Comparing the Ethno-genesis of the Hebrews and the Mayans






Comparing the Ethno-genesis of the Hebrews and the Mayans

Much phenomenal and mysterious aspectsof life cannot be explained through scientific proofs. Scholars have often debated about the origins of different ethnical groups around the globe. The term ethno-genesis is rooted back to the Greek language. It comprises of two terms ethnos and genesis. Ethnos refers to a nation whereas genesis means the birth or origin of a group of people. Therefore, ethno genesis- when the two terms are combined-is defined as the total processes and activities through which ethnic groups were formed. Ethnic groups evolved over time to their present cultures. Existence of every ethnic group has a specific culture, which varies from other different groups (Gómez-Casado, et. al., 105). The basis of existence is drawn from religious views. Ethno genesis of both the Mayans and the Hebrews provides a good example to use as a tool of analysis between communities, which originate from supernatural beings but with different views about theism. Comparison between these two communities provides an insight on how ethno genesis is different between the Mayans and the Hebrews.

The Hebrews existed before the Mayans. These two communities have a similarity. Despite the fact that they have different creation stories, they both believe to have existed from supernatural beings. This is evidenced in their spiritual books and religion. Their religions give different accounts about the existence of their people. Writings related to the Hebrew origin are found in the bible and it is believed by all Christians in the bible while the Mayans beliefs about their existence are stated in Popul Vuh.

The Jews are one of the most ancient groups in the world. They are currently found in all parts of the world with Israel being their homeland. According to this ethnic group, they believe that human beings descended from Abraham, Moses and their children. Abraham was born in the city of Ur Kasdim at a place called Sumeria and later moved to Canaan which is commonly referred to as Israel. However, the story of their existence is further rooted back to the time where the earth was created. Abraham believed in God hence their existence is linked to God’s creation story. According to the Holy Bible, God created man in his image. It explains that He placed Adam in the Garden of Eden on the 6th day of his creations. Afterwards, He took one of Adam’s ribs and used it to create a woman in order to keep him company. Her name was Eve. Hence, they existed from a supreme being.

Despite the Hebrews having moved to different parts of the world, their origin dates back to Israel. In order for one to conclude that indeed Abraham is a descendant of Abraham and Eve, one has to follow the lineage and link the two families together. Biblical records prove that Abraham descended from Adam and Eve. Their link is trailed from several generations back to creation. Abraham’s lineage links him to Adam. He was the son of Terah. According to the seventh chapter in the book of Genesis in the Holy bible, Seth was the grandfather of Yered and he fathered Enoch (The Holy Bible, 40). There was a great flood and all the other people died leaving behind Noah’s family that sheltered in the ark. Noah was Enoch’s grandson and he fathered Shem. Later on Shem fathered Eber who gave birth to five sons: Nahor, Sereg, Peleg, Reu and Terah. As mentioned earlier, Terah was the father to Abraham. This chronological order of descendants proves that the Hebrews descended from a supernatural being who was God.

The Mayans too have their own belief relating to their origin. They are believed to have come from Siberia since they were one of the people who lived in Mesoamerica meaning they are present in these countries: Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. Their creation tale is explained under two different stories. The Popol Vuh in the K’ich’e language provides the Mayan story of creation. Their origin is linked to supernatural beings. According to Popul Vuh, their gods created all the creatures in the earth together with the vegetation (Popol Vuh:  The Definitive Edition of The Mayan Book of The Dawn of Life and The Glories of Gods and Kings, 30). The story of the Hero Twins evolves again during another period when the gods of the underworld decided to summon the twins and they were challenged to a ball game. Earlier on, their father, Hun Hunahpu and Uncle Vucub Hunahpu had been summoned to a ball game. However, they were conquered and sacrificed. The head of Hun Hunahpu was then placed on a gourd tree while their mother who was a goddess, Xquic escaped. While living in the underworld, Xquic was impregnated by the dripping blood from Hun Hunahpu’s head. The next generation of twins eventually defeated their opponents. As a reward, they rose into the heavens and became the sun and the moon. It was through their transforming period when the forth creation of the Mayans took place via the growth of maize. This explains that the Mayans believe that they descended from the supernatural beings.

The other tale behind the creation of the Mayans relates to two gods who created the entire earth. The gods created people out of mud and made them rulers over their other creation. However, these beings could not speak and they decided to create human beings. The Mayans believed that the first created human beings died because they were weak in nature because they were created out of mud. On the second creation, they believe that the gods created men out of wood while the women were created out of rushes. This second generation populated the earth and filled it as expected by the gods. However, the people forgot about the existence of their gods and failed to worship them. This made the gods very angry and they decided to punish humans by a flood. Most of the humans died and the few who survived were turned into monkeys. Finally, the gods decided to create humans from maize. Their new creation was pleasing to them that they had no reason to destroy them (Willey, 264). This makes up the present day Mayans on earth.

However, these two ethnical groups differ in their theistic views. The Jews are monotheistic while the Mayans are polytheistic. This is evident in their religious teachings and views. The Jews believe in one God. Throughout their religious teachings, only one God is mentioned. He is the sole creator and overall being. According to the first chapter of the Holy Bible, only one God is responsible for their creation. He created the earth and all his creations without the help of any other being. When he created the earth he made man out of clay and used his own breathe to put life into him. Moreover, throughout the Hebrew Bible, no other god is mentioned. This proves that they are devoted to one supernatural being.

On the contrary, the Mayans have different views pertaining to theism. They are polytheists in nature. The history of creation is linked to the existence of numerous gods. The 5-century-old book, Popol Vuh gives a detailed view about the gods responsible for their creation. Their creation story is linked to several deities. According to Popol, there were only two creator gods in the beginning: god Tepeu and god Gucumatz. These gods were responsible for the creation of the earth in the initial stages. They were the founders of the Quiché noble dynasties. The human beings created last worshipped their gods and meandered in the earth from the 16-century up to date. They did this until they reached at a mythical place where they were able to receive their gods in the form of sacred bundles and they were allowed to carry them home. This is evidenced by the Quiché lineages present up to the 16th century (Meek, 2011).

The second story that is linked to the creation of Mayans is the Hero twin’s tale. This story explains how the Mayans are polytheists (Ollhoff, 56). The twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque were given the opportunity by the underworld gods to compete in a ball match game. The presence of the underworld gods marks their first existence of gods. There was another god present called Xibalba who the twins managed to kill. The twins were reward for their bravery and turned into gods themselves. They both became the gods of the sun and the moon while Hun Hunahpu became the god of corn. All these incidences indicated the number of gods they believe in thus, they are referred to as polytheists.

The Mayans and the Hebrews are two different ethnical groups. They both have different views about their ethnic backgrounds. Their cultures are strongly based on their religion. The only similarity between the two cultures is that they both evolved from supernatural beings. A difference is evident from their theistic views since the Hebrew is monotheistic while the Mayan is polytheistic in nature.


Works Cited

Gómez-Casado, E., J. Martínez-Laso, J. Moscoso, J. Zamora, M. Martin-Villa, M. Perez-Blas, M. Lopez-Santalla, P. L. Gramajo, C. Silvera, E. Lowy, and A. Arnaiz-Villena. “Origin of Mayans according to HLA genes and the uniqueness of Amerindians.” Tissue Antigens 15.1 (2003): 104-109. JSTOR. Web. 05 November 2013

Meek J. Theophile, The American Journal of Theology. Vol. 24, No.2 (Apr., 1920): pp. 209-216. Print.

Ollhoff, Jim. Mayan and Aztec Mythology. Edina, MN: ABDO Publishing Company, 2011. Print.

Popol Vuh:  The Definitive Edition of The Mayan Book of The Dawn of Life and The Glories of Gods and Kings. Trans. Dennis Tedlock. New York: Touchstone, 2006. Print.

The Holy Bible, King James Version. New York: American Bible Society: 2009. Print.

Willey R. Gordon, “ Maya Archeology.” Science, New Series. Vol. 215, No. 4530(Jan. 15, 1982): pp.260-267.





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