“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the LORD your God. You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 18:2-4).
When Israel entered the promised land of Canaan, they were going to be faced with many detestable practices including the worship of ‘other gods’ by the Philistines. This is why they were to destroy the Canaanites among the others who inhabited the land.
Dagon as a Baal
“(After the death of Samson) Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate saying, ‘Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands” (Judges 16:23).
“Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of YHWH. They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of YHWH! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained” (1 Samuel 5:2-4).
Dagon was the principal fertility god of the Philistine god and migrated to Assyria/Babylon/Nineveh from Crete. He was only second in power behind El, as he was the son of El – the god of thunder and lightning. Because the Hebrew word for ‘fish’ is ‘dag’, he was represented as half man/half fish. It was believed that a being that was half human and half fish emerged from the Erythraean Sea and was adopted into the culture as a deity.
There was a temple for Dagon in Beit-dagon in the tribe of Asher (Joshua 19:27), in Gaza (Judges 16:23). King Saul’s head was displayed in a temple of Dagon (1 Chronicles 10:8-10).
Think and Discuss Where is the fish seen today in Christianity? How do you think the idea of evolution fits in with the worship of ‘dagon’?
“Announce and proclaim among the nations, lift up a banner and proclaim it; keep nothing back, but say, ‘Babylon will be captured; Bel will be put to shame, Marduk filled with terror. Her images will be put to shame and her idols filled with terror’” (Jeremiah 50:2).
Marduk is called the god of wisdom and known as a sun god. He was the offspring of Ea (Babylon) and Damkin (mother). He was so wise he eventually ruled over his parents. Also known as Bel or Lord (Satan, Revelation 12:7), he is the Babylonian counterpart of the Sumerian Anu and Enlil. In Persia, he is known as Mithras and Christ in Christianity.
See “Mithras” in Persia.
Ashtarte (aka Astarte, Ishtar, Easter)
Ashtarte was known as a goddess of sexuality, passion, fertility, and war. She was the consort of Baal or Dagon.
As Ashtarte, she was the chief goddess of the Sidonians. Her worship at Gebal included the wailing for Tammuz. Women were obliged to sacrifice either their hair or their chastity.
Throughout the millennia she is known by many names: Lilith, Asherah, Astarte, Demeter, the Queen of Heaven, goddess of kabbalah, Ishtar (Babylon, Assyria), Hathor (Egypt), Hera (Greek), Venus and the Queen of Heaven (Roman), virgin Mary (catholicism)
In short, Lilith comes from the Babylonian Talmud and the epic of Gilgamesh and is believed to be the first mate for Adam and related to a class of female demons. She was created from the dust of the earth and therefore was his equal. This caused problems and so she was banished from being with Adam. God then made Eve from a flesh portion of Adam so as not to have the rivalry between men and women. Lilith became angry and deceived Eve – as the serpent. She was also angered at the offspring of Eve and is known for taking the lives of children. Her role was to control men and unleash their lustful passions during the night. She may have been the spirit behind “Jezebel”. Isaiah 34:14 has a reference to night demons that may be about her or may not. Whatever Lilith was or is, she may be the forerunner to Astarte, Ashtoreth, and Ishtar.
An Asherah pole was a sacred tree or pole that stood near shrines to the mother-goddess Asherah. Asherah was worshipped as the Tree of Life in the Garden where the serpent was her sacred totem.
“Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut own the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places” (Deuteronomy12:3).
“Do not set up any wooden Asherah pole beside the altar you build to YHWH your God….” (Deuteronomy 16:21).
“Then build a proper kind of altar to YHWH your Go 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” (Judges 6:26).
“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” (1 Kings 18:19).
“They set up sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree” (2 Kings 17:10).
Think About and Discuss What would be an example of an Asherah pole today? Do you think there is a significant correlation between Lillith, Eve and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life in the Garden?
Queen of Heaven
Ashtoreth was also known as the Queen of Heaven to whom the Canaanites had burned incense and poured libations. In North Africa, she was known as Tanith and Dido. She was worshipped with obscene rites.
“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” (Jeremiah 7:18).
“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” (Jeremiah 44:17).
Think About and Discuss What are hot cross buns? When are they made? Why are they made? Could they be considered something remaining as a celebration for the Queen of Heaven? Looking at the photo below, who does the Queen of Heaven resemble today?
He was a god of the Canaanites, Ammonites and Phoenicians to whom parents sacrificed their children. He was also known as Baal.
“Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of YHWH. 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” (Judges 10:6).
“And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, “If you are returning to YHWH with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to YHWH and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hands of the Philistines.” 1 Samuel 7:3
“He followed Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites” (1 Kings 11:5).
It is apparent from the Scriptures that include Chemosh that the Israelites succumbed to worshipping other gods from many other cultures. It is easy to pass judgment on them with an arrogant attitude based on salvation in Messiah; however, it is easy to fall into the traditions of the culture around you and worship other gods without even being totally aware. This is what happened to Solomon when he took foreign wives.
“Will you not take what your god Chemosh give you? Likewise, whatever the Lord our God has given us, we will possess” (Judges 2:24).
“Woe to you, O Moab! You are destroyed, O people of Chemosh!” (Numbers 21:29).
“I will do this because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth 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 statues and laws as David, Solomon’s father, did” (1 Kings 11:33).
Think About and Discuss Ruth was a Moabitess. Read her words to Naomi in Ruth 1:16. How do her words affect you knowing about the gods her people worshipped? How do her words affect your understanding of leaving behind ‘other gods’ for the worship of the God of Israel?
All photos were obtained on the internet.