& CREATION OF JUDAISM
5. Persian Propaganda
Psalms as Propaganda
Catholics are under obligation to attend “mass” every
Though there is supposedly but one God, the observer will see side chapels
to other entities, and since idolatry is forbidden in the worship of
Yehouah, the casual observer might be surprised to find the church full of
statues of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the Sacred Heart and various saints.
Further revered images are of the fourteen stations of the cross and there
will be seven candles on the altar illuminating an image of a man being
crucified on a cross.
The trappings are not our concern here, however, but the service
itself. These are the main elements in the order of the service.
|The congregation stands as the priest enters with his attendants,
and sing a hymn.
|Sins are confessed and absolved.
|The congregation stand and sing prescribed hymns and the attendant
chants some passages from the bible and a creed.
|The priest gives an exhortation called a sermon.
|The Missal book is moved to the side of the altar.
|The centre of the ceremony is the preparation and presentation of
the wafer biscuits which are the “body of Christ”, and are
accepted by all who wish to have “communion”.
|The congregation are then dismissed, feeling better for it all|
Rituals like these might be expected to evolve and these naturally have
done, as can be seen by the differences between the different churches,
notably the Orthodox and the Protestant, but they are recognisably the
same still. The consecration of wine and wafers plainly comes from the
commendation of Jesus at the Last Supper in the mythology of Christianity,
and in fact from the effort of Paul to have his converts treat the service
with solemnity rather than as a booze-up. With the significance it has, it
is Christian, although most religious services involve some sort of sacred
repast, however symbolic. What then of the general outline? Is it Jewish
A Worshipping Church
Parts of what seems like liturgy have been found throughout the New
Testament, giving the impression that the early church already was a
worshipping church—Bousset and Bultmann held this view. It is further
evidence that the church was continuing a tradition and not inventing new
practices to commemorate a recent revelation. Much of the New Testament
reflects, not so much the activities of the apostles, but the activities
of the developing church. These are retrojected into the time of the
gospels and Acts. Exactly the same happened with the Old
If the earliest Christian churches already had a liturgy, then it must
have been Jewish originally, and that means Essene, though doubtless the
Sadducees who were made redundant in 70 AD and found an alternative
occupation in the new gentile church would have brought in some of their
own practices. The origins of Christian services must therefore lie in the
practices of the Jewish temple, and they were prescribed in the Old
Testament. In Leviticus 23:2-3, “the Lord” required that
His people gather together and worship Him every sabbath.
When James delivered his speech at the council of Jerusalem, he noted
that “Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach
him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath”, (Acts
15:21). Josephus (Against Apion) says that Moses ordained “that
every week men should desert their other occupations and assemble to
listen to the Law and to obtain a thorough and accurate knowledge of
it”. But nowhere in the laws of Moses in the Pentateuch is there
direction concerning rituals and their function in worship.
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God
dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God
destroy, for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
1 Cor 3:16-17
Here, Paul calls the church itself a “temple of God” in which the
Spirit of God dwells—the “ye”, of course, being plural, referring to
the congregation as a whole, not individual members. This is the Essene
understanding transferred to the Christian church. The Essenes considered
the temple as polluted by Pagan (Greek) practices under the Sadducees and
withdrew their full support from it. Monastic Essenes withdrew entirely,
it seems, but village Essenes attended merely to fulfil their obligations.
Both considered that the spirit of God rested on people, provided that
they were righteous, and it is this understanding that came through to
Essenes therefore, and the Christians that followed them, undertook
their rituals to God in their own assemblies, respectively synagogues and
churches—the gentiles rejecting the name synagogue as too associated
with Essenes and adopting an alternative Greek word for assembly. But
nowhere in contemporary sources is there a proper description of a worship
service in the synagogue in the first century. The closest are the
descriptions in Luke 4:16ff and Acts 13:14ff. The Mishnah
gives more about certain elements of the liturgy, but even there a
complete description of the liturgy itself is lacking.
Hebrews 12:22-24 connects the worship of the Christian church
directly to the heavenly temple service, but one in which Jesus Christ is
high priest. The christian believers gathered in worship are spiritually
present and engaging in the temple worship of heaven. This suggests that
the earliests Christian services were reflecting the older services of the
Jewish temple and perhaps confirms Sadducaean influence on the gentile
church, though it might simply be the Essenes thread of the people being
God’s temple, arising once more.
The Foundation of the Jewish Priesthood
The contention in these pages is that Judaism was founded by the
Persians from Cyrus the Great on, and we find the supposed Jewish priest
with the Persian name, Ezra, saying (Ezra 6:18) “they appointed
the priests to their divisions and the Levites in their orders for the
service of God in Jerusalem, as it is written in the book of Moses”,
implying that David’s divisions for the priests and Levites goes back to
the laws of Moses. Indeed, it does because Ezra had just written the laws
of Moses and was to read them to the people in the very first service of
the Jewish religion! Moses was Mazda!
In 1 Chronicles 23-26 we are given a detailed description
of the functions and divisions of the priests and Levites. This is
precisely the information we are lacking in the Pentateuch.
Schematically the organisation is:
|In chapter 23:1-5—Division of Levites. There were 38,000 Levites
of whom 24,000 were to oversee the work of the house of the LORD,
6,000 were officers and judges, 4,000 were gatekeepers, and 4,000 were
“praisers” of Yehouah with the instruments “David” made for
|In chapter 23:6-23—major family households of Levites.
|In chapter 23:28-32—summary of various duties of Levites.
|In chapter 23:30-31—the duty of the 4,000 “praisers” is
standing every morning and evening to confess and to praise.
|In chapter 24—division of 24 courses of priests.
|In chapter 25—division of 24 courses of “praisers”.
|In chapter 26—gatekeepers, treasurers, et al.|
The role of a nabi (prophet) or chozeh (seer) was firstly as a
spokesman of God, but it also meant an inspired teacher of the law (Dt
18:15-22; 2 Kg 17:13; Isa 8:16f; Ps 78:1ff). In
short, prophets were officials given the duty of ensuring that the law and
the new disciplines were understood and properly practiced by the people.
Prophets were propagandists for the new regime.
The people of Israel were divided into 24 courses (in line with the
priests) and representatives were present to watch the offerings in
Jerusalem, whilst the others gathered in their local towns. But this would
mean a gathering only around one particular town at any given week in
which a particular course of priests served. The Mishnah implies
that this tradition goes back to the “first prophets”.
The Public Reading of the Law
When a new Judah emerged after the razing of Jerusalem in 587 BC,
it was identified with exclusive adoration of Yehouah, the creator of
heaven and earth and supreme king over all nations, with emphasis on
temple, Torah, sabbath, a holy land and its people elected by
Yehouah. Erhard S Gerstenberger (Theologies in the Book of Psalms)
says the Psalter is a treasury of Jewish theologies of the time of
this time—the Persian colonization of Yehud (conventionally called
In the context of congregational worship, and with an emphasis on a
supplied salvation history (Ps 78; 105; 106; 136) and on Torah,
as the sources of Jewish identity, as well as homilies and teachings,
Yehouah appears in Psalms as the supreme God, creator and
maintainer of world order, but also the exclusive Lord of His religious
community and the teacher, comforter and provider of every Jew. Temple
rituals showed God like Mithras who was conceived as the face of God—the
sun on high amid the hosts of heaven:
Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the
King of glory may come in.
Who is the King of glory? Yehouah, strong and mighty, Yehouah, mighty in
Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the
King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory? Yehouah of hosts, he is the King of glory.
A partial description of a worship service comes to us from the same
time as Ezra (Neh 8:1-12) as the corporate worship on the first day
of the month (new moon’s day, an extra sabbath day) in the temple.
Elements mentioned are:
|The High Priest brings out the book of the law.
|The office bearers ascend the podium.
|The book of God’s Word is formally opened in the sight of all.
|The congregation stands, as soon as the book is opened.
|The High Priest blessed God, in this context, doubtless for His gift
of His law—and, to judge by the response of the congregation,
admonished the people to obey it.
|The congregation responds with a communal “amen”, meaning “so
be it”—submission! They submit to the law about to be read.
|The congregation “lifted up their hands” and “bowed their
heads with faces to the ground”, in Moslem fashion, to “worship”
|The High Priest then read the law in a language the people could not
understand, but a team of assistants and Levites made sure the
congregation understood it.
|The people mourned and wept at the reading of the law and the
Levites told them firmly to “be quiet”, “not be grieved” and
not to “mourn or weep!”
|The congregation go and eat and drink and offer portions to the
In the account, these people were hardly joyous at the rules being read
out to them, and they had to be forced by the Levites to go and rejoice.
Jews and Christians tell us they were crying for joy! The new order of
things was being forced on to the reluctant Canaanites and they were
distressed, not joyous, and that is plain.
The point, though, is that this procedure was the procedure laid down
for the periodic repetition of the covenant law to the subject Canaanites,
and therefore became the basis of temple ritual and subsequently Christian
Psalms as Persian Propaganda
Even more significant is that the propaganda was evidently not merely
the reading of the law “of Moses” but that it was also embodied in the
psalms being sung or chanted by the cantors. Torah implies
salvation, grace and general satisfaction or happiness (shalom, Ps
1), and it reflects cosmic order (Persian, Arta):
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his
In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a
bridegroom from his wedding canopy.
The Law of Yehouah is perfect, converting the soul. The Testimony of
Jehovah is sure, making the simple wise.
The precepts of Jehovah are right, rejoicing the heart. The commands of
Jehovah are pure, giving light to the eyes.
Prophets were officials who ensured the law was understood, and the
singers also had a prophetic role! Mowinckel noted the existence of many
psalms containing prophecy—direct revelation from Yehouah—meant for
the audience of subject people being indoctrinated. These psalms were
recited by a temple priest or singer just as Gunkel had argued.
The psalmist often speaks in the name of God (Ps 2:6ff; 12:6;
20:7; 28:5; 32:8f; 36:2; 49; 50; 60:8-10; 75:3ff; 81:7ff; 82; 85:9;
95:7ff; 110; etc), thereby speaking prophesy in the sense of speaking for
God. 1 Chronicles 25:2f calls the work of the temple singers
“prophesying”. Thus the singing of songs in the systems of worship set
up to Yehouah were ways of indoctrinating the people with the newly
imposed principles in the guise of honour to God:
Blessed are you, O Yehouah. Teach me your statutes.
With my lips I declare all the ordinances of your mouth.
The vocabulary of the new type of worship—teaching, making the people
understand, opening their eyes, obeying the law—is prominent in the
whole of Psalms. The later tradition, after the defeat of the
Persians, was that the gift of prophecy among the singers ceased from the
time of Ezra and Nehemiah. It is certainly expressed by the second century BC
(1 Macc 4:46; 9:27; 14:41), and the Levitical cantors are no
longer thought of as “prophets”. Sirach 50:1-24 is a eulogy of
the high priest Simon II, whom we know held office in 198 BC. He
describes (v 8) a temple service and mentions the use of the singers.
Those who had imposed the system had been swept away by Alexander, but
Yehouism did not cease. It had set down deep enough roots to survive.
Josephus, in 64 AD, says that the Levitical singers asked to be
allowed to learn the songs by heart (Ant 20.216-18), showing that
beforehand the tradition was that they had to be read—a tradition that
began when they were reading out new laws or lessons, but which by then
had petrified into the same ones repeated, the reason for the reading of
new ones having ceased.
Gerstenberger thought the Judaeans themselves claimed the absolute
sovereignty of Yehouah over all the earth (Ps 24,1), in consonance
with the universalistic world views of the Babylonian and Persian cultures
and in defence against being spiritually subdued by the ruling powers. In
other words, he thinks they adapted Yehouah to the Persian concepts of God
(Ahuramazda) voluntarily, just to copy the world powers. Yet, he compares,
in a note only, the voluntary innovations with the followers of Zoroaster
in ancient Persia, who already formed similar communities of faith
transcending family ties, according to Mary Boyce. It was not coincidental
that this huge change happened in Judah just when the Persians had control
over it, nor was it a voluntary change. It was a result of Persian
The Books of Psalms
Psalms 80 was sung in the temple as is clear both from its
authorship (the Levitical prophet, Asaph), and from the address to God as
the one “who is enthroned between the cherubim”, a clear indication of
God enthroned upon the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies. The
Psalter is divided into five books, as the Masoretic bible and the
Septuagint verify, as well as internal signs in the Psalter itself. Thus
each book ends with an appropriate doxology (Ps 41:14; 72:18-19;
89:53; 106:48). Psalms 150, or 146-50, is the doxology for book 5.
The line underneath the doxology to book 2 (Ps 72:20) “the
hymns of David, son of Jesse are ended”, is at the end of a psalm of
Solomon! But it seems to mean that the first two books of psalms, taken to
have been composed by David, completed the collection. Yet so-called
Davidic psalms occur in the remaining books. It might confirm the first
two as the earliests collection, but then songwriters added further songs
to the list claiming that some were by David as well. None of course are
actually by David (or Solomon) but were written much later.
Book 3 seems not to contain any earlier collection. Psalms 89
shows that a date this book as a whole was composed sometime after the
exile, and so in the Persian period.
Books 4 and 5 show signs that they might have been compiled together at
a later date. Psalms 137 shows the date was after the exile, and Psalms
126 seems to refer to the “Return”. A Persian provenance is also
confirmed by the distinction between books 1-3 and 4-5 in the manuscript
tradition. Scholars are happy to associate these books with the reforms of
Ezra and Nehemiah, while innocantly claiming that the presence of
“Davidic” psalms in books after the first two shows that Davidic
psalms were being found “preserved” from the time of David, 500 years
Also highly indicative is the name of God used in the different
|Yehouah is God’s name 273 times in book 1, as opposed to Elohim
appearing 15 times.
|Elohim is used 164 times in book 2 as opposed to Yehouah 30 times.
|In book 3, psalms 73 to 83 use Elohim mainly but others in the
collection prefer Yehouah.
|The most recent books, 4 and 5, use Yehouah 236 times, with Elohim
not used at all in book 4, and used only 7 times in book 5.|
Plainly, although books 1 and 2 were composed at the same time, they
were separate collections for separate congregations. This might be taken
by biblicists as evidence of the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah, but it
is more likely to be evidence of two cults, one of Elohim and one of
Yehouah, who struggled for supremacy. In several cases, the psalms in book
1 and book 2 seem related, but with appropriate changes made to accomodate
each respective cult. Psalms 14 of book 1 is similar to Psalms
53 of book 2. The same psalm is being used in two contexts. Each psalm
addresses God with a different name, and the differences are rewirking not
Psalms 70 is related to Psalms 40:14-18. Part of a psalm
has been used in different settings. The same is true of Psalms
31:2-4a and Psalms 71:1-3. Psalms 108 is similar to Psalms
57:8-12 and Psalms 60:7-14. David was evidently writing psalms for
two sets of worshippers—all of these are supposed to have been by David.
Psalms at Qumran
The arrangements of the psalms found at Qumran are astonishingly
revealing. They prove that the Psalter, supposedly written by king
David about 1000 BC, was not finshed even as late as the first
century AD. Had David himself resurrected to complete his efforts?
Of the five books of psalms in the Jewish scriptures, judging by the
copies found in the Qumran caves, only three had been substantially agreed
by the first century BC. The last two books were arranged in quite
different ways (11QPs) from the extant versions in our bibles. The
fact that several copies of the same work have been found shows that these
were accepted arrangements by the sectaries, at least, and not just an
idiosyncratic anthology of psalms, but they were not the finally accepted
This is clear evidence that an important part of the supposedly ancient
Jewish scriptures had not been compiled or probably even written by the
first century BC. Nothing could be more suggestive that the Jewish
scriptures as a whole are far more recent than the average Jewish and
Christian punter thinks, and that the Jewish and Christian church leaders
and scholars will admit to the general public.
Enoch Literature; Was Enoch Zoroaster?