Yahweh was the national god of the Iron Age kingdoms of Israel and Judah. His exact origins are disputed, although they reach back to the early Iron Age and the Late Bronze: his name may have begun as an epithet of El, head of the Bronze Age Canaanite pantheon, but the earliest plausible mentions of Yahweh are in Egyptian texts that refer to a similar-sounding place name associated with the Shasu nomads of the southern Transjordan. In the oldest biblical literature, Yahweh is a typical ancient Near Eastern "divine warrior", who leads the heavenly army against Israel's enemies. By the end of the Babylonian exile, the existence of foreign gods was denied, Yahweh was proclaimed as the creator of the cosmos and the true god of all the world. There is no agreement on the origins of Yahweh, his name is not attested other than among the Israelites, seems not to have any reasonable etymology. He does not appear to have been a Canaanite god, although the Israelites were Canaanites; the head of the Canaanite pantheon was El, one theory holds that the word Yahweh is based on the Hebrew root HYH/HWH, meaning "cause to exist," as a shortened form of the phrase ˀel ḏū yahwī ṣabaˀôt, "El who creates the hosts", meaning the heavenly host accompanying El as he marched beside the earthly armies of Israel.
The argument has numerous weaknesses, among others, the dissimilar characters of the two gods, the fact that el dū yahwī ṣaba’ôt is nowhere attested either inside or outside the Bible. The oldest plausible recorded occurrence of Yahweh is as a place-name, "land of Shasu of yhw", in an Egyptian inscription from the time of Amenhotep III, the Shasu being nomads from Midian and Edom in northern Arabia. In this case a plausible etymology for the name could be from the root HWY, which would yield the meaning "he blows", appropriate to a weather divinity. There is considerable but not universal support for this view, but it raises the question of how he made his way to the north; the accepted Kenite hypothesis holds that traders brought Yahweh to Israel along the caravan routes between Egypt and Canaan. The strength of the Kenite hypothesis is that it ties together various points of data, such as the absence of Yahweh from Canaan, his links with Edom and Midian in the biblical stories, the Kenite or Midianite ties of Moses.
However, while it is plausible that the Kenites and others may have introduced Yahweh to Israel, it is unlikely that they did so outside the borders of Israel or under the aegis of Moses, as the Exodus story has it. Israel emerges into the historical record in the last decades of the 13th century BCE, at the end of the Late Bronze Age when the Canaanite city-state system was ending; the milieu from which Israelite religion emerged was accordingly Canaanite. El, "the kind, the compassionate," "the creator of creatures," was the chief of the Canaanite gods, he, not Yahweh, was the original "God of Israel"—the word "Israel" is based on the name El rather than Yahweh, he lived in a tent on a mountain from whose base originated all the fresh waters of the world, with the goddess Asherah as his consort. This pair made up the top tier of the Canaanite pantheon. Prominent in this group was Baal. Baal's sphere was the thunderstorm with its life-giving rains, so that he was a fertility god, although not quite the fertility god.
Below the seventy second-tier gods was a third tier made up of comparatively minor craftsman and trader deities, with a fourth and final tier of divine messengers and the like. El and his sons made up the Assembly of the Gods, each member of which had a human nation under his care, a textual variant of Deuteronomy 32:8–9 describes El dividing the nations of the world among his sons, with Yahweh receiving Israel: When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated humanity,he fixed the boundaries of the peoplesaccording to the number of divine beings. For Yahweh's portion is his people,Jacob his allotted heritage; the Israelites worshipped Yahweh alongside a variety of Canaanite gods and goddesses, including El, Asherah and Baal. In the period of the Judges and the first half of the monarchy, El and Yahweh became conflated in a process of religious syncretism; as a result, ’el became a generic term meaning "god", as opposed to the name of a worshipped deity, epithets such as El Shaddai came to be applied to Yahweh alone, diminishing the worship of El and strengthening the position of Yahweh.
Features of Baal, El and Asherah were absorbed into the Yahweh religion, Asherah becoming embodied in the feminine aspects of the Shekinah or divine presence, Baal's nature as a storm and weather god becoming assimilated into Yahweh's own identification with the storm. In the next stage the Yahweh religion separated itself from its Canaanite heritage, first by rejecting Baal-worship in the 9th century through the 8th to 6th centuries with prophetic condemnation of Baal, the asherim, sun-worship, worship on the "high places", practice
Ninshubur was the sukkal or second-in-command of the goddess Inanna in Sumerian mythology. Her name means "Queen of the East" in ancient Sumerian. Much like Iris or Hermes in Greek mythology, Ninshubur served as a messenger to the other gods. Ninshubur accompanied Inanna as a friend throughout Inanna's many exploits, she helped Inanna fight Enki's demons after Inanna's theft of the sacred me. When Inanna became trapped in the Underworld, it was Ninshubur who pleaded with Enki for her mistress's release. In Akkadian mythology, Ninshubur was syncretized with the male messenger deity Papsukkal. In older sources, Ninshubur herself is referred to as a male god as well; the gender of a sukkal always matches the gender of the deity. Thus, Enki's sukkal Isimud is male. In her primary aspect as the sukkal to Inanna, Ninshubur was female, when she served as the sukkal to An, he was male. Ninshubur was associated with the constellation Orion. In Sumerian mythology, Ninshubur is portrayed as "unshakably loyal" in her devotion to her mistress.
In addition to being a source of great wisdom and knowledge, Ninshubur was a warrior goddess. She was the messenger of the god An, she is said to have walked in front of An wherever he went, a position traditionally reserved for a bodyguard. Ninshubur was an important figure in ancient Sumerian mythology and she played an integral role in several myths involving her mistress, the goddess, Inanna. In the Sumerian myth of "Inanna and Enki," Ninshubur is described as the one who rescues Inanna from the monsters that Enki has sent after her. In this myth, Ninshubur plays a similar role to Isimud. In the Sumerian myth of Inanna's descent into the Netherworld, Ninshubur is described as the one who pleads with all the gods in an effort to persuade them to rescue Inanna from the Netherworld. Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses: Papsukkal http://www.gatewaystobabylon.com/myths/texts/inanna/ts94.htm Various descriptions of Inanna and Ninshubur
Dumuzid known by the alternate form Tammuz, is an ancient Mesopotamian god associated with shepherds, the primary consort of the goddess Inanna. In Sumerian mythology, Dumuzid's sister was the goddess of vegetation. In the Sumerian King List, Dumuzid is listed as an antediluvian king of the city of Bad-tibira and an early king of the city of Uruk. In the Sumerian poem Inanna Prefers the Farmer, Dumuzid competes against the farmer Enkimdu for Inanna's hand in marriage. In Inanna's Descent into the Underworld, Dumuzid fails to mourn Inanna's death and, when she returns from the Underworld, she allows the galla demons to drag him down to the Underworld as her replacement. Inanna regrets this decision and decrees that Dumuzid will spend half the year in the Underworld, but the other half of the year with her, while his sister Geshtinanna stays in the Underworld in his place, thus resulting in the cycle of the seasons. Gilgamesh references Tammuz in Tablet VI of the Epic of Gilgamesh as one of Ishtar's past lovers, turned into an allalu bird with a broken wing.
Dumuzid was associated with fertility and vegetation and the hot, dry summers of Mesopotamia were believed to be caused by Dumuzid's yearly death. During the month in midsummer bearing his name, people all across Mesopotamia would engage in public, ritual mourning for him. During the late twentieth century, scholars thought that, during the Sumerian Akitu festival, kings may have established their legitimacy by taking on the role of Dumuzid and engaging in ritualized sexual intercourse with the high priestess of Inanna as part of a sacred marriage ceremony; this notion is now rejected by scholars as a misinterpretation of Sumerian literary texts. The cult of Dumuzid was spread to the Levant and to Greece, where he became known under the West Semitic name Adonis; the cult of Ishtar and Tammuz continued to thrive until the eleventh century AD and survived in parts of Mesopotamia as late as the eighteenth century. Tammuz is mentioned by name in the Book of Ezekiel and alluded to in other passages from the Hebrew Bible.
In late nineteenth and early twentieth century scholarship of religion, Tammuz was seen as a prime example of the archetypal dying-and-rising god, but the discovery of the full Sumerian text of Inanna's Descent in the mid-twentieth century disproved the previous scholarly assumption that the narrative ended with Dumuzid's resurrection and instead revealed that it ended with Dumuzid's death. The existence of the "dying-and-rising god" archetype has been rejected by modern scholars; the Assyriologists Jeremy Black and Anthony Green describe the early history of Dumuzid's cult as "complex and bewildering". According to the Sumerian King List, Dumuzid was the fifth antediluvian king of the city of Bad-tibira. Dumuzid was listed as an early king of Uruk, where he was said to have come from the nearby village of Kuara and to have been the consort of the goddess Inanna; as Dumuzid sipad, Dumuzid was believed to be the provider of milk, a rare, seasonal commodity in ancient Sumer due to the fact that it could not be stored without spoiling.
In addition to being the god of shepherds, Dumuzid was an agricultural deity associated with the growth of plants. Ancient Near Eastern peoples associated Dumuzid with the springtime, when the land was fertile and abundant, during the summer months, when the land was dry and barren, it was thought that Dumuzid had "died". During the month of Dumuzid, which fell in the middle of summer, people all across Sumer would mourn over his death; this seems to have been the primary aspect of his cult. In Lagash, the month of Dumuzid was the sixth month of the year; this month and the holiday associated with it was transmitted from the Sumerians to Babylonians and other East Semitic peoples, with its name transcribed into those languages as Tammuz. A ritual associated with the Ekur temple in Nippur equates Dumuzid with the snake-god Ištaran, who in that ritual, is described as having died. Dumuzid was identified with the god Ama-ušumgal-ana, a local god worshipped in the city of Lagash. In some texts, Ama-ušumgal-ana is described as a heroic warrior.
As Ama-ušumgal-ana, Dumuzid is associated with its fruits. This aspect of Dumuzid's cult was always joyful in character and had no associations with the darker stories involving his death. To ancient Mesopotamian peoples, the date palm represented stability, because it was one of the few crops that could be harvested all year during the dry season. In some Sumerian poems, Dumuzid is referred to as "my Damu", which means "my son"; this name is applied to him in his role as the personification of the power that causes the sap to rise in trees and plants. Damu is the name most associated with Dumuzid's return in autumn after the dry season has ended; this aspect of his cult emphasized the fear and exhaustion of the community after surviving the devastating summer. Dumuzid had no power outside of his distinct realm of responsibilities. Few prayers addressed to him are extant and, of those that are all of them are requests for him to provide more milk, more grain, more cattle, etc; the sole exception to this rule is a single Assyrian inscription in which a man requests Tammuz that, when he descends to the Underworld, he should take with him a troublesome ghost, haunting him.
The cult of Tammuz was associated with women, who were the ones responsible for mourning his death. The custom of planting miniature gardens with fast-growing plants such as lettuce and fennel, which would be placed out in the hot sun to sprout before withering in the heat, was
Uttu is an ancient Sumerian goddess associated with weaving. The same cuneiform symbol used to write her name was used to write the Sumerian word for "spider", indicating that Uttu was envisioned as a spider spinning a web, she appears in the myth of Enki and Ninsikila, in which she resists the sexual advances of her father Enki by ensconcing herself inside her web, but he convinces her to let him in using a gift of fresh produce and the promise that he will marry her. Enki intoxicates her with beer and rapes her, she is rescued by Enki's wife Ninhursag, who removes Enki's semen from her vagina and plants it in the ground, resulting in the growth of eight new plants, which Enki eats. In the version of Enki and Ninsikila from Nippur, Uttu is the daughter of Enki and Ninkurra, but, in another version, Ninkurra instead gives birth to Nin-imma, who mates with her father Enki and gives birth to Uttu as a result. Uttu matures and becomes "shapely and decorous". Enki's wife Ninhursag warns Uttu that Enki will try to seduce her, as he has done with all his other daughters.
Uttu fortifies herself inside her web and, when Enki comes to seduce her, she forces him to promise that he will marry her before she will have sex with him. As marriage gifts, Uttu demands that Enki give her vegetables. Enki finds a gardener, who demands that, in exchange for the fruits and vegetables, Enki must fill his irrigation ditches with water. Enki fills the gardener gives him the produce. Enki brings the produce to Uttu, who admits him into her web, but Enki gives Uttu beer to make her drunk and rapes her. Uttu screams and Ninhursag comes to rescue her. Ninhursag removes Enki's semen from Uttu's vagina and plants it in the ground, causing eight plants to rise. Enki sees the plants and is annoyed because he does not recognize them. Isimud, Enki's sukkal, or personal attendant, names each of the plants, gives them to Enki to eat; the account ends with the declaration that "Enki determined the nature of the grasses" and "had them know it in their hearts."
Enki is the Sumerian god of water, mischief and creation. He was known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology, he was patron god of the city of Eridu, but the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites and Hurrians. He was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field. Beginning around the second millennium BCE, he was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for "40" referred to as his "sacred number"; the planet Mercury, associated with Babylonian Nabu was, in Sumerian times, identified with Enki. A large number of myths about Enki have been collected from many sites, stretching from Southern Iraq to the Levantine coast, he is mentioned in the earliest extant cuneiform inscriptions throughout the region and was prominent from the third millennium down to Hellenistic times. The exact meaning of his name is uncertain: the common translation is "Lord of the Earth"; the Sumerian En is translated as a title equivalent to "lord" and was a title given to the High Priest.
Ki means "earth", but there are theories that ki in this name has another origin kig of unknown meaning, or kur meaning "mound". The name Ea is Hurrian in origin while others claim that his name'Ea' is of Semitic origin and may be a derivation from the West-Semitic root *hyy meaning "life" in this case used for "spring", "running water". In Sumerian E-A means "the house of water", it has been suggested that this was the name for the shrine to the god at Eridu, it has been suggested that the original non-anthropomorphic divinity at Eridu was not Enki but Abzu. The emergence of Enki as the divine lover of Ninhursag, the divine battle between the younger Igigi divinities and Abzu, saw the Abzu, the underground waters of the Aquifer, becoming the place in which the foundations of the temple were built. With some Sumerian deity names as Enlil there are variations like Elil. En means "Lord" and E means "temple", it is that E-A is the Sumerian short form for "Lord of Water", as Enki is a god of water.
Ab in Abzu means water. The main temple to Enki was called E-abzu, meaning "abzu temple", a ziggurat temple surrounded by Euphratean marshlands near the ancient Persian Gulf coastline at Eridu, it was the first temple known to have been built in Southern Iraq. Four separate excavations at the site of Eridu have demonstrated the existence of a shrine dating back to the earliest Ubaid period, more than 6,500 years ago. Over the following 4,500 years, the temple was expanded 18 times, until it was abandoned during the Persian period. On this basis Thorkild Jacobsen has hypothesized that the original deity of the temple was Abzu, with his attributes being taken by Enki over time. P. Steinkeller believes that, during the earliest period, Enki had a subordinate position to a goddess, taking the role of divine consort or high priest taking priority; the Enki temple had at its entrance a pool of fresh water, excavation has found numerous carp bones, suggesting collective feasts. Carp are shown in the twin water flows running into the God Enki, suggesting continuity of these features over a long period.
These features were found at all subsequent Sumerian temples, suggesting that this temple established the pattern for all subsequent Sumerian temples. "All rules laid down at Eridu were faithfully observed". Enki was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization, he is shown with the horned crown of divinity. On the Adda Seal, Enki is depicted with two streams of water flowing into each of his shoulders: one the Tigris, the other the Euphrates. Alongside him are two trees, symbolizing the male and female aspects of nature, he is shown wearing a cone-shaped hat. An eagle descends from above to land upon his outstretched right arm; this portrayal reflects Enki's role as the god of water and replenishment. Considered the master shaper of the world, god of wisdom and of all magic, Enki was characterized as the lord of the Abzu, the freshwater sea or groundwater located within the earth. In the Babylonian epic Enûma Eliš, the "begetter of the gods", is inert and sleepy but finds his peace disturbed by the younger gods, so sets out to destroy them.
His grandson Enki, chosen to represent the younger gods, puts a spell on Abzu "casting him into a deep sleep", thereby confining him deep underground. Enki subsequently sets up his home "in the depths of the Abzu." Enki thus takes on all of the functions of the Abzu, including his fertilising powers as lord of the waters and lord of semen. Early royal inscriptions from the third millennium BCE mention "the reeds of Enki". Reeds were an important local building material, used for baskets and containers, collected outside the city walls, where the dead or sick were carried; this links Enki to the underworld of Sumerian mythology. In another older tradition, the goddess of the primeval creative matter and the mother-goddess portrayed as having "given birth to the great gods," was the mother of Enki, as the watery creative force, was said to preexist Ea-Enki. Benito states "With Enki it is an interesting change of gender symbolism, the fertilising agent is water, Sumerian "a" or "Ab" which means "semen".
In one evocative passage in a Sumerian hymn, Enki stands at the empty riverbeds and fills them with his'water'". The cosmogenic myth common in Sumer was that of the hieros gamos, a sacred marriage where divine p
In the Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish, which means "whole heaven", is a primordial god. His consort is Kishar which means "Whole Earth", they were the children of Lahamu and Lahmu and the grandchildren of Tiamat and Apsû. They, in turn, are the parents of Anu, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods and demons. During the Neo-Assyrian period, Anshar was equated with Ashur, the patron deity and namesake of the Assyrian Empire. Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses: Anšar and Kišar
Bel, signifying "lord" or "master", is a title rather than a genuine name, applied to various gods in the Mesopotamian religion of Akkad and Babylonia. The feminine form is Belit'Lady, Mistress'. Bel is represented in Latin as Belus. Linguistically Bel is an East Semitic form cognate with Northwest Semitic Baal with the same meaning. Early translators of Akkadian believed that the ideogram for the god called in Sumerian Enlil was to be read as Bel in Akkadian. Current scholarship holds this as incorrect, but one finds Bel used in referring to Enlil in older translations and discussions. Bel became used for the Babylonian god Marduk and when found in Assyrian and neo-Babylonian personal names or mentioned in inscriptions in a Mesopotamian context it can be taken as referring to Marduk and no other god. Belit without some disambiguation refers to Bel Marduk's spouse Sarpanit. However, Marduk's mother, the Sumerian goddess called Ninhursag, Damkina and other names in Sumerian, was known as Belit-ili'Lady of the Gods' in Akkadian.
Other gods called "Lord" could be and sometimes were identified or in part with Bel Marduk. The god Malak-bel of Palmyra is an example, though in the period from which most of our information comes he seems to have become much a sun god. Zeus Belus mentioned by Sanchuniathon as born to Cronus/El in Peraea is most unlikely to be Marduk. A god named Bel was the chief-god of Palmyra in pre-Hellenistic times, being worshipped alongside the gods Aglibol and Yarhibol, he was known as Bol, after the Northwestern Semitic word Ba'al, until the cult of Bel-Marduk spread to Palmyra and by 213 BC, Bol was renamed to Bel. The temple of Bel was dedicated to this god. Ba‘al Bel and the Dragon Belial Belus Belus Belus Belus EN Marduk List of Mesopotamian deities Bartleby: American Heritage Dictionary: Semitic Roots: bcl