Syllabic Silliness with Jordan Maxwell

NOTE:  For proper viewing of foreign Egyptian and Hebrew characters, download the PDF version of this document – the blog messes up the fonts.

One of the readers of PaleoBabble recently asked me to take a look at some of the claims of Jordan Maxwell. I’d heard of Maxwell before, but had never really taken much of an interest in his work (presented on his website), mostly because it was hard to navigate. I’ve given it more of a look now and it seems I’ve been directed to yet another treasure trove of PaleoBabble.

One of Maxwell’s claims is that the name “Israel” derives from three deity names: Isis-Ra-El. This is utter nonsense for two basic reasons: (1) The Bible itself points to a derivation (there is more than one possibility, none of which are anything near to what Maxwell says), and (2) Hebrew and Egyptian come from different language families (one Semitic, the other Afro-Asiatic), and so the syllables in the Hebrew word “Israel” do not line up phonetically to the Egyptian words “Isis” and “Ra”, thus marring Maxwell’s analysis (hate to call it an analysis really).

1. The Old Testament vs. Maxwell

Let’s start with the first reason – the one that Maxwell utterly ignores. What a surprise. Those readers familiar with the Old Testament patriarch stories will likely recall that the name “Israel” was given to the patriarch Jacob after he wrestled with a divine being. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, and hence Jacob’s twelve sons became known as the twelve tribes of ISRAEL. Anyone who has actually read that Old Testament story (Genesis 32) knows that when the name of Jacob is changed, an explanation is given. Here’s the passage:

22 The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. 24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, ”I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, ”Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, ”Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip on the sinew of the thigh.

According to Genesis 32:28, the name “Israel” (ישׂראל) is connected somehow to the idea of “struggling.” As a result, many Hebrew scholars relates “Israel” to the verb שׂרה (sarah; “to struggle, fight”; note the similar consonants – the last of which would drop off if another element is added). This would mean that “Israel” (if it comes from this verb root) literally means either “El (God) fights” (presumably for his people), or “he fights (with) El (God).” The point could also be wordplay – “God fights” in a passage where Jacob us fighting with God. The former option follows predominant Hebrew word order for predicate + subject, but the narrative in Gen 32 favors the latter. There is another option, though. Other scholars think “Israel” comes not from verb שׂרה (sarah; “to struggle, fight”) but from the verb שׂרר (sarar; “to rule, be strong”). In this case the name would mean “El (God) is strong” and would likely point to Jacob being subdued by the embodied God in the Genesis 32 story. A third option is that the proper root is ישׁר (yasar; “just, right”), and so the meaning would be something like “El (God) is just.” In favor of this third option is the alternate word for Israel found in the Old Testament, Jeshurun (y-s-r-n) in Deut 32:15; 33:5, 26.

At any rate, Jacob’s old name recalled his past underhand dealings (“Jacob” means “supplanting” – and it was Jacob who stole his brother Esau’s birthright; it can also mean “deception” and the narratives of Jacob’s life give abundant testimony to this character flaw of his). His new name, Israel, recalled this incident in which he wrestled with God and prevailed with a blessing.

The point here is that the Old Testament telegraphs what Jacob’s name means according to three semantically similar Hebrew options / roots. Think of that – interpreting a Hebrew name with Hebrew! That’s just too boring for Jordan Maxwell. Why read the biblical story associated with the name “Israel” when we can just make up something cooler? That brings us to Maxwell’s second problem.

2. Egyptian and Semitic Language / Linguistics vs. Maxwell

Just as I’d bet that Maxwell counts on his followers not knowing the Genesis 32 story and its own explanation of the name “Israel,” I’m betting Maxwell knows nothing of Egyptian or Hebrew or Semitic languages. I’d also bet he doesn’t care, since his real agenda is creating some sort of link between Israelite religion and Egyptian mystery religion. When that’s your goal, who cares about boring facts about language.

One sidebar note before we get to the material. Maxwell is apparently from the William Henry school of determining word meanings by dicing, slicing, and splicing syllables of words. If a sound of one word sounds like a word in another language, there MUST be a connection! This is crap. The human mouth is only capable of making a finite number of sounds (this is what phonology is concerned with, a sub-discipline of linguistics). Since there are only a finite number of sounds a human can make with tongue, lips, teeth, throat, cleft palate, and nasal passages, it is no surprise that humans all over the world make the same sounds. What else would they make? But human people groups assembled and inflect those sounds in specific and divergent ways. People who are in close proximity geographically will often share how sounds are put together – hence we get “language families” like “Semitic.” The languages in that family share certain features. But people groups who have no proximity put the sounds together quite differently. The result is that the three sounds (two consonants and a vowel) in “bat” in English (an Indo-European language) mean “flying rodent” or “stick you hit a baseball with” while in Hebrew “bat” means something quite different (“daughter”). Unless you’re William Henry, that is. Or Jordan Maxwell.

First, it should be apparent from the discussion in #1 above that Maxwell does get one syllable right – the last one (“el”). Hard to mess that up. But the more important ones are the first two, since they are the Egyptian elements to his agenda.

In the world of Maxwell the first syllable in “Israel” (“is” or “yis”) must come from “Isis”. Why? Because they sound the same. Yeah, they sound the same IN ENGLISH! Unfortunately for Maxwell, the Egyptians didn’t write or speak English. “Isis” was not the way the Egyptians pronounced the name of this goddess. That pronunciation comes from Greek and Coptic, languages that came into the biblical world centuries after Hebrew. The Egyptian pronunciation of the name of this goddess was something like “Waset” or “Awset.” No resemblance to “is” or “yis”. Here’s how “Isis” is spelled in hieroglyphs:

Starting at the lefthand side, the first glyph (a throne; Gardner sign Q1) is pronounced “ws” or “as” or “aws” depending on which Egyptologist or grammar you’ll pick up. If you want a detailed linguistic description of the pronunciation issues and development, see A. Loprieno’s linguistic introduction to Egyptian. The next glyph at the top is the “t” sound. The other two are determinatives and are unpronounced. The final determinative (female) denotes this is a goddess.

The point: the first syllable of Israel does not correspond to “Awset.” One down, one to go.

The second syllable in “Israel” (ישׂראל) also requires a bit of unpacking. In Hebrew, we have the first syllable ישׂ (yis), and the next syllable is רא (rʾ in transliteration – I’ll get to what that apostrophe mark means in a moment). The aleph letter (א) is also shared by the last syllable – אל (ʾl). The second syllable (רא) is composed of the Hebrew “r” plus the Hebrew aleph (ʾ). What is the apostrophe? That is the English character that denotes A SILENT LETTER. That’s right, aleph is silent. What this means is that these two consonants by themselves are not pronounced “ra” (though they can be). But that’s a minor issue. More important is that in Egyptian, the deity name “Ra” is NOT spelled with the Egyptian aleph (falcon). It’s spelled with the sun disk sign and the arm sign (when spelled phonetically). Therefore, this “equivalence” is also marred. But even more damning to Maxwell’s idea is the fact that the name “Ra” is actually present in the Hebrew Bible, so we know how the Hebrews would have spelled it! Is “Ra” in Hebrew letters רא? Nope. It’s רע, and so it cannot be part of the name “Israel”. Where in the Hebrew Bible do we find the name “Ra”? Just where you’d expect it – it’s part of an Egyptian Pharaoh’s name in Jeremiah 44:30 -

Thus says the Lord, Behold, I will give Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies . . .

The name Hophra is the combination of the familiar “hepher” (“khepher” – the verb formed by the sign of the dung beetle which means “to become”) + “Ra” – and so the name Hophra means “he becomes Ra” (no surprise there with respect to Egyptian religion). And so how is Hophra spelled in Jeremiah 44:30 in Hebrew? חפרע (note the red underlined portion – it’s רע not רא). Maxwell is 0-for-2. His contention is bogus, and so any claims he makes on its basis are equally bogus.

Tellinger’s Sitchin Impersonation: Some Sample Searches

Here’s a short video to follow up on my post about Michael Tellinger’s desire to be the next Sitchin. Not exciting – just searching in the Bible with my software to see if his claims have merit. You can download the video here (just over 16 minutes; 22 MB; have your speakers turned up).

New Ancient Astronaut Pseudo-Scholar on the Scene

Just what the world needs – another Sitchin wannabe, and this one even less qualified than Sitchin!  Turns out that South African soap-opera actor Michael Tellinger has unleashed himself on the unsuspecting public to promote his (Sitchin’s) ideas in his book Slave Species of god.  Yep, just what the doctor ordered. From soap operas to deciphering ancient texts for us!

Mr. Tellinger aims to inform the masses about everything from human origins to genetics to ancient texts to the Bible. Whew! You learn a lot being an actor. Among Mr. Tellinger’s penetrating observations in the book, these are my favorites:

  • Why has GOD been so obsessed with GOLD from Genesis?
  • Why do all mythologies have the same group of GODS?
  • Why is the FLYING SERPENT the creator god in all mythologies?

Wow – to think I’d never seen these amazing data points. I can’t wait to get cracking and make some screen-capture videos of me searching and “discovering” this material in the Bible. I’m sure we’ll all learn a lot (like how all the above claims are crap – better, PaleoBabble). Sometimes this blog is just too much fun. Stay tuned for some video discovery!

Gnostic Archons = Aliens? Part 3 (of 3) on John Lamb Lash’s Theory

Here’s the second video on Lash’s theory. As you may recall, in the first video (Part 2 of this series), I searched for terms Lash uses (embryonic, reptilian, fetal, etc.) to claim that the Gnostic texts from Nag Hammadi describe the “Greys” — the little Grey aliens we know from TV and film that have big heads, slanted eyes, etc. The argument is that the Greys’ appearance is consistent with terms like those Lash allegedly finds for the Gnostic archons in the Gnostic texts. Watch the first video if you want to see what’s really there (or not there).

In this video, I reverse the approach and look for all occurrences of the term “archons” in the Gnostic library from Nag Hammadi. Are they described as Lash suggests? Nope. And more than that, I’ll actually show you a passage that denies Lash’s view.

Click here for the video. It’s 17:54 and the file is quite large, so you need high speed. And don’t forget to turn up your speakers.

Gnostic Archons = Aliens? Part 2 on John Lamb Lash’s Theory

It’s been a while since I started the John Lamb Lash “Gnostic Archons = Aliens” thread. With so much PaleoBabble out there, you can get sidetracked.

At any rate, in my first post on this topic, I quoted John Lamb Lash’s online article on this subject. Specifically, Lash makes this claim:

“Physical descriptions of Archons occur in several Gnostic codices. Two types are clearly identified: a neonate or embryonic type, and a draconic or reptilian type. Obviously, these descriptions fit the Greys and Reptilians of contemporary reports to a T. Or I should say, to an ET” (emphasis mine).

Really? Can we test this claim? Sure – and it’s easy. Lash gives no suggestion that he knows Coptic, and so I will presume he is basing his arguments on the English translations of the Nag Hammadi texts (unless he suggests otherwise and wants to get into Coptic issues). Rather than take my word (or Lash’s) for what the Nag Hammadi texts say in this regard, I’ve made two videos of me searching the entire Nag Hammadi text corpus for Lash’s evidence. You’ll see Lash has misrepresented what’s actually there. In this first video, I search for his terminology in the above quotation. In the second one – which will be the next post – I search for all occurrences of the word “archon” (and its plural as well). Turn your speakers up! It’s a bit over 16 minutes.

One note of warning: you’ll hear some clattering in the background of the video. It’s my dryer. Yes, my “office” so to speak is in the laundry room. Hey, I don’t have a real office or studio, but I don’t let that stop me. Maybe if I wrote some “expose” on how aliens came to earth long ago and made us I’d get rich duping people . . . nah. I think I’ll pass.

Biblical Giants and Dinosaur Bones

Aeneas asked a question in a comment to an earlier post about the faked giant human skeleton:

I’d like you to comment on the dinosaur bones angle as well. It is certainly not an unreasonable theory for all the stories of giants in the past, including the Bible. I lean towards believing your theories on Gen. 6, but I think this one should at least be considered.

Aeneas (and others) may not be familiar with all my views of Genesis 6, namely the giant issue, so I thought I’d answer this question with a post.

I don’t think for a minute that the biblical giants were 10-20-30 feet tall. I think they were (like today) 6-8 feet tall. The giants of the Bible were not unusually tall BY OUR STANDARDS. Based on human skeletal remains that have been recovered from the biblical period (and there aren’t many – they didn’t embalm, and less than 10% of the Holy Land has been excavated by any standard of thoroughness), the average male height was a few inches over five feet tall, with women shorter. This is typical around the world for ancient times. Great height was unusual. The average height in modern times on into today is greater because of better nutrition, longer life spans, medical advances, etc. I personally don’t believe that the biblical giants were much over seven feet tall, which would have been HUGE compared to the norm (imagine walking into a settlement where 6-7 feet was the norm when everyone you knew was a foot shorter!). According to the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT, which has as a slightly different text than the one Jews have used since the first century AD) and Dead Sea Scroll readings for the Goliath story, Goliath was actually 6 feet 6 inches (and for those who wonder, it is Og of Bashan’s COFFIN that measures around 12 feet, not Og – read Deut 3:11 – so we really don’t know how tall he actually was — I’d guess he’s within my proposed range). That is the best reading for the original text based on the cumulative text-critical issues in 1 Sam 17-18 and the broader book of Samuel itself (i.e., textual critics have long known that the Masoretic text of 1 Samuel is in poor shape in many places, compared to the Septuagint, which is frequently agreed to by the Dead Sea scroll text of Samuel). If yo u know Hebrew and might enjoy reading about the textual mess of 1 Samuel, I’d recommend P. Kyle McCarter’s 1 Samuel commentary in the Anchor Bible series. There are more thorough and technical discussions of the text of 1 Samuel, but this one is more readable (still, it won’t be easy for those uninitiated in academic biblical studies and textual criticism).

Consequently, there is no need to appeal to dinosaur bones for the biblical giants. Dinosaur bones as the explanation for purported giants in non-biblical writings like Josephus are a good explanation. That issue was the subject of Adrienne Mayor’s Princeton dissertation (or maybe it was a thesis – can’t recall just now) which was published:

The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times.

Mayor now has a second volume, devoted to the same issue in Native American legends:

Fossil Legends of the First Americans

Good question, Aeneas!

Alleged UFO Reports in Ancient Literature

Here’s a noteworthy post from the UFO Iconoclasts blog. In a nutshell, it questions (coherently) the notion that there are a plethora (any?) UFO sightings in ancient writers, as so often reported.

My take on this is agreement. I have said many times that these so-called reports nearly always involve astronomical or meteorological phenomena that were well-recognized omens in ancient culture and religion that are simply given a post-1947 spin — that is, flying saucers are completely read into the accounts. I have also noted that ancient writers had sufficient vocabulary to describe a UFO had writers seen one. Ancient Semitic languages (across the board), Greek, and Latin, for example, all had words for “metal”; “metallic”; “silver”; “windows”; “round”; “circle”; etc. There would have been no difficulty at all in terms of language for an ancient person to describe what we think of as a flying saucer. But they don’t.

I would add (and this is on my research plate right now) that I think it extremely important (if my suspicion is correct) that all (?) the pre-20th century reports of fairies and little people that are supposed to speak of the alien greys reported today lack one important element: mention of flying craft. I’ll be working on that to see if it’s the case. That would be big points for the Vallee hypothesis, vs. the ET hypothesis.