Yahweh The Controversial Origins (Research Paper)


The speculative origins of Yahweh are explored from different aspects by many respected authors. It is inconclusive of the actual true origins of Yahweh. However the reader can gain a broader perspective of all information given and come to a conclusion on his or her own.


Yahweh as described from the MSN Encarta online dictionary, is the Hebrew name of God: a name of God, expanded from the four letters, YHWH (Tetragrammaton), that form the proper name of God in Hebrew. Now Yahweh is considered the official God of the Israelites or Jews. The actual origin is somewhat speculative and contentious.

Through Abram, later known as Abraham, and his seed the original origins of the Jews were brought forth from, along with the first accounts of Yahweh according to Jewish history. Abram is considered the first to believe in one all-powerful god instead of the many pagan deities. According to the bible, God or Yahweh told Abram to "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you" , Genesis 12:1). Upon arriving where the lord had directed Abram, the lord told him he would give this land to Abrams' seed, or offspring , Genesis 12:7).

In another depiction from The Seed Of Abraham,

"…Abraham was assumed to have been the founder of Hebrew monotheism at a time when no Hebrew people existed as yet. Abraham was a single individual whom god chose to be His friend and servant. Central to the relationship between Abraham and God was the divine promise that God would make Abraham's seed a great people and would give it possession of the Land of Canaan."

The author of The Seed of Abraham Raphael Patai, though exploring another topic in whole, points out Abraham was of pagan origins and he completely turns from his upbringing and ventures into the voids of the unknown, unknown to all but Yahweh. Patai states

" An individual, and especially an exceptional one such as Abraham must have been, can achieve such a total detachment, and can transmit to his children nothing but the new faith to which he was led by God, and the mores, doctrines, and rites supplementary to it. Thus it was that it could come about that the Children of Israel retained nothing of the religion and ethos of their pagan prehistory."

It would make anyone curious how a man of so many deities did manage to keep the influences from paganism seeping into this new religion. The reality of it is it probably didn't happen that way. It is possible to believe Abraham rejected worshiping the pagan deities and placed Yahweh above all others. Though keeping outer influences out of this new way of thinking is unlikely. Later in his experience with Yahweh, and in his children's relations with God you can see characteristic of paganism coming through. Yahweh commands Abraham to sacrifice his only begotten son of Sahri, or Sarah. This was a common practice among pagans. The belief that the first child was the offspring of a god, Again The History of God states:

The First Child was often believed to be the offspring of a god, who had impregnated the mother in an act of droit de seigneur. In begetting the child, the god's energy had been depleted, so to replenish this and ensure the circulation of all the available mana, the first-born was returned to its divine parent.

Even though Yahweh spared Abraham's son of such an ill fate at the last minute, the similarities are undeniable.

The experiences' representing Moses and Yahweh are quite different from those experienced by Abraham and his closer descendants. Questioned in The History Of God,

"Did Abraham worship the same God as Moses or did he know him by a different name?"

This seems a unique question for those who are most skeptical about the origins of Yahweh or God. The difference between the God of Abraham and the God of Moses is hard to rebut. Moses' God was considered a warrior god, a vengeful god, and reeking havoc on those who opposed the religion his chosen people try to uphold. As stated in Man, Myth and Magic, The encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion, and the Unknown:

"It would appear that certain Semite tribes, escaped from Egypt under a leader called Moses. These tribes believed that they owed their deliverance to a war god of the dessert, whom they came to know as Yahweh."

Karen Armstrong points out in her book, (The History Of God)

The Israelites called Yahweh "the God of our fathers," yet it seems that he may have been quite a different deity from El, the Canaanite High God worshiped by the patriarchs. He may have been the god of other people before he became the God of Israel. In all his early appearances to Moses, Yahweh insists repeatedly and at some length that he is indeed the God of Abraham, even though he had originally been called El Shaddai. This insistence may preserve the distant echoes of a very early debate about the identity of the God of Moses.

Again no one can dispute the obvious difference between the two encounters with Yahweh. In following paragraphs, Karen again brings up the difference between the experiences with Yahweh:

Despite the first of the assertions that Yahweh is indeed the God of Abraham, this is clearly a very different kind of deity from the one who had sat and shared a meal with Abraham as a friend. He inspires terror and insists upon distance.

Can these accounts properly ascertain if it was indeed the same God? Unfortunately they cannot give us adequate evidence of the true origins of Yahweh. Whether a war god of the dessert, or the creator of all life, Yahweh will always be an exploratory topic.