Ancient near east and the bible gary V. Smith winnipeg theological seminary



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by A. Kapelrud, Baal in the Ras Shamra Texts (Copenhagen: G. Gad, 1952); U. Cassuto,


The Goddess Anat (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1971) 53-7.

64 Pope, EL 32-4. Pope connects snm with the Arabic root meaning "to shine, be,

high, exalted in rank" while U. Oldenburg, The Conflict Between El and Baal in Canaanite,:



Religion (Leiden: Brill, 1969) 17-19 translates snm as "luminaries" since El was the father

of shr the morning star and slm the evening star.



65 Pope, EL 35-42.

66 Ibid. 42-5.

67 Ibid. 47-54.

68 Ibid. 25-32.

69 Ibid. 82-4. for Pope's criticism of R. Dussaudi, Les découvertes de Ras Shamra

(Ugarit) etl’Ancien Testament (parts: Geuthner, 1941) 91-7.

SMITH GOD/THE GODS AS KING 25

(the other gods are emanations of his power) and Roggia finding a gradual take-

over by Baal of El's position of power and authority.70 Ringgren calls El the

"supreme authority among the gods, where he reigns as king."71 Pope dis-

covers in El only a nominal head of the pantheon and a nominal king of the

gods because Anath forced El's hand when she requested a house for Baal and

when she demanded Aqhat's bow, because the messengers of Prince Yamm

refused to bow to El, and because Yamm and Baal are also called "king" and

"lord" in their successful struggle for dominion.72 Lokkegaard interprets El's

so-called weakness as a virtue in a ruler. El's action is based on moderation,

tolerance, self-reliance and a true sense of security in one's position.73 Olden-

burg's analysis of El in Sanchuniathon's Phoenician History reveals an "omni-

potent monarch ruling from Phoenicia over the whole world,"74 whose

kingship is usurped by Baal in the Ugaritic mythology.75

Albrecht Alt's identification of the patriarchal God as "the God of the

Fathers"76 is expanded by F. Cross who compares the Ugaritic god El to "the

God of the Fathers."77 Cross concludes that "the exercise of authority by El

over his council suggests that his role is more that of a patriarch, or that of a

judge in the council of a league of tribes, than the role of a divine king."78

Certainly El is the aged divine father, and it is true that the office of a judge

over a league and a king are quite similar, but the titles and functions of El go

much beyond that of a judge or patriarch. Cross believes that El was not an

absolute ruler79 but this recent trend to diminish El's power does not go as far

as what the text demands.80 The power of a king is not destroyed if he gives

authority to others or is influenced by wives, friends, and threats. Cross has

properly drawn attention to the distinctive character of El's rule and concedes

that El reflects "the organized institution of kingship"81 as well as the patriar-

chal society.

In the Baal epic, as in many mythological texts, a description. of the gods'

70 Ibid. 83-90 for Pope's fuller description and criticism of D. Nielsen, Ras Shamra

Mythologie und Biblische Theologie (Leipzig: Teubner, 1936) 9-26 and R. G. Roggia,

"Alcume osservationi suI culto di El a Ras-Samra,"Aevum (1941) 559-75.



71 Ringgren, Religions 129.

72 Pope, EL 90-91.

73 F. Lokkegard, "A Plea for EL the Bull, and other Ugaritic Miscellanies," Studia

Orientalia loanni Pedersen septuagenario dicta (Copenhagen: Einar Munksgaard, 1953)

233.


74 Oldenburg, Conflict 12-22. See Cross, Canaanite Myth 21 n. 51 for a criticism of

Oldenburg.



75 Oldenburg, Conflict 12, 104, 183.

76 A. Alt, Essays in Old Testament History and Religion (New York: Anchor Books,

1966) 3-86.



77 Cross, Canaanite Myth 12.

78 Ibid. 39.

79 Ibid. 40.

80 W. Kaiser, "The Ugaritic Pantheon" (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation at Brandeis

University, 1973) 26-7 and C. E. L'Heureux, Rank Among the Canaanite Gods (Mis-

sou1a: Scholars Press, 1979) 3-28 for a full discussion of the objections raised by Pope.

81 Cross, Canaanite Myth 41.

26 TRINITY JOURNAL

struggle for power is expressed in terms of kingship. After permission for

building a house for Yammis granted from "the pavilion of king, Father

Shunem"82 who has power to grant and "overturn the throne of thy kingship!

Yea, break the scepter of thy dominion,"83 Baal goes "to El the king his

begetter"84 to get permission to have a house built for himself. This is fol-

lowed by Asherah's trip to "the pavilion of king, Father Shunem."85 In their

dialogue, El wonders if "El the king's love stirs"86 her, to which Asherah asks

"the king"87 to build a house for Baal. Later in the epic both Anath and Mot

refer to "the pavilion of king, Father Shunem"88 and Shapsh tells Mot that El

has the power to "overturn thy throne of kingship, break thy staff of

dominion."89 "Eternal king" is another epithet used of El90 who is enthroned

and sits as judge.91 These references to concepts relating to kingship demon-

strate the importance of the conceptual analogy of the king in the Ugaritic

concept of the chief god El.

The graphic representation of El on a limestone stela as a majestic figure on

an ornate throne, wearing a crown, supports the kingly view of the god El.92 A

bronze statuette of El with an Egyptian crown was also found at Ugarit.93

B. Kingship of other gods

The struggle for power and kingship of other gods is illustrated in the Baal

epic. The fertility cults' nature cycles are conceived in terms of the dominance

of various gods as king of the earth for a limited period of time.

Prince Yamm desires a house or palace like El and authority over Baal.94

Yarmm has a throne but Kothar wa-Khasis tells Baal "thou'lt take thine eternal

kingdom, thine everlasting dominion…chase Yamm from his throne, Nahar

from the seat of his dominion."95 Baal also requests a house like the gods with

a gorgeous throne. Once Baal's throne is built and Baal dwells in his house, Baal

declares his dominion over the earth and the gods,96 and is called Lord of the

earth.97 But soon Baal is "chas'd from his throne of kingship, from the dais,

82 ANET 129, B III AB C 7. See L. Fisher, ed., Ras Shamra Parallels vol. I (Rome:

Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1972) 111, 233-4.



83 ANET 129, B III AB C 16-17.

84 ANET 131, B II AB 7.

85 ANET 133, B II AB iv 24.

86 ANET 133, B II AB iv 38.

87 ANET 133, B II AB iv 42-47.

88 ANET 137, BV AB E 17; 139 B I* AB vi 2.

89 ANET 141, BlAB vi 28-29.

90 Cross, Canaanite Myth 16, 20; L. Fisher, Ras Shamra 266.

91 Cross, Canaanite Myth 21.

92 Gray, Mythology 71 for a picture of this stela. See Pope's discussion, EL 45-6.

93 C. Virolleavd, Comptes Rendus de l’Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Letters

(Paris: Geuthner, 1960) 340-41.



94 ANET 129, Bill AB C 8-9. i

95 ANET 131, Bill AB A 10-13,20.

96 ANET 135, B II AB vii 41-2, 50. "Have sway" is the root mlk "be king." See also

L. Bonner, The Stories of Elijah and Elisha (Leiden: Brill, 1968) 90.



97 ANET 135, B V AB A 8; L. Fisher, Ras Shamra 262-3.

SMITH GOD/THE GODS AS KING 27

the seat of his dominion"98 and "Puissant Baal is dead, the Prince, Lord of the

Earth is perished."99 Consequently, EI suggests to Asherah, "one of thy sons,

I'll make king,”100 to which Asherah first replies "why, let's make Yadi

Yalhan king,"101 and secondly, "let Ashtar the Tyrant be king."102 Ashtar

does not fit on Baal's throne and thus his reign is ended. When Baal returns to

life he is repeatedly called "Lord of the Earth"; and it is said of him, "Baal

mounts his throne of kingship, Dagon's son his seat of dominion."103 Other

unspecified lesser gods are pictured as dwelling on "thrones of princeship."104

These examples give us insight into the conceptual framework of the ancient

Near Eastern mind. Kingship was the significant factor in the struggle of the

gods for power.105 There is no fight to steal the essence of what Baal, Mot, or

Yamm represent. The conflict is for a particular god to have dominion and

kingship over all other powers. The king was the figure of power which

provided the most ideal analogy to symbolize a dominant force in nature. A

god by definition was not necessarily a king, but when a god held dominion, he

sat on the throne of his kingship and ruled the world. The frequent Ugaritic use

of such notions as king, lord, dominion, to sit enthroned, and authority reflects

the dominant commonality in gods in Ugaritic literature.


III. THE CONCEPT OF A GOD AS KING AMONG THE HITTITES

Although the early Hittite kings may have been elected,106 the Hittite

society was essentially feudal with the "Great King" at the top. The king was

the "supreme commander of the army, supreme judicial authority, and chief

priest."107 The preamble to the Hittite suzerainty treaties indicates the high

status of the king who was the head of the religion as well as the state.

The relationship between the gods and men was “that of a servant to his

master or that of a subject to his king."108 This attitude was especially preva-

lent in the Hittite prayers where the term "my lord" occurs with great

frequency after the name of a god. In the plague prayer of Mursilis, the son of

98 ANET 137, B V AB D 45-6.

99 ANET 139, B I* AB vi 9-10; 140, B I AB i 41-2.

100 ANET 140, B I AB i 46

101 ANET 140, B I AB i 48.

102 ANET 140, B I AB i 54; L. Fisher, Ras Shamra 7.

103 ANET 141, B I AB v 5-6; vi 33. For an extensive study of Baal see A. S. Kapelrud,

Baal in the Ras Shamra Texts (Copenhagen: G. Gad, 1952).

104 ANET 130, B III AB B 20-30.

105 Gray, Mythology 115. Gray calls this struggle for kingship the central theme of the

Canaanite New Year's festival.



106 O. R. Gurney, The Hittites (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1952) 63.

107 Ibid. 65. See also H. A. Hoffner, "The Hittites and Hurrians," Peoples of Old Testa-

ment Times (Oxford: Clarendon, 1973) 208-10; O. R. Gurney, "Hittite Kingship," Myth,

Ritual and Kingship, ed. S. Hooke (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1958) 105-21;

C. W. Ceram, The Secrets of the Hittites (New York: Knopf, 1956) 119-31.

108 O. R. Gurney, Some Aspects of Hittite Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press,

also 1977) 1-20; H. G. Guterbock, "Hittites Religion," Ancient Religions (New York: Philo-

sophical Library, 1950) 99; P. H. Houwink Ten Cate, "Hittite Royal Prayers," Numen

16 (1969) 82.

28 TRINITY JOURNAL
Suppiluliumas, "my lord" is used over twenty five times.109 Furlani considers

this relationship to be the most basic aspect of the Hittite religion.110 He bases

this hypothesis on the instructions for temple officials111 and other sacred

laws.
A. The Kingship of Alalu, Anu and Kumarbi

Hittite mythology describes how" Alalus was king in heaven"112 for nine

years. After Anu vanquished Alalu, Anu sat upon his throne and ruled as king

in heaven for nine years. The cycle continued when Anu was defeated by

Kumarbi, who in turn was defeated by Tesub, the storm-god, the king of

Kummiya, appears to have taken Kumarbi's place, for Tasmisus, the storm-

god's attendant, says that if Tesub moves from his place "there will be no king

in heaven."113 In the "Song of Ullikummis," Kummarbi, who has been

connected with the Sumerian god Enlil,114 the Ugaritic god El115 and even

Dagan,116 attempts to gain victory over the storm-god so that Ullikumis may

"ascend to heaven for kingship."117 The desire of each of the gods is to rule as

king and their struggle for authority is described in their literature in terms of

kingship.

B. The Kingship of the sun and storm gods

The Hittite sun-goddess of Arinna is twice proclaimed to be the one who

"regulates kingship and queenship" in the treaty between Suppiluliumas and

Mattiwaza."118 In Pudu-hepa's prayer to the sun-goddess, she is called the

"Queen or heaven and earth, O Sun-goddess of Arinna, queen of all the

countries."119 At Arinna, the sun-goddess who was called Wurusemu, was the

principal deity.120 Although she was "the supreme patroness of the Hittite

state and monarchy"121 it was the sun-god who was the King of the gods.122

Thus, his name appears before the sun-goddess of Arinna on some Hittite

treaties.123

Tesub, the Hurrian storm or weather-god is called king in the song of
109 ANET 394-6.

110 G. Fur1ani, "Basic Aspects of Hittite Religion," Harvard Theological Review 31

(1938) 251-62.



111 ANET 207-10.

112 ANET 120.

113 ANET 124.

114 Gurney, "Hittite Religion," Ancient Religions 103.

115 Pope, EL 32; M. C. Astour, "Semitic Elements in the Kumarbi Myth: An Onomas-

tic Inquiry," JNES 27 (1968) 172.


116 E. Laroche, Ugaritica V (paris: Libraire Orientaliste P. Geuthner, 1968) 523-5.

117 ANET 122,125.

118 ANET 205.

119 ANET 393.

120 O. R. Gurney, The Hittites (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1961) 136.

121 1bid. 139. The text is found in Pritchard, ANET 398.

122 1bid.

123 ANET 205.

SMITH GOD/THE GODS AS KING 29

Ullikimus and is considered by some to be the "supreme king. ..the real king

and owner of the land of Hatti."124 In Mursilis' prayers, the storm-god is

addressed as "my lord" and "the king of heaven."125 In a treaty he is called

the "lord of heaven and earth."126 Among the other gods, Ea is once referred

to as "the king of wisdom”;127 and Telepinus is told, "There is no other deity

more noble and mighty than thou…thou watchest over kingship in heaven

and earth."128

In the oath formula which invokes the gods, one finds kingship terms used

of. “Ishara, queen of the oath, Hebat, .queen of heaven"129 and in other

writings the Luwian god Santas is called king.130

These examples illustrate how the Hittites used the kingship analogy to des-

cribe their chief gods. A great deal remains unknown about the relationships

between the Hittite gods but the struggle for power and dominant position is

consistently stated in kingship terminology.

IV. THE CONCEPT OF A GOD AS KING IN EGYPT

An integrated description of Egyptian religion is partially hidden behind the

vast array of religious images found in Egyptian literature and art. A funda-

mental part of Egyptian thinking concerning their Pharaohs was that the king

was divine. In art, the white crown and vulture of Upper Egypt and the red

crown and cobra of Lower Egypt symbolized kingship. Titles such as "King of

Upper and Lower Egypt," "Lord of the Two Lands" and "Son of Re" identi-

fied kings. Since the Pharaoh was divine, "kingship in Egypt remained the

channel through which the powers of nature flowed into the body politic to

bring human endeavor to fruition."131 Thus the maintenance of nature and

civilization were dependent on the king.

The rule of the king was absolute in Egypt. He was normally expected to

maintain justice and order over the land, to serve as an intermediary with the

gods, to be commander-in-chief of the army and the highest judicial official in

the land.132 An impressive synthesis of the meaning of "king" in Egypt can be

found in Frankfort's book Kingship and the Gods. Frankfort finds four themes

running throughout the long history of Egyptian cultic tradition which explain

how the Egyptians saw the divine at work in the world. These themes are:

creation, fertility, resurrection and kingship.133 The motif of kingship

penetrates into the very fiber of all of history, for the earthly kings, and the

gods who were kings, were the participants which made creation, fertility and

124 Guterbock, "Hittite Religion," 88.


125 ANET 394-5,398.

126 ANET 206.

127 ANET 356.

128 ANET 397.

129 ANET 205.

130 Gurney, The Hittites 138.

131 H. Frankfort, Kingship and the Gods (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948)

34.


132 S. Morenz, Egyptian Religion (London: Methuen, 1973) 11-13; A. Erman, Life in

Ancient Egypt (New York: Dover Publications, 1971) 53-78; Frankfort, Kingship 51-60.

133 Frankfort, Kingship 146.

30 TRINITY JOURNAL

resurrection possible. Each was a demonstration of the kingship of the Pharaoh

and the chief gods.

The close association of certain gods with the Pharaoh resulted in the identi-

fication of the two. "The monarchy was conceived as a reality in the world of

the gods as well as the world of men."134 "The forms of the state began to

pass over into the world of the gods, and an important god would be called a

'king.' "135 "In the cult the gods were treated as if they were kings on

earth."136 The Egyptians believed that the king and his authority were derived

from and patterned after the gods. Thus the sun-god, Atum-Re, established

order and justice and the Pharaoh who was a replica of the god-king-judge, Re,

was the supreme judge in Egypt.137 The importance of the earthly king in

Egypt mirrors the importance of the kingship ideas among the gods.138

A. The Kingship of Re

The Turin Papyrus and Manetho list Re, the sun-god, as the first king in

Egypt. The kingship of Re, who is also known as Khepri, Atum and various

dual names, goes back to the time of creation. "Monarchial rule, then, was

coeval with the universe; the Creator had assumed kingship over his creation

from the first."139 The early sun-god of Heliopolis who is said to be the

begetter of the Ennead proclaims, "I am Re in his (first) appearances, when he

began to rule that which he had made. Who is he? This…means that Re

began to appear as a king."140

The kingship of Re is frequently expressed in the formula "king of the

gods." The booty from the capture of Joppa is to be given to the house of

"Amon-Re, King of the Gods"141 and on Wen-Amon's journey to Phoenicia to

obtain wood, he refers to Amon-Re as "King of the Gods" ten different

times.142 Amon-Re is called "King of the Gods" in a Twentieth Dynasty legal

document,143 in two texts which relate to the Hyksos period,144 and by

Thut-mose III who introduces himself as one who is "Enduring in Kingship,

like Re in heaven,"145 who serves "Amon-Re, Lord of the Thrones of the Two

Lands."146 The title "Amon-Re, King of the Gods" is found in a document

about a runaway slave,147 a list of the properties which belonged to the
134 Ibid.33.

135 J. H. Breasted, The Dawn of Conscience (New York: Scribner's, 1934) 19.

136 V. Ions, Egyptian Mythology (Middlesex: Harnlyn, 1968) 14.

137 Frankfort, Kingship 157.

138 ANET 446-47. Thut-mose III sits upon the throne of Re.

139 Frankfort, Kingship 15.

140 ANET 3-4.

141 ANET 23.

142 ANET 25-8.

143 ANET 214.

144 ANET 231-2.

145 ANET 234.

146 ANET 236. See also the title by Amen-hotep II (246), the tomb of a visier under(

-Thut-mose III (248), Seti 1(255), Thutmose III (373), and Amen-hotep III (375).



147 ANET 259.

SMITH. GOD/THE GODS AS KING 31

temple of Amon,148 and in ritual texts.149

Of special importance are a number of hymns to Amon-Re. In one hymn

Amon-Re is the

chief of all gods. ..Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands…

father of the gods, who made mankind and created the beasts…

the king of Upper and Lower Egypt…beautiful of diadem, and

lofty of White Crown…Lord of the Double Crown…lord of

the gods…who gave commands, and the gods came into being

...the chief of the Great Ennead…the sole king…maker of all

mankind, Creator and maker of all that is….150


B. The Kingship of other gods

The theology which developed at Memphis proclaimed Ptah as creator of

the gods and of all creation.151 At first, the god Seth was made the king of

Upper Egypt and the god Horus the king of Lower Egypt, but Geb later gave

Horus the kingship over all Egypt in order to end discord. Subsequently, Ptah

created the world by his word and took on the kingly title of "Lord of the




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