Sunday, December 20, 2009

Was Abraham an Idol Worshiper?

Father Abraham, justified by faith, saw the promise of the Son to come and believed! Jesus said to the unbelievers, "Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad." (John 8:56)

Alice C. Linsley

Abraham the Hebrew is posed throughout Scripture as a man of great faith. He believed the sign God gave on Mount Moriah and trusting in the promise of the future Messiah, he was justified. For the early Hebrew, the ram provided by the Father was a symbol of the son of God (HR). In the solar symbolism of the Hebrew the lamb rose at dawn and matured as the day lengthened. The ram in its full strength set with the sun in the west, the direction of the future. This is what Abraham discovered on Mount Moriah and he believed.

This belief emerged from the solar imagery of the Proto-Gospel. Horus, the son of the High God was depicted as being one with the Father. He rode with the Father on the solar boat. The boat of the morning hours was called Mandjet (Ancient Egyptian: mꜥnḏt) and the boat of the evening hours was called Mesektet. While Horus was on the Mesektet, he was in his ram-headed form.

The short answer to the question: "Was Abraham an idol worshiper?" is no! Matthew Henry perpetuates the notion that Abraham worshiped idols in his commentary on Genesis. He writes, "God made choice of Abram, and singled him out from among his fellow-idolaters..."

Who was Abraham?

Abraham is a pivotal figure in the Bible. He is mentioned in 230 verses, and he is the central figure of the book of Genesis. Those who adhere to the faith of Abraham in the promised Son of God are, according to Paul, heirs of the promise. "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy Seed, which is Christ… And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Gal. 3:16, 29)

Abraham was known by the Hittites as a "prince of God among us" (Gen. 23:6). He is the ancestor of many peoples living in many parts of the ancient Near East. He is a descendant of the early Hebrew kingdom builders, such as NImrod (Gen. 10) who dispersed across the ancient world. 

His ancestors were known by various names: Abrutu, 'Abiru, 'Apiru, Habiru; Hapiru, Horim, Horite, etc. All these terms refer to a royal priest caste that believed in a supreme creator God (Re, Anu) who has a son (HR, Horus). HR in ancient Egyptian means "Most High One."

Abraham was not a pagan who converted to monotheism. He was a member of the Hebrew ruler-priest caste which believed in God Father and God Son. The text is clear that Abraham worshiped according to the beliefs of his Horite Hebrew ancestors. The oldest known site of Horite Hebrew worship was Nekhen on the Nile (4000 BC). The idea that Abraha was a idol worshiper comes from a late source in the Book of Joshua. In olden times, your forefathers – Terah, father of Abraham and father of Nahor – lived beyond the Euphrates and worshiped other gods. (Jos. 24:2)

The word Terah means priest and Na-Hor is a Horus name found among the rulers and priests of the Horite Hebrew. Nahor ruled over his father's territory in Paddan Aram when Terah died. In ancient Akkadian, Na is a modal prefix indicating service to, affirmation, or affiliation. Na-Hor indicates that this man was a devotee of HR, which in ancient Egyptian refers to the Most-High God.

HR also refers to the Son of God who the Greeks called Horus. His Horus name suggests that Nahor was a Horite Hebrew. A prayer addressed to Horus says, "For you are he who oversees the gods, there is no god who oversees you!" (Ancient Pyramid Texts, Utterance 573)

Many of the early Hebrew had Horus names such as Hur, Moses’ brother-in-law, the husband of Miriam. Hur’s grandson was one of the builders of the Tabernacle. 1 Chronicles 4:4 lists Hur as a "father of Bethlehem", an early Horite Hebrew settlement. Rahab of Jericho married Salmon, another "father" of Bethlehem.

It is incorrect to apply the term “pagan” to Abraham since the term comes from ancient Rome, a much later period of history. The Online Etymological Dictionary explains that "pagan," from classical Latin means "villager, rustic, civilian," from pagus "rural district." The term "pagan" refers to a peasant and expresses a class hierarchy in which common country folk were regarded by the urban elite as being of low birth, having rude manners, and lacking sophistication. This term cannot be applied to the ruler Abraham who maintained an army of at least 300 trained warriors, controlled a substantial holding between Hebron and Beersheba, negotiated water treaties with rulers, had a personal audience with Pharoah, and maintained two wives and two concubines in separate households.

Other than the Joshua 24 statement, which has another explanation, there is not a shred of evidence that Abraham or his ancestors were idolaters. Abraham's calling does not constitute a turning away from the tradition of his Hebrew forefathers (his Horim). He was a sent-away son to whom God delivered a territory of his own. 

Abraham's Hebrew people did not worship idols. They were priests of the Proto-Gospel and recognized in ancient texts as unique and especially pure in their worship and religious practices.

This peculiar verse: “In olden times, your forefathers – Terah, father of Abraham and father of Nahor – lived beyond the Euphrates and worshiped other gods” must be understood in the context of the Deuteronomist account, which begins in Deuteronomy and ends in 2 Kings. These books share a common concern with idolatry and recognize that on that side of the Euphrates, people worshiped the moon as equal to the sun. This is historically accurate. The moon god was honored in Ur and Haran, but never among the early Hebrew who regarded the moon as the lesser light. The Hebrew recognition of the sun's superiority is expressed in Genesis 1:16: "God made the two great lights: the greater to rule the day, the lesser light to rule the night."

Nothing is said in Genesis about Abraham worshiping other gods. The Joshua reference implies that Terah fell into worshiping contrary to tradition of his Hebrew ancestors. What we have here is speculation on the part of the Deuteronomist Historian. What the Deuteronomist Historian has done is like photo-shopping an image; an attempt to remove perceived flaws. However, this was done without understanding the Nilotic cultural context of Abraham's ancestors (4000-3000 BC), a very different context from that of the Neo-Babylonian context of the Deuteronomist (900-200 BC).

In the tradition of the Horite and Sethite Hebrew the sun and the moon were viewed as a binary set, and the Sun was regarded as the greater of the two lights. In binary thought (versus dualism), one entity in the set is understood to be superior through observation to the other entity in the set. In dualism, the sun and the moon are equals so both are worthy of veneration. In the binary view, the sun is the greater celestial light and to venerate the lesser light is idol worship. This may be what stands behind the Joshua 24 criticism of Terah's residing in Mesopotamia where the Moon was venerated. Note, however, this is not a criticism of Abraham.

There is no other verse in the Bible to support the view that Terah, a Hebrew ruler-priest, worshiped a Moon god or goddess contrary to the practice of his Hebrew ancestors who regarded the Sun as the emblem of the Creator. Abraham's ancestors believed that divine appointment came by being "overshadowed." They anticipated that this is how the son of God would be conceived, as the Angel Gabriel explained to the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:35). 

Abraham is called Hebrew. The term is derived from the ancient Akkadian word for priest - abru. Akkadian is the oldest known Semitic language, and it was the language used by Abraham. (Hebrew did not yet exist. Judaism emerged around 1500 years after Abraham.)

Genesis tells us about Abraham's Hebrew priest caste and the promise that the Creator made to their ancestors in Eden that a woman of their people would bring forth the Seed of God (Gen. 3:15).

1 comment:

Alice C. Linsley said...

Abraham did not worship idols. He was Hebrew. The "teraphim" are ancestor figurines that were passed along for the right of inheritance. see this article: