Both the role of the deity (El) Shadday in the religions of ancient Israel and the etymology of the name šadday remain poorly understood. In this article, I will propose a new etymology for the name šadday and then leverage this etymology into a better understanding of (El) Shadday’s character. I argue that šadday is a nomen agentis from the root sdy ‘to help’ and originated as an epithet of the deity El, which highlighted his benevolent qualities. A comparison of El in the Ugaritic epics and El Shadday in the Priestly Source (P) suggests that El Shadday was thought to help his worshippers by providing them with children. El Shadday thus represents one way in which the deity El survived in the religions of ancient Israel.
The origin of the interpretation of Song of Songs as a description of God’s relationship with God’s beloved community has been a persistent question in the work’s history of interpretation. Earlier scholarship has provided a number of possible solutions to this problem, none of them conclusive. This article offers another possible answer: the language and imagery of the Northwest Semitic combat myth in Song 8:6-7, which identifies love with Yhwh as the victorious divine warrior, triggers the work’s interpretation as a divine love song. This argument receives support from some of the earliest allusions to Song of Songs in Revelation, which interpret Song of Songs in the context of apocalyptic discourse that likewise draws heavily on the combat myth.
Although scholars have generally treated Ugaritic ltn as a cognate of Hebrew liwyātān, the vocalization of this word and its relationship to the Hebrew form remain debated. In this article, we will argue that ltn should be vocalized /lītan-/ and that Ugaritic ltn and Hebrew liwyātān derive from Proto-Northwest Semitic *lawiy-(a)t-an- through a series of attested sound changes. We will also discuss the morphology of *lawiy-(a)t-an- and the syntax of the Northwest Semitic formula *lawiy(a)tanu baṯnu barīḥu … baṯnu ʕaqallatānu “Leviathan, the fleeing serpent … the twisting serpent” found in KTU 1.5 i 1–3 and Isa 27:1.