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The Twelfth Tribe of Israel

The Great Goddess, Inanna, plays another part in early Biblical times.  There is the story* of a Levite who was traveling through the territory of one of the twelve tribes of Israel, that of Benjamin.  In his travels, however, he was allegedly assaulted, and his concubine ravished, by worshipers of Belial -- a variant of the Sumerian mother goddess.  The Levite demanded vengeance for the atrocity, and at a council of the twelve tribes, the Benjamites were instructed to deliver the malefactors to justice.   

The Benjamites refused to do so, and undertook, by force of arms, to protect the "sons of Belial".  One might suspect the alleged assault was a put-up job to chastise the goddess worshipers.  But in either event, it turned out badly, as the result was a bitter and bloody war between the Benjamites and the remaining eleven tribes.  In the course of hostilities, a curse was pronounced on any man who gave his daughter to a Benjamite.  When the war was over, however, and the Benjamites virtually exterminated, the victorious Israelites repented of their malediction -- which, however, could not be retracted.           

Confronted by the possible extinction of an entire tribe, the elders quickly devised a solution.  At Shiloh, in Bethel, the women of Shiloh -- whose men folk had remained neutral in the war -- were to partake in a festival.  The Benjamites were instructed to go to Shiloh, wait in ambush in the vineyards, and when the women congregated to dance in the festival, the Benjamites were to pounce upon them and take them to wife.  In this way, the Benjamites would be allowed to recover from the devastation of the war.  Eventually they furnished Israel with her first king, Saul, and ultimately the all-important House of David -- so apparently the plan worked well beyond the expectations of the planners.           

It should be remembered that the Tribe of Benjamin had been singled out for a very special and exalted blessing, when in Deuteronomy 33:12, Moses pronounced blessings on the patriarchs of each of the twelve tribes.  Of Benjamin, Moses said, "The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders."  This symbolism later became a red cross between the shoulders.  This symbolism has carried down to modern times.  

In the course of the war, many of the Benjamites left their country, fleeing in Phoenician ships.  It is believed that the Phoenicians also worshipped the mother goddess in the form of Astarte, and that the Benjamites revered the same deity.  The relevant question, however, is where did the Benjamites go?  In Greek myth, in the legend of the son of King Belus, one Danaus arrives in Greece with his daughters by ship.  His daughters are said to have introduced the worship of the mother goddess, which became the established religion of the Arcadians.  According to Robert Graves, the Danaus myth records the arrival in the Peloponnesus of "colonists from Palestine."  Graves also states that King Belus is in fact Baal, or Bel -- or perhaps Belial from the Old Testament.  It is also worthy of note that one of the clans of the Tribe of Benjamin was the clan of Bela.  

In Arcadia the mother goddess cult prospered and survived, becoming associated with the worship of Demeter, then of Artemis.  Artemis ultimately became known as Arduina, tutelary deity of the Ardennes in northeastern France.  In this way, the mother goddess religion spread into France and into the various tribes of the area.  The Merovingians, a dynasty we will consider next, appeared to have incorporated much of the mythology of Artemis and the mother goddess, including references to Ursa Major, the Great Bear, and "Ursus" of the Merovingians.           

In classical times, the region known as Arcadia was ruled by the powerful, militaristic state of Sparta.  The Spartans absorbed much of the older Arcadian culture.  In addition, the books of Maccabees in the Apocrypha (those books left out of the Bible) stress the link between Spartans and Jews.  Maccabees 2 speaks of certain Jews "having embarked to go to the Lacedaemonians (Spartans), in hope of finding protection there because of their kinship."  Maccabees I states explicitly: "It has been found in writing concerning the Spartans and the Jews that they are brethren and are of the family of Abraham."  Interestingly, the Spartans were also known to ascribe a special, magical significance to their long hair and made a point of wearing it long -- an attribute much like Samson, not to mention the later Merovingians.  In fact, according to some credible and unique documents, the Merovingians were descended, via Arcadia, from the Tribe of Benjamin.  

 

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*This very abbreviated historical perspective is taken from numerous sources, including specifically the excellent book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln [Dell Publishing, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, 1983].

 

               

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