By Ilon Gilad, published by Am Oved. The section from the first chapter tells how the religion was founded out of nowhere and wrote the history of two Canaanite kingdoms - Judah and Israel at the hands of the writer Shepan and King Josiah who tried to leave the main god Jehovah out of the circle of his gods and become a single god. How long did it take for this belief to take hold?
How was the Jewish religion founded? What events led to its formation? Are the biblical stories based on historical fact or are they beautiful legends and nothing else? In other words - what really happened?
For years researchers have believed that the answer to these questions will never be found, since most of the texts and remains from ancient times are so ancient and missing that no one will ever be able to access them and separate mythology from history, fiction from reality.
In this book the researcher presents Eilon Gilad A new theory that challenges this concept. He describes how changing modern research tools and discoveries enrich our knowledge of biblical times from end to end and points out that the beginning of the Jewish religion is not at all as old as we thought.
In the new information mirror Gilad presents a comprehensive and fascinating analysis of the sources along with sensational and far-reaching conclusions. Each chapter in the book deals with a holiday or a time and the essential questions at its center: who invented the Sabbath; Why Yom Kippur is required; Or who wrote the Torah. The attempt to answer the key question will in turn raise other questions. Thus, like a detective story, the details of the details will be added and we will discover, step by step, the full picture, the true origins of the religion of Moses and Israel.
Eilon Gilad He is a researcher, linguist and author, a graduate of Tel Aviv University. 9+ Toro "From the Language Inside", which traces the origins of the Hebrew language, is published every week in the Shabbat supplement of the "Haaretz" newspaper and has been very successful for a decade.
Gilad's experience as a linguist and his immersion in these materials from a purely research point of view, led him to a different reading in the Jewish bookcase - a reading that will reveal to us who we are and where we came from.
I found the book of the Torah in the house of Jehovah
"And the king went up to the house of Jehovah and all the people of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him and the priests and the prophets and all the people from small to great and called in their ears every The book of the covenant found in the house of Jehovah. And the king stood on the pillar and made the covenant before Jehovah to follow Jehovah and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his laws with all his heart and with all his soul To establish the words of this covenant that are written on this book, and all the people will stand in the covenant" (XNUMX Kings XNUMX:XNUMX-XNUMX).
This class is reminiscent of the great covenants described in the Bible; The covenant God made with Noah after the flood, the one he made with Abraham among the Bathers and the one he made with the Israelites at Mount Sinai. But the event described in these verses is not a founding myth from ancient times, but a historical event with valid evidence, a documented event from our world. This is the moment when the people of Judah accepted the Book of Laws - the first edition of the Torah - and pledged to keep what was written in it. Most of all, this is the moment when they condemned themselves to no longer worship other gods besides the God of Israel, and where the entire Jewish religion was founded. But which book is this? And where did it come from?
"I found the book of the Torah in the house of Jehovah," says Hilkiah the high priest to Shefan the scribe, the king's senior advisor, in XNUMX Kings. "And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan and they read it" (XNUMX Kings XNUMX:XNUMX). The words are brought immediately after a brief description of a renovation in the temple, and it seems that the author's intention is that the Gnostic scroll was found during the renovation process. Spain presents the discovery to King Josiah and reads its contents to him, and it tears his clothes as a sign of mourning. From the description it appears that the book is not known to anyone in the kingdom, that the laws written in it are not practiced at all, and that the residents of Judah are expected to be severely punished. The king sends his men to consult with a prophetess named Huldah: "Go, plead with Jehovah for me and for the people and for all Judah about the words of this found book, for great is the anger of Jehovah that was kindled in him Because our fathers did not listen to the words of this book to do according to all that is written about us" (Kings XNUMX:XNUMX).
The biblical narrator wants to describe to us a sensational surprise, a kind of ancient and sublime divine guidance that appeared out of nowhere, and in it urgent news that moves the king to action. For many years people have wondered about the content of this scroll, which book from the Jewish bookcase it is about. And today, fortunately, we know the answer. The Book of the Testament in Josiah's hands is not the Pentateuch of today. The Pentateuch is not worded as a covenant, and there is no evidence that the multitude of familiar Torah stories were included in Sefer Hanoz or were known to Yashyahu and his contemporaries. The book of the covenant that Josiah reads in the temple is the ancient core of the book of Deuteronomy, chapters 1805 to XNUMX. To this nucleus were added a multitude of layers and additions until the result we know today was obtained. This was discovered for the first time by the German biblical scholar Wilhelm de Weta back in XNUMX. His conclusions have been accepted by biblical scholars since then and for good reason, the evidence for his claim is very strong.
The core of the book of Deuteronomy is written as a covenant between God and the children of Israel, and it was sealed with an explicit message: "These are the words of the covenant that Jehovah commanded Moses to cut off the children of Israel in the land of Moab" (Deuteronomy XNUMX:XNUMX). Josiah's words at the time of the temple are actually quoted from chapter XNUMX in the book of Deuteronomy: "Keep the commandments of Jehovah your God and his testimonies and his laws that he commands" (verse XNUMX). Josiah orders the worship to be concentrated in one place: "This city that I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house that I have said, My name will be there" (XNUMX Kings XNUMX:XNUMX), just as it is written in Deuteronomy: "In the place that Jehovah God will choose How many of you from all your tribes shall name his name" (Deuteronomy XNUMX:XNUMX). Following this part in the book of Deuteronomy, the king commands the purification of the land, and in the exact same words: "And the altars [...] the king broke down" (XNUMX Kings XNUMX:XNUMX) as opposed to "And you broke down their altars" (Deuteronomy XNUMX:XNUMX), "and broke the gravestones" ( XNUMX Kings XNUMX:XNUMX) against "and you broke their tombstones" (Deuteronomy XNUMX:XNUMX), "and he brought out the Asherah [...] and burned it" (XNUMX Kings XNUMX:XNUMX) against "and their remains will be burned with fire" (Deuteronomy XNUMX:XNUMX). All these and other evidences that it is too short to detail here, reveal that the ancient core of the book of Deuteronomy is the "book of the covenant" that appeared during the reign of Josiah.
"Hear Israel, Jehovah our God, Jehovah is one," is the first sentence in the Torah of Israel, "and you shall love Jehovah your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. And these were the words which I commanded you to put on your heart today, and you memorized them for your children and spoke of them when you sat in your house and when you walked on the road and when you lay down. you and your standing, and you tied it for a sign on your hand and let it drip between your eyes, and you wrote it on the doorposts of your house and on your gates" (Deuteronomy XNUMX:XNUMX-XNUMX). The words leave a strong impression, as a direct message from heaven, but the scroll did not appear out of nowhere and was not written by a higher power. It was copied and styled according to a model of a much more common and mundane composition - a diplomatic contract, an Assyrian alliance and toilet.
We know the Assyrian covenant formula well following an extraordinary event. In 612 BC Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, fell to its enemies; The Babylonians, the Medes and their allies joined hands and burned the city on its inhabitants. Among the buildings that caught fire was the huge library of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal, which contained thirty thousand documents written in cuneiform on material boards, and these hardened and were preserved in the intense heat. Thus, unwittingly, the Babylonians left us a vast archaeological legacy like no other - a comprehensive record of the empire they sought to erase from memory. Among the remains were found in the destroyed library many examples of alliances made by the Assyrian Empire with local peoples, and similar alliances were also made with the Kingdom of Judah.
Assyrian researchers looked at these alliances and many documents like them and noticed a fixed structure of four parts: introductory remarks, historical background to the relationship between the parties, detailing the obligations of each party and finally a series of threatening curses that the gods would place on whoever violated the agreement. It was the biblical scholar Moshe Weinfeld who showed in 1972 that the book of the covenant - the scroll found in the book of Deuteronomy - has the same structure. The book opens with the words of the introduction: "Hear, O Israel, Jehovah, our God, Jehovah is one" (Deuteronomy XNUMX:XNUMX), continues with a historical description of the relationship between God and the people of Israel: "We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt. And Jehovah brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand. And Jehovah gave great and bad signs and temptations in Egypt, in Pharaoh and in all his house before our eyes. And he brought us out from there for the purpose of bringing us to give us the land that we swore to our fathers. And Yahweh commanded us to do all these laws so that Yahweh our God may see that it is good for us all the days of our lives as this day" (Deuteronomy XNUMX:XNUMX-XNUMX). Then an extensive breakdown of obligations of both parties is indicated; A host of laws that the people of Israel must keep and blessings that God undertakes to grant to his people if they do comply with them. Finally, there is a list of threatening curses that await the people of Israel if they dare to violate the agreement.
The similarity of the Book of the Covenant to the Assyrian covenants is also evident in its content and language. In the treaty that Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, made with Tire in 672 BC, it is written: "If you loved Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria, as you do, you will not set another king or another master over you." And in the book of Deuteronomy it is written: "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your body [...] You shall not walk after other gods than the gods of the peoples around you How about you" (Deuteronomy XNUMX:XNUMX-XNUMX). In the sealing part of the Esarhaddon covenant it is written: "The head of the gods will destroy you with his cruel sword and fill the plain with your blood, he will feed the eagle and the eagle with your flesh [...] and instead of rain [the gods] will rain coals of fire on your land", and in the covenant of Deuteronomy it is written: "And be your heaven that is upon your head copper and the earth under you is iron. May Jehovah make the rain of your land dust and dust from the sky come down on you until you are destroyed [...] and your carrion will be food for all the fowl of the sky" (Deuteronomy XNUMX:XNUMX-XNUMX). A curse in the Assyrian covenant threatens: "Eat the flesh of your sons in your hunger." In famine and scarcity, a man will eat his neighbor's flesh," and in the covenant in the book of Deuteronomy it is written: "And you shall eat the fruit of your womb with the flesh of your sons and daughters, which the Lord your God has given you in the siege and in the siege that your enemy has afflicted you with" (Deuteronomy Power, Ng).
It is unacceptable that the similarity of the book of the covenant to the covenant of Esarhaddon and Tire is a coincidence. The obvious explanation is that the person who wrote the book of the covenant was based on this Assyrian covenant or another similar one and under the words "King of Assyria" wrote "God of Israel". This should not be surprising; Little Judea did not have an extensive library like the one in Nineveh, few could read and write and there were no books. There is no mention of any holy books in the Book of Kings before the appearance of the Book of the Covenant. Josiah's response to the discovery and the use of the terms "Book of the Covenant" and "Book of the Torah" in the Bible make it clear that for the people of the time and the biblical book itself, this book was the first of its kind. In the absence of previous holy books, the anonymous author of the scroll had no choice but to use another model for writing the holy book, and he chose a diplomatic contract found in the Temple.
We know that the kings of Judah made similar alliances with the kings of Assyria from the moment Ahaz, Josiah's grandfather, accepted the wrath of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, at the end of the eighth century BC. For the most part, it was customary to keep the covenants in the temples, so it is clear that these covenants were available to the scribes in the temple in Jerusalem from the days of Ahaz until the disintegration of the Assyrian Empire at the end of the seventh century BC. Each of these covenants could have served as a model for the Book of the Covenant, but from the book's great similarity to the covenant that Esarhaddon made with Tire in 672 BC, it appears that the covenant used by the author of the Book of the Covenant was probably Judah's covenant with Esarhaddon shortly before that, in 681 BC. If so, the book cannot have been written before this year, about sixty years before the status of the covenant in the Temple.
 This sentence and other quotes throughout the book have been translated by the author, unless otherwise noted.