ADDITIONAL HISTORICAL FACTS ABOUT EASTER
mother goddess was variously known as Astarte, Ishtar, Ashtoreth, Cybele,
Demeter, Ceres, Aphrodite, Venus, and Freya.
was the most important goddess of the pagan Semites. She was the goddess
of love, fertility, and maternity for the Phonicians, Canaanites,
Aramaeans, South Arabs, and even the Egyptians. Her name was Ishtar in
Babylonia and Assyria, where she was also the goddess of war. Some Old
Testament stories call her Ashtoreth, and describe the construction of
her altar by King Solomon and its destruction by King Josiah. Astarte
was identified with the planet Venus. The Greeks called her Aphrodite,
and the Romans knew her as Venus. "-World Book, Vol. 1, 782.
Astarte was the goddess of the ancient Phoenicians. She loved Adoni
(Adonis), who was slain by a boar (a wild pig), but rose from the dead
and then ascended to heaven in the sight of his worshipers.
In Syria, Astarte was the Great Mother goddess and queen of prostitutes.
Her worship culminated at the vernal equinox. This is about March 21
of each year, when the day and night are of equal length; we today call
it the first day of spring. This well-known historian, Will Durant,
explains how the celebration of her lover, Adoni, was celebrated by
the pagans on that day, by sexual orgies:
prostitution flourished, for in Syria, as throughout western Asia, the
fertility of the soil was symbolized in a Great Mother, or goddess,
whose sexual commerce with her lover gave the hint to all the
reproductive processes and energies of nature; and the sacrifice of virginity
at the temples was not only an offering to Astarte, but a participation
with her in that annual self-abandonment which, it was hoped, would
offer an irresistible suggestion to the earth, and insure the increase
of plants, animals, and men. About the time of the vernal equinox, the
festival of the Syrian Astarte, like that of Cybele in Phrygia, was
celebrated at Hierapolis with a fervor bordering upon madness. The noise
of flutes and drums mingled with the wailing of the women for Astarte's
dead lord, Adoni; eunuch priests danced wildly, and slashed themselves
with knives. .Then in the dark of the night, the priests brought a
mystic illumination to the scene, opened the tomb of the young god, and
announced triumphantly that Adoni, the lord, had risen from the dead.
Touching the lips of the worshipers with balm, the priests whispered to
them the promise that they, too, would some day rise from the
grave." -Will Durant, History of Civilization, Vol. 1, 296-297.
IN ISRAEL-The Israelites referred to Astarte as "Ashtoreth."
In the Bible, the prophets of God denounced the worship of Ashtoreth,
but many of the people worshiped her and her consort, Baal, the sun god.
This worship was done amid groves of trees, on the summits of
mountains. Here they worshiped sacred stones, practiced divination, and
engaged in orgies as part of their worship of Ashtoreth and Baal.
Because the myth of Astarte included the idea of a resurrected sun god,
the sacred grove worship was carried on at daybreak as the sun was
northern kingdom of Israel (Samaria) was destroyed because of such
idolatry. Later, King Josiah of Judah marched through it and tore down
the altars to Baal, 'and them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the
sun, and to the moon, and to the planets.' He 'defiled Topheth . . that
no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to
Molech'; and he smashed the altars that Solomon had built for Chemosh,
Milcom, and Astarte" (see 2 Kgs. 23:2, 4, 10, 13).
IN SUMERIA AND BABYLONIA
Ishtar was the love goddess of the Babylonians. Her worship came down
from earliest times in Sumeria, where her lover was Tammuz. She was the
goddess of the mothers and prostitutes, and of love and war.
"Though her worshipers repeatedly addressed her as 'The Virgin,' 'The Holy Virgin,' and The Virgin Mother,' this merely meant that her amours were free from all taint of wedlock." Will Durant, History of Civilization, Vol. I, 235.
was said to be the daughter of Sin, the moon god. Her lover was Tammuz,
the sun god. She was called the "Queen of Heaven" by her worshipers
and their priests. According to the ancient myth, when Tammuz was slain
by a wild animal, Ishtar raises him to life. Because of this, a yearly
spring festival was held in honor of Ishtar, the mother goddess.
is the] myth of Ishtar and Tammuz. In the Sumerian form of the tale,
Tammuz is Ishtar's younger brother; in the Babylonian form, he is
sometimes her lover, sometimes her son; both forms seem to have entered
into the myths of Venus and Adonis, Demeter and Persephone, and a
hundred scattered legends of death and resurrection . . To the
Babylonians it was sacred history, faithfully believed and annually
commemorated by mourning and wailing for the dead Tammuz, followed by
riotous rejoicing over his resurrection. "-Ibid., 238-239.
-Even earlier in history, the Sumerians worshiped Innini, or Ishtar.
Here is Durants description of her:
"[The city] Uruk worshiped especially the virgin earth goddess Innini, known to the Semites of Akkad as Ishtarthe loose and versatile Aphrodite Demeter of the Near East. Kish and Lagash worshiped a Mater Dolorsa, the sorrowful mother-goddess' Ninkarsag, who, grieved with the unhappiness of men, interceded for them with the siemer deities."-Ibid., 127.
-Essentially the myths surrounding Cybele were so much like those of
Greece, that the Greeks called the latter, Rhea Cybele, and considered
the two divinities one. In Greece, her temple was at Athens. As usual,
she resurrected her lover, Attis, each spring at the vernal equinox.
the Near East, this mother goddess was variously known as Astarte,
Ishtar, Ashtoreth, Cybele, Demeter, Ceres, Aphrodite, Venus, and Freya.
had a special lover (sometimes called her son; and, in one case, her
daughter). Thus, for example, we have Isis and Horus, the sun god (Osiris
was the son), in Egypt (in later Egypt, Osiris was called Serapis);
Ishtar and Tammuz, in Bablyon and Sumeria; Cybele and Attis, in Phrygia;
Aphrodite and Adonis, in Syria; Atys and Bendis, in Asia; and Anaita and
Haoma (later called Mithra), in Persia.
also had a special son (who was sometimes the same as his father). So
we have Isis and Osiris, in Egypt; Ishtar and Tammuz, in Babylonia;
Astarte and Adonis, in Syria; Demeter and Persephone (and daughter), in
Greece; and Cybele and Attis, in Phrygia.
Greece, she is called Demeter; and she obtained the yearly resurrection,
each spring, of her daughter (not a son in this instance), Persephone.
it [the myth of Demeter and Persephone] was the same myth as that of
Isis and Osiris, in Egypt; Tammuz and Ishtar, in Babylonia: Astarte and
Adonis, in Syria: Cybele and Attis, in Phrygia. The cult of motherhood
survived through classical times to take new life in the worship of
Mary, the mother of God." -Will Durant, History of Civilization,
Vol. 2, 178.
was the major city of Ionia; and its temple of Artemis (called Diana
in Acts 19) was famous, for it was the largest Greek temple ever built.
The temple of Ceres stood on the site of an earlier temple to Poseidon.
Here Ceres was venerated.
OF THE ROMANS-Venus
(also called Aphrodite) was equivalent to the earth fertility and love
goddess of the other Near Eastern nations. According to some stories,
her son was Aeneas, the ancestor of the Romans; according to others,
Cupid. In Rome, every month was dedicated to a god, and April belonged
to Venus. She was worshiped as the Mother goddess of their race, since
they were supposed to be descended from her through Aeneas. Later, they
dedicated their days to gods and borrowed, from the Persians, the
sacred sun god, Mithra, on that day.
AND MITHRA OF PERSIA-As
we pass down through time, we come to Persia and the goddess Anaita-the
love, or earth, goddess. Their chief god was the sun god, Ahura-Mazda,
who later became known as Mithra (also called Mithras). Under the name,
Mithra, he became the most important god in Rome before Christianity
a while, under Darius II [521-486], it [the worship of Ahura-Mazda]
became the spiritual expression of a nation at its height. . Underneath
the official worship of Ahura-Mazda, the cult of Mithra and Anaita-god
of the sun and goddess of vegetation and fertility, generation and
sex-continued to find devotees; and in the days of Artaxeres II [404-359
B.C.] their names began to appear again in the royal inscriptions.
Thereafter Mithra grew powerfully in favor and Ahura-Mazda faded ,away
until, in the first centuries of our era, the cult of Mithra as a divine
youth of beautiful countenance-With a radiant halo over his head as a
symbol of his ancient identity with the sun-spread throughout the
Roman Empire, and shared in giving Christmas to Christianity [footnote
on the same page]. Christmas was originally a solar festival,
celebrating, at the winter solstice, the lengthening of the day and
the triumph of the sun over his enemies. It became a Mithraic, and
finally a Christian, holy day." -Will Durant, The Story of
Civilization, Vol. 1,372.
leading gods of ancient Persia were Mithra, the sun god; Anaita, the
nature goddess; and her lover Haoma, who rose to life again. Later,
the dying-rising Haoma became transformed into the dying-rising MIthra,
the saviour god who, in the hands of Satan, became the chief
counterfeit of Christianity in the Roman Empire after the time of
Christ. MIthra worship was a carefully contrived counterfeit of
Christianity, which Satan suggested to the minds of men over the centuries.
then, in the fourth century A.D., when Christianity won over Mithraism,
Mithraic and Ishtar elements of worship were incorporated into Christian
Mithra was always shown with a solar halo around his head, so
portraits and statues of Christ (and Mary and the saints) had halos
around around their heads also.
worshipers of Ishtar presented her with two fertility symbolseggs and
bunny rabbits, these became part of the Christian Easter service.
sunrise on Sunday morning, at the beginning of spring, was next to
December 25th, the holiest day in the Mithraic calendar, the practice
of Easter sunrise services continued on into Christianity.
Mithra was worshiped on the first day of the week, which the Persians
and Romans called the sun day, Sunday sacredness which is nowhere to
be found in the Biblecame into the Christian church.
Mithra, the sun, "died and rose to life" each year on December
25 (when the sun became lowest in the sky), the birth of Christ began to
be celebrated on that date (although it is clear from facts in the Bible
that He was born in the fall of that year).
the Istar (Astarte, Astoreth, etc.) celebration was held each spring on
a Sunday, close to the vernal equinox, the ascension of Christ was
changed from 40 days after the time of Passover (as told us in the
Bible) to the annual Easter celebration.
this began centuries before in paganIsm, with the Ishtar and Tammuz
have carefully considered what ancient, secular historical records
reveal. Here are facts from another ancient historical record, the
the beginning of earth's history, God created the entire world in six
days and rested on the seventh day and sanctified it, or set it apart,
as a special day for men to worship Him on (Gen. 2:1-3). This is God's
own day to worship Him on.
Christ created all things (Col. 1:16: John 1:3; Heb. 1:2), and He calls
Himself the Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8; Mark 2:28). It is His
day-the Lord's day (Rev. 1:10).
made it for manall mankind (Mark 2:27) and not just for the Jewish
race. God gave the Sabbath at the foundation of the world (Gen. 2:1-3),
and His followers kept it before it was given on Mount Sinai (Ex. 16).
On Mount Sinai He spoke and wrote His law, so that all the world might
more clearly know it (Ex. 20:8-11). In the fourth commandment, we find
the seal of the law and the sign that He is our Creator (Ex. 31: 1 7)
and our Redeemer (Ezek. 20:12) and that we belong to Him (Ezek. 20.20).
Jerusalem was destroyed and His people were led into captivity because
they were so prone to idolatry and refused to obey Him and keep His
Sabbath (Jer. 26:1-6; 52:1-13).
here on earth, Jesus gave a careful example of obedience to the Sabbath
day which He had given mankind (Luke 4: 16), and rebuked man-made
changes in His laws (Matt. 15:9, 6). He magnified the law and made it
honorable (Matt. 5:17-18).
before His death He predicted the destruction of Jerusalem thirty-nine
years later, in A.D. 70, and at the end of the world (Matt. 24). He also
cautioned His followers to continue to carefully observe the Sabbath
even when those terrible events should come to pass years, and even
centuries, later (Matt. 24:20).
carefully instructed His disciples to keep His day holy, and He wanted
them to "remember the Sabbath day" (Ex. 20:8) long after He
had returned to Heaven. His followers faithfully kept it after His
death (Luke 23:56) and later in their missionary work (Acts 13:14-16;
40-46;16:12-15; 17:1-4). They declared that we ought to obey God rather
than men (Acts 5:29), and Paul could sincerely say of himself and His
follow believers: "Do we then make void the law through faith? God
forbid: yea we establish the law" (Rom. 3:31). The Word of God was
being fulfilled in order that the Gentiles would one day faithfully keep
the Sabbath that the Jews were desecrating (Isa. 56:3-7).
Bible predicted that a great desolating power was to arise in later
centuries that would seek to destroy the atonement and God's laws from
among His people (Dan. 7:8, 20-21, 25; 8:9-12).
attempt, by this power, to change God's laws, and especially His law
regarding time, was specifically predicted in Daniel 7:25. Only God can
change the law, and so Paul predicted the rise of a man who would call
himself God (2 Thess. 2:3-4). With boldness this power would sit in the
temple of God and call itself God (2 Thess. 2:4) and boastfully admit
what it had done, declaring it to be a mark of its authority and,
indeed, is it not? You see, it's like this: I acknowledge and honor
God's authority when I obey His commands and encourage others to do so.
I declare my independence of God when I set aside His law and refuse to
keep it. But I set myself up as a rival god when, having set aside His
law, I establish in its place a counterfeit and then require others to
keep it in place of the law that God commanded!
ye obey, his servants ye are" (Rom. 6:16). God's Word declares that
obedience to this man-made god, by keeping his counterfeit day of
worship (while knowing that there is not one word or hint in all the
Scriptures to keep that false day in place of the true Sabbath) will
soon bring upon oneself the Mark of the Beast (Rev. 13:16-17; 14:6-12).
Only the remnant who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus
at that time resist it (Rev. 13:8; 14:6-12; 12:17). In fact, the Bible
predicts a return to the true Sabbath as God's people will rebuild the
torn out place in the law of God by again keeping His true Sabbath (Isa.
58:13-14). And thank God, the assuring prophecy is given that the saved
of all ages will one day soon honor the holy Sabbath of God throughout
all eternity in the new earth (Isa. 66:22-23).
is never called sacred or holy anywhere in the Bible. It is never
called the Sabbath or the Lord's Day. Sunday is only mentioned eight
times in the Bible. The first time is Genesis 1:5, where the first day
of creation week is spoken of. The next five times refer to Jesus'
appearances, on Sunday, to His disciples after His rest in the tomb on
the Sabbath (Matt 28:1; Mark 16:1-2,9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 18-19).
Jesus went and found them and told them the good news that He was alive.
There is nothing here about Sunday sacredness. The seventh time is in
Acts 20:7-8, where Paul speaks to the Ephesian leaders. A few verses
later (Acts 20: 1538), he speaks to another group in the middle of the
week, but that doesn't make that day anymore sacred than the Sunday
preceding it. For only a direct command of God can make a day holy.
Repeatedly in Acts, Paul kept the Sabbath holy (Acts 13:14-16, 40-46;
16:12-15; 17:1-4) just as his Master had done before Him. Acts is as
silent on Sunday sanctity as is Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
eighth and last text is found in 1 Corinthians 16: 1-2, where Paul
instructs the believers to do their bookkeeping at home on Sunday
mornings. The first working day of the week was a good day for this,
since Friday they were so busy preparing for the Sabbath.
what about the "Lord's Day"? John the Revelator saw Christ in
vision on the Lord's Day (Rev. 1:10). What day was that? The Bible does
not say it was Sunday; but, from statements elsewhere in the Bible, we
can know what day it was. The "Lord's Day," both in Greek as
well as English, means "the Day of the Lord." The Sabbath is
the day unto the Lord (Ex. 20:10; Lev. 23:3; Deut. 5:14), and His own
day (lsa. 58:13). Jesus is the Creator who gave us the Sabbath"
3:9; John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1-2; Gen. 2:1-3), and John heard Him call
Himself, "the LORD of the Sabbath day" (Matt. 12:8; Mark
2:28). John well-knew which day was the Lord's Day. This day is the
memorial day of the Creator (Gen. 2:1-3; Ex. 31:17), the memorial day of
the Redeemer (Eze. 20:12, 20). It is the Lord's Day . . a day that God
wants to share with you. He plans to keep it with you throughout all
eternity to come (Isa. 66:22-23). Come, worship Him on the best day-His
day-the only day of worship your God ever gave you.
much more information on how a variety of pagan customs came into the
Christian church in the first three centuries, read our book, Mark of
by little, at first in stealth and silence and then more openly as it
increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, 'the
mystery of iniquity' carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work.
imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into the
Christian church. The spirit of compromise and conformity was restrained
for a time by the fierce persecutions which the church endured under
as persecution ceased, and Christianity entered the courts and palaces
of kings, she laid aside the humble simplicity of Christ and His
apostles for the pomp and pride of pagan priests and rulers; and in
place of the requirements of God, she substituted human theories and
nominal conversion of Constantine, in the early part of the fourth
century, caused great rejoicing; and the world, cloaked with a form of
righteousness, walked into the church.
the work of corruption rapidly progressed. Paganism, while appearing to
be vanquished, became the conqueror. . and superstitions were
incorporated into the faith and worship of the professed followers of
Christ." Great Controversy, 49-50