Within pre-Judeo Christian history the Levant and Mesopotamia areas, the areas now known as Syria and Iraq, were as rife with struggle and conflict as they are in our current times. This area which is geographically located at the crossroads of the Eastern Hemisphere has long been an area of mixing cultures, values and the resulting conflict of such exchanges.
The most interesting period of history in this area was most likely the Canaanite Civilization that existed from 4000 BC to approx. 2000 BC. Prior to this period the expansion and contraction of multiple civilizations to include Northern European Iron ages and the Egyptian expansion of power in northern Africa created a push and pull of peoples across this land. In approximately 4000 BC the Levant was occupied by a large group of people sharing a polytheistic religion that was well established as the brokers of hemispherical trade routes. These routes included westward land routes connecting Europe to Asia, water routes connecting the Mediterranean countries as far as eastern Spain and eastern routes to Persia, the last of the Semite XXX empires, which would later battle Greece in the Greco-Persian Wars (492–449 BC)
The Canaanite civilization was centered on three pillars or tenants which together formed the backbone of their civilization. They operated economically within a system of commercial capitalism, with goods and raw materials moving from east to west and west to east. This capitalism was largely built on the need for the raw materials for bronze and iron production from Europe into the Levant and Mesopotamia areas as well as east into Asia. Spices and goods more easily produced in Mesopotamia’s Fertile Crescent such as Grains and pottery moved westward. They were rigidly tribal and organized on family and bloodlines. Much of civility is believed to have been based on a need to act honorably within your dealings lest you isolate your business from an entire tribe or bloodline in a feud. The third is a Polytheistic religion which had at its hierarchy the god E1 (eh-won) and a multitude of Gods representing varies ideas and necessities of life. There were God’s of Love, Agriculture, law Justice, and a lesser God of Mercy named Yahveh. All of this occurred 1400 years before the rise of the Greco-Roman cultures, which in Western Cultures is about as far back as most average people maintain any understanding of historical context, but all of which was the very foundation for the next 3000-4000 years leading to our current day.
These three tenants would work together over the course of 2000 years to set the stage for the Monotheistic systems which have dominated our current age and is still at the root of much of our current military conflicts around the world.
The Canaanite civilization was located in present-day Syria and at the height of its expansion covered a sizable area.
Figure 1 – Map Showing Expanse of Canaanite Society
This geographical placement resulted in the Canaanite civilization played an important role in the trade routes between the eastern and western hemisphere during this period. Areas rich in agriculture due to the richness of soil from seasonal flooding created an abundance of crop production. However, these areas lacked plentiful natural resources like wood, or ores for the production of Copper, Bronze or iron goods. The areas of Western Europe had a surplus of these raw materials but in comparison lacked the agricultural surpluses and instead relied on a nomadic husbandry of livestock for food. The areas of Eastern Europe, accessible via water routes across the Mediterranean Sea.
Throughout history, it is these very surpluses in production, and lack of other resources or desired goods that lead to economic expansion. Capitalism at its core is simply the seeking of economic benefit by moving goods, products, and services (labor, AKA slavery), from areas where it is bountiful to areas where it is not. In order to participate in this exchange, a locale needs its own plentiful resource to contribute and the subsequent product of a capitalistic economy is the creation of new wealth.
A Note on the historical pattern of Capitalism: This wealth is typically distributed based on the merit of individuals to contribute to the creation of wealth. Over the course of time, those that collect additional wealth hold what is known as Capital which is seen as the Means of Production. This capital is often applied, with risks, to the creation of new wealth. The additional laborers receive wages or compensation for their work but risk nothing, while the person risking the capital and coordinating the work risks their existing capital. Such are workers lives spent supporting the means of their life and others may rise and fall in wealth and poverty. Over time those that are successful and collecting wealth seek to manage the economic environment in which they operate and such is economic capitalism always linked with political interest. The level of control any single entity, or group of capitalist, can capture control of the political system depends on the existing government system. In later ages, the Communist economic systems of Russia and China would be tightly controlled by a small group of oligarchs. In early Western history, the Capitalistic system was usurped for a while within the British Empire into Mercantilism, and in the modern-day United States the Corporations own the means of production and are continuously (and often successfully) able to direct some functions of government using electoral contributions, political support, and regulatory capture… But enough about that…
In the Canaanite system, the Commercial Capitalism was limited to regional areas as Tribal and family divisions resulted in the clear delineation of areas in which each competitor operated. In many areas of the trade routes, goods could be bought and sold, or “Tributes’ paid to ensure passage or favorable dealings.
Tribalism in Canaanite Society
Throughout human history, there is only one social and political entity that comes naturally into existence and all systems of government spring forth from this natural social order. That system is, The Family. Whether you are born in 4000 BC or in the modern age your first interaction with a system of authority is the family structure. In this structure, there is a natural deference to elders with more experience that exercise authority to direct the actions of others for the benefit of the entire organization. In addition individual’s role and responsibilities within the family organization change over time as they age. In early human civilizations, these bloodlines would extend to include cousins and 2nd cousins. They would then extend three and four generations of diversions back in time, and these family groups would often remain in very close regional proximity and Tribal relations were the extension of Familial relations.
A Note about Tribal organization. This pattern of tribalism can be witnessed around the world and throughout history. In Korea, the Tribal relations resulted in the Kim tribe becoming one of the largest in Korea. When these tribal organizations entered the modern world they would take the name of their Tribe as their Last name (Surname). This is why there is such large population of South Koreans with the last name Kim. In China, the most common surname is “Wang” with nearly 10% of the population sharing this surname which corresponds to the ethnic group (tribe) of Wang or Yang.
An example of the fierceness of these Tribal or Clan relationships can be seen in the Hatfield and McCoy conflict in 1863 to 1891. This family blood feud almost resulted in the states of West Virginia and Kentucky declaring war on each other.
It is the conflict between a capitalistic motive and these tribal connections which eventually led to the end of the Polytheistic Canaanite civilization and the creation of the current monotheistic religion systems we have today as we will shortly see.
The rise of Yahveh, the God of Mercy
Over the course of time, the devotion to tribal organizations and the cultural value of wealth creation through capitalism resulted in a Cultural Conflict. In pursuit of opportunities or additional profits, successive generations of Canaanites began to break their family and tribal connections. This was affected by means of entering into employment or bond to a new Authority figure outside of your Tribe. The connections were made for those that were hired as soldiers, merchants, managers or any number of services. Once a Canaanite entered into a contract or bond with someone outside of their tribe they could no longer hold the trust of their family lines.
This shift from the importance of tribal lineage to capitalistic engagement was a profound shift that occurred over the course of hundreds of years. The name given to people that made this sift was Hibiru, a word which meant ‘Not connected to Family’, ‘without kin’, or kin-less’. These people attached themselves to the God of Mercy as protection, as their family protection was removed. The God of Mercy was named Yahveh.
A Note on Yahveh. Let’s work backward for a moment. Above the door of many Catholic churches today you will see the following Hebrew letters.
Figure 2 – The Yahveh symbols on Catholic churches
These letters each have phonetic sounds associated with them. Phonetically these symbols are expressed as ‘Ya Way’ or ‘Ya Veh’. The actual historical pronunciation of these letters lacks the hard consonant sounds added to many anglicized words and would actually sound like a heavy breath being released. This word was known to later Canaanite Hibiru’s as “The Breath of God”.
‘The Breath of God is Mercy’
This carried forth into Judeo Christian Dogma as the Hibiru became the Hebrew nation, and subsequent division of Christianity and Modern day Islam.
Over the course of 1000 years, the population of Canaanite civilization continued to transition away from strong familial and tribal connections and more and more of the population was Hibiru (Without Kin). Eventually, this shift in loyalty, and the growing alliance to Yahveh, the God of Mercy, transformed into a New Hebrew culture with a single God, Yahveh, and a monotheistic religion was formed, Judaism. The Torah and Old Testament of the Bible were written at this time. Coincidence? No, it is history.