Was Yahweh the Only God of Judah?



“The Triumph of Elohim”, a book on Judahite Mythology, is a collection of scholarly essays. The first one, “The Appearance of Pantheon in Judah” by Lowell K. Handy, reviews the religious beliefs of the Judahites that led to those recorded in the old testament during the Babylonian exile. Here’s my summary of his findings:

Yahweh (or El as he was known at Ugarit in Syria) and his consort Asherah were the supreme divinities. Beneath them were a tier of major deities including Baal, Anat, the berserker warrior, Shapshu, the arbitrator, and Mot, the death god, who directly participated in earthly rule. Beneath these were craft deities like Nehushtan, the goddess of healing, Kothar-wa-Hasis, and Shatiqatu, who were experts in their limited fields. The final tier were the Malakim, obedient heavenly messengers, who became the angels of the old testament.

During the exile, the Judahite pantheon were largely removed from the old testament, but a few remnants remain. The second tier gods directly mentioned in the old testament include Baal, Shemesh, Yareah, and Mot. Mot is invoked in the prophecies of Hosea and Jerimiah as a punishment that Yahweh will send against the unrighteous. In Exodus, Moses uses the symbol of the healing goddess Nehushtan to cure snake bite.

Asherah Image by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – Public Domain


About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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5 Responses to Was Yahweh the Only God of Judah?

  1. Simply desire to say your article is as astonishing.
    The clearness in your post is simply nice and i could assume you are an expert
    on this subject. Well with your permission let me to grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post.
    Thanks a million and please continue the enjoyable work.

    • jimbelton says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I am no expert, but I am fascinated by the light that archaeology throws on the Torah and the Christian bible. Some might say that knowing the history of the ancient Semitic religions discredits the truth of Judaism and Christianity. I disagree. Rather, it lets us see more clearly what is true (or spiritually inspired, if you prefer) in scripture, and what is false (or what comes from man, rather than God).

  2. simonjkyte says:

    And here is the issue; a jealous god … but jealous of what and why if there were no other deities?

    • jimbelton says:

      Most scholars believe that the remnants of the Ugaritic pantheon were expunged from the Torah around the time of the Babylonian exile. Take a look at some of my other posts for examples of references to the host of the Elohim. The angels in the Torah are the Malakim of Ugarit, but of the rest of El’s pantheon, only shadows remain.

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