Friday, July 23, 2010

More on the Pre-History of Ialdabaoth in the Bible

To read the original post click here.

I found a reference to Baal Debaba (which I have argued is the original source of Ialdabaoth in the last post) in the Targum Onkelos for Numbers 32. The received Hebrew text reads:

The Reubenites and Gadites, who had very large herds and flocks, saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were suitable for livestock. 2 So they came to Moses and Eleazar the priest and to the leaders of the community, and said, "Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo and Beon- the land the LORD subdued before the people of Israel—are suitable for livestock, and your servants have livestock.[Numbers 32:1 - 4]

while the Aramaic translation inserts a reference to Baal 

Now the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad possessed much cattle, exceedingly many ; and they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, and, behold, the region was a place fit for folds of cattle. And the sons of Gad and the sons of of Reuben came and spake to Mosheh and to Elazar the priest, and to the heads of the congregation, saying: Maklelta and Malbasta and the priests of Beth Nimrin and Beth-Hesh-bena, and Baale Debaba, and Seath, (the sepulchre of Mosheh,) and Beon, the land which the Lord smote before the congregation of Israel, is a country fitted for cattle folds and thy servants have cattle.

The term also surfaces in Numbers Rabba and the Targum on Psalm 8:2

From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise. Thou hast founded a bulwark because of thy foes, to destroy the author of enmity (lebattala' be'el debaba') and the violent one.

There are two reasons why this Psalm is significant. The followers of Mark (both 'heretical' and 'orthodox') paid special attention to this passage as we see in Irenaeus:

He (Mark) instances, in proof of this (i.e. the power of six), the case of infants who have just been born, the cry of whom, as soon as they have issued from the womb, is in accordance with the sound of every one of these elements (i.e. 'Oh!' which is the sixth letter vav). As, then, he says, the seven powers glorify the Word, so does the soul of infants, weeping and mourning over Marcus, deify him. For this reason, too, David said: "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise;"(Psalm 8:2) and again: "The heavens declare the glory of God." Hence also it comes to pass, that when the soul is involved in difficulties and distresses, for its own relief it calls out, "Oh" (W), in honour of the letter in question,(i.e. the sixth letter vav) so that its cognate soul above may recognise [its distress], and send down to it relief.[AH i.14:8]

Yet not only did the Marcosians take an interest in Psalm 8:2 but more importantly the word that in the Targum the bulwark is established 'to destroy the author of enmity and the violent one'. In the MT neither 'enemy' nor 'avenger' is given an article. In the Targum the enemy of God is individualised as the 'author of enmity and the violent one.' 

The original Hebrew term in Psalm 8 for enmity is אוֹיֵב ('oyeb). This term is related to the enmity which appears in the Genesis narrative involving Adam, Eve and the serpent. There God condemns the serpent by saying:

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; they shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise their heel.' [Genesis 3:15]

The word for 'enmity' here is אֵיבָה ('eybah) which is again related to אוֹיֵב ('oyeb) by means of the primitive root אָיַב ('ayab) which means 'enemy.' 

What I am now considering is that if one can conceive of the possibility that if the reference to 'enmity' in Genesis 3:15 became 'personalized' with the addition of the definite article as we saw in the Targumic version of Psalms 8:2 (as be'el debaba'), then we can begin to see where Ialdabaoth ultimately emerged in Genesis. 

He stands between the serpent and the woman in Genesis. 

And I will put be'el debaba' between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; they shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise their heel.' 

One can imagine now that the appearance of Christ has now destroyed the enmity which caused the fall of Adam. This understanding is explicitly referenced in the Targumic literature too when we read in the Aramaic of Genesis 3:15. Targum Pseudo Jonathan on Genesis 3:15 states, 

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between the seed of your offspring and the seed of her offspring; and it shall be that when the offspring of the woman keep the commandments of the Law, they will aim right (at you) and they will smite you on the head; but when they abandon the commandments of the Law, you will aim right (at them), and you will wound them in the heel. However, for them there will be a remedy, but for you there will be none, and in the future they will make peace with the heel in the days of the King Messiah.

I think my readers will see that I have stumbled on to something important but I think this also leads to a few more important ideas:

(a) the image of the serpent on the cross as a symbol of the crucifixion of Ialdabaoth
(b) Polycarp's words to Marcion "I recognize thee as the first born of Satan" (the serpent is the firstborn of Satan).
(c) the underlying connection between the Ophites/Naasenes and the Marcionites which I have long argued. 

Anyway have to sleep at some point but I thought this might be interesting to post before I forget.

Email with comments or questions.

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