Babylonish Religion Brings Violence and National Ruin
IN EVERY nation violence has risen up into an ever-present danger. The increasing lawlessness is attributed to various causes, such as nationalism, racism, poverty and unemployment. But what is the primary root of the trouble? and is there any protective step that can be taken? If we honestly and sincerely want the answers to these questions and have the courage to face the truth, we can get the answers. Then we as individuals can, with such courage, together with knowledge and quick response, save the lives of ourselves and our families.
We find a parallel in the bad circumstances that came to a head in the land of Judah just before the destruction of that nation. In fact, God saw to it that a description of Judah’s deplorable condition and the root cause were written down, as a sample of what would exist on a far greater scale today. God set the issue plainly before his professed people and did not let them go on without warning, but revealed with full impact the kind of nation they had become. Hosea, who prophesied to both the northern kingdom of Israel and to Judah, boldly said: “There are the pronouncing of curses and practicing of deception and murdering and stealing and committing of adultery that have broken forth, and acts of bloodshed have touched other acts of bloodshed.” Jeremiah described Jerusalem: “She is nothing but oppression in the midst of her. . . . Violence and despoiling are heard in her; sickness and plague are before my face constantly.” Ezekiel said that the land was filled with violence.—Hos. 4:2; Jer. 6:6, 7; Ezek. 8:17; 9:9.
THE PRIMARY CAUSE OF TROUBLE
What brought about this state of affairs? Hosea explains: “There is no truth nor loving-kindness nor knowledge of God in the land.” (Hos. 4:1) So the root cause was that the people had forsaken the law and the knowledge of God. But this was not all, because along with the forsaking of God’s law they had come under the corrupting influence of Babylonish false religion. How can false religion bring such a thing about? What religious practices cause such degradation, bringing a nation to decay and to the brink of destruction? If we examine the account we shall see.
Violence reached a saturation point in Jerusalem during the reign of King Zedekiah of Judah, who was made a vassal by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Third World Power, in 617 B.C.E. The prophet Jeremiah foretold the complete desolation of Judah and also a later fall for Babylon. But he wrote to those Jews who had been taken into captivity in 617 B.C.E. and who were in Babylon, that their nation had gone too far in disobedience to God, that they would not be brought back to their homeland before a period of seventy years and that they should not be rebellious toward Babylon.—Jer. 29:1-10; 27:1-15.
But at Babylon itself there was also another prophet of Jehovah. His writings, especially, give us a picture of how the root of Judah’s trouble was Babylonish false religion. This was Ezekiel, who started to prophesy in Babylonia in 613 B.C.E., continuing for twenty-two years.—Ezek. 1:1-3; 3:15; 29:17, 18.
While Ezekiel, captive in Babylonia, was not in Jerusalem to see what was going on there, God, by the inspirational power of his spirit, transported Ezekiel in vision to the temple of Jehovah at Jerusalem. There, at the inner north gate, he saw a detestable idol set up in violation of the exclusive devotion demanded by Jehovah God and contrary to the Second of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:4-6) Inside, carved on the temple, was “every representation of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the dungy idols of the house of Israel.” Seventy elderly men of Israel were actually offering incense to these idolatrous carvings. They thought that Jehovah did not see them doing so.—Ezek. 8:1, 3-12.
WORSHIP OF NIMROD
This was Babylonish false religion. How do we connect it up with Babylon? Ezekiel tells us: “So he brought me to the entrance of the gate of the house of Jehovah, which is toward the north, and, look! there the women were sitting, weeping over the god Tammuz.” Here, in Ezekiel 8:13, 14, the Roman Catholic Douay Version calls this god “Adonis,” for that is what the official Latin Vulgate version calls him. Who was he?
The name Adonis, by which this deity was known to the Greeks, is none other than the Phoenician אדון, ’Adhōn, which is the same in Hebrew. . . .
(1) The name of a Phoenician deity, the Adonis of the Greeks. He was originally a Sumerian or Babylonian sun-god, called Dumuzu, the husband of Ishtar, who corresponds to Aphrodite [Venus] of the Greeks. The worship of these deities was introduced into Syria in very early times under the designation of Tammuz and Astarte, and appears among the Greeks in the myth of Adonis and Aphrodite, who are identified with Osiris and Isis of the Egyptian pantheon, showing how widespread the cult became. The Babylonian myth represents Dumuzu, or Tammuz, as a beautiful shepherd slain by a wild boar, the symbol of winter. Ishtar long mourned for him and descended into the underworld to deliver him from the embrace of death. . . . This mourning for Tammuz was celebrated in Babylonia by women on the 2d day of the 4th month, which thus acquired the name of Tammuz. . . . The women of Gebal [Syria] used to repair to this temple in midsummer to celebrate the death of Adonis or Tammuz, and there arose in connection with this celebration those licentious rites which rendered the cult so infamous that it was suppressed by Constantine the Great.—The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, edition of 1955, Volume 5, page 2908a.
According to The Encyclopedia Americana (Volume 26 of the 1929 edition, page 238), the name Dumuzu in Sumerian means “the sun of life.” But The Two Babylons, by Hislop, page 245, says:
The name Tammuz, as applied to Nimrod or Osiris, was equivalent to Alorus, or the “god of fire,” and seems to have been given to him as the great purifier by fire. Tammuz is derived from tam, “to make perfect,” and muz, “fire,” and signifies “Fire the perfecter,” or “the perfecting fire.” To this meaning of the name, as well as to the character of Nimrod as the Father of the gods, the Zoroastrian verse alludes when it says: “All things are the progeny of ONE FIRE. The FATHER perfected all things, and delivered them to the second mind, whom all nations of men call the first.” . . . And hence, too, no doubt, the necessity of the fire of Purgatory to “perfect” men’s souls at last, and to purge away all the sins that they have carried with them into the unseen world.
Further, on Tammuz, Hislop adds, on pages 21, 22:
In scripture he is referred to (Ezekiel 8:14) under the name of Tammuz, but he is commonly known among classical writers under the name of Bacchus, that is, “The Lamented One.” To the ordinary reader the name of Bacchus suggests nothing more than revelry and drunkenness, but it is now well known, that amid all the abominations that attended his orgies, their grand design was professedly “the purification of souls,” and that from the guilt and defilement of sin. This lamented one, exhibited and adored as a little child in his mother’s arms, . . .
It is not hard to see how this permeation of Babylonish false religion incurred God’s displeasure and brought a most debasing influence on the Jews’ way of life. Babylon had been the source of confusion and the beginning of violence in the earth after the Flood. (Gen. 10:8-12; 11:8, 9) Its religion promoted all forms of lawlessness and vice, including demonism, magic, charms and sorcery. It glorified sex and promoted perverted sex practices.*
THE CROSS SYMBOLIZES NIMROD
Among the Babylonians an upright cross was a sacred symbol. As in the Hebrew alphabet, such a cross was the original form of their letter T (or Taw), and so it was the initial letter of the name of their god Tammuz, or Bacchus. The cross was worshiped centuries before the so-called Christian era. That this worship spread from Babylon is noted by archaeologist V. Gordon Childe:
A ‘seal’ from Mohenjodaro depicts a horned deity with three faces sitting crosslegged in the attitude of ritual meditation between various wild animals; he is obviously the prototype of Siva, ‘three-faced,’ ‘lord of beasts,’ ‘prince of yogis,’ . . . Several clay tablets depict a male deity; one shows a river gushing out of a goddess’s womb. . . . The swastika and the cross, common on stamps and plaques, were religious or magical symbols as in Babylonia and Elam in the earliest prehistoric period, but preserve that character also in modern India as elsewhere.*
Says The Two Babylons (Hislop), on pages 199, 204, 205, regarding the cross:
It was worshipped in Mexico for ages before the Roman Catholic missionaries set foot there, large stone crosses being erected probably to the “god of rain.” The cross thus widely worshipped, or regarded as a sacred emblem, was the unequivocal symbol of Bacchus, the Babylonian Messiah, for he was represented with a head-band covered with crosses . . . This symbol of the Babylonian god is reverenced at this day in all the wide wastes of Tartary [Asian and European location of Tatars], where Buddhism prevails, and the way in which it is represented among them forms a striking commentary on the language applied by Rome to the Cross. “The cross,” says Colonel Wilford, in the Asiatic Researches, “though not an object of worship among the Baud’has or Buddhists, is a favourite emblem and device among them. . . . [in Christendom] the Tau, the sign of the cross, the indisputable sign of Tammuz, the false Messiah, was everywhere substituted in its stead [in the stead of the Greek Letter Chi or X as in Christós]. . . . ”*
Doubtless, the cross was sacred as a symbol among those apostate Jewish women who polluted Jehovah’s temple by sitting there and weeping over the Babylonian Bacchus,* the god Tammuz. These women were, in effect, bewailing the death of the mighty hunter Nimrod, the founder of Babylon, who no doubt met a violent death because he was guilty of violence toward man and beasts. (Gen. 10:8-10; 9:6) Whereas those Jewish women were indirectly worshiping the sun-god in the same way that Babylonian women did, the prophet Ezekiel saw men performing direct worship of the sun at Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem.—Ezek. 8:16.
NIMROD WORSHIP FOSTERS VIOLENCE
Nimrod was the father of violence after the Flood. He not only killed animals in wanton slaughter, but he also hunted men and taught others to hunt and slaughter men. So the worship of Nimrod as the god Tammuz or Bacchus would naturally cause these people to act like Nimrod, since it is a principle that a person imitates the god he worships, and takes on the qualities, good or bad, attributed to that god. (Rom. 1:22-28; John 8:44; 1 Cor. 11:1; Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:22-24; Gal. 5:22, 23) The Babylonians also supported Nimrod-like violence by their belief that life in the cavernous Aralu, their supposed abode of the dead, was more tolerable for soldiers than for the rest of mankind.* And the god Bacchus is even today a symbol of wanton revelry. Cross-represented Nimrod worship could produce nothing else but violence and debauchery throughout the land.
The debasing and morally filthy Babylonish worship to which the Jews degraded brought in many loathsome diseases. Where righteousness and law-keeping had resided, murder became a commonplace thing. (Isa. 1:15, 21; Jer. 7:9; Deut. 28:58-61) Hatred and violence were directed especially against those who stood for the worship of Jehovah and for his law. (2 Ki. 24:3, 4; Jer. 26:8; 32:2, 3; 37:15, 16; 38:4) Did God see and care, enough to take action? He said to Ezekiel: “Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it such a light thing to the house of Judah to do the detestable things that they have done here, that they have to fill the land with violence and that they should offend me again, and here they are thrusting out the shoot to my nose?* And I myself also shall act in rage. My eye will not feel sorry, neither shall I feel compassion. And they will certainly call out in my ears with a loud voice, but I shall not hear them.”—Ezek. 8:17, 18.
RUIN OR PEACE HINGES ON WORSHIP
In Ezekiel’s vision Jehovah’s executioners started by killing first those twenty-five sun-worshipers, then the seventy men who were worshiping idolatrous carvings on the walls and those women who were weeping for the cross-marked god Tammuz. (Ezek. 8:17 to 9:8) This was but a preview of what was about to befall Jerusalem, to be discussed in later issues of this magazine.—Jer. 25:9, 15-18.
This page of Judah’s history clearly shows that Babylonish false religion was truly the cause of the troubles of Judah, a nation who had Jehovah for their God, his law being their national law, and who had experienced his protection and peace, prosperity, moral and physical cleanness while they were obedient to him. It helps us to see that Babylonish false religion is at the root of the evils and the lawlessness and violence in the world. Its bad practices in the name of God have turned many, even in Christendom, completely away from belief in God and have caused them to be prey to ideologies such as atheistic communism, which in turn brings in more violence. No nation today can last, anymore than Judah did, if its religious systems follow the practices of Babylonish worship.
But Jesus Christ gave encouraging direction to honest individuals among the nations by his words: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) Taking in the true knowledge of Jehovah God and his Son and associating with those who worship God with spirit and truth will not develop confusion or the superstitious fear of purgatory or hellfire. Neither will it promote wrong sexual appetite or the desire to do violence to property or to our fellowman. It will prevent us from going down the degraded road to destruction that the nations are traveling. It will make us clean and bring us peace and the favor of God, with an assurance of life in his new order of righteousness.—John 4:23, 24.
Ancient History, Part 1, by P. V. N. Myers, page 72, and Religion of Babylon and Assyria, by Jastrow, pages 145-147, 556, 557, 560, 657, 659, 701.
New Light on the Most Ancient East, edition of 1953, pages 184, 185, in chapter IX entitled “Indian Civilization in the Third Millennium B.C.”
Under “Crosses and Crucifixes,” The Encyclopedia Americana, edition of 1929, Volume 8, page 238, says:
The cross as a symbol dates back to an unknown antiquity. It was recognized in all countries throughout the world at all times. Before the present era the Buddhists, Brahmans, and Druids utilized the device. Seymour tells us: “The Druids considered that the long arm of the cross symbolized the way of life, the short arms the three conditions of the spirit world, equivalent to heaven, purgatory and hell.” With the ancient Egyptians the cross was a reverenced symbol. Their ankh (crux ansata or handled cross) represented life, and a perpendicular shaft with several arms at right angles (Nile cross) appears to have had some reference to fertility of crops. Five of their planet symbols . . . were represented by a cross attached to a circle or part of a circle. Prescott says that when the first Europeans arrived in Mexico, to their surprise, they found “the cross, the sacred emblem of their own faith, raised as an object of worship in the temples of Anahuac.”
In Hebrew the word for the verb “to weep” is bakhah (בכה), as in Ezekiel 8:14.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, edition of 1955, Volume 1, page 373.
See footnote d on Ezekiel 8:17, New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, 1958 edition.