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Nadav Na’aman

Abstract

The article discusses the date and cultural background of the Elisha and Naaman story (2 Kings 5). It first analyses the story and emphasizes the difference in its presentation of the prophet and the way he operates vis-à-vis all other stories in the Elisha story-cycle. It then analyses Naaman’s request to carry soil from the Land of Israel in order to erect an altar for Yhwh in Damascus (5:17) and brings evidence that the transportation of earth from one sacred place to another was known in Mesopotamia from the late second millennium BCE onward. In light of all the available evidence, it suggests that the story is not part of Elisha’s original story-cycle; rather, it illuminates the shift of ideas about the prophet, his prophecy, and the land of Israel in the transition from the monarchical to the early post-exilic period.

Jacques van der Vliet

Abstract

A reedition and analysis of a late (ca. 10th–11th cent.) Coptic magical charm found at Saqqara. The commentary links the charm to pre-Christian models and discusses the possible modes of transmission of traditional ritual knowledge in Christian Egypt.

Collin Cornell

Abstract

In spite of renewed scholarly interest in the religion of Judeans living on the island of Elephantine during the Persian period, only one recent study has addressed the religious significance of the fired clay female figurines discovered there. The present article seeks to place these objects back on the research agenda. After summarizing the history of research, it also makes a new appraisal of the role of these objects in the religious life of Elephantine Judeans. Two factors prompt this reevaluation: first, newly found examples of the same figurine types; and second, Bob Becking’s recent research on Elephantine Aramaic texts attesting the phenomenon of “lending deities.”

M. Victoria Almansa-Villatoro

Abstract

This article sets out to address questions concerning local religious traditions in ancient Nubia. Data concerning Egyptian gods in the Sudan are introduced, then the existence of unattested local pre-Meroitic gods is reconstructed using mainly external literary sources and an analysis of divine names. A review of other archaeological evidence from an iconographic point of view is also attempted, concluding with the presentation of Meroitic gods and their relation with earlier traditions. This study proposes that Egyptian religious beliefs were well integrated in both official and popular cults in Nubia. The Egyptian and the Sudanese cultures were constantly in contact in the border area and this nexus eased the transmission of traditions and iconographical elements in a bidirectional way. The Meroitic gods are directly reminiscent of the reconstructed indigenous Kushite pantheon in many aspects, and this fact attests to an attempt by the Meroitic rulers to recover their Nubian cultural identity.

Brett Maiden

Abstract

This paper examines the demons Pazuzu and Lamaštu from a cognitive science perspective. As hybrid creatures, the iconography of these demons combines an array of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic properties, and is therefore marked by a high degree of conceptual complexity. In a technical sense, they are what cognitive researchers refer to as radically “counterintuitive” representations. However, highly complex religious concepts are difficult in terms of cognitive processing, memory, and transmission, and, as a result, are prone to being spontaneously simplified in structure. Accordingly, there is reason to expect that the material images of Pazuzu and Lamaštu differed from the corresponding mental images of these demons. Specifically, it is argued here that in ancient cognition and memory, the demons would have been represented in a more cognitively optimal manner. This hypothesis is further supported by a detailed consideration of the full repertoire of iconographic and textual sources.

Uri Gabbay

Abstract

The article deals with the theology of the lilis kettledrum, used to accompany prayers in ancient Mesopotamian temple cult. The article analyzes the ritual in which the head of the kettledrum was covered with the hide of a bull and the ancient commentary on this ritual, showing that the ancient understanding of this ritual was that it reflected the primordial battle between the gods Enlil and Enmešara over the rule of the universe. The article connects this myth to other mythical episodes, such as the myths of the Bull of Heaven, Anzu, and Atra-ḫasīs. The analysis of these materials leads to the conclusion that the playing of the kettledrum during the performance of ancient Mesopotamian prayers symbolized the beating heart of the deities to whom the prayers were addressed.

Julia Krul

Abstract

After 484 BC, several deities were (re)introduced into the pantheon of Uruk—most importantly the city’s new patron deity, the sky god Anu, but also the netherworld goddess Bēlet-ṣēri (“Lady of the Steppe”). In this article, I investigate the possible reasons behind the introduction of Bēlet-ṣēri’s cult at Uruk and the role ascribed to her by local worshipers. Using literary compositions, ritual texts, and legal documents, I trace the historical development of Bēlet-ṣēri’s divine characteristics, reconstruct her daily worship at Uruk, and examine the socioeconomic status of Urukean individuals bearing a “Bēlet-ṣēri-name.” I conclude that Bēlet-ṣēri was especially popular among non-elite citizens, probably because she could intercede with the queen of the netherworld, Ereškigal, for the lives of her followers and their families.

Kristine Garroway

Abstract

The current scholarly milieu has placed great interest in the topics of children and family household religion of ancient Israel; however, scholarship exploring the intersection of the two has not yet been undertaken. This article draws attention to children as vital participants in that domestic cult. Using theories of socialization and enculturation, the article explores how ancient Israelite children interact with the religion that surrounded them daily. This child-centered approach examines textual, archaeological, and ethnographical data and concludes that the process of enculturating ancient Israelite children with household religion produced children who were both passive and active participants in the domestic cult. In doing so, the article informs our knowledge of family household religion, while at the same time expanding our understanding of a child’s role within the Israelite household.

M. Richey

Abstract

In an arrival formula that recurs throughout the Ugaritic epics Baˁlu and ˀAqhatu, the dwelling of the chief god, ˀIlu, is described as encompassing, among other things, a {dd}. Scholars have understood this term in various ways, chiefly as “field,” “mountain,” and “defense.” I argue that the etymological rationales grounding the first two semantic analyses are unsound, and that the case for the third understanding, by far the least commonly adopted, can be strengthened by observing a Sabaic cognate that occurs together with terms for land holdings. On these grounds, I offer the English translation “pasture” as the best approximation of the semantics of Ugaritic {dd}. This situates ˀIlu as a tent-dwelling pastoralist, for which there are suggestive parallels elsewhere in West Semitic texts, including the Hebrew Bible.

Shalom E. Holtz

Abstract

In the Akkadian anti-witchcraft ritual Maqlû, the incantation in i.73–121 exemplifies the theme of conducting adjudicatory proceedings against the witch in the divine courtroom. In particular, the patient’s presentation of the witch in effigy and the demand for judgment accord well with similar features attested in Neo-Babylonian trial records. Study of the incantation in light of these court records reveals the incantation’s attention to the details of legal procedure.