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Gold and religion

In the entire recorded history of mankind, gold occupies a prominent place. It is found in the economy as a carrier of value, in art as a symbol of greatness, and in social interactions as a sign of high status. Religions around the world reinforce this key place for gold, using it literally, in divinity-related contexts, or metaphorically, as a mark of purity.

Today’s most widespread religion, encompassing more than two billion people – we are talking, of course, of Christianity in all its forms – is a rich source of examples of this attitude towards gold. In one of the most enduring and fascinating legends of Christianity (see Exodus 25: 10-22), God himself, through the voice of Moses, ordered his people to build a wooden box in which to keep the Ten Commandments; The lid of this box was made entirely of gold, adorned with two solid gold cherubs, so that from among them he could come to speak with his people and appease their souls. The famous lost gold mines of King Solomon, believed to have existed (if they existed) in Africa, are mentioned in connection with the construction of the first temple in Jerusalem. In addition, the Magi presented the baby Jesus with gold, frankincense, and myrrh (all signs of royalty).

It is remarkable that one of the oldest religions in the world, Hinduism, hails wealth as one of the four goals that were set on man during his life on earth. Along with righteousness (dharma), sensual pleasure (kama) and freedom (moksa), prosperity (artha) is even a duty for the Hindu man, who should accumulate as much wealth as possible without crossing the established line of morality. by the Vedas. Hindus see gold as pure enough to contain their souls: Yama, the god of justice, is depicted holding a mirror of fire and a set of gold scales to measure the spirit of the dead as they enter the afterlife.

On the more mischievous side of religious narrative, the ancient Greek god Zeus, ruler of all other gods and men, known to be partial to earthly women, approached one of them (Danae), in the form of a shower of gold. ; the result of this union was the hero Perseus (who killed the evil Medusa). The golden fleece, another famous piece of Greek mythology, is said to come from a winged ram sired by the sea god Poseidon.

Many other religions and beliefs treasure gold for its properties and use it to symbolize purity, constancy, divinity, etc. Most representations of gods, whether monotheistic or polytheistic, include some element of gold: most of the time a crown, or entire limbs made from it, the throne, the book of scriptures, etc. Clearly, since the dawn of civilized man, gold has been associated with value and thus has been validated over any other type of material possession.

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