Totemism
Jump to: ISBEWebster'sThesaurusLibrarySubtopicsTerms
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) The system of distinguishing families, clans, etc., in a tribe by the totem.

2. (n.) Superstitious regard for a totem; the worship of any real or imaginary object; nature worship.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
TOTEMISM

to'-tem-iz'-m: How far the belief in totems and totemistic relationships existed in early Israel cannot be discussed at length here. Evidence of the belief in deified animal ancestors is supposed by some writers to be found in the tribal names Leah ("wild cow"?), Rachel ("ewe"), Simeon (synonymous with the Arabic sim`u, which denotes a cross between a wolf and a hyena), Hamor ("ass"), Caleb ("dog"), Zibiah ("gazelle"), etc. But these names in themselves "do not prove a totem stage in the development of Israel" (HPN, 114); philologically, the view has a shaky foundation (see, e.g. article "Leah" in 1-vol HDB).

Again, it is true that, as a rule, in totemic communities the individual may not kill or eat the name-giving object of his kin, these animals being regarded as sacred in totem worship and therefore "unclean" (taboo) as food. But the attempt to connect such personal names as Shaphan ("rock-badger"), Achbor ("mouse"), Huldah ("weasel")-all from the time of Josiah (2 Kings 22:3, 12, 14; compare Deborah ("bee"), Gaal ("beetle"?), Told ("crimson worm," "cochineal"), Nabash ("serpent"))-with the list of unclean animals in Leviticus 11 (see 11:5 (margin), 29) and Deuteronomy 14 is beset with difficulties (compare, however, Isaiah 66:17 Ezekiel 8:10), since all the names cannot possibly be explained on this ground.

See also SACRIFICE, II, 2, (4); VI, 1.

Robertson Smith (followed by Stade and Benzinger) strongly advocated the view "that clear traces of totemism can be found in early Israel" (see HDB, III, 100). G. B. Gray also seems inclined to favor the view that some of these names may be "indirectly derivative from a totem stage of society" (HDB, III, 483), while at the same time he recognizes that "the only question is whether other explanations are not equally satisfactory" (HPN, 105).

Other writers, such as Wellhausen, Noldeke (ZDMG, 157 f, 1886), Marti (Gesch. der israelit. Religion, 4th edition, 24), Addis (Hebrew Rel., 33), have opposed or abandoned theory as applied to Israel.

"Upon the whole we must conclude once more that, while it is certainly possible that Totemism once prevailed in Israel, its prevalence cannot be proved; and, above all, we must hold that the religion of Israel as it presents itself in the Old Testament has not retained the very slightest recollection of such a state of things" (Kautzsch, HDB, extra vol, 614 f; compare p. 623).

The theory is also opposed by Job. Jacobs (article "Are there Totem-Clans in the Old Testament?" in Archaeol. Review, III (1889), number 3,145;); F.V. Zapletal, Der Totemismus u. die Religion Israels; and S. A. Cook, in JQR, XIV, number 55.

The evidence on either side is inconclusive, but the weight of authority is opposed to the view that totemism ever existed in Israel. What is certain is that totemism was never a potent factor, either in the early religion of Israel as an organized people, or in any of the dominant cults of the historical period as a whole (see articles "Family" in HDB, I, 850 (Bennett); "Sacrifice," HDB, IV, 331 (Paterson), and DEFILEMENT (Crannell), IMAGES, 3, 6 (Cobern), and ISRAEL, RELIGION OF, II, 1, (4) (Orelli), in this Encyclopedia).

LITERATURE.

In addition to the works cited in the text, see, for theory of the prevalence of totemism in early Israel, W. R. Smith, Religion of the Semites (2nd edition, 1894), Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia (1903); A. F. Scot, Offering and Sacrifice (1900); and I. Benzinger, Hebraische Archaol. (1907); against, Eric Brit, 11th edition, XIII, 177, article "Hebrew Religion" (Whitehouse); Standard BD, 782; Temple DB, article "Shaphan." For a general account and discussion of totemism, see Frazer, Totemism and Exogamy (1910) and The Golden Bough (3rd edition, 1907-13); Westermarck, History of Human Marriage (1891); Deans, Tales from the Totems of Hidery (1898); Lang, Myth, Ritual, Religion (new edition, 1899), The Secret of the Totem (1905), and article "Totemism" in Encyclopedia Brit, 11th edition, XXVII, with extensive bibliography; HDB, extra vol, 115; and Cymru, 1892-93, p. 137; 1893-94, p. 7.

M. O. Evans

Library

Chapter xxix
... ewe" and "Leah" "wild cow," that fact in itself does not support the groundless
contention that the early stages of the patriarchal religion included totemism. ...
/...//christianbookshelf.org/leupold/exposition of genesis volume 1/chapter xxix.htm

Chapter xii
... are referring to. Prominent among these is the attitude which describes
the early religion of Israel as totemism. This endeavours ...
//christianbookshelf.org/leupold/exposition of genesis volume 1/chapter xii.htm

Thesaurus
Totemism
...TOTEMISM. ... The evidence on either side is inconclusive, but the weight of authority
is opposed to the view that totemism ever existed in Israel. ...
/t/totemism.htm - 11k

Totter (9 Occurrences)

/t/totter.htm - 8k

Totally (27 Occurrences)

/t/totally.htm - 14k

Zeeb (3 Occurrences)
... Robertson Smith, Kinship, etc. (190;, 218;), says that the use of the names
of animals as names of persons is a relic of totemism. ...
/z/zeeb.htm - 10k

Oreb (4 Occurrences)
... Robertson Smith, Kinship, etc. (190;, 218;), says that the use of the names
of animals as names of persons is a relic of totemism. ...
/o/oreb.htm - 10k

Wolf (4 Occurrences)
... Such animal names are frequently given to ward off the evil eye. See also TOTEMISM.
Alfred Ely Day. Multi-Version Concordance Wolf (4 Occurrences). ...
/w/wolf.htm - 13k

Shaphan (26 Occurrences)
... shaphan, "rockbadger," English Versions of the Bible "coney"; Saphphan): An old
totem clan name (so WR Smith; compare, however, the article TOTEMISM; Gray, Gray ...
/s/shaphan.htm - 18k

Defilement (12 Occurrences)
... the supposed origins of the idea and details of defilement, as from hygienic or
aesthetic causes, "natural aversions," "taboo," "totemism," associations with ...
/d/defilement.htm - 21k

Defile (63 Occurrences)
... the supposed origins of the idea and details of defilement, as from hygienic or
aesthetic causes, "natural aversions," "taboo," "totemism," associations with ...
/d/defile.htm - 38k

Images (158 Occurrences)
... That primitive man was so stupid that he could not tell the difference between men
and things, and that therefore totemism or fetishism or a low form of ...
/i/images.htm - 70k



Totally
Top of Page
Top of Page