“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.
Image by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – Public Domain