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Amurru / Amorite

Asratum – Asratum / Ashratum / Ashratu / Ashirta, also known as Asherah, is the wife of Amurru. She is the mother goddess. The worship of Ashirta was early introduced into Mesopotamia by the Amorites that migrated there. The name in time became pronounced Ishtar in Babylonian and Assyrian, though some forms of Astartu have been found from the time of Esarhaddon. “A Babylonian hymn, rewritten in the Greek period, informs us that in her original home, where her name was Ashrat, and regarded as the ‘goddess of the plain,’ she was the consort of Amurru (Mar-Tu-e) ‘lord of the mountain.’ “The Empire of the Amorites, Albert T. Clay, pg. 173.

“Ashirta offers the most complicated and intricate of all problems in connection with the names of the West Semitic deities, the reason being that her worship was spread throughout the Semitic world, that in certain lands her sex was changed; and that her name appears in so many forms.” The Empire of the Amorites, Albert T. Clay, pg. 171. The later writings of this deity from the Canaanite perspective are in that section. Since there is not much documentation for the Amorite culture, I will not add other cultures documentation to this section. The fuller version is obviously in the Canaanite section.

City Name: Atharoth, Ashtharoth

In an inscription on the walls of the temple of Amun, at Karnak, from a military campaign of Thutmose III, who reigned in Egypt from 1479-1425, there is a listing of cities from the territory of Kenaan. One of which is Ashtiratu. This city is no longer known unless you correlate it with the city of Ashtoreth, which has the same written consonants.

Shamash – a solar goddess in the Amoriy culture. Shapash is the Canaanite solar goddess and plays a large part in the Ugarit texts, especially concerning the Rephaiym and the Baal cycle. Before I came across the Amurru pantheon, while researching the Canaanite, I thought it odd that there were people and place names with Shamash, which is attested in the Assyrian and Babylonian pantheons. In those cultures though, Shamash / Shemesh is male. Why was there so much correlation to the Canaanite pantheons in the people and deity place names of Israel and Judah, yet not Shapash? Why choose a deity farther away and from a much later time period? Then I came across the Balaam inscription, which involves a solar goddess whose first and last letter is shiyn [Sh] – Sh_Sh, but the middle letter, what they believe is an mem [m], is not distinct. In papers on the translation, it is generally rendered as Shemesh, yet the deity is a solar goddess. Then I came across research on the Amorite deities and Shamash/Shemesh is a female solar deity. Due to the Amurru and Ammonite connection of Shamash, I am including associations of Shapash for comparison.

Shapash, as a sun goddess, spends half her time in the underworld, by virtue of her descending there each night. which is where ancients believed the sun went when it set. The following is part of a Ugaritic text praising Shapash for her role in locating and securing the body of Baal, placing it on the back of Anath, who returned it to the land of the living: O Shapsu, may you judge over the heroes, O Shapsu, may you judge over the gods, the divine ones constitute your regular company, look, the dead ones constitute your regular company.

Each night she makes her descent to the underworld and was therefore associated with escorting the dead to their abode. One ritual states that Shapash, the Judge, carries those from above to below and from below to above.

For the oracle aspect, see Shamash in the Akkadian / Sumerian section.

Personal Name: Shamashon [Shimshon/Samson], Shamashriy [pertaining to Shamash],

City: Beyth Shemesh [house of Shamash], Eyn Shamash [eye of Shamash], Iyr Shamash [city of Shamash]

Biblical Passages:

Chabaqquq [Habakkuk] 3:11, “shemesh and yarech stood still in their dwelling. at the light of your arrows they go, at the shining of your gleaming spear.”

Amurru / Uru – Also referred to as Martu in the Sumerian dialect, was the son of the sky god and father of the gods – Anu. He is called the Lord of the Mountain – Bel Shade [Bel Sade], revealing that the Amoriy originally inhabited the mountainous region. Many scholars associate Shade with Shadday, meaning mountain. This gives rise to El Shadday [Bel Shade] as the Mountain One. Though Shadday means breasted one, a later application by a patriarchal culture could associate the male with mountains where before it was breasts from a woman. Another title is Bel Sheri, Lord of the Steppes. Amurru is characterized as a storm god, equal with Adad or Yahweh. According to a Sumerian hymn, Amurru is a warrior god, strong as a lion, using a bow and arrows. Being a storm god, thunder and lightning are also his weapons, giving rise to the title The Thunderer. Amurru is viewed as a shepherd god and is depicted with a shepherd’s staff in his hand, as well as bearing the title Shepherd who treads on the mountains. The curved staff frees from punishment. Viewed as nomadic, Amurru dresses in sheepskins and lives in a tent, having no house and is therefore the patron deity of nomads. He is viewed as a family god by the title God of the father. Later Amurru is often equated with Adad.

Personal Name: Many Amorite names in the Tanak have been altered by the scribal editors with the vowel points. For example, Amraphel [Bereshiyth (Gen.) 14:1] Alef, Mem, Resh, Fe [Pe], Lamed – AMRPL, is written Amurru-ipal, in the Amoriy and means Amurru has answered. Some scholars view Amurru-ipal as Hammurabi, whose name is sometimes spelled as Hammurapi, depending on the cuneiform dialect. Hammurabi claimed descent from Shamshi-Adad, an Amorite and founder of the first northern Mesopotamian empire [Archaeology in Syria, Akkermans and Schwartz, pg. 288.].

City Name: Urushalim [Urusalimmu, Jerusalem] Amurru is appeased or at peace. All the more understandable when you realize that in Yahusha [Joshua] 10:5, Adonitsedeq [Adoni-Zedek] is listed as one of the five Amorite kings and he is king of Urushalim [Jerushalem]. Moriah is a scribal change as well. Bereshiyth [Genesis] 22:2 states, “he [el] said, take now your son, your only son, whom you love, yitschaq [isaac], and go to the land of moriyah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which i will tell you.” Mount Moriah is associated with Jerusalem, the site of the threshing floor of Arunah, which became the site for the temple of Shlomoh [Solomon]. II Dibrey HaYamiym [Chronicles] 3:1, “and shlomoh began to build the beyth YHWH at yerushalaim, on mountain moriah, where he appeared to his father dawiyd [david], in the place that dawiyd had prepared, in the grain floor of ornan [listed in earlier books as arunah] the jebusite.” If you look at other translations of the Bereshiyth 22:2 verse concerning Abraham and Moriah, you see a different word. The Septuagint and Targum say the land of the Amoriy and the Samaritan Pentateuch and Samaritan Targum refer to Hamor, tying it with Shechem, where Mount Gerizim is, the Samaritan holy mountain and site of their temple, prior to it being destroyed. Whether you are looking at this from a Jewish perspective of Moriah, indicating Jerusalem or a Samaritan perspective of Hamor and Shechem, both territories are ancient Amorite centers of worship and both bear the root of the deity name Amurru.

Biblical Passages:

Bereshiyth [Genesis] 14:13, “then a fugitive came and told abram the ibriy. now he was living by the oaks of mamre the amoriy, brother of eshkol and brother of aner, and these were allies with abram.”

BeMidbar [Numbers] 13:29, “amaleq [amalekites] is living in the land of the south, and the chiththiy [hittites], and the yebusiy [jebusites], and the emoriy [amurru / amorites] are living in the hill country, and the kenaaniy [canaanites] are living by the sea, and by the side of the yarden.”

Yechezqel [Ezekiel] 16:3, “and say, so says adonay YHWH to yerushalem, the place of your origin and the place of your birth is of the land of the kenaaniy [canaanite]. your father, the amoriy [amarru, amorite] and your mother, chiththiyth [female suffix with hittite, basically hittitess].”

Dagan / Dagaan / Daganu

Dagan has been covered from various aspects in the Amurru, Canaanite and Syrian / Aramean sections. Please see those for full details. Below is additional information that is specific to the Sea Peoples. Suffice is to say that Dagan was native to the Amurru territories, became Canaanite and when the Canaanites were conquered along the coastline by the Sea Peoples, was adopted by them and became part of their religion. Dagon was listed in the Tanak as a Felishthiym deity with temples there. According to the Commentary on Isaiah by Jerome, 46:1-4, he states that Dagon is the idol of Ashkelon, Gaza and the other cities of the Philistine (Dagon, qui tamen in Hebraico non habetur. Et est idolum Ascalonis, Gazae, et reliquarum urbium Philisthiim.)

Besides the Tanak verses below, another biblical passage that bears mention, because of the Phoenician/Philistine implications, is that of YeshaYahu 46:1, “bel has bowed; nebo stoops; their idols [images, forms] are for the living being, and for the cattle; your things carried are loads; a burden for the weary.” Bel became basically a title of other deities, like god came to be. Baal was also reckoned the same way. The reason I bring this passage up is that in the Septuagint translation of this passage, it has Dagon instead of Nebo. So in that translation it is Baal and Dagon. Now the Hebrew preposition l can be translated “for”, “belonging to”, but it is also “of”. If we translate this passage with the Septuagint Dagon and “of”, it looks like this, “baal has bowed; dagon stoops; their images are of the living being, and of the cattle; your things carried are loads; a burden for the weary.” This is important in a number of ways. First in the second Tanak passage below, I Shmuel, you see an account of the image of Dagon falling to the ground before the ark of covenant, representing YHWH. This account could be likened to “stooping”. There is no account of Nebo doing such. Next, Baal is represented as a bull calf, the son of El, the bull. That is cattle, behemah, which is listed in the YeshaYahu verse. Nebo is never likened to any form of cattle. Dagan and El are likened to be the same deity at times and both are reckoned to be the father of Baal. El is likened as a bull – cattle. One aspect of ancient Hebrew linguistic style is to say the same thing twice, but in two different ways. “Sayce mentions a cylindrical seal of the seventh century B.C., now in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, with the words ‘Baal Dagon’ in Phoenician characters;” – History of the City of Gaza, Martin Meyer, Columbia University Press, New York, 1907, pg. 117. This seal could be an indicator of the later Sea People assimilation of Dagan and the Tanak passage Phoenician/Philistine influence. If we apply this poetic double principle to the verse, the verse is about Dagan only, referring to him as a title Baal and to his name Dagan, stooping and bowing, an image of a living being and cattle, a load and a burden – 4 poetic doubles. So it seems more probable that this Septuagint version of Dagon is more correct, than Nebo.

Biblical Passages:

Shoftiym [Judges] 16:23, “and the rulers of the felishthiym [philistines] gathered to sacrifice a great sacrifice to dagon their elohiym, and to exult. and they said, our elohey has given our enemy shimshon [samson] into our hand.”

I Shmuel [Samuel] 5:1-12, “and the felishthiym took the ark of the elohiym and brought it from ebenezer to ashdod. 2 and the felishthiym took the ark of the elohiym and brought it to beyth dagon, and set it near dagon. 3 and the ashdodiym rose early on the next day. and, look. dagon had fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of YHWH. and they took dagon and put it back in its place. 4 and they rose early in the morning on the next day; and, look. dagon had fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of YHWH, and the head of dagon, and the two palms of its hands, were cut off at the threshold. only the flat part had been left to him. 5 on account of this the kohaniy of dagon, and all those coming into the beyth dagon, do not step on the threshold of dagon in ashdod until this day. 6 and the hand of YHWH was heavy on the men of ashdod. and he wasted them, and struck them with hemorrhoids, ashdod and its borders. 7 and the men of ashdod saw that it was so, and said, the ark of the elohey of yisrael will not remain with us, for his hand has been hard on us, and on our elohey dagon. 8 and they sent and gathered all the rulers of the felishthiym to them, and said, what will we do with the ark of the elohey of yisrael? and they said, let the ark of the elohey of yisrael go around to gath. and they brought around the ark of the elohey of yisrael. 9 and it happened after they had brought it around, the hand of YHWH was against the city with a very great tumult. and he struck the men of the city, from the least to the greatest; and swellings broke forth in them. 10 and they sent the ark of the elohiym around to eqron. and it happened as the ark of the elohiym came into eqron, the eqroniym cried out, saying, they have brought around the ark of the elohey of yisrael to me to cause me and my people to die. 11 and they sent and gathered all the rulers of the felishthiym, and said, send away the ark of the elohey of yisrael, and let it return to its place, and it may not cause me and my people to die. for there had been a tumult of moth throughout all the city. the hand of the elohiym had been very heavy there. 12 and the men who had not died were stricken with swellings. and the cry of the city went up to the heavens.”

The Septuagint version of verse 4 has, “and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off each before the threshold, and both the wrists of his hands had fallen on the floor of the porch; only the stump of Dagon was left.” Clearly not a fish body as later Rabbis would like people to believe.

TsefanYahu [Zephaniah] 1:9, “and i will punish all those who leap above the threshold in that day, who fill the house of their masters with wealth gained by violence and deceit.” This passage is another reference to the practice of not stepping or leaping over the threshold of the temple of Dagan, since the whole first chapter and half of TsefanYahu is about the Felishthiym [Philistines] and their influence on Yahudah. In the Targums version of this verse, it states, “All who walk in the way of the Philistines.”

The temple of Dagan is also attested to in the Jewish book of I Maccabees 10:83-87, “The cavalry, which by now was scattered all over the battlefield, fled to Azotus, where they took refuge in the temple of Dagon, their god.84 But Jonathan set fire to the city and to the temple of Dagon, burning to death all those who had taken refuge there. Then he set fire to the surrounding towns and looted them.85 That day about 8,000 were either killed in the battle or burned to death.86 Jonathan left and set up camp at Ascalon, where the people of the city came out to welcome him with great honors.87 Jonathan and his men returned to Jerusalem with large quantities of loot.”

Adonis – According to Kleins A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language, adon means lord, master, possessor, is of Phoenician origin, from Adonis. Adonis is viewed as the dying and reviving god of fertility and vegetation, much as Baal is to the Canaanites and Thammuz to Mesopotamia. As to the origins of Adonis, there is much confusion.

Even in the Biblical texts, by translators, there is some confusion as to who is being represented. The Vulgate [Latin] version of Yechezqel [Ezekiel] 8:14 has Adonis where the Greek Septuagint and the Hebrew have Tammuz. Latin – “et introduxit me per ostium portae domus Domini quod respiciebat ad aquilonem et ecce ibi mulieres sedebant plangentes Adonidem” “and he brought me to the opening of the gate of the beyth of YHWH, toward the north. and, look, women were sitting there weeping for tammuz.”

Personal Name: Adonay Bazaq [lord of lightning flash] , Adonay Tsedeq [lord of righteousness], Adoniram [lord exalted]
Baal Chammon / Baal Hammon – While the meaning of Chammon/Hammon is uncertain, with some scholars associating it with the sun pillars and some with a brazier for burning, the certainty is not supported with any texts or inscriptions at this time. The possibility of Hammon being associated with the Mountain range Amanus, where El resided is very good. Baal Hammon is represented as the solar disk, over the Tanit lunar symbol. Images are in the Tanit section below. Baal Hammon and Tanit were the Carthaginian patron deities. As explained earlier in the Melek section dealing with the tophets, there are dedicatory inscriptions on the stelae and urns to Baal Hammon and Tanit.

Stager (see reference below in Tanit) also writes, “Tanit was the leading goddess of Carthage; her consort was Baal Hammon, who was probably the Phoenician equivalent of the patriarch of the Canaanite pantheon, El. El appears frequently in the Hebrew Bible as a general term for God, including the Israelite deity.” Just as el is a general term, so is baal, for master. Baal, as a deity, never resided on Mt. Hammon [Amanus]. He resided on Mt. Tsafon/Tsaphon. El resided on Amanus/Hammon. Stager also writes, “During his brief reign, Elagabalus transported his favorite deity’s cult image, a conical ‘black stone’ from Syria, and brought the statue and dowry of the Phoenician goddess Tanit from Carthage. Both were enshrined on the Palantine, and as the divine couple they reigned as the leading deities of Rome. And, of course, therein lies the clue to solving the mystery of the identity of Elagabal; he was none other that Tanit’s spouse in Carthage, the well-known Phoenician (and Syrian) deity Baal Hamon, or ‘Lord of the Mt. Amanus.’ Actually his Latin name Elagabal disguises another valuable clue to his identity, for it is the Latinized form of the Semitic El Jebel, which means ‘El of the mountain.’ “- Ashkelon Discovered, From Canaanites and Philistines to Romans and Moslems, Lawrence E. Stager, pg. 49. Elagabalus (203-222), son of Julia Soaemias (Syrian) and Sextus Varius Marcellus, became the Roman emperor when he was 14 yrs old. He was the priest of El Gabal at Emesa, in Syria. The Syrian is Ilah hag Gabal, God of the Hill/Mountain.

City: Chammon [sun pillar/brazier in Phoenician, occurs frequently with ElChamman, BaalChamman and EbedChamman], Baal Chammon [master of sun pillar?]

Syrian/Aramean

Dagan / Dagaan / Daganu – An Amorite/Canaanite/Ugaritic/Syrian/Mesopotamian god of fertility. Some scholars believe that Dagan is another name for El. The belief that his name means fish because of the Felishthiym [Philistine] association with the sea is a stretch. The fact that the Semitic word for grain is dagan is more likely. Some scholars question which came first. Did grain come to be called by the deity that he was over or the other way around? Another possible confirmation of that name meaning grain/corn is from an account handed down over many years by several authors. The supposed original author is Sanchuniathon – a Phoenician, who then is translated by Philo of Byblos, who then is copied by Eusebius. The following are the two quotes involving Dagon and grain. “…Dagon, which signifies Siton (grain/corn in Greek)…” and, “And Dagon, after he had found out bread-corn, and the plough, was called Zeus Arotrius.” The idea that his name is associated with fish has no basis in any Semitic language. It is a rabbinic tradition that Dagon means fish.

In the book, Time at Emar by, Daniel Fleming, the ritual texts dealing with the Zukru Festival have a number of names that bear witness to the fertility aspect of Dagan: Dagan, Lord of the Seed, Dagan, Lord of the Offspring, Dagan Lord of the Firstborn, Dagan, and Lord of Creation. Fleming writes in note 178, pg 90, that the Aleppo citadel stone has an inscription stating Dagan as the Father of Gods. He also sites in the same note that a Mari text A. 1258+ :9 calls Dagan, “the great mountain, father of the gods.” On pg. 91 he states, “Even under the zukru festival’s royal sponsorship, Dagan is not celebrated as the king of the gods but as their parent.” This father of the gods aspect ties in with the fact that the Emar zukru text mention the gods as amounting to 70, just as the number of the offspring of El and Asherah at Ugarit.

The name Dagan is frequently a theophoric element in Amorite names from numerous kingdoms. On Hammurabi’s Code, Hammurabi writes that he is a warrior of Dagan. Dagan first appears in 2500 BCE at Mari, in 2300 BCE at Ebla and 1300 BCE at Ugarit. Hammurapi [the Amorite spelling, Hammurabi is the Akkadian], an Amorite, gives credit for the subjugation of the settlements along the Euphrates River to Dagan, his creator. A number of personal names with Dagan as the theophoric element appear in the texts from Mari, an Amorite center. There were major temples to Dagan at four major Amorite cities: Mari, Ebla, Emar and Ugarit. Dagan was the chief god of the Ebla pantheon, also having one of the four gates named for him. He was also the chief deity of Emar where a major festival, similar to Pesach was performed. The worship of Dagan spread from the east westward, to Syria and through Canaan. At the time of the Ugaritic texts, Dagan was new to the scene and does not appear prominently in their texts. He was adopted by the Felishthiym [Philistines] and was the patron deity of the city of Ashdod.

City Name: Beyth Dagon [House of Dagon]

Biblical Passages:

Shoftiym [Judges] 16:23, “and the rulers of the felishthiym [philistines] gathered to sacrifice a great sacrifice to dagon their elohiym, and to exult. and they said, our elohey has given our enemy shimshon [samson] into our hand.”

I Shmuel [Samuel] 5:1-12, “and the felishthiym took the ark of the elohiym and brought it from ebenezer to ashdod. 2 and the felishthiym took the ark of the elohiym and brought it to beyth dagon, and set it near dagon. 3 and the ashdodiym rose early on the next day. and, look. dagon had fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of YHWH. and they took dagon and put it back in its place. 4 and they rose early in the morning on the next day; and, look. dagon had fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of YHWH, and the head of dagon, and the two palms of its hands, were cut off at the threshold. only the flat part had been left to him. 5 on account of this the kohaniy of dagon, and all those coming into the beyth dagon, do not step on the threshold of dagon in ashdod until this day. 6 and the hand of YHWH was heavy on the men of ashdod. and he wasted them, and struck them with hemorrhoids, ashdod and its borders. 7 and the men of ashdod saw that it was so, and said, the ark of the elohey of yisrael will not remain with us, for his hand has been hard on us, and on our elohey dagon. 8 and they sent and gathered all the rulers of the felishthiym to them, and said, what will we do with the ark of the elohey of yisrael? and they said, let the ark of the elohey of yisrael go around to gath. and they brought around the ark of the elohey of yisrael. 9 and it happened after they had brought it around, the hand of YHWH was against the city with a very great tumult. and he struck the men of the city, from the least to the greatest; and swellings broke forth in them. 10 and they sent the ark of the elohiym around to eqron. and it happened as the ark of the elohiym came into eqron, the eqroniym cried out, saying, they have brought around the ark of the elohey of yisrael to me to cause me and my people to die. 11 and they sent and gathered all the rulers of the felishthiym, and said, send away the ark of the elohey of yisrael, and let it return to its place, and it may not cause me and my people to die. for there had been a tumult of moth throughout all the city. the hand of the elohiym had been very heavy there. 12 and the men who had not died were stricken with swellings. and the cry of the city went up to the heavens.”

Hoshea 7:14, “and they have not cried to me with their heart, when they howled on their beds. they slash themselves for dagan and thiyrosh; they turn against me. ” Thiyrosh in the Ugarit is Tirsu, the god/goddess of wine, possibly related to the Akkadian beer wine goddess Siras.

Hoshea 9:1, “yisrael, do not rejoice for joy, like the peoples. for you have whored away from your elohey. you have loved the whores wage on all threshing floors of dagan.”

Hadad / Adad– ccd a storm god, whose name means thunderer. Originally Hadad was an Amorite, then Syrian god called Addu/Haddu in the cuneiform text. He was a chief deity. Later he was known as Rimmon, a god of thunder and storm. Some texts say he is the son of Dagon. Also known as Baal Hadad.

Ug. V. 3.1-4, “Baal sits enthroned, his mountain is like a throne; Haddu the Shepherd; like the flood. In the midst of his mountain, divine Sapan, in the midst of the mount of his victory, seven bolts of lightning he hurls, eight store-houses of thunder. A shaft of lightning he wields in his right hand.”

Personal Name: Hadadezer [Hadad is helper], Hadad

Biblical Passages:

ZekarYahu [Zechariah] 12:11, “in that day the mourning in yerushalaim will be great, like the mourning of hadad rimmon [like the weeping for baal or tammuz], in the valley of megiddon.”

Rimmon – penx also known as Adad Rammon, he was a god of storm and lightning. He is identified with Hadad, the Canaanite/Syrian god of storms.

Personal Name: Tobrimmon [good Rimmon – pomegranate]

City: Rimmon, Eyn Rimmon [eye of Rimmon], Rimmon Ferets/Perets [Rimmon separate]

Biblical Passages:

ZekarYahu [Zechariah] 12:11, “in that day the mourning in yerushalaim will be great, like the mourning of hadad rimmon [like the weeping for baal or tammuz], in the valley of megiddon.”

Baal Gad – cb lra master of luck or fortune.

City :Baal Gad

Biblical Passages:

Yahusha [Joshua] 11:17, “from mountain hachalaq, that goes up to seiyr, even to baal gad in the valley of lebanon, below mountain chermon. and he took all their kings, and struck them, and killed them.”

Bel – la is a title meaning Lord, similar to Baal and is not a separate deity. The Babylonians gave the title Bel to Marduk and he was known as Bel-Marduk. Feminine form is Belit.

Personal Name: Beletshatsar [Belit protect the king]

Biblical Passages:

YeshaYahu [Isaiah] 46:1, “bel has bowed; nebo stoops; their idols are of the living being, and of the cattle; your things carried are loads; a burden for the weary.”

YirmeYahu [Jeremiah] 50:2, “declare among the goyim, and make them hear, and lift up a banner. make them hear, do not hide it; say, babel is captured, bel is put to shame, merodak is broken in pieces, her images are put to shame, her idols are broken in pieces.”

YirmeYahu 51:44, “and i will punish bel in babel, and i will bring forth out of his mouth that which he has swallowed up. and the goyim will not flow together any more to him; the wall of babel will fall.”

Ashshur – xy` / xey` Also written Assur [pronounced Ashur] / Ashur became the chief, creator deity of the old Assyrian patriarchal pantheon, later associated with Marduk when the Babylonian empire took over the Assyrian. He was the patron deity of Assyria, specifically the town Assur, which was a holy site in ancient times, bearing his name. Ashshur was given the characteristics of the older Akkadian Ellil and Sumerian deity Enlil, Lord of Wind, god of breath, wind and storms, the head of the ancient pantheon, who stole the Tablets of Destiny. Ashshur is represented as a dragon slayer and warrior. He is lord of the four cardinal points and is also represented as the god of four faces, one of a bull, an eagle, a lion and a man. His symbols are the winged solar disk and the bow and arrow.

Personal Name: Ashshurchaddon [Ashshur-aha-iddina – Ashshur has given a brother to me – Esarhaddon], Ashurbanipal [Ashshur creator of an heir – Ashshur-bani-apli, poorly written in the Hebrew text as Osnapper in the book of Ezra]

City: TelAshshur [mound,heap, sometimes hill of Ashshur – steps, success]

Biblical Passages:

YeshaYahu [Isaiah] 14:25, “to break ashshur in my land, and trample him on my mountains. then his yoke will depart from them, and his burden will depart from his shoulders.”

YeshaYahu 30:31-33, “for through the voice of YHWH, ashshur will be crushed, the rod with which he strikes. 32 and every passage of the appointed staff that YHWH causes to rest on him will be with timbrels and with harps. and in brandishing battles he fights with her. 33 for topheth is ordained from yesterday. also, it is prepared for the king; he deepened; he widened its pyre; he makes great with fire and wood. the breath of YHWH burns in it like a torrent of brimstone.”

YeshaYahu 31:8, “then ashshur will fall by a sword, not of man; yes, a sword, not of man, will devour him. for he will flee from the sword, and his young men will become forced labor. ”

Marduk – kcxn Marduk [ Also called Bel Marduk] became the King of Gods, supreme, in the late Babylonian pantheon. He is represented as the god of storm and lighting, as well as the sun, therefore the fertility god and patron god of Babel. His name in Akkadian is Amar Utu, which means calf of the storm. Many scholars believe that Amar Utu / Marduk originated elsewhere and was adopted by the Mesopotamian groups. This is also believed by Albert Clay, who states that Amar Utu is the Amorite god Amurru / Uru. When the Amorites ruled in that territory, many of their deities were adopted and assimilated.

There is a relief that deals with a legend of Marduk slaying the dragon, which has 7 heads, just as the Ugaritic account of Baal and Mot, who was also portrayed as a dragon with 7 heads. This slaying of the dragon is the patriarchal portrayal of the Sumerian primordial mother goddess Tiamat, who gave birth to all the gods and goddesses and was later vilified as a dragon. Tiamat was the creator and possessor of the Mes – Tablets of Destiny (Civilizations), which she wore around her neck. After killing the Mother goddess, Marduk steals the Mes from Tiamat’s body and uses them to build his empire.

The characteristics of Marduk were assimilated from the Assyrian Ashshur and the preceding Akkadian and Sumerian Enlil.

Personal Name: Marduk Baladan [Marduk has given a son, Sumerian –Marduk-abal-iddina], Mardakiy [Mordecai]

Biblical Passages:

YirmeYahu [Jeremiah] 50:2, “declare among the goyim, and make them hear, and lift up a banner. make them hear, do not hide it; say, babel is captured, bel is put to shame, merodak is broken in pieces, her images are put to shame, her idols are broken in pieces.”

Nabu / Nebo – eap The Babylonian Nabu is the son of Marduk. Originally Nabu was introduced by the Amorites when they made inroads into what became the Babylonian territory. In the Akkadian he is called Nabium. Nabu is the god of wisdom, intelligence and justice and therefore presides over writers and scribes, who viewed Nabu as their patron deity. Prior to the patriarchal subjugation and re-mything, these characteristics were attributed to the Sumerian goddess Nidaba, also called Nanibgal and Nisaba. She is credited with inventing the alphabet, clay tablets, the art of writing and learning. She appears on the scene earlier than any of the male deities that replaced her. Nabu was the messenger of Bel –Marduk, his father. In the Akkadian, nabu means to call, announce, proclaim, the same as it does in the Hebrew naba, Arabic nabaa. This is the same root for the Hebrew word for prophet – nabiy/nebiy. “As scribe, Nabu had access to secrets that others could not read, and so could control religious rites and was regarded as especially wise,…He wrote down the decisions of the gods and was the one who kept accounts, reckoning credit and debit, titled Nabu ‘of accounts’ as a manifestation of Marduk.” Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, pg. 608. Nabu had a tablet of destinies, recording the names of those that god favored or was pleased with, which is similar to the concepts in Shemoth [Exodus] 32:32, “but now, if you will, forgive their sin and if not, please blot me out from your book which you have written.”; Thehillah [Psalm] 69:28, “blot them out from the book of life; and let them not be written with the tsaddiyqiym [upright ones].”; and 139:15,16, “my bones were not hidden from you when i was made in secret; when i was woven in the depths of the earth. 16 your eyes saw my embryo; and in your book all my members were written the days they were formed, and not one was yet among them.” This theme is carried into the New Testament book of Revelations, the Book of Life.

Nabu is represented with a winged dragon that he rides on, also with tools of engraving [cuneiform writing].

Nabu depicted in the ancient position of the priesthood with clasped hands.

Personal Name: Nabushazban [Nabu delivers me, Nabu-shezib-anni], Nabusharsikiym [Nabu Nabu-Sharrussu-ukin], Nabuzaradan [Nabu has given seed, Nabu-zer-iddin], Samgar Nabu [be gracious Nabu, Sumgir Nabu], Nabukadnetser [Nabu protect the border, Nabu-kudurri-usur]

Biblical Passages:

YeshaYahu [Isaiah] 46:1,2, “bel has bowed; nebo stoops; their idols are for the beast, and for the cattle; your things carried are loads; a burden for the weary. 2 they stoop; they bow together; they are not able to deliver the burden; and their soul has gone into captivity.” Please see Dagan, in the Canaanite section, for the Septuagint version of this passage.

Shamash / Shemesh – yny is the sun god and was possibly the deity of fire and prophecy by the name Shahan. Shamash is the son of Sin, the god of the moon, a god of prophecy, the giver and interpreter of oracles. His sister is Ishtar. “Yet again, keeping in mind the 14/15th is the night/day of the full moon and given the relationship that in other texts the gtrm have with the astral deities sps, yrh and kkbm [Shamash (sun), Yarich (moon), Kokabim (stars)] , this epithet could refer to them in the context of divination. In this respect the nature of Sapsu / Samas as an oracle god is well known throughout the ancient Near Eastern literature.” – Canaanite Religion According to Liturgical Texts of Ugarit, Gregorio Del Olmo Lete, pg. 242.

Shamash is also the lord of the shades of the dead, whose title is sar etemmi, bel etemmi and bel miti – prince of the dead ones, master / lord of the dead ones, lord of the dead. Shamash is able to bring up a dead one from the dark underworld. He is also viewed as the Watcher who is in charge of the dead gods in the underworld. Shamash has an important role in making sure that the libations and offerings reach the deceased. The libations were crucial to the deceased. One such inscription states that without Shamash the gods of the underworld do not receive the funerary offerings…to curse the dead of an enemy – may Shamash not allow his spirit to receive cold water down below and a new king shows the funerary gifts for his father to Shamash first.

Personal Name: Shamashon [Shimshon/Samson], Shamashriy [pertaining to Shamash],

City: Beyth Shemesh [house of Shamash], Eyn Shamash [eye of Shamash], Iyr Shamash [city of Shamash]

Biblical Passages:

Thehillah [Psalm] 148:1-3, “praise YHWH. praise YHWH from the heavens; praise him in the heights. 2 praise him, all his malakay [messengers]; praise him, all his armies [tsabaoth]. 3 praise him shemesh [sun] and yarech [moon]; praise him, all you kokabiy [stars] of light.” Please see Astral Cult section for further information.

YirmeYahu [Jeremiah] 8:1,2, “at that time, declares YHWH, they will bring out the bones of the kings of yahudah, and the bones of its rulers, and the bones of the kohaniym [priests], and the bones of the nebiyiym [prophets], and the bones of those living in yerushalaim, out of their graves. 2 and they will spread them before shemesh and before yarech and all the armies of the heavens whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshiped. they will not be gathered or buried; they will be dung on the face of the ground.”

Chabaqquq [Habakkuk] 3:11, “shemesh and yarech stood still in their dwelling. at the light of your arrows they go, at the shining of your gleaming spear.”

Tammuz – fenz Tammuz was the later name of the 3rd millennium Sumerian god Dumuzi. Tammuz is the Aramaic of the Akkadian Tammuzi. The Sumerian Dumuzi [Dumu zid] means the good son or the right son. In the Sumerian tradition, Dumuzi is represented as a shepherd, herdsman originally. “Dumuzi’s true nature was always that of the shepherd, best illustrated in the contest between Dumuzi and Enkimdu, in which Dumuzi competes with his animal products against Enkimdu, the farmer, who brings his farm products, in the competition to win the goddess Inanna’s favours as husband.” Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, pg. 829.

It is believed that Dumuzi was not originally a god, but a human being that came to be deified, as a number of deities originally were. Early second millennium BCE Sumerian King List, lists two rulers by the name of Dumuzi, one of which was called, “Dumuzi, the Shepherd.” This is a good example of the ruler/king dying and becoming deified, as covered in the Ancestor Cult/Cult of the Dead section. Later, the characteristics of Damu, a vegetation deity, were assimilated to Dumuzi, becoming associated with vegetation.

“The god Dumuzi evolved into the most complicated, multi-faceted deity in the Mesopotamian pantheon, becoming a syncretic figure embodying, as Jacobsen observes, the power behind the date-palm (Amausumgalanna), the power of the milk (Dumuzi the shepherd), and the power of the life-giving waters entering the tree sap (Damu). Dumuzi/Tammuz was the power in the barley seeds planted in the fall, which ultimately would manifest itself in the bountiful harvest of the spring. Thus from the autumn through the first months of spring, Dumuzi – the grain – was growing and prospering. Yet by summer, the fourth month, the grain had been cut down and only the stubble remained – Dumuzi was spent. Thus the summer was the occasion to mourn for the dead Dumuzi, for the power in the seeds and grain which was no more. Jacobsen observes ‘His [Dumuzi’s] death, accordingly, is when the grain is cut at harvest And then brewed into beer which goes into storage underground; that is to say, into the netherworld.’ “ The Cultic Calendar of the Ancient Near East, Mark Cohen, pg. 263.

After Dumuzi is bound and dragged to the netherworld in the place of his wife Inanna, one account states that his loyal sister, Gestinanna [Gestinanna of the vine] agrees to share her brothers fate, with the two of them alternating six months each in the netherworld. Dumuzi represents the grain, which became beer and his sister, Gestinanna, the wine. This account is very similar to a verse in the Biblical Hoshea. Hoshea 7:14, “and they have not cried to me with their heart, when they howled on their beds. they slash themselves for dagan and thiyrosh; they turn against me. ” Thiyrosh in the Ugarit is Tirsu, the god/goddess of wine, possibly related to the Akkadian beer wine goddess Siras. Most translators of this verse have grain and wine in the place of the deities names. Why would people slash themselves for grain and wine? Yet accounts prove that slashing and mourning were part of the religious practices for Dagon / Baal / Dumuzi / Tammuz, all of which were associated with grain, which was used in the beer production.

“In the early second millennium Mari the fourth month marked the occasion for a cult of Dumuzi which included female mourners. R. Kutscher cites further first millennium evidence as to the annual observance of the festival of Dumuzi: (1) Gilgames VI 46-47: ‘for Dumuzi, the beloved of your youth, you decreed an annual wailing 9ana satti bitakka)’; (2) an incantation against seizure by demons to be performed: ‘in the month Dumuzi when Istar made the people of the land wail over Dumuzi, her beloved.’ “

Tammuz, like Baal of the Canaanites, is the dying/rising vegetation deity. He is the brother/lover of Ishtar, much in the same way that Dumuzi and Inanna were of the Sumerians. He also was taken to the underworld and the land mourned when he was gone, which prompted the ritual of the weeping for Tammuz. Ishtar also rescues Tammuz, in the same way the sister/lover Anat did for Baal of the Canaanites. After the harvest, of which he was god of, he would die in winter and was resurrected in the spring.

In the Babylonian calendar, they named one of their summer [roughly July: mid-summer] months for this deity. The Hebrews, in exile, adopted the Babylonian month name. Tammuz is the fourth month of the religious calendar, which begins in spring and the 10th month of the civil calendar, which begins in the fall. In the Arabic calendar, Tammuz is the month of July.

Biblical Passages:

Yechezqel [Ezekiel] 8:13,14, “and he said to me, you turn back, you will see greater abominations which they are doing. 14 and he brought me to the opening of the gate of the beyth of YHWH, toward the north. and, look, women were sitting there weeping for tammuz.”

Nergal / Nirgalu – lbxp Nergal is the Babylonian god of the underworld, lord of fires and judge of the dead, the god of war and pestilence. He is associated with the sun, Shammash, in the capacity of noontime sun and summer solstice, high heat times, which is representative of the epithet, the burner. He was also viewed as the god of war in earlier myths. He is represented with a sword and the head of a lion, also shown as a winged lion. Ninurta is the older Akkadian/Sumerian deity, that came to be associated with Nergal in the late Babylonian empire.

Personal Name: Nergal Sharetser [Nergal protect the king]

Biblical Passages:

II Melekiym [Kings] 17:30, “and the men of babel made sukkoth-benoth; and the men of kuth [kuthah] made nergal; and the men of chamath made ashiyma;”

Meni / Menu – ipn Babylonian/Assyrian goddess of fate and fortune. The Akkadian root manu means to count, number, assign. The mina, a unit of weight and money, was borrowed from the Akkadian and is from the same root of manu. This is where the phrase in the book of Daniel, 5th chapter, originates, 5:25-28, “and this is the writing that was written, mina, mina, theqel, and parsiyn [mene, mene, skekel, parsin]. 26 this is the meaning of the thing, mina, eloha has numbered [menah] your kingdom and finished it. 27 theqel [borrowed from the aramaic for weigh, balance – shekel], you are weighed in the balances and found lacking. 28 peras [half mina] your kingdom is divided and given to the maday [medes] and paras [persians].”

Pre-Islam also attests to this goddess, Manah [Manat], the personification of fate and destiny, in the Arabic culture. She was depicted as an old woman. The Arabic maniyya means destiny, from the Arabic root mana – assigned, appointed. The worship of Manat is associated with Al Lat and Al Uzzah, considered sisters, part of pre-Islams history. Muhammad could not eradicate their worship and assimilated it into Islam, calling the three goddesses the daughters of Allah in the Quran. Later these verses, as well as others, were removed and included in what was called the Satanic Verses – Sura 53:19-23

Biblical Passages:

YeshaYahu [Isaiah] 65:11, “but you are those who forsake YHWH, who forget my holy mountain; who array a table for gad, and who fill mixed wine for meni. ” This verse clearly deals with the abandonment of seeking after YHWH for direction, instead they make offerings to Gad [Canaanite/Syrian god of luck/fortune] and Meni [Mesopotamian goddess of fate and fortune].

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Archaeology of Syria, Peter Akkermans and Glenn Schwartz, Cambridge University Press, England, 2003

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Museum, Philadelphia, 1997

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Kathryn QannaYahu

Asherah was first the wife of the creator-god named El. Later Baal acquired her as his wife. The myths that were developed concerning these deities held close parallels to the events of nature that bring the rains to the Canaanite lands. Asherah is identified as the mother of gods and is the divine nurturer of the pantheon. Astarte, on the other hand, seems to be more closely identified with flocks and herds than the overall fertility of the region.

What is known of the mythology from Ugarit centers on how Baal supplanted El as the supreme god of the pantheon. In the course of his conquests, he also overthrew two other gods: Yamm, Prince of the Sea, and Mot, a deity representing death. El, a name meaning �god� that is found almost universally in Semitic cultures, was regarded as a personal god rather than some type of divine force. He is identified in the texts as the creator of the universe; however, despite being a personal god, he was seen as remote from creation. Asherah, as his designated wife, was called �the Mother of the Gods� and was said to have borne seventy sons. With the apparent exception of Baal, whose parentage is uncertain, all gods of the Ugarit myths were born to El and Asherah. (Eliade, History150-1). Although El had two wives, Anath in addition to Asherah, it was Asherah alone who nursed the newly born gods (Eliade, History151; Grimal 87).

Baal is identified both as a son of El and as �Son of Dagan.� Although a god named Dagan who was affiliated with grain was known in the Upper and Middle Euphrates regions, there is no mention of a deity named Dagan in the Ugarit texts (Eliade, History152). According to the myths, Baal seized the throne of El with a surprise attack in the palace of El on Mount Sapan. Baal then claimed Asherah and Anath as his wives. Yamm formed an alliance with his father, El, and attempted to drive Baal from the throne. However, Baal defeated Yamm, who had taken the form of a sea dwelling dragon. After Baal�s victory, Anath, the other wife of El who had become Baal�s wife, hosted a banquet for Baal and then fell into a murderous rage. It was Baal who deterred her from her destructive ways (Eliade, History 152-5).

With his place on the throne secure, Baal desired a palace that would befit his status as chief of the gods. Through Asherah, Baal presented his request to El. El agreed to the request and the palace for Baal was built. After construction was complete, Mot, the deity personifying death, requested Baal to visit him. Baal mated with a cow before he descended to Mot and the cow bore him a son. The exact means are not known from the texts, but it is clear that Baal either submitted to or was conquered by Mot . Upon hearing the news of Baal�s apparent demise, El mourned the loss and instructed Asherah to seek a successor for Baal. Anath, on the other hand, sought out the body of Baal. When she found Mot, she cut him open. El then dreamt that Baal was alive again. Seven years later, Mot returned and Baal reappeared. The two began their combat again which ended with Mot�s surrender to Baal as the supreme deity (Eliade, History 156-8).

 

“plain” (13:10). The Hebrew word for “plain” in every context dealing with Sodom and Gomorrah is kikkar. This word is interesting because its basic meaning has nothing at all to do with geography. In fact, of the 68 times that the term is used in the Old Testament, it is only applied within a geographical context in thirteen instances.11

Of those thirteen, seven of them are found in Genesis in relationship to Sodom and Gomorrah where it is translated “plain.” The remaining usages of kikkar reveal the real sense of the term: 45+ times it is used to designate a “talent” of silver, gold, iron, or lead; seven times it is translated “loaf” as in “loaf of bread.” The root meaning of kikkar is “disk” or a “circular, flat disk.”12

Thus, a talent of silver or any other metal is a round, flat disk of metal used as a medium of exchange.13

Likewise, loaves of bread in antiquity were usually flat and disk-shaped.14

This meaning holds true throughout the Semitic cognates (it even carries the meaning of “circle” in modern Arabic).15

Therefore, as a geographical semantic referent in the context of “the plain of the Jordan” and “the cities of the plain,” there is no doubt that the very use of the word kikkar denotes a (relatively) flat, circular, disk-shaped region. If the nature of the area being described were something other than a “circular plain,” another word would have been selected. There are several other common Hebrew words for valley, vale or region.16

Scholars who translate kikkar as “valley” or merely “region” have completely missed the point of the word.17

It is quite clear that when we search for a geographical area upon which sit the Cities of the Plain, we are looking for a region that is observably circular and disk-like.

Gelb, Oppenheim, and Reiner, The Assyrian Dictionary vol. 8 (Chicago: Oriental Institute, 1971) 49-50. The equivalent of
Heb. kikkar in Ugaritic is kkr/kakkar, meaning “metal disk” (“talent”); see C.H. Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook, Revised Reprint
(Roma: Editrice Pontificio Instituto Biblico, 1998) 419. Even Egyptian kerker means “to circle, to mark out a circle with a
stick” and “talent” (a disk of metal); see E.A.W. Budge, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary vol. 2 (New York: Dover,
1920/1978) 696.

16 Common Hebrew words such biqah, ‘emeq, gey’, nakhal, ‘arabah, ‘elon, mishor and shephelah, for example, all have a wide
range of meanings having to do with low places, topographical depressions, low-lying plains, cleft valleys, and wadis. But
this is not true of kikkar which, when used geographically, refers only to a circular area resembling a talent (metal disk) or a
round, flat loaf of bread. And kikkar is absolutely consistent in retaining its meaning of “flat circle” throughout all its known
uses among the Semitic cognates.

17 Harrison, “Cities of the Valley” 704. Harrison erroneously translates Heb. ‘are hakikkar as “cities of the valley,” in spite of
the fact that he correctly describes kikkar as “actually the old Canaanite term for ‘circle’…” But from that point he proceeds
into a completely illogical meandering and ends up concluding (for no real reason at all!) that “modern scholarship locates
[the Cities of the Valley] under the waters of the southern end of the Dead Sea.” Of course, when you look at the bibliography
for his entry, it is dominated by two prominent names: W.F. Albright and G.E. Wright who championed that hypothesis. The
fact of the matter is that kikkar never means “valley,” not in Hebrew, not in any of the Semitic cognates (kakkaru/kkr), not
even in Egyptian (kerkar).

18 Through the years I have spent a good deal of time in the region of the Lower Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea, and I have
made two visits to the area in the year of this writing (2002). When you stand on Mount Nebo, for example, and look toward
the Jordan and the northern end of the Dead Sea, the view of the circular plain (kikkar) is quite dramatic. The disk-like
character of the area immediately north of and touching the Dead Sea is especially distinct when looking at a satellite
photograph of the area; see the monumental geographical work by R. Cleave, The Holy Land Satellite Atlas vol. 2 (Nicosia,
Cyprus: Rohr Productions, 1999) 126-127, 130-131, 140. My good friend Richard Cleave has (admittedly) depended upon
traditional sources for his location of Zoar and his discussion of the Cities of the Plain, but at least has resisted putting Sodom
and Gomorrah on his maps of the southeastern Dead Sea region. By using both overhead and oblique lines of sight, he has
provided the most stunning collection of views of the Lower Jordan/Dead Sea region available (his whole two-volume Atlas
is superlative), providing a truly Divine geographical perspective of the kikkar. And from that Divine aerial perspective,
presented so wonderfully by Cleave, one can clearly see why God inspired the biblical writers to select kikkar as the
descriptive term for the disk-shaped plain of the southern Jordan Valley.

“well watered” (13:10). The Hebrew word for “well watered” is mashqeh. It is also the word
for “cupbearer” and “drink.”20 The idea is clear enough. The plain (kikkar) of the Jordan was
blessed with abundant sources of water including the Jordan River itself, numerous perennial
springs, and many major wadis through which flowed the seasonal runoff from both the
Cisjordan and Transjordan highlands. All these water sources are still evident today, particularly
in the Transjordan portion of the Kikkar.21

“like the garden of the Yahweh” (13:10). The metaphorical reference here is obviously to the
Garden of Eden, which was also well watered (see Genesis 2:10ff) by a river—seemingly springfed—
that subsequently separated into multiple channels. There are multiple springs in the Kikkar
area which flow down from the surrounding hills and wadis.

steven collins

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