Eliza Burt Gamble (1897), on Seth

All other historical discussion, ancient or modern, falls here.
Post Reply
User avatar
billd89
Posts: 814
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2020 6:27 pm
Location: New England, USA

Eliza Burt Gamble (1897), on Seth

Post by billd89 »

I am admittedly drawn to obscure intellectuals who presented radical theories over a century ago. Eliza Gamble - feminist, teacher, intellectual - is a neglected scholar today. Regarding Seth, I am curious how accurate her ideas may be, still. See The God Idea of the Ancients [1897], p.168

The name of one of the oldest deities of which we have any record is Set (Phoenician) or Seth (Hebrew). Traces of this God are found in all Oriental countries; and in the most primitive religions, whose traditions are still extant, he (or she) appears as the supreme God. After the subjection of Egypt by the Stranger-Kings and the consequent introduction into the country of Sabianism, the dual creative Force residing in the sun is represented by Seth. We are told that Seth signifies "Appointed or put in the place of the murdered Abel."

That there is some deep mystery connected with this subject none who has studied it carefully can help observing.

According to the story of Creation as set forth in the Jehovistic account, on Saturday night, after God had finished his work, and immediately after he had commanded Adam to 'be fruitful,' he presents him with a staff, which we observe is handed down to Enoch and all the Patriarchs. Here the mystery deepens, for it is declared that this staff was presented to Seth, and that it was a branch of the Tree of Life.

Citation(s)? Seth = Branch. Curious: Philo Judaeus identifies 'Anatole' w/ that Hebrew name, chosen by an initiate of the 'Son of God' cult.

That beneath this allegory is veiled a contest, or perhaps a compromise, between the worshippers of two distinct sects, seems altogether probable. That the handing down of this branch of the Tree of Life, first to Adam, or Man, by Aleim, and its subsequent transference to Seth, the God of Nature, the Destroyer or Regenerator, seems to indicate a victory for the adherents of a purer religion. The translator of Kallimachus says: "It is well known to the learned reader that the descendants of Cain are distinguished in Scripture by the name of 'Sons of Man' or Adam; those of Seth by the name of 'Sons of God'" Genesis 6:2.[85] It is stated in Julius Africanus that all the righteous men and Patriarchs down to the Saviour himself have sprung from Seth and have been denominated as 'Sons of God' in contradistinction to 'Sons of Man'.

[85] Forlong, Rivers of Life, vol. i., p.527.

Citations?

Again, recall Philo. Seth here is explicitly associated w/ the 'Son of God' cult, as opposed to the competing Cainite 'Son of Man' cult.

Doubtless at the time indicated by the transference of the creative agency from Aleim to Adam, the worship of an abstract Principle, or of a Trinity composed of the Powers of Nature, was losing its hold on the minds of the people, and the Creative Power, or the reproductive energy in human beings, was rapidly taking the place of the older Deity. These higher principles forgotten, Adam, or Man {i.e. Anthropos}, had become the Creator.

It is not improbable that the terms Adam, Cain, Abel, and Seth have an esoteric meaning which for ages was known only to the priests. From various facts which in later times are being brought forward regarding the ancient myths of Genesis, it is believed that these names originally stood for races of men, and that subsequently certain religious doctrines came to be attached to them. The offering of fruit by Cain, the elder brother, who was a tiller of the ground, and that of flesh by Abel, who was a keeper of sheep, indicates a quarrel which ended in the death of the latter. After the death of Abel, or after one of these principles or sects was subdued, the older religion was revived, and Seth, as the Aleim, or as the Creative Power within the sun, was 'appointed' or again worshipped.

I would like to see this thesis developed more.

It would seem that Seth was appointed to represent the Third Person in the ancient Trinity – the Destroyer or Regenerator which had previously come to embody all the powers of the Creator and Preserver. The fact has been observed that the very ancient philosophers believed matter to be eternal, hence, seeming Death, or Destruction, was necessary to renewed Life or Regeneration. In other words, Creation was but continuous change in the form of Matter.

Fantastic! Palingenesia (Rebirth) is Proto-Jewish, probably Egyptian (if and since Gnosticism follows): the ancient philosophy.

Of the doctrines of the Sethians extant at the beginning of Christianity, Hippolytus says that their system "is made up of tenets from Natural Philosophers. These tenets embrace a belief in the Eternal Logos – Darkness, Mist, and Tempest." These elements subsequently became identified with the Evil Principle, or the Devil. The cold of Winter, the darkness of Night, and Water, were finally set forth as the Trinity. Regarding Cold, Darkness, and Water, or Darkness, Mist, and Tempest, Hippolytus observes:

"These the Sethian says are the three principles of our system; or when he states that three were born in Paradise – Adam, Eve, the Serpent; or when he speaks of three persons, namely, Cain, Abel, Seth, and again of three others, Shem, Ham, Japheth; or when he mentions three Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob; or when he speaks of three days before the Sun, etc."

The same writer says that their entire system is derived from the ancients; that, antecedent to the Eleusinian mysteries, were enacted by them the ceremonies connected with the worship of the Great Mother.[86]

[86] Hippolytus, Refutation of all Heresies, 5.15.

Fascinating, again! I still need more documentation of this, however. The Great Mother Cult in Egypt? Astarte/Anit/ etc. was certainly suppressed among Jews. The following alludes to that.

We have observed that through some process not thoroughly understood at the present time, the adherents of the older faith had succeeded in reinstating their Deity. The powers of Nature had come to be represented by Typhon Seth. It was the God of Death and of Life, of Destruction and Regeneration. The simoom of the desert and the cold of winter were Seth, as were also the genial powers of Spring. We are informed by various writers that Typhon Seth was feminine. She was the early God of the Jews. In other words, the Jews were formerly worshippers of a female Deity. Jehovah, Iav, was originally female.

Again, though entirely plausible, this needs to be unpacked.

Although the secret meaning of all the allegories contained in the Old Testament is not fully understood, still the belief that Cain, Abel, and Seth represented the self-triplicated Deity at a time when the idea of Man {Anthropos} as a Creator had been accepted, or when his power to reproduce was becoming the highest idea of a creative force, is consistent with what is known of the Kabbalah of the Jews, or of the esoteric meaning of the Jewish scriptures formerly known only to the priests. In other words, the ancient doctrines, the true meaning of which was no longer understood by them, were patched together as a basis for the later developments in Jewish religious experience.

We have seen that six hundred years after Adam appears Noah, another self-triplicated Saviour or preserver of man, with his ark or seed vessel, beneath which is veiled the female element. Afterward Abraham becomes the Great Father or Saviour, and later Moses. That, in the time of the latter, the more ancient worship of a creative force in Nature represented by the Aleim, had, by the masses of the people, been wholly lost, is evident from the Old Testament writings. The worship of the Father, the male power, in opposition to that of the Mother, or the female power, constituted the religion of Moses. In the religion of the Jews, Jehovah came to be regarded as wholly male and as Spirit {Pneuma}, while Edam (translated 'downward tending'), the Female Principle, was Matter {Physis}, or Woman, which finally became identified with the Devil.

Although I don't agree w/ all of this, I am still interested in the source material.

The philosophical doctrine that Spirit is evolved through Matter, or that Matter must be raised to a certain dynamical power before Spirit can manifest itself through it, was no longer understood; only the husks of this doctrine – the myths and symbols of Nature-worship – remained; these were taken literally, and thus man's religion was made to conform to his lowered estate.

Theosophy? Again: citations needed.

When Man had so far gained the ascendancy over Woman as to assert that he is the sole Creator of their joint offspring, he was no longer of the earth earthy, but at once became the Child of Heaven. He was, however, bound to earth through his association with Matter, or with Woman, from whom he was unable to free himself. The 'Sons of God' were united 'to the Daughters of Man.' Jahvah, the 'God of Hosts,' who was revengeful, weak, jealous, and cruel, was worshipped in the place of Aleim the great dual force throughout Nature. The ethereal, spiritual male essence resided somewhere in the heavens and created from afar, while the Earth (female) furnished only the body or material substance.

I will have to treat all this later...
In the history of the god Seth is to be found a clue to the way in which the sublime and philosophical doctrines of the ancients, after their true meaning was forgotten, were finally changed so as to conform to the enforced humiliation and degradation of women.

Seth or Typhon was for ages worshipped throughout Egypt, and as she comprehended the powers of Nature, or the creative energy residing in the sun and earth, little is heard of any other god. Strange it is, however, that Seth is worshipped more in her capacity as Destroyer than as Regenerator. So soon as we understand the origin and character of the Devil, and so soon as we divest ourselves of the false ideas which under a state of ignorance and gross sensuality came to prevail relative to the 'powers of Darkness,' we shall perceive that his (or her) Satanic majesty was once a very respectable personage and a powerful Divinity – a Divinity which was worshipped by a people whose superior intelligence can scarcely be questioned. Regarding this subject Higgins remarks:

"Persons who have not given much consideration to these subjects will be apt to wonder that any people should be found to offer adoration to the evil principle; but they do not consider that, in all these recondite systems, the evil principle, or the Destroyer, or Lord of Death, was at the same time the Regenerator. He could not destroy but to reproduce, and it was probably not till this principle began to be forgotten, that the evil being, per se, arose; for in some nations this effect seems to have taken place. Thus Baal-Zebub is, in Iberno Celtic, Baal Lord, and Zab Death, Lord of Death; but he is also called Aleim, the same as the God of the Israelites; and this is right, because he was one of the Trimurti or Trinity.

"If I be correct respecting the word Aleim being feminine, we here see the Lord of Death of the feminine gender; but the Goddess Ashtaroth or Astarte, the Eoster of the Germans, was also called Aleim. Here again Aleim is feminine, which shows that I am right in making Aleim the plural feminine. Thus we have distinctly found Aleim the Creator (Gen. i., 1), Aleim the Preserver, and Aleim the Destroyer, and this not by inference, but literally expressed."[87]

[87] Anacalypsis, ch. ii., p. 66.

At one period of their history the Hebrews worshipped Ashtaroth and Baal, they together representing the great Aleim, the indivisible God, but after the Israelites had chosen the worship of the male principle as an independent deity, or as the only important agency in the creative processes, as Baal might not be represented aside from his counterpart Ashtaroth, he was no longer adored but came to stand for something "approaching the Devil." Forlong has observed the fact that, although in Hebrew Baal is masculine, in the Greek translations he is feminine both in the Old and New Testaments.[88] Forlong, Rivers of Life, p. 223.

Jehovah was originally female, so, also, was Netpe the Holy Spirit of the Egyptian Tree of Life. We are given to understand that Netpe was the same as Rhea, the partner of Sev or Saturn, and that her hieroglyphic name was "Abyss of Heaven." Osiris was the son of this goddess who was really a Mai or Mary, the Celestial Mother, he being the only God of the Egyptians who was born upon this earth and lived among men. Of this Forlong remarks: "His birthplace was Mount Sinai; called by the Egyptians Nysa, hence his Greek name Dionysos."

As the Palm was the first offering of Mother Earth to her children, so Osiris was the first offspring of the Egyptian Celestial Virgin to mankind. He was the new sun which through the winter months had been 'buried,' but which in process of time arose to gladden all the earth. He was also the new Sun of Righteousness which was to renew the world, or redeem mankind from sin.

The female principle for the time being cast out of the Deity, Osiris, the male element, now outwardly assumes the position of supreme God. It was, however, reserved for a later and more sensuous age to permanently adopt an absurdity so opposed to all established ideas relative to a creative force in Nature and in man. Seth, the Destroyer, had been deposed, but, so deeply rooted in the human mind had become the idea of a female Creator, that Isis, the Queen of Heaven, a somewhat lower conception of Muth, or of universal womanhood, soon assumed the place of Seth beside Osiris. Later in the history of Egypt, when the gods have become greatly multiplied, and the original significance of the deity obscured, Horus, the child and the third member in the later Egyptian triad, not unfrequently appears in her place as one of the eight great gods.

The fact is observed that the history of Osiris is not alone the "history of the circle of the year, or of the sun dying away and resuscitating itself again, but that it is also the history of the cycle of 600." It has been said that of the component elements of his hieroglyphical name, Isis is the first, and that the name Osiris really signifies the "Eye of Isis."

Post Reply