Other scholars assert that since Zoroastrianism’s divinity covers both being and mind as immanent entities, it is better described as a belief in an immanent self-creating universe with consciousness as its special attribute, thereby putting Zoroastrianism in the pantheistic fold.
Pantheism is the belief that reality is identical with divinity, or that all-things compose an all-encompassing, immanent god. Pantheist belief does not recognize a distinct personal anthropomorphic god and instead characterizes a broad range of doctrines differing in forms of relationships between reality and divinity.
Ahura Mazda’s creation of truth and order—is the antithesis of chaos, which is evident as falsehood and disorder. The resulting conflict involves the entire universe, including humanity, which has an active role to play in the conflict.
In Zoroastrian tradition, the “chaotic” is represented by Angra Mainyu, the “Destructive Principle”, while the benevolent is represented through Ahura Mazda’s Spenta Mainyu, the instrument or “Bounteous Principle” of the act of creation.
It is through Spenta Mainyu that transcendental Ahura Mazda is immanent in humankind, and through which the Creator interacts with the world. As expressions and aspects of Creation, Ahura Mazda emanated the Amesha Spentas (“Bounteous Immortals”), that are each the hypostasis and representative of one aspect of that Creation.
These Amesha Spenta are in turn assisted by a league of lesser principles, the Yazatas, each “Worthy of Worship” and each again a hypostasis of a moral or physical aspect of creation.
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.
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. Joshua 24:14 says “put away the gods your fathers served on the other side of the flood and 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).
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.
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
Human-like tribal god
No angels or demons
Few primitive laws
Perfect universal God
Immortality and Paradise
Messiah Angels and demons, holy spirit
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. The earliest literary evidence of the practice of circumcision goes back to ancient Egypt.