Sunday, May 31, 2009
Babylonian Myth, Paradigms and the Holy Land
There would seem to be a storyline theme starting in the old testament and running into the new testament. It starts with Abraham having a son Ishmael and then favoring his next son Isaac over the first born.
The OT established the concept of male primogeniture in the story of Jacob deceiving his blind elderly father into giving him the oldest son’s (Esau) blessing.
Next comes Joseph, a younger son of Jacob, being raised up in status in Egypt under Pharaoh. Then comes Moses who has an older brother Aaron. Then you have David as the youngest of eight sons followed by Solomon who survives his older male siblings.
Perhaps it is a coincidence. Perhaps it culturally makes a better storyline.
If one looks at it one has to wonder if God is reaching his hand into the natural order of things, Natural Law so to speak, and upsetting the traditional heritage factor of the oldest male son taking over the family properties or business and becoming undisputed head of the household’s extended family.
These youthful, successful and not first born male sons seems to dominate the OT in its early books and in the Bible Stories (OT) that I was taught in parochial school to supplement the Gospels and NT stories.
Come to think of it. Jesus had an older (?) brother called James. Is there something in the Judaic culture that has to be stated over and above traditional concepts? Is it good or is it necessary for a thin culture to survive by rewarding, recognizing the go-getters, the guys that organize the culture, win battles, write down laws, build temples – is it a necessity to give credit to the alpha males whether they are first born or not? One of many questions in my mind.
What gives these younger guys the advantage? They stick around the family campsite while the oldest toils in the fields, vineyards etc to carry on the family’s business and protect the food supply. These younger ones get the confidence and love of aged parents who hand over inheritance?
When I fast forward to Constantine and his Nicene Creed crowd who give the emperor what he wants, a state religion, I look at how the person and teachings of Jesus gets turned into the rigid laws and myths of Christ. I see major rewrites in the Jesus script in the beginning of the fourth century.
Getting back to the OT, and this seeming and or minor occurrence in biblical history. Being an amateur history observer, I have to consider that somewhere along the OT timeline there was a backtracking changing of history to incorporate this new storyline. You only have to just change a line or two in every written text, story, that existed or a line or two of oral tradition of every culture myth that no doubt did exist. And where does this timeline meet at a crossroads?
Perhaps when the Babylonian captives come back to Jerusalem after sixty to seventy years, they do not find what they thought was there. No doubt oral stories of the old country and Solomon’s magnificent temple and the golden age of the Culture survived in Babylon under the Babylonians and under the conquering Persians as well. You come back home and he get to see the ruins of Solomon’s magnificent temple and all you find is the remains of a burned down adobe hut on top of a hill. Historians write history and every culture wants, needs to glorify its past. This culture was perhaps no different than any other.
Then you have the problem of coming back under the protection of a Persian Army to put your people in charge of this land. You are the allies of the Persians. Your immediate neighbors are sheep and goat herders. They want to help you rebuild the temple. You refuse their help. They somehow are corrupt because they or some of them get conquered by the Assyrians and got carried off too. Your captivity, your intermingling of blood with the Babylonians and the Persians is somehow better than their mixed blood.
I read somewhere recently that there are still Samaritans in the Holy Land, about seventy of them, with their own version of Torah, not much different or so they say from the PC mainstream version. (BBC photo above of Samaritan Priest preparing Passover Lambs April 13, 2006)
So too in terms of real estate, they, the Samaritans had a better claim on land that they never left. You in your political self interest may want the theme of younger sons, and successful, blessed by God, Johnny come lately types being the national heroes. Claim to the land needs a great written history of having and rewarding the newer, younger, successful (been away for a long time) more streamline culture – then you begin to have a better claim to the land with or without improvements. God writes natural law then makes a lot of exceptions to that law in terms of PC history ?
That theme, this similar storyboard concept, apparently works well even until this day in terms of oral history, written records and PC archeology to lay claim to the same acreage in downtown Jerusalem and beyond.
Just the germ of an idea. I thought I would pass it along.