Canaanite Religion: An Overview
CANAANITE RELIGION: AN OVERVIEW
The term Canaanite is variously used in both ancient and modern sources. Most popularly, it refers to the indigenous population of the southwestern Levant, which, according to biblical traditions, was displaced by Israelite conquerors late in the second millennium before the common era. This popular usage is, however, both too narrow geographically and fraught with sociohistorical difficulties. In this article, the term Canaanite religion will refer mainly to the one Northwest Semitic religion of the second millennium that is presently well attested, the Ugaritic. It should be borne in mind, however, that ancient sources do not necessarily support the often-asserted equation of "Ugaritic" with "Canaanite," if the terms of the equation are linguistic, ethnic, or political. And in any case, the undoubtedly idiosyncratic Ugaritic data do not facilitate a generally applicable description of "Canaanite" (or, more accurately, "Northwest Semitic") religion.
Before the late nineteenth century, there were only two sources for the study of the Canaanite religion. The first, the Hebrew scriptures, contains numerous references to the Canaanites and their practices, which are generally condemned as abominable (e.g., Lv. 18:3, 27–28). As early as the first century bce, the biblical commentator Philo of Alexandria recognized that Canaan was the biblical symbol of "vice," which the Israelites were naturally bidden to despise (De cong. 83–85). It is generally agreed that the biblical witness to Canaanite religion is highly polemical and, therefore, unreliable; biblical evidence must at the least be used with extreme caution, and in conjunction with extrabiblical sources.
The second source for knowledge of Canaanite religion was those classical texts that preserve descriptions of aspects of it. The best known of these are the Phoenician History of Philo Byblius, of which portions are preserved in Eusebius's Praeparatio evangelica, and The Syrian Goddess, attributed (perhaps falsely) to Lucian of Samothrace. The reliability of Philo Byblius, however, has been the subject of scholarly debate, and the present consensus is that the comparability of the Phoenician History with authentic Canaanite data should not be overstressed. At best, Philo's information probably sheds light on the religion of late Hellenized Phoenicians, and offers no direct evidence for second-millennium Canaanite religion. The same generalization applies to (Pseudo-) Lucian, despite a few scholarly claims to the contrary.
Firsthand evidence for Canaanite culture in the second millennium bce (or, in archaeological terms, the Middle Bronze and Late Bronze periods) comes from artifactual evidence found at many archaeological sites (more than sixty for the first part of the Middle Bronze period alone—mostly tombs) and from textual evidence stemming mainly from three great discoveries: (1) the eighteenth-century royal archives of "Amorite" Mari (Tell Hariri, on the Euphrates River near the present border between Syria and Iraq); (2) the diplomatic correspondence between several Levantine vassal princes and the pharoahs Amenophis III and IV (first half of the fourteenth century), found at Tell al-ʿAmarna (about 330 km south of Cairo on the east bank of the Nile); and (3) the mainly fourteenth- and thirteenth-century texts found at Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit) and nearby Ras Ibn Hani, both within the present-day administrative district of Latakia, on the Mediterranean coast of Syria. The artifactual evidence is crucial for understanding material culture, socioeconomic developments, population movements, and the like, and provides considerable data about funerary practices. Most significant for the study of religion are the figurines, thought to represent gods and goddesses, that have been recovered in virtually every archaeological context. These will be discussed below with other manifestations of popular religion.
The ancient city of Mari was peripheral to both the Mesopotamian and the Levantine spheres of influence. Culturally and linguistically, it was clearly West Semitic, but to label it "Canaanite" goes beyond the evidence (the designation Amorite represents, to some extent, a scholarly compromise). The Mari texts are virtually all concerned with economic, juridical, and administrative matters. One text in particular testifies to the eclecticism and heterogeneity of Mari's religious cult in the eighteenth century. It lists the sacrificial sheep distributed among the various gods and temples of Mari, and the list of gods is a mixture of Semitic and non-Semitic deities from east and west, along with some gods perhaps unique to Mari. This list of diverse gods may be supplemented by the more than one hundred forty divine names (at least two dozen of which are West Semitic) attested as components of personal names in the Mari archives.
The most striking group of Mari texts is the small collection of so-called prophetic texts. These twenty-odd letters attest to a type of oracular speaking that shows significant affinities with biblical prophecies of a millennium later. Some of this oracular speaking seems to have been done by cultic personnel, and some apparently consisted of messages transmitted by the gods through ordinary people. In either case, it clearly deviated from the normal (and presumably normative) mode of divine intermediation, which was, as generally in the ancient Near East, divination in its various forms. Local temple officials probably felt that the extraordinary behavior, and the messages transmitted by it, had to be reported to higher authorities. It may be suggested, on the basis of these Mari texts and related evidence, that the phenomenon broadly termed prophecy represented a peculiar and peripheral kind of divine intermediation among the West Semites generally.
Most of the Amarna letters report on Levantine military, economic, and political matters to the Egyptian court. The letters were written in Babylonian, the diplomatic language of the period, but they regularly reveal the Canaanite character of their authors—in personal names, peculiar scribal practices, and, especially, the use of characteristic Canaanite vocabulary and turns of phrase. While none of the Amarna letters is directly concerned with religion, important information can be derived from the divine names and epithets mentioned in passing (and as components of personal names), and from Canaanite religious and liturgical clichés that have been incorporated into the epistolary style. For example, the son of Aziru, prince of Amurru, writes as follows to the Egyptian court: "You give me life, and you give me death. I look upon your face; you are indeed my lord. So let my lord hearken to his servant." Such expressions, which are frequent in the correspondence, are probably borrowed liturgical formulas, perhaps from lost Canaanite prayers that were probably comparable to the biblical psalms. A systematic study of all such formulas might shed considerable light on Canaanite religious conceptions of the mid-second millennium.
Without slighting the importance of the Mari and Amarna material, by far the most significant evidence for Canaanite religion in the second millennium is found at Ugarit. From the beginning of the millennium until the city's destruction at the hands of the Sea Peoples (c. 1180–1175 bce), Ugarit was a thriving cosmopolitan trading center. In the Middle Bronze period (2000–1600; Level II of the Ras Shamra excavations), Ugarit underwent considerable expansion. During this period, two large temples (dedicated to the gods Baal and Dagan respectively; see below) were erected on top of older ruins, forming, in effect, an acropolis in the city. The pottery of the period is predominantly Canaanite, and other material evidence demonstrates that Ugarit was in contact with Egypt, the Aegean, and Mesopotamia. At the same time, Ugarit's population was augmented by an influx of Indo-European-speaking Hurrians from the northeast.
The best-attested period at Ugarit is the last two centuries of its existence (Late Bronze III, c. 1365–1180 bce; Level I.3 of the Ras Shamra excavations). The Ugaritic texts date from this period, although some of the religious texts are undoubtedly older, and were merely written down at this time. One of the most important developments in human history was the invention, during the reign of Niqmad II (c. 1360–1330 bce), of a cuneiform alphabetic script (the world's oldest alphabet) adapted to the Ugaritic language. It seems likely that this invention was specifically for the purpose of setting ancient religious documents in writing, since diplomatic and administrative texts could be, and often were, written in Akkadian. At the instigation of Niqmad II, the great mythological texts that are at the heart of the Ugaritic religion were incised on clay tablets. They were preserved in the library of the high priest, which was located on the acropolis near the two temples.
In addition to the mythological texts from the high priest's library, the excavations of this and several other archives of Ugarit and Ras Ibn Hani have turned up related mythological material, descriptive ritual texts, lists of sacrificial offerings, god-lists, prayers and liturgies, incantations, divinatory texts, and dedicatory inscriptions. These may be used, with due caution, as the basis of a description of Ugaritic religion.
The essential information about Ugarit's deities comes from what appears to be a canonical god-list. Two nearly identical copies of the basic list have been published, along with an Akkadian "translation." In addition, the list is incorporated, with minor variations, into a list of sacrificial offerings. This list shows that the basic cultic pantheon of Ugarit numbered thirty-three or thirty-four gods. One of the most controversial problems confronting Ugaritic scholarship is the imperfect correspondence between the god-list and the gods who are prominent in the mythological texts. The myths probably represent an older stratum of Ugaritic religion, and were undoubtedly "reinterpreted" in the light of subsequent developments in the cult.
Two reasons are generally given for the order of the gods in the list: either it reflects their relative importance, or else it gives the order in which their symbols were paraded in a cultic procession. The list begins with two or three Ils (El)—the sources are evenly split on the number. Il is the common Semitic word for "god"; it is the proper name of the head of the Ugaritic pantheon in the mythological texts. The first Il in the god-list is associated with Mount Sapan (Tsafon), the Canaanite Olympus, which was traditionally identified with Jebel al-Aqra, about fifty kilometers north of Ugarit at the mouth of the Orontes River. (The mountain was itself deified, and appears in the god-list in place 14/15.) In all likelihood, the term sapan, which means "north," was taken to be a metaphor for the god's temple (as in the Bible, Psalm 48:3), and not as a simple geographical designation. Thus the Il of sapan is the numen manifest in the sanctuary, which is the earthly representation of the divine abode. Sapan, it should be noted, is not the abode of Il in the mythological texts, but of Baal.
The second Il is called Ilib. The Akkadian and Hurrian parallels show that this name is a portmanteau composed of the elements il ("god") and ab ("father"), but the precise significance of the combination is uncertain. Most likely the name denotes an ancestral spirit, the numen manifest in the Ugaritic cult of the dead. In the Ugaritic epic of Aqhat, the ancient worthy Danil, whose epithets mark him as one of the deified dead, seeks a son who will "erect a stela for his ilib "—that is, for the divine spirit of his dead father. The affinity of Il with the Ugaritic cult of the dead is shown in a mythological fragment in which the god participates in a marzih feast (an orgiastic revel comparable to the Greek thiasos ), the ritual banquet of the funerary cult. Il drinks himself into a stupor (as is customary at such affairs), and has to be carried off by his faithful son. (This, too, is one of the duties of the son enumerated in the epic of Aqhat.)
The third Il is presumably to be identified with the head of the pantheon in the mythological texts. His epithets and activities in those, and in the cultic texts, provide a fair picture of his character. He is the father of the gods, who are called his "family" or "sons," and he is styled "father of humankind" and "builder of built ones." He may have been regarded as the creator of the world, but the Ugaritic evidence is inconclusive on this point. He bears the epithet "bull," a symbol of virility and power (although one mythological text casts some doubt on his sexual prowess). He is serene in his supremacy, a source of "eternal wisdom," "beneficent and benign"; a unique and problematic text that may be a prayer to Il seems even to hypostatize his "graciousness."
The three Ils comprise the three principal aspects of Ugaritic "godship," or numinous power, that are denoted by the term il: (1) it is the wise and sovereign power that brought gods and humans into being; (2) it abides in any sacred place; and (3) it is the tangible presence of the spirits of the dead.
The next deity on the list is Dagan. The Mari texts attest to his great importance in the Middle Euphrates region (especially Terqa). The most common explanation of his name relates it to the West Semitic word for "grain," but this is by no means certain; other (even non-Semitic) etymologies are possible. One of the two temples on the acropolis of Ugarit was evidently consecrated to Dagan. During excavations carried out in 1934, two inscribed stone slabs were found just outside the temple. The inscriptions, the only known examples of Ugaritic carved in stone, commemorate pgr sacrifices of a sheep and an ox offered to Dagan. Since so little is known of Dagan's character at Ugarit, and since the term pgr is controversial (perhaps "mortuary offering" is the best interpretation), it is not possible to say anything definitive about these stelae.
Despite his obvious prominence in the cult, Dagan plays no role in Ugaritic mythology. The god Baal bears the epithet "son of Dagan," but that is itself problematic, since Il was supposedly the father of the gods. Three explanations are possible: (1) Dagan was in some sense identified with or assimilated to Il; (2) the epithet represents a variant tradition of Baal's paternity; or (3) the epithet "son" is not to be taken literally but as an indication that Baal belongs to some class of gods exemplified by Dagan.
Following Dagan come seven Baals. The first is the Baal of Mount Sapan, who dwells in the same place as the Baal in the mythological texts (the "heights" or "recesses" of Sapan); the term sapan surely refers to the Baal temple of Ugarit as well. The Akkadian rendition of Baal is Adad, which is the name of the most prominent West Semitic mountain and weather god. The same Ugaritic "prayer" that mentions the graciousness of El also establishes the threefold identification of Adad (the variant Hadd occurs in the mythological texts) with Baal of Mount Sapan and Baal of Ugarit.
The significance of the other six Baals (none qualified by epithets and all identified with Adad) is uncertain, although sevenfold lists of all sorts, including divine heptads, are common throughout the ancient Near East: the number seven evidently denotes completeness or perfection. If the extra six Baals have some specific function, they might represent local manifestations or sanctuaries of Baal, separate cult symbols, or hypostatized attributes.
The name Baal is derived from the common Semitic noun meaning "lord, master, husband." The god's full title in the mythological texts is "prince, lord (baal ) of the earth," and his principal epithet is "most powerful one" (aliyan ). He is also called "high one" (aliy ) and "rider of the clouds," both names clearly illustrating his character as a weather god.
In contrast to the numinous Il, Baal represents the divine power that is immanent in the world, activating and effectuating things or phenomena. Given the paucity of rainfall in most of the Levant, it is not surprising that the lord of the storm is the most prominent god of this type (cf. the ubiquitous Phoenician Baal Shamem, "lord of the heavens," and his famous encounter with the Israelite god in 1 Kings 18). On his shoulders rests the burden of bringing fertility and fecundity to the land, and as such he is venerated by the rest of the gods and declared their "king."
But the kind of god who is immanent in the natural world is also subject to its flux. Thus, in the mythological texts, Baal has three enemies. The first two, Yamm ("sea") and the desert gods who are called "devourers," represent the destructive potential inherent in nature. Baal succeeds in subduing Yamm (and undoubtedly also the "devourers"), but he is in turn defeated by his third and greatest adversary, Mot ("death"; never mentioned by this name in the cultic texts). Nothing that is in the world, gods included, can escape death.
Following the seven Baals, the god-list continues with Ars wa-Shamem ("earth and heaven"). Binomial deities are common in Ugaritic; they represent either a hendiadys (as in this case) or a composite of two related gods who have been assimilated to one another. This god's function is unknown; perhaps the domain over which Baal holds sway is deified. There are also two other geographical deities: Sapan (discussed above) and "Mountain and Valley" (significance unknown, unless it defines the domain of Athtar, the god occupying the preceding place on the god-list).
The remaining divine names on the list may be grouped in four categories: individual goddesses and gods who are known or at least mentioned in the mythological texts; collective terms that designate groups of lesser deities; Hurrian deities; and otherwise unknown or poorly attested gods.
The two most prominent goddesses in the mythological texts are Athirat (Asherah) and Anat. Athirat is the consort of Il, and as such she is the highest-ranking goddess in the pantheon. Her full title is "Lady Athirat of the sea" (or perhaps "the lady who treads the sea"). She is the mother of the gods, bearing the epithet "progenitress of the gods." She is also called Ilat ("goddess"), the feminine form of Il. Athirat's activities in the mythological texts are not always clear, but she seems to specialize in zealous intervention on behalf of her divine offspring.
In contrast to the maternal goddess Athirat, Anat is a violent goddess of sexual love and war, "sister" (perhaps consort) of Baal and vanquisher of Baal's enemy Mot. Her principal epithet is "maiden," a tribute to her youth, beauty, and desirability, but pugnacity is her primary trait in the mythological texts, as well as in the epic of Aqhat; there, she secures the magic bow of the title character by arranging his death.
Iconographic evidence from Ugarit and elsewhere may be associated with both of the principal divine pairs, Il/Athirat and Baal/Anat. The first two are represented as a royal pair, either standing or enthroned. Baal is typically depicted with his arm upraised in smiting position, and Anat is naked and voluptuous, sometimes standing on a lion's back, an Egyptian Hathor wig on her head, with arms upraised and plants or animals grasped in her hands. Only the Anat figures can be identified with any certainty, because of an Egyptian exemplar that bears the inscription "Qudshu-Ashtart-Anat."
Although the precise significance of Qudshu is uncertain (perhaps she is the same as Athirat?), the Egyptian inscription seems to demonstrate the fusion of the West Semitic Anat with the great Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar (Ugaritic Athtart; the biblical Ashtoret). This fusion is apparent in the binomial Athtart wa-Anat, which occurs in two Ugaritic incantation texts and is the ultimate source of the name of the first-millennium "Syrian goddess" Atargatis. In some mythological and cultic texts, as in the god-list, Athtart still has some independent status. (Paradoxically, in Israel it is Anat who has disappeared, evidently assimilated to Ashtoret.) Her beauty is proverbial, but her principal trait is pugnacity; like Anat, she is a divine huntress.
The textual and iconographic evidence suggests that a central feature of Ugaritic religion was the veneration of two divine pairs. One pair apparently symbolized kingly and queenly sovereignty over the world—Il and Athirat; the other represented brother and sister, caught in the flux and turmoil of the world, engaged in constant struggle for survival and supremacy—Baal and Anat.
There are three other Canaanite goddesses on the god-list. Shapash is the all-seeing sun (male in Mesopotamia, but female at Ugarit), "luminary of the gods." Pid-ray ("fat"?) and Arsay ("earth," perhaps, on the basis of the Akkadian parallel, having some connection with the netherworld) are two of the daughters of Baal; the third, Talay ("dew"), does not appear on the god-list. Two other non-Canaanite goddesses are on the list, undoubtedly via the Hurrians, although the deities themselves are not necessarily Hurrian in origin: Ushharay (Ishhara), the scorpion goddess, who appears in several cultic texts but never in the myths, and Dadmish, probably a warrior goddess but very poorly attested. The one remaining goddess on the list is Uthht (pronunciation uncertain; the sex of the deity is, in fact, only surmised from the feminine ending); possibly Mesopotamian in origin, and most likely signifying a deified incense burner.
Seven male deities remain on the god-list, all but one of whom are at least mentioned in the mythological texts. Yarikh is the moon god, and he figures prominently in a poem that describes his marriage to the moon goddess, Nikkal. This text is undoubtedly a Hurrian myth in Ugaritic guise. The other clearly astral god is Shalim (the divine element in the name of the city Jerusalem and of King Solom on), who represents the evening twilight or Venus as evening star. Since the root sh-l-m can signify "conclusion, completion," it is appropriate that Shalim is the last name on the list. Elsewhere, he is often paired with his sibling Shahr, who is the dawn or the planet Venus as morning star. The birth of the pair is described and celebrated in a Ugaritic poem.
Three of the gods play important roles in the mythological texts about Baal. Yamm is one of Baal's principal adversaries; he is identified with or accompanied by two fearsome sea monsters, Litan (the biblical Leviathan) and Tunnan (the biblical Tannin). The god Athtar (the masculine form of Athtart) is often associated with a prominent South Arabian astral deity, but the Akkadian translation of his name identifies him with the Hurrian warrior god Ashtabi. When Baal is killed by Mot, Athtar, styled "tyrant," is appointed king in his stead.
The god Kothar ("skilled one"; also known as Kothar wa-Hasis, "skilled and wise one") is the divine craftsman. In various sources he is a master builder, weapon maker, seaman, and magician. It has been suggested that he is the genius of technology.
The god Rashap (the biblical Reshef, which means both "pestilence" and "flame") is blamed in the epic of Kirta for the demise of part of the title character's family. But Rashap's real importance at Ugarit and Ras Ibn Hani emerges from the cultic texts, where he is the recipient of numerous offerings. In the late third millennium, he was one of the patron gods of the kings of Ebla. He also found his way to Egypt, where he was patron god of Amenophis II and one of the most popular gods in the cults of the nineteenth dynasty.
The Akkadian version of the Ugaritic god-list identifies Rashap with Nergal, the Mesopotamian king of the netherworld. That identification, along with other Canaanite and Egyptian evidence, leads me to suggest that Rashap is the god who, in one mythological text, is called Rapiu, the "healer," the eponymous patron of the deified dead, the rapium (the biblical refaʿim ). Most scholars, however, consider "Rapiu" to be an epithet of Il.
The remaining god on the list is Kinar, who is perhaps the deified lyre. Nothing is known about him, but he has been identified with the Cypriot hero Kinyras, father of Adonis.
Finally, the god-list includes four collective terms. The first, kotharat, designates a band of female divine singers and wet-nurses who appear on sad and joyful occasions in the Aqhat epic and the Nikkal poem, respectively (also, perhaps, in Psalm 68:7). Although their name suggests an affinity with the god Kothar, nothing further can be said about this. They bear an epithet that is problematic: the two most plausible translations are "daughters of joyous song, the swallows" and "shining daughters of the morning star [or the new moon]."
The next collective term apparently designates the "two allies of Baal," perhaps his messengers, Gapn ("vine") and Ugar ("field"). The third collective term is puhr ilim, the "assembly of the gods," which designates the host of lesser deities—unmentioned by name in the god-list—who constitute the progeny of Il and Athirat. In other texts, this assemblage bears other epithets, including "sons of Il" and "the family of the sons of Il"; the precise significance of these terms is much debated, but they all seem to pertain to the general Near Eastern notion of a "divine assembly" over which one god reigned supreme.
The last collective term is malikum, which literally means "kings." It designates the deified dead kings of Ugarit, the most important members of the larger assemblage of deified dead ancestors (rapium, mentioned above). The malikum are invoked by name in an extraordinary Ugaritic liturgy entitled the Document of the Feast of the Protective Ancestral Spirits. It may be inferred that the patron of the malikum was the ubiquitous Malik (biblical Molech), who is almost certainly to be equated with Death himself.
Many other deities who do not figure in the standard god-list are mentioned in various texts and as components of personal names. Huge, malleable pantheons characterized every major urban center of the ancient Near East, and Ugarit was no exception (see Johannes C. de Moor, "The Semitic Pantheon of Ugarit," Ugarit-Forschungen 2, 1970, pp. 185–228).
Rituals and Cultic Personnel
Most older descriptions of Canaanite religion explain it in terms of the seasonal cycle and concomitant fertility rites. The evidence for this characterization comes from first-millennium sources, especially the anti-"Canaanite" polemics of the Hebrew scriptures, and from the a priori claims of the "myth-and-ritual" approach to religion. When the mythic texts about the Ugaritic Baal were deciphered and pieced together, the tendency was naturally to make them conform to the older theories about Canaanite religion. Those texts were thus described as a mythic representation of the seasonal cycle, which was either recited as the accompaniment to fertility rites or served as the libretto of a fertility-cult drama.
Assuming that the biblical and related data are reliable, they evidently refer to local manifestations of first-millennium Phoenician cults (such as that of northern Israel). The simple assumption of continuity between second-millennium Canaan and first-millennium Phoenicia is unjustified—as is, more generally, the facile identification of "Canaanites" with "Phoenicians."
As for the myth-and-ritual claim, the seasonal interpretation of the Baal texts is by no means certain. There is no evidence that the Baal texts were ever used in conjunction with cultic activity. In fact, there is only one Ugaritic mythological text containing rubrics for ritual performance (discussed below); it apparently entails some sort of fertility rite, but one not necessarily connected with the seasonal cycle. Knowledge of the Ugaritic calendar and its fixed festivals is too scanty to permit the claim that Ugaritic religion was organized with respect to the agricultural year.
The Ugaritic ritual texts describe a highly organized sacrificial cult under the patronage of the king. The sacrifices seem to be of the gift or tribute type; that is, they were performed to curry favor with the gods, to secure their aid and protection. It is undeniable that offerings might have been made to deities (particularly chthonic ones) to promote the fertility of the land and the fecundity of the flocks. But the one mass public ritual that has survived, and the one attested prayer to Baal as well, both seem more concerned with protection from Ugarit's potential military opponents. In view of the shifting alliances and political instability that marked Ugarit's last two centuries, this concern seems only natural.
Most of the known Ugaritic rituals were performed by or on behalf of the king. The best-attested type of ritual is found in seven different texts. In it the king of Ugarit performs, at specified times, a ritual lustration to purify himself, and then offers a series of sacrifices to various deities. At sundown, the king "desacralizes" himself in a way that is not clear. The most interesting of these texts is evidently a prescriptive ritual to which is appended a prayer to Baal, perhaps recited by the queen, that seems to specify the occasion on which the rites were to be performed.
This text begins with a date formula and a list of offerings: "On the seventh day of the month of Ibalat [otherwise unknown]" sheep are offered to several gods, notable Baal and "the house of Baal of Ugarit." Then "the sun sets and the king performs the rite of desacralization." On the seventeenth day of the month, the king (re)purifies himself and makes another series of sacrifices, perhaps accompanied by a festal banquet (if this is the correct sense of the technical term dbh ). (Another of the main sacrificial terms, th, which seems to denote "gift offering," also occurs here.) The king remains in his purified state and continues the series of offerings on the eighteenth day. Then the text breaks off. The reverse of the tablet begins with broken references to rites performed on the second day (of what, is unspecified). On the fourth, birds are offered; on the fifth the king offers a shlmm sacrifice to Baal of Ugarit in the temple, along with the liver of an unspecified animal (which has presumably been used for divination) and an offering of precious metal. The shlmm offering, well attested in biblical Hebrew and Punic cultic texts, was probably the most common type of sacrifice at Ugarit. The term is traditionally translated "peace offering," but it seems actually to have been a "gift" or "tribute" to the god. In some texts (but not this one), the shlmm is described as a shrp, which probably signifies that it was wholly consumed by fire.
On the seventh day, at sundown, the king performs the ritual desacralization, evidently aided in this case by cultic functionaries called "desacralizers." Then the queen is anointed with a libation of "a hin [liquid measure] of oil of pacification for Baal"; the text concludes with the following prayer, perhaps recited by the queen:
When a strong enemy assails your gates,
A mighty foe attacks your walls,
Raise your eyes unto Baal:
"O Baal, chase the strong enemy from our gates,
The mighty foe from our walls.
A bull, O Baal, we consecrate;
A vow, O Baal, we dedicate;
A firstborn [?], O Baal, we consecrate;
A htp sacrifice, O Baal, we dedicate;
A tithe, O Baal, we tithe.
To the sanctuary of Baal let us ascend,
On the paths to the House of Baal let us walk."
Then Baal will hear your prayer,
He will chase the strong enemy from your gates,
The mighty foe from your walls.
A second type of ritual is preserved in three texts that describe the transfer of cult statues from one place to another. The clearest of these begins "When Athtart of hr [meaning uncertain] enters into the sanctuary [?] of the king's house.…" It is not clear whether the term king refers to Ugarit's king or to a god (perhaps both?); the "house" could be a royal palace or temple. A group of offerings is then made in the "house of the stellar gods" (meaning uncertain), including oblations, vestments, gold, and sacrificial animals. The rites are repeated seven times. The remainder of the text describes essentially the same rituals as those performed for a different collection of gods (on a different occasion?), the poorly attested gthrm.
One substantial ritual text is unique in the corpus, and has been the subject of many studies. It is unique in its poetic/hymnic quality and in the acts it describes. It seems to depict a great public assembly in which the entire population of Ugarit, male and female, king and commoner alike, participated. The ritual appears to have been a mass expiation or purgation of sins, or some sort of mass purification rite, designed to protect Ugarit against its threatening neighbors. A parallel has been drawn between it and the Jewish Yom Kippur, the "day of purgation [of sin]." In the Ugaritic text, the men and women of the community are alternately summoned to offer sacrifices, which they do. While the sacrifices are performed the people sing, praying that their offerings will ascend to "the father of the sons of Il" (that is, to Il himself), to the "family of the sons of Il," to the "assembly of the sons of Il," and to Thkmn wa-Shnm, Il's son and attendant (the one who cares for him when he is drunk; in one of his epithets, Il is called "father of Shnm ").
Only one mythological text, the poem about the birth of Shahr and Shalim (the ilima naimima, "gracious gods"), includes rubrics for ritual performance. These rubrics, interspersed throughout the poem, describe the activities of the king and queen, and of cultic functionaries called aribuma (some kind of priests?) and tha-nanuma (members of the king's guard?). They offer sacrifices, participate in a banquet, and sing responsively to musical accompaniment. It seems almost certain that the poem itself was acted out as a type of ritual drama. It describes the subjugation of Death by some sort of pruning rite, followed by Il's sexual relations with Athirat and Rahmay ("womb" = Anat?). The poem concludes with the birth of Shahr and Shalim, and their youthful activities. The text and its accompanying ritual may commemorate (or attempt to foster) the birth of a royal heir to the reigning king and queen of Ugarit; they bear some relation to Mesopotamian sacred marriage rites and to Hittite rituals designed to protect the life and vigor of the king and queen.
Most difficult to reconstruct, but obviously of great importance, was the Ugaritic cult of the dead. The dead were summoned, by a liturgy accompanied by offerings, to participate in a banquet. The banquet, which was apparently a drunken orgy, was intended to propitiate the dead and to solicit the aid and protection provided by their numinous power. The most important group of the deified dead was comprised of Ugarit's kings (malikum ). The larger assemblage, variously called "healers" (rpim ), "healers of the netherworld" (rpi ars ), "ancient healers" (rpim qdmyn ), "divine spirits" (ilnym ), and "assembly of Ditan/Didan" (qbs dtn/ddn ), included two men who are prominent in the epic texts, Danil and Kirta, as well as several other spirits who are identified by name in a liturgical invocation of the dead.
The funerary feast itself was called a marzih (or marzi ), a feast. It was held at a special location: one text describes problems concerning the rental of a marzih hall; a poorly preserved fragment of the Aqhat epic suggests that the marzih was held at a sacred "threshing floor" or "plantation," perhaps within the royal palace.
Another important text invokes the god Rapiu, "king of eternity" (that is, of the netherworld). Rapiu is clearly the patron of the deified dead; at first he is invited to drink, and at the end of the text he is asked to exert his "strength, power, might, rule, and goodness" for the benefit of Ugarit. If Rapiu is indeed to be identified with Il, this text comports well with the mythological fragment that depicts Il getting drunk at a marzih.
Alongside the cult of the dead must be placed the texts that apparently describe the ritual offerings to the gods of the netherworld (ilm ars ). The clearest of these begins with an offering to Rashap and mentions several other chthonic deities. There is also a strange god-list that appears to include a collection of netherworld demons. Finally, an inscribed clay model of a liver may record a sacrifice offered to a person (or deity?) who is "in the tomb."
The considerable activity that took place in the Ugaritic cult demanded an extensive array of cultic personnel. Unfortunately, while the names of many cultic officials are known, their precise function is not. It can be assumed, of course, that "priests" participated in the royal rituals described above, but the ritual texts do not specify how. Apart from the "desacralizers," the tha-nanuma and aribuma already mentioned, several other kinds of personnel figure prominently. Except for the queen, who participated in some rituals (one broken text from Ras Ibn Hani describes a "dbh [sacrifical rite] of the queen"), all the important cultic functionaries attested by name or title are male.
After the king, the highest-ranking religious official was probably the rb khnm, the "chief of the priests." Under him were orders or guilds of khnm ("priests"); the term corresponds to the Hebrew kohanim, but there is no necessary similarity of function. The priests either were connected with the palace or they earned their living at the many shrines in Ugarite and its environs. They appear on administrative lists of personnel and on a military payroll. Other administrative texts detail allotments of oil and wine to various shrines. One of the high priests is also designated rb nqdm, "chief of herdsmen." In all likelihood, there was a consecrated group of herdsmen whose task was to maintain the royal flocks to be used in the cult.
The second major category of priests is called qdshm, "devotees" (comparison with Hebrew qedeshim, "cult prostitutes," is almost certainly misleading). They appear only on administrative lists, in all but one case in conjunction with khnm. Nothing can be said about their function at Ugarit.
Two categories of cult functionaries are attested in Akkadian texts from Ugarit, but they have no certain Ugaritic equivalents. One is the awilu baru, which is either an omen priest or some sort of oracular seer; one of these men is also called "priest of Adad [i.e., of Baal]." The other, aptly characterized by Anson F. Rainey (1967) as "a sort of religious brotherhood" (p. 71), is "men of the marzi/marzih." Their activity was almost certainly related to the ritual feasts of the Ugaritic cult of the dead. Several other terms probably designated groups associated with the cult. There were singers, instrumentalists, and libation pourers who served as temple attendants, along with a group of uncertain function called ytnm, who may be compared with the problematic biblical netinim.
Finally, there is the well-attested and much-debated term insh ilm. Some scholars think that it is a divine name; others argue that it denotes cultic personnel. If the latter, then these people performed some function in the sacrificial rites, and seem to have been rewarded for their labor with "birds."
As is generally the case in the ancient Near East, little can be said with any certainty about popular religion at Ugarit, since only kings, priests, and members of the elite are represented in the texts. The Ugaritic texts were apparently only a part of the larger cosmopolitan scribal tradition of Ugarit, which was modeled on the Babylonian scribal schools. The same scribes who produced the Baal texts were also trained to write in Babylonian cuneiform, and they copied Sumerian and Akkadian texts in almost every genre. Surviving evidence demonstrates that Ugarit's educated elite was conversant with the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh traditions, wisdom and proverbial literature, and legal formulas, although little of this material is reflected in texts in the Ugaritic language.
It is not at all certain, then, how much of the literary tradition might have filtered down to the commoners of Ugarit. Still, speculation about popular religion may be made in four areas: conceptions of gods reflected in personal names; the evidence of votive figurines; evidence for magic and divination; and possible religious, ethical, or "wisdom" teachings derived from the texts.
Popular conceptions of the gods may emerge from a consideration of personal names, since a great number of names are composites of divine names (or surrogates) and nominal or verbal elements. The standard collection of Ugaritic personal names, Frauke Gröndahl's Die Personennamen der Texte aus Ugarit (Rome, 1967), lists over fifty divine elements that appear in them. The most popular are Il, Baal, Ammu ("uncle," a surrogate for a divine name), Anat and her "masculine" equivalent Anu, Athtar, Yamm, Kothar, Malik, Pidr (masculine equivalent of Pidray?), Rapiu, Rashap, and Shapash. In some names, a god is described as father, mother, brother, sister, or uncle (e.g., Rashapabi, "Rashap is my father"). In others, the bearer of the name is the god's son, daughter, servant, or devotee (e.g., Abdi-Rashap, "servant of Rashap"). A large class of names describes characteristics of the gods; those composed with Il, for example, emphasize his kingship (Ilimilku, "Il is king") and justice (Danil, "Il judges"; Ilsdq, "Il is just"), his creativity (Yakunilu, "Il establishes"; Yabniilu, "Il builds") and his love (Hnnil, "Il is gracious").
The second class of evidence for popular religion comes from metal figurines that are generally thought to represent gods and goddesses. A comprehensive catalog of these figurines, compiled by Ora Negbi (1976), describes over seventeen hundred of them. They are considered to have been miniature copies of now-lost wooden cult statues, and were probably used as votive idols. The fact that so many have been found at cultic sites suggests that they had some ceremonial function. Negbi notes that these idols "may have been used as amulets for magic purposes in domestic and funerary cults as well" (p. 2).
As mentioned above, the figurines at Ugarit attest to the popularity of two distinct types of divine pairs, a kingly and queenly figure (Il and Athirat) and a smiting god and voluptuous goddess (Baal and Anat, with Anat occasionally portrayed as a war goddess). The latter pair is the better attested in Late Bronze Ugarit; figurines have been found in deposits from this period in and around both of the temples on the acropolis.
Some textual evidence has been recovered for magic and divination at Ugarit. There are two versions of a long and impressive incantation against the bite of a venomous serpent; several important deities are summoned from their mythical abodes during the course of the incantations.
Inscribed clay models of lungs and livers show that extispicy (divination by the examination of animal viscera) was practiced at Ugarit. The practice was undoubtedly borrowed from Babylonia, but it was given a distinctive Canaanite cast by the incorporation of West Semitic sacrificial rites. Another borrowing from the Babylonians is attested in three omen texts that describe the predictive value of unusual human and animal births. These texts clearly parallel the famous Babylonian shumma izbu omen series; unfortunately, they are all quite fragmentary.
Finally, one very difficult text reports a divine oracle. It begins: "When the lord of the great/many gods [Il?] approached Ditan, the latter sought an oracle concerning the child." Some individual presumably wishes to inquire of Il about his (sick?) child. (A comparable episode occurs in the Kirta epic.) Il can be reached through an intermediary, Ditan, the eponymous patron of those deified dead known as the "assembly of Ditan." The text continues with a series of instructions (broken and unclear) that will enable the inquirer to obtain the desired oracular response. The text seems to conclude with several instructions, "and afterward there will be no suffering [?]."
Taken together, these texts indicate a lively interest in the mantic arts at Ugarit. There is practically no evidence, however, about the specialists who practiced those arts; perhaps that is because they operated on the periphery of the official cultic institutions.
The most problematic aspect of popular religion is the interpretation of the Ugaritic religious texts. Assuming that they were in some way normative and that they were diffused orally, they would embody the religious "teachings" of Ugarit. There are, however, no surviving interpretations of the texts or expositions of religious doctrine that explain what those teachings might have been or what impact they had on the life of a community of believers. The Ugaritic mythic and epic texts (as opposed to the descriptive ritual texts) can be read as homilies on the nature of the world in which people live. Ancient readers or hearers of these texts would have sought their own place in the "cosmos" they describe. Ugaritic believers, like modern believers, would presumably have formulated a special application of sacred texts to their own lives.
The Baal texts punctualize eternal truths in a symbolic realm that is only superficially remote from human experience. The gods experience joy and mourning, battle and tranquillity, life and death, power and impotence. The mightiest of the gods confronts the world's challenges and surmounts them all, until he encounters Death, the one enemy to whom gods and humans alike succumb. Baal's triumphs and trials, furthermore, illustrate the contiguity and interrelationship of everything in the world: the gods, nature, the political order, and human life are all part of the same order. When Baal is vanquished, political order collapses and the earth turns infertile—not because Baal "symbolizes" order and fertility in some simplistic way, but because the intricate balance of the world has been subverted. The same upset of the natural order occurs when Kirta, a human king, becomes mortally ill.
Overarching the flux of the world, and apparently not subject to it, is the wise and beneficent Il. At critical moments in the Baal texts, the gods journey (or send emissaries) to him in order to obtain his favor and advice. After Kirta's family is annihilated by malevolent forces, Il comforts the king in a dream; later on, Il provides the cure for Kirta's terrible illness. And in the Aqhat epic, Baal implores Il to grant a son to the childless Danil. Il consents, and appears to Danil in a dream with the good news. In every case, Il manifests transcendent power that is wielded justly, in response to urgent pleas.
The epic texts (perhaps "historico-mythic" would be a better designation for them) Aqhat and Kirta parallel and supplement the mythic texts. They narrate the existential encounter of humans with the gods. Historical (or pseudohistorical) figures become exemplary or admonitory paradigms of human behavior.
The crises that move the plot of the Aqhat text demonstrate the conjunction and contiguity of the human and divine realms. Danil, who is, like Kirta, a man become god (one of the deified rapium —from the point of view of the reader, that is), is an embodiment of that contiguity. Danil is clearly an ideal type, pious and just; he brings his plea for a son before the gods in humble obeisance, and he is rewarded. The incubation rite performed by Danil at the beginning of the story seems to be a model of personal piety.
Other aspects of the Aqhat text suggest ethical teachings as well. The long-sought son, Aqhat, is presented as the archetypical huntsman, recipient of a magic bow fashioned by the craftsman god Kothar. But the bow is not an unequivocal blessing: it arouses the envy of Anat, and makes Aqhat so secure in his own power that he rudely dismisses the goddess. Aqhat's folly parallels Baal's when, secure in his new palace (also the work of Kothar), he presumptuously challenges Death. Even the cleverest invention affords no protection for one who oversteps his bounds and incurs divine wrath. Aqhat's death is avenged by his sister Pughat, a model of love and devotion, just as Baal's sister Anat acts on the god's behalf in the mythic texts.
The Kirta epic, like that of Aqhat, begins with its hero childless, this time because of catastrophe instead of impotence. Dramatic tension arises from the situation of a king without an heir, which could result in disruption of both the political and the natural order. The story conveys the fragility of power and the delicate relationship between humans and deities.
Kirta enjoys the favor of Il, "father of humankind," who calls the king "gracious one, lad of Il." Kirta is instructed to perform a series of rituals in order to secure victory in battle and a new wife. He does so faithfully, but he also stops to make a vow in the sanctuary of "Athirat of Tyre, goddess of the Sidonians." This act of personal piety leads to disaster: Kirta achieves his victory and builds a new family, but he is stricken with a mortal illness for his failure to fulfill the vow. His beneficent "father" Il intervenes once again in his behalf, but the story concludes with Kirta's son attempting to usurp the throne, accusing Kirta of unrighteousness (reason enough, evidently, to depose a king). The vicissitudes of kingship continue.
The texts are all firmly on the side of reward for virtue and piety, and punishment for wickedness, blasphemy, and folly. Yet even someone who is justly suffering the wrath of the gods may appeal to the gracious Il and be heard.
Survivals of Canaanite religion are observable in two first-millennium cultural spheres, the Levant and the Aegean. Phoenician religion, both in the Levant and in its wider Mediterranean sphere of influence, represents, to some extent, a continuation of Canaanite traditions. Northern Israel's official cult was among the Levantine successors of Canaanite religion. It has often been noted that biblical polemics against that cult (for example, in the Book of Hosea ) are directed against a characteristically Canaanite feature—the idea that the god (in this case Yahveh = Baal) was immanent in nature and subject to its flux. The Israelite god was, on the other hand, comfortably assimilated to the transcendent Il.
In the Aegean area, the nature of Canaanite influence is more controversial. But there is compelling evidence for the existence of direct West Semitic contact with Mycenaean Greece, creating a legacy of Semitic names, literary motifs, and religious practices that became part of the Hellenic cultural heritage.
There are excellent, comprehensive articles on Amarna, Mari, and Ras Shamra in the Dictionnaire de la Bible, Supplément, vol. 1, cols. 207–225 (by Édouard Dhorme); vol. 5, cols. 883–905 (by Charles F. Jean); and vol. 9, cols. 1124–1466, respectively (Paris, 1928–). The Ras Shamra article, by several distinguished experts, is magisterial—the best survey to be found anywhere. In English, the journal Biblical Archaeologist has published a number of good survey articles: on Mari by George E. Mendenhall, vol. 11 (February 1948), pp. 1–19, and by Herbert B. Huffmon, vol. 31 (December 1968), pp. 101–124 (on the "prophetic texts"); on Amarna by Edward F. Campbell, vol. 23 (February 1960), pp. 2–22; on Ugarit by H. L. Ginsberg, vol. 8 (May 1945), pp. 41–58, and by Anson F. Rainey, vol. 28 (December 1965), pp. 102–125. All of these articles have been reprinted in The Biblical Archaeologist Reader, edited by David Noel Freedman and G. Ernest Wright, vols. 2 and 3 (Garden City, N.Y., 1961–1970). More recently, Biblical Archaeologist 47 (June 1984) is a special issue devoted to Mari.
Turning specifically to Ugarit, an excellent popular introduction is Gabriel Saadé's Ougarit: Métropole cananéenne (Beirut, 1979). Saadé gives a thorough account of the excavations, with complete bibliographical information and many illustrations. Most of the technical information is derived from articles in the journal Syria, beginning with volume 10 (1929), and from the volumes in the series "Mission de Ras-Shamra," 9 vols., edited by Claude F.-A. Schaeffer (Paris, 1936–1968). Two other useful works on the archaeological data are Patty Gerstenblith's The Levant at the Beginning of the Middle Bronze Age (Winona Lake, Ind., 1983) and Ora Negbi's Canaanite Gods in Metal (Tel Aviv, 1976).
A good detailed account of Ugarit's history is Mario Liverani's Storia di Ugarit (Rome, 1962), and an unsurpassed description of Ugaritic society is Anson F. Rainey's The Social Structure of Ugarit (in Hebrew; Jerusalem, 1967). Readers of English can consult Rainey's Ph.D. dissertation, "The Social Stratification of Ugarit" (Brandeis University, 1962).
On the study of Canaanite religion before the discovery of Ugarit, there is a fine survey by M. J. Mulder, "Von Seldon bis Schaeffer: Die Erforschung der kanaanäischen Götterwelt," in the leading scholarly journal devoted to Ugaritic studies, Ugarit-Forschungen 11 (1979): 655–671. The best general introduction to Canaanite religion is Hartmut Gese's "Die Religionen Altsyriens," in Die Religionen Altsyriens, Altarabiens und der Mandäer (Stuttgart, 1970), pp. 3–181. On the Canaanite gods, the standard work is still Marvin H. Pope and Wolfgang Röllig's "Syrien," in Wörterbuch der Mythologie, edited by H. W. Haussig, vol. 1 (Stuttgart, 1965), pp. 219–312. On the rituals and cultic personnel, an excellent presentation of the data is Jean-Michel de Tarragon's Le culte à Ugarit (Paris, 1980), which should be consulted alongside Paolo Xella's I testi rituali di Ugarit (Rome, 1981). There is an exceptionally interesting theoretical discussion of Canaanite religion by David L. Petersen and Mark Woodward in "Northwest Semitic Religion: A Study of Relational Structures," Ugarit-Forschungen 9 (1977): 232–248. The outstanding representative of the myth-and-ritual approach is Theodor H. Gaster's Thespis, 2d ed. (1961; New York, 1977).
There is not yet an adequately introduced and annotated English translation of the Ugaritic texts. The best English translations are those of H. L. Ginsberg, in J. B. Pritchard's Ancient Near Eastern Texts relating to the Old Testament, 3d ed. (Princeton, 1969), pp. 129–155, and those in J. C. L. Gibson's revision of G. R. Driver's Canaanite Myths and Legends, 2d ed. (Edinburgh, 1978). The serious student should consult Textes ougaritiques, translated and edited by André Caquot and others (Paris, 1974), and the even more comprehensive Spanish work by Gregorio del Olmo Lete, Mitos y leyendas de Canaán según la tradición de Ugarit (Madrid, 1981), complemented by the same author's Interpretacíón de la mitología cananea (Valencia, 1984). A more popular introduction and translation that is both readable and of high quality is Paolo Xella's Gli antenati di Dio (Verona, 1982). A comparable but inferior volume in English is Stories from Ancient Canaan, edited and translated by Michael D. Coogan (Philadelphia, 1978).
Works on Ugarit and the Bible are legion. The serious student is directed to Ras Shamra Parallels, edited by Loren R. Fischer, 2 vols. (Rome, 1972–1975). The contributions are uneven in quality, but the many proposed parallels are presented with full bibliographic information. A convenient survey of comparative studies is Peter C. Craigie's "Ugarit and the Bible," in Ugarit in Retrospect, edited by Gordon Douglas Young (Winona Lake, Ind., 1981), pp. 99–111. John Gray's The Legacy of Canaan, 2d ed. (Leiden, 1965), has become a standard work in this area; its great learning and originality are marred by eccentricity, especially in the translation of the Ugaritic texts. On the most important classical account of "Canaanite" religion, see the definitive work by Albert I. Baumgarten, The Phoenician History of Philo of Byblos (Leiden, 1981). Semitic influence on the Aegean world is one of the main topics of Cyrus H. Gordon's stimulating book Before the Bible: The Common Background of Greek and Hebrew Civilizations (London, 1962); a more technical work on the subject is Michael C. Astour's brilliant Hellenosemitica (Leiden, 1967).
The period 1985–2004 has produced a wealth of new information and scholarly analysis concerning Ugaritic religion. Important new reference works include the Handbook of Ugaritic Studies, edited by Wilfred G. E. Watson and Nicolas Wyatt (Leiden, 1999), and the revised edition of the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, edited by Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst (Leiden, 1999). These books provide extensive bibliographic references to previous studies of Ugaritic religion and deities.
Excellent English translations of the mythological texts are conveniently gathered in Simon Parker's edited volume, Ugaritic Narrative Poetry (Atlanta, 1997), and in Nick Wyatt's Religious Texts from Ugarit (2d ed., Sheffield, 2002). Scholarly advances in the study of religious iconography are represented by the landmark book by Othmar Keel and Christoph Uehlinger, Gods, Goddesses, and Images of God in Ancient Israel (Minneapolis, 1998). The cultic and ritual texts from Ugarit have also received renewed attention, culminating in Dennis Pardee's massive study, Les textes rituels (Paris, 2000). Non-specialists may find Pardee's shorter presentation, Ritual and Cult at Ugarit (Atlanta, 2002), more accessible yet equally authoritative. Gregorio del Olmo Lete's useful book, Canaanite Religion: According to the Liturgical Texts of Ugarit (Bethesda, Md., 1999), offers a comprehensive analysis of Ugaritic religion, while Mark S. Smith's survey, The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel (2d ed., Grand Rapids, 2002), explores the relationship between Ugaritic religion and the biblical record. Important studies of aspects of Ugaritic religion can also be found in the following books:
Day, John. Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan. Sheffield, 2000.
Dietrich, Manfried, and Oswald Loretz. Studien zu den ugaritischen Texten. Münster, 2000.
Hadley, Judith M. The Cult of Asherah in Ancient Israel and Judah. Cambridge, 2001.
Lipiński, Edward. Dieux et déesses de l'univers phénicien et punique. Leuven, 1995.
Mettinger, Tryggve N. D. The Riddle of Resurrection: "Dying and Rising Gods" in the Ancient Near East. Stockholm, 2001.
Niehr, Herbert. Religionen in Israels Umwelt: Einführung in die nordwestsemitischen Religionen Syrien-Palästinas. Würzburg, 1998.
del Olmo Lete, Gregorio. El continuum cultural cananeo. Pervivencias cananeas en el mundo fenicio-púnico. Sabadell, 1996.
del Olmo Lete, Gregorio. Mitos, leyendas y rituales de los semitas occidentales. Madrid, 1998.
Pardee, Dennis. Les textes para-mythologiques de la 24e compagne (1961). Paris, 1988.
Schmidt, Brian B. Israel's Beneficent Dead. Tübingen, 1994.
Smith, Mark S. The Ugaritic Baal Cycle, I. Leiden, 1994.
Smith, Mark S. The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts. Oxford, 2001.
Wyatt, N., W. G. E. Watson, and J. Lloyd, eds. Ugarit, Religion, and Culture. Münster, 1996.
Yon, Marguerite. La cite d'Ougarit sur le tell de Ras Shamra. Paris, 1997.
Alan M. Cooper (1987)