Pagan Gods, Where Did They Come From?
R. Yehudah ben Shomeyr
From the Romans and Greeks to the Norse gods there is a pantheon of gods within virtually every pagan culture, with a litany of activities and phenomenon that they are in control of.
After the Flood and prior to the Tower of Babel the world was one language and culture and the world knew about the One True G-d of Creation, though He was not yet known to mankind as YHWH (Ex. 6:3). But the innate desire to look to and worship something greater than ourselves, coupled with the fallen nature which feeds the evil of men’s hearts cause mankind to credit various Divine activities and natural created phenomenon to fabricated individual entities they called elohim (gods) in which demons stepped into, as on cue, the role of these gods created in the image of man. So these gods took on various names which were attributes of G-d.
Even with Abraham, G-d was not known as YHWH.
Exd 6:2-4 And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I [am] the LORD (YHWH): And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by [the name of] God Almighty (EL SHADDAI), but by my name YAHWEH was I not known to them. And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers.
In other words, G-d was known to Abraham by one of His Canaanite, generic pagan names, another common one was El Elyon (G-d Most High). El Shaddai was letting Abraham know that He was displeased with the Canaanites and He was planning on giving their land to him and his descendants.
It is no surprise G-d had “pagan” names like El Elyon and even sometimes Ba’al (Lord). These were more titles and descriptions than names.
The English word “God” is not a name but a title; to say that the English word “God” comes from the name of a pagan deity (Gawd) in another language just because it is phonetically similar is illogical, linguistically and grammatically deficient on so many levels. If this were true Jews today would not use or say such titles, they would be replaced with something else. What I am about to say may offend some, though this is not my intention. My intention is to make an extreme analogy so as to highlight the absurdity and flawed logic of those who dogmatically teach that “God” is a pagan name. It’s just as absurd as claiming that the Greek word, “pisto or pistis” meaning “faith” is where we get the English slang word for urine which is “piss” and that we shouldn’t say “piss” or “pissed off” because it is a crass or a “cuss” word, but because when we use it, we are renouncing or “casting off” our faith by equating our faith with bodily human waste. See how cultish and illogical such thinking can be!?
It may shock some, but recall what I said earlier, that before G-d revealed His true Name He was known by “pagan” names, such as El Shaddai, El Elyon, Ba’al, etc.
All pagan gods are is emanations, characteristics, actions and attributes of the One True G-d which fallen entities and demons took on the persona of in order to deceive and control mankind. Further delusion and influence of the demonic upon mankind’s fallen and egotistically selfish nature caused man to even claim to be such gods themselves in which Nimrod was the first (Gen. 10). As generations passed mankind became steeped in this delusion in which they and the fallen angelic have weaved and the One True G-d just became another god in the pantheon of gods scattered through out the various regions, people groups and religions.
So, what of epiphanies, miracles and personal spiritual encounters and experiences of other religions; are they valid or a delusion?
If valid, is G-d a deceiver, taking on whatever form in whatever religion?
G-d is infinite, boundless; we as finite creations can’t help but put G-d in a nice little box of our own design.
Do I believe in supernatural events and or manifestations in other religions are real?
Yes. They can only come from one of two sources; G-d or the fallen angelic legions, the Devil, Satan, the Evil One, whatever you want to call it. For in the instance of a healing, if the malady is supernatural in origin, all the demonic entity has to do is to remove its influence or “hand” off of the individual and V’wallah! Presto! It looks as if a miracle has occurred, someone has been healed. In which case it will either slowly return over time or another, possibly worse malady will replace it.
If it be from G-d, whether a healing or an epiphany or a revelation of spiritual truth; if it comes from G-d the healing will be permanent and medically recordable, though by all means not necessarily explainable by medicine. If it is a revelation, the truth will be universal regardless of what guise it takes.
When G-d reveals Himself or speaks to a pagan or one of another faith, G-d may look to them as indigenous to their religion. G-d will slowly, by degrees, reveal Himself like a light controlled by a dimmer switch so as to slowly reveal and acclimate one to the Truth and not to blind them with it by a sudden blast of full force light from a pitch black state. This would look so shocking and startling that the receiver of the revelation will automatically deem it a lie from the other side and disregard it.
The truth may be revealed so plainly, however, the pagan clothes it and filters it through their own religious world view and thus in the retelling it looks as if it came from his religion.
I’m not saying pagan religions are acceptable in G-d’s sight or fully legitimate expressions of worshiping the One and Only G-d, but I believe, since we were all one people at one point in time in history that they are traceable to the G-d of Abraham and the religion of His people.
For instance, all the Asian/Oriental/Near East religions such as Buddhism and its splinter groups like Taoism, Confucius-ism, and Jainism can be traced to Judaism through Kabbalah. For the main tenants and philosophies therein are virtually the same. We can even say this about Hinduism and its offshoots of Sikhism and the adherents to Hare Krishna, it too seem to have come from ancient Kabbalah. I realize for some this is a far stretch because they don’t see Kabbalah as being as old as Judaism, but according to Tradition and extra Canonical books like Enoch speaks of a mystic spiritual tradition that has been handed down from the beginning and has presently taken its form of expression to us in Kabbalah. And ironically scientist have turned to Kabbalah only to discover it speaks of things such as string theory and even medical facts; Kabbalah has at times beaten science to the punch (See: “Science and Kabbalah” by Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr). Although Hinduism is sometimes called polytheistic, this is not entirely correct. Hindus actually believe the various deities in their pantheon are manifestations or emanations of the same single G-d.
Krishna was before Christ but his exploits and teachings have some striking similarities. Author Kersey Graves (1813-1883), a Quaker from Indiana, compared Jesus Christ's and Krishna's life. He found what he believed were 346 elements in common within Christian and Hindu writings. Maybe this was a form of ancient prophecy about the Messiah being preserved in Pagan religions. http://www.religion-cults.com/Eastern/Hinduism/krishna.htm
Even Native American spirituality in ritual and philosophy at times mirrors Judaism uncannily and though archeological evidence it is believed by some that the Cherokee people and possible the Lakota have Hebrew blood or at least were influenced by Hebrews who came to the America’s via Davidic and Solomonic trading ships (See: The Judaokee People” By Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr).
Even Egypt for a short time (18th dynasty) went back to a monotheistic religious state under Pharaoh Akhenaten to worship the one and only G-d he called Aten.
Zoroastrianism was the ancient Persian monotheistic religion which took many ideals and words from the Hebrew religion as it was then and thus looks and sounds like Judaism at times.
Thus out side of the Abrahamic religions and post Exilic times I believe traces of Hebraism and its faith from after the Assyrian captivity and dispersion of the 10 tribes can be found in pagan religions and cultures.
For example, I was watching a Viking movie and heard one of the Vikings say, “Odin help us!” And it struck me how similar Odin is to Adon, the Hebrew word for Lord and where we get the name, Adonai.
Odin, is the Norse (Anglo-Saxton) Father God , God of wisdom, wealth, inspiration, poetry, battle, hunting, magic, prophecy. Odin (Woden) – Adon – Adonai
Like with the Cherokee deity Yowah, looks and sounds a lot like the personal Name of G-d found in the Bible, Yahweh. Spelled: Yod-Hey-Vav (Waw)-Hey. In Hebrew there were no vowels and interestingly enough these names we are exploring have the same consonants but different vowels.
In the morphing of words through the ages, through various languages and cultures with the change in accent and inflection, usually the consonants remain the same and the vowels change and so it is easily to see how Yahweh can become Yowah and Adon can become Odin.
Coincidence? I am not a big believer in coincidences.
Before we go any further allow me to say that I am not promoting, endorsing or condoning British-Israeliteism, but there are rumors, legends and speculations that some of the Vikings could have come from one of the lost ten tribes, especially portions of Dan, Gad, Zebulon, Naphtali, and Benjamin.
So could the similarities between the name and character of Odin and Adon indicate that post Assyrian captivity or Babel link?
Adonis, originally a Phoenician god (Phoenicia being modern day Lebanon), also known in Greek mythology as the god of rebirth and vegetation, worshipped in mystery religions for untold eons. Again, the Name is uncannily similar to the Hebrew Adon; Adonis – Adon – Adonai.
The new kid on the block is the Bahai faith which originally came from a Muslim, but sees all other religions and prophets and their messages an extension or facet of the same religion and thus loosely blends the traditions and teachings of all into a unified system.
The reason the various religions of the world became pagan is that after Babel is that the various people groups took the creation and flood story with them, including the Torah (Divine Laws of G-d) as it was known up to that time and through their culture formed it into a separate and distinct religion and so trace elements of “Hebrew” religion can be found.
“I read books such as “The Two Babylons” and see how Satan has perverted the truth in each culture in an attempt to drive them away from the truth, yet the grain of the truth lies within each culture; which lends to the possibility of a pagan culture to come to the truth. Indeed, it is an ingenious plan of the evil one to hide truth in plain sight, yet disguised in cultural paganism.” -- Where Did Paganism Come From? By Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr
This is like diluting something in water so you can barely taste what was the originally there. Yet to put it “sciency”… trace elements could e found if tests were run on it.
A great book that fleshes this out is “Eternity in Their Hearts” by Don Richardson. He makes comparisons of tribal religions and peoples he worked with, to things in Scripture. One of which is the concept of the city of refuge which the peoples he worked with had and thus was able to share with them the Word.
However, there is even debate in this area regarding timing. Did it come from Babel or from Sinai or both? I have already covered how it could have came from Babel, but from Sinai means that when YHWH gave the Torah He spoke and His voice, His Torah reverberated throughout the world and those truly seeking the One True G-d heard and obeyed and influenced their culture by it. Well, I must say I have to be as Forrest Gump on this issue as he was on free will and fate, “I think it’s a little of both.”
Then we have Christianity and Islam, direct cuts for the cloth, so to speak, for both religions traces their roots to Judaism via Abraham’s sons Isaac and Ishmael respectively.
It is my belief that in reaching out to other peoples and religions one must find the inroad so as to guide one back to the original source; the G-d of Israel.