The Northern Kingdom of Israel
Syncretism in the Northern Kingdom of Israel
Following Solomon’s death, Solomon’s son Rehoboam became king and foolishly threatened to make life more difficult for the people of the land (1 Kings 12:14). This led to a rebellion against Rehoboam, and the ten northern tribes crowned Jeroboam as their king (1 Kings 12:20), while the two southern tribes formed the nation of Judah. Jeroboam, the elected king of the new kingdom, was concerned that people would want to continue worshipping at Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, so he decided to make two golden calves, and to implement a “substitute” Feast Day for Israel (1 Kings 12:28-32). This “substitute” feast was to be celebrated in two locations, at Bethel and Dan, and both would be similar to the feasts ordained by Yahweh – except for the day of the Feast, and its location. The addition of the two golden calves at the two locations identified the entire substitution as idolatry.
Jeroboam then devised a day “of his own heart,” (1 Kings 12:33) and called for the Feast to be celebrated on the eighth month instead of the Yahweh-ordained seventh month, as described in Leviticus 23:34 and Numbers 29:12. So, with a few small changes King Jeroboam introduced idolatry to Israel, and the entire nation became deceived through syncretism.
The Old Testament Jezebel was the daughter of the king of Sidon, who became the wife of King Ahab of Israel (the Northern Kingdom). She is particularly noted in Scripture for having made the worship of the god Baal popular in Israel. Because of Jezebel the Israelites came to believe that the sexual union of the Canaan gods Baal and Asherah was necessary for a productive harvest. This involved “sympathetic magic,” a belief that actions performed by worshippers would influence the actions of the gods and this practice became the basis for religious prostitution (1 Kings 14:23-24). There were temple prostitutes, both male and female, associated with the worship of Baal. It was Jezebel who was responsible for the spread of Baalism, and the subsequent decline in the worship of Yahweh among the ten tribes of Israel to the point where Baalism became the dominant religion of the day. To ensure that Baal worship became the supreme faith in Israel, Jezebel had the prophets of God put to death. She also tried to kill Elijah after his famous encounter with 450 of the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, when fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice. Elijah, a mighty man of God, had faced with great courage 450 false prophets, but when Jezebel went after him, he ran for his life.
Jezebel was responsible for the murder of her neighbour Naboth, because her husband, king Ahab wanted his vineyard. She was a ruthless, and immoral seducer of the people, and that is why Jesus selects her name to describe the woman dominating the church at Thyatira. In fulfilment of the prophecy of the Old Testament (2 Kings 9:10), Jezebel ended her days by being thrown from her palace window into the courtyard below, where the dogs came and ate her body and licked up her blood (2 Kings 9:30-37).
A very important trait of a woman with a “Jezebel spirit,” is her obsessive passion for domineering and controlling others, especially in the spiritual realm. She will seek to usurp the authority of the men in the church. Also, this is a not too uncommon failing of Christian wives, who set themselves up as the “Pharisees of the household”, ensuring that their rules and laws are kept. With this understanding of a “Jezebel spirit” there should be no surprise at the revelation that liberal feminists uphold Jezebel as an example of a politically astute woman, who through the force of her will, and courage, rose to a position of authority and influence in a patriarchal society!
All the wicked women in the Bible typify the woman Jezebel in some way – the sexual-immoral Moabite women in Numbers 25, Potiphar’s wife, Delilah, Queen Athaliah, Herodias, the seductress in Proverbs 5 and 7. What they all had in common was the tendency to manipulate people – mostly men – to get their way.
Queen Jezebel caused the Northern Kingdom to sin by promoting the worship of Baal and partaking in the immoral practices associated with his worship. The Jezebel of Thyatira was promoting membership to trade unions, which would require the immoral practices associated with the worship of pagan gods.
The Babylonian name for Semiramis, “queen of heaven,” becomes Ishtar. Alexander Hislop in his book The Two Babylons reveals that Ishtar is the same as the Egyptian Isis, who is the same as the Greek Athena, Syrian Astarte, Roman Cybele, Canaan Ashtoreth, and Ephesian Diana. All these goddesses from different cultures have their origin in Semiramis. After the people were scattered by God “over the face of the whole earth (Genesis 11:9), “the worship of the queen of heaven became extremely diverse, with many cultures having links to a mother goddess who is queen of heaven.
The queen of heaven in Revelation 17 is depicted as sitting on many waters, and the explanation of this is given in verse 15: The “waters” on which the harlot sits are the “peoples, multitudes, nations and languages”. This scripture shows how widespread the worship of the whore of Revelation has become, covering multitudes of people groups and nations. Peter Wagner, in his book Confronting the Queen of Heaven, writes how he was directed by the Lord to do spiritual warfare in unreached countries of the 10/40 Window (the unreached nations of the world between the latitudes 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north). Of his experience on completing the mission he writes: “It didn’t take us long to recognise that one discernible pattern from continent to continent was the frequent reference to the ‘queen of heaven’”. The worship of the queen of heaven is worldwide and is a thread that passes through all cultures.
Jeremiah 7:18-20 warns the Jews that the worship of the queen of heaven provokes God to anger, and will invoke the full wrath of God upon all who worship her. The name by which the Jews worshipped her was Ashtoreth, and she is mentioned by that name several times in Old Testament scripture. 2 Kings 23:13 uses the term “abomination” [KJV] to describe her. God is disgusted when He sees mankind worshipping the mother of all false religions, and He will hold all those people who bow to her accountable.
When the two Hebrew kingdoms rebel against God and return to Idolatry and worship of foreign gods, God uses the armies of Assyria and Babylon as tools for His judgement, both powers whose origins were from the area of Mesopotamia, symbolising the return of Israel and Judah to the sins of the past. The area of Mesopotamia is referred to as both “the land of Nimrod” (Micah 5:6) and “Shinar” (Gen. 10:10) in Scripture. The name Semiramis is a later, Hellenized form of the Sumerian name “Sammur-amat”, or “gift of the sea,” “sammur” when translated into Hebrew becomes “Shinar”. So, the Bible recognises Mesopotamia as both “the land of Nimrod”, and the land of Semiramis.
It is worthwhile to make a comparison between Semiramis and Queen Jezebel, the Sidonian wife of King Ahab of Israel. The two women are remarkably similar, reinforcing the ideology that the spirit that was driving the rebellious heart of Semiramis, was the same spirit that was in Jezebel:
Table Comparing Semiramis and Jezebel
|She allowed herself to become an instrument of Satan in establishing the pagan Babylonian religion||She allowed herself to become an instrument of Satan by enforcing the pagan Babylonian worship of Baal (an alter ego of Nimrod) in Israel.|
|Lived a life in rebellion to, and opposition of Yahweh.||Lived a life in rebellion to, and opposition of Yahweh.|
|A flawed character being immoral, decadent, depraved, dishonest, egocentric, showing a lack of conscience and using her status to violate social laws.||A flawed character being immoral, decadent, depraved, dishonest, egocentric, showing a lack of conscience, using her status to violate social laws, and prone to victimizing with no empathy shown to others.|
|She was seductive using her charm and beauty to manipulate others to do her will.||She was seductive using her charm and beauty to manipulate others to do her will.|
|She had political power and influence which she used to the maximum.||She had political power and influence which she used to the maximum.|
|Responsible for the establishment of the worship of man as god and idolatry and was instrumental in the spiritual, and moral degradation of mankind.||Aggressively encouraged the worship of Baal and idolatry in Israel, and was instrumental in the spiritual and moral degradation of the people living in the Northern Kingdom.|
|Introduced the false doctrine that man could be god, idolatry and polytheism.||Encouraged false doctrine and idolatry in rebellion against God.|
|Was totally unrepentant in her rebellion and sin.||Was totally unrepentant in her rebellion and sin.|
|Was completely domineering, manipulative and controlling of others.||Obsessive passion for domineering, manipulative and controlling others|
|She had a focused determination, to ensure that she always had her way, no matter what the consequences and who may be hurt in the process. Manipulating and deceiving to ensure she stayed in power.||Her manipulation of the judicial system in her plot to murder Naboth for his vineyard (1 Kings 21), revealed that she had a focused determination to ensure that she always had her way, no matter what the consequences and who may be hurt in the process.|
Astarte is the Hellenised form of the Middle Eastern goddess Ashtoreth, a form of Ishtar; the goddess eventually evolved into the Greek Aphrodite. God hated the practice of worshipping the queen of heaven in the form of Asherah poles so much, He would not even tolerate the planting of trees (which was associated with Asherah worship) in the Temple courtyard (Deuteronomy 16:21), as this would inappropriately mix the imagery of the God of Israel with the false goddess Asherah:
“You shall not plant any tree as an Asherah beside the altar of the Lord your God that you shall make. And you shall not set up a pillar, which the Lord your God hates” (Deut. 16:21-22).
There are several references in Scripture to Asherah poles, which were idol representations of the goddess Ashtoreth, also known as Astarte, the mother goddess referred to in Scripture as the “queen of heaven”. In her book Understanding Asherah: Exploring Semitic Iconography, Ruth Hestrin states that “from the Biblical references, it appears that Asherah is referred to in three manifestations:
1. As an image, probably a statue or figurine representing the goddess herself.
2. As a tree.
3. As a tree trunk.
The latter two are, in effect, symbols of the goddess” (1). Indeed, the phrase “under every green tree” (Deut. 12:2; 2 Chron. 28:4), is used several times in Scripture to denote a pagan sacred place – that is, not just trees but evergreen trees.
Asherah was a Canaanite fertility goddess, and wooden poles or trees were the symbols that represented her. Several passages in the Bible refer to both the planting of a tree as a symbol of Asherah, and the setting up of a wooden object as an Asherah. The Hebrew words for “tree” and “wood” is the same, and both were used as symbols of her worship. In Chapter 6 of the Book of Judges, God instructs Gideon to destroy an alter to Baal and to cut down the Asherah pole that was next to it; Gideon then used the wood for a burnt offering (Judges 6:28-32).
- (1) Ruth Hestrin, ‘Understanding Asherah: Exploring Semitic Iconography,’ Biblical Archaeology Review, Sept.-Oct. 1991, p. 50).
This four-tiered Israelite cult stand from the site of Ta’anach, is thought to represent YHWH and Asherah, with each deity being depicted on alternating tiers. One of the tiers dedicated to Asherah has a carving of a living tree, a method used by the cult to symbolise her. The Cult Stand is an example of syncretism in Biblical times, in this carving Ashtaroth is depicted as the bride of YHWH.
Asherah or Asherim refers to more than just the person of the deity. These terms are often, especially in the Biblical texts, used for consecrated poles. The common place of worship for Ashtaroth would be among a grove of evergreen trees with an Asherah pole in the midst. The poles were either carved to look like trees or to resemble the goddess (this could also be reflected in the numerous pillar figurines found throughout Israel). Remains of these poles are determined by postholes and rotted timber, which resulted in differently hued soil.
Baal Worship in the Northern Kingdom of Israel
The god Baal (lord) was the name of the supreme god worshiped in ancient Canaan and Phoenicia. The practice of Baal worship infiltrated Jewish religious life during the time of the Judges (Judges 3:7), and became widespread in Israel during the reign of Ahab (1 Kings 16:31-33), The Northern Kingdom was a bad influence, with Judah also being affected (2 Chronicles 28:1-2). In general, Baal was the god of rain and storms often being depicted holding a lightning bolt. As rain brought life to the earth, Baal was also considered a fertility god who was believed to not only enable the earth to produce crops, but also people to produce children. So, Baal was worshipped in Israel as a fertility god who provided children and ensured bountiful harvests. Baal worship was rooted in sensuality and involved ritualistic prostitution in the temples (sympathetic magic). At times, appeasing Baal required human sacrifice, usually the firstborn son of the person making the sacrifice (Jeremiah 19:5).
Baal was an alter ego of Nimrod, and by worshipping Baal, the Israelites had abandoned the true God for the religion that had originated in Babylon. Before the Hebrews entered the Promised Land, the Lord God warned against worshipping Canaan’s gods (Deuteronomy 6:14-15), but Israel turned to idolatry anyway. During the reign of Ahab and Jezebel, at the height of Baal worship in Israel, God directly confronted paganism through His prophet Elijah. Where the prophets of Baal failed, Elijah succeeded, with God sending fire down to consume Elijah’s sacrifice. No lightning bolt came from Baal, God was the true God of rain and storms.
Elijah and the Prophets of Baal
“When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, ‘Is it you, you troubler of Israel?’ And he answered, ‘I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table’” (1 Kings 18:17-19).
- Ahab saw Elijah as a “trouble maker,” similarly, the Ecumenical Church will see the true representatives of God as trouble makers, for they reject the compromises of the worldly church and stay true to the Word of God.
- Elijah pointed out that it was Ahab who was the trouble maker because he had abandoned the Torah – the word of God – and broke the Mosaic covenant God has with Israel. This is a conditional covenant and will therefore result in the judgement of Israel by God. The replacement of God’s Word with the philosophies of men by the Ecumenical Church will also result in accountability. Paul warns of this writing “Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false” (2 Thessalonians 3:11). The delusion God will send the Ecumenical Church is the Antichrist, who will rise to power through their apostate teachings (2 Thess. 2:3), he will lead them into the seven years of Tribulation, to face God’s Trumpet and Bowl Judgements.
- Ahab and Jezebel had instituted both Baal and Asherah worship, with priest representing both gods to the people of Israel. These gods are alter egos of Nimrod and Semiramis, and have their origins in Babylonian religion.
“So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. And Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.’ And the people did not answer him a word” (1 Kings 18:20-21).
Elijah confronted the people of Israel and accused them of vacillating between “two different opinions” – the Israelites were practising syncretism! They had not forsaken Yahweh, but they had allowed the worship of Baal the sun god, and Asherah the goddess of motherhood and fertility to become part of their religious beliefs.
The Ecumenical Church has opened its doors wide to the contamination of syncretism, allowing man’s wisdom to continually alter and adapt the Word of God. Also, the Roman Catholic Church has made the same error as the Israelites, combining paganism with the true Faith. The Roman Church’s elaborate pagan ceremonies include the name Jesus, however, their focus is on Mother Mary, an alter ego of the Babylonian Semiramis (as was Asherah). The presence of sun worship (Baal) is also very evident in the Vatican.
“And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation” (1Kings 18: 29).
The prophets of Baal were given most of the day by Elijah to call upon Baal to cremate the sacrifice they had prepared. Then when it was passed the six o’clock evening offering Elijah took over. The Day of the Lord – a time when God is actively involved with the affairs of men – commences with a time of darkness, a time of judgement (the Tribulation). The Day of the Lord is when Yahweh reveals Himself in all His power to the Jews. In Israel, a day starts at 18:00, and ends the next day at 18:00, thus God revealed Himself to be the true and only God at the start of the new day (6pm), when darkness was fast approaching.
“‘Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.’ Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, ‘The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God’” (1Kings 18:37-39).
God consumes the whole altar of stone and wood that Elijah had erected, not just the sacrifice offering, as evidence He is the one true God.
“Elijah said to them, ‘Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.’ And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there. And Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain’” (1Kings 18:40-41).
Confirmation of the Israelites’ spoken words is in their action. They not only say that “the Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God,” they also put to death the syncretism in their midst. The infestation of Babylon Religion that had contaminated their worship of Yahweh, was surgically and completely removed. It is important to note that it is only after the action of physically ridding themselves of the pagan influences, that God sent the rain. God does not recognise lip service; the words must lead to action!
“The land of Nimrod” – the tool of judgement
The nations of Israel rebelled against the Lord and followed after false gods. The origin of these deities was in the Babylonian religion under Nimrod and Semiramis. God used Sargon king of Assyria, a king from the land of Nimrod, who was empowered by the “mystery of iniquity,” as tools of His judgement upon the Jews. God used the nations of the origin of the sin to judge the sin!
The Northern Kingdom of Israel was taken into captivity by the Assyrians (730 BC), a people from the land of Nimrod. Their capital city was Nineveh, a city established by Nimrod. Note that God used the people from the land of Babylon Religion, to punish the worship of Babylon Religion (pagan idolatry) in Israel.