Part One: Historical Disturbances
Velikovsky's notes, compiled by Jan Sammer, show two more indications of what the oracle might have been. Of Baalbek-Dunip- Seti's Kadesh, "the place is known as Yenoam (' Yahweh speaks') which refers to the oracle." Then , "Yenoam-Dan (Yehu probably introduced the cult of Yahweh at Dan). Yenoam, read in Hebrew, could be interpreted as "Ye [Yahweh] speaks..." Writes Sammer: "Velikovsky evidently saw in the name a reference to the oracle of Dan." I agree, and Yehu might be interpreted as a form of Yahweh.
But Velikovsky did not proceed to identify the oracle further, although this would have strengthened his case all around. In my book on God's Fire: Moses and the Management of Exodus there occur the following lines:
We hear that on one occasion the Ark was duplicated by a young man named Micah in his home, a surprising occurrence, reminiscent of claims that the nuclear bomb can be home-made. The lad's mother was quite proud of him; she had consecrated her silver for the purpose (Ju. 17: 3) He made a graven image, a molten image, an ephod, a terraphim, and hired a priest. Nothing untoward occurred save that men from the tribe of Dan descended upon the household and carried away the ark and its Levite attendant. Later we learn that the true Ark was kept at Shiloh, whence it was occasionally employed.
I owe the realization that Micah's image was an ark to J. Ziegler (YHWH, 34-35). He points out that mere images of material are common in ancient Jewish household; that the word which is translated "image" as in "any standing image" comes from the word "neck," hence refers to any arrangement or instrument capable of discharging an ark, that Micah needed both insulating carved wood and metallic sides, that is, both "a graven image and a molten image" to fabricate his ark. Ziegler perceives that the first and second commandments go together, expressing the absolute preference for Yahweh followed by the prohibition of graven images, by which is meant any competitive presentation of the divine who was displayed on the true Ark.
The Danites, after stealing the image (ark), erected it in the capital of the country that they had savaged. "And they kept the carved image of Micah ..., all the day that the house of the God continued in Shiloh," an obvious reference to the prototype "true" Ark of the Covenant that rested at Shiloh for a long time.( Ju. 18: 13)
Hence a functioning Ark, an electrical apparatus that has been described elsewhere (Ziegler, op. cit. A de Grazia, "Moses and his Electric Ark," Midstream, Nov. 1981), found a home in Baalbek, where appropriately, it was mounted upon a hill site. There, in the years of declining terrestrial discharges, it might still on occasion approach the norm of activity that its prototype (then in the temple of Solomon at Jerusalem) displayed during the Exodus under the direction of Moses.
In Velikovsky's article, the "thing" is an "oracle," an "image," and an "idol," vague terms applied to the Ark in conventional Biblical exegesis. Too, they are terms that the editors hostile to the Northern Kingdom would use to avoid suggesting that something approaching in shape, intent, and functions the most sacred Ark would be operative there, or anywhere else. The oracle of Micah was also called "a voice ... from Dan" by Jeremiah, and "voice" was a term used literally and liberally in regard to the presence of Yahweh on the Ark.
The "oracle of Micah," or Micah's Ark, lends authenticity and credibility to Velikovsky's reconstructions of the history of Baalbek. Some fifteen years ago, during a rambling conversation that took in the crises over Lebanon, Velikovsky fixed me with a confiding gaze and said: "Baalbek was part of Israel. I have never published it because it might cause trouble." He felt that such proof would be made the basis for a claim to Lebanon by Jewish extremists. He was complex; here he was a man of peace; but usually his scale of demands paralleled or even advanced beyond those of incumbent rulers of Israel.
The complexity of his character is involved in the oracle of Baalbek, too. We note his statement about Jeroboam, who built the "house of high places" at Baalbek-Dan and had built the Jerusalem walls under Solomon; "before becoming king of the northern kingdom he lived as an exile in Egypt. He introduced the cult of the calf in Dan."
Velikovsky despised any Jewish minion of a foreign power. Nor did he like the "Golden Calf." He acknowledged its enduring presence in Hebrew religious history, opposing it to the "superior" abstractions of Moses Yahwism. Velikovsky did not see the Ark as a functioning electrical machine, and merely grunted in response when, a year before his death, I mentioned to him that an electric Ark was a feature of my manuscript of Moses. Two years earlier, I had raised the subject of Ziegler's book YHWH and it was obvious that, although he had received it, he would not read in it.
Probably he saw, in the image of the calf, which was the only ritual image turned up by the Baalbek excavations, a synopsis of Baalbek Dan's dedication to the apostasy of Jeroboam and the Ten Tribes, a taboo-guarded subject in Jewish tradition. In sum, Velikovsky probably regarded the Ark of the Covenant as a mere holy litter, in the modern scholarly conception of bedouin ritual apparatus, and may have assumed, with embarrassed haste, that the oracle of Micah related to the worship of the calf and embodied its image, whereas most likely the oracle was the Ark of Micah and preceded Jeroboam's assumption of power in Baalbek; it was infuriating to the southerners, who later on supplied the editors of the Bible.
1. III Kronos( 1981-2) nos. 2, 3.