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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.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Kuzari Argument Part 20 Rabbi Kelemen Incunabular Argument Permission To Receive

It will probably help to at least skim my prior Kuzari posts, since they provide related information, arguments and details to support this post. 

In this video RK proposes the following false trichotomy for the origin of the Torah.

1) Present Theory - For example: A lying individual [“Moe” ] tells the ancient Israelites you heard G-d speak and here is his Torah. 

2) Past Theory - For example: A lying  individual [“Curly”]  tells the ancient Israelites your ancestors heard G-d speak and here is the Torah. (RK uses the name “Fred” not “Curly”.)

3) Future Theory - for example: The lying individual [“Larry”]  tells the ancient Israelites your descendants will hear G-d speak, but I have an advance copy to present to you. 

Some of my previous Kuzari posts have provided plausible scenarios for Present Theory therefore it should not be dismissed. I have also critiqued the ‘lie launched’ scenarios. Torah origins need not have involved lies being launched.   

RK rules out Past Theory for the Torah’s origin because  RK claims: A) there is no record of the individual  who launched a lie to the ancient Israelites.  B) There is no record of  the ancient Israelites forgetting the national revelation of Sinai. 

However some of my prior posts dispute B). The hypothesis there was a mass  unbroken chain of tradition  of the Sinai revelation is subject to severe doubt. 

Lets focus on RK's A)  there is no record of the individual  who launched a lie to the ancient Israelites. 

Has RK considered the possibility that maybe the scribes/authorities  had reasons not to specify the individual(s) who launched the lie and would not desire record him ?  Has RK considered the possibility that maybe the scribes/authorities did not consider the scribes tales as lies. The idea of 'history' as we now understand the term was not born yet. 

This post will explore who is ‘Curly’ ? If I can provide plausible ‘Curly(s)’  then it will establish Past Theory as a viable option for the origins of the Sinai mythology.

Judaism most likely evolved out of ancient Canaanite religion(s) and probably with the influence or merging with a semitic desert/mountain/fire/smith/volcano god Yahweh and probably with influences from other ancient near east cultures. So there may not be a single individual responsible for the origins of Judaism or the Torah stories and commandments etc:.   Then again there are numerous contributors and founders of Judaism: Abraham, the Forefathers, Moses, Priests, Prophets, Kings, Scribes,....

This post will directly answer possible ‘Curly(s)’  that could have instituted the Sinai mythology:  G-d gave commands at Mount Sinai that should be followed by the Israelites.  The motivation for such a mythology could have resulted from the threats that eventually led to the fall of the northern Israelite kingdom in  723 B.C. (Prior posts have cast significant doubt on two of RK’s assumptions 1) There a an unbroken chain of Torah/Revelation back to Sinai 2) That national traditions of national events can not be introduced into a population that knows not of them. )

First Some Israel History

It is interesting that usually, fairly soon after calamities, Yahwism revives. (The dates are B.C. and are ball park approximate and for this post only the relative ordering counts.)  Israelite  history supports the notion that Yahwism sparks and galvanizes after invasions or threats of invasion. See for yourself:

931 B.C. Northern Tribes secede.

926 B.C. Egypt’s Shishak despoils Jerusalem and several cities of Judah and Israel

865 Prophet Elijah emphasizes Yahwehism.

850 Prophet Elisha emphasizes Yahwehism 

850 Moab erects stele commemorate  winning independence from Israel

841 King Jeho of Israel pays tribute to Assyria 

830 Yahwist revival in Israel

723 Assyria -  fall of Samaria  brings end to Northern Israel. Exile of many Israelites

710 King Hezekiah - Yahwist  revival

701 Assyrian siege of Jerusalem

687 King Menassah represses Yahwism. (To  placate Assyria, and maybe because he thought the Hezekiah Yahwist  revival was ineffective. Maybe Yahwism was not so good after all.)

623 “Found Law Scroll” made basis for drastic Yahweh reforms. King Josiah.

586 Babylonian Exile

400 Nehemiah and Ezra  -  finishing touches on the Yahwist alone movement, reforms and the Torah. 

It is almost as if the Israelite prophets/scribes/priests commit post hoc fallacies. We had an invasion, that must be because we did not worship Yahweh alone. Remedy: Spark and Galvanize ‘Yahweh alone’ worship so that we may have the great warrior god Yahweh on our side. To this day there are many Orthodox Jews who engage in this post hoc rationalization.  The holocaust happened and it must be because we did not worship Yahweh enough or properly. Yet, even when Yahweh worship is widespread and calamities occur, excuses are invented. It was because a prior generation did not worship Yahweh  enough or properly. Or the Yahweh worshipers did not reach out enough to the Yahweh non worshipers enough. So Yahweh damned them all. I implore and beseech my brethren to throw off the yoke of our superstitions. There is no Yahweh protecting us. Such  thinking is a remnant of ancient near east cultures and religions that held their nation/tribal god(s) fought on behalf of the tribe/nation. There is no good evidence for any of it and direct evidence against such an assertion. 

A Curly Candidate 

I propose King Josiah and his administration was likely a key ‘Curly’. 

Josiah is introducing a  mythology to a population that is under outside threat. The Northern Kingdom falls creating more panic.  

The Israelites are worshiping many gods, but they will need an especially great warrior god on their side. Perhaps, if the Israelites would eschew all other gods and worship Yahweh alone,  Yahweh will come to the Israelite aid and repel the foreign invaders and threats. It would also unify the nation. The cult can be centralized in Judah  This desperation could galvanize the Yahweh alone movement. Moreover, a preexisting sub population of ‘Yahweh alone’ worshipers could have been extant. The ‘Yahweh alone’ worshipers consisting of Yahweh worshiping Semitic people that have settled in Israel in previous generations.

King Josiah could argue King Menassah and other ‘evil’ priests and rulers were  instrumental in erasing the Sinai story from the holy books,  other ancient traditions and laws. But fortunately Priests  “Found The Law Scroll”. (That scroll could have been a total fabrication, or if not fully an invention could have been modifications of extant older stories and myths to make it more acceptable.)  The  found law scroll which now has the narration of a Sinai revelation and laws introduced  etc:   is used to centralize the cult, unite a country in the hope  Yahweh would respond by helping in the overthrow of Assyria rule.   King Josiah destroys other modes of worship and can put ‘deniers’ and rebels to death. Using time, carrots and sticks, people can eventually accept the ‘found scroll’ even if the'found'  scroll is not exactly the same as the stories and scrolls they had been familiar with from their parents. 

{From  The Jewish Study Bible Berlin and Brettler Editors, 2004 
Page 357 "Deuteronomy is likely not Mosaic in origin. More probably, the core of the book was written sometime during the 7th century BCE by educated scribes associated with Jerusalem's royal court." There are very striking similarities between the distinctive religious and legal requirements of Deuteronomy and the account of the major religious reform (inspired by the 'found scroll') carried out by King Josiah in 622 BCE.  The reforms included:  restrict all sacrificial worship  to Jerusalem;  removed foreign elements from the system of worship; celebration of the first nationally centralized Passover at the Temple in Jerusalem. The reforms closely match 
of Deuteronomy. "Josiah's reform, with some form of Deuteronomy as its catalyst, was much more a revolution than a simple return to older forms of worship." Previously one could sacrifice any place in the land  like Abraham, Jacob, Samuel, and Elijah did.

"The historical background of Josiah's reforms was the increasing threat of imperial domination. The Northern Kingdom of Israel had fallen under the Neo-Assyrian invasion a scant century before (722 BCE; 2 Kings ch 17).”}

Despite the efforts of various prophets and some Kings to promote Yahweh alone, there was often Israel backsliding showing the reforms were not always accepted and were not always believed.

A Second Curly Candidate 

A follow up to King Josiah is Ezra the Yahweh alone advocate, another ‘Curly’.

The Babylonian Exile calamity,  is followed by Persian rule and eventually  the return of exiles to Israel.  Around the time of  Ezra ,  redaction puts the final touches on the Yahweh alone movement, reforms  and the Torah. Persia wants nations to establish their own temples. Persia grants Ezra full authority to ENFORCE the law of your God. Persia desired countries within it’s empire to have a centralized cult with an ‘authoritative’ source of laws - something like the Torah. Ezra with the backing of Persia could get ALL the Torah to be accepted, if not immediately then eventually. You want to test the King of Persia or his emissaries ? 

{Per The Jewish Study Bible (ibid) Page 1669 "According to the Bible, Ezra was the one who brought the Torah to the returning exiles, read and interpreted it publicly, and oversaw the people's solemn recommitment to its teachings (Neh. chs 8-10). Thus Ezra is like a second Moses. The Rabbis imply this by stating: 'Ezra was sufficiently worthy that the Torah could have been given through him if Moses had not preceded him" (t. Sanh. 4.4).'  ".

King Josiah is a good candidate for RK’s “Fred”.  The Tenach praises him but has no reason to write the priests and his administration invented any of the Torah, because they probably took preexistent older scrolls, added to them, edited them and could then have attributed it to Moses an ancient hero.

The same more or less applies to Ezra, another important “Fred” candidate.

Thus, we can not rule out RK’s Past Theory for the Origins of the Sinai mythology.

Continued Kuzari Argument Part 21 Rabbi Kelemen Bomb

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