The article discusses the background and implications of the title “the God of Heaven” used as an epithet for YHW in Elephantine. It argues that one should look for the background in the winged symbol used in both Achaemenid and Egyptian iconography. In the Achaemenid–Egyptian context, the title “the God of Heaven” worked as a transmedial, textual reference to the winged symbol that was common to both Achaemenid and Egyptian iconography. In Egypt during the Achaemenid period, the reference of the winged symbol and the title “the God of Heaven” was ultimately the Achaemenid dynasty god Ahura Mazda and perhaps the Egyptian king-protector Horus-Behdety. In the identification of YHW with “the God of Heaven,” we witness an interpretatio persica et aegyptiaca of YHW into the supreme gods of the Achaemenids and the Egyptians.
Was YHW(H) a unique deity, totally different from all other gods? Or could he be translated into a transregional, or even universal, deity that several cultures had a stake in? In antiquity, Judeans, and later Jews, may not have formulated the question in this way. Nevertheless, various Judean textual sources dating to the Achaemenid (Persian) period and onwards seem to resonate with such issues (albeit in quite different ways, compare Isa 45:5 on the one hand, and the Let. Aris. 15-16 on the other). The sources for the Judean community living in Elephantine in Achaemenid Egypt provide scholarship on Israelite religion and its offspring with material reflecting one particular way of answering the question. We do not find any clear traces of attempts to assimilate YHW with Egyptian gods. The sources neither assimilate him with Khnum “the Lord of Elephantine” whose grand temple was located on the other side of the road from the perspective of the Temple of YHW in Elephantine,1 nor with any other gods in the Egyptian pantheon. However, consciously or unconsciously, the Elephantine Judeans and their interlocutors identified YHW with the God of Heaven (ʾlh šmyʾ).
Unlike the biblical texts in which “the God of Heaven” accompanies YHWH as an epithet, the documents from Elephantine have a clear provenance. This article discusses the religio-historical, cultural and political background of the identification of YHW with “the God of Heaven” in Elephantine. Besides, it discusses some of the implications of the identification.
The study starts with mapping the use of “the God of Heaven” in the Elephantine documents (section 1). Then, it presents two mutually excluding proposals that have been made about the background of the concept of YHW as “the God of Heaven,” namely that it derives from Achaemenid religion, or that the background is found in the Syro-Canaanite deity Baʿalšamem (section 2). Next, the study shows how Egyptian and Achaemenid iconography (and hybrids thereof) used the winged symbol (section 3). The winged symbols of the Achaemenids and the Egyptians respectively met each other and to some extent fused in hybrid Achaemenid–Egyptian iconography. Moreover, in the synthesis and discussion section (section 4), the study proposes that in the Achaemenid–Egyptian context, the title “the God of Heaven” worked as a transmedial, textual reference to the winged symbol that was common to both Achaemenid and Egyptian iconography.2 Moreover, the study proposes that the winged symbol and the title “the God of Heaven” could have multiple references in Egypt during the Achaemenid period, depending on the context. The winged symbol and the title could refer to Ahura Mazda, the principal god of the Achaemenid dynasty, to the Egyptian king-protector Horus-Behdety—and for the Judeans, to YHW(H). Eventually, the study concludes (section 5) that we witness an interpretatio persica et aegyptiaca, a translation of YHW into the supreme gods of the Achaemenids and the Egyptians, when the title “the God of Heaven” becomes an epithet of YHW in Elephantine.
1 “The God of Heaven” in Elephantine
The epithet “the God of Heaven” (in Hebrew as ʾlhy hšmym; in Aramaic as ʾlh šmyʾ, but also mrʾ šmyʾ, “the Lord of Heaven”) is connected to YHW(H) in texts dating to the Persian and Hellenistic periods, in the Hebrew Bible3 as well as in the Aramaic sources for the Judean community at Elephantine. Unlike the biblical literary texts, the Elephantine documents have relatively clear provenance.
As far as the epigraphic sources from the Judean community in Elephantine are concerned, some of the occurrences of the epithet suggest that the epithet “the God of Heaven” was part of what we could call the ceremonial, courtly way of addressing Achaemenid officials. That is the case in, for example, the epistolary greeting “May the God of Heaven seek after the welfare of our lord [= Bagavahya] abundantly at all times, and grant you favour before King Darius!” in the petition letter TADAE4 A4.7:2 / A4.8:2. The letter in question addresses Bagavahya, the governor of Judah as a Persian official. The draft letter makes it clear who is “the God of Heaven.” In TADAE A4.7:27-28 (cf. A4.8:26-27) we read about “YHW the God of Heaven” (yhw ʾlh šmyʾ), and in A4.7:15 we read about “YHW the Lord of Heaven” (yhw mrʾ šmyʾ).
Moreover, the governor Bagavahya and his colleague the governor of Samaria used the epithet “the God of Heaven” alone as a reference to YHW, nevertheless without using the name YHW, in the memorandum of their joint statement (TADAE A4.9). One should observe that this document is neither a letter nor a direct quotation of the words spoken by Bagavahya and Delaiah. On the contrary, it presents itself as a “memorandum” (zkrn) of what the governors said (cf. TADAE A4.9:1). The memorandum was likely written down by an Elephantine Judean who returned to Egypt after having brought the petition letter (cf. TADAE A4.7/A4.8) from Elephantine to the governors, and not by a Jerusalemite. Therefore, the document gives a glimpse of Elephantine diction when it refers to “the altar-house [byt mdbḥʾ] of the God of Heaven which is in Elephantine” (TADAE A4.9:3).5
The epithet was not only used in the context of Persian officials. Judeans also used it in an intra-Judean letter, as is the case in a letter written by Mauziah son of Nathan to Jedaniah, Uriah and the “priests of YHW the God” (khnyʾ zy yhw ʾlhʾ): “may you be in favour before the God of Heaven” (TADAE A4.3:2-3) and “with the help of the God of Heaven” (TADAE A4.3:5). A letter from Hoshaiah to his “brother” named Pilti uses the epithet also (TADAE A3.6:1: “[May the Go]d of Heaven seek after [your welfare] at all times”).
2 The Background of the Concept of “the God of Heaven”
In the history of research, there are two main approaches to the question of the background of the concept of YHW as “the God of Heaven.” One approach has sought the background in Achaemenid religion and royal ideology, and the associated Achaemenid iconography. Another approach has found the background in the concept of the God Most High that emerged and developed in the religious systems of Syria and Canaan in the first millennium BCE, epitomised in the concept of Baʿalšamem.
2.1 Background in Achaemenid Religion
Many have observed that the biblical and epigraphic references that link YHW(H) to “the God of Heaven” date to the Achaemenid period, and not to earlier periods. This observation led many scholars to the idea that the linking reflects an example of how Achaemenid religious beliefs influenced Yahwism when the Persians started to rule the ancient Near East. According to Otto Eissfeldt, the Jews were exposed to the deity Ahura Mazda during the Achaemenid period. Ahura Mazda was allegedly seen as a god of heaven from the outset. With the Persians, the Jews met a people worshipping a deity that would not come to displace YHWH. On the contrary, the Ahura Mazda worshippers could identify their deity with YHWH, a move that would serve to support and even promote the latter.6
This idea originated even though neither Achaemenid sources (above all monumental, royal Achaemenid inscriptions and iconography) nor Zoroastrian sources such as the Old Avesta7 attest Ahura Mazda as “God of Heaven.” As far as the royal Achaemenid inscriptions are concerned, the closest they get to presenting Ahura Mazda as “God of Heaven” is describing him as the creator of heaven—as well as earth, man, happiness for man, and the one who made Darius the king.
Many of the royal Achaemenid inscriptions express the belief that Ahura Mazda is the source and upholder of order. Especially relevant for Egypt and Elephantine are the inscriptions on Darius I’s tomb at Naqsh-i Rustam (DNa), and the inscriptions on Darius I’s Suez Canal Stelae (DZc). The Suez Canal Stelae comprise at least twelve stelae Darius I erected upon the completion of the canal between Bubastis on the Nile and the Gulf of Suez. The inscription on Darius I’s tomb at Naqsh-i Rustam is relevant for Elephantine because the so-called Aramaic version of the Bisitun inscription (DB Aram = TADAE C2.1) renders parts of it.8 Both Darius I’s tomb inscription at Naqsh-i Rustam and his Suez Canal inscriptions contain stereotypic formulations that celebrate Ahura Mazda’s creation.9
Besides, many scholars have seen Achaemenid royal iconography as indicative of the idea that the concept of “the God of Heaven” had an Achaemenid provenance. The winged symbol was ubiquitous in both Achaemenid royal art and Egyptian art from the Achaemenid period, but also in Mesopotamian and Egyptian iconography from earlier periods. In some of the Achaemenid winged symbols there is a bearded figure in the centre of the disk. Some have wanted to identify this figure with Ahura Mazda.10 In an Achaemenid context, the winged symbol—with or without the bearded figure—often has been identified with Ahura Mazda. Therefore, it has become an important cornerstone for the discussion about the background of “the God of Heaven.”11
The description Herodotus gives of Persian religion may also have promoted the idea that the background should be sought in Achaemenid religion. According to the historian, “the whole circle of the heavens they [the Persians] call Zeus” (Hist. 1.131).12 For Herodotus, Zeus is a theological and conceptual translation of Ahura Mazda. According to Pierre Briant, the quotation is “a muted echo of the god ‘who created heaven, who created earth’” (cf. the stereotypic formulation such as DNa §1, quoted in footnote 9).13
In an Achaemenid context, one can observe the winged symbol on nearly all Achaemenid seals,14 and in many monumental reliefs from Persepolis. In Persepolis, for example, there is a relief on the walls of the staircase of the Apadana (the audience hall) depicting a winged disk. The symbol hovers above a relief depicting Persian and Median army officers. However, originally this was a relief showing Xerxes on the throne with the crown prince Darius (I) and members of the court.15 Moreover, the Persepolis reliefs present many (other) royal scenes with the king sitting on a throne underneath a winged disk. For example, two reliefs at the northern and eastern gate of the Tripylon show Darius I with a winged disk hovering above.16
2.2 Background in the Syro-Canaanite Deity Baʿalšamem
According to Herbert Niehr, the title “the God of Heaven” does not have a Persian provenance.17 Instead, he proposes that the use of the title in connection with YHW(H) is an Israelite–Judean variant of a development seen in West-Semitic religions in the first millennium BCE: the emergence of the concept of a God Most High. Terminologically, this divine concept can be identified in epigraphic sources for Syro-Canaanite religion under the name Baʿalšamem. The term was ambivalent. On the one hand, it was the name of a (Phoenician) deity; on the other, it could be understood as an appellative, “the lord of heaven.” YHW(H)’s rise to becoming the God Most High, Niehr argues, began in the monarchic period and involved the borrowing of titles as well as theological and mythological concepts from the world of Syro-Canaanite religion. These concepts are visible in the Hebrew Bible’s ideas about YHWH’s heavenly court, the location of his throne, his capacity as lord of creation and chaos, and the transfer of solar functions to YHWH.18
According to Niehr, the references to YHW as “the God of Heaven” in the Elephantine documents from the Persian period represent the earliest discernible literary, terminological connections between Baʿalšamem and YHW(H). The biblical texts dating to the same period that are presenting YHWH as “the God of Heaven” offer additional points of connection. However, despite the relatively late documented attestations of the identification of YHW(H) with title, Niehr argues that the incipient identification of YHWH as “the God of Heaven” started already in tenth-century BCE Israel and Judah. At that time, the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah—and with them, the YHWH religion—came under the influence of Phoenicia and the new concept of a high god known as Baʿalšamem, “the Lord of Heaven.” In this period, the first steps were taken in the process of YHWH’s adoption/absorption into the role of Baʿalšamem.
Niehr holds it to be fundamentally unlikely that the epithet for YHWH used in Judah was taken from Elephantine. Equally questionable is the idea that the epithet for YHW was an innovation hailing from Elephantine. On the contrary, he finds the common basis for the use of “the God of Heaven” as an epithet for YHW(H) in the monarchic period of Israel and Judah. In this period, Israelites and Judeans transformed the divine name Baʿalšamem into an attribute of YHWH as mrʾ šmyʾ, “the Lord of Heaven.” Consequently, Niehr locates the use in Elephantine of the epithet “the God of Heaven” for YHW within the reception history of the divine name Baʿalšamem.19
3 The Winged Symbol in Egyptian and Achaemenid Iconography
Both Achaemenid royal iconography20 and Egyptian iconography make frequent use of a winged symbol. In Egyptian tradition, the winged symbol took the form of a winged sun disk. In the royal art of ancient Egypt, one can follow the use of the winged symbol at least into the Roman period.21 Early on in Egyptian history, the winged sun disk came to be associated with the avian (falcon) god Behdety, “He of Behdet,” or “the Behdetite.” Behdet was a city and cult centre in the Nile valley and is today known under its Arabic name Edfu. Already early in Egyptian history, Behdety was assimilated with the god Horus and became known as Horus Behdety (“Horus of Behdet”).
The inscriptions and reliefs on the walls of the Ptolemaic temple of Edfu refer to several Horus myths. One of the texts, the so-called Horus Myth C / the Triumph of Horus, explicitly makes a transmedial connection between the iconographic motif of the winged sun disk, the (textual) epithet “the Lord of Heaven” (Egyptian nb pt), and the god Horus Behdety.22 The reliefs and inscriptions in the temple of Edfu date to the Ptolemaic period. However, the Horus myths as such are much older.23 It has even been suggested that the myth was performed as a sacred drama.24 The myth tells how Horus Behdety, at the behest of the Majesty and his father Re-Horakhty, “the Lord of Heaven,” subdues the enemies who are under the guise of a crocodile and a hippopotamus. According to Dieter Kurth’s translation of the Edfu inscriptions, “Horus Behdeti flog auf zum Horizont als großer Api. Deswegen nennt man ihn ‘den großen Gott, den Herrn des Himmels’ bis auf diesen Tag” (Edfou VI, 111,4).25 “Apy” (the English spelling of “Api”) is a name of the sun god in the form as a winged sun disk or a winged scarab.26 Moreover, the inscriptions say that Horus Behdety “verwandelte sich … in eine geflügelte Sonnenscheibe” (Edfou VI, 114,3).27 Furthermore, they also give an aetiology for why one can find the winged sun disk—that is the Apy, whom the temple text explicitly identifies with Horus Behdety—“auf jedem Schrein und an jedem Ort …, wo sie (die Schreine) sich befinden und wo alle Götter und Göttinnen sind bis auf diesen Tag” (Edfou VI, 129,10).28 The reason is that Re-Horakhty ordered the god Thot to place the winged symbol, representing Horus Behdety, all over (Edfou VI, 129,8-11).
In Egyptian iconographic presentations of the king from all periods, the king often is depicted with the falcon-shaped Behdety above his head (see Fig. 1). Other presentations depict Behdety as hovering above the king in the form of a winged sun disk.29 Winged sun disks can be found in temples all over Egypt (as also the aetiology in Edfou VI, 129,8-11, quoted above, claims).
Achaemenid royal iconography features a winged ring or winged disk. Several reliefs show a winged ring with a figure emerging from it. Many of the seals from the Persepolis Fortification Archive and the Persepolis Treasury Archive contain a similar symbol.30 The question of the identification of the winged symbol in Achaemenid royal art is “one of the most nagging in the whole of the study of the visual arts of the Achaemenid period.”31 There has been a strong tradition in the research to connect the symbol to the god Ahura Mazda. However, some argue that it represents the fravaši (“spirit”) of the king. Mark B. Garrison maintains that it, at least in the Persian heartland, represented the (Neo-)Elamite royal and ideological concept of kitin. The kitin is the divine authority and power as it emanates from the divine down to the mortal world, the “divine protection,” the “god-given royal power,” or the “divinely- enforced legal protection.”32 However, he emphasises that the symbol may have become polyvalent by the Achaemenid period. Consequently, it may have had different meanings in different temporal and spatial contexts.
The following examples strengthen Garrison’s notion about the polyvalence. They show how the winged symbols of Egypt and the Achaemenids met each other in time and space in Egypt during the period of Achaemenid rule. This contact, in turn, opened the door for new identifications.
3.1 Darius I’s Seal
The agate cylinder seal of Darius I (British Museum No. 89132) represents one example of contact between the winged symbols of Egypt and the Achaemenids.33 The seal was allegedly found in Thebes in Egypt. The seal, which has a trilingual inscription reading “I am Darius, the King” (SDa), depicts a hunting scene. From a chariot, the king hunts down lions. Above the hunting scene, we see a winged symbol from which a figure is emerging (see Fig. 2).
3.2 The Arshama Seal
The so-called Arshama seal represents another example of an Achaemenid winged symbol used in an Achaemenid–Egyptian context. Several bullae, now found in the Bodleian Library in Oxford (Sigill. Aram. I-VIII), were created by the seal.34 The bullae are associated with the correspondence of the satrap Arshama (TADAE A6.3-16; D6.3-14). Arshama was the Persian satrap of Egypt in the second half of the fifth century BCE—that is, in the period that we know the Judean garrison and its YHW temple(s) existed in Elephantine. The seal impressions show a combat scene with a winged symbol hovering above. The scene is framed by two horses. In the centre, a victorious figure is attacking an enemy. Besides, three enemies lie dead. Moreover, there is an inscription with the name of Arshama and the title br bytʾ, “Son of the House.”
The bullae are impressions of a seal that is also attested among the bullae in the Persepolis Fortification Archive.35 The seal used in Egypt is identical to the seal PFS 2899*,36 “the seal of Iršama” (Arshama), used in texts from at least two generations before the last half of the fifth century. Texts in the Persepolis Fortification Archive describe Iršama/Arshama as the son of lady Irtašduna (PF 733-734, 2035). Moreover, PFS 2899* has also recently been identified in an unpublished Elamite document. Furthermore, one can find the seal on a so-called letter order (Elamite: halmi; NN 95B). Garrison suggests that the use of the seal PFS 2899* in Egypt in the last half of the fifth century BCE indicates that it was “an heirloom two or more generations removed from its original context in the Fortification Archive.”37
3.3 Darius I’s Suez Canal Stelae, the Statue of Darius I Found in Susa, and Other Hybrid Achaemenid–Egyptian Media
Additional evidence of a meeting of the winged symbols of Egypt and the Achaemenids exists. In 517 BCE Darius I ordered the digging of the Suez Canal, apparently to open up a sea-bound route from the Persian Gulf to Egypt (cf. Herodotus, Hist. 4.44). Along the eighty-five-kilometer-long canal Darius may have erected at least twelve stelae.38 Today, four stelae are known (but one is lost). The three-meter-tall stelae were placed on the shore of the canal to be seen from boats passing by. The known stelae are fragmentary. They were probably more or less identical, and the known fragments make it possible to reconstruct the appearance of the stelae. A mixture of Achaemenid and Egyptian royal protocols characterise them.
On the obverse, there is an image containing a mixture of Egyptian and Persian iconographic features (best preserved on the stela from Kabrit [Shaluf], now in the Louvre, see Fig. 3). Under a winged sun disk in Egyptian style, one can see two Persian-styled figures that mirror each other.39 Below the scene, there are cuneiform inscriptions in Old Persian, Elamite and Akkadian. On the reverse, there is an Egyptian hieroglyphic text next to and below an Egyptian-styled scene (see Fig. 4).
The stela from Kabrit (Shaluf) also contains a well-preserved Old Persian text that probably represents what appeared in cuneiform on the other Suez Canal stelae.40 Stereotypic formulations celebrating Ahura Mazda’s creation (DZc §1, cf. DNa §1 quoted in note 9 above) and accounting for Darius’s genealogy (DZc §2) introduce the cuneiform text. The hieroglyphic texts are poorly preserved.41 Nevertheless, each stela has three registers of hieroglyphic text, the upper two being identical.42 In the upper register, the gods announce their gift of the land and the entire world to Darius. The second register contains a list of the twenty-four countries belonging to the Persian Empire. The third register is probably not common to all of the Canal Stelae. The inscription on the Tell el-Maskhuta (Pithom/Heroonopolis) stela narrates how the canal came into being at the behest of Darius. The inscription claims that Darius has been “born of Neith, mistress of Sais; image of Re, (that) he (Re) placed on his throne to complete what he started.”43 In other words, the inscription presents Darius as the king of Upper and Lower Egypt. Additionally, the Egyptian inscription refers to Achaemenid royal titles: “Great King, king of kings … son of Hystaspes the Achaemenid.”44
Darius’s Suez Canal Stelae contain a mixture of expressions of Achaemenid and traditional Egyptian royal ideology. The cuneiform inscriptions present Darius as the king “by the favour of Ahura Mazda.” In the Egyptian hieroglyphic inscription, the Egyptian gods are the source of Darius’s royal power. They deify Darius following traditional Egyptian royal protocol and bestow upon him the kingship over Upper and Lower Egypt.
Other sources show that the phenomenon of depicting Darius in the traditional guise of the Egyptian king is broadly attested beyond the Suez Canal Stelae. For example, a wooden naos door depicts Darius I as an Egyptian pharaoh, with a winged sun disk hovering above him.45 Besides, there are reliefs of Darius I in Egyptian dress in the temple of Hibis in Kharga oasis, which he took the credit for having built.46
Last but not least, an almost three-meter-tall statue of Darius I found in 1972 near a monumental gate in Susa shows a mixture of Achaemenid royal and traditional Egyptian elements (see Figs. 5-6).
The statue of Darius depicts the king wearing a Persian garment, whereas the statue itself follows Egyptian style.47 That the headless statue represents Darius I is evident from the inscriptions on it. On the left folds of the robe, there is a trilingual inscription (Akkadian, Old Persian, and Egyptian) in Achaemenid style. Other parts of the garment and the base contain hieroglyphic text. The cuneiform text opens with stereotypic praise of Ahura Mazda as the creator who made Darius king (DSab §1). The subsequent paragraphs of the cuneiform texts express the purpose of the statue: “This is the statue of stone, which Darius the king ordered to be made in Egypt, so that whoever sees it in time to come will know that the Persian man holds Egypt” (§2). The cuneiform text presents Darius as a Persian whom Ahura Mazda has made conqueror and king of Egypt. However, the hieroglyphic text presents Darius as a pharaoh according to traditional Egyptian royal protocol. The inscription on the belt tassels addresses Darius as “king of Upper and Lower Egypt.” The text on the right fold of the robe says that Darius is “the perfect god …, son of [Re], engendered by Atum, living image of Re, who has placed him on his throne.” Additionally, Darius is the one that Atum has chosen “to be master of all that the sun disc describes.”48
The textual and iconographic references to the winged sun disk in the hybrid Achaemenid–Egyptian artefacts mentioned above are noteworthy. A winged symbol hovering above the king dominates both the “Egyptian” and the “Persian” panels of the Suez Canal Stelae. The image also appears on the wooden naos door that depicts Darius I as an Egyptian pharaoh. In particular, the statue of Darius from Susa offers a textual reference to the winged symbol that calls to mind the identification in the Horus myths from the temple of Edfu of the winged sun disk with “the Great God, Lord of heaven.”
4 Synthesis and Discussion
The two main approaches to the question of the background of the concept of YHW as “the God of Heaven” outlined above (cf. section 2) are both problematic in light of the documents from Elephantine. Concerning the theory about a background in the Syro-Canaanite deity Baʿalšamem, it remains an unsolved problem that it is in the context of Elephantine in the fifth century BCE that we find the first explicit examples of texts that identify YHW with “the God of Heaven.” We do not (as one would expect) find the identifications in documents from the first half of the first millennium BCE. Concerning the theory about a background in Achaemenid (Persian) religion, we should keep in mind that it was a hybrid Achaemenid–Egyptian culture that influenced the Elephantine Judeans. It was not a “pure” Achaemenid (Persian) culture (in which Ahura Mazda is never called “the God of Heaven” in the first place).
The relationship between the images of the winged symbol (either in Achaemenid or in Egyptian guise) and the (textual) epithet “the God of Heaven” can be characterised in several ways. First, we should see image and text as congruent,49 that is, similar in the sense that they reflect the same theme and subject matter: a transcendent deity whose abode or nature one could characterise through “the heaven.”
Second, there is a correlation between the images of the winged symbol and the phrase “the God of Heaven” accompanying YHW as an epithet. Whereas the iconographic motif has a history that predates the Achaemenid period, the Aramaic epithet “the God of Heaven” is first attested (as ʾlh šmyʾ and mrʾ šmyʾ) in the documents from the Judean community in Elephantine. Corresponding to this finding is the fact that the biblical texts start using the epithet (in Hebrew as ʾlhy hšmym) in texts that date to the Achaemenid period (or even later), not earlier. These data lead to the assumption that the iconographic motif came first. The epithet originated secondarily as a way to articulate in words the implications of the winged symbol. Even though both the image and the text can be said to be “the result of both media being dependent on a common underlying (mental) concept,”50 the epithet was likely dependent upon the image in the Achaemenid–Egyptian context.
Third, the interaction between the winged symbol, the epithet “the God of Heaven,” and the god YHW (image-text contiguity51) probably started in an environment comparable to the one where we also find the earliest documented uses of the epithet as a companion to YHW. The earliest documented uses are attested in the Judean community in Elephantine in Egypt in the Achaemenid period, in an environment influenced by a hybrid Achaemenid–Egyptian culture. This does not necessarily negate the possibility that a Syro-Canaanite concept of a God Most High started to gain influence over the YHWH religion in Iron Age II (cf. Niehr’s thesis). However, the sources produced by the Judean community in Elephantine in the Achaemenid period represent the earliest explicit identification of YHW with “the God of Heaven.” It is in this environment that YHW(H) worshippers were exposed to a mixture of Achaemenid and Egyptian iconography and ideology.
For the Judeans of Elephantine, the media that conveyed the concept of the winged symbol were material, textual, and aural/oral. Among the material media, there were seals and monumental reliefs, comparable to the Suez Canal Stelae and the statue of Darius from Susa, which probably originated in Egypt. The aural/oral media may have been earlier versions of traditions similar to those reflected in the Horus myths inscribed on the wall of the temple of Edfu and that perhaps even were performed as a sacred drama. The textual media may have included texts such as (but not limited to) the Aramaic version of the Bisitun inscription (DB Aram, which admittedly does not connect the epithet “the God of Heaven” with Ahura Mazda, but which nevertheless portrays Ahura Mazda as the highest god there is), Darius I’s Suez Canal Stelae (with reliefs in addition to the inscriptions), and inscriptions similar to those on the statue of Darius from Susa.
In the context of Egypt during the period of Achaemenid rule, the winged symbol—regardless of an Egyptianising or a Persianising form—could be represented in spoken and written language as “the God of Heaven.” From an Achaemenid perspective, the God of Heaven who hovered above the head of the king was Ahura Mazda. From an Egyptian perspective, the winged symbol could represent the god Horus-Behdety. Therefore, when the Judeans of Elephantine and the interlocutors spoke of YHW as “the God of Heaven,” they identified him—intentionally or unintentionally—with the high gods of the Achaemenid and Egyptian pantheons, respectively. In doing so, they translated YHW into another culture and identified him with a god from another pantheon.
There are dozens of analogies showing how one particular god became translated into another culture and assimilated with a god from a foreign pantheon.52 We can find an almost contemporary analogy in the Āl-Yāḫūdu documents from Babylon. In one instance, the individual Bēl-šar-uṣur (“Bel, protect the king!”) found in a document drawn up in 552 BCE (CUSAS 28,53 no. 3:2), has been renamed Yaḫū-šar-uṣur (“Yaḫū, protect the king!”) in a document written two years later (CUSAS 28, no. 4:2). The change of theophoric element in this name type (Beamtenname) probably reveals aspects of the Judeo-Babylonian community’s religio-theological aspirations on behalf of the god YHW. Judeans in Babylon could equate YHW with Bel (Marduk?)54
Another analogy also from Babylon is the Babylonian version of King Darius I’s Bisitun inscription.55 The original in Bisitun in Persia (DB) was made in Media shortly after the accession of Darius I to the throne in 522 BCE. The Babylonian version (DB Bab) was found during the excavation of the Processional Way in Babylon. Even though the stela with the iconography and text of DB Bab was vandalised and smashed into pieces at a certain point in history, the reconstructions of it show that it was not a duplicate of the original at Bisitun. On the contrary, it was an adaption of the inscription that was sensitive towards Babylonian religious and iconographic conventions. In particular, in the text of DB Bab, it was Bel who had made Darius king, not Ahura Mazda as in the original Bisitun inscription.56 Thus, in the locally adapted version of the Bisitun inscription, the Babylonian Bel has taken the position of the Achaemenid god Ahura Mazda.
In the Hellenistic period and onwards, there are multiple examples of how gods were translated into another culture and assimilated with gods from a foreign pantheon. Collin Cornell has amply demonstrated what happened to Chemosh, the patron god of the Iron Age kingdom of Moab.57 In the Hellenistic and Roman periods, Chemosh had undergone an interpretatio graeca: as with his cognates and siblings in the Phoenician and Ammonite pantheons, the deity Chemosh became merged with his Hellenistic equivalent. Likewise, in the Hellenistic period, the Edomite/Idumean diaspora in Egypt worshipped their god Qaus under the name Apollo.58 We may glimpse a potential theoretical reflection upon how to translate a deity from one context into another in a Hellenistic environment in the Letter of Aristeas. Aristeas refers to a previous letter about the Greek translation of the law of the Jews that he sent to the Ptolemaic king. A passage there presents the god of the Jews vis-à-vis the king:
God, the overseer and creator of all things, whom they worship, is He whom all men worship, and we too, Your Majesty, though we address Him differently, as Zeus and Dis; by these names men of old not unsuitably signified that He through whom all creatures receive life and come into being is the guide and lord of all.Let. Aris. 15-1659
In a recent article, Bob Becking has shown that people could borrow deities from different religious traditions across the ethnic boundaries in the multi-cultural Elephantine. This was not syncretism. Rather, Becking interprets this as an indication of the awareness among various groups. Despite the difference in naming the divine, everyone accepted the existence of the divine world that one could invoke by using either general terms or specific names. The name for the deities was less important than the concept of divinity.60
5 Conclusion and Outlook
The documents from the Judean community in Elephantine offer a variant of the concept of a universal religion that we glimpse in the Letter of Aristeas. The god hovering above the king in iconographic presentations in Egypt was “the God of Heaven.” When Judeans and non-Judeans equalled YHW with “the God of Heaven” in writing, they consequently translated YHW into the god who was visible in the iconography that surrounded them. The identification of YHW with “the God of Heaven” is first attested in Elephantine. The epithet “the God of Heaven” worked as a transmedial, textual reference to the winged symbol. From the perspective of the Achaemenids, “the God of Heaven” was the dynasty’s principal deity, Ahura Mazda. From an Egyptian perspective, it could be the king-protector Horus-Behdety. For the Judeans, it was YHW. When the god of the Judeans was associated with the epithet “the God of Heaven” in Elephantine in the Achaemenid period, we witness a translation of YHW into the supreme gods of the Achaemenids and the Egyptians, an interpretatio persica et aegyptiaca.61
Becking, Bob. “Exchange, Replacement, or Acceptance? Two Examples of Lending Deities among Ethnic Groups in Elephantine.” In Jewish Cultural Encounters in the Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern World, ed. Mladen Popović, Myles Schoonover, and Marijn Vandenberghe (Leiden: Brill, 2017), 30-43.
- Search Google Scholar
- Export Citation
. “ Becking, Bob Exchange, Replacement, or Acceptance? Two Examples of Lending Deities among Ethnic Groups in Elephantine.” In Jewish Cultural Encounters in the Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern World, ed. ( , Mladen Popović , and Myles Schoonover Marijn Vandenberghe Leiden: Brill, ), 2017 30- 43.
Beyerle, Stefan. “The ‘God of Heaven’ in Persian and Hellenistic Times.” In Other Worlds and Their Relation to This World: Early Jewish and Ancient Christian Traditions, ed. Tobias Nicklas, Joseph Verheyden, Erik Eynikel and Florentino García Martínez (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 17-36.
- Search Google Scholar
- Export Citation
. “ Beyerle, Stefan The ‘God of Heaven’ in Persian and Hellenistic Times.” In Other Worlds and Their Relation to This World: Early Jewish and Ancient Christian Traditions, ed. ( , Tobias Nicklas , Joseph Verheyden and Erik Eynikel Florentino García Martínez Leiden: Brill, ), 2010 17- 36.
Davies, Graham. “Comparative Aspects of the History of Israelite Religion.” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 125 (2013), 177-197.
Fried, Lisbeth S. The Priest and the Great King: Temple–Palace Relations in the Persian Empire (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2004).
Garrison, Mark B. “By the Favor of Ahuramazdā: Kingship and the Divine in the Early Achaemenid Period.” In More Than Men, Less Than Gods: Studies on Royal Cult and Imperial Worship; Proceedings of the International Colloquium Organized by the Belgian School at Athens (November 1-2, 2007), ed. Panagiotis P. Iossif, Andrzej S. Chankowski, and Catharine C. Lorber (Leuven: Peeters, 2011), 15-104.
- Search Google Scholar
- Export Citation
“ Garrison, Mark B. By the Favor of Ahuramazdā: Kingship and the Divine in the Early Achaemenid Period.” In More Than Men, Less Than Gods: Studies on Royal Cult and Imperial Worship; Proceedings of the International Colloquium Organized by the Belgian School at Athens (November 1-2, 2007), ed. ( , Panagiotis P. Iossif , and Andrzej S. Chankowski Catharine C. Lorber Leuven: Peeters, ), 2011 15- 104.
Garrison, Mark B. “Royal Achaemenid Iconography.” In The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Iran, ed. Daniel T. Potts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 566-595.
Garrison, Mark B. “The Impressed Image: Glyptic Studies as Art and Social History.” In Critical Approaches to Ancient Near Eastern Art, ed. Brian A. Brown and Marian H. Feldman (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2014), 481-513.
Garrison, Mark B. “Visual Representations of the Divine and the Numinous in Early Achaemenid Iran: Old Problems, New Directions.” In Iconography of Deities and Demons in the Ancient Near East: An Iconographic Dictionary with Special Emphasis on First-Millennium BCE Palestine/Israel, ed. Jürg Eggler and Christoph Uehlinger (University of Zurich, 2009), 1-79. Electronic pre-publication available at URLhttp://www.religionswissenschaft.uzh.ch/idd/prepublications/e_idd_iran.pdf.
- Search Google Scholar
- Export Citation
“ Garrison, Mark B. Visual Representations of the Divine and the Numinous in Early Achaemenid Iran: Old Problems, New Directions.” In Iconography of Deities and Demons in the Ancient Near East: An Iconographic Dictionary with Special Emphasis on First-Millennium BCE Palestine/Israel, ed. ( and Jürg Eggler Christoph Uehlinger University of Zurich, ), 2009 1- 79. Electronic pre-publication available at URL http://www.religionswissenschaft.uzh.ch/idd/prepublications/e_idd_iran.pdf.
Granerød, Gard. “‘By the Favour of Ahuramazda I Am King’: On the Promulgation of a Persian Propaganda Text among Babylonians and Judaeans.” Journal for the Study of Judaism 44 (2013), 455-480.
Granerød, Gard. Dimensions of Yahwism in the Persian Period: Studies in the Religion and Society of the Judaean Community at Elephantine (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016).
Granerød, Gard. “Canon and Archive: Yahwism in Elephantine and Āl-Yāḫūdu as a Challenge to the Canonical History of Judean Religion in the Persian Period.” Journal of Biblical Literature 138 (2019), 345-364.
Greenfield, Jonas C., and Bezalel Porten. The Bisitun Inscription of Darius the Great: Aramaic Version (London: Lund Humphries, 1982).
Hartenstein, Friedhelm. “Religionsgeschichte Israels—ein Überblick über die Forschung seit 1990.” Verkündigung und Forschung 48 (2003), 2-28.
Hulster, Izaak J. de, Brent A. Strawn, and Ryan P. Bonfiglio. “Introduction: Iconographic Exegesis; Method and Practice.” In Iconographic Exegesis of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament: An Introduction to Its Method and Practice, ed. de Hulster, Strawn, and Bonfiglio (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015), 19-42.
- Search Google Scholar
- Export Citation
. “ , Hulster, Izaak J. de , and Brent A. Strawn Ryan P. Bonfiglio Introduction: Iconographic Exegesis; Method and Practice.” In Iconographic Exegesis of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament: An Introduction to Its Method and Practice, ed. ( , and de Hulster, Strawn Bonfiglio Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, ), 2015 19- 42.
Koch, Klaus. Geschichte der ägyptischen Religion von den Pyramiden bis zu den Mysterien der Isis (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1993).
Koch, Klaus. “Weltordnung und Reichsidee im alten Iran und ihre Auswirkungen auf die Provinz Jehud.” In Reichsidee und Reichsorganisation im Perserreich, ed. Peter Frei and Klaus Koch (Freiburg, Schweiz: Universitätsverlag, 1996), 133-338.
Kurth, Dieter. Edfu: Ein ägyptischer Tempel, gesehen mit den Augen der alten Ägypter (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1994).
Kurth, Dieter. Edfou VI. Die Inschriften des Tempels von Edfu, Abteilung I Übersetzungen Band 3 (Gladbeck: PeWe-Verlag, 2014).
Lieven, Alexandra von. “Can Deities Be Impersonated? The Question of Use of Masks in Ancient Egyptian Rituals.” In The Physicality of the Other: Masks from the Ancient Near East and the Eastern Mediterranean, ed. Angelika Berlejung and Judith E. Filitz (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018), 67-90.
- Search Google Scholar
- Export Citation
von. “ Lieven, Alexandra Can Deities Be Impersonated? The Question of Use of Masks in Ancient Egyptian Rituals.” In The Physicality of the Other: Masks from the Ancient Near East and the Eastern Mediterranean, ed. ( and Angelika Berlejung Judith E. Filitz Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, ), 2018 67- 90.
Lincoln, Bruce. “The Role of Religion in Achaemenian Imperialism.” In Religion and Power: Divine Kingship in the Ancient World and Beyond, ed. Nicole Brisch (Chicago: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 2008), 221-241.
Niehr, Herbert. Der höchste Gott: Alttestamentlicher JHWH-Glaube im Kontext syrisch-kanaanäischer Religion des 1. Jahrtausends v. Chr. (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1990).
Niehr, Herbert. “JHWH in der Rolle des Baalšamem.” In Ein Gott allein? JHWH-Verehrung und biblischer Monotheismus im Kontext der israelitischen und altorientalischen Religionsgeschichte, ed. Walter Dietrich and Martin A. Klopfenstein (Freiburg, Schweiz: Universitätsverlag, 1994), 307-326.
- Search Google Scholar
- Export Citation
. “ Niehr, Herbert JHWH in der Rolle des Baalšamem.” In Ein Gott allein? JHWH-Verehrung und biblischer Monotheismus im Kontext der israelitischen und altorientalischen Religionsgeschichte, ed. ( and Walter Dietrich Martin A. Klopfenstein Freiburg, Schweiz: Universitätsverlag, ), 1994 307- 326.
Niehr, Herbert. “God of Heaven.” In Dictionary of Demons and Deities in the Bible, ed. Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, 2nd ed. (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 370-372.
Niehr, Herbert. Baʿalšamem: Studien zu Herkunft, Geschichte und Rezeptionsgeschichte eines phönizischen Gottes (Leuven: Peeters, 2003).
Pearce, Laurie E. “Identifying Judeans and Judean Identity in the Babylonian Evidence.” In Exile and Return: The Babylonian Context, ed. Jonathan Stökl and Caroline Waerzeggers (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015), 7-32.
Pearce, Laurie E., and Cornelia Wunsch. Documents of Judean Exiles and West Semites in Babylonia in the Collection of David Sofer (Bethesda: CDL, 2014).
Porten, Bezalel, and Ada Yardeni. Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt. 4 vols. (Jerusalem: Hebrew University, 1986-1999).
Posener, Georges. La première domination perse en Égypte: Recueil d’inscriptions hiéroglyphiques (Cairo: Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, 1936).
Schmitt, Rüdiger. The Old Persian Inscriptions of Naqsh-i Rustam and Persepolis (London: (School of Oriental and African Studies, 2000).
Skjærvø, Prods Oktor. “Avesta and Zoroastrianism under the Achaemenids and Early Sasanians.” In The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Iran, ed. Daniel T. Potts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 547-565.
Strawn, Brent A. “‘A World under Control’: Isaiah 60 and the Apadana Reliefs from Persepolis.” In Approaching Yehud: New Approaches to the Study of the Persian Period, ed. Jon L. Berquist (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007), 85-116.
Tavernier, Jan. “An Achaemenid Royal Inscription: The Text of Paragraph 13 of the Aramaic Version of the Bisitun Inscription.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 60 (2001), 161-176.
Thompson Crawford, Dorothy J. “The Idumaeans of Memphis and the Ptolemaic Politeumata.” In Atti del XVII Congresso Internazionale di Papirologia (Naples: Centro Internazionale per lo Studio dei Papiri Ercolanesi, 1984), 1069-1075.
Tuplin, Christopher. “Darius’ Suez Canal and Persian Imperialism.” In Asia Minor and Egypt: Old Cultures in a New Empire: Proceedings of the Groningen 1988 Achaemenid History Workshop, ed. Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg and Amélie Kuhrt (Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten, 1991), 237-83.
Tuplin, Christopher. “Arshama: Prince and Satrap.” In The Arshama Letters from the Bodleian Library, vol. 1 Introduction, ed. John Ma, Christopher Tuplin, and Lindsay Allen (Oxford, 2013), 5-44. Electronic pre-publication: http://blogs.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/116/2013/10/Vol-2-intro-25.1.14.pdf.
- Search Google Scholar
- Export Citation
. “ Tuplin, Christopher Arshama: Prince and Satrap.” In The Arshama Letters from the Bodleian Library, vol. 1 Introduction, ed. ( , John Ma , and Christopher Tuplin Lindsay Allen Oxford, ), 2013 5- 44. Electronic pre-publication: http://blogs.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/116/2013/10/Vol-2-intro-25.1.14.pdf.
Granerød, Dimensions of Yahwism, 65, 99, 102, 114, 119.
I want to thank Dr Lindsay Allen (King’s College London), whose question in a Q&A session at the SBL International Meeting in Berlin 2017 directed me to explore this hypothesis.
See above all Gen 24:3, 7; Jonah 1:9; Ps 136:26; 2 Chr 36:23; Ezra 1:2; 5:11; 7:12, 21, 23; Neh 1:4-5; 2:4, 20; Dan 2:18, 37, 44; cf. also Deut 4:39; Josh 2:11; 2 Chr 20:6; Lam 3:41; Dan 2:28. For a fuller presentation of the sources, see Niehr, Der höchste Gott, 49-60.
TADAE = Porten and Yardeni, Textbook.
Contra Niehr, Baʿalšamem, 195.
Eissfeldt, “Baʿalšamēm und Jahwe,” 26-31. For a detailed outline of Eissfeldt’s view and other vital positions in the history of research, see Niehr, Der höchste Gott, 52-54, and Beyerle, “God of Heaven,” 25-28.
The Zoroastrian oral composition can be assumed to have reached its final form by around 1000 BCE. However, the fact that it was first written down some two millennia later potentially reduces its value as a source for understanding Achaemenid religion. See Skjærvø, Spirit, 2-3; and Skjærvø, “Avesta,” 549-50.
See Greenfield and Porten, Bisitun Inscription, 3-4, and Tavernier, “Achaemenid Royal Inscription,” 162-63.
DNa §1, quoted from Schmitt, Old Persian Inscriptions, 30, reads: “A great god (is) Auramazdā, who created this earth, who created yonder heaven, who created man, who created blissful happiness for man, who made Darius king, one king of many, one master of many” (DNa §1; cf. DZc §1 etc.). According to Lincoln, “Role of Religion,” 223, one can find the account of Ahura Mazda’s creation, including his creation of heaven‚ on ca. 70 percent of the Achaemenid inscriptions containing more than one paragraph.
See Koch, “Weltordnung,” 165, 181-83; and Strawn, “World under Control,” 94. Others reject such an identification (cf. Beyerle, “God of Heaven,” 30) and consider it instead as the fravaši of the king, or as Koch puts it, a sort of heavenly double of the king (183-84).
Compare Beyerle, 27.
Quoted from Herodotus, Histories, 50.
Briant, Cyrus to Alexander, 248.
For a photo, see Koch, “Weltordnung,” 161, fig. 2. Moreover, see Strawn, “World under Control,” 87-101. Koch indicates that the original scene on the relief was subject to damnatio memoriae following the coup of Artaxerxes I.
For a photo, see Koch, “Weltordnung,” 167-69, figs. 5-7.
Niehr, Der höchste Gott; Niehr, “God of Heaven”; Niehr, “JHWH in der Rolle”; and Niehr, Baʿalšamem, 185-213. For survey essays that put Niehr’s contribution into a wider scholarly context, see Hartenstein, “Religionsgeschichte Israels,” and Davies, “Comparative Aspects.”
Niehr, Der höchste Gott, 71-163.
Niehr, Baʿalšamem, 211-12.
Garrison, “Iconography,” and Garrison, “Visual Representations,” 25-40.
For the image of a relief from Dendara depicting the Roman Emperor Trajan (d. 117 CE) as an Egyptian king approaching Hathor and Horus, and with a winged symbol hovering above, see Vandersleyen, Das alte Ägypten, 337-38, fig. 325.
I would like to thank Prof. Dr Alexandra von Lieven (Münster) for helping me find the most recent translation of the myth in question (in a personal communication).
Černý, Ancient Egyptian Religion, 46-48. Even though somewhat dated and contested, Budge, Legends, 17-27, is probably the most accessible source when it comes to drawings of the reliefs that correlate to the inscriptions.
Von Lieven, “Can Deities,” 74-76.
Quoted from Kurth, Edfou VI, 192.
Kurth, Edfu, 73.
Kurth, Edfou VI, 196.
Černý, Ancient Egyptian Religion, 34. For an illustration, see the photo of the Elephantine stela of Amenhotep II (Eighteenth Dynasty) that depicts the king underneath a winged sun disk, located in Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, https://www.khm.at/objektdb/detail/324305/. In the stela inscription, Amenhotep records his successful campaign against Syria in ca. 1451 BCE and the subsequent dedication of war booty and prisoners to the Temple of Khnum in Elephantine. Another example out of dozens of stelae depicting the king underneath a winged sun disk is the Stela of Amenhotep II offering to Amun, located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, available online at https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/554522.
Garrison, “Visual Representations,” 25-40.
Garrison, 36; cf. also Garrison, “Iconography,” 586.
Garrison, “Visual Representations,” 37.
A photo of the agate cylinder seal of Darius I in the British Museum (British Museum No. 89132) is accessible online at http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details/collection_image_gallery.aspx?partid=1&assetid=426327001&objectid=282610. Drawings of the seal impression can be found in Brosius, Persian Empire, 27, fig. 4, and in Kuhrt, Persian Empire, 237, fig. 6.4.
Illustrations of the bullae with impressions of the Arshama seal in the Bodleian Library (Sigill. Aram. -VIII) are available online at https://arshama.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/seals/ and http://arshama.classics.ox.ac.uk/images/illustrations/objects/arshama-seal.jpg. Moreover, see Tuplin, “Arshama,” 17-18.
Garrison, “Impressed Image,” 496-97.
PFS = Persepolis Fortification seals, i.e., seals documented by impressions on the Persepolis Fortification tablets. For PF and NN, see Hallock, Fortification Tablets.
Garrison, “Impressed Image,” 497 n. 45
Tuplin, “Darius’ Suez Canal,” 242-43. For discussions of the stelae and translations of the inscriptions on them, see also Kent, Old Persian, 147; Koch, Geschichte, 467-68; Briant, Cyrus to Alexander, 478; Fried, Priest and Great King, 65-66, 78-80; and Kuhrt, Persian Empire, 485-86 (text no. 11.6).
The two symmetrical figures probably represent a single person: the king. One can see a similar bilateral symmetry and mirror reflection also on the seal PFS 11*, according to Mark B. Garrison (in a personal communication). To PFS 11*, see Garrison, “Favor of Ahuramazdā,” 52-53, 59, 63-65, 96 (fig. 30); and Garrison, “Iconography,” 581, 584-86.
Tuplin, “Darius’ Suez Canal,” 244.
See Posener, Première domination, 50-87, text no. 8 (the Tell Maskhuta stela), text no. 9 (the Kabrit [Shaluf] stela), and text no. 10 (the Suez stela); and Tuplin, 244-45.
Posener, Première domination, 59 (text no. 8, English translation mine).
A photo of the wooden naos door (British Museum no. EA37496) is accessible online at http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=111444&partId=1.
For a brief presentation of the Hibis temple, see, e.g., Wilkinson, Complete Temples, 26-27, 235-38.
Although it was found in Susa, it was probably made in Egypt and subsequently brought to Elam; cf. Briant, Cyrus to Alexander, 963-64.
All quotations from Kuhrt, Persian Empire, 477-82 (text no. 11.2), emphasis mine.
Hulster, Strawn, and Bonfiglio, “Introduction,” 23-24.
Hulster, Strawn, and Bonfiglio, 24.
Hulster, Strawn, and Bonfiglio, 25-26.
Assmann discusses so-called religious translatability in Moses, 73-82. Smith presents additional examples of translatability of deities in God in Translation, 37-130, 243-322 (and rejections thereof in op. cit., 131-242). Additional examples can be found in Cornell, “Kemosh.”
CUSAS 28 = Pearce and Wunsch, Documents.
See Pearce, “Identifying Judeans,” 24-28; and Granerød, “Canon and Archive,” 357-62 (where other possibilities are also mentioned).
Granerød, “By the Favour,” 467-70.
For details and literature, see Granerød, 467-70.
Thompson Crawford, “Idumaeans.”
Quoted from Hadas, Aristeas to Philocrates, 102-3. Assmann, Moses, 81-82, refers to Greek and Roman thinkers who argue that the name of the deity does not matter if it is evident who is meant.
Although not discussed in the present study per se, we can nevertheless ask: Does the connection between YHW and “the God of Heaven” in Elephantine perhaps give us a lead as to how YHWH became “the God of Heaven” in the late texts of the Hebrew Bible?