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Monday, December 26 2011

The Tree Huggers Of Israel And Judah

The English word "grove" originated from an Anglo-Saxon word, grof, which meant to dig (the English word grave is actually just a variation of the same word). It came to be used to refer to an alley or a road cut through a wooded area i.e. digging out the stumps to make a clear way. Later, it came to mean a wooded area itself - specifically, one with paths or roads through it, either by cutting, or having planted the trees with spacing in that manner.

A "grove" in the Holy Bible is most-often used to refer to a place where pagans worshipped trees, or carved tree trunks i.e. idols. Why do some translations use that word?

Asherah, and its plural form, Asherim, from the Hebrew word pronounced ash-ay-raw, refer to a pagan goddess, also known as Astarte to the Canaanites, and Ishtar (pronounced easter - the origin of the English word Easter) to the Assyrians and Babylonians. The common symbols of the cult (see also Is Your Church A Cult?) were tree trunks with all of their branches removed and images carved into them, or simply left "bare" as phallic symbols (also the original symbolic meaning of steeples and obelisks). Those standing tree trunks were the reason that some versions of the Holy Bible translate the actual original word of the Holy Scriptures, pronounced "Asherah" or "Asherim," as "grove" or "groves" e.g. for 2 Chronicles 15:16, from the RSV and KJV:

"15:16 Even Maacah, his mother, King Asa removed from being queen mother because she had made an abominable image for Asherah. Asa cut down her image, crushed it, and burned it at the brook Kidron." (RSV)

"15:16 And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron." (KJV)

As such, some are surprised to read (as it is translated in the King James Version) that righteous "Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba" (Genesis 21:33, shown below), however, unlike all of the other places where "grove" is translated, the actual word in Hebrew in that verse is not the pagan Asherah, but the Hebrew word, pronounced ay-shel, which simply means a regular tamarisk tree ("Any shrub or small tree of the genus Tamarix having small scalelike or needle-shaped leaves and feathery racemes of small white or pinkish flowers"; The WordWeb Dictionary by Princeton University); the RSV correctly translates it as "21:33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba."

Beersheba

"21:22 And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest [see Abraham The Christian and The Rock Of The Church]: 21:23 Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son's son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned.

21:24 And Abraham said, I will swear.

21:25 And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away. 21:26 And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day.

21:27 And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant. 21:28 And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. 21:29 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves?

21:30 And he said, For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well.

21:31 Wherefore he called that place Beersheba [see also The Negev Of Israel]; because there they sware both of them.

21:32 Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines. 21:33 And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God. 21:34 And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines' land many days." (Genesis 21:22-34 KJV)

"The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves"

When the Israelites left Egypt, after their four centuries in Goshen (see Why Did They Go To Goshen?), the LORD instructed and warned them not to defile themselves with the "groves" religion of the people that they would encounter in their land of Israel (see also Abraham's Seed: From The Nile To The Euphrates).

"34:8 And Moses [see also Moses Of Midian] made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped. 34:9 And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.

34:10 And he said, Behold, I make a covenant [see The First Christian Church]: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee. 34:11 Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite. 34:12 Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: 34:13 But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: 34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

34:15 Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; 34:16 And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods." (Exodus 34:8-16 KJV)

The Israelites however did not obey.

"3:5 And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: 3:6 And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods. 3:7 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves." (Judges 3:5-7 KJV)

The united kingdom of Israel was divided because King Solomon had forsaken his great wisdom and became instead a great fool ("the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination"; see the verses below). Israel became two kingdoms, The Northern Kingdom of "Israel" and The Southern Kingdom of "Judah."

The first king of the northern kingdom of Israel, Jeroboam, further "made Israel to sin" - to which the LORD declared that "he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to anger" (the "root up" was an obvious reference to destroying their tree worship, along with their kingdom; see also The Galilee Captivity).

Israel and Judah

"14:15 For the LORD shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to anger. 14:16 And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam [see Jeroboam Of Israel], who did sin, and who made Israel to sin." (1 Kings 14:15-16 KJV)

"14:19 And the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he warred, and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel [see also Kings of Israel and Judah]." (1 Kings 14:19 KJV)

The southern kingdom of Judah did no better; they only lasted a little longer (Israel fell to the Assyrians in 721 BC, while Judah fell to the Babylonians in 586 BC). Rehoboam of Judah (see Rehoboam's Answer) continued his father Solomon's idolatry with "high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree."

"14:21 And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD did choose out of all the tribes of Israel [see Are Levites 'Jews'? and No Levites In The Lost Ten Tribes?], to put his name there. And his mother's name was Naamah an Ammonitess.

14:22 And Judah [see also Who Were The First Jews?] did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done. 14:23 For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree. 14:24 And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel." (1 Kings 14:21-24 KJV)

The prophet Elijah's major warning to Israel was for them to free themselves of the tree-trunk cult of Jezebel. It was upon Mount Carmel that Elijah had his famous confrontation with nearly a thousand pagan priests of Baal and the groves i.e. "the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table."

"18:17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah [see The Prophets: Elijah], that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?

18:18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD [see The Fall Of Ahab and Jezebel], and thou hast followed Baalim. 18:19 Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table.

18:20 So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. 18:21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word." (1 Kings 18:17-21 KJV)

"18:36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. 18:37 Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.

18:38 Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

18:39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.

18:40 And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there." (1 Kings 18:36-40 KJV)

Not all of the kings were idol worshippers. Hezekiah "did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did. He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves."

The Holy Scriptures

"18:1 Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah [see Hezekiah Of Judah] the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. 18:2 Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah. 18:3 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did. 18:4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.

18:5 He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. 18:6 For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses. 18:7 And the LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not. 18:8 He smote the Philistines, even unto Gaza, and the borders thereof, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.

18:9 And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it. 18:10 And at the end of three years they took it: even in the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. 18:11 And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes: 18:12 Because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed his covenant, and all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded, and would not hear them, nor do them." (2 Kings 18:1-12 KJV)

Josiah too "brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves."

"23:8 And he [i.e. Josiah of Judah] brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man's left hand at the gate of the city. 23:9 Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren.

23:10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech. 23:11 And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathanmelech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire.

23:12 And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, did the king beat down, and brake them down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron. 23:13 And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile. 23:14 And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men." (2 Kings 23:8-14 KJV)

Fact Finder: Is "sorcery" a religion that is based upon the perversion of nature?
See Sorcery


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This Day In History, December 26

1135: The Coronation of King Stephen of England.

1492: Christopher Columbus established the first Spanish settlement in the New World.

1620: Plymouth Colony was established by the England's Mayflower colonists.

1806: Napoleon's army was stopped by Russian forces at the Battle of Pultusk.

1846: While snowbound and starving in the Sierra Nevadas, members of the Donner Party resorted to cannibalism.

1852: The sailing ship Marco Polo, built in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, was declared the fastest ship in the world. The ship had sailed from Liverpool, England, to Melbourne, Australia, and back in 140 days. The trip usually took 240 days.

1862: 38 Santee Sioux were hanged in Minnesota for their part in the Sioux Uprising.

1898: Radium was discovered by Pierre and Marie Curie.

1932: An estimated 75,000 people were killed by a severe earthquake in China.

1943: British naval forces sank the German battleship Scharnhorst.

1962: 8 East Berliners escaped to West Berlin by crashing through border gates in an armor-plated bus.

1972: Former U.S. President Harry Truman died at age 88. Truman was (to date) the only man to order the use of nuclear weapons on another country - the bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

1975: The Russian Tupolev-144 became the world's first supersonic aircraft to go into regular service, carrying mail from Moscow.

1979: The Soviet Union sent an additional 5,000 troops into the Afghanistan conflict.

1991: Jack Ruby's (his actual name was Jacob Rubenstein; the son of Polish-immigrant Jewish parents, he grew up in Chicago where, as a boy, he ran errands for the gangster Al Capone) gun, that was used to murder Lee Harvey Oswald, sold for $220,000.00 in auction.





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