Weekly Digest (October 27, 2017)

*For myself and others, I will now be posting each Friday. Posts will include articles/books/blogs. which are relevant to my own work. When available, a link will be posted to the article. 
Article on Phoenician amulet dated the 7th century BCE (LINK)
“This amulet bears a Phoenician incantation (or perhaps more accurately, two or more incantations) inscribed in an Aramaic script, on the basis of which it is dated to the 7th c. BCE. Together with a companion piece, it is one of the only stone tablet text amulets’ to bear an inscription in any Canaanite dialect, and is therefore unique in several respects.”
An Aramaic-Inscribed Lamaštu Amulet from Zincirli (LINK)
“We are, nevertheless, occasionally surprised to find forgotten inscriptions with thin bibliographic trails and no available transcriptions, studies, or even legible photographs. The Aramaic-inscribed Lamaštu amulet we present here is one such forgotten item. This amulet was excavated during the 1888–1902 German expedition to Zincirli Höyük, Turkey, but was reproduced only illegibly in a 1943 report.”
CT 53 46
Zadok (2015) notes the personal names Nērī-Iau and Palṭi-Iau. If the iau element is a Yahwistic element, this is particularly interesting because their roles within CT 53 46 are as priests.
Click Hole Video About a New Gospel (LINK)
Ancient Jewish Magic Bibliography (LINK)
Review of The Materiality of Power by Brian Schmidt(LINK)
Review of Phoenician Aniconism in Its Mediterranean and Ancient Near Eastern Contexts (LINK)
Article about the Publication of Inscriptions by Christopher Rollston (LINK)
Article on Early Judaism (LINK)

Notes on “Phoenicians”

The following are my notes on the following article:

Niemeyer, Hans Georg (Hamburg), Röllig, Wolfgang (Tübingen), Eder, Walter (Berlin), Müller, Walter W. (Marburg/Lahn) and Müller, Hans-Peter (Münster), “Phoenicians, Poeni”, in: Brill’s New Pauly, Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider. Consulted online on 10 April 2017 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1574-9347_bnp_e922990&gt;

If you aren’t interested in reading the notes, directly below here is two paragraphs responding this article and other things.

In terms of being part of a West-Semitic context, the P. fit very well. Thus, some would claim that ancient Israel should be understood within a P. context. This approach, however, seems to draw too much on the people who descended from the P., namely the Punic ethnicity. Based on what I read in this article, the lack of archaeological support, the HB, and the inimical way in which people reported on P. culture and history, it seems that P. was an equal contender with ancient Israelian-Judean ethnicity (ethnicities?). Just like Judah was able to survive the pressure of empires more than their Northern counterparts, so Sidon was able to survive the pressure of empires more than their counterpart, namely Tyre.

In other words, the historical developments within this shaky history of P. is nothing particularly grands, just as ancient Israelian-Judean historical developments is not particularly grand. Each ethnic group was situated in a politically and religious challenging context. They each dealt with the issue in distinct ways.

I. Names and concept, sources

  • Name and idea of Phoenicians formed in Greek world
  • Referring to political/ethnic identity from LBA.
  • For Greek traders, P. was a functional designation.
  • Latin name Poeni.
    • Roman creation based in Carthage.
  • Scanty literary sources; mainly transmitted by neighbouring people.
    • P. and Punic cultures were often portrayed as inimical, and thus they distorted thier stories.
  • Archaeology contributes little to the cultural profile of P.

II.  Geography and Topography

  • Mother country defined by concrete territory, though we don’t know exact locations.
    • Included Arward, Byblus, Sidon, Tyrus.
  • Historically and geographically situated near Ugarit in the N., Samaria and Jerusalem in the S.
  • P. sought to “acquire the raw materials pressingly needed for domestic industry and crafts and for their prosperous… trading in the eastern Mediterranean”.
  • Strategic in placing settlements.
  • Large finds of exported luxury good outside of P. cities and settlements.
    • earl Iron Age saw elite position and access to raw materials; copper in Cyprus, gold in Thasos, and many other mining regions.
  • P. was not an original “resident” of ancient Mediterranean, but they were present.

III. History

  • P. is defined by representative city states because there is no comon history.
    • Josephus ref. a Hellenistic historian who wrote a P. history.
    • Philo of Byblus wrote a P. History.
    • In HB, only P. cities are mentioned, but no state of larger tribal unit.
    • Though, shared cultural things.
  • Forced to expand into Cyprus and Crete by 10th century BCE, also Malta, Sicily, Sardinia, Spain, and N. Africa.
  • Political ties with Anatolia and Syria.
    • Sidon joined anti-Assyrian coalition, only to be “deported and decapitated by Asarhaddon (681-669) in 676 BCE.
  • Collapse of N. Syria political world let Byblus come to political forefront c. 1200 BCE.
  • c. 969-936, treaty with Sidonian leader Hiram I and Solomon, 1 Kings 5:26.
  • Tyre became a key player in warlike disputes c. 810-727.
    • Hiram II (739-732) participated in a revolt at Damascus.
    • Sidon retained indepndence.
    • 663 – it was besieged by Assurbanipal and surrendered.
      • Province was likely incorporated into Assyrian system.
  • Post-Assyrian fall, P. cities try to regain independence.
    • cf. Zeph 1,4
    • Egypt, and Babylon, prevented this.
    • According to Josephus, Tyre “was besieged for 13 years (Jos. Ap. 1,143).
  • Under Persian rule, Sidon again sought to regain independence after being incorporated into the Persian Empire.
    • Rose against Artaxerxes III Ochus, but surrendered.
    • Sidon received Alexander the Great in 333; Tyre tried to resist for 7 months, but failed.
  • Post  64 BCE, under Romans, P. cities lost political power.

B. Punic

  • The article has much on it; however, this is outside of what my area of focus is. I’d like to read it eventually, but not now.

IV. Archaeology and Cultural History, the P.

  • early period only attests “smallish sanctuaries of the sacral architecture in cities”
    • Astarte/Tinnit, Sarepta (8th century BCE).
    • Punic temple of Kerkounana (4th/3rd century BCE).
    • Temple of Melqart built by Hiram I, in Tyre
      • Only from literary reports.
    • Other temples from the Persian and Hellenistic periods.
  • P. architecture in early time is decorative, with cascade of leaves.
  • Sculpture.
    • god worshiped with aniconic cult images
    • 8th-6th century large sculptures from P. cities based on Egyptian models.
  • Well-known for luxury crafts.
  • P. in Mediterranean was a uniqe phenomenon.
    • location, social groups, transportation, etc. all contributed to its formation.
    • Along with other city states on Levant coast. P. was in-line with ANE Bronze Age.


Briefly, facial masks likely have a religious significance. They are monuments since at least the 9th/8th centuries BCE in P. May have held cultic and apotropaic function because they are found at graves and sanctuaries.

Niemeyer, Hans Georg (Hamburg) and Blume, Horst-Dieter (Münster), “Masks”, in: Brill’s New Pauly, Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider. Consulted online on 10 April 2017 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1574-9347_bnp_e725730&gt;








Again, More Notes on “Civilizations of the Ancient Near East”

Myth and Mythmaking in Canaan and Ancient Israel by Mark Smith (2031-2041)

  • Three stereotypical explanations of myth from a monotheistic perspective
    • monotheistic theology equals faith, while myth is told stories.
    • holy texts of monotheism leave no room for myth, which is polytheistic
    • monotheism is based in history, but ancient religions, which had myths, are not.
  • Mythic continuity between ancient Israel, Canaan, and Ugartic texts.
  • Baal Cycle and Epic of Aqhat are major Ugaritic myths.
    • Baal Cycleenvisions of cosmic battle for political control. Expressed in terms of kingship.
      • By modern standard of course, this constitutes religious because it involved the gods.
  • Most material is inscriptions mentioning gods and names with theophoric elements.
  • Traditions of Tyrian god Melqart may reflect Ugaritic tradition
    • Namely, those of Baal and cult of divinaized royal ancestors, present at Ugarit.
    • Meqlart is the dead hero who “awakens from the dead”.
  • Best source for Canaanite myth is Phil of Byblos’s Pheonician History
    • Embedded in the work of Eusebius and Porphyry.
    • Early evidence does not distingush greatly between Israel and neighboring regional religions.
    • Even with developing Israelite religion, other gods of Pheonicia, Edom, etc. existed within the Israelite-Judean religious context.
      • So, El, Ball, Yahweh, a dynastic god; divine council, Asherah, etc.
    • Held onto a sort of cult for the deceased and concept of divine council.
      • Council was at a low level.
    • Originally El was probably the name of the deity supporting the group.
    • Ex. 6:2-3
      • Identifies El Shaddy, El being the older god, with Yahweh.
      • Reflects that Yahweh was previously unknown; now, then it was El Shaddai.
    • Much language previously associated with Baal is used
      • Baal Shamem, though, is the Phoencian storm-god.
      • Israel also had old Levantine/Canaanite imagery of Baal in its memory.
    • Much shared imagery between HB and Baal Cycle
  • Mythic imagery was political
    • Mythic language was used as
      • way to tie divine and human kings
      • unite tribal groups
      • legitimize a ruler
  • People drew on the imagery found in things like the Baal Cycle because everybody knew it, the poor, uneducated, rich, and educated.
  • Canaanite literature was more anthropomorphic; our knowledge of Judean myth in that period reduced anthropomorphisms.

Theology, Priests, and Worship in Canaan and Ancient Israel by Karel van der Toorn (p. 2043-2058)

  • Dichotomy of Israelite religion vs. Canaanite religion should be rejected.
  • In the Iron Age (1200-500 BCE), “Israelite preachers labeled all non-Yahwhistic practices “canaanite.” A strict and uncompromising Yahwism, itself the outcome of a long process, was retrospectively presented as the original religion of the Israelites” (2043).
  • van der Toorn focuses on the fundamental “common theology” of the religious culture in ancient Syro-Palestine.
  • GODS
    • gods of ancient world inhabited the earth
      • Leviticus, god is in the tabernacle; Genesis, god chooses the enter the earth. Yahweh has a physicality in Israelite memory.
    • No such thing as “faith”.
    • Worldy phenomena was heavenly, the gods at work.
    • dwelt at fringes, such as mountains
      • Baal of Ugarit at Mount Zaphon.
      • Yahweh of Israel from “Mountainous area in the southeast of Palestine” (2044).
    • It is mistake to reduce gods to mere personifications of nature.
      • “reality of the Syro-Palestinian gods was not metaphorical but personal” (2044)
      • They had thoughts, emotions, will power, bodies, albeit incredibly large bodies.
    • Fundamental difference was in terms of power, longevity, authority, influence, and knowledge.
    • Deity is thought to be seated on a celestial throne
      • cf. Temple imagery of Ps. 133
      • Zion is the Temple/Palace of Yahweh.
    • Syro-Palestinian religions shared the idea of a “fundamentally unfathomable divine essence… in the notion of holiness” (2045).
    • Oldest pantheon is from Ebla (c. 2450-2250)
      • Dagan is the leader of the pantheon, followed by Adda (Addu/Adad/Hadad)
      • Dif. Adads worshiped in near cities
    • Cthonic deities played a role in ancient Syro-Palestinian religious thought.
    • Baal and Hadad developed into distinct deities, one Canaanite and the other Aramean.
      • Different forms of Hadad based on location.
    • Phoenicia
      • Main goddess is Ashtarte, associated with Baal Shamem.
      • Baal Shamem is also associate with Baal Malage and Zaphon.
        • Seafaring gods.
    • Philistines worshiped Dagan.
    • Transjordan inhabited by Israelite, Ammonites, and Moabites, according to HB.
      • Milcom of the Ammonites, Chemosh of the Moabites
      • Both these deities are also situated at Ugarit.
      • Group of underworld deities called the Shaddayin
        • Occurs in Ps. 106.36 as the god of child sacrifice.
    • Edom
      • Regarded by Israel as kindred.
      • Religious, this was very real; Yahweh, national god of Judah and Israel, is often associated with Mount Paran and Mount Seir.
      • “it is the nearly unanimous verdict of historians of Israelite religion that Yahweh has southeast Semitic origins, whether his first worshiper were Kenites, MIdians, or Edomnites
        • Yahweh is not a traditional member of the West Semitic Pantheon
        • Although some characteristics of Baal was transferred to Yahweh, Yahweh’s origins were not in the West Semitic pantheon (p. 2047).
  • National Theologies.
    • Each communities in Syro-Palestinian region has one or two primary gods
      • For city, tribe, or nation.
      • I.e. Adad of Aleppo is not the same as Adad of Damascus.
    • Polytheism was counterbalanced by “a particularism in the dovotion”.
    • Notion of inheritance is employed outside of Israel
      • Ugaritic texts call Mt. Zaphon the “inheritance of Baal”; netherworld the inheritance of Mot, god of death” (2048)
    • Still on the notion of inheritance
      • Philo of Byblos wrote:
        • Kronos gave Byblos to Baaltis
        • Beirut to Poseidon
        • Egypt to Thoth
    • Covenant, perhaps, popularily in Israelite religion because Yahweh was not always the god of Israel
      • He had to compete with other West Semitic gods.
      • “It may be surmised that he championed this covenant theology precisely because of the actual polytheism of his day” (2048).
        • Use Deut. 6:4 as an example.
      • Yahweh was not automatically the god of Israel
        • So it had to be constructed theologically.
    • While this approach to Yahweh’s centrality, namely the aforementioned, is unique, there are other West Semitic parallels
      • Baal at Ugarit, Dagan among Philistines, Chemosh among Moabites
        • These were the main gods; other existed, but they were lesser.
    • “Devotion to the national god became a sign of political allegiance and patriotism” (2048).
      • True, but the terms van der Toorn uses have far too much baggage in the modern period.
  • Religion and politics
    • King played an important role in religion
      • 2 Kings 11:17
        • priest Jehoiada “made a covenant between Yahweh and the king and the people, that they should be Yahweh’s people; and also between the king and the people” (2049)
      • “So intricate were their links [palace and temple] that it is often difficult to say where religion stops and politics begin and vice versa.
    • wrong to say that religion was a “state ideology in disguise” (2049).
    • priests of royal sanctuaries were like civil servants.
    • Political authorities tried to maintain power through policies on religious life.
      • Saul tried to get rid of necromancers and wizards (1 Sam. 28:3).
      • David transfered ark from Kirath-jearim to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6)
        • A political AND religious move.
      • King Jeroboam embellished Bethel and Dan sactuaries/changes date of autumn festival (1 Kings 12:25-33).
    • Incriptions throughout Syro-Palestinian area show that kings were divine elected.
      • Lady of Byblos made Yehawilk king of Byblos
      • Baalshamein make Zakkur king of Hamath and Lu’ash
      • We see this is Psalms through things like Ps. 2:7 and 110:3, both of which say, “I have begotten you.
        • Divine paternity legitimized his position.
      • Some double rulers as king and priest.
        • king of Byblos was also the priest of the Lady of Byblos (2049)
      • Some northern Aramiac kingdom referred king as a steward of the storm-god Hadad.
      • We see this in Israel as well when kings are reported to offer sacrifices at altars.
        • Find these references.
    • Ancient Israelite religion had a procession of the ark into the temple to commemorate creation, which prolaimed Yahweh’s kingship’
      • Also happens in LBA Ugarit and Emar.
      • And in Babylon.
  • Temples
    • Many open-air shrines throughout 1st and 2nd millennium.
    • Some cult installations were expanded into temples, or palaces for the temple.
      • E(2).KAL is a palace in Akkadian or a temple for a diety.
    • Temples typically contained images, and thus housing, for various gods.
      • Ugarit had temples for El, Baal, Dagan, and others.
      • Emar had temples for Ninurta, Adad, Ninkur, and others.
      • Iron Age Judah: Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem.
        • image of Baal and Asherah referred to as “vessels” (2 Kings 23:4)
        • Hostpilaity for worship of sun-god and Tammuz (Ezekial 8:14-160 (2051).
    • Juridical function of temples based on theology.
      • The judge was the deity.
    • “The situation at the Israelite temple at Bethel is probably characteristic of many Syro-Palestinian sanctuaries” (2051).
      • Amos encountered a priest at a temple in Bethel while prophecying against him.  (Amos 7:10-13)
    • In short, temple was central in Syro-Palestinian religion; it was the intersection of heaven and earth; the crossroads of religion, social, economic, juridical, and politics (2052).
  • Priest
    • Priests needed to be unblemished throughout Syro-Palestinian region.
      • Cf. Leviticus 21:16-24
    • In Emar, they had the sacrificer, carrier of divine statue, diviner, singer, spouse of god, etc. (2052).
  • Worship
    • Three types of offering in Israel
      • Burnt, flour, and wine.
    • These were also offerings at Ugarit and Iron Age Phoenicia (2053).
    • Also, sheep, lamb, cows, birds, cereal, fruit, libations of win/hony/ghee/milk.
    • Some meant sacrificing animals and then eating it.
      • Meat was a rarity.
      • Usually done for thankgiving for divine favor, vow payment, or spontaneous desire (Lev. 7:11-18).
    • Annual sacrifice in Autumn, sacrifice at time of plower and sowing (October and December; end of harvent (Spring) (2053).
    • Hymns considered part of temple worship.
      • Similarities between a text at Ugarit (1.101:1-4) and Ps. 29, showing a shared tradition.
      • See all other Psalms, of course.
    • Various gestures for worship, symbolic of social relations
      • bow down, bend over, etc. (2054).
    • Sometimes, fees had to be paid to priest for sacrifice (2 Kings 12:16)
      • This also happens in late examples of Punic tariffs which require payment to priest for sacrifice.
    • Go to temples to get oracles
      • Some prophets were actually paid, some were not.
  • When I am ready to write, read pg. 2056-57 on ISRAELITE MONOTHEISM. This is an incredibly important thing to focus on when I write.