Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tomb of Eve?

An interesting money-making scam for the local community... (Image: Eve, the Serpent, and Death, by Hans Baldung Grien c. 1520-25 (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa). From The New York Times By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: September 10, 2008 Filed at 10:09 a.m. ET JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- On a sweltering August morning, a small group of Iranians crowded outside the green metal door of a cemetery. They wanted to go in to look at the remains of one particular tomb: the tomb of biblical Eve. Like hundreds of Muslims who visit Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage in nearby Mecca, the Iranians had heard the legend that Eve was buried in that spot. The two blue signs inscribed with ''The Graveyard of our mother Eve'' flanking the cemetery entrance appeared to add credibility to a story passed on by generations of Saudis but never scientifically proven. ''We hear this is the tomb of Eve,'' said Minoo Ghadimkhani, 45. ''That is why we want to go in.'' There is no archaeological evidence old enough to authenticate the story of Eve's burial in Jiddah, according to many Bible experts. But that hasn't kept the legend from persisting. Some say that the city's name, when pronounced as ''Jaddah'' -- an Arabic word that means grandmother -- is a reference to Eve. No one really knows how the story originated, and many in this Red Sea port city dismiss it as a myth. ''It's a legend, but it is one mentioned by many scholars,'' said Sami Nawar, general director for culture and tourism. Nawar, an expert on the history of old Jiddah, likes to lace a bit of the legend into his presentations on the city to visiting foreign dignitaries and journalists. ''Jiddah is the most feminine city in the whole world because it has Eve,'' Nawar says. The Quran, Islam's holy book, talks about Adam and Eve's expulsion from paradise after eating from the fruit of the forbidden tree. It does not say where they appeared on earth. But Arab tradition puts Adam in the holy city of Mecca, which is 70 kilometers (43 miles) east of Jiddah, where God ordered him to build the Kaaba, the sacred stone structure that Muslims face during their five daily prayers, according to Nawar. God then told Adam to go to a hill in Mecca to repent for his sins, said Nawar. After he repented, God sent him Eve, and the hill became known as Mount Arafat, from the Arabic word that means to know, he added. That story places Eve, Hawwa in Arabic, in the vicinity of Jiddah, which is the entry point for Muslim pilgrims to Mecca. It could explain how the legend of her burial began. Arab and Western historians and travelers have described a tomb outside the walls of old Jiddah that they referred to as Eve's Graveyard. Historian Hatoon al-Fassi said 9th century Mecca historian al-Fakihi reported that two of Prophet Muhammad's companions, Ibn Abbas and Ibn Massoud, mentioned Eve's tomb. The prophet died in 623. Writing about Jiddah in his ''Travels,'' Ibn Jubayr, a 12th century geographer, traveler and poet, born in Valencia, then the seat of an Arab emirate, says that ''in it is a place having an ancient and lofty dome, which is said to have been the lodging place of Eve, the mother of mankind, God's blessing upon her when on her way to (Mecca).'' The passage was quoted by the Arab News, a Saudi paper. The tomb no longer exists. And it's not clear how it was destroyed. Those who have been inside the cemetery say that in its place is a row of unmarked tombs, and there's nothing to indicate the tomb had been there. (The Wahhabi strain of Islam bans the marking of tombs, and women in the Saudi kingdom are barred from entering cemeteries.) William Dever, a professor emeritus of Near Eastern studies at the University of Arizona and a prominent U.S. archaeologist, said there just isn't any archaeological evidence going back far enough to back up the claims. ''The problem is that these are all legends, these are all myths and we can't date them,'' said Dever, who specializes in the history of Israel and Near East in biblical times. ''My guess is the story could go back two or three thousand years, but we don't have any archaeological proof.'' ''There are lots of traditional tombs of saints of various kinds in the Middle East,'' he added. ''But they are never excavated or investigated scientifically.'' Asked if he had heard of any other final resting place for Eve, Dever said, ''No. There are tombs of Abraham all over the place, but I don't honestly know in Israel or the West Bank or Jordan of any Eve tomb in these places.'' On the quiet street of the cemetery, which faces low-rise, rundown buildings, the Eve legend remains alive even though those who grew up with the story don't really believe it. Ahmed Bakoudij, a 32-year-old mechanic, said he called his garage ''Hawwa's Garage'' despite his skepticism. ''I've been hearing about Hawwa's grave since I was a kid,'' said Bakoudij. ''But no one believes it. I have to see it with my own eyes to believe it.'' ''But,'' he added, ''if I ever have kids, I'll pass on the legend to them.'' Grocer Saleh Ba-Aqeel said hundreds of Muslim pilgrims from Iran, Indonesia and other countries visit the cemetery, especially before and after the annual hajj pilgrimage. ''When they come and ask me if Eve is really buried here, I tell them, 'God only knows,''' said Ba-Aqeel.
"Jaddah" is grandmother in Arabic - interesting. The connection of Adam/Eve to the kaaba is also interesting, since Mecca (Makkah) is an ancient center of goddess worship (the Triple Goddess) prior to the advent of Islam. It goes without saying that the black granite square built on the site of the original goddesses' temple (now inside a giant courtyard enclosed by a mosque) incorporates a sacred meterorite (like the meteorite that was worshipped as the Goddess Diana in ancient Ephesus) was NOT built by Adam who, if he existed, lived hundreds of thousands of years before its construction! Walker's "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets" contains a lengthy entry on Eve, which I won't post in full here, just some interesting pieces from which I've omitted footnoted references: The biblical title of Eve, "Mother of All Living," was a translation of Kali Ma's title Jaganmata. She was also known in India as Jiva or Ieva, the Creatress of all manifested forms. ... The original Eve had no spouse except the serpent, a living phallus she created for her own sexual pleasure. Some ancient peoples regarded the Goddess and her serpent as their first parents. [for instance, the most ancient myths of China point to a half-human/half-serpent Empress and Emperor who created all living things and all useful arts and crafts for mankind]. Sacred icons showed the Goddess giving life to a man, while her serpent coiled around the apple tree behind her. Deliberate misinterpretation of such icons produced ideas for revised creation myths like the one in Genesis. ... [Eve was sometimes named] Nahemah, Naama, or Namrael, who gave birth to the original man and woman. One of Eve's Tantric names was Adita Eva: "the Very Beginning." In northern Babylonia, Eve was known as "the divine Lady of Eden," or "Goddess of the Tree of Life." Assyrians called her Nin-Eveh, "Holy Lady Eve," after whom their capital was named. ... The secret of God's "Name of power," the Tetragrammaton, was that three-quarters of it invoked not God, but Eve. YHWH, yod-he-vau-he, came from the Hebrew root HWH, meaning both "life" and "woman" - in Latin letters, E-V-E. [Compare to Arabic "Hawwa" mentioned in the article above]. With the addition of an I (yod), it amounted to the Goddess' invocation of her own name as the Word of creation, a common idea in Egypt and other ancient lands. ... Gnostic scriptures ... said Eve not only created Adam and obtained his admission to heaven; she was the very soul within him, as Shakti was the soul of every Hindu god and yogi. Adam couldn't live without "power from the Mother," so she descended to earth as "the Good Spirit, the Thought of Light called by him 'Life' (Hawwa)."
Where did the horrid fear of women (and their subsequent subjugation and persecution that such fear engenders) that permeates so much religion today come from? Why, for instance, would the particular brand of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia ban women from cemeteries (see article above)!?! Perhaps it is because, like all mother goddesses, Eve not only had the power to create and give life, she had the power to destroy and take life away. In other words, the Mother reflected the natural cycle of all living things: creation/birth, coming to fruition/reproduction, old age/decay, death, reincorporation into the earth/resurrection (reincarnation) into new life. Walker puts it this way: "This was the real origin of the church fathers' fear and hatred of women, which expanded into a sexist attitude that permeated all of western society: Woman was identified with Death. Her countervailing responsibility for birth was taken away, and the creation of life was lad to the credit of the Father-god, whose priests claimed he could remove the curse of death. ... Medieval theologians said Adam was forgiven (for his original sin). ... but for Eve there was no forgiveness. No peace was offered to her or her daughters. Presumably, they were left behind in hell. Christian theologians espoused the same theory as Persian patriarchs, that heaven was closed to all women except those who were submissive and worshipped their husbands as gods." Personally, I'd rather go to hell. Learn more about Eve from Christopher Witcombe.

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