- Mar 2022
“This is what the Lord says— Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6).
Jewish monotheism doesn't emerge until the end of the Babylonian Exile (~586 - 500 BCE) period and the beginning of the Second Temple period (500 BCE - 70 CE) when the religion moves from acknowledging the existence of other gods to saying there is only one god. (Isaiah 44:6).
The historic books of the Bible were written by a “Yahweh only party” and are thus keenly critical of the worship of other gods in Judah. Still, it is clear from their description that polytheism was the norm in the First Temple period. It was only during King Josiah’s reform that the "Yahweh only party" really took control and began pushing other gods out of Judean minds.
Polytheism was the cultural norm during the First Temple period. It wasn't until the reforms of King Josiah described in 2 Kings in the second half of the 7th century BCE that other Semitic gods were actively removed from the Temple and parts of culture in favor of Yahweh.
The Bible also recounts that the ancient Hebrews worshipped a god named Moloch, who was associated with the Ammonites and with child sacrifice. This worship too was stamped out by Josiah in the same reform (e.g. 2 Kings 23:10).
El had a consort, the goddess Asherah, and as Yahweh took El’s place, Asherah became Yahweh’s consort. We are told that the Asherah was worshipped in the earliest Temple of Jerusalem – not explicitly, but we are definitely told that her symbols were removed from the Temple, so they had to be there in the first place (1 Kings 15:13 and 2 Kings 23:14).It was only at the very end of the First Temple period, during the reign of King Josiah (the second half of the 7th century B.C.E.) that the cult objects of Asherah were taken out of the Temple, quite dramatically. There are quite a number of references to Josiah's monotheistic reforms, such as:."Josiah smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles and covered the sites with human bones" (2 Kings 23:14, New International Version)
1 Kings 15:13, 2 Kings 23:14 and 2 Kings 23:14 indicate that the symbols of the goddess Asherah, a consort of El, were in the earliest Temple of Jerusalem as these sections describe the fact that they were removed.
- 2 Kings 23
- Temple of Jerusalem
- evolution of religion
- Isaiah 44
- Semitic religions
- Babylonian Exile
- Second Temple period
Yet prevail, Baal did not; towns in biblical Israel named after him are gone, while towns named after other gods, including Shamash, the moon god Yarekh, and El, are everywhere.
The towns in biblical Israel named for Baal were renamed or gone, but there are many towns named after other gods including Shamash, Yarekh, and El.
Baal was also worshipped by the Canaanites and became the bugbear of the Yahweh followers, though early Israelites were clearly not the diehard monotheists that modern Jews tend to assume. They apparently adored quite the pantheon, including Baal. But Baal was especially irksome, it seems; his name appears dozens of times in the Bible, never in a good way; to this day, Israel has cities named after the god.
Like the Canaanites, early Israelites worshiped Baal amongst a wider pantheon of gods despite the fact that later Jews were monotheists. Modern day Israel still has cities named after Baal.
- May 2019
Yazidis are monotheists, believing in one God, who created the world and entrusted it into the care of a Heptad of seven Holy Beings, often known as Angels or heft sirr (the Seven Mysteries). The names of these beings or angels are Azaz'il, Gabra'il (Jabra'il), Mikha'il, Rafa'il (Israfil), Dadra'il, Azrafil and Shamkil (Shemna'il) Preeminent among these is Tawûsê Melek (frequently known as "Melek Taus" in English publications), the Peacock Angel (identified with one of these Angels). Tawûsê Melek is often identified by Christians and Muslims with Satan. According to claims in Encyclopedia of the Orient,