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Yes, There are Goddesses in the Bible by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

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“Freud once asserted that mortals are not made to keep secrets;what they would like to conceal oozes from all their pores.”Psychoanalyst Theodore Reik[1]

It’s remarkable how much female imagery there is in the Bible hidden within its wording. The more I delve into its passages, the more that I have found these hidden/not so hidden sacred feminine images, even deities. I have begun a project of digging in and rooting out these little gems. When people think about the sacred feminine or female deities in the Bible the most well known is the Shekinah. The Shekinah is a lovely presence. The word means “dwelling” and usually represents “god’s divine presence” or a place where the divine resides.

The problem is that the Shekinah as a feminine essence of the divine is never stated explicitly, it is an interpretation of how the word is used.  I love the concept of the Shekinah but as an essence that upholds the entire weight of the feminine divine in the bible, I find it unsatisfying by itself. Luckily for me, Goddess Shekinah has lots of company. Sometimes they are indeed hiding in plain sight. Sometimes they hide in the translations. The passage I am presenting today has some of both going on. The following is the King James Version of Genesis 49:25. Jacob has been giving blessings to each of his sons and this is part of the blessing he gives to Joseph:

Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee;and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above,blessings of the deep that lieth under,blessings of the breasts, and of the womb

I can’t get enough of this blessing. Just think about its importance. One patriarch of Judaism (Jacob), gives a blessing to his son (Joseph), another patriarch, that is based on female body parts; specifically breasts and womb. In other words, this is a Goddess blessing. But that’s not all just in this 4-line passage.

“Almighty” in Genesis 49:25 is the Hebrew word Shaddai. El Shaddai or Shaddai as a term for god appears 48 times in the Bible. It first appears in Genesis 17:1 when the LORD (YHVH) speaks to Abraham.

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine,the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him,I am the Almighty God;walk before me, and be thou perfect.

El Shaddai is usually translated as “God Almighty” or “Almighty God,” sometimes as “God, the One of the Mountain.”[2] The phrase is always paired with the pronoun “he.”

This is curious since Shaddai come from the root shad which means breasts or teats; certainly, a very different kind of mountain! Look how remarkable Genesis 17:1 is: A new and powerful deity arises named YHVH (which I have previously blogged about[3]) whose name can be broken into the component parts of mother/father or male/female. YHVH then introduces themselves to Abram as “I am ‘the breasts.’”

Many original Goddess blessings were in the form of breasts, those lovely aspects of nourishment that come from above. The baby suckles looking up at the mother’s face. The heavens drip their goddessly nourishment from the starry skies above us.  

The term Shadd-ai with the “ai” ending can be translated more precisely as “my breasts.” So who is the “my” in the “my breasts” which are providing such sustenance? In Genesis 17:1 that would be YHVH. We need to dig a bit deeper to find out whose breasts are being referenced in Genesis 49:25. So far in this passage we have two breasts and a womb. But even with all that, there is still more. And that “more” could perhaps answer the question of whose breasts.

The blessing that Joseph gives to Jacob includes the phrase “the deep,” which is the English translation of the Hebrew word tehom. Tehom is related to and is a form of the name of the Sumerian great Goddess, Tiamat. [4] Sumeria was one of Israel’s closest neighbors. In their creation story, known as the Enuma Elish, Tiamat was the goddess of the primeval saltwater ocean, or to quote the bible “the deep.”

The use of the word tehom in Genesis is a remnant of the Great Sumerian Goddess of creation, reduced to a vocabulary word and then translated out of easy reach of the modern-day reader. 

To review all the elements of the blessing that the patriarch Jacob bestows; Joseph is given the “blessings of tehom,” or in Sumerian parlance, “the blessings of the Great Goddess, Tiamat” along with blessings of breasts and womb.

Here is the blessing with some of the original Hebrew reinserted (and ancestors substituted for father):

Even by the Powers of thy ancestors, who shall help thee;and my breasts, which shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above,blessings of Tehom that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb

Biblical editors may have tried to scrub feminine/goddess influences from the bible, but Her presence still oozes out of the pores of the writing just as Theodore Reik promised us they would. 

[1] Reik, Theodor, Mystery on the Mountain, Harper Brothers, 1959; 117.[2] The Jewish Study Bible; 37.[3] https://feminismandreligion.com/2019/03/05/eve-by-any-other-name-by-janet-rudolph/ [4] According to Jastrow; 28 and Spence; 72, The Sumerian Goddess Tiamat, Tehom from the Bible and the Assyrian

 

Janet Maika’i Rudolph. “IT’S ALL ABOUT THE QUEST.” I have walked the spirit path for over 25 years traveling to sacred sites around the world including Israel to do an Ulpan (Hebrew language studies while working on a Kibbutz), Eleusis and Delphi in Greece, Avebury and Glastonbury in England, Brodgar in Scotland, Machu Picchu in Peru, Teotihuacan in Mexico, and Giza in Egypt. Within these travels, I have participated in numerous shamanic rites and rituals, attended a mystery school based on the ancient Greek model, and studied with shamans around the world. I am twice initiated. The first as a shaman practitioner of a pathway known as Divine Humanity. The second ordination in 2016 was as an Alaka’i (a Hawaiian spiritual guide with Aloha International). I have written three books: When Moses Was a ShamanWhen Eve Was a Goddess, and One Gods. In Ardor and Adventure, Janet.

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