God of the Mountain

You may have heard it argued before that Yahweh is a "Volcano God." Based on the textual evidence however, things do not necessarily point in that direction. Biblically speaking, Yahweh is the sun (Psalm 84:11; Joshua 10:12-13).He arrives upon Mount Sinai in fire (Exodus 19:18).2 Yahweh is the sun God, descending to the mountains, as Psalm 144:5 reads: "Bow down Your heavens, O LORD, and come down; touch the mountains, and they shall smoke." The scenario in Exodus parallels the natural event of the sun setting at a mountain peak, only told in the story form of "Moses meets Yahweh" on the mountain. And, it is here where the law of Yahweh is given. Thus, this describes quite a "central point" event, the Hebrews likewise fitting into the axis mundi pattern (specifically as a sacred mountain religion). And further, the concept is also parallel to the Egyptian Book of the Dead which says"[your] disk is adored [when] it rests upon the mountain to give life unto the world" (ch. XV.).

Additionally, as Yahweh is connected to the sun (touching the mountains, causing them to smoke), Moses is connected to the Mountain itself. Moses, who in essence is the "man of the mountain" (Exodus 19) is also said to have been "horned" in Exodus 34:29 (קָרַן "to shoot out horns"). As the Douay-Rheims Bible accurately translates the passage: "when Moses came down from the mount Sinai, he held the two tables of the testimony, and he knew not that his face was horned from the conversation of the Lord" (also see Exodus 34:30, 35).3 The point here? There seems to be a correlation between "horn" (or horns) and "mountain" Hebraically⁠—the horn apparently being connected to the mountain peak. The sharpness of the summit in comparison to nearby horned animals such as "mountain goats" (Deuteronomy 14:5) may have just sparked a link in the minds of such ancients. Notice, in the context of the mountain (Mount Sinai), the altar of burnt offerings had horns on its four corners (Exodus 27:2), and the continual sacrificial slaying of horned animals was commanded (e.g. Leviticus 16). Also, "When the ram’s horn [הַיֹּבֵל] sounds a long blast, they may go up the mountain" in Exodus 19:13. Also notice in context of "mount Paran," God "had horns [coming] out of his hand" (Habakkuk 3:4; also see Deuteronomy 33:2; 33:4).


More than this, notice that the horned altar was to be overlayed with bronze (Exodus 27:2). Hebraically, "bronze" is associated with "mountains" (e.g. Zechariah 6:1), while "gold" seems to be a portrayal of fire (e.g. 2 Chronicles 4:20).4 With this in view, notice that the molded calf (עֵגֶל) in Exodus can actually be translated as "bull" (cf. Psalm 106:19-20) which has horns (Psalm 69:31). This bull is made from gold, as Aaron says: "Whoever has any gold, let them break [it] off.’ So they gave [it] to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out" (Exodus 32:24). Therefore, the golden bull appears to represent a burning bull (gold, fire), that is, burning horns (cf. Exodus 32:20). The sacrificial burning of horned animals may have been based off of a volcanic eruption—it is a combination of the sun and the mountain involved however (not merely a volcano God that is).5


Also, Moses is identified as Yahweh himself in the Bible. Of course, the Bible also shows that Moses is a mere man in comparison to God himself. But, in Deuteronomy 29:6 Moses says plainly, "I [am] Yahweh your God." So whoever wrote this obviously has placed Moses in Yahweh's position. And that being noted, Moses can be seen as a "God of the Mountain." And, this evidence of Moses both being Yahweh, and yet not being him fits what is known as deification. An exaltation of Moses may be hinted at in passages such as Exodus 4:16, 7:1, or Numbers 12, but with this Deuteronomy instance, he is identified as Yahweh by name. I have discussed this topic with a "Bible believer" in a debate before actually. I was told the following:

garrett.huntley: you fail to understand these words in Deuteronomy 29 which signify all the words that are being spoken and who they are coming from “These are the words of the covenant which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the sons of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He had made with them at Horeb.” (https://www.instagram.com/p/BtTTBOQlG5r/)
His argument of course being that Moses is not saying "I [am] Yahweh your God" in Deuteronomy 29:6. However, this reference of verse 1 he gives does not say much in his favor. Yahweh gives a covenant to Moses (29:1), but as the next verse says: "Now Moses called all Israel and said to them" (29:2). Therefore, "I [am] Yahweh your God" is what "Moses . . . said to them" according to the context. The covenant that Yahweh gave him to speak is spoken from the perspective of Moses, as can be seen by the surrounded verses (e.g. 29:3-5, 7-8). There is no "thus says the Lord" in Deuteronomy 29:6 either. The NIV adds "Yet the Lord says" into Deuteronomy 29:5, and puts "I am the Lord your God" in quotations however. But this is simply a clear example of an English translation differing from the Hebrew text, changing the entire meaning of the passage. 
garrett.huntley: even the NiV has “ “ around when the Lord says versus when it is not direct. The verses you quoted in verse 15 so not have those quotes anymore because it is not the Lord directly speaking there. (ibid)
This speaker change does not occur in the Hebrew text anywhere. And so, for those who would claim that the Hebrew is the "original," the NIV has "added to His words" (Proverbs 30:5-6). But Garret is okay with this. 
garrett.huntley: they are able to add in “the Lord says” because those verses are literally about the Lord and him claiming to be the Lord. (ibid.)
And yet verse 2 shows that the passage is about Moses. It is Moses speaking to the people, with no clarification of "the Lord says" in the passages (as the NIV adds in). Too bad for Garrett, but this is textual evidence of deification, namely regarding the God of the mountain (Moses). This sort of view is not allowed in Christian dogma however. Christian's hold to the view of "Biblical Inerrancy."
garrett.huntley: it is written that “all scripture is god breathed”. It is not as if it is only the Greek and Hebrew translations that are god breathed because they came straight from that time, but rather all scripture translated out of them and led by the Holy Spirit are god breathed. (ibid.)
whathasbeenwritten: "it is written that 'all scripture is god breathed'" Scripture simply means writings (γραφὴ). There are all sorts of writings out there (e.g. the Apocrypha, The Key of Solomon, The book of Enoch, etc.). It does not say "all writings in the different Bibles are God-breathed." The Bible doesn't even teach "66 books" anywhere.  Moreover, the Bible also says "Woe to them that write wickedness; for when they write they do write wickedness" (Isaiah 10:1 LXX). Are these writings of wickedness "pure" (Psalm 19:8) and "God-breathed" (2 Tim 3:16)? They are scripture (writings). You also mention "all scripture translated out of them", yet the "the Lord says" in the NIV Deuteronomy 29:5 passage is not "out of" the Hebrew. It is added in (Deuteronomy 4:2). [ibid.]

Robert Anthony

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Footnotes:

1. Also notice Genesis 19:23-24. In the context of "The sun had gone out on the earth" it says "the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens." That is, from the sun (Psalm 84:11) out of the heavens. God is a fire in the Bible (Hebrews 12:29).


2. Also see Deuteronomy 4:11; 9:15; Hebrews 12:8.

3. Some may argue in favor of translations like "the skin of his face shone," arguing that this speaks of rays of light, and not horns. However, in light of the obvious "horns" context (e.g. horns of the altar, horned animals, the sound of the rams horn) in connection with the mountain, the term קָרַן clearly implies the "horned" definition. It is the same Hebrew used in Psalm 69:31 which mentions "an ox [or] bull, which has horns and hooves."

4. Also see Proverbs 17:3; 1 Peter 1:7; Revelation 3:18.

5. The implied concept is that the sun God arriving at the mountains causes the "volcanic" activity (Psalm 144:5), the mountain nowhere being understood as a volcano itself (in these writings). 


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