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Jealousy and Divinity

By Benel

Is jealousy a quality which can be attributed to a god? Absolutely. But not to the extent that it may often be made out to be.

There is some debate in the Canaanite community as to Yahweh’s place in the religion. To some prophets of ancient Israel, he was in the temple of Samaria with Asherah; to others, he was the one and only god. Which prophets do we believe? Obviously, they can’t both be right. This debate raged right through the monotheistic reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah, right up until the Babylonian captivity. And if an ancient Judahite slave in Babylon, set free by the Persians to return home, thought that the debate would end after the Babylonian Exile was over, he was sorely mistaken. Persian-era Judah saw some prophets like Ezra and others, who returned from Persia with the intention of instructing the people in the decrees of the Persian king, but who were also responsible for the adoption of a kind of universal monotheism among the Jews. But the debate raged on, mostly in Jerusalem rather than elsewhere, and at some points in the Hellenistic period each new high priest could be either a polytheist or a monotheist. It wasn’t always a friendly argument either, as fierce competition between the high priests Honiyyo and Honiyyo ‘Menelaus’ show. And likewise with Joshua, who attempted to take the priesthood for himself twice, and ended up fleeing from Judah to Ammon, then to Egypt, and finally to Sparta (home of Lycurgus, famed among the Jews as the ‘Greek Moses’).

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