Speculation and Interesting Things

February 24, 2008

Asherah, El, and Jehovah

My religion has often spoken of our Heavenly Mother in soft tones and in a hymn, but in hushed terms as if it is something of a mystery. Perhaps it is. I have recently come across some podcasts and literature on the subject, some has come as a result of that movie adaptation of “The da Vinci Code”, by Dan Brown unfortunately. However most of my references will be from scholars.

Disclaimer: Be warned, I will be commenting from a Mormon perspective, being a Mormon or member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although based in Utah, USA, I have never been there, mainly living as I do in Australia. So if you harbor anti-Mormon feelings or prejudices, then move on, this is not the place for you.

I have been reading some fascinating material, including “Nephi and his Asherah”by Daniel C Petersen at The Neal A Maxwell Institute for Religious Studies at Brigham Young University, Hugh Nibley, Abraham in Egypt (Nibley, Hugh, Works. V. 14.) and his marvelous lectures, along with Kerry Shirts a brother in Idaho who is even more fascinated by this and other subjects, he produces some podcasts that covers various of the mysteries of the historical Hebrews, the descendants of Abraham.

Studying Abraham, we do come away understanding our great debt to him as he prepared the world for the coming Messiah, and how he alone unites us with Judaism and Islam at a deep level far from the hatred and bitterness that exists to day. He had to flee Ur of the Chaldees, from a wicked Pharaoh and his own family corrupted by the society they lived in. You learn the importance of Sariah as his wife and Hagar defenders (yes, defenders) and why they had such loyalty for him. That it is unlikely he was a small scale Bedouin group, but more likely a large business that would be a threat economically to Egypt.

But I digress, let’s start with Abraham and his home, Ur of the Chaldees and why he had to leave that wicked land.

Hugh Nibley makes it very clear what Abraham had to put up with. His father Terah was a central player in this part of the story. To put us in the picture I will quote from the King James Bible in Genesis and elsewhere:

After a generations list we get to Gen:11:27

    27. Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.
    28. And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.
    29. And Abram and Nahor took them wives; the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah , and the father of Iscah.
    30. But Sarai was barren; she had no child.
    31. And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.
    32. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.

Thus chapter 11 finishes and it is a simple story making sure we understood the relationships of the individuals. The Apocryphal Literature and The Book of Abraham give us a better understanding of this great prophet, since we are in a serious culture war with Islam, mainly caused by fundamentalists on both side of the equation, it would be wise for the rest of us to seek out what is common between us and this may lead to peace and understanding between Islam and Christianity.

Aherah If you have read some of Margaret Barkers works you are better informed than I. Having said that I have been made aware of the reforms conducted by King Josiah and the First Temple and the reason Israel was held captive by Babylon around 600bce. An important date to Mormons as the Book of Mormon starts with Lehi and his family leaving Jerusalem under the direction of The Lord. A prophecy his own sons doubted and rebelled against with one of the four standing up for his father. Barker tells us of the influence of a reform group she calls the Deuteronomists, and how the scriptures were altered to reflected an alien understnding of the nature of God and the Heavens. Up until then, the Israelites had an anthropomorphic understnding of the Godhead with El, as our Heavenly Father and Asherah as His Wife, Jehovah being their First Born. Incidentally it appears Elohim is a collective noun that refers to the Godhead as described above.

Josiah had The Asherah amongst other items removed from the Temple, thus desecrating the Holy Temple and prefiguring a much later reform in Christianity when the Greek Philosophies took over from the Early Christian and codified under orders from a Non-Member, the Emperor Constantine. Thus I digress, but the similarities in philosophies are curious.

The Josiah Reforms are what lead to the Babylonian Exile according to some texts, but because Josiah and the Deuteronomists were in control of the Temple and the likes of Jeremiah and others like Lehi were outside, defeated in the debates and discussions about these reforms, we find in Jeremiah according to Barker. What happened exactly to the Temple and the extant writings (The Bible as such didn’t exist in those days)? What’s more various versions of the writings existed right up to the time of Jesus and his Disciples.

So, what were the beliefs and what was taken out of the temple.

We find out about the Deuteronomists, a group of priests who had claimed to find the book of Deuteronomy in the Temple, hidden, apparently unknown to themselves and the Israelites.

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3 Comments »

  1. Hi Guy,

    Regarding this from your post: >>”He had to flee Ur of the Chaldees, from a wicked Pharaoh and his own family corrupted by the society they lived in. You learn the importance of Sariah as his wife and Hagar defenders (yes, defenders) and why they had such loyalty for him. That it is unlikely he was a small scale Bedouin group, but more likely a large business that would be a threat economically to Egypt.”<<

    Ur of the Chaldees was not ruled by a Pharaoh. Ur is/was in Babylonia and was ruled by a king. Abraham lead his people INTO Egypt and they stayed around 400 years or so. Moses led the Hebrews/Jews out of Egypt. At the time of Moses, the Whole of Egypt was estimated to have a population of 3 to 4 million. Moses taking over a million Jews away must have seriously eroded the tax base. 🙂

    Comment by thewordofme — December 14, 2008 @ 6:25 am | Reply

  2. I am using Pharaoh as King, I would not be surprised that the people of that time used the term to mean King. Ur of the Chaldees appears to be UR of Haran not the Babylonian city.

    Indeed, Abraham was a large tribal figure. A lot of people in Ur and it’s surrounds must have agreed with him, not only Sariah and his other wife. She may have been one of the three virgins that Abraham saved from Pharaoh( there I go again).

    You move on to the Exodus, I’ll have more to say about that, it appears the Jews were not slaves, but freemen used to build and manage building for the real Pharaoh in Egypt.

    Isn’t it interesting that the people who escaped Jerusalem before the Exile, some of them went to Egypt and built a Temple a the island Elephantine?

    Comment by amunhotep — December 16, 2008 @ 4:31 am | Reply

  3. Hi amunhotep, sorry to take so long to get back…I lost your url

    Regarding your line:
    “Ur of the Chaldees appears to be UR of Haran not the Babylonian city.”

    No the writer says Ur of the Chaldees…which means the Babylonian city. The problem comes from the writers of the passage in the Bible. It was not written by Moses, it was written by scribes about a thousand years after Moses, and at the time of this writing the city *was* known as Ur of the Chaldees. When Moses was alive the city was just called Ur. This is one of the proofs that Moses did not write the Pentateuch

    Comment by thewordofme — May 20, 2009 @ 6:57 am | Reply


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