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Eve חוה

(1,026 words)

Author(s): N. Wyatt
I. Name Eve is mentioned by name four times in the Bible, twice in Genesis and twice in NT. It is after the ‘fall’ narrated in Gen. 3.1–19 that the Man ( hāʾādām) names his wife Ḥawwâ (‘Eve’, LXX Zoē); because ‘she was the mother of all living things’ ( kî hı̄ʾ hāyĕtâ ʾēm kol-ḥay). The tradition understands a significant link between name and function, suggesting that ḥawwâ is to be related etymologically to ḥayâ, ‘live’ (old ḥayin waw for later ḥayin yodh). Cf. Ugaritic ḥyy/ḥwy ( UT §19. 856). Wallace (1985:151) sees a Ugaritic noun ḥwt, meaning ‘life’, in such passages as K…

Qeteb קטב

(1,192 words)

Author(s): N. Wyatt
I. Name The term Qeṭeb appears four times in the OT. Its basic significance is ‘destruction’, (perhaps etymologically ‘that which is cut off’) though the contexts suggest that other nuances are present. Various scholars have translated it as ‘plague’ or ‘pestilence’ in the context of its parallel use with rešep, deber. The term has overtones of a divine name. II. Identity qẓb occurs once in Ugaritic ( KTU 1.5 ii:24) and may be a kinsman of Mot (J. C. de Moor, ‘O Death, Where is Thy Sting’, Ascribe to the Lord: Biblical and Other Studies in Memory of P. C. Craigie [ed. L. Eslinger & G. Taylo…

Calf עגל

(1,337 words)

Author(s): N. Wyatt
I. Name Hebrew ʿēgel, Ugaritic ʿgl, Aramaic ʿîglaʾ, the common word for ‘calf’ (sc. a young bull), is used of images worshipped by the Israelites in texts written from the deuteronomistic perspective. II. Identity The bull as a symbol of physical strength and sexual potency, together with all the economic benefits arising from herding, has an ancient pedigree in the religions of the Ancient Near East. From at least the time of Neolithic Çatal Hüyük in Anatolia, images have been prominent in glyptic art, sculpture and reliefs, and the animal has b…

Oil יצהר

(492 words)

Author(s): N. Wyatt
I. Name The term yiṣhar describes the quality of oil as ‘shining’, and denotes oil freshly-pressed. This term for oil is used almost exclusively in OT in variations of the formula ‘corn, new wine and oil’ 22 times, sometimes within a longer list of commodities. The usage is always distinctive, falling into the following categories: i) as tithe, to be eaten by faithful at central shrine ( Deut. 12.17) or by priests alone ( Num. 18.12); ii) as sign of original blessings of election ( Hos. 2.8; Joel 1.10) or restoration ( Hos. 2.22; Joel 2.19 etc.); iii) as plunder by enemies ( Deut. 28.51). The oil …

Asherah אשׁרה

(4,417 words)

Author(s): N. Wyatt
I. Name The Hebrew term ʾăšêrâ, ʾăšērâ, seems to be used in two senses in the Bible, as a cultic object (asherah) and as a divine name (Asherah). It is the presence of possibly cognate words in other Semitic languages, where goddesses are frequently understood to be denoted, that has raised interesting questions for the interpretation of the OT references, and the linguistic problems are now compounded by the inscriptions of Khirbet el Qom and Kuntillet Ajrud. The etymological possibilities are considerable. Thus South Arabic aṯr means ‘shining’; Hebrew ʾāšēr means ‘happ…

Kinnaru כנור

(600 words)

Author(s): N. Wyatt
I. Name The word kinnôr (‘lyre’) occurs some 42 times in MT. Stringed instruments used in the cult, such as the lyre, were at times deified in the cultures surrounding Israel. II. Identity The term knr appears 6 times in the Ugaritic texts, both as a stringed instrument (e.g. KTU 1.19 i:8; 1.108:4), and as a divine name in the Ugaritic pantheon lists KTU 1.47:32 = 1.118:31, in the Akkadian list RS 20.24:31 (d.giš ki-na-rum), and in the sacrificial list KTU 1.148:9.38, where the god receives one sheep. In view of the close relationship between cult, religious language and …

Astarte עשׁתרת

(3,289 words)

Author(s): N. Wyatt
I. Name The divine name Astarte is found in the following forms: Ug. ʿṯtrt (‘Athtart[u]’); Phoen. ʿštrt (‘Ashtart’); Heb. ʿAštōret (singular); ʿAštārôt (generally construed as plural); Eg. variously ʿsṯrt, ʿsṯrṯ, isṯrt; Gk. Astartē. It is the feminine form of the masculine ʿṯtr (‘Athtar’, ‘Ashtar’) and this in turn occurs, though as the name of a goddess, as Akkadian Ishtar. The Akkadian Aš-tar-[ tum?] is used of her ( AGE 330). The etymology remains obscure. It is probably, in the masculine form, the name of the planet Venus, then extended to the feminine as well (cf. A. S. Y…