Mythology – Mythology – Mythology – genealogical notices, partly from the Yahwist and partly

‘there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth’, implying the total destruction of the rest of mankind. Hence it is clear that we have here a fragment of a myth of the destruction of mankind which is independent of the Mesopotamian sources upon which the Hebrew traditions of the Flood rest. The story of the celestial visitants and their hospitable reception by Abraham, as contrasted with the reception accorded to two of them by the men of Sodom, finds an echo in Ovid’s story of the reception of Zeus and Hermes by Philemon and Baucis and its sequel in the flood which destroyed the inhospitable inhabitants of the district. The myth is referred to several times in the writings of the prophets of Israel in terms which suggest that another form of the myth may have been current. They use the word ‘overthrow’ to describe the destruction of the wicked cities, a word which in Hebrew usually describes the effects of an earthquake. [17] The Cult Myths It has already been pointed out that in the class of myths which we have called ritual myths the ritual was accompanied by a spoken or chanted element, its muthos or myth, which described the situation which was being enacted in the ritual. The Babylonian Epic of Creation which was chanted by the priests at the New Year Festival described a situation in which the central element was the victory of Marduk over the chaos-dragon Tiamat and its result, the achievement of creation, the bringing of order out of primeval chaos. The situation was a real one, although it could not be described as historical; somehow, at some unknown point of time, an activity had come into play which had produced the ordered scene which was the ancient Babylonian’s environment. This activity was described in symbolic terms of gods and dragons, of generation, of death and resurrection, but it could not be doubted that the symbols stood for some kind of reality. We have seen that much of this ancient mythological material had been taken up into the traditions of Israel, but something was happening in Israel which was new and had no counterpart elsewhere. A new sense of reality was coming to birth, the reality of Israel’s God. Its beginnings are shrouded in mystery; it may have begun with Abraham who is no longer regarded by most scholars as a mythical figure, or it may have begun with Moses, but by the time that the Yahwist was compiling or composing the early records of Israel, Yahweh, Israel’s God, stood out like a rock against the misty background of the surrounding polytheism. In contrast with the shadowy figures of the Egyptian, Babylonian, or Canaanite gods, Yahweh was a real person with a moral character, and a purpose which gave meaning to the events of Israel’s history. One of the results of this development was the conversion of the myth to a new use. The sagas of the patriarchs in Genesis show that tribal traditions had been preserved, orally or in writing, from a very early period, and the sagas of the deliverance from Egypt under Moses, the wilderness wanderings, and the conquest of Canaan under Joshua, show that national traditions had similarly been preserved from an early date. When the Hebrews entered Canaan the evidence of archaeology has shown ” that they took over the great Canaanite cult-centres, such as Shechem, Bethel, and Shiloh, and made them tribal or regional centres of the cult of Yahweh. Before Solomon made Jerusalem the chief national cult-centre, and probably long after, it was at these tribal and regional centres that the main seasonal festivals were celebrated. In Deut. 26:I-II we have an example of the pattern of ,such a seasonal ritual, probably describing what happened at a local shrine at the Feast of Ingathering, later called

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Mythology – Mythology – genealogical notices, partly from the Yahwist and partly

remains unchanged (cf. 8:21), ‘the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth’, and in this myth he sees man still striving after that unattainable equality with the divine which had caused the primal fall. He sees Yahweh still supreme in power and knowledge, confounding man’s petty efforts to scale heaven, and proceeds to enter upon the story of Yahweh’s grace responding to one man’s obedience and faith. Thus as with most of the mythological material taken over by Hebrew writers from Mesopotamian sources, either directly or indirectly, the myth has been reshaped in such a way as to provide, in symbolic terms, a picture of the divine activities, and the relations between God and man as interpreted by the prophets of Israel. We. have seen a somewhat similar process taking place, both in the development of Egyptian religion, and in the transmission of Sumerian mythology. The earlier Egyptian form of the myth of creation was transformed by what is called the Memphite theology; and the myths of Sumer were reshaped to express the pattern of Assyrian and Babylonian religion. But in the case of Israel’s use of Mesopotamian and Canaanite mythology this process of transformation was much more radical and had profounder religious implications, making a more extended treatment of Hebrew mythology necessary. The myths collected in the first eleven chapters of Genesis do not, however, exhaust the mythological material contained in Hebrew literature. The Myth Of The Destruction Of The Cities Of The Plain We have already seen that the wide-spread myth of the destruction of mankind had assumed different forms in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and possibly in Ugaritic mythology, if we may regard the myth of Anat’s slaughter of the enemies of Baal as belonging to that category. Underlying the story in Genesis of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot’s escape, there is clearly to be seen another form of the myth of the destruction of mankind, and one which survived into Christian eschatology. In the form in which we have it now, the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a composite narrative which has been woven into the saga of Abraham. It embodies several strands of ancient Hebrew tradition, one of which reflects a myth of the destruction of mankind which is independent of the Flood myth. In the thirteenth chapter of Genesis we have an account of how Lot separated himself and his possessions from his uncle Abraham and chose what is called the ‘circle’ of Jordan. This district is described as ‘well watered everywhere, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah’. It is here implied that, in the tradition which the Yahwist is using, the Dead Sea and the desolate condition of the south end of the Jordan valley were the result of an act of divine judgement which destroyed the cities of the plain, or ‘circle’. According to the Yahwist’s narrative the destruction was effected by a rain of fire and sulphur from heaven. The reason for the destruction is said to be the special wickedness of the inhabitants of those cities, just as the Flood is said to have been caused by the wickedness of mankind. Lot is delivered as the result of the intercession of Abraham. He is commanded by the angelic instruments of his rescue not to look back, a feature of the story which finds an echo in folklore. His wife looks back and is turned into a pillar of salt, and Lot with his two daughters are the sole survivors of the catastrophe. Then follows a tradition of the origin of two of the special rivals and enemies of Israel, Moab and Ammon. Their birth is attributed to an incestuous union between Lot and his daughters, an episode which takes place while Lot is drunk, recalling the shame and drunkenness of Noah after his escape from the Flood. In 19:31 Lot’s daughters are represented as saying,

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Mythology – genealogical notices, partly from the Yahwist and partly

genealogical notices, partly from the Yahwist and partly from the Priestly writer. Together they represent ancient Hebrew traditions concerning the nations by whom Israel was surrounded, especially Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt. While the details are confused and inaccurate, the broad outlines of the ethnology and geography correspond roughly to the arrangement of the ancient world at the dawn of Hebrew history. The sons of Japheth, the Iapetic races, are located in the Caucasus and to the north and west of Asia Minor; the sons of Ham, the Hamitic group, represented by the Egyptians and Libyans, are located in Egypt, Nubia, Ethiopia, and northern Africa; but, incorrectly included among this group from the modern standpoint, are the Canaanites and the south Arabian peoples, who belong to the Semitic group; the sons of Shem, i.e., what we now designate as the Semitic peoples, include, according to P, the Elamites, a non-Semitic people, and Lud, also non-Semitic, if it is to be identified with Lydia; in the Yahwist’s version of Shem’s descendants (10:24-5) the majority are listed as south Arabian peoples, and Eber’s genealogy is not carried beyond his first son Peleg, whose name has no ethnic associations. This is the setting in which the myth of the Tower of Babel is embedded. It has been thought by some modern scholars that two separate traditions underlie the present form of the myth, one relating to the building of a city, Babel, and the origin of different languages; the other a tradition about the building of a tower and the dispersion of peoples in the earth; the two being subsequently woven together by the Yahwist into a single narrative, or having been already united in the source which he was using, whether oral or written. It is clear that the myth is independent, both of the ethnological setting in which it has been placed, and of the Flood myth. It represents the first human group as settling in the Euphrates delta, discovering the use of clay for bricks, a special feature of early Mesopotamian architecture, and building a city and a tower. In spite of its Mesopotamian colouring, the story cannot be of Babylonian origin. A Babylonian myth would not have represented the sacred ‘ziqqurat’, regarded by the ancient Babylonians as the bond between heaven and earth,” as an impious attempt to scale heaven, nor would the sacred name of Babylon, Bab-ili, which means ‘the gate of God’, have been derived from the a Hebrew root bll, meaning ‘confusion’, with which it has no etymological connexion. The myth rather reflects the attitude of nomads entering the fertile plains of the Delta, beholding with wonder and dread the soaring towers of Babylonian cities, and despising the multitudes speaking all the various tongues of the ancient Near East. In the Priestly writer’s account of the spread of Noah’s descendants, the dispersion of races and the rise of different languages (cf. 10:5) are regarded as the natural result of increasing population and the movements of peoples, not as the result of an act of divine judgement. Thus, while the Priestly writer has accepted the story and preserved it in the final editing of the Old Testament, agreeing, no doubt, with the religious use of it made by the Yahwist, it clearly did not form part of the source which he has used in the compilation of the ethnological notices. Similarly, the story is independent of the Flood tradition, and it may be compared with the brief I fragment inserted in the Priestly genealogy in 5:29. The forward reference in Lamech’s words can only be to the discovery of the vine, described as taking place after the Flood (9:20), a discovery which could hardly have been a comfort to the generation which perished in the Flood. The use which the Yahwist makes of the myth is in keeping with his view of the .nature of man and the divine activity which we have already seen exemplified in his use of the Creation and Flood myths. He recognizes that even after the catastrophe of the Flood human nature

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Mythology – Mythology – Mythology – illustrates the transformations which an ancient myth, such

explaining the belief in the existence of a vanished race of giants, but the Yahwist has made use of it here to support his account of the progressive deterioration of the human race, and goes on to connect it with Yahweh’s purpose to destroy man from the face of the earth. The Myth Of The Flood We have already seen that more than one version of the Creation myth existed among the early traditions of Israel; the same is true of the Flood myth. In the form in which we have it in Genesis, two versions of the story have been woven together by the final editor. The second version of the myth of the destruction of mankind which also occurs in Genesis will be dealt with later. There are also references to the Flood myth in Hebrew poetry and in the prophetic writings. The points of resemblance and difference between the Yahwist’s version and that of the Priestly writer, and the dependence of both on Mesopotamian sources will be seen best if they are set out in tabular form: [Insert Pic tb133 + tb134 + tb135] The Mesopotamian origin of the Flood myth is clear from the above table, even apart from the remarkable resemblances between the Babylonian and the Hebrew accounts. The differences between the Yahwist and the Priestly versions of the myth suggest that the latter is using a different form of the myth from that used by the former, and that the Priestly version is closer in some respects to the Mesopotamian sources. The Flood myth is frequently mentioned in later Hebrew literature; in Ps. 29:10 Yahweh is said to have been ‘enthroned’ at the Flood, and in Isa. 54:9 the Flood is referred to as ‘the waters of Noah’, and Yahweh is represented as recalling his promise not to destroy mankind by a flood again, a promise which occurs in the Priestly version. The measurements in the Babylonian version suggest the dimensions of a building rather than of a boat, and the somewhat doubtful theory has been advanced that in these measurements a tradition has been preserved that the staged towers called ‘ziqqurats’, which are a regular feature of the temple buildings in ancient Mesopotamian cities, were originally designed as places of refuge from the frequent floods in the Delta. It is possible that the Priestly writer does not include the distinction between clean and unclean animals, nor the mention of sacrifices, in his account because he regards these institutions as originating in the time of Moses. We also find in the Priestly account the pattern which he has imposed upon the history of the human race in relation to the divine purpose. He sees that purpose revealed in three successive stages, each marked by a covenant with its characteristic sign. First the covenant with Noah, marked by the sign of the rainbow; then the covenant with Abraham, to which the sign of circumcision is attached; and lastly the covenant with Israel, of which the Sabbath is the sign. There is no trace of this arrangement in the Yahwist’s narrative since he regards the worship of Yahweh and the institution of sacrifice as already existing before the Flood. The Myth Of The Tower Of Babel This is the last of the myths which the editors of the Old Testament have brought together in the first eleven chapters of Genesis. The myth is set in a collection of ethnological and

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Mythology – Mythology – illustrates the transformations which an ancient myth, such

abnormal length of life because, by the time he wrote, this element of Babylonian mythology had been absorbed into the traditions of his own people. It has been conjectured [14] that the enormous numbers in the Sumerian king-lists may be the product of astrological speculation, a feature wholly absent from Hebrew thought until we come to the late apocalyptic literature. But the probable reason for the introduction of such numbers into the Priestly genealogy is that they are intended to correspond with the Priestly chronology which assigned a fixed number of years from the Creation to the foundation of . Solomon’s Temple, and divided this period into epochs, the first of which, from the Creation to the Flood, contained 1,656 years. In the Babylonian myth of the Flood the gods decided to destroy mankind for the rather absurd reason that they had become so noisy that they prevented the gods from sleeping at nights; [15] no moral cause for this arbitrary act entered the minds of the early myth-makers. But to the Hebrew writer the myth of the Flood, fixed in the traditions of his people, as various poetic and prophetic references show, had become an awful portent, the final catastrophe brought about by man’s rebellion against God. It has become an episode in the ‘salvation-history’, because a remnant was spared to carry on the divine purpose of ultimate restoration. This is the reason why further mythical material is introduced as a prelude to the Flood myth, in order to show how completely corrupt mankind had become. In 6:I-4 we have a fragment of mythical material, originally unconnected with the myth of the Flood, but used by the Yahwist to explain the increasing lawlessness and violence of mankind which finally decided Yahweh to destroy the race. The myth of the union between divine and mortal beings, resulting in the birth of demi-gods or heroes, is found in the early Sumerian and Babylonian sources whose influence on Canaanite mythology appears in the Ugaritic texts. We have already observed its influence on the Hebrew myths of Creation, and Greek mythology bears witness to its wide diffusion at an early date. Behind the brief and probably intentionally obscure reference in 6:I-4, there lies a more widely known myth of a race of semi-divine beings who rebelled against the gods and were cast down into the underworld. The beings called Nephilim in verse 4, and rendered ‘giants’ in the Septuagint and Authorized Version, seem to have been regarded by the Yahwist as the offspring of the union between the ‘sons of God’ and the daughters of men mentioned in verse I. The assembly of lesser gods so often referred to in Sumerian, Babylonian, and Ugaritic myths, has been transformed in Hebrew myth and poetry into the ‘sons of God’ conceived of as a kind of heavenly council over which Yahweh presided. Compare, for instance, the scene in the first chapter of job, where the sons of God come to present themselves before Yahweh (Job 1:6). Traces of the myth are to be found in Num. 13:33 where the Nephilim are represented as the survivors of a race of giants whom the Hebrews found in Canaan when they came to settle there. Another possible reference occurs in Ezek. 32:27, where a slight emendation gives us an allusion to the Nephilim. In apocalyptic literature and in the New Testament (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6) the myth has been still further transformed into the myth of the fall of the angels, so splendidly portrayed by Milton. The fragment of the myth here preserved by the Yahwist was originally an aetiological myth

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Mythology – illustrates the transformations which an ancient myth, such

illustrates the transformations which an ancient myth, such as the Sumerian myth of the farmer and the shepherd, may undergo in the course-of its wanderings. The next myth which the Yahwist has woven into his ‘salvation-history’ is perhaps the most widely distributed of all myths, the myth of the Flood. We have already discussed the forms of this myth current among the Sumerians and their Semitic conquerors, and have observed that the Egyptians had no Flood myth, although they had a myth of the destruction of mankind. We shall also see that the Flood myth was not the only form of the myth of the destruction of mankind known to the Hebrew writers. But before we deal with the Hebrew form of the Flood myth there is some important mythological material to be noticed which has been used to make a narrative link between the myth of Cain and Abel and the Flood myth. We have already pointed out that the genealogical list of ten generations from Adam to Noah is a variant version of the Yahwist’s list of Cain’s descendants given in Chapter 4. But there are two features of P’s list which call for comment. We have seen that P is using what is commonly called the I-E narrative in his final edition of Genesis in its present form, and that he has added certain elements of his own to it. Here he has added to the I story of Cain and Abel a genealogical list which contains ten names instead of the eight names of the I list, and has assigned to the ten names an extraordinary duration of life; with the remarkable exception of Enoch, the length of life assigned to each member of P’s list extends to little short of a thousand years. For the explanation of this we have to turn to those early Sumerian sources which were known to the editors of the Creation myths of the Hebrews. A Babylonian priest named Berosus, who lived in the reign of Alexander the Great, wrote in very bad Greek an account of the ancient traditions of Babylon, and it has been established by recent discoveries that Berosus was using ancient Sumerian king-lists. [12] Two king-lists from the Sumerian city of Larsa have been discovered, one of which contains eight names, and the other ten, and both of them conclude with the name of Ziusudra, also called in the Akkadian version Utnapishtim, the hero of the Flood myth. Both in Berosus and in the Larsa lists the prediluvian kings are said to have reigned an incredible number of years, ranging from twenty to seventy thousand years. At the end of one of the Larsa lists the scribe has appended a note which says, ‘The Flood came. After the Flood came, kingship was sent down from on high.’ Since Ziusudra and his wife had been made immortal and translated to Dilmun, no legitimate successor was available and, as it was not conceivable that ordered life could continue without kingship, it had to be sent down from heaven. It is possible that astrological or cult reasons may underlie these strange figures, but the explanation does not concern us here. What does concern us is the relation between the Sumerian king-lists and the genealogical list in Gen. 5. In the first place, we have in each case a list of ten names before the Flood; secondly, there is the abnormal length of life attributed to the individuals in each list; thirdly, the seventh person in each list is noteworthy for similar qualities. The seventh king in the Sumerian tradition was regarded as possessing special wisdom in matters pertaining to the gods, and as being the first of mankind to practise divination. The seventh name in the P list is that of Enoch, of whom it is said that ‘he walked with God’, and who in later Jewish tradition was said to have been taken up into heaven without dying.” It may be merely coincidence that one of the Larsa lists contains eight names and the other ten, just as the J list has eight, and the P list ten names. But the other parallels are too striking to be fortuitous. It seems difficult to avoid the inference that the Priestly writer has prefixed to his account of the Flood a list of ten patriarchs with

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Mythology – Mythology – Mythology – accepted. In anger at the rejection of his

lived on the borders of the settled fertile lands, and were continually attempting to enter them. The myth has also acquired an aetiological character as an explanation of the origin of the blood-feud. The suggestion sometimes put forward that the myth is intended to explain Yahweh’s preference for animal sacrifices is not satisfactory, since, in the Levitical sacrificial code, such a preference does not appear, but both animal and vegetable offerings have their appointed place. The second part of the myth, which, in its present form continues the adventures of Cain, is from an entirely different source, and represents a totally distinct tradition. It is most probably a fragment of the early tradition of the Kenite clan, of whom we are told various details in the history of the Hebrews. But it would also appear that the fragment of Kenite tradition which forms the nucleus of the second part of the Cain and Abel myth has become mixed with other elements foreign to the Kenite tradition. The Kenites were always nomads or half-nomads, tent-dwellers, [11] but the ancestor of the Kenite clan is depicted in this part of the myth as a city-builder, a settled inhabitant of a land which cannot be identified geographically. He is represented as the founder of a line from whence spring the various elements of civilized life. When we compare the genealogy of Cain given by the Yahwist in 4:17-I8 with the Priestly genealogy of Seth given in 5:I-30 it is clear that the two genealogies are parallel forms of the same tradition about the descendants of the first man. This may best be seen if the two are placed side by side : [Insert Pic tb127] If these two lists are compared it will be seen how close is the parallel between them. First, the father of Kenan in P’s list is Enosh; but this is merely another Hebrew word for ‘man’ and a synonym for Adam, the first man. Kenan is another Hebrew form of Cain, so that in the original form of both lists the first man was the father of Cain. Then Irad is the same as Jared; Enoch occurs in both lists; for Mehujael the Septuagint has Maleleel, i.e., Mahalalel, and for Methushael it has Mathusala, i.e., Methuselah; and, finally, Lamech occurs in both lists. Hence it cannot be doubted that we have two different versions of the same list, and that I’s list of Cain’s descendants is really the genealogy of the first inhabitants of the earth, and the second part of the myth is really the account of the origin of the various elements of early civilization. We have, therefore, three distinct elements which the Yahwist either wove together into a connected narrative and linked up with the Paradise story, or found already brought together in traditions of the Kenite clan and made use of for his special religious purpose. The long- standing connexion of the Kenites with the Hebrews goes back to the saga of Moses, who is represented as having married into the Kenite clan (cf. Judges 4:II where ‘brother-in-law’ should be ‘father-in-law’, as in Revised Version margin), and this may explain why the Yahwist could find and make use of Kenite traditions in his story of the origins of Israel. It may be added that the fragment of ancient poetry preserved in 4:23-4 where the desert code of blood revenge is greatly intensified and referred back to the ancestor of the Kenites, supports the view that it was from Kenite traditions that the Yahwist drew the material for ‘this part of his story. The three elements thus preserved, transformed, and woven into a continuous narrative, are: first a ritual myth describing a ritual slaying and the subsequent ritual banishment; second, an aetiological myth explaining the origin of the blood-feud practised by a nomad community; and third, an ancient genealogical list embodying one of many traditions concerning the origin of civilization among the early Semites. This myth of Cain and Abel

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Mythology – Mythology – accepted. In anger at the rejection of his

Then follows the curse of Cain, his flight from the scene of the slaying, and the protective mark which he receives from Yahweh. Here there are obvious difficulties. Yahweh curses the slayer and at the same time places him under his protection; also the nature of the mark has been the source of much speculation. Sir James Frazer has suggested that God may have decorated Cain with red, black, or white paint, or perhaps with a tasteful combination of these colours, after the manner of various savage peoples. He concludes his study of the myth with the following humorous remarks, ‘Thus adorned, the first Mr Smith – for Cain means Smith – may have paraded the waste places of the earth without the least fear of being recognized and molested by his victim’s ghost. This explanation of the mark of Cain has the advantage of relieving the Biblical narrative from a manifest absurdity. For on the usual interpretation God affixed the mark to Cain in order to save him from human assailants, apparently forgetting that there was nobody to assail him, since the earth was as yet inhabited only by the murderer and his parents. Hence by assuming that the foe of whom the first murderer went in fear was a ghost instead of a living man, we avoid the irreverence of imputing to the deity a grave lapse of memory little in keeping with the divine omniscience.’ [6] Ingenious as this explanation is, a better explanation of this feature of the myth is to be found in parallels provided by certain seasonal rituals such as the Babylonian New Year Festival, or the Athenian ritual of the Bouphonia. [7] In the Babylonian New Year Festival, whose purpose was wholly agricultural, a sacrificing priest and an exorcist purified the shrine of the god Nabu, Marduk’s son, with the carcass of a slain sheep, smearing the walls of the shrine with the blood of the sheep; after this they were obliged to flee into the desert until the festival was over because they were defiled by their ritual act. [8] In the Hebrew ritual of the Day of Atonement, originally part of the autumn New Year Festival, we find a similar combination of a ritual slaying and a flight, but here the human participants in the ritual are replaced by animal victims, namely, two goats, one of which is slain while the other is driven out into the desert.’ Again, in the Athenian ritual of the Bouphonia, an ox was ritually slaughtered by two men who were then obliged to flee. Hence it is suggested that the flight of Cain originally represented a ritual flight. The sacrificer was defiled by his act and was driven out by the community until he had been purified; his guilt was a communal and not an individual guilt. This explains why the slayer enjoyed ritual protection. He was no common murderer, but a priest or sacred person who had performed an act for the benefit of the community; an act which involved ceremonial defilement and the consequent temporary banishment of the slayer; but his person was sacrosanct. Moreover, the most probable explanation of the mark is that it represented a tattoo mark or other indication that the fugitive belonged to a sacred class. We have evidence from the Old Testament that the prophets bore such marks, [10] and the existence of such marks to distinguish the members of temple staffs as the property of the god is abundantly attested in ancient literature. Thus the original form of the first part of the Yahwist’s story of Cain and Abel, namely, that contained in 4:I-15, was probably a ritual myth depicting a ritual slaying intended to secure fertility for the crops; the slaying was followed by the flight of the slayer, who was protected by a mark which indicated his sacred character. But, like other myths, before it was used by the Yahwist for his own religious purposes it had in the course of transmission acquired other meanings and uses. It had come to represent the feud between the settled peasant, tilling his fields, and the pastoral, half=nomad peoples who

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Mythology – accepted. In anger at the rejection of his

accepted. In anger at the rejection of his own offering and jealousy because of the acceptance of his brother’s, Cain kills his brother. The myth goes, on to relate the curse pronounced upon Cain by Yahweh, his flight from the scene of the slaying, and the protective mark placed upon him by Yahweh. Cain then settles in the land of Nod, builds a city, and becomes the ancestor of descendants to whom the origins of civilization are attributed. A careful examination of the myth in the form in which it appears in the Biblical narrative shows that it is made up of various strands of myth and saga which were originally distinct, and none of which had any connexion with the Paradise myth. In the setting in which the Yahwist has placed the episode, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, are the only living persons in existence. But the myth supposes that Cain goes in fear of human vengeance; he says, ‘Every one that finds me shall slay me.’ The ritual of sacrifice is assumed, and a stage of civilization has been reached which implies the building of cities and a knowledge of metalworking and the construction of musical instruments. All this is quite incompatible with the beginnings of life upon the earth after the expulsion from Paradise. Analysis of the myth reveals that three different strands of tradition have been woven together, either by the Yahwist, or in the sources which he is using. (a) The first of these strands reflects the ancient feud between the desert and the sown land, between the settled tiller of the soil and the pastoral nomad. We have already seen that this theme is the subject of the Sumerian myth of Dumuzi and Enkimdu, where Dumuzi the shepherd-god and the Enkimdu the farmer-god contend with offerings for the favour of Ishtar. In this form of the myth, however, there is no tragic ending. (b) The second strand contains the outline of a ritual myth which has been much worked over. It has no connexion with the Paradise myth, but implies a developed stage of society, with established religious institutions. Cain and Abel represent two different types of community, each carrying out its regular ritual of sacrifice. The rejection of the agriculturist’s offering implies a failure of crops, and this calls for some form of expiatory ritual. The necessity for such a ritual explains the obscure conversation between Cain and Yahweh in 4:6-7. The Hebrew text has suffered considerable corruption in the course of transmission. Its form seems to suggest that the agriculturalist, whose sacrifice has failed to secure its object, has consulted the oracle to inquire what is to be done, and has received a reply saying that he knows what the proper ritual is, and that there is a robes, a hostile demonic power waiting to be propitiated. The word translated ‘lies’ or ‘crouches’ is the same as the Akkadian rabisu, ‘the evil croucher’, who lies in wait for his offering, and is frequently mentioned in Babylonian magical texts. The next step is introduced by a significant phrase which is omitted in the Hebrew text but is supplied by the Septuagint, and is given in the Revised Version margin. It says, ‘And Cain said unto Abel his brother, Let us go into the field.’ This detail is also found in the Sumerian myth just referred to, where the farmer-god invites the shepherd-god to bring his sheep and let them pasture in his, the farmer-god’s, fields. It is in the field, the tilled soil, whose infertility has brought about the situation, that the slaying of the shepherd takes place, and the suggestion is that the slaying was a ritual one; it was not an impulsive one instigated by jealousy, but a communal ritual killing intended to fertilize the soil by drenching it with the blood of the victim; in the words of the narrative, ‘the earth has opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood.’

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Mythology – Mythology – Mythology – be controlled. But, as we have seen, the

year; they also originated the arrangement of the Pentateuch and the rest of the Old Testament in sections for use in public worship. They were specially concerned to preserve and revise the order of the traditional seasonal festivals. Now the researches of scholars in recent years have made it clear that from a very early period the Hebrews had been accustomed to celebrate a New Year Festival whose main outlines bore some resemblance to the great New Year Festival which had been celebrated in the cities of Mesopotamia from ancient times. One of the features of this festival was the enthronement of the king as the representative of the god, Ashur or Marduk, accompanied by the re-enactment of the god’s victory over Tiamat, and the chanting of a hymn of praise to Marduk under his fifty divine names. In Babylon, the Epic of Creation had a special place in these ceremonies, and it was chanted as a magic incantation of life-giving power at the point in the ritual where the god returned to life. Recent studies have suggested that the Hebrew New Year Festival had features in common with the Babylonian festival, and that the enthronement of Yahweh and the celebration of his mighty acts formed the central feature of the ritual. We. have already seen that Hebrew poetry has preserved the myth of Yahweh’s slaying the chaos-dragon, and that the references to Creation in Ps. 104 show a dependence on the P account of the Creation. It is also to be observed that this account has the form not of a narrative like the J account, but of a strophical arrangement with a repeated refrain. Its form and arrangement suggest a liturgical purpose. Moreover, we know that the Hebrew New Year Festival was celebrated for seven days, a fact which provides an intelligible explanation for the arrangement of the acts of Creation in a series of seven periods: Hence it is suggested that the sections of the J account of Creation were read by the priests at the New Year Festival, and that Gen. I-2:4a constituted a liturgy of creation which was chanted by the priests on that occasion, and that its natural place in the roll which would be used in the New Year liturgy would be at the beginning of the whole section dealing with Yahweh’s creative activities. The Myth Of Cain And Abel We have already pointed out that the purpose for which the Yahwist has collected a group of myths belonging to the tradition of his people and arranged them in the form of a continuous narrative was to present the history of mankind and of his own people Israel as ‘salvation- history’. The order which Yahweh had established in the act of Creation had been thrown back into chaos by man’s disobedience, and the Hebrew writer has set himself the task of recording, on the one hand the disastrous consequences of man’s breach of the relationship established at Creation between himself and the Creator, and on the other the persistent activity of Yahweh directed towards the restoration of that which had been destroyed. With this end in view the Yahwist has selected a myth which depicts the first consequence of the original disaster, namely, the breakdown of the family relationship, brother slaying brother. It is clear, when the story is analysed, that the episode of Cain and Abel belongs to a different source and comes from a different cycle of ancient tradition from that whence the myths of Creation and the garden of Eden were drawn. It is easy to see that the myth of Cain and Abel is artificially linked up with the myth of Paradise, and that the Yahwist has brought together unrelated strands of tradition in the myth itself. In the Yahwist’s story, Cain and Abel are the children of Adam and Eve, born after the expulsion from Eden. Cain is represented as an agriculturalist and his brother as a pastoralist. The brothers bring offerings to Yahweh. Cain brings the fruits of his labour on the soil, and Abel brings firstlings from his flock. Cain’s offering is rejected, while his brother’s is

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