A lot of difficulty has been experienced in differentiating between history and myth; as a result, biblical interpreters unreservedly accept the belief that Elism happened to be an ancient Yahwism since the Elohist in Ex 3:13-15, as well as the Priestly Writer in Ex 6:2-3 affirmed it so. However, a moment’s reflection reveals that Yahweh and El are not similar gods since Elism and Yahwism were distinct religions, clashing mostly than being similar (Smith 17).
The initial Yahwistic traditions portray Yahweh as a bedouin war deity from the Edom deserts and of the proximate regions. His name, cultic festivities of his mighty exploits, as well as his ark, demonstrate his warlike traits. Regarding the Tetragrammaton, I assume that the ideal interpretation of the term “Yahweh” happens to be an acronym of his authoritative, longer title, “Yahweh Sabaoth,” which signifies “he gathers armies.” In this case, his people identify him as primarily their military commander (Austin 22).
Yahweh gets the title of a warrior in Ex 15:3; additionally, in Yahweh’s cultic festivity, the Song of Deborah depicts him as a warrior. According to this dramatic description, Yahweh are a warrior who is on the move, and whose might is extremely immense that his step makes the earth tremble, the heavens quake while the mountains melt prior to his march. There is a strong connection between the ark of Yahweh and warfare; apparently, there is a belief that Yahweh seats on this moveable dias and that, from this place, he directed his troops into and from war as he acted against Jericho. Therefore, we discover the formulaic axiom where we notice military might getting glorified (Num 10:35-36). Yahweh comes back from his wins to the multitudes of militaries whom he orders.
Distinctive from the desert’s savage Yahwism, a less belligerent Yahwism emerged, which likely came into Judah when migrant Hebrews shifted from the deserts thereby settling into southern Palestine. As exhibited within the Abraham customs, Yahweh is a clan deity who bears a distinctive affiliation to a clan chieftain like Abram. Additionally, the main depiction of is that of a deity who promises to grant his devotees their own land whereby they will not only live, but also prosper. This euphoric Yahwism may suitably be referred to as “Hebrew Yahwism” considering that the tern “Hebrew” originates from a root, which denotes “to cross over” (Austin 49). Apparently, the Hebrews turned out to be those Yahwists who, going along with the pioneer Abram, moved from the desert areas surrounding Judah thereby crossing over to residing there. Therefore, there is a need of differentiation Abramic Yahwism emanating from Desert or the Arabic Yahwism. According to the former faction did not receive their land by means of warfare; instead, its members settled down in vacant areas next to the indigenous populace and would time and again reside amongst them. The cultic duties of Abraham entailed little over the building of altars for making sacrifices to Yahweh. In spite of this more pacifistic Yahwism, we realize that Abram the Hebrew continued being his clan chieftain, who could marshal support from more Hebrew kinfolks as he did after gathering 318 men to save Lot. According to the trait of this migration, it appears most realistic envisaging waves of immigrants, which comprised of numerous clans, each clan having their own chieftain who jointly develop a support network, which Abram and those similar to him were capable of drawing upon when in need (Friedman 33).
In Psalm 82, El fires all his sons and condemns them into mortality. In spite of this Psalm sharing similar thoughts of El together with his sons, this folklore prevails from northern folklore thereby being different from the Jerusalem folklore present within Deut 32:8-9. According to Psalm 82, there is no explicit mentioning of Yahweh, in spite of Deut 32:8-9 positions him amongst Elyon’s sons (v. 6). One marvels over what instigated such a Psalm, which shows El dooming his sons to mortality through whom he had initially maintained his reign (Friedman 62). The only occurrence, which might have prompted such an extremist idea appears to be the formation of Jeroboam’s kingship. Apparently, amongst his reforms, meant to not only separate Israel from Judah, but also promote national individuality, Jeroboam I along with his court decided to declare El’s resolution that the gods of other lands got condemnation to mortality thereby compelling El to reign alone. This theatrical cultic scene seems to have political implications since the arrangement that the lands under El’s reign through rule via his sons was not effective anymore. As a result, El, devoid of any international intermediaries was now capable of ruling over all from Israel. Although the intention of the decree was for all the nations’ gods, one discovers that the Psalm formulated its strongest stance against Judah when Jeroboam was founding an independent kingdom. Thus, it seems that there are two traditions, which define El’s pantheon in the same manner, yet they get differentiated by their origin, one emanating from David’s Jerusalem cult while the other coming from Jeroboam’s recently renovated cult (Smith 89).
Conversely, in Psalm 29, Yahweh gets portrayed as a highly forceful god who is incapable of fitting the outline of the subsidiary god who reigned over a segment of his father’s realm. Psalm 29 happens to be much nearer to Canaanite thought as compared to Psalm 82 and Deut 32:8-9. It seems like there is some variation concerning the traits of El’s pantheon since one shares most of the dynamic characteristics of Canaanite mythology (Psalm 29) while the other presents the enormous administrative region of El through his sons. There are two distinctions of this same elevated god within Israelite religion; these distinctive versions of Elism depict that this god was innumerably worshipped depending on location. According to the psalm, the places named were all north of Kedesh with itself getting mentioned, and positioned in the far north of Palestine next to Dan. This place would have resulted in Yahwism having contact with Canaanite; however, this well explains its patently Canaanite attributes (Friedman 72).
The initial Oracles of Balaam present a look at other elements of pre-Yahwistic i.e. the Israelite religion. The first oracle is in Num 23:6-10, the second in Num 23:18-24, the third oracle in Num 24:3-9, while the fourth oracle is in Num 24:15-19. Here, we are extremely contending with genuine oracles, essentially uttered ahead of Joshua by Balaam, the famed Aramean seer.
Considering that Balaam appeared also within an Egyptian source, is an indication that he was an actual person with a global status for his prognostic capabilities (Elvis 44). Additionally, there is nothing within the oracles themselves that insinuates that they happen to be the result of archaizing. These oracles seem to be genuine oracles delivered in the late 13th century, in front of a faction of Israelite leaders, referred to as “The Men of Israel.” Within these oracles, the name of this deity is El, Elyon, as well as Shaddai; thus the longer versions of El Shaddai and El Elyon are authentic names for the same god. Apparently, El Elyon has solid ties with Jerusalem; this is an indication that the other two designates of El and Shaddai got preferred by other factions. Jacob’s encounters at Bethel, Penuel, as well as the altar Jacob, referred to as “El elohe yisra’el”, are indications that the Aramean migrants referred to their god as “El,” with Elyon and Shaddai being additional attributes provided to him by means of the cult (Freeman 51).
So, what concrete setting resulted in these utterances? There is little uncertainty that the speaking of these phrases took place in front of the official group of Israelite rulers. There is a possibility that these rulers contacted Balaam thereby making plans with him on when he will appear before them in order to deliver his oracles concerning Israel. Apparently, these oracles are very buoyant if not enthusiastic regarding the welfare of the nation since they give an impression that Balaam is asserting just what the rulers would like to hear since the leaders expected some sycophancy from their hired oracle (Friedman 78).
According to the Oracles, El will is not going to curse Israel; rather, he considers Israel as a blessed, special and numerous people who are to be coveted. El is famous for bringing his people from Egypt with his strong blessing over his people rendering divination and omens ineffective (Elvis 59). The historic presence of El in their lives gets portrayed by not only their previous victories, but also by the ferocity of their armies. The nationalized vitality is such that Israel aspires to get intoxicated with its victims’ blood. Even the attractive physical scenery of Palestine gets alluded to as proof of El’s favor. Apart from delivering a message, which appears to be intended for national pride, the third and fourth oracle of Balaam turn to politics. Here, he talks about the future that his second sight permits. He envisages a hero who will rise and become the head of a powerful kingdom; apparently, he happens to be a ferocious warrior that El has took from Egypt. This leader will rise from Jacob/Israel to lead a victorious battle against Edom, Moab and the sons of Sheth since Israel wields its strength in dominating its adversaries. The political message of Balaam is essentially favorable war oracle (Smith 102).
Based on this essay, it is clear that the gods Yahweh and El are different gods from each other. Yahweh got deified as a war god from southern Palestine deserts who migrated from north to Judah, whereas El happened to be the god of Israel with his home being Mesopotamia. According to history, these two gods should be considered as originally different, consequently related and eventually identified through political, as well as religious syncretism.
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