I once read an awful book, Acts of Faith, mostly to impress a girl I wanted to date at the time. Terrible stuff, really. The frum Jews were all evil or stupid, the non-frum all enlightened and noble. One scene I recall was a confrontation between an atheist Jewish college professor and the frum yeshiva bochers who were taking his class in Jewish history. The bochurs insisted that our ancestors were pure in their worship of God. The atheist insisted, based on all his historical evidence, that they worshipped idols. Well, didn't that send the bochurs into a rage? How dare he say such slander against our ancestors?
Except that it's true. All you have to do is open a Tanach and read it. Pick a book, any book: Judges, Shmuel, Kings 1 & 2, and any of the Prophets and what do you find? Ethusiastic widespread idol worship constantly plaguing Jewish society.
That's why this article from The Jerusalem Post caught my eye:
The 2.1 x 1.8-cm. elliptical seal is engraved with two bearded priests standing on either side of an incense altar with their hands raised forward in a position of worship.
Dr. Eilat MazarPhoto: Dr. Eilat Mazar Expedition
A crescent moon, the symbol of the chief Babylonian god Sin, appears on the top of the altar.
Under this scene are three Hebrew letters spelling Temech, Mazar said.
The Bible refers to the Temech family: "These are the children of the province, that went up out of the captivity, of those that had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and came again to Jerusalem and to Judah, every one unto his city." [Nehemiah 7:6]... "The Nethinim [7:46]"... The children of Temech." [7:55].
The fact that this cultic scene relates to the Babylonian chief god seemed not to have disturbed the Jews who used it on their own seal, she added.
Well of course not. A quick read of Jeremiah and Ezekiel quickly reveals that idol worship was essentially the state religion in the dying days of Judea. Far from causing anyone discomfort, this revelation should be a source of comfort - the words of the Bible once again prove to be accurate in their recollection of contemporary history.
I can't wait until someone finally unearths David haMelech's Visa card.