History of God (Yahweh)?

I recently saw a documentary with that same title and I also did some research on it and many scholars and archeologist agree with it. Basically it said that Yahweh was originally a god developed by the Canaanites, and that there were certain groups of people who worshiped him. Eventually a group of people known as the Israelite rose up internally and peacefully among the Canaanites and adopted Yahweh as their national god and started combining him with another Canaanite god knows as El and still worshiping gods alongside the worship of Yahweh. Eventually the Assyrians conquered them and had a belief that, though there were still many gods, there was one god who had ultimate power over them and only he was to be worshiped. A group of Israelites wanted to show their national pride against this by saying that their national god Yahweh was the actual fully powerful god and that all other gods were weak. They went on to invent the story’s of Moses and Abraham and the stuff about the Judges to show that Yahweh was the most powerful god. Or if they did exist they probably held to the same belief the Isrealites had first held but the group of Isrealites changed their storys. Eventually prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and others had started to preach monotheism to the Israelites and that Yahweh was the only god. The belief of monotheism was influenced upon them even more by the Persian Zoroastrians who were monotheist. A few decades after their release from captivity monotheism was made an official position among the Jews…

I really don’t know how to respond to this. I am not Catholic scholar so I need help trying to refute this stuff. Any help here?

You may not have to refute the stuff (other than the allegation that the Moses and Abraham stories were invented; that’s not likely although they may have come down to us from oral development but they were true historical people).

It is indeed very likely that Yahweh and El were indeed part of the Canaanite pantheon and that Israel acquired Yahweh as the national god, and eventually merged him with El. It is also very likely that pre-exilic Israel and Judah were henotheistic, i.e. they worshipped only one God, the God of Israel, but did not deny the existence of other, lesser gods, such as the Baals and the Asherahs or the gods of the neighbouring nations. It was only after the Exile that Israelite religion became strictly monotheistic.

For us Catholics, none of that poses a problem because we know that God revealed himself gradually to humanity until the fullness of time. He did not reveal himself fully to the Canaanites, so they worshipped him the best they could. He didn’t even reveal himself fully to Israel all at once. Clearly God eventually revealed himself to be the Yahweh they worshipped, much like Paul preached to the Athenians that the Unknown God they also worshipped alongside their own pantheon is the One True God.

You just need to understand the truth that first Abraham and then Moses both existed - follow the line of Prophets and read around them, about the tribes and the different beliefs, but keeping central your line of ancestry. We know that God introduced Himself gradually over time, and His name became more personal as time went on, and this is how relationships work: people become more familiar the better we get to know them. Do please also be aware that there are many documentaries and many writers of documentaries often have personal agendas who look to disprove rather than to seek the truth which is an erroneous starting place - some documentaries about Christianity are to be avoided like the plague! :slight_smile:

It was probably even more complicated than this since after the period of henotheism there were about twenty competing forms of Judaism. The development of the understanding of G-d according to monotheistic belief was not only a vertically linear progression but also a horizontal one.

El is a generic word for god that could be used for any god, including Hadad, Moloch, or Yahweh.


en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Canaanite_deities does not list YHWH as god. Eli is generic.

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