Ancient Gods and Today's Israel

by George F Spall

We should still take notice of the prophet Ezekiel. He projects some important concepts that are part and parcel of Israel today. A priest of the Lord, only twenty-five years old when made a prisoner of war, he knew he would never be able to officiate in his appointed role, over there in a heathen land, in Babylon.

Then suddenly, at the age he would normally take up office as a priest, when he was thirty, he was given a prophetic office. Startled, he made a note of the date and maintained a diary afterwards. Seven times he had notable experiences of which he could write, "The hand of the Lord was upon me." Thirteen times he had visions which he also carefully dated.

However, when he set them down in his book, he did not adhere to the time sequence in which they were received. When we check this out we discover that he had a purpose in mind. His subject was THE GLORY OF GOD. We think of that as SHEKINAH, the visible Presence of the Eternal.

So chapters one to eight present the APPEARANCE of the Shekinah, nine through eleven, the DISAPPEARANCE of it and the reasons for it. There are then some visions covering events during the NON-APPEARANCE, and during the last of the thirteen visions the SHEKINAH GLORY REAPPEARS.

On two of those occasions when "the hand of the Lord" was on him in vision, he saw himself physically transported elsewhere. One of the visions gave him disturbing insights into what was happening in Jerusalem, even in the Temple. That is when the Shekinah began to move away from above the Ark of the Covenant and then DISAPPEAR over the Mount of Olives.

"In vision, he brought me to Jerusalem to the door of the inner gate that looks towards the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, and behold the glory of the God of Israel was there which I had already seen in the plain." More verses in this chapter eight speak of further unholy practices.

"Turn yet again and you will see greater abominations that they do. Then he brought me to the gate of the Lord's house which was towards the north, and behold, there sat the women weeping for Tammuz." Enough! Enough! Horrifying!

Through the next three chapters we can visualize details of that Shekinah Presence, brilliant Light, though almost tangible because describable. The Presence demonstrated reluctance to depart from His proper place in the Holy of Holies but the wickedness was just too much. The Holy One was seen to leave Jerusalem. The APPEARANCE had DISAPPEARED.

The Shekinah has not been back to Jerusalem since, but Ezekiel promises that He will be back. That is why we should be familiar with the prophet today. HE PICTURES THE REAPPEARANCE in chapter forty-three. That should occur fairly soon.

But, who is Tammuz that Israel's women should weep for him? And why should their weeping be an abomination to the Almighty? Israel's calendars have a month called Tammuz. The seventeenth day of Tammuz is still a Fast day. A day of weeping for Tammuz? Would Ezekiel like that? In 1984 it's the 17th July; in 1985 7th July. Is the Lord God still provoked? And if Tammuz is a god, then we should look again at the second of these Ten Words Moses left -- "no other gods before me."

Historians and archaeologists have accumulated and sifted a great deal of information gathered from extra-Biblical sources. They speak of gods and goddesses who are very earthy in their conduct whilst said to be gods in the sense that they are supernatural.

There are many Biblical references to "other gods" and some are named. A comparison of some of their characteristics with those described in the historians' records makes it clear that the Holy One of Israel is not to be compared with them. Indeed, their behaviour is decidedly contrary to what the Almighty requires of mankind.

The Genesis record speaks of a man named Nimrod who was the grandson of Noah. He is named in connection with the founding of four very ancient cities. He was "a mighty hunter before the Lord". The meaning is that he was fronting up to the Lord. He was an apostate. He did not just hunt tigers -- he hunted men. He was violent and built up bands of armed men who established him as a king.

There is a tradition that he was so impious and defiant that he was judicially executed by Shem who was his great-uncle, and his followers wept for him for he had brought them pleasure, profit and power. If very ancient tales are right, he led them in rebellion against the Divine restraints put upon human behaviour.

Remember that magisterial authority had been vested in Noah, and Shem was his son, probably his eldest son. So, people who wanted the life-style of Nimrod would of course weep for his demise.

Looking into chapter eight we can see that weeping was in secret. No wonder! What the modern world sneers at as Judeo-Christian ethics would not have been acceptable to the followers of Nimrod. It is to be expected that devotees of pleasure, power and profit identify with gods who purport to grant them.

Egypt , Assyria, Babylon, Greece, Rome, all had their gods. These gods smiled benignly on those who worshipped them. The names of these gods differ for they stem from different languages but the meanings are often very similar. The kind of family relationships and sexuality were similar.

Semiramis figures as the mother of Nimrod. Inasmuch as the son assumed deity or received it from demon gods, the mother is shown in mythology as the mother of god. Under the name Rhea she was a mother goddess associated with much idol worship.

Alexander Hislop writes of her: "The winged boy Cupid, the son of Venus, occupied, as will afterwards by proved, in the mystic mythology, the very same position as Nin or Ninus the son did to Rhea, the mother of the gods. As Nimrod was unquestionably the first of the 'mighty ones' after the flood, this statement that the boy Cupid, himself a winged one, produced all the 'winged ones' while occupying the very position of Nin or Ninus the son, shows that in this respect also Ninus and Nimrod are identified …"

Bacchus is another of these ancient gods. Mention the name and at once the mind conjures up an image of revelry associated with drunkenness and orgies of a licentious kind. But Bucchus was more than a symbol of sensuality. He was the equivalent of the Egyptian god Osiris and the Greek god Adonis whose mother wept so bitterly at his death.

We may check them all out and discover that all these so-called gods had intimate conjugal relationships with mothers or sisters and were known sometimes as 'babes', sometimes as 'hunters', just like Nimrod. Indeed, the name 'Bacchus' means 'Lamented One' according to Hislop.

Historic truth gives birth to the legends. The Egyptian god Osiris met with a violent end and was annually lamented. Plato identifies Osiris with Nimrod. As Egyptian women wept for Adonis, Romans cried for Bacchus and Assyrian and Phoenician women wept for Tammuz.

It ought not to be a surprise if the Eternal whose Name alone is to be praised should banish from the Land given to Abraham those of his descendants who worshipped gods of those lands to which they were sent.

We quote Maimonides: "When the false prophet named Thammuz preached to a certain king that he should worship the seven stars and the twelve signs of the Zodiac, the king ordered him to be put to a terrible death. All the images assembled from the ends of the earth into the temple of Babylon on the night of his death. They came to the great golden image of the sun which was suspended between heaven and earth. That image prostrated itself in the midst of the temple, and so did all the images around it while it related to them all that had happened to Thammuz. The images wept and lamented all night long and in the morning each flew away to his own temple again. And hence arose the custom every year on the first day of the month Thammuz, to weep and mourn for Thammuz."

In the Babylonian legend that Maimonides is quoting, the "certain king" who ordered him to be put to death for apostasy was Hercules. In the primitive names of Egyptian gods, the equivalent to Hercules was called Sem by the Egyptians. Study the Genesis account of the longevity of those early men and discover that Shem was still living when Nimrod died!

The Encyclopedia Britannica suggests that Christianity with its mother-child concept derives from the mists of religious antiquity! It is more to be accepted that Satan, who is the great deceiver and the instigator of Sun-worship, the master of the demon gods who gave supernatural abilities to the "men of renown" spoken of in the Scriptures, was trying to anticipate and so vitiate the prophetic expectations of Genesis 3:15 and of Isaiah 7:14 and 9:6.

Incidentally, when the prophet Daniel speaks of the coming Wicked One, he speaks of him as a "god of fortifications" (sometimes translated 'force') -- interesting in the light of today's emphases of The force. Semiramis who is associated with Nimrod, is said to have fortified the four earliest cities of that time.

Ezekiel and Daniel were both prophets of the Most High and they wrote for todays world as well as for yesterday's.