12. The old god and the young hero

 

El in Ugarit has his dwelling somewhere in the outskirts of the universe on Mt. Lel, only reached after a long journey. But this resting place can in a strange way be present in the stele, the Betel-stone. The Betel-stone raised by Jacob is explicitly named as the “house of El = God”[1]. It pictures the Highgod as the eternal rock of whom the sun hero is born (Example: Mithras de petra natus = born of the stone) to start his running along the path he clears for the sun. The sun warrior is called the “calf” and when Ieroboam puts up a golden calf next to the Betel-stone, it is the young god emanated from the old. Everywhere in the West Semitic area we find the highgod split up into two: the old Father of Eternity and the young Sun Hero.

 

Tyre:

Baalsjamem

Melqart

Sidon:

Chronos

 

Ugarit:

The “bull” El, “Father of Years”

Baal, the “bull-calf (´gl)

Is 9,6:

“Father of Eternity” (´ad)

“El gibbor = “hero”

Dan 7,9:

“The Ancient of Days w. white, woolly hair”

“The Son of Man”

Egypt:

Djed-Osiris

Horus

Pherecydes:

Chronos = “Time”

Zas

Betel:

Betel

a golden calf shining in the sun

Gaza:

Aldémios or Aldos acc to Movers halad = “time”

Marna = Zeus Cretagenes

Beiruth:

Aion & Beroe (Nonnos 41,83ff.)

 

Tarsus:

Baal Tars as Zeus Olympios

Sandan as Heracles

 

The sun hero is he who prepares a road through chaos and wilderness. (In India Varuna creates a “broad path” for the sun.) He leads on the road to paradise, cf that the calf is hailed by the call: “The God who led us out of Egypt”[2]. The calf is cast by Aaron as an answer to the people demanding a god “who can walk in front of us” (Exod 32,1). The dance is probably circling around in the circle of the sun and the episode finishes with the promise that God will send his angel “to walk in front … to the land which flows with milk and honey”, 33,2f., chasing hostile nations off the route. Finally God himself promises to “lead you to the final goal”, by walking before them, 33,19.14. All this about the road and the walk cannot be explained by the short way from the eastern delta to Southern Palestine. It is the symbolism of the sun warrior as the breaker of way through the wilderness creating the episode, cf the talk about the kabod, the glory of God, 33,18.22.

The killing of the divine bull releases the waters of life – but here with great irony: The dust from the crushed calf is mixed into the drinking water.

In Gen 28 Jacob is the sun hero, note the symbolism of the road in v.15 & 20.

Under the emperor Elagabal the Syrian sol invictus religion becomes the state religion of the Roman empire. The cult image was a black meteor stone with magic signs inscribed on the surface. Elagabal must be translated “El of the Stone”. The black betel-stone is the divine numen in its static state, the old god. The young god again and again born out of the stone/the paradise mountain is the emperor also called Heliogabal. The picture shows a betel-shaped idol standing between columns in a small temple (SYRIA XL, 1963, pl.1). Helios surrounded by the zodiac is coming out of the rock. From Beroia (Aleppo) comes a coin that shows a bearded giant standing on 3 horned and winged lions and with the inscription Beroi-Aion (= “eternity”). He receives a laurel wreath from Nike, the goddess of victory. On the reverse a picture of the emperor Trajan with laurel wreath on his head.[3]



[1] Gen 28,22

[2] Exod 32,4 & 1.Kings 12,28

[3] H.Seyrig, “Zeus de Bérée”, SYRIA XL, pp.28-30