Friday, December 16, 2011

How did the Hebrews win in battle?

Given the Hebrews were ill equipped to fight battles against professional armies until they established a monarchy, how did they achieve victory against their enemies?

Quoting from this article, which I recommend you read in full...

Before the reign of David, fighting took the form of skirmishes or raids. In this early period, the Israelites were experts at guerilla fighting. They relied on surprise attacks to panic their enemies. As well, the Israelites were poorly equipped, with little or no armour. There are few references to weapons in the period of the Judges, or in the battles that were fought then - no Israelite spears, bows, shields, javelins, axes or maces - or the protective body armor (see Judges 5:8).

Again, I believe it's very clear that the use of the words, 'chariots' and 'horses', when 'owned' by the Hebrews, is a metaphorical reference to Yahweh's fiery eruptions and tumbling ash clouds and that many claimed conquests by the Hebrews were in fact conquests by volcanic activity and finished off by the Hebrews.

2 Kings 2:11  And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

2 Kings 6:17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

and in 'battle'....

Judges 1:19  And the Lord was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.

In Judges 5, the Song of Deborah.....God chose new leaders, when war came to the city gates, but not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel.

Yahweh was a god of war...

Psalm 7:13  He has prepared his deadly weapons; he makes ready his flaming arrows.

Psalm 45:5 Let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king's enemies; let the nations fall beneath your feet.

Habakkuk 3:11  Sun and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your flying arrows, at the lightning of your flashing spear.

Zachariah 9:14  Then the LORD will appear over them; his arrow will flash like lightning. The Sovereign LORD will sound the trumpet; he will march in the storms of the south.

I believe battles were either conducted solely by the Hebrews using skills born out of a lack of weaponry (cunning, surprise tactics, trickery, man-to-man combat) or by Yahweh (the volcanoes) via volcanic eruptions, ash emissions, lava rivers, rumblings of thunder, lightening, hail storms, etc. The latter the Hebrews were not only accustomed to but also in favour of in enemy territory as they believed these signs and wonders were on their side. Some battles in the Bible may not have been battles at all but territorial and wealth opportunities born out of natural disasters that laid cities to waste allowing the Hebrews to go in afterwards to loot and then claim victory thanks to Yahweh. One example of this could be Jericho, which I believe was destroyed not by Joshua's trumpets but by an earthquake, which was seen as a volcano's 'outstretched arm'.
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  1. The length of time that passed between the Joshua and David was about 350 years. At the time of Joshua, the Hebrews did not have chariots. And then the further length of time from David to Ahab (2 Kings 2) was about 150 years.

    So, you are asking "how did the Hebrews win in battle" during a time frame that extends about 500 years. The response to the question will have to be quite a generalization.

    Also, the chariots that appeared on the occasions of Elijah's and Elisha's assumptions into heaven were not real, iron chariots used supposedly by the Hebrews as a nation in military combat. Rather, they were mystical, fiery chariots used by God in order to take these two individual prophets up into Heaven.

    You are trying to mix too much information into your idea that Yahweh was a volcano god. Leave the real, iron, military chariots out of your idea.

  2. I'm not trying to talk in definates. I'm simply musing.

    The point I am trying to make is that the Hebrews not only had no chariots before they established a monarchy but they also had no proper military weapons. Considering early verses mentioning horses and chariots, fiery darts, lightening swords, etc, I think it's important.

    I do not believe volcanoes aided the Hebrews in every battle but I do believe volcanoes had enabled them to overthrow some cities. Either this happened solely in Arabia, where there are recognisable volcanoes, or all up the Great Rift I have yet to establish. Either the terminology was carried up north or the volcanic events did.

    I am sure Elijah's chariots were not real. I believe they got swept up by some sort of flaming volcanic emission. Mystical? I'm an atheist. I don't believe in mysticism and neither do I believe in heaven. Can you explain what you mean?

    I'm just documenting my thought process.

  3. Your argument about Yahweh being a volcano god during and immediately after the Sinai wanderings is convincing for me.

    I am more skeptical that this volcano-god concept for most Hebrews extended far into the time when the religion revolved around the Jerusalem Temple. In this later time the religion developed into the idea that God resides primarily in Heaven and in the Temple. The idea of God operating from a volcano was lost to the Hebrew religion, because there were no volcanoes in that later time and location.

    Therefore, I think you have to be careful about trying to provide evidence that Temple-era Hebrews thought in terms of a volcano-god. True, some of the ancient metaphors and imagery were used by the Temple-era prophets, but that was their poetry.

    I look forward to the arguments you do present, but I just caution you to be careful not to get carried away.

  4. In the story about Elijah's ascension, God spares Elijah from a normal, human death and enables Elijah to join God directly in Heaven. This is an exceptional favor that God grants to one individual prophet.

    To accomplish this miracle, God uses a fiery chariot.

    In the cosmology of that ancient time, there was an idea that God arranged the universe so that something like a divine chariot dragged the Sun across the sky every day. We can assume that there were similar chariots that moved around other celestial bodies. In other words, God had created a set of divine chariots that could be employed for divine tasks of moving objects around through the sky.

    I assume that when ancient Hebrews heard or read about Elijah's ascension, they understood the event in relation to such divine chariots. In other words, they did not understand the story as being related somehow to volcanos.

    I used the expression "mystical, fiery "chariots". Perhaps I should have used "divine" or "supernatural" instead of "mystical".

  5. I agree with you that it may well be that it's just terminology carried on into a new location. Elijah being raputured up to heaven by a chariot of fire might have been an exagerated report of him dying to make his death appear to be more divine than it actually way, or he could have been murdered by his successor Elisha, who then claimed he'd been swept up by a whirlwind. There is still the option he did die a nasty death due to a weird natural event. The Great Rift goes all the way up to Israel so weird events may have occured. It may be that all along the rift there was weird volcanic activity going on for a long time.

    There are claims that the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah have been found next to the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea lies right in the rift so could have underwater volcanoes in it. These ruins are apparently covered in sulphar balls....brimstone...and the walls have been mostly been turned to ash, suggesting very high temperatures....or close proximity to a volcano.

    Could it be that the closest volcanic vents are not in Saudi but all along the rift? Could it be that these vents are not noticeable to us now as the rift hasn't opened in recent centuries. Could it be that back then there was continental drift causing all sorts of strange natural events? It's either that or Sodom, Gomorrah and Jericho were in Saudi or Jordan.

    I completely understand what you're saying about god becoming omnipresent and omniscient when the volcanoes were no longer present. However, they might still have been some volcanic activity, albeit in a more 'strange phenomena' way rather than great big calderas you can walk up and throw animals into.

    I will look into this more.

  6. I posted my last comment while you were writing yours so this comment is in response to your latest one.

    I don't believe in the divine, the supernatural or the mystical ;)

    I disagree with the correlation between dragging chariots across the sky and the chariots in the Hebrew Bible, mostly because the chariots in the Bible are rolling down mountains. I do agree that the Hebrews, once moved away from large volcanoes, may not have been aware of the origins of the chariot metaphor though. When they moved away from the volcanoes I do not know yet.

    The Elijah story might well have been a case of just regurgitating throwback imagery (based on actual volcanic events). I am more convinced of this now as it does look like Elisha murdered Elijah and claimed he'd been spirited away.


    11As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart.

    13He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.

    15The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, “The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. 16“Look,” they said, “we your servants have fifty able men. Let them go and look for your master. Perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has picked him up and set him down on some mountain or in some valley.”

    “No,” Elisha replied, “do not send them.”

    17But they persisted until he was too ashamed to refuse. So he said, “Send them.” And they sent fifty men, who searched for three days but did not find him. 18When they returned to Elisha, who was staying in Jericho, he said to them, “Didn’t I tell you not to go?”

    So did he get thrown into the Jordan? Hmmm!

    I'm going to make a new post in a few minutes....

  7. The Bible does not describe "chariots rolling down mountains". The Judges passage says essentially that the Hebrews prevailed in combat in the hills but not in the plains, because the Canaanites were able to use their chariots on the plains.

    It seems that you are trying to develop the idea that "chariots rolling down mountains" was a metaphor for lava rolling down mountains. You can expect to meet a lot of criticism for this idea, so you should be very careful with your evidence and arguments.

  8. It might be true that there was some volcanic activity in or near Israel and Judah during the Temple era or at least that the Hebrews were well informed about volcanic activity in general during that era.

    Still, the Jewish religion was institutionalized during the Temple period. The religion was controlled by a priesthood, which was supported by a government. The religion revolved around sacrifice rituals that were carried out by the priesthood at the Temple. There was an annual sequence of religious festivals that involved the entire population.

    The religion and society of the Temple era had evolved fundamentally from the religion and society of the nomadic era.

    For the nomadic era, you have presented convincing evidence that the religion was formed and developed in an obvious relationship to a volcano-god that was recognized, feared and worshiped by the entire society.

    For the Temple era, you have presented some good evidence that at least there still were many remnants of the then ancient volcano religion in the psalm imagery, prophetic poetry, and national history.

    However, I think that Jewish theology during the Temple era had obscured and perhaps even had discarded the volcano god. Worshiping a volcano god was obsolete. Bringing animals to the Temple for sacrifices to an omnipresent God by the priesthood at annual festivals was the essence of the religion in the Temple era.

  9. Not just lava but also tumbling ash clouds, which would have been faster than lava and just as devastating. Hot, billowing ash clouds would not only have looked just like racing dust cloud producing chariots but would also have created the same terror in the target. I think that before a monarchy was estabished (when the Hebrews had no chariots and no proper army...they fought as David did against Golliath), any use of chariots (especially along with fire) 'owned' by the Hebrews and not the enemy will have been a metaphor for tumbling hot ash clouds racing down mountain slopes.

    I cannot see any possibility of these verses refering to a real battle....

    Isaiah 66:15-6 says "The Lord will come with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind; he will bring down his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For with fire and with his sword the Lord will execute judgment on all men, and many will be those slain by the Lord."

    2 Kings 2:11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

    2 Kings 6:17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

    Zechariah 6:1 And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass.

    Those verses are describing volcanic activity. Fire, mountains the colour of brass, chariots of fire, horses of fire...

    Some of this is just inherited imagery but it's all refering to the origin.....fiery tumbling ash clouds.

    I'll try to find a video of tumbling ash clouds down a volcano so the similarity between those and charging chariots can be seen. The enemy in Canaan had chariots of iron......unlike our god who had chariots that only worked in the mountains.

    The temple. Didn't the encamped Hebrews of Mount Sinai also have a priesthood, rituals, animal slaughter? They also had a temple.....a volcano.

    My gut feeling at the moment is that the first temple was not in Jerusalem in Israel but in Saudi, maybe Medina. That would explain the lack of evidence of the first temple in Israel, the migration of Jews as far South as Yemen and Ethiopia just after the time of the first temple destruction and the large Jewish population in Saudi.

    Rev 15:8 8And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.

    I also believe the glory of god was just lava.

    2 Samuel 22:7
    In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry entered His ears.

  10. I can't edit my comments :(

    The chariots of fire verses are not all literal. e.g. Elisha. Just imagery.