Date of Award

Spring 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations

First Advisor

Jeffrey H. Tigay

Second Advisor

Grant Frame

Third Advisor

Barry L. Eichler


This dissertation examines ancient conceptions of Near Eastern deities whose
names consistently included geographic epithets, which functioned like last names. In
Neo-Assyrian (ca. 900-630 B.C.E.) texts, Ištar-of-Nineveh and Ištar-of-Arbela are often
included as divine witnesses or enforcers of curses along with several other deities
whose names lack any geographic epithets. Similarly, in second-millennium Ugaritic
texts, Baal-of-Ugarit and Baal-of-Aleppo received separate offerings in cultic rituals
along with several other deities whose names lack geographic epithets, and in firstmillennium
Aramaic, Phoenician, and Punic texts, Baal-of-Ṣapān, Baal-of-Šamêm, and
several other Baal-named deities are contrasted with each other in the same way that
they are contrasted with other deities. The exploration of these Ištar and Baal divine
names as first names suggests that the scribes of the ancient Near East considered each
Ištar and Baal who was explicitly associated with a unique geographic last name to be a
unique deity. In fact, the geographic epithets that follow the divine names should be
viewed as an essential part of these deities’ names. Neo-Assyrian scribes thought of
Ištar-of-Nineveh as distinct from Ištar-of-Arbela just as they thought of her as distinct
from any other deity whose name was not Ištar. Likewise Ugaritic, Aramaic, Phoenician, and Punic scribes thought of Baal-of-Ṣapān as distinct from Baal-of-
Aleppo and any other Baal-named deity just as they thought of him as distinct from any
other deity whose name was not Baal. These analyses are pertinent to biblical studies
because inscriptions from the eastern Sinai (ca. 800 B.C.E.) invoke a Yahweh-of-
Samaria and a Yahweh-of-Teman in blessings. Unlike, the Ištar and Baal divine names
that are contrasted with each other in the same texts, however, these two Yahweh
divine names do not appear together in the same texts and were not necessarily
contrasted with each other. For this reason, it could not be determined whether or not
Israelites who encountered the Yahweh-named deities recognized them as distinct and
independent deities. They might have known the names Yahweh-of-Samaria and
Yahweh-of-Teman, but there is nothing in the inscriptional or biblical evidence to
suggest that they necessarily thought of these as different Yahwehs.

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