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Zaphon צפון

(1,485 words)

Author(s): H. Niehr
I. Name In the Northwest-Semitic languages, Zaphon is first attested in Ugaritic texts as a designation for Jebel al-Aqraʿ to the north of Ugarit. In the OT, Zaphon occurs in a general sense meaning ‘north (-wind)’ and in a special sense designating a divine mountain. In this latter sense Zaphon is used as a synonym for mount Zion ( Ps. 48.3). Etymologically, Zaphon can be derived from ṣāpâ ‘to spy’ (Eissfeldt 1932; Bonnet 1987). Less likely are derivations from ṣāpan ‘to hide’ (De Savignac) or from ṣûp ‘to float’ (Lipiński 1987–89). II. Identity 40 km to the north of Ugarit, Je…

Host of Heaven צבא השׁמים

(993 words)

Author(s): H. Niehr
I. Name At the origin of the conception of a ‘host of heaven’ stands the metaphor of Yahweh as warrior. When waging his wars, Yahweh was helped by warriors and an army (e.g. 2 Kgs. 6.17; 2 Kgs. 7.6; Isa. 13.4–5; Joel 4.11; Hab. 3.8; Ps. 68.18). Only a few examples of this military background of the host of heaven have been preserved in the OT ( Dan. 8.10–11, cf. Josh. 5.13–15). Due to a semantic shift, host of heaven also designates the divine assembly gathered around Yahweh, the heavenly king (1 Kgs. 22.19 = 2 Chr. 18.18). In the course of Israelite religious history this concept underwen…

God of Heaven אלהי השׁמים

(1,446 words)

Author(s): H. Niehr
I. Name The conception of a god of heaven was developed in the Northwest Semitic religions of the 1st millennium bce, where a new type of supreme god, Baal shamem, arose. This god is first found in Phoenician inscriptions from the mid 10th c. bce onwards and taken over into the Aramaic and Judaeo-Israelite religion, where Yahweh was equated with the god of heaven. II. Identity In the Israelite-Jewish religion the explicit designation of Yahweh as ‘god of heaven’ occurs independently in the 5th century Elephantine papyri and in several post-exilic books of the …

He-of-the-Sinai זה סיני

(416 words)

Author(s): H. Niehr
I. Name Occurring twice in the OT ( Judg. 5.5; Ps. 68.8–9) zēh sinai ‘He-of-the-Sinai’ is to be understood according to the analogous Nabatean divine name ‘Dushara’ as the ‘God (Lord) of the Sinai’ (H. Grimme, ZDMG 50 [1896]:573 n. 1). II. Identity The divine epithet ‘He-of-the-Sinai’ appears in Judg. 5.5. Here ‘He-of-the-Sinai’ is a qualification of Yahweh, and stands in parallelism to the epithet ‘God of Israel’. Before becoming the god of Israel Yahweh was the lord of the Sinai who came from Seir/Edom to fight for Israel ( Judg. 5.4–5; cf. Deut. 33.2; Hab. 3.3). The Hebrew construction Yah…

Baal-Zaphon בעל צפון

(1,246 words)

Author(s): H. Niehr
I. Name Baal-zaphon literally means the ‘lord of (mount) Zaphon’ and it is a designation of the Ugaritic god Baal. Due to mount Zaphon’s image as the cosmic mountain par excellence in Northwest-Semitic religions, the name ‘Baal-zaphon’ was transferred to further Baal-sanctuaries outside Ugarit. In the OT Baal-zaphon is a place name in northern Egypt where Israel rested during the exodus ( Exod. 14.2, Exod. 9; Num. 33.7). II. Identity In Ugarit the divine name Baal-zaphon only occurs in ritual texts ( KTU 1.39:10; 1.41:33 [rest.]; 1.46:12 [rest.], 14; 1.47:5; 1.65:10; 1.87:36 …