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THE GODS OF THE ANCIENT AKKADIANS, BABYLONIANS, WESTERN SEMITES, PhilistinES, MOABITES, AND ISRAELITES—THE VEDIC GODS—THE GODS OF HINDUISM, BUDDHISM, CONFUCIANISM; OF EGYPT, AFRICA, GREECE, ITALY, AND ROME—TRINITIES—SCRIPTURES.
It was in the ancient countries, lying between the two great valleys of the Nile on the west, and the Euphrates and Tigris on the east, that the civilization of the world may be said to have commenced. It is difficult to decide which had the precedence with regard to age-the Akkadians or the Egyptians. However, both were dominated by astronomer priests, who mapped out the ancient zodiac, and both were acquainted with cuneiform writing ; a library containing some thousands of clay tablets was formed by King Sargon I. at Nineveh (B.C. 4,000), some of which have been lately discovered among the ruins of that city, giving accounts of a creation, a flood, a conflict between the sun-god and the demon Tiamat, and the descent of Ishtar into Hades, etc. The destruction of this ancient library with the fall of the city has been an irreparable loss to the world and to literature.
With the Eastern Semites of Akkadia originated the Sabbath, the Penitential Psalms—or the confessions of a troubled soul, the Twelve Adventurers of Gilgames, Gisdubar, or Izdubar, the solar god who, while passing through the zodiacal signs, slayed the lion (leo), wooed the virgin (virgo) Ishtar, sickened and wasted at the close of his journey through the winter period, to be born again at the winter solstice, and renewed his “glory” at his “ascension" at the spring equinox. These legends spread westward to Phoenicia (ancient Canaan) and Greece, where Gilgames became Hercules with his twelve struggles or labours. Their gods were Ana (lord of the sky); Ea, or Hea (of air and water); Davki (earth); Marduk, or Merodack, and Bel (the sun), son of Ea; Bilit, or Mylitta (Bel's wife), to whom every Babylonian woman had to offer her virginity ; Sin (the moon); Ishtar, or Astarte (the evening star)—for Ishtar's sake men made themselves eunuchs, and women yielded to prostitution ; Dagon (the fish-god) of the maritime portion of Babylonia, whence the worship of this god spread to the maritime portions of Canaan. Assur was the supreme god (the phallic god) of Assyria, and from him was derived the name of the country. Nergal was the god of death, and Hades. The gods of Assyria were winged bulls and lions, and from these winged figures were evolved the griffin-like effigies of Persia, the victories, cupids, and genii of classic Rome, and the winged angels of Christian paintings and statuary. Ancient astronomy and ghostland supplied the Heavenly messengers or angels, and Assyria supplied the wings.
The Western Semites of Canaan, Syria, Phoenicia, Phrygia, and Asia Minor borrowed many of the traditions and ideas of the Easterns. Bel was transformed into Baal; Ishtar into Ashtoreth and Astarte; Assur into Moloch and Priapos. The legends of the sun-god, of the flood, and many others with which the later Christian Messiah (Jesus) was afterwards connected, as well as the Sabbath idea, as we have seen, found their way here.
The gods of the Philistines were Dagon, androgynous man and fish, and Derketo, androgynous woman and fish. The latter.was a local representative of Astarte (the modern Venus). Nearly all maritime countries had a fish-god.
The Moabites (Hittites) had Chemosh for the sun-god, figured under the symbol of the sacred eagle.
The Israelites (Hebrew tribes) had, for chief, tribal, or sungod, Jehovah, Yahuh, or Yeho, the provider of sexual pleasure ; and the moon, the “ Queen of Heaven.” For the worship of this goddess Jeremiah (B.C. 625) rebuked the Jews (Jer. xliv. 16-22), and Micah also (Judges xviii. 31). The stars were worshipped under their respective names, or the names of their clusters. Baal, Moloch, El-Shadai, and Adonai were also worshipped, the two last being names for Yahuh. Elohim, plural of El, Eloh, or Alah, was a term used for the gods in general.
The ancient religion of India was that of all the Aryan nations—the Vedic, the basis of which was ancestor and nature worship. The planetary gods were Surya, the sungod ; Devas, the shining ones or stars, children of Dyaus, the sky or heavens ; and Prithivi, the earth mother. Mahadeva was Priapos, the phallic god. From the Sanskrit Dyaus, the sky, and Pitar, father, are derived the Greek zeus, or zeu, and the Latin deus, and pater. Zeu-pater became Jupiter. The powers of nature were represented in Indra, the god of rain, and Agni, the god of fire and lightning. There were also gods of day, dawn, and wind. Out of the old Vedic faith was evolved Brahmanism, the chief god of which was Purusha, who generated the four castes. Alman was the spirit of the universe, from whom proceeded Brahman, the “ Breath of Life.” Brahmanism gradually became merged into Hinduism, the gods of which were Brahma, the creative spirit ; Vishnu, the “ Preserver” and “ Saviour"; and Siva, the “Destroyer.” Vishnu is the popular god of the Hindus. “As a fish he drew to a place of safety the ship in which seven patriarchs carried the seeds of all existing things from a great deluge; as a tortoise he supported the earth on his back; as a boar, a man-lion, and a dwarf, or the hero Rama, he strove with demons.” The Brahmans are the Hindu priestly caste, and are regarded with great sanctity.
Buddha (about B.C. 500) was also made an "Avatar" or “Messiah ” of Vishnu; and took human form or became incarnate as Krishna or Christna, the Dark-skinned, called so because he represented the hidden sun at night ; all the darkskinned children in the arms or on the knees of virgins, as, for instance, the “Bambino” at Rome, were originally images of Krishna with his mother Devaki.
Buddhism was an offshoot from Brahmanism; while Brahmanism laid emphasis on ritual and caste, Buddhism placed it on personal character and self-purification. The latter is largely a sun myth. “Emerging from the womb of the Virgin Dawn, the hero ascends the sky to meet and conquer the storm-spirit, after which his flaming wheel (the wheel of the law-the wheels of the chariot of truth and righteousness), which he (the mythic Buddha) set revolving on earth, "rolls victoriously on until the fires of sunset redden over his funeral pile. Supernaturally conceived, he is born from his mother's side, and forthwith walks in a blaze of 'glory,' declaring he is the saviour' of the world, while the Devas sing his praise in celestial harmonies. In these incidents, as also in the narrative of the old sage who prophesies the sublime career of the infant, and in the accounts of the miracles performed by the great teacher, we may trace distinct parallels with the life of the mythic Jesus."* The father of the man Gautama was the Sakya King, and his mother was the Queen Maya (said to be his “virgin” mother). His real history is that, reflecting deeply on the vanity of human life, he left his home, went about preaching, establishing orders of monks and nuns, and had “living disciples.” His last exhortation was, “Work out your salvation with diligence "—which expression is imitated in the Christian Bible. The title “Buddha” which he assumed was the same as “Christ,” meaning "an anointed one.”
Buddhism was adopted by King Asoka, about B.C. 244, who ruled over Northern India and beyond, and thus spread to China, where it now has a very large following ; it is also the religion of Tibet (Lamaism), Ceylon, Corea, Japan, Siam, and Burmah; but it has vanished from India as the recognised religion of the country since the twelfth century.
In China, however, besides Buddhism, Confucianism has a large following. Confucius lived about B.C. 550, his real name being “Kung Futse.” Lao-Tse was another messiah, as also was Shang-Ti, so far back as B.C. 2200.
In PERSIA, Mazda, or Ormuzd, was the “creator," and “god of light, purity, and truth ”; Ahriman was the outcast and bad spirit ; Zoroaster was the mediator between Ormuzd and Ahriman. Besides these were worshipped Haoma, Tistrya the Dog Star, Anahita the goddess of fruitfulness, and Sraosha the god of prayer and sacrifice. Zoroaster, the prophet of Mazda, founded Zoroastrianism, an offshoot of Mazdeism, as was also Mithraism. Mithra was a sungod, and “Incarnate Word,” “ Lord of Light.” Mithra, Zoroaster, Krishna, Zeus of the Greeks, and Jesus were all said to be born in caves. A figure of the sun-god Mithra is, says Mr. Gould, to be seen in the British Museum. “The god is plunging a knife into a bull, and, while the bull is attacked from below by a scorpion, a dog laps the
blood which flows from the wound." The allusion is to the sun entering into the zodiacal sign “Taurus" at the vernal equinox, and to the fate which compels its return to wintry depths through the autumnal sign “Scorpio.” The first day of the week was dedicated to Mithra, whose devotees were baptized and marked on the forehead with a holy sign, and solemnly partook of a round cake and water. The religion of Persia is now called “Parseeism.”.
In EGYPT, Osiris, the dark-skinned sun-god, was the chief god, representing the sun after his disappearance in the west (like Krishna), where he was slain by the envious night, and yet destined to rise again next morning. In the “ Book of the Dead”—the oldest book in the world, written about B.C. 3400—we find the following : “I adore the sun in the happy west......glory, glory, to Osiris "; and “Hail, O sun ! lord of sunbeams......thou followest thy mother Nu, directing thy face to the west.” Osiris was represented as a mummy, wearing a mitre, and holding a sceptre and a crozier, and in his hand a Crux Ansata (or cross with a handle). He was the “father” in the Egyptian Trinity, Isis being the virgin mother, and Horus the infant; the two latter being represented later by the mythical Mary and Jesus of the N. T. The seven planetary deities represented the seven portions of the human body, and there were twelve gods representing the zodiacal signs, called “Mazzaroth” in the Bible (Job xxxviii. 32). There were also gods patrons of the different parts of the body—the hair, the face, the eyes, the lips, the teeth, the neck, elbows, belly, thighs, feet, etc., and the phallus. The full moon was the “ eye of Horus,” and was carried in the hand of Thoth. Amen-Ra—“the maker of all that is ”—was the sun-god in his splendour or glory, incarnated in the Bull Mnevis, as Osiris was in Apis. He was Ammon, the ram-headed god—“chief in Ap-Ta.” ApTa was Thebes, identical with “No” of the Bible. He had between his ram's horns the disc of the sun. He is identical with Yahuh, Adonai, and Baal. At Abydos, Nut and Chonsu were worshipped. The god of evil was Typhon. The moon was Thoth, and Saturn Lib. The phallic god was Khem. Athor was the goddess of love, the Egyptian Venus, and wife to several gods. Ptah was the god of Memphis, and was said to have produced the eggs of the sun and moon. The Ptah of Upper Egypt was represented