views updated


TESHUB was the Hurrian god of the storm. His name, also spelled Teshshub, Te, and Teya, is attested in theophoric Hurrian personal names in documents from Mesopotamia, Syro-Palestine, and Anatolia. Since the few Hurrian religious texts from outside the Hittite sphere are still somewhat poorly understood, most of what we know about the god, his mythological roles, and his cult is from Hittite Anatolia.

During the last two centuries of the Hittite kingdom (c. 14001200 bce) Teshub was the chief god of the pantheon, with his cult center at Kummiya. He was the son of Anu (An), the sky god. His wife was the goddess Hebat. He had four brothers: Aranzakh (the Tigris River), Tashmishu, and two others whose names are unknown, and a sister, Shawushka, who was the goddess of love and war. Teshub and Hebat had a son, Sharruma, and a daughter, Allanzu.

Teshub is represented anthropomorphically in low relief on the rock walls of the sanctuary of Yazilikaya, near Bogazköy (Bittel, 1975, pp. 167169), standing upon two unnamed anthropomorphic mountain gods and holding a club in his right hand. At the head of a procession of male deities, he meets and faces his wife, Hebat, the principal goddess of the pantheon, who heads a procession of goddesses. Around Teshub are represented other members of his immediate family. His size and position on the relief are in keeping with his rank as the chief god of the Hittite empire, but otherwise his dress and complements are those of a normal Hittite storm god.

In the mythological texts Teshub is always referred to by one of the two cuneiform signs for "storm god," not by the name Teshub. In the first myth of the so-called Kumarbi cycle, usually titled Kingship in Heaven (English trans. in Pritchard, 1969, pp. 120f.), Anu, who had usurped the throne of kingship over the gods from Alalu, is driven from his throne by Alalu's son Kumarbi. During the struggle Kumarbi bites off Anu's penis and swallows it. Anu curses Kumarbi and promises that from the seed thus implanted in Kumarbi five gods will be born, to defeat and depose him. The first one mentioned (and therefore the eldest) is Teshub.

In the sequel, called the Song of Ullikummi (ibid., pp. 121ff.; Güterbock, 19511952), the god Kumarbi, whom Teshub has displaced as head of the pantheon, seeks to overthrow him by means of a stone monster named Ullikummi, whom Kumarbi had engendered through having sexual intercourse with a huge boulder. Thus the pattern of the offspring of a former king of the gods overthrowing his father's successor, which was set in Kingship in Heaven, continues. Teshub is first defeated by the monster and must hide, but he eventually triumphs with the help of the god Ea (Enki).

A prayer of King Muwatallis is addressed principally to Teshub, called the Storm God of Kummanni. Although this is the only prayer in the Hittite archives addressed primarily to Teshub, other Hittite prayers contain sections in which subordinate deitiesTeshub and Hebat's children or grandchildren, and once even Teshub's bull, Seriare asked to intercede with Teshub or Hebat for the person praying. The Hittite archives also contain descriptions of religious festivals in honor of Teshub and Hebat (Laroche, 1971, pp. 123ff.).


Bittel, Kurt, et al. Das hethitische Felsheiligtum Yazilikaya. Berlin, 1975.

Gurney. O. R. Some Aspects of Hittite Religion. London, 1977.

Güterbock, Hans G. "The Song of UlliKummi." Journal of Cuneiform Studies 5 (1951): 135161 and 6 (1952): 842.

Laroche, Emmanuel. Recherches sur les noms des dieux hittites. Paris, 1947.

Laroche, Emmanuel. Catalogue des textes hittites. Paris, 1971.

Pritchard, J. B., ed. Ancient Near Eastern Texts relating to the Old Testament, 3d ed. Princeton, 1969.

Steiner, G. "Gott: Nach hethitischen Texten." In Reallexikon der Assyriologie und vorderasiatischen Archäologie, edited by D. O. Edzard et al., vol. 3, pp. 547575. Berlin and New York, 1957.

New Sources

Deighton, H. J. The "Weather-God" in Hittite Anatolia: An Examination of the Archaeological and Textual Sources. Oxford, 1982.

Haas, Volkert. Geschichte der hetitischen Religion. Leiden, 1994.

Hoffner, Harry A., Jr. Hittite Myths. Atlanta, 1990. Translations of texts related to the Storm god Teshub.

Harry A. Hoffner, Jr. (1987)

Revised Bibliography