Canaanite religion refers to the group of ancient Semitic religions practiced by the Canaanites living in the ancient Levant from at least the early Bronze Age through the first centuries of the Common Era.
Canaanites believed that following physical death, the npš (usually translated as "soul") departed from the body to the land of Mot (Death). Bodies were buried with grave goods, and offerings of food and drink were made to the dead to ensure that they would not trouble the living. Dead relatives were venerated and sometimes asked for help.
None of the inscribed tablets found in 1929 in the Canaanite city of Ugarit (destroyed c. 1200 BC) has revealed a cosmology. Any idea of one is often reconstructed from the much later Phoenician text by Philo of Byblos (c. 64–141 AD), after much Greek and Roman influence in the region.
According to the pantheon, known in Ugarit as 'ilhm (Elohim) or the children of El, supposedly obtained by Philo of Byblos from Sanchuniathon of Berythus (Beirut) the creator was known as Elion, who was the father of the divinities, and in the Greek sources he was married to Beruth (Beirut = the city). This marriage of the divinity with the city would seem to have Biblical parallels too with the stories of the link between Melqart and Tyre; Chemosh and Moab; Tanit and Baal Hammon in Carthage, Yah and Jerusalem.
From the union of El Elyon and his consort were born Uranus and Ge, Greek names for the "Heaven" and the "Earth".
In Canaanite mythology there were twin mountains Targhizizi and Tharumagi which hold the firmament up above the earth-circling ocean, thereby bounding the earth. W. F. Albright, for example, says that El Shaddai is a derivation of a Semitic stem that appears in the Akkadian shadû ("mountain") and shaddā`û or shaddû`a ("mountain-dweller"), one of the names of Amurru. Philo of Byblos states that Atlas was one of the Elohim, which would clearly fit into the story of El Shaddai as "God of the Mountain(s)." Harriet Lutzky has presented evidence that Shaddai was an attribute of a Semitic goddess, linking the epithet with Hebrew šad "breast" as "the one of the Breast". The idea of two mountains being associated here as the breasts of the Earth, fits into the Canaanite mythology quite well. The ideas of pairs of mountains seem to be quite common in Canaanite mythology (similar to Horeb and Sinai in the Bible). The late period of this cosmology makes it difficult to tell what influences (Roman, Greek, or Hebrew) may have informed Philo's writings.
In the Baal Cycle, Ba'al Hadad is challenged by and defeats Yam, using two magical weapons (called "Driver" and "Chaser") made for him by Kothar-wa-Khasis. Afterward, with the help of Athirat and Anat, Ba'al persuades El to allow him a palace. El approves, and the palace is built by Kothar-wa-Khasis. After the palace is constructed, Ba'al gives forth a thunderous roar out of the palace window and challenges Mot. Mot enters through the window and swallows Ba'al, sending him to the Underworld. With no one to give rain, there is a terrible drought in Ba'al's absence. The other deities, especially El and Anat, are distraught that Ba'al has been taken to the Underworld. Anat goes to the Underworld, attacks Mot with a knife, grinds him up into pieces, and scatters him far and wide. With Mot defeated, Ba'al is able to return and refresh the Earth with rain.
Archaeological investigations at the site of Tell el-Safiad have found the remains of donkeys, as well as some sheep and goats in Early Bronze Age layers, dating to 4,900 years ago which were imported from Egypt in order to be sacrificed. One of the sacrificial animals, a complete donkey, was found beneath the foundations of a building, leading to speculation this was a 'foundation deposit' placed before the building of a residential house.
It is considered virtually impossible to reconstruct a clear picture of Canaanite religious practices. Although child sacrifice was known to surrounding peoples, there is no reference to it in ancient Phoenician or Classical texts. The biblical representation of Canaanite religion is always negative.
Canaanite religious practice had a high regard for the duty of children to care for their parents, with sons being held responsible for burying them, and arranging for the maintenance of their tombs.
Canaanite deities such as Baal were represented by figures which were placed in shrines often on hilltops, or 'high places' surrounded by groves of trees, such as is condemned in the Hebrew Bible, in Hosea (v 13a) which would probably hold the Asherah pole, and standing stones or pillars.
The Akkadian word "kinahhu" referred to the purple-colored wool, dyed from the Murex molluscs of the coast, which was throughout history a key export of the region. When the Greeks later traded with the Canaanites, this meaning of the word seems to have predominated as they called the Canaanites the Phoenikes or "Phoenicians", which may derive from the Greek word "Phoenix" meaning crimson or purple, and again described the cloth for which the Greeks also traded. The Romans transcribed "phoenix" to "poenus", thus calling the descendants of the Canaanite settlers in Carthage "Punic".
Thus while "Phoenician" and "Canaanite" refer to the same culture, archaeologists and historians commonly refer to the Bronze Age, pre-1200 BC Levantines as Canaanites; and their Iron Age descendants, particularly those living on the coast, as Phoenicians. More recently, the term Canaanite has been used for the secondary Iron Age states of the interior (including the Philistines and the states of Israel and Judah) that were not ruled by Arameans—a separate and closely related ethnic group.
Canaanite religion was strongly influenced by their more powerful and populous neighbors, and shows clear influence of Mesopotamian and Egyptian religious practices. Like other people of the Ancient Near East Canaanite religious beliefs were polytheistic, with families typically focusing on veneration of the dead in the form of household gods and goddesses, the Elohim, while acknowledging the existence of other deities such as Baal and El, Asherah and Astarte. Kings also played an important religious role and in certain ceremonies, such as the hieros gamos of the New Year, may have been revered as gods. "At the center of Canaanite religion was royal concern for religious and political legitimacy and the imposition of a divinely ordained legal structure, as well as peasant emphasis on fertility of the crops, flocks, and humans."
Canaanite religion was influenced by its peripheral position, intermediary between Egypt and Mesopotamia, whose religions had a growing impact upon Canaanite religion. For example, during the Hyksos period, when chariot-mounted maryannu ruled in Egypt, at their capital city of Avaris, Baal became associated with the Egyptian god Set, and was considered identical – particularly with Set in his form as Sutekh. Iconographically henceforth Baal was shown wearing the crown of Lower Egypt and shown in the Egyptian-like stance, one foot set before the other. Similarly Athirat (known by her later Hebrew name Asherah), Athtart (known by her later Greek name Astarte), and Anat henceforth were portrayed wearing Hathor-like Egyptian wigs.
From the other direction, Jean Bottéro has suggested that Yah of Ebla (a possible precursor of Yam) was equated with the Mesopotamian god Ea during the Akkadian Empire. In the Middle and Late Bronze Age, there are also strong Hurrian and Mitannite influences upon the Canaanite religion. The Hurrian goddess Hebat was worshiped in Jerusalem, and Baal was closely considered equivalent to the Hurrian storm god Teshub and the Hittite storm god, Tarhunt. Canaanite divinities seem to have been almost identical in form and function to the neighboring Arameans to the east, and Baal Hadad and El can be distinguished amongst earlier Amorites, who at the end of the Early Bronze Age invaded Mesopotamia.
Carried west by Phoenician sailors, Canaanite religious influences can be seen in Greek mythology, particularly in the tripartite division between the Olympians Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, mirroring the division between Baal, Yam and Mot, and in the story of the Labours of Hercules, mirroring the stories of the Tyrian Melqart, who was often equated with Heracles.
Present-day knowledge of Canaanite religion comes from:
Until Claude F. A. Schaefer began excavating in 1929 at Ras Shamra in Northern Syria (the site historically known as Ugarit), and the discovery of its Bronze Age archive of clay tablets written in an alphabetical cuneiform, modern scholars knew little about Canaanite religion, as few records have survived. Papyrus seems to have been the preferred writing medium, but whereas in Egypt papyrus may survive centuries in the extremely dry climate, Canaanite records have simply decayed in the humid Mediterranean climate. As a result, the accounts contained within the Bible represented almost the only sources of information on ancient Canaanite religion. This record was supplemented by a few secondary and tertiary Greek sources: (Lucian's De Dea Syria (The Syrian Goddess), fragments of the Phoenician History of Philo of Byblos (died 141 CE), and the writings of Damascius). More recently, detailed study of the Ugaritic material, of other inscriptions from the Levant and also of the Ebla archive from Tel Mardikh, excavated in 1960 by a joint Italo-Syrian team, have cast more light on the early Canaanite religion.
According to The Encyclopedia of Religion, the Ugarit texts represent one part of a larger religion that was based on the religious teachings of Babylon. The Canaanite scribes who produced the Baal texts were also trained to write in Babylonian cuneiform, including Sumerian and Akkadian texts of every genre.
Archaeological excavations in the last few decades have unearthed more about the religion of the ancient Canaanites. The excavation of the city of Ras Shamra (1928 onwards) and the discovery of its Bronze Age archive of clay-tablet alphabetic cuneiform texts provided a wealth of new information. More recently, detailed study of the Ugaritic material, of other inscriptions from the Levant and also of the Ebla archive from Tel Mardikh, excavated in 1960 by a joint Italo-Syrian team, have cast more light on the early Canaanite religion.
[Per the Syro-Palestinian perception of the cosmos] The fourfold hierarchy of the divine realm may be diagramed as follows [Authoritative Deities: El; Active Deities: Baal; Artisan Deities: Kothar; Messenger Deities: gpn w ugr]...
[Deuteronomy 32:8-9] suggests that Yahweh, originally a warrior-god from Sinai/Paran/Edom/Teiman, was known separately from El at an early point in early Israel.
Ancient Israel and Judah were not “communities of faith” as distinct from any of their neighbours, all of whom had their own deities also. We cannot know in much detail what the religions of these ancient societies were, but the books of Judges—Kings and the archaeological evidence agree that much religious practice in these two kingdoms largely conformed to local patterns (“worshipping the Baals”).
The Bible, I think, is neither historical nor historiographical, but a secondary collection of tradition.
Aicha Kandicha (Moroccan Arabic: عيشة قنديشة, romanized: ʿayša qəndiša, referred to in some works as Qandisa) is a female mythological figure in northern Moroccan folklore. One of a number of folkloric characters who are similar to jinn, but have distinct personalities, she is typically depicted as a beautiful young woman who has the legs of a hoofed animal such as a goat or camel. Although descriptions of Aicha Kandicha vary from region to region within Morocco, she is generally thought to live near water sources, and is said to use her beauty to seduce local men and then madden or kill them.Ammittamru I
Ammittamru I (Known by some sources as Amishtammru I or Amistammru I) was a king of the Ancient Syrian city of Ugarit who ruled c. 1350 BC.Ancient Semitic religion
Ancient Semitic religion encompasses the polytheistic religions of the Semitic peoples from the ancient Near East and Northeast Africa. Since the term Semitic itself represents a rough category when referring to cultures, as opposed to languages, the definitive bounds of the term "ancient Semitic religion" are only approximate.
Semitic traditions and their pantheons fall into regional categories: Canaanite religions of the Levant, the Sumerian tradition–inspired Assyro-Babylonian religion of Mesopotamia, the Ancient Hebrew religion of the
Israelites, and Arabian polytheism. Semitic polytheism possibly transitioned into Abrahamic monotheism by way of the god El, whose name "El", or elah אלה is a word for "god" in Hebrew, cognate to Arabic ilah اله, and its definitive pronoun form الله Allah, "(The) God".Ashteroth Karnaim
Ashteroth Karnaim (Hebrew: עַשְׁתְּרֹת קַרְנַיִם), also rendered as Ashtaroth Karnaim, was a city in the land of Bashan east of the Jordan River.
A distinction is to be made between two neighbouring cities: Ashtaroth, and northeast of it Karnaim, the latter annexing the name of the former after Ashtaroth's decline and becoming known as Ashteroth Karnaim.Ashteroth Karnaim was mentioned under this name in Genesis 14:5, and in Joshua 12:4 where it is rendered simply as "Ashtaroth". Karnaim is also mentioned by the prophet Amos (Amos 6:13) where those in Israel are boasting to have taken it by their own strength.
Karnaim/Ashteroth Karnaim is considered to be the same with Hellenistic-period Karnein of 2 Maccabees 12:21, rendered in the King James Version as Carnion, and possibly as "Carnaim" in 1 Maccabees.Eusebius (c. 260/265–340) writes of Karneia/Karnaia, a large village in "Arabia", where a house of Job was identified by tradition.Ba'al Hermon
In ancient Canaanite religion, Ba'al Hermon (translated to Lord (Ba'al) of Hermon, meaning consecrated place) was the titular local deity of Mount Hermon. The mountain was inhabited by the Hivites.Brummana
Brummana (Arabic: برمانا) is a town in the Matn District of the Mount Lebanon Governorate in Lebanon. It is located east of Beirut, overlooking the capital and the Mediterranean.El (deity)
ʼĒl (or ʼIl, Ugaritic: 𐎛𐎍; Phoenician: 𐤀𐤋; Hebrew: אל; Syriac: ܐܠ; Arabic: إل or إله; cognate to Akkadian: 𒀭, romanized: ilu) is a Northwest Semitic word meaning "god" or "deity", or referring (as a proper name) to any one of multiple major ancient Near Eastern deities. A rarer form, ʼila, represents the predicate form in Old Akkadian and in Amorite. The word is derived from the Proto-Semitic archaic biliteral ʼ‑l, meaning "god".
Specific deities known as ʼEl or ʼIl include the supreme god of the ancient Canaanite religion and the supreme god of East Semitic speakers in Mesopotamia’s Early Dynastic Period.Fallen angel
In Abrahamic religions, fallen angels are angels who were expelled from heaven. The literal term "fallen angel" appears neither in the Bible nor in other Abrahamic scriptures, but is used to describe angels who were cast out of heaven, or angels who sinned. Such angels often tempt humans to sin.
The idea of fallen angels derived from the Book of Enoch, a Jewish pseudepigraph, or the assumption that the "sons of God" (בני האלהים) mentioned in Genesis 6:1–4 are angels. In the period immediately preceding the composition of the New Testament, some sects of Judaism, as well as many Christian Church Fathers, identified the "sons of God" of Genesis 6:1–4 as fallen angels. Rabbinic Judaism and Christian authorities after the third century rejected the Enochian writings and the notion of an illicit union between angels and women producing giants. Christian doctrine states that the sins of fallen angels start before the beginning of human history. Accordingly, fallen angels became identified with angels who were led by Satan in rebellion against God and equated with demons. However, during the intertestamental period, demons were not thought of as the fallen angels themselves, but as the surviving souls of their monstrous offspring. According to this interpretation, fallen angels have intercourse with human women, giving existence to the Biblical giants. To purge the world of these creatures, God sends the Great Deluge and their bodies are destroyed. However, their spiritual parts survive, henceforth roaming the earth as demons.
Although sometimes denied by some scholars, many classical Islam scholars accepted the existence of fallen angels. Evidence for the motif of fallen angels can be traced back to reports attributed to some of the companions of Muhammad, such as Ibn Abbas (619-687) and Abdullah ibn Masud (594-653). At the same time, some Islamic scholars opposed the assumption of fallen angels by stressing out the piety of angels supported by verses of Quran, such as 16:49 and 66:6. One of the first opponents of fallen angels was the early and influential Islamic ascete Hasan of Basra (642-728). To support the doctrine of infallible angels, he pointed at verses which stressed the piety of angels, while simultaneously reinterpreting verses which might imply acknowledgement of fallen angels. For that reason, he read the term mala'ikah (angels) in reference to Harut and Marut in 2:102 as malikayn (kings), depicting them as ordinary men and not as angels and Iblis as a jinn. Disagreement is apparent even among scholars who accepted the possibility of fallen angels, mostly regarding the precise degree of angelic fallibility; according to a common assertion, only the messengers among angels are impeccable.Academic scholars have discussed whether or not the Quranic jinn are identical to the Biblical fallen angels. Although the different types of spirits in the Quran are sometimes hard to distinguish, the jinn in Islamic traditions seem to differ in their major characteristics from fallen angels.Hebrew religion
Hebrew religion may refer to:
Ancient Canaanite religion
Jebel Aqra, properly Jebel al-ʾAqraʿ (Arabic: جبل الأقرع, [ˈd͡ʒæbæl al ˈʔaqraʕ]; Turkish: Cebel-i Akra), also known as Mount Casius, is a limestone mountain located on the Syrian–Turkish border near the mouth of the Orontes River on the Mediterranean Sea. Its Turkish side is also known as Mount Kel (Kel Dağı). Rising from a narrow coastal plain, Jebel Aqra is a mariners' landmark which gathers thunderstorms.
The cult site is still represented by a huge mound of ashes and debris, 180 feet (55 m) wide and 26 feet (7.9 m) deep, of which only the first 6 feet (1.8 m) have been excavated. The researchers only reached as far as the Hellenistic strata before the site was closed, as it lies in a Turkish military zone on its border with Syria.Kingdom of Araba
The Kingdom of Araba (or simply Araba) (Hatran Aramaic: 'RBY') was a 2nd-century CE Arab kingdom located between the Roman Empire and the Parthian Empire, mostly under Parthian influence, located in modern-day northern Iraq.The city of Hatra was probably founded in the 3rd or 2nd century BCE, under the Seleucid kingdom. Arabs were common in Mesopotamia at the time of the Seleucids (3rd century BC). In the 1st and 2nd century, Hatra was ruled by a dynasty of Arabian princes. It rose to prominence as the capital of Araba and became an important religious center as a result of its strategic position along caravan trade routes.Araba is one of the first Arab states to be established outside of Arabia, preceded by the Kingdom of Osroene (132 BC–216 AD) and the Kingdom of Emesa (64 BCE–300s CE), and followed by the Ghassanids (220–638) and the Lakhmids (300–602), buffer states of the Roman and Sassanid Empires, respectively.Hatra had withstood sieges by Roman emperors Trajan and Septimius Severus and the Sasanian king Ardashir I. The kingdom finally fell after the capture of Hatra by the Sasanians under Shapur I, who destroyed the city.Kition
Kition (Greek: Κίτιον, Kítion; Punic: 𐤊𐤕, KT, or 𐤊𐤕𐤉, KTY), also known by its Latin name Citium, was a city-kingdom on the southern coast of Cyprus (in present-day Larnaca). It was established in the 13th century BC.Its most famous, and probably only known, resident was Zeno of Citium, born c. 334 BC in Citium and founder of the Stoic school of philosophy which he taught in Athens from about 300 BC.List of religions and spiritual traditions
While religion is hard to define, one standard model of religion, used in religious studies courses, was proposed by Clifford Geertz, who defined it as a
[…] system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic." A critique of Geertz's model by Talal Asad categorized religion as "an anthropological category." Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system", but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviours, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural) or religious texts. Certain religions also have a sacred language often used in liturgical services. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, rituals, rites, ceremonies, worship, initiations, funerals, marriages, meditation, invocation, mediumship, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Religious beliefs have also been used to explain parapsychological phenomena such as out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and reincarnation, along with many other paranormal and supernatural experiences.Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths; indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths. One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings, and thus religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures that are not based upon such systems, or in which these systems are a substantially simpler construct.Religion in Carthage
The religion of Carthage in North Africa was a direct continuation of the Phoenician variety of the polytheistic ancient Canaanite religion with significant local modifications. Controversy prevails regarding the possible existence and practice of propitiatory child sacrifice in the religion of Carthage. However, a recent study of archeological evidence confirms this ritual.Religions of the ancient Near East
The religions of the ancient Near East were mostly polytheistic, with some examples of monolatry (for example, Yahwism and Atenism). Some scholars believe that the similarities between these religions indicate that the religions are related, a belief known as patternism.Many religions of the ancient near East and their offshoots can be traced to Proto-Semitic religion. Other religions in the ancient Near East include Ancient Egyptian religion, the Luwian and Hittite religions of Asia Minor and the Sumerian religion of ancient Mesopotamia. Offshoots of Proto-Semitic religion include Assyro-Babylonian religion, Canaanite religion, and Arabian religion. Judaism is a development of Canaanite religion, both Indo-European and Semitic religions influenced the ancient Greek religion, and Zoroastrianism was a product of ancient Indo-Iranian religion primarily the Ancient Iranian religion. In turn these religious traditions strongly influenced the later monotheistic religions of Christianity, Mandeanism, Sabianism, Gnosticism, Islam, and Manicheanism, which inherited their monotheism from Judaism and Zoroastrianism.Resheph
Resheph (also Rešef, Reshef; Canaanite ršp רשף; Eblaite Rašap, Egyptian ršpw) was a deity associated with plague (or a personification of plague) in ancient Canaanite religion. The originally Eblaite and Canaanite deity was adopted into ancient Egyptian religion in the late Bronze Age during the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt (late 15th century BC) as a god of horses and chariots.
In Biblical Hebrew, רֶשֶׁף resheph is a noun interpreted as "flame, lightning" but also "burning fever, plague, pestilence".Sanchuniathon
Sanchuniathon (; Ancient Greek: Σαγχουνιάθων; probably from Phoenician: 𐤎𐤊𐤍𐤉𐤕𐤍, romanized: SKNYTN, Sakun-yaton, "[the god] Sakon has given") is the purported Phoenician author of three lost works originally in the Phoenician language, surviving only in partial paraphrase and summary of a Greek translation by Philo of Byblos, according to the Christian bishop Eusebius. These few fragments comprise the most extended literary source concerning Phoenician religion in either Greek or Latin: Phoenician sources, along with all of Phoenician literature, were lost with the parchment on which they were habitually written.Tophet
For the place in Ancient Carthage with that name, see Ancient Carthage.In the Hebrew Bible, Tophet or Topheth (Hebrew: תוֹפֶת; Greek: Ταφέθ; Latin: Topheth) was a location in Jerusalem in the Gehinnom where worshipers influenced by the ancient Canaanite religion engaged in the human sacrifice of children to the gods Moloch and Baal by burning them alive. Tophet became a theological or poetic synonym for Hell within Christendom.
The traditional explanation that a burning rubbish heap in the Valley of Hinnom south of Jerusalem gave rise to the idea of a fiery Gehenna of judgment is attributed to Rabbi David Kimhi's commentary on Psalm 27:13. He maintained that in this loathsome valley fires were kept burning perpetually to consume the filth and cadavers thrown into it.Tzadik
Tzadik (Hebrew: צַדִּיק [tsaˈdik], "righteous [one]", also zadik, ṣaddîq or sadiq; pl. tzadikim [tsadiˈkim] צדיקים ṣadiqim) is a title in Judaism given to people considered righteous, such as Biblical figures and later spiritual masters. The root of the word ṣadiq, is ṣ-d-q (צדק tsedek), which means "justice" or "righteousness". When applied to a righteous woman, the term is conjugated as tzadeikes/tzaddeket.
Tzadik is also the root of the word tzedakah ('charity', literally 'righteousness'). The term tzadik "righteous", and its associated meanings, developed in Rabbinic thought from its Talmudic contrast with hasid ("pious" honorific), to its exploration in ethical literature, and its esoteric spiritualisation in Kabbalah.
Since the late 17th century, in Hasidic Judaism, the institution of the mystical tzadik as a divine channel assumed central importance, combining popularization of (hands-on) Jewish mysticism with social movement for the first time. Adapting former Kabbalistic theosophical terminology, Hasidic philosophy internalised mystical experience, emphasising devekut attachment to its Rebbe leadership, who embody and channel the Divine flow of blessing to the world.
|Myth and ritual|
|Modern pagan movements|