Is Yahwehism a Pagan Religion?

I would like to thank Glenn Miller at for his tireless research in pointing out these fantastic resources to me.

“Its (the name YHWH) earliest appearances are in the Song of Deborah (Judges 5; which has been dated to the 11th century b.c.), on the Mesha Stele (9th century; ANET, 320), in an ostracon from Kuntillet ˓Ajrud (8th century; Freedman 1987: 246), and in the Arad and Lachish Letters (6th century; ANET, 569, 322). … To move outside of the Levant, we find Egyptian name lists which include a Syrian site, Ya-h-wa (No. 97), which is identical to Yahweh. A Rameses II (1304–1237 b.c.) list is found in a Nubian temple in ˓Amarah West with six names (Nos. 93–98) following the designation “Bedouin area.” Nos. 96–98 have been found at Soleb in Nubia on an Amon temple of Amenhotep III (1417–1379). No. 93, Sa-˓ra-r, has been identified with Seir (Edom) and related to the biblical references (Deut 33:2) which associate Yahweh with Seir and Paran. This could be taken as evidence the name was known in Edom or Midianite territory ca. 1400 b.c. (EncRel 7: 483–84). … However, Astour (IDBSup, 971) notes that the writing “S-r-r” is incorrect as opposed to the spelling in other Egyptian inscriptions. Furthermore, three of the sites, including Yi-ha, on Rameses III’s temple in Medinet Habu, are in a Syrian context suggesting that Ya-h-wa/Yi-ha was also in Syria. Thus the name is not associated with Edom or Midianites but does seem to appear as early as 1400 b.c. in Syria. … From a later time, the 8th century b.c., two Aramean princes have names with the element “Yau.” This has been taken to mean that some Arameans may have worshipped Yahweh (Rankin 1950: 95). This could relate to the earlier connection of the Patriarchs with the Arameans, e.g., Jacob’s sojourn with Laban, the eponymous ancestor of the Arameans (Genesis 29–31). The divine name is not found in any cuneiform texts. … The formative -yw in some personal names from Ugarit (ca. 14th century b.c.) is not a divine element and has no connection with the name Yahweh. [Freedman, D. N. (1996, c1992). The Anchor Bible Dictionary (6:1012). New York: Doubleday, s.v. “Yahweh”]



K.A. Kitchen:

“The individual themes of creation and flood … recur in other writings. Thus the Babylonian epic Enuma Elish (called ‘Babylonian creation’ in most books), completed by circa 1000 from older sources, has been repeatedly compared with Gen. 1-2. But despite the reiterated claims of an older generation of biblical scholars, Enuma Elish and Gen. 1-2 in fact share no direct relationship. Thus the word tehom/thm is common to both Hebrew and Ugaritic (north Syria) and means nothing more than ‘deep, abyss.’ It is not a deity, like Ti’amat, a goddess in Enuma Elish. In terms of theme, creation is the massively central concern of Gen. 1-2, but it is a mere tailpiece in Enuma Elish, which is dedicated to portraying the supremacy of the god Marduk of Babylon. The only clear comparisons between the two are the inevitable banalities: creation of earth and sky before the plants are put on the earth, and of plants before animals (that need to eat them) and humans; it could hardly have been otherwise! The creation of light before the luminaries is the only peculiarity that might indicate any link between the Hebrew and Enuma Elish narrative; but where did it earlier come from? Not known, as yet. Thus most Assyriologists have long since rejected the idea of any direct link between Gen. 1-11 and Enuma Elish, and nothing else better can be found between Gen. 1-11 and any other Mesopotamian fragments.” [OT:OROT, p.424ff; Note: His footnote mentions/references J.V. Kinnier-Wilson, W. G. Lambert, A. R. Millard, T. Jakobsen, with this intro: “Assyriologists generally reject any genetic relationship between Gen. 1-2 and the Mesopotamian data because of the considerable differences”.] [Page 424]


“The Eden narrative affinities with primitive folklore and other biblical and Ancient Near Eastern, especially Mesopotamian, compositions are many, yet there is no single piece of ancient literature which resembles the narrative as a whole, either in its details or theological significance.“…

“Yet another paradise narrative is the Sumerian tale of “Enki and Ninhursag” (Pritchard, texts 37-41), which describes the land (or island) of Dilmun, east of Sumer, as a pure, clean, and bright land, where there is neither sickness nor death, and where the animals live in harmony. One episode in the narrative involves the sun-god’s watering Dilmun with fresh water brought up out of the earth, thus making it fertile. The earth-goddess Ninhursag gives birth to eight plants, which the water-god Enki proceeds to devour. This leads Ninhursag to curse Enki; this nearly causes the latter’s death, but ultimately Ninhursag is made to heal him. Aside from the Eden narrative’s manifest similarities to these stories, the differences are also significant; most notable is the far more natural configuration of the narrative in Genesis 2-3, in contrast with the fantastic or supernatural nature of the other accounts...”…

“Not all details of the relationship of the Myth of Adapa to the Eden narrative are clear or necessarily convincing, but some relationship does seem indicated. The contrasts, aside from obviously wide divergence in details and plots, are most profound and characteristic in the area of underlying religious outlook.“…

“The above survey has led many scholars to the conclusion that the biblical Eden narrative has roots in Ancient Near Eastern literature. Yet, as stated above, these parallels are fragmentary, dealing with only a few motifs each, and the discrepancies in detail are often great. How these gaps were bridged cannot be said with certainty, presumably because of ignorance of the process of transmission of Ancient Near Eastern literature to the Bible.”

Ency. Judacia, s.v. “Paradise”, 13:82; To view photocopies of this reference see here:


Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, Ed. Alexander and Baker

“This sort of maximalist position would see the biblical authors as working directly from Mesopotamian exemplars as they carried out theological transformations. Though this sort of conclusion is common, the summary of comparative literary studies of Genesis 1-11 offered by R. S. Hess in the introduction to ‘I Studied Inscriptions from Before the Flood‘ demonstrates that [the maximalist’s] conclusions are far from universally held. D. Tsumura’s introduction in the same volume details the rejection of dependence on the Babylonian materials by such well-known Assyriologists as W. G. Lambert and A. Sjoberg….Nevertheless, given the complexity of the transmission of tradition and culture in the ancient world literary dependence is extremely difficult to prove.”, [Page 166-167]


Ancient Israelite Literature in Its Cultural Context: A Survey of Parallels, by John H. Walton

“Similarities between Genesis and Enuma Elish have been frequently cited in great detail. While superficial parallels may be noted and do exist, the only substantial similarity occurs in the dividing of the body of Tiamat by Marduk to create the two separated spheres of water. This is comparable to God’s dividing the waters of the firmament on the second day of creation…In summary, then, it is difficult to discuss comparisons between Israelite and Mesopotamian literature concerning creation of the cosmos because the disparity is so marked. Differences include basic elemental issues such as theogony verus cosmogony, polytheism versus monotheism, and emphasis on organization versus emphasis on creative act. Similarities are either linguistic in nature or, as in most cases, due to the fact that the accounts are descriptive of the cosmos of which both are a part.” [AILCC, 26f]

“The two differing perspectives given concerning the creation of man are that either he sprang from the ground (Creation of the Pickax) or that he was formed from a clay mixture using the blood of a slain deity. From these details, it is clear that there are several differences between Mesopotamian and biblical beliefs concerning the creation of man.” [AILCC, p27ff; Note: Walton then lists/discusses the major points of discontinuity–material used, relationship to the Divine nature, monogenesis versus polygenesis (tn: humanity was created en masse in the ANE lit–not an original pair), and purpose of humanity]

The similarities between Genesis and Enuma Elish are too few to think that the author of Genesis was in any way addressing the piece of literature we know as Enuma Elish.” [AILCC, p.34]

The second possibility, that the Israelite account was borrowed from the Babylonians, has enjoyed an overabundance of popularity. In reality, there is nothing that would lend substantiating credence to this belief. The fact that Israel on occasion exhibits cultural characteristics assimilated from Babylon, as did most of the Ancient Near East, can in no way serve as independent proof that any given item was borrowed. Each potential case of borrowing must be studied on its own merits, for it is clear that there are several cultural elements from Mesopotamia that Israel rejected… The only evidence that can be produced to support the case for Israelite borrowing is the similarities we have already identified. These are hardly convincing, in that most of the similarities occur in situations where cosmological choices are limited. For example, the belief in a primeval watery mass is perfectly logical and one of only a few possibilities… Since there is little to suggest direct borrowing on the part of the Israelites, we would be inclined to accept a more cautious position…” [AILCC, p. 37], [Page 26, 27-34]


I Studied Inscriptions From Before the Flood: Ancient Near Eastern, Literary, edited by Richard S. Hess, David Toshio,

Alan R. Millard:

“Reconstruction of a process whereby Babylonian myths were borrowed by the Hebrews, having been transmitted by the Canaanites, and ‘purged’ of pagan elements remains imaginary. It has yet to be shown that any Canaanite material was absorbed into Hebrew sacred literature on such a scale or in such a way…However, it has yet to be shown that there was borrowing, even indirectly. Differences between the Babylonian and the Hebrew traditions can be found in factual details of the Flood narrative (form of the Ark; duration of the Flood, the identity of the birds and their dispatch) and are most obvious in the ethical and religious concepts of the whole of each composition. All who suspect or suggest borrowing by the Hebrews are compelled to admit large-scale revision, alteration, and reinterpretation in a fashion that cannot be substantiated for any other composition from the ancient Near East or in any other Hebrew writing. If there was borrowing then it can have extended only as far as the “historical” framework, and not included intention or interpretation. The fact that the closest similarities lie in the Flood stories is instructive. For both Babylonians and Hebrews the Flood marked the end of an age. Mankind could trace itself back to that time; what happened before it was largely unknown. The Hebrews explicitly traced their origins back to Noah, and, we may suppose, assumed that the account of the Flood and all that went before derived from him. Late Babylonian sages supposed that tablets containing information about the ante-diluvian world were buried at Sippar before the Flood and disinterred afterwards. The two accounts undoubtedly describe the same Flood, the two schemes relate the same sequence of events. If judgment is to be passed as to the priority of one tradition over the other, Genesis inevitably wins for its probability in terms of meteorology, geophysics, and timing alone. In creation its account is admired for its simplicity and grandeur, its concept of man accords well with observable facts. In that the patriarch Abraham lived in Babylonia, it could be said that the stories were borrowed from there, but not that they were borrowed from any text now known to us. Granted that the Flood took place, knowledge of it must have survived to form the available accounts; while the Babylonians could only conceive of the event in their own polytheistic language, the Hebrews, or their ancestors, understood the action of God in it. Who can say it was not so?” [[ISI, “A New Babylonian ‘Genesis’ Story”, p.126f]” [Pages 126-128]


The Pentateuch in Its Cultural Environment, Livingston (1974), page 141,

“As a literary production, Genesis 2 and 3 have no parallel in ancient Near Eastern literature. The Epic of Adapa, often presented as a parallel, is not really so, either in literary structure, in moral emphasis, or in theological content.”






As for the objection that Yahew was a Canaanite Deity, W. F. Albright showed this to be a mis-reading of the so called Yahu-Stamps:












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