Bibliography from Veneration

This is a condensed bibliography from Derek Gilbert’s Veneration

Conrad l’Heureux, “The yelide harapa—A Cultic Association of Warriors.” Bulletin of the American
Schools of Oriental Research
No. 221, (Feb., 1976), pp. 83-85.

E. C. B. MacLaurin, “Anak/ʾανξ.” Vetus Testamentum, Vol. 15, Fasc. 4 (Oct., 1965), pp. 468-474.

Brian B. Schmidt, “Israel’s Beneficent Dead: The Character and Origin of Israelite Ancestor Cults and
Necromancy.” (Oxford: University of Oxford doctoral thesis, 1991), pp. 158–159.

Amar Annus, “Are There Greek Rephaim? On the Etymology of Greek Meropes and Titanes.” UgaritForschungen 31 (1999), pp. 13–30.

Amar Annus, “On the Origin of Watchers: A Comparative Study of the Antediluvian Wisdom in
Mesopotamian and Jewish Traditions,” Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha vol. 19:4 (2010), pp. 277–320.

Christopher B. Hays, “An Egyptian Loanword in the Book of Isaiah and the Deir ʾAlla Inscription: Heb. nsṛ, Aram. nqr, and Eg. nṯr as “[Divinized] Corpse.” Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections Vol. 4:2
(2012), p. 18.

George C. Heider, The Cult of Molek: A Reassessment (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1985), pp. 90-91.

Brian R. Doak, “Ezekiel’s Topography of the (Un-)Heroic Dead in Ezekiel 32:17–32.” Journal of
Biblical Literature
, Vol. 132, No. 3 (2013), p. 611.

Ronald S. Handel, “Of Demigods and the Deluge: Toward an Interpretation of Genesis 6:1–4.” Journal of
Biblical Literature
106 (1987), p. 22.

Frölich, Ida (2014). “Mesopotamian Elements and the Watchers Traditions”, in The Watchers in Jewish and
Christian Traditions
(ed. Angela Kim Hawkins, Kelley Coblentz Bautch, and John Endres; Minneapolis:
Fortress), p. 23.

Second Coming of Saturn Bibliography

Lord willing, I plan to read Derek Gilbert’s Second Coming of Saturn. While Gilbert does not claim to be a scholar on the level of Michael Heiser, Gilbert is second to none when it comes to putting all the research in one area. In that case he might be more accessible than Heiser. SkywatchTV has a running series on his study notes. I thought it would be a good idea to put most of his footnoted sources in one area.

1 Enoch 6:1–7. George W. E. Nickelsburg and James C. VanderKam, 1 Enoch: The Hermeneia Translation (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012).

Amar Annus, “Are There Greek Rephaim? On the Etymology of Greek Meropes and Titanes.” Ugarit-Forschungen 31 (1999).

Aren M. Maeir, “A New Interpretation of the Term ʿopalim (עֳפָלִים) in the Light of Recent Archaeological Finds from Philistia.” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Vol 32.1 (2007), pp. 25–26.

Brian B. Schmidt, Israel’s Beneficent Dead: The Origin and Character of Israelite Ancestor Cults and Necromancy (Doctoral thesis: University of Oxford, 1991), pp. 158–159.

Christopher B. Hays and Joel M. LeMon, “The Dead and Their Images: An Egyptian Etymology for Hebrew ôb.” Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections Vol. 1:4 (2009), pp. 1–4.

Christopher B. Hays, “Enlil, Isaiah, and the Origins of the ʾĕlîlîm: A Reassessment.” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 132(2) (2020), p. 226.

Edward Lipiński, “El’s Abode: Mythological Traditions Related to Mount Hermon and to the Mountains of Armenia,” Orientalia Lovaniensa Periodica II (1971), pp. 18–19.

George Heider, The Cult of Molek: A Reassessment (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1985), pp. 390–391.

George W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 1–36; 81–108 (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001), p. 184.

Jaap Doedens, The Sons of God in Genesis 6:1–4 (Leiden: Brill, 2019), pp. 250–252.

Josef Tropper, “Spirit of the Dead.” In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst (Eds.), Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 2nd extensively rev. ed. (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), p. 807.

Judd Burton, “The War of the Words, God-kings, and Their Titles: A Preliminary Report on the Linguistic Relationship Between the Rephaim and Royal Titles in Eurasian Languages.” Bulletin of the Institute of Biblical Anthropology (2021), p. 7.

Klaas Spronk, Beatific Afterlife in Ancient Israel and in the Ancient Near East (Kevelaer: Butzon & Bercker, 1986), pp. 168–169.

Klaas Spronk, “Baal of Peor.” In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst (Eds.), Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (2nd extensively rev. ed.) (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), p. 147.

Klaas Spronk, “Travellers.” In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst (Eds.), Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (2nd extensively rev. ed.). (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999) p. 876.

 Lluis Feliu, The God Dagan in Bronze Age Syria (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2003), p. 212.

Nicolas Wyatt, “Calf.” In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst (Eds.), Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible: 2nd extensively rev. ed. (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), p. 181.

Noga Ayali-Darshan, “The Seventy Bulls Sacrificed at Sukkot (Num 29:12–34) in Light of a Ritual Text from Emar (Emar 6, 373).” Vetus Testamentum 65:1 (2015), pp. 7–8.

Renata MacDougal, Remembrance and the Dead in Second Millennium BC Mesopotamia (University of Leicester: Doctoral dissertation, 2014) pp. 58–59.

Scott B. Noegel, “God of Heaven and Sheol: The ‘Unearthing’ of Creation.” Hebrew Studies, Vol. 58 (2017), p. 121.

Sjur Cappelan Papazian, “Abgal or Apkallu.” Cradle of Civilization, April 5, 2015. https://aratta.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/abgal-or-apkallu/, retrieved 5/16/21.

Stephanie Dalley, “Apkallu.” In: Eggler J./Uehlinger Ch., eds., Iconography of Deities and Demons in the Ancient Near East, http://www.religionswissenschaft.uzh.ch/idd/prepublications/e_idd_illustrations_apkallu.pdf, retrieved 6/26/21.

William R. Gallagher, “On the Identity of Hêlēl Ben Šaḥar of Is. 14:12–15.” UF 26 (1994), pp. 140–141.

Wolfgang Herrmann, “El.” In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst Eds., Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 2nd extensively rev. ed. (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999) p. 275.

Xinhua Wang, The Metamorphosis of Enlil in Early Mesopotamia (Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2011), p. 245.

The Day the Earth Stands Still

by Gilbert and Peck.

More people believe in UFOs than in God.  Rather, more people believe in UFOs than in the traditional understanding of God. That is why there is an urgent need for Christians to give thoughtful, kind, yet firm responses to the UFO movement.  Sadly, most Christian responses are about as robust as the star children at Roswell. Derek Gilbert and Josh Peck help remedy this situation.

While the book has the same “feel” as Gilbert’s earlier Satan’s Psy-ops, it is less exegetical and more of a commentary on current events–at least at first. The later chapters are a gold mine of resources in response to Crowley, Jack Parsons (Scientology!), and H.P. Lovecraft.   In fact, we should spend some time on Lovecraft and Crowley.

While Lovecraft was a materialist, his fiction provided the grounds for later horror thinkers.  Here is where it gets spooky. Lovecraft wrote “The Call of Cthulhu” in 1927, with much of the action taking place in New Orleans. His characters call forth Cthulhu in an orgiastic celebration.  At the exact same time, with no prior knowledge, Crowley summons a demon named “Tutulu” or “Kutulu.” He wrote this on November 1, 1907, the exact time as Lovecraft’s story (44-45).

We’ll come back to Lovecraft.

One of the authors’ theses is that Science Fiction provided a vehicle to communicate “ET” ideas to the larger culture.  

A creepy episode is when members of America’s “9 Ruling Families” channeled a space demon.  I’ll explain. Andrija Puharich was a para-psychologist with connections to US government and various foundations.  He created a think tank whose members included Aldous Huxley and Henry Wallace, FDR’s Vice-President and a 32nd degree Freemason.  On New Year’s Even in 1952 Puharich contacted a Hindu channeler, Dr D. G. Vinod, who conducted a seance and made contact with an entity calling itself “The Nine” (82).

Nine months later another seance was conducted, this time including members from key American families: Marcella DuPont, Alice Bouverie (an Astor), Arthur Young (son-in-law of the Forbes family).

It gets weirder. Vinod had brought a statue of a monkey god named Hanoumn.

I only mention this because the elite of American life believe this stuff, believe they have contacted entities (probably what St Paul called archons).

The authors spend a lot of time on John Podesta’s wikileaks.  While Podesta is one of the creepiest humans on the planet, I don’t think there is a smoking gun regarding ETs.  He did push for ET disclosure under Obama, but as he was moving into the Clinton orbit that wasn’t important for him.  There are a lot of emails to Podesta on disclosure, but very few from him.  

The man is slick.  Think about it. We know the sumbitch is guilty on Pizzagate, yet he never faced judgment. Let’s be blunt: we aren’t going to get him on aliens.

Exoplanet Waterworlds and Chaotic Sea Monsters

Enuma Elish story. Tiamat’s son Enki kills Apsu (fresh water). Tiamat summons forces of chaos.

Baal Cycle.

Both Ps. 74 and Genesis 1 are creation psalms.  The former specifically echoes (and subverts) the Ugaritic Baal Cycle.  In all of these texts–Enuma Elish, Psalm 74, Baal Cycle–there is the question of who defeats the tehom (chaos; in Akkadian it would have been Temtum.  In Sumerian it would have been Tiamat).

The victory of creation is connected with the quelling of the waters.  This is relevant today since occultists follow the doctrine of “order out of chaos,” but not Yahweh’s order.

Leviathan and Behemoth in the End Time

* The Sea is no more.

* Leviathan is Sea-Chaos; Behemoth is Land-Chaos.

Are Evangelicals and Extraterrestrials Compatible?

Much of this chapter is a synthesis of Heiser’s writings on the Nephilim. The authors are flexible, though.  They lean towards the idea that the different ET “races” are likely demonic and/or fallen angels.

Image of God

Whatever imago dei means, it must include, per Genesis 1, the following (184-185):

  1. Both men and women are included.
  2. Divine image bearing is what makes humankind distinct from animals.
  3. It makes us “like God” in some way..
  4. There is nothing “potential” about it.  You either have it or you don’t.

If aliens are demons, couldn’t one argue that at least some aliens are angels?  Peck and Gilbert give a very interesting response to this. When mal’akim appear to man in Scripture, they always appear in humanoid form.  This rules out alien “races” such as Nordics, reptilians, and greys. While Nordics appear human, they never do what angels do. Angels don’t do probes and abductions!

(When Ezekiel sees the cherubim they are in the typical cherubic form: partly beast, four faces, etc.  This gives evidence that Cherubim aren’t really angels in the sense that we use the term).

Uncomfortable implications of the Ancient Aliens hypothesis (190-195).

* The gods were tasked with hard work, so they created humans to do it.

* humans aren’t image-bearers of these gods (which is probably a good thing).

* No evidence that there is anything beyond matter.

* According to the myths, the gods behave the same way as humans.

* The Anunnaki made some bloodlines superior.  Think of the racial implications.

* These aliens are creator-masters, not brothers.

* Unlike the bible, no one is destined to be kings.

Conclusion

Criticisms:  There were some editing problems.  The usual typos. In one appendix the author (Peck, I think) referenced Psalm 8 when he mentioned Proverbs 8.

Last Clash of the Titans

Gilbert, Derek P. The Last Clash of the Titans. Defender Publishing, 2018.

Derek Gilbert’s unique skill is in summarizing the very difficulty academic scholarship and placing it in a template that a) makes sense for the reader and b) puts the reader on an eschatological “high alert.”

Study notes here: https://www.derekpgilbert.com/2018/08/18/last-clash-of-the-titans/

Idols were lifeless.  That’s the point.  They functioned, rather, as an antenna. 

Chapter 1: Background

Gilbert quickly goes over the Nephilim thesis, including the faulty reading of Genesis 6.  If this merely refers to the line of Seth, and not to semi-divine beings, then why: a) did they produce giants and b) why were all the Sethite boys good and the Cainite girls bad? c) how did good boys and bad girls produce giants? (Gilbert  loc. 144).

Further, as Gilbert notes, the two surviving sons are mentioned “nowhere in Genesis 6, so reading Seth and Cain into an interpretation” is eisegesis. Appealing to Jesus’s passage in Matt. 22:30 only dodges the hard question.  Jesus was talking about procreation, and he said they only couldn’t do it in heaven. When angels, for lack of a better word, get to earth they can do human things.

Chapter 2: Gods of the Amorites

Mountain cosmology: “the mount of assembly of the divine rebel in Eden is the holy mountain of the Caananite storm god” (1206).  It is Mt. Zaphon, today’s mountain Jebel al-Aqra.

Rephaim: Lords of the Corpse

The etymology of the Rephaim is difficult to discern.  On one hand the lemma rp can simply denote healer and is sometimes used of Yahweh (cf Michael L. Brown, Israel’s Divine Healer). In terms of spiritual warfare (and the Canaanite invasion) it has a darker background.  Some Rephaim were kings, such as Og and Sihon.  Other times they are described as spirits of the dead (Job 26.5; Ps. 88.10).

Isaiah 14 links the Rephaim to Baal and Gog.  It describes the shades (rapha) as rising to greet Lucifer (or he who inhabited Mt. Zaphon, more on that later).

Mt. Zaphon (tsaphon) is in what biblical writers called “the far north,” modern day Syria.  Since that marked the northern end of an invasion route, it made sense to see it as the far north.  It is in the area of Bashan and Hermon, the location to which the fallen Watchers descended and the gate to the underworld.

Chapter 4: From Mesopotamia to Greece

In Greek mythology the Titan Kronos was sent to Tartarus.  Gilbert makes clear this isn’t simply another word for Hades.  Peter knew that term and used it elsewhere (Acts 2:27, 30).  This was a specific place for the “angels who sinned” (who 1 Enoch calls the Watchers and the Mesopotamians call the apkallu; the Greeks call them the Titans).  This means, quite obviously, that fallen angels aren’t demons, since demons are anywhere but the abyss/Tartarus when we see them in the gospels.

It is Gilbert’s argument that the Rephaim “are the demigod sons of the Watchers” (67).

Gilbert points out that in Ugaritic/Amorite cosmology, it took three days for the dead Rephaim to respond to the summoning ritual (KTU 1.21.ii: 1-7).  While we don’t know much about the ontology of the netherworld, we do know that Jesus proclaimed (not preached) to spirits in prison.  Further, Peter mentions these spirits in prison in connection with Noah, referring back to Genesis 6 (and forever demolishing the Sethite thesis). 

Eschatology

Gilbert skillfully dismantles the claim that Gog = Russia.  The Hebrew rosh refers to Gog as a prince, not to Rosh as a place, which some take to be Russia.  Even though the text mentions “the uttermost parts of the north,” to an Israelite this would have been obvious by its very name: tsaphon.  It would have been Mt. Zaphon. The names Ezekiel gives are all in present-day Turkey.  Even more, the war will “bring fire on Magog’s coastlands. Russia has never been a coastal power.

Therefore, we aren’t looking at a geographical north, but a cosmic north (Gilbert 120).  This war is between Mt Zaphon and Mt Zion–it is a “supernatural war for control of the mount of assembly, the har mo’ed (122).

So who is Gog?  The location puts him/it in Turkey, seeming to make him an Islamic leader.  That might not be right, though.  The language of the war is spiritual, located in the cosmic north on the slopes of Mt. Zaphon.  Gilbert doesn’t think he is Baal, though, even though we are at the location of Baal’s mountain.  Gog is Antichrist, which means he can’t be Lucifer or Baal.

Valley of the Travelers

This is the neatest part of the book.  I think there is sufficient evidence to see the Rephaim as the spirits of dead kings, probably Nephilim.  They are currently in the underworld.  Ezekiel 39:11, having documented Yahweh’s slaughter of Gog’s forces, talks about blocking the valley of the Travellers.  This valley is “east of the Sea,” which Gilbert posits as east of the Dead Sea.

The Hebrew word for traveller is oberim, based on ‘br.  It means to “pass from one side to the other.”  What Gilbert is arguing is that it means to pass from one plane of existence to another.  Numbers 21:10-11) mentions the Israelites camping at Oboth and Iye-abarim opposite Moab. Oboth derives from ‘ob, “which refers to summoning spirits of the dead” (Tropper, J. “Spirit of the Dead.” In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst (Eds.), Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (2nd extensively rev. ed.) (Leiden; Boston; Koln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans), p. 806).

This is the same area where Moses was buried in, “a place where the Rephaim spirits reputedly crossed over to the land of the living. Is that why Satan, lord of the dead, thought he had a right to claim the body of Moses after his death” (Gilbert132)?  This is the same area where Israel was ensnared by Baal Peor.  Peor means “open wide” (Spronk, K. “Baal of Peor.”  In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst (Eds.), Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (2nd extensively rev. ed.) (Leiden; Boston; Koln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans), p. 147).  He is the lord of the entrance to the underworld. 

But does this actually prove the Rephaim were the Travellers in view?  According to ancient texts, probably.  Ugaritic texts specifically referred to the Rephaim as “travellers” (KTU 1.22 ii, 20-27; I, 15).  In connection with Ezekiel, these spirits are going to be at Har Mo’ed.

One of the problems with Armageddon taking place at Megiddo is that Jesus is supposed to land at the Mount of Olives, which is more than fifty miles away.

Gilbert ends by identifying Antichrist as the Chaos figure (Tiamat, Leviathan, Typhon).  Interestingly enough, Irenaeus said Antichrist would be a Titan (Adv. Haer. V.30).

This is not an academic text, but Gilbert has marshaled the best scholarship and we, the readers, are given the opportunity of evaluating the evidence.  On several new points, while not intending to be a scholarly text, Gilbert has broken fresh ground.  

The Day the Earth Stands Still (Peck and Gilbert)

images

More people believe in UFOs than in God.  Rather, more people believe in UFOs than in the traditional understanding of God. That is why there is an urgent need for Christians to give thoughtful, kind, yet firm responses to the UFO movement.  Sadly, most Christian responses are about as robust as the star children at Roswell. Derek Gilbert and Josh Peck help remedy this situation.

While the book has the same “feel” as Gilbert’s earlier Satan’s Psy-ops, it is less exegetical and more of a commentary on current events–at least at first. The later chapters are a gold mine of resources in response to Crowley, Jack Parsons (Scientology!), and H.P. Lovecraft.   In fact, we should spend some time on Lovecraft and Crowley.

While Lovecraft was a materialist, his fiction provided the grounds for later horror thinkers.  Here is where it gets spooky. Lovecraft wrote “The Call of Cthulhu” in 1927, with much of the action taking place in New Orleans. His characters call forth Cthulhu in an orgiastic celebration.  At the exact same time, with no prior knowledge, Crowley summons a demon named “Tutulu” or “Kutulu.” He wrote this on November 1, 1907, the exact time as Lovecraft’s story (44-45).

We’ll come back to Lovecraft.

A creepy episode is when members of America’s “9 Ruling Families” channeled a space demon.  I’ll explain. Andrija Puharich was a para-psychologist with connections to US government and various foundations.  He created a think tank whose members included Aldous Huxley and Henry Wallace, FDR’s Vice-President and a 32nd degree Freemason.  On New Year’s Even in 1952 Puharich contacted a Hindu channeler, Dr D. G. Vinod, who conducted a seance and made contact with an entity calling itself “The Nine” (82).

Nine months later another seance was conducted, this time including members from key American families: Marcella DuPont, Alice Bouverie (an Astor), Arthur Young (son-in-law of the Forbes family).

It gets weirder. Vinod had brought a statue of a monkey god named Hanoumn.

I only mention this because the elite of American life believe this stuff, believe they have contacted entities (probably what St Paul called archons).

The authors spend a lot of time on John Podesta’s wikileaks.  While Podesta is one of the creepiest humans on the planet, I don’t think there is a smoking gun regarding ETs.  He did push for ET disclosure under Obama, but as he was moving into the Clinton orbit that wasn’t important for him.  There are a lot of emails to Podesta on disclosure, but very few from him.  

The man is slick.  Think about it. We know the sumbitch is guilty on Pizzagate, yet he never faced judgment. Let’s be blunt: we aren’t going to get him on aliens.

Exoplanet Waterworlds and Chaotic Sea Monsters

Enuma Elish story. Tiamat’s son Enki kills Apsu (fresh water). Tiamat summons forces of chaos.

Baal Cycle.

Both Ps. 74 and Genesis 1 are creation psalms.  The former specifically echoes (and subverts) the Ugaritic Baal Cycle.  In all of these texts–Enuma Elish, Psalm 74, Baal Cycle–there is the question of who defeats the tehom (chaos; in Akkadian it would have been Temtum.  In Sumerian it would have been Tiamat).

The victory of creation is connected with the quelling of the waters.  This is relevant today since occultists follow the doctrine of “order out of chaos,” but not Yahweh’s order.

Leviathan and Behemoth in the End Time

* The Sea is no more.

* Leviathan is Sea-Chaos; Behemoth is Land-Chaos.

Are Evangelicals and Extraterrestrials Compatible?

Much of this chapter is a synthesis of Heiser’s writings on the Nephilim. The authors are flexible, though.  They lean towards the idea that the different ET “races” are likely demonic and/or fallen angels.

Image of God

Whatever imago dei means, it must include, per Genesis 1, the following (184-185):

  1. Both men and women are included.
  2. Divine image bearing is what makes humankind distinct from animals.
  3. It makes us “like God” in some way..
  4. There is nothing “potential” about it.  You either have it or you don’t. 

If aliens are demons, couldn’t one argue that at least some aliens are angels?  Peck and Gilbert give a very interesting response to this. When mal’akim appear to man in Scripture, they always appear in humanoid form.  This rules out alien “races” such as Nordics, reptilians, and greys. While Nordics appear human, they never do what angels do. Angels don’t do probes and abductions!

(When Ezekiel sees the cherubim they are in the typical cherubic form: partly beast, four faces, etc.  This gives evidence that Cherubim aren’t really angels in the sense that we use the term).

Uncomfortable implications of the Ancient Aliens hypothesis (190-195).

* The gods were tasked with hard work, so they created humans to do it.

* humans aren’t image-bearers of these gods (which is probably a good thing).

* No evidence that there is anything beyond matter.

* According to the myths, the gods behave the same way as humans. 

* The Anunnaki made some bloodlines superior.  Think of the racial implications.

* These aliens are creator-masters, not brothers.

* Unlike the bible, no one is destined to be kings.

Conclusion

Criticisms:  There were some editing problems.  The usual typos. In one appendix the author (Peck, I think) referenced Psalm 8 when he mentioned Proverbs 8.

 

Developing an Enochian Worldview

Some of these are inspired by Dr Michael Heiser’s writings, though much of it came from my own working through both the Scriptures and tradition.  Our problem is that we are all students of Milton, whether we admit it or not.  An Enochian worldview, by contrast, sees how “angels” (more on that term later) function within the Divine Realm.

We say things like “we need a biblical worldview” (I used to say “supernatural,” but after talking with some guys on a Reformed online forum, I can’t take that for granted anymore), and we piously nod at the Bible when it says “angels are ministering servants,” but we really don’t let the Bible correct our understanding of Dante.

What Did Dante Say?

You already know this.  If I say “hell,” you think of a fiery underworld.  More to the point, you think there is a class of beings known as demons/devils/fallen angels.  They are either being tortured by fire or torturing others by fire (pop culture tradition isn’t too clear).

But there are some problems with this picture (though it did inspire good music).  The Bible contradicts it in various places.  If you hold that there is one class of beings called angels, which are subdivided into good and bad, with all of the latter in a subterranean realm (or if you are a bit more sophisticated, another dimension), then the following problems occur:

  1. Why is Satan called the prince of the powers of the air (Eph. 2:2) if he is locked underground?
  2. If all the demons are in hell, then why do we wrestle against principalities and powers in the heavenly places (Eph. 6)?
  3. If Ha Shatan is locked underground, then how did he appear before God in Job?
  4. If all the demons are in hell, then how did they possess people in the NT?
  5.  Yet Peter says some were thrust into Tartarus (2 Peter 2:4).
  6. Why does Peter use the word Tartarus when he could have simply said hell or hades?
  7.  Was the spirit in 1 Kings 22:19-23 good or bad?  If he was good, then was God commanding him to lie? If he was bad, then why was he in heaven?
  8. Is God the only kind of Elohim?  You have to say no, because God (singular Elohim) is often speaking to plural Elohim, and even if the latter are just men, they aren’t the kind of Elohim that Yahweh is.

That’s enough for now.  These questions show that the pop worldview about demons is wrong.  Now for my own theses, drawn from Michael Heiser and Derek Gilbert.

1. Sons of God in Genesis 6/Psalm 82:Dt.32:8 refer to elohimic beings, not men.  I won’t argue that thesis at this point. I also think these are what Enoch called the Watchers (alluded to in Peter and Jude; mentioned in Daniel, though those Watchers are good).

2. Their offspring were the Nephilim.

3. Some church fathers and Philo said that the departed souls of the Nephilim were what we call “demons” today.  Maybe.  That might not be provable, but it does remove certain problems.

I am closely following Heiser’s analysis on issues like the Rephaim.

4.  Rephaim: Heiser–”When the term is translated, it is rendered “giants” (1 Chr 20:4 ESV), “shades” (i.e., spirits of the dead; Isa 26:14 ESV), or simply “the dead” (Job 26:5 ESV)”.  Specifically, they are the spirits of dead warrior-kings in the underworld. They are also giants whom the Ammonites called Zamzummim (Deut 2:19–20 ESV).

4a. Og was a Rephaim (Josh. 13:12).

5.  Demons aren’t the same as fallen angels, rephaim, or nephilim.  

  1. They aren’t the celestial ones of 2 Peter 2 and Jude.  Angels are very cautious in the celestial ones’ presence.
  2. With Heiser, I highly recommend questions 72-75 of Doug Van Dorn’s primer on the supernatural.
  3. At this point we see several levels of differentiation:
  4. The corrupt sons of God put over the nations are called shedim, a term of geographical guardianship (van Dorn).
  5. The fallen angels, or Watchers, are imprisoned in Tartarus until the Final Judgment (2 Peter 2 and Jude).
  6. Whatever demons are, they aren’t those above.
  7. A demon, at least in the Gospel exorcism passages, is an unclean spirit.
  8. If Jewish intertestamental literature is to be trusted, demons are the departed spirits of dead Nephilim.  Granted, this isn’t inspired literature, but it was the worldview/social imaginary of those who lived in the apostles’ time.  Jude quoted 1 Enoch, and while 1 Enoch isn’t inspired, Jude acted like it had a lot of truth.

Review: The Great Inception (Satan’s Psyops)

This book surprised me.  I wondered how sophisticated it would be.  It impressed.  I do feel like some arguments could have been expanded, but overall Gilbert made a reasonably strong case, one that I find convincing.  Please check out his website here.

and here: http://www.derekpgilbert.com/the-great-inception/

The reader is encourage to consult Serro’s work as well.

The argument: Yahweh’s war against the Watchers takes place on a set of mountains, beginning in Eden.

inception

Following Heiser he suggests that the serpent in Genesis 3 was actually a serpentine being (following the fluidity of nachash) rather than Sneaky Snake.

  • He says Nachash can also mean “one who practices divination” (Gilbert 9).  I don’t disagree, but he doesn’t cite any lexical sources.
  • But if Lucifer is an angel, and angels do have a shining appearance, then it might work.

Who was “Satan?”  He never appears by that name early on.  But if we take Isaiah 14 and Ezek. 28 as referring to the garden, then we can infer:

  • He was an anointed cherub
  • He walked on stones of fire

Hermon

Nephilim

It means giants (33). We need to get clear on something: the Nephilim are the descendants (or some of them, anyway) from the intermarriages.  They are not the sires.  Gilbert argues, and I think he is correct, that the Watchers, or other ביני ילוהימ, mated with humans and produced Nephilim.

  1. How likely is it that all the Sethite men were good and all the Cainanite women were bad?
  2. Does this mean that Caininite women never married Sethite men?
  3. Why would this union produce Nephilim, understood by Jews and Christians to be giants?
  4. Why would this union lead to wickedness so great that God destroys the planet?
  5. Every other use of bene elohim means divine beings (34).

Objection: But angels can’t reproduce!

But I answer: That was not the presumption of the men of Sodom. I suppose we can advance the argument.  Who said the Watchers or the ביני ילוהימ were angels in the sense you are thinking of?  I simply deny that premise.

Babel

Gilbert advances the argument that Babel wasn’t Babylon (as Babylon wouldn’t have existed then). Nor was God freaked out that somebody would have built a really big Ziggurat.  What is neat is comparing this with other ANE legends (Satan’s psyops).  Nimrod  was lord of the abzu, the abyss.  The tower of Bab-el would have been built on the abzu (59).  And Bab-el meant gate of the god(s).  So the gate of the gods would have been built on the abyss.

Gilbert asks the question that bourgeois commentators do not:  could Nimrod have succeeded?  It was serious enough that Yahweh personally intervened.

The gods of the nations

This is where it gets neat.  We are familiar with the story that the people spread out.  Part of the punishment was that the people (70 nations) were given to the lordship of the bene elohim-ביני ילוהימ (also 70).

God writes (Dt. 32),

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,

   when he divided mankind,

he fixed the borders[a] of the peoples

   according to the number of the sons of God (bene elohim; ביני ילוהימ).

It makes no sense whatsoever to say that God fixed the numbers according to the nation of Israel, which didn’t yet exist.  Yet, if we read this as “sons of God,” assuming they are beings which have some kind of hypostatic existence, then other passages in Deuteronomy start to make sense:

And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven. 20 But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace (Dt. 4)

Why would God alot other nations to do idolatry?  It’s not so much that he wanted them to do that, but that he gave them over to the gods of those nations.

But would Yahweh allot nations to evil beings?  Well, yes.  Think of it as the Romans 1 moment of the Old Testament.  And it is no more “mean” of God to do this than to give people up to sinful passions.

It is because they abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt, 26 and went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they had not known and whom he had not allotted to them (Dt 29).

In short, these are territorial spirits.  And this makes sense of obscure passages in Daniel, where Daniel learns of the war between the princes of Persia, Greece, and Michael.

Sinai

Who was Ba’al Zephon (Ex. 14:3)? Zaphon was the name of Ba’al’s mountain in Egypt.

At Mt. Sinai Yahweh demands that 70 elders approach with Moses and Aaron.  Gilbert concludes, noting the parallels between the 70 elders and the 70 bene elohim, “A day is coming when my (Yahweh’s) people will again take their place in the divine council” (96).

The Typhon Connection

Set was often equated with Ba’al, but he was also identified with Typhon (99).  And when you transpose this onto the Crowley-Lovecraft mythos, you see that the Great Old Ones are prominent, and they could be the bene elohim.

Zaphon

Tie-in with other gods

Gilbert connects the dots between pagan mythologies and biblical demonology, and the list is quite startling:

“Reseph” in the bible is mentioned as plague, and for the Amorites he was a god who spread both healing and disease with his arrows (115). In Babylon he was called Nergal, and by the time Greece emerged as a power, he was depicted as an archer and god of medicine and healing.  His name, obviously, was Apollo.  And he has a role to play in Eschatology (Rev. 9:1-11).  He is Lord of the Abyss.

And when we tie all this together, we see Reseph (similar root structure to seraph, burning one) = Nergal, Lord of the Underworld = Apollo, demon of the Abyss.

Other patterns:

Zeus = Ba’al (lightning, storm connection)

Venus = Aphrodite = Astarte = Ishtar

Who are the Rephaim (Dt. 2:2-5; 8b-12; 18-23).

They are connected with Og and Sihon, giants whom Moses deliberately targeted (they weren’t on the planned invasion route). Hesiod and Enoch (1 Enoch 15:8-12) connect the meropes anthropoi with the Nephilim, children of the Fallen Watchers (157).  Upon their death they would have become spirits/demons, the Council of the Didanu.

Carmel

Angels fought against Jabin (Judg. 5:19-22).

Onto Mt. Carmel:

If our earlier reading is correct, and Yahweh did indeed divide the people into 70 nations (with 70 gods; Dt 32:8-9, using the ESV).  If this reading is wrong, then Paul was wrong to warn against elemental spirits, thrones, demons, principalities.

Amorite spiritual context: the Rephaim/Nephilim, children of Titans, represented forbidden knowledge (sorcery, necromancy, etc. 197).

Zion

Jesus’s transfiguration took place near Mt Hermon.  There were other watchers besides the disciples.  He was sending a message (208-209).  This was the realm of Pan (Paneas = Caesarea Phillipi).  Pan is a goat demon alluded to in the Old Testament (Lev. 17:1-7, which is the same word used in Isaiah 13:19-21).  Azazel in Leviticus 16:6-12 is also connected with goats.

Pan is also related to Aegipan, sometimes connected with the Constellation Capricorn

In his response to the Pharisees Christ links Satan with Ba’al, the storm God.  This means Satan is also linked with Zeus, Thor, and Perrun.

Satan = Ba’al = Zeus = Thor = Perrun.

I’m not quite ready to make that connection, but it is worth considering.

Recap

200 supernatural beings (Watchers, from the book of Enoch) established a rebellion on Mt Hermon.  Their breeding with women in Genesis 6 produced the Nephilim.  They also taught forbidden knowledge.  In response God chained them in darkness (Jude, 2 Peter).

Gilbert brings home Dr Heiser’s arguments and they are strongly worth considering.  If we don’t take the supernatural seriously, we have a flattened ontology and are incapable of dealing with both the bible and the hard facts of reality.

Key resources:

Annus, Amar. 1999. “Are there Greek Rephaim? On the Etymology of Greek Meropes and Titanes.” Ugarit-Forschungen 31:13-30.

–. 2010. “On the Origin of Watchers: A comparative study of the antediluvian wisdom in Mesopotamian and Jewish Traditions.” Journal for the Study of Pseudipigrapha 19 (4): 277-320.

Toon, K. van der. “Nimrod Before and After the bible.” Harvard Theological Review 83: 1-29.