Moses, Hermes, and Io
by John R. Salverda
John R. Salverda shows how certain aspects of Greek Mythology owed their inspiration to Hebrew prototypes. This is of value in itself for we may sometimes glean hints of historical realities from these stories. The heroine Io for instance (as shown below) was identified by the Greeks themselves of a later age with the People of Phoenicia and with the Jews. The wanderings of Io may in fact refer to the peregrinations of the Lost Ten Tribes whose identify was transposed by the Greeks to the People of Judah and Phoenicia since these were the closest thing still in the neighborhood to what the Ten Tribes had once been.
The most ancient of all the Greek city-states that we have any history from is that of the city of Argos and its surrounding state called Argolis. The Greek city of Mycenae, after which the Mycenaean civilization itself was named, is considered to be but an offshoot from the city-state of Argolis, these preceded the Ionians of Athens, the Boeotians, the Corinthians, and the Dorians of Sparta, by several generations. Accordingly the myths about the founding of Argos represent the oldest of all Greek mythology. The founder and first king of Argos was called Inachus, and the first narrative myth with any kind of storyline from the founding of Argos, involved his daughter Io. This myth was often referred to as the story of Hermes ‘Argiophontes,’ so called after the hero of the tale, Hermes the ‘Argus killer.’
Now, Io was identified with Isis among the Egyptians and the Syrian city of Antioch, formerly called Iopolis, had claimed to be her burial place, while Hermes, was identified with the Egyptian Thoth, the Babylonian Nebo, had a planet (Mercury) and a day of the week (Wednesday) named after him. It is a severe stretch of the imagination to believe that international characters such as Io and Hermes are the invention of the aboriginal pre-civilized Greeks without any outside influence, and became incorporated, fully formed by them, into the foundation myths of their first city-state Argolis. Therefore you must realize that this, earliest of civilizations known to the ancient Greeks, did not originate in Greece itself but obviously came as a colony from elsewhere, bringing with them a developed mythology, to settle there in Argolis. But from where?
It was the opinion of some of the ancient historians that the Argolian royal family had come up out of the land of Egypt. Perhaps these Argolian colonists from Egypt knew about the story of Moses, this would certainly go a long way toward explaining why Hermes is so much like Moses. Moses, like Hermes, was the messenger of God, and both were sent by God to free, each their own, chosen ones from their respective captivities. As the ‘Psychopompus’ Hermes is divinely commissioned as ‘leader of the souls’ to the promised land, an attribute that is easily derived from the job of Moses. Furthermore Hermes is famed as the god of travelers just as Moses is the leader of those who wandered. According to the Scriptures, Moses and his followers had a lot of trouble with poisonous serpents, people were sick and dying of snakebite, and so God had bestowed upon Moses a copper serpent that was to be attached to a stick and used for curative purposes, while the mythical Greek character Hermes carried a serpent stick called the ‘Caduceus’ which was also divinely bestowed upon him and became the worldwide symbol of the medical profession. Some will argue that although the Caduceus did eventually become the symbol of the medical profession, to Hermes himself it was merely the badge of his office as the messenger of god, but of course, it is also true that Moses had another ‘serpent stick’ which he carried on his missions to bring God’s messages to the Pharaoh. We are told by Jewish sources such as the writer Eupolemus, who wrote about 150 BC, that the alphabet was invented by Moses, while according to Greek sources the same alphabet was invented by Hermes. The Egyptian Hermes, whom they called ‘Thoth,’ is credited with inventing hieroglyphic writing, while the Babylonian Hermes, whom they called ‘Nebo,’ is credited with inventing cuneiform writing. Nebo, a word that means, the ‘Prophet,’ was a common nickname for Moses, and when Moses died he was buried upon Mount Pisgah which is also called, no doubt in memory of Moses, Mount Nebo. Needless to say Moses was a prolific writer of sacred texts, in this regard Hermes was apparently no slouch either. So-called Hermetic books dealing with the religion of Egypt were mentioned by Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Porphyry, and Jamblichus. Clement even says that the books of Hermes were carried by the Egyptians in religious processions, one wonders indeed if they were kept in an ark like the law of Moses during the religious processions of the Israelites. However well known these Hermetic writings were in ancient times, it wasn’t until the middle of the 15th century that some of these previously lost Hermetic texts had supposedly been found in the libraries of the Byzantine Empire. Suspect though they are, these books are accredited to the semi-mythical figure named Hermes Trismegistus (thrice greatest) whom the Gnostics insist, while not being Moses himself, was a contemporary of his.
The preceding has been a list of several obvious parallels between Moses and Hermes, however there are quite a few similarities that are not so obvious but become so with only a bit of explanation, for instance; An ever present characteristic of any image of Hermes is his petasos, that cap which featured a wide circular brim. The fact that this petasos looks, even to the casual observer, remarkably like the halo of a Christian saint, may be a clue to its origin. For the corona of Moses, which is Scripturally attested to at Exodus 34:30, (And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come near him.) probably was represented pictorially as a circle around his head and therefore it could have served as the origin of the petasos of Hermes. Hermes also had another form of headgear that was intended to hide him, it was known as the cap of darkness, or the helmet of invisibility, we know this because, according to Hyginus from his ‘Astronomica,’ (2.12) he once loaned it to Perseus, ‘Perseus … received from Hermes, … petasos, and, in addition, a helmet which kept its wearer from being seen … the helmet of Hades (the Unseen One), …’ Moses also had a headdress that he wore for the purpose of hiding, for his corona was frightening to people so he used a veil to conceal it, as explained in the book of Exodus at 34:33, (And until Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.) Hermes is often depicted as wearing the winged sandals, but the Greeks would certainly know enough not to take this literally, even as Moses was sent to deliver the Israelites upon eagles wings as at Exodus 19:4, (You have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.) so the Greeks would understand that traveling upon wings was merely symbolic and meant nothing more than going swiftly. Among the Greeks, Hermes was considered to be the inventor of casting lots as a method of divination, but Moses also instructed the Hebrews, at a very early date, in the use of lots to divine the will of God. The iconoclastic Moses taught that no images should be made, accordingly there is some evidence that Hermes too was at first an iconoclast. The name of Hermes originated in the Greek word ‘herma’ meaning a ‘stone heap.’ Probably from the custom of erecting a ‘herm’ consisting of an upright stone surrounded at its base by a heap of smaller stones. These unpretentious monuments were often used as landmarks for travelers or to mark territorial boundaries. A mythical origin for these stone heaps may also be surmised, for to quote from the ‘Etymologicum Magnum,’ ‘When Hermes killed Argos, he was brought to trial by the gods. They acquitted him, and in doing so each threw his voting-pebble at his feet. Thus a heap of stones grew up around him.’ The point here being that, the many more recent images of Hermes result from apostasies of his earliest teachings, and that the original icon of Hermes, namely, the modest stone heap, was indeed one that would have been acceptable to even Israel himself. Genesis 31:45-46 (And Jacob took a stone, and set it up for a pillar. And Jacob said unto his brethren, Gather stones; and they took stones, and made an heap.) Moses taught that one out of every seven days, the Sabbath, was to be revered as holy, while Hermes also took one day out of the seven, it was Wednesday, and it was named after him.
I was not the first one to identify Moses with Hermes, in fact this was noticed thousands of years ago, at least as early as the second (some think that he could possibly have lived in the third) century BC by the Egyptian (some think that he may possibly have been Jewish) priest Artapanus. Eusebius (ix. 27) quoted from a lost book that was written by Artapanus and was called ‘Concerning the Jews’ it said of Moses ‘he was beloved by the Egyptians, who called him Hermes.’ The Greeks themselves seem to corroborate Artapanus by admitting that the Ibis headed Egyptian god Thoth was just another version of their god Hermes. The Greeks even tell a story of how Hermes had come up out of the land of Egypt, where he once had lived disguised as an Ibis. Like it is in the Hebrew Scriptures, the followers of Moses in the story told by Artapanus, were plagued by poisonous serpents, however the Moses of Artapanus (instead of the copper serpent,) employed the Ibis to attack the snakes. This was the reason, Artapanus says, for which Moses/Hermes revered the Ibis so.
There are quite a few ancient historians who have written chronologies representing Moses as living at the same time as Inachus, the father of Io. The native Egyptian priest and historian, Ptolemy of Mendes as quoted by Africanus tells us; ‘in the time of Apis son of Phoroneus (Phoroneus was the son of Inachus, and the brother of Io) a part of the Egyptian army was expelled (or simply took their ‘leave’ from the Greek word ‘exepesen’ ) from Egypt, who took up their abode not far from Arabia in the part of Syria called Palestine,’ And Apion, in his book ‘Against the Jews,’ and in his ‘Histories’ Book four, says that, ‘in the time of Inachus king of Argos, … the Jews revolted, with Moses as their leader.’ And Clement (44) quotes Ctesias as saying. ‘the movement of Moses out of Egypt took place in the time … of Inachus king of Argos.’
If Hermes was Moses, as per Artapanus, and Moses was a younger contemporary to Inachus, the father of Io, as per the ancient chronologists here cited, then it is very conceivable that the Hermes in the story of Io’s wanderings, is a mythic Greek version of Moses in the Hebrew story about the wandering Jews.
We are fortunate to have preserved for us the writings of Aeschylus, who wrote his ‘Prometheus bound,’ about the year 470 BC. for in this work, the story of Io is linked to the story of Prometheus. The story of Io was, almost certainly an Egyptian and/or Phoenician tale which was brought to Greece by the likes of the Danaus the Egyptian, and by Cadmus the Phoenician, who were both descendants of Io. However, the story of Prometheus, with his father Iapetus, (the eponym of Cappadocia, from a Persian version of the name that was similar to the Latin form, ‘Gepetto,’) and the Caucasus, would direct us toward the Southeastern end of the Black Sea. Although these two myths seem to come from diverse and distant locations, Aeschylus has connected them as parts of the same story, therefore he must have known of, or at least suspected, that this connection existed, otherwise his readers would not accept it as logical. As Aeschylus relates to us, it was soon after Prometheus was sentenced and fixed to his lofty place of suffering, that Io, in the course of her wanderings, approached his mountain and talked with him. Keeping in mind what we know about the story of the Exodus, the story of how Io got to this place, can tell us much about the figure whom the Greeks called Prometheus.
The earthly wife of god was in bondage, so god sent his serpent stick carrying messenger, on eagle’s wings, to lead her out of her captivity. The messenger of god smote the head of her captor and delivered the Earthly wife of god. Did he lead her directly home’ No, this is when she went on her famous wanderings, known to the Greeks as, the wanderings of Io. There was a mystifying cloud cover, a gadfly plague, and a miraculous water crossing. She gave birth to the “Egyptian” calf god, “Epaphus.” (Apis) But, most telling of all, she approached the special mountain where the creator of mankind was bound, and talked to him. Prometheus told Io that she could expect the savior to be born to her, as one of her descendants, thirteen generations hence. After all this she finally returned to her homeland, Phoronea.
Now, if this story sounds intriguingly familiar it should, for the “myth” of Io’s deliverance, and the story of the Exodus share an origin. Let us prove this theory by examining the eleven motifs of the myth, as I have laid them out, point by point: First of all is the statement; ‘The earthly wife of god was in bondage’ That the nation of Israel itself was symbolically pictured as God’s wife is evident from several passages of the Scriptures, notably at Isaiah 54:5 and Hosea 2:1-23 but especially at Jeremiah 31:32, where God’s wife is specifically said to have been delivered up out of Egypt; ‘… I took … them out of the land of Egypt; … I was an husband unto them, …’ In accordance with the Greek myth of Io, the chief Greek god Zeus, (the Roman Jove, as Jehovah’), had two wives, one was his heavenly wife Hera and the other was his Earthly one Io. He had given Io to Hera who placed her in bondage, that’s right, Io was the bondwoman (or bondmaid) of Hera. (Genesis 16:6 But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, your maid is in your hand; do to her as it pleases you. And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her face.) Thus Hera and Io were to Zeus, as Sarah and Hagar were to Abraham, the wife and her bondmaid, and consequently in accordance with Galatians 4:22-26, also just as God’s Earthly wife and God’s Heavenly wife were to Him. (For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. … Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which brings forth children to bondage, which is Hagar. For this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answers to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.) Here we can see that, as the book of Galatians confirms, the Earthly wife of God was indeed pictured as being in bondage, just as the Greek story of Io portrays. …In light of the foregoing it seems conceivable that the very name ‘Io,’ is a mere transliteration of the word ‘Jew,’ and its use in the Greek myth, is one of the earliest known employments of this term to denote a Hebrew. The Greeks themselves often referred to the inhabitants of Canaan (also known as Israel) as the descendants of Io, an example of one such early reference is in Bacchylides, who lived at the beginning of the fifth century BC, and wrote an ode about Io, so saying that, “she gave to light, man’s greatest line, the roots of Cadmus, Agenor’s son, …” thereby of course, referring to the Phoenicians, or rather, as I hope the reader will come to understand by the fact that they both occupied the same land of Canaan, the Hebrews. (Bacchylides, 19.)
The second statement is; ‘so god sent his serpent stick carrying messenger, on eagle’s wings, to lead her out of her captivity.’ Hermes, as we have said previously, parallels Moses, their two serpent sticks, the eagle’s wings, and their particular commissions as divine messengers, have all been covered previously, thus it would be redundant to reexamine these apparently identical characters, however let us here consider the underlying parallel plot, of their respective rescue missions. In the myth of Io, it was Zeus himself who, by deceiving her captor, was responsible for the fact that Io was gripped in bondage. He had lied to Hera in allowing her to keep Io captive. He regretted this and it was his will that she should be freed from her captivity, but he did not personally demand it, instead he appointed an intermediary, Hermes, to deliver her. Neither Argus, the champion of Hera and guard of Io, nor Hera herself, knew the true will of god in this matter. In other words, Zeus had acted to free Io from a captivity which he himself was also responsible for orchestrating. God, in the Scriptural story of the Exodus, was also on both sides of the issue, for on the one hand, He kept, as He put it, ‘hardening the heart’ of the Pharaoh, thereby claiming responsibility for the fact that the Jews were remaining in bondage, while on the other hand, He heard the cries of His poor Earthly wife and, having pity on her in her captivity, it was His will that she should be freed. God did not openly appear to Pharaoh and command him to soften his heart and release the Jews, which He could no doubt have done, as easily as He had caused the Pharaoh to harden it, instead he appointed an intermediary, Moses, to deliver her. One last point on this topic is the interesting detail of the divine excuse. Whether in the Scriptural or the mythological version of the story, the duplicity of God/god is so obvious that the writer finds the need to offer a reason to rationalize it. The Greeks explain that the deceit of Zeus in this regard, demonstrates that it is perfectly permissible to violate a lovers vow, and that it would be completely forgiven by the gods, if one were to do so. While the Scriptural excuse runs thusly; Exodus 10:1-2 And Yahweh said to Moses, Go to Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might show these my signs before him: And that you might tell in the ears of your son, and of your son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that you may know how that I am Yahweh.
Third we have; ‘The messenger of god smote the head of her captor and delivered the Earthly wife of god.’ Argus, surnamed, ‘Panoptes,’ the ‘all-seeing,’ or ‘many-eyed,’ was set as Io’s keeper. The Egyptians were especially fond of representing their gods as an eye, Horus was considered to be the eye of Ra, so was Hathor Ra’s eye, Ra himself was an eye, and even Osiris was an eye, To quote Plutarch; ‘Thus, their great king and lord Osiris is represented by the hieroglyphics for an eye and a scepter, the name itself signifying “many-eyed,” as we are told by some who would derive it from the words os, “many,” and iri, an “eye,” which have this meaning in the Egyptian language.’ If the Greeks did trace the origin of the name Osiris to the term ‘many-eyed’ then Argus Panoptes is a likely figurative version of the famous Egyptian god. After all, to the Egyptians, their Pharaoh represented Osiris, and this must have been especially true of a Pharaoh who had been killed. On the other hand I suspect a more esoteric meaning behind the character of Argus, for Osiris symbolizes more than just the Pharaoh of Egypt he was a symbol of Egypt’s entire religious system. The many eyes mean the many gods, and the famous killing of Argus by Hermes is a symbolic reference to the death of Polytheism and the famous institution of monotheism by Moses. (This will become more evident after a comparison of this story to the story of Perseus who also performs a famous beheading.) As if to bolster this argument, more than one Biblical commentary has represented the ten plagues, culminating with the death of the Pharaoh at the Red Sea, as each targeting, one after another, the different false gods of Egypt, in order to show their combined ineffectiveness against the one true God of Moses.
As the forth item we have; ‘Did he lead her directly home’ No, this is when she went on her famous wanderings, known to the Greeks as, the wanderings of Io.’ While it is true that the most common tale has Io wandering all over the world, at the end of this trek, she had another more familiar journey. We learn from Robert Graves, ‘The Greek Myths,’ (56) that there was a strong tradition claiming that the wanderings of Io ended at Mount Silpium in Syria where she was said to have died of grief. This tradition was backed up by the fact that a city, once called Iopolis but later and better known as Antioch, was founded in her honor, and there was a ceremony held there that the residents performed annually in her memory. The following we learn from Apollodorus; Io gave birth to Epaphus in Egypt, but the Curetes kidnapped him, and so Io set out to search for the child. She roamed all over Syria, and found Epaphus, the Queen of Byblos was nursing him. The Egyptians called Io by the name of Isis. You can verify it by reading his work, ‘Library and Epitome’ (2.1.3) Many mythic women, have wandering as one of their attributes, unfortunately, the scope of this work, does not include tracing the origins of all myths to the stories of the Hebrews, only the Greek ones. If you accept the identification of Io with Isis as given by Apollodorus then, Plutarch confirms the route of her wanderings, that is from Egypt to the land of Canaan (Byblos) in his story of Isis. The Jews after making the calf-god, like Io after the birth of Epaphus, were famous for wandering from Egypt to Canaan. But also like Io, the Jews went through an extensive period of sojourning prior to the calf-god incident, Therefore the Greek myth of Io with her more extensive wanderings could be referring to a story of the Jews that covers the whole period of time from Abraham down through the Exodus. A Scriptural verse that actually talks about this time period can be found at Genesis 15:13 ‘… your seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, … four hundred years.’ Furthermore the phrase ‘your seed’ here cited could be referring to more than Abraham’s descendants through Sarah, for let us not forget that Hagar, who was a wife’s bondmaid like Io, began her period of wandering already in the days of Abraham.
Now, we know that Israel wasn’t in Egypt for 430 years, but, on the other hand they were said to have been first in Mesopotamia, then in Canaan, and then in Egypt, before returning to Canaan, for about that length of time. And so, after a closer examination, it does seem possible that the Greek version of Io’s wanderings could have originated, like the rest of her story, from the same source as the Hebrew version of a story about the wandering Jews. Incidentally, since this story was brought, it would seem, by the Jews from Canaan to Argolis, we can adduce this migration as the final leg of their wanderings.
The fifth point is; ‘There was a mystifying cloud cover,’ In each case the God/god raised up a cloud in order to hide his Earthly wife from her subjugator. See Exodus 14:19 where it says; ‘And the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.’ In the Greek myth Zeus also raises up a mystifying bank of clouds to hide his Earthly wife Io from her subjugator Hera.
Featured sixth is; ‘a gadfly plague,’ While at first glance this would seem to make an intriguing match, I’m afraid that I can’t really defend this identification. Io was indeed ‘plagued’ by a gadfly, but the word which is often translated from the Greek and Latin originals is a verb, and could just as easily have been rendered as ‘harassed,’ ‘attacked’ or ‘stung.’ The scriptural term is a noun and could perhaps be more properly interpreted by the word ‘blow,’ or ‘strike.’ Even the term, ‘gadfly’ is in doubt, a few, by no means all, Scriptural translations, such as, the New World, the Jerusalem Bible, and the Emphasized Bible, have rendered the word representing the agent of the fourth plague as ‘gadfly,’ however, we are more certain that Io’s pest was a gadfly than we are that this Biblical ‘swarm’ was of gadflies. Never-the-less, I did feel obligated to include this topic anyway, for the sake of those who are familiar with both the Hebrew story and the Greek myth, for these would naturally wonder about it. After all, the first two things that come to mind when you hear the phrase, ‘gadfly plague,’ would be, of course, first the Exodus and then the myth of Io. Let the reader dismiss this motif as he sees fit, you can take it or leave it.
As motif number seven we have; ‘and a miraculous water crossing.’ Having identified the wandering Io, with the wandering Jew, the obvious intent here is to equate the miraculous Scriptural Red Sea crossing, with the also miraculous water crossing of the Bosphorus, by the divine heifer in the Greek myth. Although the name “Bosphorus” is usually reserved as the title for the straits between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, there are other narrow water crossings between land masses, that are also called by that name. Apollodorus tells us in his, ‘Library and Epitome’ (2.1.3) “Io … crossed what was then called the Thracian Straits but is now called after her the Bosphorus. (Here, Apollodorus is not referring to the usual Bosphorus, but to the Cimmerian Straits of Phosphorus, a tongue of water that leads from the Black Sea northward into the Sea of Azov now-a-days called the Kerch Strait. It separates the Crimean Peninsula from the Kuban region in the west.) And having gone away to Scythia and the Cimmerian land she wandered over great tracts of land and swam wide stretches of sea both in Europe and Asia until at last she came to Egypt.” There was also what was called the Indian Bosphorus that was, amazingly enough, across the Red Sea, at Bab-El-Mandeb, so says Robert Graves in his book, ‘The Greek Myths,’ (56) Now, the fact that there are these other water crossings that are also called Bosphorus is very suspicious, especially when you suppose that the origin of this word comes from the Greek myth. Could the mere fairy tale of Io swimming across the straits of Bosphorus have been so influential as to name straits all over Europe and Asia’ Wasn’t there another water crossing, that was of much greater import, and was a more likely origin to these multiple uses of the term Bosphorus’ As we have intimated earlier, the term Bosphorus is the Thracian form of Phosphoros (‘Prometheus Bound & the Fragments of Prometheus Loosed’ by N. Wecklein) meaning, “Light bearing.” Probably the word “Bosphorus,” originated with the word “phosphorus.” And this in turn probably came from the word “Eosphoros” (related to other similar terms such as “Hesperus” and “Heosphoros”) or “dawn bearing.” For “Io,” is probably a form of the Greek “Eos,” which means the “dawn” and was, as we have seen, just another name for “Zion,” (could this be the ultimate origin of the English word “dawn'” We also have a goddess called “Morgana” as “morning.”)
The eighth part of the myth is; ‘She gave birth to the “Egyptian” calf god, “Epaphus.” (Apis)’ Showing that Epaphus, the son of Io, was meant by the Greeks to represent the Egyptian calf-god Apis is elementary, the Greeks themselves, as early as Herodotus about 450 BC, (Now Apis is the god whom the Greeks call Epaphus. from ‘Histories’ Chapter 3) make it plain that this is so. Furthermore, equating the golden calf, which was built and worshipped by the Hebrews during their Exodus, with the Egyptian god Apis, is also largely done for me already, by the majority of Scriptural commentaries. Therefore logic propels this statement; If the Greek Epaphus was the Egyptian Apis, and the Egyptian Apis was the Hebrew golden calf, then it logically follows that the Greek Epaphus was the Hebrew golden calf. Of course it may be argued that the Jews did not give birth to the golden calf, however, if we accept that Io was the Jews and that she gave birth to Epaphus just before she wandered from Egypt to Canaan, and we are able to equate that, with the Jews building their golden calf just before they wandered to Canaan, then a strong case can be made that the ‘building’ of the golden calf refers to the ‘birthing’ of Epaphus.
ninth; ‘But, most telling of all, she approached the special mountain where the creator of mankind was bound, and talked to him.’ Associating Io with the Jews, leads automatically to the identification between the two mountains that are featured in each their own two stories. The identical characters identically wandered, the Jew to Mount Sinai, and Io to Mount Caucasia, this would be enough to link the two mountains, but the Greeks offer such details about Io’s special mountain as to make it’s correlation obvious. Not only was there a special mountain, but the creator of mankind was ‘bound’ to it. Now, please don’t let the common knee-jerk reaction, charging blasphemy, and decrying the dissimilarities between the Promethean creation and that of God in the book of Genesis, blind your eyes to the following comparison, no doubt the reader is sufficiently inured by now. Prometheus, like the Scriptural Creator, created Mankind out of clay. Also included in the story of Prometheus, is the tale of how the first woman, therein called Pandora, introduced evil into the world because she could not do as she was told. Prometheus not only gave a clear warning that if heeded would have prevented this feminine mistake, his story also included a Greek version of the ‘Messianic’ prophecy. Just like the Edenic promise concerning the Seed of the enigmatic woman, so was the identity of she who would one day give birth to the child, who was destined to overthrow Zeus, equally mysterious. But where, you may ask, is the Garden of Eden in the story of Prometheus’ The answer is, that the same people who told the story of Prometheus did have the story of that ancient garden, for Prometheus was the brother of none other than Atlas, the ancient gardener himself. Practically every motif from the Scriptural story of creation, can be found within the Greek myth about the family of Prometheus and Atlas. And why not’ For they were the sons of Iapetus, the only character in all of Greek mythology whom, Biblical scholars are willing to admit, may have had a Scriptural origin, Japheth the son of Noah and the progenitor of the Caucasians.
The tenth particular point to be made in the myth of Io as I have laid it out is; ‘Prometheus told Io that she could expect the savior to be born to her, as one of her descendants, thirteen generations hence.’ This point, overlooked by many, is exceptionally strong evidence for equating the Greek and Hebrew traditions. A quote from ‘Prometheus bound,’ a play by Aeschylus, who wrote as early as 500 BC, runs thus; ‘PROMETHEUS: She (a future wife of Zeus) will bear to him a child, And he shall be in might more excellent Than his progenitor. IO: And he will find No way to fend off this strong stroke of fate’ PROMETHEUS: None save my own self when these bonds are loosed. IO: And who shall loose them if Zeus wills not’ PROMETHEUS: Of your own seed. IO: How says you’ Shall a child of mine release thee’ PROMETHEUS: Son of yours, but son the thirteenth generation shall beget. IO: A prophecy oracularly dark.’ Is it not amazing how exactly, down to the smallest details of theology, that the Greek and Hebrew traditions match on this point’ With the advent of this ‘savior’ Prometheus would no longer be ‘bound’ to the mountain. How many stories do you know of where the creator of mankind will be released from his binding contract through the fulfillment of a prophecy predicting the future arrival of the son of god, and the seed of a woman’ (Well, the story of Atlas is also remarkably similar but, as I hope the reader will come to realize, the two stories were intricately related.) The entire genealogy of the Greek savior, all thirteen generations are known to this day! (as if it were the thirteen generations from Abraham to David!) Can any other “myths” claim to pay such attention to the details of lineage? Check it out, Heracles was the son of, Amphitryon the son of, Alcaeus the son of, Perseus the son of, Danae the daughter of, Acrisius the son of, Abas the son of, Hypermnestra the daughter of, Danaus the son of, Belus the son of, Libya the daughter of, Epaphus the son of, Io the daughter of Inachus. Why such meticulous genealogical record keeping, for these fairy tales’ The obvious answer is, that they weren’t fairy tales at first, they only became considered as such by later generations after we had forgotten the true meanings of the symbolisms. Once upon a time they were taken as seriously as Scripture.
Last, but not least, is the eleventh assertion which is as follows; ‘After all this she finally returned to her homeland, Phoronea.’ By now it will have become obvious to the reader, that none of these events actually took place in Greece itself, the wandering was from Egypt to Canaan, the mountain was Sinai, and the miraculous water crossing turns out to have been at the Red Sea, so it should come as no surprise to find that Phoronea was not Argos in the Greek Argolis either. Phoronea was Hebron, the giant who was known to the Greeks as Inachus, and the sons of Inachus, (called the Inachids, in the Greek myths) were the founding family of Phoronea, just as the giant who was known to the Hebrews as Anak, and the sons of Anak, (called the Anakim, in the Bible) were the founding family of Hebron. Thus the Greek giant Inachus is to be identified with the Hebrew giant Anak. (in light of the foregoing, the parents of Inachus, Tethys and Okeanus, represent plausibly, Heth and Canaan.) Inachus had at least two children, a boy, Phoroneus, whom Phoronea was named after, and the girl, Io. The name Phoroneus must be a shibboleth of the name Ephron, whom I assume Hebron to be named after. A further clue for this identification lays in the fact that Phoroneus was famous, in Greek myths for trying to get nomadic peoples to settle down and live in towns, he was a well known ‘civilizer.’ The biblical Ephron tried the same thing with the nomadic Abraham. When the Hebrew patriarch came to Ephron, (the Hittite) at Hebron, looking for a family grave site, all he wanted was a cave, but Ephron made Abraham buy an entire section of the city (Genesis, Chapter 23). This sharing of ownership in a city, gave Abraham’s family a kind of royal status there, but no doubt, made them responsible for taxation as well. While Ephron is said to have lived among the children of Heth, the Anakim are not called Hittites in the Bible, but this is a logical assumption. The Bible does say that the Israelites were largely of Hittite extraction, which leads us back to the sister of Phoroneus, Io. The story of Io concerns the founding families of Phoronea. The Greek myths say, that “Phoronea” was the name of the place before it was changed, (at some unspecified date,) to Argos.
In propagating a new religion it often becomes necessary to denigrate the old existing one. In this way the gods and heroes of the old tradition often become the demons and villains of the new one. It is apparent that this is what occurred in ancient Argolis. The Anakim, who were the original immigrants to Argos from Hebron, brought with them the worship of Hera, the Queen of Heaven. However, the newer arrivals, those who told the story of Io, apparently did not share so fervently in that worship. To them, Hera and her champion Argus, were the persecutors of Io. They preferred to worship a male deity and his messenger Hermes. There are tantalizing mythological hints about the nature of the previous religion where the Queen of Heaven was supreme. She had endowed Argus with great strength and sent him to destroy a terrible enemy of mankind, the monstrous Echidna. We are also told how previously, before Zeus had fallen in love with her and Hera began treating her so badly, Io had served as a priestess of Hera’s. Now, we know from the Hebrew scriptures, that the new religion which was propagated by Moses, also had to overcome the previously existing “pagan” worship of the Queen of Heaven, who is Biblically referred to as “Ashtaroth.” We also know From the book of Jeremiah Chapter 44 Verses 17 through 25, that this form of worship was a very popular alternative to the Hebrew religion. Back in the days of the Canaanite conquest, when Caleb was routing the Anakim out of Hebron, the Israelite leader Joshua, put it to the people to choose which religion they would honor. (Joshua 24:15-16, And if it seem evil unto you to serve Yahweh, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve Yahweh. And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake Yahweh, to serve other gods.) Of course, the people were only giving Joshua lip service, for we further read at Judges 2:13, And they forsook Yahweh, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. This ultimatum to the people to choose between these two forms of worship cannot but helped to remind us of the ancient Greek myth about the founding of Argos. According to the myth, there was a contest between Hera and Poseidon, (Apsu+Adon, “lord of the abyss” he was a very jealous god, who often contested against the local, deity, a goddess usually, demanding the exclusive devotion of its inhabitants. The Athenians also, had to vote for either Athena or Poseidon, who wouldn’t share his adoration. He was the “Earth shaker,” the flood, and the drought, were his instruments. But, for all his Yahweh like attributes, he was very Dagon like too. This mixture of attributes was the result of a mixture between his main worshippers, the Danites and their closely related neighbors, the Philistines.) over whom should be worshipped by the People of Phoronea, it was either Inachus or, as some sources have it, Phoroneus who chose the Queen of Heaven, and thus the place was named for her son. Consequently, the wrathful Poseidon duly punished the people, with drought and flood, for deciding against his worship. The summary of my theory is, that Argolis in Greece was founded by the Anakim from Hebron, who were expelled by Caleb, in the days of Joshua. The People of Argolis brought the stories of Hebron with them as they went to its colony in Greece, they called this colony “Argos,” after the son of Hera, Argus Panoptes. Much of the stories about the city, especially while it was still called Phoronea, actually took place not in Greece but back in Hebron, and the Argolians simply retained those memories as their founding myths. Subsequent waves of Danite/Philistines, also from the land of Canaan, later arrived in Argos, and adjusted the Argolian mythology a bit to better suit their religious beliefs. we shall soon learn more about this Danite wave of immigration, which is also the subject of Greek mythology and known to them as the arrival of Danaus. Before I go on however, to outline the Hebrew origins of the Greek myth about Danaus, I should like to add just a bit more about the Greek mythological character whom we know as Prometheus.
The importance of the Promethean role in classical mythology is often overlooked, but it is central to his theme, that it was he, after all, who with his sage and counsel, was responsible for Zeus’ gaining the kingdom of heaven from Kronos. During the Gigantomachy, (This is the Greek name for the “war of the giants,”) it is said that Prometheus, at first offered to help the Giants, but his help was little appreciated, and he turned to help his, even less appreciative cousin, Zeus and his cohorts the Olympian gods. It was Prometheus who insisted that Zeus enlist the aide of the previously banished masons of antiquity, the cannibalistic, Cyclopes, a move which sealed the victory for the gods. Prometheus surpassed all the gods in cunning and guile, he was very capable of ridiculing them, which he sometimes did. Once when Mankind found themselves in a dispute with the gods over which part of an animal sacrifice should be kept by men, and which should be offered to the gods. It was decided that Prometheus, would be the mediator between gods and man, and settle this question of sacrifice once and for all. He did so by a fraud intended to favor mankind; he divided a sacrificial bull into two halves, and wrapped the choice, edible parts, in skin and guts, but the bones he covered with a convincing amount of fat. He then had Zeus choose one of the piles. The king chose the fat, as that looked best on the surface, and so was duped. That was the insult which so outraged Zeus that he took fire, and all it’s uses away from mankind and determined to wipe out the race. Prometheus would not allow this to happen, so he sneaked into heaven and stole a portion of fire from the lightning bolt of Zeus, and he carried it, hidden in a fennel stalk, back down to mankind. He then cautioned mankind to beware of Zeus, his rule, and all his ways. Because of this indignation, Zeus was now fully enraged at the champion of mankind. He ordered Hephaestos, (some say Hermes) to chain Prometheus to mount Caucasus, to hang, exposed to the elements, where a vulture was commissioned to gnaw at his liver daily, (the liver grew back each eve,) through a wound in his side. Now then, Zeus would have left Prometheus in this predicament forever, except for the fact that he had acquired a curse against himself, at the time that he usurped the Kingdom of Heaven from Kronos, so saying that one of his sons would surpass him. Zeus, more like and earthly king, (such as Nimrod, Pharaoh, or Herod,) than a god, did not know who this son, or his mother, was going to be, but Prometheus was a great prophet, he knew, and Zeus wanted to find out. Zeus promised to stop the punishment if Prometheus would only reveal the name, but Prometheus was silent in the face of his persecutor, choosing to suffer, (for the sake of man) and would not tell the secret, thus insuring the successful downfall of Zeus.
For more articles by John R. Salverda on the Hebraic Connections of Greek Mythology, see:
“Helleno-Yishurin. The Hebrew Origin of Greek Legends”