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Terebinth אלה

(867 words)

Author(s): K. Nielsen
I. Name אלה, Pistacia terebinthus, has been explained by W. F. Albright as a Hebrew form of Canaanite ʾēlat, goddess, the feminine of ʾēl, which is also applied to Asherah as El’s consort (Albright 1968:165). The concept of the terebinth as a holy tree is well-known in the OT, but the terebinth is never seen as a representative of Yahweh. Sometimes the terebinth is connected with idolatry in a way that presupposes a relationship between the terebinth and a foreign deity, probably Asherah. In these cases, the attitude is clearly polemic. But whether the word אלה itself connoted the meani…

Oak אלון

(964 words)

Author(s): K. Nielsen
I. Name According to Albright (1968:165) both the oak, Quercus coccifera, Quercus aegilops, אלון, ʾēlôn or ʾallôn, and the terebinth, *אלה, were deified in the Mediterranean area. The common view is that אלון, like אלה and אל, is connected with the root *אול II, ‘to be first’ or ‘to be strong’. Pope claims that the etymology of אל remains obscure and he simply refuses to decide whether אל, אלה, and אלון should be derived from ʾw/yl or from some other root (1955:16–19). In his review of Pope’s monograph Albright states that אלון and Aram. ʾillān come from ʾll (1956:161, but cf. Albright 1968…

Sycomore שׁקמה

(358 words)

Author(s): K. Nielsen
I. Name According to Albright (1968:165) the sycomore fig, Ficus sycomorus, was deified in Palestine, as in Egypt. There is no biblical evidence for such deification in Palestine. II. Identity The Egyptian name for sycomore is Nht ( VI, 113–114). The goddess Hathor in Memphis was worshipped as mistress of the sycomore tree. In private tombs from the 18th and 19th dynasty the sycomore is represented by the goddess Nut. III. Identity in the Bible שׁקמה, the sycomore, is a common tree in Palestine. The שׁקמה is a kind of fig tree. Its fruits resemble figs, but are not as palatabl…