THE Jews call it an ?abomination?. Others call it an image. A Jewish pathology? Yes. How is one to explain this Jewish obsession against idols?
Human sacrifice was rampant among the Jews. Yahweh, the Jewish tribal God, drank human blood. He was the archetypal tribal deity: cruel, unforgiving, jealous. He was the only God who entered into a covenant with the Jews and agreed to live among them.
Abraham, the father of the Semitic race, offered his own son, Isaac, in sacrifice to Yahweh. Job sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams. Such was the gory history of the Jewish God. He was more cruel than Baal, the Phoenician God, says one ancient authority.
There was no divine authority behind these Jewish practices. Had there been, Prophet Miccah would not have denounced them. In fact, Jewish history is replete with such denunciations. Jesus was the last to denounce the Jewish practices.
The Jews believe that ?God made man in his own image?. Thus, God ?spoke? to Moses ?face to face? as a man ?speaks to his friends?. He was human in his passions, for he ?threatens? to ?punish? the Jews for being disobedient. ?I?ll kill you with the sword?, Yahweh shouts. This is not the loving and compassionate God of Jesus.
The Old Testament speaks of God's?mighty outstretched arms?, of His ?anger?, of His ?pleasure?, of His ?taking an oath? and of even ?changing His mind?. Indeed, a mercurial and capricious God!
Moses Maimoni-des, the Jewish medieval philosopher (1114-1204), says that these human terms were used for the sake of simple people. Perhaps. But the Old Testament never spoke of a God without form. In fact, Judaism is built around borrowed ideas. The Jews took to the practices of Egypt, Babylon and Persia, where they were kept in bondage.
Milan Kundera, the Czech writer, says that Yahweh was shown in the illustrated Old Testament as an old man, with eyes, nose, mouth and a long beard, standing on a cloud. That is how the Jews pictured their God.
But to go back to the history of idols, Abraham belonged to a family of idol makers. Ezakiel accused Israelis of worshipping animals (an Egyptian legacy). Yahweh was worshipped as a bull. Moses himself made a brazen serpent, to which sacrifices were made till Prophet Ezakiel destroyed it. In ancient Israel, images were ?kissed, clothed and consulted?.
Hosea was the first Prophet to object to idols. Perhaps his objection was to human sacrifices?the tradition of pouring human blood on the idols. In the 7th century b.c., idol making was prohibited among Jews. Even of animals and birds.
So, the objection was not to the making of idols of God only, but to the making of all idols. This is something different. The distinction has been lost on most people. The Jews became so intolerant of all idols that they called them ?abominations?. Perhaps it is this intolerance that Islam inherited. It came very handy for Mohammed to get rid of the multiplicity of gods among the Arabs. But the Arabs tolerated idols for another 1,300 years after they were banned by the Jews! Surely, they found nothing wrong with them.
There is one explanation for this ban. It is a macabre story; perhaps the most gruesome. According to Mme. Blavatsky, idol making for the purpose of sorcery was so rampant among the Jews that idols created terror. Almost every Jewish home had a teraphim (household idol for divination). Sorcery was naturally the next step.
This is what an authority had to say on the making of a teraphim: ?They killed a newborn baby, cut off its head and placed under its tongue a little gold lamine in which the name of an evil spirit was perforated. Thereafter, suspending that head on the wall of their chamber, they lighted lamps before it, and prostrating before it on the ground, they conversed with it.?
Is there any wonder then, that this practice came to be nothing short of an ?abomination? among the Jews? Hence the command not to make images and idols. But how was this Jewish obsession relevant to the rest of mankind?
Christianity and Islam universalised this Jewish obsession. It was a terrible, terrible error. It became the cause of untold havoc among mankind. More so at the hands of the Muslims. It is time to rid the world of these tribal insanities. In fact, it is time to stop imposition of these tribal religions on others. It is time to universalise theology (study of God). If there is only one God, then there can be only a universal God. The days of the tribal gods must end now. In any case, they should be confined to those who created them.