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Biblical Lands, Peoples and Religions

Biblical Lands, Peoples and Religions

db’s Bible Study Notes

 

Table of Contents

 

Biblical Lands, Peoples and Religions. 1

Modern Names for Selected Biblical Places. 2

Brief Comments About Selected Biblical Peoples and Places. 3

Amalekites. 3

Assyria. 3

Babylon. 3

Canaan. 4

Ammon. 5

Edom… 5

Egypt 5

Moab. 6

Midianites. 6

Ancient and Modern Idolatry. 8

Brief Comments About Selected Idols. 10

Baal 10

Chemosh. 10

Molech. 10

Map of the Holy Land. 11

 

 


Modern Names for Selected Biblical Places

 

 

Biblical NameModern Name
AnatoliaTurkey
AramSyria
AshkenazScythians
AsshurAssyria
CalahAssyrinan Kalhu, 9th century capital of Assyria
CanaanModern Palestine (Israel, West Bank, Jordan, etc.).
CaphtorimCrete (Capthtor, was the place from which the Philistines came.)
ChaldeansBabylonians
CushBiblical Ethiopia (modern Numbia and the Sudan)
ElamAncient empire in far west and southwest Iran (capital Susa).
ElishahCyprus.  (Others say where Germanic tribes lived.)
GomerCimmerians
EgyptA land south of Israel, built around the Nile River.
Egypt, River ofThe Wady el-‘Arish, on the border of Egypt, in northern Sinai.
HethBiblical Hittites (associated with modern Turkey)
JavanGreeks
KittimSome of the inhabitants of Cyprus
KushSudan
Lud, LuwiansLydians of Eastern Anatolia (part of modern Turkey)
MadaiMedes
MizraimUpper and Lower Egypt.  It means the “two lands.”
NimrodPerhaps Tukulti-Ninurta I (early Assryian conqueror of Babylon)
NinevehCapital of ancient Assyria, upper reaches of the Tigris River.
NoCity of Thebes in upper Egypt
NopahCity of Memphis in lower Egypt
NubiaSudan
ParthiaAncient Mesopotamian empire with it capital in Iran.
PathrusimPeople of upper (southern) Egypt
PersiaIran
PhilistinesGaza Strip
PhutLibya
RodanimInhabitants of Rhodes
ShinarAncient Sumer in southern Mesopotamia
SinimChina, the Gobi, and Central Asia.  (As used in Isaiah 49:12Isaiah 49:12
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

12 Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.  

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.)
ZoanCity of Rameses in lower Egypt in the Nile delta

 

 


Brief Comments About Selected Biblical Peoples and Places

 

Amalekites

The Amalekites were a desert Arab people that lived between Arabah and the Mediterranean Sea. (Arabah is a section of the Great Rift Valley lying between the Dead Sea to the north and the Gulf of Aqaba to the south. It forms part of the border between Israel to the west and Jordon to the east.)  There was constant warfare between them and the Israelites until David broke their power and the Simeonites destroyed their last remnant.

 

 

Assyria

Assyria in earliest historical times referred to a region on the Upper Tigris River, named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur. Later, as a nation and Empire, it also came to include roughly the northern half of Mesopotamina (the southern half being Babylonia). The capital was later moved Niveveh..  Assyria proper was located in a mountainous region, extending along the Tigris as far as the high Gordiaean or Carduchian mountain range of Armenia, sometimes called the “Mountains of Ashur.”  The Assyrian kings controlled a large kingdom at three different times in history. These are called the Old, Middle, and Neo-Assyrian kingdoms, or periods. The most powerful and best-known nation of these periods is the Neo-Assyrian kingdom, 911-612 BC, which took the Ten Tribes of Isreal captive.  The nation was weaked by Sycithian raids and eventually fell to Babloyian forces lead by the Babylonian king Nabopolassar along with Cyaxares the Mede, which destroyed Nineveh in 612 BC, and Assyria fell.  An Assyrian general named Ashur-uballit II, with military support from the Egyptian Pharaoh Necho II, held out as a remnant of Assyrian power at Harran until 609 B.C., after which Assyria ceased to exist as an independent nation.  The Assyrians ruled by terror, crushing their enemies by fire and sword or weakening them by deporting large portions of a population to other parts of their empire.  Their subjects never ceased to be their foes, and the whole course of the empire was marked by incessant revolts.  During Old Testament times the Assyrians alternating with their rivals the Babylonians and Egyptians ruled much of Syria and Israel.  The northern empires were frequently at war with Egypt, over territory and the control of trade routes.  The northern empires wanted to conquer Israel and Syria to use as staging ground for the invasion of Egypt.  In contrast, Egyptians sought the conquest of Israel and Syria to create a buffer between them and the northern empires of Assyria and Babylonia.

 

 

Babylon

Babylon (or Babel) on city on the Euphrates River was the capital of Babylonia.  According to Genesis (10:8-10) it was founded by Nimrod, and was one of the oldest cities of the land of Shinar.  Genesis (11:1-9) contains the record of the Tower of Babel and the “Confusion of Tongues.”  (See also Ether 1:3–5, 34–35.)  During the Assyrian supremacy it became part of that empire, and was destroyed by Sennacherib.

 

Under Naboploassar Babylon threw off Assyrian rule in 626 B.C.. and became the capital of the Neo-Babylonian empire.  Nebuchadnezzar’s capital was responsible for tremendous building projects and the ruins of Babylon date from his era.  Nebuchadnezzar is also credited with the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world), said to have been built for his homesick wife Amytis.  The city was square, and the Euphrates ran through the middle of it.  According to Herodotus the walls were 56 miles in circumference, 335 ft. high, and 85 ft. wide.  A large part of the city consisted of beautiful parks and gardens.  The chief building was the famous temple of Bel.

 

In 588 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar sent his armies to conquer Judah and besieged Jerusalem, which they did destroying the temple, palaces, and city.  Most of the inhabitants were taken captive to Babylon.  The destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. ended the Kingdom of Judah and began the period in Jewish history referred to as the Babylonian captivity.

 

In 539 B.C. the Neo-Babylonian Empire fell to Cyrus the Great, king of Persia.  It is said that Cyrus walked through the gates of Babylon without encountering any resistance. He later issued a decree permitting the Jews to return to their own land, and allowed their temple to be rebuilt.

 

In 331 B.C., Darius III was defeated by the forces of Alexander the Great at the Battle of Gaugamel, and, in October, Babylon fell to the Greeks.  Under Alexander, Babylon again flourished as a centre of learning and commerce.

 

Following Alexander’s death in 323 B.C., in the palace of Nebuchadrezzar, his empire was divided amongst his generals, and decades of fighting soon began, with Babylon caught in the middle.  The constant warfare virtually emptied the city of Babylon. A tablet dated 275 B.C. states that the inhabitants of Babylon were transported to Selucia, where a palace was built, as well as a temple given the ancient name of E-Saggila. With this deportation, the history of Babylon come practically to an end.  By 141 B.C., when the Parthian Empire took control of the region, Babylon was in complete desolation and obscurity.

 

Its ruins were covered by sand and its exact located vanished from history until it ruins were located by Deutsche Orientgesellschaft in 1899. Inscriptions that have been recently deciphered show that the Babylonians had accounts of the Creation and the Deluge in many ways similar to those given in the book of Genesis.  Other inscriptions contain accounts of events referred to in the Bible histories of the kingdoms of Israel and Judea, and also give valuable information as to the chronology of these periods.

 

 

Canaan

Canaan is a Biblical name for a region roughly corresponding to present-day Israel, including the West Bank, western  Jordan, southern and coastal Syria, and Lebanon continuing up to the border of modern Turkey.  This area is also often called Palestine.

 

The term Canaanite has been applied to Biblical peoples, Phonencian peoples (Phonencia being the Greek name for of Canaan), and to an Egyptian peoples.  Thus care should be taken when using the term Canaanite.

 

Canaan first appears in the Bible as the name of an individual person, in a parenthetical remark at the end of Genesis 9:18Genesis 9:18
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18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. Canaan: Heb. Chenaan  

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that “Ham is the father of Canaan.”  After the Flood, Noah planted a vineyard, made wine, and became intoxicated. While intoxicated an incident occurred involving him and his youngest son, Ham. Afterward Noah cursed Canaan (but not Ham, for reasons that are not stated) to a life of servitude.  He is to serve his brothers (who were not cursed either) and also his uncles Shem and Japhet (Genesis 9:20-27Genesis 9:20-27
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20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: 21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. 23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. 24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. 25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. 26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. his servant: or, servant to them 27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. enlarge: or, persuade  

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).  Noah’s curse is typically interpreted to also have applied to Canaan’s descendents. In Genesis chapter ten (sometimes referred to as the Table of Nations) Canaan is included among the four sons of Ham, and identified as the father of Sidon, Heth, and the Jebusites, Amorites, Girgasites, Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Zemarites, and Hamathiests.. The Canaanites are said in Deuteronomy 7:1Deuteronomy 7:1
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7 1 When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;  

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to have been one of seven nations driven out before the Israelites. Other passages describe regional ethnic divisions, of which the Canaanites were the coastal component. The seven Canaanite nations mentioned are the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites.  The Bible indicates that God cautioned the Israelites against the sexual depravities of the Canaanites and their fertility cult (Leviticus 18:27Leviticus 18:27
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27  

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). The land of the Canaanites (specifically the Amorites, Hivites, Hethites, Girgashites and Jebusites) was deemed to have ripen in iniquity  Thus the Lord ordered its conquest by the Israelites and the exterminiation of its people on moral grounds.  Deuteronomy 20:16-17Deuteronomy 20:16-17
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

16 But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: 17 But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee:  

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, decress that no inhabitants of the cities of six of the seven Canaanite nations, as listed in Dueteronomy in 7:1 are to be left alive.  Why the Girgashites were not included among those to be destroyed is not recorded.

 

 

Ammon

Ammon is the Biblical name for the land east of Mount Gilead and from the Jabbok southwards to Moab.  The capital was Rabbath Ammon.  Today the city of Amman, Jordan is roughly located on the same site.  The Ammonites are descendents of the son of Lot’s youngest daughter, the nephew of Abraham.  In time they came to worship of Molech or Milcom.  During the reign of the judges they laid claim to the Israelite settlements in Gilead, but were repulsed by Jephthah and again by Saul, and finally reduced to subjection by David.  They regained their independence after David’s death and maintained it, as allies of their Aramaean neighbors.  They bitter enemies of Israel, until they fell under the power of Assyria and Chaldea, remaining hostile to the Jews after the Captivity.  This nation retained its individuality for two centuries after Christ, until it was finally absorbed by the Arab peoples of the region.

 

 

Edom

Edom (meaning Red, probably because of the reddish sandstone that is commonplace in this land) is the name of the country inhabited by the descendents of Esau, the oldest son of Isaac who sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for a mess of potage.  Mount Seir is a prominent landmark in this ancient land.  This country lay to the southeast of Palestine, having Moab on the north and the Dead Sea on the northwest.  It was not included within the limits of the land of Israel.   Today it is composed of the Negev Desert and the Aravah valley of what is now southern Israel and adjacent Jordan.  It was not included within the limits of the land of Israel.  From the time of the Maccabees onward it was known as Idumea.  The original inhabitants were “the children of Seir,” or Horites  and were probably dwellers in holes or caverns.  It passed by conquest into the possession of the descendants of Esau.  There was great mutual hatred between Edom and Israel with constant warfare between these nations.  The Edomites spoke a language that closely resembled Hebrew.  Selah (Petra) was its principal stronghold.

 

 

Egypt

The country of Egypt was known to the Hebrews as Mizraim.  The origin of the Greek name by which we call it is uncertain.  The kingdom of Egypt was formed by the union under a single sovereign (the Pharaoh, i.e., “Great House”) of a number of districts, often divided by local jealousies and by differences of religious belief.  The policy of the Pharaohs was to overcome these forces of disunion by a well-organized central administration and by a single state religion that should provide for the worship of all the various local deities.  Church and state were closely knit together, and the priests formed a most influential class and a chief stay of the throne (cf. Gen. 47:22Gen. 47:22
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

22 Only the land of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands. priests: or, princes  

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).  The country was rich and prosperous, and great public works were executed, including canals for irrigation, strong cities for defense, and royal monuments, especially tombs and temples, which are still among the wonders of the world.  The state religion was much occupied with thoughts of the life after death, and Osiris, the god of the dead, is the most prominent of all the Egyptian deities.  The safety of the soul after death was believed to depend on the care taken of the dead body.  Hence the practice of embalming and the pains spent on providing safe and splendid tombs.  The great pyramids are the tombs of early kings belonging to what is generally called the Old Empire.  The pyramid builders, who reigned at Memphis at least 3,000st 3,000
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

Štetje svetopisemskih vrstic se za?ne z 1! Vrstica 0 ne obstaja!

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years before Christ, were followed by a series of princes who reigned in Thebes.  This is known as the Middle Empire.  Then came a time of decay and foreign invasion, when the land was conquered by the Hyksos, or Shepherd Kings, who ruled for about 500 years.  They probably came from the East and opened the way into Egypt for various Canaanite tribes.  It was under the later Hyksos that the Hebrews settled in Goshen.  The powerful princes of Upper Egypt struggled against the supremacy of the Hyksos, and the final stroke was dealt by Ahmes, founder of the 18th dynasty, about 1700 B.C., who drove out the Hyksos with great slaughter and inaugurated the New Empire.  The Israelites, hated because of their close relations with the shepherd race, were forced into the service of the conquerors; “there arose a new king over Egypt which knew not Joseph.”  It was not, however, until the 19th dynasty that the oppression became unbearably harsh.  Thothmes III, the greatest king of the 18th dynasty, was master of all Syria, advanced victoriously to the Euphrates, and took tribute from Mesopotamia.  The cuneiform tablets, recently found at Tell el-Amarna, contain dispatches written by Mesopotamian princes to later Pharaohs and show that Egyptian influence was dominant as far as the Euphrates for several generations.

 

Under Ramses II, a king of the 19th dynasty, were built the two store cities, Pithom and Pa-Ramses, in the construction of which the Israelite slaves were employed.  Pithom has been discovered and identified.  The store chambers are made with three kinds of brick, some made with straw, some with reeds or “stubble,” some with Nile mud alone, a striking testimony to the accuracy of the Bible narrative.  It was during the reign of Ramses II that Moses, stirred with indignation at the suffering of his brethren, “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter” (Heb. 11:24Heb. 11:24
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;  

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), one of the noblest acts of self-sacrifice known to history.  His return to Egypt probably took place soon after the death of Ramses II.  In that case the Pharaoh of the Exodus was Mer-me-ptah.

 

After the settlement of Israel in Canaan, we read of an alliance between Solomon and Egypt (1 Kgs. 3:1; 9:16; 10:281 Kgs. 3:1; 9:16; 10:28
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

3 1 And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh's daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the LORD, and the wall of Jerusalem round about. 16 For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up, and taken Gezer, and burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the city, and given it for a present unto his daughter, Solomon's wife. 28 And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: the king's merchants received the linen yarn at a price. And Solomon...: Heb. And the going forth of the horses which was Solomon's  

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), but the Egyptian king Sheshonk, or, as scripture calls him, Shishak, gave a welcome to Jeroboam, Solomon’s adversary (1 Kgs. 11:401 Kgs. 11:40
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

40 Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam. And Jeroboam arose, and fled into Egypt, unto Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.  

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), and a few years afterwards conquered Rehoboam and took Jerusalem (1 Kgs. 14:251 Kgs. 14:25
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

25 And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem:  

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–26).  Later on, Assyria and Egypt became great rival powers, and an alliance with Egypt against Assyria was for some time the policy of the kings of Judah.  Isaiah opposed this alliance (Isa. 30:1Isa. 30:1
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

30 1 Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:  

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–5), and it was in resisting the advance of Necho, king of Egypt, that Josiah was killed at Megiddo.  After the establishment of the Persian supremacy in the East, Egypt was invaded by Cambyses and became a province of the Persian empire.  It next became part of the dominions of Alexander the Great, and on the downfall of the Greek empire passed into the hands of the Romans.

 

 

Moab

Moab is the Biblical name for a mountainous strip of land in modern-day Jordan running along the eastern shore of the Dead Sea.  Their capital was Dibon, located next to the modern Jordanian town of Dhiban. The Moabites are descendents of the son of the eldest daughter of Lot, the nephew of Abraham.  The Moabites spoke a language that closely resembled Hebrew.  There was constant warfare between the Moab and Israel.

 

 

Midianites

The Midianites (apparently the first people to domesticate the camel) were descendants of Abraham through Midian, his son through Keturah, his second wife.  The Ismaelites were descendants of Abraham though Hagar.  It is likely these (and other) peoples intermarried causing the names of these peoples to be used interchangeably.  Just as today the term Arab is used to apply to all the descendents of Abraham through his sons Ishmael, Medan, and Median.  The term Midianites probably identified a confederation of tribes that roamed far beyond their ancestral homeland in the northern Arabian Desert.  A usage that explains the biblical references to Midianites in Sinai, Canaan, the Jordan Valley, Moab, and Transjordan’s eastern desert.

 

 

Palestine

Palestine today is what called the Gaza Strip, named after the ancient city of Gaza.  Palestine is also the name given Judea by the Romans after expelling the Jew.  In Biblical times it meant the land of the Philistines.  The Philistines werea tribe that originally came from Caphtor (Crete) and part of the “sea peoples.”  Arriving before the days of Abraham they occupied the rich lowland on the Mediterranean coast from Joppa to the Egyptian desert.  They formed a confederation of five chief cities, Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron, each governed by its “lord.”  For many years there was a struggle for supremacy between them and the Israelites, Philistine power being at its height at the time of Saul’s death, but rapidly declining during the reign of David.  They were conquered by Tiglath-pileser in 734 B.C.  This land later was part of the Persian Empire, and in New Testament times it was annexed to the Roman province of Syria.  Strangely, today, the name Palestine–the name of the territory inhabited by an enemy the Jews greatly detested–has become one of the names for the entire Holy Land.

 

 


Ancient and Modern Idolatry

 

 

The Twentieth Century tends to view idolatry as something that ceased long ago.  It would be more accurate to view it as something that has evolved or mutated.  In reality it is still a part of our modern world.

 

Sermons are often preached comparing ancient idolatry to the modern desire for material goods, recreation, and leisure time.  It is true that these things divert us from worshiping God; however, idolatry is present in the modern world in more fundamental ways.

 

The ancient Babylonians believed the stars controlled their destiny and/or foretold their destiny.  They studied the stars in their quest to predict the future.  The signs of Zodiac and its related lore are an outgrowth of their belief that the stars’ have prophetic ability.  There is little difference in the beliefs of the ancient Babylonians and modern Americans who consult their horoscope for guidance in their daily life.  Indeed modern astrology serves as a good example of how people in ancient Israel simultaneously worshiped Jehovah and other gods.

 

We are no closer today to entering God’s abode without obeying his commandments or to protecting ourselves from the wrath of a just God than were the builders of the Tower of Babel.  The inhabitants of Babel tried to reach heaven without obeying God’s commandments—a desire a desire also found in many living in our era.  They thought God was limited in his means (to only using floods) to punish sin.  They thought their technology (a tower) was adequate to protect them from God’s wrath.  Are we so different today?  Do not we share this same belief that our science and technology can be harnessed to protect us from the consequence of sin?  That it is a match for God’s power?

 

It is often thought that idolatry came about because man did not know the truth about God.  It is more likely that it came into existence as a way to escape the truth.  The natural man has two great desires he seeks to achieve through false religions:

  • To obtain control over his destiny.
  • To establish a moral code that he finds pleasing.

 

Through the priesthood of God man can heal the sick and literally move mountains.  However, it requires obedience to God’s commandments—against which the natural man rebels.  Hence the natural man desires to create an alternate belief set.  By establishing alternate religions the natural man believes he can control his fate without obeying God’s commandments.  He also establishes a moral code that is pleasing to the natural man.

 

Baal worship provides a good illustration of how this was accomplished anciently.  By offering sacrifices to Baal man thought he could make it rain and otherwise control nature and his destiny.  The worship of Baal also included the establishment of sacred groves in which sexual relations outside the bounds of marriage were permitted.  (Religious prostitution and “fertility rituals” are a common thread running throughout pagan religions.)  Thus the natural man found worshiping Baal satisfied his needs in these areas.

 

Today we no longer worship idols as a means of controlling our fate; instead, we worship science and technology.  But in reality we have no more control over our destiny than did ancient idolaters—as will be demonstrated at the Second Coming of Christ when the wicked will be burned as stubble.

 

Today we use atheistic secular humanism (instead of idolatry) to establish a moral code that is contrary to God’s commandments.  The “new morality” as it was termed in the 1960s has much in common with the fertility rituals and associated beliefs found among ancient pagan religions.

 

Twentieth Century man often wonders how ancient peoples could be so foolish as to follow the counsel of ancient pagan priests.  Again, the ancients were not very different from modern man in who they allowed to influence their beliefs.  Today we give great deference to the educated among us.  We seek the advice of scientists, psychiatrists, and others who we deem to be highly educated.  As did the ancients.

 

Ancient priests were the intellectuals of their era.  They could read and write.  They had a scientific understanding of things like astronomy, which the average man found invaluable.  (For example, the motion of the star Sirius was used to predict annual flooding of the Nile and the early evening rising of Capella was a sign of winter storms on the Mediterranean.)  When ancient priests declared, for example, that Baal was god many people believed them—just as many people today believe the intellectuals of our era who, for example, say, “God is dead.”  The ancients, like modern man, all too often confused knowledge with wisdom—and therefore failed to follow the counsel of the simple, humble prophets that God sent to guide them.

 

The Book of Mormon speaking of the death of Nehor says, “this did not put an end to the spreading of priestcraft through the land; for there were many who loved the vain things of the world, and they went forth preaching false doctrines; and this they did for the sake of riches and honor.” (Alma 1:16)  It is likely some modern intellectuals have similar motivations—riches and honor—thus they too use their knowledge and skill to contend against God’s commandments.  Certainly some ancient intellectuals, such as the priests of Baal, used their knowledge and skill to lead people away from God.

 

This is illustrated in the confrontation between Elijah and the priest of Baal.  Both the priests of Baal and Elijah placed a sacrificial bullock upon an altar they built.  Whoever could successfully call down fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice was to be acknowledged by the people as serving the true god.

 

A question that often is not asked today is why did the priests of Baal agreed to this contest, as surely they knew their idols were powerless objects of wood and stone.  Many today also fail to understand why Elijah poured buckets of water over his sacrifice.

 

The priests of Baal had performed similar “miracles” in the past by concealing coals within the altar.  As they danced around the altar they were able to fan the coals into a consuming fire.  Perhaps the greater miracle that day occurred when God “confounded the wisdom of the wise” so that the priests of Baal were unable to fan the fire concealed within into the flames needed to consume their bullock.  Elijah poured buckets over water to demonstrate that no fire was concealed within his altar.

 

Thus we see, sadly, how man often yields to Satan’s temptations and succumbs to the desire for honor and riches by using his knowledge and skill to deceive his fellow man.  And in the process of seeking honor and riches leads mankind away from worshiping God and obeying his commandment.

 

In summary, idolatry is very much a part of modern world.  It has evolved into atheistic secular humanism and the belief that science and technology will save mankind.  This modern belief set, like ancient idolatry, is used to negate the commandments of God and satisfy man’s carnal nature.  The motivation—honor and riches—of the priests of this modern religion that contents against gospel teachings remains unchanged.

 

 


Brief Comments About Selected Idols

 

 

Baal

Baal (plural Baalim)meaning Lord, possessor was worshiped as the Sun-god and the male or generative principle in nature.  The principal seat and source of his cult was Phoenicia.  He was worshipped with different ideas and rites in different places.  To the Moabites and others he was known Baal-peor, at Shechem as Baal-berith, and at Ekron as Baal-zebub..  Baal is identified with by some Bel of Babylon and Zeus of Greece.  The word Baal expresses the relation between lord and slave.  Becoming utterly abominable from its associations, its use was abjured and Bosheth (shame) was substituted in names compounded with it.  Such as Ishbosheth or Jerubbesheth.)  Some Old Testament prophets call Baal “The Shame” (Jeremiah11:13; Hosea 9:10Hosea 9:10
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10 I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved.  

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).  Ashtoreth (Astarte), was the goddess generally worshipped along with Baal as female generative principle in nature..  She is identified with the Greek goddness Aphrodite (Venus).  The worship of Baal and Asthoreth often occurred in “sacred groves” and included religious prostitution and immoral sexual rituals.

 

 

Chemosh

Chemosh, was the god of Moab was also worshiped in Ammon.  Solomon built for him a high place on Mount Olivet, which Josiah destroyed.  Chemosh was worshipped with human sacrifices

 

 

Molech

Molech, or Milcom, the fire god, was the god of Ammon.  He was worshipped by passing children through fire and sometimes by burning children alive.  Molech was at times worshiped by Solomon; by the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and also by Ahaz and Manasseh, kings of Judah.

 

 


Map of the Holy Land

 

 

 

 

 

Wikipedia (Edom)

Map of the southern Levant, c.830s BCE.

██ Kingdom of Judah

██ Kingdom of Israel

██ Philistine city-states

██ Phoenician states

██ Kingdom of Ammon

██ Kingdom of Edom

██ Kingdom of Aram-Damascus ██

Aramean tribes

██ Arubu tribes

██ Nabatu tribes

██ Assyrian Empire

██ Kingdom of Moab

 

 

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