Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Great Angel by Margaret Barker, Part 2


Chapter 4

According to Philo, the two cherubim of the temple represent the God of Israel, yet one is male and one is female. Both participated in creation and the mother was called either Knowledge or Wisdom. According to rabbinic tradition (Babylonian Talmud Megillah 3a, Genesis Rabbah 8:1, Clementine Homilies III:54:2) Yahweh was a hermaphrodite and created Adam as a hermaphrodite. Philo did not think Adam was a hermaphrodite, but believed that Yahweh was (God made male and female and created them after his image).

Rabba bar Rab Shila's text of 1 Kings 7:36 described the cherubim as like a man intertwined with his wife. Ezekiel 41:18 implies this by describing the cherubim as having two heads, one of a man and one of a lion, facing away from each other. Yahweh is sometimes described in feminine terms, such as giving birth to Israel (Deuteronomy 32:11,18, Isaiah 42:14, see also Isaiah 45:9-11, Isaiah 49:14-15, Isaiah 66:13).

Digging into the texts, Margaret Barker finds evidence that Yahweh's female aspect or consort, Wisdom, was suppressed by the Deuteronomists (1 Enoch 94:5, Deuteronomy 4:6, Baruch 3:12, Baruch 3:36-37, Pistis Sophia). Kabbalistic writings speak of the exile of the female aspect of Yahweh called Shekinah. Jeremiah calls this figure the Queen of Heaven (Jeremiah 44:17-18). A female god is also mentioned in Micah 5:3 and Isaiah 7:14.

In the Deuteronomic writings, the goddess Asherah is always linked with Ba'al, however in extra-Biblical Hebrew writings, Asherah is linked with Yahweh, and in Canaanite texts of the first millennium, she is never linked with Ba'al. It seems the Deuteromists connected Asherah with Ba'al in an effort to discredit both, but Asherah was originally Yahweh's consort, not Ba'al's.

In Isaiah, a female herald brings news to Zion and Jerusalem (Isaiah 40:9, 61:1-4) but later becomes identified with the city itself (Isaiah 54:7), a city which is abandoned by her husband (Isaiah 49:14) and deprived of her children (Isaiah 54:1). Perhaps this was why the city of New Jerusalem married the Lamb in the New Testament (Revelation 21:9-14). The woman in labor from Isaiah (Isaiah 66:7) becomes the woman clothed with the sun (Revelation 12:1-6) which indicates that John saw her as a goddess.

We know Asherah was worshiped in Israel, since we are repeatedly told that she was purged from the Temple (2 Kings 23:6-7, 18:4, 21:7, 13:6, 23:6, 1 Kings 15:13, 18:19, 18:40). These purgings didn't seem to take effect, since she always seemed to come back. She is described by Ezekiel in terms similar to Lady Atirat, consort of El and mother to seventy sons in the Ugaritic literature.

We also know she was Yahweh's consort from archealogical evidence. There are inscriptions mentioning "Yahweh and his Asherah" at Kuntillet 'Ajrud and Khirbet-el-Qom. There is a cultic stand at Taanach which has two Asherah scenes and two Yahweh scenes. Asherah is sometimes depicted as a tree (see Deuteronomy 16:21, 7:5, 12:3, 1 Kings 14:23, 14:15, 16:33, 2 Kings 17:10, 17:16, Proverbs 3:18, Sirach 24:13-22) while Yahweh was depicted as a sun horse. Female figurines have been found at many Israelite sites, including at the royal palace of Ramath Rachel, indicating that worship of a female deity was not limited to the common people. Horse figurines, some with sun disks around their heads, have also been found in Jerusalem, not far from the temple (see 2 Kings 23:11, Revelation 19:11-16).

In one version of 1 Enoch 10:1, the archangel who warns Noah about the Flood is named Istrael, the Greek version of the Hebrew Ishtarel which is very similar to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar who laments the Flood in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Not only was Yahweh's female aspect called the Spirit of God or Wisdom in the Old Testament, but many early Christians considered the Holy Spirit of the trinity to be female. The greatest church in Byzantium was named Hagia Sophia after Wisdom. Words Matthew 23:34 attributes to Jesus are attributed to Wisdom in Luke 11:49 and Paul describes Jesus as the Wisdom of God in 1 Corinthians 1:24.

Chapter 5

The Prayer of Joseph, an early Jewish work which has not survived the ravages of time, but is quoted in part by Origen, says that the archangel Israel was chief captain of the heavenly hosts before coming to earth as Jacob. According to the gnostic text On the Origin of the World, Jesus became the angel Israel ('the man who sees God').

The angel Jaoel, Joel, or Yahoel (whose name is a combination of Yahweh and El) is described in the Apocalypse of Abraham as being robed in purple with a rainbow turban. He carries a golden scepter, and has white hair and a body like sapphire. He lives in the seventh heaven. This angel also appears in the Slavonic Life of Adam and Eve 31 and the Apocalypse of Moses 43:15. In 3 Enoch, this archangel reveals that he is better known as Metatron, and he used to be the man known as Enoch (3 Enoch 4:3). Metatron is also mentioned in b. Sanhedrin 38b.

In apocalyptic writings, humans are referred to as animals and angels are referred to as men. Thus, when Noah is born a bull and becomes a man (1 Enoch 89:1) and Moses is a sheep who becomes a man (1 Enoch 89:36), what's really being described is the process of them becoming angels. The New Testament describes Jesus going through a similar transformation (Philippians 2:9-11).

Metatron is known as the Little Yahweh, which implies there were two Yahwehs. Many early Christian and gnostic texts refer to two different Lords or Yahwehs (Pistis Sophia, Book of Jeu, Gannat Bussame, Sirach 51:10, Ascension of Isaiah 9:40, 10:7, Eusebius, 1 Corinthians 8:5-6)

Some places refer to just four archangels, while others refer to seven. Adding these together may explain why Yahweh is said to have eleven names. 1 Enoch 20 names the seven archangels as Uriel (2 Esdras 2:48, 4:1), Raphael (Book of Tobit), Raguel, Michael, Saraqael, Gabriel (Daniel 8:16, 9:21), and Remiel (2 Esdras 4:36, Apocalypse of Zephaniah, 2 Baruch 55:3, 63:6). Enoch gives each angel a different role, however their roles seemed to be interchangeable.

Yahweh tries to kill Moses in Exodus 4:24, however in Jubilees 48:1-3, it is the angel Mastema who tries to kill Moses instead. 1 Enoch mentions a couple other fallen angels: Azazel and Semjaza. Fragmentary texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls indicate that the Prince of Darkness was also known as Satan or Melchiresa, while the Prince of Light was also called Michael and Melchizedek.

Melchizedek appears only twice in the Old Testament (Genesis 14, Psalms 110). Both references indicate that he is a priest of El Elyon (not Yahweh). However, the 11QMelch fragment presents Melchizedek as not a priest, but an angel. He is the judge of the council of gods in Psalms 82:1 and the one heralded in Isaiah 52:7 (see also Isaiah 61:1).

In the Kabbalah, Yahweh is Adam, the primordial man.

Chapter 6

In the Old Testament, "Yahweh" and the "Name of Yahweh" are sometimes used synonymously, but sometimes refer to two different figures. The Name, or the Logos, was an important concept to Philo. In Exodus, the priests wore a golden plate on their turban which said "Holy to Yahweh", however Philo records a different tradition in which the golden plate said simply YHWH, indicating that the priest was a stand in for Yahweh.

It was originally thought that Yahweh himself sat upon the cherubim throne in the Temple of Solomon, but the Deuteronomists criticized this idea.

But will God indeed dwell on earth? Behold heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built. (1 Kings 8:27)
Would you build a house for me to dwell in? [Your son] shall build a house for my Name. (2 Samuel 7:5,13)

The Deuteronomists tell us Yahweh's Name dwells in the Temple, not Yahweh himself. According to the Gospel of Truth 38 and other gnostic texts, the Name is the Son of God. There are Greek magical papyri which give the name of the god of the Jews as Jesus. Jesus and Yahweh were one and the same. "I conjure you by the God of the Hebrews, Jesus" or "Hail God of Abraham; hail, God of Isaac, hail, God of Jacob, Jesus Chrestos, the Holy Spirit, the son of the Father." The fact that two different versions of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5) both forbid taking the Name in vain, may be a reference to this magical practice of invocation.

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