Chapter 13: Prophets of an Unseen God

“…How would Divine encounters with Yahweh take place?

“The immediate answer, in the wilderness of Sinai, was the Tabernacle, the portable Mishkan (literally: Residence) with its Tent of Appointment.

Mr. Sitchin explains how all other peoples (non Israelites) had methods of communicating with their gods: by visual contact, through carved images, other gods had spouses…

“…The answers are given by Yahweh himself.

“First, there will be the Angels, the Divine Emissaries, who would convey the Lord’s will and guidance and act in His behalf…

Other channels of communication: “it will be through the Prophets of Yahweh, appearing to them in a vision or in a dream, that the Lord will communicate with the people.

“The usual concept of a “prophet” is that of one who engages in prophecies – predictions of the future (in this instance under divine guidance or inspiration). But the dictionary correctly defines “prophet” as “a person speaks for God” in divine matters, or just “a spokeman for some cause, group or government…” And indeed, that is what the Hebrew term, Nabih, means: a spokeman…

“…The term appears for the first time in the Bible in chapter 20 of Genesis, which deals with the transgression of Abimelech, the Phillistine king of Gerar, who was about to take Sarah into his harem not knowing that she was married to Abraham. “And Elohim came unto Abimelech in a nighttime dream” to warn him off…

“…Next the term is used (in Exodus chapter 6) in its rudimentary sense. When the mission to the Pharaoh was imposed on Moses, he complained that his was a “halting speaking,” which would not be heeded by the Pharaoh. So Yahweh said to him: “Behold, as an Elohim I will make thee before Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy Nabih” – your spokeman.

After more biblical examples Mr. Sitchin continues,

“The matter of the Nabih as a true spokeman for Yahweh must have needed further elucidation – witness the additional statements in Deuteronomy… Unlike other people who “listen to diviners and magicians,” the Lord said, to the people of Israel He will provide a Nabih, one from their own brethren who “My words shall be in his mouth, who shall speak to them as I will command…” “If there arise in the midst of thee a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and he giveth thee a sign or a wonder,” but it was only to induce you to “follow other Elohim, unknown to thee, and worship them – do not hearken to the words of such a Nabih,” Yahweh explains through Moses…

“…That it was not an easy matter to distinguish between true and false prophets was thus anticipated from the beginning; the ensuing events offered bitter confirmation of the problem.

“”And there arose not a Nabih in Israel like Moses, whom Yahweh hath known face to face…” Before dying, the Lord made him go up Mount Nebo that was on the eastern side of the Jordan facing Jericho, to see from there the Promised Land.

“Significantly or ironically, the mount chosen for that final act, Mount Nebo, was named after Nabu, the son of Marduk. Il Nabium, the “God who is a spokeman,” Babylonian inscriptions called him; for as historical records show, it was he who, while his father Marduk was in exile, roamed the lands bordering on the Mediterranean, converting the people to the worship of Marduk in preparation for the seizing of the supremacy by Marduk at the time of Abraham.

“…It was after the death of Moses the servant of Yahweh, that Yahweh spoke unto Joshua the son of Nun, the Minister of Moses, saying: “Moses my servant died; now therefore arise and cross the Jordan, thou and all this people, unto the land which I give to them, the Children of Israel… Only be thou strong and steadfast in observing to act according to all the teachings which Moses my servant commanded thee – turn not to the right or to the left.”

“Thus begins the Book of Joshua, with a reiteration of the Divine Promise on the one hand and of the required absolute adherence to Yahweh’s commandments on the other hand. And right away Joshua, recognizing that the former depended on the latter, realized that it would be the latter that would be the problem.

“As in the time of Moses, divine assistance in the form of miracles was provided the new leader to make the double point: Though unseen, Yahweh was omnipresent as well as omnipotent…

Yahweh guided Joshua for the river crossing; the toppling of the walls of Jericho, and the defeat of the Canaanite kings in the Valley of Ajalon, when the Sun stood still and did not set for some twenty hours.

“…And it came to pass after a long time, after Yahweh had given rest unto Israel from all their surrounding enemies, that Joshua waxed old and aged…”

“…So Joshua assembled the tribal leaders at Shechem, to review before them the history of the Hebrews from their ancestral beginnings until the present. On the other side of the Euphrates River did your ancestors live, he said – Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor – “and they worshipped other Elohim.”

The migration of Abraham, the story of his descendants, the enslavement in Egypt and the events of the Exodus under the leadership of Moses were then briefly reviewed, as well as the crossing of the Jordan and the settlement under Joshua’s leadership. Now, as I and my generation are passing on, Joshua said, you are free to make a choice: you can remain committed to Yahweh – or you can worship other gods:

Would’st ye hold Yahweh in awe,
and worship him in sincerity and in truth –
then remove the Elohim whom your forefathers
had worshipped across the river [Euphrates]
and in Egypt, and worship [only] Yahweh.
But if it does not please you to serve Yahweh –
choose here and now whom ye shall worship:
whether the Elohim which your forefathers had
served on the other side of the River,
or the gods of the Westerners in whose land ye dwell;
and I and my family shall worship Yahweh.

And the people chose Yahweh…

 

“…So “Joshua said unto the people: Ye all are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen Yahweh to worship. And they said: We are witnesses.” Thereupon “Joshua made a covenant with the people that day,” writing it all down “in the Book of the Teachings of Yahweh.” And he erected a stone stela under the oak tree that was beside the Tabernacle in witness of the covenant.

“…Among the difficulties inherent in the religion of Yahweh were the absence of a genealogy and of a primordial realm whence the gods had come. The gods who had been worshiped by the parents and forefathers of Abraham “across the river” – the first set of “other gods” listed by Joshua – included Enlil and Enki, the sons of the Anu, the brothers of Ninharsag, Anu himself had named parents. All of them had spouses, offspring – Ninurta, Nannar, Adad, Marduk, and so on. There was even a third generation – Shamash, Ishtar, Nabu. There had been an original homeland – a place called Nibiru, another world (i.e. planet) whence they had come to Earth.

“Then there were the “other gods” of Egypt; Yahweh had shown His might against them when Egypt was afflicted to let the Children of Israel go, but they continued to be venerated and worshiped not only in Egypt but also wherever Egypt’s might had reached. They were headed by Ptah, and the great Ra was his son – travelling in Celestial Boats between Earth and the “Planet of Million Years,” the primordial abode. Thoth, Seth, Osiris, Horus, Isis, Nepthys were related by simple genealogies in which brothers married half sisters. When the Israelites, fearing that Moses had perished on Mount Sinai, asked Aaron to reinvoke the deity, he fashioned a golden calf – the image of the Apis Bull – to represent the Bull of Heaven. And when a plague afflicted the Israelites, Moses made a copper serpent – the symbol of Enki/Ptah – to stop the plague. No wonder that the gods of Egypt, too, were fresh in the Israelite’s mind.

“And then there were the “other gods of the Westerners in whose lands you dwell” – the gods of the Canaanites (Western Asiatics) whose pantheon was headed by the retired olden god El (a proper name or epithet being the singular of the plural Elohim) and his spouse Asherah; and his adversaries Mot and Yam. Their playgrounds and battlegrounds were the lands that stretched from the border of Egypt to the borders of Mesopotamia; every nation in that area worshipped them, sometimes under locally adjusted names; and the Children of Israel were now dwelling in their midst…

“To compound the “Basic Problem” of the missing ingredients of a genealogy and a primordial abode, was added the greater difficulty for the Israelites: an Unseen God who could not even be represented by a graven image.

“And so it was that, on and off, “the Children of Israel did wrong in the eyes of Yahweh, and worshipped the Ba’al gods… And again and again leaders – designated Judges – arose to return the Israelites to their true faith and thereby remove Yahweh’s wrath.

“One of those Judges, the female Deborah, is fondly recalled by the Bible as Nebi’ah – a Prophetess. Inspired by Yahweh, she chose the right commander and tactics for the defeat of Israel’s northern enemies; the bible records her victory song… David Ben Gurion (the first prime minister of the Modern State of Israel), in The Jews in Their Land, wrote that,

“that religio-national
wakening was movingly
expressed in the Song of
Deborah with its
reference to the great and
invisible God.”

Image: The Knesset

The Knesset

“In fact the victory hymnal song did more than that: It referred to the celestial nature of Yahweh, asserting that the victory was made possible because Yahweh whose appearance “makes the Earth tremble, the heavens quake and the mountains melt,” caused the “planets, in their orbits,” to fight the enemy.

“Such a celestial aspect of Yahweh… was to become highly significant in the prophetic utterances of the great Prophets of the Bible.

“…The functions of the Nabih as teacher and upholder of moral laws and social justice, and not only for a conduit of divine messages, emerges from the deeds of even such an early Prophet as the enigmatic “Nathan” (“He who was granted”)…

Mr. Sitchin relates here the event of David plotting the death of Bathsheba’s husband, so that he could take Bathsheba as his wife.

“…It was then that Nathan the prophet came to the king and told him a fable of a rich man who had many sheep but nevertheless coveted the only sheep a poor man had. And when David exclaimed, “such a man must be punished by death!” the prophet told him: “Thou art the man!”

“…David spent even more time in pious meditation and solitary prayer; many of the king’s reflections on God and Man found expression in the Psalms of David; in them the celestial aspects of Yahweh echo, and expand upon the words in the Song of Deborah.

Mr. Sitchin now directs his readers to the events following the death of King Solomon (King David’s son), the splitting of the Kingdom; he relates in more detail the Prophet Elijah and his miracles.

“…The prophetic activity of Elijah is stated to have taken place after the “Angel of Yahweh” had given him instructions, and it appears that this was the manner in which Yahweh’s word was communicated to him. Untold by the Bible, though, is the manner by which Elijah was given his most memorable (and final) instructions for his ascent to heaven in a fiery chariot. The event, the likes of which harkens back to the times of Enmeduranki, Adapa, and Enoch is described in detail in II Kings chapter 2.

“…As Elijah before him, Elisha was also involved in royal successions that were divinely ordered…

Circumstances which came about after the fall of Egypt, Babylon, Assyria and the Hittites, gave way to smaller powers to rise: the Hebrews, Edomites, Moabites, Arameans, Phoenicians, Phillistines.

“…Their border wars and encroachments were small local affairs compared to the titanic battles of the erstwhile empires in past centuries – and to the major onslaughts that were in the offing.

“In 879 B.C. a new capital, Kalhu (the biblical Calah) was ceremoniously inaugurated in Assyria… Its hallmarks were expansion, domination, warfare, carnage, and unparalleled brutality – all in the name of “the great god Ashur” and other deities of the Assyrian pantheon… In 689 B.C. the Assyrians took full control of Babylon, and went to the extreme of moving Marduk himself to the Assyrian capital, as a captive god.

Babylon came to power once again under the leader Nabopolassar… and now (626 B.C.) it was Babylon that emulated Assyria in conquests near and far – all in the name of “the lords Nabu and Marduk…”

“…the Biblical Prophets also expanded their mission to global dimensions… all the doing and planning of Yahweh to put an end to individual and national inequities and transgressions. As though harkening back to the days before the Deluge, when the Lord expressed his dissatisfaction with the way Mankind had turned out and sought to wipe it off the face of the Earth on the occasion of the Deluge, so was the Divine Dissatisfaction great once again, the remedy being the demise of all kingdoms – of Israel and Judea included, the destruction of all temples – that in Jerusalem included, the end of all the false worship that is expressed in sacrifices to cover up constant injustices, and the rise, after such a global catharsis, of a “New Jerusalem” that shall be a “Light unto all the nations.”

“…It was, as J.A. Heschel designated it in The Prophets, “The Age of Wrath…”

“…On the individual level, the great Prophets spoke out harshly against empty piety – rituals that papered over injustices… It was a call to return to the essence of the Ten Commandments, to the righteousness and justice of ancient Sumer.

“On the national level, the Prophets saw futility and foresaw doom in the making and unmaking of alliances with neighboring kings in efforts to withstand the attacks and domination of the great Powers of that time, for those surrounding nations, too, were themselves doomed in the coming upheavals: “A storm of Yahweh, a wrath shall come forth, a whirling tempest will burst upon the heads of the wicked,”” (this included Israel and Judaea)…

“…The peoples who worshipped Ba’al and Ashtoreth, Dagon and Ba’al-zebub, Chemosh and Molech, were also sinners gone astray.

“…So were the “false prophets” against whom the True Prophets of Yahweh had waged a constant struggle…

“They proclaim, Peace! Peace! but there is no peace,” Jeremiah said of them, whereas the True Prophets spared not the kings or the people when reprimand and warnings were needed.

“On the international level, the global arena, the Prophets displayed an uncanny grasp of geopolitics, and their remarkable insights and foresights ranged far and wide. They knew of the reemergence of ancient kingdoms, as that of Elam, and the emergence of a new power farther east; that of the Medes (later known as Persians); even distant China, the Land of Sinim, was accounted for. The early city-states of the Greeks in Asia Minor, their occupation of the Mediterranean islands of Crete and Cyprus, were recognized. The status of old and new powers bordering on Egypt in Africa was known…

“…At center stage were the three longtime powers: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon; of them, Egypt – and its gods – were treated with the least respect. In spite of close and sometimes friendly relationships between the Hebrew kingdoms and Egypt (Solomon married a Pharaoh’s daughter and was provided by the Egyptians with horses and chariots), Egypt was considered to be treacherous and unreliable… Both Isaiah and Jeremiah spoke out at length against Egypt and its gods, prophesying the demise of both.

Isaiah (chapter 19), in an “Oracle on Egypt,” envisioned Yahweh arriving in Egypt airborne on the day when He would judge and punish Egypt and the Egyptians:

Behold Yahweh,
riding upon a swift cloud,
coming unto Egypt.
The idols of Egypt shall tremble before Him,
The heart of Egypt shall melt as he comes near.

 

“…Jeremiah focused more on the gods of Egypt, relating (in chapter 43) Yahweh’s vow to “kindle a fire in the temples of the gods of Egypt and burn them down… to break the statues of Heliopolis…” The Prophet Joel (3:19) explained why “Egypt shall be a desolation: Because of their violence against the sons of Judah and the spilling of innocent blood in their own land.”

“…The exile (of the Israelites ordered by Tiglat-Pileser), according to the Prophets, was willed by Yahweh himself
because of Israel’s transgressions, “they heeded not the words of Yahweh their Elohim and transgressed his covenant and all that Moses the servant of Yahweh commanded.” the Prophet Hosea, in words and symbolic deeds, foresaw those events as punishment for Israel’s “whoring” after other gods, but it made it known that “a quarrel hath Yahweh with the inhabitants of Earth, for there is neither truth nor justice, nor understanding of Elohim upon the Earth.” Isaiah’s prophecies specified that Assyria would be the Lord’s instrument for punishment…

“…Yahweh’s intent was only to chastise through punishment, to always leave a remnant that would be redeemed. Assyria’s kings can have no more free will than an axe has when in the hands of its wielder, He announced, and when Assyria shall have carried out its initial mission, its own day of reckoning shall come.

“Assyria not only failed to realize it was just a tool in the hands of the divine wielder, it also failed to recognize that Yahweh was the Lord, a “Living Elohim” unlike the pagan gods…

“…And it came to pass [that night] that the Angel of the Lord came and smote the camp of the Assyrians, all one hundred and eighty five thousand of them…

And Sennacherib (Assyrian king) died in Nineveh, in his temple, slewed by his son Sharezer. Babylon, would be the next divine rod for a global catharsis.

“…The prophets forewarned the kings and people of Judaea. It would bring upon them Yahweh’s wrath in the form of a “great and ferocious nation, coming from the north.” It was in the very first year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, that Jeremiah made explicit the oracle of punishment against the nation of Judah, the dwellers of Jerusalem, and all the neighbouring nations…

“…Not only was Babylon a tool in the hands of Yahweh – the specific king, Nebuchadnezzar, was called by Yahweh “my servant”!

“…Babylon, as predicted, fell before the onslaught of a new power of the east, that of the Achaemenid Persians, under the leadership of their king Cyrus, in 539 B.C. Babylonian records suggest that the city’s fall was made possible by the falling out between the last Babylonian king, Nabuna’id and the god Marduk; according to the annals of Cyrus, as he captured the city and its sacred precinct and entered the inner sanctum, Marduk extended his hands to him and he, Cyrus, “grabbed the extended hands of the god.”

“But if Cyrus thought that by that he had obtained the blessing of the God Most High, he was wrong, the Prophets said, for in fact he was only carrying out the grand design of “Yahweh, the one and only God.” Calling Cyrus “My chosen shepherd” and “My anointed,” Yahweh thus pronounced to Cyrus through his spokeman Isaiah (chapter 45):

Though thou knowest Me not,
I am the one who hath called thee by name…
I am Yahweh, thy Caller,
The God of Israel.

 

“…It was in his very first year as ruler over Babylon that Cyrus issued an edict calling for the return of the exiles of Judaea to their land and permitting the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. The cycle of prophecies was completed. Yahweh’s words came true.

“But, in the eyes of the people, he remained an Unseen God.


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