Qadash Kinahnu, A Canaanite Phoenician Temple

The Deity Temple - Room Two
The Deities in the Myths of Ugarit

Directory of this room on the Temple:

Code refined and some typos corrected 21 December 2007

`Athtart, `Athtartu (Ug.), `Ashtart (Phoen.), Astarte (Greek),
Ashtaroth, Ashtoreth (Hebrew
, false vowels added to associate the name with "boseth", meaning shame)

`Athtartu figures in the myths of Ugarit, appearing 10 times, usually in association with Ba`al, assisting him or restraining his wrath. As She of the Womb, she is the generally benevolent goddess of sexuality, passion, creativity, and of the fertility of women and nature. She was the chief goddess of Tyre, Sidon and Byblos. Her epithets include Athtartu of the Field, and The Strong One. Her name is cognate with Ishtar, the incarnation of the planet Venus, who as morning star is a war-goddess, robed in flames, armed with sickle sword and two quivers of arrows; and as evening star is the goddess of desire. Acacia and cypress trees are sacred to her. Her aid was frequently sought to solve problems through the sacred diviners who were in her temples.

Scholar Mark Smith notes that the invocation of `Ashtartu was likewise suitable for use in imprecations, as in the Myths of Ba`al and Aqat (see Choron, below). Astarte's martial power was well-known in Emar especially by way of her title dIsh8-tar ME in Sumerian and Ashtartu takhazi, meaning Athtart of the battle, in Akkadian, as well as in Egypt. She is invoked also in the treaty of Esarhaddon.

Golden Plaque with fine granulation work of 4-Winged Goddess
She was lovelier when she was new
and her face wasn't mashed in by the vicisitudes of the centuries
One of her designations is shem b`l, Name of Ba`al, as reconstructed on the basis of KTU 1.16 VI 56 and in KAI 14:18. The element shem appears as a deity at Ebla. It is common in 2nd and 1st millennium personal names in Amorite, in Akkadian names from Ugarit, and in Phoenician and Hebrew names. It might be argued from this evidence that shem originally represented a separate Semitic deity who was identified secondarily with the goddess as an expression of her relationship to the god with whom she was most commonly associated. The same view might apply to kbd, "glory," attested at Ebla and in Amorite personal names as a deity and in later West Semitic tradition as a hypostasis.

The association between Ba`al and `Athtartu is based on more than a shared roles as hunter/ huntress and warrior/ warrioress. They are associated in 2nd millennium iconography and texts. A seal from Bethel depicts a storm-god and a goddess and a hieroglyphic inscription with the name of Astarte. In the 12th C. Egyptian story The Contest of Horus and Seth for the Rule, `Anat and `Athtartu appear together as the daughters of Re and the wives of Seth; the latter god was identified with Ba`al, for example, in the 13th C. treaty of Ramesses II with Hattusilis. A single figure from Memphis served as the prophet of Ba`al and Astarte, which perhaps also illustrates the close relationship between Ba`al and Astarte and their cult in Memphis during New Kingdom times.

Later sources also support the relationship between Ba`al and Astarte. Philo of Byblos states that Astarte and Ba`al, also called Zeus Demarous kai Adodos, as "king of the gods," basileus theon, ruled the land together under the consent of ‘El, Kronos. [end Mark Smith reference]

`Ashtartu was eventually worshipped throughout the eastern Mediterranean world, identified with Aphrodite in Greece, as a warrior goddess in Egypt, confused and eventually merged with `Anat and ‘Asherah, both with her own name and as Atargatis. She is sometimes identified as the Qadashu (see next entry). She was frequently invoked for magical aid. Numerous baked clay statuettes and relief plaques, often cast from molds, found in both houses and temples, attest to her great popularity, and many sacrifices and prayers were offered for her aid. She is represented nude, sometimes with lion's head or standing on a lion, flanked by flowers or snakes, like the Qadashu.

Qadashu, Qadash, Qodesh, Qadesha, Qudeshet, Quadosh, Kedesh

Goddess on Fine Gold Foil PendantQadash means Holiness or the Holy One and she is generally portrayed in a somewhat Egyptian style, with a Hathor-like hair-do (hair about shoulder length with the ends curled up, such as the Egyptian goddess Hathor/Het-hor often wears), standing on a lion. Her arms are bent at the elbow and in each hand she holds either a flower, variously called a lily or a lotus, a "bouquet" of indeterminate plants, or a snake.

As qadesh is an epithet, not a name, it is not clear which Canaanite goddess She is. She may be an aspect of either ‘Asherah, `Anat, or `Ashtart or She may represent a combination of ‘Asherah, `Anat, and `Ashtart. While scholars today sometimes confuse the various goddesses, it is clear that in the past, in fact, these goddesses were concatenated as well, a single goddess emerging were previously there had been two or three.

There are a few depictions which actually contain the name, primarily from 18th and 19th Dynasty Egypt (c. 1550-1200 BCE), when a number of Canaanite deities - including Anat, Athirat, and Ba'al - appear on Egyptian stelae and other inscriptions. She is frontal facing (which is not typical in Egyptian art and which helps point to her origin outside Egypt) and nude with a clearly marked pubic area.

She can be identified as a goddess of life and health, based on a prayer to Her found in Egypt from a Levantine burial:

Praise Qadashu, Lady of of the Stars of Heaven, Mistress of All the Gods,
May She grant life, welfare, prosperity, and health.
Mayest thou grant that I behold thy beauty daily.

This conventionalized form also appears in the Levant, but without any name to identify her, so all similar depections (in repousse gold, or clay, or other material) are considered by scholars to be the same goddess. That all this similar depictions represent the same goddess isn't absolutely certain, however. There are many conventionalized deity forms in the Levant and it is often difficult to determine which deity is represented without a name written on the object, or, if discovered in situ, finding it in a named temple.

Qadash is not to be confused with the women in the temples also known as qadashot or qadeshah. While this job title is mentioned in Canaanite texts, the exact function of the qadashat is not described in the writings of the Canaanites themselves. Later stories from the Bible suggest that they were "temple prostitutes", but one must remember that the writers of the various texts compiled into the Bible had their own agendas. That there may have been temple personnel who served a sexual purpose is possible, however, one must remember that the writers of the Biblical stories wanted to put the Pagans in the worst possible light, to make Paganism seem as bad as possible.


Kothar wa Khasis means Skillful-and-Wise or Adroit-and-Perceptive. Another of his names is Deft-with-both-hands. He is smith, craftsman, engineer, architect, and inventor. He is also soothsayer and magician, as the creator of sacred words and spells. He aids Ba`al in his battles by creating and magically naming two magic weapons with which Ba`al defeats Yam. Kothar also creates beautiful furniture adorned with silver and gold as gifts for Athirat. And he builds Ba`al's palace of silver, gold, lapis lazuli, and cedar. Significantly, he is The Opener of the window through which Ba`al's rains can come and go. Kothar's abode is actually in two lands: One, Memphis = h.k.p.t (Ugar.) = chi ka ptah, means "the house of the ka of Ptah (the Opener)," written in Amarna as alukhi-ku-up-ta-akh, in Egyptian as h.t k3 pt h, is the site of the temple of Ptah, the Egyptian god responsible for crafts; and, the second, Kaphtor, Akkadian kaptaru, is generally identified with Crete.

Mark Smith notes that there is a possible pun involved in his epithet The Opener. According to the Phoenician mythology according to Mochos cited in Damascius' De principiis (Attridge and Oden 1981:102-03), Chusor, Kothar1s name in Phoenician Greek, was the first "opener." Assuming the West Semitic root *pt h, "to open," Albright argued that this title represents a word-play on the name of Ptah. The double abodes have been explained as reflexes of metal or craft trade from Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea to Ugarit, as Kothar is imputed to be their divine patron. The god-name Ka-sha-lu in texts from Ebla suggests that this god was known in Syria as early as the late third millennium. [end Mark Smith reference] Note that in Semitic languages there is often a shift between the sounds "th" and "sh."

Shapash, Shapshu

Shapash is the goddess of the Sun. Called the Luminary of the Deities, the Torch of the Gods, She sees all that transpires on Earth by day and guards the souls of the dead in the underworld by night. A major deity of the Ugaritic pantheon, She assists `Anat in Her search for Ba`al. Like the Akkadian Shamash, She is a deity of justice, often serving to mediate for the deities in disputes. She is related to Shamsh, Chems, an Arabic Sun-goddess worshipped at sunrise, noon, and sunset. She may also have been a preeminent deity at Ebla named Shipish. The Akkadian/ Babylonian sun god Shamash or Shemesh, also a bringer of light, upholder of law and order, and prophetic oracle, was originally a goddess, as demonstrated in personal names Ummi-Shamash which means My Mother is Shamash.

An actual ancient prayer:

Me, I spoke to my Ba`al;
to Shapash, the eternal Sun;
to `Athtartu; to `Anatu;
to all the gods of Althaya

Yam, Yamu

Yam (pronounced Yahm) means Ocean. He is apparently an actual son of ‘El, and carries the titles Prince Sea and Judge River. He may embody wild, chaotic earth-encircling ocean waters and winter floods and sea storms. When in conflict with Ba`al, he is identified as a seven-headed sea serpent or dragon. His other names - or perhaps the names of his henchmen - include Tannin, the Primeval Serpent, Lotan, the Crooked Serpent, the Sea Monster, the Close-coiling One, the Tyrant of Seven Heads. He is eventually defeated and subjugated by Ba`al. Their battle is told in altered form in the Bible as the story of the sea monster Leviathan and Behemoth, the gigantic bull-monster. Although he is Ba`al's adversary in part of the myth, he regularly received offerings in the temples of Ugarit, featured in peoples' theophoric names, and was otherwise honored, so he is a god to be revered. He was not an evil or villainous deity, merely powerful and potentially dangerous.

According to Mark Smith, the name of Yam is first attested in the late second millennium in personal names at Mari. The sacrifice which Yahdunlim of Mari offered to the "Ocean" at the Mediterranean Sea probably reflects the West Semitic cult of Yam. In Ras Shamra, Yam is recognized as a full-fledged god in the sacrificial tariff RS 1.13. He is mentioned beside U-th-kh-r-y, the Hurrian goddess Ishkhara, counterpart of the Semitic Ishtar, specifically described as Ishkhara of the Ocean. The cult of Yam may have continued in the first century Phoenician cities to judge from late classical sources. Third century coins attest to Poseidon as the sea-god of Beirut, who may be Yam in Greek dress. Some classical stories recounting Perseus' rescue of Andromeda from the sea-monster place the story at the Phoenician city Jaffa. [end Mark Smith reference]

The Sea in the West Semitic tale Astarte and the Tribute of the Sea is called Tiamat. Yam's name is linguistically cognate with Tiamat, the Akkadian primordial ocean goddess, who is ta- (serpent) + yam- (ocean) + -at (fem. ending). She was the personification of salt water, counterpart of Abzu, who was fresh water. Originally creatrix of the world, after the Assyrian conquest She was demoted and considered the primary force of chaos and evil, eventually slain by Marduk, who created heaven and earth from Her body.

Yw, Yawu, Yah, Iahu, Ieuo

Yw or Yawu is given as the original name of Yam in the Myth of Ba`al from Ugarit, and is probably the same as Ieuo in Philo of Byblos' Phoenician History. He is possibly to be identified with Yahweh. Coincidentally, a likely pronunciation of Yod-Heh-Vau-Heh really is Yahuh (Yahoo!). The name of this deity was used in theophoric personal names in a number of Canaanite cities and continues in use in Isra'el today - as in "Natanyahu"

Yarikh, Yirah (Ug.); Yarkhibol (Ph.); Jerah, Jarah, Jorah

Yarikh is The Moon, a God whose epithets are the Illuminator of the Heavens, the Illuminator of the Myriads of Stars, and Lord of the Sickle as the crescent moon. As provider of nightly dew, He is husband of the goddess Nikkal, His moisture causing Her orchards to bloom in the desert. The city of Jericho is named for Him.


The name of Nikkal-wa-Ib, a goddess of orchards, means Great Lady and Fruitful and derives from West Semitic ‘Ilat ‘Inbi meaning Goddess of Fruit. She is daughter of Khirkhibi, the Summer's King and is married to Yarikh, who gifted her with necklaces of lapis-lazuli. She may have been feted in late summer when the fruits had been finally harvested.

Padraya bat ‘Ar / Talaya bat Rab / ‘Aretsaya bat Ya‘abdar

These three are the Nymphs, called the bewitching, the perfect brides, who are identified by scholars as either the wives, the concubines, or the daughters of Ba`al. Their names refer to again to the fructifying moisture and the fertility of the earth:

Padraya biti ‘Ar - Flashie, daughter of Light
Talaya biti Rab - Dewie, daughter of Rain
‘Aretsaya biti Ya‘abdar - Earthie, daughter of the Broad Expanse/ Wide Flow

Kotharot, Kathirat

The Kotharot are the Wise Goddesses, usually seven in number, mentioned in the poem of the marriage of Nikkal and Yarikh. They oversee ceremonial arrangements and decide the proper order in which things must be done in rituals. As patrons of weddings, they set the bride price. They are also the guardians of the marriage bed, knowing all its pleasures. And They are protectresses of childbearing. They are mentioned in the myth of Aqhat, during the recounting of the marriage of King Dana‘el, where They are described as The Swallows or Bird-like Ones, senanot in Ugaritic, again connected with fertility and childbirth. Perbakhat may be the name of one of the Kotharat. Scholars believe variously that they were ritual specialists, herbalists, or professional entertainers either as singers or dancers.

Reshef, Reseph, Reshep

The name of Reshef is linked with Semitic words for "burning" and "plague," and records of His worship go back to Ebla. Although He is not mentioned in the Ugaritic myths, He appears in the cultic records as regularly receiving offerings, and He is featured in theophoric names. He is a god with the power of life and death. He slays humans by war and plague, thus the Mesopotamians identified him with their god Nergal. Yet He is also a god of fertility. As such, He is associated with the Egyptian god Min and with `Anat and Qadashu in Egypt where He was worshipped especially in the XVIII and XIX Dynasties. He is also invoked to end crisis. In Phoenician inscriptions He is called Resheph of the Garden, rshp gn, and Lord of the Arrow, b`l chotz. In joint Phoenician-Hittite inscriptions, he is referred to as the Deer or Gazelle God, referring to His sacred animal, the gazelle, oryx, or deer, whose horns He may wear on his helmet. In an omen text possibly related to an eclipse of the sun, He is called the Porter of Shapash. Some scholars identify Him with the planet Mars. His cult spread throughout the Mediterranean during the Greek Geometric and Archaic Periods, and He is believed by numerous scholars to be the source, at least in part, for the Hellenic Apollo, especially in some of his more "terrible" manifestations, in which He shots arrows of disease. His power is invoked in the upholding of treaties, see Choron

Choron, Chauron, Horon, Hawran

Choron is a chthonic, underworld god, whose name is possibly connected with the word hor, meaning bottom of a well, a cave. He is mentioned in Ugaritic and other Syrian curses and He is invoked by Ba`al and Keret in their eponymous myths. For example, King Keret curses his power-hungry and neglectful son:

May Horon smash, O son,
May Horon smash your head,
`Athtart, Name of Ba`al, your crown!

These are the sorts of curses included in treaties and other legal and diplomatic documents to deter those who might break their sworn oaths.
The Ugaritic corpus attests to Horon's power in incantations against snake bites, as well as demons (RIH 78/20.8-9). The Magical Papyrus Harris 501 invokes Horan and `Anat in an Egyptian curse against a wolf:

Hauron make thy fangs impotent,
thy foreleg is cut off by Arsaphes, [probably Reseph]
after `Anat has cut thee down.

Around the cornerTo the Third Room of the Temple of the Deitiesto learn about some of the many deities of Phoenicia and Carthage.
Back down the hallReturn to Room One of the Temple of the Deities to learn about the Major Canaanite Deities: El, Asherah, Baal, and Anat.
Through the archwayReturn to the Gateway for a complete directory of and links to all the rooms in this Temple.

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Modified 29 July 2008

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