A SPACE STORY FROM THE BEGINNING
THE OLD TESTAMENT REVISITED
By Roland Smyth
Continued - 2
Imagine, if you will, the following scene out of Greek mythology: High on the summit of Mount Olympus, Zeus has gathered around him a somber assembly of some of his subordinate gods. Because of their recurrently notorious affairs in the world of mankind, Zeus has grown angry and is lecturing them into cleaning up their act a little--or else!
Similar scenes as this appear in many of the mythologies around the globe. Some Chief god or other is inevitably portrayed as delivering a no-nonsense pep talk to the lesser gods before they manage, in their reckless enthusiasm, to ruin what has been accomplished on Earth.
As you might by now expect, the Old Testament is no exception to the general rule, for in Psalm 82 it is clearly written: "God presides in the Great Assembly and gives judgment amongst the gods."
After cutting their inflated egos down to size with a severe oratory blast, his anger seems only marginally dissipated, for he concludes by thundering, You are gods, you are all sons of the Most High... (as though he himself had a superior)... but you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler!"
No doubt about it, the Chief god was intensely angry. That's par for the course, though. What's really interesting about Psalm 82 is that, once again, we have a strong Homeric flavor in a sacred text which is supposed to be way above and beyond Homer's style of writing.
Regardless of all that though, Psalm 82 has got to be one of the most striking references to the gods that the Bible ever makes. It takes a while for it to fully register, but here is a section of the Holy Scriptures which candidly states that even God routinely acknowledges the existence of other-albeit lesser--gods!! Obviously the ancient Israelites must have believed this to be true, otherwise they wouldn't have entered the passage into their sacred texts... and kept it here in subsequent copies.
While Psalm 82 is one, if not the most striking references to the gods, there are plenty of run-of-the-mill types sprinkled throughout the Bible as well--but as per usual, particularly in the Old Testament. Spotting them becomes second nature once you get the hang of it... once you realize they're there to be found. In Malachi 1:9, for instance, Jehovah advises the prophet to "implore God to be gracious to us. With such (inferior) offerings from your hands, will he accept you?"
You notice how Jehovah speaks of God as if he was a separate and higher-ranking deity than himself? And who, I wonder, might pull rank over that deity in turn? God Most High? (A title you occasionally run across.) You never know. You just never know.
Anyway, there is no shortage of what can fairly be termed legitimate gods in the Book which somehow acquired the reputation for recognizing only one. All you gotta do is scout around.
Once you've accomplished some measure of success in that pursuit, it would then be wise to ask yourself, "Who the hell were those guys?!" Why were they so often on the warpath? And when they themselves were taking it easy, why did they encourage their mortal subjects to rape, plunder, slaughter, and destroy in their stead?
Ah, but you probably think I'm exaggerating with that kind of talk. If so, then I can tell right away that you haven't read Joshua yet, or any number of the other Old Testament books which have incredibly brutal battle scenes in them. Did you know, for instance, that the invading Israelite soldiers during the Promised Land campaign were allowed, by permission from Jehovah, to sometimes keep the virgins for themselves, but to mercilessly massacre everybody else? Yep. Men, women, children, and even the livestock. For a preview of all this carnage, see Numbers 31:17, Deuteronomy 20:16, and Deuteronomy 21:10.
Sorry, I hadn't planned on laying the heavies on you so soon, but we've got to be thoroughly objective about all this you know. It's easy to accuse the clergy and their superiors of turning a blind eye to disagreeable passages, so it would be hypocritical for us to adopt a similar attitude. Assessing the Old Testament gods/extraterrestrials for what they really were is all part and parcel of researching Biblical UFOs. It's a very serious field of inquiry, for those gods of ancient Israel are still, through institutionalized religion, having a considerable amount of influence on your life, whether you subscribe to their dogmas or not. Others around you do.
Anyway, to get back to a slightly lighter mood, I find it extraordinarily ironic that for so long the Bible has been judged to be the greatest testimony of all for denouncing all those mythological gods of antiquity. It's nothing of the sort! On the contrary, the Bible has, with a slight shift of focus, become the greatest repository of credible evidence for strongly corroborating the visits of those gods! By all means tell your friends and neighbors that this is so. Go easy on them though. The topic can get pretty delicate for some folks, and you've got to be careful not to overdo it.
We now return to the main theme...
Having at this point firmly established that the Old Testament is anything but silent on real, honest-to-goodness gods, the stage is now set for formally introducing its Chief God--or, if I may provide a new and fitting title for him, the Commander of the Fleet. The best way to begin is to provide some background information on his name, for this name figures strongly in helping us to gain a clearer understanding of the Bible as a whole.
As already indicated, the Commander's name was Jehovah. Due to a complex series of linguistic mix-ups... This rendition is not as accurate as recent scholars would like it to be ("Yahweh" comes closer), but Jehovah is the commonest one in general circulation, so I've opted to use it for general circulation, so I've opted to use it for familiarity's sake. Precisely correct pronunciation is presently out of reach for us anyway, and besides, it isn't important. What is important is that the Commander had a name in the first place.
The reason it's important is that it identifies him as a distinctly individual and independently operating deity, thus setting him apart from all the other deities of the ancient world. In other words, he was the exclusive, national God of Israel, the God who dealt directly with the Israelites and nobody else.
The Old Testament repeatedly focuses an enormous amount of significance to the name. Over and over again passages emphasize that it should be remembered in the hearts and minds of the faithful, sung out joyously in hymns of praise, used in reverence to swear sacred oaths by, and generally vocalized and reflected on whenever appropriate opportunities made themselves available. In short, the name was as central to Judaic worship and day-to-day living as the Savior's is to Christianity.
It is an extremely puzzling mystery, therefore, that sometimes as late as the first or second centuries AD (nobody seems to know for sure) a Judaic "superstition" developed which judged the name to be too sacred for uttering out loud. Indeed, it suddenly became a sin to speak the name!
Although in printed form it survived in then-existing Hebrew scriptures and remained unexpurgated in subsequent copies, the name was nevertheless lost to posterity. Or at least the correct pronunciation was lost. This is because, by means of an ingenious cipher system long since forgotten or hidden away, the Hebrew written language required only consonants. Thus, the name appears simply as YHWH. To this day nobody knows what vowels are missing, and that's why we'll never get the pronunciation right until someone cracks the code. (I'm sure someone already has, but for reasons of his own is keeping quiet about it!)
In any case, due to the aforementioned superstition the name--which for at least a thousand years previously had dominated early Judaism--was discreetly withdrawn from active service. Jehovah had, as a consequence, and quite against his own orders, been deprived of what could analogously be termed his "legal" ID
To carry the analogy a step further, the priests behind this scheme then provided him with a pseudonym to serve as a sort of alias. (It was from this pseudonym, by the way, that "Jehovah" and "Yahweh" were eventually derived. In those terms "Yahweh" is a pretty close if not bang-on rendition of the name; ie., the pseudonym.)
As I was saying, a pseudonym was provided. The priests were very clever in choosing the pseudonym, for they decided to incorporate within it, and in the same order, the same consonants of the original name. Only new vowels were introduced. Instructions concerning the new vowels were then spread around by word of mouth and Presto! the populace had a new name for the Commander, on which was 'OK' to vocalize.
To illustrate what I mean, the original pronunciation might have been (for instance) YiH-WoH, but now it was YaH-WeH.
The really clever aspect of the switch lies in the fact that on paper the name remained completely unaltered! YHWH was YHWH no matter what vowels were mentally added. Perhaps only a lawyer can appreciate the full significance of the tactic, for simultaneously everything was changed and nothing was changed!
Anyway, the new name (pseudonym alias, false ID) had been assigned the vowel-sounds from the Hebrew "Adonai" (Lord), so the overall end result was a hybrid noun which was regarded as part name and part title (Jehovah or Yahweh). For all intents and purposes, though, it was really only a name.
Unfortunately, as time passed by over the centuries, even the pseudonymous name began to be viewed as too sacred for vocalization (God doesn't work in strange ways; only priests do), and consequently the hybrid noun (part name and part title) came to be regarded more and more as just a title. Since some of its component sounds were borrowed from the Hebrew equivalent of "Lord," it was generally agreed that the entire, somewhat ambiguous and immensely troublesome noun might just as well be translated as "Lord" and have done with it once and for all. And that's what happened.
The result was, that not only had Jehovah been deprived of his "legal" ID, he was also deprived of his "false" ID One begins to grow suspicious of all this. It's as if Jehovah had a murky past and the priests were desperately trying to cover for him.
In any case, because his papers got lost in the shuffle (so to speak), most non-Hebrew Bibles in circulation today have replaced both his original name and his pseudonym with the title "the LORD." Notice that all four letters are capitalized. Bible texts use this as a literary device for distinguishing "the LORD" as a replacement for both its predecessors. Well, at least the translators had the good sense to include that distinction, although hardly anybody notices it or realizes what it means if they do.
Yes, these last pages have been a little complicated, but what it all boils down to is that "the LORD" is as much a mistranslation of YHWH as "God" or "angels" are of ELOHIM.
It is also every bit as misleading... and then some; for it contributes enormously to the confusion any serious Bible student will face when comparing the two Testaments. You see, "the LORD" of the Old Testament is naturally associated with "the Lord" of the New Testament.
See what I mean?
The two words, however, are only homonyms; that is, they are spelled and pronounced the same, but they differ in origin and meaning. In truth, "LORD" and "Lord" have about as much in common with each other as do, say, 'WASP' and "wasp"--wherein the former represents a certain class of immigrants and the latter speaks for itself. The analogy is perhaps a little over stretched, but it illustrates the point quite nicely.
I'm taking great pains to elucidate the complexities surrounding Jehovah's name and the differences between "LORD" and "Lord" for one very good reason: Nowhere in the New Testament will you locate the title "the LORD" (with all four letters capitalized, you understand).
What this means... and I would request that you proceed slowly here... is that neither Jehovah's original name nor his pseudonymous name (at least one of which was in use during the time of Jesus)... neither of these two names appeared in the original Christian manuscripts. Otherwise, they would have eventually been transliterated as "the LORD," you see --which is what occurred in the case of the Old Testament, even from the sections which were written in Aramaic.
Now, since neither of Jehovah's names were recorded in the New Testament, that means that Jesus himself never spoke them; and what that means is the JESUS NEVER IDENTIFIED JEHOVAH AS HIS FATHER. In order words, even though he evidently posed as the expected Jewish Messiah, it appears that he was sent by Somebody Else altogether different than the Commander!
That's a pretty controversial statement to make, I know but it does explain a large proportion of he Bible's contradictions. It also explains why Jehovah's name was mysteriously dropped: Jesus had conspicuously failed to endorse it.
Anyway, I'll not go into the ramifications of all that just yet. It's now time to formally introduce the man behind the name.
Read the Gospel of Judas. It was found on papyrus pages, originally a book, in a cave about 20 years ago. In it Jesus told Judas that the god his disciples worshipped was not his God. His God was the Supreme Being.
I gave this book to a born again Christian, obviously he did not study the passages, he gave it back to me torn to shreds! He also was interested in UFOs and was a pilot, but a close minded one at that. He said, "How could you do this!!" It was easy folks.
In the next chapters it will be much more interesting but you needed the background on just who Jehovah was to make sense about the rest of the booklet.