Evolution of Yahwism, a Brief Summary
H. Abdul Al-Dahir
It appears that Yahwism began in Edom, the Negev and Moab. Yh/Yhh (a name that appears more than fifty times in the Tanak or Old Testament) may have begun as a volcanic god who was conflated with the Minaean moon god Wadd, whose sacred animal was the snake (hayah-a Semitic word), thus the name Yh + hwh (snake/life). This god evolved into a god of metallurgy (the forge being a man made volcano) and thus was connected with the copper mining operations in Timna and Faynan. The Shasu Bedouin (later known as Judeans, Edomites and Moabites) worshipers of this god traced their origins from an ancestor god of smiths named Qyn/Qynn who appears in Genesis. Qynn, an ancestor of the Judeans according to Genesis 5:10, may have originally been an offspring of Yh/Yhh/Yhwh just as Hephaestus, the Greek god of the forge, was a son of Zeus. Yh/Yhh, the volcanic/metallurgy god with moon and snake associations, became prominent after the Assyrian defeat of the polytheistic El worshiping kingdom of Israel in 723 BCE. This kingdom seems to have fused the Sumerian/Akkadian/Babylonian god Enki/Ea, whom they named Ya/Yw, with their god, El, which made El both a celestial moon and mountain god as well as a god of water who created the four rivers which flowed from Edom. El was a prolific progenitor of many sons, who were deities or Elohim, which included Yam; the god of sea. (The title Elohim was subsumed as an exclusive name for El under Persian influence). After the defeat of Israel, these gods, Yhh, Ya (Ea) and El became fused into the god of Judea who was prominently known as Yhwh Elohim. The Alexandrian authors of the LXX (Septuagint) fused Yhwh Elohim’s personality, which included the personality aspects of Volcanic (Heat/Anger/Jealousy)-Water (Vegetation)-Lunar (Celestial/Heavens)-Serpent (Storm/Fertility)-Metallurgy (Creation from Earth/Minerals) gods, with that of the Egyptian creator god, Ptah; a god of crafts and miners, whose acts of creation began with a watery abyss, Nun (an Egyptian creator god), and a creative word. This is a brief explanation of what has been discovered so far regarding the evolution of the biblical god Yhwh-Elohim.
Other names that have origins outside the Bible are the names Abram, Sara and Hagar or Baramu and Ishara in Akkadian and Hajar in Arabic. Ishara became the biblical goddess Asherah, the consort of Baal, El and Yhwh. Barama, the name of an Eblaite goddess, must be feminine form of baramu (meaning seal of a covenant) which became the biblical name Abram. The name of his wife, Sara, may well be derived from the name of the Eblaite goddess Ishara. Ishara is most likely derived from the Akkadian word isharu which means justice, deity, scepter. The phonemes ‘s’ and ‘sh’ are interchangeable in Semitic languages. It is not unusual to find names that begin with a consonant become names in which the consonant is preceded by a vowel when they enter another, related language. Baramu may well have been pronounced in certain dialects Abaramu. Barama in Arabic means to conclude a pact and Abram (pronounced Ibram in Araibc) means conclusion of a pact. The name entered Hebrew as Abram and Ishara may have entered Hebrew as Sara. Abram’s second wife’s name, Hagar, is derived from the Arabic word Hajar also pronounced as Hagar. This city Hajar was known to the Greeks as Gerrha. It was located on the West side of the Arabian (Persian) Gulf. The Jews in Babylon thought that the Ishmaelites originated from this area. The LXX (Septuagint) authors confused the name of the Arab city Gerrha with the Egyptian city Gera aka Gerrha and that is how Hagar came to be known as Sara’s Egyptian handmaid.