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07 Chaos gods, death gods and baneful gods (Canaanite/Ugaritic Mythology)


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

07 Chaos gods, death gods and baneful gods (Canaanite/Ugaritic Mythology)

Yam (Nahar, Yaw, Lotan?, Leviathan?) - god of sea and rivers, he dwells
in a palace under the sea. He carries a feud with Baal. He may have had
in his following a dragon (tnn) which lives in the sea, a serpent (btn),
and/or Lotan/Leviathan, or may have been all of those creatures.

He is given kingship by El. He threatens vast destruction until
El names him 'beloved of El' and sends him on his way to oust Baal.
Upbraided by Kothar-u-Khasis, he dispatches messengers to El to demand
the delivery of Baal. Baal strikes him with Yagrush and Chaser in the
chest and forehead, knocking him down. He is slain and scattered at the
urging of Athtart. The battle may have been representative of rough
winter sea-storms which calmed in the spring and which were preceded and
accompanied by autumn rains which ended summer droughts and enabled crops
to grow.

Arsh - 'darling of the gods', a monstrous attendant of Yam, slain by
Anat. Arsh lives in the sea.

Atik - 'calf of El', an enemy of Baal. Slain by Anat.

Ishat - (fire) 'bitch of the gods', an enemy of Baal, slain by Anat.

Zabib - (flame? flies?) daughter of El, an enemy of Baal, slain by Anat.

Mot(-and-Shar) 'Death and Prince/Dissolution/Evil' 'the beloved one'- Mot
is the god of sterility, death, and the underworld. In one hand he holds
the scepter of bereavement, and in the other the scepter of widowhooed.
His jaws and throat are described in cosmic proportions and serve as a
euphamism for death.

When he has influence over Shapash, it is unusually hot and dry.
He sits on a pit for a throne in the city of Miry in the underworld.

Prior to the conception of the gracious gods, he is pruned and
felled like a vine by the vine dressers.

He is favored by El following Baal's defeat of Yam and Baal
refuses him tribute. When Baal's messengers deliver him an invitation to
feast at Baal's new palace, he is insulted that he is offered bread and
wine and not the flesh he hungers for. In fact, he threatens to defeat
Baal as Baal did Leviathan, causing the sky to wilt and then eat Baal
himself. Baal would then visit _his_ palace in the underworld. He is
pleased that Baal submits to him. Baal goes to the underworld and either
he or his substitute is eaten by Mot. Presumably the sons of Athirat had
some part in his death. After seven years of famine, Anat seizes Mot,
splits, winnows, sows and grinds him like corn. Baal eventually returns
and defeats Mot's allies. After seven years Mot returns and demands
Baal's brother, lest he wipe out humanity. Baal rebuffs him and the two
have a mighty battle, but are separated by Shapash who declares Baal to
have El's favor.

'The yellow ones of Mot' - Mot's henchmen who are slain by Baal upon his

Horon - probably a cthonic deity

Resheph - 'prince' - the god of pestilence.

aklm - 'the devourers' - some creatures who fought Baal-Hadad in the desert

Rephaim (Rpum) - 'shades' - deities of the underworld whom Daniel meets
in his journey there. They may have been involved in negotiations with
him for the return of his son Aqhat. Eight of them led by Repu-Baal
(Rapiu? Baal?) arrive at a feast given by El in chariots, on horseback,
and on wild asses.

Moloch (Melech, Malik, Milcom?, Melqart?) - Not explicitly found in the
Ugarit texts, Molech is a bit of an enigma. He shows up in the Old
Testament in Leviticus 18 and 20, 1 Kings 11, 2 Kings 23, and Jerimiah
32. From that he appears to be a god of the Ammonites - a region west of
the Jordon - whose worshipers sacrificed children in fires at temples,
some of which were in the Valley of Hinnom, i.e. Gehenna, just south of
Jerusalem. The Old Testament also names the similarly spelt "Milcom" as
a god of the Ammonites leading to the suspicion that they are the same
god. Molech is probably not the original name of the deity. There has
been a good deal of argument as to whether Molech could be identified
with another foreign deity and which deity that would be, or whether
"molech" was simply a term which refered to child sacrifice of any sort.
The Canaanite gods Mot and Melqart of Tyre, and the Mesopotamian god
Nergal, whom I believe is somewhere referred to as Malik=king, are a
some of the prime candidates for being Molech. For more indepth
off-line disscussion of this see:

Day, John, _Molech:A_God_of_Human_Sacrifice_in_the_Old_Testament_,
Cambridge University Press, New York, 1989.


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