A Man Standing In Front Of A Seated God

Description

El is the supreme god of the ancient Canaanite – Phoenician religion and the supreme god of levantean and  Mesopotamia’s Early Dynastic Period. Among the Hittites, El was known as Elkunirsa.

The god El was viewed as the elder, “gray beard” supreme deity. He was the creator god, the father of the gods and humankind, and the god of wisdom. He was considered a good-natured, beneficent being. (**)

In writing ʼĒl (also Il, Ugaritic𐎛𐎍 ʾīluPhoenician𐤀𐤋 ʾīl; Hebrewאֵל ʾēlSyriacܐܺܝܠ ʾīylArabicإيل ʾīl or إله ʾilāh; cognate to Akkadian𒀭romanized: ilu) is a word meaning “god” or “deity“, or referring (as a proper name) to any one of multiple major ancient Near Eastern deities. A rarer form, ila, represents the predicate form in Old Akkadian and in Amorite. (*)

In this piece on display the Ugaritic “El” Father of Gods sits on his throne (right) – extends his cup to a priest (Left) holding a pitcher of wine in his hand. The emblem of the winged sun marks the center of the scene on top.

Although described as a creator, there exists no biblical-type creation story in Ugaritic literature.  An Ugaritic text describes the conception of Dawn and Dusk include El as a central figure, calling him the father.

The poem goes as follows. (***)

“[El walks ( ?) ] the shore of the sea,

and strides the shore of the deep. [ ]

two torches, two torches from the top of the fire.

Now they are low, now they rise now they cry ‘Daddy, daddy’,

and now they cry ‘Mama, mama’.

El’s ‘hand’ grows long as the sea,

El’s ‘hand’ as the flood.

Long is El’s ‘hand’ as the sea,

El’s ‘hand’ as the flood.

El takes the two torches, the two torches from the top of the fire,

he takes and puts in his house.

El, his rod sinks. El, his love-staff droops.

He raises, he shoots skyward. He shoots a bird in the sky;

he plucks and puts it on the coals.

El would seduce the woman.

Lo the women excbim: ‘0 mate, mate, your rod sinks, your love-staff droops:

Now the bird roasts on the fire, bakes on the coals.

The women are El’s wives, El’s wives and forever.

Lo the wives exclaim: ‘0 daddy, daddy,

your rod sinks your love-staff droops:

Now the bird roasts on the fire, bakes on the coals.

The girls are El’s girls, El’s girls and forever.

Lo the women exclaim: ‘0 mate, mate, your rod sinks, your love-staff droops:

Lo, the bird roasts on the fire, bakes on the coals.

The women are [El’s wives], El’s wives and forever.

He bends, their lips he [kis]ses, Lo,

their lips are sweet, sweet as grapes.

As he kisses, they conceive; as he embraces,

they become pregnant.

They travail and give birth to Dawn and Dusk.

Word is brought to El: ‘El’s wi[vesJ have given [biJrth.’

‘What have they borne?’ ‘They have borne Dawn and Dus[kJ.”’

  • Site: Ugarit (Ras Shamra)

  • Date: 12 C- AD

  • Material: Sand stone

  • Item Proximate Dimensions: 30 x 38 x 8 CMS

  • Archaeological Mission:

  • National Museum Of Aleppo (2011) –

  • Index Code: Alp 0147

Excavation Site Location

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(*)

(**)

  • Spar, Ira. “The Gods and Goddesses of Canaan.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–

(***)

  • (MAR V1N H. POPE |  EL IN THE UGARITIC TEXTS) P: 39

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