Could/Did Moses write? | Έγραψε ο Μωυσής;

The critics reiterate the statement that it is not said In the Pentateuch that Moses wrote any of it except the curse on Amalek, the Ten Commandments and certain other portions, as if this were an unanswerable argument against the Mosaic authorship of the Law. Is one to allege, then, that Hammurabi cannot be called the author of the code named after him, unless, forsooth, he inscribed it with his own hand? And yet the monument expressly ascribes itself to Hammurabi in the words of the epilogue (Col. xh. 59-67). “In the days that are yet to come, for all future times, may the king who is in the land observe the words of righteousness which I have written upon my monument.” Or, is Sennacherib not to be called the author of Cylinder No. 103.000, unless he himself inscribed it? Yet it begins with his name and titles and is full of his words and deeds recorded in the first person, singular number. “I fashioned a memorial tablet,” “I set it up,” “I flayed Kirua,” “I sent my troops.” It is all I, I, I, my, my, my, from beginning to end; and yet, it is certain that he never wrote a word of it with his own hand. Or, is Darius Hystaspis not the author of the Behistun Inscription, whose sentences are largely in the third person and of which nearly every section begins with “Thus saith Darius the king”? What a subject for the painter’s brush! Darius, the Persian Achaemenid, king of Babylon and of the lands, king of Upper and Lower Egypt, sitting on a scaffolding, his chisel in his left hand and his mallet in his right, cutting into the imperishable rock the record of his achievements by the grace of Ahuramazda! And how about Thothmes I and III, and Rameses II, III and XIII, and Shishak, and Tiglath-Pileser I and III, and Nebuchadnezzar I and II, and others, whose numerous and lengthy records have been preserved? Are we to suppose that Moses cannot have recorded his thoughts and words and deeds just in the same way that his predecessors, contemporaries, and successors, did?

Robert Dick Wilson, A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament, pp. 24, 25.

Για τους Έλληνες αναγνώστες του ιστολογίου αυτό το κομμάτι υπάρχει μεταφρασμένο στο δείγμα της μετάφρασής μου, του βιβλίου, που μπορεί να βρεθεί εδώ:

Where did Aaron die?

This is another issue that raised many objections among the critics of the Bible. Another chance to disprove and discredit the Bible. I googled a little about this problem but I didn’t find anything positive, other than some try to equate Mount Hor with Moserah. Yet, that seems quite improbable since “there is a significant amount of travel between these two points”, as Wikipedia rightly observes. So here is a quite satisfying interpretation:

For example, one of the many objections raised against the historical reliability and integrity of the Pentateuch dealt with an alleged conflict of tradition in regard to the place where Aaron died. According to one of the sources that scholars purported to identify, he died on Mount Hor (Num. 20:22; 21:4; 33:33; Deut. 32:50), but according to a “different” tradition he died at Moserah (Deut. 10:6). A careful reading of the text shows that in point of fact there is absolutely no conflict in the tradition concerning the death of Aaron at all. The word מוֹסֵרָה in Deuteronomy 10:6 means “chastisement”, thus describing the place of his death in terms of a value judgment. This allusion makes it clear that his decease on Mount Hor constituted a reproof for the trespass at Meribah (Num. 20:24; Deut. 32:51), and that, like Moses, he was excluded from the Promised Land because of his rebellion against God. The two supposedly conflicting traditions are thus in complete harmony, and preserve the facts that Aaron died on Mount Hor while the people encamped below in mourning. In order to mark this sad occasion, which, with his own exclusion from the Promised Land, lay heavily upon the mind of Moses (Deut. 1:37; 3:23ff.), the incident and the camp-site were designated Moseroth (Num. 33:31; Deut. 10:6).


In this connection it should be noted that the various references to the death of Aaron (Num. 20:22ff.; 33:38f.; Deut. 10:6; 32:50f.) are supple­mentary rather than contradictory. While they are rather different in nature, they are by no means inconsistent in their presentation of fact. Although in the strictest sense Mount Hor was the physical scene of the death of Aaron, the name “Moserah” or “Moseroth” described the charac­ter of that event as “chastisement” (G. T. Manley, EQ, XXVII (1955), pp. 201ff). That this word was used as a common noun is indicated by the plural form in Numbers 33:30f. Like Massah, Meribah, and Taberah it denoted the nature of the event as well as the place where the incident occurred.

R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 511, 639.

Does Leviticus 27:29 imply human sacrifices?

Many people are scandalized by the Old Testament. Mr. Richard Dawkins is a very well-known example. They say that it depicts a cruel, monstrous God. Similarly, they say that many atrocities were committed in the name of God and that ancient Israel was a blood thirsty nation.

Similar views can be found all across the internet.

A verse that is frequently quoted to argue that human sacrifices took place in ancient Israel, is Leviticus 27:29. It reads:

No one devoted, who is to be devoted for destruction from mankind, shall be ransomed; he shall surely be put to death. (ESV)

None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed; but shall surely be put to death. (KJV)

This, plus the Jephthah story are used to backup this claim. Is that correct, though? Is this the right interpretation of this verse?

Let’s see what some commentaries have to say on the subject:

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers: None devoted, which shall be devoted of men.—Better, Every one banned, which shall be banned of men, that is, every one banned from amongst men, or every human being banned, is not to be redeemed. Like the cattle and the patrimonial estates, when once devoted to God by a vow of banning, the man thus banned by a vow comes irretrievably under the class of “most holy unto the Lord,” or one irrevocably withdrawn from the power of man.

But shall surely be put to death.—Not as a sacrifice to God, but, on the contrary, to be removed out of His sight. This is the apparent import of the passage, and seems to be confirmed by the melancholy narrative of Jephtha and his daughter (Judges 11:30). This seems to have been the interpretation put on the law in question during the second Temple, since it is embodied in the Chaldee Versions, which render the verse as follows: “Every vow that shall be vowed of man, shall not be redeemed with money, but with burnt offerings and with hallowed victims, and with supplications for mercy before the Lord, because such are to be put to death.” It is, however, supposed that this Awful vow of banning could only be exercised on notorious malefactors and idolaters as dangerous to the faith of the Israelites, that it could not be made by any private individual on his own responsibility, and that when such cases occurred the community or the Sanhedrin carried out the ban as an act of judicial necessity, thus showing it to be “most holy unto the Lord.” Accordingly, Leviticus 27:28-29 treat of two different cases. The former regulates objects “banned unto the Lord,” which differs from the vow of dedication discussed in Leviticus 27:2-8 only in so far that it is unredeemable, whilst Leviticus 27:29 regulates the banning enacted by the law itself (Exodus 22:19), or pronounced by the court of justice on a man who is irretrievably to be put to death.

Benson Commentary: Devoted of men — Not by men, as some would elude it, but of men, for it is manifest both from this and the foregoing verses, that men are here not the persons devoting, but devoted to destruction, either by God’s sentence, as idolaters, Exodus 22:20; Deuteronomy 23:15; the Canaanites, Deuteronomy 20:17; the Amalekites, Leviticus 25:19; 1 Samuel 15:3; 1 Samuel 15:26; Benhadad, 1 Kings 20:42; or by men, in pursuance of such a sentence of God, as Numbers 21:2-3; Numbers 31:17; or for any crime of a high nature, as Jdg 21:5. But this is certainly not to be understood, as some have taken it, as if a Jew might, by virtue of this text, devote his child or his servant to the Lord, and thereby oblige himself to put them to death. For this is expressly limited to all that a man hath or which is his; that is, which he hath a power over. But the Jews had no power over the lives of their children or servants, but were directly forbidden to take them away, by that great command, thou shalt do no murder. And seeing he that killed his servant casually by a blow with a rod was surely to be punished, as is said, Exodus 21:20, it could not be lawful wilfully to take away his life upon pretence of any such vow as this. But for the Canaanites, Amalekites, &c., God, the undoubted Lord of all men’s lives, gave to the Israelites a power over their persons and lives, and a command to put them to death. And this verse may have a special respect to them, or such as them.

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible: Devoted thing – The primary meaning of the Heb. word חרם chērem is something cut off, or shut up. Its specific meaning in the Law is, that which is cut off from common use and given up in some sense to Yahweh, without the right of recal or commutation. It is applied to a field wholly appropriated to the sanctuary Leviticus 27:21, and to whatever was doomed to destruction 1 Samuel 15:21; 1 Kings 20:42. Our translators have often rendered the word by “cursed,” or “a curse,” which in some places may convey the right sense, but it should be remembered that the terms are not identical in their compass of meaning (Deuteronomy 7:26; Joshua 6:17-18; Joshua 7:1; Isaiah 34:5; Isaiah 43:28, etc. Compare Galatians 3:13).

Of man and beast – This passage does not permit human sacrifices. Man is elsewhere clearly recognized as one of the creatures which were not to be offered in sacrifice Exodus 13:13; Exodus 34:20; Numbers 18:15. Therefore the application of the word חרם chērem to man is made exclusively in reference to one rightly doomed to death and, in that sense alone, given up to Yahweh. The man who, in a right spirit, either carries out a sentence of just doom on an offender, or who, with a single eye to duty, slays an enemy in battle, must regard himself as God’s servant rendering up a life to the claim of the divine justice (compare Romans 13:4). It was in this way that Israel was required to destroy the Canaanites at Hormah (Numbers 21:2-3; compare Deuteronomy 13:12-18), and that Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord 1 Samuel 15:33. In all such instances, a moral obligation rests upon him whose office it is to take the life: he has to look upon the object of his stroke as under a ban to the Lord (compare Deuteronomy 20:4; Galatians 3:13). Therefore, there can be neither redemption nor commutation.

It is evident that the righteousness of this law is not involved in the sin of rash or foolish vows, such as Saul’s 1 Samuel 14:24 or Jephthah’s Judges 11:30. And it seems hardly needful to add that sacrifice, as it is represented both in the Law and in the usage of the patriarchs, is something very different from consecration under a ban, though a tiring to be sacrificed might come under the designation of חרם chērem in its wider sense. The sacrifice was always the offering up of the innocent life of a creature chosen, approved, and without spot or blemish.

Matthew Poole’s Commentary: Of men, not by men, as some would elude it; but of men, for it is manifest both from this and the foregoing verses, that men here are not the persons devoting, but devoted.

Quest. Was it then lawful for any man or men thus to devote another person to the Lord, and in pursuance of such vow to put him to death?

Answ. This was unquestionably lawful, and a duty in some cases, when persons have been devoted to destruction either by God’s sentence, as idolaters, Exodus 22:20 Deu 13:15, the Canaanites, Deu 20:17, the Amalekites, Deu 25:19 1 Samuel 15:3,26, Benhadad, 1 Kings 20:42; or by men, in pursuance of such a sentence of God, as Numbers 21:2,3 31:17; or for any crime of a high nature, as Judges 21:5 Joshua 7:15. But this is not to be generally understood, as some have taken it, as if a Jew might by virtue of this text devote his child or his servant to the Lord, and thereby oblige himself to put them to death, which peradventure was Jephthah’s error. For this is expressly limited to all that a man hath, or which is his, i.e. which he hath a power over. But the Jews had no power over the lives of their children or servants, but were directly forbidden to take them away, by that great command, Thou shalt do no murder. And seeing he that killed his servant casually by a blow with a rod was surely to be punished, as is said Exodus 21:20, it could not be lawful wilfully and intentionally to take away his life upon pretence of any such vow as this. But for the Canaanites, Amalekites, &c., God, the undoubted Lord of all men’s lives, gave to the Israelites a power over their persons and lives, and a command to put them to death. And this verse may have a special respect to them, or such as them. And although the general subject of this and the former verse be one and the same, yet there are two remarkable differences to this purpose:

1. The verb is active Leviticus 27:28, and the agent there expressed, that a man shall devote; but it is passive Leviticus 27:29, and the agent undetermined, which shall be devoted, to wit, by God, or men in conformity to God’s revealed will.

2. The devoted person or thing is only to be sold or redeemed, and said to be most holy, Leviticus 27:28; but here it is to be put to death, and this belongs only to men, and those such as either were or should be devoted in manner now expressed.

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible: None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed—This is said, not of such men as are devoted to the Lord, as in the preceding verse; for it is not said here as there, “none devoted unto the Lord”, but of such as are devoted to ruin and destruction, for whom there was no redemption, but they must die; nor is it said, “which is devoted by men, but of men”, or from among men; whether they be devoted by God himself, as all idolaters, and particularly the seven nations of the land of Canaan, and especially the Amalekites, who therefore were not to be spared on any account, but to be put to death, Exodus 22:20. So in the Talmud (o), this is interpreted of Canaanitish servants and handmaids; or whether devoted by men to destruction, either by the people of Israel, as their avowed enemies they should take in war, whom, and their cities, they vowed to the Lord they would utterly destroy, Numbers 21:2; and of such Aben Ezra interprets the words of the text; or such as were doomed by the civil magistrates to die for capital crimes, by stoning, burning, strangling, and slaying with the sword. And this sense is given into by many; because the judges kill with many kinds of death, therefore, says Chaskuni, it is said “every devoted thing”, as if he should say, with whatsoever of the four kinds of death the judges pass sentence of destruction on a man, he must die that death; so Jarchi and Ben Melech interpret it of such as go out to be slain, i.e. by the decree of the judges; and if one says, his estimation, or the price of him be upon me, he says nothing, it is of no avail.

but shall surely be put to death—As the same writer observes, he goes forth to die, he shall not be redeemed, neither by price nor estimation. The Targum of Jonathan is,”he shall not he redeemed with silver, but with burnt offerings, and holy sacrifices, and petitions of mercy, because he is condemned by a sentence to be slain. “And of either, or of all of these, may the words be understood, and not as they are by some, as if Jewish parents and masters had such a power over their children and servants to devote them to death, or in such a manner devote them, that they were obliged to put them to death; for though they had power in some cases to sell, yet had no power over their lives to take them away, or to devote them to death, which would be a breach of the sixth command, and punishable with death; even a master that accidentally killed his servant did not escape punishment; nay, if he did him any injury, by smiting out an eye, or a tooth, he was obliged to give him his freedom, and much less had he power to take away his life, or devote him to destruction. Some have thought, that it was through a mistaken sense of this law, that Jephthah having made a rash vow sacrificed his daughter, Judges 11:30; but it is a question whether he did or not.


Taking into account all the available information we can gather from the Old Testament about human conduct, it hardly seems probable that this verse justifies human sacrifices. Such an interpretation is a gross misinterpretation of the facts. This must not cause any surprise, since the same thing has been done for centuries. Even apostle Peter commented on the same thing when he wrote: “And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16). Plus, let’s not forget that this fact (the lack of understanding) was also prophesized for all those that do not have the right kind of heart, and our Lord Christ Jesus acknowledged it when he said: “Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive”. For this peoples heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them” (Mat. 13:15).

So, we do what we have to do, that is “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15) and let God do his part, that is, “give the growth” (1 Cor. 3:5).

Did they or did they not hear the voice? (Acts 9:7 vs 22:9)

This post came up after the respective question by a friend of mine.

The account at Acts 9:7 says that the men with Saul heard “a voice” (KJ) or “the sound of a voice.” (NW) Yet, as recorded at Acts 22:9, Paul (Saul) says that the men with him did not hear the voice. When what was said in the two verses is properly understood, there is no contradiction. The Greek word for “voice” (φωνή) at Acts 9:7 is in the genitive case (φωνῆς) and gives, in this verse, the sense of hearing of a voice—hearing the sound but not understanding. At Acts 22:9 φωνή is in the accusative case (φωνήν): the men “did not hear the voice”. They heard the sound of a voice but did not get the words, the meaning; they did not understand what Jesus was saying to Saul, as Saul did.

That is why the ESV Bible has the following comment on verse 9:7: “Saul’s companions heard the voice but saw no one. In his later testimony to the Jews, Paul spoke of them seeing the light but not understanding the voice (22:9). They had no vision of Jesus nor did they hear the message to Paul, but they could testify to a brilliant light and a sound, which pointed to an objective event that was not a matter of Saul’s imagination”, and renders 22:9 as: “Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand (or hear with understanding) the voice of the one who was speaking to me”.

This knowledge of the Bible’s use of the idea of ‘hearing’ in both senses helps to clear up what would otherwise seem to be discrepancies.

Egyptian (non) records and Exodus historicity

Now, in all this it must be admitted that there is disappointingly little that bears directly upon the Bible record. Egypt was so constantly in contact with Palestine, from the time of Joseph (or even of Abraham) until the fugitives from the Babylonian conquest sought refuge there, that we might have hoped to find some reference to Jewish history in the Egyptian records. In particular it has been natural to look for some reference to the Exodus, that event which burnt itself so indelibly into the Jewish memory. But the fact that such references are wholly wanting admits of explanation. The Egyptians were not historically minded, as the Assyrians were. There are no such chronicle texts as are found in the foundation cylinders of the Assyrian kings, and only exceptionally are there records of campaigns. Autocrats in their self-laudatory inscriptions, of which there are examples enough, do not generally refer to the less pleasing incidents of their reign, Consequently the fact that no reference to the Exodus has been found in Egyptian records proves nothing either way with regard to its historicity.

Sir Frederic Kenyon, The Bible and archaeology, pp. 69, 70.

About higher critisism and common sense

…scholars sometimes run riot in their dissection of these books, until they seem to reduce them to a mass of small fragments huddled together by an unintelligent editor. Fortunately these efforts of criticism largely cancel out, since no two scholars agree in the details of their dissections. The fault found in nearly all of them, however, is to ignored common sense in matters of literary production. The prevalent critical method would appear to require that a prophet’s utterances were circulated in a number of small leaflets, often of only a few verses, and that these were brought together at haphazard, and subsequently worked over by a succession of editors during a period of centuries, with additions of their own, and that all of these editors and manipulators succeeded in passing off the constantly changing result as the work of the prophet who had produced the original core. And this, it is apparently claimed, was the fate not of one prophet, but of all. Each editor seems to make it a point of honour to dissect his author into a number of different component parts of I different date; but none of them ever seems to take the I trouble to think out a process of publication and circulation which would make such an explanation humanly probable, or would explain why there were not rival editions of the several prophets in circulation, reflecting different stages in the process of accretion and rehandling. The higher criticism should be made bibliographically probable, and conformable to common sense and human nature.

Sir Frederic Kenyon, The Bible and archaeology, pp. 24, 25.

Camels in Genesis (or Did Abraham Really Own Camels?)

This post came up after I read an article by the NYT entitled “Camels Had No Business in Genesis”.

I am amazed at how easily some people draw absolute conclusions from fragmentary evidence (even worst when they claim to be scientists), and how often the same negative arguments about the Bible are revitalized again and again.

Before I quote my evidence on the subject, I would like just to comment the fact that the scientists in this article draw their conclusions from radiocarbon dating. As they should know, this kind of dating is not conclusive, since much things can affect such a dating. Of course this kind of dating is a great resource, and can provide us with useful data, but we must remember to draw conclusions with caution… Times and again, things have proved wrong with this kind of dating, because of the extraneous factors involved. I did not notice such caution from the scientist involved.

So, now I will quote a couple of scholars and their assessment of the subject:

Despite the admission of Albright[1] that sporadic domestication of the camel might have gone back several centuries before the end of the Bronze Age, there are still writers who assume that the few references to camels in the patriarchal sagas (Gen. 12:16; 24:64) are anachronistic.[2] Prior to their full-scale domestication in the twelfth century B.C., camels were used to a limited extent as beasts of burden, a fact that is evident from their mention (GAM.MAL) in an eighteenth-century B.C. cuneiform list of fodder for domestic animals, discovered at Alalakh in northern Syria.[3] In addition, the excavations of Parrot at Mari uncovered the remains of camel bones in the ruins of a house belonging to the pre-Sargonic era (ca. 2400 B.C.).[4] A relief at Byblos in Phoenicia, dated in the eighteenth century B.C., depicts a camel in a kneeling position, thus indicating the domestication of the animal in Phoenician circles some centuries prior to the Amama Age.[5] Albright’s objection that the animal depicted on the relief had no hump and could not therefore be considered a camel was refuted by de Vaux, who pointed out that there was a socket on the back to which the hump and its load had been attached separately.[6] Other evidence for the early domestication of the camel consists of a jawbone recovered from a Middle Bronze Age tomb (ca. 1900-1600 B.C.) at Tell el-Farah,[7] and cylinder seals found in northern Mesopotamia, dating from the patriarchal era and depicting riders seated upon camels.[8] The foregoing ought to be sufficient to refute the commonly held view that references to camels in Genesis are “anachronistic touches” introduced to make the stories more vivid to later hearers.[9]

R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 311.


 It was the contention of many archaeolo­gists, Albright included, that the references to camels as included in Abraham’s holdings in livestock (Gen. 12:16) and as employed by his servant who conducted the courtship of Rebekah (Gen. 24:10, 14, 19-20) were anachro­nistic embellishments coming from later cen­turies. Likewise the mention of camels as employed by the slave traders who purchased Joseph on their way down to Egypt (Gen. 37:25). This deduction was drawn from a lack of clear extrabiblical reference to camels prior to the twelfth century in any of the archaeological dis­coveries made before 1950. But like so many arguments from silence, this contention must be abandoned as discredited by subsequent find­ings. Kenneth Kitchen points out (AOOT, p. 79) that even apart from a probable (but disputed) eighteenth-century allusion to camels in a fod­der list from Tell Atshana (as attested by W. G. Lambert in BASOR, no. 160 [Dec. I960]: 42-43), there is undoubtedly a reference to the domesti­cation of camels in some of the lexical lists from the Old Babylonian period (2000-1700 B.C.). An early Sumerian text from Nippur alludes to camel’s milk (cf. Chicago Assyrian Dictionary [I960]: 7:2b). Back in the twenty-fifth century B.C., the bones of a camel were interred under a house at Mari (André Parrot, in Syria 32 [1955]: 323). Similar discoveries have been made in Palestinian sites in levels dating from 2000 B.C. onward. From Byblos in Phoenicia comes an incomplete camel figurine dating from the nine­teenth or eighteenth century (Roland de Vaux, in Revue Biblique 56 [1949]: 9). More recent discov­ery has further shown this negative judgment to be unjustified. (Cf. R. J. Forbes, Studies in Ancient Technology, vol. 2 [Brill, 1965], chap. 4, pp. 194-213; “The Coming of the Camel,” p. 197). Forbes cites an early Dynastic limestone vessel shaped like a recumbent pack camel; also dis­covered are pottery camels’ heads from Hierakonpolis and Abydos in the Egyptian First Dynasty (p. 198). Also included is a figurine of a recumbent camel at Byblos during the Middle Kingdom Period (p. 203). Oppenhelm found at Gozan (Tell Halaf) an orthostat of an armed camel rider which was dated 3000 B.C. or at least early 3rd millennium. A small camel figurine discovered at Megiddo closely resembles Dynasty I types. Middle Kingdom camel bones were found at Gezer (p. 209). The Akkadian term for male camel is ibulu/udra/uduru; for female camel, udrate; for dromedary, gammalu (E-G v:116.10); in Coptic, jamūl. (The Sumerian term was ANŠE A-ABBA: “an ass of the sea-lands or dromedary”). Once again the Old Testament record has been vindicated as a com­pletely trustworthy and historical account, despite the temporary lack of archaeological confirmation.

Gleason Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, p. 144.


The first Biblical references to domesticated camels occur in the stories of Abraham. He owned them (Ge 12:16), and his servant used them as pack animals (24:10). Camels are also mentioned in the stories of Jacob (30:43; 31:34; 32:15) and Joseph (37:25) and were found among the Amalekites, Ishmaelites and Midianites.

Scholars have debated the historicity of these references to camels because most belieeve that these animals were not widely domesticated until approximately 1200 B.C., long after the time of Abraham. Arguments in support of later domestication of the camel include:

Neither the Mari tablets from the eigh­teenth century B.C. nor the fourteenth-century B.C. Amarna correspondence mentions domesticated camels.

During the patriarchal period the donkey apears to have been the animal primarily used for transport. For example, the “Beni Hasan painting,” which depicts Semites bringing goods to Egypt during the Twelfth Dynasty (1900 B.C.), pictures donkeys rather than camels being used in caravans.

On the other hand, we do see clear evi­dence of camel domestication in the first mil­lennium, much later than the time of the patriarchs. For example, Assyrian wall relief artwork depicts men riding camels into war.

Other evidence does suggest that at least some camels were domesticated earlier. Bone fragments and other archaeological remains have led some scholars to postulate a third millennium date for camel domestication. Although many scholars regard this evidence as inconclusive because it is difficult to distin­guish wild from domesticated animals using only bone samples, other evidence, as de­scribed below, suggests that people were rely­ing on camels in some manner:

  • A braided cord of camel hair from pre-dynastic Egypt has been discovered.
  • A Sumerian text refers to camel’s milk.
  • An Old Babylonian text from the early second-millennium Ugarit describes the camel as a domestic animal.

Thus, the evidence does not force us to regard the appearance of domesticated camels in Genesis as anachronistic. Such tamed animals probably were rare during the second millennium, however, and may have been owned almost exclusively by wealthy people.

NIV Archaeological Study Bible, p. 41. 

[1] FSAC, p. 165; cf. J. P. Free, JNES, III (1944), pp. 187ff.

[2] BHI, p. 72; BANE, p. 204; cf. R. Walz, ZDMG, Cl (1951), pp. 29ff., CIV (1954), pp. 45ff.

[3] D. J. Wiseman and A. Goetze, JCS, XIII (1959), pp. 29, 37; D. J. Wiseman, The Alalakh Tablets (1953), No. 269:59; S. Moscati, Rivista degle Studi Orientali, XXXV (I960),; p. 116; cf. W. G. Lambert, BASOR, No. 160 (1960), p. 42.

[4] A. Parrot, SRA, XXXII (1955), p. 323.

[5] P. Montet, Byblos et VfLgypte (1928), p. 91 and pi. 52.

[6] W. F. Albright, JBL, LXIV (1945), p. 288; R. de Vaux, RB, LVI (1949), p. 9 n. 4f.

[7] Ibid., p. 9 n. 8. Cf. C. H. Gordon in Biblical and Other Studies, p. 10.

[8] The Tell Halaf sculptured relief (LAP, p. 55 and pi. 25) is far from being “one of the earliest known representations of the camel.” For the early domestication of the camel in India see M. Wheeler, The Indus Civilisation (1953), p. 60.

[9] BHI, p. 72; K. A. Kitchen, NBD, pp. 181ff.

(Updated) Πίεση του κατεστημένου υπέρ της «κρατούσας» επιστημονικής ή ακαδημαϊκής άποψης / Peer pressure in favor of the “mainstream” scientific or academic theories

Θα μιλήσω για τις πιέσεις που υφίστανται οι νέοι επιστήμονες προκειμένου να αφιερωθούν σε θέματα εγκεκριμένα από το κυρίως ρεύμα προκειμένου να έχουν μια αξιοπρεπή σταδιοδρομία. Υπέστην κι εγώ τέτοιες πιέσεις, οι οποίες μάλιστα επηρέασαν την καριέρα μου. Η σύγκρουση ανάμεσα στην ανάγκη για ανεξάρτητες επιστημονικές κρίσεις και την αποφυγή της αποξένωσης από το κυρίως ρεύμα είναι ένα αίσθημα που κι εγώ, επίσης, βίωσα. Δεν γράφω αυτό το βιβλίο για να επικρίνω επιστήμονες που έκαναν επιλογές διαφορετικές από τις δικές μου αλλά για να εξετάσω γιατί πρέπει καν να έρχονται αντιμέτωποι οι επιστήμονες με τέτοιες επιλογές. Θεωρία χορδών. Όλα ή τίποτα; Lee Smolin, σελ. 25.

Η θεωρία χορδών πλέον κατέχει τέτοια δεσπόζουσα θέση στην ακαδημαϊκή κοινότητα, ώστε στην πράξη όποιος νεαρός θεωρητικός φυσικός δεν ακολουθήσει αυτή την περιοχή έρευνας είναι σαν να καταστρέφει την ίδια του την καριέρα. Ακόμη και ερευνητές από περιοχές όπου η θεωρία χορδών δεν κάνει προβλέψεις, όπως η κοσμολογία και η σωματιδιακή φαινομενολογία, συνηθίζουν να ξεκινούν τις ομιλίες και τις εργασίες τους με τη διαβεβαίωση ότι η δουλειά τους θα βασίζεται κάποτε στη θεωρία χορδών. Θεωρία χορδών. Όλα ή τίποτα; Lee Smolin, σελ. 27.

Κάποιοι νεαροί θεωρητικοί των χορδών μού έχουν πει ότι αισθάνονται σαν να τους εξαναγκάζουν να δουλέψουν στη θεωρία χορδών, είτε πιστεύουν σε αυτήν είτε όχι, καθώς εκλαμβάνεται ως εισιτήριο για μια θέση καθηγητή σε κάποιο πανεπιστήμιο. Και έχουν δίκιο: Στις ΗΠΑ, όσοι θεωρητικοί ακολουθήσουν διαφορετικές από τη θεωρία χορδών προσεγγίσεις της θεμελιακής φυσικής δεν θα έχουν σχεδόν καμία ευκαιρία για σταδιοδρομία. Τα τελευταία δεκαπέντε χρόνια, τρεις είναι όλοι κι όλοι οι επίκουροι καθηγητές που εργάζονται σε διαφορετικές από τη θεωρία χορδών προσεγγίσεις της κβαντικής βαρύτητας και οι οποίοι προσλήφθηκαν από αμερικανικά ερευνητικά πανεπιστήμια, και μάλιστα οι προσλήψεις αυτές έγιναν από μία και μόνο ερευνητική ομάδα. Την ώρα που η θεωρία χορδών εξακολουθεί να αγωνίζεται από επιστημονική άποψη, έχει ήδη θριαμβεύσει στο ακαδημαϊκό πλαίσιο. Η κατάσταση αυτή βλάπτει την επιστήμη, διότι καταστέλλει τη διερεύνηση εναλλακτικών κατευθύνσεων, από τις οποίες κάποιες υπόσχονται πολλά. Θεωρία χορδών. Όλα ή τίποτα; Lee Smolin, σελ. 30.

A close if unofficial surveillance was imposed upon potential candidates for positions in the Old Testament field in British universities, and only those who displayed proper respect for the canons of critical orthodoxy were appointed to academic posts. Consequently scholars of a more conservative bent were relegated to comparative obscurity in theological colleges of various denominations and other independent institutions of learning. R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, σελ. 28.

The divisive theories of Duhm virtually swept the field. Not even the moderating tendencies of S. R. Driver were sufficient to place this critical emotionalism, in proper perspective, and by the end of the nineteenth century it was considered academically bizarre and unrespectable to begin to suggest views that could be interpreted as maintaining the unity of the prophecy. In Europe, as in England, the appointment to University chairs in Old Testament depended to no small extent upon the amount of enthusiasm with which the prospective candidate adhered to the “assured findings” of the critical school in both Pentateuchal and Isaianic studies, a situation prevalent to a considerable degree also in North America. R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, σελ. 769.

Objections to the historicity of Daniel were copied uncritically from book to book, and by the second decade of the twentieth century no scholar of general liberal background who wished to preserve his academic reputation either dared or desired to challenge the current critical trend. R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, σελ. 1111.

Even to suggest an investigation of these evidences is absolutely unthinkable in the minds of the Liberal establishment. To propose any kind of objective examination is to invite ridicule and scorn from the practitioners of the Documentary Hypothesis or Form Criticism or Canonical Criticism who maintain a rigid control of the biblical studies department in most of our present-day universities and state-supported seminaries throughout the Western World.

The amazing feature about this Bible-denigrating procedure is its flagrant violation of the rule against circular reasoning that underlies all evidential logic. To the rationalistic mind-set of the Aufklärung and the Encyclopedistes of the mid-eighteenth century it was well-nigh inconceivable for any educated thinking to take seriously the truth-claims of Holy Scripture, and those who undertook to do so were ridiculed as benighted and naive, no matter what scholarly attainments they had achieved in their education. If they really believed that the Bible was the Word of God, they were ipso facto outdated traditionalists who could be safely ignored. Gleason L. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, σελ. 486.

The history of sciences amply demonstrates that this sort of attitude and behavior, that is, following the prevailing opinion among those in a given field, whether cosmology, physics, biology, medicine, or what have you, has for many centuries been a major cause of the persistence of gross errors in all these disciplines. That a majority holds a given view is not an argument in science; every scholar or researcher is obliged in conscience to examine his own discipline and to ask himself what the assumptions and presuppositions in his discipline that are taken for granted really consist of and what kind of basis they rest on. The history of science also demonstrates that, when a scholar or researcher does undertake to look honestly at the presuppositions and a prioris in his field, the results are often surprising and sometimes even revolutionary. Claude Tresmontant, The Hebrew Christ, σελ. 10.

The fact that his results are so much at variance with reigning scholarly opinion may explain the silence that has greeted his book both in France and in Germany…

…Upholders of the dominant opinion in biblical scholarship are not happy with Robinson’s book; if Robinson is right, they are wrong. In scholarship, as in all the other affairs of life, it is always very difficult to own up to being wrong. It is even more difficult to admit to having taught errors and ab­surdities throughout one’s entire scholarly career. That Robinson’s thesis has not found automatic acceptance is therefore quite understandable. Claude Tresmontant, The Hebrew Christ, σελ. 50.

In a discussion of sources for the study of Paul, N. T. Wright weighs in on the scholarly consensus that Paul wrote only seven of the thirteen letters attributed to him. He notes that it is odd that even though many of the considerations that drove this opinion have been overturned, it nonetheless remains the consensus. Wright goes on to comment on scholarly fashion:

In addition – it is hard to say this, but perhaps it needs to be said – there is the matter of fashion and prejudice. Just as in Germany in the late nineteenth century you more or less had to be a follower of F. C. Baur, and in Oxford in the mid-twentieth century you more or less had to believe in the existence of Q, so in North America today you more or less have to say that you will regard Ephesians and Colossians as post-Pauline – unless, like Luke Timothy Johnson, you have so massively established your scholarly credibility on other grounds that your acceptance of the letters as fully Pauline can then be regarded, not as a serious scholarly fault, but as an allowable eccentricity (Source).

How possible is it to overlook the prophetic movement that permeated ancient Israel and the Old Testament? / Είναι δυνατόν να παραβλέψουμε το προφητικό κίνημα που διαπότισε τον αρχαίο Ισραήλ και την Παλαιά Διαθήκη;

Many people, mostly atheists, deny the prophesies of the Bible. There are many arguments supporting the reality of the prophesies, amply presented by many able men. I will add one more, in the words of the illustrious Robert Dick Wilson. He writes:

Those who would adequately explain the prophetic movement must ac­count for at least three factors.

  1. The psychological fact of the prophets’ con­viction that Cod had actually spoken to them;
  2. the continuity of the move­ment, consisting of men who lived over a period of several hundred years, all believing that God had spoken to them and,
  3. the teleological trend of the predictions (Messianic prophecy).

In all the nations of antiquity there is no real parallel to the prophetic movement (This last statement is corroborated by Professor R. K Harison who states: …the messianic concept of the Hebrews… has no proper counterpart in ancient Near Eastern culture. R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 480).


In other words, if we accept that these men were mentally ill, we have to face a very bizarre fact. That the Hebrews and only them, produced mentally ill men, for a very long time, with the one and same conviction (that they were God’s spokesmen), and all of them proclaimed the same message.

That “fact” demands a lot of faith to believe it… Therefore, atheists are far from unbelievers…

Πολλοί άνθρωποι, κυρίως αθεϊστές, αρνούνται τις προφητείες της Βίβλου. Υπάρχουν πολλά επιχειρήματα που υποστηρίζουν την πραγματικότητα των προφητειών, που έχουν παρουσιαστεί επαρκέστατα από πολλούς ικανούς ανθρώπους. Θα προσθέσω ένα ακόμη, με τα λόγια του επιφανούς Robert Dick Wilson. Γράφει:

Οποιοσδήποτε εξηγήσει ικανοποιητικά το προφητικό κίνημα, θα πρέπει να εξηγήσει τουλάχιστον τρεις παράγοντες.

  1. Tο ψυχολογικό δεδομένο της πεποίθησης των προφητών ότι ο Θεός πράγματι τους μίλησε·
  2. τη συνέχεια του κινήματος, το οποίο αποτελούνταν από ανθρώπους οι οποίοι έζησαν κατά τη διάρκεια μιας περιόδου εκατοντάδων ετών, πιστεύοντας όλοι τους ότι ο Θεός τους μίλησε και,
  3. την τελεολογική ροπή των προβλέψεων (Μεσσιανική προφητεία).

Μεταξύ όλων των εθνών της αρχαιότητας, δεν υπάρχει πραγματικό παράλληλο του προφητικού κινήματος (Αυτή η τελευταία πρόταση επιβεβαιώνεται από τον καθηγητή R. K Harison ο οποίος γράφει: …η μεσσιανική αντίληψη των Εβραίων… δεν έχει αντίστοιχο στον πολιτισμό της αρχαίας Εγγύς ΑνατολήςR. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, σελ. 480).


Με άλλα λόγια, αν δεχτούμε ότι αυτοί οι άνθρωποι ήταν πνευματικά άρρωστοι, ερχόμαστε αντιμέτωποι με ένα πολύ περίεργο γεγονός. Ότι οι Εβραίοι και μόνο αυτοί, παρήγαγαν πνευματικά άρρωστους ανθρώπους, με την αυτή πεποίθηση (ότι ήταν αντιπρόσωποι του Θεού), και όλοι τους μετέδιδαν το ίδιο άγγελμα.

Αυτό το «γεγονός» απαιτεί πολύ πίστη για να το πιστέψεις… Συνεπώς, οι άθεοι σίγουρα δεν είναι άπιστοι…

Robert Dick Wilson, A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament, σελ. 160.

Could a Jew (Daniel) be a member of the Babylonian Wise Men? / Μπορούσε ένας Εβραίος (Δανιήλ) να είναι μέλος των Βαβυλώνιων Σοφών;

Daniel and the Wise Men

When Paul was at Philippi, he was accused of teaching customs which it was not lawful for the Philippians to observe, being Romans. Without a trial and uncondemned, he was beaten and imprisoned and put in the stocks. This illustrates the manner in which the critics accuse Daniel of becoming a Babylonian wise man, of observing the customs which it was not lawful for him to observe, “being a strict Jew.” They do not prove that the customs of the wise men were not lawful for a strict Jew to observe. To do this they should first show what a strict Jew might legally have been; and secondly, what there was in the customs and beliefs of a wise man of Babylon that made it impossible for Daniel to have been at the same time a strict Jew and a Babylonian wise man. They simply assert it, just as the Philippians asserted that Paul troubled their city by teaching unlawful customs.Again, we shall see, they have failed to show how it would have been impossible for a Jewish writer of the second century B.C., —the time of the Maccabees and of the Assideans, —to have written a work whose hero would have been represented as being both a strict Jew and a Babylonian wise man, if there had been an inconsistency in a man’s being at the same time both of them. They have failed even to consider how a strict Jew, writing a book of fiction for the consolation of strict Jews, to be accepted by strict Jews as a genuine history, could have said a strict Jew was a Babylonian wise man, if there was anything unlawful or improper in a strict Jew’s being a Babylonian wise man. Certainly a strict Jew of the middle of the second century B.C. was as strict as one of the middle of the sixth. Certainly, also, a Chaldean wise man of the second century B.C., was as bad as one of the sixth. Certainly, also, as we shall see, a wise man was at both times and at all times the subject of unstinted, unqualified, and invariable praise on the part of Jew and Babylonian and Greek. Certainly, last of all, if the critics were right in placing the completion of the law in post– exilic times, a strict Jew of the second century B.C. would be much stricter than he would have been in the sixth century B.C., before the law had been completed. For surely a strict Jew of the sixth century B.C. cannot be blamed by the critics for not observing a law that according to these same critics was not promulgated till the fifth or fourth century B.C. A writer living in Palestine in the second century B.C., composing a book with the intent of encouraging the Assidean party and the observance of the law, would scarcely make his hero live a life inconsistent with this very law which it was his purpose to magnify; whereas a Jew living at Babylon in the sixth century B.C., where the law could not be strictly observed, might have been excused even if he had transgressed the injunctions which it was impossible for him to observe. This is an ad hominem argument which is gladly left to the consideration of those who affirm that a strict Jew of the sixth century B.C., could not have been a Babylonian wise man, while one of the second might have been!

When Jesus was brought up before the High Priest two witnesses testified that he had said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The evangelist admits that he had used these words but says that he had meant by them his own body and not the temple at Jerusalem. The witnesses, therefore, were false, not because they did not report correctly the words that had been said, but because they gave to them a sense different from that which had been intended and understood. So, as I shall proceed to show, the author of Daniel represents the prophet as having been a wise man indeed; but his wise man was one whose manner of life was in entire harmony with the teachings of the law and of the prophets, whereas the wise men of the critics is the baseless fabric of their own imagination. But let us to the proof.


A writer who makes a pious Jew and one true to the law to have been admitted into the society of the Chaldean Magicians can only have possessed very confused notions of the latter.

Other indications adduced to show that the Book is not the work of a contemporary, are such as the following:

  1. The improbability that Daniel, a strict Jew, should have suffered himself to be initiated into the class of Chaldean “wise men,” or should have been admitted by the wise men themselves.
  2. How explain the assertion that Daniel, a strict Jew, was made chief of the heathen sages of Babylon? (2:48, 4:6).


There are several assumptions in these objections.

  1. That a strict, or pious Jew, and one true to the law, could not have been the chief of the “wise men” of Babylon without besmirching his reputation and injuring his character.
  2. That a Jewish writer at the time of Maccabees could have been capable of making the pious hero of a fiction to have been a member of the heathen society of magicians, or Chaldeans; but that it is improbable that a real Daniel of the sixth century B.C. can have been a member of such a class.
  3. That an author thus writing can only have had very confused notions of what such magicians were.
  4. That Daniel must have been initiated into the mysteries of such a society.
  5. That the chief of such a society must himself have been guilty of practicing the black art. 6. That the wise men themselves admitted him into the class of Chaldeans.


Before proceeding to the discussion of these assumptions, let us quote in full the statements of the Book of Daniel with reference to Daniel’s relation to the wise men.

Nebuchadnezzar had him trained in the learning and tongue of the Chaldeans (Dan. 1:3–5) so that he might be able to stand before the king, and the king approved of his education (1:18–20).

God gave him grace and mercy before the prince of the eunuchs (1:9) and knowledge and discernment in all literature (book–learning) and wisdom (1:17).

The king of Babylon found him ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters which were in all his kingdom in all matters of wisdom and understanding (1:20).

When the king called the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and Chaldeans to tell the king his dream, Daniel was not among them (2:4–9). It was only when the king commanded to kill all the wise men of Babylon that they sought Daniel and his companions to slay them (2:13).

The king made Daniel great and chief of the sagans over the wise men of Babylon (2:46– 49).

In 4:9, he is called rab hartumaya or chief of the magicians, or sacred scribes.

In 5:11, the queen says that he had been made master of the scribes, exorcists, astrologers (mathematicians), and fortune tellers.

He interpreted dreams and omens by the power of God given in answer to prayer (2:17– 23).

We find in these passages the following points regarding Daniel:

He was taught all the book–learning and the languages of the Chaldeans, so that Nebuchadnezzar found him to be ten times better that the sacred scribes and enchanters (the hartummim and ashshafim) that were in all his kingdom.

God gave him knowledge an discernment in all book–learning and wisdom and ability through prayer to interpret dreams and omens.

He was among the wise men (hakkimin) of Babylon, but is not said to have been among the sacred scribes, the priestly enchanters or exorcists, the sorcerers, or wizards, nor among the Chaldeans, astrologers, or mathematicians.

He was chief of the sagans over the wise men (hakkamin) of Babylon; and, also, chief of the sacred scribes, priestly enchanters, Chaldeans, or astrologers.

The six assumptions with regard to Daniel’s relation to the “wise men” as so inextricably interwoven that we shall make a general discussion of the whole subject, aiming to show that they are all false. And first, it may be asked, if the objectors really think that it was wrong for a pious Jew to be taught the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. If so, then Moses was wrong to be instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and Paul to have studied in the heathen university at Tarsus. Besides, the book says (1:17) that “God gave him [i.e., Daniel] knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom.”

Or, can it have been wrong for him “to have understanding in all visions and dreams” (1:17)? Then it must have been wrong for Joseph, also, to have interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh and his officers; and yet both Joseph himself and Pharaoh and Stephen attribute his ability to God. Besides, in the book of Daniel, both Daniel himself and the wise men and Nebuchadnezzar ascribe Daniel’s power of interpreting dreams and visions to the direct intervention of God.

Or, did “the law” to which he is said to have been true, prohibit interpretations of dreams and visions? As to dreams, one of the characteristics of the Elohist (E), as opposed to the Jehovist, is said to be his mentioning dreams so often. But this is always done without any blame being attached to the belief in them, or to an attempted interpretation of them. According to Dillman, Numbers 22:6, belongs to the Jehovist. It reads as follows: “If there be a prophet among you, I Jehovah will speak unto him in a dream.” Certainly there is no disapprobation here. In Deuteronomy, the only reference to dreams is in the thirteenth chapter, where a prophet or a dreamer of dreams who should tempt the people to serve other gods is condemned to death; the dreamer being put in the same class as the prophet.

As to visions, the Jehovist in Genesis 15:1, represents God as speaking to Abraham in a vision, and nearly all the great early prophets assert that God spake to them in visions; so that it is obvious that a belief neither in dreams nor visions, nor in the interpretation of them, can have been wrong, in the opinion of the prophets. That Daniel, also, is said to have seen visions, is in harmony with the strictest orthodoxy and the most devoted piety of those that were true to the law from the earliest times down to the time when in the New Testament the young men saw visions and the old men dreamed dreams.

If Daniel, then, did anything unbecoming a strict Jew, it must have consisted in the fact that he allowed himself to be found in bad company, that there was something in the dogmas, or practices, of the “wise men,” that was inconsistent with a man of piety becoming a master of their wisdom, even though he may not have accepted their dogmas, nor taken part in their practices.

Now, let us waive for the present the question as to whether Daniel did actually become a member of the society of the Chaldean wise men, and consider simply what were the practices of these so–called “wise men.” At the outset, let it be said, that there is much danger here of darkening words without knowledge, just because it is impossible for us with our present means of information to form a clear and correct conception of what the Babylonian wise men were. This difficulty is partly one of language, partly one of literature. As to literature, there is nothing from the Babylonians themselves bearing directly on the subject. As to language, it must be remembered that the terms in Daniel are either in a peculiar Aramaic dialect, or in Hebrew, and that it is impossible with our present knowledge to determine what Babylonian words are equivalent in meaning to the Aramaic and Hebrew expressions.

Taking up, first, the most general term used in Daniel, that which is translated by “wise men,” we find that the Aramaic of Daniel expresses this idea by the word hakkim. This word and its congeners are employed in a good sense in every Aramaic dialect. So on the Panammu Inscription of about 725 B.C., from northern Syria, the king speaks of his wisdom and righteousness. So, also, in the Targum of Onkelos in Deut., 1:13, and after; where it regularly renders the Hebrew hakam “wise.” So, also, the Samaritan Targum commonly translates the Hebrew word hakam by hakkim; an exception being Gen. 41:8, where the Samaritan has the word םםק sorcerer. So, also, in the Syriac Aramaic, both in the Peshitto version of the Scriptures and elsewhere, the word is used in a good sense. This is true, likewise, in Arabic, both in the translation of the Scriptures and elsewhere. Lane, in his great Arabic dictionary, gives none but good senses for the root and derivatives in general. Hakim is “a sage, a philosopher, a physician”; while hikma is “a knowledge of the true nature of things and acting according to the Page 374 requirements thereof.” In Hebrew, moreover, the word “wise” is never used in a bad sense.1 The only “wise men” who are condemned are those who are wise in their own eyes and not in reality (Is. 5:21). In later Hebrew, too, the wise are commended, as in Ecclesiasticus 6:32, and in the Zadokite Fragments 2:3 and 6:3.

In Babylonian, the noun from this root has not been found, but the verb, which has been found several times, is used always in a good sense. The Assyrio–Babylonian language, however, has a number of words, which may be rendered by “wise men”; but not one of these is employed specifically or by itself to denote any class of sorcerers or astrologers; much less were these sorcerers the only wise men.

In Ethiopic, also, according to Dillman’s dictionary hakim and tabib, the latter the ordinary word for wise man, are used only in a good sense.

From the uses of the words for wise men in the various Semitic languages, it is clear, therefore, that there can have been nothing wrong in belonging to the class of wise men as such. Nor does the Bible, nor Nebuchadnezzar, even intimate that there was. The wise men of the book of Daniel were to be slain because a tyrant in his wrath at a portion of them who claimed to do more than they were able to perform, or of whom at least the king demanded more than it was possible for them to know, had failed to meet his expectations. The decree to kill all was not justified by the offense of a portion merely of the so–called wise men. But even if it had been impossible for any of the wise men to meet the demand of the king, it would not prove that it was wrong for a pious Jew to be a wise man. What wise man of to–day would be able to tell a man a dream that he had forgotten? Such ignorance has nothing to do with piety. It is simply a limitation common to humanity. For as Daniel says, “The secret which the king was asking no wise men were able to make known, but there is a God in heaven who revealeth secrets.” The wise men are not blamed for not knowing what God alone could know.

As to the word ’ashshaph (magician) in the Hebrew of Daniel 1:20, 2:27, 4:4, 5:7, 11, 15, it may be said, first, that neither derivative, nor root, occurs anywhere else in the Old Testament. Both the verb and several nouns occur in Syriac in the sense of “enchant, enchanter”; but not apparently in any other Aramaic Page 376 dialect, nor in Arabic , nor Ethiopic. In Babylonian, however, the root is met with in various forms; and the two forms corresponding exactly to ’ashshaph and ’asheph are found also.

What, then, is the meaning of the root and of the forms as we find them in Babylonian?

From the authorities that we possess and the texts cited by them, it is evident, that in the estimation of the Babylonians the office and functions of the ’ashipu and of the ’ashshapu were beneficent to the community. They removed bans and exorcised evil spirits and disease and caused good visions and dreams. A common verb to denote their method of activity is pasharu, “to loose”; the same verb that is employed in Daniel to denote what they were expected by Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar to do. It was part of their business to see that “bad depressing dreams” (shunati nashdati) did not appear, caused by demon who “seized the side of one’s bed and worried and attacked one.”

Another term found in Daniel is hartom or hartum. This word is found, also, in the Hebrew of Gen. 41:8, 24, and in Ex. 7:11, 22, 8:3, 14, 15, 9:11 (bis). Since this word occurs in no other Aramaic dialect except that of Daniel, no light upon its meaning in Daniel can be derived from these sources.1 When we remember the part which the name bears in Egyptian sorcery, we can well believe, however, that their chief sorcerers received their designation from the fact that they had power in calling names, and that the Arameans and Hebrews adopted the name to denote those who bound or freed by the power of names.

This power of the name played a prominent part in Babylonian religion also. In the treatment of disease, the name of the demon or disease to be exorcised had to be mentioned, and also, the name of the god by whose power the exorcism was accomplished. In order to gain the help of the god without which the devil or demon could not be expelled, the priests would recite his praises and chant their prayers and supplications; and from this essential factor of the art of exorcism arose perhaps the hymns of praise which are so often found among the incantations of the Babylonians.

As to the meaning of gazer, the last term employed in Daniel to denote classes of wise men, very little can be said positively. The root does not occur in Assyrio–Babylonian; nor is a word from the root having a satisfactory meaning to be found in any other Aramaic dialects, nor in Arabic, Hebrew, or Ethiopic.

The Hebrew word mekashshefim is never used of the wise men. In Daniel 2:2, the only place in which it occurs in the book, the English version renders it by sorcerers. Neither the root of this word nor any derivation of the root was used in this sense in any Aramaic dialect.

The Hebrew employs the noun kashp always in the bad sense of an “evil enchantment,” and the nomen agentis of this is equivalent in meaning to the English “wizard, witch, or sorcerer.” The word for “witchery or witchcraft” is found six times in the Hebrew Bible, to wit: in Is. 47:9, 12; Mi. 5:11; Na, 3:4 bis, and in 2 Ki. 9:22. The word mekashsheph, “wizard or sorcerer,” is found in Deut. 18:10, Ex. 7:11; Mal. 3:5, and Dan. 2:2, while its feminine occurs in Ex. 22:17. The verb kishsheph is found only in 2 Ch. 33:6. All of these except the participial form are found in Babylonian and were probably borrowed from it; or possibly go back to a time when Babylonian and Hebrew were one. The Sumerian sign uh denotes the Babylonian words for “poison, spittle, blood, and kishpu.” Perhaps the best illustration of the relation of witchcraft to the dream of Nebuchadnezzar is to be found in the prayer addressed to Marduk by a sick man through his priest (mashmashu). As King translates this portion of the prayer in his Babylonian Magic, p. 62, it reads:

“O my God, by the command of thy mouth may there never approach any evil, the magic of the sorcerer and of the sorceress (upish kashshapi u kashshapi); may there never approach me the poisons of the evil men; may there never approach the evil of charms of powers and portents of heaven and earth.”

In number 50, 22, of the same book Ashurbanipal prays that his god may free him from evil bewitchment (pushir kishpiya), using the same verb which we find so often in Daniel for “interpret.” To practice sorcery was punishable with death by drowning, according to the law of Hammurabi. This was the law also, among the Hebrews: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Ex. 22:17). The question might be asked, then, why Nebuchadnezzar summoned the sorcerers to interpret his dream. The text given in Behrens would explain this, if we accept the reading which permits the translation: “from before the wind may the king be bewitched.” According to this, a man might be bewitched for his good against some evil. This, then, may have been the reason why Nebuchadnezzar summoned the wizards. They sent bad dreams; therefore, they should explain them, and tell what they had sent.

The results of this investigation of the names of the classes of wise men mentioned in the book of Daniel might be summed up by saying that the ’ashephs and ’ashshaphs were certainly exorcists who used chants and purifications (?) to drive out disease and to avert calamity; that the mekashshephs were wizards, who bound their victims by means of philters, spittle, etc., and had the power to send bad dreams and evil spirits among them, as well as to release them from the witcheries which they had caused; that the gazers and kaldus were astrologers and augurs, who told fortunes, foretold plagues, interpreted omens and dreams, forecasted horoscopes or nativities, etc.; that the hartums were sacred scribes who wrote prescriptions and formulas for the use of the sick and those who attempted to cure them, and “spellbinders” who bound and loosed by the power of names of potency; and that the hakims, or wise men, embraced all these and others who were not included in these classes. Daniel was found by Nebuchadnezzar to be ten times better than all the ’ashshaphs and hartums of Babylon. He was made chief, or master, of the king’s wise men (2:48), and of his hartums (5:11), and of all the classes mentioned, except apparently the wizards, —as to whom it is not said, at least, that he ever had anything to do with them. It will be noted that nowhere in the Bible is connection with ’ashephs, ’ashshaphs, hartums, gazers, kaldus, or hakkims, expressly forbidden. Only the hakkims, hartums, and mekashshephs are ever mentioned outside of Daniel. The first of these are always spoken of with praise; the second without praise or blame; and the last only with condemnation. “A pious Jew,” therefore, “and one true to the law,” may certainly have studied, at least, the sciences and arts practiced by these uncondemned classes, without laying himself open to the charge of breaking the letter of the law. We see no reason, either, why he may not have studied all about the practices of the wizards without himself being a sorcerer.

Besides, we think it may rightly be doubted that a pious Jew, that is, one deemed pious according to the estimation of the Jews of the time of the author of Daniel,—whenever he lived and wrote,—cannot have been an astrologer and an exorcist and a dream interpreter. Josephus cites, apparently with approval, a statement of Berosus, to the effect that “Abram was a man righteous and great among the Chaldeans and skillful in the celestial science.

He says, also, that one of the Egyptian sacred scribes (hierogrammaticoi), who were very sagacious in foretelling future events truly, told the king about this time there would be a child born of the Israelites, who, if he were reared, would bring the Egyptian dominion law and would raise the Israelites: that he would excel all men in virtue, and obtain a glory that would be remembered through all ages.

This same scribe attempted to kill Moses at a later time, when as a child and having been adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, he cast to the ground and trod upon the crown of Pharaoh which the latter had placed upon his head; thus attesting, said the priest, his prediction that this child would bring dominion of Egypt low. “Because of this prophecy the Egyptians abstained from killing him and later made Moses general of their army against the Ethiopians in response to their own oracles and presages.”

As to Solomon, moreover, God granted him to learn the science of demonology for the profit and service of men, and he composed episodes by which diseases are assuaged; and he left behind him methods of treatment for exorcists by which those who are bound drive out the demons so that they never return, and this method of practice prevails with us even now; for I have seen in a certain one of my own country whose name was Eleazar, in the presence of Vespasian and his sons and his chiliarchs and the multitude of his soldiers, releasing people who had been seized by these demons, the skill and wisdom of Solomon being thus clearly established.

Josephus, moreover, professes that not merely he himself had prophetic dreams, but that he had a certain power in interpreting them.

According to the Targum of Jonathon ben Uzziel, the king of Egypt in Moses’ times had a dream in which he saw all the land of Egypt put in one scale of a balance and in the other a lamb which was heavier than all the land of Egypt; upon which he sent and called all the enchanters (harrash) of Egypt and told them his dream; whereupon Jannes and Jambres, the chiefs of the enchanters, opened their mouths and said to Pharaoh: “A boy is about to be born in the congregation of Israel, through whose hand all the land of Egypt is to be destroyed.”

In the book of Tobit, an evil spirit is said to have been exorcised by means of the liver of a fish.

In the Acts of the Apostles, Simon Magus practiced his arts of magic by using the power of names to drive out evil spirits.

The Lord, also, refers to such practices among the Jews of his time, when he says: “If I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out?”

We have thus shown that according to the views of the Scriptures and of the ancient Jews at all times, there was nothing wrong either in dreams or in the interpretation of them; and that Jewish opinion as preserved in Josephus, the book of Tobit, the Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel, and elsewhere, did not condemn the use of incantations and the practice of exorcism and other similar arts.

Finally, we come to consider the question as to whether Daniel is said to have been a member of any of these classes of dream–interpreters which are mentioned in his book. It will be noted that he is never called a hartum nor an ’ashshaph, but is said to have been ten times better than all of them in knowledge and wisdom. It is not said either that he was an ’asheph nor a mekashsheph nor a gazer, nor a kaldu. That he was a hakim is rightly inferred from the fact that he was sought to be killed, when the decree went forth that all the wise men should be killed; but elsewhere he is always called chief (rab) of the wise men, or of the hartums, or of three or four classes together. He is, in fact, called chief of all classes, except of the mekashshephs, the only class which is directly condemned by law. Once he is called chief of the sagans over all the wise men of Babylon. This phrase we shall discuss below. At present, let us look at the meaning of the word rab, “chief,” in its relation to the objects, or persons, over which the rab was set. The only point we need to discuss in this connection, is whether the rab was necessarily of the same class and practicer of the same arts and crafts as those who were set under him. It might seem to most to be sufficient merely to state as an obvious fact not needing proof that he might have been chief of the hartums and others without himself being one. But as some have controverted it, and seem to think that Daniel must have been an individual of the same kind as those over whom he was set as chief, it may be well to pause and discuss the term rab, as it is used.

In Arabic rab is the most ordinary title of God, occurring in the Koran as a designation of the deity only less frequently than the word Allah itself. He is the lord of all creatures, not because he is like them or of them, but as their maker and preserver and ruler and owner of the slaves, dominus. In Hebrew, rab meant captain, or master, or chief. Thus, Nebuzaradan was captain of the guard (Jer. 41:10); Ashpenaz was master of the eunuchs (Dan. 1:3); Ahasuerus had officers of his house (Est. 1:8); Jonah’s ship had its master of the ropes (Jon. 1:6). In Assyrio– Babylonian the word was of much more general use than in Arabic or Hebrew. There were rabs set over the gardens of the king, over the watering machines, over the treasury, over the stables, the courts, the flocks, the house, the temple, the cities, the prisoners; over the governors, the captains, the bowmen, and the divisions of the army; over the merchants, the builders (?), the seers, enchanters, and exorcists; there was a captain of the king, a chief of the captains, or princes, of the king, and a rab of the sons of the king, and a chief of the house of Belshazzar the son of the king.

It will be noted that the ’ashiph, the mashmash, the bari (or seers), and the zimmeri, or enchanters, all have a chief. One should remark, further, that a rab does not necessarily perform the duties of the ones over whom he is set. The soldiers were directed by their rab and led by him; but doubtless did many menial duties from which he would be exempt. The rab of the sons of the king may have been beneath them in birth, but would be their teacher. No one would hold the rab responsible for all of the acts of beliefs of the scholar, any more than he would hold Seneca responsible for Nero, or Bossuet for Louis XV. The chief of chiefs of the king would probably be the highest chief, or lord, next to the king, according to the common Semitic idiom for expressing the superlative by putting a noun in the singular before the same noun in the plural, as in the phrase “king of kings and lord of lords.” From these examples, it is evident that a rab may or may not have been of the same knowledge, class, dignity, or practice, as those over whom he was placed. We have has secretaries of the navy who were not trained at Annapolis. England has had ministers of war who were not distinguished generals. France has had in her cabinet ministers of religion who were not ecclesiastics. So the fact that Daniel was made rab of the wise men, or of the hartums, and others, does not prove that he was one of them, or that he did what they did. The book of Daniel says he knew ten times more of real Page 387 knowledge and wisdom than all the ’ashephs and hartums of Babylon; and that he got his knowledge as dream–interpreter from God through prayer, and not by divination or sorcery. It never calls him a hartum, and ’ashshaph, an ’asheph, a mekashsheph, a kaldu, or a gazer; but a man who was made wise through study, abstinence, and the favor of God. He may have known all the mysteries of the Babylonian seers, priests, and enchanters; but there is no evidence in the book of Daniel, nor anywhere else, to show that Daniel practiced the black art, nor the heathen methods of divination in any form, nor to show that he became a member of any of these orders. It is simply said that he was the superior of these in knowledge and wisdom and power of interpretation of dreams and omens. The means he used were proper according to the precepts and examples of the Scriptures.

As to his being rab of the Babylonian sorcerers of whatever class, this was an appointment of the king. What duties or functions were involved in the office we know not. It may have been simply an honorary title, or the grant of a position of precedency in court functions and ceremonies. That it did not imply a permanent position with onerous duties and continuous service, would seem to follow from the fact that the queen mother had to recall to Belshazzar that Nebuchadnezzar had ever made the appointment. So that, in conclusion, we can fairly claim that the case against the author of Daniel, on the ground that he makes his hero, though a pious Jew, to have been a member of a class of Chaldean wise men contrary to the Jewish law, has not been made out. The charge has not been proven. On the contrary, the account of Daniel has been shown to be entirely consistent with itself and with the prerequisite historical surroundings, supposing it to be a record of events which took place at Babylon in the sixth century B.C.


In the above discussion we have shown that the six assumptions mentioned on page 370 are all false and that the objection to the historicity of the book of Daniel on the ground that a strict Jew cannot have been made chief of the heathen sages of Babylon, nor initiated into their class, is unsupported by the evidence drawn from the Jews themselves, as well as from the monuments, as to what the character of the wise men really was. We have shown, further, that the objection, if valid, would militate as much against the ideas of the pious Jews in the second century B.C., as against those held by them in the sixth century B.C.; inasmuch as the literary conception of such a character and reception of a work based on such a conception would be as much against their ideas as the historical existence of such a man would be. Moreover, we have shown that “the confused notions” about Daniel in his relations to the wise men of Babylon, as well as about these wise men, are true not so much of the author of Daniel as of those who criticize he statements of the book in reference to them. And finally, we have shown that there is no reason for believing that Daniel may not have been and done all that the book of Daniel says that he was and did, without any infringement of the law or the prophets, or contravention of the religious ideas of the Jews at any time of their history.

O Δανιήλ και οι Σοφοί

Όταν ο Παύλος ήταν στους Φιλίππους, κατηγορήθηκε ότι δίδασκε έθιμα τα οποία δεν ήταν νόμιμο να τηρούνται από τους Φιλιππίσιους, όντας Ρωμαίοι. Δίχως δίκη και καταδίκη, ξυλοκοπήθηκε, φυλακίστηκε και τον έθεσαν σε δεσμά. Αυτό το παράδειγμα αποκαλύπτει τον τρόπο με τον οποίο οι κριτικοί κατηγορούν τον Δανιήλ ότι έγινε ένας σοφός της Βαβυλώνας, τηρώντας έθιμα τα οποία δεν ήταν νόμιμο να τηρεί «όντας ευλαβής Εβραίος». Δεν αποδεικνύουν ότι τα έθιμα των σοφών δεν ήταν νόμιμο να τα τηρεί ένας ευλαβής Εβραίος. Για να το κάνουν αυτό, θα έπρεπε να καταδείξουν το τι σήμαινε στην πραγματικότητα το να είναι κάποιος ευλαβής Εβραίος˙ και δεύτερον, το τι ήταν αυτό που περιλάμβαναν τα έθιμα και οι πεποιθήσεις ενός σοφού της Βαβυλώνας τα οποία καθιστούσαν αδύνατο για το Δανιήλ να είναι ταυτοχρόνως και ευλαβής Εβραίος και σοφός της Βαβυλώνας. Αυτό έχουν αποτύχει να το καταδείξουν. Απλώς το συμπεραίνουν, όπως ακριβώς και οι Φιλιππήσιοι συμπέραναν ότι ο Παύλος προκαλούσε αναταραχή στην πόλη τους διδάσκοντας παράνομα έθιμα.

Και πάλι, όπως θα δούμε, έχουν αποτύχει να καταδείξουν το πώς ήταν δυνατό για έναν Εβραίο συγγραφέα του 2ου αιώνα π.Χ., – εποχή των Μακκαβαίων και των Ασιδαίων (Χασιδείμ) – να συγγράψει ένα βιβλίο του οποίου ο ήρωας να παρουσιάζεται τόσο ως ευλαβής Εβραίος όσο και ως σοφός της Βαβυλώνας, εάν υπήρχε κάποια ασυνέπεια στο να έχει κάποιος και τις δύο αυτές ιδιότητες ταυτοχρόνως. Έχουν αποτύχει να αναλογιστούν καν το πώς ένας ευλαβής Εβραίος, γράφοντας ένα μυθιστόρημα για την ενθάρρυνση των ευλαβών Εβραίων το οποίο θα γινόταν αποδεκτό από ευλαβείς Εβραίους ως γνήσια ιστορία, θα μπορούσε να δηλώσει ότι ένας ευλαβής Εβραίος ήταν ένας σοφός της Βαβυλώνας, εάν υπήρχε οτιδήποτε παράνομο ή ανάρμοστο στο να είναι ένας ευλαβής Εβραίος σοφός της Βαβυλώνας. Ασφαλώς ένας ευλαβής Εβραίος στα μέσα του 2ου αιώνα π.Χ. ήταν το ίδιο ευλαβής με έναν στα μέσα του 6ου αιώνα π.Χ.. Ασφαλώς επίσης, ένας Χαλδαίος σοφός στα μέσα του 2ου αιώνα π.Χ. ήταν το ίδιο κακός με έναν στα μέσα του 6ου αιώνα π.Χ.. Ασφαλώς επίσης, όπως θα διαπιστώσουμε, ένας σοφός ήταν και στις δύο αυτές περιόδους και σε όλες τις περιόδους το αντικείμενο αφειδούς, απόλυτου και σταθερού επαίνου εκ μέρους των Εβραίων, των Βαβυλωνίων και των Ελλήνων. Ασφαλώς, τέλος, εάν οι κριτικοί ήταν σωστοί στον ισχυρισμό τους ότι ο νόμος ολοκληρώθηκε μετά την αιχμαλωσία, ένας ευλαβής Εβραίος του 2ου αιώνα π.Χ. θα ήταν πολύ περισσότερο ευλαβής απ’ ότι θα ήταν ένας τον 6ο αιώνα π.Χ., πριν ολοκληρωθεί ο νόμος. Διότι ασφαλώς ένας ευλαβής Εβραίος του 6ου αιώνα π.Χ. δεν μπορεί να κατηγορηθεί από τους κριτικούς για το ότι δεν τηρεί έναν νόμο ο οποίος κατά τους ίδιους αυτούς κριτικούς δεν δημοσιεύτηκε πριν τον 5ο ή τον 4ο αιώνα π.Χ.. Ένας συγγραφέας ο οποίος ζούσε στην Παλαιστίνη τον 2ο αιώνα π.Χ., ο οποίος συνέγραφε ένα βιβλίο με σκοπό την ενθάρρυνση των Ασιδαίων και την τήρηση του νόμου, πολύ δύσκολα θα παρουσίαζε τον ήρωά του να διάγει μια ζωή ασύμβατη με τον ίδιο τον νόμο τον οποίο είχε σκοπό να μεγαλύνει· ενώ ένας Εβραίος ο οποίος ζούσε στη Βαβυλώνα τον 6ο αιώνα π.Χ., όπου ο νόμος δεν μπορούσε να εφαρμοστεί αυστηρά, θα μπορούσε να δικαιολογηθεί ακόμη και εάν είχε παραβιάσει τις εντολές οι οποίες ήταν αδύνατο για αυτόν να εφαρμοστούν. Αυτό είναι ένα ad hominem επιχείρημα το οποίο ευχαρίστως θέτουμε για να αναλογιστούν αυτοί που επιβεβαιώνουν ότι ένας ευλαβής Εβραίος του 6ου αιώνα π.Χ. δεν θα μπορούσε να είναι ένας σοφός της Βαβυλώνας, ενώ ένας ευλαβής Εβραίος του 2ου αιώνα π.Χ. θα μπορούσε!

Όταν ο Ιησούς φέρθηκε μπροστά στον Αρχιερέα, δύο μάρτυρες έδωσαν μαρτυρία ότι είπε, «Γκρεμίστε αυτόν το ναό, και σε τρεις ημέρες θα τον ανεγείρω». Ο ευαγγελιστής παραδέχεται ότι ο Ιησούς χρησιμοποίησε αυτές τις λέξεις αλλά λέει ότι με αυτές εννοούσε το ίδιο του το σώμα και όχι τον ναό της Ιερουσαλήμ. Οι μάρτυρες, κατά συνέπεια, ήταν εσφαλμένοι όχι διότι δεν έδωσαν σωστή μαρτυρία ως προς τα λόγια που ειπώθηκαν, αλλά διότι τα προσδώσαν νόημα διαφορετικό από αυτό που προορίστηκε και είχε κατανοηθεί. Έτσι, όπως θα καταδείξω στη συνεχεία, ο συγγραφέας του βιβλίου του Δανιήλ πράγματι παρουσιάζει τον προφήτη σαν να είχε υπάρξει σοφός της Βαβυλώνας· αλλά αυτός ο σοφός ήταν ένας σοφός του οποίου ο τρόπος ζωής ήταν σε πλήρη αρμονία με τη διδασκαλία του νόμου και των προφητών, ενώ ο σοφός των κριτικών είναι το αβάσιμο προϊόν της ίδιας τους της φαντασίας. Αλλά ας περάσουμε στις αποδείξεις.


Ένας συγγραφέας που παρουσιάζει έναν ευλαβή Εβραίο ο οποίος τηρεί πιστά το νόμο, να έχει γίνει μέλος της κοινωνίας των Χαλδαίων Μάγων δεν μπορεί παρά να έχει πολύ συγκεχυμένες αντιλήψεις περί αυτής της κοινωνίας.[1]

Άλλες ενδείξεις που προσκομίζονται για να καταδείξουν ότι το βιβλίο δεν είναι το έργο ενός σύγχρονου, είναι οι ακόλουθες:

  1. Το απίθανο του γεγονότος ότι ο Δανιήλ, ένας ευλαβής Εβραίος, θα είχε επιτρέψει να μυηθεί στην κάστα των Χαλδαίων «σοφών» ή ότι θα είχε γίνει δεκτός από τους ίδιους τους σοφούς.[2]
  2. Πώς μπορεί να εξηγηθεί ο ισχυρισμός ότι ο Δανιήλ, ένας ευλαβής Εβραίος, έγινε αρχηγός των παγανιστών σοφών της Βαβυλώνας; (2:48, 4:9).[3]


Σε αυτές τις ενστάσεις περιλαμβάνονται ορισμένες εικασίες.

  1. Ότι ένας ευλαβής ή θεοσεβής Εβραίος, πιστός τηρητής του νόμου, δε θα μπορούσε να είναι ο αρχηγός των «σοφών» της Βαβυλώνας δίχως να σπιλώσει τη φήμη του και να προκαλέσει βλάβη στο χαρακτήρα του.
  2. Ότι ένας Εβραίος συγγραφέας της εποχής των Μακκαβαίων θα μπορούσε να παρουσιάσει τον ευλαβή ήρωα ενός μυθιστορήματος, να είναι μέλος της παγανιστικής κοινωνίας των μάγων, ή Χαλδαίων˙ αλλά ότι είναι απίθανο ότι ο πραγματικός Δανιήλ του 6ου π.Χ. αιώνα θα μπορούσε να είναι μέλος μιας τέτοιας κάστας.
  3. Ότι ένας συγγραφέας που έγραψε αυτό το πράγμα δεν μπορεί παρά να έχει πολύ συγκεχυμένες αντιλήψεις περί του τι ήταν αυτοί οι μάγοι.
  4. Ότι ο Δανιήλ πρέπει να μυήθηκε στα μυστήρια μιας τέτοιας κοινωνίας.
  5. Ότι και ο αρχηγός μιας τέτοιας κοινωνίας πρέπει να ήταν ένοχος άσκησης μαύρης μαγείας.
  6. Ότι οι ίδιοι οι σοφοί τον εισήγαγαν στην κάστα των Χαλδαίων.


Πριν προχωρήσουμε στη συζήτηση αυτών των εικασιών, ας παραθέσουμε τις πλήρεις δηλώσεις του βιβλίου του Δανιήλ όσον αφορά στη σχέση του Δανιήλ με τους σοφούς.

Ο Ναβουχοδονόσορ τον εκπαίδευσε στη γνώση και στη γλώσσα των Χαλδαίων (Δαν. 1:3-5) ώστε να μπορεί να σταθεί μπροστά στο βασιλιά, και ο βασιλιάς ενέκρινε την εκπαίδευσή του (1:18-20).

Ο Θεός του έδωσε χάρη και έλεος ενώπιον του αρχιευνούχου (1:9) και γνώση και ενόραση σε κάθε γραφή και σοφία (1:17).

Ο βασιλιάς της Βαβυλώνας διαπίστωσε ότι ήταν δέκα φορές καλύτερος από όλους τους μάγους ιερείς και τους επικαλούμενους πνεύματα που υπήρχαν σε ολόκληρη τη βασιλική του επικράτεια (1:20).

Όταν ο βασιλιάς κάλεσε όλους τους μάγους ιερείς και τους επικαλούμενους πνεύματα και αυτούς που έκαναν μαγγανείες και τους Χαλδαίους για να του αποκαλύψουν το όνειρό του, ο Δανιήλ δεν ήταν ανάμεσά τους (2:4-9). Μονό όταν ο βασιλιάς διέταξε να θανατωθούν όλοι οι σοφοί της Βαβυλώνας έψαξαν για το Δανιήλ και τους συντρόφους του προκειμένου να τους θανατώσουν (2:13).

Ο βασιλιάς μεγάλυνε τον Δανιήλ και τον έκανε ανώτατο ύπαρχο όλων των σοφών της Βαβυλώνας (2:46-49).

Στο 4:9 αποκαλείται rab hartumaya ή αρχηγός των μάγων, ή ιερών γραφέων.

Στο 5:11 η βασίλισσα λέει ότι είχε γίνει αρχηγός των μάγων ιερέων, των επικαλούμενων πνεύματα, των Χαλδαίων και των μάντεων.

Μπορούσε να ερμηνεύσει όνειρα και οιωνούς με τη δύναμη του Θεού η οποία του δόθηκε σε απάντηση προσευχής του (2:17-23).

Σε αυτά τα αποσπάσματα διακρίνουμε τα ακόλουθα σημεία σε σχέση με το Δανιήλ:

Διδάχτηκε όλη τη σοφία και τη γλώσσα των Χαλδαίων, ώστε ο Ναβουχοδονόσορ τον βρήκε 10 φορές καλύτερο από τους ιερούς αντιγραφείς και μάγους (τους hartummim και ashshafim) που υπήρχαν σε όλη τη βασιλική του επικράτεια.

Ο Θεός του έδωσε επίγνωση και ενόραση σε όλη τη γνώση και τη σοφία, και ικανότητα να ερμηνεύει όνειρα και οιωνούς μέσω προσευχής.

Ήταν μέλος των σοφών (hakkimin) της Βαβυλώνας, αλλά δε λέγεται ότι ήταν μέλος των ιερών γραφέων, των μάγων ιερέων, των μάντεων, των Χαλδαίων, των αστρολόγων ή των μαθηματικών.

Ήταν ανώτατος ύπαρχος όλων των σοφών (hakkamin) της Βαβυλώνας˙ καθώς επίσης αρχηγός των ιερών γραφέων, των μάγων ιερέων, των μάντεων, των Χαλδαίων, ή αστρολόγων.

Οι έξι εικασίες όσον αφορά στη σχέση του Δανιήλ με τους «σοφούς» είναι τόσο άρρηκτα συνυφασμένες, ώστε θα κάνουμε μια γενική συζήτηση του όλου ζητήματος, με σκοπό να καταδείξουμε ότι είναι όλες τους εσφαλμένες. Και πρώτον, μπορεί να τεθεί η ερώτηση εάν οι ενιστάμενοι όντος πιστεύουν ότι ήταν εσφαλμένο για έναν ευλαβή Εβραίο να διδαχτεί τη γνώση και τη γλώσσα των Χαλδαίων. Εάν αυτό ισχύει, τότε ήταν λάθος που ο Μωυσής διδάχτηκε όλη τη σοφία των Αιγυπτίων και ο Παύλος που σπούδασε στο εθνικό πανεπιστήμιο στην Ταρσό. Επιπρόσθετα, το βιβλίο λέει (1:17) ότι «ο αληθινός Θεός έδωσε στον Δανιήλ γνώση και ενόραση σε κάθε γραφή και σοφία.»

Ή μήπως ήταν ανάρμοστο το ότι «είχε κατανόηση σχετικά με κάθε είδους οράματα και όνειρα» (1:17); Τότε, ήταν επίσης εσφαλμένο το ότι ο Μωυσής ερμήνευσε τα όνειρα του Φαραώ και των αξιωματούχων του˙ παρ’ όλα αυτά, και ο Μωυσής και ο Φαραώ και ο Στέφανος αποδίδουν αυτή την ικανότητα στο Θεό. Εξάλλου, στο βιβλίο του Δανιήλ, τόσο ο Δανιήλ όσο και οι σοφοί και ο Ναβουχοδονόσορ αποδίδουν την ικανότητα του Δανιήλ να ερμηνεύει όνειρα και οράματα στην άμεση παρέμβαση του Θεού.

Ή μήπως «o νόμος» στον οποίο λέγεται ότι ήταν πιστός, απαγόρευε την ερμηνεία ονείρων και οραμάτων;

Όσον αφορά στα όνειρα, ένα από τα χαρακτηριστικά του Ελοχιμιστή (Ε), σε αντίθεση με το Γιαχβιστή, λέγεται ότι είναι η τόσο συχνή αναφορά του σε όνειρα. Αλλά αυτό πάντοτε γίνεται χωρίς να προσάπτεται κάποια μομφή στο να τα πιστεύει κάποιος ή στο να προσπαθεί να τα ερμηνεύσει. Σύμφωνα με τον Dillmann, το χωρίο Αριθμοί 12:6 ανήκει στο Γιαχβιστή. Αυτό λέει: «Αν υπήρχε προφήτης από εσάς για τον Γιαχβέ, σε όραμα θα του έκανα γνωστό τον εαυτό μου. Σε όνειρο θα του μιλούσα.» Ασφαλώς δεν υπάρχει καμία αποδοκιμασία εδώ. Στο Δευτερονόμιο, η μόνη αναφορά στα όνειρα βρίσκεται στο 13ο κεφάλαιο, όπου εάν ένας προφήτης ή κάποιος που ονειρεύτηκε όνειρο έβαζε σε πειρασμό το λαό να λατρέψει άλλους θεούς καταδικαζόταν σε θάνατο˙ με αυτόν που ονειρεύτηκε όνειρο να τίθεται στην ίδια τάξη με τον προφήτη.

Όσο για τα οράματα, ο Γιαχβιστής στο Γένεσης 15:1, παρουσιάζει τον Θεό να μιλάει στον Αβραάμ σε όραμα, και σχεδόν όλοι οι μεγάλοι προγενέστεροι προφήτες ισχυρίστηκαν ότι ο Θεός τους μίλησε με οράματα. Είναι λοιπόν προφανές ότι ούτε το να πίστευε κάποιος είτε σε όνειρα είτε σε οράματα, ούτε το να προσπαθούσε να τα ερμηνεύσει μπορούσε να είναι εσφαλμένο, κατά τη γνώμη των προφητών. Το ότι ο Δανιήλ, επίσης, λέγεται ότι είδε οράματα, βρίσκεται σε αρμονία με την πλέον αυστηρή ορθοδοξία και την πλέον όσια ευλάβεια αυτών που ήταν πιστοί στο νόμο ξεκινώντας από τα αρχαιότερα χρόνια και φτάνοντας στην εποχή της Καινής Διαθήκης όπου οι νέοι έβλεπαν οράματα και οι γέροντες ονειρεύονταν όνειρα.

Εάν λοιπόν ο Δανιήλ έκανε κάτι το οποίο τον καθιστούσε ανευλαβή Εβραίο, αυτό πρέπει να έγκειτο στο ότι επέτρεψε να βρεθεί ανάμεσα σε φθοροποιά συναναστροφή, στο ότι υπήρχε κάτι εσφαλμένο στα δόγματα ή στις πρακτικές των «σοφών», στο ότι ήταν ασύμβατο ένας ευλαβής Εβραίος να είναι αρχηγός της σοφίας τους, παρ’ ότι μπορεί να μην ασπαζόταν τα πιστεύω τους ούτε να συμμετείχε στις πρακτικές τους.

Τώρα, ας παραβλέψουμε προς το παρόν το εάν ο Δανιήλ πράγματι έγινε μέλος της κοινωνίας των Χαλδαίων σοφών, και ας αναλογιστούμε απλά το ποια ήταν τα δόγματα και οι πρακτικές των λεγόμενων «σοφών». Στην αρχή, ας λεχθεί, υπάρχει σοβαρός κίνδυνος του να τραγικοποιήσουμε λέξεις για τις οποίες δεν έχουμε γνώση, απλά διότι με την παρούσα γνώση μας είναι αδύνατο να σχηματίσουμε μια καθαρή και ορθή αντίληψη του τι ήταν οι σοφοί της Βαβυλώνας. Αυτή η δυσκολία οφείλεται εν μέρη στη γλώσσα και εν μέρη στη γραμματεία. Όσον αφορά στη γραμματεία, δεν υπάρχει κανένα έγγραφο από τους ίδιους τους Βαβυλώνιους το οποίο να αναφέρεται στο συγκεκριμένο ζήτημα. Όσον αφορά στη γλώσσα, θα πρέπει να θυμόμαστε ότι οι όροι στο βιβλίο του Δανιήλ είναι είτε σε μια περίεργη Αραμαϊκή διάλεκτο είτε στα Εβραϊκά, και ότι με την παρούσα γνώση μας είναι αδύνατο να καθορίσουμε ποιες Βαβυλωνιακές λέξεις αντιστοιχούν εννοιολογικά στις Αραμαϊκές και Εβραϊκές εκφράσεις.

Αρχίζοντας με τον πιο γενικό όρο ο οποίος απαντά στο βιβλίο του Δανιήλ, τον όρο ο οποίος αποδίδεται ως «σοφοί», διαπιστώνουμε ότι τα Αραμαϊκά του Δανιήλ εκφράζουν αυτή την έννοια με το hakkim. Αυτή η λέξη και τα παράγωγά της χρησιμοποιούνται με θετική έννοια σε κάθε Αραμαϊκή διάλεκτο. Έτσι, στην επιγραφή Panammu του 725 π.Χ. περίπου, από τη βόρεια Συρία, ο βασιλιάς κάνει λόγο για τη σοφία του και τη δικαιοσύνη του. Με παρόμοιο τρόπο, το Σαμαρειτικό Ταργκούμ μεταφράζει συστηματικά το Εβραϊκό hakam με το hakkim, με εξαίρεση το Γένεση 41:8 όπου το Σαμαρειτικό κείμενο χρησιμοποιεί τη λέξη קּםם μάγος. Με παρόμοιο τρόπο και στα Συριακά Αραμαϊκά, τόσο στην Πεσίτα όσο και αλλού, η λέξη χρησιμοποιείται με καλή έννοια. Το ίδιο αληθεύει και στα Αραβικά, τόσο στη μετάφραση της Βίβλου όσο και αλλού. Ο Lane στο σπουδαίο του αραβικό λεξικό, δίνει μόνο θετικές έννοιες τόσο για τη ρίζα όσο και για τα παράγωγά της γενικά. Ο hakim είναι ένας «σοφός, ένας φιλόσοφος, ένας γιατρός»˙ ενώ hikma είναι «το να κατέχει κάποιος γνώση της πραγματικής φύσης των πραγμάτων και να ενεργεί στη συνεχεία σε αρμονία με τις απαιτήσεις». Επιπρόσθετα, στα Εβραϊκά η λέξη «σοφός» δε χρησιμοποιείται ποτέ με αρνητική έννοια.[4] Οι μόνοι «σοφοί» που καταδικάζονται είναι αυτοί που είναι σοφοί στα δικά τους μάτια και όχι στην πραγματικότητα (Ησαΐας 5:21). Στα μεταγενέστερα Εβραϊκά επίσης, γίνεται μνεία περί των σοφών, όπως στο Εκκλησιαστικός 6:32 και στα Αποσπάσματα των Σαδδουκαίων 2:3 και 6:3.

Στα Βαβυλωνιακά, το ουσιαστικό από αυτή τη ρίζα δεν έχει βρεθεί, αλλά το ρήμα, το οποίο έχει βρεθεί πολλές φορές, χρησιμοποιείται πάντοτε με καλή έννοια. Η Ασσυριο-Βαβυλωνιακή γλώσσα, ωστόσο, έχει αρκετές λέξεις οι οποίες μπορούν να αποδοθούν ως «σοφοί»˙ αλλά καμία από αυτές δεν χρησιμοποιείται συγκεκριμένα ή από μόνη της για να υποδηλώσει κάποια κάστα μάγων ή αστρολόγων˙ και ακόμη λιγότερο ισχύει το ότι αυτοί οι μάγοι ήταν οι μόνοι σοφοί.[5]

Στα Αιθιοπικά, επίσης, σύμφωνα με το λεξικό του Dillman τα hakim και tabib, με το tabib να αποτελεί τη συνήθη λέξη για το «σοφοί», χρησιμοποιούνται μόνο με καλή έννοια.[6]

Συνεπώς, από τη χρήση των λέξεων για τον όρο «σοφοί» στις διάφορες Σημιτικές γλώσσες, είναι πασιφανές ότι το να ανήκε κάποιος στην κάστα των σοφών δεν ήταν κάτι κακό αυτό καθαυτό. Ούτε η Βίβλος ούτε ο Ναβουχοδονόσορ υπαινίχτηκαν καν ότι ήταν κακό. Οι σοφοί του βιβλίου του Δανιήλ έπρεπε να θανατωθούν διότι ένας τύραννος οργίστηκε με ορισμένους από αυτούς οι οποίοι ισχυριστήκαν ότι μπορούσαν να κάνουν περισσότερα από αυτά που μπορούσαν να κάνουν, ή τουλάχιστον από τους οποίους ο βασιλιάς απαιτούσε περισσότερα από αυτά που ήταν δυνατό να γνωρίζουν, επειδή απέτυχαν να ικανοποιήσουν τις απαιτήσεις του. Το διάταγμα να θανατωθούν όλοι δεν δικαιολογούνταν από την αποτυχία απλώς μιας μερίδας των λεγόμενων σοφών. Αλλά ακόμη και αν ήταν αδύνατο να ικανοποιηθεί ο βασιλιάς από οποιοδήποτε σοφό, αυτό δεν θα αποδείκνυε ότι το να είναι ένας ευλαβής Εβραίος μέλος των σοφών ήταν ανάρμοστο. Ποιος σοφός σήμερα θα μπορούσε να αποκαλύψει σε έναν άνθρωπο το όνειρο το οποίο αυτός ο άνθρωπος είχε ξεχάσει; Τέτοιου είδους άγνοια δεν έχει καμία σχέση με την ευλάβεια. Είναι απλά ένας περιορισμός κοινός μεταξύ των ανθρώπων. Διότι όπως αληθινά λέει ο Δανιήλ «Το μυστικό το οποίο ο βασιλιάς ζητάει, κανένας σοφός δεν μπορεί να το φανερώσει στο βασιλιά. Ωστόσο, υπάρχει Θεός στους ουρανούς ο οποίος αποκαλύπτει μυστικά.» Οι σοφοί δεν μπορούν να κατηγορηθούν για κάτι το οποίο μπορούσε να γνωρίζει μόνο ο Θεός.

Όσον αφορά στη λέξη ’ashshaph (μάγος) στο Εβραϊκό τμήμα του Δανιήλ, 1:20 και 2:2 και στο Αραμαϊκό τμήμα, 2:10 και στη λέξη ’asheph στο 2:27, 4:4, 5:7, 11, 15, μπορεί να ειπωθεί, πρώτον, ότι κανένα παράγωγο, ούτε ρίζα, απαντά οπουδήποτε αλλού στην Παλαιά Διαθήκη. Τόσο το ρήμα όσο και ορισμένα ουσιαστικά απαντούν στα Συριακά με την έννοια του «γοητεύω, γόητας»˙ αλλά όχι προφανώς σε οποιαδήποτε άλλη Αραμαϊκή διάλεκτο, ούτε στα Αραβικά, ούτε στα Αιθιοπικά. Στα Βαβυλωνιακά ωστόσο, η ρίζα απαντά σε διάφορες μορφές˙ και οι δύο μορφές που αντιστοιχούν επακριβώς στο ’ashshaph και στο asheph απαντούν επίσης.[7]

Ποια είναι λοιπόν η σημασία της ρίζας και των διαφόρων μορφών της όπως απαντούν στα Βαβυλωνιακά;[8]

Από τις αυθεντίες τις οποίες έχουμε στην κατοχή μας και τα κείμενα τα οποία αυτές παραθέτουν, είναι ολοφάνερο ότι κατά τη γνώμη των Βαβυλωνίων το αξίωμα και οι πράξεις των ’ashipu και των ’ashshapu ήταν επωφελείς για την κοινότητα. Ήραν απαγορεύσεις και εξόρκιζαν πονηρά πνεύματα και ασθένειες και προκαλούσαν καλά οράματα και όνειρα. Ένα σύνηθες ρήμα που υποδηλώνει τη δραστηριότητά τους είναι το pasharu «λύνω»˙ το ίδιο ρήμα που χρησιμοποιείται στο βιβλίο του Δανιήλ για να υποδηλώσει το τι ανέμεναν από αυτούς ο Ναβουχοδονόσορ και ο Βαλτάσαρ. Ήταν μέρος των αρμοδιοτήτων τους να φροντίζουν να μην εμφανίζονται «άσχημα καταθλιπτικά όνειρα» (shunati nashdati), τα οποία προκαλούνταν από δαίμονες οι οποίοι «άρπαζαν το κρεβάτι κάποιου και προκαλούσαν ανησυχία και επιτίθονταν σε κάποιον».[9]

Ένας άλλος όρος που απαντά στο βιβλίο του Δανιήλ[10] είναι το hartom ή hartum. Αυτή η λέξη απαντά επίσης στα Εβραϊκά της Γένεσης 41:8, 24, και στην Έξοδο 7:11, 22, 8:3, 14, 15, 9:11 (δις). Εφόσον αυτή η λέξη δεν απαντά σε καμία άλλη Αραμαϊκή διάλεκτο εκτός αυτής του Δανιήλ, δε μπορούμε να αντλήσουμε καμία πληροφορία περί της σημασίας της από αυτές τις πηγές.[11] Όταν αναλογιζόμαστε το ρόλο που παίζει το όνομα στην Αιγυπτιακή μαγεία, μπορούμε ορθά να πιστέψουμε ωστόσο, ότι οι αρχηγοί μάγοι λάβαιναν την ονομασία τους από το γεγονός ότι είχαν δύναμη να επικαλούνται ονόματα[12] και ότι οι Αραμαίοι και οι Εβραίοι υιοθέτησαν το όνομα για να υποδηλώσουν αυτούς που «έδεναν» ή ελευθέρωναν με τη δύναμη των ονομάτων.

Αυτή η δύναμη των ονομάτων έπαιζε επίσης έναν εξέχοντα ρόλο στην Βαβυλωνιακή θρησκεία. Στη θεραπεία μιας ασθένειας, έπρεπε να αναφερθεί το όνομα του δαίμονα ή της ασθένειας η οποία επρόκειτο να εξορκιστεί, καθώς επίσης το όνομα της θεότητας με τη δύναμη της οποίας θα γινόταν ο εξορκισμός. Για να λάβουν τη βοήθεια της θεότητας, χωρίς την οποία το κακό ή ο δαίμονας δεν μπορούσε να εκδιωχτεί, οι ιερείς απήγγειλαν τους αίνους και έψαλαν της προσευχές και τις ικεσίες της συγκεκριμένης θεότητας˙ και ίσως από αυτό τον ουσιώδη παράγοντα της τέχνης του εξορκισμού να προέκυψαν οι ύμνοι αίνου οι οποίοι απαντούν τόσο συχνά στις επωδούς των Βαβυλωνίων. [13]

Όσο για την έννοια του gazer, του τελευταίου όρου που χρησιμοποιείται στο βιβλίο του Δανιήλ για να υποδηλώσει τάξεις σοφών, πολύ λίγα μπορούν να ειπωθούν με βεβαιότητα. Η ρίζα δεν απαντά στα Ασσυριο-Βαβυλωνιακά˙ ούτε κάποια λέξη από αυτή τη ρίζα έχει κάποια ικανοποιητική έννοια σε οποιαδήποτε Αραμαϊκή διάλεκτο, ούτε στα Αραβικά, στα Εβραϊκά ή στα Αιθιοπικά.[14]

Η Εβραϊκή λέξη mekashshefim δεν χρησιμοποιείται πότε για τους σοφούς. Στα Δανιήλ 2:2, το μόνο μέρος στο οποίο απαντά στο βιβλίο, η Αγγλική μετάφραση το αποδίδει με το μάγοι. Ούτε η ρίζα ούτε οποιοδήποτε παραγωγό αυτής της ρίζας χρησιμοποιήθηκε με αυτή την έννοια σε οποιαδήποτε Αραμαϊκή διάλεκτο.[15]

Το Εβραϊκό κείμενο χρησιμοποιεί το ουσιαστικό kashp πάντοτε με την αρνητική έννοια της «δαιμονικής μαγείας» και το παράγωγο ουσιαστικό ισοδυναμεί εννοιολογικά με το Αγγλικό «μάγος, μάγισσα ή γητευτής». Η λέξη για τη «μαγγανεία» απαντά 6 φορές στην Εβραϊκή Βίβλο, Συγκεκριμένα στο Ησ. 47:9,12˙ Μιχ. 5:11˙ Ναούμ 3:4 (δις), και στο 2 Βασ. 9:22. Η λέξη mekashsheph «μάγος», απαντά στο Δευτ. 18:10, Eξ. 7:11˙ Mαλ. 3:5, και Δανιήλ 2:2, ενώ το θηλυκό του απαντά στο Εξ. 22:18. Το ρήμα kishsheph απαντά μόνο στο 2 Χρον. 33:6. Όλα αυτά εκτός από την μετοχική μορφή απαντούν στα Βαβυλωνιακά και πιθανώς είναι δανεισμένα από εκεί˙ ή πιθανώς προέρχονται από παλιά, όταν τα Βαβυλωνιακά και τα Εβραϊκά ήταν ένα. Το Σουμεριακό σημάδι uh υποδηλώνει τις Βαβυλωνιακές λέξεις για το «δηλητήριο, το σάλιο, το αίμα και το kishpu». Ίσως η καλύτερη απεικόνιση της σχέσης της μαγείας με το όνειρο του Ναβουχοδονόσορ μπορεί να βρεθεί στην προσευχή που απευθύνεται στο Μαρντούκ από κάποιον άρρωστο μέσω του ιερέα του (mashmashu). Όπως μεταφράζει ο King αυτό το τμήμα της προσευχής στο έργο του Babylonian Magic σελ. 62, η προσευχή λέει:

“Ω Θεέ μου, με την εντολή του στόματός σου είθε να μην πλησιάσει ποτέ κακό,

η μαγεία του μάγου και της μάγισσας (upish kashshapi u kashshapi)˙

είθε να μη με πλησιάσουν ποτέ τα δηλητήρια των μοχθηρών ανθρώπων˙

είθε να μην πλησιάσει ποτέ το κακό ξορκιών,

δυνάμεων και οιωνών του ουρανού και της γης.”

(O my God, by the command of thy mouth may there never approach any evil,

the magic of the sorcerer and of the sorceress (upish kashshapi u kashshapi);

may there never approach me the poisons of the evil men;

may there never approach the evil of charms of powers and portents of heaven and earth.)

Στον αριθμό 50, 22 του ίδιου βιβλίου, ο Ασσουρμπανιπάλ προσεύχεται ώστε ο θεός του να τον ελευθερώσει από δαιμονική μαγεία (pushir kishpiya), χρησιμοποιώντας το ίδιο ρήμα το οποίο απαντά τόσο συχνά στο βιβλίο του Δανιήλ για το «ερμηνεύω». Το να ασκεί κάποιος μαγεία επέσυρε την ποινή του θανάτου με πνιγμό, σύμφωνα με τον νομό του Χαμουραμπί.[16] Αυτός επίσης ήταν ο νόμος μεταξύ των Εβραίων: «Γυναίκα που κάνει μαγγανείες δεν πρέπει να την αφήσεις ζωντανή» (Εξ. 22:18). Μπορεί κατά συνέπεια να τεθεί το ερώτημα γιατί ο Ναβουχοδονόσορ κάλεσε τους μάγους για να ερμηνεύσουν το όνειρό του. Το κείμενο που παρουσιάζεται στον Behrens[17] θα το εξηγούσε αυτό, εάν δεχτούμε τη γραφή που επιτρέπει την εξής μετάφραση: “from before the wind may the king be bewitched.”[18] Σύμφωνα με αυτό, ένας άνθρωπος θα μπορούσε να υποβληθεί σε μάγια για το καλό του εναντίον κάποιου κακού. Αυτός, κατά συνέπεια μπορεί να είναι ο λόγος που ο Ναβουχοδονόσορ κάλεσε τους μάγους. Αυτοί έστελναν κακά όνειρα˙ συνεπώς, αυτοί έπρεπε να τα εξηγήσουν και να ερμηνεύσουν τι είχαν στείλει.[19]

Τα αποτελέσματα αυτής της έρευνας των ονομάτων των τάξεων των σοφών που αναφέρονται στο βιβλίο του Δανιήλ μπορούν να συνοψιστούν λέγοντας ότι οι ’ashephs και οι ’ashshaphs ήταν σίγουρα εξορκιστές οι οποίοι χρησιμοποιούσαν ψαλμωδίες και εξαγνισμούς (;) ώστε να απομακρύνουν τις ασθένειες και να αποτρέψουν καταστροφές˙ ότι οι mekashshephs ήταν μάγοι οι οποίοι ‘έδεναν’ τα θύματά τους μέσω φίλτρων, σάλιου, κτλ., και είχαν τη δύναμη να στέλνουν άσχημα όνειρα και κακά πνεύματα σε αυτούς, καθώς επίσης και να τους ελευθερώνουν από τις μαγείες τις οποίες τους είχαν επιφέρει˙ ότι οι gazers και οι kaldus ήταν αστρολόγοι και οιωνοσκόποι, οι οποίοι έλεγαν τη μοίρα, προέβλεπαν μάστιγες, ερμήνευαν οιωνούς και όνειρα, προγνώριζαν ωροσκόπια, κλπ˙ ότι οι hartums ήταν ιερείς γραφείς που έγραφαν συνταγές και φόρμουλες για χρήση από αρρώστους ή από αυτούς που προσπαθούσαν να τους γιατρέψουν, και ‘γητευτές’ οι οποίοι ‘έδεναν’ και έλυναν με τη δύναμη ονομάτων με ισχύ˙ και ότι οι hakims, ή σοφοί, συμπεριελάμβαναν όλους αυτούς καθώς και άλλους οι οποίοι δεν συμπεριλαμβάνονταν σε αυτές τις τάξεις. Ο Ναβουχοδονόσορ διαπίστωσε ότι ο Δανιήλ ήταν δέκα φορές καλύτερος από όλους τους ’ashshaphs και τους hartums της Βαβυλώνας. Διορίστηκε αρχηγός, ή κύριος, των σοφών (2:48), και των hartums του βασιλιά (5:11), και όλων των άλλων τάξεων που αναφέρθηκαν, εκτός προφανώς των μάγων, – σε σχέση με τους οποίους δε μας λέγεται να είχε καμία σχέση. Πρέπει να επισημανθεί ότι πουθενά στη Βίβλο, σχέση με τους ’ashephs, ’ashshaphs, hartums, gazers, kaldus, ή hakkims δεν απαγορεύεται ρητά. Μόνο οι hakkims, hartums, και οι mekashshephs αναφέρονται ποτέ εκτός του βιβλίου του Δανιήλ. Για τους 1ους από αυτούς τους τρεις, πάντα γίνεται μνεία συνοδευομένη από έπαινο˙ για τους 2ους γίνεται μνεία χωρίς έπαινο και χωρίς μομφή˙ και για τους τελευταίους γίνεται μνεία συνοδευομένη μόνο από κατάκριση. Κατά συνέπεια ‘ένας ευλαβής Εβραίος’ και ‘ένας Εβραίος πιστός στο νόμο,’ θα μπορούσε ασφαλώς να είχε τουλάχιστον σπουδάσει τις επιστήμες και τις τέχνες που ασκούνταν από αυτές τις μη κατακριτέες τάξεις, χωρίς να αφήνει εκτεθειμένο τον εαυτό του στην κατηγορία της παραβίασης του γράμματος του νόμου. Ούτε βλέπουμε κάποιον λόγο για τον οποίο δεν θα μπορούσε να μελετήσει όλα τα σχετικά με τις πρακτικές των μάγων χωρίς ο ίδιος να είναι μάγος.

Εξάλλου, πιστεύουμε ότι εύλογα μπορεί να αμφισβητηθεί το ότι ένας ευλαβής Εβραίος, δηλαδή, ένας Εβραίος που θεωρούνταν ευλαβής σύμφωνα με την εκτίμηση των Ιουδαίων της εποχής του συγγραφέα του βιβλίου του Δανιήλ, – όποτε και αν έζησε και αν έγραψε –, δεν μπορούσε να είναι αστρολόγος και εξορκιστής και ερμηνευτής ονείρων. Ο Ιώσηπος παραθέτει, προφανώς με επιδοκιμασία, μια δήλωση του Βηρωσού κατά την οποία «ο Αβραάμ ήταν άντρας ενάρετος και σπουδαίος μεταξύ των Χαλδαίων και επιδέξιος στην επιστήμη των ουρανών» (Μνημονεύει δὲ τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν Ἁβράμου Βηρωσός, οὐκ ὀνομάζων, λέγων δ᾽ οὕτως: “μετὰ δὲ τὸν κατακλυσμὸν δεκάτῃ γενεᾷ παρὰ Χαλδαίοις τις ἦν δίκαιος ἀνὴρ καὶ μέγας καὶ τὰ οὐράνια ἔμπειρος”).[20]

Λέει επίσης ότι ένας από τους Αιγύπτιους ιερούς γραφείς (ιερογραμματικοί), οι οποίοι ήταν πολύ οξυδερκείς στο να προλέγουν στα αλήθεια μελλοντικά γεγονότα, είπε στο βασιλιά ότι περίπου αυτή την εποχή θα γεννιόταν ένα παιδί στους Ισραηλίτες, το οποίο, εάν μεγάλωνε, θα υποβίβαζε την ισχύ της Αιγυπτιακής κυριαρχίας και θα ανύψωνε τους Ισραηλίτες˙ ότι θα υπερείχε όλων των ανθρώπων σε αρετή, και ότι θα αποκτούσε δόξα την οποία οι άνθρωποι θα θυμούνταν για πάντα.[21]

Αυτός ο ίδιος γραφέας αποπειράθηκε να σκοτώσει το Μωυσή αργότερα, όταν, όντας παιδί και έχοντας υιοθετηθεί από την κόρη του Φαραώ, έριξε στη γη και ποδοπάτησε το στέμμα του Φαραώ το οποίο ο Φαραώ τοποθέτησε στο κεφάλι του˙ επιβεβαιώνοντας έτσι, είπε ο ιερέας, την πρόβλεψή του ότι αυτό το παιδί θα υποβίβαζε την ισχύ της Αιγυπτιακής κυριαρχίας.[22] “Εξαιτίας αυτής της προφητείας οι Αιγύπτιοι δεν τον θανάτωσαν και αργότερα έκαναν το Μωυσή στρατηγό του στρατεύματος τους εναντίον των Αιθιόπων σε αρμονία με τους ίδιους τους τους χρησμούς και τους οιωνούς”.[23]

Όσο για το Σολομών, επιπρόσθετα, ο Θεός του επέτρεψε να μάθει την επιστήμη της δαιμονολογίας προς όφελος και θεραπεία των ανθρώπων, και συνέθεσε επωδούς[24] μέσω των οποίων καταπραΰνονταν οι ασθενείς˙ και άφησε πίσω του μεθόδους θεραπείας για εξορκιστές με τις οποίες αυτοί που είναι ‘δεμένοι’ διώχνουν τους δαίμονες ώστε αυτοί δεν ξαναγυρνάνε, και αυτή η μέθοδος επικρατεί ανάμεσά μας ακόμη και τώρα˙ διότι έχω δει κάποιον συγκεκριμένο από τη χωρά μου ο οποίος ονομάζεται Eleazar, στην παρουσία του Βεσπασιανού και των γιων του και των χιλιάρχών του και του πλήθους των στρατιωτών του, να ελευθερώνει ανθρώπους οι οποίοι είχαν καταλειφθεί από δαίμονες, θεμελιώνοντας ξεκάθαρα με αυτόν τον τρόπο την ικανότητα και τη σοφία του Σολομώντα. (παρέσχε δ᾽ αὐτῷ μαθεῖν ὁ θεὸς καὶ τὴν κατὰ τῶν δαιμόνων τέχνην εἰς ὠφέλειαν καὶ θεραπείαν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις: ἐπῳδάς τε συνταξάμενος αἷς παρηγορεῖται τὰ νοσήματα καὶ τρόπους ἐξορκώσεων κατέλιπεν, οἷς οἱ ἐνδούμενοι τὰ δαιμόνια ὡς μηκέτ᾽ ἐπανελθεῖν ἐκδιώξουσι. καὶ αὕτη μέχρι νῦν παρ᾽ ἡμῖν ἡ θεραπεία πλεῖστον ἰσχύει: ἱστόρησα γάρ τινα Ἐλεάζαρον τῶν ὁμοφύλων Οὐεσπασιανοῦ παρόντος καὶ τῶν υἱῶν αὐτοῦ καὶ χιλιάρχων καὶ ἄλλου στρατιωτικοῦ πλήθους ὑπὸ τῶν δαιμονίων λαμβανομένους ἀπολύοντα τούτων. ὁ δὲ τρόπος τῆς θεραπείας τοιοῦτος ἦν)[25]

Ο Ιώσηπος, επιπρόσθετα, ισχυρίζεται ότι ο ίδιος όχι μόνο είχε προφητικά όνειρα, αλλά και ότι είχε τη δύναμη να τα ερμηνεύει.[26]

Σύμφωνα με το Ταργκούμ του Jonathan ben Uzziel, ο βασιλιάς της Αιγύπτου την εποχή του Μωυσή είδε ένα όνειρο στο οποίο είδε όλη τη γη της Αιγύπτου να τοποθετείτε σε μια ζυγαριά και από την άλλη τοποθετήθηκε ένα αρνί το οποίο ήταν βαρύτερο από όλη τη γη της Αιγύπτου˙ για το οποίο κάλεσε όλους τους μάγους (harrash) της Αιγύπτου και τους αφηγήθηκε το όνειρό του˙ επί του οποίου ο Ιαννής και ο Ιαμβρής, οι αρχηγοί των μάγων, άνοιξαν το στόμα τους λέγοντας: «Ένα αγόρι πρόκειται να γεννηθεί στη σύναξη του Ισραήλ, μέσω του χεριού του οποίου θα καταστραφεί όλη η γη της Αιγύπτου».[27]

Στο βιβλίο του Τωβίτ, λέγεται ότι ένα πονηρό πνεύμα εξορκίστηκε μέσω του συκωτιού ενός ψαριού.[28]

Στις Πράξεις των Αποστόλων, ο Σίμων ο Μάγος εξασκούσε τη μαγική του τέχνη χρησιμοποιώντας τη δύναμη ονομάτων για να εκδιώξει τα πονηρά πνεύματα.

Ο Κύριος, επίσης, αναφέρθηκε σε τέτοιες πρακτικές μεταξύ των Ιουδαίων της εποχής του όταν είπε: «Αν εγώ εκβάλλω τους δαίμονες μέσω του Βεελζεβούλ, οι γιοι σας μέσω τίνος τους εκβάλλουν;»[29]

Έχουμε καταδείξει λοιπόν, ότι σύμφωνα με την άποψη των Γραφών και των αρχαίων Εβραίων όλων των εποχών, δεν υπήρχε τίποτα το εσφαλμένο ούτε στα όνειρα, ούτε στην ερμηνεία τους˙ και ότι η άποψη των Εβραίων όπως έχει διατηρηθεί στον Ιώσηπο, στο βιβλίο του Τωβίτ, στο Ταργκούμ του Jonathan ben Uzziel, και αλλού, δεν καταδίκαζε τη χρήση επωδών και την πρακτική του εξορκισμού και άλλων παρόμοιων τεχνών.

Τελικά, ερχόμαστε να εξετάσουμε το εάν λέγεται ότι ο Δανιήλ ήταν μέλος οποιασδήποτε τάξης των ερμηνευτών ονείρων οι οποίες αναφέρονται στο βιβλίο του. Πρέπει να επισημανθεί ότι ποτέ δεν ονομάζεται ως hartum, ούτε ως ’ashshaph, αλλά λέγεται ότι ήταν δέκα φορές καλύτερος από όλους αυτούς σε γνώση και σοφία. Ούτε ονομάζεται ως ’asheph, ούτε ως mekashsheph, ούτε ως gazer, ούτε ως kaldu. Το ότι χαρακτηρίζεται ως hakim μπορεί ορθά να εξαχθεί ως συμπέρασμα από το γεγονός ότι τον αναζήτησαν για να τον θανατώσουν, όταν εξεδόθη το διάταγμα που πρόσταζε ότι έπρεπε να θανατωθούν όλοι οι σοφοί˙ αλλά αλλού, πάντοτε ονομάζεται αρχηγός (rab) των σοφών, ή των hartums, ή τριών ή τεσσάρων τάξεων ταυτοχρόνως. Στην πραγματικότητα αποκαλείται αρχηγός όλων των τάξεων, εκτός των mekashshephs, της μόνης κάστας η οποία καταδικαζόταν άμεσα από το νόμο. Μια φορά αποκαλείται ‘άρχοντας και ηγούμενος πάντων των σοφιστών Βαβυλωνίας.’ (Δανιήλ 2:48 – Ό) Αυτή τη φράση θα την εξετάσουμε παρακάτω. Προς το παρόν, ας ρίξουμε μια ματιά στη σημασία της λέξης rab, «αρχηγός», σε σχέση με τα αντικείμενα, ή τα άτομα επί των οποίων τίθεται ο rab. Το μόνο σημείο που πρέπει να συζητήσουμε σε αυτή τη συνάφεια, είναι το εάν ο rab ήταν απαραίτητα της ίδιας τάξης και εάν ασκούσε τις ίδιες τέχνες με αυτούς οι οποίοι ήταν υπό την αρχηγία του. Για τους περισσότερους θα ήταν επαρκές απλώς το να δηλώσουμε ως προφανές γεγονός το οποίο δεν χρειάζεται αποδείξεις, το ότι θα μπορούσε να είναι αρχηγός των hartums και άλλων, χωρίς ο ίδιος να είναι ένας από αυτούς. Αλλά καθώς ορισμένοι έχουν αντεπειχηρηματολογήσει και φαίνεται να πιστεύουν ότι πρέπει και ο ίδιος ο Δανιήλ να ήταν ένας από αυτούς επί τους οποίους είχε τεθεί αρχηγός, θα ήταν καλό να κάνουμε μια παύση και να συζητήσουμε τον ορό rab όπως χρησιμοποιείται.

Στα Αραβικά το rab είναι ο συνηθέστερος τίτλος για το Θεό, απαντώντας στο Κοράνιο ως προσδιορισμός της θεότητας λιγότερα συχνά μόνο από την ίδια τη λέξη Αλλάχ. Είναι ο κύριος όλων των πλασμάτων, όχι διότι είναι σαν αυτά ή από αυτά, αλλά ως δημιουργός τους και διατηρητής και άρχοντας και ιδιοκτήτης. Με παρόμοιο τρόπο ο αρχηγός των σκλάβων δεν είναι σκλάβος, αλλά ο ιδιοκτήτης των σκλάβων, ο dominus. Στα Εβραϊκά το rab σήμαινε αρχηγός, ή κύριος, ή ηγέτης. Έτσι, ο Νεβουζαραδάν ήταν αρχηγός της σωματοφυλακής (Ιερ. 41:10), ο Ασφενάζ ήταν αρχηγός των ευνούχων (Δανιήλ 1:3), ο Ασσουήρης είχε οικονόμους (officers-ASV) του σπιτιού του (Εσθ. 1:8), το πλοίο στο οποίο επέβαινε ο Ιωνάς είχε πλοίαρχο (Ιων. 1:6). Στα Ασσυριο-Βαβυλωνιακά, η λέξη είχε μια πολύ γενικότερη χρήση απ’ ότι στα Αραβικά και στα Εβραϊκά. Υπήρχαν rabs διορισμένοι στους κήπους του βασιλιά, στις μηχανές ποτίσματος, στο θησαυροφυλάκιο, στους στάβλους, στις αυλές, στα ποίμνια, στο σπίτι, στο ναό, στις πόλεις, στους αιχμαλώτους˙ στους κυβερνήτες, στους αρχηγούς (captains), στους τοξότες και στις μονάδες του στρατού˙ στους εμπόρους, στους χτίστες (;), στους μάντεις, στους μάγους και στους εξορκιστές˙ υπήρχε ένας αρχηγός (captain) του βασιλιά, ένας επικεφαλής (chief) των αρχηγών (captains), ή πριγκίπων, του βασιλιά, και ένας rab των γιων του βασιλιά, και ένας επικεφαλής του οίκου του Βαλτάσαρ του γιου του βασιλιά.

Είναι ευδιάκριτο ότι οι ’ashiph, οι mashmash, οι bari (ή μάντεις), και οι zimmeri, ή μάγοι, όλοι τους έχουν επικεφαλή. Θα πρέπει να επισημανθεί περαιτέρω, ότι ένας rab δεν επιτελεί απαραίτητα τα καθήκοντα αυτών επί των οποίων είναι επικεφαλής. Οι στρατιώτες λάβαιναν οδηγίες και διοικούνταν από τον rab τους˙ αλλά αναμφισβήτητα έκαναν πολλές χαμαλοδουλειές από τις οποίες αυτός εξαιρούνταν. Ο rab των γιων του βασιλιά μπορεί να ήταν κατώτερος λόγω γένους, αλλά θα ήταν ο δάσκαλός τους. Κανένας δε μπορεί να θεώρει τον rab περισσότερο υπεύθυνο για τις πράξεις και τις πεποιθήσεις ενός λόγιου, απ’ όσο υπεύθυνο μπορεί να θεωρεί τον Σένεκα για το Νέρο, ή τον Bossuet για τον Louis XV. Ο επικεφαλής (chief) των επικεφαλών (chiefs) του βασιλιά θα ήταν πιθανώς ο υψηλότερος επικεφαλής, ή κύριος, δίπλα στο βασιλιά, σύμφωνα με τον συνήθη Σημιτικό ιδιωματισμό έκφρασης του υπερθετικού βαθμού, δηλαδή την τοποθέτηση ενός ουσιαστικού στον ενικό πριν από το ίδιο ουσιαστικό στον πληθυντικό, όπως στη φράση «βασιλιάς βασιλιάδων και κύριος κυρίων». Από αυτά τα παραδείγματα είναι σαφές ότι ένας rab μπορεί να κατείχε ή μπορεί να μην κατείχε την ίδια γνώση, τάξη, αξιοπρέπεια, ή πρακτική με αυτούς επί των οποίων είχε τεθεί επικεφαλής. Είχαμε υπουργούς του ναυτικού οι οποίοι δεν εκπαιδεύτηκαν στην Annapolis. Η Αγγλία είχε υπουργούς πολέμου οι οποίοι δεν ήταν διακεκριμένοι στρατηγοί. Η Γαλλία είχε υπουργούς θρησκευμάτων οι οποίοι δεν ήταν κληρικοί. Με παρόμοιο τρόπο, το γεγονός ότι ο Δανιήλ διορίστηκε rab των σοφών αντρών, ή των hartums, και άλλων, δεν αποδεικνύει ότι ήταν ένας από αυτούς, ή ότι έκανε ότι έκαναν. Το βιβλίο του Δανιήλ λέει ότι κατείχε δέκα φορές περισσότερη αληθινή γνώση και σοφία απ’ τους ’ashephs και hartums της Βαβυλώνας˙ και ότι έλαβε τη γνώση του ως ερμηνευτής ονείρων από τον Θεό μέσω προσευχής, και όχι μέσω μαντείας ή μαγείας. Ποτέ δεν τον χαρακτηρίζει ως hartum, ή ’ashshaph, ή ’asheph, ή mekashsheph, ή kaldu, ή gazer˙ αλλά ως άντρα που έγινε σοφός μέσω μελέτης, μέσω αποχής και μέσω της εύνοιας του Θεού. Μπορεί να γνώριζε όλα τα μυστήρια των μάντεων της Βαβυλώνας, των ιερέων και των μάγων˙ αλλά δεν υπάρχει καμία απόδειξη στο βιβλίο του Δανιήλ ή οπουδήποτε αλλού, που να καταδεικνύει ότι ο Δανιήλ ασκούσε μαύρη μαγεία, ή ότι ασκούσε τις παγανιστικές μεθόδους μαντείας σε οποιαδήποτε μορφή, ή ότι έγινε μέλος οποιασδήποτε από αυτές τις τάξεις. Λέγεται απλά ότι ήταν ο ανωτέρως αυτών σε γνώση και σοφία και σε δύναμη ερμηνείας ονείρων και οιωνών. Τα μέσα που χρησιμοποιούσε ήταν κατάλληλα, σύμφωνα με τα πρότυπα και τα παραδείγματα των Γραφών.

Ως προς το ότι ήταν rab των Βαβυλώνιων μάγων οποιασδήποτε κάστας, αυτό ήταν διορισμός από το βασιλιά. Τι καθήκοντα ή λειτουργιές περιλαμβάνονταν στη θέση αυτή δε γνωρίζουμε. Ενδέχεται να ήταν απλώς ένας τιμητικός τίτλος, ή παροχή μιας θέσης πρωτοκαθεδρίας σε δικαστικές διαδικασίες και τελετές. To ότι δεν υπονοείται μια μόνιμη θέση με δυσβάστακτα καθήκοντα και συνεχή υπηρεσία, φαίνεται να απορρέει από το γεγονός ότι η βασίλισσα μητέρα έπρεπε να υπενθυμίσει στο Βαλτάσαρ ότι ο Ναβουχοδονόσορ είχε κάποτε κάνει το διορισμό. Έτσι, συμπερασματικά, μπορούμε δικαίως να ισχυριστούμε ότι η υπόθεση εναντίον του συγγραφέα του βιβλίου του Δανιήλ, στη βάση του ότι εμφανίζει τον ήρωά του, παρ’ ότι ευλαβής Εβραίος, να είναι μέλος της τάξης των Βαβυλώνιων σοφών αντίθετα στον Ιουδαϊκό νομό, δεν ευσταθεί. Η κατηγορία δεν έχει αποδειχτεί. Αντιθέτως, η αφήγηση του Δανιήλ έχει αποδειχτεί πλήρως συμβατή με τον εαυτό της και με τις αναγκαίες προϋποθέσεις που επιβάλει ο ιστορικός περίγυρος, προϋποθέτοντας ότι η αφήγηση είναι αρχείο γεγονότων τα οποία συνέβησαν στη Βαβυλώνα τον 6ο π.Χ. αιώνα.


Στη συζήτηση που προηγήθηκε καταδείξαμε ότι οι έξι εικασίες που αναφέρονται στις σελίδες 2 και 3 είναι όλες λανθασμένες και ότι η ένσταση εναντίον της ιστορικότητας του βιβλίου του Δανιήλ στη βάση του ότι ένας ευλαβής Εβραίος δεν μπορούσε να είχε διοριστεί επικεφαλής των παγανιστών σοφών της Βαβυλώνας, ούτε μπορούσε να είχε μυηθεί στις τάξεις τους, δεν υποστηρίζεται από τις αποδείξεις που απορρέουν από τους ίδιους τους Εβραίους, καθώς επίσης και από τα μνημεία, σε σχέση με το ποιος ήταν στην πραγματικότητα ο χαρακτήρας αυτών των σοφών. Έχουμε καταδείξει επιπρόσθετα, ότι η ένσταση, εάν είναι βάσιμη, θα αντιστρατευόταν στις αντιλήψεις των ευλαβών Εβραίων του 2ου π.Χ. αιώνα σε τέτοιο βαθμό, όσο ακριβώς θα αντιστρατευόταν στις αντιλήψεις των ευλαβών Εβραίων του 6ου π.Χ. αιώνα˙ διότι η λογοτεχνική σύλληψη ενός τέτοιου χαρακτήρα και η αποδοχή ενός έργου που βασιζόταν σε μια τέτοιου είδους σύλληψη θα ήταν εναντίον των αντιλήψεων τους σε τέτοιο βαθμό, όσο ακριβώς θα ήταν και η ιστορική ύπαρξη ενός τέτοιου ανθρώπου. Επιπρόσθετα, έχουμε καταδείξει ότι ‘οι συγκεχυμένες αντιλήψεις’ που αφορούν στο Δανιήλ και στις σχέσεις του με τους σοφούς της Βαβυλώνας, καθώς επίσης και στους ίδιους τους σοφούς, χαρακτηρίζουν όχι τόσο τον συγγραφέα του βιβλίου του Δανιήλ, όσο αυτούς που επικρίνουν τις δηλώσεις του βιβλίου που αφορούν στους σοφούς. Και τέλος, έχουμε καταδείξει ότι δεν υπάρχει κανένας λόγος για να πιστέψουμε ότι ο Δανιήλ δεν μπορούσε να είναι και να κάνει όλα όσα το βιβλίο του Δανιήλ λέει ότι ήταν και έκανε, χωρίς οποιαδήποτε παραβίαση του νόμου ή των προφητών, ή παραβίαση των θρησκευτικών αντιλήψεων των Εβραίων οποιασδήποτε δεδομένης χρονικής στιγμής της ιστορίας τους.

[1] Cornill, σελ. 338.

[2] Driver, σελ. 500, h. 24.

[3] Bevan, The Book of Daniel, σελ. 21.

[4] Ο Φαραώ, Γεν. 41:8 και Εξ. 7:11· ο βασιλιάς της Βαβυλώνας, Ιερ. 50:35 και 51:57· o βασιλιάς της Γεβάλ, Ιεζ. 27:9· ο βασιλιάς της Τύρου, Ιεζ. 27:8· ο βασιλιάς Σολομών και ο γιος του Ροβοάμ, 2 Χρ. 2:13· ο Ασσουήρης, Εσθήρ 6:13· και ο Μωυσής και οι γιοι του Ισραήλ, Δευτ. 1:13, Eξ. 28:3 – όλοι τους έχουν τους σοφούς τους. Οι «σοφοί» σχολιάζονται στο Παροιμίες 12:18, 13:20, 24:3.

[5] Η πιο συνηθισμένη από αυτές τις λέξεις είναι πιθανώς το mudu από την ρίζα idu, «γνωρίζω», μια ρίζα συνηθισμένη στα Ασσυριο-Βαβυλωνιακά με Αραμαϊκά και Εβραϊκά. Αυτή η λέξη χρησιμοποιείται σε σχέση με τους θεούς Nebo και Shamash, για τους βασιλιάδες όπως τον Σαργών, τον Σενναχειρείμ και το Ναβουχοδονόσορ· καθώς και για άλλους ανθρώπους, αλλά πάντοτε με καλή έννοια.

Μια άλλη λέξη είναι το imku (ή emku) από μια ρίζα η οποία απαντά επίσης στα Εβραϊκά και σημαίνει «είμαι βαθύς». Οι επιγραφές κάνουν λόγο για τη σοφή καρδιά του Εa· για τους σοφούς πρίγκιπες Ναβονίδη και Nabu–balat,su–ik)bi· για τον Ναβουχοδονόσορ το σοφό (συχνά)· για τους σοφούς αρχιοικοδόμους, κλπ.

Το ershu (ή irshu) από μια ρίζα που σημαίνει «αποφασίζω», χρησιμοποιείται ως τίτλος για τους θεούς Sin και Ea και για βασιλιάδες όπως ο Σενναχειρείμ και ο Ναβουχοδονόσορ. Το itpishu, επίσης, χρησιμοποιείται για τους θεούς Damkina, Nebo και Ninib, και για τους βασιλιάδες Σαργών, Σενναχειρείμ και Ναβουχοδονόσορ.

[6] Το ma’mer από το ρήμα ’amara «δείχνω, γνωρίζω», χρησιμοποιείται συχνά στην Αιθιοπική απόδοση της Παλαιάς Διαθήκης με την έννοια του «μάγου», ως μετάφραση του Ελληνικού γνώστης, Εβραϊκού yidde‘oni και του Ελληνικού στοχαστής, Εβραϊκού k,osem. Αποδίδει επίσης το Ελληνικό χαλδαίοι στο Δανιήλ 2:2 και το γαζαρηνοί στο Δανιήλ 4:3, 5:15. Στις περισσότερες από αυτές τις περιπτώσεις η Αραβική απόδοση χρησιμοποιεί το ’arraf , «μάγος», από το ρήμα ’arafa, «γνωρίζω».

[7] Ένα εξαιρετικά αξιοσημείωτο γεγονός σε σχέση με τις πηγές και τη μετάδοση του κειμένου του βιβλίου του Δανιήλ, όταν αναλογιστούμε ότι αυτές οι λέξεις δεν απαντούν πουθενά αλλού πέρα από τα Ασσυριο-Βαβυλωνιακά, εκτός από το βιβλίο του Δανιήλ. Στην απόδοση του βιβλίου του Δανιήλ στην Πεσίτα, το ’ashuph χρησιμοποιείται για να μεταφράσει τόσο το ’asheph όσο και το ’ashshaph. Το ’ashshaph στα Νέα Εβραικα δεν απαντά πουθενά αλλού εκτός από σχολιολόγια του βιβλίου του Δανιήλ. Δες το λεξικό του Jastrow στο αντίστοιχο λήμμα.

[8] Οι καλύτερες πηγές των πληροφοριών μας είναι ο Tallquist: The Assyrian Incantanation-series Maklu· o Zimmern στο κεφάλαιο με τον πίνακα τελετουργιών των ’ashipu o οποίος βρίσκεται στις σελίδες 122-175 του έργου του με τίτλο: Contributions to the Knowledge of the Babylonian Religion (Beiträge zur Kenntniss, etc.)· το έργο του Dr. Walther Schrank: Babylonian Rites of Purifications, especially in their relation to Priests and Exorcists (Babylonische Sühnriten besonders mit Rücksicht auf Priester und Büsser)· και του King: Babylonian Magic.

[9] Frank, Bab. Beschwörungsreliefs, σελ. 88, 90.

[10] Στο 1:20 και 2:2 στο Εβραϊκό τμήμα και στο 2:10, 27, 4:4, 6, και 5:11 στο Αραμαϊκό τμήμα.

[11] Στα Αραμαϊκά του Ταργκούμ του Ογκέλου, του Σαμαρειτικού Ταργκούμ και της Συριακής Πεσίτα, το hartom αποδίδεται πάντοτε από το harrash, εκτός από το Δανιήλ 5:11 στην απόδοση της Πεσίτα όπου αποδίδεται με τον όρο «σοφοί». Τα Αραβικά της μετάφρασης της Πεντατεύχου από τον Saadya το αποδίδουν με το ulema «σοφοί», εκτός από το Έξοδος 7:11, 22, όπου το αποδίδουν με το sahana «γόης». Τα Αραβικά του βιβλίου του Δανιήλ πάντοτε χρησιμοποιούν το rakka «γόης». Η συνήθης απόδοση στη μετάφραση των Εβδομήκοντα και στον Θεοδοτίονα είναι το «επαοιδός»· παρ’ ότι αποδίδεται με τον όρο «σοφοί» στο Δανιήλ 1:20 και 2:10 στη μετάφραση των Εβδομήκοντα. Η προέλευση και η πρωταρχική σημασία της λέξης είναι τόσο αβέβαιες ώστε είναι αδύνατο να δογματίσουμε περί αυτών. Πιθανώς, η πλειονότητα των λογίων που έχουν εξετάσει το θέμα αποδίδουν την προέλευση της λέξης στο heret «γραφίδα», προσθέτοντας ένα m. H σημασία, κατά συνέπεια, θα είναι γραφέας ή χαράκτης· και ο όρος θα αντιστοιχούσε εννοιολογικά στους Αιγύπτιους ιερούς αντιγράφεις για τους οποίους γίνεται λόγος από τους Έλληνες συγγραφείς.

O Hoffman συγκρίνει αυτή τη λέξη με μια Αραβική λέξη με τα ίδια τέσσερα ριζικά η οποία σημαίνει «μύτη», και η οποία θα καθιστούσε την αρχική σημασία της λέξης να είναι αυτός που έψαλε μέσω της μύτης, εξ ου «ψαλμωδός», «έχοντας τη μύτη στον αέρα». Ο Lane αποδίδει στη λέξη την έννοια «αρχηγός», «επικεφαλής σε υποθέσεις του κράτους και στις στρατιωτικές δυνάμεις». Σχεδόν όλοι παραθέτουν τη γνώμη του Jablonsky και του Rossi ότι μπορεί να είναι Αιγυπτιακή λέξη που σημαίνει «θαυματουργός» ή «φύλακας μυστικών πραγμάτων»· αλλά αυτή η άποψη είναι τόσο τραβηγμένη ώστε είναι υπερβολικά απίθανη. Σύμφωνα με τους κανόνες αλλαγής από Αιγυπτιακά σε Εβραϊκά, θα μπορούσε να προέρχεται από το hr «αρχηγός» και dm «ονομάζω», και θα σήμαινε κατά συνέπεια «αρχηγός των γητευτών» (chief of the spellbinders). [Δες Wilkinson: Ancient Egyptians, i, 168; και το Stories of the High Priests of Memphis του Griffith].

[12] Σύγκρινε τη σπουδαιότητα που αποδίδεται στο όνομα του Σολομών στις Αραβικές Νύχτες.

[13] Δες Shrank: Babylonische Sühnriten, σελ. 20–27· Thompson: The Devils and Evil Spirits in Babylonia and Assyria, passim· Jastrow: Die Religion Babyloniens und Assyriens· και Rogers: The Religion of Babylonian and Assyria, σελ. 146. Σύγκρινε επίσης τις πολυάριθμες περιπτώσεις τέτοιου είδους μαγείας στις Αραβικές Νύχτες.

[14] Στα Εβραϊκά, το ρήμα gazar απαντά στην έννοια «αποφασίζω, διατάσσω» στο Ιώβ 22:28 όπου ο Ελιφάς λέει στον Ιώβ: «Θα αποφασίζεις κάτι, και θα γίνεται για εσένα»· και στο Εσθήρ 2:1 όπου λέγεται ότι ο Ασσουήρης θυμήθηκε την Αστίν και τι είχε αποφασιστεί εναντίον της. Το Ταργκούμ του Ογκέλου το χρησιμοποιεί στο Έξοδος 15:25 για να μεταφράσει το ρήμα «θεσπίζω» στη φράση «να θεσπίσει ένα νομοθέτημα», ως το αντίστοιχο του Εβραϊκού sim «θεσπίζω». Αυτό το απόσπασμα μπορεί να μας χορηγήσει τον εκλιπόντα κρίκο με τον οποίο μπορούμε να συνδέσουμε το Αραμαϊκό gazer με το Βαβυλωνιακό shamu = Εβραϊκό sim. O mushim shimtu είναι «αυτός που θεσπίζει διατάγματα, ή χρησμούς». Μπορούμε να συγκρίνουμε το συνώνυμο του shimtu, δηλαδή το paristu «χρησμός», το οποίο προέρχεται από μια ρίζα που σημαίνει «κόβω, αποφασίζω», όπως ακριβώς το gezira «διάταγμα» στα Αραμαϊκά προέρχεται από τη ρίζα gezar «κόβω, αποφασίζω». Το gazer κατά συνέπεια, θα ήταν η μετάφραση του Βαβυλωνιακού mushim ή paris, και θα μπορούσε να έχει την έννοια ενός ανθρώπου ο οποίος δημιουργούσε ή μετέδιδε στους ανθρώπους τα νομοθετήματα των θεών. Θα μπορούσε να είναι ο γήινος αντιπρόσωπος των ουρανίων mushim του Ea, ή του Bel, και των άλλων μεγάλων θεών οι οποίοι όριζαν τις μοίρες. Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, obv. 5, 14.

Το μέρος της κατοίκησης και της δραστηριότητάς του μπορούσε κάλλιστα να είναι το “Dul–Azag,” «μέρος των μοιρών», «αίθουσα των μοιρών» για το οποίο μιλά ο Ναβουχοδονόσορ (Langdon, xv, Col. 2:54, και Col. 5:12–14) και για το οποίο ο Delitzsch πίστευε ότι ήταν «η γήινη αναπαράσταση του ουράνιου Upshukkinnaku.»

[15] Στα Συριακά το ρήμα χρησιμοποιείται με καλή έννοια, «προσεύχομαι».

[16] Harper, The Code of Hammurabi, τμήμα 2. (Σ.τ.μ. δες και Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, edited by James B. Pritchard, σελίδα 166, Νόμος Νο 2.

[17] Ass. Bab. Briefe Cultischen Inhalts, σελ. 17.

[18] Ishtu pan zigi sharru likashshaph. Δες επίσης Harper, vii, 660, and i, 18, 11, και 25· Behrens, p. 16.

[19] Θα πρέπει επίσης να θυμόμαστε ότι το Εβραϊκό γραμματικό θέμα piel μπορεί να εκφράζει «την αφαίρεση του αντικειμένου που υποδηλώνεται από το ουσιαστικό», π.χ. chitte, «αφαιρώ την αμαρτία»· dishen, «απομακρύνω τις στάχτες»· sheresh, «ξεριζώνω». (Δες Cowley’s Gesenius, §52h.) Αυτή η χρήση απαντά επίσης στα Αραβικά, Αραμαϊκά και Νέα Εβραϊκά (δες Arab. Gram., vol. i, §41 του Wright και Siegfried & Strack’s N. H. Gram). Εάν αποδεχτούμε την επιτακτική στο likashshaph με αυτή την έννοια, θα σήμαινε «είθε ο βασιλιάς να ελευθερωθεί από τη μαγεία». Αυτή η στερητική έννοια μπορεί πιθανώς να απαντά στη φράση ramankunu ina pan ili la tuhattaa στο K. 84, 24, τουτέστιν «ενώπιον του Θεού δε θα απελευθερώσετε τους εαυτούς σας από την αμαρτία»· και επίσης στο dannati «εξάντληση», τουτέστιν «στερημένος δύναμης». (Δες King, Magic, p. 94.)

[20] Αρχαιότητες, I, vii, 2.

[21] Αρχαιότητες, I, vii, 2.

[22] Αρχαιότητες, II, ix. 7.

[23] Όπ.π.

[24] Δηλαδή ψαλμωδίες, όπως αυτές που χρησιμοποιούνταν από τους γόητες της Βαβυλώνας και της Αιγύπτου και από τους Μάγους. Ηρόδοτος, Ι, 132.

[25] Αρχαιότητες, VIII, ii. 5.

[26] Δες Ιστορία των Ιουδαϊκών Πολέμων, III, 3, 9.

[27] Δες Tαργκούμ J. Ben Uzziel στο Eξ. 1: 15.

[28] Δες κεφάλαια 6 και 8.

[29] Ματθ. 12:27.

Robert Dick WilsonStudies in the book of Daniel, σελ. 367-389.

About Lot’s wife / Περί της γυναίκας του Λωτ

If someone is unable to admit this incident as a miracle, there is a more “natural” interpretation. Read the following excerpt:The critic loves to portray the incident of Genesis 19:26 as if the text suggests that by some magical metamorphosis, Lot’s wife underwent an alchemical change and became salt as a punishment. After the discoveries of perfectly preserved human forms at Pompeii and Herculaneum, it is difficult to believe that Critics cannot understand that any individual who dallied as did Lot’s wife, so close to a scene of catastrophic destruction which must have resembled very closely the late of the two Roman cities just mentioned, would be in very real danger of becoming overwhelmed by debris akin to burning volcanic ash, and thus becoming entombed wherever he or she collapsed or slumped against a rock, cliff, or tree. Afterwards, given the environment, such an ash-covered human form could very readily become encrusted with a very heavy deposit of salt. Keill and Delitzsch comment, “We are not to suppose that she [Lot’s wife] was actually turned into [a pillar of salt], but having been killed by the fiery and sulphurous vapour with which the air was filled, and afterwards encrusted with salt, she resembled an actual statue of salt; just as even now, from the saline exhalation of the Dead Sea, objects near it are quickly covered with a crust of salt.”[1]

The authors of the book Volcanoes,[2] make the point that, purely, from an archaeological point of view, burning volcanic ash is the very best type of preservative known to man. Erich Lessing and Antonin Varone in their book Pompeii,[3] cite as an example of the instantaneous ‘freezing’ of the forms adopted by men and women acting in the most desperate of circumstances, a preserved family group, overwhelmed at the instant at which a dying man was attempting to surrender a very small child to a woman, whose arms were fully outstretched in an attempt to receive it. This pathetic and profoundly moving find illustrates perfectly how overwhelming the descent of burning ash may be.

[1] Garrett, Duane, Rethinking Genesis: The Sources and Authorship of the First Book of the Bible, Fearn, Ross-Shire, Cristian Focus Publications, 2000, σελ. 236.

[2] Fisher, Richard, Heiken, Grant & Hulen, Jeffrey, Volcanoes: Crucible Of Change, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1997, Σελ. 247.

[3] Lessing, Erich and Varone, Antonio, Pompeii, Paris, Terrail, 1996, σελ. 14, 15.

Εάν κάποιος αδυνατεί να παραδεχτεί αυτό το περιστατικό ως θαύμα, υπάρχει και πιο «φυσική» ερμηνεία. Διαβάστε το παρακάτω απόσπασμα:Οι κριτικοί λατρεύουν το να παρουσιάζουν το περιστατικό του Γένεσης 19:26 ωσάν το κείμενο να υπονοεί ότι μέσω κάποιας μαγικής μεταμόρφωσης, η γυναίκα του Λωτ υπεβλήθει σε μια αλχημιστική αλλαγή και έγινε αλάτι σαν τιμωρία. Μετά την ανακάλυψη τέλεια διατηρημένων ανθρώπινων μορφών στην Πομπηία και στο Herculaneum, είναι δύσκολο να πιστέψουμε ότι οι Κριτικοί δεν μπορούν να κατανοήσουν το γεγονός ότι οποιοσδήποτε «ερωτοτροπεί», όπως έκανε η γυναίκα του Λωτ, από τόσο κοντά με μια τέτοια μεγάλη καταστροφή η οποία πρέπει να έμοιαζε πάρα πολύ με τη μοίρα των δύο Ρωμαϊκών πόλεων οι οποίες μόλις αναφέρθηκαν, θα βρισκόταν αντιμέτωπος με τον πολύ πραγματικό κίνδυνο να καταπλακωθεί από συντρίμμια που έμοιαζαν με φλεγόμενη ηφαιστειακή στάχτη, και κατά συνέπεια να θάφτει οποτεδήποτε θα κατέρρεε ή θα σκόνταφτε σε μια πέτρα, σε ένα δέντρο, κτλ. Στη συνέχεια, υπό τις συγκεκριμένες συνθήκες του περιβάλλοντος, μια τέτοια καταπλακωμένη ανθρώπινη μορφή πολύ εύκολα θα μπορούσε να καλυφτεί με μια πολύ παχιά κρούστα αλατιού. Ο Keil και ο Delitzsch σχολιάζουν: «Δεν είμαστε υποχρεωμένοι να υποθέσουμε ότι η γυναίκα του Λωτ μεταμορφώθηκε στην πραγματικότητα σε μια στήλη άλατος, αλλά έχοντας θανατωθεί από τις καυτές και θειούχες αναθυμιάσεις με τις οποίες ήταν γεμάτη η ατμόσφαιρα, και στη συνέχεια αφού απέκτησε αυτή την κρούστα από αλάτι, έμοιαζε με ένα πραγματικό άγαλμα από αλάτι· ακριβώς όπως τώρα, λόγω των αλατούχων αναθυμιάσεων της Νεκρής Θάλασσας, αντικείμενα κοντά της γρήγορα επικαλύπτονται με μια κρούστα αλατιού».[1]

Οι συγγραφείς του βιβλίου με τίτλο Volcanoes[2], παρουσιάζουν την άποψη ότι, αμιγώς από την αρχαιολογική σκοπιά, η φλεγόμενη ηφαιστειακή στάχτη είναι το καλύτερο συντηρητικό που είναι γνωστό στον άνθρωπο. Οι Erich Lessing και Antonio Varone στο βιβλίο τους με τίτλο Pompeii,[3] ως παράδειγμα του στιγμιαίου «παγώματος» των μορφών που παίρνουν κάποιοι άνθρωποι κάτω από τις πλέον απελπιστικές καταστάσεις, αναφέρουν μια διατηρημένη οικογένεια, η οποία καταπλακώθηκε τη στιγμή που ο ετοιμοθάνατος άντρας προσπαθούσε να δώσει ένα πολύ μικρό παιδί σε μια γυναίκα, της οποίας τα χέρια βρίσκονταν σε πλήρη έκταση καθώς προσπαθούσε να το πιάσει. Αυτό το θλιβερό και βαθύτατα συγκινητικό εύρημα απεικονίζει με τέλειο τρόπο το ποσό ξαφνικά σαρωτική μπορεί να είναι η κάθοδος της ηφαιστειακής σταχτής.

[1] Garrett, Duane, Rethinking Genesis: The Sources and Authorship of the First Book of the Bible, Fearn, Ross-Shire, Cristian Focus Publications, 2000, σελ. 236.

[2] Fisher, Richard, Heiken, Grant & Hulen, Jeffrey, Volcanoes: Crucible Of Change, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1997, Σελ. 247.

[3] Lessing, Erich and Varone, Antonio, Pompeii, Paris, Terrail, 1996, σελ. 14, 15.

M. W. J. Phelan,  The Inspiration of the Pentateuch or The Graf-Wellhausen Fallacy, σελ. 283, 284.

Είναι ο Θεός της Παλιάς Διαθήκης διαφορετικός από τον Θεό της Καινής Διαθήκης; / Is the God of the Old Testament different from the God of the New Testament?

Does not the Old Testament present a different God (cruel and revengeful) from the New Testament (God full of love)?

God full of love in the
Old Testament

Deuteronomy 7:8

Psalms 103:13, 17

Psalms 136

Jeremiah 31:3

Micah 7:18

Joel 2:13

God full of love in the
New Testament

John 3:16

Romans 8:31-38

1 John 4:8

The Old Testament teaches to love your “neighbor”

Exodus 23:4f

Proverbs 25:21

1 Samuel 24:6, 7

2 Kings 6:22

Revengeful God in the New Testament

John 3:36

Romans 1:18

Romans 2:5, 6

2 Thessalonians 1:6-9

Revelation 6:15-17

Revelation 14:9-11

The personality of God is the same from the begging of the Old Testament to the end of the New Testament.


Δεν παρουσιάζει η Παλαιά Διαθήκη ένα διαφορετικό Θεό (σκληρός και εκδικητικός) από την Καινή Διαθήκη (Θεός αγάπης);

Θεός αγάπης στην Παλαιά Διαθήκη

Δευτερονόμιο 7:8

Ψαλμός 103:13, 17

Ψαλμός 136

Ιερεμίας 31:3

Μιχαίας 7:18

Ιωήλ 2:13

Θεός αγάπης στην Καινή Διαθήκη

Ιωάννης 3:16

Ρωμαίους 8:31-38

1 Ιωάννη 4:8

Η Π.Δ. διδάσκει την αγάπη προς τον πλησίον

Έξοδος 23:4f

Παροιμίες 25:21

1 Σαμ. 24:6, 7

2 Βασ. 6:22

Θεός τιμωρός στην Καινή Διαθήκη

Ιωάννης 3:36

Ρωμαίους 1:18

Ρωμαίους 2:5, 6

2 Θεσσαλονικείς 1:6-9

Αποκάλυψη 6:15-17

Αποκάλυψη 14:9-11

Η προσωπικότητα του Θεού είναι συνεπής από την αρχή της Παλαιάς Διαθήκης έως το τέλος της Καινής Διαθήκης.

Το παράδοξο της χαράς του Χριστού /The paradox of the joy of Christ

When we come to the public ministry of the last days of our Lord we are face to face with a most astonishing fact, namely that it was in the last twenty-four hours of Jesus’ life on earth, that He spoke more frequently both of peace and joy than He did in all the rest of His three years of preaching and teaching combined, as far as the records inform us. It was on this last night that Jesus Himself was betrayed by Judas, He was denied by Peter, He was hated by the world, He was rejected by His own brethren, He was mistreated by the soldiers, He was about to suffer every indignity physical and mental. He knew within twenty-four hours He would be nailed to a cross, He was Him­self in such agony that He shed as it were drops of blood and cried out that His own soul was exceeding sorrowful even unto death. And yet it was in this very twenty-four hour period, which in many ways may be called the darkest night in human history, that Jesus spoke exclusively of His own joy. I do not find Him speaking of His own joy in any other passage in the New Testament. Let us recall his words: “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” “And ye therefore now have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no one taketh away from you . . . Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be made full.” “But now I come to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy made full in themselves.”[1] At the same time our Lord continually referred to His own peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fear­ful.” “These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”[2] After He was raised from the dead it was this peace that He so desired His disciples to possess. “When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had said this, he showed unto them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord. Jesus therefore said to them again, Peace be unto you: as the Father hath sent me, even so send I you . . . And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.”[3] What gave our Lord this peace and joy? I think the same thing that gives us peace and joy. Paul says we have these two precious things in believ­ing. Christ as a Man had them likewise in believing, in the things He knew, in the things He was sure of, in His knowledge of His father, of Himself, His work and of the future.

[1] Ιωά. 15:11· 16:22-24· 17:13.

[2] Ιωά. 14:27· 16:33

[3] Ιωά. 20:19-21, 26.

Wilbur Smith, Therefore Stand, σελ. 470, 471.

Ο Δανιήλ και οι 3 φίλοι του / Daniel and his 3 friends

According to Professor William Shea from Andrews University a Babylonian inscription may record the actual names of Daniel’s three friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Daniel 1:6-7 states the following:

DA 1:6 Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.

DA 1:7 Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach and to Azariah Abednego. Daniel 1:6-7 (NASB)

The Istanbul Prism of Nebuchadnezzar is a clay prism found in Babylon, housed in the Istanbul museum, which gives a list of men and their titles. Three men listed on the prism have pronunciations, which are very similar to the names of Daniel’s three friends. Whether or not they are the actual men mentioned in the bible is uncertain.

Found on the list is the name Arbenebo, Official of the Royal Prince. This name is the equivalent to the Aramaic name Abednego and may in fact be the first mention of one of Daniel’s friends found outside of the Bible.

Another name found on the list is Hannunu, Commander of the king’s merchants. The name Hannunu may be the Babylonian equivalent for the Hebrew name Hananiah.

Another name found on the list is Meshaku, Official to Nebuchadnezzar. Meshaku is very similar in pronunciation to Meshach.

Each of these men held an administrative position in Babylon just as Daniel 2:49 states.

Bible Believer’s Archaeology Volume 1, σελ. 102.

What are the implications of the reality of Christ’s Resurrection / Τι συνεπάγεται η πραγματικότητα της Ανάστασης του Κυρίου Ιησού Χριστού;

The Testimony of Christ’s Resurrection to the Truthfulness of His Previous Utterances.

One cannot speak to many audiences concerning the Resurrection of Christ without realizing that, before the message is finished, some will be asking, “Well, if it is true that Christ rose from the dead, what is the practical result of that historical event for us today?” I think there are at least four things which we should always remember that the Resurrection guarantees to us. The first is one which is rarely discussed in works dealing with this subject, namely the truthfulness, the dependability of all of Christ’s utterances. If our Lord said, frequently, with great definiteness and detail, that after He went up to Jerusalem He would be put to death, but on the third day He would rise again from the grave, and this prediction came to pass, then it has always seemed to me that everything else that our Lord ever said must also be true. If the words concerning His Resurrection were true, then when He said that His precious blood was to be shed for the remission of sins, that is true also. When He said that He came down from the Father above, that the words He spoke the Father had given Him, that He and the Father were one, that He was indeed the Son of God, He was speaking the truth. When our Lord said that whoever would believe on Him would have everlasting life, and whoever refused to believe on Him would be eternally condemned, He spoke the truth. That empty tomb, and the fact of the risen Lord, should assure us forever that when the Lord said He was going to prepare a place for us, that He would come again and receive us to Himself, and also that when the dead heard the voice of the Son of God, they would come forth from their graves, and that He will, Himself, be the Judge of all mankind, He was speaking the truth. There are many difficult things in the New Testament, there are many difficult and profound things in the Gospels, but whether we fully understand every phrase in the Gospels or not, and I am frank to say that I do not, I at least believe that what Christ said was true. We can never accept the Resurrection of Christ, and have any doubt about the truthfulness of any utterance that ever proceeded from His lips.

Wilbur Smith, Therefore Stand, σελ. 418, 419.

Πόσο θεμελιώδες ήταν το δόγμα της Ανάστασης για τον απ. Παύλο; / How fundamental is the belief in Resurrection for apostle Paul?

In the Athenian address, as we have previously noticed, two great schools of philosophy are particularly noted, the Stoic and the Epicurean. Now the Stoics were fatalists, and also pantheists; they believed that all the troubles in life came from the body, and that the chief end of life was to subdue every bodily appetite and desire, to live as reasonably and sanely as possible, until the hour of death should arrive, when the troubles of this life would be over, because the body had been left behind Some of the Stoics even went so far as to recommend suicide, so that the soul might escape the body. The Epicureans, on the other hand, “with their thorough-going atomistic materialism would not allow that the soul had any existence apart from the body; on the contrary, they held that the soul came into being at the moment of conception, grew with the body, and at the body’s death was once more dissolved into the atoms from which it first was formed.”

All the best thought of the Greeks and Romans then, agreed in this, that a resurrection of the body was never to be expected and not to be desired. Recognizing then that the resurrection of men would be ridiculous, illogical, and unbelievable to the Greeks of Athens, one might well ask, “Why then should Paul refer to it as he addressed these philosophers concerning the Lord Jesus Christ?” I think that Canon Sparrow-Simpson has given the one true, acceptable answer: “The introduction of such a doctrine into circumstances eminently unfavourable, might seem to be a failure of that insight and versatility with which we know the apostle was usually endowed to a most exceptional degree. His deliberate selection in this instance of a theme unfavourable to his design surely illustrates remarkably his sense of its fundamental character. It could not, consistently with faithfulness to his message, be possibly left out. Bearing in mind what he said about the Resurrection of Christ in 1 Cor. 15, we can well understand why he taught it even in Athens. The fact was that S. Paul had no message without it. He had nothing else to teach. He founded Christianity upon it.”

Wilbur Smith, Therefore Stand, σελ. 417, 418.

Το στοιχείο που συνηγορεί υπέρ της πραγματικότητας της εμφάνισης του Κυρίου Ιησού Χριστού στο Σαύλο / About the actuality of Christ’s appearance to Saul

The late Professor Doremus A. Hayes, in a volume which is exceptionally helpful, The Resurrection Fact, well reminds us of a number of important details concerning the actuality of this appearance: “It was a veritable appearance of the Resurrected One, but it was different in one respect at least from all which had preceded it. Those appearances had been to believers, disciples, and friends only. This appearance was to the most active enemy the Christian church had. Stephen saw the Risen One when he was filled with the Spirit. Saul had been filled with nothing but hate for this impostor and His cause. He was in no psychological condition for apocalyptical revelation. He was at the farthest remove from the possibility of an ecstatic vision. Nothing but a sudden, unexpected, objective, irresistible revelation of the Resurrected One Himself in the majesty of His divine power could convince and convert a man like Saul. It was such an appearance which was given him.

Wilbur Smith, Therefore Stand, σελ.413.

Περί της ιστορικότητας του βιβλίου της Εσθήρ / About the historicity of the book of Esther

Αποδείξεις από την ιστορία και την αρχαιολογία.

Ιστορικά και αρχαιολογικά ευρήματα έχουν επιβεβαιώσει και αυτά την αυθεντικότητα του βιβλίου της Εσθήρ. Λίγα μόνο παραδείγματα αρκούν. Η περιγραφή του τρόπου με τον οποίο τιμούσαν οι Πέρσες κάποιον είναι αυθεντική. (Εσθ 6:8) Το λευκό και το μπλε (ή το ιώδες) ήταν τα βασιλικά περσικά χρώματα. Στο εδάφιο Εσθήρ 8:15 διαβάζουμε ότι ο Μαροδοχαίος φορούσε «βασιλική ενδυμασία από μπλε και λινό ύφασμα» και πορφυροκόκκινο μανδύα.

Η Εσθήρ «στάθηκε στην εσωτερική αυλή της κατοικίας του βασιλιά απέναντι από την κατοικία του βασιλιά, ενώ ο βασιλιάς καθόταν στο βασιλικό του θρόνο μέσα στη βασιλική κατοικία απέναντι από την είσοδο της κατοικίας. Και μόλις ο βασιλιάς είδε την Εσθήρ τη βασίλισσα να στέκεται στην αυλή, αυτή κέρδισε εύνοια στα μάτια του». (Εσθ 5:1, 2) Οι ανασκαφές έχουν αποκαλύψει ότι η περιγραφή είναι ακριβής σε όλες τις λεπτομέρειες. Ένας διάδρομος οδηγούσε από την Κατοικία των Γυναικών προς την εσωτερική αυλή, και παραπλεύρως της αυλής απέναντι από το διάδρομο ήταν η αίθουσα του θρόνου στο ανάκτορο. Ο θρόνος ήταν τοποθετημένος στη μέση του απέναντι τοίχου, και από αυτή την πλεονεκτική θέση ο βασιλιάς μπορούσε να δει πέρα από το παραπέτασμα που μεσολαβούσε και έτσι να διακρίνει τη βασίλισσα που περίμενε ακρόαση. Και άλλες λεπτομέρειες στο βιβλίο δείχνουν καλή γνώση του ανακτόρου από μέρους του συγγραφέα. Είναι φανερό ότι οι όποιες αντιρρήσεις προβάλλονται σε βάρος του βιβλίου, με τον ισχυρισμό ότι στερείται ιστορικότητας και ακρίβειας όσον αφορά την περσική εθιμοτυπία, είναι αβάσιμες.

Ισχυρότατη απόδειξη για την αυθεντικότητα του βιβλίου αποτελεί η Γιορτή των Πουρίμ* ή αλλιώς Κλήρων, η οποία τηρείται από τους Εβραίους μέχρι σήμερα και κατά την οποία διαβάζεται στις συναγωγές τους ολόκληρο το βιβλίο. Μια σφηνοειδής επιγραφή, προφανώς από τη Βορσίππα, λέγεται ότι αναφέρεται σε έναν Πέρση αξιωματούχο ονόματι Mardukâ (Μαροδοχαίος;) ο οποίος βρισκόταν στα Σούσα προς το τέλος της βασιλείας του Δαρείου Α΄ ή στην αρχή της βασιλείας του Ξέρξη Α΄. Περιοδικό για την Επιστημονική Γνώση της Παλαιάς Διαθήκης (Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft), 1940/41, Τόμ. 58, σ. 243, 244· 1942/43, Τόμ. 59, σ. 219.

Important evidence for the refutation of the mythological and fictional interpretations of Esther was supplied several years ago by the surprising announcement that an undated cuneiform text had been discovered there was a reference to a certain Mordecai (Mardukâ), who had lived during the Persian period. This man apparently was a high official in the royal court at Susa during the reign of Xerxes I, and he possibly functioned in this capacity even prior to the third year of the rule of that king. There is also the additional possibility that this individual may even have served in some capacity under Darius I (522-486 B.C.), the predecessor of Xerxes I. This text goes far towards establishing the historicity of the book of Esther, and gives ground for the expectation that further discoveries may yet throw light upon the identity of Vashti and Amestris.

Even those who would dismiss the composition as being nothing more than an historical novel, assuming, of course, that historical novels as such were being written in the Persian or early Greek periods, have been compelled to concede that the author manifested an intimate knowledge of the royal palace of Shushan (Susa).

…Clearly the author of Esther had more than a passing acquaintance with the topography of Susa as one of the three royal cities of the Achaemenid regime.

From the foregoing discussion it wiil be evident that there are good reasons for crediting the book with a substantial historical nucleus… As against those who would dismiss work as a tissue of improbabilities the remarks of Anderson are timely:

Historians and archaeologists have already confirmed the fact that the author possessed an amazingly accurate knowledge of Persian palaces and manners. Further light on this dark period of Jewish history may reveal that the author’s claim for the historicity of his story is not totally erroneous. R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, σελ. 1097, 1098.

* (εδ. 3:7 & 9:24. Το ότι η χρήση της λέξης pur σε αυτή ακριβώς τη συνάφεια είναι αρχαιότατου χαρακτήρα, καταδείχτηκε από τον Albright, o οποίος κατέστησε σαφές από σφηνοειδείς πηγές ότι απ’ τον 19ο π.Χ. αιώνα ακόμη η λέξη puruum απαντάται σε Ασσυριακά κείμενα με την έννοια του «κλήρου» ή του «ζαριού». R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, σελ. 1095)

Το πρόβλημα του βιβλίου του Ιωνά / The problem of the book of Jonah

­The Problem of the Book of Jonah

 by G. Ch. Aalders.


I. The Miraculous Event

 Many people consider that the problem of the book of Jonah consists chiefly in the miraculousness of its contents. How could a man be swallowed by a whale and vomited out alive upon the dry land after three days and nights? How could an entire heathen city like Nineveh, including their king, become repentant upon the preaching of a Hebrew prophet? How could a gourd come up in a night, and perish in a night?

Indeed, there has repeatedly been keen discussion on these points, in particular with respect to the whale story. On the one hand, this has been adduced by sceptical impiety as conclusive proof of the untrustworthiness of the Bible. People have scoffed at it as being ridiculous. The whale has such a narrow gullet that only a small fish like a herring is able to pass through, and how could a full-grown man make his passage?

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Μεθοδολογία στη μελέτη των μυστηριακών θρησκειών και της πρώιμης χριστιανοσύνης / Methodology in the study of the mystery religions and early Christianity

Methodology in the study of the
mystery religions and early Christianity

(Historical and literary studies,
pagan, Jewish and Christian, 1968)

By Bruce M. Metzger

From the days of the Renaissance and Reformation to the present, the Mystery Religions of antiquity have engaged the attention of classical scholars and theologians alike.[1] During what may be called the precritical stage of the study of this subject, it was commonly believed that by the Mysteries a constant succession of priests or hierophants transmitted from age to age an esoteric doctrine, better and nobler than that of the popular religion.[2] Whether this recondite (δυσνόητος, μυστηριώδης) science had been derived originally from the hidden wisdom of India or Egypt, or from the Old Testament, or even from a primitive revelation to all mankind, was debated with characteristic disregard for historical methodology.   

The first scholar who made an exhaustive and critical examination of the statements of ancient authors regarding the Mysteries was Christian August Lobeck.[3] Although Lobeck confined his attention to the Eleusinian, the Orphic, and the Samothracian Mysteries, his monograph, published in 1829, was of the greatest importance in the inauguration of a new era in the scientific study of the subject in general. A great deal of rubbish and pseudo-learning was swept aside, and it became possible to discuss intelligently the rites and teachings of the Mysteries.[4]

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Τι σχέση έχει ο ιωάννειος «Λόγος» με το «Λόγο» της ελληνικής φιλοσοφίας; / Johannine Logos compared with Greek philosophy Logos

The ‘Logos’ occurs in the earliest period of Greek philosophy in Heraclitus, and then especially in Stoicism. Here it is the cosmic law which rules the universe and at the same time is present in the human intellect. It is thus an abstraction, not a hypostasis. Therefore, although the Stoics too, spoke of the Logos, and although they too could say that the Logos was ‘in the beginning’, nevertheless, with their impersonal, pantheistic World Soul they meant something quite different from the Johannine Logos. Platonism also uses the concept. Its view of the ‘real’ being (in the Platonic, idealistic sense, of course) may come nearer the Johannine view, but it still has nothing to do with a hypostasis, and the idea of the Logos’ ‘becoming flesh’ is quite unthinkable for the Platonist. We must guard against being led by the terminological analogy to read into Greek philosophy the late Jewish or Johannine understanding of the Logos. Even Augustine knew that the complete entrance of the Logos into history and humanity is utterly foreign to Platonism, although formal similarities did lead him to remark that with somewhat different expressions the Platonic books say the same thing about the original Logos that John teaches in his Gospel (Confessions, 7.9). Actually, of course, the similarity between the two is more one of terminology than of content itself.

Οscar Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, σελ. 251, 252.

Συνεπαγόταν ο χριστολογικός τίτλος «Κύριος» οντολογική ταύτιση με τον Θεό για τους πρώτους χριστιανούς; / Did the Christological title “Lord” mean an ontological identification with God for early Christianity?

We have already seen that on the basis of the Kyrios title, the first Christians could apply all statements about God also to Jesus. We would oversimplify the problem, however, and fall into a heresy condemned by the ancient Church if we were to attribute to the New Testament a complete identification between God the Father and Jesus the Kyrios, and maintain that the faith of early Christianity made no distinction at all between the two. The ancient two-part confession in I Cor. 8.6, to which we have already referred in another context, indicates that the early Church by no means forgot the distinction—not even when Christ was recognized as the mediator of creation: ‘. . . for us there is one God, the Father, from (εξ) whom are all things and for (εις) whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through (διά) whom are all things and through whom we exist.’ The use of prepositions makes clear the distinction: εξ and εις with reference to God; διά with reference to Christ. We shall seek in vain for a more precise definition of the original relationship between God the Father and Christ the Kyrios.

Even with the titles ‘Logos’ and ‘Son of God’ we approach a closer definition of this relationship only in so far as they refer directly to the pre-existence of Jesus, his being ‘in the beginning’. But we shall see that these names too do not indicate unity in essence or nature between God and Christ, but rather a unity in the work of revelation, in the function of the pre-existent one. As we have seen, this is also the meaning of the transfer of the divine Kyrios name to Jesus. God and the exalted Jesus are one with regard to world dominion, which is one aspect of God’s self-revelation. It is true that Kyrios has to do primarily with the divine rule of Jesus in the present phase of Heilsgeschichte. But I Cor. 8.6 and Heb. 1.10 ff., for instance, extend the scope of this tide to include also Jesus’ original function as mediator of creation.

We do hear concerning the Logos that ‘In the beginning was the Word . . . the Word was with God, was God.’ But, almost as if the writer of the prologue of John feared further ontological speculation, he moves immediately from being to the act of revelation: ‘All things were made through him… and the Word became flesh.’ The situation is similar with the Son of God concept. Looking at the end rather than at the beginning of time, Paul leads us in I Cor. 15.28 to the very threshold of a complete eschatological absorption of the Son in the Father: ‘When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be all in all.’

It is possible to speak of the Son only in connection with the revelation of God, but in principle at least one can speak of God also apart from revelation. But the New Testament is interested only in revelation. This is the source of the New Testament paradox that the Father and Son are at once one and yet distinct—a paradox which the later Christian theologians could not explain because they attempted to do so by speculative philosophical means.

Οscar Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, σελ. 247, 248.

Αρχαιολογική επιβεβαίωση της στρατιωτικής εκστρατείας του Σισάκ εναντίον του Ισραήλ / Archaeological verification of the military campaign of Shishak against Israel


Ανάγλυφη απεικόνιση του θριάμβου του Φαραώ Σισάκ

Του Kenneth A. Kitchen

In the previous sidebar, I quote the reference in 1 Kings to Pharaoh Shishak’s attack on Jerusalem shortly after Solomon’s death. A similar passage can be found in Chronicles:

 “Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem in the fifth year of king Rehoboam. With 1200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen and the innumerable troops of Libyans, Sukkites and Cushites that came with him from Egypt, he captured the fortified cities of Judah and came as far as Jerusalem” ( 2 Chronicles 12:2–4 ).

 Unfortunately, no single Egyptian document gives us a narrative equivalent to that found in Kings and Chronicles. At the Karnak temple of the god Amun in Thebes, however, Shishak (Shoshenq I) left a vast triumphal relief—possibly unfinished—to celebrate his military campaign that brought to Egypt loot from Solomon’s Temple. The Amun temple relief lists many towns in Palestine and gives both more and less information about this Egyptian military campaign than do the Biblical accounts. Damage to several sections of the hieroglyphic list regrettably robs us of the mention of a number of place-names, particularly in Judah, while, on the other hand, the list includes many places in Israel, showing that Shishak also brought Jeroboam, king of Israel, to heel, a point that did not interest the Jerusalem-based Biblical annalists.

The relief includes rows of heads with hieroglyph-fitted ovals for bodies which name many places in Judah and Israel. A drawing (above) and a photo (below) show details of Shoshenq’s relief. The four ovals in the photo detail appear just below and to the left of Shoshenq’s right foot (see tinted area in drawing). These four ovals contain the names of three places in the Negev: The one on the right reads ’irhrr, which may be Jehallel, mentioned in 1 Chronicles 4:16 ; the two in the middle read p.qr ’ibrm “Fort of Abram” (?); and the one at left reads šbrt , “Shibboleth,” which means stream. No narrative, however, accompanies this hieroglyphic list.

 One smashed stela from Karnak does preserve a few phrases about the start of Shishak’s campaign:

“Now, My Majesty found that [ … they] were killing [ … ] army-leaders. His Majesty was upset about them … [His Majesty went forth,] his chariotry accompanying him without (the enemy’s) knowing it. His Majesty made great slaughter among them, … at the edge of the Bitter Lakes.” A contemporary, Hori, had been a “real royal scribe, [following] the king at his incursions into the foreign lands of Retenu [i.e., Palestine]”.

 Finally, physical proof of the presence of Shishak in Palestine is afforded by the corner- fragment of a once great stela found at Megiddo in Israel. Excavators of Megiddo in the 1920s and ’30s unearthed a 15-inch-long stone fragment with carved cartouches * of the king. The fragment dates to about 925 B.C. Seen clearly in the drawing, Shishak’s cartouches read:

Hedj-kheper-Re “Bright is the form of (the sun-god) Re” “Amun’s beloved, Shoshenq (I).”

­Απόσπασμα από το Does the Bible Exaggerate King Solomon’s Golden Wealth?, BAR 15:03 (May/June 1989). Biblical Archaeology Society.

Θυσίασε πράγματι ο Ιεφθάε την κόρη του; Μια ανάλυση του Κριτές 11:31 / Did Jephthah really sacrifice his daughter? An analysis of Judges 11:31

Υπάρχουν ορισμένοι άνθρωποι, οι οποίοι ισχυρίζονται ότι ο Ιεφθάε πρόσφερε την κόρη του ως ανθρωποθυσία στον Θεό. Κατά συνέπεια, κατηγορούν τον Θεό ως τέρας, έναν αιμοβόρο Θεό που αντλεί ηδονή από τον πόνο, το αίμα και το θάνατο. Για παράδειγμα, ο καθηγητής Richard Dawkins στο βιβλίο του The God Delusion (σελ. 243) γράφει:

In Judges, chapter 11, the military leader Jephthah made a bargain with God that, if God would guarantee Jephthah’s victory over the Ammonites, Jephthah would, without fail, sacrifice as a burnt offering ‘whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return’. Jephthah did indeed defeat the Ammonites (‘with a very great slaughter’, as is par for the course in the book of Judges) and he returned home victorious. Not surprisingly, his daughter, his only child, came out of the house to greet him (with timbrels and dances) and – alas – she was the first living thing to do so. Understandably Jephthah rent his clothes, but there was nothing he could do about it. God was obviously looking forward to the promised burnt offering, and in the circumstances the daughter very decently agreed to be sacrificed. She asked only that she should be allowed to go into the mountains for two months to bewail her virginity. At the end of this time she meekly returned, and Jephthah cooked her. God did not see fit to intervene on this occasion.

Είναι τα πράγματα όντως έτσι; Σας παρακαλώ διαβάστε την παρακάτω ανάλυση του καθηγητή E. W. Bullinger.

 Jephthah is introduced to us under the same title as Gideon, «a mighty man of valour» (Judges 11:1). Again, we have not to consider his history as a man, but his faith, which was of God. 

He was one who feared Jehovah. In his earliest words he calls Jehovah to witness; and he afterwards went and “uttered all his words before Jehovah, in Mizpeh” (v. 11)

His message to the king of Ammon (vv. 14-27) shows that he was well versed in the history of His people, as recorded in “the book of the Law”. He must have studied it closely and to some purpose; for he not only knew the historical events as facts, but he recognized them as being ordered by Jehovah.

He traced all to Jehovah. It was He Who had “delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel” (v.21). It was Jehovah, God of Israel, who had disposed the Amorites before His people (v.23). What Jephthah and Israel would now posses was what God had given to them (v. 24). And it was Jehovah, the Judge, Whom he called on to judge between Israel and Ammon (v. 27).

Jephthah had heard the words of Jehovah as written down in the Scriptures of truth; and he believed them.

This is exactly an instance of what the Apostle refers to in Hebrews xi. He, too, knew the history which Jephthah believed, and the faith which conquered through God. This it is that gives Jephthah his place in this great “cloud of witnesses.”

When he had thus called on God to judge, we read: “Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah,” and we again note the words which this describe the action of the Holy Spirit in that dispensation (v.29).

In the power of that Holy spirit, Jephthah undertook the war with Ammon, and Jehovah crowned his faith by delivering the Ammonites into his hand (v.32).

This is the exceedingly simple account of Jephthah’s overcoming faith; and there is little to be added to it. He had simply read what Jehovah had done; and thus heard what He had said. He believed what he had thus read and heard, and this is quite sufficient to cause him to be placed among the “elders who received a good report” on account of their faith.

But in the case of Jephthah, as in no other, we feel compelled to go out of our way to vindicate (απαλλάσσω) him from what we shall show to be the unjust judgement of men.

His God-wrought faith must not be tarnished (αμαυρώνω) without the sure and certain warrant of the word of God itself.

Like Moses, Jephthah “spake unadvisedly with his lips,” but this does not touch his faith in what he had heard from God; his vow was made according to his zeal, but not according to knowledge. That he would sacrifice his daughter, and that God would not reprobate (αποδοκιμάζω) by one word of disapproval a human sacrifice is a theory incredible. It is only a human interpretation, on which Theologians have differed in all ages, and which has been reached without a careful examination of the text.

It is important to remember that the ancient Jewish Commentator Rabbi David Kimchi (1160-1232) renders the words of the vow (Judges 11:31) very differently from the A.V (editor’s note: A.V. = Authorised version, KJV) and R.V. (editor’s note: R.V. = Revised version), and he tells us that his father Rabbi Joseph Kimchi (died 1180) held the same view. Both father and son, together with Rabi Levi ben Gerson (born 1288), all of them among the most eminent of Hebrew grammarians and commentators, who ought to know better than any Gentile commentator, gave their unqualified approval to the rendering of the words of the vow which, instead of making it relate to one object, translate and interpret it as consisting of two distinct parts.

This is done by observing the well known rule that the connective particle ו (vau, our English v) is often used as a disjunctive, (διαζευκτικό) and means “or”, when there is a second proposition. Indeed this rendering is suggested in the margin of the A.V.

The following passages may be consulted:

Genesis 41:44

“Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand OR foot in all the land of Egypt.”

Exodus 20:4

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, OR any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, OR that is in the earth beneath, OR that is in the water under the earth”

Exodus 21:15

“He that smiteth his father, OR his mother, shall be surely put to death.”

Exodus 21:17

“He that curseth his father, OR his mother, shall surely be put to death.”

Exodus 21:18

“if men strive together, and one smite another with a stone, OR with his fist, and he die not, but keepeth his bed”

Numbers 16:14

“Moreover thou hast not brought us into a land that floweth with milk and honey, OR given us inheritance of fields and vineyards: wilt thou put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up.”

Numbers 22:26

“And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand OR to the left.”

Deuteronomy 3:24

“what God is there in heaven OR in earth.”

2 Samuel 3:29

“Let it rest on the head of Joab, and on all his father’s house; and let there not fail from the house of Joab one that hath an issue, OR that is a leper, OR that leaneth on a staff, OR that falleth on the sword, OR that lacketh bread.”

1 Kings 18:10

“there is no nation OR kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee.”

1 Kings 18:27

“And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, OR he is pursuing, OR he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.”

With a negative, the rendering “NOR” is equally correct and conclusive:

Exodus 20:17

“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, NOR his manservant, NOR his maidservant, NOR his ox, NOR his ass, NOR any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”

Deuteronomy 7:25

The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver OR gold that is on them, NOR take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the LORD thy God.”

2 Samuel 1:21

“neither let there be rain, upon you, NOR fields of offerings”

Psalms 26:9

“Gather not my soul with sinners, NOR my life with bloody men:”

Proverbs 6:4

Give not sleep to thine eyes, NOR slumber to thine eyelids.”

Proverbs 30:3

“I neither learned wisdom, NOR have the knowledge of the holy.”

We are now in a position to read and understand the word of Jephthah’s vow, where we have the same word, or rather the letter which represents it, in Hebrew.

“Jephthah vowed a vow (i.e., made a solemn vow) unto Jehovah,” which he had a perfect right to do. Such a vow was provided for in the Law which prescribed exactly what was to be done in such cases; and even when the vow affected a person (as it did here) that person could be redeemed if it were so desired. See Lev. 27 where in verses 1-8 it affected “persons,” and verses 9-13 it affects “beasts”; and verses 14-15 a house.

It thus seems clear that Jephthah’s vow consisted of two parts; one alternative to the other. He would either dedicate it to Jehovah (according to Lev. 27), or, if unsuitable for this, he would offer it as a burnt offering.

It should be noted also that, when he said “whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me,” the word “whatsoever” is Masculine. But the issuer from his house was Feminine, and therefore could not come, properly, within the sphere of his vow certainly not according to the literal meaning of his words.

In any case, it should have been unlawful, and repugnant to Jehovah, to offer a human being to Him as a burnt-offering, for His acceptance.

Such offerings were common to heathen nations at that time, but it is noteworthy that Israel stands out among them with this great peculiarity, that human sacrifices were unknown in Israel.

It is recorded that Jephthah “did with her according to his vow which he had vowed, and she knew no man” (v. 39). What has this to do with a burnt offering, one way or the other? But it has everything to do with the former part of his vow, in dedicating her to Jehovah. This seems to be conclusive. It has nothing to do with a sacrificial death, but it has to do with a dedicated life. She was dedicated to a perpetual (συνεχή) virginity.

To what else can the “custom of Israel” refer (v. 39, 40) when “the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite, four day in a year” (v.40).

The word rendered “lament” occurs only in one other passage in the Hebrew Bible, and that happens to be in this very book. So that we could not possibly have a surer guide to its meaning.

The passage is in Judges 5:11, “There shall they rehearse the righteous acts of Jehovah.” It means to talk with others hence to rehearse together.

This being done annually, the friends of Jephthah’s daughter went to rehears with her, this continued virginity of her life, and not to mourn over the past fact of her death.

We may conclude from the whole tenor of scripture, as well as from Psalms 106: 35-38, Isaiah 57:5 etc., that human sacrifices were abomination in the sight of God; and we cannot imagine that God would accept, or that Jephthah would offer, human blood.

To uphold this idea is a libel on Jehovah as well as on Jephthah.

We can understand Voltaire and other infidels doing this, though they reason in a circle, and depend on the two cases of Isaac and Jephthah’s daughter (which we dispute) to support their contention. Their object is clear. But what are we to say of the “higher” critics, most of whose conclusions are to be found in some shape or another, in the writings of French and English Atheists and Deists of the last century? On the other hand, it is worthy of note to remark how the enemy of God’s word has used even innocent persons to perpetuate traditions which bring a slur (όνειδος) on Jehovah’s works and words.

Milton’s words combined with Haydn’s music (The Oratorio of “The Creation”) have riveted the tradition on the minds of all that God created “chaos,” whereas “all His works are perfect” in beauty and in order.

Milton’s words, again, combined with Handel’s music (the Oratorio of “Jephthah”) have perpetuated the tradition that an Israelite father offered his daughter as a burnt-offering to Jehovah.

It is too much to hope that these words of ours can do much to break the tether of tradition with regard to either of the above important subjects.

There is Rutualism to contend with on one hand, but there Ritualism on the other; and so deep are the ruts, that only the strongest faith (like the strongest axles) can get out of them with success.

We need something of Jephthah’s faith in the inspired records of God’s Word and works. He believed what Jehovah had caused to be written in “the book of the Law.” He had read and pondered over those records of Jehovah’s words and works, or he could not have spoken so strongly and so truly of what had been written for his learning.

May it be ours to have a like faith, so that when we have to contend with those who oppose us, we may not depend on our own arguments or our own wisdom, but quote God’s Word written, and use “the sword of the Spirit” – the God-breathed words which are so profitable to equip the man of God, and all who would speak for Him, when we meet with those who “resist the truth.”

Jephthah had heard, Jephthah had believed, and Jephthah was one of that group of overcomers who conquered through God.


Τα παραπάνω είναι ένα κεφάλαιο του βιβλίου του E. W. Bullinger : Great Cloud of Witnesses: A Series of Papers on Hebrews XI, σελ. 324-331.

Πόσο ιστορικά αξιόπιστη είναι η Βίβλος; / How historically reliable is the Bible?

Ιστορική αξιοπιστία της Βίβλου. 

  1. Αριθμοί 33:19-35. Το γεγονός ότι η λίστα είναι γνήσια φανερώνεται από τα περιστατικά που σχετίζονται με αυτή την περίοδο αντανακλούν πιστά τα φυσικά φαινόμενα της περιοχής στην οποία λέγεται ότι βρίσκονταν οι σταθμοί. Έτσι το βγάλσιμο νερού με χτύπημα στο βράχο αποκαλύπτει εξοικείωση με την ιδιότητα κατακράτησης νερού του ασβεστόλιθου του Σινά. Παρόμοια το σκάψιμο ρηχών πηγαδιών (Αριθ. 21:16ff) καταδεικνύει το γνωστό γεγονός των νερών του υπεδάφους σε διάφορα μέρη της χερσονήσου του Σινά και της νότιας Υπεριορδανίας. R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, σελ. 633.
  2. H στρατοπέδευση των φυλών σε μορφή ορθογώνιου με κενά γύρω από τη σκηνή της Μαρτυρίας (Αριθ. 2:2ff) τώρα είναι γνωστό ότι ήταν συνηθισμένος τρόπος στρατοπέδευσης την εποχή Amarna. The arrangement of the tribes by their standards in the form of a hollow rectangle around the Tabernacle (Num. 2:2ff.), long held by liberal critics to constitute an indication of the late date of the priestly material in the Pentateuch, is now known to have been a common deployment of encamped forces in the Amarna period. As Kitchen has remarked, it is significant in this connection to note that precisely the same strategic layout was utilized by Rameses II, the contemporary of Moses, in his Syrian campaign, when the large portable war-tent of the divine king was pitched in the center of a rectangular encampment of the army divisions. It is especially noteworthy that this important Egyptian comparison should have emerged from the very century in which Moses lived, for later on, in the first millennium B.C., such military encampments changed their shape, as indicated by the round form of deployment on Assyrian reliefs. Therefore it appears eminently, probable that the arrangement depicted in Numbers indicates that Moses was utilizing earlier Egyptian training in the military arts for the welfare of the infant Israelite nation. R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, σελ. 622, 623.
  3. Οι μακριές ασημένιες σάλπιγγες (Aιθ. 10:1ff).. 623 §1. Another matter which has a decided bearing upon the antiquity of the sources in Numbers relates to the use of long silver trumpets for convening a civil assembly as well as for religious and military purposes (Num. 10:1ff.). Such trumpets were in common use in Egypt during the Amarna Age, and some particularly elegant specimens that were interred with the pharaoh Tutankhamen (ca. 1350 B.C.) were recovered by Howard Carter in the twentieth century. R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, σελ. 623.
  4. Έξι άμαξες με βόδια. (Αριθ. 7:3) Equally ancient is the use of six wagons drawn by oxen for the service of the Tabernacle (Num. 7:3ff.). As Kuentz has shown, ox-drawn wagons were employed regularly on campaigns in Syria by the pharaohs from the time of Tuthmosis III (ca. 1470 B.C.) onwards for several centuries. It only remains to be observed that the wagons of Moses and the Israelites in Sinai, which were drawn generally by two yoked oxen, compare favorably with the ten wagons drawn by six spans of oxen that transported supplies for 8,000 quarrymen of Rameses IV (ca. 1160 B.C.) from the Nile valley into the desert areas of the Wadi Hammamat, between the Nile and the Red Sea, under conditions very similar to those obtaining in the Sinai peninsula. In these, as in so many other respects, a proper use of the available evidence serves to dispose of uninformed subjective criticisms of the genuineness of the narratives. R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, σελ. 623.
  5. Ιστορικότητα του Λευιτικό 7:32. Since the pagan neighbors of Israel also indulged in sacrificial rites, it is natural to expect certain points of contact in ritual and intent. Excavations at Lachish (Tell ed-Duweir) uncovered the remains of three Canaanite shrines, built between the fifteenth and thirteenth centuries B.C., near to which large quantities of animal bones were found in a pile of debris. On examination most of them were found to have come from the right foreleg of the animal, which corresponds to the prescriptions for Hebrew sacrifice in Leviticus 7:32 and attests to the antiquity of that passage. R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, σελ. 600.
  6. Έξοδος 8:26f, 10:9, 25f. Ημερολόγια εργασίας που ανήκουν στην περίοδο του Νέου Βασιλείου έχουν αποκαλύψει, μεταξύ άλλων λόγων απουσίας, την προσφορά θυσιών από εργάτες στους θεούς τους, και έχοντας υπόψη τη διαδεδομένη λατρεία ζώων στην περιοχή του ανατολικού Δέλτα δεν είναι στο ελάχιστο μη ρεαλιστικό να υποθέσουμε ότι οι Εβραίοι θα μπορούσαν να ζητήσουν, και θα ανέμεναν να λάβουν άδεια τριών ημερών από την εργασία ώστε να γιορτάσουν τη δικιά τους θρησκευτική εκδήλωση στην έρημο χωρίς ταυτοχρόνως να προκαλούν Αιγυπτιακό θρησκευτικό ανταγωνισμό. R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, σελ. 577.
  7. Επιστημονική ακρίβεια της Βίβλου. Σημερινά εισαγωγικά βιβλία περί λέπρας αναφέρονται στα αποσπάσματα του Λευιτικού που αφορούν στη διάγνωση και την πρόληψη της λέπρας. Αυτό το υλικό αποτελεί την πρώτη μορφοποίηση των κανόνων της καραντίνας και της προληπτικής ιατρικής όπως εφαρμόζονται στη λέπρα, η οποία σώθηκε από τον πολιτισμό της αρχαίας Εγγύς Ανατολής. R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, σελ. 610.
  8. Διαχωρισμός καθαρών ακάθαρτων ζώων. «Θα πρέπει να παρατηρηθεί ότι τα καθαρά ζώα ήταν αποκλειστικά χορτοφάγα και ως τέτοια ήταν λιγότερο πιθανό να μεταδώσουν μόλυνση σε αντιδιαστολή με τα σαρκοφάγα, τα οποία τρέφονταν με σάρκα η οποία αποσυντίθεται γοργά σε συνθήκες ζεστού κλίματος». R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, σελ. 605.
  9. Ηθική και Πρακτική Καθαρότητα της Βίβλου. Σχέσεις γάμου (Λευιτικό 18:1-30) και αντιδιαστολή των με το τι συνέβαινε μεταξύ Αιγυπτίων, Χαναναίων και Χεταίων. That a strict attitude towards the marital union of near of kin was typical of the Mosaic legal code is indicated by the enactments of Leviticus 18: l-30. These prohibitions have a distinct bearing upon the marital customs of the day and age. They contrast sharply with the customs among the Egyptians—who never had any specific formulation of marriage laws and where questions of consanguinity were ignored in favor of the dictates of the matriarchate—among the Canaanites—where fornication, adultery, bestiality, and incest were accredited functions of the sexual life as depicted in the Ras Shamra tablets—and among the Hittites—where certain forms of bestiality were permitted (perhaps as the vestigial remains of an ancient animal cult), although incestuous relationships were prohibited. R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament σελ. 610.

Περί της αξιοπιστίας της Παλαιάς Διαθήκης / About the reliability of the Old Testament

The science of archaeology seems to have outdone itself in verifying the Scriptures. Famed archaeologist William F. Albright wrote: “There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of the Old Testament tradition” (1953, p. 176). Nelson Glueck, himself a pillar within the archaeological community, said: “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which conform in clear outline or exact detail historical statements in the Bible” (1959, p. 31).

Διαβάστε περισσότερα… / Read more…

The trustworthiness of Genesis in comparison with other creation stories / Αξιοπιστία Γένεσης συγκρινόμενη με άλλες ιστορίες δημιουργίας

“Genesis is the only book of antiquity which is ever considered when discussing the scientific accuracy of ancient literature on the creation of the world. When Darwin’s Origin of Species appeared in 1859, Huxley immediately called it Anti-Genesis. Why did he think that it was the book of Genesis which Darwin’s theory of natural selection confuted? Why did he not say anti-Hesiod, or anti-Timaeus, or anti-Metamorphosis in reference to Ovid’s account of the creation? In the very fact that Huxley spoke of Darwin’s work as anti-Genesis he confessed that the book of all ancient literature that contained an account of the creation of the world worthy of being discussed in our modern scientific age as of any scientific value at all was the book of Genesis. A vast number of books and hundreds of articles, during the past one hundred years have been written, maintaining or denying the scientific accuracy of the first chapter of the book of Genesis, but where are you going to find any books and articles even discussing the scientific accuracy of other ancient accounts of the creation of the world? Whenever you hear anyone speaking disrespectfully of the book of Genesis, in its relation to modern science, remember that this first book of our Bible is the only piece of literature of all the ancient nations which anyone even thinks worthy of discussing, even if condemning in the same breath, with the phrase ‘modern science’. It is of great significance that for two thousand years, men have felt it necessary to consider this ancient Hebrew record when discussing the subject of creation. The Babylonian, the Greek, and the Roman accounts of the same beginning of our universe are, for the most part, counted mythological, and utterly incapable of being reconciled with the conclusions of modern science.’’

Wilbur Smith, Therefore Stand, σελ. 328, 329. (W. A. Wilde Company, Boston, 1945).