On Nimrod and Christmas Trees – “As Bereans Did”

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On Nimrod and Christmas Trees – “As Bereans Did”

 

On Nimrod and Christmas Trees – part I  – “As Bereans Did”

“WHERE did we get CHRISTMAS? … From the Bible or from paganism?”

-Herbert Armstrong, “The Plain Truth About Christmas”, 1970, p. 5

A great question! But it’s a false dilemma.
It suggests there are only two possibilities – Biblical or pagan. I suggest there is another possibility.

In my last post, The Plain Truth About December 25th, we saw that there is compelling evidence to believe that Christians did not co-opt the date of Christmas from the pagans but rather the early Christians calculated the day. (I also recommend you read our article “Jeremiah 10 and Christmas Trees“.)
After that post, I started noticing people asking where the idea of Nimrod and Christmas trees came from. I decided it was worth a look. So that’s what this post is going to be about. The answers were surprising to me. I’m definitely going to have to make this a two-parter.
Today, we are going to see that Nimrod is supposedly connected to Christmas trees by way of two other gods named Cybele and Attis. We’re also going to see that this is bunk. But first we have to fish through a barrel of various gods to try and find what is actually being claimed.

MUSICAL GODS

To get answers I first needed to get specific details about the claims. Those had to come from Herbert Armstrong and Alexander Hislop. I started by opening Herbert Armstrong’s booklet “The Plain Truth About Christmas.”

Beginning on page 10 we are treated to a tale about Nimrod.

After Nimrod’s untimely death, his so-called mother-wife, Semiramis, propagated the evil doctrine of the survival of Nimrod as a spirit being. She claimed a full-grown evergreen tree sprang overnight from a dead tree stump, which symbolized the springing forth unto new life of the dead Nimrod. On each anniversary of his birth, she claimed, Nimrod would visit the evergreen tree and leave gifts upon it. December 25th was the birth of Nimrod. This is the real origin of the Christmas tree.

-Herbert Armstrong, “The Plain Truth About Christmas”, 1970, p. 10

Well, it turns out there is nothing to substantiate this. It is completely made up.

HWA took this without reference from Alexander Hislop’s “The Two Babylons” page 98.
Hislop produces an illustration of an old coin with a snake wrapped around a tree stump (see “figure 27” on p. 98 of Hislop’s book), and then Hislop proceeds to manufacture a story from the illustration.

nimrod-1

Ralph Woodrow, in his book “The Babylon Connection” (we’ve written about this several times in the past, see our article “The Babylon Connection“), reveals to us that Hislop regularly took illustrations and manufactured entire myths from them.

Was it Osiris?

Hislop seems to be referencing the myth of Osiris, since he mentions a god being chopped into pieces. But the details of the myth of Osiris do not match what Hislop has written here. (I will go over Osiris and Horus in part II.)

Was it Adonis?

Hislop could also have Adonis in mind, since he referenced Adonis on page 97.
Ovid, in “Metamorphoses” book ten, does say Adonis was born when his mother was transformed into a Myrrh tree as punishment for her sins, but that doesn’t match what Hislop has written.
Ovid also says Adonis was gored by a boar and turned into windflowers, and neither an evergreen nor a tree stump are mentioned in his death at all, so that doesn’t match what Hislop has written either.

These details are no details at all. So now what?

Back to Herbert Armstrong’s booklet on Christmas…

On page 11, HWA mentions that Semiramis and Nimrod are known by other names. Listed among them are Cybele and Deoius (he takes this without reference from Hislop’s “The Two Babylons” page 20.) Ah! That gives us something to go on.

Was it Deoius?

Do a Google search on Deoius. Why does this name only come matched with “the worship of Semiramis” and only as referenced by Alexander Hislop? This is made up, too.

Shocking as these facts are, they are the plain facts of history and the Bible!

-Herbert Armstrong, “The Plain Truth About Christmas”, 1970, p. 13

But Cybele, she’s legit… and there’s a pine tree involved!

CYBELE

There was once an ancient goddess from Asia Minor whose name is most likely Kybele (Cybele is her Greek name). Philippe Borgeaud has much to say about Cybele in his book “Mother of the Gods

Borgeaud believes the origins of the goddess are rather ancient, but the oldest remaining evidence we have comes from a rock carving in Phrygia from around the early 6th century BC with the inscription “Mater Kubeleia” (Cybelian Mother).
Notice that this is some 1,500 years after Nimrod and nearly a thousand miles away. Liken that to finding graffiti spray-painted on a wall in Serbia and attributing it to Emperor Justinian’s mother.
I should note that Borgeaud starts his book by denying the theory that all mother goddesses are interrelated (there may be many ancient mother goddesses from many ancient cultures, but that doesn’t mean they are all versions of the same goddess). Borgeaud also denies that Cybele is Mary the mother of Jesus. This is in line with what the current majority view among Biblical historians.
As we make our way down through history, across Greece and into Rome, into the second century AD, Cybele was then paired with a male god named Attis. This is where the plot starts to thicken.
ATTIS

There are many divergent stories about Attis, and compelling evidence that the Attis myth adopted various features of Christianity, but it’s the evergreen tree specifically that brings Attis to our attention.
Arnobius of Sicca, in his book “Against Pagans book V chapter 7, tells one of the various tales where Attis castrates himself beneath an evergreen tree, bleeds to death, and violets spring up from his blood and grow up into the nearby tree.
Why does this interest us? Two reasons:

First, because of Hislop’s claims about Nimrod and the evergreen tree.
We can see that things are not as Hislop would lead us to believe. An evergreen is involved, but these rituals are uniquely about Cybele and Attis, uniquely Rome; not Nimrod, not Babylon – and not Catholic.
We can safely dismiss the supposed connection between Nimrod and Cybele/Attis. Therefore we can also dismiss the supposed connection between Nimrod and all evergreen trees. Especially this one.

Second, because of HWA’s claims about Cybele/Attis and the Christmas tree.
Even if we do dismiss the connection between Nimrod and Cybele/Attis, we should still ask, are there any similarities between Cybele’s tree and the Christmas tree?
You might want to buckle up for this.

SIMILARITY TO CHRISTMAS TREE?
In ancient Rome there were festivals called “Hilaria.” There were many of these throughout the year, but we are interested in one particular Hilaria that honored Cybele. Again, “Against Pagans book V gives a description of this particular festival:

What mean the fleeces of wool with which you bind and surround the trunk of the tree? Is it not to recall the wools with which Ia covered the dying youth, and thought that she could procure some warmth for his limbs fast stiffening with cold? What mean the branches of the tree girt round and decked with wreaths of violets? Do they not mark this, how the Mother adorned with early flowers the pine which indicates and bears witness to the sad mishap?” (Chapter 16.)

That pine which is regularly born into the sanctuary of the Great Mother, is it not in imitation of that tree beneath which Attis mutilated and unmanned himself, which also, they relate, the goddess consecrated to relieve her grief?” (Chapter 17.)

Roger Pearse has more in his articles “Attis – A Useful Dissertation” and “Festival of Cybele Today?

So the cult of Cybele took an evergreen and decorated it with garlands of violet flowers specifically. The trunk was wrapped in wool. Are any of these things done to a Christmas tree? No.
People may stick on the point that garlands were used, but the garlands were violets specifically. Just like with the wool, the violets had a specific meaning and that is why they were used. This was not just decorating a tree; there were no bulbs, no ornaments, no lights, no tree skirt, no tinsel, no star on top.
Just so that you’re aware, garlands in themselves aren’t uniquely pagan.
There were garlands of precious metals decorated with bulbs shaped like pomegranates on the Temple in Jerusalem (II. CHR. 3: 16).
Chains
: Strong’s H8333 “shar-sher-aw’ a chain; (architecturally) probably a garland: – chain.

The NKJV even uses the word “wreaths.”

A FUNERAL?

But there’s more!
What was done with the evergreen tree after this?

It was put on a cart and taken by procession to the temple of Cybele on Palatine Hill in Rome. This from Roger Pearse’s article “Carmen Adversus Paganos”:

We have seen lions bearing yokes wrought in silver, [10] when joined together they pulled creaking wooden wagons, and we have seen that man holding silver reins in both his hands. We have seen eminent senators following the chariot of Cybele which the hired band dragged at the Megalensian festival, carrying through the city a lopped-off tree trunk, and suddenly proclaiming that castrated Attis is the Sun.

[10] The lions of Cybele; see M. Vermaseren, Cybele and Attis, London 1977, pp. 96ff.

Do we do this with Christmas trees? No.
Does anyone place it on a cart and walk it through town? No.

People may stick on the point that the tree was set up for display. Well, there is no evidence that it was “set up” for display. It probably just stayed on the cart. That is as superficial a similarity as I can think of.

But there’s more still!
What was done with the tree once it reached the temple?
First they would mourn for it, and then they would hold a funeral for it.
You see, the cart was a funerary procession, not a joyous parade. There are a good number of people who report that they would even bury it. That’s right! They would hold a funeral for it, and then bury it.

Some people claim the funeral was only symbolic. Does it matter?

The last thing most people would think to do with their Christmas tree is to give it a funeral. Checking the facts about the story seems to be important, wouldn’t you agree? I can’t believe how we were told half-truths!
IN THE SPRING?
But there’s even more still!
Everyone knows that Christmas is on December 25th. Do you know when the Hilaria took place?
On March 22nd, in a festival called Arbor Intrat (the Tree Enters), the tree was cut down and taken in procession to the temple of Cybele.
The next day was a day of mourning.
The next day, Sanguis (the Day of Blood), is when they held the funeral.
The day after that, March 25th, was the official Hilaria for Cybele where there was much rejoicing (you might say, it was hilarious.)
I try not to quote WikiPedia unless I’m making a point that the information is so available anyone can find it, but read the WikiPedia article on Hilaria.

SUMMARY

A funeral in March for a tree under which a man castrated himself and bled until violets sprung up is supposedly the same as a Christmas tree? These are “the plain facts of history and the Bible“??  I couldn’t disagree more.
This was sold to us as truth – God’s truth. God have mercy on the people who are so malicious against the truth and their fellow Christian!
HWA and Hislop have willfully distorted the facts. The only similarity here is that the trees are pine.

Evergreen trees were used in their pagan rituals, this is true, but this was a spring funeral ritual, not a winter birth celebration. If anything, we would expect to see “Easter trees” at Eastertide. But there are none.
And don’t forget that God also used evergreen trees – as palms are an evergreen – in His worship (NEH. 8: 14-17). Garlands with fruit-shaped bulbs were on His very temple (II. CHR. 3: 16).

If HWA’s point was to make Attis’ evergreen into one and the same as a Christmas tree, then why are we seeing these outrageous differences, distortions, and omissions?
Oh, how I wish I had the means and desire to check these details long ago.

In the next post, I will look into another story from Hislop with another pair of gods from Egypt.

 

 On Nimrod and Christmas Trees – part II  – “As Bereans Did”

In the previous post in this series we went over Cybele and Attis specifically to find evidence of Christmas trees. We found a pine tree, but the details surrounding it bore no resemblance to the Christmas tree whatsoever. Rather, we see the syncretism held by Alexander Hislop and Herbert Armstrong, regarding Nimrod and Christmas trees, was grossly erroneous.

This time I would like to turn our attention to the Egyptian gods. Mainly Horus, Isis, and Osiris.

MANY VERSIONS OF THE SAME GOD
Let’s get something straight here before we begin.

Just like with Cybele and Attis, there are many versions of these Egyptian myths.
These base myths are exceedingly old. The oldest religious documents in the world are the Pyramid Texts, dated to around 2300 BC, and there we see the names and details of the great Egyptian gods obviously already well-developed.
The mythical stories have been through much iteration. Versions of a myth from one area differed from versions in another. They were lost in war, they were merged together into new versions, they were changed in denominational feuding, they were rewritten for political expediency, they changed in response to Hellenization, and again in response to the popularity of Christ.
Take Horus for example.
Horus is one of the most ancient of Egyptian gods. Horus begins as the sky with the sun as his right eye and the moon as his left eye. Horus is a falcon. There is a different Horus for just about every locality where Horus was worshipped. Multiple Horuses were mentioned just in the Pyramid Texts. Then there is Horus the Elder and Horus the Younger. Horus is king of Lower Egypt, then the king over all Egypt, then a representation of all Pharaohs. Horus is an amalgam of many gods. At one time he is Re’s son, at another time he is merged with Re, at another time Osiris’ son, at another time Osiris’ brother, at another time an incarnation of Osiris, at another time created as a thought by Ptah – and so forth and so on.

How can Hislop or Armstrong possibly say, “such and such was always true since the time of Nimrod”? They cannot. What’s more, if the pyramid texts don’t predate Nimrod, then the myths they tell absolutely do. So the basis of the entire story, that Semiramis made it all up, is simply not possible.

But I digress.

See Sir Ernest Budge’s book “The Gods of the Egyptians”, especially chapter XV “The Horus Gods”, for more. I also found “Theology of Memphis” by Wim van den Dungen somewhat interesting.
INTRO

On page 98 of Alexander Hislop’s book we have a vague reference to the Egyptian gods Osiris and Horus.

…it must be remembered that the divine child born at the winter solstice was born as a new incarnation of the great god (after that god had been cut in pieces), on purpose to revenge his death upon his murders. Now the great god, cut off in the midst of his power and glory, was symbolized as a huge tree, stripped of all its branches, and cut down almost to the ground.

-Alexander Hislop, “The Two Babylons”, 1858, p.98

The great god who was cut in pieces can only be Osiris, and the divine child born as a new incarnation can only mean one of the more recent versions of Horus. We can confidently say this because these features are known to be in the stories of these two gods.

It’s the other details that are wrong.

Hislop makes two claims that interest us. There is a winter solstice birth, and a tree.

Let’s start with the tree.

THE CHRISTMAS TREE? NO!

Any good text about ancient Egypt will mention Plutarch and his book “Moralia”. I will summarize since we’re only interested in the tree anyway.
Isis was Osiris’ sister. They fell in love. Their evil brother Set was jealous, so he locked Osiris in a box and threw him in the Nile. The box washed up in Byblos (Phoenecia) and a large clump of heather (some translations say an Erica tree) grew around it. The king of the land cut the heather down and made it into a pillar in his palace. Isis found it, but so did Set. Set cut Osiris’ dead body into fourteen pieces and hid them. Isis found all but one piece. Since the pieces were not all found, Osiris had to remain in the land of the dead, thus he became the god of the underworld. A tree was then used as a symbol of this event.

Certain of these details are ancient, but certain details are not.
For example the Pyramid Texts mention Osiris being drowned by Set and floated down the Nile. Osiris was the Nile god anciently, and he represented the Nile, its flooding, the life in the soil, and the vegetation that grew from it. Isis also represents the land that is nourished by the Nile and the vegetation that grows from it. It makes odd sense that Osiris would drown and float out to sea and be cut into pieces (like the Delta), only to return later, and Isis would be his wife, searching for him, and being impregnated by him.
On the other hand, James Henry Breasted, in his book “Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt” pages 25-28, says there is no record in Egypt of Set putting Osiris in a box.

What’s more, I find no mention of the clump of Heather or an Erica tree anywhere else that I’ve looked (outside of Plutarch.) Ancient texts have Osiris floating dead across the sea to the Land of the Cedar (Phoenicia), but his body is found, embalmed, taken back to Egypt for burial, and a Sycamore tree grows up.
Hislop says the tree is a palm. Armstrong says the tree is an evergreen. Most of Plutarch’s translators I have read say the tree was heather. Heather can be a great number of shrubs or trees, none of which are evergreen. I found a few that translate it as an Erica tree. Erica is an evergreen, but it is a flowering tree and not a pine at all. Others claim it was a Tamarisk tree. Again, an evergreen, but it is a flowering tree and not a pine. WikiPedia has Cypress tree. Yet again, an evergreen, but yet again not a pine.

Hard to find sources outside of Plutarch? Not a pine – probably not even an evergreen? Made into a pillar? Symbol of a god’s death? Not exactly what one would expect as “the real origin of the Christmas tree.”

What then of the solstice birth?

SOLSTICE BIRTH? NO!

The ancient Egyptian calendars are an incredibly complex topic due to the exceeding age of Egypt. There were numerous changes over time. There are debates to this day among historians as to major details of the Egyptian calendar. Still, I will do my best to explain.
From what I can gather, Egypt had a 365 day year, which they divided into three four-month seasons (not four seasons like the Temperate Zones are used to), with twelve thirty-day months. Their three seasons were tied to the flooding of the Nile and the crop cycle. It was an inaccurate calendar that was apparently reset each year at their New Year. But they had an odd twist that we should know about which I will summarize.

You might have caught the part just now where twelve months with thirty days each does not add up to 365.
According to Plutarch, Egypt anciently had a 360 day year. Re, the chief god, forbade Nut from having children on any day of the year. Nut went to Thoth and asked for help. Thoth gambled with the moon and won her light. Thoth then used that light to create 5 additional days (the ‘heriu renpet’.) The calendar was now 365 days long, and Nut was free to have children on those additional days.

The birthday of Osiris was on the first of those days, Horus on the second day, Set on the third, Isis on the fourth, and Nepthys on the fifth.

Got that? There are five special days each year where the above-mentioned gods were born.

Please allow me to remind you that Hislop tells us, “it must be remembered that the divine child [Horus] born at the winter solstice,” (The Two Babylons p.98) and HWA tells us, “In Egypt, it was always believed that the son of Isis [Horus] … was born December 25th” (Plain Truth About Christmas p. 13.)

I remind you of that because there are some serious problems you need to be aware of.
Those claims are bold! Considering the astronomical solstice changes over time, and December 25th rarely if ever fell on it. For example, it hasn’t fallen on the solstice in 2,000 years.
For another example, the news is abuzz that the motion of the earth over time has moved the zodiac one full sign away from where they were when the zodiac was invented in ancient Babylon. Mind the details!
Also, December is a Roman month, not an Egyptian one. The ancient Egyptians wouldn’t know what a December is!
Not to mention that we need to know if Armstrong is referring to December 25th as it was under the Julian calendar or the Gregorian calendar.
Also, the Egyptian calendar follows the Nile flooding so it can’t be exactly matched to our own that we can say, “such and such festival was always on December 25th.” The very notion is laughable. Consider the debate among the historians who can’t even agree on when the Egyptian New Years was! If this is so debatable, there is no possibility that we can say, “such and such festival was always on December 25th.”
But am I being too technical?
Fine, then. Do a Google search for “Horus born on solstice”. What do you find? Page after page of websites from people who have watched Zeitgeist, perhaps even know who Gerald Massey or Alvin Kuhn are, and zealously believe that Jesus is Horus. These are the sites that will tell you Horus was born on December 25th. I prefer Roger Pearse’s response to that.
Now am I being too simplistic?

We need to know when these five days are!

In reality these 5 additional days fell between the end of the old year and the New Year. A modern mind might conclude “winter.” But not so fast!

When were these days?
As I mentioned, there’s a little confusion about this because the Egyptian calendar doesn’t equate to our calendar nicely, so whatever I say here about the months is but a very rough estimate, but as best I can determine from checking a great deal of sources this was late June or July.
What does this mean?
It means that Osiris and Horus were not considered born in December but on the opposite side of the year. Thus ends any possibility that Hislop or Armstrong were correct. Ouch!

WHAT OF OSIRIS’ DEATH?

This makes me curious as to Osiris’ death.
According to Plutarch, Osiris died in the month of Athyr. Athyr is the third month and falls most likely in October.

Lists of Egyptian festivals mention Sokar, which is a somber, six-day festival remembering Osiris’ death. Sokar was the last six days of the month of Koiak. Koiak is the fourth month and falls most likely in late October or November.
Got that? Athyr is the third month, falls in October; Koiak is the fourth month, falls in October-November.

What does that mean?
That means that neither Osiris’ birth nor death were in December at all!

Why does that matter?
Remember the very first quote at the top of this post, Hislop mentions Horus’ birth and Osiris’ death. It’s the death of Osiris where the tree comes into play. Osiris’ death and the tree are inseparably linked. Much like when we learned the Attis tree was a spring funeral tree, the Osiris tree is a fall tree. Neither are in Winter. Both are related to death.
I wanted to make sure all the loose ends were tied up. The death of Osiris is no help to Hislop’s dead theory.

Here are some links for source info:

The Egyptian Calendar System at Minnesota State.

Ancient Egyptian Calendars at AncientEgyptOnline.

Ancient Egyptian Festival Calendar at AncientEgyptOnline.

Grand Festivals In Ancient Egypt at TourEgypt.

CONCLUSION

What have we learned today?

We’ve learned that Osiris and Horus’ birthdays were in summer, Osiris died in the fall, the Egyptian calendar was a mess, their myths were constantly changing, their calendar doesn’t tie into our calendar nicely at all, nothing was “always on December 25th,” few things were “always true since the time of Nimrod,” and some of these things Nimrod or Semiramis supposedly invented actually predated them.

I highly recommend you read “The Babylon Connection” by Ralph Woodrow for more on this whole Nimrod/Semiramis thing.
But what I think is most important – we looked for a Christmas tree and found a clump of heather holding up a palace, or perhaps a sycamore. I can’t determine for certain what kind of tree it was, but, then again, Hislop and Armstrong couldn’t agree about it either. (More about that next time!) The tree is a death-related autumn tree not a birth-related winter tree.
In short, we have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hislop and Armstrong are in error. I’d say overall this has been a very productive study!

In the next and hopefully last post in this series, I would like to do one last bit of textual criticism on Hislop and Armstrong’s writings.

 On Nimrod and Christmas Trees – part III – “As Bereans Did”

This is part three of a series where we have been investigating Nimrod and Christmas trees. I apologize that these posts are so academic and dry. There’s only so much a person can do with this topic. If you can stand it, they’re really informative! (If you can’t, then just absorb the summary.) But I intend for this last post to be different than the two previous.

This all started when we got an anonymous comment back on December 28 asking, “I am wondering where the information came from then, about Nimrod dying on Dec.25th, and he announced that people would put up a tree and decorate it every year on the day he died.” So that’s what we’ve been investigating.

In part 1, we learned that there was a tree involved in the annual festival honoring Cybele and Attis – but this was a funeral in March, not a birth-celebration in December. The tree was a pine, but that is where the similarities end.

In part 2, we learned that there was a tree mentioned in the ancient myth of Osiris, but determining what kind of tree that was is quite difficult. The leading contenders are Heather and Sycamore. The tree wasn’t decorated; it held up a palace roof for the king of Phoenicia. Also, neither the birthday nor date of death involved were in December. Not by a long shot.

In this post, I would like to do a little textual criticism on Herbert Armstrong’s “The Plain Truth About Christmas” and Alexander Hislop’s “The Two Babylons.”

We were led to a quote from Armstrong’s “The Plain Truth About Christmas” which says this:

After Nimrod’s untimely death, his so-called mother-wife, Semiramis, propagated the evil doctrine of the survival of Nimrod as a spirit being. She claimed a full-grown evergreen tree sprang overnight from a dead tree stump, which symbolized the springing forth unto new life of the dead Nimrod. On each anniversary of his birth, she claimed, Nimrod would visit the evergreen tree and leave gifts upon it. December 25th was the birth of Nimrod. This is the real origin of the Christmas tree.

-Herbert Armstrong, “The Plain Truth About Christmas”, 1970, p. 10

But this isn’t true. None of it is.
Though we have every opportunity to find the truth and correct this error (the truth of these things is several hundreds of years old and should be no surprise), the errors are still quoted to this day among various Armstrongist splinter groups. Truth? I think not. God’s truth? God forbid a lie should be called after God’s name!

This supposedly “real origin of the Christmas tree” is fake; it’s made up… but not by HWA. It wasn’t even honestly quoted. HWA took it without reference from page 98 of Alexander Hislop’s book “The Two Babylons.”

Even so, HWA misquoted Hislop (purposely or not, I do not know) because HWA says an evergreen tree springs up from the stump while Hislop says a palm tree springs up beside the stump. Hislop provides a hand-drawn illustration supposedly of a coin from Tyre which he used to manufacture this story (see figure 27 on p. 98.)

nimrod-1

This drawing is supposedly the proof. One cannot claim accuracy of the supposed proof then deviate from the supposed proof. If the supposed proof says “palm tree next to stump” then that is the only way the story can possibly go. One cannot base everything they have off of this drawing then not agree with the drawing. Pine tree is not part of this drawing, therefore either palm tree is the only possible correct option or the entire thing is wrong.
I say the entire thing is wrong because this proof is no proof. But either way, Armstrong loses.

Hislop attempts to escape this reality. Palm tree, fir tree, it’s all the same to Hislop. Throughout the book he ties every tree to the Christmas tree. He goes on to claim it’s the idea that matters, not the species of the tree.

The Christmas tree, as has been stated, was generally at Rome a different tree, even the fir; but the very same idea as was implied in the palm-tree was implied in the Christmas-fir; for that covertly symbolized the new-born god as Baal-berith, ‘Lord of the Covenant,’ and thus shadowed forth the perpetuity and everlasting nature of his power, now that after having fallen before his enemies he had risen triumphant over them all.

-Alexander Hislop, “The Two Babylons”, 1858, p. 98

This is an outrageous claim so large that every tree on earth is now a Christmas tree! Notice how he leads the reader by calling the tree a Christmas tree. This is no proof, but an assertion.
And what of the trees used at the Feast of Booths (NEH. 8: 14-17)? They also contrast the temporary nature of this life with the eternal nature of God. They fit Hislop’s description of a Christmas tree. Are they a Christmas tree too, then? Ridiculous!

Hislop thinks any tree is a Christmas tree. Palm, pine… it’s all the same. And no one has a problem with this?

The Christmas tree, now so common among us, was equally common in Pagan Rome and Pagan Egypt. In Egypt that tree was the palm tree; in Rome it was the fir; the palm-tree denoting the Pagan Messiah, as Baal-Tamar, the fir referring to him as Baal-Berith.

-Alexander Hislop, “The Two Babylons”, 1858, p. 97

Are we seriously to believe that the Egyptians cut down palm trees and brought them into their mud-brick homes to decorate them like Christmas trees? I can find no corroborating evidence of this claim anywhere. Nor will I. It doesn’t exist because this never happened.
How can I be so bold? Just look at the details! Hislop didn’t get the details right.

He doesn’t get the name of the god right – Egyptians didn’t worship Baal-Tamar, which is the name of a place in Benjamin not a god, nor did they worship Baal-Berith, who is a Canaanite god. He doesn’t even match the correct language with the correct nation – Egyptians did not speak Hebrew or Canaanite.
Evidence for this will never be found because it never happened. He made this all up.

Do you realize how convoluted this is? He uses a drawing allegedly of a coin from Tyre to turn all trees into the Christmas tree because a Greek man’s mother was a Myrrh tree and an Egyptian god was cut to pieces then a palm tree grew next to a stump which supposedly was a Caananite god.
It’s barely even comprehensible. But that didn’t stop him or HWA from proclaiming it to be God’s truth.

Shocking as these facts are, they are the plain facts of history and the Bible!

-Herbert Armstrong, “The Plain Truth About Christmas”, 1970, p. 13

So HWA, plagiarizing (sometimes incorrectly) from the oft maddeningly confused Alexander Hislop, would tell us that the Christmas tree came from this story conjured from a coin, and anyone with a Christmas tree is now a pagan – a pagan Nimrod-worshiper specifically. From what I’ve seen, I must totally reject this.

So far, I’ve given you what proof we have, and it doesn’t match what Hislop and Armstrong said. Has anyone thought to demand proof from the ministers that parrot such things? Why is it that this always comes back to Hislop? I’ll tell you, it’s because Hislop made these things up. He is the source!
When a minister preaches Nimrod and Semiramis, ask for his sources. Don’t even let them tell you about the trees used in the worship of Attis or Adonis or Horus. You should know better than that! If he gives you Herbert Armstrong, you know Armstrong’s source is Hislop. If he gives you another name from someone else in one of the COGs, get their sources. No doubt you will see a chain back to Armstrong and Hislop. Perhaps they give you another name, like Ralph Woodrow who wrote “Babylon Mystery Religion.” Check Ralph Woodrow’s sources for that book; they’re all Hislop. Ralph Woodrow has since disavowed that book and refuted his own material! Maybe your minister will give you a name you’ve never heard of who is preaching Nimrod and Semiramis. Check their sources! I bet I know what you’ll come up with.

If there are 50,000 people all saying Nimrod is this or that thing, it doesn’t make it so. Either it is so, or it is not. Relying on the logical fallacy of Argumentum Ad Populum doesn’t make it any more or any less true. But if there are 50,000 “experts” all claiming Nimrod is this or that thing, and they can all be traced back to this one source – Alexander Hislop – then Hislop is really the one by which the idea stands or falls. If Hislop falls, then all of these “experts” who rely on him fall with him.

He has fallen!

But most Armstrongists don’t check. They won’t check!
You might think I’m being outrageous, but I talk to people regularly about this stuff. There are people who would rather die than give up this most beloved lie about Nimrod. It lifts a person up in their own eyes. It’s far too convenient a club to bash others with. It’s too easy an excuse for too many other things. The implications of rejecting Hislop are too scary. It’s easier to call someone a Nimrod-worshipper than to answer their hard questions. It is easier to respond with venomous attack than to accept that we were wrong. “You’re a pagan, I’m one of the elect, and I’m done with this conversation.” [Yes, someone said that to me. I paraphrase, but that is the gist of what was said.]
If you really are after the truth – God’s truth – then you know as well as I do this is not the kind of person you must be.

This, I hope, will be the last I have to worry about this topic. Oh, this isn’t the end of it. Not by a long shot. But I hope it is the end of it for me… and for you.
I know that I will not convince everyone. I have met several people who let truth slide off like water from a duck’s back. They believe a lie as if it was the truth, and anything that contradicts the lie is explained away. There are two ways to be fooled: one can accept a lie or one can reject the truth. The truth is right under their nose and they toss it aside because they love the lie. They say that history is unreliable, that it was altered by Satan to hide “the truth,” and that the real “truth” is something God doesn’t want the world to know. We discuss this sort of attitude in the articlePattern of Dishonest Documentation“.
And no one has a problem with this? God wants people to be deceived?? I can’t accept that. There is one who wants people to be deceived, but that isn’t God.
How can we say history is unreliable, and then reinterpret history? Isn’t that also unreliable? Isn’t that… hypocritical?
How can we use an “unreliable” history book to look up a name like Osiris or a Christmas tree in the first place, then immediately turn right around and say that history was a lie? How can we believe history books enough to say there really was an Osiris myth, but not enough to believe what they say about Osiris?

Do we say, “God simply revealed the truth to Herbert Armstrong’s mind”? Then why did HWA take his information from Alexander Hislop (without reference)? Herbert Armstrong’s information isn’t his – he plagiarized it. A guy draws a coin and makes up a story – a story contradicted by every available scrap of information we have – and we call it “truth.” Another man plagiarizes this and we call it “inspired.” And no one has a problem with this? Forgive me, but I cannot in good conscience proceed on this type of information.
Are we not implored to prove all things? How do we prove that Alexander Hislop was correct when it goes against absolutely every record on earth? It cannot be done. What we can prove is that Hislop was dreadfully wrong. People just need to be honest enough with themselves to accept it. Would we rather make up facts than face facts?
So I know this study isn’t the end of it, but please excuse me if I find this ‘Nimrod and Christmas trees’ thing to be something I can no longer participate in.

A very dear and highly treasured friend of mine made this comment in response to our research on Christmas, “What you’ve done by the grace of God has truly inspired me to embrace Christmas without an ounce of guilt anymore, ever. It’s gone.” Praise the Lord!

Let me tell you how high an honor this is for me. I deserve none of it, and pass the credit and praise to the One to whom all praise and credit is due, but this is what I think it is all about. This comment is the very definition of grace.

Do you think I write this because I want to champion a holiday? No! My goal is not to get people to start keeping Christmas. My goal is to free people from the shackles of the lies so they can have an unencumbered relationship with the Lord.
If the truth makes one feel free to observe Christmas after that, that’s their business. And if one does not want to keep Christmas, that’s their business too. But please, there is no reason to use falsehoods to justify your choice or to attack faithful Christians. If you keep it, keep it. If not, then not. Either way, just do it in faith with thanks to God.

(ROM. 14: 5-6a, 10) 5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it.
10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
People who have the misfortune of falling under the influence of the “truth” of Armstrongism have lasting issues with guilt. Even when they step into to the New Covenant many of the past errors still need to be un-learned and the guilt remains.

There are two kinds of guilt: the kind that leads to repentance, and the kind that leads to beating ourselves up (and others, and God.) This guilt that causes us to hide from God, distance ourselves from our family, point the finger and judge other faithful Christians, look for excuses, bite and devour one another, propagate falsehoods in the name of “truth” – this guilt is not from God. Jesus removes guilt through truth. His word is truth, and the truth will remove the unnecessary guilt.
Freedom – this is from God.

Here in this study we have seen and proven that certain men have been very, very wrong for a very long time. They have spread guilt and fear, often on purpose as a means of control. Do we honestly think the things we’ve learned in this study were hidden from such men? Do we honestly think they’ve done the research yet didn’t see what we’ve seen here?
If they didn’t do the research, then they are ignorant and have no business talking about what they do not know. But if they did the research, then they saw. They saw and still they chose to copy a man who copied a man who didn’t do honest research. The truth is… they were wrong. For all their bluster and all their great swelling words, they were wrong. For all their threats and their fiery indignation, they were wrong.
There is nothing to their stories. The guilt is all imaginary, in their minds and in ours. Let it go.

I beg you, in truth, prayerfully go before God and ask Him to lift this needless guilt from your shoulders. Be free of these unnecessary burdens imposed on you wrongfully so that you can run the race unencumbered.

Embrace the truth, dearly loved by Christ, and be truly free.

(JON. 8: 31-32, 36) 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

36 “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

Christmas 2016

In Defense of Christmas

Christmas & Herbert Armstrong

Christmas and the Bible

Christmas – Little Guy in the Eye

December 25th

YES! Evidence Indicates Jesus Really Was Born Dec. 25th – Kurt Simmons

“Unto You is Born this Day” – Kurt Simmons

John the Baptist Six Months Older than our Lord – Kurt Simmons

The Nativity of Christ & Death of Herod the Great – Kurt Simmons

Star of Bethlehem or Nazareth? – Kurt Simmons

Objections to Christmas and the Dec. 25th Birth of Christ Answered – Kurt Simmons

Refutation of Ernest Martin’s “The Star that Astonished the World” – Kurt Simmons

Dating the Birth of Jesus of Nazareth – Michal E. Hunt

How December 25 Became Christmas – Biblical Archaeology Society

Calculating Christmas: The Story Behind December 25 – William J. Tighe

Christmas – Throwback Christianity

December 25th & Paganism

Is Christmas Lawful, or Is It Pagan? – Kurt Simmons

Presbyterian & Puritanial Curmudeons and the War Against Christmas – Kurt Simmons

Christmas Was Never a Pagan Holiday – Marian T. Horvat

Is Christmas Really a Pagan Holiday? – Come Reason Ministries

Christmas: Pagan Festival or Christian Celebration? – Dr. Anthony McRoy

Christmas Trees & Jeremiah 10

Christmas Trees & the Bible

Next article: Christmas Gifts

 

Holidays

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