1st millennium the written documentation shrinks to formulaic inscriptions,
very occasionally developed into more expressive literary miniatures.
Gods are often referred to in these texts by titles or by new names,
so that it is often difficult to ascertain their relationship to the
deities of the 2nd millennium, or indeed to determine their individuality
in relation to one another. It appears that there was a tendency in
this millennium to concentrate all divine power in one deity, as has
been noted of Mesopotamia and as is most obviously and extremely the
case in Israel.
god, Hadad, appears as the chief god of the Aramaeans in northern Syria
in the 9th and 8th centuries. The moon god (under the name Sahar) also
is prominent in this area. Some rulers speak of their own dynastic deity.
A king who owes his position to the Assyrian emperor refers to the latter
and the dynastic deity equally as "my master."
It is clear
that several different deities are referred to by the form Baal-X ("Lord
Hadad is probably represented by Baal-Shamen ("Lord of the Heavens").
El appeared under the tile Baal-Hammon -- rarely on the mainland, but
abundantly in the Phoenician colonies of Africa; under this name he
becomes the chief deity of Carthage. In the Phoenician heartland the
supreme goddess of Byblos--presumably Asherah--is called simply Baalat
Gubl ("the Lady of Byblos"). Anath becomes much less visible
during the 1st millennium than at Ugarit. Athtart (Astarte), on the
other hand, becomes more prominent. At Sidon, as earlier at Ugarit,
she is referred to as "the Name of Baal," perhaps indicating
that she was called upon as a mediator with the supreme Baal (Hadad).
Alongside other long-familiar deities such as Resheph and Shamash appeared
certain new names, including Eshmun (especially at Sidon), Melqart ("king
of the [underworld] city"; especially at Tyre), and, of course,
Yahweh (in Israel--but also represented at least in personal names at
Hamath and Larnaca). According to the Hebrew Bible, Asherah and Astarte
were both worshiped in Israel during the first half of the millennium,
and Hebrew inscriptions attest to a pairing of Yahweh and Asherah.
known from Ebla and Ugarit, reappears as the national god of Moab. King
Mesha of Moab interprets Israel's occupation of his country as a consequence
of Chemosh's anger with his land. He claims that, at Chemosh's direction,
he reconquered land occupied by Israel, and he attributes his success
to Chemosh. He reports that he dedicated the Israelite inhabitants to
Chemosh by slaughter and says that Chemosh will henceforth dwell in
these territories. This is recorded on the Moabite Stone (now in the
Louvre, Paris) a stela that commemorates these events and Mesha's building
of a sanctuary for Chemosh in gratitude. The formal identity of these
expressions and this kind of religious interpretation of events with
those found in some of Israel's literature encourages the surmise that
they may also have been shared by the Ammonites with respect to their
national god, Milcom. The Philistines, traditionally believed to have
originated in Crete, were one group of the Sea Peoples that moved from
the Aegean Sea to the southeastern Mediterranean. They settled in southeastern
Palestine after being repulsed by the Egyptians. Their religion, while
it retains some Aegean and Egyptian elements from the Philistines' origins
and route of migration, appears largely indistinguishable from Canaanite
religion in general. The Bible refers to the gods of the Philistines
by the familiar Canaanite names Dagon, Baalzebub, and Ashtart. The name
of Asherah has been found inscribed on storage jars in a cultic room
at Ekron. ( S.B.P.)
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