from iranchamber.com: About 1400 BCE a forty year-old hermit from northeast Iran, named Zoroaster, came down from his mountain to preach a new religion. Zoroaster had been visited by the god Ahura-Mazda who proclaimed that he was the only god in the universe. Unlike most gods, Ahura Mazda was all good, all knowing and all powerful as well as being invisible. In fact, he was so perfect that he needed mediators like angels between himself and the world. Ahura-Mazda struggled against "The Lie" which was not just words but actions represented by Ahriman and his devils. Zoroaster taught that when people died they crossed the Shivat bridge, a sifting bridge in which the bad people fell off into hell and where the good people crossed to find a golden maiden who lead them into the light of heaven where their primary purpose was singing. In contrast the Jews believed in Sheol, a pit beneath the earth where people went when they died. The major myth of the Zoroastrians was that a virgin would bear the Saoshant, a man who would save the world.
A book of judgment recorded the acts of people on earth, who after a millennium would face judgment day and be resurrected to an earthly paradise. In contrast, the Jewish idea of savior was that he was a future king, a political messiah rather than a transcendent messiah. "The whole eschatological scheme, however, of the Last Judgment, rewards and punishments, etc., within which immortality is achieved, is manifestly Zoroastrian in origin and inspiration." After Zoroaster died, his religion became corrupted by the Magi, or celibate priesthood who took over his religion and mediated between man and Ahura-Mazda.
This priesthood introduced many pre-Zoroastrian gods into the religion. Ahura-Mazda, the sun god Mithras, and the most important archangel, Spenta Mainyu (holy spirit), formed a holy trinity. However, as Herodotus reports in his first book paragraph 131 the Persians had no images of their gods and considered the use of them as a sign of folly. By contrast the Jewish Temple of Solomon was filled with various gods (Ezek 8:10). The rite of Zoroastrian initiation was baptism, by either blood, urine, or water. In contrast the Jewish rite of initiation was Egyptian custom of circumcision. The Zoroastrian doctrine of Zvarnah is the idea that emanations from the sun are collected in the head and radiate in the form of nimbus and rays. Zoroastrians celebrated the birthday of Mithras on December 25th.
The primary ritual of Zoroastrianism was the homa ceremony. "The Homa ceremony consisted in the extraction of the juice of the Homa plant by the priests during the recitation of prayers, the formal presentation of the liquor extracted to the sacrificial fire, the consumption of a small portion of it by one of the officiating priests, and the division of the remainder among the worshippers. As the juice was drunk immediately after extraction and before fermentation had set in, it was not intoxicating.
The ceremony seems to have been regarded, in part, as having a mystic force, securing the favor of heaven; in part, as exerting a beneficial effect upon the body of the worshipper through the curative power inherent in the Homa plant. The animals which might be sacrificed were the horse, the ox, the sheep, and the goat, the horse being the favorite. A priest always performed the sacrifice, slaying the animal, and showing the flesh to the sacred fire by way of consecration, after which it was eaten at a solemn feast by the priest and the people." The universal law of Zoroastrianism was asha-arta (in Vedic India, rta) "the true prayer". Centuries later in Greece this became Logos, or "true sentence" and like in Persia it was associated with fire. Belief was the basis of Zoroastrianism. If one said the true prayer, one would have everlasting life. In contrast, Judaism emphasized good works.
The Subversion of Judaism
In 539 B.C. the great Persian king Cyrus conquered Babylon. His government was a Zoroastrian theocracy. Cyrus had a history of pretending to adopt a religion and then subverting it. In Egypt he claimed to be a god on earth. In Babylon his first act was to worship Marduk, claiming Marduk had sought a righteous prince and Cyrus was he. Later Cyrus mocked Marduk and had his image carted off. Likewise he subverted Baal, worshipping him at first, then appointing Baal's priests and finally destroying Baal's monuments and temples. Cyrus repatriated certain grateful Jewish proteges in 532 B.C. The Persian Kings restored them to their land; and designed and helped them build a Zoroastrian-style temple which was completed 516 B.C. after prolonged resistance from native Jews. In 350 B.C. a large number of Jews were exiled from Judea because of opposition to the Persian theocracy. Here was the overwhelming influence of a mighty state religion in a great empire in which the Jews were subjects. Jews were commanded to obey Cyrus in Isaiah 44 and 45. Not only did the Persian kings select the Jewish high priests, Persian Magi even masqueraded as Jewish Priests (Isaiah 66:21). The Pharisees had all the positions of power, gave the law, and wrote the holy books. Some Jews like Ezra and Daniel (Daniel 6:1-2) were paid agents of the Persians. "It needed the subsequent missions of Nehemiah and Ezra backed by the Achaemenian Imperial Government's authority to make them ruefully conform to the new ideals of monotheism and nationalism that had been conceived in adversity by the diaspora in Babylonia." This interest by the Persian kings in the religion of his subjects was not limited to Jews. They seemed to put great importance on all of his subjects conforming to their religion - perhaps they regarded it as a glue to empire, perhaps they were religious fanatics. The Persians subverted Jewish theology, history, law, and even their language.
Polytheism vs Monotheism
"The official Jewish thesis that they have been what they are now since a Mosaic Age, before the Israelites' settlement in Palestine in the 13th century B.C. is not only irreconcilable with the historical evidence; it makes the course of Israelite and Jewish history since that date unintelligible." The reason for the thesis is that it avoids the unexplainable problem of why God would chose to reveal himself differently at different periods and also makes the Jewish religion appear perfect and full-formed.
For its first 1500 years Judaism was self- professed polytheism and the historical and scriptural evidence is massive on this point. The word "Elohim" is polytheistic, as is Genesis 1:26 "let us make a man." In Genesis 3:22 God says: "Behold, the man is become as one of us...". "Yahweh takes his stand in the Council of El to deliver judgments against the gods... I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. (Psalm 82)" "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods (Ex 15:11)?" "Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them" (Ex 18:11). Leviticus chapter 20 is anti-Moloch. The teraphim of Yahweh worshippers were called "my gods" and are mentioned in Genesis 31:19 35:2,4; Judges 17:5; I Sam. 19:13,16. The early Jews worshipped their ancestors.
When the Jews entered the land of Canaan and practiced agriculture they had less use for a warrior God and more use for fertility gods like Baal (also a storm god) and fertility goddesses like Anat, Ishtar and Asherah. 1 Kings 12:28 and Ezekial 8:10 give examples of Jewish animal worship. Tammuz was accepted as a god. "... there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou or thy fathers have known, even wood and stone" (Deut 28:64-8). "Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you;" (Deut 6:14 - proving that Deut 6:4, the shema, wasn't monotheistic). "Great is our God above all gods" (II Chron 2:5). At whatever period of Jewish history one looks, from before the flood, to just after, Abraham's time, Jacob's time, the exile in Egypt, the time of Judges, or the time of Kings, the Jews were always polytheists. Joshua 24:14 says "put away the gods your fathers served on the other side of the flood and in Egypt." God could not even find ten who feared Him in Sodom and Gemorrah (Gen 18:32). In Gerar or Beersheba, Abraham thought the fear of God was surely not in that place (Gen 20:11). Abraham himself worshipped various forms of El. Isaac worshipped Pahad (Gen 31:42, 53). Jacob worshipped Abir (Gen 49:24). Jacob's family was polytheistic: "Rachel had stolen the images that were her fathers" (Gen 31:19); "And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand..."(Gen 35:4). Then as Joshua says, the Jews were polytheists in Egypt. They were polytheists when they danced naked in front of the golden calf at Mount Sinai. They were polytheists when Moses made his graven image of a serpent (see Numbers 21:9, 2 Kings 18:4). There are countless traces of serpent worship in Israel (Cambridge Ancient History, NY 1924, vol iii, page 428). Before entering Israel, Joshua had to ask his followers to put away their gods: Joshua 24:2 - "and they served other gods"; Joshua 24:20 "If ye forsake the Lord and serve other gods...".
The period of the judges was rampant with polytheism: Judges 6:25, 11:24, 17:5, which can be summed up as: "And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord;" (Judges 13:1). The kings were just as bad, starting with Saul. "It repenteth me that I have set Saul up to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments" (I Samuel 15:11). Solomon's Temple had two forty-foot pillars representing the fertility cult of Asherah, considered the wife of Yahweh. Down to Hezekiah's time in 705 B.C., Moses' brazen serpent Nehushtan was side by side with Yahweh's ark in the temple (II Kings 18:4). In Josiah's time 621 B.C. Yahweh shared his temple with Baal, Asherah, and the heavenly bodies, e.g. the sun (II Kings 23:4-7, 11). King Jeroboam set up two cultic bulls. Manasseh built alters to the sun, moon and stars in the temple (II Kings 21:3-5). King Ahab worshiped heifers a century after Solomon (Josephus 8:13) and his wife Jezabel was a devotee of Melkart. Just before the exile Joshiah attacked various practices of Baal; the sun, moon and stars; Moloch; Chemosh; and Milcom (II Kings 23). "For they served idols" (II Kings 17:12). Jeremiah protested against Baal and Moloch (Jer 2:28 and 32:35).
One must be extremely careful in interpreting statements made about a tribal god because by his nature there is only one of him. Monolatry is the idea of one god for each national group. Henotheism is the worship of a god as supreme but explicit admission of other gods. Henotheistic or monolatrous statements can be misinterpreted to seem monotheistic. One must discount monotheistic-sounding phrases of the Jews and more heavily weigh evidences of polytheism, because of the likelihood of confusing monolatrous or henotheistic with monotheistic statements. Also, the books of the Old Testament were edited and perhaps written by monotheists at a later time and must be scrutinized in that light. "The Priestly source of the Pentatuech wrote the traditional ancestral laws, suppressing all references to superhuman agencies other than Yahweh..."(Monotheism vol 10, page 527, The Encyclopedia of Religion, Mircea Eliade, ed., NY:MacMillan, 1987). "Monotheistic statements were inserted when these writings took final shape" according to Bernhard Lang in his 1985 book Monotheism.
The Jews before Isaiah seldom thought of Yahweh as the god of all tribes, even of all Hebrews. Baalzebub was the god of Ekron, Milcom was the god of Ammon, Chemosh was the god of the Moabites. Since the Jews were neither a political nor racial group, a minimum requirement of membership was that they worship the tribal God Yahweh as one of their gods. The only tie they had was religion. Yahweh was their glue and if they ceased giving him co-equal attention, then they would be Jews no more. That is the critical importance of the covenant and first commandment. The priests perfectly understood this - see Deut 4:25-28.
Fundamentally the Jews were polytheists. "But whatever its date, the idea of the covenant tells us that the Israelites were not yet monotheists, since it only made sense in a polytheistic setting." The God of Moses states in His first commandment that there are many gods: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me"(Exodus 20:3). Monotheism is inconsistent with the Word of God in His fundamental commandment. To put that another way, if there were only one God the first commandment would be nonsense. "The full monotheistic conception of God came later (Isaiah 43:10-13, Jer 10:1-16)." Monotheism was first introduced to the Jews at the time of Cyrus by the second Isaiah who also reports the Lord saying in 45:5-7, "I am the Lord and there is none else, there is no God beside me...I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil." Note that this dualism is very Zoroastrian. It is of supreme significance that Isaiah says: here is your new ruler and here is your new rule. Isaiah calls Cyrus the divinely appointed shepherd/ruler in chapter 44 and the "anointed/messiah" in chapter 45 and juxtaposes Cyrus with the first monotheistic declarations in the Bible. The second Isaiah is the first expression of universalism which "has no antecedent" in the Bible according to the Anchor Bible note at Isaiah 45. He also first introduces the idea of false gods - a fundamental criteria for monotheism.
The nature of God was radically altered in the exile. The nature of what one worships is more important than the exclusivity of what one worships. The nature of God can also determine how many one worships, for example a universal God determines that you only worship one. Notice that a tribal god, of necessity, implies polytheism since there are other tribes. A universal god necessitates monotheism. Judaism has a tension between Jewish nationalism and monotheism which cannot be reconciled. Because monotheism was grafted onto a polytheistic religion, it resulted in a fatal contradiction between a chosen people with their peculiar local god and the omnipotent God with a world-wide mission. A tribal god is inconsistent with a universal God. Before the exile God was a vengeful, bloodthirsty, and jealous anthropomorphic tribal God of fear. After the exile, He became good, perfect, and so removed from the world that He needed mediators. God was no longer Abraham's El Shaddai, the God of the mountain; nor Moses' tribal god, Yahweh; but He was now the perfect and universal Zoroastrian Ahura-Mazda.
Histoey and Mythology
The myths and religious ideas of Genesis are nothing but borrowings from Zoroastrianism according to Dr. Friedrich Spiegal in Avesta die Heiligen Schriften der Persens (Wien 1853). Persian influence on post-exilic history was extreme. The post-exilic prophets acted as spokesmen for the Persian kings. Ezra and the others not only dated events by Persian reigns, but recorded the kings' edicts. In the Exilic books the name of Cyrus occurs 14 times, Darius 13 times, Xerxes 7 times and Artaxerxes about the same. There is no other religious book in the world that so honored foreign princes.
The total subordination can be shown in the extraordinary statements made about Persian officials in the Bible. Artaxerxes was requested to mediate Jewish prayers. Haggai in chapter 2:23 quotes God as calling Zerubbabel, the Persian governor of Judah, his "chosen one". Darius is revered second only to Cyrus and in Isaiah 45:1 Cyrus is called the "Anointed of the Lord," or "Messiah," or "Christ". There are more than one hundred Persian words in the Old Testament. Section after section of the Bible dates from the reigns of the Persian kings. At least Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel were written originally in Aramaic, an official language of the Persian Empire, but possibly all the books of the Old Testament were. LAW The official version of how the Jews got their present code of laws is that a long-lost document of Moses' was found and original laws were "reintroduced". "At the present time, the Pentatuech contains a vast body of elaborate law, but this is almost all the work of priests in the exilic and post-exilic period of Israel's history." These laws took centuries to produce, and therefore had to have been practised widely and long, but they were never practiced by the Jews. The impossibility of Moses writing a document of God's law and then ignoring it and centuries of priests also ignoring it is absurd. The fact that this transparent ruse had just been tried by Josiah a few years previously completely destroys the myth. Josiah's "newly discovered" laws of Moses were believed by the educated of the time to be the secret creation of High Priest Hilkiah, secretary Shapan, and the prophetess Huldah. What language could they have been written in, since Moses wouldn't have known the canaanite language of Hebrew? A point should be made that Ezra's laws were not only different but more numerous than Joshiah's by a factor of fourteen.
Ezra's laws are the missing parts of the Avesta - the Zoroastrian holy book. Only the threats of infinite punishment or reward could sustain such burdensome laws. Not to mention that one wouldn't have time to follow all these laws if one were a polytheist. It is not surprising that the Persians would introduced monotheism and a universal God to the Jews would also introduce the laws of that God. We know exactly when and by whom these laws were introduced. In 397 B.C. Ezra, a courtier of the Persian king, was sent from Babylon "to teach in Israel statutes and ordinances" (Ezra 7:10). Ezra had been born and educated in Babylon and was well acquainted with Artaxerxes, who personally appointed him high priest and judge over Israel. Ezra, a foreign paid agent of a monotheistic Zoroastrian king, introduced a huge body of new laws to the Jews. The extraordinary document of his appointment is in Ezra (7:12-26) and Josephus Book 40, chapter 5, and is addressed to "Ezra the priest and reader of the divine law". Ezra was sent to see if the people of Judea "be agreeable to the law of God". There is certainly no hint in that command that the Jews had previously been exposed to these laws before. As a monotheist, when Artaxerxes referred to the law of God, he referred to the divine law of Ahura-Mazda.
Artaxerxes promised Ezra unlimited resources from his treasury, all the silver and gold that Ezra could get from the priests of Babylon, and access to the treasuries of Syria and Phoenicia. Ezra was a highly respected reader of the divine law in Babylon, a divine law unknown to the Jews and agreeable to Artaxerxes. Artaxerxes spared no expense to surprise the Jews with these laws. These laws took seven days to read. Ezra expounded these Persian laws in the new "Book of the Law of Moses" in 397 B.C. The thesis of this "just discovered" book was that God had spent forty days with Moses on Mount Sinai giving him patterns for clothes, tongs, basins, and snuffers. These "just discovered" laws were found in a foreign country, where Moses had never been and could not have hid them. It was different from the "just discovered laws" of Moses that Josiah had found a few years previously. Even on their own terms, at least one or the other of these books had to be a fraud. Ironically, Ezra's book depicted an anti-anthropomorphic God, completely contrary to the experience of Moses himself. The alien nature of the laws shows itself in the distinction between clean and unclean animals in Leviticus and Ezekial which was derived from the Vendidad, where alone it is explained. The purification rituals are identical in th Pentatuech and the older Vendidad.
Both books have a strange mix of ethical and natural rules side-by-side. Under Ezra's leadership the Torah in its entirety was made sovereign in the state of Judea. PHARISEES VS. SADDUCEES After Alexander conquered Jerusalem in 332 B.C. the direct Persian influence ended. From this time to 73 A.D. the Jews were given freedom of religion except for a brief Hellenizing period from 198 B.C. to 165 B.C. A council of Jews, called the Sanhedrin, was established to resolve religious issues. It was constituted of the two major parties, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Down to the time of Jesus, the Sadducees, who called themselves "purists", believed in "no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit" - Acts 23:8. They believed exclusively in the original law of Moses and rejected the laws of the Pharisees: see Josephus in Book XIII Chapter XI. Their god was a national god.
The Sadduccees were the vast majority of Jews. The politically connected Pharisees were the Persian faction. The word "Pharisee"; as well as "Parsee", Persians in India; and "Farsi" or "Pharsee" (Persian), are all derived from the name of the Persian town or region of Fars. The connotation given Pharisee was separated from the people of the land, the am ha-aretz. The people of the land were never in exile and therefore practiced true Judaism. There was mutual hostility between the Pharisees and the am ha-aretz. The Pharisees may not even have been Jews but Persian Magi, if Isaiah 66:21 means anything. That would explain "separated" as well as the mutual hostility with the true Jews. The Pharisees never numbered more than 6000 according to Josephus. "Now it was from this very creed (of Zoroaster) that the Jews derived all the angelology of their religion...the belief in a future state; of rewards and punishments, the latter carried on in a fiery lake;...the soul's immortality, and the Last Judgment-all of them essential parts of the Zoroastrian scheme, and recognized by Josephus as the fundamental doctrines of the Judaism of his own times."
Only Pharisaism survived the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in 70 A.D. "Present-day Judaism is Pharisaic Judaism." It was able to survive because of its Zoroastrian pacifism. Only the traitorous act of Rabbi Johann ben Zakkai's concordat with the Romans which allowed him to leave his fellow Jews to their deaths and remove himself to Jamnia kept Pharisaic Judaism alive.
Table of Jewish beliefs subverted by Zoroastrianism Jewish Zoroastrian
Polytheism Monotheism human-like tribal god Perfect universal God no after-life Immortality and Paradise Political Messiah Transcendent Messiah no angels or demons angels and demons, holy spirit few primitive laws complicated code of moral and secular law.
The only ritual not subverted by the Pharisees was the practice of circumcision. "The Jewish rite did not assume its present form until so late a period as that of the Maccabees (167 B.C.)." Before that time the operation was imperceptible and that may be why the Persians didn't change it.
Christ vs Christianity
Christianity is the teaching of Paul and most of the books of the New Testament were written by Paul. Paul was a Pharisee (Acts 23:6). In Matthew 23 Jesus offers his opinion of Pharisees: "The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat...and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi." Jesus addresses the Pharisees as fools and blind and here is how he addresses them in verses 28 and 33: "Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity...Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell?" Likewise the disciples believed Paul was not one of them (Acts 9:26). In the conference at Jerusalem, Paul was judged a heretic on circumcision (Acts 15:1-2) and meat offered to idols (Acts 15:29).
In Galations 2:11-13, Peter came to Antioch to correct Paul's heresies on the social relations between Jewish and Gentile Christians without success. James, the brother of Christ, and the elders of the true church accused Paul as follows: "thou teachest all Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs (Acts 21:21)." They made Paul perform a cleansing ritual for seven days (Acts 21:26-27), but still he was almost killed by Christians (Acts 21:31). He was put on trial before the Sanhedrin for heresy (Acts 23). Later Paul was tried before the Romans who killed him on the basis of three charges: that Paul was a pestilent (troublesome) fellow, Paul led a heretical sect, and that he tried to profane the temple. Modern Christian dogma is essentially Paul's heresy, which is the Mithric cult under a different label. Mithraism was a syncretic cult of Babylonian astrology and Zoroastrian mysticism identified with the Greek god Perseus who was above Taurus in the Constellations. Mithraism came from Tarsus in Cilicina according to Plutarch, at the same time and place Paul did. The Christian church adopted the holy day of the Zoroastrian sun-god Mithras which was Sunday. Jesus always observed Saturday as the holy day. Catholic church organization is an exact copy of the Zoroastrian celibate hierarchy of priests, called Magi.
The Magi intervened between the people and their god. Magi even wore miters or pointed hats as do the bishops of Rome. The idea that priests should intervene between people and God is exactly contrary to what Jesus taught. Matthew 6.6: "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thy hast shut thy door, pray to thy father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." In the same chapter he recommends alms-giving and fasting in secret.
Jesus clearly advocated direct communion with God. Paul proselytized gentiles. Jesus didn't preach to Gentiles and ordered his apostles not to (Matthew 10:5-6, 15:24): "I am not sent to but the lost sheep of Israel." All of Jesus' teachings were Jewish. He taught good works as the purpose of life: "love your neighbor as yourself" and "follow the commandments" (Matthew 19:17). Paul, on the contrary, taught Logos or 'belief' as the basis of action. Logos is unknown in the first three gospels; which are gospels of deed, character and self-denial. Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah, but Paul claimed it for him repeatedly. "While there was a considerable range of meanings in which the term Messiah could be understood, it is quite evident that Jesus did not identify himself with any of them." Paul claimed and the Christian church claims that Jesus was the Messiah. We could list endlessly the various creeds and beliefs of Christianity that Jesus never taught, for example The Encyclopedia Americana says that Christianity owes many features to Iran over and above those inherited through Judaism: e.g. guardian angels and the heavenly journey of the soul.16 Christianity in its Angeliology, Demonology, Soteriology (salvation), and Eschatology (last things) is identical to Mithraism, a Zoroastrian cult. We worship the Zoroastrian god with Zoroastrian rituals, believing Zoroastrian theology and practicing Zoroastrian morals. Zoroastrianism has triumphed over Judaism and the teachings of Jesus in the name of Judaism and Jesus.