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What gods did the Hebrews worship?


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Answered 2018-04-15 18:16:19

Jehovah [meaning "He causes to become"]. The personal name of God. Throughout the history of the Hebrews, they worshiped the One God, Jehovah. He was known as the True God, and the Hebrews worshiped Him all their lives. Although they had pitfalls, Jehovah remained to be the only true God they worshiped. Jehovah was the God that commanded Pharaoh to "Let his people go" (Exodus ch.5) and was also the one who led them to the promised land (Numbers 9:15-20). Also Jehovah was with the Israelites when they went to war and was the cause of winning the wars. Yes, the Israelites did get captured by the Babylonians and some may have worshiped their false gods, but true worship was restored when the Persian king Cyrus overthrew king Belshazzar some 2400 years ago. Jehovah was and is a very powerful, wise, merciful, and loving God always forgiving the Israelites when they repented for their errors. The name Jehovah is known in Hebrew as YHWH and is the correct name for God.

Answer 2

Dictionaries define "Judaism" as The monotheistic religion of the Jews, since the founding principle of Judaism was and is the belief in One God, creator of the universe. This was the teaching which was spread by Abraham, and has continued since then. From Judaism, belief in One God has spread through the Western world.


Jews have always worshiped the One God. Abraham worshiped "the Lord God of Heaven and Earth" (Genesis 14:22 and 24:3) and complained about the Philistines' lack of fear of God (Genesis 20:11).
Jacob confiscated the idolatrous images taken from Shechem (Genesis 35:2) and got rid of them (Genesis 35:4); and refrained from invoking the gods of Nahor (Genesis 31:53). Rachel pilfered Laban's statue-images (Genesis 31:19) in order to prevent him from idolatry (Rashi commentary, ibid.). Joseph placed his hope in the God of the Forefathers (Genesis 50:24).
At the time of the Exodus, God wrecked the Egyptian idols (Exodus 12:12) and warned against idolatry (Exodus 22:19). Later, Moses characterized the Golden Calf as "a great sin" (Exodus 32:21, 30) and punished the worshipers (Exodus ch.32). During the rest of his lifetime and that of Joshua (Judges 2:7), no incidents of Israelite idolatry were reported.

Shortly before he died, Moses warned the people that he suspected that they would eventually succumb to the lure of the idols (Deuteronomy 29:17). Joshua gave a similar warning (Joshua ch.24).
These warnings came true. Many of the Israelites went astray after the foreign gods (Judges 2:11). However, they never invented their own idol. It was always the baneful influence of other peoples. And there were times when the entire Israelite nation repented (Judges 2:1-4) and prayed to God (Judges 3:9, 3:15, 6:6, 10:10).
Those who did sin did not represent or influence normative Judaism, just as the later Sadducees and Essenes did not. They were deviating from the Torah's standard; they were publicly, repeatedly, and scathingly excoriated by the prophets, and they caused God's retribution to come upon the entire people (2 Kings ch.17).

Because of the idol-worship that did happen, ancient images of idols have been found in Israel too. Images of God aren't found because it is forbidden to represent Him through imagery (Deuteronomy 4:15-16).
It should be noted that idolatry was never universal among the Israelites. The belief in One God was continued in every generation, whether by the few or the many; and it is those who handed down that tradition whose beliefs we Jews continue today. Deborah ascribed victory to God (Judges 4:14), Gideon tore down the idolatrous altar (Judges 6:25-27); Samson prayed to God (Judges 16:28), as did Hannah (1 Samuel 1:11) and Samuel (ibid. 12:18); Eli blessed in the name of God (1 Samuel 2:20), Saul built an altar to God (1 Samuel 14:35); Jonathan ascribed victory to God (1 Samuel 14:12), as did David (1 Samuel 17:46); and Solomon built the Temple for God (1 Kings 8:20). A number of the kings "did what was right in God's eyes": David (1 Kings 15:5), Solomon (see 1 Kings 3:3), Asa (1 Kings 15:11), Yehoshaphat (1 Kings 22:43), Yehu (2 Kings 10:30), Yehoash (2 Kings 12:3), Amatziah (2 Kings 14:3), Azariah (2 Kings 15:3), Yotam (2 Kings 15:34), Hizkiah (2 Kings 18:3), and Josiah (2 Kings 22:2). Part of this righteousness was their destroying whatever idolatrous incursions had occurred among the populace (1 Samuel 7:3-4, 2 Chronicles 15:8, 2 Chronicles 17:6, 2 Kings 18:4). Even at the height of the unfortunate spread of idolatry among the less-loyal Ten Tribes, there were thousands who remained loyal to God (1 Kings 19:18).
And, of course, the Prophets, who spoke in the name of God and warned against idolatry: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea and so on.
The later sages of the Talmud, who ridiculed idolatry (Megillah 25b), were simply continuing in the tradition of the Prophets whose verses are quoted in that context (ibid.).

More information:
While no excuse should be made for those Israelites who strayed, the following may at least clarify the topic a little.
1) The ancients were tested by a powerful lure towards idolatry. We don't understand it because conditions have changed (Talmud, Yoma 69b).
2) Most Israelites (if not all) who committed idolatry didn't completely forget about their One God. They introduced idols into the picture.
3) It was thought that each nation has its own god. They thought that they needed to propitiate the gods of the nations around them so that those gods "wouldn't give military victory" to those nations over the land of Israel.
4) They figured that they would acknowledge other gods "just in case," and that it would be no worse than someone today who carries a "lucky" penny or rabbit's foot.
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liyah2 fiyaaa

2021-02-02 23:02:22

this is so confusing, can you sum up the answer in a short response ..?

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Answered 2014-12-01 18:47:42

The Israelites always worshiped the One God. Abraham worshiped "the Lord God of Heaven and Earth" (Genesis 14:22 and 24:3) and complained about the Philistines' lack of fear of God (Genesis 20:11).

Jacob confiscated the idolatrous images taken from Shechem (Genesis 35:2) and got rid of them (Genesis 35:4); and refrained from invoking the gods of Nahor (Genesis 31:53). Rachel pilfered Laban's statue-images (Genesis 31:19) in order to prevent him from idolatry (Rashi commentary, ibid.). Joseph placed his hope in the God of the Forefathers (Genesis 50:24).
At the time of the Exodus, God wrecked the Egyptian idols (Exodus 12:12) and warned against idolatry (Exodus 22:19). Later, Moses characterized the Golden Calf as "a great sin" (Exodus 32:21, 30) and punished the worshipers (Exodus ch.32). During the rest of his lifetime and that of Joshua (Judges 2:7), no incidents of Israelite idolatry were reported.

Later, there were times when some (or many) of the Israelites went astray after foreign gods (Judges ch.2), but that is not Judaism - it's the abandonment of Judaism. Those who did sin did not represent or influence normative Judaism, just as the later Sadducees and Essenes did not. They were deviating from the Torah's standard, and they were publicly, repeatedly, and scathingly excoriated by the prophets.

See also the other Related Links.

Link: Reliability of the Hebrew Bible

Link: What do Jews believe God is like?

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Answered 2014-12-01 19:57:01

Up until at least the time of the (sixth century BCE) Babylonian Exile, the ancient Hebrews worshiped many gods. Even in the time of the Exile, Isaiah (26:13-14) said in acknowledgement of Judah's polytheistic past: 'O Lord our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name. They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise; therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to vanish.' Having claimed that the old gods were dead and entirely forgotten, the author of the above passage then criticised those who still worshipped them.
Some of the Hebrew gods include (with limited references, because of space):

  • The moon god
Throughout the Middle East, from Egypt to Persia, the golden calf represented the moon god, so when the Israelites worshipped golden calves, we know this was the moon god. C. L. Woolley found several images of golden calves in his excavations of the royal graves at Ur. That these images are of the moon god can be seen a description found in a Sumero-Akkadian hymn to that god: 'Ferocious bull, whose horn is thick, whose legs are perfected, who is bearded in lapsis, and filled with luxury and abundance.' InExodus, the Hebrews built a golden calf, which Moses is said to have destroyed. In 1 Kings chapter 12, we find that the King Jeroboam made two calves of gold, setting one up in Bethel and one in Dan. He made priests and ordained a national feast day to the god symbolised by these calves, and the people came to worship. From this it can be seen that, under Jeroboam, the moon god was the national god of Israel
  • The sun god
In Exodus, Joshua is said to have fought against the Amaleks, while Moses held up his hand until the sun went down. Arguably, this passage is based on an early sun god myth. Verse 17:1 says that they had journeyed from the wilderness of Sin. Sin was the Semitic moon god, so the wilderness of Sin was night time - when the moon god was in control. Joshua could only prevail while Moses held up his hand and the sun was up - the sun god was in control. Note that verses 17:2-7, in which Moses tapped a rock to obtain water, seem to have been inserted out of order, thus breaking the link between the moon god and the battle. The Book of Ezekiel, verse 8:16 says: 'And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord's house, and behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshiped the sun toward the east'.
  • Venus, known to the ancient Hebrews as Asherah.
There are frequent references to Asherah and to her groves, throughout The Bible The Second Book of Kings (23:5) tells us that priests at Jerusalem burnt incense to the sun and the moon and to the planets and to all the host of heaven.
  • The serpent god, Nehushtan
Judahites worshiped Nehushtan at least until the seventh century BCE, when King Hezekiah finally destroyed the idol.
  • Regional gods
Other gods that the Hebrew people worshiped in the period up to the Exile include Ba'al, Moloch, Chemosh, Milcom, Chiun or Remphan, Gad and Meni. Ezekiel 8:14 describes women in the Temple 'weeping for Tammuz' - the Semitic god condemned to hell by the goddess Astarte after she was crucified and resurrected
  • Lady Wisdom

    The spirit/goddess Lady Wisdom seems to be post-exilic, although the Bible says that she existed before the creation of the world. The Book of Proverbs is largely devoted to Lady Wisdom, as is much non-canonical Jewish writing from the intertestimal period.
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Answered 2014-12-01 02:06:35

The Hebrews worshiped one God, whose name is never pronounced out loud.

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