Friday, March 20, 2020

How far is too far?

After stone and tree worship in Israel had been classified as typically Canaanite and proscribed as such, rejection took on increasingly radical forms. The walls of the sanctuary in the preexilic temple were adorned with palm trees, and there were apparently living palm trees in the courts, marking the temple complex as a paradisiac place of life (see Pss 52:10; 92:13–4). At some point in the postexilic period, the trees in the temple courts were cut down, as attested by a text written around 100 BCE and attributed to the Greek author Hecataeus of Abdera. There was no trace of any plant or sacred grove, as Flavius Josephus proudly reports (Against Apion 1.199). This process may seem strange to us, if not repugnant. The fear of being seen as worshippers of wood or the like often led to a completely insensitive relationship with nature.— Othmar Keel in Divine Doppelgängers: YHWH’s Ancient Look-Alikes, p. 39

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