This series focuses on the region from where the roots of Western Judaic and Christian civilization of today are traced: the northeastern, eastern, and southeastern region surrounding the Mediterranean  from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Palestine,  Jordan, Iraq, (western) Iran, and Egypt).  A similar evolution and change happened in the (farther) East that became dominated by Islam and Hinduism.

For other commentaries by Janet Wise, visit www.janetwise.net and for the complete series, as they continue to be posted, of Punishing Eve http://www.janetwise.net/category/zeitgeist-commentary/

 

PART III: PUNISHING EVE

The philosopher and scholar of mythology, Joseph Campbell said, “What is a god? A god is a personification of a motivating power of a value system that functions in human life and in the universe.”

British classical scholar, linguist, and feminist Jane Ellen Harrison wrote in “Themis,” “Gods and religious ideas generally reflect the social activities of the worshiper; that the food supply is the primary importance for the religion; that the diamon precedes the full-blown god; that the Great Mother is prior to the masculine divinities.”[1]

Religion is a construct, then, of the collective intelligence and state of evolvement of language: it fills man’s need for explaining what he instinctually desires and yearns for, and as language of his time enabled him to do, to develop his perceived explanations of the perpetuity of life – its continuity after death. In order to lock this new paradigm of male superiority over the feminine into the psyche of all, it was imperative to reversethe Great Mother as prior to the masculine divinities. The Goddess had to be denigrated and then eliminated. The deity had to become male, and man had to be designed in his image. This transformation to be instilled into the collective psyche of humans took 3000 years.

Though it is acknowledged that some Christian religious leaders today deny that scientific radiocarbon dating should be believed, if we do adhere to science, the Old Testament that claims the beginning of the human species was written during about forty years in the early 6th century B.C.E., some Hebrew writings may date back a little earlier but altogether not very long ago in comparison with the millennia that came before, or even the history they adopt as their own. Recent archaeologists, in trying to validate ancient sites in the Old Testament have found major discrepancies in the physical evidence and the stories told by the Levant priests who wrote it. The Hebrew history the Old Testament purports to be theirs would have been handed down by legend; by word of mouth for about 3700 to 3100 years, since the Genesis story of creation would trace back to approximately 4000 B.C.E. according to those literalists who have tried to chart the lineage and generations as described in biblical text.[2] That lineage dependent upon if you believe their literal concepts of age and time: that Sarah conceived and bore Isaac when she was ninety-one years old when the average lifespan of a female or male was one-third that age. But that’s not all – she went on to live another thirty-seven years or until the age of 127!  In addition to this preposterous myth, the legends the Hebrews would claim as their own, with substantial revisionism, would be taken from the Goddess worshiping Sumerians – a bit of Goddess worshipping Egyptian history robbed as well.

Merlin Stone quotes feminist historian Sheila Collins in writing, “Theology is ultimately political. The way human communities deify the transcendent and determine the categories of good and evil have more to do with the power dynamics of the social systems which create the theologies than with the spontaneous revelation of truth from another quarter.” Stone goes on to write, “We may surmise that political aims, rather than religious fervor, may well have been the motivation for the myths that explain the creation of the universe by a male deity or the institution of kingship, when none had existed previously. It strongly hints at the possibility that many of these myths were written by priests of the invading tribes to justify the supremacy of the new male deities and to justify the installation of a king as the result of the relationship of that king to a male deity.”[3] Of course, the fact that they were overtaking matrilineal societies, where wealth and inheritance were held and passed through bloodlines of women, but were now being confiscated by men, were obvious factors as well. Note: (Their) God told them they had the divine right to rape, pillage, steal and plunder.

With that in mind, let’s examine the story of creation itself and expose its true roots; from where the Hebrews stole from the scientifically traceable history of the Paleolithic and Neolithic, changed the symbolism of thousands of years and distorted their meaning in order to turn truth of our history on its head – the purpose of this revisionism to legitimize and sanction male power and confiscation of wealth. If this method of story creation is beginning to sound a little like Texas conservatives rewriting evolution of the human species in children’s textbooks, or the notorious revisionism of FOX News or other GOP think tanks such as Americans for Prosperity, one could deduce that the seeds for how to create deception and falsehood are demonstrated in Genesis. For a mighty weapon emerged from those Sumerian ancestors who created script to join the might of the Indo-European sword in conquering and controlling masses of humanity; that weapon still very powerful today is the power of the pen.

Setting aside the more recent history of atrocities committed in the name of anti-Semitism, and the moral precepts we have been taught to associate with both Judaism and Christianity, in looking at ancient history, and according to their own written history, the Hebrews were a violent and warring people ruled by a caste of warrior-priests (Moses, Aaron, and Joshua). Whether they were really the sons of the Indo-Europeans or whether their tribal ancestry invaded from the desert east of the Euphrates and Tigris cradle and south of Canaan during the latter period of the Kurgan Indo-European invasions from the north has been speculated with some disagreement among historians.

Though the modern-day Christian fundamentalist literalist, Ken Ham[4] uses 4004 B.C.E as the Old Testament beginning of all Creation in the Garden of Eden, archaeologists and historians date Abraham, the father of the Hebrew tribes and first prophet of Yahweh between 1800 and 1550 B.C.E.[5]

Note: the Euphrates and Tigris cradle was known as the land of Sumer, where there was indeed a great garden. Or, at least it must have seemed so to the invader’s eyes accustomed to a harsh and barren desert terrain. The Neolithic agriculturists had been cultivating and irrigating in the valley of these rivers for thousands of years: an indigenous culture, possibly the ethnic Sumerians, (although there is some disagreement that the Sumerians were the original Neolithic culture of this region) traces from 7500 B.C.E.  Sumerian mythology actually had a parallel to the Eden garden; it was the dwelling-place of the immortals where sickness and death were unknown.[6] And yes, until the Kurgan/Indo-European waves of slaughter, men and women lived in non-warring, productive, and relative cooperation with one another in a bountiful garden of fields and orchards they tended. And women knew a great deal about medicinal herbs and their use in healing, disease prevention, and indeed about regulating while medically supporting reproduction. Both the Sumerian garden and the Bible’s adopted version of the Garden of Eden were located in Eden in Sumer – hardly a coincidence.

Early Sumerian legends give recurring references to the Goddess as the supreme deity or “Queen of Heaven.” A Sumerian prayer exalts the glorious Queen Nana (one of the many names of the Goddess) as “the Mighty Lady, the Creatress.” Another tablet refers to the Goddess Nammu as “the Mother who gave birth to heaven and earth.”[7] In early Sumerian legends are accounts of how women and men were created simultaneously or in pairs by the Goddess,[8] another of those non-coincidences borrowed by the Hebrews – though in the Sumerian version, woman and man were equal.

But as millennium passed, and as the invasions increased, there is evidence of ascending male gods with the Goddess becoming “the Great Wife.” In truth, if there is a mythical allegory representing the shift from matriarchy to androcracy it would be found historically and archaeologically traceable in Sumer.

However, before this shift, the matriarchal Sumerians had developed all of the arts of high civilization: agriculture producing surplus food thus supporting organized forms of labor, writing, math, healing arts, architecture, astronomical observation, temple worship, literature, organized cities of 50,000 or more, and government.[9] Through cuneiform script, their rich legacy of legend became recorded in poetry and literature, scribes carving them onto slabs of stone. It was from these legends that the later Hebrews borrowed for their own story of creation. Located in the delta region where the Tigris and Euphrates flow into the Persian Gulf, one of several stone tablets excavated from the ancient mound of the city of Nippur revealed an epic poem: the gods, An, EnlilEnki and Ninhursanga create the black-headed people and create comfortable conditions, a lush garden, for the animals to live and procreate (the Garden of Eden).

Who were these Sumerian Gods who had evolved in religious myth by the 3rd millennium B.C.E.? An was the male god of the heavens and Enki was god of wisdom and of the Earth. Enlil was the god of air, wind, loft and breadth (height and distance); note by the time of this poem in the late 3rd millennium B.C.E. all are males; it is when the male god is usurping and replacing the goddess but a couple of thousand years before the story of Genesis creation by the monotheistic male god was written.

The myth of Enlil tells of when Enlil was a young god, he was banished from Dilmun, home of the gods, toKur, the underworld, for raping a goddess named Ninlil. (Note: it is now okay to rape the Goddess.) Ninlil followed him to the underworld where she bore his first child, Nergal, the fiery god of destruction and war, astrologically associated with the red planet Mars. After fathering three more underworld-deities, Enlil was allowed to return to Dilmun.[10]

There is a break in the tablet, but where it picks up is inscribed in Sumerian script telling that the gods have decided not to save mankind from an impending flood. Zi-ud-sura, the king and priest, learns of this from Enki who warns the hero and gives him instructions for building an ark on which some people and animals rocked in waters for seven days and seven nights. Then Utu (the Sun god) appears and Zi-ud-sura creates an opening in the boat, prostrates himself, and sacrifices oxen and sheep. After another break on the tablet, the text resumes: the flood is apparently over, the animals disembark and Zi-ud-sura prostrates himself beforeAn and Enlil, who give him eternal life and take him to dwell in Dilmun for “preserving the animals and the seed of mankind”. The remainder of the poem is lost.[11]

Due to the geographic location of the ancient site of Nippur where this tablet was excavated (160 kilometers south of present-day Baghdad in the river delta) and the era the poem is depicting – a time when the region was much hotter and wetter – they undoubtedly had more than one great flood. The famous Epic of Gilgamesh translated from later Babylonian times describes just such a legend. But this poem excavated from Nippur describing a story from an earlier time and carved on a stone tablet is physical evidence dug from under mud layers of riverine sediments showing the interruption of settled continuity of various Sumerian cities, radiocarbon dates to 2900 B.C.E.  According to Bible literalists, Noah’s flood was in 2348 B.C.E., but not written until 600 to 300 B.C.E.;[12] it is without doubt, a creative bit of editing of the floods taken from this recorded Sumerian legend. And lest we be confused, that somehow this was Hebrew mythology, the Sumerian gods were animistic with their deities based upon the worship of nature – the Great Mother.

Gage writes in Woman, Church, and State about this Jewish borrowing of the ark from the Matriarchate, “that the ship, or ark (archa), is peculiarly significative of the feminine principle, and wherever found is a reminiscence of the Matriarchate; that all the ancient nations had an ark or archa in which to conceal something sacred.”[13]

Now that we know from where they stole the legends, let us look next in Part IV to how they twisted the symbology of the legends.

***

 

 

 


[1] Jane Ellen Harrison, Themis: A Study of the Social Origins of Greek Religion (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1927, reprinted 2010) p. ix.

[2] Answersingenesishttp://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/tj/v12/n1/chronology

[3] Merlin Stone, When God Was a Woman, p. 67

[4] Answersingenesishttp://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/tj/v12/n1/chronology

[5] Merlin Stone, When God Was a Woman, pp. 103-105, quoting scholars including Dr. George Mendenhall, PhD. In Semitic Languages, archaeologist and professor at University of Michigan, Professor Edward Chiera (who was an Italian-American archaeologist, Assyriologist and PhD scholar of religion and linguistics), and George Widengren professor of Oriental languages at University of Uppsala in Sweden.

[6] Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade, pp. 63 – 73

[7] Merlin Stone, When God Was a Woman, p. 82.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Jeanne Achterberg, Woman as Healer, (Boston: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1990) p. 14.

[10] http://earth-history.com/Sumer/Clay-tablets.htm

[11]  J.A. Black, G. Cunningham, E. Fluckiger-Hawker, E. Robson, and G.Zólyomi, G. The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature. Oxford. (1998)

[12] http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2012/03/09/feedback-timeline-for-the-flood

[13] Matilda Joslyn Gage, Woman, Church and State, p 32.