Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Semitic religion

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 17, 2014

Baal

The Narmer Palette, also known as the Great Hierakonpolis Palette or the Palette of Narmer, is a significant Egyptian archeological find, dating from about the 31st century BC, containing some of the earliest hieroglyphic inscriptions ever found. It is thought by some to depict the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the king Narmer. On one side, the king is depicted with the bulbed White Crown of Upper (southern) Egypt, and the other side depicts the king wearing the level Red Crown of Lower (northern) Egypt.

Narmer Palette

The Phrygian cap is a soft conical cap with the top pulled forward, associated in antiquity with the inhabitants of Illyria, a region of North West Ballkan peninsula. In early modern Europe it came to signify freedom and the pursuit of liberty, through a confusion with the pileus, the felt cap of manumitted (emancipated) slaves of ancient Rome. Accordingly, the Phrygian cap is sometimes called a liberty cap; in artistic representations it signifies freedom and the pursuit of liberty.

Anu=>Enlil=>Enki=>EL=>Yahweh

Much has been made of the fact that the common Hebrew word for God in the Book of Genesis, Elohim, translates to gods in the plural. This is however a narrow view that needs some context.

El and the Elohim

The cycle of life – The Baal Cycle

Ebla

The name El first appears in fragmented records from the city of Ebla, the archaeological site of Tell Mardikh (Marduk), located about 55 km (34 mi) southwest of Aleppo near the village of Mardikh in southern Syria, dated to 2300 BC. The noun ʾEl was found at the top of a list of Gods as the “Ancient of Gods” or the “Father of all Gods”, in the ruins of the royal archive of the Ebla civilization. Although it is not possible to gain any insight into the cult of El at that time there are indications that he was viewed as supreme amongst the gods.

Ebla was an important center throughout the third millennium BC and in the first half of the second millennium BC. It was discovery in 1968 proved the Levant to be an equal center of ancient centralized civilization next to Egypt and Mesopotamia, and ruled out the view that the former two were the only important centers in the Near East during the early Bronze Age.

Starting as a small settlement in the early Bronze Age (c. 3500 BC), it developed into a trading empire and later turned into an expansionist power that imposed its hegemony over much of northern and eastern Syria.

Its language, Eblaite, is now considered to be the earliest attested Semitic language after Akkadian. The site is most famous for the Ebla tablets, an archive of about 20,000 cuneiform tablets found there, dated to around 2350 BC. Written in both Sumerian and Eblaite and using the Sumerian Cuneiform, the archive has allowed a better understanding of the Sumerian language.

During the first kingdom period between about 3000 and 2300 BC, Ebla was the most prominent kingdom amongst the Syrian states, especially during the second half of the 3rd millennium BC, which is known as the age of the archives after the Ebla tablets.

In the middle of the 25th century BC, Mari was defeated by Ebla, perhaps by King Kun-Damu, whose reign over Ebla can be dated to this period. The power of Ebla then declined, and during the reign of King Igrish-Halam in the mid-24th century it paid tribute to Mari.

Ebla recovered under King Irkab-Damu in about 2340 BC, becoming prosperous and launching a successful counteroffensive against Mari. At its greatest extent Ebla controlled an area roughly half the size of modern Syria, half of which was under the direct control of the king and administered by governors, while the rest consisted of vassal kingdoms paying tribute and supplying military assistance to Ebla.

One of the most important of these vassals was Armi, an important Bronze Age city-kingdom during the late third millennium BC located in northern Syria, and identified by some historians with the city of Aleppo, which was the city most often mentioned in the Ebla tablets.

Armi was the most quoted city in Ebla texts, Giovanni Pettinato describes Armi as Ebla’s alter ego, however the relations between the two cities is complicated, for it wasn’t always peaceful, the texts of Ebla mentions gifts exchange between the kings but it also mentions wars between the two kingdoms.

The complicated relations between Ebla and Armi is very similar to the relations between Ebla and Mari, the eblan texts mentions two interdynastic marriages with the son of the king of Nagar and that of Kish, but despite very close relations between Ebla and Armi an interdynastic marriage is never attested.

During its last years, Ebla in alliance with Nagar and Kish conducted a great military expedition against Armi and occupied it, Ibbi-Sipish son Enzi-Malik resided in Armi.

Destruction

Both Armi and Ebla was destroyed during the 23rd century BC. Armi wasn’t mentioned after the destruction. Many theories were proposed for this destruction. Historian Michael C.

Astour believes that the destruction of Ebla and Armi would have happened c. 2290 BC during the reign of Lugal-zage-si of Sumer, whose rule coincided with Sargon of Akkad (23rd and 22nd centuries BC) first years.

King Naram-Sin of Akkad (2254–2218 BCE) mentions that he conquered Armanum and Ib-la and captured the king of Armanum. Naram-Sin gives a long description about his siege of Armanum, his destruction of its walls and the capturing of its king Rid-Adad.

The similarities between the names led historian Wayne Horowitz to identify Armanum with Armi. If Armi was in fact Armanum mentioned by Naram-Sin then the event can be dated to c. 2240 BC. In all cases it is a confirmed fact that the whole of northern Syria including Ebla and Armi was under the domination of the Akkadian empire during the reign of Naram-Sin.

Astour believes that the Armanum mentioned in the inscriptions of Naram-Sin is not the same city as Eblaite Armi. Naram-Sin makes it clear that the Ebla he sacked (in c.2240 BC) was a border town of the land of Arman, while the Armi in the Eblaite tablets is a vassal to Ebla and the Syrian Ebla, would based on the political map given in the Eblaite tablets, have been burned in 2290 BC, long before the reign of Naram-Sin.

Armani, (also given as Armanum) was an ancient kingdom mentioned by Sargon of Akkad and his grandson Naram-Sin of Akkad as stretching from Ibla to Bit-Nanib, its location is heavily debated, and it continued to be mentioned in the later Assyrian inscriptions.

Armani was attested in the treaties of Sargon in a section that mentions regions located in Assyria and Babylonia or territories adjacent to the East in contrast to the Syrian Ebla location in the west.

The later King Adad-Nirari I of Assyria also mentions Arman as being located east of the Tigris and on the border between Assyria and Babylon. Historians who disagree with the identification of Akkadian Armani with Syrian Armi place it (along with Akkadian Ibla) north of the Hamrin Mountains in northern Iraq.

Armani was later mentioned amongst the cities that rebelled against Naram-Sin, during the middle Assyrian and Kassites periods. The land of Armani was mentioned as located east of the Tigris, king Shalmaneser III mentions his conquest of Halman, but the identification of Halman with Akkadian Armani (Arman) is dubious.

Elam (corresponding to the Sumerian elam(a), the Akkadian elamtu, and the Elamite haltamti) was an ancient Pre-Iranic civilization centered in the far west and southwest of what is now modern-day Iran, stretching from the lowlands of what is now Khuzestan (Luristan of Bakhtiari Lurs) and Ilam Province as well as a small part of southern Iraq.

Elamite states were among the leading political forces of the Ancient Near East. In classical literature, Elam was more often referred to as Susiana a name derived from its capital, Susa. However, Susiana is not synonymous with Elam and, in its early history, was a distinctly separate cultural and political entity.

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. The land of Ararat-Urartu-Armenia is different synonyms used by different peoples throughout different times for the same land and people.

There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources. Another mention by pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt in the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) as the people of Ermenen, and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”.

Urkesh or Urkish (modern Tell Mozan‎) is a tell, or settlement mound, located in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains in Al-Hasakah Governorate, northeastern Syria. It was founded during the fourth millennium BC by the Hurrians (Armenians).

Urkesh was an ally of the Akkadian Empire through what is believed to have been a dynastic marriage tradition. Tar’am-Agade the daughter of the Akkadian king, Naram-Sin, is believed to have been married to the king of Urkesh.

Ebla was then rebuilt and was attested in the records of the Third Dynasty of Ur. The second Ebla was a continuation of the first, ruled by a new royal dynasty.

It was destroyed at the end of the second millennium BC, which paved the way for the Amorite tribes to settle in the city and form the third Ebla. The third kingdom flourished again as a trade center; it became a subject and an ally to Yamhad (modern Aleppo) until its final destruction by the Hittite king Mursili I in c. 1600 BC.

Ebla maintained its prosperity through a vast trading network. Artifacts from Sumer, Cyprus, Egypt, and as far as Afghanistan were recovered from the palaces of the city. The political organization of Ebla had unique features different from the Sumerian model. The pantheon of gods was mainly north Semitic and included deities exclusive to Ebla.

During the early second millennium BC the city passed into the hands of the rulers of Mari, a city a few hundred miles to the south. The king of Urkesh became a vassal (and apparently an appointed puppet) of Mari.

In the middle of the millennium, Tell Mozan was the location of a Mitanni religious site. The city appears to have been largely abandoned circa 1350 BC, although the reason for this is unknown to archaeologists at this time.

Ugarit

Another important city when it comes to the Canaanitic and Israeli culture and religion is Ugarit, an ancient port city located at what is now called Ras Shamra (sometimes written “Ras Shamrah”‎, literally “Cape Fennel”), a headland in northern Syria.

Ugarit had close connections to the Hittite Empire, sent tribute to Egypt at times, and maintained trade and diplomatic connections with Cyprus (then called Alashiya), documented in the archives recovered from the site and corroborated by Mycenaean and Cypriot pottery found there. The polity was at its height from ca. 1450 BC until 1200 BC.

Though the site is thought to have been inhabited earlier, Neolithic Ugarit was already important enough to be fortified with a wall early on, perhaps by 6000 BC. Ugarit was important perhaps because it was both a port and at the entrance of the inland trade route to the Euphrates and Tigris lands.

The city reached its heyday between 1800 and 1200 BC, when it ruled a trade-based coastal kingdom, trading with Egypt, Cyprus, the Aegean, Syria, the Hittites, and much of the eastern Mediterranean.

The first written evidence mentioning the city comes from the nearby city of Ebla, ca. 1800 BC. Ugarit passed into the sphere of influence of Egypt, which deeply influenced its art. Evidence of the earliest Ugaritic contact with Egypt (and the first exact dating of Ugaritic civilization) comes from a carnelian bead identified with the Middle Kingdom pharaoh Senusret I (1971 BC – 1926 BC).

A stela and a statuette from the Egyptian pharaohs Senusret III and Amenemhet III have also been found. However, it is unclear at what time these monuments were brought to Ugarit. Amarna letters from Ugarit ca. 1350 BC record one letter each from Ammittamru I, Niqmaddu II, and his queen. From the 16th to the 13th century BC, Ugarit remained in regular contact with Egypt and Alashiya (Cyprus). In the second millennium BC, Ugarit’s population was Amorite, and the Ugaritic language probably has a direct Amoritic origin. During some of its history it would have been in close proximity to, if not directly within the Hittite Empire.

The last Bronze Age king of Ugarit, Ammurapi, (circa 1215 to 1180 BC) was a contemporary of the Hittite king Suppiluliuma II. The exact dates of his reign are unknown. However, a letter by the king is preserved, in which Ammurapi stresses the seriousness of the crisis faced by many Near Eastern states from invasion by the advancing Sea Peoples.

The city was burned to the ground at the end of the Bronze Age. By excavating the highest levels of the city’s ruins, archeologists can study various attributes of Ugaritic civiliziation just before their destruction, and compare artifacts with those of nearby cultures to help establish dates.

Whether Ugarit was destroyed before or after Hattusa, the Hittite capital, is debated. The destruction was followed by a settlement hiatus. Many other Mediterranean cultures were deeply disordered just at the same time, apparently by invasions of the mysterious “Sea Peoples.”

After its destruction in the early 12th century BC, Ugarit’s location was forgotten until 1928 when a peasant accidentally opened an old tomb while ploughing a field. The discovered area was the necropolis of Ugarit located in the nearby seaport of Minet el-Beida. Excavations have since revealed a city with a prehistory reaching back to ca. 6000 BC.

Documents unearthed have revealed many parallels between ancient Canaanite and Israelite practices. Levirate marriage, giving the eldest son a larger share of the inheritance or redeeming the first-born son were practices common to the people of Ugarit.

The excavations uncovered a royal palace of ninety rooms laid out around eight enclosed courtyards, and many ambitious private dwellings. Crowning the hill where the city was built were two main temples: one to Baal the “king”, son of El, and one to Dagon, the chthonic god of fertility and wheat. 23 stelae were unearthed during excavations at Ugarit. Nine of the stelae, including the famous Baal with Thunderbolt, were unearthed near the Temple of Baal, four in the Temple of Dagon and further ten around the city.

Clay tablets

Ugaritic is usually classified as a Northwest Semitic language and therefore related to Hebrew, Aramaic, and Phoenician, among others. Its grammatical features are highly similar to those found in Classical Arabic and Akkadian.

The Ugaritic script is a cuneiform (wedge-shaped) abjad used from around either the fifteenth century BCE or 1300 BCE for Ugaritic, an extinct Northwest Semitic language, and discovered in Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra), Syria, in 1928. It has 30 letters. Other languages (particularly Hurrian) were occasionally written in the Ugaritic script in the area around Ugarit, although not elsewhere.

Clay tablets written in Ugaritic provide the earliest evidence of both the North Semitic and South Semitic orders of the alphabet, which gave rise to the alphabetic orders of Arabic (starting with the earliest order of its abjad), the reduced Hebrew, and more distantly the Greek and Latin alphabets on the one hand, and of the Ge’ez alphabet on the other. Arabic and Old South Arabian are the only other Semitic alphabets which have letters for all or almost all of the 29 commonly reconstructed proto-Semitic consonant phonemes.

According to Dietrich and Loretz in Handbook of Ugaritic Studies (ed. Watson and Wyatt, 1999): “The language they [the 30 signs] represented could be described as an idiom which in terms of content seemed to be comparable to Canaanite texts, but from a phonological perspective, however, was more like Arabic.”

Scribes in Ugarit appear to have originated the “Ugaritic alphabet” around 1400 BC: 30 letters, corresponding to sounds, were inscribed on clay tablets; although they are cuneiform in appearance, that is, impressed in clay with the end of a stylus, they bear no relation to Mesopotamian cuneiform signs.

A debate exists as to whether the Phoenician or Ugaritic “alphabet” was first. While the letters show little or no formal similarity, the standard letter order (preserved in the Latin alphabet as A, B, C, D, etc.) shows strong similarities between the two, suggesting that the Phoenician and Ugaritic systems were not wholly independent inventions.

Apart from royal correspondence with neighboring Bronze Age monarchs, Ugaritic literature from tablets found in the city’s libraries include mythological texts written in a poetic narrative, letters, legal documents such as land transfers, a few international treaties, and a number of administrative lists. Fragments of several poetic works have been identified: the “Legend of Keret,” the “Legend of Danel”, the Ba’al tales that detail Baal-Hadad’s conflicts with Yam and Mot, among other fragments.

The discovery of the Ugaritic archives in 1929 has been of great significance to biblical scholarship, as these archives for the first time provided a detailed description of Canaanite religious beliefs, during the period directly preceding the Israelite settlement.

These texts show significant parallels to Hebrew biblical literature, particularly in the areas of divine imagery and poetic form. Ugaritic poetry has many elements later found in Hebrew poetry: parallelisms, metres, and rhythms. The discoveries at Ugarit have led to a new appraisal of the Hebrew Bible as literature.

These texts have provided the basis for understanding of the Canaanite mythological world and religion. The Baal cycle represents Baal’s destruction of Yam (the chaos sea monster), demonstrating the relationship of Canaanite chaoskampf with those of Mesopotamia and the Aegean: a warrior god rises up as the hero of the new pantheon to defeat chaos and bring order.

The most important piece of literature recovered from Ugarit is arguably the Baal cycle, describing the basis for the religion and cult of the Canaanite Baal. Also found on tablets were the Hurrian songs, including the famous hymn to the moon goddess Nikkal, the oldest surviving substantial musical notation in the world. It offers both words and music, which were a series of 2-toned intervals played up a 9-string lyre.

The libraries at Ugarit contained diplomatic, legal, economic, administrative, scholastic, literary and religious texts. The tablets are written in Sumerian, Hurrian, Akkadian (the language of diplomacy at this time in the ancient Near East), and Ugaritic (a previously unknown language). No less than seven different scripts were in use at Ugarit: Egyptian and Luwian hieroglyphs, and Cypro-Minoan, Sumerian, Akkadian, Hurrian, and Ugaritic cuneiform.

Anu

In Sumerian mythology, Anu (also An; meaning “sky, heaven”) was a sky-god, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons, and dwelt in the highest heavenly regions. It was believed that he had the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and that he had created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the royal tiara. His attendant and minister of state was the god Ilabrat, the attendant and minister of state of the chief sky god Anu.

Anu existed in Sumerian cosmogony as a dome that covered the flat earth; Outside of this dome was the primordial body of water known as Tiamat (not to be confused with the subterranean Abzu).

KI or Gi is the sign for “earth”. In Akkadian orthography, it functions as a determiner for toponyms and has the syllabic values gi, ge, qi, and qe. As an earth goddess in Sumerian mythology, Ki was the chief consort of An, the sky god. In some legends Ki and An were brother and sister, being the offspring of Anshar (“Sky Pivot”) and Kishar (“Earth Pivot”), earlier personifications of heaven and earth.

By her consort Anu, Ki gave birth to the Anunnaki, the most prominent of these deities being Enlil, god of the air. According to legends, heaven and earth were once inseparable until Enlil was born; Enlil cleaved heaven and earth in two. An carried away heaven. Ki, in company with Enlil, took the earth.

Some authorities question whether Ki was regarded as a deity since there is no evidence of a cult and the name appears only in a limited number of Sumerian creation texts. Samuel Noah Kramer identifies Ki with the Sumerian mother goddess Ninhursag and claims that they were originally the same figure. She later developed into the Akkadian goddess Antu (also known as “Keffen Anu”, “Kef”, and “Keffenk Anum”), consort of the god Anu (from Sumerian An).

In Sumerian, the designation “An” was used interchangeably with “the heavens” so that in some cases it is doubtful whether, under the term, the god An or the heavens is being denoted. The Akkadians inherited An as the god of heavens from the Sumerian as Anu-, and in Akkadian cuneiform, the DINGIR character may refer either to Anum or to the Akkadian word for god, ilu-, and consequently had two phonetic values an and il. Hittite cuneiform as adapted from the Old Assyrian kept the an value but abandoned il.

The purely theoretical character of Anu is thus still further emphasized, and in the annals and votive inscriptions as well as in the incantations and hymns, he is rarely introduced as an active force to whom a personal appeal can be made. His name becomes little more than a synonym for the heavens in general and even his title as king or father of the gods has little of the personal element in it.

Anu was one of the oldest gods in the Sumerian pantheon and part of a triad including Enlil (god of the air) and Enki (god of water). He was called Anu by the later Akkadians in Babylonian culture. By virtue of being the first figure in a triad consisting of Anu, Enlil, and Enki (also known as Ea), Anu came to be regarded as the father and at first, king of the gods.

The doctrine once established remained an inherent part of the Babylonian-Assyrian religion and led to the more or less complete disassociation of the three gods constituting the triad from their original local limitations. An intermediate step between Anu viewed as the local deity of Uruk, Enlil as the god of Nippur, and Ea as the god of Eridu is represented by the prominence which each one of the centres associated with the three deities in question must have acquired, and which led to each one absorbing the qualities of other gods so as to give them a controlling position in an organized pantheon.

For Nippur we have the direct evidence that its chief deity, En-lil, was once regarded as the head of the Sumerian pantheon. The sanctity and, therefore, the importance of Eridu remained a fixed tradition in the minds of the people to the latest days, and analogy therefore justifies the conclusion that Anu was likewise worshipped in a centre which had acquired great prominence.

In the astral theology of Babylonia and Assyria, Anu, Enlil, and Ea became the three zones of the ecliptic, the northern, middle and southern zone respectively. The summing-up of divine powers manifested in the universe in a threefold division represents an outcome of speculation in the schools attached to the temples of Babylonia, but the selection of Anu, Enlil (and later Marduk), and Ea for the three representatives of the three spheres recognized, is due to the importance which, for one reason or the other, the centres in which Anu, Enlil, and Ea were worshipped had acquired in the popular mind.

Each of the three must have been regarded in his centre as the most important member in a larger or smaller group, so that their union in a triad marks also the combination of the three distinctive pantheons into a harmonious whole.

Antum

A consort Antum (or as some scholars prefer to read, Anatum) is assigned to him, on the theory that every deity must have a female associate, but Anu spent so much time on the ground protecting the Sumerians he left her in Heaven and then met Innin, whom he renamed Innan, or, “Queen of Heaven”. She was later known as Inanna/Ishtar. Anu resided in her temple the most, and rarely went back up to Heaven. He is also included in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and is a major character in the clay tablets.

In Akkadian mythology, Antu or Antum (add the name in cuneiform please an= shar=?) is a Babylonian goddess. She was the first consort of Anu, and the pair was the parents of the Anunnaki and the Utukki, a type of spirit or demon that could be either benevolent or evil.

In Akkadian mythology, the Utukku were seven evil demons who were the offspring of Anu and Antu. The evil utukku were called Edimmu or Ekimmu; the good utukku were called shedu. Two of the best known of the evil Utukku were Asag (slain by Ninurta) and Alû.

Anu is so prominently associated with the E-anna temple in the city of Uruk (biblical Erech) in southern Babylonia that there are good reasons for believing this place to be the original seat of the Anu cult. If this is correct, then the goddess Inanna (or Ishtar) of Uruk may at one time have been his consort.

Antu was replaced as consort by Inanna/Ishtar, who may also be a daughter of Anu and Antu. She is similar to Anat, a major northwest Semitic goddess. Antu was a dominant feature of the Babylonian akit festival until as recently as 200 BC, her later pre-eminence possibly attributable to identification with the Greek goddess Hera.

In Akkadian, the form one would expect Anat to take would be Antu, earlier Antum. This would also be the normal feminine form that would be taken by Anu, the Akkadian form of An ‘Sky’, the Sumerian god of heaven.

Antu appears in Akkadian texts mostly as a rather colorless consort of Anu, the mother of Ishtar in the Gilgamesh story, but is also identified with the northwest Semitic goddess ‘Anat of essentially the same name.

It is unknown whether this is an equation of two originally separate goddesses whose names happened to fall together or whether Anat’s cult spread to Mesopotamia, where she came to be worshipped as Anu’s spouse because the Mesopotamian form of her name suggested she was a counterpart to Anu.

It has also been suggested that the parallelism between the names of the Sumerian goddess, Inanna, and her West Semitic counterpart, Ishtar, continued in Canaanite tradition as Anath and Astarte, particularly in the poetry of Ugarit.

The two goddesses were invariably linked in Ugaritic scripture and are also known to have formed a triad (known from sculpture) with a third goddess who was given the name/title of Qadesh (meaning “the holy one”).

In the Ugaritic Ba‘al/Hadad cycle ‘Anat is a violent war-goddess, a virgin (btlt ‘nt) who is the sister and, according to a much disputed theory, the lover of the great god Ba‘al Hadad. Ba‘al is usually called the son of Dagan and sometimes the son of El, who addresses ‘Anat as “daughter”. Either relationship is probably figurative.

‘Anat’s titles used again and again are “virgin ‘Anat” and “sister-in-law of the peoples” (or “progenitress of the peoples” or “sister-in-law, widow of the Li’mites”).

In a fragmentary passage from Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra), Syria ‘Anat appears as a fierce, wild and furious warrior in a battle, wading knee-deep in blood, striking off heads, cutting off hands, binding the heads to her torso and the hands in her sash, driving out the old men and townsfolk with her arrows, her heart filled with joy. “Her character in this passage anticipates her subsequent warlike role against the enemies of Baal”.

’Anat boasts that she has put an end to Yam the darling of El, to the seven-headed serpent, to Arsh the darling of the gods, to Atik ‘Quarrelsome’ the calf of El, to Ishat ‘Fire’ the bitch of the gods, and to Zabib ‘flame?’ the daughter of El.

Later, when Ba‘al is believed to be dead, she seeks after Ba‘al “like a cow for its calf” and finds his body (or supposed body) and buries it with great sacrifices and weeping. ‘Anat then finds Mot, Ba‘al Hadad’s supposed slayer and she seizes Mot, splits him with a sword, winnows him with a sieve, burns him with fire, grinds him with millstones and scatters the remnants to the birds.

Anat first appears in Egypt in the 16th dynasty (the Hyksos period) along with other northwest Semitic deities. She was especially worshiped in her aspect of a war goddess, often paired with the goddess `Ashtart. In the Contest Between Horus and Set, these two goddesses appear as daughters of Re and are given in marriage to the god Set, who had been identified with the Semitic god Hadad.

Antu

In Akkadian mythology, Antu or Antum (An-Shar) is a Babylonian goddess. She was the first consort of Anu, and the pair was the parents of the Anunnaki and the Utukki. Antu was a dominant feature of the Babylonian akit festival until as recently as 200 BC, her later pre-eminence possibly attributable to identification with the Greek goddess Hera. Antu was replaced as consort by Ishtar or Inanna, who may also be a daughter of Anu and Antu.

In Akkadian, the form one would expect Anat to take would be Antu, earlier Antum. This would also be the normal feminine form that would be taken by Anu, the Akkadian form of An ‘Sky’, the Sumerian god of heaven.

Antu appears in Akkadian texts mostly as a rather colorless consort of Anu, the mother of Ishtar in the Gilgamesh story, but is also identified with the northwest Semitic goddess ‘Anat of essentially the same name. It is unknown whether this is an equation of two originally separate goddesses whose names happened to fall together or whether Anat’s cult spread to Mesopotamia, where she came to be worshipped as Anu’s spouse because the Mesopotamian form of her name suggested she was a counterpart to Anu.

It has also been suggested that the parallelism between the names of the Sumerian goddess, Inanna, and her West Semitic counterpart, Ishtar, continued in Canaanite tradition as Anath and Astarte, particularly in the poetry of Ugarit. The two goddesses were invariably linked in Ugaritic scripture and are also known to have formed a triad (known from sculpture) with a third goddess who was given the name/title of Qadesh (meaning “the holy one”).

Antu is similar to Anat or Anath, a major northwest Semitic goddess. In the Ugaritic Ba‘al/Hadad cycle ‘Anat is a violent war-goddess, a virgin (btlt ‘nt) who is the sister and, according to a much disputed theory, the lover of the great god Ba‘al Hadad, usually called the son of Dagan and sometimes the son of El, who addresses ‘Anat as “daughter”. Either relationship is probably figurative.

‘Anat’s titles used again and again are “virgin ‘Anat” and “sister-in-law of the peoples” (or “progenitress of the peoples” or “sister-in-law, widow of the Li’mites”).

In a fragmentary passage from Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra), Syria ‘Anat appears as a fierce, wild and furious warrior in a battle, wading knee-deep in blood, striking off heads, cutting off hands, binding the heads to her torso and the hands in her sash, driving out the old men and townsfolk with her arrows, her heart filled with joy. “Her character in this passage anticipates her subsequent warlike role against the enemies of Baal”.

Cuneiform script, (Louvre Museum): “Then Anat went to El, at the source of the rivers, in the middle of the bed of the two oceans. She bows at the feet of El, she bows and prosternates and pays him respects. She speaks and says: “the very mighty Ba’al is dead. The prince, lord of the earth, has died”” (…) “They fight like heroes. Môt wins, Ba’al wins. They bit each other like snakes. Môt wins, Ba’al wins. They jump like horses. Môt is scared. Ba’al sits on his throne”.

’Anat boasts that she has put an end to Yam the darling of El, to the seven-headed serpent, to Arsh the darling of the gods, to Atik ‘Quarrelsome’ the calf of El, to Ishat ‘Fire’ the bitch of the gods, and to Zabib ‘flame?’ the daughter of El. Later, when Ba‘al is believed to be dead, she seeks after Ba‘al “like a cow for its calf” and finds his body (or supposed body) and buries it with great sacrifices and weeping. ‘Anat then finds Mot, Ba‘al Hadad’s supposed slayer and she seizes Mot, splits him with a sword, winnows him with a sieve, burns him with fire, grinds him with millstones and scatters the remnants to the birds.

Text CTA 10 tells how ‘Anat seeks after Ba‘al who is out hunting, finds him, and is told she will bear a steer to him. Following the birth she brings the new calf to Ba‘al on Mount Zephon. But nowhere in these texts is ‘Anat explicitly Ba‘al Hadad’s consort. To judge from later traditions ‘Athtart (who also appears in these texts) is more likely to be Ba‘al Hadad’s consort. But of course northwest Semitic culture permitted more than one wife and liaisons outside marriage are normal for deities in all pantheons.

In the North Canaanite story of Aqhat, the protagonist Aqhat son of the judge Danel (Dn’il) is given a wonderful bow and arrows which was created for ‘Anat by the craftsman god Kothar-wa-Khasis but which was given to Danel for his infant son as a gift. When Aqhat grew to be a young man, the goddess ‘Anat tried to buy the bow from Aqhat, offering even immortality, but Aqhat refused all offers, calling her a liar because old age and death are the lot of all men. He then added to this insult by asking ‘what would a woman do with a bow?’

Like Inanna in the Epic of Gilgamesh, ‘Anat complained to El and threatened El himself if he did not allow her to take vengeance on Aqhat. El conceded. ‘Anat launched her attendant Yatpan in hawk form against Aqhat to knock the breath out of him and to steal the bow back. Her plan succeeds, but Aqhat is killed instead of merely beaten and robbed. In her rage against Yatpan, (text is missing here) Yatpan runs away and the bow and arrows fall into the sea. All is lost. ‘Anat mourned for Aqhat and for the curse that this act would bring upon the land and for the loss of the bow. The focus of the story then turns to Paghat, the wise younger sister of Aqhat. She sets off to avenge her brother’s death and to restore the land which has been devastated by drought as a direct result of the murder.

The story is unfortunately incomplete. It breaks at an extremely dramatic moment when Paghat discovers that the mercenary whom she has hired to help her avenge the death is, in fact, Yatpan, her brother’s murderer. The parallels between the story of Anat and her revenge on Mot for the killing of her brother are obvious. In the end, the seasonal myth is played out on the human level.

Gibson (1978) thinks Rahmay (‘The Merciful’), co-wife of El with Athirat, is also the goddess ‘Anat, but he fails to take into account the primary source documents. Most Ugaritic scholars point out that the dual names of deities in Ugaritic poetry are an essential part of the verse form, and that two names for the same deity are traditionally mentioned in parallel lines. In the same way, Athirat is called Elath (meaning “The Goddess”) in paired couplets. The poetic structure can also be seen in early Hebrew verse forms.

Anat first appears in Egypt in the 16th dynasty (the Hyksos period) along with other northwest Semitic deities. She was especially worshiped in her aspect of a war goddess, often paired with the goddess Ashtart. In the Contest Between Horus and Set, these two goddesses appear as daughters of Re and are given in marriage to the god Set, who had been identified with the Semitic god Hadad.

During the Hyksos period Anat had temples in the Hyksos capital of Avaris and in Beth-Shan (Palestine) as well as being worshipped in Memphis. On inscriptions from Memphis of 15th to 12th centuries BCE, Anat is called “Bin-Ptah”, Daughter of Ptah. She is associated with Reshpu, (Canaanite: Resheph) in some texts and sometimes identified with the native Egyptian goddess Neith. She is sometimes called “Queen of Heaven”. Her iconography varies, but she is usually shown carrying one or more weapons.

The goddess Anat is never mentioned in Hebrew scripture as a goddess, though her name is apparently preserved in the city names Beth Anath and Anathoth. Anathoth seems to be a plural form of the name, perhaps a shortening of bêt ‘anātôt ‘House of the ‘Anats’, either a reference to many shrines of the goddess or a plural of intensification.

The ancient hero Shamgar son of ‘Anat is mentioned in Judges 3.31;5:6 which raises the idea that this hero may have been imagined as a demi-god, a mortal son of the goddess. But John Day (2000) notes that a number of Canaanites known from non-Biblical sources bore that title and theorizes that it was a military designation indicating a warrior under ‘Anat’s protection. Asenath “holy to Anath” was the wife of the Hebrew patriarch Joseph.

In Elephantine (modern Aswan) in Egypt, the 5th century Elephantine papyri make mention of a goddess called Anat-Yahu (Anat-Yahweh) worshiped in the temple to Yahweh originally built by Jewish refugees from the Babylonian conquest of Judah. These suggest that “even in exile and beyond the worship of a female deity endured.”

The texts were written by a group of Jews living at Elephantine near the Nubian border, whose religion has been described as “nearly identical to Iron Age II Judahite religion”. The papyri describe the Jews as worshiping Anat-Yahu (or AnatYahu). Anat-Yahu is described as either the wife (or paredra, sacred consort) of Yahweh or as a hypostatized aspect of Yahweh.

In a Cyprian inscription (KAI. 42) the Greek goddess Athêna Sôteira Nikê is equated with ‘Anat (who is described in the inscription as the strength of life : l‘uzza hayim).

Anat is also presumably the goddess whom Sanchuniathon calls Athene, a daughter of El, mother unnamed, who with Hermes (that is Thoth) counselled El on the making of a sickle and a spear of iron, presumably to use against his father Uranus. However, in the Baal cycle, that rôle is assigned to Asherah /Elat and Anat is there called the “Virgin.”

The goddess Atah worshipped at Palmyra may possibly be in origin identical with Anat. Atah was combined with Ashtart under the name Atar into the goddess ‘Atar‘atah known to the Hellenes as Atargatis. If this origin for ‘Atah is correct, then Atargatis is effectively a combining of ‘Ashtart and ‘Anat.

It has also been proposed that (Indo-)Iranian Anahita meaning ‘immaculate’ in Avestan (a ‘not’ + ahit ‘unclean’) is a variant of ‘Anat. It is however unlikely given that the Indo-Iranian roots of the term are related to the Semitic ones and although – through conflation – Aredvi Sura Anahita (so the full name) inherited much from Ishtar-Inanna, the two are considered historically distinct.

In the Book of Zohar, ‘Anat is numbered among the holiest of angelic powers under the name of Anathiel. “Anat” is a common female name in contemporary Israel, though many Israelis, including many of the women so named themselves, are not aware of it being the name of an ancient goddess. This name is often used by Russia-originated Israelis as a translation of the Russian name “Anastasia”. The name had not been used among Jews prior to the advent of Zionism.

Asherah

Asherah in Semitic mythology is a mother goddess who appears in a number of ancient sources. She appears in Akkadian writings by the name of Ashratum/Ashratu, and among the Hittites this goddess appears as Asherdu(s) or Asertu(s), the consort of Elkunirsa (“El the Creator of Earth”) and mother of either 77 or 88 sons. Among the Amarna letters a King of the Amorites is named Abdi-Ashirta, “Servant of Asherah”.

Asherah is generally considered identical with the Ugaritic goddess ʼAṯirat. In the Ugaritic texts (before 1200 BCE) Athirat is almost always given her full title rbt ʼaṯrt ym, rabat ʼAṯirat yammi, ‘Lady Athirat of the Sea’ or as more fully translated ‘she who treads on the sea’. This occurs 12 times in the Baʿal Epic alone.

The name is understood by various translators and commentators to be from the Ugaritic root ʼaṯr ‘stride’, cognate with the Hebrew root ʼšr, of the same meaning. Her other main divine epithet was “qaniyatu ʾilhm”, which may be translated as “the creatrix of the Gods (Elohim)”. In those texts, Athirat is the consort of the god El; there is one reference to the 70 sons of Athirat, presumably the same as the 70 sons of El.

Athirat in Akkadian texts appears as Ashratum (Antu), the wife of Anu, the God of Heaven. Asherah is also called Elat (Ugaritic: ilt) (“Goddess”, the feminine form of El; compare Allat) and Qodesh, ‘holiness’ (Ugaritic: qdš). She is identified as the consort of the Sumerian god Anu and Ugaritic El, the oldest deities of their respective pantheons. This role gave her a similarly high rank in the Ugaritic pantheon.

The Canaanite goddess Asherah appears to be the earliest female deity that the ancient Israelites adapted to worship. This early period, in which Asherah was first worshipped, is following the arrival of the Israelite tribes in Canaan. The Hebrews worshipped her for about six centuries, until about 586 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem.

Despite the bible’s anti-polytheistic attitude, there’s a hesitation by the writers to reveal any ritual detail of worship of deities other than Yahweh in Israel’s religious transgressions. However, it is from the bible that we know of three goddesses the Hebrews worshipped during the days of Babylonian exile. One of them being the Queen of Heaven; Asherah.

Starting from before Hebrew adaptation, its clear that Asherah is the chief Canaanite goddess by rich archeological evidence discovered in Ugarit. (Modern Ras Shamra) Here Asherah was the prominent wife of El, the chief god. Her name in its entirity was “Lady Asherah of the Sea”. As her husband’s domain was heaven, hers was the ocean. She was also referred to Elath or “Goddess”.

Her devotion to her husband was not unlike a Oriental queen to her master. When Baal wanted to have permission to build his house, he’d have his mother: Asherah, to intercede with El. When Baal dies, it is El that asks her to name one of sons to succeed him as king.

She was labeled as “the Progenitress of the Gods”, that is all other gods, numbering 70, were her children. This included Baal, Anath, and Mot. Asherah is a mother goddess whose maternal instinct goes so far as to be a wet-nurse to the gods. She suckled deserving humans as well, such as Yassib, the son of King Keret.

Not much is known about Asherah before the Urgaritic myths. A Sumerian inscription from ca. 1750 B.C. in honor of the Hammurabi, labels Asherah as Ashtratum and the bride of Anu. The Akkadian and Sumerian deity Anu bears a resemblance to the Canaanite El in being the god of heaven, so then it appears that Asherah may have been worshipped and held a chief or mother goddess position at least for three centuries prior to the Ugaritic period.

She was known in Southern Arabia from Ugarit tablets as “Atharath” and in letters from Canaanite chieftains to the pharaoh of Egypt the names “Astarte” and “Asherah” interchange. The same confusion between Astarte and Asherah is found in the Hebrew bible and has still persisted in the modern era among scholars.

Among the Hebrews we find biblical references to “Asherahs”. This seems to indicate the carved wooden images, which were set up by implanting their base into the ground. Thus the word “Asherah” in the bible can refer to the goddess herself or her images.

Because of the climate of Palestine, unfortunately none of these wooden objects survive. However, evidence of Asherah as a important household goddess does survive, which consists of small clay nude images of the goddess. They were discovered across Palestine and are dated from all ages of the Israelite period. They may have been clay counterparts to the Asherah poles.

The frequent occurrence of these figures that are independent of male deities gives us the idea of just how widely popular Asherah was in all segments of Hebrew society. This may have to do with belief that the goddess helped in childbirth and promoted fertility. A Hebrew incantation from Arslan Tarsh and dated 7th B.C. seeks the help of Asherah for a woman in childbirth.

In the biblical story of Elijah’s challenge to the Baal prophets of Mt. Carmel that ended in the defeat of a Canaanite deity and the victory of Yahweh, that Elijah did not accuse the people of abandoning Yahweh for outside gods, but rather for dividing attention among both.

It is in this contest between Elijah and Baal priests that it seems the priests of Asherah attended, but were never challenged. It would appear that Baal was considered a threatening rival to Yahweh, while Asherah was considered a inevitable, tolerable, female counterpart.

Shocking archeological evidence of Asherah’s consort role with the Hebrew Yahweh has been discovered. Two large pithoi (storage jars) were discovered, one of them had a inscription that read: “Amaryau said to my lord… may you be blessed by Yahweh and by his Asherah” Another inscription from the same site says ” I may have blessed you by Yahweh shmrn and his Asherah.”

The word “shmrn” has an unknown meaning, but it may refer to Shomon, that is Samaria. Nine miles west of Hebron, has a inscription that says: “Uriah the rich has caused it to be written: Blessed be uriah by Yahweh and by his Asherah; from his enemies he has saved them.”

These inscriptions would lead us to assume that the very popular Asherah was associated with Yahweh, probaly as his consort, and that they were the most popular divine couple.

These finds have helped piece together a emendation of a difficult passage in Hosea, in which God is speaking. Pieced together the passage of 14:9 would be: “Ephraim, what have I to do any more with idols? I [Yahweh] am his Anath and Asherah, I am like a leafy cypress tree From me is thy fruit found”

Summarized from this passage in Hosea, coupled with the historical evidence, we have a picture of Asherah as the consort of Yahweh and who was a integral part of religious life until the reforms introduced by King Josiah in 621 B.C.

The Israelites took over the cult of the Canaanite mother goddess Asherah from the days of their first settlements. Wooden carvings of the goddess implanted into the ground and set next to a altar of Baal, and located on hilltops or under leafy trees were used in public worship of Asherah while popular private religious use consisted of clay figurines of Asherah, where she is depicted with emphasis on her fertility by making the gesture of holding her breasts.

During Ahab’s reign, his Sidonian wife, Jezebel convinced him to make a elaborate public statue of Asherah and it was made and set up in the city Samaria, making Ahab’s capital the center of the Asherah cult.

Asherah’s cult avoids the anti-Baal and Pro-Yahweh up surging led by Elijah, that took place under Ahab. Number of years later, the Asherah of Samaria escapes harm when Jehu destroys Baal’s temple and massacres Baalists, and her worship continued until the end of Israel monarchy when the Assyrians put a end to the kingdom.

Asherah/Yahweh

Between the 10th century BC and the beginning of their exile in 586 BC, polytheism was normal throughout Israel; it was only after the exile that worship of Yahweh alone became established, and possibly only as late as the time of the Maccabees (2nd century BC) that monotheism became universal among Jews.

The Book of Jeremiah, written circa 628 BC, possibly refers to Asherah when it uses the title “Queen of Heaven”, stating: “pray thou not for this people…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 to other gods, that they may provoke me to anger”, in Jer 7:18 and Jer 44:17–19, 25.

Some biblical scholars believe that Asherah at one time was worshiped as the consort of Yahweh, the national God of Israel. There are references to the worship of numerous gods throughout Kings, Solomon builds temples to many gods and Josiah is reported as cutting down the statues of Asherah in the temple Solomon built for Yahweh.

Josiah’s grandfather Manasseh had erected this statue. (2 Kings 21:7) Further evidence includes, for example, an 8th-century combination of iconography and inscriptions discovered at Kuntillet Ajrud in the northern Sinai desert where a storage jar shows three anthropomorphic figures and an inscription that refers to “Yahweh … and his Asherah”.

The inscriptions found invoke not only Yahweh but El and Baal, and two include the phrases “Yahweh of Samaria and his Asherah” and “Yahweh of Teman and his Asherah.” There is general agreement that Yahweh is being invoked in connection with Samaria (capital of the kingdom of Israel) and Teman (in Edom); this suggests that Yahweh had a temple in Samaria, and raises a question over the relationship between Yahweh and Kaus, the national god of Edom.

The “Asherah” is most likely a cultic object, although the relationship of this object (a stylised tree perhaps) to Yahweh and to the goddess Asherah, consort of El, is unclear. It has been suggested that the Israelites might consider Asherah as a consort of Baal due to the anti-Asherah ideology which was influenced by the Deuteronomistic History at the later period of Monarchy.

In another inscription called “Yahweh and his Asherah”, there appears a cow feeding it’s calf. If Asherah is to be associated with Hathor/Qudshu, it can then be assumed that the cow is what’s being referred to as Asherah. Further evidence includes the many female figurines unearthed in ancient Israel, supporting the view that Asherah functioned as a goddess and consort of Yahweh and was worshiped as the Queen of Heaven. Asherah poles, which were sacred trees or poles, are mentioned many times in the Bible.

A stele, now at the Louvre, discovered by Charles Huber in 1883 in the ancient oasis of Tema (modern Tayma), northwestern Arabia, and believed to date to the time of Nabonidus’s retirement there in 549 BC, bears an inscription in Aramaic which mentions Ṣalm of Maḥram and Shingala and Ashira as the gods of Tema.

This Ashira might be Athirat/Asherah. Since Aramaic has no way to indicate Arabic th, corresponding to the Ugaritic th (phonetically written as ṯ), if this is the same deity, it is not clear whether the name would be an Arabian reflex of the Ugaritic Athirat or a later borrowing of the Hebrew/Canaanite Asherah.

The Arabic root ʼṯr is similar in meaning to the Hebrew indicating “to tread” used as a basis to explain the name of Ashira as “lady of the sea”, specially that the Arabic root ymm also means “sea”.

It has also been recently suggested that the goddess name Athirat might be derived from the passive participle form, referring to ‘one followed by (the gods),’ that is, ‘pro-genitress or originatress’, corresponding with Asherah’s image as ‘the mother of the gods’ in Ugaritic literature.

Ashtart

Asherah/Aṯirat is clearly distinguished from ʿAshtart (better known in English as Astarte or Ashtoreth in the Bible) in the Ugaritic documents although in non-Ugaritic sources from later periods the distinction between the two goddesses can be blurred; either as a result of scribal error or through possible syncretism.

In any case, the two names begin with different consonants in the Semitic languages; Athirat/Asherah (Ugaritic: aṯrt) with an aleph or glottal stop consonant א and `Ashtart/`Ashtoreth (Ugaritic:ʿṯtrt) with an `ayin or voiced pharyngeal consonant ע), indicating the lack of any plausible etymological connection between the names.

While Ashtart is believed to be linked to the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar who is sometimes portrayed as the daughter of Anu while in Ugaritic myth, Ashtart is one of the daughters of El, the West Semitic counterpart of Anu.

Kotharat

The Kotharat, or Kotharot, or Kathirat (various suggested pronunciations of Ugaritic ktrt), ‘the skilful ones’ were a group of northwest Semitic goddesses appearing in the Ugartic texts as divine midwives. They are the only Canaanite deities that only appear in a group, and are associated with the swallow.

In Nikkal (Ugaritic: nkl, full name Nikkal-wa-Ib), a goddess of Ugarit/Canaan and later of Phoenicia, and the Kotharat the Kotharat are first summoned to oversee the birth of a son to Yarikh the moon-god and the goddess Nikkal, and then summoned a second time to bless the human girl Prbkht for her forthcoming marriage.

Yarikh (also written as Jerah, Jarah, or Jorah, Hebrew spelling ירח) is a moon god in Canaanite religion whose epithets are “illuminator of the heavens”‘, “illuminator of the myriads of stars” and “lord of the sickle”.

The latter epithet may come from the appearance of the crescent moon. Yarikh was recognized as the provider of nightly dew, and married to the goddess Nikkal, his moisture causing her orchards to bloom in the desert. The city of Jericho bears his name.

Nikkal is a goddess of orchards, whose name means “Great Lady and Fruitful” and derives from Akkadian/West Semitic “´Ilat ´Inbi” meaning “Goddess of Fruit”. De Moor translates Ugaritic “ib” as “blossom” which survives in biblical Hebrew as and cites Canticles 6:11 as a survival of this usage.

She is daughter of Khirkhibi, the Summer’s King, and is married to the moon god Yarikh, who gave her necklaces of lapis-lazuli. Their marriage is lyrically described in the Ugaritic text “Nikkal and the Kathirat”. She may have been feted in late summer when tree fruits had been finally harvested. Her Sumerian equivalent is the goddess Ningal, the mother of Inanna and Ereshkigal.

The oldest incomplete annotated piece of ancient music is a Hurrian song, a hymn in Ugaritic cuneiform syllabic writing which was dedicated to Nikkal. This was published upon its discovery in Ugarit by Emmanuel Laroche, first in 1955 and then more fully in 1968, and has been the focus of many subsequent studies in palaeomusicology by, amongst others, Anne Draffkorn Kilmer, who gave it the title of “The Hymn to Nikkal” l.

Sanchuniathon refers to a group of seven daughters of El by ‘Ashtart whose Phoenician name is not given but who are called the Titanides or Artemides in Greek. That the Greek goddess Artemis was often worshipped as a birth goddess suggests these seven Artemides are so called because they were also birth goddesses. If so, they are probably identical to the Ugaritic Kotharat.

Qudshu

In Egypt, beginning in the 18th dynasty, a Semitic goddess named Qudshu (‘Holiness’) begins to appear prominently, equated with the native Egyptian goddess Hathor. Some think this is Athirat/Ashratu under her Ugaritic name, but Qudshu seems not to be either ʿAshtart or ʿAnat as both those goddesses appear under their own names and with quite different iconography and appear in at least one pictorial representation along with qudshu.

But in the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman periods in Egypt there was a strong tendency towards syncretism of goddesses and Athirat/Ashrtum then seems to have disappeared, at least as a prominent Goddess under a recognizable name.

Dione

The name Dione, which like ‘Elat means “Goddess”, is clearly associated with Asherah in the Phoenician History of Sanchuniathon, because the same common epithet (‘Elat) of “the Goddess par excellence” was used to describe her at Ugarit.

Dione is the name of four women in ancient Greek mythology, and one in the Phoenician mythology of Sanchuniathon. Dione is translated as “Goddess”, and given the same etymological derivation as the names Zeus, Diana, et al. Very little information exists about these women or goddesses.

Dione is one of the Titanides or Titanesses. She is called a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, hence an Oceanid, and otherwise a daughter of Gaia and either Uranus or Aether. She and Zeus are called the parents of Aphrodite by some ancient sources.

In the Phoenician History, a literary work attributed to Sanchuniathon, a daughter of Ouranos/Heaven and Ge/Earth is called Dione and also Baaltis. She is a sister of Kronos/Elus whom the latter made his wife after their father sent her, and her sisters, to kill Kronos/Elus. The latter gave the city Byblos to Dione.

The identity of this Dione is uncertain. From her name Baaltis she is taken to be Ba`alat Gebal. However, some scholars identify her with Asherah, proposing that Sanchuniathon merely uses Dione as a translation of Asherah’s epithet Elat. Other scholars propose that by Dione Sanchuniathon was identifying her with Dione the Titaness.

Dione is one of the Titanides or Titanesses. She is called a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, hence an Oceanid, and otherwise a daughter of Gaia and either Uranus or Aether. She and Zeus are called the parents of Aphrodite by some ancient sources.

Fjörgynn (father of the goddess Frigg)

Frigg (wife of Odin/mother of Baldr) and Fjorgyn/Jörð ( mother of the god Thor, son of Odin)

In Norse mythology, Fjörgynn is described as the father of the goddess Frigg (sometimes anglicized as Frigga), wife of Odin. Frigg is a major goddess in Norse paganism, a subset of Germanic paganism. She is said to be the wife of Odin, and is the “foremost among the goddesses” and the queen of Asgard.

Frigg appears primarily in Norse mythological stories as a wife and a mother. She is also described as having the power of prophecy yet she does not reveal what she knows. Frigg is described as the only one other than Odin who is permitted to sit on his high seat Hlidskjalf and look out over the universe. The English term Friday derives from the Anglo-Saxon name for Frigg, Frige.

Frigg is the mother of Baldr. Her stepchildren are Thor, Hermóðr, Heimdallr, Týr, Bragi, Víðarr, Váli, Skjöldur, and Höðr. Frigg’s companion is Eir, a goddess associated with medical skills. Frigg’s attendants are Hlín, Gná, and Fulla.

Both the masculine name Fjörgynn and the feminine name Fjörgyn (Old Norse “earth”), described as the mother of the god Thor, son of Odin, appear in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. A number of theories surround the names, and they have been the subject of scholarly discourse.

In the Poetic Edda poem Lokasenna 26, Frigg is said to be Fjörgyns mær (“Fjörgynn’s maiden”). The problem is that in Old Norse mær means both “daughter” and “wife,” so it is not fully clear if Fjörgynn is Frigg’s father or another name for her husband Odin, but Snorri Sturluson interprets the line as meaning Frigg is Fjörgynn’s daughter (Skáldskaparmál 27), and most modern translators of the Poetic Edda follow Snorri.

The original meaning of fjörgynn was the earth, cf. feminine version Fjorgyn, a byname for Jörð, the earth. The other piece of evidence lies with the goddess Fjorgyn, who is the mother of Thor, and whose name can be translated into Earth. Since Fjorgyn is not only the name of a goddess, but the feminine byname for Earth, it is relatively safe to assume that “mær”, in this case, means “daughter”.

Hilda Ellis Davidson theorizes that Fjörgyn and Fjörgynn may have represented a divine pair of which little information has survived, along with figures such as the theorized Ullr and Ullin, Njörðr and Nerthus, and the attested Freyr and Freyja.

Rudolf Simek states that Fjörgyn may simply be another name for Jörð (Icelandic “earth” and from Old Norse jǫrð, pronounced, sometimes Anglicized as Jord or Jorth; also called Jarð, as in Old East Norse), a female jötunn whose name also means “earth,” since she does not appear listed in the Prose Edda as a unique goddess, but that the fact that she does not appear elsewhere in Skaldic poetry “as would be expected of a purely literary alternative to Jörð” may be notable.

Theories have been proposed that Fjörgyn may represent an extension of an earlier Proto-Indo-European thunder or rain god or goddess due to Indo-European linguistic connections between Norse Fjörgyn, the Hindu rain god Parjanya, the Lithuanian god Perkūnas, and the Slavic god Perun.

Jörð is the mother of Thor and the personification of the Earth. Fjörgyn and Hlóðyn are considered to be other names for Jörð. Jörð is reckoned a goddess, like other jötnar who coupled with the gods. Jörð’s name appears in skaldic poetry both as a poetic term for the land and in kennings for Thor.

Enlil (later Ellil) and Ninlil

Enlil (nlin), (EN = Lord + LÍL = Wind, “Lord (of the) Storm”) is the God of breath, wind, loft and breadth (height and distance). It was the name of a chief deity listed and written about in Sumerian religion, and later in Akkadian (Assyrian and Babylonian), Hittite, Canaanite and other Mesopotamian clay and stone tablets. The name is perhaps pronounced and sometimes rendered in translations as “Ellil” in later Akkadian, Hittite, and Canaanite literature. In later Akkadian, Enlil is the son of Anshar and Kishar.

Ninlil

In Sumerian religion, Ninlil (NIN.LÍL”lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mulliltu, is the consort goddess of Enlil. Theophilus G. Pinches noted that Nnlil or Belit Ilani had seven different names (such as Nintud, Ninhursag, Ninmah, etc.) for seven different localities.

In Babylonian religion, Belit Ilani was a title described as meaning “mistress of the gods” and the name of the “evening star of desire”. It has been associated with Ninlil and Astarte and has been found inscribed on portraits of a woman blessing a suckling child with her right hand.

Ninlil

Mullissu

Mullissu is a goddess who is the wife of the Assyrian god Ashur. Mullissu may be identical with the Mesopotamian goddess Ninlil, wife of the god Enlil, which would parallel the fact that Ashur himself was modeled on Enlil. Mullissu’s name was written “NIN.LÍL”. Nonetheless, Mullissu, who was identified with Ishtar of Nineveh in Neo-Assyrian Empire times, is usually identified with Ishtar.

Aphrodite

Also proposed to be Mullissu is a goddess whom Herodotus called Mylitta and identified with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation. The name Mylitta may derive from Mulliltu or Mulitta, names related to Mullissu.

As with many ancient Greek deities, there is more than one story about her the origin of Aphrodite. According to Hesiod’s Theogony, she was born when Cronus cut off Uranus’s genitals and threw them into the sea, and she arose from the sea foam (aphros). According to Homer’s Iliad, she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione.

According to Plato (Symposium 180e), the two were entirely separate entities: Aphrodite Ourania and Aphrodite Pandemos. The Attic philosophers of the 4th century, however, drew a distinction between a celestial Aphrodite (Aprodite Urania) of transcendent principles, and a separate, “common” Aphrodite who was the goddess of the people (Aphrodite Pandemos).

Because of her beauty, other gods feared that their rivalry over her would interrupt the peace among them and lead to war, so Zeus married her to Hephaestus, who, because of his ugliness and deformity, was not seen as a threat. Aphrodite had many lovers – both gods, such as Ares, and men, such as Anchises. She played a role in the Eros and Psyche legend, and later was both Adonis’s lover and his surrogate mother. Many lesser beings were said to be children of Aphrodite.

Venus

The Roman equivalent of Aphrodite is the goddess Venus, the Roman goddess whose functions encompassed love, beauty, sex, fertility and prosperity. Venus’ male counterparts in the Roman pantheon, Vulcan and Mars, are active and fiery. She was the mother of the Roman people through her son, Aeneas, who survived the fall of Troy and fled to Italy. Julius Caesar claimed her as his ancestor. Venus was central to many religious festivals, and was venerated in Roman religion under numerous cult titles.

Hathor

The Egyptian equivalent is Hathor/Hetheru (Egyptian: ḥwt-ḥr, “mansion of Heru”, Horus) is an Ancient Egyptian goddess who personified the principles of joy, feminine love, and motherhood. She was one of the most important and popular deities throughout the history of Ancient Egypt.

Hathor was worshiped by Royalty and common people alike in whose tombs she is depicted as “Mistress of the West” welcoming the dead into the next life. In other roles she was a goddess of music, dance, foreign lands and fertility who helped women in childbirth, as well as the patron goddess of miners.

The cult of Hathor predates the historic period, and the roots of devotion to her are therefore difficult to trace, though it may be a development of predynastic cults which venerated fertility, and nature in general, represented by cows.

Hathor is commonly depicted as a cow goddess with horns in which is set a sun disk with Uraeus. Twin feathers are also sometimes shown in later periods as well as a menat necklace. Hathor may be the cow goddess who is depicted from an early date on the Narmer Palette and on a stone urn dating from the 1st dynasty that suggests a role as sky-goddess and a relationship to Horus who, as a sun god, is “housed” in her.

The Ancient Egyptians viewed reality as multi-layered in which deities who merge for various reasons, while retaining divergent attributes and myths, were not seen as contradictory but complementary. In a complicated relationship Hathor is at times the mother, daughter and wife of Ra and, like Aset, is at times described as the mother of Horus, and associated with Bast.

Horus is one of the oldest and most significant deities in ancient Egyptian religion, who was worshipped from at least the late Predynastic period through to Greco-Roman times. Different forms of Horus are recorded in history and these are treated as distinct gods by Egypt specialists.

Bastet

Hathor is associated with Bast or Bastet, a goddess in ancient Egyptian religion, worshipped as early as the Second Dynasty (2890 BC). As Bast, she was the goddess of warfare in Lower Egypt, the Nile River delta region, before the unification of the cultures of ancient Egypt. Her name is also spelled Baast, Ubaste, and Baset.

The two uniting cultures had deities that shared similar roles and usually the same imagery. In Upper Egypt, Sekhmet was the parallel warrior lioness deity to Bast. Often similar deities merged into one with the unification, but that did not occur with these deities with such strong roots in their cultures. Instead, these goddesses began to diverge.

During the Twenty-Second Dynasty (c. 945–715 BC), Bast had changed from a lioness warrior deity into a major protector deity represented as a cat. Bastet, the name associated with this later identity, is the name commonly used by scholars today to refer to this deity.

Frijjo

In the interpretatio romana of the Germanic pantheon during the early centuries AD, Venus became identified with the Germanic goddess Frigg, giving rise to the loan translation “Friday” for dies Veneris. The historical cognate of the dawn goddess in Germanic tradition, however, would be Ostara.

Ēostre or Ostara (Old English: Ēastre, Northumbrian dialect Ēostre; Old High German: *Ôstara) is a Germanic divinity who, by way of the Germanic month bearing her name (Northumbrian: Ēosturmōnaþ; West Saxon: Ēastermōnaþ; Old High German: Ôstarmânoth), is the namesake of the festival of Easter.

Ēostre is attested solely by Bede in his 8th-century work The Reckoning of Time, where Bede states that during Ēosturmōnaþ (the equivalent of April), pagan Anglo-Saxons had held feasts in Eostre’s honor, but that this tradition had died out by his time, replaced by the Christian Paschal month, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.

By way of linguistic reconstruction, the matter of a goddess called *Austrō in the Proto-Germanic language has been examined in detail since the foundation of Germanic philology in the 19th century by scholar Jacob Grimm and others.

As the Germanic languages descend from Proto-Indo-European (PIE), linguists have traced the name to a Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn *H₂ewsṓs (→ *Ausṓs), from which descends the Common Germanic divinity from whom Ēostre and Ostara are held to descend.

Scholars have linked the goddess’ name to a variety of Germanic personal names, a series of location names in England, over 150 2nd century BCE matronae Austriahenae – inscriptions discovered in Germany, and have debated whether or not Eostre is an invention of Bede’s. Theories connecting Ēostre with records of Germanic Easter customs, including hares and eggs, have been proposed.

ISIS

Isis (original Egyptian pronunciation more likely “Aset” or “Iset”) is a goddess from the polytheistic pantheon of Egypt. She was first worshiped in Ancient Egyptian religion, and later her worship spread throughout the Roman empire and the greater Greco-Roman world.

Isis was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the patroness of nature and magic. She was the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans and the downtrodden, but she also listened to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats and rulers.

Isis is often depicted as the mother of Horus, the falcon-headed deity associated with king and kingship (although in some traditions Horus’s mother was Hathor). Isis is also known as protector of the dead and goddess of children.

The name Isis means “Throne”. Her headdress is a throne. As the personification of the throne, she was an important representation of the pharaoh’s power. The pharaoh was depicted as her child, who sat on the throne she provided.

In the typical form of her myth, Isis was the first daughter of Geb, god of the Earth, and Nut, goddess of the Sky, and she was born on the fourth intercalary day. She married her brother, Osiris, and she conceived Horus with him.

Isis was instrumental in the resurrection of Osiris when he was murdered by Set. Using her magical skills, she restored his body to life after having gathered the body parts that had been strewn about the earth by Set.

This myth became very important during the Greco-Roman period. For example it was believed that the Nile River flooded every year because of the tears of sorrow which Isis wept for Osiris. Osiris’s death and rebirth was relived each year through rituals.

The worship of Isis eventually spread throughout the Greco-Roman world, continuing until the suppression of paganism in the Christian era. The popular motif of Isis suckling her son Horus, however, lived on in a Christianized context as the popular image of Mary suckling the infant son Jesus from the fifth century onward.

The Greek name version of Isis is surprisingly close to her original, Egyptian name spelling (namely Aset). Isis’ name was originally written with the signs of a throne seat (Gardiner sign Q1, pronounced “as” or “is”), a bread loaf (Gardiner sign X1, pronounced “t” or “tj”) and with an unpronounced determinative of an sitting woman.

A second version of the original was also written with the throne seat and the bread loaf, but ended with an egg symbol (Gardiner sign H8) which was normally read “set”, but here it was used as a determinative to promote the correct reading. Interestingly, the grammar, spelling and used signs of Isis’ name never changed during time in any way, making it easy to recognize her any time.

However, the symbolic and metaphoric meaning of Isis’ name remains unclear. The throne seat sign in her name might point to a functional role as a goddess of kingship, as the maternal protector of the ruling king. Thus, her name could mean “she of the kings’ throne”. But all other Egyptian deities have names that point to clear cosmological or nature elemental roles (Râ = the sun; Ma’at = justice and world order), thus the name of Isis shouldn’t be connected to the king himself.

The throne seat symbol might alternatively point to a meaning as “throne-mother of the gods”, making her the highest and most powerful goddess before all other gods. But this in turn would supply a very old existence of Isis, long before her first mentioning during the late Old Kingdom. But this remains unproven, as already mentioned.

A third possible meaning might be hidden in the egg-symbol, that was also used in Isis’ name. The egg-symbol always represented motherhood, implying a maternal role of Isis. Her name could mean “mother goddess”, pointing to her later, mythological role as the mother of Horus. But this remains problematic, too: the initial mother-goddess of Horus was Hathor, not Isis.

Using the comparative methodology known as interpretatio graeca, the Greek historian Herodotus (5th century BCE) described Isis by comparison with the Greek goddess Demeter, whose mysteries at Eleusis offered initiates guidance in the afterlife and a vision of rebirth. Herodotus says that Isis was the only goddess worshiped by all Egyptians alike.

After the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great and the Hellenization of the Egyptian culture initiated by Ptolemy I Soter, Isis became known as Queen of Heaven. Other Mediterranean goddesses, such as Demeter, Astarte, and Aphrodite, became identified with Isis, as was the Arabian goddess Al-Ozza or Al-Uzza (al ȝozza) through a similarity of name, since etymology was thought to reveal the essential or primordial nature of the thing named.

Demeter

In ancient Greek religion and myth, Demeter (Attic: Dēmḗtēr; Doric: Dāmā́tēr) is the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grains and the fertility of the earth. Her cult titles include Sito, “she of the Grain”, as the giver of food or grain and Thesmophoros (thesmos: divine order, unwritten law; “phoros”: bringer, bearer), “Law-Bringer,” as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society.

Though Demeter is often described simply as the goddess of the harvest, she presided also over the sacred law, and the cycle of life and death. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon.

In the Linear B Mycenean Greek tablets of circa 1400–1200 BC found at Pylos, the “two mistresses and the king” may be related with Demeter, Persephone and Poseidon. Her Roman equivalent is Ceres.

It is possible that Demeter appears in Linear A as da-ma-te on three documents (AR Zf 1 and 2, and KY Za 2), all three apparently dedicated in religious situations and all three bearing just the name (i-da-ma-te on AR Zf 1 and 2).

It is unlikely that Demeter appears as da-ma-te in a Linear B (Mycenean Greek) inscription (PY En 609); the word, da-ma-te, probably refers to “households”. On the other hand si-to-po-ti-ni-ja, “Potnia of the Grain”, is regarded to refer to her Bronze Age predecessor or to one of her epithets.

Demeter’s character as mother-goddess is identified in the second element of her name meter (μήτηρ) derived from Proto-Indo-European *méh₂tēr (mother). In antiquity, different explanations were already proffered for the first element of her name.

It is possible that Da (Δᾶ), a word which became Ge (Γῆ) in Attic, is the Doric form of De (Δῆ), “earth”, the old name of the chthonic earth-goddess, and that Demeter is “Mother-Earth”. This root also appears in the Linear B inscription E-ne-si-da-o-ne, “earth-shaker”, as an aspect of the god Poseidon. However, the dā element in the name of Demeter, is not so simply equated with “earth” according to John Chadwick.

The element De- may be connected with Deo, a surname of Demeter probably derived from the Cretan word dea (δηά), Ionic zeia (ζειά) meaning “barley”, so that she is the Mother and the giver of food generally. Arcadian cult to Demeter links her to a male deity (Greek: Πάρεδρος, Paredros), who accompanied the Great Goddess and has been interpreted as a possible substitution for Poseidon; Demeter may therefore be related to a Minoan Great Goddess.

An alternative, Proto-Indo-European etymology comes through Potnia and Despoina; where Des- represents a derivative of PIE *dem (house, dome), and Demeter is “mother of the house” (from PIE *dems-méh₂tēr).

In Hesiod’s Theogony, Demeter is the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. At the marriage of Cadmus and Harmonia, Demeter lured Iasion away from the other revelers. They had intercourse in a ploughed furrow in Crete, and she gave birth to a son, Ploutos. Her daughter by Zeus was Persephone, Queen of the Underworld.

Demeter’s two major festivals were sacred mysteries. Her Thesmophoria festival (11–13 October) was women-only. Her Eleusinian mysteries were open to initiates of any gender or social class. At the heart of both festivals were myths concerning Demeter as Mother and Persephone as her daughter.

Nintinugga, Inanna, Ishtar, Astarte, Al-Uzza (al ȝozza), Artemis …

El

Ēl (cognate to Akkadian: ilu) is a Northwest Semitic word meaning “deity”. Cognate forms are found throughout the Semitic languages. They include Ugaritic ʾil, pl. ʾlm; Phoenician ʾl pl. ʾlm; Hebrew ʾēl, pl. ʾēlîm; Aramaic ʾl; Akkadian ilu, pl. ilānu.

Elohim and Eloah ultimately derive from the root El, ‘strong’, possibly genericized from El (deity), as in the Ugaritic ’lhm (consonants only), meaning “children of El” (the ancient Near Eastern creator god in pre-Abrahamic tradition).

In the Canaanite religion, or Levantine religion as a whole, El or Il was a god also known as the Father of humanity and all creatures, and the husband of the goddess Asherah as recorded in the clay tablets of Ugarit (modern Ra′s Shamrā‎, Syria).

In northwest Semitic use, El was both a generic word for any god and the special name or title of a particular god who was distinguished from other gods as being “the god”. El is listed at the head of many pantheons. El is the Father God among the Canaanites.

However, because the word sometimes refers to a god other than the great god Ēl, it is frequently ambiguous as to whether Ēl followed by another name means the great god Ēl with a particular epithet applied or refers to another god entirely. For example, in the Ugaritic texts, ʾil mlk is understood to mean “Ēl the King” but ʾil hd as “the god Hadad”.

The bull was symbolic to El and his son Baʻal Hadad, and they both wore bull horns on their headdress. He may have been a desert god at some point, as the myths say that he had two wives and built a sanctuary with them and his new children in the desert.

El had fathered many gods, but most important were Hadad, a Northwest Semitic storm and rain god, cognate in name and origin with the earlier attested East Semitic Akkadian (Assyrian-Babylonian) god Adad, Yam, the god of the sea, and Mot, personified as a god of death, each share similar attributes to the Greco-Roman Gods: Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades respectively.

ʾIlāh (Arabic: إله‎; plural: آلهة ʾālihah) is an Arabic term meaning “deity” or “god”. The feminine is ʾilāhah (إلاهة, meaning “goddess”); with the article, it appears as al-ʾilāhah الإلاهة. It appears in the name of the monotheistic god of Islam as al-Lāh, translated, that is, “the god”.

In some cases, it is used by Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews, although not as frequently as other titles, such as Rabb, or “Lord” – a title also used by Muslims for Allah – similar to the Hebrew use of Adonai, which is the most frequently used by Jews of all languages, along with HaShem or “the Name”.

Amongst Christians, Yasu – an Arabic transliteration of the name of the Christian Jesus – Yahweh, or Shaddai, translated, that is, “Almighty”, are common, with some other names and titles generally borrowed as transliterations from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. In Malaysia, it is illegal for Christians, Jews, or any other non-Muslim to refer to their God as “Allah”.

ʾIlāh is cognate to Northwest Semitic ʾēl and Akkadian ilum. The word is from a Proto-Semitic archaic biliteral ʔ-L meaning “god” (possibly with a wider meaning of “strong”), which was extended to a regular triliteral by the addition of a h (as in Hebrew ʾelōah, ʾelōhim). The word is spelled either إله with an optional diacritic alif to mark the ā only in Qur’anic texts or (more rarely) with a full alif, إلاه.

The term is used throughout the Quran in passages detailing the existence of God and of the beliefs of non-Muslims in other divinities. Notably, the first statement of the šahādah (the Muslim confession of faith) is, “there is no ʾilāh but al-Lāh”, that is, translated, “there is no deity except for Allah” or “there is no god except for the [one] god”.

Yeshua (ישוע, with vowel pointing יֵשׁוּעַ – yēšūă‘ in Hebrew) was a common alternative form of the name יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (“Yehoshuah” – Joshua) in later books of the Hebrew Bible and among Jews of the Second Temple period. The name corresponds to the Greek spelling Iesous, from which, through the Latin Iesus, comes the English spelling Jesus.

Baal-hamon

The worship of Baal-hamon flourished in the Phoenician colony of Carthage. Baal-hamon was the supreme god of the Carthaginians, and is believed that this supremacy dates back to the 5th century BC, apparently after a breaking off of relationships between Carthage and Tyre at the time of the Punic defeat in Himera.

He is generally identified by modern scholars either with the Northwest Semitic god El or with Dagon, and generally identified by the Greeks, by interpretatio Graeca with Greek Cronus and similarly by the Romans with Saturn.

The meaning of Hammon or Hamon is unclear. In the 19th century when Ernest Renan excavated the ruins of Hammon (Ḥammon), the modern Umm al-‘Awamid between Tyre and Acre, he found two Phoenician inscriptions dedicated to El-Hammon. Since El was normally identified with Cronus and Ba‘al Hammon was also identified with Cronus, it seemed possible they could be equated.

More often a connection with Hebrew/Phoenician ḥammān ‘brazier’ has been proposed, in the sense of “Baal (lord) of the brazier”. He has been therefore identified with a solar deity. Frank Moore Cross argued for a connection to Khamōn, the Ugaritic and Akkadian name for Mount Amanus, the great mountain separating Syria from Cilicia based on the occurrence of an Ugaritic description of El as the one of the Mountain Haman.

Classical sources relate how the Carthaginians burned their children as offerings to Baal-hamon. From the attributes of his Roman form, African Saturn, it is possible to conclude that Hammon was a fertility god.

Scholars tend to see Baal-hamon as more or less identical with the god El, who was also generally identified with Cronus and Saturn. However, Yigael Yadin thought him to be a moon god. Edward Lipinski identifies him with the god Dagon. Inscriptions about Punic deities tend to be rather uninformative.

In Carthage and North Africa Baal-hamon was especially associated with the ram and was worshiped also as Baal Karnaim (“Lord of Two Horns”) in an open-air sanctuary at Jebel Bu Kornein (“the two-horned hill”) across the bay from Carthage.

Baal-hamon’s female cult partner was Tanit (also called Tinnit and Tannou), a Punic and Phoenician goddess, the chief deity of Carthage alongside her consort Ba`al Hammon. The name appears to have originated in Carthage, though it does not appear in local theophorous names. She was also adopted by the Berber people.

She was equivalent to the moon-goddess Astarte, the Greek name of the Mesopotamian (i.e. Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian) Semitic goddess Ishtar known throughout the Near East and Eastern Mediterranean from the early Bronze Age to Classical times, and later worshipped in Roman Carthage in her Romanized form as Dea Caelestis, Juno Caelestis or simply Caelestis.

Ba`alat Gebal (“Lady of Byblos”), the goddess of the city of Byblos, Phoenicia, in ancient times, sometimes known to the Greeks as Baaltis or Atargatis, appears to have been generally identified with ‘Ashtart, although Sanchuniathon distinguishes the two.

In today’s Tunisia it is customary to invoke “Oumek Tannou” (Mother Tannou) the years of drought to bring rain; just as we speak of “Baali” farming, for non-irrigated farming, to say that it only depends on god Ba`al Hammon.

Allah/YHWH

The Semitic root ʾlh (Arabic ʾilāh, Aramaic ʾAlāh, ʾElāh, Hebrew ʾelōah) may be ʾl with a parasitic h, and ʾl may be an abbreviated form of ʾlh. In Ugaritic the plural form meaning “gods” is ʾilhm, equivalent to Hebrew ʾelōhîm “powers”. But in Hebrew this word is also regularly used for semantically singular “god”.

The stem ʾl is found prominently in the earliest strata of east Semitic, northwest Semitic, and south Semitic groups. Personal names including the stem ʾl are found with similar patterns in both Amorite and South Arabic which indicates that probably already in Proto-Semitic ʾl was both a generic term for “god” and the common name or title of a single particular god.

As Hebrew and Arabic are closely related Semitic languages, it is commonly accepted that Allah (root, ilāh) and the Biblical Elohim are cognate derivations of same origin, as is Eloah, a Hebrew word which is used (e.g. in the Book of Job) to mean ‘(the) God’ and also ‘god or gods’ as is the case of Elohim.

Allah is the Arabic word for God (al ilāh, iliterally “the God”). The word has cognates in other Semitic languages, including Alah in Aramaic, ʾĒl in Canaanite and Elohim in Hebrew.

It is used mainly by Muslims to refer to God in Islam, but it has also been used by Arab Christians since pre-Islamic times. It is also often, albeit not exclusively, used by Bábists, Bahá’ís, Indonesian and Maltese Christians, and Mizrahi Jews.

Christians and Sikhs in West Malaysia also use and have used the word to refer to God. This has caused political and legal controversies there as the law in West Malaysia prohibited them from using it.

The term Allāh is derived from a contraction of the Arabic definite article al- “the” and ilāh “deity, god” to al-lāh meaning “the [sole] deity, God”. Cognates of the name “Allāh” exist in other Semitic languages, including Hebrew and Aramaic.

The corresponding Aramaic form is Alah, but its emphatic state is Alaha/Ĕlāhā in Biblical Aramaic and Alâhâ in Syriac as used by the Assyrian Church, both meaning simply “God”.

Biblical Hebrew mostly uses the plural (but functional singular) form Elohim, but more rarely it also uses the singular form Eloah. In the Sikh scripture of Guru Granth Sahib, the term Allah is used 37 times.

The name was previously used by pagan Meccans as a reference to a creator deity, possibly the supreme deity in pre-Islamic Arabia. The concepts associated with the term Allah (as a deity) differ among religious traditions.

In pre-Islamic Arabia amongst pagan Arabs, Allah was not considered the sole divinity, having associates and companions, sons and daughters–a concept that was deleted under the process of Islamization.

In Islam, the name Allah is the supreme and all-comprehensive divine name, and all other divine names are believed to refer back to Allah. Allah is unique, the only Deity, creator of the universe and omnipotent. Arab Christians today use terms such as Allāh al-Ab ‘God the Father’) to distinguish their usage from Muslim usage.

There are both similarities and differences between the concept of God as portrayed in the Quran and the Hebrew Bible. It has also been applied to certain living human beings as personifications of the term and concept.

The name Allah or Alla was found in the Epic of Atrahasis engraved on several tablets dating back to around 1700 BC in Babylon, which showed that he was being worshipped as a high deity among other gods who were considered to be his brothers but taking orders from him.

Many inscriptions containing the name Allah have been discovered in Northern and Southern Arabia as early as the 5th century B.C., including Lihyanitic, Thamudic and South Arabian inscriptions.

Dumuzid the Shepherd, a king of the 1st Dynasty of Uruk named on the Sumerian King List, was later over-venerated so that people started associating him with “Alla” and the Babylonian god Tammuz.

The name Allah was used by Nabataeans in compound names, such as “Abd Allah” (The Servant/Slave of Allah), “Aush Allah” (The Faith of Allah), “Amat Allah” (The She-Servant of Allah), “Hab Allah” (Beloved of Allah), “Han Allah” (Allah is gracious), “Shalm Allah” (Peace of Allah), while the name “Wahab Allah” (The Gift of Allah) was found throughout the entire region of the Nabataean kingdom.

From Nabataean inscriptions, Allah seems to have been regarded as a “High and Main God”, while other deities were considered to be mediators before Allah and of a second status, which was the same case of the worshipers at the Kaaba temple at Mecca.

Meccans worshipped him and Al-lāt, Al-‘Uzzá, Manāt as his daughters. Some Jews might considered Uzair to be his son. Christians and Hanifs used the term ‘Bismillah’, ‘in the name of Allah’ and the name Allah to refer to the supreme Deity in Arabic stone inscriptions centuries before Islam.

According to Islamic belief, Allah is the proper name of God, and humble submission to his will, divine ordinances and commandments is the pivot of the Muslim faith. “He is the only God, creator of the universe, and the judge of humankind.” “He is unique (wāḥid) and inherently one (aḥad), all-merciful and omnipotent.” The Qur’an declares “the reality of Allah, His inaccessible mystery, His various names, and His actions on behalf of His creatures.”

In Jewish scripture Elohim is used as a descriptive title for the God of the scriptures, whose personal name is YHWH, Elohim is also used for plural pagan gods. Yahweh was the national god of the Iron Age kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

The name may have originated as an epithet of the god El, head of the Bronze Age Canaanite pantheon (“El who is present, who makes himself manifest”), and appears to have been unique to Israel and Judah, although Yahweh may have been worshiped south of the Dead Sea at least three centuries before the emergence of Israel according to the Kenite hypothesis.

Origin of YAWHE

Early worship of Yahweh likely originated in southern Canaan during the Late Bronze Age. It is probable that Yahu or Yahweh was worshipped in southern Canaan (Edom, Moab, Midian) from the 14th century BC, and that this cult was transmitted northwards due to the Kenites.

The “Kenite hypothesis” supposes that the Hebrews adopted the cult of Yahweh from the Midianites via the “Kenites.” This hypothesis was originally suggested by Cornelius Tiele in 1872 and remains the standard view among modern scholars.

In its classical form suggested by Tiele, the “Kenite hypothesis” assumes that Moses was a historical Midianite who brought the cult of Yahweh north to Israel. This idea is based on an old tradition (recorded in Judges 1:16, 4:11) that Moses’ father-in-law was a Midianite priest of Yahweh, as it were preserving a memory of the Midianite origin of the god.

According to Exodus 2, however, Moses was not a Midianite himself, but a Hebrew from the tribe of Levi. While the role of the Kenites in the transmission of the cult is widely accepted, the historical role of Moses finds less support in modern scholarship.

The “Kenite hypothesis” supposes that the Hebrews adopted the cult of Yahweh from the Midianites via the Kenites. This view, first proposed by F. W. Ghillany, afterward independently by Cornelis Petrus Tiele (1872), and more fully by Stade, has been more completely worked out by Karl Budde; it is accepted by H. Guthe, Gerrit Wildeboer, H. P. Smith, and G. A. Barton.

Scholars agree that the archaeological evidence suggests that the Israelites arose peacefully and internally in the highlands of Canaan. In the words of archaeologist William Dever, “most of those who came to call themselves Israelites … were or had been indigenous Canaanites.”

What distinguished Israel from other emerging Iron Age Canaanite societies was the belief in Yahweh as the national god, rather than, for example, Chemosh, the god of Moab, or Milcom, the god of the Ammonites. This would require that the Transjordanian Yahweh worshipers not be identified with Israelites, but perhaps with Edomite tribes who introduced Yahweh to Israel.

One longstanding hypothesis is that Yahweh originated as a warrior-god in the region of Edom and Midian, south of Judah, and was introduced into the northern and central highlands by southern tribes such as the Kenites; Karel van der Toorn has suggested that his rise to prominence in Israel was due to the influence of Saul, Israel’s first king, who was of Edomite background.

Yahweh was eventually hypostatized with El. Several pieces of evidence have led scholars to the conclusion that El was the original “God of Israel”—for example, the word “Israel” is based on the name of El rather than on that of Yahweh. Names of the oldest characters in the Torah further show reverence towards El without similar displays towards Yahweh. Most importantly, Yahweh reveals to Moses that though he was not known previously as El, he has, in fact, been El all along.

El was the head of the Canaanite pantheon, with Asherah as his consort and Baal and other deities making up the pantheon. With his rise, Asherah became Yahweh’s consort, and Yahweh and Baal at first co-existed and later competed within the popular religion.

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Kenites or Cinites were a nomadic clan in the ancient Levant, sent under Jethro a priest in the land of Midian. They played an important role in the history of ancient Israel.

The Kenites were coppersmiths and metalworkers. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, was a shepherd and a priest in the land of Midian. Judges 1:16 says that Moses had a father-in-law who was a Kenite, but it is not clear from the passage if this refers to Jethro.

Certain groups of Kenites settled among the Israelite population, including the descendants of Moses’ brother-in-law, though the Kenites descended from Rechab, maintained a distinct, nomadic lifestyle for some time. Moses apparently identified Jethro’s concept of God, El Shaddai, with Yahweh, the Israelites’ God.

According to the Kenite hypothesis, Yahweh was historically a Midian deity, and the association of Moses’ father-in-law being associated with Midian reflects the historical adoption of the Midianite cult by the Hebrews.

“Kenite” is a rendition of Hebrew Qeyniy. According to Gesenius, the name is derived from the name Cain. According to A. H. Sayce, the name `Kenite’, Qéní, is identical an Aramaic word meaning `a smith’, which in its turn is a cognate of Hebrew Qayin, with the meaning `a lance’.

Midian/Madian is a geographical place and a people mentioned in the Bible and in the Qur’an. Scholars generally consider it to have been located in the “northwest Arabian Peninsula, on the east shore of the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea”, and have long associated it with the region of Modiana reported in that same area by Ptolemy.

Hadad the Edomite is specifically stated in 1 Kg 11:17-18 to have passed through Midian and Paran while fleeing from Edom to Egypt. Even so, some scholars have claimed Midian was not a geographical area but a league of tribes.

The Midianites were the descendants of Midian, who was a son of Abraham through his wife Keturah: “. . . again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.” (Genesis 25:1-2, King James Version).

The Midianites are also thought to be related to the Qenites (or Kenites), since they are used interchangeably in the Hebrew Bible. Moses brother-in-law or father-in-law are Qenites.

The Midianites through their apparent religio-political connection with the Moabites are thought to have worshipped a multitude of gods, including Baal-peor and the Queen of Heaven, Ashteroth. The Midianites may have worshiped Yahweh, the god Moses encountered at the burning bush at the far end of Midian’s wilderness. It is uncertain, however, which deities the Midianites worshiped. Michael Homan points out that the Midianite tent-shrine at Timna is one of the closest parallels to the biblical Tabernacle.

Midianite pottery, also called Qurayyah Painted Ware (QPW), is found at numerous sites stretching from the southern Levant to NW Saudi Arabia, the Hejaz; Qurayyah in NW Saudi Arabia is thought to be its original location of manufacture.

The pottery is bichrome / polychrome style and it dates as early as the 13th century B.C.E; its many geometric, human, and animal motifs are painted in browns and dark reds on a pinkish-tan slip. “Midianite” pottery is found in its largest quantities at metallurgical sites in the southern Levant, especially Timna.

Because of the Mycenaean motifs on Midianite pottery, some scholars including George Mendenhall, Peter Parr, and Beno Rothenberg have suggested that the Midianites were originally Sea Peoples who migrated from the Aegean region and imposed themselves on a pre-existing Semitic stratum. The question of the origin of the Midianites still remains open.

The earliest reference to a deity called “Yahweh” appears in Egyptian texts of the 13th century BC that place him among the Shasu-Bedu of southern Transjordan.

In the oldest biblical literature (12th–11th centuries BC), Yahweh is a typical ancient Near Eastern “divine warrior” who leads the heavenly army against Israel’s enemies; he and Israel are bound by a covenant under which Yahweh will protect Israel and, in turn, Israel will not worship other gods.

At a later period, Yahweh functioned as the dynastic cult (the god of the royal house) with the royal courts promoting him as the supreme god over all others in the pantheon (notably Baal, El, and Asherah (who is thought by some scholars to have been his consort).

Over time, Yahwism became increasingly intolerant of rivals, and the royal court and temple promoted Yahweh as the god of the entire cosmos, possessing all the positive qualities previously attributed to the other gods and goddesses.

With the work of Second Isaiah (the theoretical author of the second part of the Book of Isaiah) towards the end of the Babylonian exile (6th century BC), the very existence of foreign gods was denied, and Yahweh was proclaimed as the creator of the cosmos and the true god of all the world.

By early post-biblical times, the name of Yahweh had ceased to be pronounced. In modern Judaism, it is replaced with the word Adonai, meaning Lord, and is understood to be God’s proper name and to denote his mercy. Many Christian Bibles follow the Jewish custom and replace it with “the LORD”.

The Greek Adōnis, an annually-renewed, ever-youthful vegetation god, a life-death-rebirth deity whose nature is tied to the calendar, was a borrowing from the Canaanite / Phoenician language word ʼadōn, meaning “lord”, which is related to Adonai, one of the names used to refer to the god of the Hebrew Bible and still used in Judaism to the present day.

Syrian Adonis is Gauas or Aos, akin to Egyptian Osiris, the Semitic Tammuz and Baal Hadad, the Etruscan Atunis and the Phrygian Attis, all of whom are deities of rebirth and vegetation.

Jehovah is a Latinization of the Hebrew יְהֹוָה, a vocalization of the Tetragrammaton יהוה (YHWH), the proper name of the God of Israel in the Hebrew Bible, which has also been transcribed as “Yehowah” or “Yahweh”.

יְהֹוָה appears 6,518 times in the traditional Masoretic Text, in addition to 305 instances of יֱהֹוִה (Jehovih). The earliest available Latin text to use a vocalization similar to Jehovah dates from the 13th century.

Most scholars believe “Jehovah” to be a late (c. 1100 CE) hybrid form derived by combining the Latin letters JHVH with the vowels of Adonai, but there is some evidence that it may already have been in use in Late Antiquity (5th century).

The consensus among scholars is that the historical vocalization of the Tetragrammaton at the time of the redaction of the Torah (6th century BCE) is most likely Yahweh, however there is disagreement.

The historical vocalization was lost because in Second Temple Judaism, during the 3rd to 2nd centuries BCE, the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton came to be avoided, being substituted with Adonai (“my Lord”).

Dagon

Dagon was originally an East Semitic Mesopotamian (Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian) fertility god who evolved into a major Northwest Semitic god, reportedly of grain (as symbol of fertility) and fish and/or fishing (as symbol of multiplying).

He was worshipped by the early Amorites and by the inhabitants of the cities of Ebla (modern Tell Mardikh, Syria) and Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra, Syria). He was also a major member, or perhaps head, of the pantheon of the Philistines.

His name is perhaps related to the Middle Hebrew and Jewish Aramaic word dgnʾ ‘be cut open’ or to Arabic dagn (دجن) ‘rain-(cloud)’. In Ugaritic, the root dgn also means grain: in Hebrew dāgān, Samaritan dīgan, is an archaic word for grain. The Phoenician author Sanchuniathon also says Dagon means siton, that being the Greek word for grain.

Sanchuniathon further explains: “And Dagon, after he discovered grain and the plough, was called Zeus Arotrios.” The word arotrios means “ploughman”, “pertaining to agriculture” (confer ἄροτρον “plow”).

The theory relating the name to Hebrew dāg/dâg, ‘fish’, is based solely upon a reading of 1 Samuel 5:2–7. According to this etymology: Middle English Dagon < Late Latin (Ec.) Dagon < Late Greek (Ec.) Δάγων < Heb דגן dāgān, “grain (hence the god of agriculture), corn.”

The god Dagon first appears in extant records about 2500 BC in the Mari texts and in personal Amorite names in which the Mesopotamian gods Ilu (Ēl), Dagan, and Adad are especially common.

At Ebla (Tell Mardikh), from at least 2300 BC, Dagan was the head of the city pantheon comprising some 200 deities and bore the titles BE-DINGIR-DINGIR, “Lord of the gods” and Bekalam, “Lord of the land”.

His consort was known only as Belatu, “Lady”. Both were worshipped in a large temple complex called E-Mul, “House of the Star”. One entire quarter of Ebla and one of its gates were named after Dagan. Dagan is called ti-lu ma-tim, “dew of the land” and Be-ka-na-na, possibly “Lord of Canaan”. He was called lord of many cities: of Tuttul, Irim, Ma-Ne, Zarad, Uguash, Siwad, and Sipishu.

An interesting early reference to Dagan occurs in a letter to King Zimri-Lim of Mari, 18th century BC, written by Itur-Asduu an official in the court of Mari and governor of Nahur (the Biblical city of Nahor) (ANET, p. 623).

It relates a dream of a “man from Shaka” in which Dagan appeared. In the dream, Dagan blamed Zimri-Lim’s failure to subdue the King of the Yaminites upon Zimri-Lim’s failure to bring a report of his deeds to Dagan in Terqa. Dagan promises that when Zimri-Lim has done so: “I will have the kings of the Yaminites [coo]ked on a fisherman’s spit, and I will lay them before you.”

In Ugarit around 1300 BC, Dagon had a large temple and was listed third in the pantheon following a father-god and Ēl, and preceding Baīl Ṣapān (that is the god Haddu or Hadad/Adad).

Joseph Fontenrose first demonstrated that, whatever their deep origins, at Ugarit Dagon was identified with El, explaining why Dagan, who had an important temple at Ugarit is so neglected in the Ras Shamra mythological texts, where Dagon is mentioned solely in passing as the father of the god Hadad, but Anat, El’s daughter, is Baal’s sister, and why no temple of El has appeared at Ugarit.

There are differences between the Ugaritic pantheon and that of Phoenicia centuries later: according to the third-hand Greek and Christian reports of Sanchuniathon, the Phoenician mythographer would have Dagon the brother of Ēl/Cronus and like him son of Sky/Uranus and Earth, but not truly Hadad’s father.

Hadad was begotten by “Sky” on a concubine before Sky was castrated by his son Ēl, whereupon the pregnant concubine was given to Dagon. Accordingly, Dagon in this version is Hadad’s half-brother and stepfather. The Byzantine Etymologicon Magnum says that Dagon was Cronus in Phoenicia. Otherwise, with the disappearance of Phoenician literary texts, Dagon has practically no surviving mythology.

Dagan is mentioned occasionally in early Sumerian texts, but becomes prominent only in later Assyro-Babylonian inscriptions as a powerful and warlike protector, sometimes equated with Enlil.

Dagan’s wife was in some sources the goddess Shala (also named as wife of Adad and sometimes identified with Ninlil). In other texts, his wife is Ishara. In the preface to his famous law code, King Hammurabi, the founder of the Babylonian empire, calls himself “the subduer of the settlements along the Euphrates with the help of Dagan, his creator”.

An inscription about an expedition of Naram-Sin to the Cedar Mountain relates (ANET, p. 268): “Naram-Sin slew Arman and Ibla with the ‘weapon’ of the god Dagan who aggrandizes his kingdom.”

The stele of the 9th century BC Assyrian emperor Ashurnasirpal II (ANET, p. 558) refers to Ashurnasirpal as the favorite of Anu and of Dagan. In an Assyrian poem, Dagan appears beside Nergal and Misharu as a judge of the dead. A late Babylonian text makes him the underworld prison warder of the seven children of the god Emmesharra.

The Phoenician inscription on the sarcophagus of King Eshmunʿazar of Sidon (5th century BC) relates (ANET, p. 662): “Furthermore, the Lord of Kings gave us Dor and Joppa, the mighty lands of Dagon, which are in the Plain of Sharon, in accordance with the important deeds which I did.”

Fish god tradition

In the 11th century, Jewish bible commentator Rashi writes of a Biblical tradition that the name Dāgôn is related to Hebrew dāg/dâg ‘fish’ and that Dagon was imagined in the shape of a fish: compare the Babylonian fish-god Oannes.

In the 13th century David Kimhi interpreted the odd sentence in 1 Samuel 5.2–7 that “only Dagon was left to him” to mean “only the form of a fish was left”, adding: “It is said that Dagon, from his navel down, had the form of a fish (whence his name, Dagon), and from his navel up, the form of a man, as it is said, his two hands were cut off.” The Septuagint text of 1 Samuel 5.2–7 says that both the hands and the head of the image of Dagon were broken off.

Schmökel asserted in 1928 that Dagon was never originally a fish-god, but once he became an important god of those maritime Canaanites, the Phoenicians, the folk-etymological connection with dâg would have ineluctably affected his iconography.

The fish form may be considered as a phallic symbol as seen in the story of the Egyptian grain god Osiris, whose penis was eaten by (conflated with) fish in the Nile after he was attacked by the Typhonic beast Set.

Likewise, in the tale depicting the origin of the constellation Capricornus, the Greek god of nature Pan became a fish from the waist down when he jumped into the same river after being attacked by Typhon. Enki’s symbols included a goat and a fish, which later combined into a single beast, the goat Capricorn, recognised as the Zodiacal constellation Capricornus.

Various 19th century scholars, such as Julius Wellhausen and William Robertson Smith, believed the tradition to have been validated from the occasional occurrence of a merman motif found in Assyrian and Phoenician art, including coins from Ashdod and Arvad.

Baal

Baal, also rendered Baʿal, is a North-West Semitic title and honorific meaning “master” or “lord” that is used for various gods who were patrons of cities in the Levant and Asia Minor, cognate to Akkadian Bēlu. A Baalist or Baalite means a worshipper of Baal.

“Baal” may refer to any god and even to human officials. In some texts it is used for Hadad, a god of thunderstorms, fertility and agriculture, and the lord of Heaven. Since only priests were allowed to utter his divine name, Hadad, Ba‛al was commonly used. . El and Baal are often associated with the bull in Ugaritic texts, as a symbol both of strength and fertility.

The worship of Ba’al in Canaan was bound to the economy of the land which depends on the regularity and adequacy of the rains, unlike Egypt and Mesopotamia, which depend on irrigation. Anxiety about the rainfall was a continuing concern of the inhabitants which gave rise to rites to ensure the coming of the rains. Thus the basis of the Ba’al cult was the utter dependence of life on the rains which were regarded as Baal’s bounty. In that respect, Ba’al can be considered a rain god.

Baal Melqart

Baal Melqart (Phoenician, lit. Milk-qart, “King of the City”, Akkadian: Milqartu) was the son of El in the Phoenician triad of worship. Melqart was the tutelary god of the Phoenician city of Tyre, although one finds this equation in older scholarship. He was often called the Baal of Tyre.

Melqart was often titled Ba‘l Ṣūr, “Lord of Tyre”, and considered to be the ancestor of the Tyrian royal family. In Greek, by interpretatio graeca he was identified with Heracles and referred to as the Tyrian Herakles. He is the son of El in the Phoenician triad of worship. He was the god of Tyre and was often called the Baal of Tyre.

As Tyrian trade and colonization expanded, Melqart became venerated in Phoenician and Punic cultures from Syria to Spain. The first occurrence of the name is in a 9th-century BCE stela inscription found in 1939 north of Aleppo in northern Syria, the “Ben-Hadad” inscription, erected by the son of the king of Arma, “for his lord Melqart, which he vowed to him and he heard his voice”.

1Kings 16:31 relates that Ahab, king of Israel, married Jezebel, daughter of Eth-baal, king of the Sidonians, and then “went and served Baal, and worshipped him”. Josephus (Antiquities 8.13.1) states clearly that Jezebel “built a temple to the god of the Tyrians, which they call Belus” which certainly refers to the Baal of Tyre, or Melqart.

The cult of this god was prominent in Israel until the reign of Jehu (841–814 BC), the tenth king of Israel since Jeroboam I, who – according to the biblical account in 2 Kings – put an end to it: “And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them. And they broke down the image of Baal, and broke down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day. Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel.” (2Kings 10:26-28)

Ishkur/ Adad/Hadad

Adad in Akkadian and Ishkur in Sumerian and Hadad in Aramaic are the names of the storm-god in the Babylonian-Assyrian pantheon. The Akkadian god Adad is cognate in name and functions with northwest Semitic god Hadad.

Adad/Ishkur’s special animal is the bull. He is naturally identified with the Anatolian storm-god Teshub. Occasionally Adad/Ishkur is identified with the god Amurru, the god of the Amorites.

When Enki distributed the destinies, he made Ishkur inspector of the cosmos. Shamash and Adad became in combination the gods of oracles and of divination in general.

The Babylonian center of Adad/Ishkur’s cult was Karkara in the south, his chief temple being E. Karkara. He was worshipped in a temple named E. Durku.

In one litany Ishkur is proclaimed again and again as “great radiant bull, your name is heaven” and also called son of An, lord of Karkara; twin-brother of Enki, lord of abundance, lord who rides the storm, lion of heaven.

Adad/Ishkur’s consort (both in early Sumerian and later Assyrian texts) was Shala, a goddess of grain, who is also sometimes associated with the god Dagan. She was also called Gubarra in the earliest texts. The fire god Gibil (named Gerra in Akkadian) is sometimes the son of Ishkur and Shala.

In other texts Adad/Ishkur is sometimes son of the moon god Nanna/Sin by Ningal and brother of Utu/Shamash and Inanna/Ishtar. He is also occasionally son of Enlil.

Hadad (Ugaritic Haddu) is a Northwest Semitic storm and rain god, cognate in name and origin with the earlier attested East Semitic Akkadian (Assyrian-Babylonian) god Adad. Hadad was also called “Pidar”, “Rapiu”, “Baal-Zephon”, or often simply Baʿal (Lord), but this title was also used for other gods.

The bull was the symbolic animal of Hadad. He appeared bearded, often holding a club and thunderbolt while wearing a bull-horned headdress. Hadad was equated with the Indo-European Nasite Hittite storm-god Teshub; the Egyptian god Set; the Greek god Zeus; and the Roman god Jupiter, as Jupiter Dolichenus.

In Akkadian, Adad is also known as Ramman (“Thunderer”) cognate with Aramaic Rimmon which was a byname of the Aramaic Hadad. Ramman was formerly incorrectly taken by many scholars to be an independent Babylonian god later identified with the Amorite god Hadad.

The Sumerian Ishkur appears in the list of gods found at Fara, but was of far less importance than the Akkadian Adad later became, probably partly because storms and rain are scarce in southern Babylonia and agriculture there depends on irrigation instead.

Also, the gods Enlil and Ninurta also had storm god features which decreased Ishkur’s distinctiveness. He sometimes appears as the assistant or companion of one or the other of the two.

Aamong the Assyrians his cult was especially developed along with his warrior aspect. From the reign of Tiglath-Pileser I (1115–1077 BCE), Adad had a double sanctuary in Assur which he shared with Anu. Anu is often associated with Adad in invocations. The name Adad and various alternate forms and bynames (Dadu, Bir, Dadda) are often found in the names of the Assyrian kings.

Adad/Ishkur presents two aspects in the hymns, incantations, and votive inscriptions. On the one hand he is the god who, through bringing on the rain in due season, causes the land to become fertile, and, on the other hand, the storms that he sends out bring havoc and destruction.

He is pictured on monuments and cylinder seals (sometimes with a horned helmet) with the lightning and the thunderbolt (sometimes in the form of a spear), and in the hymns the sombre aspects of the god on the whole predominate. His association with the sun-god, Shamash, due to the natural combination of the two deities who alternate in the control of nature, leads to imbuing him with some of the traits belonging to a solar deity.

In religious texts, Ba‘al/Hadad is the lord of the sky who governs the rain and thus the germination of plants with the power of his desire that they be fertile. He is the protector of life and growth to the agricultural people of the region. The absence of Ba‘al causes dry spells, starvation, death, and chaos. Also refers to the mountain of the west wind.

The Biblical reference occurs at a time when Yahweh has provided a strong east wind (cf. Exodus 14:21,22) to push back the waters of the Red or Erythrian Sea, so that the sons of Israel might cross over.

In the Ugaritic texts El, the supreme god of the pantheon, resides on Mount Lel (perhaps meaning “Night”) and it is there that the assembly of the gods meet. That is perhaps the mythical cosmic mountain.

The Ba‘al cycle is fragmentary and leaves much unexplained that would have been obvious to a contemporary. In the earliest extant sections there appears to be some sort of feud between El and Ba‘al.

El makes one of his sons who is called both prince Yamm (“Sea”) and judge Nahar (“River”) king over the gods and changes Yamm’s name from yw (so spelled at that point in the text) to mdd ’il, meaning “Darling of El”. El informs Yamm that in order to secure his power, Yamm will have to drive Ba‘al from his throne.

In this battle Ba‘al is somehow weakened, but the divine craftsman Kothar-wa-Khasis strikes Yamm with two magic clubs, Yamm collapses, and Ba’al finishes the fight. ‘Athtart proclaims Ba‘al’s victory and salutes Ba‘al/Hadad as lrkb ‘rpt (“Rider on the Clouds”), a phrase applied by editors of modern English Bibles to Yahweh in Psalm 68.4. At ‘Athtart’s urging Ba‘al “scatters” Yamm and proclaims that Yamm is dead and heat is assured.

A later passage refers to Ba‘al’s victory over Lotan, the many-headed sea-dragon. Due to gaps in the text it is not known whether Lotan is another name for Yamm or a reference to another similar story. In the Mediterranean area, crops were often threatened by winds, storms, and floods from the sea, indicating why the ancients feared the fury of this cosmic being.

A palace is built for Ba‘al/Hadad with cedars from Mount Lebanon and Sirion and also from silver and from gold. In his new palace Ba‘al hosts a great feast for the other gods. When urged by Kothar-wa-Khasis, Ba’al, somewhat reluctantly, opens a window in his palace and sends forth thunder and lightning. He then invites Mot ‘Death’ (god of drought and underworld), another son of El, to the feast.

But Mot is insulted. The eater of human flesh and blood will not be satisfied with bread and wine. Mot threatens to break Ba‘al into pieces and swallow Ba‘al. Even Ba‘al cannot stand against Death. Gaps here make interpretation dubious.

It seems that by the advice of the goddess Shapsh ‘Sun’, Ba‘al has intercourse with a heifer and dresses the resultant calf in his own clothes as a gift to Mot and then himself prepares to go down to the underworld in the guise of a helpless shade. News of Ba‘al’s apparent death leads even El to mourn.

‘Anat, Ba‘al’s sister, finds Ba‘al’s corpse, presumably really the dead body of the calf, and she buries the body with a funeral feast. The god ‘Athtar is appointed to take Ba‘al’s place, but he is a poor substitute. Meanwhile ‘Anat finds Mot, cleaves him with a sword, burns him with fire, and throws his remains on the field for the birds to eat. But the earth is still cracked with drought until Shapsh fetches Ba‘al back.

Seven years later Mot returns and attacks Ba‘al in a battle which ceases only when Shapsh tells Mot that El now supports Ba’al. Thereupon Mot at once surrenders to Ba‘al/Hadad and recognizes Ba‘al as king.

In Sanchuniathon’s account Hadad is once called Adodos, but is mostly named Demarûs. This is a puzzling form, probably from Ugaritic dmrn, which appears in parallelism with Hadad, or possibly a Greek corruption of Hadad Ramān. Sanchuniathon’s Hadad is son of Sky by a concubine who is then given to the god Dagon while she is pregnant by Sky.

This appears to be an attempt to combine two accounts of Hadad’s parentage, one of which is the Ugaritic tradition that Hadad was son of Dagon. The cognate Akkadian god Adad is also often called the son of Anu (“Sky”). The corresponding Hittite god Teshub is likewise son of Anu (after a fashion).

In Sanchuniathon’s account, it is Sky who first fights against Pontus (“Sea”). Then Sky allies himself with Hadad. Hadad takes over the conflict but is defeated, at which point unfortunately no more is said of this matter. Sanchuniathion agrees with Ugaritic tradition in making Muth, the Ugaritic Mot, whom he also calls “Death”, the son of El.

Asherah, Part I: The lost bride of Yahweh

Asherah, Part II: The serpent’s bride

Asherah, Part III: The Lion Lady

 

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