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THE NAME OF GOD
by Robert W. Hill, P.G.H.P.
DELIVERED BY ROBERT W. HILL, P.G.H.P., INDIAN TERRITORY, BEFORE GRAND CHAPTER, ROYAL ARCH MASONS, AT MUSKOGEE, Indian Territory (Later Oklahoma), AUG. 13, 1896.
The mission of Masonry has to do with the dissemination of Truth and its history as well as with its conservation, and it is by the study of the past that we are prepared to forecast the future. We seek the progress of humanity and the moral welfare of men, and we are glad of the special encouragement which Masonry gives to the study of the arts and sciences, but to understand Masonry we must study Man himself and observe the growth and intellectual progress which precede the higher civilization. Out of the past come to us the records which speak of man's struggle with his environments, of his efforts to solve the riddles of life, of the gradual lifting up of his thoughts from the concerns of earthly existence, until at last we read of his strong determination to know all that may be known of the Grand Architect of the Universe. The birth and development of the idea of God is worthy of our study, and it has a direct relation to Masonry, for through it we may trace one of the reasons for the existence of the Fraternity. The youngest Entered Apprentice is taught to reverently bow at the name of God, and the dulling ears of the gray-haired veteran finds in the Name a consolation such as no other word can bring to his soul. From infancy to old age we are made Conscious of the goodness of our Creator, and we look to the Divine Being for guidance and preservation in all our trials and perplexities. He is the inspiration of our work, and in Him is our hope for eternity. But He was not always known as we now know him, and so, as illustrated in the Hebrew records, we may find help in an examination of the growth of the idea the name now represents.
Masonic Legends cluster around the ancient Hebrews, and much of what is best in it is so linked with their history and heroes that its teachings would be shorn of their moral power if the elements drawn from the Biblical history were eliminated. It is for this reason that any attempt to trace the growth of the moral and religious conceptions must receive a degree of welcome, even though the conclusions arrived at be not altogether in accord with our previously formed impressions. The ethics of Masonry are found in the teachings of Scripture, even though we may not regard Solomon as the first Grand Master. Its mysteries are linked with the highest ideals which it is possible for the human mind to conceive, and around these the system of initiation has drawn the veil of allegory. Yet the idea of Brotherhood, like the idea of God's Fatherhood, finals its roots in the long ago, and we trace it back through ceremony and symbol to the teachings received by the chosen people whom Moses led out of bondage, if not to an earlier age. It is my purpose to- day to examine the growth and gradual enlargement of the idea of God held by the ancient Hebrews and perhaps it may possess something of interest from the fact that it is a departure from the set themes which have heretofore been chosen for addresses to our Grand Lodge. At least those who follow the thought which is embodied in the subject will find ample reason for the choice of subject on this occasion when so many are gathered who honor the Name above every name.
Let us examine the ancient Hebrew Concept of God.
We say that the true progress of any people is usually to be measured by the enlargement which its concepts evidence from time to time. In the earlier periods when the tribe or nation is lifting itself into culture and power its concepts are usually narrow, and differ but little from those held by neighboring peoples, but as national life expands and brings into action, through contact with other nations, all the energies of the people, the concepts also broaden and take on subtler meanings. Thus it was with Greece and Rome, thus it has been with modern nations, and thus it was also with the descendants of the Patriarchs as their national life expanded through the centuries. In those days of semi-anarchy when the tribes were seeking to establish themselves in the Promised Land, their political, social and religious concepts were narrow and admitted of only narrow interpretations, but in later times when trials and triumphs, conquest and thraldom had done their work, the Hebrew mind entered into a richer life, and began to regard all things from a higher and purer standpoint. To the wandering herdsmen of the wilderness, as probably to the patriarchal ancestors, the concepts of the True, the Beautiful and the Good, were only dimly outlined, but to the great Prophets and religious teachers of later centuries they were mirrored boldly and in content hardly surpassed in later ages. It is interesting to trace the growth of the grandest ideal held by this people, for to them we are indebted for much of what we hold as best in our present thought of God, which, after all, is but the full flower promised by the ancient bud.
The two leading names for Deity which continually occur in the Old Testament, with the meaning which they now contain, help us to understand the religious transformations through which the Jewish race passed before their conceptions of God were rounded in the revelations of His nature which are embodied in the teachings of Christ. The ancient generic term is EL or ELOAH, both of which are singular; ELOHIM is the plural form. One curious thing about this term is that while the plural form is generally used, it is always with a verb form in the singular, and for this reason some grammarians term the plural form of the name the plural of excellence or majesty, anti find in it a symbolic suggestion of the Trinity. It is probable, howsoever, that the plural form carries us back to the infancy of the Semitic and Aramaen stock when polytheism prevailed, and that the use of the singular verb marks the triumph of theism over fetishism and the final absorption into one idea of the attributes which had before been embodied in the many gods of the people. When the process of growth, growth it must be called, had reached a certain stage in the development of the people, there followed the natural attachment of the tribal specific names to the ideals embodied in the term ELOHIM. The Hebrew specific name in the Old Testament is JEHOVA, and it, with its special meaning, marked the greatest advancement along the lines of national intellectual uplift. Before proceeding further it is well at this point to say that in spite of the assertion of many to the contrary, the idea of God seems to be a part of the primal possession of all peoples and all ages. Whatever its form, the idea is in the mind of men in some shape.
So far as the concept of God in the Old Testament is concerned, it does not matter what position we take; whether that it was a part of the primal investment, and as such was distributed alike to all people after the Fall, or whether we look upon all religious development as an evolution from a primary concept, which begun its growth after the Fall, the fact that no people have ever been discovered entirely destitute of the idea leads most scholars to the conclusion that it has been part of the inheritance with which humanity was invested wallets men began to be upon the earth. The Scriptures teach that the knowledge of God was with man in his period of innocence, and also that it accompanied him when he passed out from Eden, but it does not declare that it was with him at the time of his creation. The records of the creative works of God which relate to man seem to imply a long period between the creation and the Fall, during which man was imbibing knowledge, and developing into what we find him when the Temptation begins. It is thus possible to look upon the idea of God as a slow growth from a feeble germ with which man began existence. It hardly seems probable that the concept was fully rounded out even at so late a time as that given to the Temptation, for had it been it would have been impossible for the Serpent to have so easily prevailed over man and caused the Fall. It is thus possible also to reconcile different theories with the facts as we find them and as they are told in the Scriptural narratives. It is probable there have been several great stages of religious thought, with the idea of God as the goal, such as seem to have been the experience after the Fall. These were: 1st. A stage of Atheism; that is, not a denial of God's existence, but a period during which there was an absence of any definite ideas on the subject, a period of slow development during which man was so engrossed with the great task of subduing the earth, that he had little time or inclination to think upon anything not directly connected with his daily task. 2nd. The stage during which the concept of God dawns, or rather forces itself upon the attention. The merely animal feels the checks of the spiritual. This is the period of Fetichism. Man believes that he can force the Deity he dimly recognizes to bend to his wishes and comply with his desires. We find this stage of development with all that it implies still upon the earth and we are enabled to measure its power. The third stage brings in the period of Nature-worship or Totemism, during which natural objects, such as trees, animals, mountains, and even the sun, moon and stars are worshipped. Then for the fourth stage comes the recognition of the superior power of the deities and Shamanism, or Priestcraft, with its idea of the intercessory power of the Shaman, or priest, controls the mind, for it is supposed that the abodes of the superior deities are far removed, and none may attain to them save through the good-will of the Shaman, who is gifted with the keys to the divine dwelling place. This is the beginning of the stages of Anthromorphism, which, when entered into completely, finds the gods still more thoroughly invested with the nature of Man, but endowed now with resistless powers. The gods are conceived of as a part of Nature, but still able to control it; they are amenable to reason, and may be swayed by the persuasions of their votaries. They are represented by images embodying to some extent the human ideas as to their power and nature. In this stage advancement is clearly shown by the forms chosen to embody the ideals of the Divine, and thus in it we have a progression from the awful images found in Indian and Mexican temples to those wonderful attempts of the Grecian mind to portray divinity through the idealized human form. The Hebrews reached eventually the final stage when God becomes the Author of and not merely a part of Nature. In this stage he becomes for the first time a really supernatural being. When this conception is fully formed in the mind, morality becomes a necessary part of religion, and men strive to model themselves after the ideal of perfection which they associate with their concept of Deity. It is thus step by step that man progresses from the state of ignorance and indifference to that m which the knowledge of God becomes the aim of life and the source of all true happiness.
The difference between this kind of evolution and that which makes man's progress a return to a former fully rounded concept, a slow recovery of what has been lost, is of course great, but one can hold either view and still find himself within Scripture bounds, for in the Scriptures the progress of man is sketched in the barest outline and not given in detail. As the Bible deals in detail chiefly with a part of the history of the Chosen people, rather than with the history of the race, we find incidental confirmation of this doctrine of a slow development of the concept of God in the gradual advancement which the chosen people made toward the monotheistic conception which was general among the Hebrews in the time of Christ. We find it also in those slight details concerning other people which are scattered here and there through the various books. From these it would appear that the call of Abraham was to break away from such conceptions of the Divine nature as were held commonly by all the people of his time, and that his special mission was to establish a peculiar people in whom there might be developed such ideals as would prepare the way for the manifestation of God in Christ.
THE WORD "GOD"
Max Muller, in his "Science of Language," says that "it is impossible to give a satisfactory etymology of either of the words 'God,' or 'good,' but that it is clear that these two words which run parallel, but never meet in all the dialects based on the Teutonic, can not be traced back to one central point. 'God' was most likely an old heathen name for a tribal deity, and for such a name the supposed etymological meaning of 'good' would be far too abstract, too modern, and too Christian." It has been a favorite thought in connection with our modern use of the term God, that it was based on the fundamental idea of Goodness, and that it could be taken as an embodiment of an ancient ideal of perfection in which the conception of perfect goodness governed all other conceded elements in the Divine Nature. But, as Muller has shown, we are too apt to read into the ancient words our modem conceptions, especially when we can, by so doing, bolster up some favorite theological dogma of our own. Because we find words nearly alike in form or sound we jump to the conclusion that they must of necessity have come from the same root, and therefore embrace the same fundamental idea. It is true that in this case we now give to the words meanings which bring them into relationship, but it is probably true that originally the term "God" was a local name for some Teutonic powerful tribal deity, which name gradually received a more extended application until it finally ripened into the grand conception with which it is now associated, and which has made it the greatest word in our language, as the conception it now embodies is the greatest man is capable of entertaining.
THE HEBREW NAMES
Let us now return to our direct examination of the words or names which in general use embodied the popular thought of Deity. ELOHIM, the generic name, occurring rarely in the singular, is found more than two thousand times in the plural, and always with a verb in the singular. According to Gesenius, EL is the earlier form, and was perhaps originally nothing more than a special name for some particular local deity, which short form in time grew into the later and longer form, although this was never used to the exclusion of the shorter and earlier word. It is possible that like the Chaldaic word BEL, the Babylonian form of BAAL, the Phoenician Sun- god and chief deity, EL had at first as its root meaning "Master" or "Professor," or "High One," "Exalted" (compare AL, summit), from which meanings the transition to the later meanings and use to which it was applied was easy. I am aware of the etymological difficulty which attends the connection of these words, for while BEL is not only similar in sound to BAAL, it is also like it in form. EL is in form no way similar to BAAL, but is near to AL. It is possible that in the wonderful experiences of the Hebrew people, including among the Hebrew people the ancestral Aramaen stock from whence that people came, there arose a necessity for a deliberate alteration of the form though not the sound of the words associated with the idea of Deity, in order to emphasize the difference between the Phoenecian and Hebrew ideals. Thus Ain would become Aleph, which often occurred. However this may be, it is beyond dispute that the term EL was not held in as high esteem as the specific name of JEHOVAH, for it was used at times in connection with false gods (Exodus xix :20, xxxii :31, Jeremiah ii:II ); it was applied to spirits and supernatural beings (I. Sam. xxviii:13), and even to kings, judges and magistrates, who are held to be vicegerents of God (Ex. xxi:6, xxii:8, Psalm Ixxxii:1, and elsewhere) . In all of these instances where it is used it carries with it the primary idea of lordship, and indicates that a familiarity with this meaning was common among the people. It would also seem evident that the term EL was seldom regarded as a sufficient characterization, for it is generally coupled with some qualifying word which adds power to the generic name. Thus when Melchizedek speaks to Abram he uses the name EL ELYON (God Most High), while Abram in his answer still further amplifies the name by the addition of JEHOVAH (Gen. xiv:19), as though there might be a difference in the conception of Deity held by the two. If it be said that the Scriptures declare that Abram did not know God by His name of Jehova, it can only be said that the term is put in his mouth as part of his speech to Melchizedek, and it must be the task of some one at some other time to handle the question of Redaetor, Elohist and Jehovist. Here we refer to it to show that the meaning of "lordship" and "possession" is attached to the use of EL, and its compounds, indicating its close affinity to the Phoenician concept of EAAL, for you will notice that in the ascription of power in the blessing of Abram, Melchizedek distinctly uses the further term of amplification, "Possessor," which is sometimes translated as "Maker," anal so given in the margin of the Revised Version. In the vision of Abram, when the future greatness of the Chosen people was revealed to him, Abram uses the name JEHOVA again, but couples it with the term "ADONAI," or Lord, evidently going back to the original concept, but using another term than EL. If these terms were put into Abram's mouth in later times, it is apparent that so far as the time of the writer was concerned the people entertained no doubt as to the content of the name ELOHIM, and used it in the same sense of the writers of antiquity, as requiring more or less of amplification to make it identical with the specific name JEHOVAH. We have seen this in the case of Melchizedek, and EL ELYON, and we find it again in the use of the name EL SHADAI, as when Abraham was ninety-nine years of age. This name, so frequently used in the Old Testament, carries with it the concept of Omnipotence, and makes a strong contrast to the recognized weakness of the country gods. Thus also in Deut. x:17 we have a perfect identification of ELOHIM with power, where He is said to be "JEHOVAH your ELOHIM," who is a "ELOHIM of ELOHIM," and a "great ELOHIM," "ADONAI of ADONAIS," a recognition of the attribute which was most nearly associated with perfection in the Hebrew mind, and like the other qualifications of the term EL it was an indication of growth, and of clearer perception of the Divine nature.
Another application of the root idea is found in the use of the word for tree, "Ela," to be strong, especially of palm and oak; "exalted" and "durable," where the word Elon is used. In the plural we have for groves the word "Elim" (Palms) which became in a double sense appropriate when trees were adored and the groves became the seats of public worship, similar in kind to the cult of the Baal Bamoth. Of course, in time the root meaning of such words as these became lost to the common minds, and only those meanings were recognized which were directly identified with the latter usage. This was certainly the case with the word "Terephim," which at first when it appears has the meaning of household gods. These might be small enough to be carried concealed in a saddle, but later we find them at least as large as a man, for the wife of David uses one to deceive those sent by her father, to seize her husband, and as it lay in the bed upon which they looked it must have been as large as a man, or it would have failed of its purpose. Perhaps, like images of Hermes, they were often only a bust on a pedestal, but it is likely that they generally were large enough to fulfill all the purposes of a family Ephod or idol, always ready for consultation. As they were part of the furniture of David's house, and also of Jacob's, and were so highly prized by them all, it is certain that at first the idea of God held by these men and others of their times was flexible enough to admit what afterwards was made the subject of the most stringent prohibitive legislation. A household image of EL later could not be tolerated, for the idea of God had gained in definiteness, and more perfect spirituality.
The name of Baal Berith in Judges 9:46 is evidently intended to be the same as El Eerith in the eighth chapter and thirty- third verse, and this will bear out the contention that "El" and "Baal" are common names for the same conception of Lordship and also show that it was not out of place to apply either of the names. Certainly if the idea contained in Baal was altogether repugnant to the Hebrew concept of God there were frequent and unexpected departures from the right application of the term. Even Gideon was called Jerubbaal (Baal contends), while Saul named one of his sons Ishbaal (the man of Baal), and Jonathan's son was named Meribbaal. A father would scarcely put his own son under the ban by affixing a name conveying an evil impression, which would be the case were the compounds of Baal indicative of proscribed worships If El Berith and Baal Berith are acceptably synonymous and connect the two terms El and Ball in acceptable and interchangeable relations, these must have been understood to have existed elsewhere in the common usage of the people. It thus would have been as proper then for Haggar to have used the name "Baal Roi," for "God of seeing," as the name "El Roi," which she did use. In her time and with the feebler concept which was then held, there would have been no disrespect shown by the use of such a name as Baal from a woman filled with gratitude for a special deliverance from a greater danger. The close relation in the popular mind between the two terms would have made the use of either an indication of great thankfulness for relief. God saw her and heard her prayer, and she called Him by the name most familiar to her, while the other would have been used by another person of that time under similar circumstances.
THE SPECIAL NAME JEHOVA
We come now to a consideration of the Special name used by the Hebrews to designate God. We are not so much at a loss as to the root meaning of the word JEHOVA. Whatever may have been the method of pronouncing the name, we have the idea of Beings Existence, independent of causation and as essential to the nature of God. This name in its several forms was to the Jews the great and sacred Name of such wonderful import. Its utterance was so strongly prohibited that at last its rightful pronunciation was lost, and we are left with no clue to the mystery. The sounds of the vowel points of the other names of God, "ELOHIM" and "ADONAI," were used instead of the rightful name, in consequence of misinterpreting Ex. 20:7, Lev. 24:11, 15, Deut. 28:58, and others. What the real vowels and consequently the proper pronunciation should be, is not known. It is probable that, like EL, this name was either of Phoenician or Aramaen origin, and when appropriated received an added meaning. Etymologically it is closely related to the Phoenician name for the Sun-god "IOA," which Name was also used in Chalelaic in the same form of "IOA" for "The Intelligent Light," and the transition from this idea to that of "I am that I Am" - Self Existence or Pure Being - was easy and natural. The Egyptian temple of Isis at Sais had this inscription: "I am what was, and is, and is to come. No mortal hath yet unveiled me." Compare, "Jesus the same yesterdays to-day and forever," and Rev. 1:4, with the meaning given to Moses at the Burning Bush. It is the other contents of the concept in this name which indicate the great advancement which use assures. In its enlarged meaning EL became the "Master," "Maker," and "Possessor," but while heaven and earth are His, there is no trace of close appropriation and special relation. Other nations had "ELOHIM" in common with the Hebrews, and were as much entitled to their protection but the use of the new special name with its larger content introduces the idea of Hebrew independence. JEHOVAH to them is the National God, and as such He is conceived of as above all other gods; and as for the nation it should know no others. He becomes the "Preserver" of the nation, and sustains a peculiar relation of intimacy with all of the stock of Abraham. He becomes naturally the Theocratic Ruler, the "First and the Last," still more the "ONLY TRUE GOD," the Ever-Living "Defender," the "LORD OF HOSTS." Intimately associated with the name of JEHOVAH, all of the legislation of the nation was based on the Theocratic idea. The supreme civil rule, whether Lawgiver, Military Leader, Judge or King, all were the vicegerents of JEHOVAH, and the High Priest was His spokesman, as were also the Prophets appearing from time to time in the crises of the national life. The explicit declaration that the name JEHOVA was not known until its revelation to Moses at the Burning Bush involves us in a difficulty which vanishes when we agree with the higher critics that this statement is part of the late Priestly Code, and reflects only a backward light along the course of history. But it is not necessary to resort to this dismemberment of the Book, for it is possible to find in the development of the Hebrew ideal from the time of the Patriarchs sufficient advancement to make the name practically new, and certainly new as to its content. There is a vast difference between the name of a merely local god, even the "God of the Thunderstorm," such as JEHOVAH evidently was originally, and that larger concept of Leadership, and Omnipotent Beings endowed with the specific attributes of Righteousness and Holiness, and sustaining such close relations to all the details of government which became the content of the Name later.
THE INNER MEANING
What then is the later inner meaning of the chosen name of Deity given to Moses at the Mount? "HIH" is the imperfect tense of the very TO BE, of which the present tense form is "IHIH." By apocopated form the first person is "IHI." The meaning was a growth.
We learn that the name itself then was a symbol of Creation, an anagram, and that in the special forms in which it was sometimes written was embodied the conception of the union of God with His creations, as expressed in the Universe. The letter H was considered to be the agent of Almighty power, and as this was found in all the pronouns which designated sex, and was also more than any other Ietter in evidence in the special Divine name, it was felt that the great mystery of Fatherhood and Motherhood, the idea of power of reproduction was concealed in the Name. As other religions were based on Nature worship, and as that was most familiar to those who had been under the influence of Egypt, and who were environed by tribes whose worship was of the same sexual type, the Israelites doubtless in the earliest times made the name JEHOVAH contain much of the dogma with which they were most familiar. A reversal of the letters gave the personal sex pronouns, the male and female, and thus they could contemplate with the concept of Being that thought which in Egypt was wrapped up in the names "Isis," "Osiris" and Chorus," and which, in the land of their own inheritance, confronted them in the yearly feasts of the Canaanites and veiled itself in the lamentations of the women over the death of "Tammuz," slain in the darkness of the North. In JEHOVAH all sex was contained, hence none could be slain, and all had continuing life. He was therefore the only True God, as the only one not subject to evil power.
Moses learned in Egypt the doctrine of God as Eternal, Invisible, Omniscient, Just and Powerful. Those attributes attached themselves to the "Jehovah" of the Mountains, and henceforth were part of the concept. The Mountain and Desert tribes knew "Jehovah," but to them He was the "God of the Thunderstorm," "the God of Lightning." We believe this, because it seems reasonable to suppose that as Moses found the name "JEHOVAH" at the Burning Bush in the Sianitic region where he lived for so many years, that the name was familiar to the people who lived thereabout, who were probably of the same original stock as Israel, and more, that it could not have been an unfamiliar name to the enslaved Hebrews in Egypt, for it was to be to them the assurance of the Divine approval of their Exodus. It was to be a Name to establish immediate confidence, and must have meant to the Children of Israel a powerful protector, more than the equal of the united gods of Egypt. Evidently the name JEHOVAH represented to them the most powerful deity, who, while especially located at Sinai (as there it was that He had directly manifested Himself), yet was both able and willing to exert His power in behalf of the descendants of the Patriarchs. This idea of habitat or localization was held by the Hebrews fear a long time, and finds frequent expression. It was perhaps for this reason that they were so ready to take their journey into "the wilderness," knowing that they were going to the Mount of God, and could there enter into covenant relations with Him. Perhaps also, because of this idea of relation to the region of the great mountain, the association of the name "Adonai," the equivalent of "Moloch," or "Adonis," came into general use, for "Adonis" was a term for a principal god all along the coast which was dominated by the great Desert mountain. If the term "OLAM" (eternal) could be applied to BAAL, BEL, MOLOCH, and ADONAI, it would of course be part of the enlarged concept of JEHOVAH, when all the attributes of these powerful deities were passed over to him as the proper attributes of the National God.
THE SUN GOD
In Egypt, when Israel was led by Moses, the sun-god was "Ammon-Ra," for while Ammon, the supreme, was originally the "concealed god," and regarded like Jupiter as "the father of gods and men," he became associated in the common mind with "Ra," and the two were recognized in the Sun. "Ammon-Ra" was thus the equivalent of "Appollo," the sungod of the Greeks, and "Baal," the sun-god of the Phoenecians, and "Bel," the sun-god of Babylon, and "Asshur," the sun-god of the Assyrians, while he also contained the enlarged idea of supremacy with which the Greeks and Romans invested their "Zeus" and "Jupiter." The Persian "Mithra," the god of fire and light, and thus the sun-god, was not represented by images, but in all these other instances where the names indicated that substantially the same belief obtained, the "Ephod" or image was a necessary part of the furniture of the Temple) a more approachable representation of the Deity than the fierce and distant sun. The Persians conceived also of a Creator who was beyond and superior to the sun, and of whom the glorious sun was a symbol - "Ahura-Mazda," or "Ormudz," who was "invisible and eternal and righteous," a far loftier conception than that embodied in Jupiter. To this Persian concept doubtless the Jews owed much of the content of their own later thought of Deity. As commerce and other relations were close for many centuries, it is reasonable to suppose that what was best and loftiest was appropriated anal made part of the concept of JEHOVAH. As the loftiest thought and most advanced ideals were there found, it was to be expected that the developing Nation would make use of the intellectual conquests of the other. It was this discriminating and extensive appropriation of ideas which finally completed the Hebrew concept of the Most High.
SACRIFICE AND WORSHIP
Another side-light slowing development concerns the recognition of human sacrifice, which under certain conditions, was not only allowable at first but was to be commended. The cruel sacrifice of the male firstborn to "Moloch" or ''Adonis'' among the Hebrews was commuted by the consecration of the first-born to the service of JEHOVAH, and by exchange made the Levites servants (slaves) of JEHOVAH, bound to His service, and with their lives at His disposal. That the first-born were not slain was not because the rite was altogether abhorrent, for even in late times it was common, but because, as in the case of Abraham, a substitute was provided, both for person and for worsen. There was no substitute for Jeptha's daughters In the mails, it can hardly be denied that the cult associated with the name JEHOVAH was due largely, so far as form was concerned, to the influence of the Canaanite and Egyptian people, the former always active until fully absorbed in Israel. But sacrifice and worship was the bond between the children of Israel and their God, and as JEHOVAH was their God, and not the God of any other people, whatever was borrowed from the Canaanites or other nations became holy, when it was used only to still further honor Him, and make His presence and power more manifest. The idea of sacrifice among the Baal worshippers was that it partook of the nature of a bribe to turn away anger, or a gift to win favor, and the ordinary mind among the Hebrews so associated these thoughts with the sacrificial service to JEHOVAH, that it had to be clearly and constantly taught that the most acceptable service was not sacrifice but heart service and holiness. Until the element of personal righteousness entered into the scheme of life as that which would make men most acceptable to JEHOVAH, because most like Him, the worship of Israel differed but little except in name from the worship of BAAL or ADONIS, or BEL, or RA. It was the enlarged conception of the nature of God which worked the complete change, but the change needed centuries. Even until the time of Christ the influence of the early cult inherited from the Canaanites was discernible. For one thing, the rise of the priestly office itself, evidenced the influence of the BAAS cult, for until in late times the priestly function in sacrifice and prayer was part of the investiture of the head of the household It was when it became necessary to hear the voice of the Oracle that some consecrated person was called in, and generally in early times this was a person who possessed an "Ephod," or image of God, but when the concept of JEHOVAH was filled out by the absorption or adoption of the desirable attributes of other gods, the development of a settled priesthood and an orderly service was natural. As long as Israel was nomadic it was not possible to have more than the germ of the magnificent service which grew into completeness with the permanent location of shrines and temples.
For a simple wandering people the simplest form of altar was sufficient, and the sacrifice one which could be offered by any person. This was at first in the nature of a meal provided for JEHOVAH, of which the offerer partook with all his household as guests of God. These simple essentials were enough to give scope to the reverent feelings of the soul, and renew the bond between JEHOVAH and His people. Worship then was in simple form, without money and without price or toll to priestly intercessor, totally unlike what it became in those later years when a numerous priesthood held the keys of heaven and made worship a matter of much cost to the worshipper and of gain to the priest who officiated. The Patriarchs had built up their rude altars wherever the spirit moved them, and the names which they gave to them were indicative of the spiritual experience through which they had passed in that place, but later on when the growth of Priesthood and the broadened concept of God led to an amplified ritual of worship, the early freedom which prompted men to build simple altars was lost, and the more elaborate ritual required instead the maintenance of the great Temple even at the sacrifice of the earlier shrines. The thought was if JEHOVAH could be induced to leave the Mount of Manifestation, His favorite abode, it would be when He had a suitable House for a habitation, a House more perfect in all its appointments than any which had ever been erected to BAAL or other of the country gods. To maintain such a Temple and its Priesthood properly would require the united support of all the people, and the abolition of local Temples (Bamoth), which were, after the manner of the Canaanites, common on the high places and in the groves throughout the land. The presence of JEHOVAH sanctified the Temple above all other shrines, and made it the peculiarly appropriate place for all the people to worship, and made certain the voice of the Oracle to those who ha(l desire to consult it. Thus when the Temple was completed and all the courses of priestly service fully established, the influence of the Temple enlarged the concept of God held by the people and finally led to a partial abandonment of the simpler practices which, in the earlier times, were associated with the name EL. The people had then left the more simple service, with a more simple Name, and its concept, and yet had carried into the enlarged service all of the more valuable elements pertaining to the older. Thus it is still possible to see in the Temple the necessary development of what had gone before. But the Temple itself was mainly a reproduction of the older Temple of Baal in its forts as well as in the arrangement of much of its ceremonial, and it is this power of adaptation and of appropriation of all that was best in what had gone before, which made the strength of the Jehovistic worship. It was as though out of the mire and filth of idolatry the jewel of faith was rescued and was made to do service in the adornment of true worship. The Targum says that originally "Abraham was called from the service and worship of the stars in order that the nation to be born from him might be established in the worship of Him who made the stars, and Arab tradition has it that even in their own land it was hard to hold back the people from the worship of the heavenly bodies until in the Temple they behold the glory of JEHOVAH. Out of the false beliefs, the superstitions and vanities which environed them, and by the natural yet slow process of growth and absorption of whatever was found most fit, was built up at last that which has, in the goodness of God, resulted to the advantage of all the races and all the ages of Man. Through feebleness and uncertainty, often in conflict with those things which the world has found most degrading, yet still ever impelled by spiritual forces not apprehended at the time, the Hebrew mind was led from gross darkness into more of the divine brightness than any other people of old enjoyed.
From all this then we come to the conclusion that the special name of God meant originally only that JEHOVAH was the National God of Israel, and that it was not till late in the National development that the Name grew into the broadened conception of the God of the Universe, the only true and the only wise, besides whom was none other. It is true also that the Name became an anagram, and that even Moses allowed the people to retain many of the older ideas, the ideas of the fathers and of Egypt and that these were finally dropped, enlarged, or purified in the moral development of the Nation. In this respect Israel, then, is an example of the normal course of moral anti spiritual development through which many other people have already passed or must pass. The germ or seed thought which made development along right lines possible to them was the idea that God took a personal and direct interest in the welfare and concerns of His people. In a peculiar sense He became to the people Isarel's God to whom they could look for help in time of trouble, and whose Justice was infallible. They began National life by struggles against better equipped people for the possession of Canaan, hence the prominence of the militant ideal. JEHOVAH was a Mighty War-God - EL TSABAOTH - the Lord of Hosts, the Mighty Defender, whose presence was light and glory to Israel, but darkness and disaster to all enemies. Thus the concept grew as did the Nation, until He became to them the Alpha and Omega - IOA - the All in All, not only for Israel and on Earth, but for the Universe of which He was the Creator, the Preserver, and the Destroyer, EL SHADAI, the Everlasting Father, in whom all live and move and have their being - a fitting preparation for God manifest in Christ.
Our study of the subject has led us to the following convictions:
First. That climatic and purely physical conditions affect the idea of God which men hold, and that this to a large extent conditioned the earlier concept which appears in Hebrew history.
Second. That the amplified conception of God was an evidence of mental energy, and also an indication of spiritual development, such a conception being necessarily based upon enlarged ideals only possible to those whose intellectual growth had outworn the narrower limits of the earlier age, and whose spiritual development had awakened loftier moral ideas.
Third. Every change in the National character was a direct consequence of a change in the National ideal of God, for while the change was at first an individual one, it spread so rapidly that soon it embraced the people as a whole. Moses was one man, but he was able to matte JEHOVAH a reality to all his people.
Fourth. The final Theology of the Hebrew people was a natural outgrowth of the final idea of JEHOVAH, coupled with the National development, and testifies to the strong influence of environment, as well as to the bitter experiences through which the people were called to pass.
Fifth. The ideal embodied in the name JEHOVAH has broadened and enlarged during each century since first the Name was given at the Burning Bush, and each century has had some part in shaping the final concept and has also contributed something of value to it drawn from its own experience.
Sixth. The Masonic use of the Name has been helpful to the enlargement of the concept, in that it has made the moral attributes prominent in all its work, and has sought to develop the spiritual side of men through the emphasis which it places upon the duty of worship and service, as well as by the stimulus which it gives to the study of the Divine character as exhibited in the Universe.
Seventh. The present Masonic use of the Name is meaningless if there be and departure from the homage which the principles of Masonry inculcates, and the use of the Great Light is an emphatic declaration that Masonry recognizes righteousness as the source of its power and the assurance of its continuance and prosperity, and that the protection of the Most High is given in answer to the prayer of faith, which itself is consequent upon a high ideal of the Divine Nature.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014