Answers to Quora Questions by Yair Davidiy (18 September 2017, 27 Elul, 5777)
How much do we know today about the polytheistic period of Jewish history, its characteristics and gradual shift towards the monotheistic cult of Yaweh?
We know very little if anything.
Based on internal evidence however it began as a Monotheistic Religion and stayed that way.
Here and there deviations occurred due to outside influence BUT the inner base remained faithful as it always had been.
It still is that way.
There were finds from Ras Shamra (Ugarit) in Northern Syria and other places in the surrounding that showed similarities to the Biblical Texts.
These were dated to a time prior to the Biblical Period.
It was therefore assumed that they had influenced the Bible.
Immanuel Velikvsky ("Ages in Chaos," Chapter 5) summarizes some of the findings:
# Besides the name El, which is predominant in the poems, especially in the poem of Keret dealing with exploits in Negeb, the name Yahu (Yahwe) is also encountered in the Ras Shamra texts. 36 A few rare expressions or names found on Ras Shamra tablets are found also on monuments of the seventh century before the present era. 37 A very unusual expression on one of the Ras Shamra tablets "Astart, name of Baal" appears in the epitaph of Eshmunazar, the Phoenician king of Sidon of the fifth century. 38 The mythological pictures of the Ras Shamra poems often employ the same wording as the so-called mythological images of the Scriptures. Leviathan is 'a crooked serpent' (Isaiah 27:1); it has several heads (Psalms 74:14). Lotan of the poems also is 'a swift and crooked serpent' and has seven heads. There is, in one of the poems, an expression put into the mouth of El which sounds like a reference to the great feat of tearing asunder the sea of Jam-Suf. And the verb ,'to tear asunder,' used there and in Psalms (136:13) is the same (gzr). #
Velikovsky and Ugarit. Bronze Age Israel Re-Dated
Velikovsky and others (e.g. Peter James) have shown that the conventional dating is wrong.
The finds in question should be dated from the 700s BCE or even later.
They therefore reflect Israelite influence on pagans or in some cases an actual Israelite presence after being subject to heavy pagan influence.
There is also an ideological aspect to all this.
There are those who want to discredit the Bible in order to do away with morality.
The Bible is considered a Jewish document.
There are those who resent the Hebrew input to Western Culture.
In some cases this resentment may be subconscious.
In effect, they are angry at God for some reason or other.
They therefore do their best to rewrite history in accordance to a pre-ordained agenda.
Proverbs 16: 1 To man is given designs of the mind
but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
Proverbs 16: 2 All the ways of a person are pure in his eyes
but the plans of individual personalities are known to the LORD.
Proverbs 16: 3 Make your deeds depend on the LORD
and HE will arrange your thoughts.