Monday 14 March 2016

Gen 2:4 How Yahweh became top god

Another post will discuss the origin of the name Yahweh. Here I speculate as to why the name Baal died out.

In a previous post I wrote about our modern logics: our guiding forces, our gods. As generations pass, different logics (logoi) gain and lose status. For example, in modern times, phreno-logy (the logos of reading bumps on the head) lost ground because it failed in real world tests, whereas psycho-logy (the logos of thoughts) was more successful. We see the same battles in the earliest history of the Hebrews, in the battle between Baal and Yahweh.

Baal and Yahweh were originally "storm gods". The lands of the near east were very dry, so survival depended on understanding the logic of rain. Obviously that meant irrigating where possible, and using the best crops, but how do you organise the people? How do you respond to needs? There were two competing theories, represented by the Yahweh and Baal.

Baal's logic was strong leadership: a strong ruler can have good advisers and tell people what to do. This seemed rational. but whether or not it led to better harvests, one obvious result was that cities that followed Baal tended to have a wealthy king who owned all the land.

Yahweh's logic (in the books of Moses) was to have no king, but share the land equally, and teach the people correct principles (do not steal, care for the poor, etc.). The thinking (as later explained in the first book of Samuel) is that kings tend to be out of touch and yet they take all your resources. So the cities that followed Yahweh leave fewer grand monuments for archaeologists, but they treated their written law as sacred.

Which logic was more correct? For centuries the two approaches lived side by side, but gradually Yahweh's equal-land, sacred law approach gave better economic results. So Yahweh replaced Baal. Just as psycho-logy beat phreno-logy. The better god won.

At least, that's how it looks to me.

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