The Ten Commandments
A book by Joseph Lewis
The Second Commandment


Page 117The Second Commandment Page 118

"Thou shalt have no other gods before
me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any
graven image or any likeness of any thing
that is in heaven above, or that is in the
earth beneath, or that is in the water
under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down
thyself to them, nor serve them: for I, the
Lord thy God, am a jealous God, visiting
the iniquity of the fathers upon the chil-
dren unto the third and fourth generation
of them that hate me; and showing mercy
unto thousands of them that love me, and
keep my commandments." Page 119

 
The Sadism of the Bible Deity

This Commandment reveals the brutality of the Bible Deity and makes the Decalogue an instrument of intolerance, persecution, fanaticism and oppression.

How can anyone worship a God who shamelessly expresses his malevolence in these words: "For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me"? What a monstrous God of the universe it must be who would make a special Commandment to emphasize his jealous and vindictive nature, and to stipulate the curse he would inflict upon his poor, helpless creatures who fail to worship him!

Since religion fashions its code of conduct upon the morality of its gods, are we to assume that the character of the Bible God is to be emulated?

Are hatred, jealousy and a vindictiveness that punishes the innocent for the wrongs of others the qualities of morality we want to inculcate in our children? Do we want our children to emulate this God, to demand continually supplication and adulation? And failing to receive this worship, are they to live in a state of continual hatred and malevolence, with the only purpose of their existence to vent their anger and punish those who refuse to pay homage to their vanity? Or do we want them to grow up into men and women worthy of our efforts to achieve a civilized society with high ethical standards of equality and justice?

We are concerned here not only with the truth of the words of this Commandment, but also with their value in the field of ethics and morals. These Commandments are supposed to be infallible moral Page 120 guides, and since this one possesses no intrinsic value in the sphere of ethics or in the realm of morals, why was it made part of the Decalogue? The answer is simple. It contains four vital features which reveal the character of the Biblical God and follow in perfect continuity the egotistical declaration of the First Commandment. These four provisions are:

1. The nature of the Bible Deity.

2. Strict rules regarding the making and worshiping of images.

3. The penalties provided for disobedience.

4. The rewards to be conferred for observance.

These statements are definite and unequivocal. If the Bible Deity wrote them, did he mean them? And if he meant them, did he follow his instructions and execute his own decisions? If he wrote them and did not mean what he wrote, then he stands convicted of hypocrisy; if he wrote them and cannot fulfill the promises of his obligations and execute the provisions of his own laws, then he stands exposed as a false god!

The description that the God of the Decalogue gives of himself could not be different. His character is typical of the other primitive tribal gods that existed contemporaneously with him. If a god did not possess the ability to punish and reward, of what use was he? Primitive man wanted reward for his labor and punishment for his enemies.

The Hebrew God was created to be feared. If the wrath of a jealous person is feared, how much more terrifying must be the fear of a jealous god. Without this kind of god there could be no doctrine of special providence, and if prayers cannot be directed to a power superior to man, then the whole structure of religion must crumble. Without a god to pray to, and without prayers being "answered," religion would lose its commodity of trade.

A volume could be written quoting indisputable Biblical passages to testify to the jealous and vindictive nature of the Bible God, but Page 121 few quotations and his own words incorporated in this Commandment should be sufficient to silence all doubt as to his reprehensible character. I quote Exodus, Chapter 34, verse 14:

14. For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

Deuteronomy, Chapter 4, verses 23 and 24:

23. Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee.

24. For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.

And what more conclusive than the following from Deuteronomy, Chapter 6, verses 13 to 15?

13. Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.

14. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you;

15. (For the Lord thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the Lord thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.

Certainly no further testimony is needed to prove the character of the Bible God. Even today, clergymen defend this jealous and vindictive nature as part of the true character of the Bible Deity. The Rev. G. Campbell Morgan says: "The severity of the law of God is the necessary sequence of his infinite love." [*1] The Rev. Frederick David Niedermeyer asks:

"Is God still jealous?" (and proceeds to answer by quoting him: "For I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God"! He continues:)Page 122 "Some Christians are ashamed of that declaration. They think it has an undesirable meaning and are sorry that it is included in the Scriptures. Therein they differ from God, for He has freely declared that He is jealous.... In the mind of the Creator there is no hesitancy whatever in proclaiming His jealousy, and He has no dislike for the word. Believers who are ashamed of it do not realize what it means...." [*2]

As a result of this Commandment, man's heart has been hardened and his brain stultified. It has made him vicious and brutal. In his attempt to imitate this Bible God, every conceivable injustice has been perpetrated. The horrors and misery that have followed can never be adequately told. Language is incapable of expressing the tortures endured by the victims of the insanely pious followers of this primitive Bible Deity.

 
Jealousy: The Attribute of Primitive Gods

If the Bible Deity had not been subject to jealous fits and passions of rage as well as having periods of forgiveness and blessings, he could never have qualified as a god for so primitive a people as the nomadic Israelites. They needed a god suited to their mode of life, and the jealous, arrogant deity of this Commandment was eminently acceptable. Since gods are a reflection of the mentality of the people who worship them, the Bible God was a magnified reflection of the grossly superstitious Biblical Hebrew of that primitive age.

"Jealousy" is the last attribute one would expect to find in a God, and yet nearly all tribal gods in primitive societies boasted of their jealous and vindictive natures. Jealousy implies acts of propitiation.

The gods of the Gold Coast, says Major Ellis, are jealous and supersensitive, and nothing offends them so deeply as to be ignored, or to have their power questioned, or to be laughed at. Among the primitive Hebrews, it was sacrilegious to point to the heavens as the Page 123 abode where God dwelt. [*3] On the Slave Coast, insults to a god are always severely punished. [*4]

The belief in a jealous god is born of a religious fear, based on ignorance of the forces of nature. The god who could inspire the greatest amount of fear had the greatest number of worshipers. An understanding and benevolent god does not require propitiation.

The more awe-inspiring the god, the greater the fear. To force a man to do your bidding, first frighten him. Under the spell of fear, you can rob him not only of his soul, but also of his possessions. Religions survive only through the ties of fear. Courage negates religion, and the person who has been freed from the thralldom of fear can never again become enslaved to the dogma of a creed. The more superstitious and ignorant the people, the more elaborate the ceremonies of worship.

The ancient Egyptians flattered their gods.

The Mohammedans worship a primitive conception of god. In their prayers to Allah they cry, "God is Great, God is merciful, God is he who seeth and heareth."

The Hindus believe that by praise, a person may obtain special favor from the gods. The first songs composed by primitive peoples are hymns of praise. [*5]

The Maoris of New Zealand believed their deities were responsible for pain, misery and death, and one never thought of getting any aid from them. Their religious duty consisted in appeasing the wrath of their gods.

The Tahitians supposed their gods to be powerful, but they never expected them to exercise the simplest benevolence toward their most devoted followers. Their gods demanded homage and obedience, and were always ready to punish all who hesitated or refused to comply.

The Fijians looked upon their gods as positively wicked. Page 124

The people of New Hebrides believed that the air was filled with malignant beings, selfish and vindictive.

The Santals of India expect no favors from their god; on the contrary, they seek by supplication to avoid his displeasure and hate.

The Kamchasales do not expect anything good from their gods.

The gods of the Nenenots, or Indians of Hudson Bay, are of an evil nature and must be propitiated to secure their favor.

The only qualities which the Mulungu tribes attribute to their god are vindictiveness and cruelty.

To the Matabele, the idea of a benevolent deity is utterly foreign.

All the gods of the North American Indians possessed jealous natures, and the main object of the worship of these people was to appease their wrath.

Believers in the Bible and worshipers of the Bible God today cannot condemn the Hindus who still worship their god because of the fear of his jealous nature, or the present-day barbarians who likewise fear their god and who live in awe of his jealousy and wrath. Just as the Bible God demanded sacrifices, so we find this same trait among other primitive deities. Prayers were generally connected with offerings, as gods did not perform their deeds or bestow their favors gratuitously.

A Tanna priest, when he offers the first fruits to his deity, says: "Here is some food for you; eat it, and be kind to us on account of it."

Mithra also demanded worship and sacrifices. He complains: "If men would worship me with a sacrifice in which I were invoked ... then I would come to the faithful at the appointed time." [*6]

In South Africa, the Zulus speak of Heaven as a person, ascribing to it the power of exercising a will, and they speak of a Lord of Heaven whose wrath they experience during a thunderstorm.

Zeus controlled the heavens. If it rained, thundered, snowed; if lightning flashed, if the winds howled, it was Zeus who was responsible. The months, the days, the years were ordained by his orders. [*7Page 125

It is a well-known fact that where the forces of nature take on a weird and unusual character, such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and the like, the people are more superstitious than in areas where such disturbances are fewer. Widespread superstition is particularly prevalent among nomadic tribes where the slightest change from normal conditions inspires fear.

Even today among so-called civilized people, many become terror-stricken when hearing an unexpected noise. Any unusual sound in the night causes fear. The superstitious person attributes to innocent and normal manifestations of nature a significance wholly foreign to them. For each one of these manifestations, he has some magic formula which he believes will prevent evil. This accounts for the multitude of superstitious rites found in many religious ceremonies.

Believers in the Bible certainly cannot be unaware of the nature of their God as revealed in this Commandment. Yet were this description used in reference to another god, both Christians and Hebrews would vigorously disavow it as a personification of their Deity. How little do religious believers realize the untenability of their beliefs when presented in an altogether different light from the one to which they are accustomed!

 
Punishing the Innocent

Equally prevalent as the fear of a jealous god by primitive man was the superstitious belief in sympathetic magic. He thought that if one member of the family was guilty of evil, the whole family was contaminated and that the punishment suffered by the father would also be inflicted upon the children. [**8]

What would you think of a person who insisted upon punishing the innocent children of a man who had supposedly committed somePage wrong? What would you think of a person who insisted upon punishing innocent children of the second generation of a man who had supposedly committed some wrong? What would you think of a person who insisted upon punishing the innocent children of the third generation of a man who had supposedly committed some wrong? What would you think of a man who insisted upon punishing the innocent children of the fourth generation of a man who had supposedly committed some wrong? You would undoubtedly think that such a man was a barbarian and a savage.

If a man with such a character is condemned as inhuman, what should be thought of such a god? If you recoil from this kind of deity today, remember that millions in the past not only accepted this sort of god as the supreme being of the universe, but paid him unrestricted homage.

One of the aspects of the belief in sympathetic magic was the resemblance of the son to the father. An inherited resemblance was presumed to denote inherited character, and guilt if there had been any.

Among the Ewe-speaking people of the Slave Coast, a man found guilty of a vicious crime is not only put to death, but his family either meets a like fate or is imprisoned. The same system of punishment prevails among the Matabele.

The Shilluks of the White Nile vary the punishment. The culprit is put to death for his misdeeds, but his wife and family are given to the Sultan, who retains them in bondage.

The Kafirs have a similar code of punishment; members of the whole household are punished for the misdeeds of one.

In some parts of the Malay Archipelago, a father and child are considered so inseparable that when one is punished the other seldom escapes a like fate.

The law in Bali is similar to the provisions of this Commandment. It prescribes that for certain kinds of sorcery the offender shall be put to death, adding the following: "If the matter be very clearly made Page 127 out, let the punishment of death be extended to his father and mother, to his children and grandchildren; let none of them live; let none connected with one so guilty remain on the face of the land, and let their goods be in like manner confiscated."

In ancient Mexico, traitors and their children and relatives were made slaves to the fourth generation. [*9]

In Athenian law, a man who committed a sacrilege was banished with all his children. Aristotle mentions a case where the body of one who was guilty of sacrilege was disentombed, his ashes cast beyond the borders of the place, and the living members of his clan condemned to perpetual exile as a measure of purification for their sins.

Among the Anglo-Saxons, before the time of Cnut, the child, even the infant in the cradle, was liable to be sold for payment of penalties incurred by the father, being "held by the covetous to be equally guilty as if it had discretion." This belief was carried through the Middle Ages. A person condemned as a heretic lost not only his own property, but his family was subjected to a like penalty on the ground that his impiety had contaminated them. [*10]

The Sibuyaus, a tribe belonging to the Sea Dyaks, "are of the opinion that an unmarried girl proving to be with child must be offensive to the superior powers, who, instead of always chastising the individual, punish the tribe by misfortunes happening to its members." [*11]

In some parts of China, even today, the belief prevails that a child suffering from sickness or disease is paying the penalty of spiritual vengeance for its parents' impiety. When a maimed or deformed child is born, the Japanese say that its parent or ancestor had committed some great sin. Many superstitious people in Western countries, perverted by the influence of this Commandment, make similar explanations for such tragedies.

The primitive Greeks had a theory of divine retribution similar to Page 128 that incorporated into this Commandment. They believed that the community had to suffer for the "sins" of some of its members, and the children for the "sins" of their fathers. When Theseus was informed of the death of his wife, he exclaimed: "This must be a heaven-sent calamity in consequence of the sins of an ancestor, which from a remote source I am bringing on myself."

In Scotland, until quite recent times, it was believed that the misconduct of a person descended as a curse to his children until the third or fourth generation. In Christianity this belief is carried to its ultimate in the doctrine that the sin of Adam and Eve caused the entire human race to be cursed. [*12]

Not having the divine inspiration of infallible knowledge, Confucius taught the very opposite to what the Bible God threatened. He said that the vices of the father should not discredit a virtuous son, and Plato laid down the rule that the disgrace and punishment of the father should not be visited upon the children. Seneca said that nothing is more unjust than that anyone should inherit the quarrels of his father. [*13] And Socrates said that we ought not "to retaliate or render evil for evil to anyone, whatever evil we may have suffered from him." [*14]

The infliction of suffering as a retribution for the misdeeds of others has long since passed from the ethics of civilization. To punish the innocent for the guilty is the height of injustice, the Bible Deity to the contrary notwithstanding.

 
The Fear of Images and the Origin of Their Prohibition

The origin of the prohibition against making and worshiping images is based upon the belief in sympathetic magic and belongs in the same category as the primitive custom of punishing innocent children unto the third and fourth generations in expiation of the "sins" of the father. Page 129

In primitive societies it was believed that an image of a person contained part of the soul of the one it represented, and that whoever possessed the image could bring evil to the person. It was therefore feared as a malignant weapon in the hands of an enemy, and its prohibition became a matter of serious concern which culminated in a fanatical taboo.

Based on the belief in this Commandment, the Biblical Hebrew was forbidden to draw pictures representing any living creature, or even of the sun, moon and stars. No figures of any kind were permitted to be kept in the house. He was forbidden to gaze at the graven image of a person, and the pious Hebrew even avoided mentioning the word "image." [*15]

Even as late as the sixteenth century, a chief rabbi would not allow a member of his congregation to place before the Ark an embroidered curtain with a bas-relief of a deer set in pearls -- the coat of arms of the donor. However, after much controversy and through the intervention of other rabbis, a compromise was reached whereby the curtain was permitted to be placed in the synagogue, provided the deer was embroidered on the curtain instead of forming a bas-relief! [*16]

Another rabbi, even as late as the eighteenth century, refused to permit a stained-glass window above the Ark in the synagogue bearing the figure of the sun with rays inscribed, "From the rising sun to the going down of the same, the Lord's name is to be praised," on the ground that people bowing to the Ark, or entering the synagogue, would be worshiping the sun. [*17]

The Moslem who accepts this Commandment, like the Hebrew, believes that if he makes an image in this world it will be set before him on the day of judgment. He will then be called upon to give it life, but will fail in the demand and thereupon be sent to expiate his offense in hell. [*18] The Moslem is just as fanatical regarding the Page 130 provisions of this Commandment as is the Hebrew; both have been inculcated with the fear of direful penalties for its violation.

So strong was the belief in animism and sympathetic magic among the primitive Hebrews that innumerable instances are recorded to show to what extent they believed that such magic could produce results. This was the formula to kill an enemy: "Write his name upon leaves and let them shrivel up over a fire," or, "Boil them in milk and say, 'May the heart of -------- boil in like manner,' and your enemy's heart will boil and he will die." The early Hebrews were filled with deadly terror of the evil results that would inevitably follow their making of images under their delusive belief in animism and sympathetic magic.

Another Hebrew prescription for producing results through this medium is the following:

"If you wish to kill a man, take mud from the two sides of the river and form it into the shape of a figure, and write upon it the name of the person, and take seven branches from seven strong palm trees, and make a bow from a reed with the string of horse-sinew, and place the image in a hollow, and stretch the bow and shoot with it, and with each shot say, 'May [the name or names of the person or persons] be destroyed.'" [*19]

There was a well-known formula to induce love and this is the method to be employed.

"Take virgin wax and make a female figure, with the sex organs clearly delineated, and with the features of the person you have in mind. Write on the breast, --------, daughter of (father's name), and --------, daughter of (mother's name), and on the back between the shoulders write the same, and say over it, 'May it be Thy will, O Lord, that N. daughter of N. burn with a mighty passion for me.' Then bury the figure and cover it carefully so that its limbs are not broken, and leave it thus for twenty-four hours. Then bury it under the eaves, being careful that no one witness your act, and cover it with a stone so that it does not break. When you disinter it, dip it carefully in water three times, Page 131 so that it is washed clean, once in the name of Michael, again in the name of Raphael, and immerse it in some urine. Then dry it, and when you wish to arouse passion in the maiden, pierce the heart of her image with a new needle, in that spot where it will cause the most pain. So she will daily experience this pain." [*20]

Or if you wish to injure a person or cause him or her pain the wax image was exposed to the fire, the person whom it represented was supposed to be stricken with fever; if the image was stabbed with a knife, the victim would feel pain in the corresponding part of his body. [*21] Throughout Jewish folklore there are innumerable references to "witches who prepare images of wax." [*22] A drop of blood, strands of hair, nail parings, a piece of garment, would be used in making an image.

Under the influence of this superstitious belief in sympathetic magic, the primitive Hebrews rarely destroyed cast-off parts of their bodies. The nails of the fingers and toes, and the hair, were carefully disposed of so that they could not be consumed by fire or otherwise violently destroyed. They even avoided covering excrement with hot coals for fear that they themselves would die by burning. [*23] That is why some people today, in nearly all countries, still believe in the superstition that if anyone walks over nail parings, some injury or illness will happen to the person to whom they belong.

To injure a person, a Singhalese sorcerer will procure a lock of his intended victim's hair, a paring of his nails, or a thread from a garment; then he fashions an image of him, thrusting nails made of different metals into his joints. [*24] Similar enchantments were wrought by the Moslems of North Africa.

Images of gods were also taboo until comparatively recent times. Varro affirms that for more than one hundred and seventy years after the founding of Rome, there was no image of a god in human or animal Page 132 form in the city; Numa is said to have forbidden such representations. The Persians had no temples or idols before Artaxerxes I. In Greece also, temples and images of the gods were unknown in ancient times. The earliest temples of the Egyptians were without idols. Arab tradition, which is supported by philological evidence, declares that idols, like that of Hobal at Mecca, were of foreign origin. [*25]

The fear of images was present in all early stages of culture. Among the Baganda, if a person was sick, the medicine man would make an image of the patient out of clay, run the image over the sufferer's body, and either bury it in the road or hide it by the wayside. The first person who stepped over it, or passed it by, would catch the disease and thereby cure the patient. So fearful were the people of the efficacy of this method, that anyone caught in the act of making images was put to death. [*26]

Frazer records that a certain superintendent of the king's cattle was once prosecuted in an Egyptian court of law for having made figures of men and women in wax, thereby causing paralysis of their limbs and other grievous harm. [*27]

When the Ojibway Indian desires to work evil on anyone, he makes a little wooden image of his enemy and runs a needle into its head or ear, or shoots an arrow into it, believing that wherever the needle pierces or the arrow strikes the image, his foe will at that instant be seized with a sharp pain in the corresponding part of his body; but if he intends to kill the person outright, he burns or buries the image, uttering magic words as he does so. [*28]

The North American Indians use images to injure an enemy. They make an image and melt it away, shoot at it, or stick pins or thorns into it in the belief that some like injury will befall the person it represents.

In North America, when an Algonquin wishes to kill a particular animal, he makes a grass or cloth image of it and hangs it up in his Page 133 wigwam. He then repeats several times the incantation, "See how I shoot," and lets fly an arrow at the image. If he drives it in, it is a sign that the animal will be killed the next day. [*29]

The Peruvian sorcerers are said still to make rag dolls and stick cactus thorns into them. They hide them in secret holes in the house, or in the wood of beds, or in cushions, believing that they cripple people or make them sick or mad.

In Borneo, the practice still exists of making a wax image of the enemy to be bewitched. The belief is that his body will waste away as the image is gradually melted, as in the story of Margery Jordan's waxen image of Henry VI. [*30]

When the Malay seeks to do injury, he makes a small wax figure of the person who is the object of his hate. He turns it slowly over a lighted lamp and utters these words:

"It is not the wax I am scorching,

It is the liver, heart and spleen of So-and-so that I scorch."

After doing this for the seventh time, he burns the image, and shortly after that the victim is supposed to die. [*31]

The aborigines of Victoria use similar methods. When they seek to destroy an enemy, they retire to a lonely spot and draw a likeness of the victim on the ground. After certain cabalistic ceremonies have been performed, evil is supposed to befall the victim. So strongly do the natives believe in the efficacy of this method that victims who learn that images have been made of them often die of sheer fright. Natives of the Bloomfield River in Queensland think they can doom a man by making a wooden image of him and burying it in the ground. [*32]

If a Matabele wishes to avenge himself on an enemy, he makes a clay figure of the man and pierces it with a needle. The Ovambo of Southwestern Africa believe that some people have the power of Page 134 bewitching an absent person by gazing into a vessel of water till his image appears to them; then they spit at the image and curse the man. That is supposed to seal his fate. [*33]

The Negro of West Africa cuts figures out of leaves representing crocodiles, tigers or serpents. He believes that by possessing images of the animals he fears, he can cause them to keep away from him or to destroy themselves altogether.

The Katish of Australia believes that the rainbow prevents rain from falling. He therefore draws a rainbow on his shield and hides it away from the encampment, thinking that it will prevent the phenomena because its image is invisible.

To protect themselves from scorpions and centipedes which infest the country, the natives of Malaysia make images of the pests on one set of bamboo sticks, and place them next to another set of bamboo sticks that have images of pheasants which devour the pests. They believe this will cause them to be eaten. [*34]

The ancient books of the Hindus contain formulas for destruction by magic. When at war, Hindus made images of the soldiers, horses and chariots of a hostile army and then pulled them to pieces. When the Mab-Margi, a Hindu sect in the Northwest Provinces, want to kill an enemy, they make an image of flour and earth and stick sharp, pointed instruments into his heart, navel and throat. [*35]

An Arabic treatise on magic gives the following "infallible" formula: If you wish to deprive a man of his limbs, make a waxen image of him, engrave his name and his mother's name on it, then smite the particular limb which you want to injure. [*36]

In ancient Babylon it was also a common practice to make an image of clay or other soft material in the likeness of the enemy. Burying or burning it was supposed to kill or injure him. Even gods were not immune from peril.  Page 135

In a hymn to the fire-god Nusku, we read:

"Those who have made images of me, reproducing my features,

Who have taken away my breath, torn my hairs,

Who have rent my clothes, have hindered my feet from treading the dust,

May the fire-god, the strong one, break their charm." [*37]

Babylonian literature contains long lists of instructions for banishing evil spirits. This is the formula to destroy the enemy of the Sun:

"Every night when the Sun-god, Ra, sank down to his home in the blowing west, he was assailed by hosts of demons under the leadership of his arch-fiend Apepi. All night long he fought them, and sometimes by day the powers of darkness sent up clouds even into the blue Egyptian sky to obscure his light and weaken his powers. To aid the Sun-god in his daily struggle, a ceremony was performed in his temple at Thebes. A figure of his foe, Apepi, represented as a crocodile with a hideous face or a serpent with many coils, was made of wax, and on it the demon's name was written in green ink. Wrapped in a papyrus case on which another likeness of Apepi had been drawn in green ink, the figure was then tied up with black hair, spat upon, hacked with a stone knife, and cast on the ground. There the priest trod on it with his left foot again and again, and then burned it in a fire made of a certain plant or grass. When Apepi himself had thus been effectively disposed of, waxen effigies of each of his principal demons and their fathers, mothers and children were made and burnt in the same way. The fiends of darkness, clouds and rain, felt the injuries inflicted on their images as if they had been done to themselves; they passed away, at least for a time, and the beneficent Sun-god shone out triumphant once more." [*38]

In 1574, a Florentine, Cosmo Ruggieri, made a waxen image of Charles IX with supposed hostile intent. The king died a month later of a mysterious illness. Ruggieri was accused of causing his death and arrested. Page 136

In 1560, there was great consternation at the English court when a waxen image of Queen Elizabeth with a large pin stuck in the breast was found in Lincoln's Inn Fields.

Until the reign of the late ruler of Siam, no Siamese coins were ever stamped with the image of the king. It was feared that this would result in some form of evil to the ruler. [*39]

During the Middle Ages, when one wanted to cause injury to an enemy, it was the custom to make an image of him, have it blessed by the priest, and then stick it with needles, in the belief that the person it represented would suffer sharp pains. [*40]

So widespread is this superstition that it has persisted to this day in "civilized" nations. In the Scottish Highlands the belief in the malignancy of images still prevails. To kill a person whom a Highlander hates, he will make a clay image of him, fill it full of nails, pins and broken glass, and then place it in a running stream with its head to the current. As each sharp instrument is put in the image, he utters a form of curse and the person whom it is to injure is supposed to feel pain in that part of his body. [*41]

Images were taboo among the ignorant and superstitious because of the fear that they possessed a sympathetic relationship to the thing they represented. So intense was this delusion that death was the penalty for those found guilty of resorting to this method of sorcery.

This belief was prevalent among the Biblical Hebrews, and that is why the prohibition against graven images was incorporated in the Ten Commandments.

... chapter continued on next file ...


The e-text conversion and critical editing of this book is copyright ©1998 by Cliff Walker. The text is watermarked. If you intend to commercialize on this book in any way, please do your own e-text conversion work. This is a labor of love, honoring the role that the works of Joseph Lewis have played in my life and in the hope that the unique presentation of Joseph Lewis's works, available only on Positive Atheism, will bring the dignity to the Positive Atheism project that only this unique presentation of the writings of Joseph Lewis can bring. We hope that our readers, supporters, friends, and others can understand and appreciate the role that this -- privilege -- of being able to present the Joseph Lewis material brings to the people who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to make Positive Atheism's online presentation possible.