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Old 05-07-2001, 09:40 PM   #1
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Post Masseboth and the Bible

I don't know if anyone gets Biblical Archaeology Review, but there is an interesting article on massebot (stone pillars that were dedicated to certain gods).

Compare:
You shall not make idols for yourselves, or set up for yourselves carved images or massebah or place figured stones in your land to worship upon, for I, Yhwh, am your god (Lev. 26:1).

In that day, there shall be an altar to Yhwh inside the land of Egypt and a massebah to Yhwh at its border. They shall serve as a symbol and a reminder of Yhwh of hosts in the land of Egypt so that when the cry out to Yhwh against oppressors, he will send them a savior and champion to deliver them (Isa. 19:19).

The Bible disagrees on whether or not massebot are bad, just as it disagrees on whether or not making graven images and likenesses are bad.

[This message has been edited by Le pede (edited May 07, 2001).]
 
Old 05-08-2001, 03:27 AM   #2
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You shall not make idols for yourselves, or set up for yourselves carved images or massebah or place figured stones in your land to worship upon, for I, Yhwh, am your god (Lev. 26:1).</font>
Presumably the intent of this passage is that the carved images and massebah were bad when dedicated to other gods, as it ends: "for I, Yahweh, am your god". So apparently the setting up or idols, carved images or massebah is bad because it means they are not worshiping Yahweh, but other gods. Thus massebah and whatnot dedicated to Yahweh are not being banned here.
 
Old 05-08-2001, 05:17 AM   #3
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Hi Tercel!

My understanding is that the masseboth were phallic symbols and dedicated to the old dispensation, the Canaanite fertility cult.
Yahweh's relationship to that is disputed.

Masseboth are what we would call a "standing stone" in Europe.

Wheless has some pretty funny passages in his discussion of these in _Is it God's Word?_

Michael

 
Old 05-08-2001, 05:48 AM   #4
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Regardless, I doubt the book of Isaiah is referring to massebah in the phallic sense.

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Old 05-11-2001, 09:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Presumably the intent of this passage is that the carved images and massebah were bad when dedicated to other gods, as it ends: "for I, Yahweh, am your god". So apparently the setting up or idols, carved images or massebah is bad because it means they are not worshiping Yahweh, but other gods. Thus massebah and whatnot dedicated to Yahweh are not being banned here.
</font>
Yes, this is similar to the response I get when I point out that the second commandment "you shall not make for yourself any graven image..." The fact of the matter is that Leviticus prohibits massebot in general. If the writer of Leviticus wanted to prohibit statues for worshipping purposes, why didn't he just leave it at: "you shall not make idols for yourselves, or at least explicitly state that the erection of such things for worship is prohibited (and not leave it to people to infer that's what was meant)." His prohibition of masseboth and carved images in general makes it problematic because it could very well be that the writer presents Yhwh as someone who doesn't want his figure represented in this way (remember no one can look on the face of Yhwh).

It was understood that the second commandment was a prohibition against the creation of graven images (regardless of whether they were intended for the worship of other gods or not)--see Josephus' commentary on the erection of pictures of the emperor.
 
 

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