🔼The name Mammon: Summary
- Perfect Permanent Record, Strength In Numbers
- From the verb מנה (mana), to count or number.
- From the verb אמן ('aman), to affirm.
- From the word ימן (ymn), south, east or right.
🔼The name Mammon in the Bible
The Mammon — spelled μαμωνας (mamonas) or μαμμωνας (mammonas), either with or without capitals, depending on the manuscript — is often thought to deify wealth, the Semitic equivalent of the Greek deity Plutus — a different deity but almost-namesake of Pluto, better known as Hades, the god of the underworld god; see πλουτος (ploutos), wealth — but this is simply incorrect. The name occurs 4 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, but after centuries of assuming that Jesus was talking about an "other god," no trace of any such deity has been unearthed anywhere in the Levant (the gods Gad, of fortune or luck, and Asshur, whose named is obviously similar to Asher, happiness, come close but are clearly distinct from a god of pure financial wealth).
Jesus famously declared that man cannot serve both God and Mammon, and it's been further assumed that Jesus condemned wealth, but that's not true either. As an infant, Jesus' had been given treasures that allowed his family first to safely move to Egypt, and then to Nazareth. And decades later, Jesus and company enjoyed funding from wealthy women (Luke 8:3), that allowed them to refrain from having to work (the noun σχολη, schole, or "school", means leisure), and still buy food and luxury items (John 19:23, 19:39) and to rent expensive venues (Mark 14:15). In fact, Jesus' outfit had so much money coming in that the flow of it had to be regulated by a formal secretary (Judas Iscariot), who in turn was able to skim from the top without anybody noticing or minding it much, John 12:6).
Jesus equated his body with the Temple (John 2:21), which was the Second Temple at the time, which had been expanded into a dazzling templar complex (Mark 13:1, Luke 21:5) by virtue of the vast wealth of Herod the Great, the semi-Jewish king installed by Rome. Less than two centuries earlier, in the Greek era, the Maccabees had already restored much of the Second Temple service (hence the feast of Hanukkah) and based their century long dynasty upon that feat. The original Second Temple had been ordered, designed and lavishly funded by the legendary king Cyrus the Great of Persia (Ezra 6:3, 6:8, 2 Chronicles 36:23), whom Isaiah called Messiah (Isaiah 45:1), and who (i.e. whose wise men, mostly Jews) had invented the formal postal system (the term Chapar Khaneh would transliterate into Hebrew as כפר, kpr, קנה, qnh; also see οδος, hodos, road). The Second Temple was a continuation of the First Temple, which had been built by kings Solomon of Israel and Hiram of Tyre, two of the richest monarchs ever. And all that was in subsequence of God's covenant with Abraham, who was likewise a man of immense wealth (Genesis 13:2).
So no, in the Bible wealth is certainly not a negative thing but has always sat at the heart of the Abrahamic covenant, of which Christ would be the fulfilment (Galatians 3:7). So no, there is nothing wrong with wealth; there is something wrong with poverty.
🔼Something wrong with Mamon
There is nothing wrong with wealth; there is something wrong with poverty. And that is because wealth is an effect of righteousness (Deuteronomy 8:18, Proverbs 10:22; see Luke 16:9, 1 Timothy 5:8, Revelation 3:18; also see Luke 10:35), whereas poverty is an effect of unrighteousness — with added insult to injury: poverty somewhere is routinely caused by unrighteousness elsewhere: the guy who's poor is not necessarily the guy who is unrighteous (John 9:3; also see our article on the word περιστερα (peristera), dove.
All this is understood by considering this: darkness is not the opposite of light but the absence of it, and not the presence of something else. Light is substantial, it is a "thing". Darkness is not substantial, it is not a "thing", and literally "nothing". Light is energy and propels particles, forges chemical bonds and gives life. Light comes in a whole spectrum of wavelengths which, in the human mind, corresponds to colors and nuances. And to that same mind, light conveys information (whether by bouncing off objects or conveying the bits of a data stream).
Darkness, to the contrary, has no nuances, does not propel or inform. Darkness is the absence of all that, but certainly not the presence of something else. Darkness is nothing. It's emptiness: the "not to be"-part of "to be or not to be".
Foolishness, entirely likewise, is not the opposite of wisdom but the absence of it (ignorance is not the opposite of enlightenment but the absence of it). Hate, likewise, is not the opposite of love but the absence of it. Light, wisdom and love are builders: they result in the formation of structures: order, utility, compounds, social bonds, friendships, families, companies and thriving communities. Darkness, foolishness and hate demonstrate the absence of these things (not he presence of something else).
To come full circle: wealth is the effect of light, wisdom and love. Wealth is a thing built: an enlightened, wise and lovely layer of synthetic sophistication upon a natural bedrock of want, emptiness and ignorance. Wealth is a city to live in, a technological complexity in which there is freedom (the New Jerusalem is a city, which is a technological complex: Revelation 21:2).
Wealth is in many ways the same thing as security (i.e. unthreatened safety: health, abundance and freedom), and comes from the velocity of money (and not the presence of money) and thus from human interaction and mutual servitude, when people love their neighbors as themselves. Language arose according to the same evolutionary forces. This is why Jesus not only personifies the Temple but also the Logos (John 1:1) through which mankind may know God (Romans 1:20, Colossians 2:3, Hebrews 1:3).
The Logos corresponds to scientific knowledge of reality that arises from the kind of correspondence that allows partakers to gravitate upon a shared consensual expression on how to call things (Genesis 2:19-20), an emergent property rather than some externally drafted set of regulations that has to be obtained from afar (Deuteronomy 30:11-14) and according to which the people have to be pummeled into shape, largely against their natural inclinations.
Money, like language, is a means to do onto others what you would have them do to you, and that's no small thing (Matthew 7:12). But just like the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was part of perfect paradise long before things started to go sideways, so wealth is an aspect of a perfect world (Revelation 21:26, see 1 Kings 10:23-25).
So no, the Mammon is not the god of wealth, or wealth itself or even money or the "love" of money (φιλαργυρια, philarguria). Instead, the Creator of heaven and earth is the God of wealth. The Living God is the God of wealth, as much as he is the God of light, life, love and wisdom. And since he is the God of light, he is also the God of darkness (Isaiah 45:7).
🔼The waste of wealth
As we explain in great detail in our e-book on How (the) Mind Works, when two forces work jointly but at a wide relative angle (two tractors that pull in different directions on a boulder in a field, or two tug boats that are pulling on either side of a ship, or two arguing persons who are both trying to further a situation), the shared load will move according to the resultant force between the two misaligned pullers. The boulder, ship or situation will move forward as if pulled by two much smaller and agreeing tractors, tug boats or persons. The difference between the energy spent by the two real but arguing pullers (with no real effect) and the two imaginary smaller but agreeing pullers (with a real effect) is the inefficiency of the installation or effort.
On mankind's great journey from Adam and Eve (or Noah, rather) to the New Jerusalem, the slowly decreasing level of inefficiency (all lost effort, all contradictions, all disagreements) are grouped under the label "sin". If the fall hadn't happened and humanity would have progressed along an unspoiled line from Adam and Eve in Paradise to the New Jerusalem, the journey of mankind would have been a process of growth of an entity that never was not perfect — very much similar to how Jesus grew from baby to man without ever not being perfect: "And the child grew and became strong" and "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:40, 2:52).
Adam and Eve in Paradise had no knowledge of imperfection (Romans 16:19, Philippians 2:15, Jude 1:24), and knew only perfection, light and wealth (i.e. perfect security). Only when Eve ate from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they became aware of darkness and poverty. That's when they began to waste energy and disagree.
🔼The older will serve the younger
As also discussed at length in our e-book on How (the) Mind Works: long after Adam and Eve, the split that occurred between Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:22-27) was self-similar to the split that had happened long ago when an innovative tribe of flat-footers (rodents and later apes and thus humans) broke away from the older toe-walkers (ungulates, all cattle and carnivorous predators). The split was rather violent because the difference was formidable.
A toe-walker's reality model has the individual self at the center of all things, and is organized between the two poles of what is desired and what is rejected. A toe-walker will walk away from whatever he doesn't like (and subsequently dubs "evil") and toward whatever he does like (a.k.a. "good"), and that keeps him forever on the move, chasing his feelings. A toe-walker will congregate in very large herds, simply because that decreases the chance that any individual gets eaten. But it also means that the old and weak among the herdlings will automatically drift toward the rear of the moving herd as a permanent sacrifice to the ever prowling predators. These predators are the herdlings' own toe-walking cousins, which makes the whole toe-walking circus a big Ouroboros: a snake that eats its own tail.
A flat-footer, on the other hand, lives in a reality that is centered upon the home (burrows, lodges, condominiums; the Hebrew word for house, namely בית, bayit, is also the word for temple), which is stationary and commonly shared with others. That keeps the flat-footer in a fixed place and invested in his society rather than his own self. A flat-footer stands his ground and shares the center of his reality with others like him. At the center, in the hole or burrow or house, there are the old and weak, protected and nourished by society's strong.
From the toe-walking mindset came polytheism, which is essentially a reality based on multiple centers: good versus evil, light versus dark, wealth (security) versus poverty (danger). This mindset puts the absence of a thing on a par with the presence of it, and renders the state of absence the same kind of substance as the state of presence. Hence, polytheism imagines that darkness comes with a dark lord to oppose the Lord of Light, or a supreme evil being to counteract the Most High. This is nonsense, of course. Light comes from the sun, but there is no "dark sun" that emits the night. Satan is a corrective creature and must obey the laws of physics (i.e. the Law of God) just like any other creature. But when creatures elect darkness, they elect death. The toe-walking and fear-driven mindset gave the world its predators, whose God-given nature was to prey upon the fearful herdlings. As a consequence of natural law and biological logic, polytheism had given birth to a generation of devils that would forever persecute the living and spread death and weed out the weak.
From the flat-footer mindset, on the other hand, came monotheism, which is a reality based on one single but common center and a desire to simply go home, where there is only good, only light and only wealth — and where there are others (Genesis 2:18, Matthew 7:12, and see Isaiah 45:5-7). God is natured like a flat-footer (and vice versa), and the purpose of his creation is to be a home for all of us flat-footers to live in (Genesis 3:8, Ephesians 2:21, Revelation 22:3-5). That's why Isaiah could exclaim: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news" (Isaiah 52:7, see Song of Solomon 7:1 and Ephesians 6:15).
When Adam and Eve ate from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they lost their monotheistic mindset. They began to walk away from what they didn't like instead of trying to find ways to live with whatever God had seen fit to put on earth. In God's perfect world, everything has a rightful place and all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). A godly mind is a mind that endeavors to secure and govern the proper place of all things, regardless of whether one's own appetites agree with the nature of those things. Adam and Eve, contrarily began to fear and judge and reject, using their own appetites as their guide. Bad idea. It separated them from the heart of all reality, and the single unified home of all things in the universe (Matthew 7:1, Romans 2:1, Isaiah 33:22).
And here's the drum-roll bottom line: Even though God is omniscient, God keeps no record of unrighteousness, inefficiency or sin. God keeps no record of any deviation from the perfect path of growth between the seminal state of Paradise to the maturity of the New Jerusalem. In God there is no darkness (1 John 1:5), and God keeps no account of any wrongs suffered (1 Corinthians 13:5). God burns all iniquity and inefficiency (1 Corinthians 3:15), and tosses all wasted effort into the deepest sea and remembers them no more (Micah 7:19, and see Matthew 14:29-31).
Mammon, quite to the contrary, is a toe-walking polytheist at heart, does not understand the ultimate purpose of creation (namely to be a home for all players, including the Creator) and keeps records of all doings and transactions of any contrary tractor, tug boat or opinionated person.
🔼Of man and beast
Just like predators, satan, death, disease, ignorance, inefficiency, hate and darkness, so Mammon is an effect of polytheism, of a knowledge of good and evil, who aims to destroy what he doesn't like and steal what he does. Instead of only keeping a record of the progression of perfection, Mammon keeps records of all and any goings on, whether righteous or not, whether effective or not, whether useful or not (the term "sons of Belial" describes people busy with uselessness; Deuteronomy 13:13, 2 Corinthians 6:15).
God liberates, and does that by law. This is called eleutheria or freedom-by-law. Just like freedom-of-speech only comes when speakers submit to the common rules of language, so freedom-of-life only comes when people have learned how nature works and submit willingly to its rules. Natural law is a terrible tyrant to those who don't master it but the perfect law of freedom to those that do (James 1:25, see Galatians 5:1).
God gave mankind the baffling concept of the Sabbath, the one day per week upon which man and beast can "practice" eleutheria. But like any wild animal, Mammon works 24 hours per day, 7 days per week and never gives rest or hope or respite. Mammon neither forgets nor forgives. Mammon never sets free or keeps Jubilee. Instead, he always binds and burdens. And he does that by a law that is not the law of freedom but an "other" law, a law that yields a state of perpetual bondage. And since the only rightful law, God's law, produces freedom, a law of bondage is a law of lawlessness.
The succession of great empires was also a succession of prime directives. The Romans were obsessed with regulation and their empire was one of law enforcement. The Greeks were speculative philosophers. The Persians were organizers. And the Phoenicians were merchants and market makers. In their respective capitals — Rome, Athens, Babylon and Susa and Persepolis, Tyre and Carthage — these imperial endeavors consolidated, and every emperor believed that his capital was the hub of it all, and kept the place together (Daniel 4:30). They were all wrong. What has always kept the world together was YHWH's Temple, and although the rulers may have thought that they built it, it actually built them. And although many have believed that this Temple has something to do with religion, it actually is the manifestation of a measurable, physical and natural process that throws off the sparks that has ignited several religions.
Though physically positioned on Mount Moriah, Solomon's Temple was a continuation of Moses' tabernacle, which was built by divinely inspired technicians (Exodus 31:1-11), to be the place where God would meet with Moses (Exodus 25:22), as he had initially done out of the burning bush (Exodus 3:3). The bush, the tabernacle, the Temple and finally the Body of Christ are al variations of the same item, and have a single purpose. The purpose of all of it is to forge the cage within which the fire of natural passion is contained (see our article on Beelzebub for more on that), and the bars of that cage are formed from the understanding of natural law. The words technology, text and textile share a Proto-Indo-European root "tek-" that means to weave. Even Jesus was a τεκτων (tekton), an assembler or joiner; not a "carpenter" but a technician. All this also explains king Solomon's famous flying carpet.
The Temple of YHWH, from its most seminal inception as the burning bush (the word for bush is סנה, seneh, hence the name Sinai, of the mountain where the law was first issued) to the grand city of New Jerusalem, has always been the world's ever waxing hub of eleutheria. From it has always flowed the software — rules that always work the same for everybody — that allowed flat-footers to shuffle out a highway in the emotional wilderness: the perfect path of progression toward cohabitation with the Creator (Isaiah 40:3). From that hub has always flowed any civil law, technological (scientific) law and information technology, from the alphabet to the postal service and finally the Internet. The software of our human world converges upon a Theory of Everything but whatever is done upon any imperfect platform that is formed from an imperfect understanding of Grand Unification is stored only temporarily but quickly erased and ultimately forever forgotten.
🔼Etymology of the name Mammon
The etymology of the name Mammon is widely reported to be a mystery, but that's not true either. All things related to the European mind are named by words that derive from the vast Proto-Indo-European root "men-", conveniently meaning to think — hence words like mind, mentor, mental, mnemonic and reminiscence, but also money and monster, comment, amnesty and automatic (i.e. self-thinking), mania and mantra, monument, museum and music and mystery — the latter words relate to the Greek word for mouse, namely μυς (mus), which is the proverbial flat-footer, home-builder and thus meditating mystic.
Here at Abarim Publications we further hold that the celebrated Greek mind and all words associated to it, are not native to Europe but were imported from the ever generous Semites (see our article on the Many Hebrew roots of the Greek Language).
Our "name" Mammon is not a name but a generic term that occurs all over the Aramaic Talmud, spelled variously as ממונא (mamona'), ממונ (mamon), מהמון (mamon), המון (hamon), and המה (hama). The leading מ־ (mem-) is a very common particle that indicates agency (place where, instrument of, person who). The final ־ון (-on) is a very common suffix that makes a tangible individual out of an abstract continuum (like certain diminutives do in Greek).
When YHWH initiates the great covenant with Abraham, of which Christ would be the fulfillment (Galatians 3:7), he first poses a challenge: "'Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be'" (Genesis 15:5). The verb YHWH uses is ספר (sapar), to create a record (noun ספר, seper, means book).
Two chapters prior, YHWH told Abram: "I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered" (Genesis 13:16). And in this context he uses the verb מנה (mana), to count or number. From this latter verb comes the beef of our name:
The interrogative pronoun מן (man) means "what?" but the preposition מן (min) means "out of" or "from". The latter is often deployed as prefix, in which only the מ (m) is written. Nouns formed from "מ plus root" commonly describe an "agent" or "place-of" whatever the action of the root describes.
The core function of these words is to distinguish an entity from its environment: hence to distinguish. In Proto-Indo-European appears a strikingly similar root, namely men-, from which we get words like mnemonic and mind (and money).
Verb מנה (mana) means to count or assign or partition (to demarcate a thing from where it emerged from). Nouns מנה (mana) and מנת (menat) mean portion or part. Noun מנה (maneh) is a unit of weight; the mina. And noun מנה (moneh) means time (not clock time but as in ten "times").
Noun מן (men) describes a harp string and is an Aramaic loan word.
This root מנה (mana), to count, ties logically into the verb אמן ('aman), to affirm:
The verb אמן ('aman) means to affirm or support. The familiar adverb אמן ('amen), its lesser known feminine version אמנה ('omna) and the plural variant אמנם ('umnam) mean verily or truly.
Noun אמן ('omen) means faithfulness and noun אמנה ('amana) means faith or support. Noun אמן ('omman) denotes a skilled or "true" worker. Noun אמן ('emun) means trusting or faithfulness. Noun אמונה ('emuna) means firmness, steadfastness or fidelity. And noun אמנה ('omna) means a bringing up or nourishment.
And it also ties into ימן (ymn), south, east or right (to illustrate: the noun σκοτος, skotos, means darkness, gloom, north and west):
The root ימן (ymn) is of unclear pedigree and meaning but it has to do with both the right hand side and the southern direction, which are both decidedly positive (whereas left and north have negative connotations). This also indicates that one normally faces east, which corresponds to the past.
Noun ימין (yamin) means right, i.e. right hand, side or the right of other parts of the body. Adjective ימיני (yemini) meaning on the right. Verb ימן (yaman) means to go or choose the right or use the right hand. Adjective ימני (yemani) meaning right hand or right. Noun תימן (teman) meaning south.
The difference between the statement of Genesis 13:16, which uses מנה (mana), and that of Genesis 15:5, which uses ספר (sapar), is the Logos, who is introduced as an active character in the story in Genesis 15:1. The Logos is obviously eternal (John 1:1) but assumes a string of human compatible forms according to man's ability to receive him. Most famously, the Logos becomes a whole human being in Jesus, but the first manifestation of Immanuel (means God With Us) exists as early as in the generation of Enosh, the son of Seth and grandson of Adam (Genesis 4:26). This same Logos becomes an intelligible "voice" to Abram, and a visible fire to Moses.
The name Mammon means Perfect Permanent Record or Strength In Numbers. He is the secretary of polytheism and embodies any attempt to accumulate onto perfection, from the Tower of Babel to Science — which is not to say that science is a vice because it obviously isn't, and a life without science is rather ill advised (Luke 14:28-33 see 1 Kings 4:33-34, 1 Thessalonians 5:21, Romans 1:20). But science must always serve the unity of the whole of humanity (Ephesians 4:1-6, John 17:20-23, Genesis 12:3), even the unity of the whole of life (Isaiah 40:5, Genesis 9:10, Romans 8:22) and never be a goal onto itself (see Ephesians 3:19 and Philippians 4:7).
Mammon embodies the self-seeking center of polytheism: the philosophy of strength in numbers, which glorifies the strong and sacrifices the weak, and opposes the notion that a righteous individual is stronger than an army of well-stocked soldiers (2 Kings 6:16, Ecclesiastes 7:19, Psalm 20:7), and the prayer of a righteous man more effective than the calculations of the brightest mathematicians (1 Chronicles 21:1, James 5:16, see Zechariah 4:6).
Ultimately, Mammon is the god-of-self: that aspect of human consciousness that aims to bring about one's own salvation (even when this means the destruction of others) and denies God (Job 19:25) or the crucial importance of loving one's neighbor as oneself (Matthew 22:38-39), irrespective of one's neighbor's leanings, concerns or choice of pleasures (Philippians 2:3-4).