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Palmyra

May 15, 2016

Roman and Islamic ruins, Palmyra (“Tadmor”), Syria (2006), Author James Gordon, NY, NY (CC Attribution 2.0 Generic)

Then Solomon went to Hamath-zobah and captured it.  He built Tadmor in the wilderness…” (2 Chron. 8: 3-4).

At last report, Syrian forces had recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra from ISIS.  Located 130 miles northeast of Damascus, Palmyra (Aramaic “Tadmore”) is described in the Bible as having been built or fortified by King Solomon.  A community is thought to have existed in some form at the location for nearly 4000 years.

Before the Syrian Civil War, Palmyra was known as a World Heritage Site and tourist destination.  Once a caravan stop on the route to far-off India and China, Palmyra offered modern visitors the chance to view and explore well-preserved Babylonian, Roman, and Byzantine ruins.

ISIS changed all that, destroying whatever historic structures it deemed idolatrous, and leaving behind a mass grave.

Included among the structures demolished was the Temple of Baalshamin, the Canaanite sun, storm, and fertility god referred to in the Bible as “Baal”.  It was Baal that the Prophet Elijah defeated by asking God to rain down fire from heaven (1 Kings 18: 30-38).

Idolatry

God many times in the Bible warned against idolatry, describing Himself as a “jealous God” (Deut. 6: 14-15).  This prohibition was not only a reflection of God’s supreme status and authority, but His disapproval of the practices associated with idol worship.

Baal worship, for instance, could involve self-injury (1 Kings 18: 28), food offerings to the dead (Ps. 106: 28, Hosea 2: 5, 8), ritual prostitution (Judges 8: 33, Hosea 2: 2-4), and human sacrifice (Jer. 19: 5).

Since there is no other God but God (Deut. 6: 4, Isa. 46: 9, and numerous other passages), the worship of idols – whatever form they may take – is, by definition, demonic.

ISIS, however, deserves no praise for opposing idolatry.  In the view of that malevolent group, Judaism and Christianity qualify as idolatrous.  ISIS, in other words, worships a different god than Christians and Jews; a different god than Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  This is not a matter of labeling.  It is a matter of identity.

All gods are not equivalent, any more than all boxers are World Champion.  Laying claim to the title is not enough.  That is as true today as it was when the Temple of Baalshamin was first raised in Palmyra.

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  https://avoicereclaimed.com

8 Comments
  1. Ha, timely indeed Anna! It’s funny, when I named my site, I just knew Palmyra was the name on the road sign for the little spot in the road where our church sits. I figured it had some connection to the Middle East, but didn’t really know how big a deal the real Palmyra was until ISIS sacked it and beheaded that fellow.

    Good to hear it’s not long in the hands of ISIS, but such a shame that all of that was destroyed really. Have a blessed Sunday, Anna.

  2. I appreciate the bridging of Biblical history to the current. Idolatry is the persistent impulse of the human heart. In the midst of abundance and modern conveniences, we exchange the worship of the one true God with the worship of our feelings (from the looks of today’s songs that pass for Praise), felt needs, and comforts.

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