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Kenan קינן

(228 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name In genealogical lists of the antediluvian heroes, the son of Enosh is called qênān/Kenan ( Gen. 5.9–14; 1 Chr. 1.2; cf. Luke 3.37 Kainam). Etymologically the name can be interpreted as derived from the noun or name qayinCain with a diminutive ending -ān. The name can mean either ‘smith; javelin’ ( HALAT 1026) or ‘little Cain’ (Hess 1993). The name has been compared to a Southarabian deity Qaynān (Robertson Smith 1894:43 n. 4; Westermann 1974:483). II. Identity From Himyaritic inscriptions a Sabaean deity Qaynān is known (CIH 2, 232). He was especially worshipped by …

Sasam ססם

(739 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name Sasam is interpreted as a theophoric element in the personal name sismāy (1 Chr. 2.40; HALAT 719; Fowler 1988: 64). The deity is attested in Canaanite theophoric personal names and as a demon in a Phoenician incantation. II. Identity Sasam appears in West semitic theophoric personal names (Fauth 1970:229–233). West Semitic: ša-aš-ma-a ( ADD 151: BE:1); Ugaritic: ʿbdssm ( UM 73 Rev. 6), bn ssm ( PRU II 47:18); Phoenician: ʿbdssm ( KAI 35:1; 40:3; 49:11, 46.47; mainly from Cyprus); [ s] smy // Σεσμαος ( KAI 42:3; Cyprus) ʿbdssm // (= Αψασωμος; RES 1213; Cyprus); …


(572 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name The name of the Jebusite Araunah, Heb. ʾărawnāʾ ( 2 Sam. 24.16, 2 Sam. 20–24; 1 Chr. 21.15, 1 Chr. 18; 2 Chr. 3.1), has etymologically been related to the Indian deity Varuṇa. In doing so, Araunah has been related to an alleged Aryan upper class in the ancient Near East (F. Hommel 1904:1011; H. Hommel 1929:117). II. Identity In the Vedas of ancient India Varuṇa played an important role. He often appears together with Mitra (Mithras), both having an ethical character as guarantors of Ṛta. Varuṇa is related to the night. He rules over the invi…

Japheth יפת

(516 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name The personal name Yepet/Japheth ( Gen. 5.32; Gen. 6.10; Gen. 7.13; Gen. 9.18–27; Gen. 10.1, Gen. 2, Gen. 21; 1 Chron. 1.4, 1 Chron. 5; Jdt. 2.25 refers to a place name Japheth), does not have a clear Semitic etymology, except for the popular interpretation found in Gen. 9.27: yapt ʾĕlōhîm lĕyepet, “May God enlarge Japheth”, suggesting a connection between the name and I pth ‘to enlarge’ ( HALAT 405–406; Layton 1990: 90). A relation with II pth ‘to be youthful’ or with yph, ‘to be beautiful’, is also possible, though (Isaac 1992:641). Japheth has been compared with the Greek …

Day יום

(1,251 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name The Hebrew noun yôm, ‘day’, frequently occurs in the OT (2304 times; the Aram. cognate yôm occurs 16 times in Dan and Ezra). The noun has a common Semitic background and is not derived from a verb (von Soden, Bergman & Saebø 1982:561–562). At some instances in the OT ‘day’ is personified. This use of ‘day’ indicating a malevolent being construed as acting in history has some parallels in Mesopotamian texts. In Ugaritic, ym, to be distinguished from ym, ‘Sea’, is attested as a deity in the Baal-epic and occurs in a syllabic god-list. In the Old Aramaic Sefire-treaty ywm occurs as a dei…

Ancient of Days

(1,216 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name In a throne vision with mythological traits, God is depicted as the ʿattîq yômîn/ yômayyāʾ, traditionally rendered as ‘the Ancient of Days’ ( Dan. 7.9, Dan. 13, Dan. 22). The expression is to be interpreted as a construct chain expressing a genetivus partitivus. The basic meaning of the common Semitic root ʿtq is ‘to be advanced’. The expression then can be rendered as ‘advanced in days’ implying that the deity was seen as one ‘far gone in years’ or ‘ancient of days’. The background of the imagery in Dan. 7 has been looked for in Canaanite mythology (Emerton 1958; Collins 1977; 199…


(388 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name The personal name ʾašḥûr, Ashhur (1 Chron. 2.24; 1 Chron. 4.5)—traditionally construed as a derivation from the root šḥr, ‘to be black’ ( HALAT 91)—has been interpreted by Cassuto (1947:472) as “belonging to Išḫara”. Išḫara is known as a Babylonian goddess. II. Identity Išhara, d Iš-ḫa-ra, also written Aš-ḫa-ra and Eš-ḫa-ra, is one of the names for Inanna/Ishtar. In Atr. I 301–304 and Gilg. II ii 35–50 mention is made of a ‘bed laid for Išhara’. From this it can be inferred that Ishtar was called Išhara during the marriage rites. Therefore, she can be depi…

El Rophe אל רפא

(679 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name The enigmatic line in Num. 13.19 ʾēl nāʾ rĕpāʾ nāʾ lāh, traditionally rendered as “O, God, do heal her”, has been construed as containing originally the divine name ʾēl rōpēʾ, ‘El Rophe; Healing God’ (Rouillard 1987). This divine name has been compared with the Ug. epithet rpu, ‘Saviour’, occurring in the expression rpu mlk ʿlm and mt rpi, and with the Rephaim (Rouillard 1987:35–42). II. Identity The expression rpu mlk ʿlm is generally translated as ‘the Saviour, the eternal King’ (e.g. de Moor, ARTU 187) and interpreted as an epithet either of Baal seen as the …

Zamzummim זמזמים

(282 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name Deut. 2.20 presents the Zamzummites, zamzummîm, as the Ammonite designation of the former inhabitants of the Ammonite area. Since the Zamzummites are interpreted as a tribe of the Rephaim related to the Enakites (Giants), it can be assumed that the Zamzummites are enfeebled spirits of the dead (Pope 1981:170; Hübner 1992: 163–164). Their name is etymologically connected to zmm, ‘to contrive evil’ ( HALAT 262; Hübner 1992:212). II. Identity Unlike the Rephaim, the Zamzummites are not mentioned in texts outside the OT. The only information concerning their c…

Exalted Ones שׁנים

(550 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name The expression bĕqereb šānîm, occurring twice in Hab. 3.2 and traditionally rendered as ‘within years; in the midst of the years’ or the like ( HALAT 1478), has been interpreted as referring to deities: ‘when the Exalted Ones are approaching …’ (Reider 1954; Wieder 1974) or as an epithet for Yahweh ‘The Exalted One’ (Haak 1992). This proposal is connected with the interpretation of a Ugaritic epithet for El ab šnm which is then supposed to mean ‘Father of the Exalted Ones’. II. Identity The translation ‘father of the years’ for ab šnm read as * abu šanima being an epithet for E…

Shem שׁם

(878 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name The name of Shem, one of the three sons of Noah, literally means ‘name’ ( Gen. 5.32; Gen. 6.10; Gen. 7.13; Gen. 9; Gen. 10; 1 Chron. 1; Sir. 49.16; HALAT 1435). šm occurs as a theophoric element in personal names from Ebla (Gordon 1988:153–154). A deity Shem is probably present as theophoric element in names like šĕmîdāʿ, Shemida ( Josh. 17.2; 1 Chron. 7.19), and šĕmûʾēl, Samuel (Jirku 1927). The name of this deity should be distinguished from the use of the noun šem as an hypostatical indication of Yahweh; Name. II. Identity In Mesopotamian personal names—mostly in Amori…

Breasts and Womb שׁדים ורחם

(680 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name The expression šādayim wārāḥam, ‘Breasts and Womb’, ( Gen. 49.25) has been interpreted as an epithet echoing Ugaritic titles of the goddesses Anat and Asherah (Vawter 1955; M. O’ Connor, Hebrew Verse Structure [Winona Lake 1980] 178; Smith 1990:17). II. Identity In a para-mythological text from Ugarit, it is said that the deities Shahar and Shalim are to be seen as those ‘sucking the nipple ( ap; lit. ‘nose’) of the breast ( ḏd// zd) of Athiratu’ ( KTU 1.23:24, 59, 61). In the epic of Keret, Ilu promises Keret that his future son will ‘suck the breast ( ṯd) of Virgin Anat’ ( KTU 1.15 …


(761 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name The name kĕdār-lāʿomer, ‘Chedorlaomer’ king of Elam ( Gen. 14.1, Gen. 4, Gen. 5, Gen. 9, Gen. 17; 1QGenAp 21:23), is to be interpreted as a combination of the noun kudur (Akk.) or kutir/kut.e.r (Elamite), ‘protector’ (see R. Zadok, The Elamite Onomasticon [AION Sup 40; Napoli 1984] 25 for names containing this noun), with the name of the Elamite underworld deity Lagamal/Lagamar (Böhl 1916:67; Astour 1966:78; Weippert 1976–1980; Astour 1992:893). The name Lagamal means “No mercy” (Lambert 1980–83:418). II. Identity The name of the deity is written La-ga-ma-al/mal or La-ga-ma…

Vanities הבלים

(568 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name In Deuteronomistic religious polemics and related texts, ‘vanities’ ( hebelîm) indicate images of non-Yahwistic deities. It is impossible to establish the identity of the deities involved (Preuss 1971:160–164). Etymologically, hebel is related to words for ‘breath; vapour and nullity’. II. Identity Since it is not clear to which deities the term hebelîm refers, their character cannot be described. It is characteristic of the orthodox form of the Yahwistic religion in ancient Israel to designate ‘other deities’ in a disparaging way. This …


(238 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name A deity Yaʿûq was worshipped by pre-Islamic Arabs. The personal names Yaʿăqān ( Num. 33.31, Num. 32; Deut. 10.6; 1 Chr. 1.42) and ʿăqān ( Gen. 36.27) have been interpreted as containing a reference to an animal deity worshipped by the Edomites (Roberston Smith 1912:455–483). II. Identity Islamic traditions refer to the cult of a deity Yaʿûq among the pre-islamic tribe of the Hamdān In the Yemenite village Ḫaiwān (North of Ṣan̂ā), there was a cult-centre. The Qurʾan Sure 71:20–25 and Ibn al-Kalbi’s Book of Idols (Klinke-Rosenberger 1942:35, 61) interpret the deity…

Amalek עמלק

(304 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name In the Old Testament, the tribe of Amalek is one of Israel’s enemies of old ( Exod. 17.8–16; Num. 13.29 etc.). Their ancestor is seen as a grandson of Esau ( Gen. 36.12–16). Amalek can also designate a topographical area as in the expression har hāʿămālēqî ‘the mountain of the Amalekites’ ( Judg. 12.15). An etymological explanation of the name Amalek has been impossible until now (Weippert 1974:252). The suggestion has been made to relate the name Amalek to a mountain deity ḥmrq known from an Egyptian source (Görg 1987:14–15). II. Identity The Egyptian Leiden Magical Papyru…


(928 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name The name of the Ugaritic deity Thukamuna, occurring as element in the binomial divine name Ṯkmn-w-Šnm, has etymologically been related to the Hebrew noun šĕkem (Ginsberg 1936:92; Wyatt 1990:446–449). šĕkem occurs in the OT as a noun meaning ‘shoulder; back’ (22 times; cf. Ug. škm, ‘shoulder’ e.g. KTU 1.14 ii:11; iii:54; 1.22 i:5); as a toponym Shechem located in the highlands of Ephraim (e.g. Gen. 12.6; Gen. 33.18; Gen. 35.4; Gen. 37.12, Gen. 14; Josh. 17.7; Josh. 20.7; Josh. 21.21; Josh. 24.1, Josh. 25, Josh. 32; Judg. 8.31; Judg. 9; Judg. 21.19) and as a personal name …

Ends of the Earth אפסי ארץ

(764 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name The expression ʾapsê ʾereṣ, ‘The ends of the Earth’ occurs 16 times in the OT, mainly in poetic texts (e.g. Deut. 33.17; Isa. 45.22; Isa. 52.10; Mic. 5.3; Zech. 9.10; six times in the Pss). The first element of this construct chain, ʾepes, denotes the end or limit of space or time. The noun has cognates in Ug. ʾps, ‘upper edge’, ( KTU 1.6 i:61); Phoen. ʾps, ‘end’, adverbially used as ‘finally; even’ in KAI 26 IV:1, and in the Canaanite noun upsu, ‘extremity’, (EA 287:70; 289:50; 366:34; R. Degen, WdO 6 [1971–72] 60). Not convinced by a Semitic etymology for ʾepes, some authors have sugg…


(709 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name The name of the city of Shunem, šûnēm, is attested in Josh. 18.19; 1 Sam. 28.4; 2 Kgs. 4.8 (see also the indication for inhabitants of that city * šûnammî, 1 Kgs. 1.3, 1 Kgs. 15; 1 Kgs. 2.17, 1 Kgs. 20–21; 2 Kgs. 4.12, 2 Kgs. 25, 2 Kgs. 36). The etymology is unclear ( HALAT 1339 offers no etymology), the name has been related to a Ugaritic deity Shunama occurring as an element in the binomial divine name Ṯkmn-w-Šnm (Ginsberg 1936:92; Jirku 1970). II. Identity The binomial deity Thakumanu-wa-Shunama is attested at Ugarit in literary-religious texts as well as in offer…


(277 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name The Edomite personal name Yĕʿûš ( Gen. 36.5, Gen. 14, Gen. 18; 1 Chr. 1.35; 1 Chr. 7.10; 1 Chr. 8.39; 1 Chr. 23.10, 1 Chr. 11; 2 Chr. 11.19) has been interpreted as a theophoric name comparable with the Arabian lion god Yaǧūṯ,‘the protector’, and the Nabataean deity yʿwt (Robertson Smith 1912). II. Identity Islamic traditions refer to the worship of a deity called Yaǧūṯ among the pre-islamic tribe of the Maḏḥiǧ and in the area of Ǧuraš in Yemen. Qur‘an Sura 71:20–25 and Ibn al-Kalbi’s Book of Idols (ed. Klinke-Rosenberger 1942:34–35) interpret this deity as one of …
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