When did Israel become strictly monotheist?

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When did Israel become strictly monotheist?

Post by billd89 »

When does Yahweh triumph, as the exclusive monotheistic deity throughout Israel? circa 450-350 BC?

Grabbed off someone's PhD, so not necessarily recommended ...
Link, from pp.61-2:

the Elephantine Jews {c. 495–399 BC} worshiped Yahweh together with other deities, unlike the Yehudites who practised monotheism. It would seem that the Jews of Elephantine still practised the syncretistic religion that characterized pre-exilic Israel. To that effect, Trotter has described their religion as "a continuation and development of the traditional Yahwistic cult of monarchic Judah and Israel." Thirdly, of interest also is the fact that,whereas the Yehudites believed that the cause of the exile was their worship of other deities along with Yahweh, the Elephantine Jews on the contrary, believed that the cause of the exile was the Judahites' rejection of the goddess Asherah. ... the Elephantine Jews had a stronger propensity towards syncretism than monotheism. This proves that the Elephantine Jews, unlike the Yehudites, still practised syncretism or some form of polytheism. Thus, what we find between the two Jewish communities is that the Elephantine Jews represent monarchic religion before the exile; and by implication before Deutero-Isaiah's exclusive monotheistic message {c.550 BC}. Perhaps the best description of Elephantine religious character is the one by Kidner who calls them an example of "unreformed Judaism, to set alongside that of the reformed community which came back chastened from Babylon." It is no wonder therefore, that their religion was poly-Yahwistic—worshiping Yahweh along with other deities. Yehudite Jews on the contrary, based on the lessons learnt out of exile, had practised an exclusive monotheistic faith. Another way to characterize the Elephantine Jews is to say that they had an unbroken tradition of syncretism founded on monarchic "official" religion. In reading Smith and other scholars, it seems that the "official" religion is one that was practised by the elite in pre-exilic Israel, which probably included the monarchies. This religion was characterized by syncretism which Smith says, "was dominant in the cult of Yahweh at Jerusalem to the very last days of the first temple." Olyan observes that the goddess Asherah was worshiped within the official religion.As for "popular religion," Noth observes that it was the faith practised by the masses in pre-exilic Israel. Just like the official religion, popular religion equally had at its core, the worship of the goddess Asherah. This topic and all its detailed aspects may be too large for exhaustion here, and the reader may pursue it in other contexts.

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Re: When did Israel become strictly monotheist?

Post by lsayre »

I wonder if the outlook with regard to monotheism can be differentiated with respect to the 'JEPD' sources?
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Re: When did Israel become strictly monotheist?

Post by andrewcriddle »

The Elephantine consort of Yahweh is the Goddess Anat. The exact relation of Elephantine Anat to Asherah is unclear.

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Re: When did Israel become strictly monotheist?

Post by Japhethite »

I know that this is abit different to what you meant, but perhaps turn the question the other way around and ask when did the Hebrews/Israelites/Jews first come to worship other gods other than Elohim/Yhwh/Adonai? (and what evidence is there for it?)

It depends on whether one believes in evolution or in the bible/creationism. Evolutionists believe religion evolved from animism to polytheism to monotheism (Sayce, etc), and stellar to lunar to solar (Massey etc). (Though convergent evolution or monogensis has all ultimately coming from one like creationism does.) Creationists believe religion devolved from monotheism to polydemonism (Landgon, Don Richardson etc). Transplant/Panspermia (ancient aliens) theory has similar to evolution with religion going from plural gods to singular God (Daniken etc).

From my quick survey of biblical history it seems the Hebrews/Israelites/Jews were mainly only following other gods between Judges and Kings/Chronicles or Zechariah. If we consider the founder of Judaism as Abraham or Jacob rather than Moses then the Hebrews were followers of Elohim/Yhwh from Abraham to Joseph and also maybe presumably while in Egypt until Moses. No other gods are mentioned then except for Laban's teraphim.

The god Elohim/Yhwh/Adonai:
Eve said Yhwh (Gen 4:1)
Cain & Abel offered to Yhwh.
Men began calling/defying name of Yhwh (Gen 4:26)
Enoch supposedly spoke of "the Lord" / "God" (Jude 14-15)
Lamech said Yhwh (Gen 5:29)
Noah built an altar to Yhwh (Gen 8:20).
Noah said Yhwh (Gen 9:26) and Elohim (Gen 9:26-27)
Japheth's god is Elohim (Genesis 9:27)
Shem's god is Yhwh (Gen 9:26)
Elishah means "El + salvation" (Gen 10)
Nimrod was a hunter before/against Yhwh (Gen 10:9)
Babel means gateway of El (Gen 10 & 11)?
Abraham built altar to Yhwh and called on his name (Gen 12:7, 13:4, 18)
Melchizedek/Shem priest of El Eliyon (Gen 14:18-20)
Abraham said Yhwh (Gen 14:22, 15:2, 8, 24:3, 7, 40)
Yhwh said "I am Yhwh" (Gen 15:7, 18:14, 22:16, 28:13, Ex 3:15, 4:11, 4:22)
Sarah said Yhwh (Gen 16:2-5)
Hagar said Yhwh (Gen 16:13)
Abraham called on Yhwh (Gen 21:33)
Abraham names Yhwh Jireh (Gen 22:14)
Abraham's servant prays to Yhwh (Gen 24:12, 27, 42)
Laban said Yhwh (Gen 24:31, 50-51, 30:27, 31:49)
Bethuel said Yhwh (Gen 24:50-51)
Abraham's servant mentions Yhwh (Gen 24:35, 56)
Isaac entreated Yhwh (Gen 25:21)
Rebekkah inquired Yhwh (Gen 25:22)
Isaac said Yhwh (Gen 26:22, 27:7, 27)
Isaac built altar and called on Yhwh (Gen 26:25)
Abimelech said Yhwh (Gen 26:28)
Job spoke of "God" and "the Lord" (Job 1 & 2)
Job's servant and Job's wife spoke of "God" (Job 1 & 2).
Jacob's name is considered to maybe be short for Jacob-el.
Jacob said Yhwh (Gen 27:20, 28:16, 32:9, 49:18)
Leah said Yhwh (Gen 29:32-35)
Judah's name is supposed to have Yah in it (Gen 29:35).
Rachel said Yhwh (Gen 30:24)
Joseph's name is supposed to have Yhwh in it (Gen 30:24)
Israel has El in it.
Some suppose Yhwh to have been a Midianite/Kenite god.
Moses said Yhwh (Ex 4:1, 5:1)
Pharaoh said who is Yhwh (Ex 5:2)
The officers of the Israelites said Yhwh (Ex 5:21)
Joshua's name has Yah in it.
Akhenaten's "monotheism" is time of David in Rohl's chronology.
Agur ben Jakeh supposedly "of Massa" mentions "God", "the Holy One", "the Lord" (Proverbs 30).
The Silver Amulet/Scroll supposedly dating to the United Monarchy has the verse in which Yhwh occurs three times.
Hezekiah's reform.
Josiah's reform/passover.
Some believe Judaism came from Zoroastrianism.

Other gods in the Hebrew/Israelite/Jewish line:
Some say Babel or ziggurats were built to bring the gods down (rather than to reach heaven) (gateway of gods plural).
(One language of Genesis 11 in occult means oneness or one religion not just language.)
Terah is supposed to have had 12 gods (Gen 11).
Laban had other teraphim/idols (Gen 31:19).
Rachel stole Laban's teraphim/idols (Gen 31:34).
(Jacob(-el) pretty surely matches (Khnum-)Khufu which may mean Khnum was seen as similar to El/Yhwh?)
Mt Sinai supposedly relates to the moon god Sin, though I doubt this.
Moses mentions Moloch and Obites/Obics "witches".
Egli "molten/golden calf".
Israelites followed Baal Peor (Numbers 25:3).
Mt Nebo supposedly relates to Akkadian god Nabu/Nebo.
Gideon's father worshipped Baal & Asherah (Judg 6:25).
Gideon's ephod (Judg 8:27)
Baal Berith (Judg 8:33)
Micah had other gods & teraphim (Judg 17:5)
Danites took Micah's gods/teraphim (Judg 18:18)
Saul sought the Ob/witch of Endor.
Michal took the teraphim.
Ishbaal/Ishbosheth son of Saul may indicate Baal religion.
Solomon went after Ashtoreth/Astaroth and Milcom/Moloch and Chemosh, and Israelites went after Ashtoreth, Kemosh, Milcom.
Jeroboam I made 2 golden calves.
Judah unfaithful and had Asherah in regin of Rehoboam (1 Ki 14 & 2 Chron 12).
Maacah mother of Asa worshipped Asherah.
Ahab & Jezebel worshipped Baal & Asherah.
Ahaziah seeks Baalzebub of Ekron (2 Kings 1:2)
The gods Gad & Meni (Isaiah 65:11).
Israelites worshipped Sakkuth/Moloch/Kaiwan/Chiun/Remphan (Amos 5, Acts 7).
Nehushtan brazen serpent worshipped from Moses to Hezekiah.
Baal & Asherah in Manasseh's & Amon's reign.
Women weeping for Tammuz (Ezek 8:14).
Judahites worship the Queen of Heaven (Jer 7 & 44).
Abraxas in Maccabean period.
Mammon (Gospels).
Josephus favoured Vespasian who was supposed to be a god.
Synagogue of Satan (Apocalypse/Revelation 2 & 3)?
Missing tribe of Dan (Apocalypse/Revelation, some say the Antichrist will be from tribe of Dan).
Jerusalem called Sodom & Egypt (Apocalypse/Revelation).
Some Jews like Marx, Sitchin, Lavey, Marsh are not necessarily Yhwhist monotheists.

(I have only surveyed biblical Hebrew history here, I haven't included Palestinian archaeology and other nations' histories and archaeology.)
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Re: When did Israel become strictly monotheist?

Post by rakovsky »

There is a theory that Israel was not "strictly" monotheistic, as there are indications for example that it recognized other, foreign "gods" as existing, but that it didn't consider them to be "God."
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Re: When did Israel become strictly monotheist?

Post by Ulan »

Well, even the Bible itself mentions other gods and clearly states that they have power over their realm. Just one example (Jer 49:1, NRSV):
"Has Israel no sons?
Has he no heir?
Why then has Milcom dispossessed Gad,
and his people settled in its towns?"

Or in other words: MIlcom, the god of the Ammonites ("his people", or in other words, every people has its own god), took away the land from the Israelite tribe of Gad. In the following verses, Yahweh seeks revenge.

Like all other Canaanite peoples, the Israelites acknowledged the existence of other gods, they just mainly worshiped Yahweh. And in many times not even that, given how often the Bible speaks of restoring the cult of Yahweh (note that, for example, Baal is never called a foreign god, unlike others; El still lives on in Isra-el). One of the leading theories regarding this is that Yahweh was more or less the god of the royal house and only slowly became the main god of worship among Israelites. Solomon's temple would have been an annex to the existing Jebusite Shamash temple, and the other gods were only much later removed from there, like the snake effigy, that had according to the Bible been worshiped since the times of Moses.

If anyone is interested, "The Invention of God" by Thomas Römer (Harvard University Press, 2015) gives a relatively good overview.
https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php ... 0674504974
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