It is important to notice, however, that many of the ancient mythical tales have a substratum of historical fact; and much in them that appears fabulous and nonsensical on the surface, proves on careful investigation to have a hidden meaning.
That the ancient nations of Babylon, Egypt, Greece, etc., were highly civilized is demonstrated by the remains of their wonderful architecture, the style of which cannot be improved upon even by the advanced nations of our day. Such cultured people must have had some reason, satisfactory to themselves, to induce them to worship their mythical gods. The Bible throws light upon this question; and a little knowledge of Mythology aids us to understand a number of very obscure texts of the Scriptures.
Scriptural Recognition of Heathen Gods
In giving the law to the Israelites, the Lord commanded them to on no account worship the gods of the other nations; but we read of many instances where they deliberately disregarded this injunction, and were in consequence punished until they returned to Him, the only true God. Jeremiah records a case in point in chapter 44, verses 15-19,25–“As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee, but we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven,” etc. See also Jer. 7:17,19–“Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women kneed their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and they pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.”
Who was this “Queen of heaven” in whom the erring Jews had such implicit confidence?
In Judges 2:11-13 is recorded another falling away of the Israelites: “And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord unto anger. And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.”
Who was Baal? Who was Ashtaroth?
As all are aware, the Bible contains many references to Baal; yet it does not disclose the identity of this god, nor explain why the faithless Jews and other peoples so consistently rendered him obeisance. It is here that we are aided by Mythology, the study of which reveals the fact that the god Baal, and the goddess the Queen of heaven, were universally worshipped under various names and titles. While this is recognized by students of Mythology, it is not so generally realized that these same deities are even now worshipped in our very midst by the adherents of that great idolatrous system which the Scriptures name “Babylon the Great”!
The Two Babylons
History proves that Papacy’s adoration of images, dead saints and relics, its holy candles, holy water, etc., and all its vain ritual, are borrowed from heathen sources. Papacy’s excuse, as voiced by Cardinal Newman, is that although it is admitted that such things are “the very instruments and appendages of demon-worship,” they were, however, “sanctified by adoption into the church.” (Newman’s Development, pp. 359,360) But it is now clearly apparent that the Romish Church has not been justified in adopting heathen customs and practices. For this very reason, Papacy is denominated “Babylon the Great”; the Babylon of old was full of these abominations, and therefore well typified the fallen church of the Gospel Age.
Babylon was the first nation or kingdom after the deluge, and by it idolatrous worship was inaugurated.
Comparing Jer. 51:6-8, with Rev. 17:4,5; 14:8, we notice that almost the same expressions are used. In Jeremiah, ancient Babylon is said to have been a golden cup in the Lord’s hands, by which all nations were made drunken–drunken with the wine of false religion. In Revelation “Babylon the Great” is called the “Mother of Harlots,” the parent system, which made all nations drink of her golden cup full of abominations, the wine of false doctrine. As typical Babylon fell, so shall antitypical “Babylon the Great” fall never to rise.
That Babylon was the first nation after the flood is shown by Gen. 10:8-12. This reference, also, furnishes a clue to the origin of the worship of false gods; and by comparing with certain statements in mythological histories we get a further clue to the identity of these deities. We read: “And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, ‘Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.’ And the beginning of his kingdom was Babylon, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land he went forth into Assyria and builded Nineveh,” etc. (See margin.)
Nimrod the Mighty Hunter, and his Influence in the World
Why should the Bible make special mention of Nimrod? Because he was the first to become mighty; and even to this day the countries of Babylonia and Assyria are filled with the name of Nimrod. When Moses wrote Genesis, although Nimrod had long since passed away, his name had become a proverb, so that it was a popular saying: “Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.” His might lay in the fact of his being a hunter; for we must reflect on the conditions which would obtain in the earth in his day. Only four human pairs were preserved from the waters of the deluge; but many kinds of animals came forth from the ark; and as these animals multipled one can see how the terror of the more ferocious among them would lay hold upon all men. He, therefore, who brought destruction to the tiger, the leopard, the lion, the python, was regarded as the great benefactor, the man above all others to be honored by his fellows and commemorated by posterity.
The universal popularity of an individual must be a force for good or for evil to the community. Although the Scriptures do not directly allude to the nature of the influence exerted by Nimrod, we may safely infer from the character of his parentage, and from other circumstances, that it was evil. That his grandfather, Ham, had a depraved disposition is proved in Gen. 9:18-25; while in the same connection Shem was given a special blessing because of his purity. (verse 26) Thus we gather that very shortly after the deluge the human race was divided into two camps, one for the Lord and righteousness among whom Shem took the leading part, the other for unrighteousness with Ham as the principal apostate. Of the latter branch of the race Nimrod was descended.
It is improbable, therefore, that the declaration that Nimrod was a “mighty hunter before the Lord” signifies that he in any way sought thus to honor the Lord. In such a connection the phrase “before the Lord” rather implies a belittling of the Lord’s power to protect His own. Perceiving the menaced condition of the race, Nimrod, trusting to his own prowess, came forward as the bold savior of the world, and becoming a mighty one in the earth attracted men’s attention away from the Lord. The natural result of the admiration of a man of Nimrod’s character must necessarily have been to destroy reverence for God, and thus lead to the adoration and worship of the creature instead of the Creator. That the world did fall into infidelity shortly after the flood is proved from the first part of the eleventh chapter of Genesis. The great Jewish historian Josephus says in confirmation: “The multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God.”–Ant. 1:4:2
We cannot suppose, however, that the saintly few would permit this evil without exerting some effort to stay the downward course, for the Lord’s people in all ages from the time of righteous Abel have protested against sin. If the tradition of the Jews be true that Shem was Melchizedec (and the claim seems reasonable and quite in accord with Scripture analogy), then, as “Priest of the most high God” he must have been a very Hercules in the Lord’s cause, and a constant check to the evilly disposed.
Thus far we may reasonably infer from the brief references to Nimrod given in the Scriptures. To gain further information about this mighty hunter we require to study the pages of Mythology.
Ninus and Semiramis
In Gen. 10:11, already quoted, we read that Nimrod built the city of Nineveh. This little item of Bible history enables us to identify Nimrod with the king Ninus of classical writings. The name Nineveh literally means “The habitation of Ninus.” The historian Apollodorus expressly states that “Ninus is Nimrod.” (Apollodori, Fragm. 68 in Willer, Vol. i, p. 440) In the ancient records of Justin and Diodorus Siculus, Ninus is credited with similar kingly powers as are attributed to Nimrod by the Scriptures. (Justin, Hist. Rom. Script., Vol. ii, p. 615; Diodorus, Bibliotheca, lib. ii, p. 63) Ninus was the son, as well as the husband, of Semiramis. According to Eusebius these two reigned as king and queen in the time of Abraham; but the great chronologist Clinton, and the celebrated Excavator and Linguist Layard, both assign an earlier date to the reign of Ninus and Semiramis.
In one of the famous sculptures of ancient Babylon, Ninus and Semiramis are represented as actively engaged in the pursuits of the chase, the “quiver-bearing Semiramis” being a fit companion for the “mighty hunter before the Lord.” Diodorus, lib. ii, p. 69
Semiramis was a beautiful but very depraved woman, and it is to her that much of the extravagant and licentious character of the heathen religions has been ascribed. In his work Inferno, in the 5th Canto, Dante pictures Semiramis as one of the damned in hell (not purgatory); and he also mentions Ninus in the same connection. Although Dante’s “visions” were a figment of his imagination, yet his consigning Semiramis to eternal punishing shows the bad esteem in which she was held.
The “Mysteries” of the Heathen Religions
The Chaldean “Mysteries” can be traced back to the days of Semiramis. It appears that her husband’s apostacy was quite open, and consisted mainly in leading men into sensuality, teaching them that they might enjoy the “pleasures of sin” without fear of retribution from a holy God. In his hunting expeditions he was accompanied by troops of women; and by music, games and revelries, and everything that pleases the natural heart, he insinuated himself into the favor of the world. It was after the death of Ninus or Nimrod that the secret “Mysteries” were set up by Semiramis and her followers.
Nimrod’s death is not noticed in the Scriptures, but there was an ancient tradition that his end was violent. Strange though it may seem, numerous lines of evidence (which we shall investigate as we proceed) prove that it was this very death of Nimrod that constituted the foundational theme of the Mysteries.* Salverte informs us that all who sought initiation into these systems were compelled to drink peculiar intoxicating beverages. This is undoubtedly the origin of Jeremiah’s allusion to the golden cup which made all nations drunken; for every nation received its idolatrous religion from Babylon.
*Reference to Hislop’s, 2 Babylons.
In all essentials the “Mysteries” of the different nations were the same, each being fashioned after the pattern of the “Mother” nation Babylon. Regarding this Layard says: “Of the great antiquity of this primitive worship there is abundant evidence, and that it originated among the inhabitants of the Assyrian plains, we have the united testimony of sacred and profane history. It obtained the epithet of perfect, and was believed to be the most ancient religious system, having preceded that of the Egyptians. The identity of many of the Assyrian doctrines with those of Egypt is alluded to by Porphyry and Clemens.” Birch, also, says: “The Zodiacal signs…show unequivocally that the Greeks derived their notions and arrangements of the Zodiac [and consequently their Mythology, which was intertwined with it] from the Chaldeans. The identity of Nimrod with the constellation Orion is not to be rejected.”–Layard, Nineveh and its Remains, Vol. ii, pp. 439,440 We see, therefore, that ancient Babylon was a fitting type of that wonderful “Mystery of Iniquity” of the Gospel Age, called “Babylon the Great.” Just as that great system had its small beginning in the days of the Apostles, being alluded to by Paul in 2 Thess. 2:7–“The mystery of iniquity doth already work,” and afterwards attained so great dimensions that it has deceived the whole world, so the typical Mystery in literal Babylon also began in a small way, then grew and extended, and latterly became so universal that all nations were made “mad,” i.e., void of judgment. Only those who worship the true God had the spirit of a sound mind.–2 Tim. 1:7
“Mother and Son” Worship
While in “Babylon the Great,” the principal subjects of devotion are the Madonna and her child (said to be the virgin Mary and Jesus), so in typical Babylon the popular worship was extended to a goddess mother and her son, who had their origin in Semiramis and her son Ninus (the Hebrew word for “son” is nin). Remembering the religious influence which proceeded from Babylon, we have here the explanation of the universal adoration of the “Mother and Son.” In Greece they were worshipped as Ceres the great mother, with the babe at her breast; or as Irene the goddess of Peace, with the boy Plutus in her arms. In Pagan Rome as Fortuna and Jupiter-puer, or Jupiter the boy. In Asia as Cybele and Deaius. In India as Isi and Iswara; and even in Thibet, China, and Japan, missionaries were astonished to find the exact counterpart of the Madonna and her child as devoutly reverenced as in Papal Rome itself.
The Egyptian God Osiris was Nimrod
In Egypt the Mother was worshipped as Isis, and the Son as Osiris, though more often as Horus. Regardling Osiris, Bunsen shows that he was represented as at once the Son and Husband of his mother, and actually bore as one of his titles of honor the name “Husband of the Mother.” (Bunsen, Vol. i, pp. 438, 439) This serves to identify Osiris with Ninus who married his own mother. There are many strong proofs that Osiris was Nimrod or Ninus. In some of his forms Osiris was represented clothed in a leopard’s skin; and as it is a principle in every religion that the high priest wears the insignia of the god whom he serves, the Egyptian high priest wore a leopard’s skin when officiating on all important occasions. This article of apparel was intended to commemorate some outstanding event in connection with the god Osiris; for all the strange clothing and head gear of the heathen gods and priests were signs or symbols intended to convey some meaning to those who were educated to understand them–that is, to the “initiated.” We who are initiated into the mysteries of God’s glorious plan of the Ages (Mark 4:11), have an understanding of the symbolisms of the garments of the Jewish high priests.
The name Nimrod means literally “The subduer of the leopard,” being derived from nimr “a leopard,” and rad “to subdue.” In these ancient days much significance was attached to names, as students of the Bible are aware. Nimrod’s name, therefore, implied that his fame as a hunter rested mainly on the fact that he had discovered the art of training the leopard to aid him in hunting the other wild beasts. A particular kind of leopard, named the cheetah, is used for hunting in India even at this day. When we find that Osiris and his priests are represented arrayed in leopard’s skins, we may be sure that deep meaning was attached to this costume; we believe that it was intended to convey to the initiates the understanding that their god Osiris was in reality Nimrod, the renowned “Leopard-tamer.” It is well known that Nimrod or Ninus, on becoming mighty, extended his dominion, conquering Egypt, in addition to other countries.
Plutarch says there was a tradition among the Egyptians that “Osiris was black.” (De Isid, et Os., Vol. ii, p. 359) As the Egyptians were dark people themselves, the blackness of Osiris must have been more than ordinary to have called for special comment. In his book of Plates, Belzoni shows a colored drawing of the recognized figure of Osiris, which he copied from the lifesize paintings on the walls in one of the tombs of the kings at Thebes. (Plate V) The face and hands of this figure are jet black. Wilkinson, also, in his 6th volume, shows a figure of Osiris which has the features of the negro; and it is significant that this negro figure of Osiris is clothed in a leopard’s skin. Professor C. Piazzi Smyth draws attention to the unmistakable negro features of the great Sphinx near the Pyramids of Gizeh, which idol is pronounced to be a representation of Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis. Horus, however, is only another form of Osiris. This, then, is further identification of Osiris with Nimrod, for Nimrod was black, being the son of Cush, whose name signifies “black.” Ham, also, was black; he is the father of all the black races.
The Ethiopians were very black, and this people were descendants of Cush. Eusebius says: “Chus was he from whom came the Ethiopians.” (Chronicon, Vol. ii, p. 109) Josephus says the same. In the original of Jer. 13:23, the word “Ethiopian” reads “Cushite,”–“Can the Cushite change his skin, or the leopard his spots?” See also Gen. 2:13, margin.
Nimrod’s Death the Foundational Theme of Heathen Religions
There are many more proofs of the identification of the Egyptian god Osiris with the Babylonian Nimrod, but those we have mentioned will suffice for our present purpose, namely, to gain information as to the manner of Nimrod’s death; for the account of the death of Osiris is well known. Osiris met with a violent death, and that violent death of Osiris was the central theme of the whole idolatry of Egypt. If Osiris was Nimrod, as we have seen reason to believe, that violent death of Osiris which the Egyptians so pathetically deplored in their annual festivals, was just the death of Nimrod.
The account of the death of Osiris as given in the Egyptian Book of the Dead (a copy of which is frequently found entombed with mummies), is as follows: While Osiris was absent on a certain occasion, his enemy, who was named Sem, entered into a conspiracy with 72 of the leading men of Egypt to put Osiris to death. The plot succeeded. Osiris was slain, and his body was torn into 14 pieces which were scattered throughout the country. Isis greatly lamented her husband’s death, and searched about for the pieces of his body. Wherever she discovered a piece, she buried it and erected a shrine over it.
The Patriarch Shem, and his Godly Influence in the World
Wilkinson shows (Vol. v, p. 17) that Sem was one of the names of the primitive Egyptian Hercules, who was said to have, by the power of God, fought and overcome the giants who had rebelled against heaven. In plain language, this mythical tale simply means that the Hercules Sem or Shem (see Luke 3:36), the great opponent of idolatry, was enabled by the power or spirit of God to so convince the tribunal of 72 supreme Judges of Egypt of the enormity of the offence of Osiris or Nimrod, as to persuade them to condemn and put that “mighty one” or giant to death and to send parts of his dismembered body to the various cities as a solemn declaration in their name, that “whosoever follows the example of Nimrod (Osiris) shall meet with a like penalty.” In following this course Shem was acting according to a recognized judicial custom, instances of which are found in the Scriptures.–See Judges 19:29; and 1 Samuel 11:7.
Afterwards, the upholders of the idolatrous religious system of Egypt stigmatized the leader of the “conspiracy” as Typho, or the “Evil One.” One of the most noted names by which Typho was called, was Seth. (Epiphanius, Adv. Hoeres, lib. iii) The names Seth and Shem are synonymous, both alike signifying “The appointed one.”
This persuasive power of Shem, by which he caused the great Nimrod to be condemned to death, was symbolized by the tusks of a wild boar. We read in Mythology that the god Adonis perished by the tusks of a wild boar. Now Adonis is identical with the god Tammuz, and Tammuz with Osiris. (Kitto’s Illustrated Commentary, Vol. iv, p. 141; Wilkinson’s Egyptians, Vol. v, p. 3) In Egypt, the pig was the symbol of evil; and as the horn is the ancient symbol of power, being so recognized in Scriptures, the tusks in the mouth of the male pig signifies that it was by the “power of his mouth” that the evil one, Seth, caused Adonis (Osiris) to be put to death. In memory of this deed, the peoples of many countries have caused countless boars to lose their heads in sacrifice to the outraged god. This explains why the boar’s or pig’s head is even at this day a recognized dish at the Christmas dinner in Britain, though the reason for the custom has long been forgotten. In India, a demon with a “boar’s face” is said to have gained such power through his devotions, that he oppressed the “devotees” of worshippers of the gods, who had to hide themselves. (Moor’s Pantheon, p. 19) Even in Japan there seems to be a similar myth.
Thus the righteous Shem, blessed by Jehovah, has been stigmatized and misrepresented in all the heathen religions of the world; while the idolatrous Nimrod who led men away from the true God, and who was justly condemned to death because of his evil deeds, has been exalted to the status of a god himself. This turning of things upside down, however, shall not stand, for Jehovah shall now soon vindicate himself on behalf of his righteous servants.
We are reminded here of what the Egyptian historian Manetho wrote regarding the builders of the Great Pyramid: “There came up from the East, in a strange manner, men of an ignoble race, who had the confidence to invade our country, and easily subdued it by their power without a battle. All this invading nation was styled Hyksos–that is, Shepherd Kings.” He adds that this people afterwards departed for Judea and built there a city named Jerusalem. The head of these Shepherd Kings has been recognized as the patriarch Shem, and Shem as Melchizedec, king of Salem. (Heb. 7:1,2) It is certainly quite in keeping with the exalted methods of this “king of peace” that he subdued the Egyptians without a battle, persuading them only by the spirit or power of God to close their idolatrous temples and do his bidding. (See Great Pyramid Passages, Vol. i, pars. 4-6.) It shows how wonderful was the godly influence which this venerable king and “priest of the most high God” exercised in the early stages of the “present evil world.” He was indeed a fit type of Christ in the Millennial Age, whom God sware would be a “Priest forever after the order of Melchizedec.” (Psa. 110:4) In face of such great power for righteousness, one can see how the iniquity instigated by Satan, the “god of this world,” would require to be very warily conducted. Hence the term “mystery” or “secret,” of iniquity.
The False “Seed of the Woman”
When the mighty Nimrod was violently put to death in the midst of his career, great indeed must have been the lamentation among his followers. Semiramis would, naturally, experience the greatest grief and loss. She had shared with him his kingdom and glory, but now all this honor had suddenly come to an end. Semiramis, however, was a woman of unbounded ambition, and she by no means intended to quietly step aside without a bid for fame on her own account. That she succeeded in making a name for herself is fully attested by the pages of ancient history. A most daring suggestion was advanced which she seized upon and resolutely carried out–namely, that she should claim that her dead son was none other than the promised “seed of the woman” who had been destined to bruise the serpent’s head, and who, in doing so, was to have his own heel bruised! Formerly her son had been honored as the mighty hunter and benefactor of the world; but though he was now dead she would declare that he had risen and had been deified, and thus have him worshipped as a god!
We say that this bold scheme was suggested to Semiramis, for who could have instigated such an imposition except the “father of lies”? That “old serpent,” Satan, caused the fall of mankind through his lying suggestion to Eve (Gen. 3:1-6), and he now attempted to frustrate Jehovah’s glorious plan of redemption by introducing his false Messiah, a lying counterfeit of the true. In consequence of this the whole world has been led astray, and few indeed have had the privilege of knowing God and Jesus Christ whom He sent. Only those who have been initiated into the mystery of God by means of the enlightening action of the Holy Spirit, have been able to discern the true Messiah. (Matt. 16:15-17) We are rejoiced to know that the time is not now far distant when the poor deceived world will have its eyes opened and recognize its true Redeemer, and when the people will shout: “Lo, THIS is our God; we have waited for him, and HE will save us.” (Isa. 25:9) Satan has taken advantage of the religious element in man, and by his blinding lies has directed the world’s worship to himself, becoming in very deed the “god of this world.” (2 Cor. 4:4) He had said in his heart “I shall be like the Most High,” and he sought to follow out this desire in every possible way. But he shall be “cut down to the ground” in the Lord’s due time (Isa. 14:12-17); and Jesus Christ, who did not seek to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation and was obedient unto death, shall be highly exalted and given a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in adoration and worship. (Philippians 3:6-11, Diaglott) “Exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high,” is the principle on which God works.
The patriarchs, and the ancient world in general, were acquainted with the story of the temptation in Eden, and they knew that the seed of the woman was ultimately to destroy the tempter. Because of this, and because of the innate wickedness of the hearts of men (Jer. 17:9), Satan was able to foist his counterfeit “Seed of the woman” upon the world. We know that this is so, for there is hardly a people on earth whose mythological religion does not contain reference to the “Seed” brusing the head of the serpent. Referring to this phrase of the religions of the heathen countries, Wilkinson (Vol. his p. 395) says: “The evil genius of the adversaries of the Egyptian god Horus [Osiris in another form] is frequently figured under the form of a snake, whose head he is seen piercing with a spear. The same fable occurs in the religion of India, where the malignant serpent Calyia is slain by Vishnu, in the avatar [incarnation] of Crishna. The Scandinavian deity Thor was said to have bruised the head of the great serpent with his mace. The origin of this may be readily traced to the Bible.” The Greeks, also, represented their god Apollo as slaying the serpent Pytho; and Humboldt shows that the Mexicans had the same belief concerning their god Teod: “The serpent crushed by the great spirit Teotl, when he takes the form of one of the subaltern deities, is the genius of evil–a real Kakodaemon.” (Mexican Researches, Vol. i, p. 228) When examination is made of these various myths, it is found that in almost every case the serpent-destroying god dies as the result of injuries received in the combat, thus showing that the Pagans knew that it was by dying that the promised Seed was to destroy the adversary.
In the above quotation from Wilkinson, it will be noticed that he attributes to the Bible the knowledge which the Pagans had of destroying the serpent as the incarnation of evil; but he no doubt means that this knowledge may be traced to the account of the temptation in Eden, which afterwards appeared in the Bible. The Bible as we have it, of course, did not begin to be written till after the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, 1615 B.C. Long before this date (The Exodus was 857 years after the flood) the false religions of Babylonia, Egypt, and the other countries were fully set up, originating, as we have said, with Semiramis and her followers. In the midst of all this idolatry, however, the Lord always had his faithful few–Noah, Shem, Abraham, and others being specially mentioned. It was because the worship of the false Messiah was in full operation in Egypt and in the other countries, that Jehovah repeatedly warned his people, the Jewish nation, against following them. Bowing down to “sticks and stones” was in reality the worship of the dead. These images enslaved the minds of those who served them, giving a seeming actuality to beings who did not exist; for the “gods” whom they represented were in their graves, and are still waiting for the resurrection in the Millennial reign of Christ.
The “Image of Jealousy”
We have already mentioned the fact that the popular subjects of worship in every nation have been the “Mother and Son,” images of whom were everywhere set up. Even the Jewish nation was for a time guilty of worshipping the Babylonian goddess with the false Seed in her arms, for one of her images is evidently referred to by Ezekiel (8:3) when he says: “And the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.” This image of the “Mother and Son,” erected as the result of the jealousy of Satan against the coming true Seed of the woman, provoked God to jealousy because it misdirected the devotion of His people, to whom He had said: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image…Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.” (Ex. 20:3-5) In Egypt the “Mother and Son” were worshipped as Isis and Osiris, whose very names signify “the woman” and “the seed”; for Isis is the Greek form of H’isha–the woman; and Osiris is read on the Egyptian monuments He-siri–the seed.
The “Deification” of Nimrod
The mythical story in Egypt of the deification of Nimrod by Semiramis is to the effect that Isis, who was a great enchantress and had much knowledge of “magical ceremonies,” instructed Horus and a number of his “followers” to perform a series of operations in connection with the burial of his father, which had the effect of raising Osiris from the dead, and of establishing him as king in Amenti, i.e., the “Hidden Place,” or the other world (Fourth Sallier Papyrus in the British Museum.–Although Horus was the son of Osiris, he was merely another form of Osiris himself, being a new incarnation of that god).
Thus, by following Satan’s lie, that the dead are not dead, Semiramis and her deluded followers caused others to believe that Nimrod was not now dead, but that he had been resurrected, and had become a god and should be reverenced as such. But it is evident that if this advanced form of idolatry was to become established, it was indispensable that it should be inaugurated in secret, and be operated with extreme caution; for the terror of execution, lately inflicted on one so mighty as Nimrod, was too real to be ignored. This, then, was the beginning of that iniquitous system of “Mystery” which has been so farreaching in its desolating effects, and which the Lord used as a type of that still greater “desolating abomination,” the mystic “Babylon the Great” of the Gospel Age.
The very nature of the “Mysteries” gave great facilities for imposing on the senses of those who were being “initiated.” It is well known that magical arts were invented by the Chaldeans. Epiphanius, after considering the evidences open in his day, pronounced it as his opinion that it was “Nimrod that established the sciences of magic and astronomy.” (Adv. Hoeres, lib. i, tom. i, Vol. i, p. 7 c) All the fertile resources of magic, therefore, were employed by Semiramis and her intimate followers, to give color to the lying deceptions of those Mysteries of which she was the originator. But notwithstanding all the care and precautions of the conductors of these ceremonies, enough has leaked out to enable us to gain a clear insight into their character.
Candidates for initiation were made to pass through the ordeal of the confessional, and were required to swear by binding oaths to maintain the secrecy of the system they were desirous of entering. After thus surrendering themselves implicitly to the priests, they were anointed with “magical ointments” which introduced into their bodily systems such drugs as tended to excite their imaginations and add to the power of the indispensable intoxicating drinks, that they might be prepared for the visions and revelations that were about to be made to them. Wilkinson, describing the experiences of those undergoing the process of initiation, says: “Strange and amazing objects presented themselves. Sometimes the place they were in seemed to shake around them; sometimes it appeared bright and resplendent with light and radiant fire, and then again covered with black darkness, sometimes thunder and lightning, sometimes fearful noises and bellowings, sometimes terrible apparitions astonished the trembling spectators.” (Egyptians, Vol. v, p. 326) Then, at last, the great hidden god was revealed to them in such a manner as to allay their fears and call forth their admiration and blind affections. It was easy for those who controlled the Mysteries, having discovered scientific secrets which they jealously preserved in their own exclusive keeping, to give the ignorant initiates what might seem ocular demonstration that Nimrod who had been slain, and for whom such lamentations had been made, was again alive, and now encompassed with heavenly glory. Thus the whole system of the secret “Mysteries” of Babylon introduced by the help of magic (sham miracles), was intended to glorify a dead man; and when once the worship of one dead man was established, the worship of many more was sure to follow.
In this way Nimrod became the “father of the gods,” being said to be the first of “deified mortals.” As such he was worshipped under the titles of Kronos and Saturn. Saturn was the god of the Mysteries, the name itself signifying “the Hidden one.” He was revealed to the initiated, but hidden to all others.
The Identity of the Greek God Bacchus
Another of the names under which the deified Nimrod received honor was Bacchus. In Greece, Bacchus was symbolically represented by a spotted fawn, which animal was intended in the figurative language of the Mysteries to covertly identify Bacchus with Nimrod. The name of the fawn in Greece was “Nebros,” which signifies “the spotted one,” while the name of Nimrod, as known to the Greeks, was “Nebrod,” and is so translated in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures–i.e., the Septuagint. It will be remembered that Nimrod gained much of his success as a hunter by training the leopard to assist him in the chase. The skin of the fawn was intended to suggest the spotted leopard. The custom of wearing the skin of fawn appears to have been imported from Assyria direct, for some sculptures excavated in Nineveh show a god bearing a spotted fawn in his arm, in such a way as to indicate that the animal is to be regarded as a symbol. (Vaux’s Nineveh and Persepolis, chap. viii, p. 233) Leopards were employed to draw the car of Bacchus; and he himself was represented clothed with a leopard’s skin as were also his priests, although sometimes the skin of the fawn was substituted.
The Greek Bacchus and his priesthood, therefore, were in this respect similar to the Egyptian Osiris and priesthood. Herodotus, the father of history, always speaks of Osiris as being Bacchus (lib. ii, cap. 42), and so also does Diodorus, who says: “Orpheus introduced from Egypt the greatest part of the mystical ceremonies, the orgies that celebrate the wanderings of Ceres, and the whole fable of the shades below. The rites of Osiris and Bacchus are the same; those of Isis and Ceres exactly resemble each other, except in name.” (Bibliotheca, lib. i, b. 9) This is an additional proof that Bacchus and Nimrod are the same, for we have already seen that Osiris was Nimrod.
The ivy, so conspicuous in all Bacchanalian celebrations, was an express symbol of Nimrod. The Greek word for ivy is “Kissos”; and Kissos was one of the titles of Bacchus. (Pausanias, Attica, cap. 31, p. 78) Now, the name of the descendants of Cush was pronounced in Greece “Kissioi.” (Strabo, lib. xv, p. 691) The ivy branch carried by the votaries of Bacchus, therefore, signified to the initiated that Baachus was the “branch of Cush” i.e., Nimrod, the son of Cush. This also accounts for one of the titles of the Greek god Apollo–“Kisseus Apollon.” It serves to identify Apollo with Nimrod (among other proofs), meaning literally “The Cushite Apollo.”
From Anacreon (p. 296) we learn that another of the titles of Bacchus was “Aithiopais,” which means “the son of Aethiops.” We have already pointed out that the Ethiopians were descendants of Cush, and therefore Aethiops must have been Cush himself.-See Hab. 3:7, margin.
The literal meaning of the name Bacchus is “the lamented one,” being derived from Bakhah “to weep” or “lament.” Hesychius (p. 179) says that among the Phoenicians “Bacchos means weeping.” The Hebrew word used in the Bible for weeping and lamenting is Baca, or Bakah. (See Psa. 84:6, where the word Baca appears untranslated–“valley of Baca,” should read “valley of weeping.”) On certain mystical Bacchanalian festivals a spotted fawn was torn in pieces, and great lamentations were made. Photius tells us the significance of this ceremony: “The tearing in pieces of the nebroi [or spotted fawns] was an imitation of the suffering in the case of Dionysus” or Bacchus. (Photius, Lexicon, pars. i, p. 291) Thus the great lamentations which followed the violent death of Nimrod (Nebrod), when his body was torn into 14 pieces by the judges of Egypt, was annually commemorated by the various nations. The backsliding women of Israel wept for the death of the false Messiah under the name of Tammuz, in memory of the wailing of Semiramis for the death of Nimrod: Ezek. 8:13, 14, reads: “Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.” It is significant that these women sat at the north gate, the same place as the seat of the “image of jealousy” mentioned in verse 3. Tammuz is identified with Osiris, and is therefore the same as Bacchus.–Wilkinson’s Egyptians, Vol. v, b. 3; c. xiii, p. 10
When Jesus, the true Messiah and Savior of the world, was being led to death, we read that the women “bewailed and lamented him.” But Jesus rebuked them and said: “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.”–Luke 23:27,28
The reason why Bacchus is commonly understood to be the god of wine, drunkenness and revelry, is because of the effect which the mysterious beverages and ointments had upon his devotees. The uninitiated merely saw the after effects, but did not understand the true import of these Bacchanalian orgies, which were claimed to be for “the purification of souls.” (Servius, in Georg., lib. i, Vol. ii, p. 197) The “elevating” effect which the process of anointing, etc., had upon the initiates of the false religions, is manifestly a miserable counterfeit of the godly joy experienced by those who, on being anointed with the Holy Spirit, gain an understanding of the glorious truth as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 2:9-16) The Apostle says: “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Holy Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” (Eph. 5:18,19) To the worldly, the exhilarating and joyful effect which the Holy Spirit has upon those who newly come into the light of God’s Truth seems to be the result of intemperate drinking, or due to insanity. Many of us have had the experience of being thus misjudged. So also were the members of the early Church at Pentecost misrepresented, some of the bystanders mockingly saying: “These men are full of new wine.” (Acts 2:1-18) But we care nothing for this, because we know that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”–1 Cor. 2:14
Not only was the anointing of the Holy Spirit counterfeited by the false religions, but nearly every virtue and exalted office was ascribed to the false savior of the world that belongs to Jesus Christ. Without doubt this is the reason why Satan, the “god of this world,” by counterfeiting the truth as nearly as possible, has had so great hold upon the hearts of mankind. The Apostle says: “The whole world lieth in the wicked one.” We know that the great Papal system, well named Satan’s Masterpiece, has been a wonderful counterfeit of the glorious Millennial reign of Christ; and now we see why it was denominated by our Lord “Babylon the Great,” because it was the antitype of that iniquitous system which originated in Babylon of old. Just as Satan tried to frustrate Jehovah’s plan of redemption, by forestalling the Millennial reign of Christ with his false Papal Millennium, during which the Popes have successively reigned as king of kings, and lords of lords; so he also sought to becloud the purpose of God by forestalling the advent of Jesus Christ, by bringing in his false Messiah. It was claimed that the death of Osiris (that is, of Nimrod) was sacrificial, submitted to for the benefit of the world.
Osiris the False Savior
The monuments of Egypt show that the worship of Osiris dates from the earliest times, and that he was regarded as the “god-man who suffered, died, rose again, and reigned eternally in heaven.” He was the “King of eternity, lord of the everlastingness, the prince of gods and men, the god of gods, king of kings, lord of lords, prince of princes, the governor of the world, whose existence is everlasting.” (Papyrus of Ani, Plate 1, in the British Museum) Osiris was the god who made men and women to rise from the dead, and bestowed upon them everlasting life. He was the resurrection itself.–Guide to the Egyptian Collection in the British Museum, p. 139
We have already seen that, after the death and mutilation of the body of Osiris, the man-god of Egypt, by Seth (Shem), Horus the son of Osiris, assisted by a number of beings who were called the “followers of Horus,” performed a series of magical rites whereby the rejoining of the limbs of the god was effected, and he revived. The Egyptians argued: “Certain ceremonies were performed by Horus on the body of Osiris, and he was mummified, and as a result he rose to everlasting life; we therefore will have the same cermonies performed over our dead bodies, that we also may live again.” This seemed to have been the reasoning which originated the practice of mummification. The Egyptians firmly believed that if the body was not preserved after death future life was impossible. They therefore endeavored above all things to insure that their mummies would have perfect protection, spending large sums of money on intricate tombs, etc., so that it may truthfully be said that this people expended more upon the dead than upon the living. It demonstrates how “void of judgment” they were, and how deceived by Satan; for how could the preservation of their poor bodies secure for them a future life! We are reminded of the Apostle Paul’s ridicule of some who were evidently arguing like the Egyptians: “Thou fool, thou sowest not that body that shall be!”
It is important to notice that in their elaborate religious system, the idea of repentance never entered the minds of the Egyptians. With them the commission of sin was regarded merely as a breach of the ritual law of the community, and could be atoned for by certain payments, after which the law breaker considered himself free from all obligation, real or moral. In the Coptic, which is the neartest to the ancient language of Egypt, there is no word for “repentance”; the translators were obliged to transfer the Greek word itself into the Coptic version of the New Testament. As all heathen religions are essentially the same, this manifests a vital difference between them and the true religion; for repentance from sins is the first step in the work of salvation, as declared by the Apostle Peter when he addressed the assembled Israelites in the temple: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” (Acts 3:19) The Papal Church follows the lead of its ancient type in disannuling the need for repentance from sins, and atonement by the blood, by instituting “indulgences” and the “sacrifices of the mass.”
Origin of the Yule Log and the Christmas Tree
One of the titles of the false Messiah was Baal-berith, which means “Lord of the Covenant,” and as such he is referred to in Judges 8:33–“And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again…and made Baal-berith their god.” It is now recognized that the 25th day of December, although called “Christmas-day,” is not the true day of the birth of our Lord Jesus. The beginning of October is more nearly correct for his birth as a man, and April for his birth as a new creature. But the 25th day of December was originally observed by heathen countries far and wide, in honor of the supposed birth of their false Messiah (Wilkinson’s Egyptians, Vol. iv, p. 405); and it was in order to conciliate them, and to swell the number of the nominal adherents of Christianity (so called), that the same festive day was adopted by the Apostate Church, giving it only the name of Christ. The Christmas tree so common at this day, was equally common in Pagan Rome and Pagan Egypt. This is the reason why “Babylon the Great” adopted it, for there is no command in the Scriptures requiring the followers of Christ to observe the day of his birth by Christmas tree celebrations. Briefly–the putting of the “Yule log” into the fire on Christmas eve, and the appearance next morning of the Christmas tree laden with gifts, represented the consuming of the great god who, like the log, had been cut in pieces, and his after birth in newness of life as the “Branch of God,” or the Tree that brings gifts to men. The Egyptians used the palm for their Christmas tree, but the people of Pagan Rome used the fir, because the fir tree covertly symbolized the risen god as the Baal-berith of old Babylon; for Baal-berith–“Lord of the Covenant,” differs only one letter from Baal-bereth–“Lord of the Fir tree.”
The God Saturn, and Bull Worship
The mystical symbol of Osiris was the young Apis bull or calf, Apis being another name for Saturn, the hidden one. The Apis bull was also known as Hap, which in the Egyptian language means “to conceal.” In the Chaldean language Hap means “to cover.” (Guide to the Egyptian Collection in the British Museum, p. 131) We now see why the Jewish nation made and worshipped the image of a calf soon after leaving Egypt under Moses, claiming that this was the god who had delivered them out of bondage, meaning, of course, that Osiris whom the calf represented was the god. A figure of the Apis bull in a covering resembling the spotten skin of the leopard, is illustrated by Col. Hamilton Smith. (Biblical Cyclopaedia, Vol. i, p. 368) Attention has already been drawn to the significance of the leopard’s skin, which identifies Osiris with Nimrod, the “subduer of the leopard.” Isis was represented by a cow, called the cow of Athor, which is well known to be a spotted cow.–Wilkinson, Vol. iv, p. 387, and Vol. vi, Plate 36
The bull was the express symbol of Nimrod, being the hieroglyphic which showed him as the “mighty one” and “lord of the chase.” In Assyria the word for “bull” signifies also a “ruler” or “prince”; and it was for this reason that the mighty kings of Babylonia and Assyria, who succeeded and imitated Nimrod the first king, were represented by great human-headed bulls. These bulls, also, have wide expanding wings, to show that not only was the king himself a mighty one, but that he had “mighty ones” under his command. Nimrod and his followers are the mighty ones or “giants” who are spoken of in Mythology as having “rebelled against heaven.” The Hebrew word for “mighty one” in Gen. 10:8 is “Gheber” (this same word is translated “giant” in Job 16:14). A synonym for Gheber is “Abir”; but “Aber,” pronounced nearly the same as Abir, is the word for “wing.” Thus, “Baal-abirin” means “Lord of the mighty ones,” while “Baal-aberin” means “lord of the wings,” or “winged one.” (The word abir occurs in Judges 5:22–“the pransings of their mighty ones;” while aber is found in Isa. 40:31–“They shall mount up with wings as eagles.”) There is allusion to the “wings” of an Assyrian king in Isa. 8:6-8.
As the horn is the ancient symbol of power, these Assyrian bulls, though human-headed, nevertheless show horns curving round their headgear. The reason why the horn is used as a symbol of kingly authority and power appears, from certain sculptures discovered by Layard when excavating Babylon, to be directly owing to Nimrod’s prowess as a great hunter. In a woodcut in his Nineveh and Babylon, page 605, Layard shows the Assyrian Hercules (that is, “Nimrod the Giant” as he is called in the Septuagint version of Genesis) without weapons attacking a bull. Having conquered the bull, he sets its horn on his head as a trophy of victory, an evidence of his great power in being able to overcome so strong an animal. Thus crowned he is now represented as encountering a lion, the king of beasts. This accounts for the ancient custom among Eastern nations of kings and chiefs wearing horns on their heads as evidence of their power and authority. (Smith’s Bible Dictionary, Art. “Horn”)
The Satyrs and the God Pan
In the Armenian version of the Chronicle of Eusebius, Ninus stands first in the list of Assyrian kings. This agrees with the Scriptural notice of Nimrod, who is said to have been the first to become mighty, and to have had the first kingdom. According to Pherecydes, Kronos or Saturn was “the first before all others that ever wore a crown.” (Tertullian, De Corona Militis, cap. 7, Vol. ii, p. 85) Here is therefore an additional proof that Kronos or Saturn was Nimrod. It explains why the Greek Bacchus was represented as wearing horns, and why he was frequently addressed by the epithet of “Bull-horned.” (Orphic Hymns: Hymn 1i, To Trietericus, Greek, p. 117) Apollo, whom we have seen is likewise identified with Nimrod, is addressed in the Orphic Hymns, as the “Two-horned god.” (Hymn to Apollo) The companions of Bacchus were called Satyrs, and are said to have “danced along with him.” (Aelian Hist., p. 22) The Satyrs were horned gods; and knowing the identity of Bacchus, it is easy to see that his companions the Satyrs were really the “mighty ones” over whom Nimrod was lord. It is generally agreed that the god Pan was the head of the Satyrs. Now, Satyr is just another form of the word Satur or Saturn-“the Hidden one.” Pan was therefore the first of the Satyrs or hidden ones. When Nimrod or Osiris was put to a violent death as the result of the judicial condemnation of the 72 leading men, it produced great terror among his followers who immediately hid themselves, hence the derivation of the word pan-ic–extreme or sudden fright. Referring to the effect which the slaying of Osiris by Typho (Seth or Shem) had upon his followers, Plutarch says: “The first who knew the accident that had befallen their king, were the Pans or Satyrs who lived about Chemmis; and they, immediately acquainting the people of the news, gave the first occasion to the name of Panic Terrors.”–de Isid. s. 13
It is from the name Kronos that the English word “Crown” is derived; and the familiar spiked crown which adorns the heads of European monarchs still conveys the idea of the horns of the ancient Eastern kings. Plutarch says that “the Romans looked upon Kronos as a subterranean and infernal god.” (Vol. ii, p. 266) In Ausonius, also, we read that “Saturn is not among the celestial, but the infernal gods.” (Ecolog. i, p. 156) Pluto, also, is called the “god of hell”; and this name has the same significance as Saturn, meaning “the Hidden one”; for Pluto is derived from Lut “to hide,” which with the Egyptian definite article prefixed becomes “P’Lut.” Both Wilkinson (Vol. iv, p. 63), and Bunsen (Vol. i, pp. 431, 432) show that Osiris in Egypt was the “king of hades,” or Pluto. Hades, as we all know, is the “hidden state.” Actually, however, Pluto or Saturn was none other than the incarnation of the Devil, who hid himself under the disguise of the serpent when he caused the fall of man in the garden of Eden, and who has hidden himself from the world ever since under his refuge of lies. It is curious that the popular representation of the Devil, with the horns, hoofs and tail, is exactly the appearance of the black Nimrod when he is depicted in the sculpture encountering the lion; for in that hieroglyph he wears not only the two horns of the bull over which he had previously gained victory, but its hind legs and tail as well! “Auld Hornie” is the popular name by which the Devil was known in Scotland in the older days. The Satyrs, also, were half animals, having the hind legs and tail of the goat in addition to the horns. The connection of the goat-like Satyrs with the Devil is borne out by the Hebrew word sa’yr. This Hebrew word is translated as he-goat in 2 Chron. 29:23–“They brought forth the he-goat [sa’yr] for the sin-offering”; as devils in Lev. 17:7–“And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils” [sa’yr]; and as satyrs in Isa. 13:21–“Babylon…shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah…and satyrs [sa’yr] shall dance there.”
The system of the “Mysteries” demanded that all its ritual, etc., should be kept carefully secret. Everything in connection with them was symbolical and had a hidden meaning, and the initiates were not allowed on pain of death to divulge their real nature. Herodotus, who was initiated in the Mysteries of Egypt, makes this apparent when he refers to the goat-like appearance of the god Pan. He says: “It is not that they [the initiates] believe he [Pan] really had that form; they think him like the other gods; but the reason [of his goat-like appearance] being connected with religion, I am not at liberty to explain it.” (Birch’s Wilkinson, Vol. iii, p. 186) The “hidden things of darkness,” however, are now being made manifest in this enlightening day (the beginning of the Millennium), and we know that the mystic reason for the goat part of the Satyrs is connected with their panic and their sudden flight to hide themselves on hearing of the violent death of their chief; for “Berkha,” the word for “fugitive,” signifies also “he goat.” One of the epithets of the god Pan, the head of the Satyrs, was Capricornus, which means “goat-horned.”
Origin of Sun and Fire Worship
The Chaldean name for Nimrod, the son of Semiramis, was Zero-ashta, from zero “the seed,” and ashta “the woman.” But the word Ashta also means “the fire,” so that Zero-ashta, “the seed of the woman,” became Zeroastes or Zoroaster, the well known name of the head of the fire worshippers. In general history the Zoroaster of Bactria is most frequently referred to; but the voice of antiquity is clear and distinct to the effect that the first and great Zoroaster was an Assyrian or Chaldean, and that he was the founder of the idolatrous system of Babylon, and therefore Nimrod. (Suidas, Tom. i, p. 1133) After his death the deified Nimrod was fabled to have been “born from the fire”–Zero-ashta, the “seed of the fire”–and as such he was revered as the great sungod Baal. Theophilus of Antioch informs us that Kronos, which as we have seen was one of the titles of the deified Nimrod, was in the East worshipped under the names of Bel and Bal.–Clericus, De Philosophia Orientali, lib. i, sect. 11, cap. 37
Nimrod was the first Babylonian king, and therefore the title Molech is primarily applied to him, for “Molech” means “king.” We thus perceive why the Scriptures indicate Molech (or Moloch) to be the terrible god of fire, the earthly representative of Baal the sun god. In Jeremiah 32:35, we read: “And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.” It was claimed that the act of passing through the fire was for the purpose of purifying, and this probably reconciled the parents who sacrificed their children to Molech. They were under the delusion that the fire that consumed the little ones also perfected them, and made them meet for the future life. The god Tammuz, who is identified with Nimrod, and for whom the women of Israel lamented annually (Ezek. 8:14), is really connected with fire worship and with the thought of purification therefrom, for the name Tammuz is derived from tam, “to perfect,” and muz, “to burn”–to make perfect by burning. This, no doubt, is the origin of the imaginary place called Purgatory, the fire of which is supposed by Papacy to be necessary to perfect men’s souls, and to purge away the sins they carry with them into the unseen world! The error, of course, naturally arose through credulous belief in Satan’s lie at the beginning, namely, that there is no real death, but that the soul is independent and immortal, and continues to live in the spirit world after the death of the body. Those who believe the truth of God are shielded from so great an error, and know that the dead shall remain in their graves till the glorious resurrection morning. How deceived the poor world has been!
In Jeremiah 19:5,6, we read: “They have built also the high place of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that this place shall no more be called ‘Tophet,’ nor ‘The valley of the son of Hinnom,’ but ‘The valley of slaughter.'” The name “Tophet” given to the valley of Hinnom, or Gehenna as it is called in the New Testament, is derived from toph, which in Isa. 30:32 is translated “tabrets,” i.e., drums. By the noise of tabrets or drums the priests of Baal sought to drown the cries of the children who were being offered in sacrifice to the terrible Molech. Because of this abomination the Lord cursed the valley of Hinnom, and in recognition of that curse Jesus spoke of the valley as figuratively representing the symbolical “lake of fire and brimstone,” the second death, into which Satan and all who follow him shall be cast at the end of the Millennial reign of Christ.
This retribution upon Satan, the author of the cruel worship of Molech, seems to be foretold In Isa. 30:27-33 under cover of the Assyrian king Nimrod, whom we have seen was the direct representative of the Devil. The passage reads: “Behold, the name of the Lord cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire…For through the voice of the Lord shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a rod…for Tophet [the valley of Hinnom or Gehenna] is ordained of old; yea for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.”
Just as the valley of Gehenna, which runs along the south side of Jerusalem, is used in the Scriptures as a symbol of the second death from which there will not be a resurrection, so the valley of Jehoshaphat or Kedron, which runs along the east side of the city, is used as a symbol of the first or Adamic death, from which a resurrection is assured because of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Jews, and also the Mohammedans, greatly desire to be buried in this valley, for they believe that the resurrection and final judgment will take place here. (See Joel 3:1,2,12-14.) The valley of Jehoshaphat is probably the “valley of dry bones” referred to by Ezekiel.–Chapter 37
The story of the trial of the prophets of Baal by Elijah (I Kings 18:17-40) indicates how firmly established the worship of Baal was at that time in Israel. Elijah came boldly forward and cried: “How long halt ye between two opinions? If Jehovah is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” The test proposed by Elijah as to who was the true God, Jehovah, or Baal, was to be an answer by fire; and the people agreed that this would be a proper test because Baal was the sun or fire god, and what could be more reasonable than to expect an answer by fire from him? The test vindicated the name of Jehovah, and the 450 priests of Baal were slain. Elijah’s fearless action in thus ridding the land of Baal worshippers was one of incalculable blessing to the people. The worship of Baal was an even more horrible religion than is implied by presenting children as burnt offerings to him; for just as it was required in the Mosaic law that the priests should eat of part of the animals offered in sacrifice by the people (see Num 18:9, 10), so the priests of Baal ate part of the human sacrifices offered to their fire god Molech! This shows the true derivation of the name given in the English tongue to devourers of human flesh, for the Chaldean word for “the priests” is cahna, so that Chana-Bal, that is, “Priest of Baal,” became cannibal. It is common knowledge that the priests of the sun worshippers of ancient Mexico were cannibals.
How rejoiced the poor groaning creation will be when Christ, the true “Sun of Righteousness,” shall arise with healing in his wings. (Mal. 4:2) What a contrast to that cruel “sun” of all unrighteousness, which arose with death in his wings! Malachi’s allusion to the “wings” of the sun is evidently derived from the well known symbol of the sun god in Egypt and Assyria. Above the doors of the ancient temples and tombs in these countries, there is usually to be seen a representation of the sun god, in the form of a round disc with wide spread wings.
Along with the sun as the great fire god, the serpent was connected. Owen says: “In the Mythology of the primitive world, the serpent is universally the symbol of the sun.” (Owen, apud Davies’s Druids, in note, p. 437) In Egypt the commonest sign for the sun, or sun god, is a disc with a serpent around it. (Bunsen, Hieroglyphics, Vol. i, p. 497) The original reason for the connection of the serpent with the sun appears to have been that, as the physical world receives its light from the sun, so the serpent was held to have been the great enlightener of the spiritual world, by giving mankind the knowledge of good and evil. This, of course, like all idolatry, is an absolute perversion of the truth; but it serves to identify the sun god with Satan. In Rev. 12:3, Satan is called a “great red dragon,” or “fiery serpent.” (see Diaglott, and compare with verse 9) Pausanius informs us that “the dragon with the Greeks was only a large snake.”–lib. ii, Corinthiaca, cap. 28, p. 175
Semiramis Worshipped Under Various Names
Just as Nimrod was regarded as the sun, and was given the title Baal, or “lord of heaven” (for the word Baal means lord), so Semiramis, when she was likewise “deified,” received worship as the Moon, the “Queen of heaven.” Now, according to Athenagoras and Lucian, Semiramis was worshipped as Astarte, the Syrian goddess. (Legatio, Vol. ii, p. 179; De Dea Syria, Vol. iii, p. 382) This Syrian goddess was also known as Ishtar (Layard’s Nineveh and Babylon, p. 629); and it is from Ishtar that the word Easter is derived. (See 1912 Watch Tower, 144.) Smith’s Bible Dictionary, under the article “Ashtoreth,” says: “From the connection of this goddess with Baal or Bel we should naturally conclude that she would be found in the Assyrian Pantheon, and in fact the name Ishtar appears to be clearly identified in the list of the great gods of Assyria. There is no reason to doubt that this Assyrian goddess is the Ashtoreth [or Ashtaroth] of the Old Testament and the Astarte of the Greeks and Romans…It is certain that the worship of Astarte became identified with that of Venus (or Aphrodite).”
Layard states that in the Syrian temple of Hierapolis, Astarte “was represented standing on a lion, crowned with towers.” (Nineveh and its Remains, Vol. ii, p. 456) The name Astarte itself means “the woman that made towers,” being composed of two words: “Asht-tart.” Asht is the word for woman; and it is generally agreed that the last syllable “tart” comes from the Hebrew verb “Tr,” which means both “to go round,” and “to be round.” From this is derived the Greek word “turit,” and its English equivalent “turret,” a round tower. Asht-turit, therefore, which is the same as “Ashtoreth” of the Hebrew, is literally “the woman that made the tower” or encompassing wall. Ovid mentions that Semiramis was currently believed to have “surrounded Babylon with a wall of brick.” (Ovid, Opera, Vol. iii; Fasti, iv, 219-221) But there is no need to give all the credit of building the battlements of Babylon to Semiramis; the reason why she gained the honor of fortifying the city was because she in the long run became foremost in the esteem of the ancient idolators, and thus had attributed to her every virtue and characteristic that properly belonged, or was imagined to have belonged, to her son Ninus. She was also worshipped as Rhea or Cybele, the “Mother of the gods” (Paschal, Chronicle, Vol. i, p. 65), and as such is always represented as wearing a mural or turreted crown on her head. In this respect the Ephesian Diana exactly resembled Rhea, for Diana was likewise a tower-bearing goddess. Now, the Ephesian Diana is expressly identified with Semiramis; for Semiramis is the same as the goddess Artemis, and it is well known that Artemis was Diana. (Layard, Nineveh and its Remains, Vol. ii, p. 480, note) The Roman Diana was a huntress bearing a quiver of arrows. In this character she was the complement of Nimrod the “mighty hunter.”
The universal adoration of the “deified” Semiramis under various names and titles by the Eastern nations, is prominently drawn to our attention in Acts 19:23-41. “Great is Diana of the Ephesians” the multitude shouted, “whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.” It is a remarkable fact that this great goddess is even now worshipped in our very midst in the person of the Papal “Queen of heaven,” the so called Virgin Mary, whose image is set up everywhere! A favorite image of the Romish Virgin Mary shows her standing on a large sphere, which is colored blue, and spangled with stars. On her head rests a heavy gold crown. The globe is intended to symbolize the blue vault of heaven, while the crowned woman herself, apparently, represents the moon as the Queen of heaven, that is, Astarte or Ashtoreth. By her side she holds the child who is also crowned, and who stands on a smaller star spangled blue globe. In this connection he evidently represents the sun, the king or lord of heaven, that is, Baal (remember that the word Baal means Lord). Another familiar figure of the Papal “Mother of god” shows her standing on clouds (sometimes a sphere), one foot treading on a serpent’s head, and with the crescent of the moon at her feet. The crescent of the moon is the well known sign of Astarte or Ashtoreth, the horns of the moon’s crescent covertly suggesting her power as Queen of heaven. Papacy maintains that it was not the seed of the woman, but the woman herself, who was to bruise the head of the serpent. Regardless of the laws of grammar the Apostate church renders God’s condemnation of the serpent: “She shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise her heel.” In this the goddess of “Babylon the Great” is only fashioned after her type in ancient Babylon, for though it was originally claimed that Nimrod had crushed the head of the serpent, his mother was latterly given the glory of having done this great deed. (Diodorus, Bibliotheca, lib. ii, p. 70; Smith’s Classical Dictionary, p. 320) Although in the first instance Semiramis derived her exalted position from the Divine character attributed to the child in her arms, she ultimately practically eclipsed her son. So also in “Babylon the Great” it is the Madonna who receives all the adoration, and to whom petitions are generally addressed. What a satire, to think that the poor world has been so blinded by Satan, that it has been deceived into worshipping a woman who is nonexistent! Well did the Lord forbid his people to make and bow down to images, “which see not, nor hear, nor know.” (Dan. 5:23; Psa. 115:4-8) It would be difficult to understand how so great a delusion could have become universal, were it not that we are aware that Satan is the “god of this world,” and that along with him are legions of demons, who have sought to impersonate the dead in various ways, bolstering up Satan’s lie that there is no death. (Gen. 3:4) In Psa. 106:37 we are told that the Jews, in serving Baal or Molech, had really “sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils”–demons; and in Psa. 96:5 we read: “For all the gods of the nations are demons.” (Septuagint version) The Apostle Paul, in 1 Cor. 10:20, says: “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils”–demons.
Origin of Star Worship
The worship of the stars by the idolatrous nations was as prevalent as the worship of the Sun and Moon. Mythology identifies Nimrod and Semiramis with certain constellations. From Persian records we are expressly assured that Nimrod, after his death, was “deified” by the name of Orion, the mighty hunter, and “Placed among the stars.” (Paschal Chronicle, tom. i, p. 64) The constellation Virgo is admitted by the most learned astronomers to have been dedicated to Ceres, who as we have seen was identical with the Egyptian Isis, and was therefore the same as Semiramis the Babylonian goddess. (Dr. John Hill, in his Urania,–and Mr. A. Jamieson, in his Celestial Atlas. See Landseer’s Sabean Researches, p. 201.) All the signs of the Zodiac, and the other constellations and stars were associated with various gods, and incidents in connection with them, by the Chaldean astrologers. The Lord specially commanded the Israelites to on no account worship images, the sun or moon, or the stars, because of the degrading influence it would have upon them, even as it had upon the heathen nations. In Deut. 4:15-19, we read: “Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves…lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth; and lest thou lift up thines eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldst be driven to worship them, and serve them.” Yet the Jewish people frequently disregarded the Lord’s command. In 2 Kings, chapters 22 and 23, we read how king Josiah, after having heard the words of the newly discovered book of the law of Moses, cleared the land of this idolatry: “He put down the idolatrous priests…them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the twelve signs or constellations [i.e., the Zodiac, the invention of the Chaldeans], and to all the host of heaven.” (2 Kings 23:5, margin) This identification of their gods and goddesses with the stars by the Babylonians is a counterfeit of the true “deified mortals,” Jesus Christ and the glorified Church; for we read in 1 Cor. 15:41,42–“There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead.”
Origin of the Fish God Dagon
The Lord’s warning to his people not to make an image of anything in the likeness of a fish, would imply that such was possible. Professor Layard in his excavations at Nineveh discovered sculptured figures of a fish god, which he identified with Dagon, the fish god of the Philistines, who borrowed it from the Babylonians. (Nineveh and Babylon, pp. 343, 350) In 1 Sam. 5:1-5, we read that the Philistines placed the captured ark of God in the house of their god Dagon. The next morning they found Dagon fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. They set Dagon up in his place again; but: “when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the fishy part of Dagon was left to him. Therefore neither the priest of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon’s house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.” (See margin.) In passing we draw attention to Zeph. 1:9–“In the same day also will I punish all those that leap over the threshold.” (R.V.) The Philistines leaped over the threshold on which their god Dagon had lost his head and hands; and it appears from Zephaniah that some among the Jews who had forsaken the Lord were worshipping Dagon, and were leaping over the threshold in deference to him! Berosus, describing this fish god, says that “its body was that of a fish, but under the head of the fish was that of a man, and to its tail were joined a woman’s feet. (Cory’s frag., p. 30) From Layard’s sculptures we notice that the figure had also hands. Now, what could have suggested such a peculiar combination of man and fish? And what could have induced the Babylonians to set up so strange an object in a temple to worship as a god? When we remember than an image is a hieroglyphic, that every feature of it is intended to convey to the beholder some message, or suggest some attribute concerning the god whom the image represents, we can perceive that this fish god described a man who had been in some respects like a fish. It appears that not only were Nimrod and Semiramis raised to the status of god and goddess in the Mysteries, but that as Father (Kronos) and Mother (Rhea) of the gods, they were the forerunners of numerous other “deified mortals.”
The fish god Dagon could not have represented anyone more perfectly than Ham (or possibly Noah), for did not this man live through the waters of the flood which destroyed all “in whose nostrils was the breath of life”? In this respect, then, he was like a fish, because we do not read that fish were destroyed in the deluge. (Gen. 7:21, 22) Without doubt this is the origin of that mythical creature called the mermaid and the merman.
The great apostate church of the Gospel Age, true to its Babylonish origin, has actually adopted this fish god in its ritual; for the pope on certain occasions manifests by his head gear that he is the direct representative of Dagon. As it was an indispensable rule in all idolatrous religions that the high priest should wear the insignia of the god he worshipped, so the sculptures discovered by Layard show that the priests of Dagon were arrayed in clothing resembling fish. This is probably the “strange apparel” referred to in Zeph. 1:8. Berosus tells us that in the image of Dagon the head of the man appeared under the head of the fish, while Layard points out that in the case of the priests “the head of the fish formed a mitre above that of the man, while its scaly, fan-like tail fell as a cloak behind, leaving the human limbs and feet exposed.” (Babylon and Nineveh, p. 343) We have evidence that at a later period the Pagan priests dispensed with the body of the fish, and used the head alone like a cap. (Bryant, Vol. v, p. 384) The gaping jaws of the fish’s head, surmounting the head of the man, is the exact appearance of the two homed mitre of the pope, or of a Papal bishop at this day! Mr. A. Trimen, a distinguished London architect and author, found that on a certain occasion every year the Chinese Emperor, as Pontifex Maximus of his nation, wears a mitre which is the very counterpart of the Papal mitre. (Hager, on Chinese Hieroglyphics, B. xxxv, in the British Museum)
Thus we see the far reaching influence of that idolatrous system set up in ancient Babylon. That “Mystery of Iniquity” has indeed deceived all the world so that, as the Scriptures truly say, the nations have been made drunken or mad. But the followers of God and Christ are not deceived; they are not ignorant of Satan’s devices, for “he that is spiritual discerneth all things, yet he himself is discerned of no man.” The “Mystery of Godliness” cannot be penetrated except by those who are initiated through the anointing of the Holy Spirit. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of [the natural] man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” Let us be thankful if we dwell in the “secret place of the Most High.” It is given to very few to be allowed to know God and Jesus Christ whom He sent. We recall the words of Jesus, related in Matthew 11:25,26–“I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.” Can we be certain that we are of those who are initiated in the mysteries of God? Yes; for the Apostle John says: “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and–every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God.”
And now, if any desire further information regarding the “Mystery” of God’s glorious Plan of the Ages, and its great counterfeit the “Mystery of Iniquity,” we refer you to The Divine Plan of the Ages; and also to the Rev. Alex. Hislop’s work entitled: The Two Babylons.