By: Tonya Parrott Segura
In Acts 19, the apostle Paul sets out for Ephesus on his third missionary journey and confronts the Ephesians for worshipping the goddess Diana. Diana was a disguised version of the detestable ‘Queen of Heaven,’ known as Semiramis in ancient Babylon. This idolatry involved Mother and Son worship, fertility worship and the worship of the celestials.
The Queen of Heaven is referred to twice in the book of Jeremiah 7:18 and 44:15-18:
18 The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.
44:15-18 Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying, 16 As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee. 17 But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. 18 But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.
Diana was worshipped as the moon goddess and Mother of all living things, both man and nature. Every year in Ephesus, a festival was held in her honor to celebrate her birthday in which the whole city participated in drunkenness and immorality. Like the Israelites had done before them, the Ephesians also had turned their backs on the Lord to stubbornly practice these customs and follow this false goddess down a path of destruction.
WHAT IS IN A NAME?
The Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft describes Diana as “the Queen of Heaven, goddess of the moon, and the keeper of the hearts and souls of those who honor her.” 1 Pagans worship this moon goddess as the spouse of the sun god Baal, also referred to as Baalim (plural) in the Old Testament. In witchcraft, everything revolves around balancing powers; hence the female goddess is said to reign as the power opposite the male god.
Nimrod was the founder of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 10:10, 11:1-9) and his wife was named Semiramis. The ancients believed that after his death, he ascended to the sun and became known as the sun god Baal. Baal is also another name for Molech (Jeremiah 19:5, 32:35).
Ashtaroth was another name for the wife of Baal. This title also refers to many other names such as Ishtar and Astarte, the fertility goddesses of the Assyrians and Babylonians. ‘Easter’ is derived from these female goddesses’ names.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia defines Diana as:
A deity of Asiatic origin, the mother goddess of the earth, whose seat of worship was the temple in Ephesus, the capital of the Roman province of Asia. Diana is but the Latinized form of the Greek word Artemis, yet the Artemis of Ephesus should not be confused with the Greek goddess of that name. She may, however, be identified with the Cybele of the Phrygians whose name she also bore, and with several other deities who were worshipped under different names in various parts of the Orient.2
The Old Testament is full of examples of what God thought of the worship of Baal (Judges 6, I Kings & II Kings) as well as his counterpart, Ashtaroth (Judges 10:6). But it can be summed up in Judges 2:13, “And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.” From this passage, it is clear to see that in order to serve the sun god Baal and/or his moon goddess bride by any name, one must first turn their back on the Lord.
MOTHER AND SON WORSHIP
The Babylonians, in their popular religion, supremely worshipped a goddess Mother and a Son, who was represented in pictures and in images as an infant or child in his mother’s arms.3 Following the death of Nimrod, Semiratis had a son whom she named Tammuz. She claimed that her son was the resurrected Nimrod, or rather, the sun god Baal. She further claimed that her son was conceived supernaturally and was the Savior promised in Genesis 3:15. In the religion that developed, not only was the child worshipped but the mother as well.4
Mother and Son worship took on various names depending on the culture. Alexander Hislop explains:
From Babylon, this worship of the Mother and Child spread to the ends of the earth. In Egypt, the Mother and the Child were worshipped under the names Isis and Osris. In India, even to this day, as Isi and Iswara; in Asia, as Cybele and Deoius, in Pagan Rome, as Fortuna and Jupiter-puer, or, Jupiter, the boy; in Greece, as Ceres the great Mother, with the babe at her breast, or as Irene, the God of Peace, with the boy Putus in her arms; and even in Thibet, in China and Japan, the Jesuit missionaries were astonished to find the counterpart of Madonna and her child as devoutly worshipped as in Papal Rome itself; Shing Moo, the Holy Mother in China being represented with a child in her arms, and a glory around her, exactly as if a Roman Catholic artist had been employed to set her up.3
Diana was the Ephesians’ version of the Babylonian Semiratis.
The Ephesians’ goddess Artemis, sometimes called Diana, is not quite the same figure as the one that was worshiped in Greece. The Greek’s Artemis was the goddess of the hunt. The Ephesians’ Artemis was a goddess of fertility and was often pictured as draped with eggs or multiple breasts, symbols of fertility, from her waist to her shoulders.2
As stated earlier, Cybele of the Phrygians is also identified with Diana of the Ephesians. Cybele was generally regarded as the Mother of the major part of the gods. This procured her the appellation of Magna Mater, the Great Mother.5
There are many versions of the story of Cybele. One is that she was born the daughter of a king and abandoned on a mountain. She was nursed by wild animals and grew up and fell in love with a shepherd named Attis. He was unfaithful to her and was about to marry another but she appeared at the wedding banquet and filled the guests with panic. Attis fled to the mountains. Cybele killed him there and instituted a great mourning in his memory every year at the Vernal Equinox. Her priests went to the mountains marching to kettle drums and fifes and found Attis (or something like him) and out of excitement and joy cut themselves with knives in wild enchantment. 6
In the days of the Old Testament, the Israelites never completely abandoned the worship of God the Creator. What they actually did was add the worship of Baal to their worship of God. This is called syncretism. Syncretism, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, is “the reconciliation or fusion of differing systems of belief.” Biblical Christianity cannot be reconciled with this. 7
The Israelites would only call on God the Creator in the midst of a crisis and worship Baal for everyday life. The worship of Baal was carried out by imitative magic and sexual acts by both male and female temple prostitutes. This involved orgies as well as the offering of children for sacrifices. It was understood that these things aroused Baal. Because of this, he would cause it to rain and make the Great Mother (Earth) fertile. The myth was also represented by a female consort, Ashtaroth, Queen of Heaven.8
THE TEMPLE OF DIANA
Diana’s Temple, also called the Temple of Artemis, is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is located in Ephesus, which is modern day Turkey. It was built in 560 B.C. by King Croesus of Lydia and took approximately 120 years to build. It was designed by a Greek architect by the name of Chersiphron.
The Temple is described by Antipater of Sidon as follows:
I have set eyes on the wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of Zeus by the Alpheus, and the hanging gardens, and the colossus of the Sun, and the huge labour of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, ‘Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught so grand. 9
On July 21, 356 B.C. in a successful attempt at fame, a man by the name of Herostratus set the Temple on fire and burned it to the ground. It was rebuilt many years later with the aid of Alexander the Great. The Temple was destroyed for the second time by the Goths in 262 A.D. By the fourth century, the majority of the population of the city of Ephesus had converted to Christianity and in 401 A.D. the Temple was destroyed for the final time by Saint John Chrysostom. Many of the ruins were used for the construction of other buildings and the Temple remains in ruins at present.10
The Apostle Paul came to preach the Good News at Ephesus around 54 A.D., which was in between the Temple’s first and second destruction. In approximately 56 A.D., Paul spoke out against the false goddess, Diana. This threatened the livelihood of the townsmen at Ephesus who made their living by manufacturing silver shrines of the goddess.
A man by the name of Demetrius called a meeting of his like businessmen and addressed the issue. The men became angered and began to shout, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” A crowd began to gather and soon a riot broke out and there was much confusion in the city. The townspeople rushed the amphitheater and were finally calmed and dispersed by the mayor. He feared the commotion would draw the attention of the Roman government and bring about legal charges for the city (Acts 19).
The seeds that Paul’s preaching planted there took many years to grow but in God’s timing, it bore the fruit that resulted in the destruction of Diana’s well known Temple at Ephesus. Many Ephesians received the gift of eternal life as a result of Paul’s good work among them.
DIANA WORSHIP TODAY: ISHTAR AND THE VIRGIN MARY
Unfortunately, Paul’s message did not extinguish the worship of Diana, as it only disguised itself in other forms. This idolatry is still rampant today and has even found its way into the worship services of most churches in the United States of America as well as other countries around the world by cleverly disguising itself as ‘Christian’. Although it still comes in the form of Mother and Child and fertility worship, it somehow goes unrecognized by the vast majority. Two of the most deceptive methods are the worship of Ishtar and the worship of the Virgin Mary.
Easter has been declared a Christian holiday and it is openly celebrated at the same time every year in almost every Christian church globally. Regarding Ishtar, Richard Rives states:
The English word ‘Easter’ is derived from the names ‘Eostre’ or ‘Eastre,’ ‘Astarte’ or ‘Ashtaroth’. Astarte was introduced into the British Isles by the Druids and is just another name for Beltis or Ishtar of the Chaldeans and Babylonians. The book of Judges records that ‘the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and forsook the LORD, and served not Him.’ Easter is just another name for Ashteroth ‘The Queen of Heaven.’ Easter was not considered a ‘Christian’ festival until the fourth century. Early Christians celebrated Passover on the 14th day of the first month and a study of the dates on which Easter is celebrated will reveal that the celebration of Easter is not observed in accordance with the prescribed time for the observance of Passover. After much debate, the Nicaean council of 325 A.D. decreed that ‘Easter’ should be celebrated on the first Sunday after the vernal equinox. Why was so much debate necessary if ‘Easter’ was a tradition passed down from the Apostles? The answer is that it was not an apostolic institution, but, an invention of man! They had to make up some rules. History records that spring festivals in honor of the pagan fertility goddesses and the events associated with them were celebrated at the same time as ‘Easter’. In the year 399 A.D. the Theodosian Code attempted to remove the pagan connotation from those events and banned their observance. The pagan festival of Easter originated as the worship of the sun goddess, the Babylonian Queen of Heaven who was later worshipped under many names including Ishtar, Cybele, Idaea Mater (the Great Mother), or Astarte for whom the celebration of Easter is named. Easter is not another name for the Feast of Passover and is not celebrated at the Biblically prescribed time for Passover. This pagan festival was supposedly ‘Christianized’ several hundred years after Christ.11
The Vernal Equinox determines the timing of the celebration of Easter and not the dating of the resurrection of Christ. Vernal Equinox is the time of the year when day and night are almost equal in length. Ishtar (Easter/Ostara/Ashtaroth, etc.) is one of the eight sabbats (holidays) celebrated by pagans and neopagans on the Wiccan calendar each year. Easter is a celebration in honor of this pagan fertility goddess from the ancient world called by the same name as Diana, the ‘Queen of Heaven.’
The question remains unanswered as to why the ‘Christian’ Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. even discussed the appropriate time to honor a pagan goddess. There is no justification for this and the Bible blatantly opposes such worship. The results of doing so are detailed in Jeremiah 44:15-18 (previously quoted).
The Virgin Mary, the object of adoration for those of the Catholic faith, is not the same Mary as the mother of Jesus because they also give her the title ‘Queen of Heaven’. Marian devotion (the worship of Mary) is thought to have been started by a group of people known as the Collyridians. Women would decorate a square chair by covering it with fine linen and on a certain day of the year, make cakes out of bread and offer them as a sacrifice to the Virgin Mary.12 The Lord rebukes this act in Jeremiah 44:15-18 as well.
Collyridiansim is still practiced by Catholics today although they deny this as fact. They believe that Mary is the Mother of God in the eternal sense because she gave birth to both the spiritual and human Jesus (theotokos). The Protestant Church teaches that Mary is not the Mother of God in the eternal sense, although she is the mother of Jesus. God has no mother in the eternal sense and believing that Mary is the Mother of God in this way leads to worshipping the creation rather than the Creator. Romans 1:25, “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”
Syncretism has no place in the true Church and should be exposed and rebuked for the sin that it is. It is clear to see why Paul spoke out against the worship of the goddess Diana. She is indeed the one referred to as the Queen of Heaven in the Old Testament. The sins involved in her worship were many and included things such as idolatry, sexual perversion, child sacrifice and the worship of the sun and moon. Paul was very well aware of the dangers of these sins and wanted the people of Ephesus to see their need for repentance and be reconciled with God.
The names of the gods and goddesses may have changed throughout the cultures but the focus of worship remains the same. God the Creator changed names for His glory (like Abram to Abraham) throughout the Bible. The devil apparently changes names for his glory, too. After all, it is much easier to lead people astray if they are unaware of the true origins and reasons for their worship. It should be pointed out that changing the name does not change the object.
Many today are ignorant to the fact that they are participating in the same rituals practiced and handed down by the Babylonians. The goddess Diana is referred to in Revelation 18:1-10:
And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. 2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. 3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. 4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. 6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. 7 How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. 8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. 9 And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, 10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
The Bible teaches us that ignorance will be no excuse for those who do not follow the ways of God. Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” This penalty is sure to be executed on Judgment Day upon all of those who do not come out of Babylon and its practices and be separate!
To the Church in Ephesus
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
1 Raven Grimassi, Encyclopedia of Wicca and Witchcraft. (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publicaions, 2003), 120.
2 E.J. Banks, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1939), Diana; Artemis.
3 Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons. (London: Houlston & Wright, 1762), 28 & 29.
4 Ralph Woodrow, Babylon Mystery Religion (Ralph Woodrow Evangelistic Association, Inc., 1966), 8.
5 M. L’Abbe’ De Tressan, Mythology Compared with History: Or, The Fables of the Ancients Elucidated from Historical Records. (London: The Strand, 1797), 61.
6 O. Seemann, The Mythology of Greece and Rome: With Special References to its Use in Art. (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1887), 132 & 133.
7 Gotquestions.org, “What is Religious Syncretism?” Available from http://www.gotquestions.org/syncretism-religious.html; May 2012.
8 Dennis Bratcher, “Baal Worship in the Old Testament.” Available from http://www.cresourcei.org/baal.html; May 2012.
9 Antipater, Greek Anthology. (IX.58)
10 Citizendia.org, “Entry for ‘Temple of Artemis’”. Available from http://www.citizendia.org/Temple_of_Artemis, May 2012.
11 Richard Rives, Too Long in the Sun, (Davidson, NC: Partakers Publications, 2000.)
12 Stephen Benko, The Virgin Goddess: Studies in the Pagan and Christian Roots of Mariology. (Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1993), 171.