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03 Primarily benificent and non-hostile gods p1 (Canaanite/Ugaritic Mythology)




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This article is from the Canaanite/Ugaritic Mythology FAQ, by Christopher B. Siren cbsiren@hopper.unh.edu with numerous contributions by others.

03 Primarily benificent and non-hostile gods p1 (Canaanite/Ugaritic Mythology)

El - (also called Latipan, and possibly Dagon) - Father of the gods, 'the
father of mankind', the 'Bull', 'the creator of creatures'. He is grey
haired and bearded and lives at Mt. Lel. He is a heavy drinker and has
gotten extreemly drunk at his banquets.

As a young god, he went out to the sea and, spying two ladies,
one of whom is presumably Athirat, becomes aroused, roasts a bird and
asks the two to choose between being his daughters or his wives. They
become his wives and in due course they give birth to Shachar, Shalim,
and possibly other gracious gods, who could be Athirat's seventy children
and/or much of the rest of the pantheon. The new family raises a
sanctuary in the desert and lived there for eight years.

He orders that Yam be given kingship and sets Kothar-u-Khasis to
build the new king a throne. The gods warn that Yam has been shamed and
may wreck destruction, so El ameliorates him by renamining him mddil -
'beloved of El' and throws a feast for him. El warns though that this is
contingent on his driving out of Baal, who may fight back. Following
Yam's demise, he favors the god Mot.

While Baal is declared king and judge, he remains a resident of
El and Athirat's palace as El refuses him permission to build an
apropriate mansion, in spite of Anat's threats. After joyfully recieving
Athirat, and joking that Baal would have him be an enslaved worker on the
palace, he allows Baal to have a fine mansion built.

When he hears that Baal is dead, he comes down from his throne,
puts on sack cloth, and gashes his cheeks. He correctly judges Athtar to
be unequal to the task of taking Baal's place. Seven years later, he
dreams that Baal is alive and he tells Anat and Shapash. When
Baal-Hadad's monsters assail the handmaidens of Yarikh and Lady Athirat
of the Sea, he advises them to give birth to beasts which will lure
Baal-Hadad away on a hunt.

He favors King Keret, who may be his son, offering him riches
upon the death of his many spouses and eventually promising him the
princess Huray and many children, provided he make the proper sacrifices
and follow his instructions. After Keret takes ill, El eventually
convenes an assembly of the gods in order to ask one of them to rid Keret
of his illness. Eventually, El dispatches the demoness Sha'taqat who
cures Keret.

Anat brings her complaints of Aqhat before him and threatens to
strike him in the head when he gives his response. He then replies that
he knows how contemptuous she is and won't stand in her way.

Athirat (Asherah, Ashtartian - 'the Lady of the Sea', Elat - 'the
goddess') - Goddess of the Sea and mother of the gods. She is El's
loving consort and is protective of her seventy children who may also be
known as the gracious gods, to whom she is both mother and nursemaid.
Her sons, unlike Baal initially, all have godly courts. She frequents
the ocean shore. In the Syrian city of Qatra, she was considered
Baal-Hadad's consort.

While washing clothing with a female companion by the sea, she is
spied by El, who roasts a bird and invites the two to choose between
being his daughters or his wives. They choose to become his wives and in
due course give birth to the gracious gods, the cleavers of the sea,
including Shachar and Shalim. The new family builds a sanctuary in the
desert and lives there for eight years.

Baal and Anat hope to use her to influence El on the issue of
Baal's palace. Intially suspicious and fearful of them on behalf of her
children, but she warms up when she see that they have brought gifts.
She and Anat successfully interceed with El on Baal's behalf for
permission for Baal to build a more suitable court.

When Baal is found dead, she advocates her son Athtar be made
king. Her sons, the "'pounders' of the sea", apparently colluded with
Mot and were smited by Baal with sword and mace upon his return.

Baal-Hadad's creatures devour her handmaidens, so she sends them
to El. El tells them to go into the wilderness and there birth horned
buffalo, which will distract Baal-Hadad.

She and Anat serve as nursemaids for Keret's son Yassib, but
reminds Keret of his pledge of wealth for Huray, perhaps causing his
decline in health because of its lack of fulfilment.

Qadshu - a Syrian goddess, who has occasionally been tenitively
identified with nude fertility goddess statues. Also
Qodesh meaning 'holy', an epithet of Athirat.

Qodesh-and-Amrur 'fisherman of Athirat' - Baal's messenger to
Kothar-u-Khasis. He is also Athirat's servant and dredges up
provisions to entertain her guests from the sea with a net.
It is interesting to note that in Dan 4:13(10) similar words appear
to refer to an angel and have been translated as 'holy messenger'
or 'holy sentinel'.

Kothar-u-Khasis ('skillful and clever', also called Chousor and Heyan
(Ea) and identified with Ptah) - the craftsman god. He is identified
with Memphis.

He is ordered by El to build Yam's throne. He upbraids Yam for
rising against Baal and threatens him with a magic weapon. He gives Baal
the magic weapons Yagrush (Chaser) and Aymur (Driver).

He crafts Baal's bribe for Athirat, a temple serving set of gold
and silver. He build's Baal's second house and insists over Baal's
objections on including a window.

He constructs a bow and arrows set for Aqhat, presenting them
first to Daniel and staying for a feast.

Shachar 'Dawn' - Shalim's twin twin and one of the first, if not only,
pair of gracious gods, the children and cleavers of the sea. They were
born of El and Athirat or her female companion. The new family builds a
sanctuary in the desert and lives there for eight years. According to
Isaiah 14:12, he is the father of Helel or Lucifer, the morning star.

Shalim 'Sunset/Dusk' - Shachar's twin and one of the first, if not only,
pair of gracious gods, the children and cleavers of the sea. They were
born of El and Athirat or her female companion. The new family builds a
sanctuary in the desert and lives there for eight years.

Shamu (Baalshamem?) - not found in the Ugarit texts, this sky god was the
chief of the pantheon at the Syrian city of Alalakh.

 

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