What They Don't Teach You at Church

Resources for those seeking a closer relationship with the God of the Bible.

History we should know…

Then Yahweh said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, Yahweh, will do for you. Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. Do not worship any other god, for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same. Do not make cast idols. (Exodus 34:10-17)

 

This passage falls right after Yahweh has given Moses the second set of tablets containing the ten commandments. Although angered that the Israelites have worshiped the golden calf, he offers them another chance to be his people. But the chance comes with a warning – do not be corrupted by the people around you, and fall into worshiping their gods.

 

When Yahweh your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you – and when Yahweh your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and Yahweh’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. For you are a people holy to Yahweh your God. Yahweh your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. Yahweh did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because Yahweh loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that Yahweh your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him. Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws I give you today. (Deuteronomy 7:1-11)

 

Much like multiple gospels recording the same events in the life of the Messiah, the message of Exodus 34 is repeated in Deuteronomy. Yahweh repeats his warning to avoid the corrupting influence of the other nations, and the gods they serve. God’s people must keep themselves “Holy” – the Hebrew term is Qodesh, which literally means “set apart”.

 

If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then Yahweh your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your forefathers. He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land that he swore to your forefathers to give you. You will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor any of your livestock without young. Yahweh will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you. You must destroy all the peoples Yahweh your God gives over to you. Do not look on them with pity and do not serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you. You may say to yourselves, “These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?” But do not be afraid of them; remember well what Yahweh your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt. You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the miraculous signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which Yahweh your God brought you out. Yahweh your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear. Moreover, Yahweh your God will send the hornet among them until even the survivors who hide from you have perished. Do not be terrified by them, for Yahweh your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God. Yahweh your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you. But Yahweh your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed. He will give their kings into your hand, and you will wipe out their names from under heaven. No one will be able to stand up against you; you will destroy them. The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to Yahweh your God. Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction. (Deuteronomy 7:12-26)

 

The passage continues by explaining the available options – a blessing, and a curse.

 

These are the decrees and laws you must be careful to follow in the land that Yahweh, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess—as long as you live in the land. Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains and on the hills and under every spreading tree where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places. You must not worship Yahweh your God in their way. But you are to seek the place Yahweh your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. {Yah-rushalim, aka Jerusalem} To that place you must go; there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. There, in the presence of Yahweh your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because Yahweh your God has blessed you. (Deuteronomy 12:1-7)

 

Everything recorded in scripture is important. If a message is repeated, it carries extra weight – we should pay close attention. This is now our fourth warning against worshiping as the pagans do.

 

Yahweh your God will cut off before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land, and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” You must not worship Yahweh your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things Yahweh hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods. See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it. (Deuteronomy 12:29-32)

 

Fifth warning. Think He means it?

 

Do not set up any wooden Asherah pole beside the altar you build to Yahweh your God, and do not erect a sacred stone, for these Yahweh your God hates. (Deuteronomy 16:21-22)

 

Very direct. But what’s an Asherah pole?

 

To answer that question, we need some history. We turn first to a genealogy recorded in 1 Chronicles:

 

Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah.

The sons of Noah: Shem, Ham and Japheth.
The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech and Tiras.
The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah.
The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, the Kittim and the Rodanim. The Hamites
The sons of Ham: Cush, Mizraim, Put and Canaan.
The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabta, Raamah and Sabteca.
The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan.
Cush was the father of Nimrod, who grew to be a mighty warrior on earth. (1 Chronicles 1:1-10)

 

So Nimrod was part of the 13th generation of mankind, a great grandson of Noah. Consider carefully the last verses – the sons of Cush are listed as Seba, Havilah, Sabta, Raamah, and Sabteca. “Cush was the father of Nimrod”, but Nimrod wasn’t counted as Cush’s son. Why not?

 

Genesis lays the foundation:

Cush was the father of Nimrod, who grew to be a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before Yahweh; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before Yahweh.” The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh, in Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah and Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city. (Genesis 10:8-12)

 

At least two of those cities, Babylon and Nineveh, should be familiar to us. Babylon, about 30 miles south of modern Baghdad, Iraq, was the home of the “Tower of Babel” (see Genesis 11), and Nineveh was the wicked city to which Jonah was sent to preach (the book of Jonah).

 

Much of the story of Nimrod and his family is not recorded in scripture, but is found in secular history and pagan/wiccan tradition. To say Nimrod was a mighty warrior is an understatement. He was ruler over a vast empire centered around Babylon. But he was a wicked man, as evidenced both by scripture and secular historical records of what happened in those cities. Nimrod claimed to be the Sun-god, and forced the people of his kingdom to worship him. Because of his evil, he was killed by his uncle, Shem. After his death, his widow, Semiramis, ruled as queen. She later became pregnant, and did not want to publicly acknowledge her relationship with a man. (She hadn’t remarried, and if she had, would surrender the throne to her husband as king…) Instead, she claimed that she had been impregnated by the Sun, and that the child, born at the time of the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year), was actually Nimrod reincarnated. She named her son Tammuz, and continued to rule until he was old enough to take the throne. As the “wife” of the Sun-god, Semiramis became known and worshiped as the “Queen of Heaven”.

 

Tammuz continued in his father’s footsteps – being worshiped as the Sun-god, and ruling a wicked empire. When he was forty years old, he was gored to death by a pig. Having lost her husband and now her son, Semiramis was distraught. So much so that she went into mourning for a period of forty days – one day for each year that Tammuz had lived. Ancient sun-god worshipers claimed that her mourning was so powerful that it enabled Tammuz to escape from the realm of the dead after that 40th day, which was the first day of the week after the vernal equinox (day in the Spring when day and night are equal length). This is how the first day of the week came to be known as Sun-day. To celebrate, the priests of sun-god worship hunted the pig that had gored Tammuz, sacrificed it to the sun-god, and ate it.

 

The celebration grew into an annual tradition, on the anniversary of the claimed resurrection. The temple prostitutes would roll decorated eggs down the hillside, to where men would wait in the valley below. Those who found the eggs could exchange them at the temple for sex with the prostitutes. The eggs were decorated by staining them with the blood of sacrificed infants, who had been born as a result of the previous years “celebration”. (Infants conceived just after the vernal equinox would be born, like Tammuz, around the time of the winter solstice – and about three months old when they were sacrificed.)

 

The tower of Babel (Babylon) wasn’t destroyed because civilization was “advancing” too quickly. Much like Sodom and Gomorrah, it was destroyed because of the evil taking place there. The tower itself was a ziggurat, used in sungod worship.

 

So Yahweh scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel — because there Yahweh confused the language of the whole world. From there Yahweh scattered them over the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 11:8-9)

 

The Babylonians took sungod worship with them, only with a variety of different names in the new languages. Nimrod, reincarnated as Tammuz: Helios, Bel, Baal, Molech, Mithras, Sol Invictus. Semiramis, the “queen of heaven”: Persephone, Diana, Artemis, Ashtoreth, Ashtoroth, Ashera, Ishtar, Oester, Ostern, Eostra, Eastre, Easter. Yes, Easter.

 

Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips. (Exodus 23:13)

Yahweh said we shouldn’t even say their names, and instead we’ve named the “holiest” day of the church year after a false god. “Lent” is naturally forty days of mourning prior to Easter, and we celebrate Easter Sun-Day with ham, even though Yahweh said we shouldn’t eat pork.

 

I’ve just explained that much of what we know as Christian tradition (Lent, Easter, Christmas, and Sunday worship) is actually derived from Babylonian practices, specifically sungod worship. For more background, and an explanation of how this happened, I strongly recommend “Time is the Ally of Deceit”, by Richard Rives. (www.toolong.com)

 

But what about the Ashera poles?

 

Hear what Yahweh says to you, O house of Israel. This is what Yahweh says: “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them. For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.” (Jeremiah 10: 1-5)

 

Here we’re confronted with an uncomfortable choice – either Jeremiah was able to see 2500 years into the future, or the practice of decorated trees was already in place when he lived in Babylon, hundreds of years before our Messiah was born. (Or perhaps both are true.)

 

Pagan tradition records that when Shem killed Nimrod, he cut his body into pieces, and scattered them throughout the world. Most of the pieces were recovered, one was not. The Ashera pole was a tree, decorated as a symbol of fertility, representing the missing piece of Nimrod, and commemorating the birth of Tammuz. Naturally, the Ashera Pole was most prominently featured around the time of his birth – at the winter solstice. The winter solstice was on December 25th when our Roman calendars were established. Romans called the season “Saturnalia”. Your “Christmas Tree” is nothing but an Asherah pole.

 

Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction. (Deuteronomy 7:26)

 

Paul wrote concerning these things to new believers in the Roman province of Galatia – people who had been raised in pagan tradition, but had converted to faith in Yahweh, through our Messiah. We can clearly see his concern for them falling into their old habits:

 

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. (Galatians 4: 8-11)

 

Remember our introduction to Satan —

 

You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:13-14)

 

  • from the beginning, Satan’s goal has been to deceive mankind into worshiping him as God. Subtle deception, counterfeits, weaving lies into the truth – are his tools of choice. So I challenge you, examine your church’s traditions as though your life depended on it. It does.

     

    I remember learning the creeds in a protestant church as a child, expressing belief in a “catholic” church. It was explained that “catholic” means universal. The Roman Catholic Church was intended to be a “universal” church for the entire Roman empire. There were three main groups in the Roman Empire at the time – pagans who worshiped the sungod (the Roman version of Baal was Sol Invictus, the “Invincible Sun”), Jews, and Christians (converted from a Jewish or pagan heritage). Rome intended to destroy the Jewish heritage. (Remember Masada, when Jews committed mass suicide rather than be tortured and annihilated by the Romans?) Jews were forbidden to reenter Jerusalem. Obeying Yahweh’s instructions became criminal – Circumcision and 7th day Sabbath observance were punishable by death. Instead, Romans were instructed to worship on Sun-Day, the day of the Sun. Constantine, the first “Christian” emperor and hero of the Catholic church, had Sol Invictus Comiti (Committed to the Invincible Sun) printed on his coins.

     

    This “syncretism”, or blending of religions, is why the Roman Catholic Church is described in Revelation as the Whore of Babylon:

 

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.” Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. This title was written on her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. Then the angel said to me: “Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns. The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come. “This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction. “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God’s words are fulfilled. The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.” (Revelation 17:1-18)

 

The city that rules over the kings of the earth is Rome. “Whore” and “Harlot” refer to spiritual adultery, worship of gods other than Yahweh (see the book of Hosea). Yahweh hates the traditions of Babylon infringing on His relationship with His people.

 

 

The verses that follow illustrate that the history of Israel in the Old Testament is one of falling into, and out of, spiritual adultery. Time and again they fall away from Yahweh, and into sungod worship. We must learn from the example,

 

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4)

 

The verses below are in the order in which they appear in scripture. See especially Ezekiel 8, and Jeremiah 7.

 

After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither Yahweh nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of Yahweh and served the Baals. They forsook Yahweh, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked Yahweh to anger because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. In his anger against Israel Yahweh handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of Yahweh was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress. Then Yahweh raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. Unlike their fathers, they quickly turned from the way in which their fathers had walked, the way of obedience to Yahweh’s commands. Whenever Yahweh raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for Yahweh had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways. Therefore Yahweh was very angry with Israel and said, “Because this nation has violated the covenant that I laid down for their forefathers and has not listened to me, I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of Yahweh and walk in it as their forefathers did.” Yahweh had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua. (Judges 2:10-23)

 

The Israelites did evil in the eyes of Yahweh; they forgot Yahweh their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. The anger of Yahweh burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim, to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years. (Judges 3:7-8)

 

Here we see worship of Asherah, and mention of Baal. There were consequences for that choice, as promised earlier – the Israelites became slaves.

 

Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of Yahweh, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count the men and their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to Yahweh for help. When the Israelites cried to Yahweh because of Midian, he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what Yahweh, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I snatched you from the power of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors. I drove them from before you and gave you their land. I said to you, ‘I am Yahweh your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.” (Judges 6:1-10)

 

Again worshiping other gods results in consequences for Israel…

 

But Yahweh said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.” So Gideon built an altar to Yahweh there and called it Yahweh is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. That same night Yahweh said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Then build a proper kind of altar to Yahweh your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.” So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as Yahweh told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the men of the town, he did it at night rather than in the daytime. In the morning when the men of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar! They asked each other, “Who did this?” When they carefully investigated, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.” The men of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.” But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” So that day they called Gideon “Jerub-Baal, ” saying, “Let Baal contend with him,” because he broke down Baal’s altar. (Judges 6:23-32)

 

Gideon should be a familiar name, as he is a well-known hero of the “Old Testament”. But did you remember that his first divine task was destroying his father’s altar to Baal, and the Asherah pole beside it?

 

Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of Yahweh. They served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites and the gods of the Philistines. And because the Israelites forsook Yahweh and no longer served him, he became angry with them. He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and the Ammonites, who that year shattered and crushed them. For eighteen years they oppressed all the Israelites on the east side of the Jordan in Gilead, the land of the Amorites. The Ammonites also crossed the Jordan to fight against Judah, Benjamin and the house of Ephraim; and Israel was in great distress. Then the Israelites cried out to Yahweh, “We have sinned against you, forsaking our God and serving the Baals.” Yahweh replied, “When the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you and you cried to me for help, did I not save you from their hands? But you have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you. Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!” But the Israelites said to Yahweh, “We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.” Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served Yahweh. And he could bear Israel’s misery no longer. (Judges 10:6-16)

 

And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, “If you are returning to Yahweh with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to Yahweh and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served Yahweh only. Then Samuel said, “Assemble all Israel at Mizpah and I will intercede with Yahweh for you.” When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before Yahweh. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against Yahweh.” And Samuel was leader of Israel at Mizpah. When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. And when the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines. They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to Yahweh our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.” Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it up as a whole burnt offering to Yahweh. He cried out to Yahweh on Israel’s behalf, and Yahweh answered him. While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day Yahweh thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Car.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far has Yahweh helped us.” So the Philistines were subdued and did not invade Israelite territory again. Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the hand of Yahweh was against the Philistines. (1 Samuel 7:3-13)
Then Samuel said to the people, “It is Yahweh who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your forefathers up out of Egypt. Now then, stand here, because I am going to confront you with evidence before Yahweh as to all the righteous acts performed by Yahweh for you and your fathers. “After Jacob entered Egypt, they cried to Yahweh for help, and Yahweh sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your forefathers out of Egypt and settled them in this place. “But they forgot Yahweh their God; so he sold them into the hand of Sisera, the commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hands of the Philistines and the king of Moab, who fought against them. They cried out to Yahweh and said, ‘We have sinned; we have forsaken Yahweh and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths. But now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve you.’ Then Yahweh sent Jerub-Baal, Barak, Jephthah and Samuel, and he delivered you from the hands of your enemies on every side, so that you lived securely. (1 Samuel 12:6-11)

 

Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell slain on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines pressed hard after Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically. Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.” But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day. When the Israelites along the valley and those across the Jordan saw that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons had died, they abandoned their towns and fled. And the Philistines came and occupied them. The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. They cut off his head and stripped off his armor, and they sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news in the temple of their idols and among their people. They put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths and fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan. (1 Samuel 31:1-10)

 

King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which Yahweh had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to Yahweh his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of Yahweh; he did not follow Yahweh completely, as David his father had done. On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods. Yahweh became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from Yahweh, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep Yahweh’s command. So Yahweh said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.” (1 Kings 11:1-13)

About that time Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem, and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh met him on the way, wearing a new cloak. The two of them were alone out in the country, and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. Then he said to Jeroboam, “Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what Yahweh, the God of Israel, says: ‘See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hand and give you ten tribes. But for the sake of my servant David and the city of Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, he will have one tribe. I will do this because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molech the god of the Ammonites, and have not walked in my ways, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my statutes and laws as David, Solomon’s father, did. “ ‘But I will not take the whole kingdom out of Solomon’s hand; I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of David my servant, whom I chose and who observed my commands and statutes. I will take the kingdom from his son’s hands and give you ten tribes. I will give one tribe to his son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put my Name. However, as for you, I will take you, and you will rule over all that your heart desires; you will be king over Israel. If you do whatever I command you and walk in my ways and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you. I will humble David’s descendants because of this, but not forever.’ ” (1 Kings 11:29-39)

 

Go, tell Jeroboam that this is what Yahweh, the God of Israel, says: “I raised you up from among the people and made you a leader over my people Israel. I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, but you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commands and followed me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes. You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have provoked me to anger and thrust me behind your back. Because of this, I am going to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam. I will cut off from Jeroboam every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will burn up the house of Jeroboam as one burns dung, until it is all gone. Dogs will eat those belonging to Jeroboam who die in the city, and the birds of the air will feed on those who die in the country. Yahweh has spoken! As for you, go back home. When you set foot in your city, the boy will die. All Israel will mourn for him and bury him. He is the only one belonging to Jeroboam who will be buried, because he is the only one in the house of Jeroboam in whom Yahweh, the God of Israel, has found anything good. Yahweh will raise up for himself a king over Israel who will cut off the family of Jeroboam. This is the day! What? Yes, even now. And Yahweh will strike Israel, so that it will be like a reed swaying in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land that he gave to their forefathers and scatter them beyond the River, because they provoked Yahweh to anger by making Asherah poles. And he will give Israel up because of the sins Jeroboam has committed and has caused Israel to commit.” (1 Kings 14:7-16)

 

Rehoboam son of Solomon was king in Judah. He was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city Yahweh had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel in which to put his Name. His mother’s name was Naamah; she was an Ammonite. Judah did evil in the eyes of Yahweh. By the sins they committed they stirred up his jealous anger more than their fathers had done. They also set up for themselves high places, sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. There were even male shrine prostitutes in the land; the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations Yahweh had driven out before the Israelites. In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. He carried off the treasures of the temple of Yahweh and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. So King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and assigned these to the commanders of the guard on duty at the entrance to the royal palace. Whenever the king went to Yahweh’s temple, the guards bore the shields, and afterward they returned them to the guardroom. As for the other events of Rehoboam’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? There was continual warfare between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. And Rehoboam rested with his fathers and was buried with them in the City of David. His mother’s name was Naamah; she was an Ammonite. And Abijah his son succeeded him as king. (1 Kings 14:21-31)

 

In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Asa became king of Judah, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty-one years. His grandmother’s name was Maacah daughter of Abishalom. Asa did what was right in the eyes of Yahweh, as his father David had done. He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his fathers had made. He even deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive Asherah pole. Asa cut the pole down and burned it in the Kidron Valley. Although he did not remove the high places, Asa’s heart was fully committed to Yahweh all his life. He brought into the temple of Yahweh the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated. (1 Kings 15:9-15)

 

In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of Yahweh than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke Yahweh, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him. (1 Kings 16:29-33)

 

So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned Yahweh’s commands and have followed the Baals. Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If Yahweh is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing. Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of Yahweh’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of Yahweh. The god who answers by fire—he is God.” Then all the people said, “What you say is good.” Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “O Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made. At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention. Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of Yahweh, which was in ruins. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of Yahweh had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” With the stones he built an altar in the name of Yahweh, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.” “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again. “Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench. At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O Yahweh, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O Yahweh, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Yahweh, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” Then the fire of Yahweh fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “Yahweh -he is God! Yahweh -he is God!” Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there. (1 Kings 18:16-40)

 

In the twenty-third year of Joash son of Ahaziah king of Judah, Jehoahaz son of Jehu became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned seventeen years. He did evil in the eyes of Yahweh by following the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit, and he did not turn away from them. So Yahweh’s anger burned against Israel, and for a long time he kept them under the power of Hazael king of Aram and Ben-Hadad his son. Then Jehoahaz sought Yahweh’s favor, and Yahweh listened to him, for he saw how severely the king of Aram was oppressing Israel. Yahweh provided a deliverer for Israel, and they escaped from the power of Aram. So the Israelites lived in their own homes as they had before. But they did not turn away from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit; they continued in them. Also, the Asherah pole remained standing in Samaria. Nothing had been left of the army of Jehoahaz except fifty horsemen, ten chariots and ten thousand foot soldiers, for the king of Aram had destroyed the rest and made them like the dust at threshing time. (2 Kings 13:1-7)

 

All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against Yahweh their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods and followed the practices of the nations Yahweh had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced. The Israelites secretly did things against Yahweh their God that were not right. From watchtower to fortified city they built themselves high places in all their towns. They set up sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. At every high place they burned incense, as the nations whom Yahweh had driven out before them had done. They did wicked things that provoked Yahweh to anger. They worshiped idols, though Yahweh had said, “You shall not do this.” Yahweh warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: “Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your fathers to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.” But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their fathers, who did not trust in Yahweh their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their fathers and the warnings he had given them. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although Yahweh had ordered them, “Do not do as they do,” and they did the things Yahweh had forbidden them to do. They forsook all the commands of Yahweh their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshiped Baal. They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sorcery and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of Yahweh, provoking him to anger. So Yahweh was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah was left, and even Judah did not keep the commands of Yahweh their God. They followed the practices Israel had introduced. Therefore Yahweh rejected all the people of Israel; he afflicted them and gave them into the hands of plunderers, until he thrust them from his presence. (2 Kings 17:7-20)

 

In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Hezekiah son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. He did what was right in the eyes of Yahweh, just as his father David had done. He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.) Hezekiah trusted in Yahweh, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to Yahweh and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands Yahweh had given Moses. And Yahweh was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. From watchtower to fortified city, he defeated the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory. (2 Kings 18:1-8)

 

Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. He did evil in the eyes of Yahweh, following the detestable practices of the nations Yahweh had driven out before the Israelites. He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. He built altars in the temple of Yahweh, of which Yahweh had said, “In Jerusalem I will put my Name.” In both courts of the temple of Yahweh, he built altars to all the starry hosts. He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of Yahweh, provoking him to anger. He took the carved Asherah pole he had made and put it in the temple, of which Yahweh had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever. I will not again make the feet of the Israelites wander from the land I gave their forefathers, if only they will be careful to do everything I commanded them and will keep the whole Law that my servant Moses gave them.” But the people did not listen. Manasseh led them astray, so that they did more evil than the nations Yahweh had destroyed before the Israelites. Yahweh said through his servants the prophets: “Manasseh king of Judah has committed these detestable sins. He has done more evil than the Amorites who preceded him and has led Judah into sin with his idols. Therefore this is what Yahweh, the God of Israel, says: I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle.  I will stretch out over Jerusalem the measuring line used against Samaria and the plumb line used against the house of Ahab. I will wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. I will forsake the remnant of my inheritance and hand them over to their enemies. They will be looted and plundered by all their foes, because they have done evil in my eyes and have provoked me to anger from the day their forefathers came out of Egypt until this day.” Moreover, Manasseh also shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end—besides the sin that he had caused Judah to commit, so that they did evil in the eyes of Yahweh. (2 Kings 21:1-16)

 

Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the temple of Yahweh with the men of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of Yahweh. The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of Yahweh -to follow Yahweh and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant. The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of Yahweh all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel. He did away with the pagan priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem—those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts. He took the Asherah pole from the temple of Yahweh to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it there. He ground it to powder and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people. He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes, which were in the temple of Yahweh and where women did weaving for Asherah. Josiah brought all the priests from the towns of Judah and desecrated the high places, from Geba to Beersheba, where the priests had burned incense. He broke down the shrines at the gates—at the entrance to the Gate of Joshua, the city governor, which is on the left of the city gate. Although the priests of the high places did not serve at the altar of Yahweh in Jerusalem, they ate unleavened bread with their fellow priests. He desecrated Topheth, which was in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, so no one could use it to sacrifice his son or daughter in the fire to Molech. He removed from the entrance to the temple of Yahweh the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun. They were in the court near the room of an official named Nathan-Melech. Josiah then burned the chariots dedicated to the sun. He pulled down the altars the kings of Judah had erected on the roof near the upper room of Ahaz, and the altars Manasseh had built in the two courts of the temple of Yahweh. He removed them from there, smashed them to pieces and threw the rubble into the Kidron Valley. The king also desecrated the high places that were east of Jerusalem on the south of the Hill of Corruption—the ones Solomon king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the vile goddess of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the vile god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the people of Ammon. Josiah smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles and covered the sites with human bones. Even the altar at Bethel, the high place made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had caused Israel to sin—even that altar and high place he demolished. He burned the high place and ground it to powder, and burned the Asherah pole also. Then Josiah looked around, and when he saw the tombs that were there on the hillside, he had the bones removed from them and burned on the altar to defile it, in accordance with the word of Yahweh proclaimed by the man of God who foretold these things. The king asked, “What is that tombstone I see?” The men of the city said, “It marks the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and pronounced against the altar of Bethel the very things you have done to it.” “Leave it alone,” he said. “Don’t let anyone disturb his bones.” So they spared his bones and those of the prophet who had come from Samaria. Just as he had done at Bethel, Josiah removed and defiled all the shrines at the high places that the kings of Israel had built in the towns of Samaria that had provoked Yahweh to anger. Josiah slaughtered all the priests of those high places on the altars and burned human bones on them. Then he went back to Jerusalem. The king gave this order to all the people: “Celebrate the Passover to Yahweh your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” Not since the days of the judges who led Israel, nor throughout the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah, had any such Passover been observed. But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was celebrated to Yahweh in Jerusalem. Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This he did to fulfill the requirements of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of Yahweh. Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to Yahweh as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses. Nevertheless, Yahweh did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to provoke him to anger. So Yahweh said, “I will remove Judah also from my presence as I removed Israel, and I will reject Jerusalem, the city I chose, and this temple, about which I said, ‘There shall my Name be.’ ” (2 Kings 23:1-27)

 

And Abijah rested with his fathers and was buried in the City of David. Asa his son succeeded him as king, and in his days the country was at peace for ten years. Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of Yahweh his God. He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He commanded Judah to seek Yahweh, the God of their fathers, and to obey his laws and commands. He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him. He built up the fortified cities of Judah, since the land was at peace. No one was at war with him during those years, for Yahweh gave him rest. “Let us build up these towns,” he said to Judah, “and put walls around them, with towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought Yahweh our God; we sought him and he has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered. Asa had an army of three hundred thousand men from Judah, equipped with large shields and with spears, and two hundred and eighty thousand from Benjamin, armed with small shields and with bows. All these were brave fighting men. Zerah the Cushite marched out against them with a vast army and three hundred chariots, and came as far as Mareshah. Asa went out to meet him, and they took up battle positions in the Valley of Zephathah near Mareshah. Then Asa called to Yahweh his God and said, “Yahweh, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O Yahweh our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O Yahweh, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you.” Yahweh struck down the Cushites before Asa and Judah. The Cushites fled, and Asa and his army pursued them as far as Gerar. Such a great number of Cushites fell that they could not recover; they were crushed before Yahweh and his forces. The men of Judah carried off a large amount of plunder. They destroyed all the villages around Gerar, for the terror of Yahweh had fallen upon them. They plundered all these villages, since there was much booty there. They also attacked the camps of the herdsmen and carried off droves of sheep and goats and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 14:1-15)

 

They took an oath to Yahweh with loud acclamation, with shouting and with trumpets and horns. All Judah rejoiced about the oath because they had sworn it wholeheartedly. They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So Yahweh gave them rest on every side. King Asa also deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive Asherah pole. Asa cut the pole down, broke it up and burned it in the Kidron Valley. Although he did not remove the high places from Israel, Asa’s heart was fully committed to Yahweh all his life. He brought into the temple of God the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated. There was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign. (2 Chronicles 15:14-19)

 

Yahweh was with Jehoshaphat because in his early years he walked in the ways his father David had followed. He did not consult the Baals but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel. Yahweh established the kingdom under his control; and all Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so that he had great wealth and honor. His heart was devoted to the ways of Yahweh; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah. In the third year of his reign he sent his officials Ben-Hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel and Micaiah to teach in the towns of Judah. With them were certain Levites—Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah and Tob-Adonijah—and the priests Elishama and Jehoram. They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the Book of the Law of Yahweh; they went around to all the towns of Judah and taught the people. The fear of Yahweh fell on all the kingdoms of the lands surrounding Judah, so that they did not make war with Jehoshaphat. Some Philistines brought Jehoshaphat gifts and silver as tribute, and the Arabs brought him flocks: seven thousand seven hundred rams and seven thousand seven hundred goats. Jehoshaphat became more and more powerful; he built forts and store cities in Judah and had large supplies in the towns of Judah. (2 Chronicles 17:3-13)

 

When Jehoshaphat king of Judah returned safely to his palace in Jerusalem, Jehu the seer, the son of Hanani, went out to meet him and said to the king, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate Yahweh? Because of this, the wrath of Yahweh is upon you. There is, however, some good in you, for you have rid the land of the Asherah poles and have set your heart on seeking God.” (2 Chronicles 19:1-3)

 

After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listened to them. They abandoned the temple of Yahweh, the God of their fathers, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God’s anger came upon Judah and Jerusalem. Although Yahweh sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen. Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and said, “This is what God says: ‘Why do you disobey Yahweh’s commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken Yahweh, he has forsaken you.’ ” But they plotted against him, and by order of the king they stoned him to death in the courtyard of Yahweh’s temple. King Joash did not remember the kindness Zechariah’s father Jehoiada had shown him but killed his son, who said as he lay dying, “May Yahweh see this and call you to account.” At the turn of the year, the army of Aram marched against Joash; it invaded Judah and Jerusalem and killed all the leaders of the people. They sent all the plunder to their king in Damascus. Although the Aramean army had come with only a few men, Yahweh delivered into their hands a much larger army. Because Judah had forsaken Yahweh, the God of their fathers, judgment was executed on Joash. When the Arameans withdrew, they left Joash severely wounded. His officials conspired against him for murdering the son of Jehoiada the priest, and they killed him in his bed. So he died and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings. 2 Chronicles 24:17-25

 

When all this had ended, the Israelites who were there went out to the towns of Judah, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. They destroyed the high places and the altars throughout Judah and Benjamin and in Ephraim and Manasseh. After they had destroyed all of them, the Israelites returned to their own towns and to their own property. Hezekiah assigned the priests and Levites to divisions—each of them according to their duties as priests or Levites—to offer burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, to minister, to give thanks and to sing praises at the gates of Yahweh’s dwelling. The king contributed from his own possessions for the morning and evening burnt offerings and for the burnt offerings on the Sabbaths, New Moons and appointed feasts as written in the Law of Yahweh. He ordered the people living in Jerusalem to give the portion due the priests and Levites so they could devote themselves to the Law of Yahweh. As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything. The men of Israel and Judah who lived in the towns of Judah also brought a tithe of their herds and flocks and a tithe of the holy things dedicated to Yahweh their God, and they piled them in heaps. They began doing this in the third month and finished in the seventh month. When Hezekiah and his officials came and saw the heaps, they praised Yahweh and blessed his people Israel. Hezekiah asked the priests and Levites about the heaps; and Azariah the chief priest, from the family of Zadok, answered, “Since the people began to bring their contributions to the temple of Yahweh, we have had enough to eat and plenty to spare, because Yahweh has blessed his people, and this great amount is left over.” (2 Chronicles 31:1-10)

 

Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. He did evil in the eyes of Yahweh, following the detestable practices of the nations Yahweh had driven out before the Israelites. He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had demolished; he also erected altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. He built altars in the temple of Yahweh, of which Yahweh had said, “My Name will remain in Jerusalem forever.” In both courts of the temple of Yahweh, he built altars to all the starry hosts. He sacrificed his sons in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of Yahweh, provoking him to anger. He took the carved image he had made and put it in God’s temple, of which God had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever. I will not again make the feet of the Israelites leave the land I assigned to your forefathers, if only they will be careful to do everything I commanded them concerning all the laws, decrees and ordinances given through Moses.” But Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations Yahweh had destroyed before the Israelites. Yahweh spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. So Yahweh brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. In his distress he sought the favor of Yahweh his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And when he prayed to him, Yahweh was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that Yahweh is God. Afterward he rebuilt the outer wall of the City of David, west of the Gihon spring in the valley, as far as the entrance of the Fish Gate and encircling the hill of Ophel; he also made it much higher. He stationed military commanders in all the fortified cities in Judah. He got rid of the foreign gods and removed the image from the temple of Yahweh, as well as all the altars he had built on the temple hill and in Jerusalem; and he threw them out of the city. Then he restored the altar of Yahweh and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve Yahweh, the God of Israel. The people, however, continued to sacrifice at the high places, but only to Yahweh their God. The other events of Manasseh’s reign, including his prayer to his God and the words the seers spoke to him in the name of Yahweh, the God of Israel, are written in the annals of the kings of Israel. His prayer and how God was moved by his entreaty, as well as all his sins and unfaithfulness, and the sites where he built high places and set up Asherah poles and idols before he humbled himself—all are written in the records of the seers. Manasseh rested with his fathers and was buried in his palace. And Amon his son succeeded him as king. (2 Chronicles 33:1-20)

 

Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. He did what was right in the eyes of Yahweh and walked in the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David. In his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles, carved idols and cast images. Under his direction the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to pieces the incense altars that were above them, and smashed the Asherah poles, the idols and the images. These he broke to pieces and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. He burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and so he purged Judah and Jerusalem. In the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon, as far as Naphtali, and in the ruins around them, he tore down the altars and the Asherah poles and crushed the idols to powder and cut to pieces all the incense altars throughout Israel. Then he went back to Jerusalem. In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign, to purify the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan son of Azaliah and Maaseiah the ruler of the city, with Joah son of Joahaz, the recorder, to repair the temple of Yahweh his God. (2 Chronicles 34:1-8)

 

In that day men will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel. They will not look to the altars, the work of their hands, and they will have no regard for the Asherah poles and the incense altars their fingers have made. In that day their strong cities, which they left because of the Israelites, will be like places abandoned to thickets and undergrowth. And all will be desolation. You have forgotten God your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress. Therefore, though you set out the finest plants and plant imported vines, though on the day you set them out, you make them grow, and on the morning when you plant them, you bring them to bud, yet the harvest will be as nothing in the day of disease and incurable pain. Oh, the raging of many nations— they rage like the raging sea! Oh, the uproar of the peoples— they roar like the roaring of great waters! Although the peoples roar like the roar of surging waters, when he rebukes them they flee far away, driven before the wind like chaff on the hills, like tumbleweed before a gale. (Isaiah 17:7-13)

 

By this, then, will Jacob’s guilt be atoned for, and this will be the full fruitage of the removal of his sin: When he makes all the altar stones to be like chalk stones crushed to pieces, no Asherah poles or incense altars will be left standing. The fortified city stands desolate, an abandoned settlement, forsaken like the desert; there the calves graze, there they lie down; they strip its branches bare. When its twigs are dry, they are broken off and women come and make fires with them. For this is a people without understanding; so their Maker has no compassion on them, and their Creator shows them no favor. In that day Yahweh will thresh from the flowing Euphrates to the Wadi of Egypt, and you, O Israelites, will be gathered up one by one. And in that day a great trumpet will sound. Those who were perishing in Assyria and those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship Yahweh on the holy mountain in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 27:9-13)

 

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from Yahweh: “Stand at the gate of Yahweh‘s house and there proclaim this message: ‘Hear the word of Yahweh, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship Yahweh. This is what Yahweh Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of Yahweh, the temple of Yahweh, the temple of Yahweh!” If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”-safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares Yahweh. Go now to the place in Shiloh where I first made a dwelling for my Name, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of my people Israel. While you were doing all these things, declares Yahweh, I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer. Therefore, what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house that bears my Name, the temple you trust in, the place I gave to you and your fathers. I will thrust you from my presence, just as I did all your brothers, the people of Ephraim. So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you. Do you not see what they are doing in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes of bread for the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to provoke me to anger. But am I the one they are provoking? declares Yahweh. Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame?Therefore this is what the Sovereign Yahweh says: My anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and beast, on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground, and it will burn and not be quenched. This is what Yahweh Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go ahead, add your burnt offerings to your other sacrifices and eat the meat yourselves! For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. From the time your forefathers left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their forefathers.’” (Jeremiah 7:1-26)

 

“Judah’s sin is engraved with an iron tool, inscribed with a flint point, on the tablets of their hearts and on the horns of their altars. Even their children remember their altars and Asherah poles beside the spreading trees and on the high hills. My mountain in the land and your wealth and all your treasures I will give away as plunder, together with your high places, because of sin throughout your country. Through your own fault you will lose the inheritance I gave you. I will enslave you to your enemies in a land you do not know, for you have kindled my anger, and it will burn forever.” (Jeremiah 17:1-4)

 

This word came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews living in Lower Egypt—in Migdol, Tahpanhes and Memphis —and in Upper Egypt: “This is what Yahweh Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You saw the great disaster I brought on Jerusalem and on all the towns of Judah. Today they lie deserted and in ruins because of the evil they have done. They provoked me to anger by burning incense and by worshiping other gods that neither they nor you nor your fathers ever knew. Again and again I sent my servants the prophets, who said, ‘Do not do this detestable thing that I hate!’ But they did not listen or pay attention; they did not turn from their wickedness or stop burning incense to other gods. Therefore, my fierce anger was poured out; it raged against the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem and made them the desolate ruins they are today. Now this is what Yahweh God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Why bring such great disaster on yourselves by cutting off from Judah the men and women, the children and infants, and so leave yourselves without a remnant? Why provoke me to anger with what your hands have made, burning incense to other gods in Egypt, where you have come to live? You will destroy yourselves and make yourselves an object of cursing and reproach among all the nations on earth. Have you forgotten the wickedness committed by your fathers and by the kings and queens of Judah and the wickedness committed by you and your wives in the land of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem? To this day they have not humbled themselves or shown reverence, nor have they followed my law and the decrees I set before you and your fathers. Therefore, this is what Yahweh Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I am determined to bring disaster on you and to destroy all Judah. I will take away the remnant of Judah who were determined to go to Egypt to settle there. They will all perish in Egypt; they will fall by the sword or die from famine. From the least to the greatest, they will die by sword or famine. They will become an object of cursing and horror, of condemnation and reproach. I will punish those who live in Egypt with the sword, famine and plague, as I punished Jerusalem. None of the remnant of Judah who have gone to live in Egypt will escape or survive to return to the land of Judah, to which they long to return and live; none will return except a few fugitives.” Then all the men who knew that their wives were burning incense to other gods, along with all the women who were present—a large assembly—and all the people living in Lower and Upper Egypt, said to Jeremiah, “We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of Yahweh! We will certainly do everything we said we would: We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our fathers, our kings and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. At that time we had plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm. But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine.” The women added, “When we burned incense to the Queen of Heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, did not our husbands know that we were making cakes like her image and pouring out drink offerings to her?” Then Jeremiah said to all the people, both men and women, who were answering him, “Did not Yahweh remember and think about the incense burned in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem by you and your fathers, your kings and your officials and the people of the land? When Yahweh could no longer endure your wicked actions and the detestable things you did, your land became an object of cursing and a desolate waste without inhabitants, as it is today. Because you have burned incense and have sinned against Yahweh and have not obeyed him or followed his law or his decrees or his stipulations, this disaster has come upon you, as you now see.” Then Jeremiah said to all the people, including the women, “Hear the word of Yahweh, all you people of Judah in Egypt. This is what Yahweh Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You and your wives have shown by your actions what you promised when you said, ‘We will certainly carry out the vows we made to burn incense and pour out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven.’ Go ahead then, do what you promised! Keep your vows! But hear the word of Yahweh, all Jews living in Egypt: ‘I swear by my great name,’ says Yahweh, ‘that no one from Judah living anywhere in Egypt will ever again invoke my name or swear, “As surely as the Sovereign Yahweh lives.” For I am watching over them for harm, not for good; the Jews in Egypt will perish by sword and famine until they are all destroyed. Those who escape the sword and return to the land of Judah from Egypt will be very few. Then the whole remnant of Judah who came to live in Egypt will know whose word will stand—mine or theirs. This will be the sign to you that I will punish you in this place,’ declares Yahweh, ‘so that you will know that my threats of harm against you will surely stand.’ This is what Yahweh says: ‘I am going to hand Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt over to his enemies who seek his life, just as I handed Zedekiah king of Judah over to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the enemy who was seeking his life.'” (Jeremiah 44:1-30)

 

In the sixth year, in the sixth month on the fifth day, while I was sitting in my house and the elders of Judah were sitting before me, the hand of the Sovereign Yahweh came upon me there. I looked, and I saw a figure like that of a man. From what appeared to be his waist down he was like fire, and from there up his appearance was as bright as glowing metal. He stretched out what looked like a hand and took me by the hair of my head. The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God he took me to Jerusalem, to the entrance to the north gate of the inner court, where the idol that provokes to jealousy stood. And there before me was the glory of the God of Israel, as in the vision I had seen in the plain. Then he said to me, “Son of man, look toward the north.” So I looked, and in the entrance north of the gate of the altar I saw this idol of jealousy. And he said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing—the utterly detestable things the house of Israel is doing here, things that will drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see things that are even more detestable.” Then he brought me to the entrance to the court. I looked, and I saw a hole in the wall. He said to me, “Son of man, now dig into the wall.” So I dug into the wall and saw a doorway there. And he said to me, “Go in and see the wicked and detestable things they are doing here.” So I went in and looked, and I saw portrayed all over the walls all kinds of crawling things and detestable animals and all the idols of the house of Israel. In front of them stood seventy elders of the house of Israel, and Jaazaniah son of Shaphan was standing among them. Each had a censer in his hand, and a fragrant cloud of incense was rising. He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol? They say, ‘Yahweh does not see us; Yahweh has forsaken the land.’ ” Again, he said, “You will see them doing things that are even more detestable.” Then he brought me to the entrance to the north gate of the house of Yahweh, and I saw women sitting there, mourning for Tammuz. He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this.” He then brought me into the inner court of the house of Yahweh, and there at the entrance to the temple, between the portico and the altar, were about twenty-five men. With their backs toward the temple of Yahweh and their faces toward the east, they were bowing down to the sun in the east. He said to me, “Have you seen this, son of man? Is it a trivial matter for the house of Judah to do the detestable things they are doing here? Must they also fill the land with violence and continually provoke me to anger? Look at them putting the branch to their nose! Therefore I will deal with them in anger; I will not look on them with pity or spare them. Although they shout in my ears, I will not listen to them.” (Ezekiel 8:1-18)

 

Marshal your troops, O city of troops, for a siege is laid against us. They will strike Israel’s ruler on the cheek with a rod. “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. ” Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of Yahweh, in the majesty of the name of Yahweh his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace. When the Assyrian invades our land and marches through our fortresses, we will raise against him seven shepherds, even eight leaders of men. They will rule the land of Assyria with the sword, the land of Nimrod with drawn sword. He will deliver us from the Assyrian when he invades our land and marches into our borders. The remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples like dew from Yahweh, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for man or linger for mankind. The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among flocks of sheep, which mauls and mangles as it goes, and no one can rescue. Your hand will be lifted up in triumph over your enemies, and all your foes will be destroyed. “In that day,” declares Yahweh, “I will destroy your horses from among you and demolish your chariots. I will destroy the cities of your land and tear down all your strongholds. I will destroy your witchcraft and you will no longer cast spells. I will destroy your carved images and your sacred stones from among you; you will no longer bow down to the work of your hands. I will uproot from among you your Asherah poles and demolish your cities. I will take vengeance in anger and wrath upon the nations that have not obeyed me.” (Micah 5:1-15)

2 Responses to “History we should know…”

  1. Robski says:

    Awesome post dude 🙂 The pole can be living or dead as in a living tree or dead cut down tree really clinches the Christmas tree tradition link for me as well as all the other evidence provided above.

    A very good exposition. thanks!

    – Rob

  2. Timotheos says:

    Shalom,

    This is a great page and worthy of reprinting and general distribution to all Christians. I hope more people come to this page to realise the folly of following man’s ways and instead look towards Him who can truly change each of us into His children.

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