Posts Tagged ‘Judaism’
… The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text. For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.
In general I find it painful that you claim a privileged position and try to defend it by two walls of pride, an external one as a man and an internal one as a Jew. As a man you claim, so to speak, a dispensation from causality otherwise accepted, as a Jew the privilege of monotheism. But a limited causality is no longer a causality at all, as our wonderful Spinoza recognized with all incision, probably as the first one. And the animistic interpretations of the religions of nature are in principle not annulled by monopolization. With such walls we can only attain a certain self-deception, but our moral efforts are not furthered by them. On the contrary.
Now that I have quite openly stated our differences in intellectual convictions it is still clear to me that we are quite close to each other in essential things, i.e; in our evaluations of human behavior. What separates us are only intellectual ‘props’ and ‘rationalization’ in Freud’s language. Therefore I think that we would understand each other quite well if we talked about concrete things.
With friendly thanks and best wishes,
Yours, A. Einstein
A research abstract at PhysOrg.com tells us:
Researchers have long been fascinated by the secrets of Ramet Rahel, located on a hilltop above modern-day Jerusalem. The site of the only known palace dating back to the kingdom of Biblical Judah, digs have also revealed a luxurious ancient garden with an advanced irrigation system.
The rest of the review shows that this summary statement is wrong. The garden and palace are not from the time of the “biblical kingdom of Judah”, which ended with the Babylonian conquest in 586 BC, but from the Persian period which must have been at least fifty years later, and was more likely 200 years later in the fourth century BC.
The evidence is provided by the nature of the irrigation systems which were like those the Persians were noted for constructing, the exotic plants in the garden which came from Persia and further east, and C14 dating will have left little room for doubt. When it comes to the bible, there is no such thing as lying.
The truth is that the biblical kingdom of Judah is largely fictitious. Little of its scriptural history has ever been found confirmed in the ground, and much of what has, like the claim here, is false or misreported. The evidence as opposed to the myth suggests the kingdom of Judah existed just 150 years—from about 730 BC to 586 BC—as a rump of the previous kingdom of Israel, and a puppet of the Assyrians. It was left poor and uncolonized by the Babylonians, and was not resettled as soon as the Persians took control, as the myth makes out, but much later probably in response to a rebellion in the fifth century that required a Persian punitive expedition to Jerusalem. It is after this that the palace and garden described in this work flourished.
How Darius II founded Judaism is explained in detail at the main askwhy website.
Israeli archaeologist Ronny Reich of Haifa University has found near the Western Wall under Jerusalem’s Old City a rare clay seal that they say came from the Jewish Temple 2,000 years ago—between the first century BC and 70 AD—because it bears the inscription “pure for God”. The upper terminus is set by the closing of the temple by the Romans after the Jewish War.
This is the first such seal found dating from this period. Very many seals from apparently earlier periods are known, but regrettably so many of them are fakes, no one can be sure that any are genuine unless they have been found in situ. As it is, Reich, the co-director of the excavation opines that seal indicates temple ritual, signifying that Temple officials had approved some thing for temple use, like oil or a sacrificial beast. Offerings to God—for the benefit of the priests, in fact—had to be pure and perfect.
Curiously, though, the inscribed words are written in Aramaic and not Hebrew, as one might expect for ritual relics associated with the Jewish religion for which Hebrew was and still is the sacred language. The part of the Jewish Talmuds called the Mishna mentions the use of seals as tokens by diaspora pilgrims, who would have predominantly spoken Greek or Aramaic. However, it would have been the local people, Palestinian Jews, who gave animals, it being far more convenient for pilgrims from afar, maybe overseas, to give money. Presumably a priest was only capable of judging whether an animal was suitable for sacrifice, and logically they would have had seals inscribed in Hebrew. It suggests that Hebrew was only nominally the sacred language, Aramaic serving in practice.
Naughty boy British establishment Trotskyist turned celebrity American establishment neoconservative, and professional atheist, Christopher Hitchens died on 15 December 2011 of cancer of the œsophagus. A brilliant wordsmith and controversialist, Hitchens was a consistent anticommunist whose move to the US led to his abandonment of left wing communism in favour of open Bush/Cheney neoconservatism—a common path for Trotskyists in the USA—but he did seem to remain anti-Zionist throughout:
I am an anti-Zionist. I’m one of those people of Jewish descent who believes that Zionism would be a mistake even if there were no Palestinians.
One of the advantages of a Marxist and internationalist training is that it exposes one to the early writings of those Jewish cosmopolitans who warned from the first day that Zionism would be a false messiah for the Jews and an injustice to the Arabs. Nothing suggests to me that they were wrong on these crucial points.
And likening the United States leaders to the shabbos goy, the sabbath day gentile for the state of Israel:
The non-Jew who is paid a trifling fee to turn out the lights or turn on the stove, or whatever else is needful to get around the more annoying regulations [for Jews] of the Sabbath. How the old buzzard must cackle when he sees the gentiles actually volunteering a bribe to do the lowly work! And lowly it is, involving the tearing-up of international law and UN resolutions and election promises, and the further dispossession and eviction of a people to whom we gave our word…
Tudor Parfitt is a London University Hebrew scholar who likes to write astonishingly unscholarly potboilers about the myths of the Jewish scriptures. The reason they are unscholarly is that they pretend that the Jewish myths are real so that he can gad around the world solving alleged mysteries like this one—“Where is the Lost Ark of the Covenant?”. The real mystery is why does everyone think the old Jewish folk tales, like this one about the Ark of the Covenant, are somehow true when other ancient folk tales from the Grendel to Tiamat, or the Midas touch to the Elixir of Life, are accepted as the myths that they are. Children of all ages like mystery and fantasy, but scholars are not expected, these days, simply to accept tales like these as being true uncritically, and even to write books about their phony wild goose chasing scholarship supposedly in search of non-existent mysteries often aimed at misleading the general public to part with their hard earned cash. For such is the “Lost” Ark of the Covenant.
The Christian and Jewish scriptures are full of utterly impossible tales—donkeys and burning bushes that talk, rivers and even seas that open up to let the Chosen People pass them dryshod, storms being quelled, and even people who come back from the dead!—yet are believed because they have been given—by no one who knows—the caché of being written by God Himself. The well known amateur encyclopedia on the internet, Wikipedia, in its article on the Ark of the Covenant, complains that “this article needs attention from an expert on the subject”.
Professor Parfitt, the Indiana Jones of London University’s SOAS, can, perhaps, claim to be more of an expert than those of us who only comprehend English. For he purports to be an expert in Hebrew and so can read the actual Hebrew originals, if, indeed, they were originally in Hebrew. Yet this is an ideal subject for an amateur encyclopedist because there is only one source of information about the Ark of the Covenant and everyone has access to it. It is the Jewish bible. There are no contemporary references to the Ark outside of the Jewish scriptures. In fact, there are no references to most of the content of the Jewish scriptures outside of their own scope.
Over a hundred years ago, the higher critics of the bible realized that there were several authors with their own characteristsic in the early parts of the Torah. In one called J because God is most commonly called Yehouah (Jahweh) the Ark is hardly important, whereas in a parallel series of passages called E because God is most commonly called Elohim, the Ark has an important role. The two sets of passages are reconciled with the hypothesis that essentially the same myths were told by two sets of people, some of whom called God Yehouah while the others called God El. This division matches the bible in that the people chosen by God lived in two separate kingdoms in the biblical myth, the northern one, Israel, at some stage calling God El, while the southern one, Judah, calling God Yehouah.
In fact, there is little independent evidence of Judah until Israel was on the verge of destruction, so it seems that Israel was actually the only country involved for most of the period of independence of the Israelites, Judah being set up by the Assyrians as a puppet breakaway to destabilize Israel prior to annexation, rather as the USA today favors “rebel” governments to destabilize modern states whose governments they do not like.
More probably, the earliest colonists sent into Judah by the Persians, the ones who failed to set up a suitable state, worshipped El and had no central sanctuary, but instead had a movable one—the Ark of the Covenant—which travelled in procession from Shiloh to Shechem to Jerusalem and other local centers with the intention of centralizing worship on the Canaanite high god, El, but rivalry and dissension disunited the state. Then, in the fifth century, the Persians sent in a determinhed body of colonists expressly to set up a united temple state for Jews, worshippers of the god, Yehouah, centered on Jerusalem. The older—failed tradition of the movable Ark dedicated to El was incorporated into the newer myths devised to unite the people of the new state.
By the time that the temple state of Jerusalem was set up, the Ark was already history, had probably already been destroyed in the inter cultic violence that had gone before, but which was mythically placed in the inner sanctum of the temple to establish continuity and preserve unity between Elohists and Yehouists. So, in the Jewish myths the Ark plays no part after the time of Solomon, when it was placed in the Temple. While the Ark figures in Deuteronomy, the book of the law brought by Ezra, a Persian chancellery minister, that was mythologized as the law of Moses, and in the later priestly legislation, devised to benefit the temple as a cash cow, it did not actually exist. The Holy of Holies of the temple was allegedly empty. And, indeed, the Ark never appeared among the treasures of the so-called “second temple”, certainly in actuality the first temple to Yehouah. The victorious Romans took away the treasure of the Jewish temple but no Ark was among it. Biblicists—not “historians” as they are often called by other biblicists— have decided that the Ark was destroyed or captured by Babylonian when Jerusalem fell in 586 BC. It simply shows how they patch the Jewish myths to hide the rips in the fabric, the gaps and incoherence of “sacred history”.
Critics of the bible, from the close examination of the text called higher criticism, have concluded that many of the present biblical stories were rewritten long after the originals. Thus they might say the tales about the Ark were set down “long after the Exodus”. But the Exodus itself is a late addition to the biblical corpus. Why otherwise are Jews in the bible never called Moses? It is simply because Moses was invented almost at the end of the cycle of mythicization that yielded the Jewish scriptures, probably only in and after the second century BC, and perhaps then only in Greek initially.
Who was responsible? it was the Ptolemaic kings of Egypt who were collecting the great Alexandrine library. They it was who first wrote the scripture in essentially the form we have it today. The earlier, Persian historical tale about the Ark as a mobile sanctuary preceding the establishment of the temple state expanded, the Ark being described as one of the similar shrines known in Egypt, and therefore suitable for the story they invented of the Israelites being products of Egyptian culture. Sacred processions involving Arks, boats, or mobile shrines were popular among the Egyptians, and are illustrated on the walls of temples and described even in the Rosetta stone. The Ptolemaic Egyptian priests who rewrote the bible in the third century added a deal of Egyptian flavoring to support their propaganda that the Jews were once Egyptians. It has been believed ever since.
Anyway, the “scholarship” of professor Parfitt led him to conclude that the Biblical Ark of the Covenant was some sort of weapon of mass destruction which was simultaneously a musical instrument—a drum, an astonishing hybrid.
Parfitt follows a trail from Palestine to Yemen to East Africa and eventually to Zimbabwe trying to find this WMD. He found an African tribe called the Lemba who have among their traditions some, such as circumcision, and some Semitic sounding names. Well, of course, they must be one of the lost tribes of Israel! Parfitt has written about the lost tribes of Israel, and often sounds a lot more skeptical than he does in this potboiler, showing, if anything, how cynical he is.
Well, this tribe has a legend that they came from a distant city called Senna. They travelled by boat to east Africa founded a city of the same name, then gradually moved inland to Zimbabwe. Curiously, the migrants were all male, so by breeding with African women, they have ended up loooking African, but have retained some of their Jewish culture, for these men were Jewish priests, Kohanim, apparently expelled from the Yemen. At one time, the Yemenis took to Judaism as their official religion, and retained it for 200 or so years before the Moslems took over. So, the Lembas could conceivably have come from Yemen originally.
Now, the male Y chromosome obviously cannot belong to a woman. In like fashion, the Kohanim were necessarily male. So any genes in the Y chromosome that are characteristic of the Kohanim would pass down the male line and can be seen still. Tests of the Lembas show that many of them do indeed have a set of genes characteristic of many Jews bearing the name Cohen or its cognates. Thus Parfitt and his scientific co-workers have shown that the legend of the origin of the Lemba is feasible.
It is not certain though. Many Cohens do not have the supposed characteristic genes and some are not Jews! And any male that had the genes would pass them on to their male offspring. Moreover, the Canaanites themselves were believed by the ancients to have originated in Africa, so some Jews might have had the genes from their African origins. Supposed aspects of Jewish culture, like circumcision, could have been adopted from contacts with Moslems, or even ancient Egyptians, and Semitic names could have come from contacts with Arabic Moslems too.
What, though, of the Ark of the Covenant? Needless to say, Parfitt finds it in a museum in Harare as an unspectacular exhibit. It is a drum, not a boat or a box, but a musical instrument of a sort, and it is damaged! The damage shows it was a WMD! Seriously! Carbon dating, however, showed it was made of wood that was only 700 years old, not the necessary 3,200 years for the Mosaic Ark. Well, naturally a drum that was a WMD, could not have lasted all that long, so when it was used in warfare, it had to be replaced, but always by incorporating a core of the older one.
Maybe Parfitt’s novelistic scholarship can be justified as an innocent way of earning a crust, but it hardly rests easily with any claims he has to being genuinely scholarly. Pseudohistorians can get away with it because readers accept they have no real pretensions at scholarship. They are indeed closer to novelists, exploring the fringes of history and psychology via speculative fiction. Parfitt’s book has been admired as a combination of travelogue and history, but a novel is a better description. He is the center of attention in his Indiana Jones role. He stereotypes his characters rather as Dennis Wheatley, the author of occult novels half a century ago, did. Wheatley painted the rich as scented, noble and elegant—the typical Englishman—and the poor as scruffy, smelly criminals or halfwits—the typical Welshman, and any other human type unless they are nobility—and Parfitt effectively does the same. He has friends among Zionistic Jews and and anti-Semitic Moslem Arabs, and makes it plain whom he prefers. He has fabulously sexy girlfriends, and has sexy maidens or whores throw themselves at him—for a dollar or two—and he implies he has shady connexions with intelligence services.
It is all very comic strippy, like Indiana J himself, a giggle maybe but infantile as fiction, morally doubtful, and, in itself, quite ignoble in its prejudices. Is it impossible, these days, for scholars to be humble and honest in their devotion to scholarship? Must everyone be a Flashman? Can universities take more care whom they employ, or must we put up with rogues everywhere?