Thursday, April 12, 2018

Was YHWH a god of metallurgy?

TIMNA AGAIN: Jewish God Yahweh Originated in Canaanite Vulcan, Says New Theory. The cult of YHWH as god of metallurgy originated among semi-nomadic copper smelters between the Bronze and Iron Age, suggests biblical scholar: And he was not worshipped only by Jews (Ariel David, Haaretz).
TIMNA – Around 3,200 years ago, the great empires around the Mediterranean and the Middle East suddenly imploded. The Egyptians retreated from Canaan and the copper mines of Timna in the Negev, skulking back to the banks of the Nile. And in the arid wastes of southern Canaan, a new power arose.
The Timna mines were taken over by semi-nomadic tribes, which set up a mining operation that dwarfed the previous Egyptian industry.

This new desert kingdom would leave its mark on the main building at Timna: the Egyptian temple of Hathor, protector of miners. The new masters smashed the effigy of the Egyptian deity – leaving the fragments to be found by archaeologists more than 3,000 years later – and set up over the ruins of the temple a tent sanctuary, judging by the remains of heavy red and yellow fabric found in the 1970s.

There they worshipped a new god, one that had no apparent name or face.

That miners' god was none other than the deity known by the four Hebrew letters YHWH, who would become the God of the Jews and, by extension, of Christians and Muslims, claims Nissim Amzallag, a biblical studies researcher at Ben-Gurion University.

Hmmm ... interesting idea. I agree that the biblical texts seem to look to the region of Timna/Edom for the earliest traditions about YHWH. But, with Professor Romer, I think the fiery imagery around YHWH has to do with his being a storm god, not with any association with a metallurgical cult.

Overall, I'm skeptical. The only way to solve the question decisively would be if we found early texts from, say, Timna. I am keeping an eye on this site in case that happens. For background to that issue, see here and follow the links. (Keep reading, the post does not seem relevant at first.)

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