The Israelites Worshipped Other Gods??? Really?

July 29, 2013

It probably isn't much of a surprise to you or me, but the archaeological record shows an Israel that wasn't exactly up to par when it came to worship. Not too surprisingly, there are quite a few "less conservative" scholars who try to make this into a big deal.

 

In his book, _Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?_ (http://goo.gl/AgMMmH), Bill Dever describes an Israel that didn't leave Egypt in an Exodus but who were just normal Canaanites who wanted a change. A part of his evidence for this was the very wide acceptance of Canaanite worship practices. In fact, here in this book and in another one (_Did God Have a Wife?_ [http://goo.gl/yV47MC]), Dever talks quite a bit about the archaeological evidences containing phrases such as "Yahweh and his Asherah." Now, just in case you didn't know, Asherah was the wife of the god El (the chief god of the Canaanite pantheon, but she eventually became the wife of Ba'al (also mentioned in the Bible).

 

So what gives? Why is there so much evidence of Canaanite worship in the archaeological record? Does this point to a different truth other than what the Bible teaches us? Were the Israelites just Canaanites in disguise?

 

Let me answer that last question first. Yes. ... Okay, the Israelites weren't actually Canaanites, but when we read the Bible we learn that the children of God left their God, Yahweh, and began to follow after "foreign" gods ... those of the land of Canaan. as a matter of fact, the larger than life reality presented to us in the Scriptures is the idea that Israel is doing just about everything wrong! They rejected God as their king wanted an earthly king; many rejected Jerusalem as their worship center, so they built others; they rejected Yahweh as their deity, so they started worshiping others.

 

The little figurine head you see in the picture is one that we dug up at Tall Jalul (Jordan) back in 2009. The area where we were digging belonged to the northern kingdom of Israel at the time, and as would be expected, we find a nice little goddess. The persona of the goddess is unknown, but there she is! She was worshipped by the people.

 

In the end, the liberals who claim that the Bible is wrong because the archaeological evidence points toward Canaanite worship more so than Yahweh worship are really just verifying what the Bible tells us. If anything, they are helping our cause! Remember, if there is one lesson you are to take away from the books of Kings in the Old Testament, it is this: Israel never needed kings to guide them (they just led them astray); instead, they needed the leadership of the one true God - Yahweh.

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