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Sorry no longer take comments. Post's 'labels' are unreliable for linking or searching. Use the INDEX OF POSTS instead. A fairly accurate, but incomplete INDEX of Posts & good overview of this blog READ SOME REASONS TO REJECT ORTHODOX JUDAISM my April 2014 post or click link above. Highlighted words lead to other posts almost all in my blog. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family (1950's) and went to Orthodox Yeshiva from kindergarten thru High School plus some Beis Medrash.Became an agnostic in my 20's and an atheist later on. My blog will discuss the arguments for god and Orthodox Judaism and will provide counter arguments. I no longer take comments. My blog uses academic sources, the Torah, Talmud and commentators to justify my assertions. The posts get updated. INDEX OF POSTS SEE MAY 2017 or click link above.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Psalms, Ancient Near East Texts, Prayer, Science

I have classified a selection of some Psalm verses by category although some verses may overlap category. Of course this is not a complete classification of these Psalms nor the only one possible. 

The actual words, phrases, expressions, themes and the hopes expressed in Psalms are duplicated sometimes word for word in Ancient Near East (ANE) Texts.  These themes and expressions and such, are still used in the prayers to 'G-d' by Orthodox Jews. Most Orthodox Jews do not realize how much their prayers have in common with ancient near east cultures. It is almost as if to make the transfer from the Psalms to portions of these other ANE texts just change the name of the god(s). 

I will first supply some but not all Psalm verses illustrating some of the verbiage and will include some commentary on Monotheism, Science in Psalm etc:. After I will provide some but not all corresponding snippets from ANE texts.  A careful reading of the ANE texts snippets will demonstrate the parallels to Psalms. There are other points of contact between Psalms and the ANE literature perhaps to be discussed in future posts, as this one is already pretty long, sorry. 

PSALMS

The Lord Hiding his Face

When evil befalls the Jews, some Orthodox Jews claim G-d is hiding his face from them especially if he does not answer their prayers for deliverance. {ETA God(s) Hiding Face found in some ANE texts}

Psalms 102: 2 O LORD, hear my prayer, and let my cry come unto Thee. 3 Hide not Thy face from me in the day of my distress; 
incline Thine ear unto me; in the day when I call answer me speedily.

Psalms Chapter 13 : 2 How long, O LORD, wilt Thou forget me for ever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?

PSALMS 69:18 And hide not Thy face from Thy servant; for I am in distress; answer me speedily.

Psalms:88:5 LORD, why castest Thou off my soul? Why hidest Thou Thy face from me?

Praising, Exalting the Lord's Warrior Powers, Power, Glory, Strength etc:

Similar to other ANE texts. 

Psalms24:8 'Who is the King of glory?'  'The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.'

Psalms 21:4 Be Thou exalted, O LORD, in Thy strength; so will we sing and praise Thy power. 

Psalms24:8 'Who is the King of glory?' 'The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.'

Lord's Mercy, Righteousness, Truth, Care for Down Trodden, Poor, Savior 

All very Similar to other ANE texts

Psalms 111:7 The works of His hands are truth and justice;

Psalms 119:160 The beginning of Thy word is truth; and all Thy righteous ordinance endureth for ever.

Psalms 12:6 'For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise', saith the LORD; 'I will set him in safety at whom they puff.'

Psalms 35:10 All my bones shall say: 'LORD, who is like unto Thee,who deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him?'

Psalms 136:2 O give thanks unto the God of gods, for His mercy endureth for ever. 3 O give thanks unto the Lord of lords, for His mercy endureth for ever.

Psalms 33:4 For the word of the LORD is upright; and all His work is done in faithfulness. 5 He loveth righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the lovingkindness of the LORD.

Psalms 57:11 For Thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and Thy truth unto the skies.

Lord's Deliverance from Enemies and the like. Plea To Be Heard

Similar to other ANE texts

Psalms 143:9 Deliver me from mine enemies...

Psalms Chapter 55 :2 Give ear, O God, to my prayer; and hide not Thyself from my supplication.

Psalms Chapter 59 :2 Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God; set me on high from them that rise up against me. 3 Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from the men of blood.

The Lord Is Above All Other Gods 

The following Psalms strongly suggest the author of Psalms believed other gods exist. A form of monolatry as opposed to Monotheism. Lord above other Lords also found in other ANE texts. 

Psalms 136:2 O give thanks unto the God of gods, for His mercy endureth for ever. O give thanks unto the Lord of lords, for His mercy endureth for ever.

Psalms 135:5 For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.

PSALMS 86: 8 There is none like unto Thee among the gods, O Lord, and there are no works like Thine.

PSALMS 71:19 Thy righteousness also, O God, which reacheth unto high heaven; Thou who hast done great things, O God, who is like unto Thee?

Psalms 95:3 For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods;5 The sea is His, and He made it; and His hands formed the dry land.

Psalms 97: 9 For Thou, LORD, art most high above all the earth; Thou art exalted far above all gods.

Psalms 102:16 So the nations will fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth Thy glory;

Psalms 113:5 Who is like unto the LORD our God, that is enthroned on high,

Appeal To Lord's based on what Nations May Say

Similar to other ANE texts

Psalms 115:2 Wherefore should the nations say: 'Where is now their God?'

Blessing The Lord and Flattery

Similar to other ANE texts

Psalms 145 1...I will extol Thee, my God, O King; and I will bless Thy name for ever and ever. 2 Every day will I bless Thee; and I will praise Thy name for ever and ever.  Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.

Lord as Creator

(In the ANE texts to be cited the god creates by word. See Psalm 33:6) {ETA This or  that god being a creator also found in other ANE texts}

Those religious that advocate 'science' in Tenach take heed.  See below - Psalm 104:5 is factually wrong. The ovoid Earth spins on its axis and has an elliptical orbit. 

Psalms 33:6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.

Psalms 104: 5 Who didst establish the earth upon its foundations, that it should not be moved for ever and ever;

Psalms 115:15 Blessed be ye of the LORD who made heaven and earth.

ANCIENT NEAR EAST TEXTS

My source will be this wonderful book:

ANCIENT  NEAR EASTERN  TEXTS
'Relating to the Old Testament Edited by James Pritchard Third Edition with Supplement  Fifth Priniting 1992

The very themes and phrases of Psalms are found in these ANE texts.

[In The following Hymn notice Amon-Re 1) giving breathe.2) Is The creator. Concepts found in Genesis. Amon as Lord of Truth... If you keep my category list in mind and have read Psalms and carefully read all the following ANE snippets you will discern the similarities of which I have written of. ]

Page 365 A Hymn to Amon-Re

Hail to thee, Amon-Re....Who made mankind and created The beasts,
Lord of what is, who created The fruit tree,
Made herbage, and gave life to cattle....Who made what is below and what is above...The chief one, who made The entire earth.
MORE DISTINGUISHED IN NATURE THAN any (other) god,..The lord of fear, great of dread,
Rich in might...Lord of eternity...HAIL TO THEE, O Re, lord of truth!...Who hears The prayer of him who is in captivity,
Gracious of heart in The face of an appeal to him.
SAVING THE FEARFUL FROM THE TERRIBLE OF HEART,...health!—lord of all
gods...,THOU ART The sole one, WHO MADE [ALL] THAT IS,
[The] solitary sole [one], who made what exists...Praises are thine, when they all say:
"Jubilation to thee, because thou weariest thyself with
us!...We praise thy might, according as thou didst make
us. Let (us) act for thee, because thou brought us forth.
We give thee thanksgiving because thou hast wearied
thyself with us!"
The sole king
Who overthrows his enemies...For The enemies of Atum are overthrown...The righteous one, Lord of Karnak,

Page 369 The Hymn to The Aton

....living forever and ever; The living great Aton ...lord of
heaven, lord of earth, lord of The House of Aton...Creator of seed in women,
Thou who makest fluid into man, Who givest breath to sustain all that he has made!...O sole god, like whom there is no other!
Thou didst create The world according to thy desire,
Whilst thou wert alone:
All men, cattle, and wild beasts,
Whatever is on earth, going upon (its) feet,
And what is on high, flying with its wings.
The countries of Syria and Nubia, The land of Egypt,
Thou settest every man in his place,
Thou suppliest their necessities...The lord of every land...The world came into being by thy hand,...
For one lives (only) through thee.


Page 380 E G Y P T I A N H Y M N S AND P R A Y E R S The Memorial Prayer
....Giving praises to Amon. I make him adorations
in his name; I give him praises to The height of heaven
and to The width of earth; [I] relate his power to him
who travels downstream and to him who travels upstream.
Beware ye of him!Thou art Amon, The lord of The silent man, who
comes at The voice of The poor man. If I call to thee
when I am distressed, thou comest and thou
rescuest me. Thou givest breath (to) him who is
weak; thou rescuest him who is imprisoned.


Page 379 A Prayer to Re-Har-akhti

Thou one and only, O Re-Har-akhti! There is no
other here like unto him, who protects millions while he
rescues hundred-thousands! The protector of him who
calls out to him, The Lord of Heliopolis.

Hymn To Ishtar page 383 Who—to her greatness who can be equal ?

Hymn to The Moon-God Page 385 In heaven who is exalted? Thou! Thou alone art exalted. On earth who is exalted? Thou! Thou alone art exalted.

Hittite Prayers/Hymns Page 396 But now all The surrounding countries have begun to attack The Hatti land. Let it again become a matter of concern to The Sun-goddess of Arinna! O god, bring
not thy name into disrepute!

Page 383 Hymn to Ishtar

Praise Ishtar, The most awesome of The goddesses....The fate of everything she holds in her hand...Strong, exalted, splendid are her decrees. Ishtar—to her greatness who can be equal?......Ishtar among The gods, extraordinary is her station.
Respected is her word; it is supreme over them.

Page 383 Prayer of Lamentation to Ishtar

{ETA Notice this Prayer seems to suggest that not only can Ishtar cure
sickness she can resurrect the dead ! Many Orthodox Jews believe
a resurrection of the dead will occur in the future.}

O possessor of all divine power, who wears the crown
of dominion,
O Lady, glorious is thy greatness; over all the gods it
is exalted.
O star of lamentation,...O mighty one, Lady of battle, who suppresses the
mountains,..To thine awesome name mankind must pay heed.
For thou art great and thou art exalted...
The judgment of the people in truth and righteousness
thou indeed dost decide.
Thou regardest the oppressed and mistreated;...Where thou dost look, one who is dead lives; one who
is sick rises up; 
The erring one who sees...1 have cried to thee, suffering, wearied, and distressed, as thy servant. See me O my Lady; accept my prayers.
Faithfully look upon me and hear my supplication....How long, O my Lady, shall my adversaries be looking
upon me,...Forgive my sin, my iniquity, my shameful deeds, and
my offence.
Overlook my shameful deeds; accept my prayer;
Loosen my fetters; secure my deliverance;
Guide my steps aright; radiantly like a hero let...How long, O my Lady, wilt thou be angered so that
thy face is turned away ?
How long, O my Lady, wilt thou be infuriated so that
thy spirit is enraged ?
Turn thy neck which thou hast set against me; set thy
face [toward] good favor.

Conclusion

Psalms gets Science wrong.  See category Lord as Creator - Psalms 104 above.  Also for example Psalms 75:4 When the earth and all the refugees there are recognized, I Myself establish the Pillars of it. Also Psalms 104:5 Who did establish the earth upon its foundations, that it should not be moved for ever and ever;

The ancients Israelites incorrectly understood planet Earth as established on pillars. The Earth is in constant motion with no pillars at all.  It is amusing when people claim there is science to be found in holy texts when there are often so many facts wrong in those very texts.  The science they claim is in the holy texts is retroactively shoe horned into the texts. 

Why are there so many Psalm parallels to the ANE texts ?

Why do the Israelites supplicate, flatter and use the very terminology and motifs of the Pagans ?

Did all those other cultures copy the Israelites or did the Israelites copy them or was there shared concept how to beseech the god(s) ?

{Here is one response for a specific Psalm. Regarding Psalm 93. “Yahweh is acclaimed as King of the earth. Why ? Because he has subdued the raging and contumacious floods. Where is he enthroned ? In the special house which ‘holiness beseemeth for evermore.’ What does he do there ? He issues decrees which are ‘very sure.’ At first blush, this sequence is somewhat bewildering, but to anyone who has read the Canaanite poems from Ras Shamra the implication is obvious: The psalm is an adaption to the cult of Yahweh of the Canaanite myth of Baal.” MOREOVER, “The story has several parallels in ANE literature.” From Page771  in Myth, Legend And Custom In The Old Testament by T. Gaster 1969 }

From The Interpreters One-Volume Commentary On The Bible sixth printing 1982 edition - Per Page 253 - writes regarding Authorship of Psalms: It is now clear the theory of Davinic authorship can not be maintained. Archaeological discoveries in the Near East have given us literature of Israel's neighbors:Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptian, and Canaanites. "This news knowledge makes clear that Israel originated neither the poetic form of the pss. (see 'Literary Forms of the OT," pp. 1077-81) nor their use in worship." 

What expressions and themes did the Ancient Israelites use in prayer (as found in Psalms) ?  Often similar to the pagans. Why did the Israelites engage in these prayers ? Often it seems to court divine intervention for one thing or another just like the pagans. 

Psalms mentions the promise to Abraham,  Exodus, the importance of the Temple and Jerusalem but amazingly never mentions the giving of the Ten commandments or the Torah at Sinai.  How could such an important event not be mentioned ? Could it be The Psalm author was unaware of it ? That it was a later innovation ? 

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