General term for religions marked by rites that reenact a myth accounting for the orderly change of the seasons and the earth’s fruitfulness. Such myths often involve a great mother-goddess as a symbol of fertility and a male deity, usually her consort but sometimes a son, who like vegetation dies and returns to life again. In Mesopotamia the divine couple was Ishtar and Tammuz (who is mourned in Ezek 8:14); in Egypt, Isis and her sons Osiris: in Asia Minor, Cybele and Attis. In Syria the Ugaritic myths of the second millennium B.C. pictured Baal-Hadad, the storm god, as the dying and rising god. (A local manifestation of this god is mourned in ZechContinue reading DEFINITION OF THE DAY (FERTILITY CULT PT1)
Temples built for polytheistic worship; many pagan temples predated Solomon’s temple and some had similar designs. The earliest excavated temples from the Chalcolithic Period (4600-3300 B.C.), such as those uncovered at Eln Gedi in 1961 and Eshtaol in 2013, illustrate the ubiquitous nature of pagan worship in Canaan prior to the arrival of Abram (Gen 12:5). The culticsite at Eshtaol contained a standing stone, 1.3 meters in height, smoothed on all sides and erected facing east. The standing stone could be used as a monument but often representedContinue reading DEFINITON OF THE DAY (PAGAN TEMPLES)
COMPANIONSHIP – Whereas the creation of male and female mankind was “very good” (Gen 1:31), the creation of the male alone had not yet fulfilled God’s purpose for man as the image of God (Gen 2:18). This expresses no failure on God’s part; instead, it instructs us that a male creature alone is not the perfect creation that God had in mind. Adam needed a wife to be all that God intended him to be, as is normally the case with all men unless God grants otherwise (Matt 19:10-12; 1 Cor 7:6-7). The same, of course, would be true of the woman whom God made for the man (1 Cor 11:9).Continue reading DEFINITION OF THE DAY (MARRIAGE “COMPANIONSHIP”)
Elevate site, usually found on the top of a mountain or hill; most high places were Canaanite places of pagan worship.
HEATHEN WORSHIP AT THE HIGH PLACE: The average high place would have an altar (2 Kings 21:3; 2 Chron 14:3), a carved wooden pole that depicted the female goddess of fertility (Asherah), a stone pillar symbolizing the male deity (2 Kings 3:2), other idols (2 Kings 12:31; 13:32; 16:32-33). At these places of worship the people sacrificed animals (at some high places children were sacrificed according to Jer 7:31), burned incense to their gods, prayed, ate sacrificial meals, and were involved with male or female cultic Continue reading DEFINITON OF THE DAY (HIGH PLACE)
DOG – Considered an unclean animal; often wild, scavenger animal that ran in packs (Pss 22:16-22; 59:6) but sometimes kept as domestic pet. Dogs served as watchdogs for herds (Isa 56:10; Job 30:1) and for the dwelling (Exod 11:7). Some were training for hunting (Ps 22:16), but some ran stay in the streets (Exod 22:30; 1 Kings 14:11). Continue reading DEFINITION OF THE DAY (DOG)
The Israelites found themselves in the midst of a Canaanite culture that was awash in pagan immorality. These heathen nations had merged spirituality with sensuality to create a very alluring and very dangerous combination. To keep His people from joining this around-the-clock celebration of perversion, God decreed severe punishment for those guilty of sexual sin. Continue reading WHY WERE PENALTIES FOR SEXUAL SIN SO SEVERE?
A shepherd from Midian and his brother stood before Pharaoh and demanded the release of the Hebrew slaves. Pharaoh was the strongman leader of the strongest country in the world. He ignored God’s command to release 600,000 male slaves and their women and children. Despite the demonstration of God’s power-the Nile turned to blood-Pharaoh returned to his palace and put “the whole thing out of his mind” (Exodus 7:23 NLT). Continue reading MEN OF THE BIBLE (PHARAOH: A HEART IN DENIAL)
Laban was the brother of Jacob’s mother, Rebekah (Genesis 29:10). This relationship would have made Laban’s daughter Rachel-the woman whom Jacob wanted to marry-Jacob’s first cousin. Continue reading BIBLE CUSTOMS AND CURIOSITIES (MARRIAGE AMONG RELATIVES)
When Jacob’s sons learn that their sister, Dinah, had been raped by Shechem, son of Hamor the Hivite, and that Hamor had approached their father to ask for Dinah’s hand in marriage for the offender, they stepped in and gave Shechem a condition-every male must be circumcised so the Shechemites would be like them. Continue reading MEN OF THE BIBLE (LEVI: FROM VIOLENCE TO PRIESTHOOD)
While Ahasuerus was entertaining his royal officials (see notes on Esther 1:8), his queen, Vashti, was serving as hostess at a feast for the wives of these men, Separation of men and women at such royal events must have been the normal practice in the Persian court. Continue reading SEPARATION OF PERSIAN WOMEN