| The Eunuch's Secret:
Daniel's End of Time Cipher Unsealed
This is the working title of my current book project.
The above sketches are taken from Near Eastern cylinder seals, and bullae impressions, dated variously from the middle of the third to the beginning of the first millenium b.c.e. This is a small selection of the many depictions of this particular iconographic ensemble, which archaeologists have uncovered throughout the Near and Middle East. The typical scene is of two figures in votive postures on either side of a stylized tree. The figures are of four kinds: 1. rampant he-goats or caprids , 2. humans (two males, two females, or a male and a female), 3. angelic or winged humans, and 4. cherubs (winged animals, usually lions, with the faces of humans or of predatory birds).
THE TREE OF LIFE AND CERUBIM
Judging from the number of representative images uncovered to date, the religious conception denoted by this symbology was apparently pervasive through a large expanse of time, from Arabia, throughout the entire arc of the Fertile Crescent, and into Egypt, and can probably be said to be the single iconic motif most shared by all of these regions.
| Sumerian Cylinder Seal c. 2500 b.c.e., note attending serpents.
One of the authors of the Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible, seems to pay tribute to the ancient faith that was everywhere represented by the tree with its two attendants. In Ezekiel's vision of a New Jerusalem he describes the decorations on the walls of the temple: "And it was made with cherubims and palm trees, so that a palm tree was between a cherub and a cherub" (Eze. 41:18). And this is not the only place in the Bible where these particular symbols occur together. As we all know, the place where the biblical narrative begins is in a garden, and at the entrance to the garden there was a pair of cherubs (“cherubim”) guarding the way to the Tree of Life (Ge. 3:24).
|(Left) In Egypt the stylized tree reached the zenith of its abstraction in the form of the wooden Djed Column, from the Papyrus of Ani, Eighteenth Dynasty (c. 1250 b.c.e.).
(Right) Once again we see the Djed Column between two attending figures in typical votive posture, though this Ivory plaque was unearthed from the remains of the palace of King Ahab, of Israel (c. 870 b.c.e.).
Within the cultural milieu in which these texts were composed, there would have been little question as to what the ubiquitous “tree of life,” with its attendant cherubim, represented. In all of these regions, probably for millennia, the Tree of Life was a representation of the “nurturing” (food yielding) power of the Great Mother and the system of social organization that had evolved around her worship. These were the “old ways,” the beliefs and practices which the polemical thrust of the Hebrew Bible was intended to abolish, with several of its books and most of its prophets tireless in their condemnation of the old practices, often styled under the rubric of “abominations.”
The Tree of Life stood for the idolatrous faith and practices which had belonged to the Hebrew people’s “fathers,” as several verses stipulate: “Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their ordinances, nor defile yourselves with their idols.” (Eze. 20:18). So the depiction of humanity's expulsion from the Garden would seem to be instructing that the ways of the past belong to the past, and no matter how paradisial the past may have seemed, the way back is forever closed and there can be no returning.
Surely, this cannot have been a popular development; the dejected mood of the Edenic narrative suggests as much, and if this is a poetic depiction of an actual occurrence, in terms of a transition from one ideology to another, it seems reasonable to assume that it had its dissenters, and was resisted.
The book that I have written makes the claim that several books included in the Hebrew Bible contain coded documents, which were intentionally hidden in order to preserve a record of the Wisdom Tradition, belonging to a class of priests who were deconsecrated when they closed the Garden.
The idea of something hidden in the Bible is hardly new. The Kabbalists of the 12th century popularized the notion to such an extent that two of the 17th centuries intellectual luminaries, Isaac Newton and Emanuel Swedenborg, devoted the last years of their lives to the attempt to discover and translate this legendary “Bible Code.” There have even been recent books on the subject, unfortunately serving only to further cloud the issue. In Part Two of my book I offer my translation of what I believe to be the real Bible Code, which I call “Daniel’s End of Time Cipher.”
Through a comparative analysis of scriptural and historical evidence, Part One of my book lays a foundation for the atmosphere of rivalry and intrigue, which is only to be expected where hidden codes are concerned, thus establishing the all important context for the unexpected message of the ciphers.
Unfortunately, the more unorthodox a proposition is, the more explanation it requires for it to be found acceptable. The following synopsis is intended as an introduction to the world, the time and the place, and the socio-political circumstances, in which the documents that became the Hebrew Bible were first composed, and wherein such a thing as a Bible Code could plausibly have been created.
By the time of the writing of Genesis, the cultural transition, apparently memorialized in the Edenic passages, had resulted in a major cult reform, which was only a couple of generations old and still had its opponents. The archaeological record suggests that this transition may have been a universal phenomenon in the ancient world, resulting from the rise of the great cities and their overriding need for government. Even as the city-states evolved to define what we know as civilization, the great majority of the people remained rural (“pagan”), however, and the religion of these rural populations was everywhere pretty much the same. Revolving around the agricultural life-giving necessity of fertility, that of land, of animals, of humans, and even of the mind, this ubiquitous form of religion is evidenced throughout the Neolithic and well into historical times, especially in mountainous regions and the countryside, seemingly everywhere. This is attested by the great profusion of goddess figurines—not matched by male figures—found in older layers from Old Europe, throughout the Near and Middle East, and as far as India. And in all of these regions the archaeological record strongly suggests that the power of fertility was originally personified by the life-giving Great Mother, or “Mountain Mother,” “the goddess of many names,” who was symbolized by many things, with a tree being among the most frequent.
|Lest there be any question as to what the tree represented which stood between the two attending figures, here is the ivory lid of an unguent box found at the ancient Canaanite city of Ugarit (Ras Shamra), dated to c. 1300 b.c.e. Note the vegetation held out in the hands of the Great Mother, Astarte, with her arms simulating the branches of a tree.|
Apparently, this great cultural transition is a natural development, arising out of the logical imperative of a simple formula: the denser the population, the greater the need for government. Government requires law and law requires a coercive power to threaten punishment for the offender. Thus, in the incipient cities of the ancient world we see the inevitable rise of a dominating male city-god, a law-giving god who supplants the authority of the Great Mother. The usual pattern seems to be that of the male city-god originating as the subordinate son/lover of the Great Mother. With the male city-god comes formal law, written law, law unlike the governing effect of custom that varies from village to village but instead has consistency and is broadcast from a single location, and with this the inevitable follows: empire and civilization.
One of the main reasons the Bible was written was to facilitate this process, to invalidate the “old ways” and institute a more modern (urban and legalistic) cult. And yet, the old ways, as represented in the Edenic narrative by the tree with its constant attendants, seems to have still had its sympathizers, considering the unhappy circumstances depicted by the scribe who poetically records of their passing.
Among others, Joseph Campbell recognized an axis mundi symbol in the tree described as located in the "middle" of the garden. Mircea Eliade defines the axis mundi as a symbol representing the "religious conceptions" that comprise the "system of the world." Societies can be seen as organizing themselves around a central complex of ideas, a creed or Weltanschauungen, a system of beliefs thought to be steady, enduring, and indisputably true. As such, the axis mundi serves a people as the ultimate authority, explaining and justifying their customs and institutions, and thus preserving the ordered patterns of their lives.
But the Edenic story presents us with a problem, namely, we can hardly have two world 'axeses' and two trees are distinctly described by the narrator, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and both are said to be located in the "middle" of the garden. This seeming contradiction to our axis mundi theory is easily solved, however, when it is realized that a transition from one belief system to another is being depicted, a world changing cult reformation, and that one tree stands for the old ways and the other represents the newly ascendant and now dominant “system of the world.”
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil has been eaten of against the commandment of god, defiled in a sense, while the tree of life remains inviolate and forever protected from any form of contamination. After the man had eaten of the first tree, “Jehovah God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever. … So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden the Cherubim, and the flame of a sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (3:22-23).
Clearly, it is the Tree of Life which is presented as the more sacrosanct of the two trees, while the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is presented as a source of human error and downfall, so if the author is suggesting a rivalry between systems, he appears to be taking sides and implying that the Tree of Life represents the superior or more holy system. And yet, it is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good an Evil that man has eaten of, which would seem to say that, in the authors opinion, man has erred and has adopted an inferior system, much to his enduring detriment (3:17). Thus, couched in the symbology of the outward text of the Bible, can be heard what seems to be a faint voice of dissent.
It was inconsistencies such as this that led to Wellhausen’s (1844–1918) “Documentary Hypothesis” which, though controversial today, remains, in principle, the leading theory of biblical authorship. Its great innovation over previous belief was that the Bible was written by men who often represented groups who were not always in agreement.
THE DEUTERONOMIC REFORMATION
Though biblical historicity is hotly debated today, most agree that a major “cult reformation” took place during the reign of King Josiah (640-609 b.c.e.), which has been called the “Deuteronomic Reformation.” The product of this great reformation became what we know as today’s Judaism, but the beliefs and practices of the pre-reformation Hebrews is now thought to have been indistinguishable from that of their Canaanite neighbors. In fact recent archeological discoveries have given substantial support to the idea that the only real difference between a Canaanite and a Jew (Jdg. 3:5-6) was whether or not they excepted the cult reformation making Jerusalem the exclusive residence of the now aniconic god: Yahweh.
Throughout the biblical narratives numerous allusions are made to the conflict that ensues with the institution of King Josiah’s cult reforms. The story of Cain and Able is a good example. Cain is the farmer, the older brother who represents the autochthonous civilization, or Canaanites, the mostly rural and agricultural “people of the land,” whose priests and institutions have been abolished by the reformation. Abel represents the Jerusalem priesthood, “the Sons of Aaron,” or Zadokite priests, whose cult reforms have authorized them to supplant the ancestral priesthood, the so-called “idolatrous priests,” to become the virtual voice of God and embodiment of indisputable authority. For killing his more privileged brother the embittered Cain is cursed: “When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield to thee its strength, a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be.” In other words, the ownership of Cain’s productive lands, the source of wealth and power in the ancient world, is appropriated and Cain is marked with the brand of a slave. His fate will henceforth be to work all the days of his life and have the product of his labor (the “strength” of the ground) belong to another. This is obvious propaganda intended to support the cult reformation, with the misfortunes of the agricultural Canaanites and their disenfranchised “idolatrous priests” now explained and justified as the will of God.
Emphasizing its importance to the authors, the book of Genesis repeats this thematic motif three times. Symbolized by the usurpation of the all-important birthright by a younger brother, the break with “customary law,” the highest authority before the reformation, and its sanction according to the will of God, seems to be a point that the author wanted to hammer home. A similar exception to custom occurs with Jacob and Esau where Jacob uses fraudulent means and his mother’s help to usurp his older brother’s birthright. And still again, similar circumstances are featured with the story of Manasseh and Ephraim, where a younger brother is allowed to take what should have belonged to the elder and a point is made to demonstrate why this travesty of custom is now God’s will .
With the cult reformation instituted by King Josiah, the traditional authority, the customary old ways, had been supplanted by the proponents of a new order. This was something that needed to be explained and justified to the people if it was going to be accepted. And more than that, the traditional power relations had been overturned; the priesthood had been usurped by a newly risen order of priests with hereditary attachments to the throne at Jerusalem and this would definitely need justification if the change was ever going to hold among the people.
To appreciate the embittered attitude of these disenfranchised "idolatrous priests" and better understand their motivation in ensuing events, it is useful to remember that they identified with the much older and, to their minds, more venerable Canaanite culture, which invented the world's first alphabetic writing and whose priests were literate for centuries before the people we call Hebrews developed a script of their own. In fact, the original Hebrew language was a local dialect of Canaanite; so seeing themselves depicted in the rhetorical triplet of the "marginalized elder brother" must have been infuriating, at least.
In the reformed cult, the cherubim, the constant attendants to the Tree of Life, the preeminent symbol of the ancestral faith, were retained by attaching them to the “ark of testimony” and then concealing the altered iconic form behind the veil in the inner sanctum of the Jerusalem temple, where it would be seen only once a year by the high priest. Thus the cherubim, the attendants to the tree that once stood between them, would be forgotten by the people. The idolatrous tree itself, the asherah, was forever banned, “Thou shalt not plant thee an Asherah of any kind of tree beside the altar of Jehovah thy God.” (Deut. 16.21). But when the writers of the texts that became the Bible describe the reforms instituted by King Josiah, they plainly testify to the asherah’s earlier stature. “And he brought out the Asherah from the house of Jehovah, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and beat it to dust, and cast the dust thereof upon the graves of the common people. And he brake down the houses of the sodomites (“male cult prostitutes”), that were in the house of Jehovah, where the women wove hangings for the Asherah.” (2 Kings 23:6-7). According to this, the idolatrous tree once had a place of honor inside Jehovah’s great temple at Jerusalem, but after the reforms the tree was banned and its cherubim were hidden away while the reformed deity would henceforth be known as aniconic, transcendent to all representation, forever invisible; but it wasn’t always so.
The time immemorial popularity of the tree as a symbol, even in spite of the new anti-iconic law, is shown by its persistence in the form of the “tree of lights,” the Menorah, found today on the mantels of faithful Jews all over the world.
They say that "history is written by the winners," while the events as experienced by the vanquished is a story that rarely survives—unless it is hidden.
In the surface reading of the biblical texts, the idolatrous priests are depicted as the enemies of the true god. Nevertheless, on another layer, an alternative to the outward story is told. It is a hidden record of the process of civilization and of its inevitable cultural and ideological conflict. It is an unexpected view of the controversial institution of the "written law" (Torah, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil), and it is an astonishing unveiling of those the law was designed to eradicate. Secreted within the pages of the Hebrew Bible an alternative history can be read, told from the point of view of the losers, which chronicles their subversive resistance and the cunning stratagem they devised to preserve their Wisdom Tradition. Though it has lain in plain sight for millennia, Daniel's hidden book has remained overlooked until now, for as it is written, the "words" were "sealed," only to be unsealed in the “time of the end.”
Other reasons why it has taken so long for this material to come to light would include the fact that, until recently, very few who were not practicing Jews or Christians ever devoted the necessary time to make a deep investigation of the Bible, and since these ciphers represent the teaching of the contratradition, no theologian of any form of monotheism would want to see what is hidden there, or even be able to see it. The world in which the creators of this material lived, had no distinction between religion and politics, and their instruction is not generally theological, but often reads like a primer in the ancient art of espionage.
The book that I have written answers the question of why the author of these verses of Genesis would place the Tree of Life, with its attendant cherubim, the preeminent symbol of the cult and practices which so much of the rest of the Bible seems to be written to condemn, in the midst of the paradisiacal Garden of Eden, and then why he would depict the banishment from the garden and from its idolatrous tree as a "fall from grace," and as such an unhappy affair. Such biblical ambivalence cries out for explanation.
It is clear from the Scriptures that there was disagreement among the people concerning the correct form of Jewish worship. Several of the biblical books seem to have been created primarily to condemn the ongoing idolatry of the Jewish people, especially the rural rites practiced “on every high hill and under every green tree.” The focus of the diatribe often centers on the goddess whose name and idol is mentioned more than 40 times in the Hebrew Bible. Ridding the land of the goddess cult, and the "abominations" associated with it, is shown by the Scriptures to have been a primary aim of those who authorized and produced the books that became the Bible.
The Canaanite goddess Asherah, the Great Mother, "Mother of the Gods," (identified with Astarte, who is Ashtoreth and Ashtaroth Karnaim of the Bible) and her representation, the stylized tree, or "asherah," was worshiped on the "high hills" of Israel and Judah, and even within the walls of the Jerusalem temple, as the above verses attest. (The King James Version of the Bible translates “Asherah,” and “asherah,” with the rather unwieldy “groves,” while most subsequent translations, and the RSV, correct this editorial censorship.)
We can assume that there was a class of priests who attended to the asherah, and indeed, we are told that King Josiah "deposed the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained" (my italics, 2 Ki. 23:4, 7).
My book examines the identity of the "idolatrous priests" who, before the reformation, had been the officially “ordained” priests of the Jewish people, as the above verse clearly testifies. In eight separate places, in the Hebrew Bible, the ancestral religion of the Jewish people is condemned, describing it as that which belonged to their "fathers," so we are not speaking of a foreign cult, or even of the apostasy of an insignificant number of rebels. It was the popular cult, and religious practice, which had once belonged to Israel, Judah, and all the land of Canaan.
Before the Deuteronomic Reformation, this ancient religion, found all over the Near and Middle East, was either permitted, or actively supported, by nearly all of the kings of Israel and Judah, as the books of Chronicles and Kings testify with the oft repeated formulaic phrase, “And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father” (1 Kings 15:26, et al), so there are three possible relationships which its cult may have had with that of Yahweh. It could have been a rival cult, as the outward reading of the Bible suggests, and before the reforms, it could have been the lesser of the two, again suggested by the biblical narrative, or it could have been the dominant cult. The third possibility, and the one supported by recent archaeological finds, is that the two cults were not two, but the same, that Yahweh and the asherah were worshipped together in the pre-reformation form of Yahwism (epigraphs with the phrase "Yahweh and his asherah" have been found at Khirbet el-Qom, 1969, and Kuntillit Ajrud, 1975).
If the two cults were actually one, as these inscriptions and other evidence suggest, then these maligned idolatrous priests, who revered the goddess Asherah as central to their ancestral faith, must have once had a significant station in Jewish society, with all the prestige and authority of the official priesthood. Considering the apparent antiquity of their priesthood, their traditions and institutions must have been highly developed, and yet, because it is the victors who write the histories and who authorized the books that became the Hebrew Bible, the “idolatrous priests” seem to have disappeared after the reformation. Their existence is barely mentioned by the Bible, and their story has never been told.
The following scenario is gleaned from a translation of the encoded documents contained in several books of the Bible along with relevant historical evidence, and thus presents a theory of biblical authorship which is far from the orthodox and appearently unknown to today’s biblical scholars. Nevertheless, it is a theory that answers many questions that have long concerned investigators in biblical matters; and, if I am not mistaken, it presents a model whose consistency and explanatory force rivals all predecessors.
Today’s scholarly consensus usually places the writing of major portions of what became the Hebrew Bible in the visinity of the period known as the Babylonian Captivity, or Exile, (c. 597-539 b.c.e.), when the conquering armies of King Nebuchadnezzar transported the nobility and skilled population of Judah off to become laborers for the greatness of Babylon.
Apparently, it was in Babylon, toward the end of the exilic period, that the now ascendant Jewish priesthood, the Sons of Aaron, proposed to their Babylonian masters that a book be written that would serve not only their interests but also be welcome to the Babylonians. The great reformer, King Josiah, had been deceased a mere eleven years at the beginning of the Exile so now, under the Babylonians, the Jewish cult reforms had begun to break down, which meant that the newly authorized priesthood of the Sons of Aaron was also in jeopardy. They wanted to insure their continued control of Jewish religion (the system of beliefs that justifies and supports a particular code of law and social order), and of course, there were the lucrative sacrifice offerings, which the reforms had given them exclusive rites to. It was decided that a book be written (after the model of the Enuma Elish, the great Babylonian creation epic) that by presenting itself as a historical account would explain the how and why of events and thus justify their usurpation of the ancestral priesthood, and demonstrate why their view of the newly aniconic God is the true one. Their Babylonian overseers were easily persuaded to permit the project, as it was proposed that by adopting the Babylonian story of the great flood from the Babylonian creation epic, and by making the Babylonian city of Ur the original home of Abraham, the patriarch of the Jewish people, subsequent readers of the book would come to see the skillful Jews as consanguineous with the Babylonians and therefore be more easily assimilated into Babylonian society instead of representing a constant threat of revolt. Thus, in the usual course of events, Yahweh could eventually be known as the Jewish name for the Babylonian Marduk, and the new Babylonian province of Judah would be pacified.
The “Sons of Aaron,” however, was a recently created order of priests. It has been theorized that, according with the usual pattern, they were actually the sons of a newly risen Jerusalem aristocracy; so at this early stage of their priesthood, they were not particulary skilled at the priestly arts of narrative composition and writing. They needed some assistance and it was only natural that they would turn to those who were skilled in such things, a certain class of scribes who were famous for their ancient traditions of story telling, of poetry, and of literacy, the deposed and seemingly broken “idolatrous priests.”
The pogrom instituted by King Josiah had decimated the ancestral priesthood, and the survivors had been left without property and destitute, with many becoming menial slaves under the Aaronid priests simply to avoid starvation. Thus, in Babylonia, certain of the most skilled of these useful servants were turned to new tasks. However, it didn’t take long for this class of embittered scribes to realize that they could also gain from writing such a book if they were extremely careful and crafty. They had to write what their overseers required of them, which they had nothing but contempt for, but their guild had years ago developed a secret way of writing that if not detected would allow them to pursue certain goals important to them. They had no choice but to write words that would authorize the despicable Sons of Aaron, their priesthood, and their religious conceptions, for all time. But between the words, in a hidden way, they realized that they could leave a record of actual events, and thus preserve their sacred tradition. They resolved to pretend absolute submission, and write as they were ordered, but then they persuaded their masters to let them include extensive lists of names, as if they were genealogies, to give the stories added credibility. And in the meanings of the names, they concealed and preserved their side of the story.
A word about myself:
As the reader may have judged, I am not a academic scholar, though my book is written in a scholarly fashion, exhaustively researched, with ten single-spaced pages of Bibliography and thorough footnotes. I think of myself as an investigator, or independent researcher, who, unlike an academic, has been able to devote many years to a wildly unorthodox theory and a particularly intractable puzzle.
The above scenario may seem quite fantastic. Years ago, I certainly would have thought so. I was curious about why there were so many names in the Hebrew Bible, and the explanations that had been offered were simply unpersuasive. It has been conjectured that the name lists were remains of old "census lists," that some were authentic genealogies, while others were "pseudo-genealogies," that they were designed to "legitimize" one group of priests in opposition to another, that they were "art for art's sake," or, according to the most extensive and recent examination, they were designed for a "nonfunctional purpose." At the present, there is no theory which is comprehensive enough to ascribe a single function to all of the name lists, and yet their uniqueness, as a literary form, suggests their unity, either a unity of tradition, or of purpose.
When I first began this inquiry, I read that the Hebrew name lists had a parallel and precedent in the "Sumerian King List," which I accepted—until I had a look at the Sumerian King List. Now I realize the following: 1. No other piece of narrative literature exists, from the Near East, or from anywhere else, which contains anywhere near a comparable proportion of names, either for genealogical or for any other purpose. 2. The biblical name lists are distinguished from other genealogical material both by their generally greater depth, and by their frequency of segmentation. 3. Ancient genealogical material is almost exclusively devoted to records of royal lineages, and only occasionally mentions a noted priest or scribe, which greatly distinguishes the biblical name lists, which are almost entirely names of undistinguished persons. 4. No antique genealogical record exists which contains the names of women, which are neither goddesses, nor royalty, but the biblical lists do.
The biblical name lists are totally unique among the world’s literature, and though today’s biblical scholars consider most of them to be “nonhistorical” (or not genealogical), their original purpose remains unexplained.
Strong's Concordance to the Bible lists 8,674 Hebrew words. Of these, more than 32% are names. Nearly 1/3 of all the words in the language called Biblical, or Old, Hebrew are names. This proportion is so much greater than any other known language that you would think it would have gotten somebody's attention. You would think that somebody would have said: "Hey, what's with that?" As I mentioned, studies have been made, but generally the name lists have been set aside as a dead-end. Today's scholars consider them pretty much drained of any significant meaning. And what about all the place names? Archaeologists have been able to locate evidence of only a small fraction of them. The Bible is full of names that do not stand for real people and place names that do not stand for real places. Why?
It is hard to believe that nobody has ever thought to read the meanings of the names in the order that they occur to see if anything is suggested. Today the names are ignored. My research has discovered that their authors intended exactly that. Their being ignored was crucial to their purpose, and apparently, for more than 2,500 years, nobody has devoted the necessary time to discover what that purpose was, until now.
I have managed to find only one reference that suggests knowledge of the "name-list ciphers." The Jewish philologist and historian, Leopold Zunz (1794–1886), was the first authority to assert that the names were not historical, and though he seems reluctant to say too much, he states that: “These names conceal a secret history: they are chronicles written in cipher-script, and research provides the key to it.”