🔼The name Homer: Summary
- Complying Person (i.e. a Blind Man who complies with his guide), or Captive
- Ancient Beginning
- From the Greek verb ομηρεω (homereo), to meet or comply, or noun ομηρος (homeros), captive or hostage.
- From the verb אמר (amar), to talk.
- From the verb חמר (hamar), to be red or slowly begin to flow.
🔼The name Homer in the Bible
For a lengthy look at the impact of Homer on Greco-Roman society and mankind at large, as well as the differences between the Epics of Homer and the Books of Moses, see our article on the name Hellas.
The name of the famous Greek poet Homer (or in Greek: Homeros) doesn't occur in the Bible, but that's less logical than it may seem. Probably the sole reason why Homer isn't mentioned by name is that the majority of quotes in the Bible comes without a proper reference to the author and work quoted.
It appears that in the olden days, academics could just blurt out a quote and the learned audience was expected to know where that quote came from, and perhaps confirmed it with due harrumphs or shouted corrections and such. Hence Paul quotes "a certain Cretan poet" but doesn't find it necessary to additionally submit that it was Epimenides (Titus 1:12). In Athens he cites without naming several Greek poets (a worthy audience would know that he primarily referred to Aratus, who probably in turn used words of Cleanthes who in turn probably borrowed concepts from Homer) by stating that "we are too his offspring" (Acts 17:28). And while being interrogated by Felix and Agrippa, he anonymously cited and thus subliminally referred to the Roman playwright Titus Maccius Plautus's play Truculentus (Acts 26:14, and read our article on the name Caesar for a brief discussion of this).
But compared to Homer, these quoted poets are obviously decidedly second rate. Homer was among the very first epic poets and certainly the greatest. He was considered the founder of Greek theogony and established the character of western literature up to the modern age. Especially when the world became Greek under Alexander, Homer gained a status comparable to that which Moses had among the Jews.
🔼Moses and Homer: journalists
Tradition has failed to preserve information on both the historical Moses and the historical Homer (and one often proposed reason for this is that both names represent the unified literary efforts of many writers from a deep and anonymous past), but estimates by later scholars of antiquity suggest they were roughly contemporaries (give or take a few centuries, depending on which source one consults).
Surely though, Moses and Homer, or the traditions that bear their names, were working within the same cultural time frame. The Exodus of Israel from Egypt and the Trojan War play roughly at the same time, namely at the collapse of the Bronze Age, when the long maintained balance of power in the Eastern Mediterranean destabilized, peoples began to migrate, established trade routes were disrupted and rerouted, and advances in technology changed the way people lived and how nations interacted with adjacent states.
At first and superficial glance, Homer and Moses appear to tell widely differing tales, drawn from vivid imaginations or else divine revelations but certainly without demonstrable kinship to events in real time. A subsequent investigation, however, quickly reveals that both traditions described the same events — real events that really happened in a non-transcended and quite mundane plain of human existence — but free from the restrictions of later definitions of historic or literary contemplation.
Journalism is just a genre, and Moses and Homer were not journalists, and although their works consist of words and appear to be similar to a newspaper column to people who can't really read, they function in a medium that's much more like Bach's music or Rembrandt's paintings, and are dominated by rhythms and repetitions, shapes and compositions. To the chagrin of zappers and folks waiting for their chicken nuggets, the Brandenburg Concertos aren't jam sessions, the Night Watch isn't a photograph, and neither Homer nor Moses produced literary realism.
🔼Moses and Homer: academics
In Biblical times, and especially in Alexandrian times, when international and cross-cultural debate became all the rage (and which was dominated by Jewish-Hellenistic scholars, see our article on the name Zenas), anyone who cared to discuss the finer points of life or the structure of the cosmos could simply not afford to omit Homer. Or as Maren R. Niehoff writes in her 2012 work Homer and the Bible in the Eyes of Ancient Interpreters , "The picture which emerges from these studies is highly complex: Greek, Jewish and Christian readers were concerned with similar literary and religious questions, often defining their own position in dialogue with others".
It's an easily made error to assume that the Bible arose as an enlightened island in an otherwise pitch black ocean of ignorance, because that is certainly not the case. The texts of the Bible were all produced as part of larger discussions that often permeated the known world; across the Semitic language area and into Egypt, Persia, Greece and probably even Europe and Africa south of Egypt (see our article on the name Nazarene). And all that as a continuation of mankind's most endearing trait: the need to interact and exchange.
Or in the words of Philip Kohl (The early integration of the Eurasian steppes with the ancient Near East ): "The cultures that ethnographers study are not pure, pristine entities developing in a vacuum. Rather, they are almost always hybrids, fissioning or coalescing, assimilating or modifying the customs of the neighboring peoples with whom the constantly interact. Cultures are not primordial entities or essences once crystallized in time and then remaining forever the same; they are never made, but always in the making".
The authors of the Bible were all highly skilled literati who partook in the great, world-wide academic information exchange and thus were very well informed about the traditions of neighboring cultures. And when Alexander made the whole world Greek, the works of Homer became both the Bible writers' most prominent reference point and sharpest contrast. And that means that although Homer may not be mentioned by name, he should certainly be expected to be alluded to and quite possibly openly discussed in Biblical Scriptures.
🔼Etymology of the name Homer
It's officially obscure where the name Homer comes from, but that does not mean that we're clueless about it; it just means that we don't exactly know which of the possibilities is the correct one. We don't even know for sure from which language group our name stems, but it's probably either Greek or Semitic:
🔼The name Homer is Greek
What many ancient scholars noted is that the name Homer is identical (yet not necessarily etymologically related) to the common word ομηρος (homeros), which is the word for pledge, surety or hostage, "for the maintenance of unity" adds Liddell and Scott's An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon.
This noun is most probably related to the verb ομηρεω (homereo), meaning to meet, or secondarily, to accord or agree, and was also used to denote a blind person (one who had to be in accord with his guide), which started the rumor that Homer was a blind man aptly called Blind Man, possibly to avoid having to concede that he was a Hostage or Captive.
A similar noun-and-verb (but without a reference to blindness) occurs in Hebrew as the verb ערב ('arab II), meaning to give or take on pledge, and this suggests that the name Homer reflects the same considerations as does the name Arabia, namely the grand unification of wisdom traditions as a consequence of international trade. That would give the name Homer the meaning of Wisdom Cocktail.
🔼Captured by error, freed by Truth
Our verb ערב ('arab II) yields several derivations, among which the noun תערבה (ta'aruba), meaning pledge. This noun occurs only in 2 Kings 14:14, in the construct בני התערבות (beny hata'aruboth), literally meaning "sons of the pledge" but usually taken to mean: hostages. In the sixth to the fourth centuries BC (give or take) a Greek guild of poets was active which was known as the Homeridae, which literally means "sons of Homer". It's not clear whether this movement originated from the historical Homer or that the character of Homer was a mythological back-formation of the guild, and that the Iliad and Odyssey came from the guild at large instead of from one isolated poet.
The scene described in 2 Kings 14:7-14 seems to cover more than physical battles, and a reader may wonder why the beny hata'aruboth, or "sons of the pledge" are mentioned among the temple treasures. The complex of the temple of YHWH, of course, was as much a center of learning as a house of worship, and here at Abarim Publications we surmise that the "sons of the pledge" were Homeridae and probably other works collectively known by that same name. If that is so, the beny hata'aruboth comprised the temple's library, or at least the non-Jewish part of it.
Another red-flag scene in which the "captives" are mentioned but possibly Homeric philosophers are meant, is the one in which Jesus loosely quotes from Isaiah: "He has sent me to proclaim release of the captives and recovery of sight to the blind" (Luke 4:22, Isaiah 61:1; note that Isaiah doesn't mention the blind), and possibly to make sure that we're getting the point, Luke has the men of Nazareth drive Jesus up a hill to ostensibly toss him off. In Israel, blasphemers were stoned to death but tossing criminals off mountains was a Greek thing.
Jesus, however, had no intention of being thrown off the mountain, turned on his heels, parted the throng and headed back down again. This image is also not a Jewish but a Greek one. It revisits, and thus interprets, the famous story of Sisyphus, the king of Ephyra, who deemed himself craftier than Zeus and was subsequently condemned to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll down again when he was almost at the top. We know this story from, you guessed it, Homer (Odyssey.xi.593).
🔼The name Homer is Semitic
Some scholars have argued that the Greek name Homeros may be a Hellenized version of a Semitic name or word, taken from a Semitic root. One candidate is the verb which came to be known in Hebrew as אמר ('amar), meaning to speak or talk, and which would put the Greek name Homer on a par with the familiar Semitic name Omar:
The ubiquitous verb אמר ('amar) means to talk or say and may even mean to promise or command. Nouns אמר ('omer) and מאמר (ma'amar) mean speech, word, promise or command. Nouns אמרה ('imra) and אמרה ('emra) mean utterance or speech. The metaphorical noun אמיר ('amir) refers to the leafy and fruit bearing crown of a tree.
Whether the connection between the name Homer and the verb אמר ('amar) is etymologically defendable is not as important as the question whether the Biblical authors would consider referring to Homer as The Talker, which is perhaps comparable to names like Qoheleth and even Quran. The divine name Dabar YHWH means Word of God, and comes from the verb דבר (dabar), which too means to speak, yet the verb אמר ('amar) is clearly considered the less noble one of the two — a distinction which is comparable to that between our English verbs to speak and to talk, or the Greek verbs λεγω (lego) and λαλεω (laleo).
Another group of verbs that might be construed as to be related to the name Homer is formed from the root חמר (hmr). In some cases, names that start with the letter ח (heth) are transliterated in the Greek Septuagint as starting with a Χ (like Ham, חם, in Greek: Χαμ, or Horeb: חרב, in Greek: Χωρηβ) but often these names in Greek start with a vowel (for instance: Hobab, חבב, in Greek: Οβαβ, or Huldah, חלדה, in Greek: Ολδαν).
Note that the Biblical name Hamor (חמור, in Greek: Εμμωρ) also comes from this verb, and belonged to the father of Shechem the Hivite, who raped Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob and sister of the twelve tribal patriarchs of Israel (Genesis 34:2).
The verb חמר (hamar) means to begin to slowly flow. It expresses a slow progression or a tranquil flowing forth, emphasizes the beginning of such a process and is hence associated with the color red (the color of sun-rise, metal that starts to melt, grapes that start to ripen, and so on).
Noun חמר (hemar) describes bitumen or naturally seeping tar and חמר (homer) refers to reddish clay or natural cement. The denominative verb חמר (hamar) means to smear with mud or asphalt.
Noun חמר (homer) describes heaps of a near-liquid mass (particularly dead frogs or grains), and was also used as the largest standard unit of volume (equivalent to about one or two modern barrels). Noun חמר (hamor) too means heap or pile.
Noun יחמור (yahmur) describes a roebuck or a somewhat reddish deer. Noun חמור (hamor) is one of a few words for donkey. Scholars have long surmised that this word was chosen to describe the animal because the latter was red, until they realized that donkeys in the Levant are grey. Instead, donkeys had become a symbol for the beginning of human civilization, trade and civilian transport, and for that reason were called red (which is also how the Red Sea got its name).
In other words, to a Hebrew audience, the name Homeros would have expressed the same concerns as the name Adam; both having to do with mud and both having to do with the color red, and with a start or beginning.
Mankind's "second beginning" occurred in Noah, whose story obviously tells of the most rudimentary structure of human mentality, from the waters of ignorance to the dry land of complete understanding (and read our article on the name Noah for more details).
The descendants of Noah's middle son Japheth peopled the "coastlands" (Genesis 10:5), which again accentuates the muddy transition between water (ignorance, or Ham) and dry land (complete understanding, or Shem), and Japheth's two most famous sons were Javan (means mud or mire and denotes Greece) and Madai (from the verb to measure, and denoting Media).
The Hebrew authors appear to have had quite a bit of respect for the Japhethite philosophies (democracy, after all, was a true world wonder, and so was the Pythagorean theorem and things like that; also see our article on Epicureans), although their thinking was obviously deemed inferior and flat wrong at times, particularly in matters of early cosmology and theology.
Where the Hebrews pertained to a simple and elegant story of origins that involved one deity and his one cosmic force and an ever increasing complexity of creation (what today we call the expanding universe from a singularity and study under the header of evolution theory), the Greeks clung to the theogonies of Hesiod and Homer, in which a supreme deity Zeus brought forth Titan children, who battled the primordial deities of chaos, who had also spawned Titan kids, who in turn were defeated by their children in an everlasting soap-opera struggle between the members of an ever growing pantheon, and a permanent cosmic division between good and evil.
The most fundamental difference between Japhethite (that's Greco-Persian or Zoroastrian) thought and Shemite (or rather specifically: Hebrew) thought is their polarity and ultimately their interpretation of evil.
🔼Good guys versus bad guys
The Japhethite believes that the world is essentially bi-polar and results from an eternal battle between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of evil, which are pretty much of equal strength and are similarly organized, both around a kingpin and his minions. This inevitably leads to an us-versus-them thinking, with us (the good guys; enlightened, just and endowed with all the right symbols and regalia) living in the greatest country on earth, and them (the bad guys, a.k.a. the backward barbarians or decrepit evildoers) living in, well, "other" countries.
The Hebrews were into none of that. To the Hebrews it was clear that there is only one set of rules, which they called Dabar-Yahweh or the Word of God and which modern science calls Grand Unified Theory (science and religion don't disagree on the existence of God but on whether he has personhood). This Word of God, the Hebrews figured, applies to everybody (good, bad, believers or ignorazzi) and exists prior to the universe ("prior" on a complexity scale, not a temporal one; time is a product of the universe, not the medium in which it emerged).
In the Hebrew model, the Word exists everywhere and always the same, is sovereign in the universe, and produces everything in the universe, including the biological man and finally human culture. That means that human culture can only become something that accords with natural law, and all other effort is folly and simply won't work. The Word is the only thing all people can ever agree on, the only thing that can ever be accomplished, the only thing that can ever be discovered, and the only thing that cannot ever be destroyed.
"Good", simply said, is the working together of all things when all those things have been allowed to develop freely and ultimately. "Evil", therefore, is not some kingdom that counterpoises the kingdom of good, but rather the absence of good in the same way that darkness is the absence of light and not the presence of something else.
To the Hebrews, reality has only one pole and that is the goodness of harmony with natural law. The opposite is not a pole but a chaotic cloud, still centered on that singular, almighty pole! The name Baal-zebub, after all, means "lord of the flies" in which it is understood that flies do not adhere to central rule, don't congregate, don't cooperate, don't produce, don't care for their offspring, aren't armed and spend their times focused on dung and dead things; all this contrary to the bee, which in Hebrew is דבורה (deborah), which is the feminine version of the masculine דבר (dabar), hence the phrase "Dabar-YHWH" or "Word of God" (see our article on the name Deborah).
One of the Zeusian Titans was called Prometheus, and he personifies the second and most practical difference between Hebrew and Greek thought.
🔼Godly fire, and how to get it
To the Greeks, the fire of civilization had to be stolen from Zeus, while to the Hebrews it was a gift from YHWH. Moses was out herding his father-in-law's sheep when he serendipitously happened upon the burning bush. When he decided to investigate that curious site (Exodus 3:3), the Lord spoke and... gave him a job, which not only demonstrates that wisdom is a gift, it also shows that wisdom has to do with practical insights and the task-at-hand, and nothing with speculations and days of secluded pondering, which was the Greek swing on it.
Prometheus — whose name is an adjective meaning premeditative, contriving or forethinking — rebelled against Zeus when he stole the fire and gave it to mankind. The Hebrews had a paradisal snake (נחש, nahash) entice mankind to eat from, and thus abuse, the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which was there all along, growing perfectly and beautifully in the center of the perfect garden (Genesis 3:6).
The poet Hesiod told how Zeus became enraged with the fire-heist, chained Prometheus to a rock for daily liver-evisceration, and ordered the divine blacksmith Hephaestus to create a woman out of clay. That woman was named Pandora (means all-gifted or all-given). While the Hebrews told how Eve (which denotes collectivity; see our article on that name) came from Adam (the individual) and was designed to be his helper (עזר, 'azar), Pandora embodied human womanhood and was to "live among mortal men to their great trouble" (Hesiod WD.592).
Instead of accepting a fruit from a locutionary snake, Pandora, out of curiosity, opened the famous pithos, a jar or pot, because of which all man's evils (sicknesses and calamities and such) escaped and mankind was condemned to a life of toilsome labor (somewhat parallel to Genesis 3:17-19). Consistent with the bi-polar reality model, that jar or pot was seen as one of two that stood in Zeus' palace; one filled with evil gifts and the other with good gifts (Homer Iliad.24.527).
As man's evils were flying out to infest the earth, Pandora quickly closed the jar, and that trapped only ελπις (elpis), meaning hope or something hoped for, which became the only misfortune to show up only intermittently.
🔼Hope and the clay vessels
Hope, the last of the evils from the vessel of evils, remained at Zeus' discretion and would be dispatched when folks in a bad fix had to be pestered even more. Unlike Hebrew and our modern sense of hope, Greek hope did not concentrate on a blissful alternative to a painful presence, but concentrated on the painful presence with the result of mankind's fugacious leap to wherever else. Greek hope consisted merely of the realization of man's dire straight; it was basically Zeus' way of saying, "Sod off!"
And since the pantheon was itself divided into factions, pretty much every human endeavor could count on some but never full support of the divine. And that in turn inevitably lead to the idea that mankind was to design its own future, and attain its own divinity with practical impunity to whoever came out on top; the very ideals that made Greece and later Rome great and the Hebrews hated (read our article on the name Caesar).
The Hebrew prophets asked two simple questions, which are really just one simple question, and which the Greeks with all their shadowy caves and hypotenuses couldn't answer: Why would whatever brought us forth, suddenly stop bringing us forth? And why on earth would we want to argue with whatever brought us forth and is still bringing us forth?
When Isaiah exclaimed: "Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker, an earthenware vessel among the vessels of the earth. Would clay express opposition to the potter?" (45:9, also see Isaiah 29:16, 64:8, Jeremiah 18:6 and Romans 9:21) he's not trying to win his readers to some religion; rather the opposite. Isaiah urges his readers to use their powers of reason and realize that good follows from man's resonance with natural law and evil from man's discord with natural law (Isaiah 1:18-20). Someone who mocks everything will never understand anything, but science gives wings to the discerning (Proverbs 14:6).
🔼Go to the ant
The Hebrews realized that despite mankind's signature arrogance and so-called great achievements, mankind's culture is a natural phenomenon that follows the same natural law that creates and runs the rest of the universe. Not mankind's efforts but the law that governs the universe is bringing mankind to its only possible end-form, and that with the same resolve with which he once created it and sustains it today.
The Hebrews considered hope a virtue because it emphasized an inevitable blissful future. Using imagery from the creation account, Solomon submitted that hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desired thing comes about, it is a tree of life (Proverbs 13:12), and Paul went so far as to connect hope to a knowing for certain of things that awaits humanity in its inescapable future (Hebrews 11:1). In other words: whether hope is a good thing depends entirely on whether good times are expected. By saying that hope is good, we confirm that God is taking care of us. By stating that hope is bad, we confirm that we better rebel against whatever supreme being or natural force put us here.
Hesiod sang that after Pandora had opened the jar only Hope was left within it, and she remained in the jar "and did not fly away" because Pandora replaced the lid of the jar. Later reports on Hope depicted her as a young woman, and two centuries before Alexander would drive his armies into Persia, the prophet Zechariah foretold how a woman named Wickedness captured in an ephah (a jar of roughly 20 liters) was flown to Shinar on the wings of a stork (חסידה, hasida, from the verb חסד, hasad, meaning to be good or kind) where a temple for her would be constructed (Zechariah 5:5-11). Whatever Zechariah precisely meant with that may not be wholly clear to a modern reader, but it would probably be crystal clear to a contemporary Homeric scholar.
🔼A blaze which engulfed them all
When two tribes go to war, not the stronger but the smarter one will win. That's why the US army recruits more nerds than bodybuilders. Historians play the religion card whenever they come across something they don't understand, but religion, then and now, must have its base in reality and be practical to have any chance of survival, or render the same to its disciples.
It probably takes a modern person to believe that all throughout human history, entire peoples have invested their energy and resources into building and preserving things that were inert and served no practical purpose whatsoever. Critics of religion fume at modern devotion but have no problem projecting the invention of vast systems of idle superstition onto our ancestors, who surely had better things to do. Or as the lady said: "Ain't nobody got time for that".
Today, entertainment is one of the largest industries in the world, but neither Homer nor Moses wrote to entertain. Fifty nerds in a room can do more damage than five hundred sons-of-Rambo in the field, and the old world equivalent of fifty programmers was fifty scribes in a temple. Old world priests were nothing but guardians of technology — technology that meant ease and comfort to their patrons and could provide a crucial advantage in the commercial arena or over an enemy during a conflict. Different gods had different purposes, which directed the nature of the associated wisdoms and subsequently attracted the attentions of their worshippers.
Temples and staffs were nothing but companies peddling their wares, which were demonstrated with due theatrics during services (and even competitions, it seems: Exodus 7:11, 1 Kings 18:19, also see Acts 19:24). A famous inventor of temple machines was Heron of Alexandria, who lived approximately from 10 to 70 AD. He's most celebrated for inventing the steam engine (that moved statues as well as patrons' cash), but he also concocted the world's first vending machine, that in return for a coin dribbled a helping of holy water in devotees' readied receptacles.
Modern critics may recognize nothing but deceit in these proceedings, but how misguided they are. Temples were inventors' fertile playing fields, much like warfare and space exploration are today. Likewise, the central texts of the old world contain the wisdom to keep societies going, to understand creation from the turning of the seasons to the nature of man, to harness its powers and govern its evolution, to not simply win wars but how to overcome conflict at maximum mutual benefit, and ultimately how to unite all of mankind as one.
🔼One saw mud, the other stars
The Jewish tradition rejected some of the basic tenets of Homeric wisdom, particularly the two clay jars deal. The story of Jesus (who, besides the religious figure is also a literary device defined as the Word of God in human form; John 1:14) obviously culminates in his execution (or rather his resurrection) but the one who surrendered him to the gentiles subsequently killed himself and with his wage was bought Akeldama, or the Potter's Field as burial place for foreigners (Matthew 27:7, Acts 1:19).
Homer told of the beautiful and young Helen who willingly moved to Troy only to regret it later. The battle that ensued was at long last determined when the Hellenes famously tricked the Trojans into rolling a huge wooden war horse into the city. The war horse was filled with blood-thirsty soldiers, who spilled out, opened the gates and sacked Troy.
Whatever Homer was conveying (because that's still a bit of a mystery), Moses agreed with the abstract but not with the nature of the account. In Moses' version, an Israel so young it was a mere family instead of a nation, moved willingly to Egypt because of a famine in Canaan — this move was made possible by Joseph's presence, first as a slave, then as a viceroy, which coincides with the Greek variant that tells of Helen's initial abduction and then royalty.
Like Helen, Israel came to mourn its decision but Israel had no Trojan horse that slipped behind enemy lines, it had a baby: Moses, bobbing on the Nile in a little crib and found and adopted by Pharaoh's daughter, which is an obvious metaphor for Egypt's wisdom tradition trying to adopt Semitic learning (and here at Abarim Publications we surmise that the Exodus account hinges on the Semitic alphabet, which Egypt initially rejected and which gave the Semitic peoples a crucial advantage over Egypt).
Initially the Egyptians liked Moses and Moses liked the Egyptians and Israel's liberation followed a battle of wits rather than of swords. Yet ultimately YHWH freed Israel — after asking nicely first, and then by demonstrating that Egypt was doomed because its indigenous wisdom was at odds with the reality of the universe and wouldn't budge to the new things the Semites had to offer.
🔼Where no man's gone before
Homer told of the greatly talented Odysseus who, after sacking Troy and his departure in twelve ships, was cursed by the giant Cyclops Polyphemus (means Many Words/ Many Oracles) to go on a ten year trek. This trek lasted until he finally reached home, which was infested by treacherous Suitors, who had been wooing his wife and consuming his goods. Odysseus was able to claim his rightful place by shooting an arrow first through twelve axe heads and then through the Suitors.
Moses, again, agreed with Homer's abstract, but told of the Israelites, who set out from Egypt as twelve tribes liberated and guided by the Living Lord, whose twelve spies encountered giants as well, and brought back words of discouragement (Numbers 13:32). This led to God's curse and Israel's forty year trek, which lasted until Israel reached Canaan. Canaan too was infested with indigenous evildoers, who too were subsequently killed.
Whatever Homer tried to convey when he told how Paris of Troy killed Achilles by shooting him in the heel is again not wholly clear, but Moses told of Jacob, who held on to Esau's heel, and winged him out of his birthright by being cunning (Genesis 25:26).
And are the mysterious and mythical creatures known to the Hebrews as תנן and תנים (tanin and tanim) really the same as Homer's Sirens, as Jerome proposed, or were both perhaps derived from a real creature? Or perhaps even from some real principle or process? And are the stories of Odysseus and the Cyclops, and David and Goliath variations on the same theme? Or is the eye of the Cyclops the same as the well of Paddan-aram (עין, 'ayin means both eye and well), where the patriarchs acquired their wives (Genesis 25:20, 28:5)? And were both perhaps drawn from a real entity or process?
🔼The desire of all nations
To the Greeks, the chief deity was the stronger contestant and his tyrannical demands had to be met in order to avoid retaliation. To the Hebrews, the chief deity (expressing himself in natural law) could not possibly be opposed to his creatures, which led to the understanding that he could only love them and they must only love him (Deuteronomy 6:5; and note that "love" in Hebrew has nothing to do with feeling sweet 'n mushy, and everything with the act of nearing or approaching, see our article on the verb אהב, 'aheb, meaning to love).
Knowledge of creation, to the Hebrews, was a hugely powerful tool, which could lead to a heavenly New Jerusalem when founded on love and to perdition when not. According to Moses, God desired not a war but an intimate relationship with mankind, and mankind's stewardship over creation. The Laws that God gave humanity were not artificial edicts but the natural laws upon which humanity was designed to operate, just like the similar natural laws upon which the universe ran. Whatever God is, man wants God the way he wants food and drink, safety and shelter. God is not a weak despot, not one of many rivaling forces, and certainly not someone anyone would want to steal anything from. He is the "desire of all nations" (Haggai 2:7).
In short: the idea that mankind would benefit from rebelling against the Creator, or would even enjoy such a thing, is demonstrably ludicrous. Whatever brought us forth obviously doesn't want to destroy us, and whatever brought us forth is still bringing us forth. We are the jars that are getting filled, but there is no such thing as a jar with evil gifts (James 1:17). Good, just like light, binds elements together, from the virtual photons that keep atoms together to the love that keeps people together (Colossians 1:16-17). The falling apart of things is due to either the absence of the binding force or else a failure of elements to adhere to this force, but not because of the presence of some anti-force.
As the Lord said through the prophet Isaiah: "I am YHWH and there is no other; the one forming light and creating darkness, making peace (שלום, shalom) and creating evil (רע, ra'); I YHWH do all these things" (Isaiah 45:7).