Paper 95 : The Melchizedekˆ Teachings in the Levant
95:0.1 AS INDIAˆ gave rise to many of the religions and philosophies of eastern Asia, so the Levant was the homeland of the faithsˆ of the Occidental world. The Salemˆ missionaries spread out all over southwestern Asia, through Palestineˆ, Mesopotamiaˆ, Egyptˆ, Iranˆ, and Arabiaˆ, everywhere proclaiming the good news of the gospelˆ of Machiventaˆ Melchizedekˆ. In some of these lands their teachings bore fruit; in others they met with varying success. Sometimes their failures were due to lack of wisdom, sometimes to circumstances beyond their control.
1. The Salemˆ Religion in Mesopotamiaˆ
95:1.1 By 2000 B.C. the religions of Mesopotamiaˆ had just about lost the teachings of the Sethitesˆ and were largely under the influence of the primitive beliefs of two groups of invaders, the Bedouin Semitesˆ who had filtered in from the western desert and the barbarian horsemen who had come down from the north.
95:1.2 But the custom of the early Adamiteˆ peoples in honoring the seventh day of the week never completely disappeared in Mesopotamiaˆ. Only, during the Melchizedekˆ era, the seventh day was regarded as the worst of bad luck. It was taboo-ridden; it was unlawful to go on a journey, cook food, or make a fire on the evil seventh day. The Jews carried back to Palestineˆ many of the Mesopotamian taboos which they had found resting on the Babylonˆian observance of the seventh day, the Shabattumˆ.
95:1.3 Although the Salemˆ teachers did much to refine and uplift the religions of Mesopotamiaˆ, they did not succeed in bringing the various peoples to the permanent recognition of one Godˆ. Such teaching gained the ascendancy for more than one hundred and fifty years and then gradually gave way to the older belief in a multiplicity of deities.
95:1.4 The Salemˆ teachers greatly reduced the number of the gods of Mesopotamiaˆ, at one time bringing the chief deities down to seven: Belˆ, Shamashˆ, Nabuˆ, Anuˆ, Ea, Mardukˆ, and Sinˆ. At the height of the new teaching they exalted three of these gods to supremacyˆ over all others, the Babylonˆian triad: Belˆ, Ea, and Anuˆ, the gods of earth, sea, and sky. Still other triadsˆ grew up in different localities, all reminiscent of the trinityˆ teachings of the Anditesˆ and the Sumerians and based on the belief of the Salemˆites in Melchizedekˆ’s insignia of the three circles.
95:1.5 Never did the Salemˆ teachers fully overcome the popularity of Ishtarˆ, the mother of gods and the spiritˆ of sex fertility. They did much to refine the worship of this goddess, but the Babylonˆians and their neighbors had never completely outgrown their disguised forms of sex worship. It had become a universal practice throughout Mesopotamiaˆ for all women to submit, at least once in early life, to the embrace of strangers; this was thought to be a devotion required by Ishtarˆ, and it was believed that fertility was largely dependent on this sex sacrifice.
95:1.6 The early progress of the Melchizedekˆ teaching was highly gratifying until Nabodadˆ, the leader of the school at Kishˆ, decided to make a concerted attack upon the prevalent practices of temple harlotry. But the Salemˆ missionaries failed in their effort to bring about this social reform, and in the wreck of this failure all their more important spiritˆual and philosophic teachings went down in defeat.
95:1.7 This defeat of the Salemˆ gospelˆ was immediately followed by a great increase in the cult of Ishtarˆ, a ritual which had already invaded Palestineˆ as Ashtorethˆ, Egyptˆ as Isisˆ, Greece as Aphroditeˆ, and the northern tribes as Astarteˆ. And it was in connection with this revival of the worship of Ishtarˆ that the Babylonˆian priests turned anew to stargazing; astrology experienced its last great Mesopotamian revival, fortunetelling became the vogue, and for centuries the priesthood increasingly deteriorated.
95:1.8 Melchizedekˆ had warned his followers to teach about the one Godˆ, the Father and Maker of all, and to preach only the gospelˆ of divineˆ favor through faithˆ alone. But it has often been the errorˆ of the teachers of new truth to attempt too much, to attempt to supplant slow evolution by sudden revolution. The Melchizedekˆ missionaries in Mesopotamiaˆ raised a moralˆ standard too high for the people; they attempted too much, and their noble cause went down in defeat. They had been commissioned to preach a definite gospelˆ, to proclaim the truth of the reality of the Universal Fatherˆ, but they became entangled in the apparently worthy cause of reforming the mores, and thus was their great mission sidetracked and virtually lost in frustration and oblivion.
95:1.9 In one generation the Salemˆ headquarters at Kishˆ came to an end, and the propaganda of the belief in one Godˆ virtually ceased throughout Mesopotamiaˆ. But remnants of the Salemˆ schools persisted. Small bands scattered here and there continued their belief in the one Creatorˆ and fought against the idolatry and immorality of the Mesopotamian priests.
95:1.10 It was the Salemˆ missionaries of the period following the rejection of their teaching who wrote many of the Old Testament Psalms, inscribing them on stone, where later-day Hebrew priests found them during the captivity and subsequently incorporated them among the collection of hymns ascribed to Jewish authorship. These beautiful psalms from Babylonˆ were not written in the temples of Bel-Mardukˆ; they were the work of the descendants of the earlier Salemˆ missionaries, and they are a striking contrast to the magical conglomerations of the Babylonˆian priests. The Book of Jobˆ is a fairly good reflection of the teachings of the Salemˆ school at Kishˆ and throughout Mesopotamiaˆ.
95:1.11 Much of the Mesopotamian religious culture found its way into Hebrew literature and liturgy by way of Egyptˆ through the work of Amenemopeˆ and Ikhnatonˆ. The Egyptˆians remarkably preserved the teachings of social obligation derived from the earlier Anditeˆ Mesopotamians and so largely lost by the later Babylonˆians who occupied the Euphrates valley.
2. Early Egyptˆian Religion
95:2.1 The original Melchizedekˆ teachings really took their deepest root in Egyptˆ, from where they subsequently spread to Europe. The evolutionaryˆ religion of the Nile valley was periodically augmented by the arrival of superior strains of Nodite, Adamiteˆ, and later Anditeˆ peoples of the Euphrates valley. From time to time, many of the Egyptˆian civil administrators were Sumerians. As Indiaˆ in these days harbored the highest mixture of the world races, so Egyptˆ fostered the most thoroughly blended type of religious philosophy to be found on Urantiaˆ, and from the Nile valley it spread to many parts of the world. The Jews received much of their idea of the creation of the world from the Babylonˆians, but they derived the concept of divineˆ Providenceˆ from the Egyptˆians.
95:2.2 It was political and moralˆ, rather than philosophic or religious, tendencies that rendered Egyptˆ more favorable to the Salemˆ teaching than Mesopotamiaˆ. Each tribal leader in Egyptˆ, after fighting his way to the throne, sought to perpetuate his dynasty by proclaiming his tribal godˆ the original deityˆ and creatorˆ of all other gods. In this way the Egyptˆians gradually got used to the idea of a supergod, a steppingstone to the later doctrine of a universal creatorˆ Deityˆ. The idea of monotheismˆ wavered back and forth in Egyptˆ for many centuries, the belief in one Godˆ always gaining ground but never quite dominating the evolving concepts of polytheismˆ.
95:2.3 For ages the Egyptˆian peoples had been given to the worship of nature gods; more particularly did each of the two-score separate tribes have a special group godˆ, one worshiping the bull, another the lion, a third the ram, and so on. Still earlier they had been totem tribes, very much like the Amerindsˆ.
95:2.4 In time the Egyptˆians observed that dead bodies placed in brickless graves were preserved — embalmed — by the action of the soda-impregnated sand, while those buried in brick vaults decayed. These observations led to those experiments which resulted in the later practice of embalming the dead. The Egyptˆians believed that preservation of the body facilitated one’s passage through the future life. That the individual might properly be identified in the distant future after the decay of the body, they placed a burial statue in the tomb along with the corpse, carving a likeness on the coffin. The making of these burial statues led to great improvement in Egyptˆian art.
95:2.5 For centuries the Egyptˆians placed their faithˆ in tombs as the safeguard of the body and of consequent pleasurable survival after death. The later evolution of magical practices, while burdensome to life from the cradle to the grave, most effectually delivered them from the religion of the tombs. The priests would inscribe the coffins with charm texts which were believed to be protection against a “man’s having his heart taken away from him in the nether world.” Presently a diverse assortment of these magical texts was collected and preserved as The Book of the Dead. But in the Nile valley magical ritual early became involved with the realms of conscience and character to a degree not often attained by the rituals of those days. And subsequently these ethical and moralˆ ideals, rather than elaborate tombs, were depended upon for salvation.
95:2.6 The superstitions of these times are well illustrated by the general belief in the efficacy of spittle as a healing agent, an idea which had its origin in Egyptˆ and spread therefrom to Arabiaˆ and Mesopotamiaˆ. In the legendary battle of Horusˆ with Setˆ the young godˆ lost his eye, but after Setˆ was vanquished, this eye was restored by the wise godˆ Thothˆ, who spat upon the wound and healed it.
95:2.7 The Egyptˆians long believed that the stars twinkling in the night sky represented the survival of the souls of the worthy dead; other survivors they thought were absorbed into the sun. During a certain period, solar veneration became a species of ancestor worship. The sloping entrance passage of the great pyramid pointed directly toward the Pole Star so that the soulˆ of the king, when emerging from the tomb, could go straight to the stationary and established constellationsˆ of the fixed stars, the supposed abode of the kings.
95:2.8 When the oblique rays of the sun were observed penetrating earthward through an aperture in the clouds, it was believed that they betokened the letting down of a celestialˆ stairway whereon the king and other righteous souls might ascend. “King Pepiˆ has put down his radiance as a stairway under his feet whereon to ascend to his mother.”
95:2.9 When Melchizedekˆ appeared in the flesh, the Egyptˆians had a religion far above that of the surrounding peoples. They believed that a disembodied soulˆ, if properly armed with magic formulas, could evade the intervening evil spiritsˆ and make its way to the judgment hall of Osirisˆ, where, if innocent of “murder, robbery, falsehood, adultery, theft, and selfishness,” it would be admitted to the realms of bliss. If this soulˆ were weighed in the balances and found wanting, it would be consigned to hellˆ, to the Devouress. And this was, relatively, an advanced concept of a future life in comparison with the beliefs of many surrounding peoples.
95:2.10 The concept of judgment in the hereafter for the sins of one’s life in the flesh on earth was carried over into Hebrew theology from Egyptˆ. The word judgment appears only once in the entire Book of Hebrew Psalms, and that particular psalm was written by an Egyptˆian.
3. Evolution of Moralˆ Concepts
95:3.1 Although the culture and religion of Egyptˆ were chiefly derived from Anditeˆ Mesopotamiaˆ and largely transmitted to subsequent civilizations through the Hebrewsˆ and Greeks, much, very much, of the social and ethical idealism of the Egyptˆians arose in the valley of the Nile as a purely evolutionaryˆ development. Notwithstanding the importation of much truth and culture of Anditeˆ origin, there evolved in Egyptˆ more of moralˆ culture as a purely human development than appeared by similar natural techniques in any other circumscribed area prior to the bestowalˆ of Michael.
95:3.2 Moralˆ evolution is not wholly dependent on revelation. High moralˆ concepts can be derived from man’s own experience. Man can even evolve spiritˆual values and derive cosmic insight from his personal experientialˆ living because a divineˆ spiritˆ indwellsˆ him. Such natural evolutions of conscience and character were also augmented by the periodic arrival of teachers of truth, in ancient times from the second Edenˆ, later on from Melchizedekˆ’s headquarters at Salemˆ.
95:3.3 Thousands of years before the Salemˆ gospelˆ penetrated to Egyptˆ, its moralˆ leaders taught justice, fairness, and the avoidance of avarice. Three thousand years before the Hebrew scriptures were written, the motto of the Egyptˆians was: “Established is the man whose standard is righteousness; who walks according to its way.” They taught gentleness, moderation, and discretion. The message of one of the great teachers of this epochˆ was: “Do right and deal justly with all.” The Egyptˆian triadˆ of this age was Truth-Justice-Righteousness. Of all the purely human religions of Urantiaˆ none ever surpassed the social ideals and the moralˆ grandeur of this onetime humanism of the Nile valley.
95:3.4 In the soil of these evolving ethical ideas and moralˆ ideals the surviving doctrines of the Salemˆ religion flourished. The concepts of good and evil found ready response in the hearts of a people who believed that “Life is given to the peaceful and death to the guilty.” “The peaceful is he who does what is loved; the guilty is he who does what is hated.” For centuries the inhabitants of the Nile valley had lived by these emerging ethical and social standards before they ever entertained the later concepts of right and wrong — good and bad.
95:3.5 Egyptˆ was intellectual and moralˆ but not overly spiritˆual. In six thousand years only four great prophets arose among the Egyptˆians. Amenemopeˆ they followed for a season; Okhbanˆ they murdered; Ikhnatonˆ they accepted but halfheartedly for one short generation; Mosesˆ they rejected. Again was it political rather than religious circumstances that made it easy for Abrahamˆ and, later on, for Josephˆ to exert great influence throughout Egyptˆ in behalf of the Salemˆ teachings of one Godˆ. But when the Salemˆ missionaries first entered Egyptˆ, they encountered this highly ethical culture of evolution blended with the modified moralˆ standards of Mesopotamian immigrants. These early Nile valley teachers were the first to proclaim conscience as the mandate of Godˆ, the voice of Deityˆ.
4. The Teachings of Amenemopeˆ
95:4.1 In due time there grew up in Egyptˆ a teacher called by many the “son of man” and by others Amenemopeˆ. This seer exalted conscience to its highest pinnacle of arbitrament between right and wrong, taught punishment for sinˆ, and proclaimed salvation through calling upon the solar deityˆ.
95:4.2 Amenemopeˆ taught that riches and fortuneˆ were the gift of Godˆ, and this concept thoroughly colored the later appearing Hebrew philosophy. This noble teacher believed that God-consciousness was the determining factor in all conduct; that every moment should be lived in the realization of the presence of, and responsibility to, Godˆ. The teachings of this sage were subsequently translated into Hebrew and became the sacred book of that people long before the Old Testament was reduced to writing. The chief preachment of this good man had to do with instructing his son in uprightness and honesty in governmental positions of trust, and these noble sentiments of long ago would do honor to any modern statesman.
95:4.3 This wise man of the Nile taught that “riches take themselves wings and fly away” — that all things earthly are evanescent. His great prayer was to be “saved from fear.” He exhorted all to turn away from “the words of men” to “the acts of Godˆ.” In substance he taught: Man proposes but Godˆ disposes. His teachings, translated into Hebrew, determined the philosophy of the Old Testament Book of Proverbs. Translated into Greek, they gave color to all subsequent Hellenic religious philosophy. The later Alexandrian philosopher, Philoˆ, possessed a copy of the Book of Wisdom.
95:4.4 Amenemopeˆ functioned to conserve the ethics of evolution and the moralsˆ of revelation and in his writings passed them on both to the Hebrewsˆ and to the Greeks. He was not the greatest of the religious teachers of this age, but he was the most influential in that he colored the subsequent thought of two vital links in the growth of Occidental civilization — the Hebrewsˆ, among whom evolved the acme of Occidental religious faithˆ, and the Greeks, who developed pure philosophic thought to its greatest European heights.
95:4.5 In the Book of Hebrew Proverbs, chapters fifteen, seventeen, twenty, and chapter twenty-two, verse seventeen, to chapter twenty-four, verse twenty-two, are taken almost verbatim from Amenemopeˆ’s Book of Wisdom. The first psalm of the Hebrew Book of Psalms was written by Amenemopeˆ and is the heart of the teachings of Ikhnatonˆ.
5. The Remarkable Ikhnatonˆ
95:5.1 The teachings of Amenemopeˆ were slowly losing their hold on the Egyptˆian mindˆ when, through the influence of an Egyptˆian Salemˆite physician, a woman of the royal family espoused the Melchizedekˆ teachings. This woman prevailed upon her son, Ikhnatonˆ, Pharaohˆ of Egyptˆ, to accept these doctrines of One Godˆ.
95:5.2 Since the disappearance of Melchizedekˆ in the flesh, no human being up to that time had possessed such an amazingly clear concept of the revealed religion of Salemˆ as Ikhnatonˆ. In some respects this young Egyptˆian king is one of the most remarkable persons in human history. During this time of increasing spiritˆual depression in Mesopotamiaˆ, he kept alive the doctrine of El Elyonˆ, the One Godˆ, in Egyptˆ, thus maintaining the philosophic monotheistic channel which was vital to the religious background of the then future bestowalˆ of Michael. And it was in recognition of this exploit, among other reasons, that the child Jesusˆ was taken to Egyptˆ, where some of the spiritˆual successors of Ikhnatonˆ saw him and to some extent understood certain phases of his divineˆ mission to Urantiaˆ.
95:5.3 Mosesˆ, the greatest character between Melchizedekˆ and Jesusˆ, was the joint gift to the world of the Hebrew race and the Egyptˆian royal family; and had Ikhnatonˆ possessed the versatility and ability of Mosesˆ, had he manifested a political genius to match his surprising religious leadership, then would Egyptˆ have become the great monotheistic nation of that age; and if this had happened, it is barely possible that Jesusˆ might have lived the greater portion of his mortalˆ life in Egyptˆ.
95:5.4 Never in all history did any king so methodically proceed to swing a whole nation from polytheismˆ to monotheismˆ as did this extraordinary Ikhnatonˆ. With the most amazing determination this young ruler broke with the past, changed his name, abandoned his capital, built an entirely new city, and created a new art and literature for a whole people. But he went too fast; he built too much, more than could stand when he had gone. Again, he failed to provide for the material stability and prosperity of his people, all of which reacted unfavorably against his religious teachings when the subsequent floods of adversity and oppression swept over the Egyptˆians.
95:5.5 Had this man of amazingly clear vision and extraordinary singleness of purpose had the political sagacity of Mosesˆ, he would have changed the whole history of the evolution of religion and the revelation of truth in the Occidental world. During his lifetime he was able to curb the activities of the priests, whom he generally discredited, but they maintained their cults in secret and sprang into action as soon as the young king passed from powerˆ; and they were not slow to connect all of Egyptˆ’s subsequent troubles with the establishment of monotheismˆ during his reign.
95:5.6 Very wisely Ikhnatonˆ sought to establish monotheismˆ under the guise of the sun-god. This decision to approach the worship of the Universal Fatherˆ by absorbing all gods into the worship of the sun was due to the counsel of the Salemˆite physician. Ikhnatonˆ took the generalized doctrines of the then existent Atonˆ faithˆ regarding the fatherhood and motherhood of Deityˆ and created a religion which recognized an intimate worshipful relation between man and Godˆ.
95:5.7 Ikhnatonˆ was wise enough to maintain the outward worship of Atonˆ, the sun-god, while he led his associates in the disguised worship of the One Godˆ, creatorˆ of Atonˆ and supremeˆ Father of all. This young teacher-king was a prolific writer, being author of the exposition entitled “The One Godˆ,” a book of thirty-one chapters, which the priests, when returned to powerˆ, utterly destroyed. Ikhnatonˆ also wrote one hundred and thirty-seven hymns, twelve of which are now preserved in the Old Testament Book of Psalms, credited to Hebrew authorship.
95:5.8 The supremeˆ word of Ikhnatonˆ’s religion in daily life was “righteousness,” and he rapidly expanded the concept of right doing to embrace international as well as national ethics. This was a generation of amazing personal piety and was characterized by a genuine aspiration among the more intelligent men and women to find Godˆ and to know him. In those days social position or wealth gave no Egyptˆian any advantage in the eyes of the law. The family life of Egyptˆ did much to preserve and augment moralˆ culture and was the inspiration of the later superb family life of the Jews in Palestineˆ.
95:5.9 The fatal weakness of Ikhnatonˆ’s gospelˆ was its greatest truth, the teaching that Atonˆ was not only the creatorˆ of Egyptˆ but also of the “whole world, man and beasts, and all the foreign lands, even Syriaˆ and Kushˆ, besides this land of Egyptˆ. He sets all in their place and provides all with their needs.” These concepts of Deityˆ were high and exalted, but they were not nationalistic. Such sentiments of internationality in religion failed to augment the morale of the Egyptˆian army on the battlefield, while they provided effective weapons for the priests to use against the young king and his new religion. He had a Deityˆ concept far above that of the later Hebrewsˆ, but it was too advanced to serve the purposes of a nation builder.
95:5.10 Though the monotheistic ideal suffered with the passing of Ikhnatonˆ, the idea of one Godˆ persisted in the minds of many groups. The son-in-law of Ikhnatonˆ went along with the priests, back to the worship of the old gods, changˆing his name to Tutankhamenˆ. The capital returned to Thebesˆ, and the priests waxed fat upon the land, eventually gaining possession of one seventh of all Egyptˆ; and presently one of this same order of priests made bold to seize the crown.
95:5.11 But the priests could not fully overcome the monotheistic wave. Increasingly they were compelled to combine and hyphenate their gods; more and more the family of gods contracted. Ikhnatonˆ had associated the flaming disc of the heavens with the creatorˆ Godˆ, and this idea continued to flame up in the hearts of men, even of the priests, long after the young reformer had passed on. Never did the concept of monotheismˆ die out of the hearts of men in Egyptˆ and in the world. It persisted even to the arrival of the Creatorˆ Sonˆ of that same divineˆ Father, the one Godˆ whom Ikhnatonˆ had so zealously proclaimed for the worship of all Egyptˆ.
95:5.12 The weakness of Ikhnatonˆ’s doctrine lay in the fact that he proposed such an advanced religion that only the educated Egyptˆians could fully comprehend his teachings. The rank and file of the agricultural laborers never really grasped his gospelˆ and were, therefore, ready to return with the priests to the old-time worship of Isisˆ and her consort Osirisˆ, who was supposed to have been miraculously resurrected from a cruel death at the hands of Setˆ, the godˆ of darkness and evil.
95:5.13 The teaching of immortality for all men was too advanced for the Egyptˆians. Only kings and the rich were promised a resurrection; therefore did they so carefully embalm and preserve their bodies in tombs against the day of judgment. But the democracy of salvation and resurrection as taught by Ikhnatonˆ eventually prevailed, even to the extent that the Egyptˆians later believed in the survival of dumb animals.
95:5.14 Although the effort of this Egyptˆian ruler to impose the worship of one Godˆ upon his people appeared to fail, it should be recorded that the repercussions of his work persisted for centuries both in Palestineˆ and Greece, and that Egyptˆ thus became the agent for transmitting the combined evolutionaryˆ culture of the Nile and the revelatory religion of the Euphrates to all of the subsequent peoples of the Occident.
95:5.15 The glory of this great era of moralˆ development and spiritˆual growth in the Nile valley was rapidly passing at about the time the national life of the Hebrewsˆ was beginning, and consequent upon their sojourn in Egyptˆ these Bedouins carried away much of these teachings and perpetuated many of Ikhnatonˆ’s doctrines in their racial religion.
6. The Salemˆ Doctrines in Iranˆ
95:6.1 From Palestineˆ some of the Melchizedekˆ missionaries passed on through Mesopotamiaˆ and to the great Iranian plateau. For more than five hundred years the Salemˆ teachers made headway in Iranˆ, and the whole nation was swinging to the Melchizedekˆ religion when a change of rulers precipitated a bitter persecution which practically ended the monotheistic teachings of the Salemˆ cult. The doctrine of the Abrahamˆic covenant was virtually extinct in Persia when, in that great century of moralˆ renaissance, the sixth before Christˆ, Zoroasterˆ appeared to revive the smouldering embers of the Salemˆ gospelˆ.
95:6.2 This founder of a new religion was a virile and adventurous youth, who, on his first pilgrimage to Ur in Mesopotamiaˆ, had learned of the traditions of the Caligastiaˆ and the Luciferˆ rebellion — along with many other traditions — all of which had made a strong appeal to his religious nature. Accordingly, as the result of a dream while in Ur, he settled upon a program of returning to his northern home to undertake the remodeling of the religion of his people. He had imbibed the Hebraic idea of a Godˆ of justice, the Mosaic concept of divinityˆ. The idea of a supremeˆ Godˆ was clear in his mindˆ, and he setˆ down all other gods as devils, consigned them to the ranks of the demons of which he had heard in Mesopotamiaˆ. He had learned of the story of the Seven Master Spiritsˆ as the tradition lingered in Ur, and, accordingly, he created a galaxy of seven supremeˆ gods with Ahura-Mazdaˆ at its head. These subordinate gods he associated with the idealization of Right Law, Good Thought, Noble Government, Holyˆ Character, Health, and Immortality.
95:6.3 And this new religion was one of action — work — not prayers and rituals. Its Godˆ was a being of supremeˆ wisdom and the patron of civilization; it was a militant religious philosophy which dared to battle with evil, inaction, and backwardness.
95:6.4 Zoroasterˆ did not teach the worship of fire but sought to utilize the flame as a symbol of the pure and wise Spiritˆ of universal and supremeˆ dominance. (All too true, his later followers did both reverence and worship this symbolic fire.) Finally, upon the conversion of an Iranian prince, this new religion was spread by the sword. And Zoroasterˆ heroically died in battle for that which he believed was the “truth of the Lordˆ of light.”
95:6.5 Zoroastrianˆism is the only Urantian creed that perpetuates the Dalamatian and Edenic teachings about the Seven Master Spiritsˆ. While failing to evolve the Trinityˆ concept, it did in a certain way approach that of Godˆ the Sevenfoldˆˆ. Original Zoroastrianˆism was not a pure dualismˆ; though the early teachings did picture evil as a time co-ordinate of goodness, it was definitely eternityˆ-submerged in the ultimateˆ reality of the good. Only in later times did the belief gain credence that good and evil contended on equal terms.
95:6.6 The Jewish traditions of heaven and hellˆ and the doctrine of devils as recorded in the Hebrew scriptures, while founded on the lingering traditions of Luciferˆ and Caligastiaˆ, were principally derived from the Zoroastriansˆ during the times when the Jews were under the political and cultural dominance of the Persiansˆ. Zoroasterˆ, like the Egyptˆians, taught the “day of judgment,” but he connected this event with the end of the world.
95:6.7 Even the religion which succeeded Zoroastrianˆism in Persia was markedly influenced by it. When the Iranian priests sought to overthrow the teachings of Zoroasterˆ, they resurrected the ancient worship of Mithraˆ. And Mithraˆism spread throughout the Levant and Mediterranean regions, being for some time a contemporary of both Judaismˆ and Christˆianity. The teachings of Zoroasterˆ thus came successively to impress three great religions: Judaismˆ and Christˆianity and, through them, Mohammedanism.
95:6.8 But it is a far cry from the exalted teachings and noble psalms of Zoroasterˆ to the modern perversions of his gospelˆ by the Parseesˆ with their great fear of the dead, coupled with the entertainment of beliefs in sophistries which Zoroasterˆ never stooped to countenance.
95:6.9 This great man was one of that unique group that sprang up in the sixth century before Christˆ to keep the light of Salemˆ from being fully and finally extinguished as it so dimly burned to show man in his darkened world the path of light leading to everlasting life.
7. The Salemˆ Teachings in Arabiaˆ
95:7.1 The Melchizedekˆ teachings of the one Godˆ became established in the Arabian desert at a comparatively recent date. As in Greece, so in Arabiaˆ the Salemˆ missionaries failed because of their misunderstanding of Machiventaˆ’s instructions regarding overorganization. But they were not thus hindered by their interpretation of his admonition against all efforts to extend the gospelˆ through military forceˆ or civil compulsion.
95:7.2 Not even in China or Rome did the Melchizedekˆ teachings fail more completely than in this desert region so very near Salemˆ itself. Long after the majority of the peoples of the Orient and Occident had become respectively Buddhistˆ and Christˆian, the desert of Arabiaˆ continued as it had for thousands of years. Each tribe worshiped its olden fetish, and many individual families had their own household gods. Long the struggle continued between Babylonˆian Ishtarˆ, Hebrew Yahwehˆ, Iranian Ahura, and Christˆian Father of the Lordˆ Jesusˆ Christˆ. Never was one concept able fully to displace the others.
95:7.3 Here and there throughout Arabiaˆ were families and clans that held on to the hazy idea of the one Godˆ. Such groups treasured the traditions of Melchizedekˆ, Abrahamˆ, Mosesˆ, and Zoroasterˆ. There were numerous centers that might have responded to the Jesusonianˆ gospelˆ, but the Christˆian missionaries of the desert lands were an austere and unyielding group in contrast with the compromisers and innovators who functioned as missionaries in the Mediterranean countries. Had the followers of Jesusˆ taken more seriously his injunction to “go into all the world and preach the gospelˆ,” and had they been more gracious in that preaching, less stringent in collateral social requirements of their own devising, then many lands would gladly have received the simple gospelˆ of the carpenter’s son, Arabiaˆ among them.
95:7.4 Despite the fact that the great Levantineˆ monotheismsˆ failed to take root in Arabiaˆ, this desert land was capable of producing a faithˆ which, though less demanding in its social requirements, was nonetheless monotheistic.
95:7.5 There was only one factor of a tribal, racial, or national nature about the primitive and unorganized beliefs of the desert, and that was the peculiar and general respect which almost all Arabian tribes were willing to pay to a certain black stone fetish in a certain temple at Meccaˆ. This point of common contact and reverence subsequently led to the establishment of the Islamic religion. What Yahwehˆ, the volcano spiritˆ, was to the Jewish Semitesˆ, the Kaabaˆ stone became to their Arabic cousins.
95:7.6 The strength of Islam has been its clear-cut and well-defined presentation of Allahˆ as the one and only Deityˆ; its weakness, the association of military forceˆ with its promulgation, together with its degradation of woman. But it has steadfastly held to its presentation of the One Universal Deityˆ of all, “who knows the invisible and the visible. He is the merciful and the compassionate.” “Truly Godˆ is plenteous in goodness to all men.” “And when I am sick, it is he who heals me.” “For whenever as many as three speak together, Godˆ is present as a fourth,” for is he not “the first and the last, also the seen and the hidden”?
95:7.7 [Presented by a Melchizedekˆ of Nebadonˆ.]