Click this link for TOPICAL INDEX OF POSTS

About Me

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 and understanding of this blog READ SOME REASONS TO REJECT ORTHODOX JUDAISM my April 2014 post or click link above. 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. IF YOU GET A MESSAGE THAT THE POST IS MISSING - LOOK FOR IT IN THE INDEX or search or the date is found in the address.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Kuzari Principle or Argument Part 14

This is a continuation of my Kuzari argument posts began here, but perhaps may be understood as a stand alone. 

An important assumption of the Kuzari argument is there is a chain of national transmission of national events going back to the original witnesses of the Sinai-Exodus story.  Moreover,  national traditions of national events can not be introduced to a people. For example, people would say they have not heard such from their fathers.  Thus national traditions of national events must be true or probably true. (Kuzari proponents may qualify which national traditions qualify for the Kuzari argument. For example, they may require a certain minimum number of people, or only certain kinds of national traditions  etc: ) 

Can national traditions of  national events be introduced without there being a history of such traditions amongst the bulk of the people ? 

Lets see what the Tenach writes.

Judges2:8 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being a hundred and ten years old. 9 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill-country of Ephraim, on the north of the mountain of Gaash. 10 And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers; and there arose another generation after them, that knew not the LORD, nor yet the work which He had wrought for Israel.11 And the children of Israel did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baalim. 12 And they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the peoples that were round about them, and worshipped them; and they provoked the LORD. 13 And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and the Ashtaroth. 14 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and He delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and He gave them over into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. 

Essentially Judges 2 informs that the bulk of Israel abandoned Yahweh worship, and fairly soon after the alleged Sinai - Exodus stories !. So who would pass down the alleged national traditions ? Would the Baalim worshiping parents inform their children of the revelation at Mount Sinai of the commandment "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me"  Exodus 20:2 ? Or that Yahweh was the god who wrought miracles for their people in the Exodus  ? Probably not. If so, at some later time the notions  that Yahweh uttered at Mount Sinai “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” and that Yahweh performed Exodus miracles were introduced by a smaller cadre of individuals or became believed for reasons other than national tradition In short, the alleged unbroken chain of national transmission of the Sinai-Exodus story was likely broken and a national tradition of a national events were introduced after the alleged events occurred.

Also consider these other examples which indicate national traditions of national events can be introduced into a mass of people even though they have no recollection of the traditions. 

1) Ramban Numbers 15:22 9 - In the days of the wicked Kings such as Jeroboam MOST PEOPLE forgot the TORAH and COMMANDMENTS COMPLETELY.

[Thus at some future date the commandments must have been reintroduced to the bulk of the people. They were told the commandments were from G-d even though they had no recollection that these commandments being from G-d. Thus the national tradition consisting of G-d giving these commandments were introduced to a population having no record of such commandments. ] 

2) Talmud Sukkah 20a - For in ancient times when the Torah was forgotten from Israel, Ezra came up from Babylon and established it.

[The bulk of the people forgot the Torah. Do they tell Ezra we have no recollection of this Torah from our forefathers and so we can not accept it ? No. So a national tradition consisting of this Torah was given to our forefathers can be introduced. ]

Continued Part 15

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sukkos Feast of Tabernacles Pagan Parallels

For this post all these refer to the similar festival more or less: Feast of Tabernacles/Tabernacles/Tents/Booths, Feast of Ingathering, Feast of the Lord, Sukkos/Sukkot other various spellings.

Unlike Ancient Egypt which relied on the Nile for agricultural water, ancient Israelite life and death depended on rain. They thought Yahweh could provide or withhold the rains. Even today in times of drought many religious Jews pray to Yahweh to end the drought.  The Talmud also discusses prayer for rain.  Supplication to (alleged) supernatural beings or magic for rain was practiced  by numerous cultures in ancient time. We now know there is most likely no supernatural involvement for rain and that magic will likely have no effects. 

The  Rambam style apologetic (extensively discussed in Explanations of Pagan Customs in Judaism with some notes on Maimonides  ) that the Torah merely adopted pagan customs as an accommodation is falsified by the Sukkos festival. The festival was held to ensure rain. Talmud Rosh Hashona 16A: on tabernacles judgment is passed in respect of rain. Why did the Torah enjoin on us to pour out water on Tabernacles?  The Holy One, blessed be He, said, Pour out water before Me in Tabernacles, so that your rains this year may be blessed.


Ancient Israel by Roland De Vaux Volume 2 1965

Beginning page 496 - Feast of Tents - no doubt it was a farmers feast, feast of ingathering of produce, an agricultural feast. 


The Ancient Gods by E.O. James 1960

Beginning Page 160 Feast of Booths - was held for much the same purposes as corresponding festival in the agricultural ritual among the Canaanites and elsewhere in Western Asia. Booths made of greenery parallel gigunu in the Babylonian Akitu festival (fertility ritual). In the Israelite Temple water libation offered to Yahweh so that the rains of the year will bless you. [ This latter ritual can be likened to magic.]


Seasonal Feasts and Festivals by E.O. James 1961

Beginning on Page 113 Sukkoth - celebrated October/November when vintage had been completed. The time and setting suggest a Canaanite origin connected to the grape harvest. Urgently needed rains in October.

Zechariah14:16 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. 17 And it shall be, that whoso of the families of the earth goeth not up unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, upon them there shall be no rain.

Purpose was to promote fertility at the end of the harvest and to secure much needed rain. 


Jewish Publication Society The Jewish Study Bible 1999 Berlin and Brettler

Page 1266 “Sukkot, stands at the beginning of the rainy season and is the time for petitioning rain from the Lord (Rashi).” 

Page 402 Deut 16:13-15 Origin was a fall harvest festival. The name more likely relates to the erection of temporary shelters in the fields during crop tending and harvesting.

Page 573 In second Temple period water was poured during Sukkoth festival, probably as a request for rain.


Ancient Texts for the Study of the Hebrew Bible - Keton Sparks 2005

Ancient Near East parallels for Sukkot Festival

Beginning page 168 - the October/November Mesopotamian Kisler Palm Festival - Date harvest. Ceremonies included sacrifices, prayers, laments, myth recital. A palm frond was offered to Marduk. Palm fronds waved or offered to Deities.

Page 210 Israel’s use of booths during the great autumn festival parallels closely in the Ugarit autumn wine festival.   

[ Judges21: 19 And they said: 'Behold, there is the feast of the LORD from year to year in Shiloh, which is on the north of Beth-el, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Beth-el to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.' 20 And they commanded the children of Benjamin, saying: 'Go and lie in wait in the vineyards; 21 and see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. 

Dancing and other ‘ACTIVITIES’ in the vineyard were practiced by some ancient societies and were related to fertility rituals. ]