtoret. Ashera was also called Elath. Ashera was at times mistakenly called Ashtoreth and also took on characteristics of Anattu. Baal was called Hadad. THe Canaanite Gods and Goddesses also had counter parts and equivalent in other Far Eastern and Middle Eastern Religions. Annattue corresponded with Ishar and Isis from Babylon and Egypt. Inanna was her Sumerian name and Anahita was her Persian Armenian name.
Like other pantheons the ISraelites had what was called a tetrad or family of Gods. The sacred name of God called Yud Hay Vav Hay was broken apart when the Israelites sinned. yod hay were broken away from vav and hay. Yod corresponded to El the father god while the first Hay corresponded to Ashera. Vav qwas the son of the two and the second hay correspondded to the daughter. In most pantheon the mother and father Goddess bear offspring and then retreat into the higher heaven. Baal and Anattu then took over the direct affairs of the earth.
Even after the Israelites went strictly monotheist in ANcioent time it was realiozed that Ashera was the consort of Elohim. THe faemale life force know as matronite came together from the Kabballists. She was Anattu in another form the divine wife of Ball. In Kabbalistic terms she was called the matronite or mother. She could be warlike, wanton, mothering and viginal. She went with the ISraelites into their exile.
According to legend when the Israelite sinned excessively they were exiled. The Israelite God sent his wife away with them. Since she was sent away Samael the prince of evil ANgels captured hder and had his way with her. In the mean time God chose to take on a hand made an her name was Lilitith. To the end the exile the Israelites had to atone for there sins and bring the Matronite back to unity with the God Head.
Bringing them back together was the Job of the Israelites and they had a strategy called Yichudiim. This basicaly was bringing the masculine and feminine aspects of Godhead togthere again. This could be done by doing good deeds or saying an intention that you act of dvinity was designed to bring the Godhead back to unity. Yichudim also had otrher functions. One was an exorcsims to drive away Dybbuks who possesed people. Even a husband and wifen coupling in holiness could be a yichud.
Lilith herself has a long history dating back into Sumerian times. She was part of a demon race called Lilin which had both male and female demons. Theywere vampiric and vistied people in the night. From these unions came demon offspring. Her treehouse was destroyed by Gilgamesh and she fled into the desert.
In Hebrew mytrhology she started off as Adam's wife. Supposedly she was created before him and from inferior elements. She refused to submit to Adam caliming herself as equal. She later went into the desert and coupled with demon and animals. All sorts of perverted offspring came of that union. She later forced Adam against his will. In other legend she came back as the queen of Sheba and tried to trcik Solomon.
Other aspects of femeione divinity are the Sabbath who is the odd day out. Every other day is coupled wioth another day. The Sabbath is coupled with the ISraelites. THE Ethipion Jews give the Sabbath a seperate consoiusness and save those sinner who at least keep the Sabbath. In Safed religiousd men would greet the Sabbath quenn and then couiple with their wives.
In conclusion it must be said that real or not the feminine went into exile and guarded the Jewsih [people during their exile. Some times mystics heard her in mediations and dreams dreams. Other times she hung out in Babylonian synagogues. Even in art work it was expres often times borrowing motifs from surrounding idolatrous religions.
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