Additional Materials
Lee Campbell

Idolatry in the Ancient Near East[1]  

Ancient Near Eastern Pantheons

Ammonite Pantheon

The chief god was Moloch/Molech/Milcom.

Assyrian Pantheon

The chief god was Asshur.

Babylonian Pantheon

At Lagash--Anu, the god of heaven and his wife Antu.

At Eridu--Enlil, god of earth who was later succeeded by Marduk, and his wife Damkina. Marduk was their son.

Other gods included: Sin, the moon god; Ningal, wife of Sin; Ishtar, the fertility goddess and her husband Tammuz; Allatu, goddess of the underworld ocean; Nabu, the patron of science/learning and Nusku, god of fire.

Canaanite Pantheon

The Canaanites borrowed heavily from the Assyrians. According to Ugaritic literature, the Canaanite pantheon was headed by El, the creator god, whose wife was Asherah. Their offspring was Baal, who married Anath (The OT indicates that Ashtoreth, a.k.a. Ishtar, was Baal's wife). Dagon, Resheph, Shulman, Koshar and Mot were other gods of this pantheon. The cultic practices included animal sacrifices at high places; sacred groves, trees or carved wooden images of Asherah. Divination, snake worship and ritual prostitution were practiced. Sexual rites were supposed to ensure fertility of people, animals and lands.

Egyptian Pantheon[2]  

Egyptian religion was never unified. Typically deities were prominent by locale. Only priests worshipped in the temples of the great gods. Only when the gods were on parade did the populace get to worship them. These 'great gods' were treated like human kings by the priesthood: awakened in the morning with song; washed and dressed the image; served breakfast, lunch and dinner. The cults of Ra and Osiris, his sister/wife Isis and son Horus[3]   were as close to a national religion as it got. Typically families worshipped household gods.

Essentially Egyptian religion involved the worship of nature dieties. Anubis was a jackal god; Sobk a crocodile god; Horus & Ra were associated with the falcon; Thoth was associated with an ibis and connected with wisdom & the moon; Ma 'et (a.k.a. Maat, the daughter of Re) the godess of truth, justice, right & cosmic order; Nut the sky goddess; Shu the god of air; Nu the god of primordial waters; Geb the god of earth; Osiris god of the realm of the dead, vegetation and thus the rise of the Nile.

Kitchen believes it's unlikely that the exodus Hebrew's were focused on the Apis bull cult of Memphis or the Mnevis bull cult of Heliopolis when they charged Aaron to make them a god.[4]   Instead he believes there were bull cults associated with Horus in regions around Gomer. These cults were associated with strength and fertility. Also, he suggests that the close proximity to Caanan meant that these cults were probably similar to the Hadad (Baal) worship there, which was also associated with the bull, strength and fertility.

Moabite Pantheon

The chief god was Chemosh (a.k.a. Athtar).

Philistine Pantheon (c.f. Canaanite Pantheon)

Gaza and Ashdod--the chief god was Dagon

Ashkelon--Ashtoreth

Ekron--Baalzebub

Syrian Pantheon (c.f. Canaanite Pantheon)

Ben-hadad

Alphabetic listings:

Anath 

Asherah 

Ashtoreth 

Baal 

Baal-zebub 

Bel 

Chemosh 

Dagon 

Day Star 

Hadad 

Kiyyun 

Lilith 

Marduk 

Molech 

Mot 

Sabeanism 

Sikkuth 

Notes:

[1]  Much of this material is from A. K. Helmbold, Ph.D., Gods-false, In: Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia Vol.1, Moody Press (1975). Return to Text

[2]  The Egyptian pantheon is so extensive I've listed it in a separate appendix. Return to Text

[3]  With Isis' help, Horus avenged his father Osiris' who was killed by his brother Seth by helping Osiris regain his kingship on earth. Return to Text

[4]  K. A. Kitchen, New Bible Dictionary, 2nd edition, see the article, Calf, Golden, p. 160 Return to Text

[5]  G. E. Wright and F.V. Filson, The Westminster Historical Atlas to the Bible. (London, 1945), p.36 and G.E. Wright, The Old Testament against its Environment (London, 1950), p.78 Return to Text

[6]  Jud.3:7, 1Ki.18:19, 2Ki.23:4 Return to Text

[7]  Child sacrifice was part of the Baal cultus (Jer.19:5) (c.f. Molech) Return to Text

[8]  J. Bright, A History of Israel (London) 1960, pp. 108f.; 1Ki.14:24; 2Ki.23:7 Return to Text

[9]  Leviathan and Rahab are the same being; this mythical creature is identical with the Canaanite 7-headed dragon Lotan. Waltke's summary of research in this area, Creation and Chaos, makes it clear that the biblical references are not granting the existence of such a creature rather they illustrate in a typical Hebrew poetry that God alone is God. Return to Text

[10]  Sholem Asch, The Nazarene (London, 1939), pp. 347ff and C.F. Pfeiffer, The Patriarchal Age (Michigan, 1961), chapter 9. Return to Text

[11]  A temple at Amman (1400-1250 B.C.) excavated and reported upon by J.B. Hennessey, Palestine Exploration Quarterly (1966), p. 162, writes, "Two outstanding features associated with the use of the temple were the enormous quantities of animal, bird and human bones and the abundant evidence of fire...There can be little doubt that the temple was associated with a fire cult." In a private communication with G.J. Wenham he wrote that "At least 75% of them (the bones found) belong to children between the ages of 3 and 14, or thereabouts. Return to Text

[12]  Manassah probably did more to restore these practices than anyone after his father's death (i.e. Hezekiah) see Isa.30:33. Return to Text