Canaanite/Ugaritic Mythology FAQ, ver. 1.2
Canaanite/Ugaritic Mythology FAQ, ver. 1.2by Christopher B. Siren
based on John C. Gibson's Canaanite Mythology and S. H. Hooke's
Middle Eastern Mythology
Last modified: May 25th 1998: Corrected several spelling errors.
1996: Added an entry on Molech.
March 30th 1996: Fixed a couple of Lucian
typos, added a biblical link.
March 11, 1996: added some links to Shawn
Knight's "Egyptian Mythology FAQ"
February 12, 1996: Included more
prior to February 12: added link to Gwen Saylor's
commentary on this FAQ.
ancient Semites have been broadly classified into Eastern and Western groups.
The Eastern group is represented most prominently by Akkadian, the language of
the Assyrians and Babylonians, who inhabited the Tigris and Euphrates river
valleys. The Western group is further broken down into the Southern and Northern
groups. The South Western Semites inhabited Arabia and Ethiopia while the North
Western Semites occupied the Levant - the regions that used to be Palestine as
well as what is now Syria, Israel and Lebanon, the regions often referred to in
the Bible as Canaan.
Recent archaeological finds indicate that the inhabitants of the region
themselves referred to the land as 'ca-na-na-um' as early as the
mid-third millenium B.C.E. (Aubet p. 9) Variations on that name in reference to
the country and its inhabitants continue through the first millenium B.C.E. The
word appears to have two etymologies. On one end, represented by the Hebrew
cana'ani the word meant merchant, an occupation for which the Canaanites
were well known. On the other end, as represented by the Akkadian
kinahhu, the word referred to the red-colored wool which was a key export
of the region. When the Greeks encountered the Canaanites, it may have been this
aspect of the term which they latched onto as they renamed the Canaanites the
Phoenikes or Phoenicians, which may derive from a word meaning red or purple,
and descriptive of the cloth for which the Greeks too traded. The Romans in turn
transcribed the Greek phoinix to poenus, thus calling the
descendants of the Canaanite emigres to Carthage 'Punic'. However, while both
Phoenician and Canaanite refer to approximately the same culture, archaeologists
and historians commonly refer to the pre-1200 or 1000 B.C.E. Levantines as
Canaanites and their descendants, who left the bronze age for the iron, as
It has been somewhat frustrating that so little outside of the Bible and less
than a handful of secondary and tertiary Greek sources (Lucian of Samosata's De Syria Dea (The Syrian Goddess),
fragments of the Phoenician History of Philo of Byblos, and the writings
of Damasacius) remain to describe the beliefs of the people of the area. Unlike
in Mesopotamia, papyrus was readily available so that most of the records simply
deteriorated. A cross-roads of foreign empires, the region never truly had the
chance to unify under a single native rule; thus scattered statues and
conflicting listings of deities carved in shrines of the neighboring city-states
of Gubla (Byblos), Siduna (Sidon), and Zaaru (Tyre) were all the primary sources
known until the uncovering of the city of Ugarit in 1928 and the digs
there in the late 1930's. The Canaanite myth cycle recovered from the city of Ugarit in
what is now Ras Sharma, Syria dates back to at least 1400 B.C.E. in its written
form, while the deity lists and statues from other cities, particularly Gubla
date back as far as the third millenium B.C.E. Gubla, during that time,
maintained a thriving trade with Egypt and was described as the capital during
the third millenium B.C.E. Despite this title, like Siduna (Sidon), and Zaaru
(Tyre), the city and the whole region was lorded over and colonized by the
Egyptians. Between 2300 and 1900 B.C.E., many of the coastal Canaanite cities
were abandoned, sacked by the Amorites, with the inland cities of Allepo and
Mari lost to them completely. The second millenium B.C.E. saw a resurgence of
Canaanite activity and trade, particularly noticable in Gubla and Ugarit. By the
14th century B.C.E., their trade extended from Egypt, to Mesopotamia and to
Crete. All of this was under the patronage and dominance of the 18th dynasty of
Egypt. Zaaru managed to maintain an independent kingdom, but the rest of the
soon fell into unrest, while Egypt lost power and interest. In 1230, the
Israelites began their invasion and during this time the possibly Achaean "Sea
Peoples" raided much of the Eastern Mediterranean, working their way from
Anatolia to Egypt. They led to the abandonment of Ugarit in 1200 B.C.E., and in
1180, a group of them established the country of Philistia, i.e. Palestine,
along Canaan's southern coast.
Over the next three or four hundred years, the Canaanites gradually
recovered. Now they occupied little more than a chain of cities along the coast,
with rival city-states of Sidon and Tyre vying for control over larger sections
of what the Greeks began to call Phoenicia. Tyre won out for a time and the
unified state of Tyre-Sidon expanded its trade through the Mediterranean and was
even able to establish colonies as far away as Spain. The most successful of
these colonies was undoubtedly Carthage, said in the Tyrian annals to have been
established in 814 B.C.E. by Pygmailion's sister Ellisa. She was named Dido,
'the wandering one', by the Lybian natives and escaped an unwelcome marriage to
their king by immolating herself, a story which Virgil also recounts in the
Aeneid. Her dramatic death brought about her deification while the
colonists continued to practice the Canaanite religion, spreading it under
Carthage's auspices while that state expanded during sixth and fifth centuries
B.C.E. Carthage outlasted its patron state as Tyre and Sidon were crushed under
Assyrian expansion beginning during the reign of Sennacherib around 724 B.C.E.
and ending under Nebuchadnezar around 572 B.C.E.
The Phoenician era saw a shift in Canaanite religion. The larger pantheon
became pushed to the wayside in favor of previously less important, singular
deities who became or, in the case of Baalat, already were the patron city-gods,
born witness to by ruling priest-kings.
As mentioned above,
different cities had different concepts of not only which gods were ranked where
in the pantheon, but also of which gods were included and what some of their
basic attributes were. While El or Il, whose name means 'god', is commonly
described as the creator of the earth, the Arameans ranked Hadad before him.
Also, many city gods were named Baal, meaning 'lord'. Baal-Sidon, the city god
of Sidon was thus an entirely different deity than Baal-Hadad, the storm god.
Given the dearth of material from outside of Ugarit, if other cities or regions
are not mentioned in the entry, the details can be assumed to be particular to
- El - (also called Latipan, and possibly Dagon)
He orders that Yam
be given kingship and sets Kothar-and-Khasis
to build the new king a throne. The gods warn that Yam has been shamed and may
wreck destruction, so El ameliorates him by renaming him mddil -
'beloved of El' and throws a feast for him. El warns though that this is
contingent on his driving out of Baal,
who may fight back. Following Yam's demise, he favors the god Mot.
|He is known as the Father of the gods, 'the father of
mankind', the 'Bull', and 'the creator of creatures'. He is grey haired
and bearded and lives at Mt.
Lel. He is a heavy drinker and has gotten extremly drunk at his
As a young god, he went out to the sea and, spying two ladies, one of
whom is presumably Athirat,
becomes aroused, roasts a bird and asks the two to choose between being
his daughters or his wives. They become his wives and in due course they
give birth to Shachar,
and possibly other gracious gods, who could be Athirat's seventy
children and/or much of the rest of the pantheon. The new family raises
a sanctuary in the desert and lived there for eight years.
While Baal is declared king and judge, he remains a resident of El and
Athirat's palace as El refuses him permission to build an apropriate mansion,
in spite of Shapash. When Baal-Hadad's monsters assail the handmaidens of Yarikh
and Lady Athirat of the Sea, he advises them to give birth to beasts which
will lure Baal-Hadad away on a hunt.
He favors King Keret,
who may be his son, offering him riches upon the death of his many spouses and
eventually promising him the princess Huray and many children, provided he
make the proper sacrifices and follow his instructions. After Keret takes ill,
El eventually convenes an assembly of the gods in order to ask one of them to
rid Keret of his illness. Eventually, El dispatches the demoness Sha'taqat who
Anat brings her complaints of Aqhat
before him and threatens to strike him in the head when he gives his response.
He then replies that he knows how contemptuous she is and won't stand in her
- Athirat (Asherah, Ashtartian - 'the Lady of the Sea',
Elat - 'the goddess')
hope to use her to influence El on the issue of Baal's palace. Intially
suspicious and fearful of them on behalf of her children, but she warms up
when she see that they have brought gifts. She and Anat successfully intercede
with El on Baal's behalf for permission for Baal to build a more suitable
|El's loving consort and is protective of her seventy children
who may also be known as the gracious gods, to whom she is both mother
and nursemaid. Her sons, unlike Baal initially, all have godly courts.
She frequents the ocean shore. In the Syrian city of Qatra, she was
considered Baal-Hadad's consort.
While washing clothing with a female companion by the sea, she is
spied by El, who roasts a bird and invites the two to choose between
being his daughters or his wives. They choose to become his wives and in
due course give birth to the gracious gods, the cleavers of the sea,
The new family builds a sanctuary in the desert and lives there for
When Baal is found dead, she advocates her son Athtar
be made king. Her sons, the "'pounders' of the sea", apparently colluded with
and were smited by Baal with sword and mace upon his return. Baal-Hadad's
creatures devour her handmaidens, so she sends them to El. El tells them to go
into the wilderness and there birth horned buffalo, which will distract
She and Anat serve as nursemaids for Keret's
son Yassib, but reminds Keret of his pledge of wealth for Huray, perhaps
causing his decline in health because of its lack of fulfillment. (See also Gwen
Saylor's commentary on ver. 0.3 - Asherah)
- A Syrian goddess, who has occasionally been tentatively identified with
nude fertility goddess statues. Also spelled Qodesh, meaning 'holy', and
used as an epithet of Athirat. She had been identified with the Egyptian Qetesh
- Qodesh-and-Amrur 'fisherman of Athirat'
messenger to Kothar-and-Khasis.
He is also Athirat's
servant and dredges up provisions to entertain her guests from the sea with
a net. It is interesting to note that in Dan 4:13(10) similar words appear
to refer to an angel and have been translated as 'holy messenger' or 'holy
- Kothar-and-Khasis ('skillful and clever', also called
Chousor and Heyan (Ea)
and identified with Ptah)
- He is the craftsman god and is identified with Memphis.
He is ordered by El
to build Yam's
throne. He upbraids Yam for rising against Baal
and threatens him with a magic weapon. He gives Baal the magic weapons Yagrush
(Chaser) and Aymur (Driver).
He crafts Baal's bribe for Athirat,
a temple serving set of gold and silver. He build's Baal's second house and
insists over Baal's objections on including a window.
He constructs a bow and arrows set for Aqhat,
presenting them first to Daniel
and staying for a feast.
- Shachar 'Dawn'
twin twin and one of the first, if not only, pair of gracious gods, the
children and cleavers of the sea. They were born of El
or her female companion. The new family builds a sanctuary in the desert and
lives there for eight years. According to Isaiah
14:12, he is the father of Helel or Lucifer, the 'light-bringer', usually
taken to mean the morning-star.
- Shalim 'Sunset/Dusk'
twin and one of the first, if not only, pair of gracious gods, the children
and cleavers of the sea. They were born of El
or her female companion. The new family builds a sanctuary in the desert and
lives there for eight years.
- Shamu (Baalshamem?)
- Not found in the Ugarit texts, this sky god was the chief of the pantheon
at the Syrian city of Alalakh.
- Baal (also called Baal-Zephon(Saphon), Hadad, Pidar and
Rapiu (Rapha?) - 'the shade')
As Baal-Hadad, he sends monstrous
creatures to attack the handmaidens of Yarikh,
and of Athirat of the Sea. He hunts the horned, buffalo-humped creatures which
were birthed by the handmaidens at the advice of El. During the hunt he is
stuck in a bog for seven years and things fall to pot. His kin recover him and
there is much rejoicing.
|The son of El,
the god of fertility, 'rider of the clouds', and god of lightning and
thunder. He is 'the Prince, the lord of earth', 'the mightiest of
warriors', 'lord of the sky and the earth' (Alalakh). He has a palace on
Zephon. He has a feud with Yam.
His voice is thunder, his ship is a snow bearing cloud. He is known as
Rapiu during his summer stay in the underworld.
He upbraids the gods for their cowardice when they intend to hand him
over to Yam's messengers and attacks them but is restrained by Athtart
gives him the magic weapons Yagrush (Chaser) and Aymur (Driver). He
strikes Yam in chest and in the forehead, knocking him out. Athtart
rebukes Baal and calls on him to 'scatter' his captive, which he does.
In a alternate version of this episode, he slays Lotan (Leviathan), the
seven-headed dragon. The battle may have been representative of rough
winter sea-storms which calmed in the spring and which were preceded and
accompanied by autumn rains which ended summer droughts and enabled
crops to grow.
After his victory he holds a feast and remarks on his lack of a
proper palace, instead retaining residence with El and Athirat.
He sends messengers to Anat to ask her to perform a peace-offering that
he might tell her the word which is the power of lightning and seek
lightning on the holy Mt Zephon. She does so and he welcomes her.
Hearing his complaints Anat leaves to petition El for a new palace for
Baal. Rejected, Baal dispatches Qodesh-and-Amrur
to Kothar-and-Khasis with a request to make a silver temple set with
which to bribe Athirat. He and Anat view Athirat with trepidation
keeping in mind past insults which he has suffered at the hands of the
other gods. He and Anat ask Athirat to ask El for permission to build a
more extravagant house and Athirat's request is granted. Gathering
cedar, gold, silver, gems, and lapis at Mt. Zephon, he calls
Kothar-and-Khasis, feeding him and instructing him on how to build the
palace. He doesn't want a window, for fear of Yam breaking through or
his daughters escaping, but Kothar-and-Khasis convinces him to allow its
inclusion so that he might lightning, thunder, and rain through it.
At its completion he holds a feast, takes over scores of towns and
allows the window to be built. He threatens to ask Mot
to invite any of Baal's remaining enemies to come for a visit and at
night, binds the lightning, snow and rains. He sends Gupn
to Mot to invite him to acknowledge his sovereignty at his new palace.
He sends messengers to Mot to carry this message to him and they return
with a message of such weight that Baal declares himself Mot's slave. He
hopes to ameliorate Mot by having Sheger
supply live sheep and cattle for the god to feast upon. Fearing Mot he
advice and sires a substitute on a cow. He (or possibly his substitute)
dies and remains in the underworld for seven years. El dreams that he is
alive again but he is absent. Ashtar
attempts to take Baal's place, but can not. Shapshu searches for him.
Baal returns and fights Mot's allies, the sons of Athirat and the yellow
ones. After seven years, Mot returns, demanding one of Baal's brothers
lest he consume mankind. Baal rebuffs him and they fight tooth and nail.
Shapshu separates the two declaring that Baal has El's favor and Baal
resumes his throne.
Once when he was out hunting, Anat followed him. He spotted her, fell in
love and copulated with her in the form of a cow. She gave birth to 'a wild
ox' or a 'buffalo', telling him of the event on Mt. Zephon. This is probably
not their only affair. (See also Theology 100
Online Glossary - Baal, Encyclopedia Mystica -
- Gapn (vine)
page and messenger to both Anat
- Radmanu (Pradmanu)
- a minor servitor of Baal.
- Ugar (cultivated field?)
other page and messenger to both Anat
He is possibly the patron city-god of Ugarit.
- Pidray 'daughter of the mist','daughter of
daughter. She is sometimes a love interest of Athtar.
- Tallay ='she of dew', 'daughter of drizzle'
- Arsay = 'she of the earth', 'daughter of [ample
- Athtart (Athtart-name-of-Baal, Astarte, Ashtoreth,
- She is a consort of Baal,
and lesser goddess of war and the chase. Outside of Ugarit, many nude goddess
statues have been tenuously identified with her as a goddess of fertility and
sex. In Sidon she merited royal priests and priestesses. There she served as a
goddess of fertility, love, war and sexual vitality and to that end had sacred
prostitutes. She was the Phoenecian great goddess and was identified with
Aphrodite by the Greeks.
She restrains Baal when he intends to attack Yam's
messengers. She rerebukes Baal for holding Yam captive and calls on him to
'scatter' Yam, which he does.
Apparently she, along with Anat,
is willing to become Baal's cupbearer once he achieves a proper palace. (See
also Theology 100
Online Glossary - Astarte
- Anat (Anath, Rahmay - 'the merciful')
- She Baal's
sister and the daughter of El.
Goddess of war, the hunt, and savagery. She is an archer. Virgin,
sister-in-law (progenitor?) of peoples (Li'mites'?). She and Athirat
are nursemaids to the gracious gods.
She restrains Baal when he intends to attack Yam's messengers. In missing
texts, she killed Yam-Nahar,
the dragon, the seven-headed serpent. She also destroyed Arsh,
all enemies of Baal.
She holds a feast at Baal's palace to celebrate his victory over Yam. After
the guests arrive, she departs her abode and adorns herself in rouge and
henna, closes the doors and slaughters the inhabitant of two nearby towns,
possibly Baal's enemies. She makes a belt of their heads and hands and wades
through the blood. She lures the towns' warriors inside to sit and joyfully
massacres them. She then makes a ritual peace offering and cleans up. This is
possibly related to a seasonal fertility ritual welcoming the autumn rains.
Anat receives messengers from Baal thinking that some new foe has arisen, but
they assure her that he only wishes that she make a peace offering that he
might tell her the secret of lightning and seek it on Mt.
Zephon. She does so, demanding first to see the lightning, and is welcomed
by Baal from afar. Hearing him complain of lack of a proper mansion, she
storms off to El, creating tremors. She threatens to mangle his face lest he
heed her and have Baal's court constructed, yet her plea is rejected. She is
assisted in her petition, possibly by Athtart.
She accompanies Baal to Athirat with a bribe and assists Athirat in her
successful petition to El for Baal's court.
After Baal dies, she searches for him and, finding his body goes into a
violent fit of mourning. She has Shapash take his body to Mt. Zephon, where
she buries it and holds a feast in his honor. After seven years of drought,
she finds Mot,
and cuts, winnows, and sows him like corn.
She attends the feast where Daniel
with a bow and arrows set made by Kothar-and-Khasis.
Desiring the bow, she offers Aqhat riches and immortality, for it. He refuses
and so she promises vengeance upon him should he transgress and leaves for Mt.
Lel to denounce him to El. Upset with El's response, she threatens to
strike his head, sarcasticly suggesting that Aqhat might save him. El remarks
that he won't hinder her revenge, so she finds Aqhat, and taking the form of a
kinswoman, lures him off to Qart-Abilim. Unsuccessful with her first attempt
there, she calls her attendant warrior Yatpan
to take the form of an eagle, and with a flock of similar birds pray strike
Aqhat as he sits on the mountain. They do so and Aqhat is slain,
unfortunately, the bow falls into the waters and is lost and Anat laments that
her actions and Aqhat's death were in vain.
When Baal was out hunting, she followed after him and copulated with him in
the form of a cow. She gave birth to 'a wild ox' or a 'buffalo', visiting Mt.
Zephon to tell Baal of the good news. This is probably not their only affair.
- The 'mistress' of Gubla she was not found in Ugarit. This great fertility
goddess was the foremost deity of that city. She served as protector of the
city and of the royal dynasty. She was associated with Baal-Shamen and she
assimilated the characteristics of the Egyptian goddesses Hathor
and Ast (Isis).
- Known as the 'lady of Carthage' and the 'face of Baal', Tanit was the
great goddess of the Carthaginians and, with Baal Hammon co-protector of that
city. She is listed first of all deities in Carthage.
- Shapshu (Shapash)
- She is the sun-goddess (Akkadian Shamash, a male deity) and is known as
the torch of the gods and pale Shapshu. She often acts as messenger or
representative on El's
behalf. She has some dominion over the shades and ghosts of the nether-world.
may be her companion and protector.
She tells Athtar
that he will loose kingship to Yam
under El's auspice and rebuffs his complaints by recalling his lack of wife
She is said to be under Mot's
influence when Baal
is preoccupied with his lack of a palace and not raining. The weather then is
When Mot's messenger seeks Baal, she advises the thunder-god to procure a
substitute, to satisfy Mot and then take his servants and daughters and
venture into the underworld. At the direction of Anat,
she carries Baal's body back to Mt.
Zephon. She is told by El that he dreamed Baal was alive and she searches
for him. When Baal returns and fights with Mot, she separates them, declaring
that Baal has El's favor.
- He is the moon god. 'The illuminator of myriads (of stars)', 'lamp of
heaven', possibly also the crescent moon and 'lord of the sickle' and thereby
the father of the Kotharat.
He is patron of the city Qart-Abilim.
After sunset he embraces Nikkal-and-Ib
and becomes determined to marry her. He seeks Khirkhib
out to arbitrate the brideprice, but instead Khirkhib tries suggests other
potential mates in the daughters of Baal. Undaunted, Yarikh presents a lavish
brideprice to Nikkal-and-Ib's family and the two are wed.
creatures devour his handmaidens, so he sends them to El.
El tells them to go into the wilderness and there birth horned buffalo, which
will distract Baal-Hadad.
- Kotharat (was thought to be Kathirat) 'skillful'
- They are a group of goddesses associated with conception and childbirth.
'...The swallow-like daughters of the crescent moon.' (Gibson p. 106). They
are also associated with the new moon. They attend Daniel
for seven days to aid in the conception of Aqhat
and receive his sacrifice.
- Athtar (Ashtar, 'Athtar, Atra of the sky) 'the
- He is a son of Athirat,
possibly a god of the desert or of artificial irrigation. He is sometimes a
suitor of Pidray.
As the great god of the Sabeans and Himyar (both South Arabian states), he was
identified with Venus and was sired by the moon on the sun. He looses his
kingship to Yam
at the behest of El
and is warned off from an attack on Yam by Shapshu.
He complains to her of his lack of status, palace and court.
He attempts to take Baal's place at his throne while Baal is dead, but he
is too small for the seat and rejects it, becoming king of the earth instead.
- Sheger ('offspring of cattle')
- He is the god of cattle
- He is the god of sheep
- He is the father of the eagles.
- She is the mother of the eagles. She ate the body of Aqhat.
- He is the steward (carpenter?) of El
and of Baal's
house. His wife is the stewardess (carpenter?) of the goddesses.
- Sha'taqat 'drives away'
- She is the flying demoness who drives away Keret's
disease on behalf of El
with a touch of her wand to his head.
- 'god(s) of the fathers'
- They are ancestral or clan deities, commonly associated with one family or
another, outside of the main pantheon.
- Nikkal-and-Ib 'great lady and clear/bright/fruit' or
'Great goddess of fruit' (Ningal)
- She is possibly the daughter of Dagon
of Tuttul, or else of Khirkhib.
She is romanced by Yarikh
and marries him after Yarikh arranges a brideprice with Khirkhib and pays it
to her parents.
- Khirkhib (was thought to be Hiribi), king of summer,
king of the raiding season (autumn)
- He is probably a Hurrian deity. He acts as a matchmaker between Yarikh
initially trying to dissuade Yarikh from pursuing her suggesting Pidray
as alternative choices.
- Dagon of Tuttul
- He is a Syrian version of Dagon, and the probable father of Nikkal-and-Ib.
Ugarit's Dagon was the father of Baal and may have been identified with El.
There were also temples to Dagon in Mari and Emar. To the Phoenicians, he was
a god of wheat and the inventor of the plow. The Philistines adopted him as
their own and depicted him with the upper torso of a man and the back half of
a fish. (See also the Assyro-Babylonian Dagan
and the Hittite Kumarbi)
- Baal-Shamen (Baal-Shamain) 'lord of the skies'
- Lord of the Assembly of the gods at Gubla. He was the great god of the
Aramaean kingdoms of Hama and Laash and the protector of their rulers.
- Milqart (Melqart, Baal Tsur, Milkashtart?) - 'king of
the city', the hunter, 'fire of heaven'.
- Patron god of Tyre, he was the god of the Metropolis and of the monarchy
at Tyre and Carthage. His cult spread throughout the Mediterranean region, but
has not been found at second millenium sites. As with the Babylonian
Nergal/Erra, he has been identified with Heracles archetypes. Greek sources
imply that he was a dying and rising vegetation god, and that he was
associated with the sacred marriage like the Sumerian god, Dumuzi. He was
ritually immolated in an annual festival. He was also a god of the sea and was
pictured mounted on a hippocampus.
- Eshmun 'the holy prince'
- He was a god of healing and the great god in Sidon. He was known in Tyre,
Cyprus, and Carthage, but not in Ugarit. In the 5th century AD, Damascius
identified him with the Greek god Asclepius.
- Yam (Nahar, Yaw, Lotan?, Leviathan?)
- He is god of sea and rivers, he dwells in a palace under the sea. He
carries a feud with Baal.
He may have had in his following a dragon (tnn) which lives in the sea, a
serpent (btn), and/or Lotan/Leviathan, or may have been all of those
He is given kingship by El.
He threatens vast destruction until El names him 'beloved of El' and sends him
on his way to oust Baal. Upbraided by Kothar-and-Khasis,
he dispatches messengers to El to demand the delivery of Baal. Baal strikes
him with Yagrush and Chaser in the chest and forehead, knocking him down. He
is slain and scattered at the urging of Athtart.
The battle may have been representative of rough winter sea-storms which
calmed in the spring and which were preceded and accompanied by autumn rains
which ended summer droughts and enabled crops to grow.
- The 'darling of the gods', a monstrous attendant of Yam,
slain by Anat.
Arsh lives in the sea.
- The 'calf of El',
an enemy of Baal.
Slain by Anat.
- Ishat (fire)
- The 'bitch of the gods', an enemy of Baal,
slain by Anat.
- Zabib (flame? flies?)
- The daughter of El,
an enemy of Baal,
slain by Anat.
- Mot(-and-Shar) 'Death and Prince/Dissolution/Evil'
- 'the beloved one'- Mot is the god of sterility, death, and the underworld.
In one hand he holds the scepter of bereavement, and in the other the scepter
of widowhood. His jaws and throat are described in cosmic proportions and
serve as a euphemism for death.
When he has influence over Shapshu,
it is unusually hot and dry. He sits on a pit for a throne in the city of Miry
in the underworld.
Prior to the conception of the gracious gods, he is pruned and felled like
a vine by the vine dressers.
He is favored by El
defeat of Yam
and Baal refuses him tribute. When Baal's messengers deliver him an invitation
to feast at Baal's new palace, he is insulted that he is offered bread and
wine and not the flesh he hungers for. In fact, he threatens to defeat Baal as
Baal did Leviathan, causing the sky to wilt and then eat Baal himself. Baal
would then visit his palace in the underworld. He is pleased that Baal
submits to him. Baal goes to the underworld and either he or his substitute is
eaten by Mot. Presumably the sons of Athirat
had some part in his death. After seven years of famine, Anat
seizes Mot, splits, winnows, sows and grinds him like corn. Baal eventually
returns and defeats Mot's allies. After seven years Mot returns and demands
Baal's brother, lest he wipe out humanity. Baal rebuffs him and the two have a
mighty battle, but are separated by Shapshu who declares Baal to have El's
- 'The yellow ones of Mot'
henchmen who are slain by Baal
upon his return.
- He is probably a cthonic deity.
- 'prince Resheph' is the god of pestilence.
- aklm - 'the devourers'
- These are some creatures who fought Baal-Hadad
in the desert, they remind some of grasshoppers.
- Rephaim (Rpum) - 'shades'
- These are deities of the underworld whom Daniel
meets in his journey there. They may have been involved in negotiations with
him for the return of his son Aqhat.
Eight of them led by Repu-Baal (Rapiu? Baal?)
arrive at a feast given by El
in chariots, on horseback, and on wild asses.
- Molech (Melech, Malik, Milcom?, Milqart?)
- Not explicitly found in the Ugarit texts, Molech is a bit of an enigma. He
shows up in the Old Testament in Leviticus 18 and 20, 1 Kings 11, 2 Kings 23,
and Jeremiah 32. From that he appears to be a god of the Ammonites - a region
west of the Jordon - whose worshipers sacrificed children in fires at temples,
some of which were in the Valley of Hinnom, i.e. Gehenna, just south of
Jerusalem. The Old Testament also names the similarly spelt "Milcom" as a god
of the Ammonites leading to the suspicion that they are the same god. Molech
is probably not the original name of the deity. There has been a good deal of
argument as to whether Molech could be identified with another foreign deity
and which deity that would be, or whether molech was simply a term
which referred to child sacrifice of any sort. The Canaanite gods Mot
of Tyre, and the Mesopotamian god Nergal,
whom I believe is somewhere referred to as Malik=king, are a couple of the
prime candidates for being Molech. For some online commentary on this check
Saylor's correspondence. For more in depth off-line discussion see:
Day, John, Molech:A God of Human Sacrifice in the Old Testament,
Cambridge University Press, New York, 1989.
Little is certain about the cosmology of the Canaanites.
While the Ugaritic texts tell us of El, Athirat, and Rahmay's creation of the
gracious gods, for the creation of the universe we must rely on the Greek
sources of Philo of Byblos, Athenaeus, and Damascius, which are thoroughly
drenched in Greek cosmology. In general they relate that from gods like chaos,
ether, air, wind and desire was produced the egg Mot, which was probably not the
same Mot as found in Ugarit. The egg was populated with creatures who remained
motionless until it was opened, whence the sky and heavenly bodies were formed.
Later the waters were separated from the sky, and gods of El's generation were
formed. Additional hints about the divine geography gathered from the Ugarit
texts are included below:
- Keret was a king (of Khubur?) and possibly the son of El
(this may be an expression for a fortunate person) who lost his estate and his
successive eight wives to death, disease, and accident before any one of them
could produce an heir. Having fallen asleep in tears, he is visited by El in a
dream and offered kingship and riches to assuage his sorrow. This is
ineffective as Keret only desires sons and heirs. El directs him to make an
animal and wine sacrifice to El and Baal
on the tower and then muster an army to lay siege to the city of Udm. There,
Keret is to refuse offers from the Udm's king Pabil and demand his daughter,
the fair Huray. Keret does as instructed, vowing to himself to give Huray an
enormous sum of wealth upon his success.
Returning to his estate with Huray, Keret is blessed by El at Baal's behest
and is promised eight sons, the first of which, Yassib, shall have Athirat
as nursemaids. In addition, Huray will bear eight daughters all of whom as
blessed as a first-born child. Athirat calls attention to Keret's promise of
wealth to Huray which he has yet to fulfill.
Later, Keret and Huray prepare a great feast for the lords of Khubur. Later
still Keret has become deathly ill and Huray entreats guests at a feast to
morn for him and make sacrifices on his behalf.
The household is tense and Keret's son Elhu, despondently visits his
father. Keret tells him not to sorrow, but to send for his sympathetic sister,
Keret's daughter Thitmanat ('the eighth one'). Her sympathy, heighted Keret
expects from her surprise at his state will evoke the attention of the gods
during a sacrifice he intends to perform. Indeed she weeps readily when the
truth is revealed. Meanwhile, the rains have ceased with Keret's illness, but
return after a ceremony on Mt.
Zephon. El convenes an assembly of the gods and dispatches the demoness Sha'taqat
who cures Keret. Keret's son and heir Yassib, unaware of his father's cure
entreats him to surrender his throne as he has been remiss in his duties, but
Yassib is rebuffed and cursed.
- 'He of Harnan', a devotee of Rapiu (Baal)
and a patriarchal king. Like Keret, Daniel is in mourning because unlike his
brothers he had no sons. So, for several days he sacrificed food and drink to
the gods. On the seventh day, Baal takes notice and successfully petitions El
to allow Daniel and his wife, Danatay, to have a child, citing, among other
reasons, that the child will be able to continue the contributions and
sacrifices to their temples. El informs Daniel of his impending change of
fortune. He rejoices and slaughters an ox for the Kotharat,
pouring sacrifices to them for six days and watching them depart on the
seventh. During some missing columns, Danatay gives birth to Aqhat.
arrives with a specially crafted bow and arrows set for Aqhat. Daniel and
Danatay hold a feast, inviting the god, and Daniel presents Aqhat with the bow
reminding him to sacrifice the choices game to the gods. When Aqhat is slain,
Daniel's daughter Pughat
notices the eagles and the drought and becomes upset. Daniel prays that Baal
might return the rains and travels among the fields coaxing the few living
plants to grow and wishing that Aqhat were there to help harvest them. Pughat
informs him of Aqhat's demise. Daniel then swears vengeance upon his son's
slayer. In succession he spies some eagles, Hirgab,
He calls upon Baal to break their wings and breast-bones, then he searches
their insides for Aqhat's remains. Initially not finding them, he asks Baal to
restore the eagles and Hirgab. Finding Aqhat's remains within Sumul, he buries
him and calls upon Baal to break the bones of any eagle that my disturb them
and curses the lands near which his son was slain. His court goes into
mourning for seven years, at which time Daniel dismisses the mourners and
burns incense in sacrifice to the gods. Pughat prays to the gods to bless her
in her venture and disguises herself as Anat,
intending to wreck vengeance upon those who slew Aqhat.
- The much anticipated child of Daniel
and Danatay, Aqhat is presented with a bow and arrows set made by Kothar-and-Khasis
early in his life by his father at a feast. Daniel reminds him to take the
best of his kills to the temple for the gods. At the feast Anat
offers Aqhat riches and eternal life if he would give her the bow. When he
refuses, she promises to deliver vengeance upon him should he ever transgress.
Presumably he fails to offer his best kills to the gods. Later he follows a
disguised Anat to Qart-Abilim but presumably thwarts her new scheme to acquire
his bow and lives there for a time, possibly under the favor of Yarikh. He is
left on a mountain and while sitting for a meal is attacked by Anat's
attendant Yatpan in the form of an eagle, along with other birds of prey, and
is slain. Following his death, the land is poisoned and there is a period of
famine and drought. Daniel recovers his son's remains from the eagle S,umul.
Later, Daniel visits the underworld, probably in hopes of recovering Aqhat,
and there encounters the Rephaim.
- She is one of Daniel
and Danatay's daughters. When Aqhat
is slain, She notices the eagles and the drought and becomes upset. Daniel
prays that Baal
might return the rains and travels among the fields coaxing the few living
plants to grow and wishing that Aqhat were there to help harvest them. Pughat
encounters Aqhat's servants and learns of his demise. After seven years of
Daniel's court mourning, Daniel dismisses the mourners and burns incense in
sacrifice to the gods. Pughat prays to the gods to bless her in her venture
and disguises herself as Anat,
intending to wreck vengeance upon those who slew Aqhat. She arrives and meets
Yatpan, accepting his wine, and the rest is missing.
- Men in general
- from a side note (Gibson p. 68) men are considered made of 'clay'.
- Mt. Lel
- Where the assembly of the gods meet. It is El's
abode and the source of the rivers and two oceans, as well as where those
waters meet those of the firmament. It lies 'two layers beneath the wells of
the earth, three spans beneath its marshes.' It had been thought to be a field
and not a mountain. The mansion there has eight entrances and seven chambers.
- hmry 'Miry'
city in the underworld, "where a pit is the throne on which he sits, filth the
land of his heritage." (Gibson p. 66)
- the underworld
- 'the place of freedom'. The Aramaeans believed that the souls of the
blessed dead ate with Baal-Hadad.
- Targhizizi and Tharumagi
- These are the twin mountains which hold the firmament up above the
earth-circling ocean, thereby bounding the earth. The entrance to the
underworld and Shapshu's
'grave'. It is entered by lifting up a rock to a wooded height. The entrance
is bounded by a river-shore land of pasture and fields known ironicly as
"Pleasure" or "Delight".
- Ughar or Inbab
- This is the location of Anat's
- Mt. Zephon
- Either the mountain is deified and holy, godlike in proportion, or El
has a pavilion there. It has recesses within which Baal
holds his feast. Baal had his first house of cedar and brick there, as well as
his second house of gold, silver, and lapis-lazuli.
corresponding with Gwen Saylor about this FAQ and other matters and she has been
kind enough to allow me to reproduce her commentary on version 0.3. The first
section of the e-letter is part of our discussion about Helel,
and the commentary on this FAQ begins with the line "Second
Topic -- Phoenician FAQ --".
- Aubet, Maria E., The Phoenicians and the West, Cambridge University
Press, New York, 1987, 1993.
- S. H. Hooke Middle Eastern Mythology , Penguin Books, New York,
- John C. L. Gibson Canaanite Myths and Legends, T & T Clark
Ltd., Edinburgh, 1977.
- Moscoty, Sabatino, The World of the Phoenicians, Frederick A.
Praeger, Publishers, New York, 1968.
- Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, ed. James
Pritchard, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1955.
- Szneycer, Maurice articles in Mythologies Volume One compiled by
Bonnefoy, Yves, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1991.
- Sykes, Edgerton Who's Who in Non-Classical Mythology, Oxford
University Press, New York, 1993.
While our server setup prevents a direct count, there have been
over 101,502 hits on this page since its inception in November of 1995 with the
last assessment on December 1st 2000. It has also been the recipient of a couple
Copyright 1995, 1996,
- M. Coogan Stories From Ancient Canaan
- Day, John, Molech:A God of Human Sacrifice in the Old Testament,
Cambridge University Press, New York, 1989.
- C.H. Gordon Ugaritic Literature, Rome, 1949.
- Hall, H. R., The Ancient History of the Near East, Methuan &
Co. Ltd, London, 1950.
- The Ancient Near East: Supplementary Texts and Pictures Relating to the
Old Testament, ed. James Pritchard, Princeton University Press, Princeton,
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