LAND FLOWING WITH MILK AND HONEY
As seen above, in his commentary on Exodus 3.8, Clarke remarks: “A land flowing with milk and honey… The poets feign that Bacchus, the fable of whom they have taken from the history of Moses, produced rivers of milk and honey, of water and wine…” He then reproduces the Greek of Euripides (“Bacch., Εποδ., ver. 8”), after which he further comments:
“The land flows with milk; it flows also with wine; it flows also with the nectar of bees (honey).” This seems to be a mere poetical copy from the Pentateuch, where the sameness of metaphor and the correspondence of the description are obvious.
We have mentioned already a number of sources for this motif, including Euripides (Ba. 142–143). If copying there be, it is from pagan myth to the Bible, not the other way around, but the parallel is clear enough that clergy have been compelled to address it.
We have seen previous instances in which people were struck down for looking into a sacred chest, box or ark, including the story of Athena and Aglaurus. In the Bacchic myth of Pentheus in Euripides also appears an example where mockery and rejection of the god can be fatal. In discussing 1 Samuel 6:19 about the stricken men of Beth Shemesh, Bishop Patrick recounts:
Out of this story, as Bocharius [Samuel Bochart] ingeniously conjectures, the Greeks forged the Fable of Bacchus, who was very angry with the Athenians, because they did not receive his Mysteries with Pomp, when they were brought out of Boeotia into Attica, and smote them with a sore Disease in their Secret Parts.
As previously mentioned, this last bit also sounds like Yahweh smiting the men of Ashdod with hemorrhoids.
Both Patrick and Bochart noticed the parallels but, as is typical of clergymen, tried to attribute them to copying by the Greeks, rather than the other way around. As we know, however, the Greek myths are not dependent on the Bible, and the similarities at times exist because both versions share a common mythical archetype, as well as probable direct borrowing in parts of the Pentateuch from well-known Dionysian mythology. These instances of syncretism would include deity-ordained pestilence, plagues and other divine retribution throughout the Bible.
Subsequent to the actual plagues of 432, 429 and 427/6 BCE that killed the Athenian leader, Pericles, Aristophanes’s play The Acharnians was presented at the Dionysian festival of Lenaea/Lenaia. In this drama, the Acharnians detest their enemies for destroying their vineyards, as part of the Bacchic cultus central to the story. At one point (501ff), the protagonist calls on Poseidon to bring about earthquakes to destroy the houses of the Lacedaemonians, who have cut down the vines.
The ancient commentary (“scholia”) on Acharnians explains in the following manner the references to the “upright” and “erect” phalluses carried by the “basket-bearer” in the Bacchic procession:
Statues of Dionysus were brought to Athens by one Pegasus, a native of Cleutheris in Boeotia, but were treated with ridicule. The deity, in revenge for this insult, sent a terrible disease which attacked them in the private organs, and the oracle said the only way to get rid of this disease was by adopting Dionysus as their god, and the phallus as a symbol of his worship, in memory of the organ affected.
Regarding this annotation on the verse in Aristophanes, British classicists and ancient history professors Drs. David Braund and John Wilkins state:
The Aristophanic scholia on the Acharnians (243) relate a tradition according to which the Athenians did not accept with appropriate honour the statue of the god which Pegasus had brought from Eleutherae. In retribution the god sent them some sort of venereal disease…
As noted earlier, a number of myths from the Greeks and others frequently depict gods and goddesses exacting brutal punishment for hubris, blasphemy and assorted other “crimes” against them. The biblical story of supernatural retribution ranks as no more plausible than these other myths.
PASSOVER, VERNAL EQUINOX AND WILDERNESS
The setting of the year’s start and Passover in the spring or at the vernal equinox can be found at Exodus 12:2:
This month shall be for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you.
The first month of the year is named at Exodus 13:4 as “Abib,” later called “Nisan” and running from March to April. The Hebrew word ‘ אביב abiyb means:
1) fresh, young barley ears, barley
2) month of ear-forming, of greening of crop, of growing green Abib, month of exodus and passover (March or April)
As we can see, the month of Abib or Aviv is named for its vernal fertility, the reawakening of life after the death of winter.
Concerning this Exodus scripture, English bible scholar and minister Rev. Dr. Matthew Henry (1662–1714) comments:
They had hitherto begun their year from the middle of September, but henceforward they were to begin it from the middle of March, at least in all their ecclesiastical computations. Note it is good to begin the day, and begin the year, and especially to begin our lives, with God. This new calculation began the year with the spring, which reneweth the face of the earth, and was used as a figure of the coming of Christ…
The Babylonian-named Nisan or Nissan is the month in which the “Passover lamb” Christ—here equated with the spring—was said to be “crucified” and “resurrected,” essentially also at the vernal equinox, representing the old myth of dying and rising spring deities. The “cross” of the equinox represents the time of the year when the day and night are equal. There are thus two crosses, spring and fall or autumnal, explaining the different crucifixion scenes in the biblical myth. The autumnal equinox also clarifies why the Israelites were said to start their year previously in the middle of September, the time of the fall harvest and new wine.
As concerns the mythical nature of the Passover, we read:
Despite the Exodus story, scholars believe that the passover festival originated not in the biblical story but as a magic ritual to turn away demons from the household by painting the doorframe with the blood of a slaughtered sheep.
This bloody magic ritual was part of the Babylonian mašmašu priesthood, discussed below.
DIONYSIAN SPRING FESTIVAL
Emphasis on the vernal equinox occurs in the Dionysian religion as well, previously mentioned, during which time the god and his ark were carried in procession. Regarding Bacchus’s association with the vernal equinox, Pausanias (3.22.2) states:
Above Migonium is a mountain called Larysiumi sacred to Dionysus, and at the beginning of spring they hold a festival in honor of Dionysus, and among the things they say about the ritual is that they find here a ripe bunch of grapes.
This story is reminiscent of the biblical tale of the spies entering the Promised Land and discovering grapes.
The Bacchic spring theme thus also involves the wilderness sojourn, along with the emphasis on the Ram or Lamb:
The Legislator of the Jews fixed the commencement of their year in the month Nisan, at the Vernal Equinox, at which season the Israelites marched out of Egypt and were relieved of their long bondage; in commemoration of which Exodus, they ate the Paschal Lamb at the Equinox. And when Bacchus and his army had long marched in burning deserts, they were led by a Lamb or Ram into beautiful meadows, and to the Springs that watered the Temple of Jupiter Ammon.
The story of escaping bondage commemorated at the vernal equinox, when a new year begins, represents a solar myth based on winter’s transition to spring.
Possibly reflecting the same motif as on the Mendes stela with its “holy ram in the meadows of Mendes,” in the Dionysian myth the “burning meadows” and “desolated wilderness” are metaphors for the winter months, traditionally dry in the relevant regions during that time. The entry into the “promised land” and “beautiful meadows” is the renewal of spring, with the watery temple of the father god’s ram aspect symbolizing the new year rains.
LAMB OF THE DESERT
As noted, Dionysus “the Kid” provides water to his army in the middle of the desert, a water-producing miracle also found in the Moses myth, which likewise revolves significantly around sacred rams and lambs. Ruminants constitute a major focus throughout the Pentateuch, in which Moses sacrifices the “ram of the burnt offering,” using its blood to consecrate the newly built altar for Israel (Lev 8:18). Lambs too are offered as sacrifices, as at Genesis
22:7 and Numbers 28:11. Leviticus 4:32 and 5:6 discuss a lamb for a sin offering, while elsewhere the lamb serves as a burnt offering (Lev 9:3) and guilt offering (Lev 14:24–25). Exodus 29 gives detailed instructions on how to sacrifice the ram, serving as a burnt offering also at Leviticus 16:3, a guilt offering at Leviticus 19:21, and a “ram of atonement” at Numbers 5:8. We also hear about the “goat of the sin offering,” as at Leviticus 10:16 and 16:10, which describe the scapegoat ritual to remove sins, the same concept represented in the gospel story with the “Lamb of God” sacrificed for the sins of mankind.
These biblical beasts were sacrificed during the “feast of the lamb” or Passover (Exod 12) on the 14th day of the first month, equivalent to the vernal equinox. These elements represent aspects of “astronomical fables,” as, in astrology, the ram is equivalent to Aries, representing the precessional age of the era as well as the month in which spring transitions from winter.
EXODUS INTO THE SEA
As early as Homer, we read that, like Moses, Dionysus and his devotees were pursued into a ruddy sea by an angry king. While Moses and his crew are chased towards the holy mountain of Sinai, Bacchus and his followers are driven down the sacred mount of Nysa. Like Moses’s kingly pursuer, the Greek god’s persecutor, the tyrannical Spartan ruler Lycurgus/Lykourgos, dies a horrible death. Other writers of antiquity who refer to the battle between Lycurgus and Dionysus include Aeschylus, Ovid, Seneca, Pausanias, Pseudo-Hyginus (3rd cent. AD/CE) and Nonnus.
In The Iliad (6.129–143), composed around 900 BCE, the character of Diomedes describes the homicidal king driving the god and his followers down the Nysean hill:
…all of them shed and scattered their wands on the ground, stricken with an ox-goad by murderous Lykourgos, while Dionysos in terror dived into the salt surf, and Thetis took him to her bosom, frightened, with the strong shivers upon him at the man’s blustering. But the gods who live at their ease were angered with Lykourgos, and the son of Kronos struck him to blindness, nor did he live long afterwards, since he was hated by all the immortals.
Lycurgus’s punishment for dishonoring the gods was firstly to murder his own wife and daughter in a fit of madness, “in the belief that they were spreading vines,” and secondly to die horribly by being eaten by wild animals.
THE RUDDY SEA
As we have seen, in his Hercules Furens (899–900), Seneca calls Bacchus “the tamer of Lycurgus and the ruddy sea…” Seneca translator Miller notes that the “ruddy sea” refers to the body of water that Dionysus “crossed when he conquered India.” Seneca’s original Latin for “ruddy sea” is rubri maris, the word rubri or “ruddy” connoting redness, as in the Red Sea. If Dionysus was “born” in Egypt, then he could be said to cross the Red Sea when his viniculture cult found its way to India. Here is one possible meaning of the motif of crossing the Red Sea; there are others, apparently.
Don Allen avers that Nonnus “probably had the crossing of the Red Sea in mind when he wrote of his hero that ‘he took to his heels and ran in fear too fast to be pursued/until he leaped into the gray waters of the Erythraian Sea.’”
It should be noted that the phrases “Erythraian Sea” and Rubrum Mare are used in antiquity to describe the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean or the Persian Gulf.
Since antiquity, comparisons have been made between the Spartans and Jews, including their legislators, about which subjects Dr. Louis H. Feldman notes:
In the first place, there is the parallel…between their respective lawgivers, Moses and Lycurgus, both of whom (Diodorus 1.94.1– 2) claimed a divine origin for their laws… Moreover, both Lycurgus and Moses (according to Hecateus, apud Diodorus 40.3.6) instituted a rigorous training program for their youth.
Diodorus related that there were those who claimed Lycurgus, Solon and Plato “borrowed from Egypt many of those laws which they established in their several commonwealths.”
The Lycurgus myth and the several others concerning Dionysus’s mockers appear to represent objections to the proliferation of the grapevine and wine, which was the meaning behind the tale of Bacchus traveling widely around the Mediterranean and beyond. One could see how those who benefited from viticulture and viniculture might devise deadly myths of this sort to prevent others from likewise imposing a ban on the vine and wine. In this regard, we find the same sort of wrathful behaviors by the gods of both the Old and New Testaments.
The situation would be similar to the bans on alcohol and cannabis in various places today, some of which carry with them the death penalty for illicit drug trade. In this Bacchic myth, we see punishment imposed for the opposite reason, as the grapevine and wine were highly valued as gifts of the gods, and to oppose them was sacrilegious. Such blasphemy was seen as directed at the sun as well, since it was “he” who grew the vine and ripened the grapes, the sun represented by various gods, such as Helios, Apollo, Dionysus and numerous others of antiquity, explicated by Macrobius and others.
FOOD OF THE GODS
Previously discussed was the mythical nature of manna, with various parallels in pagan mythology, including the Dionysian. The concept of the “manna from heaven” extends to “divine honey,” a motif commonly associated with Bacchus, as the god of honey and mead on Crete. Indeed, honey has been deemed the “food of the gods” in not a few civilizations, including the Cretan, in which the culture of bees, honey and mead were deeply entrenched, at such an archaic age as to predate the cultivation of the vine and wine-making on that island. Rather than representing a “historical event,” the biblical “honey from heaven” could symbolize yet another rehashed Dionysian motif.
Another parallel between the Moses and Dionysus myths occurs in Exodus 15, when Miriam and all the Israelite women dance in a celebratory frenzy praising Yahweh, much like the Bacchae or Dionysian priestesses and maenads in their ecstatic rapture.
At Exodus 15:20, Miriam and the other rapturous Hebrew dancers are depicted as using “drums” or “timbrels” in their victory celebration:
Then Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and dancing.
λαβοῦσα δὲ Μαριαμ ἡ προφῆτις ἡ ἀδελφὴ Ααρων τὸ τύμπανον ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτῆς καὶ ἐξήλθοσαν πᾶσαι αἱ γυναῖκες ὀπίσω αὐτῆς μετὰ τυμπάνων καὶ χορῶν
The Greek word here for “timbrels,” τύμπανα tympana, is employed also by Euripides in his Bacchae (59) to describe the drums of Dionysus’s “sacred band” of women. While discussing what he would do to the doubting Pentheus, Bacchus remarks:
But, you women who have left Tmolus, the bulwark of Lydia, my sacred band, whom I have brought from among the barbarians as assistants and companions to me, take your drums, native instruments of the city of the Phrygians, the invention of mother Rhea and myself, and going about this palace of Pentheus beat them…
Euripides also refers in his Cyclops (65), to the tympana or drums of the Bacchae.
The Hebrew word for “timbrel,” “tambourine” and tympana is תף toph, whence comes the place-name תפת Topheth or Tophet,1186 where the Israelites burned their children to the Ammonite, Canaanite and Phoenician fire and solar god Molech/Moloch or Baal. During these sacrifices, the תפים tophim would be beaten in order to drown out the cries of the perishing children.
Relating an appalling account of the Carthaginian child sacrifice to Kronos or Saturn, Plutarch (De Superstitione 13) uses the same term, τύμπανα tympana:
…with full knowledge and understanding they themselves offered up their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs or young birds; meanwhile the mother stood by without a tear or moan; but should she utter a single moan or let fall a single tear, she had to forfeit the money, and her child was sacrificed nevertheless; and the whole area before the statue was filled with a loud noise of flutes and drums took the cries of wailing should not reach the ears of the people.
Both Mosaic and Bacchic instances of drum use revolve around the vanquishing of the divine prophet’s enemies, with the maenads also rejoicing in the god himself at Bacchae 156: “…sing of Dionysus, beneath the heavy beat of drums, celebrating in delight the god of delight…” Russell points out that this concept of the timbrel drum has precedent in Ugaritic and Sumerian texts as well.
There exist in Dionysian myth multiple instances of miraculous manifestation of water, as well as wine, milk and honey, some of which we have seen already. Describing an area in the Peloponnesus not far from where the earliest extant mention of Dionysus was discovered, Pausanias (4.36.7) remarks:
When Cyparissiae is reached from Pylos, there is a spring below the city near the sea, the water of which they say gushed forth for Dionysus when he struck the ground with a thyrsus. For this reason they call the spring Dionysias.
It is possible that this aqueous miracle itself dates to the second millennium BCE or earlier, as applied to other gods such as Osiris.
In a chapter entitled Ἄγγελος or “Angel/Messenger” in Euripides’s Bacchae (704–710), it is Dionysus’s followers who bring forth water, as well as wine, milk and honey, by striking the ground with their staff:
They put on garlands of ivy, and oak, and flowering yew. One took her thyrsos and struck it against a rock, from which a dewy stream of water sprang forth. Another let her thyrsos strike the ground, and there the god sent forth a fountain of wine. All who desired the white drink scratched the earth with the tips of their fingers and obtained streams of milk; and a sweet flow of honey dripped from their ivy thyrsoi….
As we can see, the miracles of the Bacchae are even more impressive than those of Moses.
To reiterate, in antiquity Yahweh was identified with and as Dionysus. Also noted was the verse at Exodus 17:15, which has been raised as an example of the Yahweh-Dionysus connection:
And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi.
The original Hebrew of this passage is:
ויבן משה מזבח ויקרא שמו יהוה נסי
Here we see again the peculiar god-name יהוה נסי Yĕhovah nicciy, rendered in the King James Bible and elsewhere as “Jehovahnissi.” Other versions transliterate the epithet as “Jehovah-nissi,” “YHWH Nissi” and “YahwehNissi.” The LXX renders the term as κύριός μου καταφυγή or “Lord [of] my refuge,” while the Vulgate prefers Dominus exaltatio mea or “Lord [of] my exaltation.”
Yĕhovah nicciy appears only this once in the Bible and is defined by Strong’s (H3071) as:
Jehovah-nissi = “Jehovah is my banner”
the name given by Moses to the altar which he built in commemoration of the discomfiture of the Amalekites
The root of נסי nicciy is נס nec, meaning:
1) something lifted up, standard, signal, signal pole, ensign, banner, sign, sail
a) standard (as rallying point), signal
b) standard (pole)
c) ensign, signal
This same Hebrew root נס nec is employed at Numbers 21:8–9 to describe the pole upon which Moses placed his magical serpent of brass, while Dionysus is famed for carrying his magical thyrsus or pole, which he turned into a snake. Dionysus also is associated with snakes by way of his serpentine crown.
Yahweh Hisses The term niccy/nissi (“ensign”) is used also at Isaiah 5:26, in which Yahweh is described as stretching forth his hand upon the nations:
And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth…
This verse resembles the tale of Moses establishing the altar and battling the Amalekites, lifting his hand to make the “sign of the cross,” as later Church fathers depicted his act, and raising up the serpent of brass on the pole, with its “hiss.” The Hebrew word rendered “hiss” is שרק sharaq, denoting “to hiss, whistle, pipe,” a possible indication of Yahweh’s serpentine nature at this point, sensible also in consideration of the god’s apparent role as the goddess Jahi’s serpent, previously discussed. It has been surmised that this passage is part of a redaction in Isaiah (5–12) that occurred during Josiah’s reign.
Parable of the Vineyard
Significantly, Isaiah 5 is called the “Parable of the Vineyard” and continually invokes the metaphor of a vineyard and wine, strongly recalling the myth of Dionysus, with its heavy emphasis on viniculture and wine-besotting. This same parable appears to be the basis for the lengthy vineyard invocations in the synoptic gospels. These Bible verses demonstrate the great reverence with which the grape and vine were held by the Israelites and Jews.
Dian-nisi, Great Judge of Heaven and Earth
The term “Jehovahnissi” is similar to “Dionysus,” with the name of the god (Dio=Zeus), along with “nissa” or “nissi” and so on. This latter word resembles the ending of the name “Dionysus” in other languages, such as Basque, which calls the Greek god “Dunixi.” Another of these monikers may be Dian-nisi, as discussed in Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology by Assyriologist Dr. William Henry Fox Talbot (1800–1877):
The great name of the sun in Assyrian theology was Daian-nisi or Dian-nisi, which means “the Judge of Men.” Some years ago I ventured to affirm that this name is the same with the Dionysus of the Greeks. All know that the worship of Dionysus was derived from the East—in very ancient times, for he is mentioned by Homer. In the early mythologies the name of Dionysus signified the sun, for Herodotus [3.8] says that the only god worshipped by the Arabians was Dionysus; now it is certain that the Arabians worshipped the sun, and the Assyrian records confirm this by saying that tribute was brought by the Queen of the Arabians, who used to worship the sun. Osiris and Dionysus were the same, according to the judgment of Plutarch (Isis et Osiris, cap. 28). And he quotes from Heraclitus that Dionysus was Hades. But Hades, or Pluto, was fabled to be the judge of departed souls.
Talbot next cites an inscription of Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II (4.29):
Ana Shems Dainu tsiri Bit Dian-nisi bit-zu in Babilim in kupri u agurri shakish ebus. To the Sun the Judge supreme the temple of Dianisi, his temple, in Babylon in bitumen and bricks grandly I built.
Talbot states that this inscription represents a record of the Babylonian king constructing a temple to Dionysus, a proposition that would not be surprising, in consideration of the centuries-long viniculture and presence of the (solar) wine god in the region, under a variety of names and epithets, as he was assimilated into a region.
Since the Assyriologist’s time, the inscription was discovered at Pylos identifying Dionysus, extending this god-name’s appearance back to the 13th century at the latest. The Greeks themselves were in Asia Minor by this time as well. Hence, this name could have been known in the Levant for centuries by the time of the Nebuchadnezzar inscription, adapted to give it a Babylonian connotation.
DIVINE JUDGE OF MEN
According to Talbot, the Assyrian cuneiform for Dian-nisi, a solar epithet denoting “judge of men,” is as follows:
In this regard, the Akkadian noun for “judge” is dayānnu, while “to judge” legally is diānu, cognate with the Hebrew דין diyn, also meaning “to judge.” The Akkadian word ddayānnū with a superscript “d” indicates a “divine” judge, basically a god-name or theonym. Deities such as Marduk and Enlil were called madānu or “Divine Judge.”
In Akkadian, nišē or nišū connotes “mankind,” “humanity” or “people,” while the Assyrian word nisi means “men” or “people.”1208 The Ugaritic cognate is ỉnš, and in Arabic the word is ʾins ِإ ﺲْ .ﻧ
The epithet dian-nisi is found also in a passage in the “Annals of Ashurakhbal,” “where the sun has the title, Shemesh dian-nisi zalul-su khiga, meaning the deity ‘whose flail is good.’” At this point, Talbot comments:
Now this almost identifies the Assyrian Dian-nisi with the Egyptian Osiris: for, it is well known that Osiris usually holds in his hand an emblem of authority, which some consider to be a flail, and others a whip.
Osiris is the great judge in the Hall of Truth, identified for at least 2,500 years with Bacchus. The association with Shamash or Shemesh, the Mesopotamian sun god, is noteworthy as well, since Dionysus was a solar deity.
In addition, the fact that the cruel and vicious Assyrian warrior-king Ashurakhbal or Aššur-nāṣir-pal II (883–859 BCE) is depicted on an inscribed “sculptured slab” holding a cup of wine as a libation to the gods is significant and adds to the contention that Dian-nisi refers to Dionysus.
Fig. 72. Ashurnasirpal II holding a wine cup, 9th cent. BCE
Although the etymology may not be acceptable to mainstream scholarship, it is possible that anciently this god-name took on different connotations to the various ethnicities as they rendered it into their own languages. In this regard, puns and general word-play were popular pastimes in antiquity, particularly as deities were seen to represent the hidden hand behind creation and to imbue it with mystical and magical meaning, including and especially words.
‘DOG’ AS COMPANION
We have seen that both Bacchus and Moses had “dog” companions, as is the meaning of the Hebrew name “Caleb” or “Kaleb.” It is interesting also that the “Dog of Orion” or “Dog of the Giant” (Canis Major) in Arabic is called Al Kalb al Jabbār. The suggestion here is that the “dog” companion of the solar hero is Canis Major or Orion in general, as was the case with the solar Osiris, whose brother was Anubis, the jackal-headed god. It is noteworthy that this term kaleb is utilized in the OT to indicate “of a male cult prostitute” (Deut 23:18), also called קדש qadesh or “holy,” as noted.
Dionysus’s companion Maira was the faithful dog of Erigone, daughter of Ikarios, the first Greek vintner, who was killed because, when they became drunk, his customers thought he had poisoned them. According to the myth, previously mentioned, a distraught Erigone committed suicide and was placed among the stars, where too ends up her canine companion who guarded her body.
Maira thus symbolizes Canis Minor, the lesser dog star. The vicious heat of the summer days over which Maira reigns is her vindication for Erigone’s death. This time of the dog star leads to the harvest of the grapes and the vintage, a fact that appears to be the symbolism behind the biblical spies story leading to the promised land to find the enormous bunch of ripened grapes.
Joshua’s appearance in the Caleb story may signify that the Israelite savior represents the summer sun, while Moses is the winter sun of the wilderness.
SUN STANDING STILL
As noted, both Moses and Joshua are depicted as arresting the course of the sun, the same theme evidently found in the Dionysian myth as well as in Hindu, Buddhist, Chinese and Mexican myths, to name a few. As also mentioned, the word “solstice” comes from the Latin meaning “sun stands still,” and this motif is yet another solar myth, not an impossible “historical” event based on bad science. In this regard, Joshua’s miracle is depicted in Jewish literature as occurring at the summer solstice.
In On the Latin Language (6.8), Varro (1st cent. BCE) explains:
There is a second motion of the sun, differing from that of the sky, in that the motion is from bruma “winter’s day” to solstitium “solstice.” Bruma is so named, because then the day is brevissimus “shortest”: the solstitium, because on that day the sol “sun” seems sistere “to halt,” on which it is nearest to us. When the sun has arrived midway between the bruma and the solstitium, it is called the aequinoctium “equinox,” because the day becomes aequus “equal” to the nox “night.” The time from the bruma until the sun returns to the bruma, is called an annus “year,” because just as little circles are anuli “rings,” so big circuits were called ani, whence comes annus “year.”
Thus, the Roman scholar demonstrates scientific knowledge two millennia ago, including the definition of solstice as “sun halts.”
Also, rather than reflecting a “historical” event, the biblical story may have incorporated scriptures such as Habakkuk 3:11: “The sun and moon stood still in their habitation at the light of thine arrows as they sped, at the flash of thy glittering spear.”
As we can see, there exist numerous correspondences between the Greek and Israelite lawgivers, so much so that it appears either one myth was copied from the other or both shared the same basic archetype. In consideration of Dionysus’s appearance in the historical record by name by the 13th century BCE, whereas Moses cannot be found in the literature until many centuries later, it would seem that the latter is a remake of the former. With a number of significant parallels in Homer’s description of the Greek god dating to the 9th or 10th centuries BCE at the latest, we can suggest that Moses is a later version of the highly popular and widespread sun and wine god, called Dionysus at some point but stretching back in archetypal form to an unrecorded and primeval deity. In this same regard, there are many similarities between Dionysus and Jesus as well, as also demonstrated here.
Again, there are differences between these tales, some of them profound, but such is always the case when myths and archetypes are shared by different cultures, to be cherry-picked and added to according to themes relevant to the particular ethnicities.
Additionally, a significant portion of Bacchus’s tale was played out in theaters across the Greek-speaking world, which included much of the Mediterranean during the centuries when Greek was the lingua franca of the region. The Dionysus cult, with its widespread viticulture and traveling proselytizers, was an important factor in the known world for hundreds of years.
The archetypal story expressed in the Moses myth clearly has its origins in polytheistic culture, whether Assyrian, Babylonian, Canaanite, Egyptian, Greek or much older. It was not adapted from a monotheistic culture but could have been adapted easily to a monotheistic culture by demoting or syncretizing the various sacred figures. Dionysus was a mythical character, largely a solar-mead-wine god, and the archetypal story repeated here revolves around him, originally created for him and his lawgiver archetype; hence, if copying there be, it is in the direction of Bacchus to Moses.