Sikkuth and Chiun

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SIKKUTH AND CHIUN (Heb. כִּיּוּן, סִכּוּת), deities mentioned in Amos 5:26 in a warning sermon delivered to the people of the Kingdom of Israel, perhaps in Beth-El. Although the vocalization is modeled after shikkuẓ (shiqquẓ, "abomination"), the consonantal base suggests a pair of Mesopotamian astral deities, as was recognized by E. Shraeder (see bibl.) and others.

Sikkuth is identified with Sag/k.kud/t (transliterated in a Mesopotamian god list as Sa-ak-ku-ut!), an astral deity known also from the "An" god list found at Ugarit (originally from Nippurian and other Mesopotamian sources, see Weidner, in bibl.), where it appears as [d]sag/k.k[ud]/t = [d]s[a]g/k.kud/t (Ugaritica, 5 (1969), 214, line 44). (In other "non-Western" lists of gods and stars, Sikkuth has recently been identified with Ninurta, one of the chief Mesopotamian deities (known also in the "West" and sometimes identified with Horon). Sikkuth in Amos is a perfect transliteration of this star deity. Its appellation, melekh (Akk. šarru, "king"), alludes to the high rank of this deity, a (translated) classification device known from Ugaritic and other sources. This means that in the ritual to which Amos alludes Sikkuth is the most important figure. Chiun is identified with the Akkadian Kajamānu (in Akkadian intervocalic m comes to be pronounced like w, and so m was often written even for original w), "the steady one" (sometimes sag. us), the appellation of the star god Saturn (hence Aramaic Kewan, Ar. Kaiwan). This pair of deities appears in astrological lists (of celestial observations) and also in the "release" (lipṭur) passage of the expiatory prayer and ritual known as Šurpu (2:180), among other gods of the night and stars: "… sag. kud. sag. uŠdImmerija [= ilu-wer, mentioned in the inscription of Zakir king of *Hamath] release!" This may be translated as "may Sakkut, Kajamānu release [from sin]." The appellation ẓalmekhem in Amos denotes the Akkadian star-idol Ṣalmu, usually the second participant in the ritual of celestial and expiatory prayers (see Speiser, in bibl.). Amos warns his listeners to exchange the sacrificial cult with the accompanying sacred music for justice, or they will be exiled, along with the images of those deities beyond *Damascus. He thus mentions them only in passing, and nothing is learned about the details of their cult in Israel.


E. Schraeder, Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament (18832), 443; A. Deimel, Pantheon Babylonicum (1914), 231; E.F. Weidner, in: afo, 2 (1924–25), 1–18; 4 (1927), 78; E.A. Speiser, in: basor, 108 (1947), 5; E. Reinor, in: afoBeiheft, 11 (1958).

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