A response to Deane Galbraith. Is there a kernel of truth in the Biblical giant narrative?

Deane Galbraith is a biblical scholar, and a self-described ‘gigantologist’, meaning he studies the Biblical giants, and there reception throughout history. I, as a person also fascinated with the biblical giants, have learned a lot from Deane’s blog, ‘Remnant of Giants’, but I disagree with Deane on many issues, such as whether or not there is a Kernel of truth in the biblical giants existence. Deane says:

The giant grapes and giant inhabitants fit very well together. Indeed, motifs of “eating” or “devouring” are ambiguously associated with both the land and its inhabitants in Num. 13.32 and 14.9. Therefore, we should not – as some commentators have done – search for examples of very tall humans as the “historical kernel” of this account. Instead, the author of Num. 13-14 is describing the Anakim in fantastic terms: as eaters of grape bunches so large that it is impossible for a single person to carry one! The height of the Anakim is removed from the realm of ordinary human parallels, consistent with their assignment to an ancient era, before regular mortals (the Israelites) occupied the land. The narrative in Num. 13-14 leads us into the realm of the fantastic.

I do not wish to comment on the veracity of Galbraith’s links between the giant grapes and the giant Anakim, but assuming there is a link, and the Anakim were of a ridiculous height and strength, two things can be possible at the same time:

  1. The biblical giants were based on real life men of large size.
  2. The biblical giants were distorted, and exaggerated into monsters.

I think a good case can be made for my position, for whilst Gilgamesh is described as 11 cubits (15ft) tall, and Achilles was 33ft tall, Goliath is a much more modest 6ft 9 inches tall in our earliest sources (DSS, LXX and Josephus).

The point being is that Goliath does not fit the bill of a made up giant. Had he been made up, the biblical author surely would have given him a ridiculous height. Yet he didn’t.

Now I would agree with Deane that the story did not play out as 1 Samuel 17 says it did. Probably, it was truly Elhanan who slew Goliath, as 1 Samuel 21:19 says. But the height of Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 is very likely in my opinion based on a memory of a real life giant.

Like with Stanhope, I bear no ill will against Deane, whom I like a lot, hopefully Deane will respond to my points, and we can have a fruitful discussion.

rkb ‘rpt, out!

Beowulf and the Nephilim

It was Jason Colavito who first alerted me to the notion that Grendel may have been conceived by the Anglo-Saxon author of Beowulf as a descendant of the Nephilim. Colavito encouraged me to pick up my copy of Beowulf for once (translated with a commentary by JRR Tolkein). What I discovered is fascinating.

Before I start I should clarify my position on the biblical narrative of the Sons of the gods and the Daughters of men in Genesis 6:1-4. I do not think this has anything to do with angels, gods, neanderthals or aliens. I think the passage is speaking of human rulers from the line of Cain, who forcibly took multiple wives and begat men of great renown. The post flood giants were of a different lineage of fallen heroes, hence the pre-flood nephilim were not necessarily inhuman giants. This story is contained in Genesis 4:17-22.

As I stated above, Grendel was very likely intended to be one of the Nephilim giants. As Grendel is explicitly stated to be a descendant of Cain, and the text identifies the giants of Genesis 6 (gigantas) as descendants of Cain also (v89-91). Grendel is stated to be demonic, as well as human, perhaps alluding to the Enochian belief that demons were the ghosts of the Nephilim. Most of the commentators who persist a connection assume that the author of Beowulf took the view that the sons of the gods were men from the line of Seth (the view taken by Bede), with the daughters of men being women from the line of Cain. I beg to differ, I see in Beowulf a view very similar to that of mine.

Later on in the text, we read that Beowulf finds a fabulous sword in the possession of Grendel’s mother. It is said to be the ‘work of giants’ according to Tolkein’s translation (and Tolkein was considered an authority on Beowulf, a work which he helped to popularise), and in Old English it reads giganta weorc. The word gigant is elsewhere in Anglo-Saxon literature only ever used of the giants of Genesis,  It is very likely that the ‘giant’ in question was Tubal-Cain, son of Lamech, who is (correctly) identified as one of the giants of Genesis 6:1-4 elsewhere in Christian literature of the time. We should also point out that the gigantas like Tubal-Cain, are said to be descendants of Cain in the poem. All this evidence suggests that it is very likely that Tubal-Cain forged the sword found by Beowulf in the mind of the author, and was perceived of as one of the Nephilim of Genesis 6.

In short, rather than taking the view that the sons of the gods of Genesis 6 referred to the Sethites, it seems as though Beowulf, and some other Christian literature of the time took the view that the term referred to the line of Cain, with the ‘giants’ being Jabal, Jubal and Tubal-Cain (though most took the Sethite view). It is great to see that the writer of Beowulf knew his Bible, and used surprisingly good exegesis to craft a well told story.

Such a view also appears to be taken by Muslim writer Al Kisai, who states:

When he was 40 years old, God sent him (Enoch) as a messenger (rasul) to the descendants of Qabil (i.e., Cain). The descendants of Qabil were giants on the earth, occupied with amusements, singing, playing reed instruments, and strumming string instruments to the point that none of them exercised caution with regard to this (behavior) among the people. A gang of them would crowd around a woman and have sex with her, and the satans who were with them would commend them for their deed. They would have sex with (their) mothers, daughters, and sisters, and they mixed indiscriminately with each other. Badgered by the satans, they acquired five idols for themselves (fashioned) according to the likeness of the descendants of Qabil, and they were (named) Wadd, Suwa’, Yaghuth, Ya’uq, and Nasr,  these being the names of the descendants of Qabil.

Note the fact that the Cainites were giants, and were engaged in promiscuous behaviour, like the sons of the gods, ‘and’ also are said to be associated with musical instruments, like Jubal, son of Lamech.

It would seem as though my view does in fact have a historical basis.

… One final thing. It would seem as though Ben Stanhope has a new video out on the Nephilumps.

As I predicted, he does little more than parrot the work of Dr Michael Heiser to support the divine origin of the Nephilim. I have already set out my positive case for a human reading above, as well as here, so I will focus on responding to one particular argument used by Stanhope here. The argument that ‘Nephilim’ means giants, instead of fallen ones.

This is simple, uncritical parroting of Ben Stanhope’s idol, Heiser. The issue with this view is that all the Aramaic texts where naphil means ‘giant’ are very late, and postdate Genesis 6:-4’s composition. Furthermore, the word repha’im, used for spirits of the dead, is used to refer to biblical giants, supporting the reading of fallen (as in ‘slain’) ones.

I also recommend you read this blog post by Deane Galbraith for more information:

When I showed this blog post to Stanhope, he (I suspect deliberately) confused this blog post with an earlier blog post by Galbraith, which Heiser responded to, and claimed Heiser ‘ate his lunch’. But he evidently didn’t read this blog post, which is actually a ‘response’ to Heiser’s response. Heiser failed to give an in depth response. So no, Heiser did not ‘eat his lunch’. Stanhope evidently cannot deal with the possibility that Heiser is wrong.

There is simply too much parallelism between Genesis 4:17-22 and Genesis 6:1-4 to be mere coincidence. Considering how both passages use kingly language (Cain founds a city, and kings in the ancient world were believed to be begotten by the gods) to describe beings who ‘take’ (laqach) wives freely, and most importantly, begat offspring of great importance.

So I see Stanhope’s view point as being somewhat weak.

I bear no ill will against Stanhope, in fact I enjoy his content. I just feel the need to critique him when he gets it wrong.

rkb ‘rpt, out!

Further reading:

Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary – JRR Tolkein

Beowulf’s Monsters: Comparing the Mythology of Grendel, Cain, & Satan – Sean C. Hadley

Peltola, Niilo. “GRENDEL’S DESCENT FROM CAIN RECONSIDERED.” Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, vol. 73, no. 1/3, 1972, pp. 284–291. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/43345359.

 

Clash of the Titans 2: The curse of Canaan

Last time we established that the Titans of Greek mythology are euhemerised forms of the Sutean (or Didanu) people of ancient Syria. But our discussion of the origins of the titans does not end there. It is well established that the story of the Castration of Uranus by his son Kronos has parallels in the Hittite story of the castration of Anu by his son Kumarbi. Both Anu and Uranus are sky gods, and in both cases, new gods are formed from the spilled seed of the eunuch god.

But this is not the only ANE parallel to this episode from Hesiod. Consider Genesis 9:

18 The sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. 19 These three were the sons of Noah; and from these the whole earth was peopled.

20 Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. 21 He drank some of the wine and became drunk, and he lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said,

“Cursed be Canaan;
lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers.”

This verse is one of the more enigmatic ones in the Book of Genesis. There are four major theories about what Ham did to his father Noah:

  1. Ham literally saw his father naked.
  2. Ham castrated his father (according to some midrashim). The parallels to Uranus here are obvious.
  3. Ham raped his father.
  4. Ham had sex with his mother.

The last two options are derived from the fact that according to Leviticus 18, ‘uncovering one’s nakedness’ is a sexual euphemism, and the nakedness of the mother is said to be the nakedness of the father. The maternal incest view would explain why Canaan in particular was the object of the curse, (he was the fruit of the affair). However, the fact that Shem and Japheth made every attempt not to view their father would suggest that option 1 is in play here.

Whatever is at play here, it is very likely that whatever Ham did was an act of putting his father to shame, and perhaps usurping his authority. This is true both for staring at one’s genitals (in Babylonian law codes) and having sex with one’s women (consider Absalom and David).

And whatever is at play here, has the same function as the castration of Uranus/Anu. It is worth considering that the name Ham (Kham in Hebrew) is potentially linked to the name of the Hittite god Kumarbi, who castrated his father Anu.

Though the most famous Titans are certainly Kronos, Prometheus and Atlas, a less well known Titan was the brother of Kronos, Iapetus, a name with no convincing Greek etymology, but with potential links to Japheth (Yafet), one of Noah’s sons.

In conclusion, it would seem as though Ham and Japheth were the Hebrew equivalent of Kronos and Iapetus. The former sharing a cognate name with Kronos’ Hittite equivalent (and both sexually shamed their father), and the latter sharing  cognate name with Iapetus.

The question now remains, what came first, the Biblical story, or the Greek story?

Given the fact that a number of discrepancies exist between the Greek, Hittite and Hebrew stories (there is no castration in the latter, for example), I see it as most likely that all three stories share a common origin. Perhaps it is my own biases, but I see the Biblical story as the one being the one with the greatest antiquity, and likely the real life events were the source of the later myths. This is because it shares elements of both stories, similarities which the later stories lack with each other.

rkb ‘rpt, out!

Further reading:

Louden, Bruce. “Iapetus and Japheth: Hesiod’s Theogony, Iliad 15.187-93, and Genesis 9-10.” Illinois Classical Studies, no. 38 (2013): 1-22. doi:10.5406/illiclasstud.38.0001.

David M. Goldenberg: What did Ham do to Noah?

Answers in Ugarit 3: Clash of The Titans

Often we are told that Greek mythology is nothing more than stories. Certainly there was no Minotaur, no medusa, no hydra and no Cerberus. But is it all myths and legends? Or is there truth in the tales?

I think so.

Meet the Suteans, an Amorite tribe living in the Levant. To the people of Ugarit they were known as Didanu, a term associated with the dead kings of old, who were conjured up from the earth:

(1) sipru dabaḥī ẓalmi “Sacrifice of the Shades” liturgy:
(2) qura’tumu rapi’ī ’a[rṣi] You are summoned, O Rephaim of the earth,
(3) quba’tumu qibūṣī di[dāni] You are invoked, O council of the Didanu!
(4) qura’a ’Ulkn rap[i’u] Ulkn, the Raphi’, is summoned,
(5) qura’a Trmn rapi[’u] Trmn, the Raphi’, is summoned,
(6) qura’a Sdn-w-rdn Sdn-w-rdn is summoned,
(7) qura’a Ṯr ‘llmn Ṯr ‘llmn is summoned,
(8) qura’ū rapi’īma qudmiyyīma the Rephaim of old are summoned!
(9) qura’tumu rapi’ī ’arṣi You are summoned, O Rephaim of the earth,
(10) quba’tumu qibūṣī didāni You are invoked, O council of the Didanu!
(11) qura’a ‘ammiṯtamru malku King Ammishtamru is summoned
(12) qura’a ’ū niqmaddu malku King Niqmaddu is summoned as well!
(13) kussa’i niqmaddi ’ibbakiyī O throne of Niqmaddu, be bewept.
(14) wa-yidma‘ hidāma pa‘nêhu May he shed tears, the footstool of his soles.
(15) lê panêhu yabkiyu ṯulḥanu malki Before him, may the king’s table weep.
(16) wa-yibla‘a ’udma‘ātihu May it swallow down its tears.
(17) ‘udmatu wa ‘udmatu ‘udamāti Misery! Misery of miseries!

This invocation, for those who don’t know, is one for the coronation of king Ammurapi, last king of Ugarit, who was taking the throne from his father Niqmaddu, mentioned among the dead Didanu/Rephaim.

If the word ‘Rephaim’ sounds familiar, that’s because it is also used for the chthonic spirits of dead kings in the Hebrew Bible. See Isaiah 14:9:

Sheol beneath is stirred up to meet you when you come; it rouses the Repha’im to greet you, all who were leaders of the earth; it raises from their thrones all who were kings of the nations.

If the word Didanu, sounds familiar, that’s because some scholars believe it to be the root of the Greek Titanes, who are similarly seen as chthonic spirits in the earliest texts, who could be invoked to aid the living (e.g. Homer). Likewise, though Kronos is their leader according to Hesiod, some other texts give the name of the leader as Ogyges, a name with no convincing Greek etymology, but with possible links to the Biblical character of Og, ‘last of the Rephaim’ (Deut 3:11).

All things considered, it is very possible that the Titans were partly euhemerised from the Sutean, or Didanu people, the kings of Ugarit, who went down to the underworld long ago, yet continued to be invoked.

Something cool to consider.

Further reading:

Annus, Amar. “Are There Greek Rephaim? On the Etymology of Greek Meropes and Titanes,” Ugarit-Forschungen31 (1999), pp. 13-30.

Suriano, Matthew J. “Dynasty Building at Ugarit: The Ritual and Political Context of KTU 1.161,” Aula Orientalis 27 (2009), p. 107.

Who or what is Azazel?

And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for Azazel. – Leviticus 16:8

On Yom Kippur, the Israelites would cast lots over two goats, one goat would be a sin offering to the Lord, the other would carry the iniquities of the Israelites and be sent out in the wilderness to ‘Azazel’.

This verse has baffled interpreters over the centuries. The KJV translates Azazel merely as ‘scapegoat’, with no pretence of the demonic to be found. Judit M. Blair (1) suggests that it may be a mere euphemism for the forces of chaos opposed to YHWH, yet there is no more warrant for such a view than there is to suggest that YHWH is merely a euphemism for order. A much more compelling view is that presented by Nachmanides, who believed it was a name for the demon Samael.

There is compelling reason for holding this view, to begin with, his name is in parallel with that of YHWH, who is a divine being. The most natural reading of this is to suggest that Azazel too is a spiritual entity, albeit one on a different level.

Furthermore, early Jewish texts, such as 1 Enoch and the Midrash of Shemhazai and Azazel identified Azazel as the name of a fallen angel, who taught mankind corrupting knowledge, so was cast into the desert canyon of Dudael, where he remains to this day.

In light of 1 Enoch, and the Midrash of Shemhazai and Azazel, I believe it to be very likely that Azazel is a Hebrew variant of the Prometheus myth, a divine being who bestows forbidden knowledge to humanity, and is punished and bound in chains because of it. Whilst Prometheus was chained to the Caucasus mountains, where an eagle would rip out his liver every day, Azazel was forced to bear the burden of Israel’s sins until the day of Judgement.

Parallels can also be found with the Babylonian god Ea, associated with the Me, the gifts of civilisation, which he sent the Apkallu to deliver (2). You will recall that we established a link between the Apkallu and the sons of Lamech in Genesis 4, who may have been the ones who received the knowledge from Azazel.

In conclusion, Azazel was very likely a divine being associated with wisdom, who introduced knowledge of Metallurgy to mankind before the flood, which corrupted them, and lead to mass violence. For his part, Azazel was cast into the desert of Dudael, and made to carry the iniquities of Israel for the rest of history.

Footnote:

  1. Blair J. M. De-demonising the Old Testament: An Investigation of Azazel, Lilith, Deber, Qeteb, Reshef. 2008
  2. Annus, Amar.”On The Origin of Watchers: A Comparative Study of the Antediluvian Wisdom in Mesopotamian and Jewish Traditions”. Journal For The Study of The Pseudipigrapha, Vol 19.4 (2010): 277-320

Further reading:

The Greek Myths – Robert Graves

Tree of Souls – Howard Schwartz

Dear The Telegraph – Can we stop the madness?

I have previously commented on the work of Daniel Bergner and others on female sexuality, with them suggesting that women are much more promiscuous than we are told. I have agreed with them, citing historical evidence to support their cases. The stories of Tiresias the Blind Seer and Joseph and Zuleikha show that such a view was widespread until fairly recently. But the idiots, and cultural Marxists have picked up on these ideas as well, and are using them to push a political agenda.

The Telegraph has a ridiculous idea for a Christmas present. Men should let their wives cheat on them.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/men-should-give-wives-permission-infidelity-christmas/?utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook&fbclid=IwAR1JDvejlXQtObjhmyfRpkaV-81l0iyl6Q2DkljleBet4v8AGyxOwW_-7gk#Echobox=1544215193

Genius idea, except that tolerance of promiscuity invariably leads to Chaos. Polygamous societies inevitably lead to violence, true, this is largely associated with male promiscuity, but I am still concerned (and isn’t the left all about egalitarianism?) that promoting female promiscuity will open the door to allowing men to have equal rights.

I am also concerned that promoting rampant nymphomania will lead to a rise in sexual assault, and whilst I admit this is speculation, if more women are being promiscuous, men will inevitably think they will ‘always’ enjoy sex, ‘always’.

What else does the article say?

Martin, whose 2015 book Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir became a New York Times bestseller, is not alone in her espousal of such ideas. This year has seen, if not an explosion, then at least a creeping insinuation into our culture of the idea that monogamy might not be the only approach to long-term relationships. Two of the most talked about BBC dramas of the autumn, Wanderlust and Killing Eve, had at their heart characters who rejected traditional relationships. In the former, a married couple who try out consensual non-monogamy to reignite their dull sex lives; in the latter, an attractive female assassin whose potent bisexuality and rotating cast of bed partners is almost incidental to the action. And that was just the BBC. Meanwhile we’ve had an MP, Labour’s Jess Phillips, recommending that schoolgirls should be taught about orgasms.

I’ve said before, that as we abandon the values of the Abrahamic religions, bad ideas sweep in. Killing Eve, well son of a b*tch, that’s a fitting name, perhaps everyone else in the Bible will be killed too.

Also, (for reasons which should be obvious by now), I take issue with this part of the article:

A few pages later, Martin has segued into reportage from the front line of female sexual exploration: women-only sex parties, known as Skirt Club, and attended by women who identify as largely heterosexual, many of whom are married to men.

What she witnessed there didn’t only show female sexual fluidity in action in humans; it also busted another myth, she says – that women cheat for emotional connection.

“These women are going there to have one-off, more or less anonymous encounters with women,” she says. “There could be no more vivid illustration of the data about female sexuality than Skirt Club.”

Ah, so lesbianism is (once again) something which defines female sexuality, and in particular female promiscuity. No, rather, Wednesday Martin (yes that’s really her name) deliberately chose the skirt club to promote this narrative, or perhaps to appeal to a social justice. The fact that lesbians are in fact ‘less promiscuous’, than heterosexual women, is apparently lost on her (and on the makers of killing eve), and this shatters her  position. If this really was ‘as vivid an illustration of the data on female sexuality’, we would expect such a belief to be present throughout time. Except it wasn’t, even by the people who recognised what, me, Bergner, and Martin recognise.

However, I do find this observation interesting:

A few pages later, Martin has segued into reportage from the front line of female sexual exploration: women-only sex parties, known as Skirt Club, and attended by women who identify as largely heterosexual, many of whom are married to men.

This fits perfectly with the data we have discussed before. It is my personal speculation that true lesbians (or even bisexual women) are very small in number (I do not deny that they exist). For whilst we do have discussions of female sexuality, and homosexuality from ancient times, we have almost nothing about lesbianism. It is only with the rise of feminism, (and general bashing of men) that we see “lesbianism” becoming more prominent amongst women, and more women wanting to ‘experiment’, as we see in the skirt club.

Other than that, this is one of the worst pieces of journalism I have ever seen.

rkb ‘rpt, out!

Dave Rubin’s ridiculous Hannukah tweet

To begin with, Happy Hannukah to all Bene Yisra’el, from a Bene Noach.

I have previously been critical of Dave Rubin (whom I view as a biased, hypocritical partisan hack) and other elements of the Intellectual Dark Web before, and though I identify myself as a Classical Liberal, I feel the need to critique my side when they get it wrong. And one such instance was in a recent tweet by Rubin, retweeting a tweet by Ben Shapiro on Hannukah and the Maccabees:

Now to be clear:

  1. I am an active practitioner of the Seven Laws of Noah, the laws agreed upon by Jewish Rabbis which Gentiles must follow to enter the Olam HaBa (world to come). Obviously then, I am no Anti-Semite.
  2. In fact, I love Israel, both the people and the state, not just for religious reasons, but because it is the only thing resembling a liberal democracy in the modern Middle East.

Dave Rubin on the other hand is a Jewish Atheist, who nonetheless sounds like an Ultra-Orthodox, or Evangelical Christian Fundamentalist. If you are an atheist, why does the ancient possession of the land of Israel mean anything? It’s not as if God has decreed the land for Israel, so now demands they have the whole land.

But Dave desperately wants to fit in with the crowd of right-wing pundits, so he conjures up reasons to ‘dogmatically’ support Israel (which I, not in spite of my beliefs, but ‘because’ of them do not do, more on that in a minute).

Why Dave Rubin thinks this is justifiable reason for Israel to forcibly occupy the West Bank, I do not know. By his logic it is justifiable for the former inhabitants of a house to take their former house by force. Answer me Dave, why is it any different?

Dave Rubin is also unaware that the Palestinians themselves are of Jewish/Israelite ancestry, i.e. they have just as much a right to the land as ‘self-identified’ Jews do.

This is a fact which crushes Dave’s argument and leaves it defenceless, for Dave cannot favour one group of Israelites over the other. Yes, this also means that Jewish settlers ‘can’ live in the west bank (if it was legal under international law), but it is not right for them to drive out the Palestinians.

This is also my biblical justification for a two-state solution, alongside the fact that God frequently criticises Israel in the Tanakh. Elijah challenged King Ahab when he turned to worship Baal, the Prophet Isaiah compared Israel to Sodom and Gomorrah, and when Israel and Judah fell into apostasy, God raised up the Assyrians and Babylonians to destroy them respectively. Hence dogmatic support for Israel is unbiblical. (not that this matters to a secular Jew like Rubin of course)

rkb ‘rpt, out!