Canaanite/Ugaritic Mythology FAQ, ver. 1.2
Canaanite/Ugaritic Mythology FAQ, ver. 1.2
by Christopher B. Siren
cbsiren at alum dot mit dot edu
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.
May 25th 1996: Added an entry on Molech.
March 30th 1996: Fixed a couple of Lucian typos, added a
March 11, 1996: added some links to Shawn Knight's "Egyptian
February 12, 1996: Included more extra-Ugaritic information.
prior to February 12: added link to Gwen Saylor's commentary on this FAQ.
Linguisticly, the 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
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.
word appears to have two etymologies. On one end, represented by the
Hebrew cana'ani the word meant merchant, an occupation for which
Canaanites were well known. On the other end, as represented by the
Akkadian kinahhu, the word referred to the red-colored wool which
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
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 Phoenicians.
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
maintained a thriving trade with Egypt and was described as the capital
during the third millenium B.C.E. Despite this title, like Siduna
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
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
resurgence of Canaanite activity and trade, particularly noticable in Gubla
and Ugarit. By the 14th century B.C.E., their trade extended from Egypt,
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
them established the country of Philistia, i.e. Palestine, along Canaan's
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
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
- El - (also called Latipan, and possibly Dagon)
He orders that Yam be given kingship and sets
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
Following Yam's demise, he favors the god Mot.
|He is known as the Father of the gods,
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 banquets.|
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, Shalim,
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
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
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 way.
- Athirat (Asherah, Ashtartian - 'the Lady of the
Sea', Elat - 'the goddess')
Baal and Anat 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 court.
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
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,
including Shachar and Shalim.
The new family
builds a sanctuary in the desert and lives there for eight years.
When Baal is found dead, she advocates her son Athtar be made
king. Her sons, the "'pounders' of the sea", apparently colluded with
Mot and were smited by Baal with sword and mace upon his
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 Baal-Hadad.
She and Anat serve as nursemaids for Keret's son
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 -
- 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'
- Baal's 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 sentinel'.
- 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
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
- Shachar 'Dawn'
- Shalim's twin twin and one of the first, if not
pair of gracious gods, the children and cleavers of the sea. They were
born of El and Athirat or her
female companion. The new family builds a
sanctuary in the desert and lives there for eight years. According to
14:12, he is the father of Helel or
Lucifer, the 'light-bringer', usually taken to mean the morning-star.
- Shalim 'Sunset/Dusk'
- Shachar's 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 and Athirat 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 Mt. 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 and Anat.
Kothar-and-Khasis 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
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 and Ugar 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 and Ithm
supply live sheep and cattle for the god to
feast upon. Fearing Mot he seeks Shapshu's 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
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.
Theology 100 Online Glossary - Baal,
Mystica - Baal)
- Gapn (vine)
- Baal's page and messenger to both Anat and Mot.
- Radmanu (Pradmanu)
- a minor servitor of Baal.
- Ugar (cultivated field?)
- Baal's other page and messenger to both Anat and Mot. He is possibly the patron
city-god of Ugarit.
- Pidray 'daughter of the mist','daughter of
- Baal's daughter. She is sometimes a love
interest of Athtar.
- Tallay ='she of dew', 'daughter of drizzle'
- Baal's daughter.
- Arsay = 'she of the earth', 'daughter of [ample
- Baal's daughter.
- Baal's daughter.
- Athtart (Athtart-name-of-Baal, Astarte,
- 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
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
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
serpent. She also destroyed Arsh, Atik, Ishat, and Zabib, 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
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 presents
Aqhat 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
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
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
the nether-world. Kothar-and-Khasis 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 and
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
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.
Baal-Hadad's 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
days to aid in the conception of Aqhat and receive his
- 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
- 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
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
associated with one family or another, outside of the main pantheon.
- Nikkal-and-Ib 'great lady and
clear/bright/fruit' or 'Great goddess of
- 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
- He is probably a Hurrian deity. He acts as a matchmaker
between Yarikh and Nikkal-and-Ib, initially trying to dissuade Yarikh
from pursuing her suggesting Pidray and Ybrdmy 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
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'.
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
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
- 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 creatures.
He is given kingship by El. He threatens vast
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
- 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
- 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
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 following
Baal>'s 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 favor.
- 'The yellow ones of Mot'
- Mot's 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
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 and Milqart 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 out Gwen
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 and Anat 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
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,
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.
Later, Kothar-and-Khasis 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, and
Sumul. 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
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
- 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
- hmry 'Miry'
- Mot's 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
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 mansion.
- Mt. Zephon
- Either the mountain is deified and holy,
proportion, or El has a pavilion there. It has recesses
Baal holds his feast. Baal had his first house of cedar
there, as well as his second house of gold, silver, and lapis-lazuli.
I've been 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
- 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 of awards. 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,
Visit the Sumerian
Visit the Assyro-Babylonian
Hittite Mythology REF?
Christopher B. Siren - cbsiren at alum dot mit dot edu