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Archive for March 7th, 2017

The Hurrians and the Levant

Posted by Fredsvenn on March 7, 2017

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Jebusites (/ˈdʒɛbjəˌsaɪts/; Hebrew: יְבוּסִי, Modern Yevusi, Tiberian Yəḇûsî ISO 259-3 Ybusi) were a Canaanite tribe who inhabited Jerusalem prior to its conquest by Joshua (11:3 and 12:10) or King David (2 Samuel 5:6-10).

The Books of Kings state that Jerusalem was known as Jebus prior to this event. According to some biblical chronologies, the city was conquered by King David in 1003 BCE, or according to other sources 869 BCE.

In the Amarna letters, mention is made that the contemporaneous king of Jerusalem was named Abdi-Heba, which is a theophoric name invoking a Hurrian mother goddess named Hebat.

This implies that the Jebusites were Hurrians themselves, were heavily influenced by Hurrian culture, or were dominated by a Hurrian maryannu class (i.e., a Hurrian warrior-class elite).

Moreover, the last Jebusite king of Jerusalem, Araunah/Awarna/Arawna (or Ornan), bore a name generally understood as based on the Hurrian honorific ewir.

Another Jebusite, Araunah (referred to as Ornan by the Books of Chronicles) is described by the Books of Samuel as having sold his threshing floor to King David, which David then constructed an altar on, the implication being that the altar became the core of the Temple of Solomon.

Araunah means the lord in Hittite, and so most scholars, since they consider the Jebusites to have been Hittite, have argued that Araunah may have been another king of Jerusalem; some scholars additionally believe that Adonijah is actually a disguised reference to Araunah, the ר (r) having been corrupted to ד (d).

Zadok (Hebrew: צדוק‎ Tsadoq , meaning “Righteous”) or Zadoq was a priest, said to be descended from Eleazar the son of Aaron (1 Chron 6:4-8). He aided King David during the revolt of his son Absalom and was subsequently instrumental in bringing King Solomon to the throne. After Solomon’s building of The First Temple in Jerusalem, Zadok was the first High Priest to serve there.

The prophet Ezekiel extols the sons of Zadok as staunch opponents of paganism during the era of pagan worship and indicates their birthright to unique duties and privileges in the future temple (Ezekiel 44:15, 43:19).

Some scholars have speculated that as Zadok (also Zadoq) does not appear in the text of Samuel until after the conquest of Jerusalem, he was actually a Jebusite priest co-opted into the Israelite state religion.

Frank Moore Cross, professor at the Harvard Divinity School, refers to this theory as the “Jebusite Hypothesis,” criticizes it extensively, but terms it the dominant view among contemporary scholars, in Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic: Essays in the History of the Religion of Israel.

Elsewhere in the Bible, the Jebusites are described in a manner that suggests that they worshipped the same God (El Elyon—Ēl ‘Elyōn) as the Israelites (see, e.g., Melchizedek).

Further support for this theory comes from the fact that other Jebusites resident in pre-Israelite Jerusalem bore names invoking the principle or god Zedek (Tzedek) (see, e.g., Melchizedek and Adonizedek). Under this theory the Aaronic lineage ascribed to Zadok is a later, anachronistic interpolation.

Khirbet Kerak (“the ruin of the fortress”) or Beth Yerah (“House of the Moon (god)”) is a tell (archaeological mound) located on the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee in modern-day Israel.

The tell spans an area of over 50 acres—one of the largest in the Levant—and contains remains dating from the Early Bronze Age (c. 3000 BC – 2000 BC) and from the Persian period (c. 450 BC) through to the early Islamic period (c. 1000 AD).

“Khirbet Kerak ware” is a type of Early Bronze Age Syro-Palestinian pottery first discovered at this site. It is also found in other parts of the Levant (including Jericho, Beth Shan, Tell Judeideh, and Ugarit). Khirbet Kerak culture appears to have been a Levantine version of the Early Transcaucasian Culture.

As Ablm (Heb. Abel), this location is mentioned in the 14th century BCE Epic of Aqht, and is thought to be a reference to the Early Bronze Age structure extant at Khirbet Kerak.

The identification of Jebus with Jerusalem has been disputed, principally by Niels Peter Lemche. Supporting his case, every non-biblical mention of Jerusalem found in the ancient Near East refers to the city as ‘Jerusalem’.

An example of these records are the Amarna letters, several of which were written by the chieftain of Jerusalem Abdi-Heba and call Jerusalem either Urusalim (URU ú-ru-sa-lim) or Urušalim (URU ú-ru-ša10-lim) (1330s BCE). Also in the Amarna letters, it is called Beth-Shalem, the house of Shalem.

The Sumero-Akkadian name for Jerusalem, uru-salim, is variously etymologised to mean “foundation of [or: by] the god Shalim”: from Hebrew/Semitic yry, ‘to found, to lay a cornerstone’, and Shalim, the Canaanite god of the setting sun and the nether world, as well as of health and perfection.

Lemche states that there is no evidence of Jebus and the Jebusites outside of the Old Testament. Some scholars reckon Jebus to be a different place from Jerusalem; other scholars prefer to see the name of Jebus as a kind of pseudo-ethnic name without any historical background.

Theophilus G. Pinches has noted a reference to “Yabusu”, which he interpreted as an old form of Jebus, on a contract tablet that dates from 2200 BCE.

Shalim (Shalem, Salem, and Salim) is a god in the Canaanite religion pantheon, mentioned in inscriptions found in Ugarit (Ras Shamra) in Syria. William F. Albright identified Shalim as the god of dusk, and Shahar as god of the dawn.

Shalim, along with Shahar, is described as twin children of El. Both are gods of the planet Venus, and were considered by some to be a twinned avatar of the god Athtar. As the markers of dawn and dusk, Shahar and Shalim also represented the temporal structure of the day.

Isaiah 14:12–15 has been the origin of the belief that Satan was a fallen angel, who could also be referred to as Lucifer. It refers to the rise and disappearance of the morning star Venus in the phrase “O light-bringer, (Helel ben Shaḥar, translated as Lucifer in the Vulgate and preserved in the early English translations of the Bible) son of the dawn.”

In both genders, Aṯtar is identified with the planet Venus, the morning and evening star, in some manifestations of Semitic mythology. In Ugaritic mythology Aṯtar succeeds to the throne of the dead god Baal Hadad but proves inadequate.

In semi-arid regions of western Asia he was sometimes worshipped as a rain god. In more southerly regions he is probably known as Dhu-Samani.[citation needed]

Attar was worshipped in Southern Arabia in pre-Islamic times. A god of war, he was often referred to as “He who is Bold in Battle”. One of his symbols was the spear-point and the antelope was his sacred animal. He had power over Venus, the morning star, and was believed to provide humankind with water.

In ancient times, Arabia shared the gods of Mesopotamia, being so close to Babylon, except the genders and symbols of these deities were later swapped around.

For instance, the sun god Shamash became the sun goddess Shams, and in southern Arabia Ishtar became the male storm god Athtar. Athtar was a god of the thunderstorm, dispensing natural irrigation in the form of rain. Athtar also represented fertility and water as essential to fertility.

In the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, Shalim is also identified as the deity representing Venus or the “Evening Star”, and Shahar, the “Morning Star”. His name derives from the triconsonantal Semitic root S-L-M.

A Ugaritic myth known as The Gracious and Most Beautiful Gods, describes Shalim and his brother Shahar as offspring of El through two women he meets at the seashore.

They are both nursed by “The Lady”, likely Anat (Athirat or Asherah), and have appetites as large as “(one) lip to the earth and (one) lip to the heaven.” In other Ugaritic texts, the two are associated with the sun goddess.

Another inscription is a sentence repeated three times in a para-mythological text, “Let me invoke the gracious gods, the voracious gods of ym.” Ym in most Semitic languages means “day,” and Shalim and Shahar, twin deities of the dusk and dawn, were conceived of as its beginning and end.

Shalim is also mentioned separately in the Ugaritic god lists and forms of his name also appear in personal names, perhaps as a divine name or epithet.

Many scholars believe that the name of Shalim is preserved in the name of the city Jerusalem. The god Shalim may have been associated with dusk and the evening star in the etymological senses of a ‘completion’ of the day, ‘sunset’ and ‘peace’.

Zion, also transliterated Sion, Sayon, Syon, Tzion or Tsion, is a place name often used as a synonym for Jerusalem. The word is first found in 2 Samuel 5:7 which dates from c.630–540 BC according to modern scholarship.

It commonly referred to a specific mountain near Jerusalem (Mount Zion), on which stood a Jebusite fortress of the same name that was conquered by David and was named the City of David.

The term Tzion came to designate the area of Jerusalem where the fortress stood, and later became a metonym for Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, the city of Jerusalem and “the World to Come”, the Jewish understanding of the hereafter.

In Kabbalah the more esoteric reference is made to Tzion being the spiritual point from which reality emerges, located in the Holy of Holies of the First, Second and Third Temple.

Zion is the Hebrew name for the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and was the seat of the first and second Holy Temple. It is the most holy place in the world for the Jewish people, seen as the connection between God and humanity.

Observant Jews recite the Amidah three times a day facing Zion in Jerusalem, praying for the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, the restoration of the Temple service, the redemption of the world, and for the coming of the Messiah.

The etymology of the word Zion (ṣiyôn) is uncertain. Mentioned in the Bible in the Book of Samuel (2 Samuel 5:7) as the name of the Jebusite fortress conquered by King David, its origin likely predates the Israelites.

If Semitic, it may be derived from the Hebrew root ṣiyyôn (“castle”) or the Hebrew ṣiyya (“dry land,” Jeremiah 51:43). A non-Semitic relationship to the Hurrian word šeya (“river” or “brook”) has also been suggested.

The term “Zionism” coined by Austrian Nathan Birnbaum, was derived from the German rendering of Tzion in his journal Selbstemanzipation (Self Emancipation) in 1890.

Zionism as a political movement started in 1897 and supported a ‘national home’, and later a state, for the Jewish people in Palestine. The Zionist movement declared the re-establishment of its State of Israel in 1948, following the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine. Since then and with varying ideologies, Zionists have focused on developing and protecting this state.

The last line of the Israeli national anthem Hatikvah (Hebrew for Hope) is “….Eretz Zion, ViYerushalayim”, which means literally “The land of Zion and Jerusalem”. Yerushalayim is a plural, because there are 2 “Jerusalems” in Judaism, there is the physical land and the spiritual spot where God’s presence on Earth (Shechinah) is centered.

Today, Mount Zion refers to a hill south of the Old City’s Armenian Quarter, not to the Temple Mount. This apparent misidentification dates at least from the 1st century AD, when Josephus calls Jerusalem’s Western Hill “Mount Zion”. The Dormition Church (right) is located upon the hill currently called Mount Zion.

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The Heaven / the Sun / Mars and the Earth / the Moon / Venus (the dawn) – Tyr and Hel – Justice, creation and transformation

Posted by Fredsvenn on March 7, 2017

The Sun goddess of Arinna is the chief goddess and wife of the weather god Tarḫunna in Hittite mythology. She protected the Hittite kingdom and was called the “Queen of all lands.” Her cult centre was the sacred city of Arinna.

In addition to the Sun goddess of Arinna, the Hittites also worshipped the Sun goddess of the Earth and the Sun god of Heaven, while the Luwians originally worshipped the old Proto-Indo-European Sun god Tiwaz. It appears that in the northern cultural sphere of the early Hittites, there was no male solar deity.

The Sun goddess of Arinna and the weather god Tarḫunna formed a pair and together they occupied the highest position in the Hittite state’s pantheon. The pair’s daughter is Mezulla, by whom they had the granddaughter Zintuḫi. Their other children were the Weather god of Nerik, the Weather god of Zippalanda, and the corn god Telipinu. The eagle served as her messenger.

In myths, she plays a minor role. A Hattian mythic fragment records the construction of her house in Liḫzina (de). Another myth fragment refers to her apple tree:

An apple tree stands at a well and is covered all over with a blood-red colour. The Sun goddess of Arinna saw (it) and she decorated (it) with her shining wand. (KUB 28.6 Vs. I 10’-13’ = II 10’-13’).

The Sun goddess of Arinna was originally of Hattian origin and was worshipped by the Hattians at Eštan. One of her Hattian epithets was Wurunšemu (“Mother of the land”?).

From the Hittite Old Kingdom, she was the chief goddess of the Hittite state. The “Gods’ city” of Arinna was the site of the coronation of the first Hittite kings and one of the empire’s three holy cities. The Hattian name of the goddess was transcribed by the Hittites as Ištanu and Urunzimu.

They also invoked her as Arinitti (“The Arinnian”). The epithet “of Arinna” only appears during the Hittite Middle Kingdom, to distinguish the Sun goddess from the male Sun god of Heaven, who had been adopted by the Hittites from interaction with the Hurrians.

During the Hittite New Kingdom, she was identified with the Hurrian-Syrian goddess Ḫepat and the Hittite Queen Puduḫepa mentions her in her prayers using both names:

Sun goddess of Arinna, my lady, queen of all lands! In the Land of Ḫatti, you ordained your name to be the “Sun goddess of Arinna”, but also in the land which you have made the land of the cedar, you ordained your name to be Ḫepat.

From the Hittite Old Kingdom, the Sun goddess of Arinna legitimised the authority of the king, in conjunction with the weather god Tarḫunna. The land belonged to the two deities and the established the king, who would refer to the Sun goddess as “Mother”. King Ḫattušili I would hold the Sun goddess in his lap. Several queens dedicated cultic solar discs to the Sun goddess in the city of Taḫurpa.

During the Hittite New Kingdom, the Sun goddess was said to watch over the king and his kingdom, with the king as her priest and the queen as her priestess. The Hittite king worshiped the Sun goddess with daily praters at sun set. The Hittite texts preserve many prayers to the Sun goddess of Arinna: the oldest is from Arnuwanda I, while the best known is the prayer of Queen Puduḫepa, cited above.

The most important temple of the Sun goddess was in the city of Arinna; there was another on the citadel of Ḫattuša. The goddess was depicted as a solar disc.In the city of Tarḫurpa, several such discs were venerated, which had been donated by the Hittite queens. King Ulmi-Teššup von Tarḫuntašša donated a Sun disc of gold, silver and copper to the goddess each year, along with a bull and three sheep. She was also often depicted as a woman and statuettes of a sitting goddess with a halo may also be depictions of her.

The deer was sacred to the Sun goddess and Queen Puduḫepa promised to give her many deer in her prayers. Cultic vessels in the shape of a deer presumably ere used for worship of the Sun goddess. It is also believed that the golden deer statuettes from the Early Bronze Age, which were found in the middle of the Kızılırmak River and belong to the Hattian cultural period, ere associated with the cult of the Sun goddess.

The name Ištanu is the Hittite form of the Hattian name Eštan and refers to the Sun goddess of Arinna. Earlier scholarship understood Ištanu as the name of the male Sun god of the Heavens, but more recent scholarship has held that the name is only used to refer to the Sun goddess of Arinna. Volker Haas (de), however, still distinguishes between a male Ištanu representing the day-star and a female Wurunšemu who is the Sun goddess of Arinna and spends her nights in the underworld.

Istanu (Ištanu; from Hattic Estan, “Sun-god”) was the Hittite and Hattic god of the sun. In Luwian he was known as Tiwaz or Tijaz. He was a god of judgement, and was depicted bearing a winged sun on his crown or head-dress, and a crooked staff.

Týr is a Germanic god associated with law and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as one-handed. Corresponding names in other Germanic languages are Gothic Teiws, Old English Tīw and Old High German Ziu and Cyo, all from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz. The Latinised name is rendered as Tius or Tio and also formally as Mars Thincsus.

In the late Icelandic Eddas, Týr is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda). It is assumed that Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point during the Migration Age, as Odin shares his role as God of war.

The origins of his name and his possible relationship to Tuisto suggest he was once considered the father of the gods and head of the pantheon, since his name is ultimately cognate to that of *Dyeus (cf. Dyaus), the reconstructed chief deity in Indo-European religion.

Distinguishing the various solar deities in the texts is difficult since most are simply written with the Sumerogram dUTU (Solar deity). As a result, the interpretation of the solar deities remains a subject of debate.

Utu (Akkadian rendition of Sumerian dUD 𒀭𒌓 “Sun”, Assyro-Babylonian Shamash “Sun”) is the Sun god in Sumerian mythology, the son of the moon god Nanna and the goddess Ningal, a goddess of reeds in the Sumerian mythology, daughter of Enki and Ningikurga and the consort of the moon god Nanna by whom she bore Utu the sun god, Inanna, and in some texts, Ishkur.

Utu is the god of the sun, justice, application of law, and the lord of truth. He is usually depicted as wearing a horned helmet and carrying a saw-edged weapon not unlike a pruning saw.

It is thought that every day, Utu emerges from a mountain in the east, symbolizing dawn, and travels either via chariot or boat across the Earth, returning to a hole in a mountain in the west, symbolizing sunset.

Every night, Utu descends into the underworld to decide the fate of the dead. He is also depicted as carrying a mace, and standing with one foot on a mountain. Its symbol is “sun rays from the shoulders, and or sun disk or a saw”.

The sun god is only modestly mentioned in Sumerian mythology with one of the notable exceptions being the Epic of Gilgamesh. In the myth, Gilgamesh seeks to establish his name with the assistance of Utu, because of his connection with the cedar mountain.

Gilgamesh and his father, Lugalbanda were kings of the first dynasty of Uruk, a lineage that Jeffrey H. Tigay suggested could be traced back to Utu himself. He further suggested that Lugalbanda’s association with the sun-god in the Old Babylonian version of the epic strengthened “the impression that at one point in the history of the tradition the sun-god was also invoked as an ancestor”.

Aya (or Aja) in Akkadian mythology was a mother goddess, consort of the sun god Shamash. She developed from the Sumerian goddess Sherida, consort of Utu.

Sherida is one of the oldest Mesopotamian gods, attested in inscriptions from pre-Sargonic times, her name (as “Aya”) was a popular personal name during the Ur III period (21st-20th century BCE), making her among the oldest Semitic deities known in the region.

As the Sumerian pantheon formalized, Utu became the primary sun god, and Sherida was syncretized into a subordinate role as an aspect of the sun alongside other less powerful solar deities (c.f. Ninurta) and took on the role of Utu’s consort.

When the Semitic Akkadians moved into Mesopotamia, their pantheon became syncretized to the Sumerian. Inanna to Ishtar, Nanna to Sin, Utu to Shamash, etc. The minor Mesopotamian sun goddess Aya became syncretized into Sherida during this process.

The goddess Aya in this aspect appears to have had wide currency among Semitic peoples, as she is mentioned in god-lists in Ugarit and shows up in personal names in the Bible (Gen 36:24, 2 Sam 3:7, 1 Chr 7:28).

Aya is Akkadian for “dawn”, and by the Akkadian period she was firmly associated with the rising sun and with sexual love[2]:173 and youth. The Babylonians sometimes referred to her as kallatu (the bride), and as such she was known as the wife of Shamash. In fact, she was worshiped as part of a separate-but-attached cult in Shamash’s e-babbar temples in Larsa and Sippar.

By the Neo-Babylonian period at the latest (and possibly much earlier), Shamash and Aya were associated with a practice known as Hasadu, which is loosely translated as a “sacred marriage.”

A room would be set aside with a bed, and on certain occasions the temple statues of Shamash and Aya would be brought together and laid on the bed to ceremonially renew their vows. This ceremony was also practiced by the cults of Marduk with Sarpanitum, Nabu with Tashmetum, and Anu with Antu.

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