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Ugaritic Birth Omens (1.90)

(3,121 words)

Author(s): Pardee, Dennis
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Divination Commentary Recorded observations of the natural world in the Levantine and Mesopotamian areas of the ancient Near East had two primary foci, medical and divinatory. The two areas were probably thought to be equally empirical. In the case of a symptom, one applied a given remedy or remedies and the complaint was supposed to go away. Other natural phenomena were thought to be followed by events …

The ʾAqhatu Legend (1.103)

(13,027 words)

Author(s): Pardee, Dennis
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Epic Commentary The ʾAqhatu story was recorded on three tablets that were discovered during the second and third campaigns at Ras Shamra (1930–1931). Lacunae prevent a complete understanding of the story, which must have been longer, recorded on tablets never discovered. Like the story of Kirta, this one tells how a father obtained a son, here Dānīʾilu and his son ʾAqhatu, but from that point the two st…

Ugaritic Incantation Against Sorcery (1.96)

(802 words)

Author(s): Fleming, Daniel
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Incantations and Rituals Commentary This Ugaritic magical text was found in 1978 not at Ras Shamra but at nearby Ras Ibn Hani, though it should be the same age.1 The extant tablet is neatly inscribed but broken from the 16th line at the left edge across to the 22nd at the right. In spite of the good condition of the first 15 lines, interpretation is hindered by previously unknown terms. Clear references to sorcery and expulsion …

The Patrons of the Ugaritic Dynasty (KTU 1.161) (1.105)

(1,435 words)

Author(s): Levine, Baruch A. | Tarragon, Jean-Michel de | Robertson, Anne
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Rephaʾim Texts Commentary  KTU 1.161 is a canonical liturgy, commemorating the accession of the last king of Ugarit, Ammurapi (III), and his queen, Tharyelli. It was first published by Caquot (1975), working only from a cast of the uncleaned tablet. Subsequently, six photographs appeared in Ugaritica7, plates VII-IX. Bordeuil and Pardee (1982) prepared a new edition of  KTU 1.161 based, for the first time, on a careful examination of the tablet in Aleppo.…

Ugaritic Lunar Omens (1.91)

(1,451 words)

Author(s): Pardee, Dennis
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Divination Commentary Like the texts for divination by misformed births, the Ugaritic collection of lunar omens corresponds directly to a Mesopotamian series, in this case Sin, the name of the Mesopotamian lunar deity. This text, which was discovered in 1978 at the site of Ras Ibn Hani, only a few kilometers from Ras Shamra, is badly damaged, only the upper portion having been preserved and that incomple…

A Ugaritic Incantation Against Serpents and Sorcerers (1.100)

(1,109 words)

Author(s): Pardee, Dennis
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Incantations and Rituals Commentary A new Ugaritic incantation text, similar in many respects to RIH 78/20 (text COSB.1.96), was discovered in 1992 in the archive that has since been identified as belonging to Urtenu (Bordreuil and Pardee 1995), a high official in the city shortly before its demise (Arnaud 1982:106). The incantation was prepared especially for Urtenu (see lines 14–15) and shows a concern for venomo…

Ugaritic Liturgy Against Venomous Reptiles (1.94)

(4,442 words)

Author(s): Pardee, Dennis
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Incantations and Rituals Commentary Three Ugaritic texts dealing specifically with the problem of venomous serpents have been discovered: this one, a very fragmentary text found along with this one (RS 24.251+), and RS 1992.2014 (translated below as text COSB.1.100). The first two texts (editio princeps by Virolleaud 1968:564–580) were found in the archive of the “prêtre aux modèles de poumon et de foies” (on this building, see i…

Ugaritic Dream Omens (1.93)

(1,493 words)

Author(s): Pardee, Dennis
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Divination Commentary This text, discovered in 1954 in the palace, is in a very poor state of preservation and its interpretation is uncertain (editio princeps by Virolleaud 1965, text 158). The presence of the word “dreams” in the first line and the variety of terms that have been preserved in the following lines make it at least plausible that we have here a rough catalogue of items that may be seen in…

Ugaritic King List (1.104)

(739 words)

Author(s): Younger, K. Lawson, Jr.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Historiography Commentary This poorly preserved, enigmatic tablet (RS 24.257 =  Ugaritica  5 .5 =  KTU 1.113) contains a retrograde1 list of the kings of Ugarit in two columns on its verso. The very broken recto seems to preserve some sort of ritual, consistently alternating between two musical instruments (tp “a tambourine/drum” and ṯlb “a flute) and the word lnʿm “for the Pleasant One.” What the exact relationship is (if any) between the recto and the verso …

The Prayer of Nabonidus (4QPrNab) (1.89)

(1,599 words)

Author(s): Levine, Baruch A. | Robertson, Anne
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Prayers Commentary This Aramaic text from Qumran, Cave 4, which speaks of Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon, was first published by J. T. Milik (1956), who assembled it from separate fragments of a single manuscript. These fragments were later realigned by F. M. Cross (1984), who dated the inscription paleographically to ca. 75–50 bce. Many large gaps remain, some of which can be restored on the basis of parallel statements occurring elsewhere in the in…

ʾIlu On A Toot (1.97)

(3,635 words)

Author(s): Pardee, Dennis
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Incantations and Rituals Commentary Another text from the archive of the “prêtre aux modèles de poumon et de foies” presents the great god ʾIlu as getting himself gloriously drunk and in need of a pick–me–up. This text provides one of the clearest examples of what I have termed a “para–mythological text,” that is, one with mythological form or overtones but with a practical function (Pardee 1988a:265–266…

The Kirta Epic (1.102)

(9,401 words)

Author(s): Pardee, Dennis
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Epic Commentary The Kirta story was recorded on three tablets that were discovered during the second and third campaigns at Ras Shamra (1930–1931). Lacunae prevent a complete understanding of the story, which must have been longer, recorded on tablets never discovered. On the other hand, the high degree of poetic narrative repetition permit the comparatively certain restoration of some important lacunae. …

The Aramaic Text In Demotic Script (1.99)

(8,191 words)

Author(s): Steiner, Richard C.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Incantations and Rituals Commentary The Aramaic Text in Demotic Script1 is a text written on both sides of a twelve–foot–long papyrus in the Pierpont Morgan Library (Amherst Egyptian 63), originally joined by a few fragments which are now at the University of Michigan (Michigan–Amherst 43b). It was acquired by Lord Amherst of Hackney at the end of the nineteenth century. The decipherment of the text has been a long and painful process of trial and error, which…

A Punic Sacrificial Tariff (1.98)

(6,114 words)

Author(s): Pardee, Dennis
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Incantations and Rituals Commentary The “Marseilles Tariff” was discovered in 1844 in the city after which it is named, where it was brought from Carthage, though at what date is unknown. Other examples of tariff inscriptions, even more fragmentary than this one, have since been found at Carthage. The heading of the inscription seems to indicate that it was originally affixed to the temple of Baʿl-Ṣaphon …

Ugaritic Rites for the Vintage (KTU 1.41//1.87) (1.95)

(2,495 words)

Author(s): Levine, Baruch A. | Tarragon, Jean-Michel de | Robertson, Anne
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Incantations and Rituals Commentary This is the most extensive Ugaritic temple ritual on record.1 It describes the annual celebrations of the grape harvest at the Temple of Baal in Ugarit over the period of one month, in the autumn of the year. It highlights the New Moon, and other key days, especially the thirteenth and fourteenth of the month. Two copies have been found, a fact which, in itself, indicates the canonical status of the ritual. In preparing the translation,  KTU 1.…

The Baʿlu Myth (1.86)

(39,028 words)

Author(s): Pardee, Dennis
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Ugaritic Myths Commentary The Baʿlu myth constitutes, by its length and relative completeness, the most important literary work preserved from those produced by the West Semitic peoples in the second millennium bce. Before the discovery of this and related lesser works in the third and fourth decades of this century, virtually all our knowledge of West Semitic religious beliefs came from later descriptions emanating from cultures mo…

The London Medical Papyrus (1.101)

(1,012 words)

Author(s): Steiner, Richard C.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Incantations and Rituals Commentary The London Medical Papyrus, usually dated to the late 18th dynasty (fourteenth century bce), contains a number of short Semitic magical texts transcribed into hieratic syllabic script (Wreszinski 1912:150–152). Like magical texts of later periods, they are written in a Mischsprache, reflecting their transmission from one group to another. As befits a period when Canaanite vassals wro…

Hippiatric Texts (1.106)

(1,831 words)

Author(s): Cohen, Chaim
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Instructions Commentary The Ugaritic hippiatric texts, dating from the fourteenth to the twelfth centuries bce, have been known to the scholarly world since 1934, when the first two fragmentary copies (here referred to as B,C) were published by C. Virolleaud. Only in 1968, however, when the best preserved copy (here referred to as A) was first published in Ugaritica V, did it become clear that all three texts we…

Dawn and Dusk (1.87)

(12,707 words)

Author(s): Pardee, Dennis
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Ugaritic Myths Commentary The text recounting the birth of the double deity Šaḥru-wa-Šalimu, “Dawn and Dusk,” constitutes one of the most important of the texts discovered during the early years of excavations at Ras Shamra and which stand outside the principal cycles of texts (Baʿlu, Kirta, and ʾAqhatu). The text is inscribed on a single tablet, discovered during the second campaign in the building lo…

Abecedaries (1.107)

(2,550 words)

Author(s): Demsky, Aaron
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; School Texts Commentary The alphabet was invented in Canaan ca. 1700 bce, during the Middle Bronze IIB period, a time of increased urbanization and cross cultural fertilization. This invention was probably the result of reflective thought of a local Canaanite scribe familiar with the scripts of the major powers, i.e., Akkadian cuneiform and most likely Egyptian hieroglyphic and hieratic writing. These latter …
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