About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


Ancient Atonement Now!

Australians instituted the National Sorry Day on May 26th when they annually ask forgiveness for sins against the Australian aboriginal population. Christians observe Ash Wednesday and Lent - five weeks of self examination. Jewish tradition observes Yom Kippur, a day of Teshuva - repentance and return. I want to take you as far as we can see, to the oldest preserved records of such practices. Among three thousand year old Canaanite Late Bronze cuneiform tablets from Ugarit are two tablets (KTU 1.40 and 1.84) with an interesting and eye opening liturgy for the Day of Atonement.
         (Liturgy includes all, citizens and resident foreigners.)
     Now we present an ox of purification,
     purification of the sons of Ugarit
     and atonement for the foreigners
     within the walls of Ugarit.
            (It includes all parts/representatives of the kingdom.)     

     Atonement for Jaman,
     and atonement for Sharmat
     Atonement for Ugarit,
     and atonement for (king) Niqmadu.
           (List of different ethnic and social groups.) 

     Whatever injured your integrity
     as towards the Qatians,
     as towards the Dadmians,
     as towards the Hurrians,
     as towards the Cypriots,
     as towards the Hebrews,
     as towards your oppressed,
     as towards your destitute,
     as towards the Krzbils,
           (List of offenses.)     

     Whatever injured your integrity;
     either through your anger,
     or through your impatience,
     or any evil which you have done.
     Whatever injured your integrity
     during your sacrifices and offerings:
            (Sacrificial dedication.)

      We sacrifice this sacrifice,
     this is the offering we offer,
     this is the victim we immolate.
     Let it ascend to the father of the divine sons,
     let it ascend to the generation of divine sons,
     to Thukamun and Shanim
     Here is the ox!

This section is followed with an almost identical liturgy for the daughters of Ugarit.
(And all the appropriate pronouns throughout this part are also in the female gender.)
     Now we present an ox of purification,
     purification of the daughters of Ugarit
     and atonement for the wives of foreigners
     within the walls of Ugarit.
     Whatever injured your integrity
     as towards the Qatians,
     as towards the Dadmians,

     This was the first round with an offering of two oxen (unfortunately the exact identity of the offering is not certain because the text is damaged; oxen are our best guess). The first round was followed with a verbatim liturgy and litany offering a ram on behalf of the sons of Ugarit and again identical liturgy and litany on behalf of the daughters of Ugarit. And the entire liturgy was repeated one more time with another offering; this time it was most likely a donkey for men and another one for women. At the end of the day all participants certainly knew the litany by heart and there was enough meat to celebrate a community-wide feast.
      Now imagine if we took this ancient liturgy and translated it to our times and, say, for our country. In Washington DC, in every state capital, in every county seat even in every town and even village on the designated date and at the designated time all the inhabitants would gather and participate in and recite together a litany offering an apology to the Native Americans and the African Americans, the Hispanics and the Japanese, the Hawaiians and the Filipinos, the Afghans and the Iraqis, all our oppressed and all our homeless, all the victims of police violence and the victims of gun violence, simply all those whom we have knowingly and even unknowingly wronged, all those whom we have directly and indirectly hurt. Imagine in our times if we added the extinct and endangered species, damaged and exploited habitats and environment; eroded soil, poisoned rivers, and polluted air. Now imagine that with this liturgy we would also pledge sacrifices - in our times we would designate sizable budget resources to compensate for our wrongs. 

     Later, throughout the Bible and Jewish and Christian theological tradition, those Canaanites gained a reputation for being religious, moral and social perverts. But when I read the texts they had written by their own hand I think that their religion and their lives made better sense than what we live in our modern society with our transformed and watered-down days of repentance. Wouldn’t it be marvelous to reintroduce today some modernized version of their liturgy and observances for the Day of Atonement? 

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