Against the gods… and godesses. Against syncretism.
A list of interchangeable mother-goddess names (something for worshippers of the “sacred feminine” or “the goddess” to consider):
–Aphrodite (Greek)/Venus (Roman)
–Inana (ancient Sumeria)
–Isis (one title: “queen of heaven” – see Ishtar listing) (Egypt).
–Perhaps Cybele/Artemis/Diana are interchangeable with the rest, as well (see below).
Most certainly there are other mother-goddess concepts which would be interchangeable with these. It is easy to see why God punished the Israelites for worshipping these false gods and goddesses, when you learn what this study reveals about how these goddesses and their god counterparts were/are worshipped. Such forms of worship do not celebrate or respect femininity, but disgracefully and without honor trample it in the mud. The male gods (Baals) are often counterparts to the mother-goddesses, and Satan is considered the ruler of them (Matthew 10:24-28; Luke 11:14-26). When all is said and done, he will be thrown down (read Revelation). All who go after the Baals and their mother-goddesses would do well to remember this and turn back.
Important. For those of you who have read Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” and perhaps a book like “Secrets of the Code” edited by Dan Burstein (if you haven’t, you’re not missing much) – I highly recommend you read “Breaking the da Vinci Code” by Darrel L. Bock, Ph.D (Thomas Nelson, 2004). If you’re planning on reading “The Da Vinci Code” – I recommend you read Bock’s book first, and perhaps after, as well. I ignored Dan Brown until my brother loaned one of his novels to me sometime before Thanksgiving… right after I finished a study on early Gnosticism (see my “Against Gnosticism” thread). Perfect timing.
One listing you won’t find mentioned in the Bible is “Baphomet” – an idol (said to come from the god Pan, a god whom a city formerly known as Paneas, an ancient name now known as Banias, was named after, a city then called Caesarea Philippi in Matthew 16:13, according to the Zondervan NASB study note on that verse) worshipped by a “secret” society which worships the “sacred feminine” – always a mask-phrase for “female sexuality” (as if pornography weren’t habitual enough for some, cults like this turn sex into ritual and try to blend it with spirituality – ensuring a loyal, sex-addicted congregation who will take their secrets with them to the grave, if they die still enslaved). This particular “secret” society was led for many years by a fool referring to himself as the “Great Beast 666” (see Revelation 13; refer to my “Against Gnosticism” thread for references to “antichrist” and “antichrists”), set up for the purpose of spiritual rebellion. Out of His enduring, patient love, God allows it, just as He allowed, for a time (more than once), the spiritual rebellion of the Israelites… there is a lesson to be learned that so far remains a mystery to this mystery cult, and all other mystery cults. I pray they learn soon, as I did, that it isn’t too late to turn back and make a fresh start (Judg 10:13-16). Not that it will be easy. The Lord disciplines those He loves (Psalm 119:71-72; Job 2:10; Isaiah 35:4; Proverbs 3:12; Psalm 30:5; Psalm 51:8).
Greek pantheon … Acts 17:16-34 (Mars Hill in Athens). In “Eternity in their Hearts,” Don Richardson points out that it was a Pythian oracle (see Acts 16:16, the slave-girl had a “python” spirit which Paul cast out), who told Nicias to seek Epimenides in Crete. This is not the only instance when God used a pagan to get His message across. See Numbers 22-24 (Balaam). Richardson also points out that Epimenides “used Zeus as a personal name for the Almighty in another part of the very poem which Paul the apostle quoted in Titus 1:12!” He explains the changes that “Zeus” went through which no longer make it eligible as a name for God, making it necessary for Paul to use the term Theos, and John to use the terms Theos and Logos, instead (“fulfilling rather than destroying something valid in Greek philosophy” – emphasis Richardson’s). Such changes in meaning (like the change in “Zeus”) also threatened Christian terms in the early years of Christianity, necessitating the early theological councils (such as the one held at Nicaea) of the church fathers. I can quote more at your request, but I strongly recommend you buy the book.
Zeus…Hermes. Zondervan NASB study notes on Acts 14:8-18 – Zeus (the Roman Jupiter) was the patron god of the city, and his temple was there (Lystra). People who came to bring sacrifices to Zeus apparently decided to make an offering to Paul and Barnabas instead. The identification of Zeus with Barnabas may indicate that his appearance was more imposing, and Paul was identified as the god Hermes (the Roman Mercury/Mercurious) because he was the spokesman (see 28:6). This incident may have been occasioned by an ancient legend that told of a supposed visit to the same general area by Zeus and Hermes. They were, however, not recognized by anyone but an old couple. So the people of Lystra were determined not to allow such an oversight to happen again.
Artemis (also called Cybele) – Goddess of the Ephesians (Roman Diana)
Paul’s third mission (Acts 19-21:6) excerpt from Zondervan’s Handbook to the Bible, 1999.
19 Silversmiths riot at Ephesus
19:1-7. If Paul could win the people of Ephesus (the provincial capital) to the Christian faith the news would spread through the whole province of Asia. Verse 10 indicates that this is just what happened. It is likely that all seven churches mentioned in Revelation 1:11, as well as those at Colossae and Hierapolis, were founded during this period.
Teaching and healing go together, and the news of a remarkable exorcism (13-17) spreads like wildfire through the city.
So effective is Paul’s ministry in communicating the message that ‘gods made with hands are not gods at all’ (26) that it cuts the takings of the silversmiths making images of the city’s famous goddess, Artemis. They stir the whole place to uproar, dragging Paul’s companions to the great theatre, and chanting slogans. After two hours of this, the town clerk manages to calm them down. Like Gallio at Corinth he declares the Christians innocent (37).
Magic… books (19) Such was the city’s name for magical papyrus scrolls of spells that these were known in the Roman world as ‘Ephesian letters’.
Artemis (Diana) (24) The cult adopted the name of the Greek goddess, but continued to worship the mother-goddess fertility figure of the region’s ancient religion (Ichthus: the same practice as the “secret” society who adopted Baphomet as their idol). The temple was one of the seven wonders of the world, four times the size of the Parthenon. The ‘sacred stone’ (35) was a meteorite, supposed to resemble the goddess, and kept in the temple.
Aphrodite – Zondervan NASB study bible notes on 1 Cor 10:14 – flee from idolatry. Like that described in Ex 32:1-6. Corinthian Christians had come out of a background of paganism. Temples for the worship of Apollo, Asclepius, Demeter, Aphrodite and other pagan gods and goddesses were seen daily by the Corinthians as they engaged in the activities of everyday life. The worship of Aphrodite, with its many sacred prostitutes, was a particularly strong temptation. Ichthus: See above, “Interchangeable mother-goddess names” and note on Judges 2:13 below.
Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon excerpt from Zondervan’s Handbook to the Bible, 1999.
The exiles from Judah were brought to the great city of Babylon which Nebuchadnezzar had rebuilt. The inner city was protected by a wide moat and double walls of brick (3.7m/12ft and 6.5m/21ft thick), with room for a military road at parapet level between them. Of the eight great gateways, the Ishtar Gate, built to honor the Babylonian god Marduk (Ichthus: see “Bel” below), is best known today.
The gateway is decorated with alternate rows of bulls (symbol of the weather god Adad) and dragons (symbol of Marduk) made of glazed brick. The Procession Street (along which statues of the gods were carried at the New Year festival) led from the gate to the city centre and the great temples. Its walls were of blue enameled brick with a relief of lions (symbol of Ishtar) in red, yellow and white. Babylon contained dozens of temples. Most important was the ziggurat of Marduk (biblical Merodach), the patron god of the city, with his temple beside it.
Nebuchadnezzar built a complex of palaces at the north, beside the Ishtar Gate. It was here that Daniel came, to join the king’s court.
Ishtar – Jer 7:18; 44. Zondervan NASB study bible note on Jer 7:18 – children…fathers…women. Entire families participate in idolatrous worship. cakes. See 44:19. queen of heaven. A Babylonian title for Ishtar, an important goddess in the Babylonian pantheon (see 44:17-19,25) (see also the above ‘interchangeable mother-goddess names’: Isis, and the info. on Asherah below). drink offerings to other gods. And sometimes to the queen of heaven herself (see 44:19,25). to spite me. See Deut 31:29.
Bel “lord” (Babylon) – Patron god of Babylon (Is 46:1; Jer 51:44), Merodach (Marduk) title (Jer 50:2). Zondervan NASB note Is. 46:1 Bel.The name “Bel” is equivalent to Canaanite “Baal” (see below) and means “lord.” Nebo. Nabu, the god of learning and writing who was the son of Marduk. Strong’s USGB: King Nebuchadnezzar’s name means “Nebo, defend the boundary”.
Asherah (Phoenicians/Arameans)/Ashtaroth/Ashtoreth/Astarte – Mesopotamian Ishtar; mother goddess linked with fertility, love and war, like the Canaanite god Baal.
1. Translated “groves,” the female counterpart of Baal (Judg 3:7) (NASB: ‘Asheroth’); 1 Kin 18:19. Translated “Ashtoreth” (plural) in (Judg 2:13), Asa’s mother worships (1 Kin 15:13), curtains for, made by women (woven in the Temple!) (2 Kin 23:7) …where there were also houses for male cult prostitutes (ibid), vessels of, destroyed by Josiah (2 Kin 23:4). 2. (Groves) Idolatrous shrine (Deut 12:3; 2 Kin 21:7), destruction of, commanded (Ex 34:13), Israel’s fondness for (Jer 17:2), punishment (Isaiah 27:9).
Ashtoreth (Canaan) – the name given by the Hebrews to the goddess Ashtart (Astarte). A. A mother goddess of love, fertility and war worshiped by: Philistines (1 Sam 31:10), Sidonians (1 Kin 11:5, 33), Hebrews (see below). B. Israel’s relation to: ensnared by (Judg 2:13; 10:6), repent of, in Samuel’s time (1 Sam 7:3,4; 12:10), worship of, by Solomon (1 Kin 11:5, 33), destroyed by Josiah (2 Kin 23:13).
Exodus 34:13 Zondervan NASB study note: Asherim. Symbols of Asherah, the name of the consort (wife) of El, the chief Canaanite god. Wooden poles, perhaps carved in her image, were often set up in her honor and placed near other pagan objects of worship (see, e.g., Judg 6:25).
1 Sam 7:3 Zondervan NASB study note: Ashtaroth. The Hebrew plural of Ashtoreth, who was a goddess of love, fertility and war, worshiped in various forms by many peoples of the ancient Near East, including the Canaanites (see note on Judg 2:13). The worship of Ashtoreth is frequently combined with the worship of Baal (see v.4;12:10; Judg 2:13; 3:7; 10:6), in accordance with the common practice in fertility cults to associate male and female deities.
1 Kings 14:15 Zondervan NASB study note: Asherim. Ahijah perceived that Jeroboam’s use of golden bulls in worship would inevitably lead to the adoption of other elements of Canaanite nature religion. The goddess Asherah was the consort of El (see notes on Ex 34:13; Judg 2:13), and the Asherim were probably wooden representations of the goddess (see note on Ex 34:13).
Judges 2:13 Zondervan NASB study note: Ashtaroth. Female deities such as Ashtoreth (consort of Baal) and Asherah (consort of El, the chief god of the Canaanite pantheon). Ashtoreth was associated with the evening star and was the beautiful goddess of war and fertility. She was worshipped as Ishtar in Babylonia and as Ashtart in Aram. To the Greeks she was Astarte or Aphrodite, and to the Romans, Venus. Worship of the Ashtoreths involved extremely lascivious practices (1 Kin 14:24).
1 Kings 14:24 Zondervan NASB study note: male cult prostitutes. Ritual prostitution was an important feature of Canaanite fertility religion. The Israelites had been warned by Moses not to engage in this abominable practice (see Deut 23:17-18, “dog” meaning “male prostitute”; see also 1 Kin 15:12; 2 Kin 23:7; Hos 4:14).
Baal – Canaanite god of weather, war, fertility: 1 Kings 18.
Elijah’s challenge: God or Baal?[b] excerpt from Zondervan’s Handbook to the Bible, 1999.
Jezebel is fanatical for her religion. For three years she has done all in her power to eliminate the worship of God in Israel (4). Now Elijah returns—one against 450—with a challenge. Let’s put this to the test and see who is the real God.
Baal is impotent—no more able to produce fire than to send the needed rain. It’s God who is ‘the living Lord’. The fire burns the saturated offering. The people shout ‘The Lord alone is God.’ The prophets of Baal are slaughtered. And the drought ends. But for all this, there will be no deep and lasting religious reform.
From Strong’s USGB: Baal (Canaan) “lord, possessor, husband” (1 Kings 18:19; 2 Kings 17:16). A. The nature of: The male god of the Phoenicians and Canaanites; the counterpart of the female Ashtaroth (see above) (Judg 10:6; 1 Sam 7:4) — connected with immorality (Num 25:1-9; Hos 9:10), incense burned to (Jer 7:9), kissing (showing homage to) the image of (1 Kin 19:18; Hos 13:1,2), dervish rites by priests of (1 Kin 18:26,28), children burned in fire of (Jer 7:31-32; 19:5), eating sacrifices offered to the dead [Ps 106:28 (see Num 25:1-9)]. B. History of: Among Moabites in Moses’ time (Num 22:41), altars built to, during time of judges [Judge 2:11-14; 6:28-32 (NASB note on v. 30: The Israelites were so apostate that they were willing to kill one of their own people for the cause of Baal (contrast Deut 13:6-10, where God told Moses that idolaters must be stoned)], Jezebel introduces into Israel (1 Kin 16:31,32), Elijah’s overthrow of, on Mt. Carmel (1 Kin 18:17-40), Athaliah introduces it into Judah (2 Kin 11:17-20; 2 Chr 22:2-4), revived again in Israel and Judah (Hos 2:8; Amos 5:26), Ahaz makes images to (burned his sons in fire) (2 Chr 28:2-4), Manasseh worships (made his son pass through the fire) (2 Kin 21:2-9), altars everywhere (Jer 11:13), overthrown by Josiah (2 Kin 23:4,5), denounced by prophets (Jer 19:4,5; Ezek 16:15-59) (again, child sacrifice), historic retrospect (Rom 11:4).
Baal-berith “lord of covenant” – a god (Baal) of Shechem (Judg 8:33; 9:4), also called El-berith “god of the covenant” (Judg 9:46).
Baalim “lords” (plural of Baal) — deities of Canaanite polytheism (Judg 10:10-14).
Baal-peor; Baal of Peor “lord of Peor” (Moab) – a Moabite god (Num 25:1-5), infected Israel; 24,000 died (Num 25:1-9), vengeance taken on (Num 31:1-18), sin long remembered (Deut 4:3,4; Josh 22:17; Ps 106:28,29), historic reminder (1 Cor 10:8). [b]1 Corinthians 10:7-14 Zondervan NASB study note: Refers to Israel’s joining herself to Baal of Peor (Num 25:1-9), participating in the worship of this god of the Moabites and engaging in sexual immorality with the prostitute virgins who worshiped this god. See Exodus 32:6 (Zondervan NASB note: the people sat down…rose up to play. A pagan symbol evoked pagan religious practices. Paul quotes this sentence as a vivid example of Israel’s tendency toward idolatry. The Hebrew verb translated “rose up to play” often has sexual connotations (see, e.g., “caressing,” Gen 26:8). Immoral orgies frequently accompanied pagan worship in ancient times. See also listing on “Aphrodite” above.
Baali “my master (lord)” — A title rejected by Jehovah (Hos 2:16). Zondervan NASB note: Ishi means “my husband,” and Baali means “my master.” Of the two Hebrew words for husband, one (master) is identical with the name of the god Baal. There will be such a vigorous reaction against Baal worship that this Hebrew word for “master” will no longer be used for the Lord. (Ichthus: see also John 15:15.)
Judges 2:13 Zondervan NASB note: Baal. Means “lord.” Baal, the god worshiped by the Canaanites and Phoenicians, was variously known to them as the son of Dagon (see note on Judg 10:6 below) and the son of El. In Aram (Syria) he was called Hadad and in Babylonia Adad. Believed to give fertility to the womb and life-giving rain to the soil, he is pictured as standing on a bull, a popular symbol of fertility and strength [see 1 Kin 12:28; Zondervan NASB note: two golden calves. Pagan gods of the Arameans and Canaanites were often represented as standing on calves or bulls as symbols of their strength and fertility. behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt. Like Aaron (Ex 32:4-5), Jeroboam attempted to combine the pagan calf symbol with the worship of the Lord, though he attempted no physical representation of the Lord—no “god” stood on the backs of his bulls]. The storm cloud was his chariot, thunder his voice, and lightning his spear and arrows. The worship of Baal involved sacred prostitution and sometimes even child sacrifice (see Jer 19:5). The stories of Elijah and Elisha (1 Kin 17-2 Kin 13), as well as many other OT passages, directly or indirectly protest Baal-ism (e.g., Ps 29:3-9; 68:1-4,32-34; 93:1-5; 97:1-5; Jer 10:12-16; 14:22; Hos 2:8,16-17; Amos 5:8).
Numbers 25:1 Zondervan NASB study note: play the harlot. Israel’s engagement in the fertility rites of Baal involved not only the evil of sexual immorality. It was also a breach of covenant with the Lord, a worship of the gods of the land (vv.2-3) and a foretaste of the people’s ruin in the unfolding of their history.
1 Kings 18:26,28 Zondervan NASB study notes: leaped about the altar. The ecstatic cultic dance was part of the pagan ritual intended to arouse the deity to perform some desired action. until the blood gushed out. Self-inflicted wounds (causing blood to flow) were symbolic of self-sacrifice as an extreme method of arousing the deity to action. Such mutilation of the body was strictly forbidden in the Mosaic law (Lev 19:28; Deut 14:1).
Jeremiah 7:31 (referred by 19:5) Zondervan NASB note: Topheth. See v.32; 19:6,11-14; see also note on Is. 30:33. The word may be of Aramaic origin with the meaning “fireplace,” though in cultures outside Israel it was used as a common noun meaning “place of child sacrifice.” Its vocalization was perhaps intentionally conformed to that of Hebrew bosheth, “shameful thing” (see note on Judg 6:32), often used in connection with idol worship (see notes on 2:26; 3:25). The OT Topheth had a fire pit (see Is 30:33), into which the hapless children were apparently thrown. burn their sons and their daughters in the fire. A horrible ritual, prohibited in the law of Moses (see Lev 18:21 and note; Deut 18:10) but practiced by Ahaz (see 2 Kin 16:2-3) and Manasseh (2 Kin 21:1,6).
Isaiah 30:33 Zondervan NASB note: Topheth. A region outside Jerusalem where children were sacrificed to Molech (see 2 Kin 23:10; Jer 7:31-32; 19:6,11-14), the god of the Ammonites (see 1 Kin 11:7). Thus it was a place of burning.
Judges 2:11 Zondervan NASB note: Baals. The many local forms of this Canaanite deity (see note on v. 13).
1 Kings 16:31 Zondervan NASB note: Baal. Perhaps Melqart, the local manifestation of Baal in Tyre, whose worship was brought to Israel by Jezebel. It is probable that Ahab participated in the worship of this deity at the time of his marriage. The names of Ahab’s sons (Ahaziah, “The Lord grasps”; Joram, “The Lord is exalted”) suggest that Ahab did not intend to replace the worship of the Lord with the worship of Baal but to worship both deities in a syncretistic way.
1 Kings 18:21 Zondervan NASB note: hesitate. The Hebrew for this word is the same as that used for “leaped” in v.26 (see note there). Elijah speaks with biting irony: In her religious ambivalence Israel is but engaging in a wild and futile religious “dance.” If the Lord is God, follow Him, but if Baal, follow him. Elijah placed a clear choice before the people. He drew a sharp contrast between the worship of the Lord and that of Baal, to eliminate the apostate idea that both deities could be worshiped in a syncretistic way.
Hosea 2:8 (NASB) reads: “For she does not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the new wine and the oil, And lavished on her silver and gold, Which they used for Baal.” Zondervan NASB note: The Canaanites attributed grain, wine and oil to Baal. They used silver and gold for making idols (see 8:4; 9:6; 13:2). Baal was believed to control the weather and the fertility of crops, animals and man (see note on Judg 2:13).
2 Kings 16:3 Zondervan NASB note: made his son pass through the fire. Israel had been warned by Moses not to engage in this pagan rite (see Lev 18:21; Deut 18:10). In Israel the firstborn son in each household was to be consecrated to the Lord and redeemed by a payment of five shekels to the priests (see Ex 13:1,11-13; Num 18:16). See also 3:27; 17:17; 21:6; 23:10; 2 Chr 28:3; Jer 7:31; 32:35.
Ezekiel 16:15-59 Zondervan NASB study notes: 15 harlot. The accusation of prostitution referred both to spiritual turning away from the Lord and to physical involvement with the fertility rites of Canaanite paganism (cf. Jer 3:1-5; Hos 4:13-15; 9:1). harlotries. Sexual favors. Verb and noun forms of the Hebrew for this word occur 23 times in this chapter. every passer-by. Cf. Gen. 38:14-16. 16 clothes. All of the Lord’s previous gifts were used by Jerusalem in prostituting herself. Cloths of some kind were needed in the Asherah cult practices (see 2 Kin 23:7). They may have been used as curtains or as bedding (see Amos 2:7-8). 17 male images. Phallic symbols or pictures of naked men (see 23:14). 20 sons and daughters…sacrificed. See 20:26,31; 23:37; 2 Kin 21:6; 23:10; Jer 7:31; 19:5; 32:35. Laws against child sacrifice are recorded in Lev 18:21; 20:2; Deut 12:31; 18:10. 24 shrine…high place. Cultic prostitution was moved from the high places (v.15), which were outside the towns, into Jerusalem.
Judges 10:6 Zondervan NASB study bible notes: gods of Aram. The chief gods were Hadad (Baal), Mot [Job 18:14 NASB note – king of terrors. A vivid figure of speech referring to death, which is personified in v.13. Canaanite literature pictured death as the devouring god Mot. Isaiah reverses the figure and envisions the Lord as swallowing up death forever (Is 25:8; see 1 Cor 15:54)], Anath and Rimmon [2 Kings 5:18 NASB note: Rimmon. Also known as Hadad (and in Canaan and Phoenicia as Baal), this Aramean deity was the god of storm (Rimmon means “thunderer”) and war. The two names were sometimes combined (see note on Zech 12:11 – Hadadrimmon is mourned, as the fertility god Tammuz is wept for in Ezek 8:14)]. gods of Sidon. The Sidonians worhsiped essentially the same gods as the Canaanites (see notes on 2:11,13). gods of Moab. The chief deity of Moab was Chemosh. From Strong’s USGB: Chemosh “fire, hearth” (Moab) (Judges 11:24) — the god of the Moabites (Num 21:29), children sacrificed to (2 Kin 3:27), Solomon builds altars to (1 Kin 11:7), Josiah destroys altars of (2 Kin 23:13). gods of the sons of Ammon. Molech was the chief Ammonite deity (see 1 Kin 11:7) and was sometimes worshiped by the offering of human sacrifice (Lev 18:21; 20:2-5; 2 Kin 23:10). This god is also called Milcom (see 1 Kin 11:5; 2 Kin 23:13; see also note on Lev 18:21). Both Molech and Milcom are forms of a Semitic word for “king.” From Strong’s USGB: Milcom (Molech) “king” (Ammon) — Solomon went after (1 Kings 11:5), Ammonites worshiped after introduced by Solomon (1 Kin 11:7) by human sacrifice (2 Kin 23:10) which was strongly condemned (Lev 18:21), altar destroyed by Josiah (2 Kin 23:12,13). gods of the Philistines. While the Philistines worshiped most of the Canaanite gods, their most popular deities appear to have been Dagon [from Strong’s USGB: Dagon “fish” (Philistine) — the national god of the Philistines (Judg 16:23), falls before the ark (1 Sam 5:1-7)] and Beel-zebub. The name Dagon is the same as the Hebrew word for “grain,” suggesting that he was a vegetation deity. He was worshiped in Babylonia as early as the second millennium B.C. Baal-zebub was worshiped in Ekron (2 Kin 1:2-3,6,16). The name means “lord of the flies,” a deliberate change by followers of the Lord (Yahweh) to ridicule and protest the worship of Baal-zebul (Baal the prince), a name known from the ancient Canaanite texts. From Strong’s USGB: Baalzebub “lord of flies” (Philistine) (Luke 11:15,19-23) — a Philistine god at Ekron (2 Kin 1:2), Ahaziah inquired of (2 Kin 1:2,6,16), also called Beelzebul in Matt 10:25 (NASB note: Beelzebul. Satan, the ruler of demons) and 12:24, prince of demons (Matt 12:24,27), identified as Satan (Matt 12:26).
The New Testament word for hell — the Greek word transliterated “Gehenna” – has its roots in this very thread. See the references in this thread to “Topheth” in the notes on Jer 7:31 and Is 30:33. This is an excerpt from Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament): Gehenna (#1067) – Mk. 9:43, 45, 48*; Neh. 11:30; Josh. 18:16; 2 Chr. 28:3*; Jer. 7:31*,32 (– the valley of the son of lamentation, or of the sons of lamentation; according to the common opinion [Grk] is the name of a man; Gehenna, the name of a valley on the S. and E. of Jerusalem [yet apparently beginning on the W. see Josh. 15:8; which was so called from the cries of the little children who were thrown into the fiery arms of Moloch, i.e. of an idol having the form of a bull. The Jews so abhorred the place after these horrible sacrifices had been abolished by king Josiah (2 K. 23:10*, also see note on 1 Kin 11:5*, which shows a link with the goddess Ashtoreth), that they cast into it not only all manner of refuse, but even the dead bodies of animals and of unburied criminals who had been executed. And since fires were always needed to consume the dead bodies, that the air might not become tainted with putrefaction, it came to pass the that place was called [Grk] [this common explanation of the descriptive gen. [Grk] is found in Rabbi David Kimchi (fl. C. A.D. 1200). Some suppose the gen. to refer not to purifying fires but to the fires of Moloch; others regard it as the natural symbol of penalty (cf. Lev 10:2; Num. 16:35; 2 K. 1; Ps 11:6; also Matt. 3:11; 13:42, etc.). …and then this name was transferred to that place in Hades where the wicked after death will suffer punishment: Matt 5:22*,29-30; 10:28*; Lk 12:5*; James 3:6*; Matt 23:33; [Grk], worthy of punishment in Gehenna, Matt 23:15*.
Going back to pagan idolatry, or trying to blend it with Christianity, is warned against in the New Testament. See the first three posts in my “Against Gnosticism” thread. See also references in Revelation 2 to Jezebel (an epithet recalling the Jezebel of the OT; see 1 Kings 16:21; 2 Kings 9:22,30-37) and the Nicolaitans, who promoted the syncretism of paganism and Christianity (also see listings on Artemis and Aphrodite, found above). Any time we try to do things apart from God, who is Truth and Love, we mess it up, and it becomes perversion of truth, and corruption of love. Those who forget or ignore the lessons learned in history, are doomed to repeat and relearn them. It isn’t too late to remember and know God. If He hasn’t introduced Himself to you personally – He is with you right now… just acknowledge it and accept Him as a permanent resident in your heart. This thread provides examples of what God is not – but there is plenty in the Word which explains who God is. Check it out. A good starting point is my thread “The Abrahamic Covenant – Backbone of the Gosepl.”
In addition to “Breaking the Da Vinci Code” by Darrel L. Bock, Ph.D (Thomas Nelson, 2004), I highly recommend “Eternity in their Hearts,” by Don Richardson (Regal, 2005).
[ Disclaimer: “god” should be understood like “Santa” when the god being represented is not a demon or Satan, but is instead a figment of the imagination (like Santa). Note: this study does not name every god (little ‘g’) named in or outside the Bible, but it is against them, too. ]