views updated


ADAD is the Old Akkadian and Assyro-Babylonian name of the ancient Middle Eastern storm god, called Adda (Addu) or Hadda (Haddu) in northwest Semitic areas and known later as Hadad, especially among the Arameans. A shortened form, Dad, occurs in personal names. Since the cuneiform sign for the "wind" (im) was used regularly and as early as the third millennium bce to write the divine name Adad in Mesopotamia, this is likely to have been its original meaning, just as au, with a pharyngealized dental, means "wind" in Libyco-Berber, which is the Afro-Asiatic language closest to Semitic. The name is also related to Arabic hadda, "to tear down" or "to raze," a verb originally referring to a violent storm.

Extension of Adad's Cult

As a personification of a power of nature, Adad can bring havoc and destruction; on the other hand, he brings the rain in due season, and he causes the land to become fertile. This is why his cult plays an important role among sedentary populations in areas of rain-fed agriculture, such as northern Syria and Mesopotamia. He was not prominent in southern Babylonia, where farming was based on irrigation, and no similar Egyptian deity was worshiped in the valley and delta of the Nile, where agriculture depended on the flooding of the river. The cult of the Syrian storm god was nevertheless introduced in Egypt in the mid-second millennium bce, and he was assimilated there with the Egyptian god Seth. The introduction of his worship in this region is probably related to the reign of the Hyksos dynasties, which were native to Canaan or Phoenicia.

Characteristics and Relationship to Other Deities

Adad is pictured on monuments and seal cylinders with lightning and the thunderbolt. In Assyro-Babylonian hymns, literary texts such as the flood story, and magic and curse formulas, the somber aspects of the god tend to predominate. For instance, the epilogue of the Laws of Hammurabi invokes Adad to bring want and hunger to the malefactor's land by depriving it of rain, and to cast thunder over his city, causing flooding. Adad is also known as Ramman, "the Thunderer," and his manifestations on mountain peaks and in the skies brought about his qualification as Baal of Heavens (i.e., Lord of Heavens, or Baal Saphon, Lord of Djebel el-Aqra) in northern Syria, thus blurring the distinction between the storm god and the mountain god. Due to the importance of his cult, he simply became Baal, "the Lord," and this antonomasia often replaced his proper name in northwest Semitic areas, at Ugarit and Emar, in Phoenicia, and in Canaan. The biblical condemnation of the cult of Baal refers likewise to the storm god.

Adad/Hadad also plays a role in entrusting royal power to kings. Hadad's prophets at Aleppo helped Zimri-Lim to regain the throne of Mari circa 1700 bce. According to an inscription from Tel Dan from the mid-ninth century bce, Hadad "made king" the ruler of Damascus, and in the eighth century bce he gave "the scepter of succession" to Panamuwa II in the Aramean kingdom of Sam'al. Adad/Hadad appears sometimes as a war god, especially in Assyria and in Damascus, the Aramean capital city of which he was the chief deity.

Among his main cult centers were Aleppo and Sikkan/Guzana, biblical Gozan, in northern Syria, where he has been identified with the Hurrian storm god Teshub, and the Hittite and Luwian god Tarhunza or Tarhunt. In Anatolia, the storm god usually stood at the head of the local pantheon. His name is often concealed under the im logogram, as it is in northern Mesopotamia and Syria. He was a heavenly god, a personification of the storm and its accompanying phenomena, such as thunder, lightning, and rain. His sacred animal was the bull.

In Syria, during the Old Babylonian period, Hadad's main sanctuary of Aleppo housed "the weapon with which he smote the Sea," regarded as a precious relic. This was a souvenir of Hadad's fight against the Sea, called Yam in Ugaritic mythological texts, which deal at length with this cosmic battle. Later Hadad became the chief god of Damascus; his temple stood at the site of the present-day Umayyad Mosque. Assyrian lexical texts identify him with Iluwer, a divine name appearing on the Aramaic stele of Zakkur, king of Hamat and Luʿash. This equation may reflect a particular syncretistic tendency of the late period and does not appear again in northwest Semitic sources. As in Anatolia, Adad's sacred animal was the bull, which symbolized might and vitality. On North Syrian stelae he is represented standing on the back of a bull, while a first-century ce stele from Dura-Europos on the Euphrates depicts him seated on a throne, with bulls on both sides.

Adad was usually accompanied by a consort, called Shala in Mesopotamia, Anat at Ugarit, and Atargatis in later periods. His father was Dagan, "the cloudy sky," and a "son of Adad," Apladda, was worshiped on the Middle Euphrates. In Greco-Roman times, Adad/Hadad was identified with Zeus, in particular at Damascus, and with Jupiter Heliopolitanus. He seems to have been identified with Jupiter Doli-chenus as well, since priests attached to the latter's cult bore names such as "Son of (H)adad." Macrobius could still write circa 400 ce that "the Syrians give the name Adad to the god, which they revere as first and greatest of all." Of course, it should be made clear that we are dealing here not with a singular god, but with a name used to designate either the chief storm god of a country or a local corresponding deity, which generally had an additional qualification. The qualification usually indicated the mountain that was believed to be the abode of the deity, or a city with an important shrine. For instance, the neo-Assyrian inscription of Sargon II (r. 721705 bce) engraved on a stele erected in 717 bce at Citium on Cyprus mentions "the Baal of the Mount Hurri." This is apparently the storm god of Mount Hor, present-day Ras ash-Shaqqah, which faces Cyprus and was situated on the northern border of the Holy Land according to Numbers 34:78. Ras ash-Shaqqah is one of the northern summits of the Lebanese range in the vicinity of the coast, between Byblos and Tripolis, and it was known to Greek writers as the hallowed Theouprosopon, "God's face." In the fourth century bce, Hadad of Mabbuk was worshiped in northern Syria, in the town known later as Hierapolis, "holy city." On the obverse of a local coin, the god, horned and bearded, is represented in a long Persian-style robe. His symbols, the schematic head of a bull and a double-axe, accompany the figure. In Rome, at the time of the Empire, there was a Syrian sanctuary on Janiculum Hill, dedicated to, among others, Adad of the Lebanon.

Adad as Vegetation God

A misinterpretation of the "beating" of the breasts as a sign of mourning, compared in Zechariah 12:11 with the loud rumbling of Hadad the Thunderer, led to the opinion that Adad was a dying god. The mourning alluded to by the prophet was not occasioned by Hadad's death, but by the fate of Jerusalem. As for Hadad's thundering, it was not resounding "in the valley of Megiddo," as commonly proposed in commentaries and translations of the Bible, but "in the valley of splendor." This appellation is likely to refer to the fertile Beqaʿ Valley between the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges, where the thunder of the storm god, probably Hadad of Lebanon, resounded loudly in the mountains. The word mgdwn of the Hebrew text is an Aramaic loanword (migdān ), meaning "splendor," and its plural is used in Targum Onqelos to designate "splendid gifts," for instance in Genesis 24:53 and Deuteronomy 33:1314.

Nonetheless, according to a mythological poem from Ugarit, when the land suffers from lack of rain, Baal/Haddu is supposed to be dead for seven years, and the prosperous state is restored only after he returns to life. The mythical scheme of seven years of famine and of seven years of great plenty is echoed not only in the story of Joseph in Egypt in Genesis 41 and 45:6, but also in the inscription of Idrimi, king of Alalakh in the fifteenth century bce. This inscription refers to the seven years that Idrimi spent in exile, comparing this period with the "seven years of the storm god." This septennial motive is interwoven at Ugarit with themes reflecting a seasonal pattern. At any rate, the myth reflects a development that brought about the identification of the storm god with a vegetation god. A stele from Ugarit expresses this syncretism in a plastic way, showing the storm god who proceeds to the right above the mountains, brandishing a mace in his right hand, and holding in his left a lance with the point resting on the ground and the upper part flourishing upward in the form of a plant.

The connection between rain and the storm god was so deeply rooted that the poet could say in a mythological composition from Ugarit that "Baal rains," while Mishnaic and Talmudic texts could later call "field of Baal" or "property of Baal" a piece of ground sufficiently watered by rain and requiring no artificial irrigation. In addition, in Arabic ba ʿl is the name given to land or plants thriving on a natural water supply. The Aramaic inscription from Tell Fekherye, dedicated in the mid-ninth century bce to Hadad of Sikkan calls him "water controller of heaven and earth, who brings down prosperity, and provides pasture and watering place for all the lands, and provides water supply and jugs to all the gods, his brothers, water controller of all the rivers, who makes all the lands luxuriant, the merciful god to whom praying is sweet."

See Also

Aramean Religion; Baal; Teshub.


Comprehensive studies of the Mesopotamian and North Syrian storm god are provided by Daniel Schwemer, Die Wettergottgestalten Mesopotamiens und Nordsyriens im Zeitalter der Keilschriftkulturen (Berlin, 2001), and Alberto R. W. Green, The Storm-God in the Ancient Near East (Winona Lake, Ind., 2003). An excellent concise presentation of the god in West Semitic areas is given by Jonas C. Greenfield, "Hadad" in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, edited by Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, 2d ed. (Leiden and Grand Rapids, Mich., 1999), pp. 377382, with a bibliography. The Aramaic god Hadad is presented by Edward Lipiński, The Aramaeans: Their Ancient History, Culture, Religion (Louvain, Belgium, 2000), pp. 626636.

The problem of Baal/Haddu as "dying and rising god" at Ugarit was reexamined in a convincing way by Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, The Riddle of Resurrection: "Dying and Rising Gods " in the Ancient Near East (Stockholm, 2001), pp. 5581. Adad's somber aspects in Mesopotamian curses are presented by Sebastian Grätz, Der strafende Wettergott: Erwägungen zur Traditionsgeschichte des Adad-Fluchs im Alten Orient und im Alten Testament (Bodenheim, Germany, 1998). The iconography is reviewed and analyzed by A. Vanel, L'iconographie du dieu de l'orage dans le Proche-Orient ancien jusqu'au VIIe siècle avant J. C. (Paris, 1965), and A. Abou-Assaf, "Die Ikonographie des altbabylonischen Wettergottes," Baghdader Mitteilungen 14 (1983): 4366. For later periods, see Michał Gawlikowski, "Hadad" in Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, vol. 4/1, pp. 365367, and vol. 4/2, pp. 209210 (Zurich and Munich, 19811997). The North Syrian god was studied by Horst Klengel, "Der Wettergott von Halab," Journal of Cuneiform Studies 19 (1965): 8795, as well as Horst and Evelyn Klengel, "The Syrian Weather-God and Trade Relations," Annales Archéologiques Arabes Syriennes 43 (1999): 169177. For Anatolia, consult also Philo H. J. Houwink ten Cate, "The Hittite Storm God: His Role and His Rule according to Hittite Cuneiform Sources" in Natural Phenomena: Their Meaning, Depiction, and Description in the Ancient Near East, edited by D. J. W. Meijer (Amsterdam, 1992), pp. 83148. For the iconography of Baal-Seth in Egypt, see Izak Cornelius, The Iconography of the Canaanite Gods Reshef and Ba'al: Late Bronze and Iron Age I Periods (c. 15001000 bce) (Fribourg, Switzerland, and Göttingen, Germany, 1994).

Edward LipiŃski (2005)