Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning
Page: 64There are many counterparts to this in ancient mythology; among them may be mentioned that of the infant Perseus, who was, by command of the king (Acrisius of Argos), shut up in a chest, and cast into the sea. He was found by one Dictys, who took great care of the child, and—as daughter did with the child Moses—educated him.[89:2]
The infant Bacchus was confined in a chest, by order of Cadmus, King of Thebes, and thrown into the Nile.[90:1] He, like Moses, had two mothers, one by nature, the other by adoption.[90:2] He was also, like Moses, represented horned.[90:3]
Osiris was also confined in a chest, and thrown into the river Nile.[90:4]
When Osiris was shut into the coffer, and cast into the river, he floated to Phenicia, and was there received under the name of Adonis. Isis (his mother, or wife) wandered in quest of him, came to Byblos, and seated herself by a fountain in silence and tears. She was then taken by the servants of the royal palace, and made to attend on the young prince of the land. In like manner, Demeter, after Aidoneus had ravished her daughter, went in pursuit, reached Eleusis, seated herself by a well, conversed with the daughters of the queen, and became nurse to her son.[90:5] So likewise, when Moses was put into the ark made of bulrushes, and cast into the Nile, he was found by the daughters of Pharaoh, and his own mother became his nurse.[90:6] This is simply another version of the same myth.
In the second chapter of the second book of Kings, we read of
ELIJAH ASCENDING TO HEAVEN.
There are many counterparts to this, in heathen mythology.
Hindoo sacred writings relate many such stories—how some of their Holy Ones were taken up alive into heaven—and impressions on rocks are shown, said to be foot-prints, made when they ascended.[90:7]
According to Babylonian mythology, Xisuthrus was translated to heaven.[90:8]
The story of Elijah ascending to heaven in a chariot of fire may also be compared to the fiery, flame-red chariot of Ushas.[90:9] This idea of some Holy One ascending to heaven without dying was found in the ancient mythology of the Chinese.[90:10]
The story of
DAVID KILLING GOLIATH,
We read in Numbers[91:2] that
BALAAM'S ASS SPOKE
to his master, and reproved him.
In ancient fables or stories in which animals play prominent parts, each creature is endowed with the power of speech. This idea was common in the whole of Western Asia and Egypt. It is found in various Egyptian and Chaldean stories.[91:3] Homer has recorded that the horse of Achilles spoke to him.[91:4]
We have also a very wonderful story in that of
JOSHUA'S COMMAND TO THE SUN.
This story is related in the tenth chapter of the book of Joshua, and is to the effect that the Israelites, who were at battle with the Amorites, wished the day to be lengthened that they might continue their slaughter, whereupon Joshua said: "Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. . . . And there was no day like that before it or after it."
There are many stories similar to this, to be found among other nations of antiquity. We have, as an example, that which is related of Bacchus in the Orphic hymns, wherein it says that this god-man arrested the course of the sun and the moon.[91:5]
An Indian legend relates that the sun stood still to hear the pious ejaculations of Arjouan after the death of Crishna.[91:6]
A holy Buddhist by the name of Mâtanga prevented the sun, at his command, from rising, and bisected the moon.[91:7] Arresting the course of the sun was a common thing among the disciples of Buddha.[91:8]
The Chinese also, had a legend of the sun standing still,[91:9] and a legend was found among the Ancient Mexicans to the effect that one of their holy persons commanded the sun to stand still, which command was obeyed.[91:10]
We shall now endeavor to answer the question which must naturally arise in the minds of all who see, for the first time, the similarity in the legends of the Hebrews and those of other nations, namely: have the Hebrews copied from other nations, or, have other nations copied from the Hebrews? To answer this question we shall; first, give a brief account or history of the Pentateuch and other books of the Old Testament from which we have taken legends, and show about what time they were written; and, second, show that other nations were possessed of these legends long before that time, and that the Jews copied from them.
The Pentateuch is ascribed, in our modern translations, to Moses, and he is generally supposed to be the author. This is altogether erroneous, as Moses had nothing whatever to do with these five books. Bishop Colenso, speaking of this, says:
"The books of the Pentateuch are never ascribed to Moses in the inscriptions of Hebrew manuscripts, or in printed copies of the Hebrew Bible. Nor are they styled the 'Books of Moses' in the Septuagint[92:1] or Vulgate,[92:2] but only in our modern translations, after the example of many eminent Fathers of the Church, who, with the exception of Jerome, and, perhaps, Origen, were, one and all of them, very little acquainted with the Hebrew language, and still less with its criticism."[92:3]
The author of "The Religion of Israel," referring to this subject, says:
"The Jews who lived after the Babylonish Captivity, and the Christians following their examples, ascribed these books (the Pentateuch) to Moses; and for many centuries the notion was cherished that he had really written them. But strict and impartial investigation has shown that this opinion must be given up; and that nothing in the whole Law really comes from Moses himself except the Ten Commandments. And even these were not delivered by him in the same form as we find them now. If we still call these books by his name, it is only because the Israelites always thought of him as their first and greatest law-giver, and the actual authors grouped all their narratives and laws around his figure, and associated them with his name."[92:4]
As we cannot go into an extended account, and show how this is known, we will simply say that it is principally by internal evidence that these facts are ascertained.[92:5]
Now that we have seen that Moses did not write the books of the Pentateuch, our next endeavor will be to ascertain when they were written, and by whom.
We can say that they were not written by any one person, nor were they written at the same time.
We can trace three principal redactions of the Pentateuch, that is to say, the material was worked over, and re-edited, with modifications and additions, by different people, at three distinct epochs.[93:1]
The two principal writers are generally known as the Jehovistic and the Elohistic. We have—in speaking of the "Eden Myth" and the legend of the "Deluge"—already alluded to this fact, and have illustrated how these writers' narratives conflict with each other.
The Jehovistic writer is supposed to have been a prophet, who, it would seem, was anxious to give Israel a history. He begins at Genesis, ii. 4, with a short account, of the "Creation," and then he carries the story on regularly until the Israelites enter Canaan. It is to him that we are indebted for the charming pictures of the patriarchs. He took these from other writings, or from the popular legends.[93:2]
About 725 B. C. the Israelites were conquered by Salmanassar, King of Assyria, and many of them were carried away captives. Their place was supplied by Assyrian colonists from Babylon, Persia, and other places.[93:3] This fact is of the greatest importance, and should not be forgotten, as we find that the first of the three writers of the Pentateuch, spoken of above, wrote about this time, and the Israelites heard, from the colonists from Babylon, Persia, and other places—for the first time—many of the legends which this writer wove into the fabulous history which he wrote, especially the accounts of the Creation and the Deluge.
The Pentateuch remained in this, its first form, until the year 620 B. C. Then a certain priest of marked prophetic sympathies wrote a book of law which has come down to us in Deuteronomy, iv. 44, to xxvi., and xxviii. Here we find the demands which the