The original and ultimate “four-letter word” was and is YHWH; the unspoken name of the Jewish god revealed to Moses at Mount Horeb, according to Exodus 3:13-15.
In Koine Greek, YHWH was described as the Tetragrammaton. In this Bible translation language, “tetra” means four, and grammaton is derived from the word “gramma” or “grammat” which means letter. Thus, the term literally means “the four-letter word” or “that which has four letters”.
Speaking the god’s name was considered dangerous and could invoke a curse, so it’s quite interesting to note that in English the term “four-letter word” has come to mean “coarse or abusive language”.
It is also intriguing that the ancient Egyptians mocked the Jews and Samaritans by claiming that they adopted the Egyptian god of Chaos, Seth, as their god. It has even been said that when the Seleucids entered the Holy of Holies of the Second Jewish Temple during the Maccabean revolt, they discovered a statue of a donkey-headed god.
Seth (also known as Set, Suetekh, Setekh or Setesh) was often depicted as having the head of a donkey and was an evil god responsible for war, mayhem, mayhem, storms, deserts and earthquake. The name Satan is also believed to derive from the name Set.
This was allegedly the reason the Israelites were forbidden to make drawings, paintings, sculptures, and other images of anything on earth or in heaven (Exodus 20:4-5), and only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies. No one could ever find out that their god was indeed Seth.
Historically, it is known that in 167 BCE, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid Emperor, ransacked the temple sanctuary in Jerusalem and instituted the practice of sacrificing pigs to Zeus on the high altar of the temple.
This act became known as Abomination of Desolation; and this infuriated the Jews so much that they continued the fight until they gained independence from the Seleucid Empire in 134 BCE.
The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah celebrates this huge victory for the Jews, who were clearly the outsiders of the maccabean wars.
Unfortunately, their freedom was relatively short. The Romans conquered Judea in 63 BCE and finally destroyed the temple in 70 CE and then built a temple to Jupiter (the Roman name for Zeus) over the Jewish temple, where they also made sacrifices to their main god. This was also known as the Abomination of Desolation.
After the Romans destroyed the Jewish Temple, the Roman historian, Publius Cornelius Tacitus (56-120 CE), also attributed to the Jews the worship of an onocephalic (donkey-headed) God. Worship of a donkey or donkey-god is known as onolatry, derived from one of the Greek words for donkey – onos.
The charge of onolatry was then transferred to Christians in the first and second centuries CE, before Orthodox Christianity became the dominant religion in the Roman Empire in the early 4th century and violently suppressed all challenges to its supremacy. No mockery of worshiping a donkey-headed God would ever again be tolerated.
However, in 1857, a caricature of the Crucifixion was discovered engraved on a wall of the Palace of the Caesars on the Palatine Hill in Rome (dated circa 2nd century CE), showing a Christian boy worshiping a crucified figure with the head of an ass. The inscription in Greek reads: “Alexamenos worshiping his God”.
In addition, a terracotta fragment was discovered in 1881 in Naples, dated to the first century AD, representing a figure with the head of a donkey, dressed in a toga and seated on a chair with a scroll in his hand, instructing several baboon-directed pupils.
This information is taken from highly reputable Catholic sources, which attribute the legacy of this “defamatory” accusation of onolatry by Christians to incidents in Carthage in the first and second centuries.
The issue is not the truth or falsity of the accusations and taunts leveled at the Jews and early Christians, but rather that many people of different social classes and in different countries held these beliefs about Judeo-Christian worship for many years. many centuries; indeed, longer than from the Renaissance to modern times. Yet most people today know nothing about it.
The entire story is another example of the multiple layers of history, mystery, legend, and intrigue that have influenced and shaped modern religion.
Why do people resist the truth so vigorously and prefer to keep themselves and others in darkness?
Believers are strongly discouraged from looking beyond The booklest they be astonished and confounded at what they shall find.
Nevertheless, we should all realize that myths and religions have a structure, a history and above all a conception and a social purpose that should never be ignored.
This column was offered as a letter to the editor