Departure of Mount Sinai & Canaan Religious Practices

That’s a lot of people, so who are they going to fight?

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps. 

The trumpet has a long and rich history.

It is believed that the trumpet was used as a signaling device in Ancient Egypt, Greece and the Near East.

During the Romantic period, the trumpet was evident in various forms of art such as literature and music.

But during this time, the trumpet was merely recognized as an instrument used to signal, announce, proclaim and for other relevant purposes.

It was later when the trumpet began to be considered as a musical instrument.

In Ancient times, people used materials such as animal horns or shells like a trumpet.

The trumpet was used for religious purposes by the Israelites, Tibetans and Romans.

Used for magical purposes such as warding off evil spirits.

Below, see and listen to King Tut’s two trumpets found in his tomb.

And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee. 

When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward.  

When ye blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys.

But when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm. 

And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance forever throughout your generations. 

And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies.

Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.

And it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up from off the tabernacle of the testimony.  And the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran (Num 10:1-12).

And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses’ father in law, We are journeying unto the place of which the LORD said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the LORD hath spoken good concerning Israel (Num 10:29).

Hobab said he would leave with them, but he wasn’t going to stay, he was going to take his tribe to their own land. 

“And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp. 

The top trumpet, made of bronze or copper with gold overlay, is one of three known examples of the instrument preserved from ancient Egypt, two of which were found in the tomb of Tutankhamun; the third is in the Louvre.

The bell is decorated with incised figures of the king and of three gods, all standing under the hieroglyphic sign for heaven: Ra-Harakhty (falcon-headed), Amen-Ra, and Ptah (mummified within a shrine and holding three scepters).

With the trumpet is a wooden stopper to fit the tube and bell, almost certainly either for use with a cloth as a cleaner or to prevent the instrument being damaged and thus losing its shape when not in use.

A hole at the thinner end of the stopper was probably intended for a thong by which it could be suspended beneath the arm from the shoulder while the trumpet was being blown.

The bell is painted to resemble a lotus flower.

Go here and scroll down a bit to listen to both of the above trumpets.

And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the LORD, the fire was quenched. 

And he called the name of the place Taberah: because the fire of the LORD burnt among them” (Num 11:1-3).

The people were only eating Manna and were complaining, saying that they wanted meat, enough for a month.  Moses turned to God and told him that he could not handle all these people, it was too much for him.  God then sent them quail and the people gathered them up for a day and a half.

Yet, they showed no respect to God and just started eating the birds like a ravenous wild animal.

And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague. 

“And he called the name of that place Kibroth-hattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted. 

And the people journeyed from Kibroth-hattaavah unto Hazeroth; and abode at Hazeroth “(Num 11:33-35).

Many people do not fear hell, saying that since God is loving He won’t send anyone to hell.  We must remember, God made us in His own image (Gen 1:26), so He is just like us.What would you do with people that disrespected you?  Invite them for a sleep over or something?  I think not. 

God is a loving God, that’s why we’re not all in hell as is, but He’s also a jealous God (Deut 6:15).  Therefore – no offense meant ladies – image a jealous and vindictive wife, what would you do if she cheated on you?

Those that do not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are cheating on God. You have heard, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”?  That’s nothing compared to the wrath of God!

Canaan Religious Practices

What predominated in the religion of the Canaanites was in fact a fertility cult.  This involved human effort to enlist the gods in supplying the primary needs of humanity: the provision of their daily food and the propagation of the race. 

By imitative magic they sought in rite and myth to predispose the gods in their favor – to bless the fruitfulness of their crops, the health and increase of their herds, and the birth of children. 

It is easy to see how both male and female ritual prostitutes played a part in their religious ceremonies.  The prominence of the goddesses Ashera, Anat, and Astarte in the nude with sexual features emphasized clearly enhanced this this facet of their religious practices. 

Ba’al, 14th-20th century B.C., found at Ras Shamra

Canaanite religion describes the belief systems and ritual practices of the people living in the ancient Levant region throughout the Bronze Age and Iron Age.

Until recently, little was known of these traditions outside of the Hebrew Bible, which denigrated them as idolatrous and licentious.

Twentieth century archaeological excavations, however, unearthed several texts, as well as many artifacts, which provided previously unknown details and insights into the nature of Canaanite religion.

Although the literary sources are still scarce, the Canaanite religion seems to have involved a rich mythological tradition which served as a bridge between the more ancient Mesopotamian religions and the later Greek and Roman gods.

Several of the most famous Greek gods, for ex., clearly evolved from Canaanite antecedents, just as several of the Canaanite gods grew out of Mesopotamian roots.

Like other ancient cultures, Canaanite society was largely concerned with agricultural themes.

As a land dryer than either Egypt or the Fertile Crescent, which were blessed with large rivers, Canaanite traditions were particularly concerned with rain and drought.

The supreme deity of the Canaanite pantheon was El, together with his consort, Asherah.

As with the Greek tradition, these early gods were later supplanted by younger, more immediate presences, especially the rain/thunder god Ba’al and his consorts, such as the warrior goddess Anat and the love/fertility goddess Astarte.

Early Israelite religion may once have shared the Canaanite belief in El and other gods, before the Jewish monotheistic tradition emerged.

We may consider the worship of the fertility cult immoral.  They considered it largely an amoral worship. Of course there was a lot more to religion than that. 

Their belief in the kingship of Baal represented faith in the power of Order over Chaos.  And their worship of Baal as a young warrior fully armed portrayed him, among other things, as the defender of his people.  And there were other gods. 

They reversed El as the senior god of the Canaanite pantheon and he creator of created things.  They worshipped Reshef as the god who destroyed men in mass by war or plague.  But we are not concerned with producing a grocery list of the gods here. 

As in Israel, they offered whole burnt offerings to the gods, as well as communion offerings in which they offered internal organs to the gods, with the rest divided among the worshippers in a sacrificial meal.

The bull symbolized strength, power, and fertility.  Several bull figurines recovered found from Iron Age sites in Palestine, include a small bronze figure from the hills of Samaria and a silver Ashkelon.

Although the bull stood for El as well as Baal, these figurines likely indicate the prevalence of Baal’s cult throughout Palestine.

The Bible uses the plural form of Baal – Baalim – to identify the numerous local manifestations of this Canaanite god. A city, village, hill, or valley might have its own “Baal.”  For example, Baal Melqart was the chief god of Tyre, imported into Israel by Jezebel. 

The Ugaritic Texts describe Baal’s battles with Yamm and Mot.  Yamm “Prince of the Sea,” represented the chaotic forces that threatened to overwhelm life or disrupt the order upon which life depends.

Mot underworld and sought to destroy Baal.  Mot, whose name means “death” in Hebrew, captured and slew Baal.  Baal’s consort Anath fought Mot on behalf of Baal and secured Baal’s return from the powerful clutches of Mot.

This struggle between Baal and Mot has been variously interpreted, but the main point illustrates the delicate balance between feast and famine, life and death, found in cultures where life depends on rainfall.

In the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal, the question was: Who brings the rain that gives life to the land? (1 Kg 18).

Asherah, a goddess widely worshiped in Palestine, plays a prominent role in the Bible. Texts refer to shrines and altars dedicated to Asherah at Samaria, Bethel, and Jerusalem (1 Kg 14:23; 16:33; 2 Kg 23:4). 

 Asherah was symbolized at high places by a wooden cultic object, possibly a carved wood pole.  The Old     Testament repeatedly condemns these Asherim (plural of Asherah), which were cut down and burned in periods of religious reform (2 Kg 18:4; 2 Chr 31:1; 34:3).

Fertility aspects of Canaanite religion appealed to Israel also.  The Canaanites practiced both male and female sacred prostitution, a rite adopted also by Israel (Hos 4:10-14; 2 Kg 23:7).  

Figurines of nude females, often accentuating the breasts, are frequently found in excavations in Israel. They may represent Asherah or Astarte, two well-known manifestations of fertility goddesses.  

The function of the figurines has been debated; perhaps they functioned as amulets used by women during times of childbearing or lactation, or, alternatively, the eroticism of the images suggests the fertility cult.

Popular religion in Israel “Baalized” the worship of Yahweh by combining elements of pagan worship with the worship of Yahweh.  The prophets of Israel repeatedly condemned both the theology and practice associated with the worship of Baal in Israel and Judah (Hos 4:11-19; 9:10-14; Jer 7:8-9; 11:13; 19:1-9; cf. 1 Kgs 18; 2 Kgs 10:18-31).

Hosea directly challenged the popular belief among Israelites that Baal provided the food, drink, and clothing upon which life depended (Hos 2:5-13).  

How far this popular religion went in syncretizing the worship of Yahweh and Baal may be suggested by inscriptions from Kuntillet ‘Ajrud near Kadesh-barnea.   

The inscriptions mention Yahweh, Baal, El, and Asherah.  One inscription uses the phrase “Yahweh of Samaria and his Asherah.”  

Although the interpretation of this inscription is controversial, the phrase “his Asherah” could refer either to the goddess herself or to a wooden carved pole representing Asherah.  

We cannot determine who wrote these inscriptions – Phoenicians, Judeans, Israelites, or some other group – but they clearly reflect the syncretistic religious environment of southern Palestine between 900 and 700 B.C.