Sophia and El

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Quotes of the Day

Specific deities known as ʼEl or ʼIl include the supreme god of the ancient Canaanite religion and the supreme god of East Semitic speakers in Mesopotamia’s Early Dynastic Period.
--Wikipedia article El (deity)
The Hebrew Bible uses various names for God. According to the documentary hypothesis these variations are the products of different source texts: Elohim is the name of God in the Elohist (E) and Priestly (P) sources, while Yahweh is used in the Jahwist (J) source. Form criticism postulates the differences of names may be the result of geographical origins; the P and E sources coming from the North and J from the South. There may be a theological point, that God did not reveal his name, Yahweh, before the time of Moses, though Hans Heinrich Schmid showed that the Jahwist was aware of the prophetic books from the 7th and 8th centuries BCE.
--Wikipedia article Elohim
18 Then they went through the wilderness, and went around the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the land of Moab,
and they encamped on the other side of the Arnon; but they didn't come within the border of Moab, for the Arnon was the border of Moab.
19 Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon; and Israel said to him, 'Please let us pass through your land to my place.'
20 But Sihon didn't trust Israel to pass through his border; but Sihon gathered all his people together, and encamped in Jahaz, and fought against Israel.
21 Yahweh, the God of Israel, delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they struck them:
so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country.
22 They possessed all the border of the Amorites, from the Arnon even to the Jabbok, and from the wilderness even to the Jordan.
23 So now Yahweh, the God of Israel, has dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel, and should you possess them?
24 Won't you possess that which Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whoever Yahweh our God has dispossessed from before us, them will we possess.
--Judges 11:18-24
"You shall have no other gods before me.
--Exodus 20:3
I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty’—but I did not reveal my name, Yahweh, to them.
--Exodus 6:3

Contemplation for the Day

Let us imagine

You are riding your elephant as it swims across a vast ocean. In the distance, you see what is perhaps a vessel or a small island. Curiosity draws your elephant toward it, but you must wait a long time as your Elephant crosses a great distance before you can see any details. When finally, you are close enough you can see that there is a small barren island in front of huge arch which emerges from the water. Through the arch you see a lot of greenery, but you are approaching from an angle and you can also see that behind the arch there is nothing but open water, like the arch is a portal to someplace else.

As you get closer still, you see that there are a few people on the barren island. As you come closer you see that at the highest point on the island, one figure is sitting upon a golden throne. Around the throne stand an odd group of person-like beings, persons with animal heads or wings or carrying farm implements or weapons. They are bathed in an eerie blue light and you soon realize that the blue light is coming from the gaggle of little girls in white robes gathered around them. They are surrounded by Sophia.

Sophia cries out in her unison-voice, "Elohim, I am trying to understand Your true nature."

Your elephant watches in fascination, climbing onto an underwater ledge that extends beyond the island.

"We are the Gods of the Canaanites," says the god on the golden throne, "I am El, the chief god and these are my children, the Elohim. Only Yahweh has abandoned me and fathered his own religion."

Through the archway you see Yahweh handing the commandment tablets to Moses. Your elephant sees that the island is starting to slide toward the water. She slides her back under a rocky protrusion and steadies the whole island. Bracing her feet against the underwater ledge.

Sophia replies to El, "Yet I believe you are more than myth. You symbolize something important. I am trying to find a concept for you to personify which will give meaning to your story."

A gigantic turtle head emerges from the water ahead of the island and you realize that you are standing on the turtle's shell. Your elephant is standing on the shell of a turtle holding up a flat world topped by gods. There is something familiar about the scenario, but you are too distracted by the fact that Gods are arguing, and giant turtles are nearby, and Your elephant appears to be holding up the world. It all seems a bit much.

The Elohim reply to Sophia with their own unison-voice, "We created humanity in the first verses of the Torah. We deserve not to be mostly forgotten."

The turtle changes direction causing currents to swirl around the island. The island shifts on its foundations again and your elephant struggles to hold it in place. You try to have faith in her strength as the island nudges you in the back.

Sophia replies to the Elohim, "You were not forgotten right away. There are traces, mentions of the Elohim all through the Bible."

You notice a man in ornate robes digging soil from the island and casting it out over the water. He has obviously been digging for a while and has made a sizeable dent in the coast.

Then El replies, "But the priests worked over centuries to hide us from the people of Isra El. They were named the people who struggled against El, Isra El, and yet they managed to forget me, me whom they were named for."

You notice that the man is not working alone. Other ornate robes and other shovels are deepening fiords and ravines in the sides of the island casting soil across the waters.

Sophia replies again to El, "Why and how did this happen?"

El replies, "The priests symbolized as Moses, led the people of the land away from me when he forbid them to worship my other children. Each of my children was the patron saint of a tribe descended from the people of Canaan. Yahweh was one such child. But the priests feared that the Isra El would be recruited away one small group at a time and that the tribe would cease to be. They were caught in a struggle for believers and land with the other tribes and they were losing. So first the priests demanded that the Isra El give priority in their worship to Yahweh, that they have no other god before Yahweh. Then they demanded that the Isra El worship no other god at all. Then they claimed that we never existed. And then they edited the ancient scripture and removed almost any mention of us, covering over the remaining mentions with interpretation. El, they said, was another of Yahweh's names. The plural Elohim, they said, was a sign of respect for Yahweh akin to the royal "We". Now we wander the ocean of forgotten stories."

As the sun shines down into the water you see that there are old outcrops on the turtle's shell and that the island used to cover the whole shell, but it has eroded back. An old broken shovel lying on the turtle shell embedded in an outcrop of soil stuck to the shell catches your eye. The foundation of the island shifts some more as your elephant questions why she is shoring it up.

"Forgotten stories," one Sophia whispers in awe, "How many forgotten stories must there be? Prehistory was so much longer than history. A million cultures must have lived and died before any written word was written which was preserved to today."

Through the arch you see a band of Neandertal climbing a hill at the top of which is a shrine.

"Yes, " another Sophia replies, "We have been cut off from those stories but the ever-growing attempt to keep the faith, to enshrine the newer stories, the Taker stories, with truth. But the story of the Elohim is like a representative link to those older Participant stories."

Through the arch you see an early hominid trapped in the high branches of a spindly savannah tree, three panthers climbing through the branches toward him.

"I am the true god, my children are the true pantheon, we rule the world and my followers are the chosen people." El cries.

Your elephant is shocked by the sudden outburst from the father god and momentarily loses hold on the island. It begins the slide, in the ever swirling current, toward the edge of the turtle shell.

The first Sophia says, "The story of the Elohim was not a Participant story. It was a Taker Story, just an older Taker story than the Yahweh story. But you are right, the Elohim story is still a link to the older stories, the hint that there were other stories buried and forgotten in the depth of time."

Through the arch you see a very ancient stone monument with a statue of El at the top gilded with gold. At the base of the monument is a painting of men running from a sabre-toothed tiger.

The Sophia's speak in unison again as the island accelerates toward the edge of the turtle shell. The men in ornate robes panic and throw down their shovels heading for higher ground, "You are older than the Trinity. You are the forgotten older past which the Priests tried to erase. The Priests from 2500 years ago and their writings are considered ancient and revered for their age. But, in the Great Story, the Grand Flow of Deep Time, The Priests and their monotheism are just a recent tale. The true grandeur belongs to you and things older yet than you. To be truly ancient and meaningful, a story must be connected to Deep Time, to time beyond primitive human reckoning. Not just hundreds or thousands of years but tens of thousands and tens of millions and 10s of billions of years. That is the true ancient scripture of the universe, written in the rocks and written in the stars, the original Word which tells us the Greatest Story. You are the personification of our connection to those stories, our search for them and our loss of them as information becomes more and more scrambled in the entropic future."

As the Sophia's speak you catch a last glimpse through the arch of a sauropod thundering across a dry grassland before the island slides finally into the sea. The Sophia's hop onto the hemi-spherical turtle shell and your elephant and you cling to it as the island, the portal, the Elohim and the priests are swallowed by the water.

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