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Sacrifice to Yahweh | 1 Samuel 1:3

Accepting the archaeological and textual evidence that Israelite religion was, at most, a regional variation of wider Canaanite religion, we must ask whether or not Israelite sacrifice was only to Yahweh. It is unlikely that Israelites sacrificed only to Yahweh. The Yahweh alone theology is a later development that has been inserted into the narrative.

Stealing Saul’s Victory at Michmash | 1 Samuel 14:23–35

Yet, a closer inspection of the text reveals that Saul has done nothing wrong. In fact — and while the authors and redactors of 1 Samuel have gone to considerable lengths to ignore and downplay it, King Saul has done everything right. He was a good king. He secured victory and delivered the people, and he did this in the context of a holy war — which demanded that the army fast (Judges 20:26–28).

Yahweh Roars from Zion | Amos 1:2

What we have in Amos 1:2 is not a simple statement of divine authority; that these judgements come from Yahweh, but an ideological statement of Judah and Jerusalem that they come from the correct Yahweh — the Yahweh of Jerusalem. We can thus imagine that it was somewhere in this clash of Yahwistic symbols that the germ was planted of the aniconic Yahweh of later Judaism. Where both Samaria and Jerusalem — and many other Yahwistic temples in Israel and Judah — had visual representations of their god, this conflict between the bull-Yahweh of Samaria and the lion-Yahweh of Judah ultimately assisted in the process which ended with the complete prohibition of graven images of Yahweh or any other god (Deuteronomy 5:8–9).

David’s Temple in Jerusalem | 2 Samuel 12:20

What is actually then presented to the reader of 2 Samuel 12 is a seventh or sixth century BCE retrojection; from a time after the 722 destruction of Samaria (and the northern kingdom of Israel) by the Assyrians, when Jerusalem was the only remaining Hebrew kingdom and at a time when the sacrificial cult of Yahwism was centralised (or was in the process of being centralised) in the city. We are then left with the problem of why later editors — of which there were many — overlooked or elected to leave this temple in 2 Samuel 12. It is unlikely to have been an oversight. A temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem when there wasn’t meant to be one is simply too much of an oversight, so we must accept that there was a temple in the city of Jerusalem in the tenth century. Yet, this need not have been, as Römer asserts, a temple of Yahweh.

Origins of Yahweh | Deuteronomy 33:2

Deuteronomy, widely accepted in biblical scholarship as the central theological document of the deuteronomistic editors, represents a later stage in the development of Israelite religion. This much is certain. Yet, as a redaction of earlier traditions and texts, it preserves fragments or memories of earlier Israelite and Judahite beliefs about their tutelary deity, Yahweh; ‘the God of Israel.’ In a number of texts (Deuteronomy 33 and Judges 5, for example) we are given an insight into the earliest origins of Yahwism in Israel, and at the heart of this is the idea that Yahweh was not always the god of Israel and that he originally came from outside of the land of Israel.