Seekers of Truth Always Thinking, Searching…

(1) Moses was high on drugs when God appeared to him – Israeli researcher

Date: Fri, 7 Mar 2008 18:00:30 -0500 (EST)
From: IHR News <news@ihr.org>

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gEOpkeLopJixolK1-9AQ_zNeWe5g

Moses was high on drugs: Israeli researcher ==

Hebrew University researcher: Moses was tripping at Mount Sinai

By Ofri Ilani, Haaretz Correspondent

Last update – 23:15 04/03/2008

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/960403.html

“And all the people perceived the thunderings, and the lightnings, and
the voice of the horn, and the mountain smoking.” Thus the book of
Exodus describes the impressive moment of the giving of the Torah on
Mount Sinai.

The “perceiving of the voices” has been interpreted endlessly since
these words were first written. When Professor Benny Shanon, professor
of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, reads the
verse, he recalls a powerful hallucinatory experience he had when he
visited the Amazon and drank a potion made from a plant called ayahuasca.

“One of the things that happens when you drink the potion is a visual
experience created via sounds,” he says.

Shanon presents a provocative theory in an article published this week
in the philosophy journal Time and Mind. The religious ceremonies of the
Israelites included the use of psychotropic materials that can found in
the Negev and Sinai, he says.

“I have no direct proof of this interpretation,” and such proof cannot
be expected, he says. However, “it seems logical that something was
altered in people’s consciousness. There are other stories in the Bible
that mention the use of plants: for example, the tree of the knowledge
of good and evil in the Garden of Eden.”

Shanon, former head of the Hebrew University psychology department, said
his first experience with ayahuasca was in 1991 when he was invited to a
religious ceremony in the northern Amazon in 1991 in Brazil.

“I experienced visions that had spiritual-religious connotations,” he says.

Since that time, he has used it hundreds of times, and has published a
book about the plant.

“Hypotheses have been around for 20 years connecting the beginning of
religions with psychoactive materials,” Shanon says. He believes the
Israelites used two plants in Sinai and the Negev: one of them is wild
rue, a hallucinogen used by the Bedoin to this day. However this plant
is not identified with any plant mentioned in the Bible.

The acacia tree also has psychedelic properties, Shanon says, which the
Israelites could have used. The acacia is mentioned frequently in the
Bible, and was the type of wood of which the Ark of the Covenant was
made. According to Shanon, he drank a potion prepared from a species of
acacia while he was in South America, which caused similar experiences
to those produced by the ayahuasca.

Shanon also sees signs of a hallucinogenic vision in the story of the
burning bush. “Moses ‘looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire,
and the bush was not consumed,'” Shanon quotes from Exodus 3:2. Time
passes differently when under the influence of the plant, he notes.
“That’s why Moses thought the bush was not consumed. It should have been
burned in the time he thought had passed. And in that time, he heard God
speaking to him.”

“But not everyone who uses a plant like this brings the Torah,” Shanon
concedes. “For that, you have to be Moses.”

(2) “There never was a Jewish people, only a Jewish religion” –
Historian Shlomo Zand

Date: Wed, 5 Mar 2008 18:05:10 -0500 (EST)
From: IHR News <news@ihr.org>

An Invention Called `the Jewish People’

Tom Segev — Haaretz (Israel)

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/959229.html

Israel’s Declaration of Independence states that the Jewish people arose
in the Land of Israel and was exiled from its homeland. Every Israeli
schoolchild is taught that this happened during the period of Roman
rule, in 70 CE. The nation remained loyal to its land, to which it began
to return after two millennia of exile. Wrong, says the historian Shlomo
Zand, in one of the most fascinating and challenging books published
here in a long time. There never was a Jewish people, only a Jewish
religion, and the exile also never happened – hence there was no return.
Zand rejects most of the stories of national-identity formation in the
Bible, including the exodus from Egypt and, most satisfactorily, the
horrors of the conquest under Joshua. It’s all fiction and myth that
served as an excuse for the establishment of the State of Israel, he
asserts.

According to Zand, the Romans did not generally exile whole nations, and
most of the Jews were permitted to remain in the country. The number of
those exiled was at most tens of thousands. When the country was
conquered by the Arabs, many of the Jews converted to Islam and were
assimilated among the conquerors. It follows that the progenitors of the
Palestinian Arabs were Jews. Zand did not invent this thesis; 30 years
before the Declaration of Independence, it was espoused by David
Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi and others.

If the majority of the Jews were not exiled, how is it that so many of
them reached almost every country on earth? Zand says they emigrated of
their own volition or, if they were among those exiled to Babylon,
remained there because they chose to. Contrary to conventional belief,
the Jewish religion tried to induce members of other faiths to become
Jews, which explains how there came to be millions of Jews in the world.
As the Book of Esther, for example, notes, “And many of the people of
the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.”

Zand quotes from many existing studies, some of which were written in
Israel but shunted out of the central discourse. He also describes at
length the Jewish kingdom of Himyar in the southern Arabian Peninsula
and the Jewish Berbers in North Africa. The community of Jews in Spain
sprang from Arabs who became Jews and arrived with the forces that
captured Spain from the Christians, and from European-born individuals
who had also become Jews.

The first Jews of Ashkenaz (Germany) did not come from the Land of
Israel and did not reach Eastern Europe from Germany, but became Jews in
the Khazar Kingdom in the Caucasus. Zand explains the origins of Yiddish
culture: it was not a Jewish import from Germany, but the result of the
connection between the offspring of the Kuzari and Germans who traveled
to the East, some of them as merchants.

We find, then, that the members of a variety of peoples and races, blond
and black, brown and yellow, became Jews in large numbers. According to
Zand, the Zionist need to devise for them a shared ethnicity and
historical continuity produced a long series of inventions and fictions,
along with an invocation of racist theses. Some were concocted in the
minds of those who conceived the Zionist movement, while others were
offered as the findings of genetic studies conducted in Israel.

Prof. Zand teaches at Tel Aviv University. His book, “When and How Was
the Jewish People Invented?” (published by Resling in Hebrew), is
intended to promote the idea that Israel should be a “state of all its
citizens” – Jews, Arabs and others – in contrast to its declared
identity as a “Jewish and democratic” state. Personal stories, a
prolonged theoretical discussion and abundant sarcastic quips do not
help the book, but its historical chapters are well-written and cite
numerous facts and insights that many Israelis will be astonished to
read for the first time.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: