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Akiti is the Sumerian form of the word akitu, the name of the Babylonian festival celebrating the new year. It refers both to the holiday and the special building where it was held. Unlike the festival for the chief god Marduk in Babylon, which was held only in the spring, the akiti celebrated for the moon-god Nanna at Ur was also held in the seventh month, around the time of the autumn equinox. The celebration involved the image representing the god traveling by boat from the city to the akiti-house and then returning to the city with great fanfare.

The autumn festival was the more important of the two. Why? Nanna was the patron god of Ur, and the fall akiti, which lasted at least eleven days into the month, took place as the waxing moon grew larger and larger, symbolizing the god’s reentry into his city just as the days were getting visibly shorter and the moon asserted his dominance in the sky over Utu, the sun-god.

Similar festivals were held in many cities for their patron gods, from Ur to Babylon to Harran in northern Mesopotamia. The question is why the ritual required the patron god to travel from his or her city to the akiti-house and back. Scholars who have studied this festival report that “nothing unusually significant occurred” at the akiti-house. So, why bother?

The solution is the obvious. Perhaps the best-known children’s riddle is, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” The answer to this riddle is the obvious: “to get to the other side.” Why then was the akitu-house built outside the city? The answer: “so that the gods could march back into the city.”

But why? We may never know for sure, but there’s a fascinating tidbit buried just beneath the surface of the historical record. It appears the akiti rites at Ur included a ritual procession around the fields outside the walls, presumably to call for divine protection of the crops. This circular march, or circumambulation, was combined with offerings to Nanna, a ritual purification of the gate to the moon-god’s temple, and of course tithing by merchants to the temple.

The significance of the circumambulation ritual will become obvious later in this series. And it may be much, much older than the city of Ur.

In September of 1869, British military engineer and explorer Sir Charles Warren climbed to the summit of Mount Hermon on behalf of the Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF). The PEF was founded in 1865 under the patronage of Queen Victoria. The society included some of the giants in the field of archaeology, such as Sir William Flinders Petrie, T. E. Lawrence (“of Arabia”), Kathleen Kenyon, and Sir Leonard Woolley, who excavated Ur in the 1920s. But it’s no coincidence that many of those sent into the field had military training; by the second half of the nineteenth century, the Ottoman Empire was crumbling, and the great powers of Europe had their knives out, ready to carve up the carcass. While we’ve learned a lot about the ancient world from the work of men like Warren, Petrie, and Lawrence, the British government collected useful intelligence at the same time.

Anyway, on top of Hermon, more than nine thousand feet above sea level, Warren visited an ancient temple called Qasr Antar, the highest manmade place of worship on the planet. It was probably built during the Greek or Roman periods, so it only dates to about the second or third century BC at the earliest.

But inside the temple, Warren found an artifact that had been overlooked by visitors for nearly two thousand years—a stela, a slab of limestone about four feet high, eighteen inches wide, and twelve inches thick, inscribed in archaic Greek:

According to the command of the greatest a(nd) Holy God, those who take an oath (proceed) from here.

Because the inscription is Greek rather than a Semitic language like Aramaic, Hebrew, Canaanite, or Akkadian, the stela probably can’t be dated earlier than Alexander the Great’s invasion of the Levant in the late fourth century BC. But it still connects Mount Hermon to the Watchers of Genesis 6, whose mutual pact on the summit is described in the Book of 1 Enoch:

Shemihazah, their chief, said to them, “I fear that you will not want to do this deed, and I alone shall be guilty of a great sin.” And they all answered him and said, “Let us all swear an oath, and let us all bind one another with a curse, that none of us turn back from this counsel until we fulfill it and do this deed.” Then they all swore together and bound one another with a curse. And they were, all of them, two hundred, who descended in the days of Jared onto the peak of Mount Hermon.

Since the “greatest and holy god” on Warren’s stela is linked to the Watchers, it almost certainly refers to the Canaanite creator-god, El, who was believed to make his home on Mount Hermon, which was essentially “the Canaanite Olympus.” The summit of Hermon has been scooped out like a giant bowl, probably to receive a drink offering, something scholars call “the rite of hydrophory.” This ritual was called yarid in Hebrew, based on a root that means “to come down,” which it shares with the names Jared and Jordan (since the river “comes down” into the Galilee from Hermon). This suggests that the Watchers did not descend to Mount Hermon in the “days of Jared,” but rather in the days when yarid was performed on the summit of Hermon.

The point is this: Warren noted that those bringing the yarid had to approach the summit in a specific way:

On the southern peak there is a hole scooped out of the apex, the foot is surrounded by an oval of hewn stones, and at its southern end is a Sacellum, or temple, nearly destroyed: the latter appears to be of more recent date than the stone oval…

The oval is formed of well-dressed stones, from two to eight feet in length, two and a-half feet in breadth, and two feet thick; they are laid in a curved line on the uneven ground, their breadth being their height, and their ends touching each other.

In other words, to reach the summit of Mount Hermon in ancient times, one had to circumambulate the peak, walking in a spiral with the summit always on the left—counterclockwise. 

That leads to this question: Is there a link between religious rituals on Mount Hermon and the oldest akiti rites for the moon-god at Ur?

Admittedly, this is speculation, another bit of circumstantial evidence as we build our case. There is smoke, but not exactly a smoking gun.

One more note, a hint at the importance of the moon-god in the ancient Near East: During the time of the patriarchs, which scholars call the Old Babylonian period, the moon-god Nanna/Sîn was, at least for some, the most important god in the pantheon.

Even though Enlil was still king of the gods at that point in history, a text fragment from Nippur written during the Old Babylonian period, only translated in 2011, explicitly describes the moon-god as ruling over the Mesopotamian divine assembly, which was called the Ubšu-ukkina. Anu and Enlil, whom we’d expect to be the presiding deities, are described as advisors, along with the other “gods who decree.”

“You, who stand before him to sit in the Ubšu-ukkina

An, Enlil, Enki, Ninhursag, Utu, and Inanna sat in assembly for the king

They advised him there.

Nanna sets the holy…in order.…”

The great gods were paying attention to….

Suen [Sîn], his assembly’s decision, his speech of goodness, abundance.…

for Suen, they implement abundance in heaven and earth properly(?)

The king suitable for holy heaven, the barge in the midst of heaven.

“The barge in the midst of heaven” is the crescent moon. Besides resembling the horns of a bull, it also looks like a reed boat sailing across the night sky. Even though bits of the tablet are missing, it’s clear that Sîn was “the king” in the Mesopotamian divine assembly, with the other “great gods” in subordinate roles. Marduk isn’t even mentioned. This supports the theory that the Amorite founders of Babylon, even though they hailed from the city of Marduk, considered the moon-god, Sîn, their patron.

It’s also important to remember that to Mesopotamians, the Ubšu-ukkina was a physical place. The assembly of the gods took place in Nippur, inside Enlil’s temple complex the E-kur, or “House of the Mountain.”

That’s important, too. From Eden to Armageddon, this long spiritual war is all about the mountain where the gods assemble. The prize is Yahweh’s har môʿēd (“mount of assembly”)—Zion.

Next up: The city of the moon-god.

The divine rebel in Eden, the nachash of Genesis 3, is called a “guardian cherub” in Ezekiel 28. As we showed you in a previous article, nachash and saraph, the singular form of seraphim, are interchangeable terms. But if the rebel in Eden was one of the seraphim, how could he also be one of the cherubim? Good question.
Cherubim are mentioned more frequently than the seraphim in the Old Testament. They are usually referenced in descriptions of the mercy seat on top of the Ark of the Testimony (Ark of the Covenant) and in reference to carved decorations in Solomon’s Temple. Two exceptions are the cherubim who guard the entrance to Eden and the four cherubim Ezekiel saw in his famous “wheel within a wheel” vision by the Chebar canal.
Most of us today have a mental image of cherubim that was shaped by artists in the Middle Ages—cute, chubby little boys with tiny wings who filled up the empty space in religious paintings. Nothing could be farther from the biblical and archaeological truth. Cherubim are scary, dangerous creatures we do not want to mess with.
The cherubim of the mercy seat are usually shown as a matched pair of plainly recognizable angels perched on top of the Ark of the Covenant with their outstretched wings touching in the middle. The Bible doesn’t describe them other than mentioning their wings and faces. Why? Because everybody in the fifteenth century BC knew what a cherub looked like, and they knew it was right and proper for them to serve as Yahweh’s throne-bearers. You see, God appeared to men above the mercy seat “enthroned on the cherubim.”
But the cherubim Ezekiel saw looked like something from a nightmare:
…this was their appearance: they had a human likeness, but each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot. And they sparkled like burnished bronze.
Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: their wings touched one another. Each one of them went straight forward, without turning as they went.
As for the likeness of their faces, each had a human face. The four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle.
Such were their faces. And their wings were spread out above. Each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies. And each went straight forward. Wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went.
As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches moving to and fro among the living creatures. And the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.
And the living creatures darted to and fro, like the appearance of a flash of lightning. (Ezekiel 1:5–14; emphasis added)
While these living creatures aren’t identified as cherubim in these verses, they are specifically called cherubim in Ezekiel 10—and we’ll see them again in the throne room of God when we get to the book of Revelation.
And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of the cherub, and the second face was a human face, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle. (Ezekiel 10:14)
Did you notice that the prophet saw a cherub instead of an ox for the fourth face? Is there some connection between the cherub and the ox?
Actually, yes.
The word “cherub” probably comes from the Akkadian karibu (the “ch” should be a hard “k” sound). It means “intercessor” or “one who prays.” The karibu were usually portrayed as winged bulls with human faces, and huge statues of the karibu were set up as divine guardians at the entrances of palaces and temples. This is the role of the cherubim “at the east of the garden of Eden…to guard the way to the tree of life.”
Cherubim were the gold standard for guarding royalty in the ancient Near East. In Assyria they were called lamassu, and the Akkadians called them shedu. They were sometimes depicted as winged lions rather than bulls, and they were often incorporated into the thrones of kings. So, the function of the biblical cherubim, guarding the tree of life and carrying the throne of God, was entirely consistent with what the neighbors of the Israelites knew about these beings. Based on what archaeologists have found in the Levant (modern-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel), the cherub was more like a winged, bull-like sphinx than a humanoid with wings.
The presence of cherubim in the Bible isn’t an accident or an invention of the Hebrew prophets. The cherubim were known by different names by the other cultures of the ancient Near East, but they served a similar role in all of them. They were supernatural bodyguards for the throne of Yahweh, and their imagery was appropriated by earthly kings.
So, we’ve identified, as best we can, the nachash, one of the entities—gods, if you will—who was a member of the assembly on God’s holy mountain. But what about the other gods? Who else was in Eden with God, Adam, Eve, and the nachash? What do we know about them?
More than you’d think. Unfortunately for us, English doesn’t convey the full sense of the Hebrew words that describe the supernatural beings in the Bible. For example, our English word “angel” covers a range of entities—cherubim, seraphim, ophanim, malakim, bene elohim, and others in Hebrew, as well as archangels and Watchers. That’s made it easier for scholars and theologians to get around the idea that multiple gods are clearly described in the Bible.
We know those gods were in the Garden, or Yahweh would not have inspired Ezekiel to call Eden “the seat of the gods.” And it’s possible they’re mentioned in Ezekiel 28, just not in the way we expect.
Scholars generally agree that Ezekiel 28 is linked to Isaiah 14, another account of the divine rebel being tossed out of Eden:
How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!
You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north.” (Isaiah 14:12–13)
Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 describe the same event, so we have confirmation of other divine beings in Eden. In the Ezekiel account, God describes how the “anointed guardian cherub” was cast out of Eden, where he’d once walked “in the midst of the stones of fire.” Compare that with what we discussed above about the brazen, glowing, or burning appearance of the beings encountered by Moses, Daniel, and Isaiah. And in Psalm 104:4, we read that God “makes his messengers winds, His ministers a flaming fire.”
In the Isaiah 14 passage above, we also see a reference to the “stars of God.” Scholars agree that “stars” in the Old Testament often refer to the bene ha’elohim (“sons of God”). For example, when Yahweh rebuked Job for his lack of faith:
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:4–7; emphasis added)
The divine rebel in Eden was cast out of the Garden and the divine council for his pride and his desire to set his throne “above the stars of God”—sons of God who appear as beings of fire and light. If we read the passages in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 as consistent with one another, then the “stones of fire” in Eden were the sons of God that the nachash wanted to rule from his own “mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north.”
Bible teachers often de-supernaturalize the puzzling references to fiery, flying serpents by offering naturalistic explanations. Some suggest that the fiery serpents of Numbers 21 were saw-scaled vipers, dangerous venomous snakes native to the Sinai Peninsula. Others claim that the verses are proof that dragons or pterodactyls were alive during the Exodus. Both suggestions miss the point. We need to keep our eyes on the supernatural.
Well, the consequences of the rebellion in Eden were immediate and harsh:
The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”…
Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—”
Therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:14–15, 22–24)
Well-meaning Christians for generations have pointed to Genesis 3:14 as the moment in history when snakes lost their legs. Again, that misses the point. God didn’t remove the legs of snakes; He described the punishment of the nachash in figurative language. You don’t need to be a biologist to know that snakes do not eat dust.
What happened was this: The nachash was cast down from the peak of the supernatural realm, “full of wisdom and perfect in beauty,” to be the lord of the dead. What a comedown! Isaiah 14 makes a lot more sense when you keep a supernatural worldview in mind:
Sheol beneath is stirred up
to meet you when you come;
it rouses the shades to greet you,
all who were leaders of the earth;
it raises from their thrones
all who were kings of the nations.
All of them will answer
and say to you:
“You too have become as weak as we!
You have become like us!” (Isaiah 14:9–10)
Refer to our previous book, Veneration, for a deep dive into the significance of those verses. The “shades” Isaiah mentioned were the Rephaim (root word rapha), divinized royal ancestors of the pagan Amorites who surrounded ancient Israel. Moses did not invent the Rephaim when he wrote the Pentateuch. They were well known to their neighbors, and their worship was a central part of the lives of the pagans of the ancient Near East.
For Adam and Eve, the banishment affected the two of them and all their descendants through the present day. Instead of living with God as members of His council, we humans have struggled for millennia to make sense of a world that often seems to make no sense. The memory of our brief time in the Garden of God has echoed down through the long and many centuries since, and it may be the source of our belief that mountains are somehow special: reserved for the gods.
Eden was a lush, well-watered area “on the holy mountain of God,” where Yahweh presided over His divine council. The council included the first humans along with the loyal elohim (those who had not sided with Chaos during that first rebellion). Adam and Eve walked and talked with the supernatural “sons of God” who (based on clues scattered throughout the Bible) were beautiful, radiant beings.
And, at least some of them were serpentine in appearance.
So, back to the question: How could the divine rebel be both a nachash and a cherub? There are two possible answers.
First, the Septuagint translation, prepared by Jewish religious scholars about two hundred years before the birth of Jesus, interpreted Ezekiel 28 as reading that the divine rebel was placed in Eden with the guardian cherub, who then ejected the rebel from the Garden for his sin. The Jewish translators worked with older copies of the Hebrew scriptures than are available today, so it’s possible that the chapter was changed by the time the Masoretic Hebrew text, on which are English Old Testament is based, was completed around 1000 AD. If this is true, then the nachash—Satan—was tossed out of Eden by the guardian cherub and there’s no contradiction.
The second possibility is one I suggest in my new book, The Second Coming of Saturn: If the rebel described in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 was a fallen angel other than Satan, then he may not have been a nachash at all. Again, the contradiction disappears.
I believe that’s the correct answer, but there is no space here to make that case. That will have to wait for a future article.
The bottom line is this: A long war has raged between Yahweh and the sons of God who rebelled. This conflict is not just about control of the spirit realm, it’s also about whether humanity will be restored to its rightful place “in the seat of the gods”—among the divine council on the holy mountain of God. We see God’s battle plans and references to previous skirmishes in the Bible, but a day is coming when He will destroy all enemies.

Over the centuries, tomb robbers have removed most of the useful evidence from the dolmens of the Jordan River valley. The few bones left behind in burial chambers don’t show any evidence of giantism, or at least I haven’t found any papers reporting it. Most of the dolmens are oriented north-south, although about 10 percent appear to be oriented east-west, perhaps to face the rising sun.
Is this significant? While it’s interesting to note that the Pole Star was Thuban (Alpha Draconis) in the constellation Draco, the Dragon, when the dolmens were built, we don’t know if that was relevant. Despite their ability to lift stupendously heavy blocks of stone, the dolmen-builders weren’t considerate enough to leave behind any written evidence.
That makes a recent discovery in the Golan all the more intriguing and frustrating at the same time. In 2012, archaeologists examined a massive, multichambered dolmen in the Shamir Dolmen Field on the western foothills of the Golan Heights, a site with over four hundred dolmens. What was truly remarkable about this particular dolmen was the discovery of rock art on the underside of the capstone, a basalt monster weighing about fifty tons. (For comparison, that’s about twice as heavy as a fully-loaded, eighteen-wheel, tractor-trailer in the United States.) That’s the first time art has been found inside any of the thousands of dolmens in the region, possibly the first written or artistic record that might be connected directly to the biblical Rephaim.
The dolmen itself is surrounded by a tumulus, a burial mound of about four hundred tons of stone. Think about that! Four thousand years ago, maybe a century or so before Abraham arrived in Canaan, a government on the Golan Heights was powerful enough to organize the manpower and logistics (food, water, etc.) to move and assemble some eight hundred thousand pounds of stone into a multichambered tomb for—who? The king and his family? Archaeologists recovered enough bones and teeth to identify “an 8–10 year-old child, a young adult and a 35–45 year-old adult.”
Were they—dare we speculate—of the dynasty that produced Og, the enemy of Israel, about six hundred years later? Well, probably not. Most dynasties don’t last that long. But it’s interesting to wonder.
The engravings were fourteen figures comprised of a vertical line and a downturned arc. What did the symbol mean? No idea. Nothing like it has been found anywhere in the Levant or anywhere else. It might be a representation of the human soul taking flight, but because the artist didn’t leave a note, we’re guessing. Or—and again, we’re speculating—this could be an ancient symbol with occult meaning even today. Three-dimensional scanning of the images show that at least some of them look very much like the Greek character psi, which is a trident (and the logo for Indiana University), the three-pronged spear traditionally carried by the Greco-Roman god of the sea, Poseidon/Neptune. Today it’s used, among other things, as a symbol for parapsychology, especially research into extrasensory perception, and in a mathematical formula that claims to guide occultists in how to perform rituals in chaos magick.
What did that symbol mean in the twentieth century BC? We have no way to know. It might have been doodling by a bored Bronze Age stonemason.
The takeaway is this: For at least a thousand years, people living in lands the Bible identifies as the home of Rephaim tribes built burial tombs with massive slabs of limestone and basalt. And those huge burial tombs inspired place names linked to the dolmen-builders (Iye-Abarim, “ruins of the Travelers”) and to the restless dead (Oboth, “Spirits of the Dead”).
Get this: Even the place where Moses died was called the Mountain of the Travelers.
Go up this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, opposite Jericho, and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel for a possession. And die on the mountain which you go up, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died in Mount Hor and was gathered to his people.…
So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. (Deuteronomy 32:49–50, 34:5–6, emphasis added)
Here’s a thought: Moses was buried in the valley of the Travelers, a place where the Rephaim spirits were believed to cross over to the land of the living. Is that why Satan, lord of the dead, thought he had a claim to Moses’ body after his death?
Another question comes to mind: Were all those dolmens up and down the Jordan Valley thought to be portals to the underworld?
Here’s another connection between this valley and the realm of the dead: Remember the prophecy of Balaam? After the king of Moab tried to buy a curse from the pagan prophet, Israel began drifting away from Yahweh again.
While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel. (Numbers 25:1–3)
Who was Baal of Peor? Remember, baal in Hebrew simply means “lord.” So, the Lord of Peor was a local deity linked to a mountain near Shittim in Moab, northeast of the Dead Sea. The clue to the character of Baal-Peor is in the name.
Peor is related to the Hebrew root p’r, which means “cleft” or “gap,” or “open wide.” In this context, that definition is consistent with Isaiah’s description of the entrance to the netherworld:
Therefore Sheol has enlarged its appetite and opened [pa’ar] its mouth beyond measure. (Isaiah 5:14)
Since we’re looking at a place associated with the dead, it’s worth noting that the Canaanite god of death, Mot, was described in the Ugaritic texts as a ravenous entity with a truly monstrous mouth:
He extends a lip to the earth,
a lip to the heavens,
he extends a tongue to the stars.
That’s what’s in view here: Baal-Peor was apparently the lord of the entrance to the underworld—or, at the risk of being sensationalistic, “Lord of the Gates of Hell.”
Yes, the Canaanites believed the entrance to the underworld was at Bashan. But both Milcom (whom the Hebrews called Molech) and Chemosh, the national gods of Ammon and Moab, the nations that controlled most of the land east of the Jordan from the Dead Sea to Mount Hermon, demanded child sacrifice. Veneration of the dead and appeasing the gods of the dead through human sacrifice appear to have been the norm in this region east of the Dead Sea.
This was also the location of Sodom and Gomorrah. This is an awful lot of evil concentrated in a small area.
Anyway, perhaps because of the association with death and the dead, there was, shall we say, a fertility aspect to the cult of Baal-Peor.
And behold, one of the people of Israel came and brought a Midianite woman to his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the people of Israel, while they were weeping in the entrance of the tent of meeting. When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation and took a spear in his hand and went after the man of Israel into the chamber and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman through her belly. (Numbers 25:6–8)
How to put this delicately? There are only a couple of physical positions in which Phinehas could have speared both the Israelite man and Midianite woman with one thrust. If you’re an adult, I don’t need to draw you a picture. Emphasizing the point, the Hebrew word translated “belly,” qevah, can refer to a woman’s womb. In other words, the sin here wasn’t that an Israelite man brought a foreign woman home for dinner, it’s that the couple performed a lewd ritual act in full view of Moses and the assembly of Israel!
Well, it’s no wonder the men of Israel were tempted to follow Baal-Peor. Roughly 60 percent of the Christian pastors in America today struggle with addiction to pornography. Just imagine the temptation of being surrounded by people whose god decreed that extramarital sex was a form of worship. We don’t mean to be flippant, but it might take the real threat of death to keep men away from the temples! Indeed, twenty-four thousand people died in the plague that God sent as punishment for that apostasy because it wasn’t just the one couple involved.
And there was even more to it than that. Not surprisingly, given the Amorite/Rephaim culture in that time and place, one of the pagan rites the Israelites adopted during their time in Moab was veneration of the dead:
Then they yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor,
and ate sacrifices offered to the dead;
they provoked the Lord to anger with their deeds,
and a plague broke out among them. (Psalm 106:28–29)
The psalmist remembered the sacrifices to the dead, which is a basic description of the Amorite kispum ritual. The sexual sin of the young couple (and Phinehas’ violent reaction) is shocking to us today, but apparently the psalmist didn’t find it worth mentioning. The real sin that provoked God’s anger was venerating the dead, one of the “abominable practices” of the pagan nations He’d promised to drive out of the land before them.
That brings us back to the point: We’ve identified the area that Ezekiel called the Valley of the Travelers as the east side of the Jordan Rift Valley, specifically ancient Moab east and just northeast of the Dead Sea. And by now you’re asking, “Why are we spending all of this time identifying the area and unraveling the meaning behind the word Travelers?”
Here’s why: It connects the Rephaim to Ezekiel’s prophecy of Gog and Magog.
How? Stay tuned.

One of the giants killed by David and his men during Israel’s war with the Philistines carried the unusual name Ishbi-benob. It’s usually taken to mean “his dwelling is in Nob.” However, as we mentioned last month, that’s an error. Given that the Hebrew word ôb means “medium” (or, more accurately, “necromantic ritual pit”), the giant wasn’t Ishbi-benob, he was Ishbi ben Ob. or “Ishbi son of the medium.”

But this goes even deeper. ʾÔb, in turn, is related to the Hebrew word ʾab, which means “father.” In the Old Testament, the word “fathers” most often refers to one’s dead ancestors. For example:

And when the time drew near that Israel [Jacob] must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “If now I have found favor in your sight, put your hand under my thigh and promise to deal kindly and truly with me. Do not bury me in Egypt, but let me lie with my fathers [ăbōṯ]. (Genesis 47:29–30)

Looking at all of this in context, then, we can pretty safely say that Oboth, one of the stations of the Exodus named in Numbers 21:10–11 and Numbers 33:43–44, essentially means “Spirits of the Dead.”

The other location mentioned in those verses, Iye-abarim (or “ruins of the Abarim”), is based on the same root. Abarim is the anglicized form of ōbĕrîm, a plural form of the verb ʿbr, which means “to pass from one side to the other.” In this context, it refers to a spirit that passes from one plane of existence to another, or crosses over, in the same sense that the ancient Greeks believed that the dead traveled across the River Styx to reach or return from the underworld.

The placement of Oboth and Iye-abarim in Numbers 33 suggests that they were east of the Dead Sea, close to Mount Nebo and the plains of Moab. This is confirmed by the proximity of Shittim to Beth-Peor. And that’s a name that needs a deeper dive.

Peor is related to the Hebrew root p’r, which means “cleft” or “gap,” or “open wide.” In this context, that’s consistent with Isaiah’s description of the entrance to the netherworld:

Therefore Sheol has enlarged its appetite and opened [pa’ar] its mouth beyond measure. (Isaiah 5:14)

This is similar to the Canaanite conception of their god of death, Mot, who was described in Ugaritic texts as a ravenous entity with a truly monstrous mouth:

He extends a lip to the earth, a lip to the heavens, he extends a tongue to the stars.

It appears, then, that Baal-Peor was the “lord of the entrance to the netherworld.” So, Beth-Peor, the “house (or temple) of the entrance to the netherworld,” was near the plains of Moab and Mount Nebo—which God called “this mountain of the Abarim.”

All of this leads to the real reason God was angry with the Israelites when they camped at Shittim. The worship of Baal-Peor was not about sexual fertility rites, as you might think after reading the story of the zeal of Phinehas.

Then they yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor, 

and ate sacrifices offered to the dead

they provoked the Lord to anger with their deeds, 

and a plague broke out among them. 

Then Phinehas stood up and intervened, 

and the plague was stayed. (Psalm 106:28–30, emphasis added)

Writing four hundred years after the incident at Shittim, the psalmist didn’t even mention the young couple caught in the act by Phinehas. It was eating sacrifices offered to the dead that angered Yahweh. And judging by the words of later prophets, the Israelites were slow to learn their lesson.

But you, draw near, 

sons of the sorceress, 

offspring of the adulterer and the loose woman. 

Whom are you mocking? 

Against whom do you open your mouth wide 

and stick out your tongue? 

Are you not children of transgression, 

the offspring of deceit, 

you who burn with lust among the oaks, 

under every green tree, 

who slaughter your children in the valleys, 

under the clefts of the rocks? 

Among the smooth stones of the valley is your portion; 

they, they, are your lot; 

to them you have poured out a drink offering, 

you have brought a grain offering. 

Shall I relent for these things? (Isaiah 57:3–6)

Isaiah wrote nearly seven hundred years after the Exodus, but the Israelites were still engaged in the occult practices that compelled God to smite them with a devastating plague. To “burn with lust among the oaks” suggests fertility rites, which seems obvious given the prophet’s condemnation of the children of the adulteress and “loose woman,” which is also rendered “prostitute” and “whore” in other English translations. Ah, but once again, there is more in the Bible verse than meets the English-reading eye.

The Hebrew word translated “sorceress,” ʿanan, is difficult to pin down. “Witch” and “fortune teller” have also been used in translation. More likely, however, is a correlation with the Arabic ʿanna, meaning “to appear,” which suggests that the sorceress was actually a female necromancer.

This may explain why the word rendered “oaks” or “terebinths,” normally spelled ʾêlîm, is ʾēlîm in Isaiah 57:5. This could be a scribal error, but it seems more likely that it’s the same word we find in Psalm 29:1:

Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings (bənē ʾēlīm),

Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

As we saw above in the story of Saul and the medium of En-dor, elohim and its shortened form, elim, was used in Hebrew to refer to dead ancestors. So, Isaiah wasn’t necessarily railing against sex rites among the sacred oaks, but rather something like, “You sons of the necromancer…who burn with lust among the spirits of the dead.” It’s likely the prophet was engaging in the wordplay for which he’s well known, using a pun to emphasize the spirits behind the rituals—the ʾêlîm among the ʾêlîm.

Isaiah continues his diatribe by connecting the death cult to the rites of Molech. The valley of the son of Hinnom, later called Gehenna, was the location of the tophet, where Israelites sacrificed their children to the dark god of the underworld. The Valley of Hinnom surrounds Jerusalem’s Old City on the south and west, connecting on the west with the Valley of Rephaim (interesting coincidence) and merging with the Kidron Valley near the southeastern corner of the city. It’s as Isaiah described it, a narrow, rocky ravine that was used as a place for burying the dead. Tombs along the sides of the valley are plainly visible to visitors to Jerusalem today. This helps us better understand the real meaning behind verse 6, which begins, “among the smooth stones of the valley is your portion.”

An alternative understanding of the phrase challeqe-nachal, “smooth things of the wadi,” is the “dead” of the wadi. This meaning is based on examples of the related Semitic word chalaq found in Arabic and Ugaritic with the meaning “die, perish.”

The brings the picture into focus. This chapter of Isaiah is obscure and hard to understand only if we read it without understanding what the prophet knew about the Amorite cult of the dead. This is confirmed by the next few verses of the chapter:

On a high and lofty mountain 

you have set your bed, 

and there you went up to offer sacrifice. 

Behind the door and the doorpost 

you have set up your memorial; 

for, deserting me, you have uncovered your bed, 

you have gone up to it, 

you have made it wide; 

and you have made a covenant for yourself with them, 

you have loved their bed, 

you have looked on nakedness. 

You journeyed to the king with oil 

and multiplied your perfumes; 

you sent your envoys far off, 

and sent down even to Sheol. (Isaiah 57:3–9)

The high places were almost constantly in use in Israel and Judah, even during the reigns of kings who tried to do right by God, like Hezekiah. The imagery of adultery and sexual license is a common metaphor in the Old Testament for the spiritual infidelity of God’s people. But even here, there are some deeper things to bring out.

This section of Scripture confirms that the target of Isaiah’s condemnation was a cult of the dead. Because Hebrew is a consonantal language (no vowels), similar words in the original Hebrew text, written before diacritical marks were used to indicate vowels, can be confusing. Verse 9 is a case in point. The consonants mem, lamed, and kaph can be used for melech (“king,” which is how it’s interpreted in Isaiah 57:9), malik (“messenger,” especially as a type of angel), or the name of the god Molech. Considering what precedes that verse, specifically Isaiah’s reference to slaughtering children in the valleys, the latter option is most likely.

So, Isaiah 57:3–9 should be understood as God’s condemnation of the worship of the dead. Isaiah calls out the “sons of the necromancer” who “burn with passion” among the spirits of the dead, sacrificing their children among the dead of the wadis, who were offered food and drink consistent with the Amorite kispum ritual for the ancestral dead. But it was worse than that—the apostate Jews “journeyed to Molech with oil…and sent down even to Sheol,” the realm of spirits worshiped as the long-dead, mighty kings of old.

During the Exodus, one of the more unusual confrontations between the Hebrews faithful to Yahweh and those who preferred a more tolerant view of the pagan religions they encountered occurred in the plains of Moab, the fertile area northeast of the Dead Sea, across the Jordan from Jericho.

While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel. And the Lord said to Moses, “Take all the chiefs of the people and hang them in the sun before the Lord, that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel.” And Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you kill those of his men who have yoked themselves to Baal of Peor.” 

And behold, one of the people of Israel came and brought a Midianite woman to his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the people of Israel, while they were weeping in the entrance of the tent of meeting. When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation and took a spear in his hand and went after the man of Israel into the chamber and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman through her belly. Thus the plague on the people of Israel was stopped. Nevertheless, those who died by the plague were twenty-four thousand. (Numbers 25:1–9)

This requires some unpacking. To our twenty-first-century minds, the reaction of Phinehas seems excessive. Today, many would call him out for his intolerance and accuse him of xenophobia, racism, or both. To atheists and skeptics, this story makes God out to be a monster since He obviously approved of Phinehas’ violent act. But that’s because most Americans today, especially those most likely to throw around that kind of epithet, view the world through a naturalistic bias. There is a lot here that’s only obvious if you understand what was happening in the spirit realm.

The first clue that there’s more to this story than is obvious at first read is the description of Phinehas’ killing stroke. Did you notice that he killed both the Israelite prince and the Midianite princess with one thrust of his spear? Without getting too graphic, there are only a couple of physical positions in which Phinehas could have speared them both with one jab.

There is other evidence in the text that suggests the sexual sin of Zimri and Cozbi, the young lovers who dared transgress “in the sight of all Israel.” The Hebrew word translated “belly,” qevah, means the lower abdomen and can refer to the womb or pubic region, emphasizing that Phinehas caught the young couple in the act. The word translated “chamber” in the ESV (other translations use “tent” or “pavilion”), qubbah, appears only here in the Old Testament. The passage is a little obscure, but the sense is that the couple were engaged in some rite to the Baal of Peor, possibly a fertility ritual. So, what do we know about this pagan deity?

The name Baal-Peor is actually a title, the “lord of Peor.” The location of Peor isn’t known exactly, but it must be near Mount Nebo, where Moses got his only look at the Holy Land. On a clear day, visitors to Nebo today can see the Dead Sea, Jericho, and the Mount of Olives, which is only about twenty-five miles away. Shittim, or Abel-Shittim, was the name given to the place of the Israelites’ camp in the plains of Moab, directly below the western slope of Mount Nebo. Shittim means “acacia,” the desert tree that provided the wood of the Ark of the Covenant. It’s a hardy plant, surviving where most other vegetation can’t because of its resistance to drought and tolerance for salt water.

A team led by Dr. Steven Collins of Trinity Southwest University has been digging since 2005 at a site in Jordan that overlooks the ancient plains of Moab. Dr. Collins is convinced that this site, called Tall el-Hammam, is the biblical Sodom. Based on its estimated population, it would have been the largest city in the Levant in the time of Abraham next to Hazor, near the Sea of Galilee.

The evidence suggests that it was destroyed around 1700 BC by an air blast similar to the 1908 Tunguska event in Siberia. Soil samples taken from the lower city revealed a high concentration of salts and sulphates in the ash layer from the city’s destruction, and the chemical composition of the salts and sulphates was “virtually identical to the chemical composition of Dead Sea water.” So, whatever exploded over the north end of the Dead Sea around the time of Abraham had enough force to drop brine over the lower part of the city. This was devastating—the lower city was built on a hill seventy-five feet above the Jordan valley!

Further investigation of the plain itself, the Kikkar, revealed that the salty water essentially poisoned the ground. It was at least six hundred years—about the time of Saul, David, and Solomon—before agriculture and civilization could resume. So, when the Israelites arrived on the plains of Moab, it was well named Abel-Shittim, the “meadow of acacias”—because virtually nothing would grow there besides salt-tolerant acacia for another 250 years.

Now, why is all of that relevant? Because the area east of the Dead Sea, and especially near the ruined city of ancient Sodom, was a place where it was believed that the dead intervened in the affairs of the living. In fact, two of the stops along the Exodus route refer to places where the veil between worlds was believed to be thin.

And the people of Israel set out and camped in Oboth. And they set out from Oboth and camped at Iye-abarim, in the wilderness that is opposite Moab, toward the sunrise. (Numbers 21:10–11)

The name of the first, Oboth, derives from ʾôb, which refers to necromancy, the practice of summoning and consulting with spirits of the dead. This is the Hebrew behind the English word “medium,” as in the woman consulted by Saul to summon the spirit of Samuel.

This is a controversial topic among Christians. Those of us who take the Bible seriously are inclined to believe that there’s no such thing as ghosts. But there is nothing in the biblical account to suggest that the spirit who delivered God’s message to Saul was anything but the ghost of Samuel—who, it’s important to note, was called an elohim as he emerged from the earth.

“Elohim” is not a proper name, and it doesn’t refer specifically to “gods.” It’s a designator of place, like “American” or “New Yorker.” Spirits live in the spirit realm, but not all spirits are equal. Some are archangels and others are demons, but all are spirits. In the same way, spirits are all elohim, even the spirits of dead humans, but there is only one capital-E Elohim.

Interestingly, this casts new light on the name of one of the giants who fell before the swords of David’s mighty men.

There was war again between the Philistines and Israel, and David went down together with his servants, and they fought against the Philistines. And David grew weary. And Ishbi-benob, one of the descendants of the giants, whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of bronze, and who was armed with a new sword, thought to kill David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid and attacked the Philistine and killed him. (2 Samuel 21:15–17)

Contrary to the most common definitions of the name, the giant wasn’t Ishbi-benob, he was Ishbi ben Ob—“Ishbi, son of the medium”! And the “descendants of the giants” (yĕlîdê hā-rāphâ) were probably a Philistine warrior cult that venerated the “mighty men who were of old,” a practice that had persisted for at least 1,500 years by the time of David.

The Greeks and Romans shared a good deal of their religion. The names were different (with the notable exception of Apollo), but the gods were pretty much the same. Zeus of the Greeks was Jupiter of the Romans. Likewise, Aphrodite was Venus, Ares was Mars, Hera was Juno, Hephaestus was Vulcan, and so on.
Similarly, the old god of the Romans, Saturn, was the equivalent of Kronos, king of the Titans. In both Roman and Greek religion, this was the old god who ruled the earth during a long-ago Golden Age, when humanity lived like gods, free from toil and care. Both were overthrown by their son, the storm-god, and confined to the netherworld. To the Greeks, this was Tartarus, a place as far below Hades as the earth is below heaven; in Roman myth, Saturn was chained by Jupiter to ensure that he didn’t overeat. It was believed that Saturn consumed the passing days, months, and years. It obviously would have been a problem if the old god had turned his voracious appetite to consuming the present and future as well.
The most famous of the Roman religious festivals, Saturnalia, was adapted from the Kronia celebrated in the Greek world. The Kronia is first recorded in Ionia, the central part of western Anatolia (modern Turkey) in the eighth century BC, roughly the time of Isaiah. From there, the celebration spread to Athens and the island of Rhodes, and ultimately westward to Rome, although the festival shifted from midsummer to the winter solstice. Both festivals were a time of merriment and abandoning social norms, with gambling, gift-giving, the suspension of normal business, and slaves being served by their masters.
The annual party notwithstanding, the god had a darker side. It’s well documented that both Saturn and Kronos were connected to human sacrifice. Classical sources report that condemned prisoners were sacrificed to Kronos at Rhodes, children were offered to the god at Crete, and, as Baal-Hammon, the god was offered sacrifices of Phoenician children well into the Christian era. Perhaps most horrifying of all is the description of the first-century philosopher Plutarch.
[Carthaginians] offered up their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs or young birds; meanwhile the mother stood by without a tear or moan; but should she utter a single moan or let fall a single tear, she had to forfeit the money, and her child was sacrificed nevertheless; and the whole area before the statue was filled with a loud noise of flutes and drums took the cries of wailing should not reach the ears of the people.
Historians of the classical age made no distinction between Saturn, Kronos, and Baal-Hammon; to them, they were the same god worshiped under different names by Romans, Greeks, and Phoenicians. The parallel between child sacrifice and the myth of Saturn/Kronos devouring his own children to prevent their eventual rebellion is obvious. Diodorus Siculus, writing in the first century AD, drily noted that “the story passed down among the Greeks from ancient myth that Kronos did away with his own children appears to have been kept in mind among the Carthaginians through this observance.” Christian apologist Tertullian was less charitable:
Since Saturn did not spare his own children, of course he stuck to his habit of not sparing those of other people, whom indeed their own parents offered of themselves, being pleased to answer the call, and fondled the infants, lest they should weep when being sacrificed. And yet a parent’s murder of his child is far worse than simple homicide.
Indeed. In our modern, civilized world, we’ve mostly avoided the guilt associated with infanticide by convincing ourselves that an unborn child is simply a clump of cells that’s part of a pregnant woman’s body—heartbeat and unique DNA sequence notwithstanding.
We cannot lay the blame for the cult of Kronos, and the sacrifices offered later to his alter egos Saturn and Baal-Hammon, entirely on the Greeks. Careful reading of ancient texts reveals that this god is much older than the Greek civilization and originated farther east, in northern Mesopotamia. As at Saturnalia, the Kronia featured a reversal of normal social roles, most notably slaves served by their masters and eating with them at a common meal. It appears that this festival was very old by the time the Greeks established themselves as a world power.
A text discovered in 1983 at the site of the capital city of the Hittite kingdom, Hattuša, dated to about 1400 BC, the time of the Israelite conquest of Canaan, describes a myth in which the king of the gods, the storm-god Teshub (Baal/Zeus/Jupiter by a different name) has a ritual meal with the sun-goddess, Allani, and the “primeval gods” who’d been banished to the netherworld. Not only were the old gods at the table; they sat in the place of honor at Teshub’s right hand.
The celebration of the temporary suspension of the cosmic order surely accompanied the temporary suspension of the social order on earth. In other words, the myth with the “primeval gods” will have been associated with a ritual of reversal between masters and slaves. Now the Titans were also called “the old gods,” old and/or dumb people were insulted as Kronoi, and Attic comedy used expressions such as “older than Kronos” and “older than Kronos and the Titans.” Evidently, the antiquity of this divine generation had become proverbial at a relatively early stage of the tradition. The Titans thus can be legitimately compared to the Hurrian “primeval” gods.
It’s no coincidence that, like Kronos and Saturn, the Hurrian-Hittite god Kumarbi became king of the gods for a while by castrating his father, the sky-god, and was in turn deposed by his son, the storm-god, called Teshub by the Hurrians and Tarhunz by the Hittites. In other words, Kumarbi, who was worshiped in what is now Turkey and northern Syria, was an older incarnation of Kronos/Saturn/Baal-Hammon.
West drew attention to the conceptual similarity of the (Hittite) “former gods” (karuilies siunes) with the Titans, called Προτεροι Θεοι in Theogony 424, 486. Both groups were confined to the underworld (with the apparent exceptions of Atlas and Prometheus), and as Zeus banished the Titans thither, so Tešup [Teshub] banished the karuilies siunes, commonly twelve in number, like the Titans. They were in turn identified with the Mesopotamian Anunnaki. These were confined by Marduk to the underworld, or at least some of them were (half the six hundred, Enuma Elish vi 39–47, see 41–44), where they were ruled over variously by Dagan or Shamash.
The evidence for the earliest traces of this god point to a Mesopotamian origin, not Greek. Specifically, the trail leads to northwest Mesopotamia, in the area of the Mediterranean coast along the border between modern Syria and Turkey.
But this goes farther back than the Hittites and Hurrians of Joshua’s day. Scholar Amar Annus, who has done some absolutely brilliant work tracing the Watchers back from Hebrew texts to older Mesopotamian sources, came to an astonishing conclusion when he dug into the origin of the name of the former gods of the Greeks, the Titans. Annus notes first the existence of an ancient, and by the time of the Judges in Israel, almost mythical Amorite tribe called the Tidanu or Ditanu. They had a bad reputation in Mesopotamia—uncivilized, warlike, and dangerous. In fact, they were so threatening to the last Sumerian kings of Mesopotamia, the Third Dynasty of Ur, that around 2037 BC they began building a wall 175 miles long north of modern Baghdad specifically to keep the Tidanu away. We know this because the Sumerians literally named it bàd martu muriq tidnim, the “Amorite Wall Which Keeps the Tidnum at a Distance.”
Annus notes that the name “Ti/Di-ta/da-nu(m)—most possibly ‘large animal; aurochs; strong, wild bovide’—is the name of the eponymic tribe.” Then he points out that this tribe was linked to the Rephaim in ritual texts at Ugarit, the Amorite city-state destroyed around 1200 BC.
Greatly exalted be Keret
In the midst of the rpum (Rephaim) of the earth
In the gathering of the assembly of the Ditanu
So, the Ditanu/Tidanu were linked to the Rephaim in mind and ritual among the ancient Amorites, who, you remember, considered the Rephaim to be the divinized ancestors of their kings. What’s more, this assembly was summoned in what can only be described as a necromancy ritual for the coronation of Ugarit’s last king, Ammurapi III.
You are summoned, O Rephaim of the earth,
You are invoked, O council of the Didanu!
Ulkn, the Raphi’, is summoned,
Trmn, the Raphi’, is summoned,
Sdn-w-rdn is summoned,
Ṯr ‘llmn is summoned,
the Rephaim of old are summoned!
You are summoned, O Rephaim of the earth,
You are invoked, O council of the Didanu!
This council or assembly was more than just a group of honored forefathers, like the framers of the Constitution. One text from Ugarit makes reference to ritual offerings for the temple of Didanu, and temples owed sacrifices are typically devoted to gods. It appears, then, that between the birth of Abraham, around 1950 BC, and the time of the judges, circa 1200 BC, the Tidanu/Ditanu were transformed from a scary tribe of Amorites named for a giant wild bull into divine beings connected to the Rephaim, who likewise disappeared from the earth (in physical form) during that period.
And the Tidanu/Ditanu are probably the origin of the name of the bad old gods of the Greeks.
Then it may not be overbold to assume that the Greek Titanes originates from the name of the semi-mythical warrior-tribe (in Ugarit) tdn—mythically related to the Rpum in the Ugarit, and once actually tied together with Biblical Rephaim in II Samuel 5:18-22, where we have in some manuscripts Hebrew rp’m rendered into LXX as Titanes.
So, the veneration of this group of ancient entities extends at least as far back as the time of the judges, and probably much further. But why would the Greeks choose the name of an Amorite tribe for the old gods confined to Tartarus? Was that tribe literally descended from the old gods—the rebellious “sons of God” in Genesis 6? In other words, were the Tidanu/Ditanu literally Nephilim?
We’ll explore that next month.

Satan is the entity called Baal by the ancient Canaanites. Jesus confirmed that identity in Matthew 12:24 by linking Satan to Beelzebul (“Baal the prince”). In Canaanite religion, Baal was considered the lord of the Rephaim, the spirits of ancient warrior kings who were believed to have the power to intercede for the living.

The prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, however, made it clear that Satan’s status as lord of the dead was a demotion:

You were in Eden, the garden of God;

every precious stone was your covering, 

sardius, topaz, and diamond, 

beryl, onyx, and jasper, 

sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; 

and crafted in gold were your settings 

and your engravings. 

On the day that you were created 

they were prepared. 

You were an anointed guardian cherub. 

I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; 

in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. 

You were blameless in your ways 

from the day you were created, 

till unrighteousness was found in you. 

In the abundance of your trade 

you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; 

so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, 

and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, 

from the midst of the stones of fire. (Ezekiel 28:13–16)

***

All of [the Rephaim] will answer 

and say to you: 

“You too have become as weak as we! 

You have become like us!”

Your pomp is brought down to Sheol, 

the sound of your harps; 

maggots are laid as a bed beneath you, 

and worms are your covers. (Isaiah 14:10–11, 15)

From the pinnacle of creation to a bed of maggots. A real comedown. Even the Rephaim, who are supposed to be Satan’s warriors, recognize his diminished status.

Lest you think we’re reading our preconceptions of Satan into Isaiah 14, let’s take this a bit further. Scholars have known for a long time that the prophet was a brilliant writer, and he was a master of wordplay. The influence of Egypt on the kingdom of Judah during Isaiah’s lifetime provided him with another opportunity to make his point.

All the kings of the nations lie in glory, each in his own tomb; but you are cast out, away from your grave, like a loathed branch, clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword, who go down to the stones of the pit, like a dead body trampled underfoot. (Isaiah 14:18–19)

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, the phrase “a loathed branch” in verse 18 is weird. And remember: weird = important. What in the world did Isaiah mean by that?

The Hebrew word netser is easy. It means “branch.” The adjectives translators chose to describe the branch includes “loathed,” “repulsive,” “rejected,” “worthless,” and “abominable,” but they convey the same sense—something utterly detestable. The Hebrew word rendered “abhorred” or “abominable,” taʿab, is significant. It modifies the noun netser, which would normally have a positive connotation. In this context, taʿab means something like “unclean” or “ritually impure.”

Still, even trying to allow for differences in cultures over the last twenty-seven hundred years, calling someone an “unclean or impure branch” is puzzling. But there is a likely explanation: Isaiah meant something other than “branch” because the Hebrew netser wasn’t the word he used at all.

[The] term is best explained as a loanword from the common Egyptian noun nṯr. Nṯr is generally translated “god,” but is commonly used of the divinized dead and their physical remains. It originally came into Hebrew as a noun referring to the putatively divinized corpse of a dead king, which is closely related to the Egyptian usage. (Emphasis added.)

The Egyptian word nṯr is especially relevant here. Isaiah connects the divinized dead god, Baal/Satan, with the dead kings venerated by the pagan Amorites and Canaanites, the Rephaim—the spirits of the Nephilim destroyed in the Flood.

This is not a weird, out-of-left-field stretch to force the Scriptures to fit a pet theory involving antediluvian giants. The prophet devoted several chapters, especially Isaiah 30 and 31, to condemning Israel for turning to Egypt instead of Yahweh for protection against Assyria. Sennacherib’s official mocked Hezekiah for “trusting in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it.”

Recently, a seal of Hezekiah was found in Jerusalem at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount. While this one, apparently from later in Hezekiah’s reign, featured an Assyrian-style winged solar disc, his older seals were decorated with a scarab beetle, which represented the Egyptian sun-god Ra. This was apparently part of Hezekiah’s foreign policy, an attempt to curry favor with his stronger neighbor, Egypt, to further his dream of reunifying Judah and Israel. This required standing up to the Assyrian juggernaut, which had destroyed the northern half of the kingdom of David and Solomon about six years after Hezekiah became king.

By using a loan word from Egypt that meant “dead god”—and not “branch,” as translated in our English Bibles—Isaiah was emphasizing the theme of chapter 14: The entity who rebelled in Eden, the storm-god Baal (whom Jesus identified as Satan), was cast down to the land of the dead to become the unclean, profane, abominable lord of the shades—the Rephaim.

This theme is echoed by Ezekiel in chapter 28. A deeper dive into the Hebrew of that text reveals a surprising parallel with Isaiah.

Your heart was proud because of your beauty; 

you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. 

I cast you to the ground; 

I exposed you before kings, 

to feast their eyes on you. (Ezekiel 28:17) 

Reading this as another account of Lucifer’s fall to Sheol is a bit of a stretch, but only until we dig into the original Hebrew behind the English text. The word translated “kings,” mǝlākîm, uses the same consonant sounds, M-L-K, as mal’akh, or “messenger,” a word usually translated into English as “angel.” But in the Semitic languages spoken in the lands to the north and east of the ancient Israelites, similar words such as maliku and malku referred to underworld spirits who received kispum offerings and were possibly linked to the Rephaim.

Translators, both English and Hebrew, seeing the consonants mlkm would understandably assume that the word meant “kings.” Translators may not have been aware of the maliku spirits of ancient Ebla or Mari or why they were relevant to Ezekiel’s verse. But in the context of the cults of the ancestors and divinized dead kings who were an integral part of the pagan religions in and around ancient Israel, it seems more likely that Ezekiel was referring to malakim, the malevolent spirits of the dead Nephilim, just as Isaiah called the demoted rebel from Eden an “unclean dead god” and not a “loathed branch.”

This has interesting implications. It suggests that the fall of Satan, or at least his punishment, took place after the Flood, because the “shades,” the Rephaim (the spirits of the Nephilim), were already in Sheol when Satan landed there. That assumes, of course, that time in the spirit realm moves in a linear manner, the way it does for us. But that kind of speculation is way outside the scope of this article.

The bottom line is this: Satan’s ambition got the better of him. He was thrown out of Eden, cast down from the mountain of God, where he was greeted by the shades, the Rephaim—and not exactly with praise and thanksgiving (“You have become as weak as we!”).

However, while Satan was down, he wasn’t out. Although he’d been demoted from guardian of the throne of God to overseer of the disembodied spirits of the Nephilim, Satan took the form of the storm-god under names like Hadad (Baal), Zeus, Jupiter, and Thor, and set himself up as king of pagan pantheons from India to Rome to Scandinavia. And the Rephaim, called “warriors of Baal” in ancient Amorite ritual texts that have only been translated within the last fifty years, have been hard at work literally bedeviling humanity until Jesus returns.

Meanwhile, another nefarious group connected to the Rephaim has been confined to the abyss. But they’re not out of touch; they’ve been influencing humanity for millennia, and those Amorite texts show that the myths of Greece and Rome are integrally linked to the Bible. We’ll discuss that next month.

The following article is by one of our contributor teams. It is very controversial and we respectfully ask that when you read this understand that this ministry tries to provide thought engaging subjects that are simply for you to review and decide for yourself. Our team has many backgrounds and educational achievements and our prayer is that you will see this as simply one possibility.

By Dr Kevan Kruse and Dr Dennis O’Hara

Part 6 of the “Covid Beast”

Testing the Spirits

  • The coming of the lawless one will be accompanied by the working of Satan, with every kind of power, sign, and false wonder. (2 Thessalonians 2:9)
  • And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and My maidservants, I will pour out of My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy. ‘I will show wonders in Heaven above and signs in the earth beneath. (Acts 2:16-21)

There are so many game-changers coming, and unfortunately, the church is woefully behind in addressing these issues.  The biggest question I have is when the spirits come out of the Abyss, are we wholly prepared for all of the stories they will tell everyone about God?  Yet, the imagery of the “opening of the Abyss” lets us know that the “end times” will be characterized by an outpouring of spirits.  These spirits are going to come with messages and supernatural wonders to back them up.  The problem is, how are we going to tell which spirits are which?  Of course, we will still need the “helper” (the Holy Spirit) to seal our minds, foreheads, and hearts with His word.  

 

This seal by the H.S. will protect us from deception, but this does not mean we can neglect or ignore just how powerful the coming deception will be.  The Bible is not a crystal ball meant to be used to divine the future and its timing; using it this way only ensures more deception and escapism from the coming reality.  We should hope for the best, but very few are planning for the worst.  Consequently, if we are so dutifully bound to tell the gospel, how are we not also bound to start talking about what is coming.  Especially when what is coming even requires an update to the gospel.  “Do not take the Mark of the Beast.”

 

Consequently, we cannot keep dumbing down our congregations and protecting people from the truth of what the Bible says is coming.  Instead, we must amp up the volume on our ability to destroy Satan’s narrative.  Besides, someone is going to be here when all of this happens.  Unfortunately, no one will have much of a chance if we, who are supposed to be God’s elect, don’t start talking about what is coming before it happens.  

 

An Explosion of the Supernatural

Before taking on this next subject, I want to acknowledge that my intent is not to thwart the Holy Spirit in any way.  I also do not want to quench our desire for the Holy Spirit in our lives, and especially its fruit or gifts.  On the contrary, I believe an outpouring of the H.S. is coming and that many people will be saved.  However, considering the verses above, is it any wonder that signs and wonders churches are popping up all over the country?  

 

Understanding that Satan will also have signs and wonders that will follow him right into our churches might change our ideas about the coming’s deception.  Shockingly, it is the supernatural that may define Satan’s deception.  We are explicitly told in Matthew 24:24, Revelation 16:14, Revelation 13:13-14, and Revelation 19:20 that the Anti-Christ, demons, and other false prophets / Christ’s will use their supernatural powers to convince many that they are the truth.  

 

This supernatural explosion only comes as a surprise if we have forgotten that the pagan gods of the Old Testament were false gods with real demonic power. The power of these pagan gods was demonstrated in Exodus 7:11, 22, and 8:7, as well as other passages that are too numerous to count.  Even though mighty Moses came to deliver Israel with signs and wonders, the Pharoah was not even phased because his wise men and magicians “did the same with their secret arts.”  Yet, no matter how much we are told that the supernatural world has a dark side, there is a growing obsession in the church over miracles and magic shows.

 

Signs & Wonders

It is as if signs and wonders are the end all and be all of Christianity.  They are also creating a hierarchy among the churches and pastors.  In some instances, pastors have declared themselves to be on the level of the 12 Apostles.  Of course, I am not trying to say that we do not need modern apostles.  However, there were only 12 men who were hand-picked by Jesus.  

 

We also have a clear mandate not to write any more books of the Bible because there can be no new gospel.  What can seem to be unique is a return of ancient spirits that have been locked away for what they did in the Days of Noah. (1Peter 3:1-9) This unlocking is why we will see a return of the very same things that gave the church the victory over darkness the last time they faced off.  

  • But even if an angel from Heaven or we should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8)

So, while this pouring out of the H.S. may have begun, we need to be cautious with the coming counterfeit.  Just because there are signs and wonders does not mean that what is happening is of God.  Why do I say that?  Most of us know that the Bible tells us we do not need to be afraid of a prophet if his words do not come to pass.  After all, a false prophet could be killed if his prophecies didn’t happen.  (See Deuteronomy 18:20-22)  A much less known passage is about a different kind of prophet.

  • “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 13:1-4)

Relationship Theology

This verse is about a different kind of prophet that sends chills up my spine.  These false prophets will perform signs and wonders and rightly tell us of things that will come to pass.  Yahweh allows for these fakes because He is testing us to see if we know Him or not.  The idea of personally knowing God is the most important and all-encompassing paradigm of the Bible.  It also parallels what I have personally found to be the most challenging passage in the Bible.  Here is a quick review of Matthew 7:7-23.  

 

It begins by telling us that we are God’s children, and because of that, God knows how to give good gifts to those who ask, seek, and knock. Then Jesus also tells us how to give good gifts to others by living according to the “Golden Rule.”  But one of the narratives (verse 17) people miss is where Jesus talks about the false prophets and the wolves that stand in our way.  Then Jesus specifically tells us that the way to recognize these false prophets or wolves is by their fruit.  This part about false prophets is interesting because Jesus mentions gifts but then says it is the fruit that can help us sort out the wolves in the church.  Then Jesus says something that still makes me a bit week in the knees.  

  • Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in Heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

My first reaction to this passage is, “wow, I have never done some of these things. If these guys were fooling themselves about getting into Heaven, then maybe I am fooling myself as well.”  Of course, this doubt subsides because the point that Jesus is trying to drive home is that He didn’t know these people. They didn’t have a relationship with Him. Jesus is also pointing out that the gifts of the Spirit operating inside the church were not what was the most important thing, but a relationship with Jesus was.  The people who did not know Jesus were surely known for their gifts. In fact, they were probably superstars in their church.  

 

 They did not have an intimate relationship with Jesus.  Therefore, they must have been the wolves Jesus just warned us about.   In other words, it looks like they were gifted people, but they also didn’t have the spiritual fruit stemming from a deep relationship with God.  This passage leads me to believe that our spiritual fruit more accurately reflects the depth of our relationship with Jesus than our gifts.  Gifts have more to say about the generous nature of God because God “gives them to all men liberally.” (James 5:1)  It could be that God gives a diversity of gifts to everyone no matter whether they love Him back or not.  This idea is certainly something that comes out within the parable of the talents as well.  

 

Nonetheless, it cannot be a coincidence that Jesus explicitly mentions three of the gifts of the Spirit (prophecy, deliverance, and miracles) that are found in 1 Corinthians 12:1-31.  Jesus then says that these people were operating in these gifts without actually having a relationship with Him.  Beyond scary!  But if gifts like this started happening to me, I would probably feel like I had achieved a special connection with God.  Yet, this does not appear to be the case.  All of this tells me that I have much to learn about just how down-to-earth our God is.

 

  • But understand this: In the last days, terrible times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, without love of good, traitorous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. Turn away from such as these!  2 Timothy 3 BSB.

 

The Gifts & the Giver

It is hard to say precisely when Jesus gave these gifts to these people or if they were born with them. Indeed, some people are born with unique gifts but never give God credit.  What is shocking to me is that these people specifically gave Jesus credit for their gifts, but they still didn’t have a relationship with Jesus.  How is this possible?  Is this what Revelation 2:1-7 meant when it talks about a church that had lost its “first love?”  Did these people start out loving God with all their heart and then begin to love His gifts more than they loved the giver of the gifts?  

 

Is this also an issue of worship?  Did they begin to worship the gifts instead of God?  I don’t have all the answers, but we all need to ask ourselves some hard questions.  Most importantly, on the day we meet Jesus, the only thing that matters is that we know Him, and He knows us.  It is not going to be all about our gifts.  What we did with the lives God gave us certainly will come up, but it is our relationship with God that matters most.  This same equation is found in the Lord’s prayer when Jesus invites us to pray, “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  

 

The question is, do we know Him well enough to know how to pray from Heaven’s perspective?  But if we know God, then we have the right to pray, ask and believe in miracles.  We also have to accept God’s answers and interpret them in light of the cross, which has already accomplished the victory.  Knowing that only God can be God will allow us to accept His answers and still keep praying earnestly for others.

 

We have to be like Abraham, the father of the faithful.  Faith was credited as righteousness because our faith reflects the depth of our relationship with God.  Faith, not miracles, is the currency of Heaven. (Romans 4:22) Still, there is no doubt that some people have extraordinary gifts.  While gifts proclaim God’s glory, we still have to prioritize our relationship with Him.  

 

Matthew 7,  just like Deuteronomy 13, clearly shows the difference between the supernatural gifts and a relationship with the giver of everything supernatural and everything good.  Christianity is not about gifts.  Of course, God is still going to keep on giving gifts out of His goodness.  More importantly, we are going to need His gifts to face what is coming.  But now is the time to recognize the difference between the gifts and our “first and forever love.”

 

Those Seeking Signs & Wonders

Unfortunately, most people aren’t searching for a relationship with God.  Then some want God to prove Himself to them, but He has already done that on the cross, and it changed all of history.  Of course, Job went after God with all kinds of questions to test God, and we all know where that got him.  The reality is that God has only given us an invitation to try Him in one area; the tithe. (Malachi 3:10).  Still, some are always searching for a sign, but are they open to a real relationship with God, or are they just looking for a miracle?  Sign seekers were prevalent even in Jesus’s day.

  • Even the scribes and Pharisees told Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign, yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet. (Matthew 12:38-39)

Jesus is saying that He and He alone is the sign we have been searching for.  A relationship with Jesus is an everlasting gift.  There is no more pain or death where Jesus is leading us to.  There is only beauty beyond description and unfathomable love that awaits us there in Heaven. This heavenly culture is “Christ in us the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)  So, why do we rejoice?  Do we rejoice because we have gifts?  Do we rejoice because the demons are subject to us or that miracles happen when we pray?  No.  We rejoice because our names are written in the heart of Jesus, and everything we have in this life is a gift that we have received.  We don’t own anything.  

  • Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in Heaven.” (Luke 10:20)
  • For who makes you so superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (1 Corinthians 4:7)

Wolves Among the Sheep

The gifts of the Spirit all seem to have a purpose here on earth.  My grandfather, who was a Pentecostal minister for more than 40 years, often told me that where the Pentecostal movement went wrong was when they were deciding whether the gifts of the Spirit were the churches or the individuals.  Like my grandfather, F.C. Kruse, I favor the church but agree that certain people tend to operate better in particular gifts.  However, in the final analysis, the gifts and workings of the Spirit are God’s property; they are just coming from different parts of the same body.  Consequently, we must not boast or come to love the gifts more than we love the giver of all that is good.  

 

As near as I can tell, the attitude of the “signs and wonders” churches appears to be that the greatest of those among us are the ones with the greatest gifts.  This idea was in sharp contrast to the words of Jesus when he said, “If anyone desires to be first, he will be last of all and servant of all.”  At this point, I think it becomes apparent precisely who is wrong?  Especially when we know that it is the fruit of the Spirit that allows us to sort out the wolves among the flock.  When it comes to “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control,” they are going to be left wanting. (Galatians 5:22-23)

 

However, there is a similarity between the “Fruit of the Spirit” and the description of love in the Bible.  Yet, love would never make people feel inferior just because they didn’t have a particular gift?  Especially when they may be just a different part of the same body.  Does the Bible say we are supposed to have all the same gifts?  In 1 Corinthians 12:27-31, Paul sarcastically asks the same question.  “Do we all have the same gift?”  While the Bible says to “eagerly desire the greater gifts,” we forget the last part found in verse 31, “Yet I will show you a more excellent way.”  

 

The amplified translation identifies this more excellent way as unselfish love, which is what happens when we use our gifts to help other people and not for our purposes.  In this sense, seeking the gifts of the Spirit versus seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus are two different things.  But how does this match the attitude of many of the super churches or super leaders?  My biggest turned off regarding the hyper-charismatic movement is their lack of humility, spiritual fruit, and diminishing emphasis on a deeper relationship with God.  

 

After all, there are a diversity of gifts, but only one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:4)  So why divide the church over gifts when they were explicitly appointed to encourage and sanctify the church?  The gifts, if used correctly, should bring the church together under the one Spirit that rules us all.  Using the gifts to divide the church turns out to be one way to recognize the wolves have crept into our midst.  

 

Consequently, we must be aware that pretenders are going to enter the church even though they are operating in marvelous gifts, but “by their fruit, you shall know them.” (Matthew 7:16)  We will also know them by their love for their brothers and sisters. (John 13:35)  These two paradigms are how we can use the Bible to discern the spirits of those presenting themselves to the church as brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • For we were all baptized by one Spirit to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free, and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 

Recognizing A False Prophet – Key Ideas of 2 Peter 2

False prophets and false teachers are coming to insert destructive heresies into the church.  These heresies will even include denying the sovereign Lord.  They will be deprived in their conduct and bring the truth into disrepute.  They will be greedy and exploit us with fabricated stories. 

They will blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals and creatures of instinct.  They will carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you.  With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! They have wandered off to follow the way of Balaam.

 

Their mouths are empty of truth but full of boastful words appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh.  They promise freedom while they are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” They are again entangled in the world, and they are worse off than they were initially. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command. Of them, the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and “A pig that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”

 

Yet, their condemnation is coming, just like the Days of Noah and Sodom and Gomorrah.  But like righteous Lot, the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority. NIV

 

Also, consider 2 Corinthians 11:12-15.  I will keep on doing what I am doing to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us (apostles) in the things they boast about. Such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. NIV

 

The False Prophets Are Here

  • Disregard them! They are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)
  • “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their desires, they will gather around them many teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

The opening of the Abyss is looming large.  An outpouring of the spirits is on its way.  So too, the church is about to face the most significant test it will ever face.  Now is not the time to lack discernment over the supernatural signs and wonders that follow.  Now is also not the time to start dumbing down the Bible or prophecy?  In a strange twist, the secular world is obsessed with the supernatural, while pastors avoid it in their sermons.  Now is also not the time to start blending the new age or any other religion into Christianity.  

 

Now is the time to differentiate the worship of God in “spirit and truth” from other false types of worship, such as eastern meditation that opens people up to demonic spirits. Now is not the time to start coining new terms or coming up with new translations to fit our world view.  While I hate to single anyone out, the new “Passion” translation seems to fit the bill.  Brian Simmons claims that he virtually downloaded this directly from Jesus when he was in Heaven.  Once there, he found a new chapter of the Bible, which was John 22.  

 

New gospels are troublesome.  When you say you are downloading the Bible, it means that this is not a translation.  Instead, he is saying, “these are the literal words of Jesus.”  Interestingly enough, Paul told us that even if an Apostle or an angel from Heaven gave us a new gospel, “let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8)  Accepting new books to the Bible is clearly heresy.  I could write a whole book about false prophets in the church, but I am only going to mention a couple of things because I think they are extremely dangerous.  

 

I recently listened to a Christian book called “The School of the Prophets,” which mentions that we should start talking to our own personal angels.  Unfortunately, I see no Biblical case for this. Furthermore, I don’t believe that we need any intercessors between God and us.  That is the function of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  Besides, how exactly do we think these spirits about to be released will present themselves to us, and what messages will they bring?  The Bible says Satan portrays himself as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14)  In other words, demons are rogue angels.

 

If you don’t think these spirits are already contacting people as we speak, then watch “Beware of Angels” on amazon.  If you are interested in some of the ways the wolves have crept into the church and begun to present a false gospel, then watch “The Submergent Church,” which is also accessible on Amazon. 

 

Since I have brought up the idea of modern prophets, I want to be clear that I do not consider myself a prophet or a theologian, nor am I trying to predict anything.  In fact, for the record, I hope everything in all of my articles is wrong and that none of it happens.  What I have done is read God’s word and correlate it with “what’s happening” since Jerusalem is “no longer trodden down by the Gentiles.” For myself, it has been a faith-building experience.  Now more than ever, we need to cling to the Bible as our only trustworthy source of information in troubled times.  

 

The Forgotten Multitude?

  • “After this, I looked and saw a multitude too large to count, from every nation and tribe and people and tongue, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”  (Revelations 7:9-10)

There is one group of people that I have noticeably left out of these articles.  I am talking about those who have not been sealed in their foreheads either way.  These are the souls that have not made their choice, but soon they will be forced to go one way or the other.  

 

The “unknown multitude” are the people we need to reach with the gospel, as well as the warning not to take the MOB.  Some translations say, “an innumerable multitude.”  So, how can so many people get saved during the tribulation?  I thought the tribulation was all about the Jews?  Well, the tribulation is not about the Jews.  It is about the decedents of all 12 tribes of Israel. (Read Revelation 7:1-8) This passage is about the 12,000 saved from each of the 12 tribes, which then totals 144,000 Israelites.  

 

This verse proves that all the promises God made to Abraham and His children will be honored just like His promises.  But the following passage proves that God will also inherit all the nations.  (Psalms 82:8)  Whether these numbers for Israel are symbolic or not, it is difficult to imagine that an innumerable group of people from every tribe of the earth is not a lot of people.  How can these many people get saved during the worst time in human history?  

 

I believe it will come down to the “seal in our foreheads,” the preaching of Bible prophecy, and the return of supernatural signs and wonders of the Holy Spirit re-manifesting in the church like they did at Pentecost.  One way that we can reach these people is to start talking about what will happen ASAP.  God wants us to preach the gospel and the warning about the MOB to the ends of the earth so that more people can get saved. Lives still hang in the balance, and the church needs to heed its call and wake those who are sleeping.

 

The Lessor Know Gifts

When I think about the gifts presented in 1 Corinthians 12:1-31, I try and focus on the ones that will help us discern between these escaped spirits returning for revenge.  Of course, verse 3 defines what unites His church.  “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”  Verses 4 -6 talk about how there are “different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.” Interestingly, these same verses equate our spiritual gifts to different kinds of service or workings.  

 

How might our dialog change if we talked more about how God has called us to serve and work in His kingdom instead of talking about how we are gifted?  After all, verse 7 makes it clear that these gifts of the Spirit are “given for the common good.”  It is verses 8 and 9 that bring out some of the lesser-known gifts.  Here are the three gifts with some translational variations.

  • A message of, a word of, an utterance of, or speaking with wisdom or giving wise advice.
  • The gift of faith. (which can move mountains)
  • A message of, a word of, an utterance of, or speaking with knowledge or giving correct information.

Indeed, I have never met anyone who maintained that these gifts have ever ceased from being part of the church.  Now more than ever, we need the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, and faith to discern the difference between the spirits that are coming.  More importantly, the Bible is our only source of the correct information, and we will need the Holy Spirit to help us wisely divide the word of truth. 

 

Most importantly, we will need faith to believe and trust in God and not give in to man, or his reasoning or his “causes.”  We will need faith to stand up and say no to the Devil and his mark.  We will need faith to spread hope to a dying world. While other men’s hearts will be failing them for fear, we will have a supernatural faith that says, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8)

 

Loving the Fruit

While I enjoy the gifts that God has given to me, and I try to be open to more, the truth is that I am happier with more of the fruit of the Spirit.  There honestly isn’t one gift of the Spirit that I wouldn’t trade for one more piece of fruit.  That’s not to say that I am right, but that is how I feel sometimes.  Comparing fruit to gifts is much like comparing the gospel of Mary to Martha, and it is something we all need to think about.  Besides, I like to remind pastors that they will be out of a job when they get to Heaven.  

 

But of course, that is probably true for all of us.  Contemplating Heaven is the kind of sober discussion we need to discern the truth of fruit and gifts.  While I believe and support the gifts of the Spirit, I think we have to prioritize slightly here and focus on the fruit because, without them, our gifts aren’t believable.  After all, fruit is how we will recognize the fakes.  With that in mind, here are some of my favorite sayings about the fruit of the Spirit -Please remember, I am not trying to quench the gifts of the spirits- I am just trying to keep gifts in perspective:

  • It would appear most “gifts of the Spirit” aren’t necessary for Heaven.  But the fruit of the Spirit is something we can eat every day and for all eternity. 
  • Fruit is delicious, and it can feed us and keep us alive.  Gifts are fantastic, but they can’t nourish our souls through famine.  
  • There is a diversity of gifts, works, and service, which means (like Forest Gump’s chocolates) you never know what you’re going to get.  (1 Corinthians 12:4)
  • An issue of maturity.  What kind of child of God would put one of their brothers or sisters down just because they got a particular gift and their brother or sister didn’t?

The Great Pouring Out of His Spirit

On the other side of the coin, many have taught that the gifts of the Spirit have ceased.  Others have even looked down upon generations of Christians for losing the gifts.  Yet, one reason why we didn’t see the “gifts of the Spirit” as often could be because the H.S. had already put most of what we are fighting against in prison. Consequently, the return of these spirits could be why the gifts are coming back in full force.  

 

The Abyss will be opened soon, and we have no idea how many spirits will come out.  Fortunately, we need not be afraid because God will seal us in our foreheads so that these demonic entities cannot mess with us.  Not only that, God is going to pour out His Spirit in such abundance that the gifts are going to come back to the church like never before.  The reemergence of the gifts will happen because we need them to fight for the mind, hearts, and foreheads of the innumerable multitude that God wants to save.  

 

Soon, denominationalism won’t matter.  True churches and true believers will begin to experience prophesy, visions, dreams, wonders in Heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath. (Acts 2:16-21)  But to pull this off and be believable, we need fruit to keep our feet planted on the ground.  Furthermore, we must always keep the thoughts of our “first love” on our minds, hearts, and lips as the world is soon to be shaken. (Revelations 2:4) 

  • The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord, and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.  He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears. ( Isaiah 11:2-3)

Next Week

One purpose of prophecy is to warn us to start going about our Father’s business and prepare everyone for what is coming.  The unfolding events are signs of things to come as the whole world is about to be under the grasp of the beast.  So, please don’t miss our final article next week, as we summarize what all of this means and update everyone on the newest developments in the Covid deception.

Note:Dr Dennis O.Hara is a guest contributor/co-author
Dr. Dennis O’Hara was born and raised on Long Island, NY and was an athlete throughout his school years. He fell in love with chiropractic while being helped as a patient for numerous sports injuries. Dr. O’Hara has been in practice since he graduated from National College of Chiropractic in April 1992. Dr. O’Hara continued his education achieving his Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians.

Dr. O’Hara’s clinical emphasis focuses on injuries of the neck and back, Sports injuries, biomechanical and postural correction and rehabilitation. He has worked with amateur and professional athletes and was the chiropractic physician for the Washington DC United MLS soccer team from 1996-1998. Dr. O’Hara had been a ringside physician for amateur MMA from 2009 through 2015 having worked hundreds of hours evaluating fighters before and after fights.

Dr. O’Hara’s continued passion for chiropractic drives his desire to help educate the public on the importance of spinal health and overall wellness.wait to deceive.” We will let people back into the church. We will be the rock upon which God
builds His kingdom, instead of a stepping stone towards Satan’s final agenda. May God prick
our hearts, and may the church begin to wake up, because the time is getting short. Jesus is
coming soon.

If the Bible’s condemnation of an ancient race of giants and the supernatural entities who created them—in other words, the Nephilim and the “sons of God” from Genesis 6—was unique among the religious texts of the ancient world, you’d be right to be skeptical. But that happens not to be the case. Similar stories, told from slightly different perspectives, are attested in many of the cultures in the ancient Near East. Mesopotamians knew the Watchers as supernatural sages called apkallu. They were agents of the god Enki, lord of the abzu (“abyss”), who sent them into the world to deliver the gifts of civilization to humanity.

Despite this, the apkallu were considered potentially dangerous, capable of malicious witchcraft. An Assyrian exorcism text names two apkallus who angered gods and thus brought punishment on themselves and the land, and in a popular Mesopotamian text called the Epic of Erra, the chief deity Marduk tells of how he banished the apkallus to the abzu (after he caused the Flood!) and told them not to return to the earth. That’s exactly the punishment God decreed for the Watchers, likewise connected to the great deluge remembered for centuries across Mesopotamia.

Interestingly, the last four apkallus were described as partly human, and thus able to mate with human women, just like the Watchers and their offspring, the Nephilim.

The giants created by the lecherous Watchers were destroyed in the Flood of Noah. While the Bible doesn’t make this explicit, it’s implied in 1 Peter 3:18–20, where the apostle links the Flood to the angels who “formerly did not obey…in the days of Noah. The text in 1 Enoch, however, does specifically connect the Flood to the punishment of the Watchers and the evil acts of their children, the Nephilim.

Here’s the key to understanding why this is in the Bible at all: The neighbors of the ancient Hebrews, especially the Amorites who lived in and near Canaan, apparently believed that these mighty men of old were the ancestors of their kings. The spirits of the Nephilim were called rapha—Rephaim. What’s more, texts discovered at the Amorite kingdom of Ugarit, only translated within the last fifty years, indicate that the Amorites venerated these entities, summoned them through necromancy rituals, and believed that their kings joined their assembly after death.

While the Bible names tribes called Rephaim in the Transjordan, lands that later became the kingdoms of Ammon, Moab, and Edom, in the time of Abraham (around 1850 BC), it appears that by the Exodus the Rephaim were believed to be spirits of the venerated dead—except for Og, king of Bashan, who was called the last “of the remnant of the Rephaim.”

Here is where we differ with some Christian researchers: We do not believe the Rephaim and Anakim encountered by the Israelites were literal blood descendants of the pre-Flood Nephilim. They were tribes who worshiped their spirits in the deluded belief that those demons were their heroic royal ancestors. So, when 1 Chronicles 20:4–8 and 2 Samuel 21:15–20 refer to Goliath and other Philistine “descendants of the giants” (yĕlîdê hārāpâ), it’s in the spiritual sense. These “sons of Rapha” were an elite warrior cult dedicated to the mighty men who were of old.

Likewise, the Anakim, who are identified with the Rephaim in the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua, appear to have been a class of pagan warrior kings rather than supernaturally big. Contrary to the popular explanation that anak means “long-necked,” it actually derives from a Greek word, anax (“god,” “hero,” or “master of the house”). “Anakim,” then, was a title roughly meaning “lords” or “rulers,” and the “sons of Anak” were a warrior elite who ruled the hill country of Judah and Israel.

Veneration of the dead among the ancient Amorites was an integral part of their culture. A monthly ritual called kispum summoned dead ancestors to a ritual meal, which we’ll describe in detail in a future article. The kispum took on greater importance when it came to their dead kings; while the dead were dangerous if they were unhappy, dead royals were especially menacing. They posed a threat to the ruler himself, and that was a problem that could affect the entire kingdom. Bedeviled kings weren’t just a threat to their families; everyone in the kingdom suffered when a ruler was tormented by angry spirits.

The standard practice in the ancient Near East was to perform the kispum rite twice a month for kings, usually on the 15th and 30th. As with the family kispum, long-dead rulers had to be called to the meal by name. Forgetting the dead meant their spirits were unsettled and thus unpredictable. Proper performance of the ritual was key to maintaining the health and stability of the realm.

Several fascinating texts from Ugarit are especially relevant to our discussion. Around 1200 BC, just before its destruction by the so-called Sea Peoples, Ugarit crowned its last king. A ritual text designated KTU 1.161 by scholars suggests that the ill-fated Ammurapi III, who was probably killed when his city was overrun, was crowned with a necromancy rite that summoned the spirits of his royal ancestors, the Rephaim.

You are summoned, O Rephaim of the earth, 

You are invoked, O council of the Didanu! 

Ulkn, the Raphi’, is summoned,

Trmn, the Raphi’, is summoned, 

Sdn-w-rdn is summoned, Ṯr ‘llmn is summoned,

the Rephaim of old are summoned!

You are summoned, O Rephaim of the earth,

You are invoked, O council of the Didanu!

There is no question that these Rephaim are the same group called by that name in the Bible.

Sheol beneath is stirred up to meet you when you come; it rouses the shades [rephaim] to greet you, all who were leaders of the earth; it raises from their thrones all who were kings of the nations. (Isaiah 14:9)

The “shades”—Rephaim—were “leaders of the earth” and “kings of the nations,” the same way they are described in the Ugaritic texts.

This appears to be a belief that extends back at least to the time of Abraham. A bone talisman dated to about 1750 BC found in the tomb of a king at Ebla, an ancient kingdom in northern Syria, depicting a scene that suggests three ranks in the hierarchy of the afterlife: A lower level for the human dead, a top level inhabited by the gods, and a middle level occupied by entities that probably represent the Rephaim. Scholars who have tried to interpret the symbols on the artifact believe the item was a guide for the spirit of the dead king on how to attain status among the venerated dead—the “men of renown,” as it were. Even the name “Rephaim” may originate with an Akkadian word that means something like “great ones.”

What ties this together into a cohesive package is a reference in the Ugaritic “Sacrifice of the Shades Liturgy” to the “council of the Didanu.” That shadowy group shares the name of an Amorite tribe from antiquity known and feared throughout the Near East, variously spelled Didanu, Ditanu, or Tidanu. The last Sumerian kings of Mesopotamia, the Third Dynasty of Ur, actually built a wall 175 miles long north of modern Baghdad that they dubbed the “Amorite Wall That Keeps Tidanu Away.”

Too bad for the Third Dynasty of Ur that it didn’t keep the Tidanu away. Within a century of the wall’s construction, Ur was overwhelmed by waves of invaders that included the Tidanu, savage Gutian tribesmen from the mountains to the northeast, and Elamites, from what is today northwestern Iran.

The key point is this: For centuries, Amorite kings from Babylon to Canaan traced their ancestry back to this Tidanu/Ditanu tribe. And modern scholars have concluded that the name of this tribe is the origin of the name given by the ancient Greeks to their old gods, the Titans.

Consider the evidence: We know that in the days of the judges in Israel, Amorite kings in what is now northern Syria aspired to become rapha and join the council of the Didanu after death, a religious belief that may have existed for more than a thousand years already by that time. The Rephaim were middle-tier deities, higher-ranking in the cosmic order than humans, but not at the level of the great gods like El, Baal, Asherah, and Astarte.

Like the Didanu, the Titans of the Greeks were supernatural inhabitants of the underworld who roamed the earth long ago, just like the apkallu of Babylon and the Watchers—the “sons of God” from Genesis 6—of the Hebrews. This is not a coincidence.

And it’s still relevant today. You see, the Rephaim Texts from ancient Ugarit call the Rephaim “warriors of Baal.” The mountain sacred to Baal is the rally point for the end-times army of Gog, the Antichrist—and Jesus identified Baal as Satan.

Veneration of the dead was not a quaint religious belief by primitive pagans who didn’t know any better. What we are unraveling here is an ancient plot by the infernal council to create a demonic army to assault the throne of God.

The Mighty Men Who Were of Old

Once upon a time, giants roamed the earth.
That sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale. Most Christians have never been taught that a similar story is told in the Book of Genesis, and in very similar language: “The Nephilim (or giants) were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.”
Pastors, priests, and Sunday school teachers tend to skip the first four verses of Genesis 6 and go right to the story of Noah because—well, the verses are weird. They contradict the scientific consensus. They’re hard to understand.
Please remember this: God didn’t inspire the prophets and apostles to write filler. Moses was not assigned a minimum word count. If it’s in the Bible, it’s relevant—and if it’s weird, it’s important.
The reason we’re writing this book is that it’s become clear to us that the episode described in Genesis 6:1–4, and expanded upon in the non-canonical Book of 1 Enoch, is far more important to human history and biblical theology than we realized.
We are Bible-believing, blood-bought Christians, so let’s put to bed right now any concerns you might have that this book is going off the theological rails to add something to the salvation story. If you don’t accept the evidence we’ll present here, that’s fine; as long as we agree that salvation comes only through grace by faith in Jesus Christ, we’re good. The purpose of this study is to show you how viciously and for how long the Fallen have been waging war against our Creator. Their ultimate objectives are control of God’s mount of assembly, Zion, and authority over your eternal soul.
So, what role did the giants play in the biblical narrative?
First, we need to establish that the children of human women to the “sons of God” were literally angel-human hybrids. This is consistent with similar stories from the ancient world of gods commingling with humans to produce demigods such as Gilgamesh, who claimed to be two-thirds god and one-third human, and Hercules, the son of Zeus by the mortal woman Alcmene.
Obviously, researchers can’t produce DNA from pre-Flood human remains that will support this theory. However, it’s worth noting that for all of the faith placed by science in Darwinian evolution, only two hundred specimens of “pre-human” fossils have ever been found. If humanity has been around for ten thousand years, where are all the skeletons? But we digress.
It’s important to note that the phrase translated “sons of God” in the Old Testament, Hebrew bǝnê hāʾĕlōhîm, always means supernatural beings—angels, if you like. It does not refer to human men.
Yes, there are references in the New Testament to “sons of God” that do mean humans, but those passages are translated from Greek into English, and the context is different. The arc of history is all about restoring humanity to the garden, like the prodigal son returning home and being restored to the family as a co-heir. Someday, we will once again be “sons (and daughters)” of God in the Old Testament sense. That’s why Jesus went to the cross.
At the risk of beating a horse that’s already on life support, let me repeat: “Sons of God” in Genesis 6:4 refers to spirit beings, supernatural entities who rebelled against the Father—fallen angels who spawned an evil race of giants mingling the bloodlines of angels with humans. The “sons of God” were not evil human rulers or men from the line of Cain, or any other naturalistic explanation that’s been put forward since Augustine decided he couldn’t believe it in the early fifth century AD. Casting the “sons of God” as evil human men simply ignores the linguistic and cultural foundation of the Book of Genesis. To interpret the Nephilim as fully human means mistranslating the Hebrew and ignoring the way the very same phrase was used by the cultures around ancient Israel that spoke and wrote similar languages.
Besides, the apostles believed it. And we dare say their theology teacher was better than ours.
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. (2 Peter 2:4–10)
The only place in Scripture where we know of angels who sinned (Satan excluded) is Genesis 6. By connecting the rebellious angels to Sodom and Gomorrah, Peter made it clear that the sin of the angels was sexual—a point he reinforced in verse 10. Like the “angels who sinned,” the wicked would be kept under punishment until the Judgment—“especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority,” exactly the sin of the sons of God in Genesis 6.
The apostle Jude was even more explicit:
And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 6–7, emphasis added)
It could not be clearer: By connecting Genesis 6 to the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, Jude made it clear that the sin of the angels was sexual. (It also indicates that the sin of Sodom wasn’t just homosexuality; it was the desire to cross the boundary between species. Physical relations between angel and human was just as “unnatural” as between human and animal.)
Interestingly, just a few verses later, Jude quotes the Book of 1 Enoch, which suggests that we might learn something from Enoch even though it’s not in the Bible.
When the sons of men had multiplied, in those days, beautiful and comely daughters were born to them. And the watchers, the sons of heaven, saw them and desired them. And they said to one another, “Come, let us choose for ourselves wives from the daughters of men, and let us beget children for ourselves.”…
These and all the others with them took for themselves wives from among them such as they chose. And they began to go in to them, and to defile themselves through them, and to teach them sorcery and charms, and to reveal to them the cutting of roots and plants. And they conceived from them and bore to them great giants. And the giants begot Nephilim, and to the Nephilim were born Elioud [“gods of glory”]. And they were growing in accordance with their greatness. They were devouring the labor of all the sons of men, and men were not able to supply them. And the giants began to kill men and to devour them. And they began to sin against the birds and beasts and creeping things and the fish, and to devour one another’s flesh. And they drank the blood.
Dr. Michael Heiser makes a convincing case in his book Reversing Hermon that a key aspect of the mission of Jesus was to reverse the evil of the Watchers. It’s obvious in 1 Enoch that the impact of the Watchers went well beyond producing monstrous hybrid offspring. Besides sorcery and potions, the fallen angels of the Hermon rebellion taught humanity the arts of divination, cosmetic enhancement, metalworking, fashioning weapons, making “hate-inducing charms,” and “the eternal mysteries that are in heaven,” which clearly were things man was not meant to know. In short, because of the forbidden knowledge passed from the Watchers to humans, the earth became filled with sex and violence.
For this, as Peter noted, God imprisoned the rebels in the abyss. While most English Bibles translate 2 Peter 2:4 as “cast them into hell,” the Greek word, tartaroō, literally means “thrust down to Tartarus.” That’s different from Hades, the word most commonly used to designate the underworld home of the evil dead. In Greek cosmology, Tartarus was as far below Hades as the earth is below heaven. It was a special prison reserved for supernatural threats to the divine order—basically, Hell for supernatural beings.
This is the only place in the New Testament where tartaroō is used, which means it’s important. It referred to a unique event, but one with which Peter’s readers were obviously familiar—the famous story of the Watchers who attempted to corrupt humanity physically and spiritually.

Last time, we shared the work of scholar Nicolas Wyatt, who pointed out that regrouping the consonants of the original Hebrew changes Deuteronomy 32:8 to read: When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, He set up the boundaries of the nations in accordance with the number of the sons of Bull El (emphasis added).
While it doesn’t change the effect of what happened after the Tower of Babel incident (Yahweh allocating the small-G gods to the nations), reconstructing Deuteronomy 32:8 to read “sons of Bull El” gives it a new, perhaps deeper, meaning. Since we’ve identified El as Kronos, leader of the Titans, which presumably also makes him Shemihazah, ringleader of the rebellious Watchers, it may explain why God divided the world into seventy nations.
This is admittedly confusing. Whether they were sons of Bull El or El Shaddai (Yahweh), why seventy sons? Why would God put powerful supernatural entities with a rebellious streak in charge of His creation anyway?
As for the number of the rebellious “sons of God,” we can only know this for sure: It’s symbolic. The number of the elders of Israel and the number of disciples sent ahead of Jesus into Galilee matched the number of these divine sons. That was no accident. But why that specific number? Maybe there were exactly seventy tribes or nations at the time God stopped the workmen at Babel, or maybe, as we’ll see shortly, it’s related to the belief in the ancient Near East that seventy symbolized a complete set, the full amount.
Now, why did God delegate authority to elohim that He knew would rebel? Remember, this was the punishment God decreed for the disobedient humans of Nimrod’s day. They’d tried to build the Tower of Babel as an artificial “cosmic mountain,” an abode for the gods, and they did it just three generations after God sent a devastating Flood as a consequence for getting too cozy with an earlier group of Watcher-class angels. God’s response was to give humanity what it wanted, and so “the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven” were “allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.”
We can assume that these seventy sons of El were not among the two hundred who descended on Mount Hermon in the days of Jared. The Watchers that Enoch knew were punished for their sin, chained in gloomy darkness until the final judgment, according to Peter and Jude. So, in what sense were these seventy post-Babel angels the sons of El?
This is speculation, you understand, since we’re working without a biblical net here. The term “sons” is not to be taken literally, in the human sense. While we know from Jesus that the angels in Heaven don’t marry, Genesis 6:1–4 makes it clear that they can procreate, at least with human partners. But the Bible never shows us female angels, even though some of the most popular pagan deities are female. Without scriptural support, we can’t say that angels reproduce. So, our best guess is that the sons of Bull El were his children in the same way the Pharisees of Jesus’ day were “of [their] father, the devil”—spiritual descendants rather than genetic and physical offspring.
It’s interesting, isn’t it, that while El (i.e., Kronos/Saturn) was chained in Tartarus with the rest of the Watchers, his seventy “sons” were believed to congregate on Mount Hermon? Remember that. Jesus certainly did.
The pagans didn’t depict El as a god trapped in the underworld, but these spirits lie. Do the fallen angels chained in Tartarus still influence what happens here on the surface? You’d think not, but maybe the angels who rebelled later, after the Tower of Babel incident, found it useful for their cause to preserve the name and memory of El/Kronos/Saturn, and their colleagues, even if their spiritual “father” and his gang of two hundred were indisposed. But those Watchers are coming back for one last shot at the throne of God. More on that later.
Bearing in mind the importance of Mount Hermon to the spirit realm, consider the deeper meaning within the messianic prophecy of Psalm 22:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? […]
Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion. Psalm 22:1, 12–13, ESV; emphasis added)
You recognize the first verse of Psalm 22 because Jesus spoke it from the cross. This was obviously a prophecy of what was to happen on Calvary. But the psalmist wasn’t shown a vision of angry bulls from the Golan Heights surrounding Christ on the cross. He was given a glimpse into the future at spirits from Bashan, demonic entities represented by bulls, who surrounded the cross to celebrate what they thought was their victory over the Messiah.
Confirming this interpretation of Psalm 22:12, Old Testament scholar Dr. Robert D. Miller II recently used archaeological and climatological evidence to prove that “the phrase Bulls of Bashan refers not to the bovine but to the divine, [and] moreover that Iron Age Bashan would have been a terrible land for grazing and the last place to be famous for beef or dairy cattle.”
How about that? Soil samples confirm the truth of the Bible!
Feast of Booths
Now, let’s add another bit of historical detail that may be relevant. The Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot (literally “Feast of Booths”), was one of the annual festivals that God directed the Israelites to keep when He gave the Law to Moses. It’s a seven-day festival that begins on the 15th of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. That puts it exactly six months after the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which begins on the 15th of Nisan, the first month of the calendar. Those two along with Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), were the three Pilgrimage Festivals in the Hebrew calendar that required Jewish men to appear before God at the Tabernacle, and later, at the Temple from the time of Solomon until the first century A.D.
Interestingly, the pagan religious calendar in the ancient Near East featured a festival called the akitu that dates back at least to the middle of the third millennium B.C. It was thought to be a new year festival held in the spring to honor the chief god of Babylon, Marduk, but more recent discoveries have shown that there were two akitu festivals, one in the spring, the harvesting season, and the other in the fall, the planting season, and some of them were performed to honor other gods. For example, the oldest known akitu is documented at ancient Ur in Sumer, which was the home city of the moon-god, Sîn.
The akitu festivals began on the 1st of Nisan and 1st of Tishrei, close to the spring and fall equinoxes. Although the length of the festivals changed over the years, it appears they generally lasted eleven or twelve days. So, the Jewish festivals began a few days after their pagan neighbors finished their harvesting and planting rituals.
Sukkot is a seven-day festival. It’s especially interesting because of the sheer number of sacrificial animals that were required, and especially because they were bulls. Numbers 29:12–34 spells out the requirements for the Feast of Booths.
Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7
13 bulls12 bulls11 bulls10 bulls9 bulls8 bulls7 bulls2
rams2 rams2 rams2 rams2 rams2 rams2 rams
14 lambs14 lambs14 lambs14 lambs14 lambs14 lambs14 lambs1 goat1 goat1 goat1 goat1 goat1 goat1 goat

The Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was likewise a seven-day festival, required only one ram and seven lambs each day. But the biggest difference between the two feasts is that only two bulls were sacrificed each day during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In fact, none of the other festivals ordained by God for Israel required the sacrifice of more than two bulls per day.
This suggests that Sukkot was unique in the annual calendar. In fact, in several places in the Old Testament it’s simply called “the festival” or “the feast.” But why? Why so many bulls at this particular feast? And why the decreasing number of bulls slaughtered each day?
We may never know specifically, but it’s fascinating to note that a similar festival called the zukru was performed regularly during the time of the Judges (fourteenth through 12th centuries B.C.) in Emar, a city in what is today northern Syria.
It was celebrated in Emar on the first month of the year, called SAG.MU—namely, the “head of the year”. On the first day of the festival, when the moon is full, the god Dagan—the supreme god of Syria— and all the other gods in the pantheon were taken outside the temple and city in the presence of the citizens to a shrine of stones called sikkānu. […]
The first offerings of the zukru-festival were sacrificed on the fourteenth of the month of the “head of the year”:
On the month of SAG.MU (meaning: the head of the year), on the fourteenth day, they offer seventy pure lambs provided by the king…for all the seventy gods [of the city of] Emar.
Seventy lambs for the seventy gods of Emar, headed up by Dagan, sacrificed over seven days during a festival that began in the first month “when the moon is full,” just like at Sukkot.
Quickly: How many bulls were sacrificed at Sukkot?
13 + 12 + 11 + 10 + 9 + 8 + 7 = 70
Remember from an earlier chapter the link between the underworld and Dagan, the bēl pagrê, “lord of the corpse,” or “lord of the dead.” Recall also that the similarities in their roles and descriptions helped us identify Dagan as the Hurrian grain-god Kumarbi and the king of the Titans, Kronos—which brings us back to the Canaanite creator-god El and his seventy sons on Mount Hermon. And then connect Dagan/El, “lord of the dead,” to Mount Hermon, which towers over Bashan, the entrance to the Canaanite underworld.
Is it possible that the festival of the Israelites was a message to the small-G gods who had deceived the nations in and around the land God had chosen for His people—that the seventy bulls sacrificed to Yahweh represented the seventy gods who’d sworn allegiance to Dagan/El/Kronos/Saturn? Or was it simply to commemorate Israel’s rescue from the gods of the nations—to remind the people that they were Yahweh’s allotted heritage?
Given the bull imagery of the pagan gods and demons of the ancient Near East, the answer to both questions is, “Yes.”

A key thread woven through the fiction of H. P. Lovecraft was a fictional grimoire, or book of witchcraft, called the Necronomicon. The book, according to the Lovecraft canon, was written in the 8th century AD by the “Mad Arab,” Abdul Alhazred. This was a bit of wordplay, Lovecraft’s childhood nickname because of his love for the book 1001 Arabian Nights (Alhazred = “all has read”).

Lovecraft claimed inspiration for the Necronomicon came to him in a dream, and through his many letters to friends and colleagues he encouraged others to incorporate the mysterious tome into their own fiction. Over time, references to the Necronomicon by other authors led to a growing belief that the book was, in fact, real.

By the 1970s, Lovecraft’s work had found a new audience, and his stories were being mined by Hollywood. Then in 1977, a hardback edition of the Necronomicon suddenly appeared (published in a limited run of 666 copies!), edited by a mysterious figure known only as “Simon,” purportedly a bishop in the Eastern Orthodox Church. A mass market paperback edition followed a few years later. That version has reportedly sold more than a million copies over the last four decades.

Simon’s Necronomicon arrived on the wave of a renewed interest in the occult that washed over the Western world in the 1960s and ‘70s. Interestingly, it was a French journal of science fiction that helped spark the revival, and it did so by publishing the works of H. P. Lovecraft for a new audience. Planète was launched in the early ‘60s by Louis Pauwles and Jacques Bergier, and their magazine brought a new legion of admirers to the “bent genius.” More significantly for our study here, however, was the book Pauwles and Bergier co-authored in 1960, Les matins des magiciens (Morning of the Magicians), which was translated into English in 1963 as Dawn of Magic.

 

The book covered everything from pyramidology (the belief that the Egyptian pyramids held ancient secrets) to supposed advanced technology in the ancient world. Likewise, the authors praised Arthur Machen, the Irish author of horror fiction, about surviving Celtic mythological creatures, and they discussed the genius of H. P. Lovecraft in the same breath as the scientist Albert Einstein and psychoanalyst Carl Jung. From Lovecraft, Bergier and Pauwles borrowed the one thought that would be of more importance than any other in their book. As we have seen, Morning of the Magicians speculates that extraterrestrial beings may be responsible for the rise of the human race and the development of its culture, a theme Lovecraft invented (emphasis added).

 

The success of Pauwles and Bergier inspired others to explore the concepts they’d developed from the writings of Lovecraft. The most successful of these, without question, was Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods, the best-selling English language archaeology book of all time.

You can say one thing for von Däniken—he wasn’t shy about challenging accepted history:

 

I claim that our forefathers received visits from the universe in the remote past, even though I do not yet know who these extraterrestrial intelligences were or from which planet they came. I nevertheless proclaim that these “strangers” annihilated part of mankind existing at the time and produced a new, perhaps the first, homo sapiens.

 

The book had the good fortune of being published in 1968, the same year Stanley Kubrick’s epic adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey hit theaters. The film, based on the idea that advanced alien technology had guided human evolution, was the top-grossing film of the year, and was named the “greatest sci-fi film of all time” in 2002 by the Online Film Critics Society. By 1971, when Chariots of the Gods finally appeared in American bookstores, NASA had put men on the moon three times and the public was fully primed for what von Däniken was selling.

It’s hard to overstate the impact of Chariots of the Gods on the UFO research community and the worldviews of literally millions of people over the last fifty years. In 1973, Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling built a documentary around Chariots titled In Search of Ancient Astronauts, which featured astronomer Carl Sagan and Wernher von Braun, architect of the Saturn V rocket. The following year, a Chariots of the Gods feature film was released to theaters. By the turn of the 21st century, von Däniken had sold more than 60 million copies of his twenty-six books, all promoting the idea that our creators came from the stars.

This, despite the fact that von Däniken told National Enquirer in 1974 that his information came not through archaeological fieldwork but through out-of-body travel to a place called Point Aleph, “a sort of fourth dimension” outside of space and time.

To put it simply, the claims of von Däniken don’t hold water. His theories have been debunked in great detail and he’s even admitted to making things up, but lack of evidence has never stopped crazy ideas for long. And now, thanks to a new generation of true believers, Ancient Aliens and its imitators are still mining von Däniken gold five decades after his first book hit the shelves.

Ancient alien evangelists have effectively proselytized the American public since Chariots of the Gods went viral nearly fifty years ago. This may sound like a joke, but more adults in the United States believe that the earth is being visited by extraterrestrials than believe in God as He’s revealed Himself in the Bible.

MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network, which calls itself “the world’s oldest and largest UFO phenomenon investigative body,” has gone all in with ancient aliens in recent years. The group now openly supports pseudoscientific and New Age interpretations of the UFO phenomenon instead of sticking to what can be supported by evidence. For example, the theme of MUFON’s 2017 national convention was “The Case for a Secret Space Program,” which was described by one critic as “blatantly unscientific and irrational.”

The conference featured among its speakers a man who claims he was recruited for “a ‘20 & Back’ assignment which involved age regression (via Pharmaceutical means) as well as time regressed to the point of beginning service.” In plain English, he claims he served for two decades in an off-planet research project, and then was sent back in time to a few minutes after he left and “age-regressed” so no one noticed that that he’s really twenty years older than he looks.

Another speaker claimed he was pre-identified as a future president of the United States in a CIA/DARPA program called Project Pegasus, which purportedly gathered intel on past and future events, such as the identities of future presidents. He also claimed Barack Obama was his roommate in 1980 in a CIA project called Mars Jump Room, a teleportation program that sent trainees to a secret base on the red planet.

 

You know, it sounds really bizarre when we step back and summarize things but there is no way to make this sound rational. The horror fiction of H. P. Lovecraft, which was inspired by the spirits behind 19th century occultists like Helena Blavatsky (and possibly the same spirit that communicated with Aleister Crowley), was filtered through the French science-fiction scene in the 1960s, adapted by a Swiss hotel manager named von Däniken, and recycled back to the United States at the time of the first moon landings, where it’s grown into a scientistic religion that replaces God with aliens.

Wow.

To paraphrase our friend, Christian researcher and author L. A. Marzulli: Now fifty years on from the publication of Chariots of the Gods, the ancient alien meme is real, burgeoning, and not going away.

And the old gods are using it to set the stage for their return.