The translation of YHWH as "Jehovah" was created by adding the vowel points of "Adonai" Lord , which Jews normally use to avoid pronouncing the sacred name in their prayers, and which therefore appear in Hebrew versions of the scriptures. Early Christian translators of the Hebrew Bible were apparently unaware that in Jewish tradition these vowel points only served to remind the reader not to pronounce the divine name, but instead say "Adonai.
In English Bibles this word is normally translated as " God. In modern biblical scholarship, the documentary hypothesis holds that the use of Yahweh in certain parts of the Book of Genesis and the use of Elohim or El in others represents the presence of two or more distinct sources. In the southern "J" source, the patriarchs knew Yahweh's true name from the earliest times, while in the northern "E" and later "P" sources, the the term El or Elohim is used until the calling of Moses just prior to the Exodus. In Canaanite mythology, the divine offspring of the god El were called el'm , probably vocalized as "elohim," although the original Ugaritic vowels are unknown.
When the Hebrew Bible uses elohim not in reference to God, translators render the term as "the gods.
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The important ancient religious center of Bethel means "house or place of El. In Canaanite texts, El is identified as the chief god, consort of Asherah , and the father of many other deities, including Baal. The name El appears in several northwest Semitic languages, such as Phoenician, Ugaritic , and Aramaic. In Akkadian, ilu is the ordinary word for god. The term may be recognized in most English Bibles as "God Almighty. Shaddai was also a late Bronze Age Amorite city on the banks of the Euphrates river, in northern Syria.
In this theory, El Shaddai is seen as inhabiting a mythical holy mountain, as well as the sacred high places of early Israelite religion such as Bethel , Mount Carmel , and others. He was once identical with the Hebrew God, who later came to be identified with Yahweh.
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Fascinatingly, Deuteronomy preserves a tradition in which Elyon—the Most High—seems to have assigned the national deity Yahweh to his people Israel:. Technically, this form, like Elohim , is plural, but is normally treated as singular for syntactic purposes. The singular form is Adoni , "my lord. Jews also used the singular to refer to a distinguished person, just as the English word Lord is used. It is common Jewish practice to even restrict the use of the word Adonai to prayer or liturgical readings.
Shalom can also mean "hello" and "goodbye. Because the name of God is holy, for many Jews, one is not permitted to greet another with the word shalom in unholy places such as a bathroom Talmud, Shabbat , 10b.
The term never appears in the Hebrew Bible , but later rabbis used the word when speaking of God dwelling either in the Tabernacle or among the people of Israel. Of the principal names of God, it is the only one that is of the feminine gender in Hebrew grammar. Many hold that the Shekhinah refers to God's feminine aspect. The names YHWH and Elohim frequently occur with the word tzevaot or sabaoth "hosts" or "armies" attached. This name is traditionally transliterated in Latin as Sabaoth , a form that was used in the King James Version of the Bible.
It is one of the most famous verses in the Hebrew Bible. Ehyeh asher ehyeh is generally interpreted to mean "I will be what I will be," or I am that I am. The Tetragrammaton itself derives from the same verbal root. The kabbalistic book Sefer Yetzirah explains that the creation of the world was achieved by the manipulation of the sacred letters that form the names of God. Some kabbalistic rabbis permitted the pronunciation of the tetragrammaton for use in "practical kabbalah," which sought to achieve enlightenment or alter reality through the chanting of kabbalistic formulas.
In the same way, a golem —an animated being created entirely from inanimate matter—was said to be created by using all permutations of God's name. The system of cosmology of the Kabbalah deals extensively with several of the names of God. Furthermore, God took special care with this creation. And God saw that it was not good for man to be alone Genesis , so the creation of woman was obviously a good thing.
He created Pandora and gave her to her husband. Of course, Pandora opened the box, as Zeus fully anticipated she would, unleashing death, bloodshed, and other ills upon mankind. In the box, however, was one good thing: hope. Besides differences in the creative acts, the mythological gods differ from the true God in their motives.
Most mythologies describe the creation of man as an afterthought Egyptian, Buddhism , a means to irritate another god Greek and Roman , a means of sustaining the gods Mayan, Aztec, and Sumerian , the direct progeny of the gods Hinduism , or a means of aiding the gods in future conflicts Norse. For the Mayans and Aztecs, mankind was created to worship and offer sacrifices to the gods in order that the gods did not perish.
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In Sumerian mythologies mankind was created to supply the gods with food, drink, and shelter so that the gods might have leisure for their divine activities. In Norse mythology, mankind was created to produce great warriors who, after dying on the battlefield, would ascend to Valhalla. In Hinduism mankind exists to feed, clothe, bathe, and sometimes even awaken their gods.
The dominant theme in all of these mythologies is that the gods, while more powerful than mortals, still need mankind for some purpose or benefit to themselves. These gods are not totally self-sufficient, but require worship or sustenance or sexual union with mankind in order to prosper. Jehovah God, on the other hand, needs nothing from His creation. Although God seeks fellowship with mankind and has sent His son Jesus Christ to reconcile mankind to God, He is not dependent on our worship, nor does He need anything from humankind. The behavior and character of the mythological gods is vastly different from the Christian God.
The gods are usually depicted as selfish, arrogant, sadistic, lustful, drunken, vain, hateful, or some combination of the above. In other words, they mirror humanity. These gods are just hyper-powerful mortals with the same desires, character flaws, sins, and objectives as their lesser-powered creations.
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It would take far too many pages to list all the examples of mythological deity foibles, but a few examples should suffice to prove the point. Starting with the Greek mythologies, we find that Cronos maimed his father Ouranous, usurped his position, and then swallowed his own children to prevent them from usurping his throne. Zeus was frequently unfaithful to Hera with demi-gods or mortal women, and Hera repeatedly tried to kill or banish any lovers and offspring of these illicit unions.
Zeus clashed with Prometheus, a Titan who had remained faithful to him, because he gave fire to mankind. Zeus had him chained to a mountaintop while an eagle ate his daily regenerating liver. Ares, son of Zeus, fell in love with Aphrodite, and had relations with her even though she was married to Hephaistos. Hera sent snakes to kill the infant Heracles. Hera and Athena stirred up the Trojan War because of jealousy over Paris selecting Aphrodite as the most beautiful of the goddesses. The stories are replete with tales of vengeance and betrayal between the gods or between gods and men.
In the Egyptian mythologies we have war between Seth and Osiris. Seth slew and dismembered his older brother Osiris and ruled Egypt in his stead. Eventually a tribunal of gods decided the dispute over who should rule Egypt. After much politicking and quarreling, Horus was granted the throne and Seth was given the position of thunder god.
In the Norse mythologies the main god Odin was constantly unfaithful to his wife Frigg, and he sometimes stirred up wars on earth in order to gain slain heroes for Valhalla. Loki, the god of mischief, was responsible for the death of the god Balder and for instigating events that would lead to Ragnarok, the doom of the gods. There was even a war between the two branches of Norse gods, the Aesir and the Vanir, which produced bad blood and treachery down through the ages.
Unlike these wicked gods, Jehovah God has no sin in Him. He is perfect, holy, and righteous. He never changes or reneges on His promises. In fact, it is precisely because of the holy nature of the biblical God that we have a basis for morality. He is the ultimate Lawgiver and has given us standards by which we are to live.
Apart from the good God of the Bible, we have no logical basis upon which to claim for example, that murder is wrong, while helping others is right. Take a look again at the character and nature of the gods mentioned above—are any of them capable of dispensing a logical system of morality, where good is defined by their very nature? Their followers, acting consistently with their belief in their gods, show that their moral code left something to be desired—human sacrifice, murder, adultery, continual war, lying, scheming, and the like were all the norm, rather than sinful behavior to be punished.
Additionally, in the canon of Scripture we see a Holy God righteously judging people or nations many times, but never does God sin, and never does He vex mankind with unjust punishment or laws. What we do not see in Scripture is an ultra-powerful mortal bully.
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We see a transcendent God who is infinitely wiser and higher than man, yet deigns to condescend to us in order that we might know Him. One last comparison between the many false gods and the one True God is eternality. Many of the mythological gods or demi-gods were killed by other gods or even by mortals Osiris, Balder, most of the Norse pantheon, Tiamat, Tammuz, Hercules, etc. Most died in battle or for offending another god. God existed from eternity past and will exist into eternity future. From this eternal nature flows the basis for the natural laws that the universe obeys.
God the Son willingly gave His life to save sinners from an eternal hell. When Christ rose again on the third day, He did not rise as a spirit with no corporeal body, but appeared to over five hundred people and ate and drank with his disciples. He even offered to let Thomas place his hands in the nail and spear wounds John — He laid down his life and he took it up again just as He said He would.
The mythological gods who were resurrected never resurrected themselves, and they usually had some limitation placed on them once they were resurrected. Tammuz, Persephone, and Osiris were confined to the underworld for at least part of the year. They could not freely walk in the land of the living whenever they wanted to and they could not be with their loved ones.