The Quran versus the Arab Oral Tradition

Shari'a, errancies, miracles and science
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Yahweh – MLQRT's role in Tyre's Pantheon

Introduction
In today's episode we travel to Motya, an ancient city meaning 'twisted' in the Phoenician language, is situated on a small island on the western tip of Sicily. Phoenicians landed on Motya sometime in the 11th or 10th century BC and founded a proper colony in the 9th century. Phoenician anchor stones from the 2nd millennium BC were found in the Marsala Lagoon near Motya. Motya became the trading hub between Tyre and its colonies in the western Mediterranean and earned most of its revenues with the export of salt.

Politically, this island was always part of the Phoenician and Carthaginian world but culturally is was influenced by especially Greek and the Egyptian civilization. The main temple at Motya shows for instance features related to Egyptian magic, Heliopolis and the role of the Pomegranate. Of special interest was the discovery of a circular area featuring featuring a central courtyard with a sacred well, a spacious temple of Levantine design and standing steles and stone obelisks, all connected to a nearby pool called the kothon.

But we shall explore these fruitful and cultural links in another post as Motya provides a prime example of MLQRT's role in Tyre's pantheon.

Religion of Phoenicia's Motya
Archaeological activities in Tyre during the last decades provided new evidence on the ancient Lebanese maritime city, which was the major responsible of Phoenician expansion towards Western Mediterranean. Finds from al-Bass necropolis, as well as renewed studies on Tyre urban layout and its material culture through the ages, offer further spur to the quest for Phoenicians in the West. The heritage of Tyre, in facts, does not affect only Lebanon and the Levant, but it extends on the whole Mediterranean basin. A perfect example of Tyre's religious heritage can be found at Motya.

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The island of Motya

MLQRT's Temple
In the northern sector of the island, not far from the North Gate, a sacred compound was discovered , called “Sanctuary of Cappiddazzu”. This temple was, with the southern Temple of the Kothon, one of the two religious poles of the city of Motya. It was erected some 100 m inside the northern shore of the island, along the main street crossing Motya from the north to the south and continuing northwards in the causeway which connected the island itself to Sicily. A sacred well was built in the central court while a bothros and a slab with a cup-mark were placed north of it. The entrance of the building was framed by two semi-column. The facade was crowned by an Egyptian gola, some blocks of which were found re-used in a following reconstruction.

Before the Graecofication of Motya no depictions of MLQRT were added until in 475 BC the so called Giovane di Mozia statue was erected – by most Italian researchers identified as Phoenician deity MLQRT. A skyphos, a two-handled deep wine-cup, found in the Temple of Cappiddazzu shows an inscription with the Greek label MEL.

The Yemple of Kothon: The 'Mighty Lord' and Astarte or Ashera
Excavations in the south-western region of the island revealed the presence of a huge sacred compound, delimited by a Circular Temenos of 118 m of diameter, including the rectangular basin called “Kothon” – actually a sacred pool of fresh water flowing from a pool.

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During the original construction the tradition levantine Four-room-building concept was used with a central courtyard with an obelisk and two betyls, comparable with similar installations in the renown Egyptian temple of the Obelisks at Byblos, and a main cella on its northern side. A couple small standing freestanding pillars flanked the entrance, the pair of pillars characterizing temple architecture in Phoenicia (Tyre), as described by historical sources and the Bible. Just north of the Temple of the Kothon, an in antis shrine looking south accompanied the main sacred building. The latter, which was founded contemporarily with the main temple, was presumably devoted to Astarte. Presumably as the cult of Astarte is attested at Motya by an inscribed betyl and a statue of the goddess discovered on the north-western shore of the island.

Motya's city design versus Tyre's pantheon
The discovery of the Temple of the Kothon and its religious annexes revealed the second major religious pole of Motya, showing the original layout of a city founded starting from two religious compounds, the Temple of Melqart (Cappiddazzu) to the north, and the Temple of Baal ‘Addir ('Mighty Lord' or 'Lord Almighty') and Astarte to the south. So even in the western hemisphere of the Mediterranean the Tyrian religion was influential enough to shape the city of Motya, which comes as no surprise as even Carthage paid tribute to Tyre until the end of the Hellenistic period.

So how can this information be used? Most scholars agree that Phoenician cult practices along the Phoenicians coast, Palestine and its western colonies were one and the same. So what is the nature of the Phoenician cult and its symbols in a general sense? The foundations of the Phoenician cult were laid in the Late Bronze Age and were consolidated during the first centuries of the first Millennium BCE, but virtually no written sources from the late eighth and seventh centuries BCE have survived.

The Archaeological finds are generally composed of two major types of figurines that appear simultaneously in all assemblages: the first is an adult male, represented as a king sitting on a throne or standing, or as a warrior on a horse; the second is a fertility goddess, sometimes pregnant, supporting her breasts, and at other times either holding or nursing a child. Sometimes the child is depicted separately. This is consistent with the observation that the Phoenician cult was composed of 'a triad of deities: a protective god of the city, a goddess, often his wife or companion who symbolizes the fertile earth; and a young god somehow connected with the goddess (usually her son), whose resurrection expresses the annual cycle of vegetation. Within these limits, the names and functions of the gods vary, and the fluidity of this pantheon, where the common name often prevails over the proper name, and the function over the personality, is characteristic. Another characteristic
of the Phoenician triad is the flexibility from town to town.

So far the general impression of the Phoenician cult, as defined by social science. The 'flexibility' of the triad is perhaps questionable with epithets like 'Lord of the Rock', 'Lord of the Earth', 'Mighty Lord' and Baal Zaphon as 'Lord of the North' with a 14th century letter (KTU 2.23 ) from the king of Ugarit to the Egyptian pharao that identifies Ba'al Zaphon as Egyptian deity Amun, both being territorial deities.

Conclusions
The aniconic iconography of Tyrian MLQRT as observed in Gadez (Cadiz) and Tyre is continued at the Phoenician colony of Motya in Sicily until the city is Graecofied.

The city plan fo Motya is a reflection of the traditional Phoenician plan with a compound for MLQRT in the north and another one for 'Baal Addir', the 'Mighty Lord' and Astarte in the south.

The role of Astarte in the pantheon of Motya and Tyre is probably doubtful. Contemporary sources such as the Epic of Keret defines Athirat/Ashera as the goddess of Tyre. No betyl of Astarte or inscriptions dedicated to her were found in the Temple of Koton.

But most of all this research should relate to the link between YHWH and Tyre. As stated previously the OT literally acknowledges Phoenician Tyre being a domain of the god of the Old Testament and thus excludes other Phoenician cities. Following this logic YHWH and MLQRT are both part of the triad of Tyre without knowing if these deities are identical, of the same origin or fulfill different roles within this triad.

In the following post we shall look at depictions of MLQRT from Cyprus, the Levant and Sardinia.
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Re: The Quran versus the Arab Oral Tradition

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The role of Astarte in the pantheon of Motya and Tyre is probably doubtful. Contemporary sources such as the Epic of Keret defines Athirat/Ashera as the goddess of Tyre. No betyl of Astarte or inscriptions dedicated to her were found in the Temple of Koton.
Update: no betyls or steles dedicated to or mentioning Astarte were ever found in Tyre. In no Tyrian colony, whether it is Cathage, Gades (modern Cadiz) or Motya temples dedicated to Astarte were found. The hypothesis is basically a form of regressive analysis - based upon writings of historian Flavius Josephus who stated that King Hiram built a temple for Astarte. In former colonies of Tyre like Gades and Carthage Berber- Amazigh goddess Tanit was worshiped, by some "scholars" associated with Hurrian Astarte.

Astarte is known fron Phoenician city of Sidon where she was depicted with Hathor's wig sitting on an Egyptian sphinx - here Astarte is fully syncretized with the composite deity Mut-Isis-Nekhbet (latest phase of the New Kingdom).
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Origins of Yahweh – Early depictions of MLQRT

Introduction
Who is Melqart? So far the god behind the epithet, 'King of the City' or 'King of Earth' has yet to be identified. In today's episode we shall look at early depictions of Tyre's and Punic deity MLQRT found in Syria, Cyprus and Sardinia. And 'early' means that these depictions were created before the Greacofication of the Near East and most islands in the western Mediterranean. In a later post we will examine related scarabs from the Oxford Collection.

Bar Hadad Stele
Aleppo Syria, circa 850 BC

The oldest known depiction of Melqart lacks the great technical acumen and details of Phoenician craftsmanship suggesting that the Artist is of Aramean origin. Nevertheless the Egyptian influence is clearly visible.

In his right hand Melqart holds an ankh, an ancient Egyptian Symbol that represent the word for "life" and is factually a symbol of life itself.

The two-headed cobra or two cobras can be linked either to the Pharaoh's crown which was often decorated with an Uraeus or Uraei, a stylized form of an Egyptian cobra, used as a symbol of divine authority in ancient Egypt or a special manifestation of Egyptian deity Horus.

In his left hand Melqart holds an ax which has parallels in Middle Bronze Age examples and demonstrates traditionalism in the art of Tyre. Early scholars matched this ax with the Egyptian symbol for power (netjer or nTr). The etymology of the word netjer is uncertain and relates to a divine being or ritual as in the Ptolemaic period of Egyptian history bilingual decrees in Greek and Egyptian translate the Egyptian netjer with Greek theos (god). Nowadays most scholars identify this hieroglyph with a flag or flag pole (see Hornung 1971: 34).

The skirt has Egyptian parallels (royal shenti) and the headdress and beard are similar to later Melqart representations in other, later iconography.

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Bar Hadad Stele

Scarabs
At scarabs found at Cyprus and Sardinia MLQRT is depicted holding an Egyptian w3s-scepter while sitting on a sphinx. The was or wꜣs "power, dominion" scepter is a symbol that appeared often in religious Egyptian art and hieroglyphics.

It appears as a stylized animal head at the top of a long, straight staff with a forked end. The was-scepter was the symbol for of the territory of Thebes called wꜣst in Egyptian or ḥḳꜢw WꜢst, “rulers of the Theban nome”. The Egyptians perceived the sky as being supported on four pillars, which could have the shape of the was.

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Ancient Egyptian god Amun (Amun-Ra), supreme deity at Thebes, holding the ankh and the scepter, the champion of the poor and troubled, illustration from the book "Pantheon Egyptien" by Leon Jean Joseph Dubois, 1824.

Sphinx thrones are common in the area of Sidon and Tyre and the oldest Phoenician coins represent a winged sphinx. An Egyptian winged shpinx that is.

Amrit Stele
Amrit Stele, Syria, circa 550 BC
A stele possibly depicting MLQRT comes from Amrit, a town located between the Phoenician cities of Arvad and Tripoli, in what is today the very south of Syria.

It is made from limestone and dates to ca. 550 BC. MLQRT is shown standing on top of a male lion, a symbol of strength and power as well as royalty. The style of the lion shows Assyrian reliefs but the Egyptian influence is more notable: MLQRT wears a crown that is typical for Egyptian pharaohs and on top of his head a sun disk with wings is depicted.

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Conclusion
From the few early depictions of MLQRT we learn that he was depicted in different ways but that Egyptian art themes and symbols dominate. The most significant symbols are the Ankh or Egyptian Lotus flower as symbols of life, the w3s-scepter from Karnak/Thebes, the Egyptian uraeus (stylized, upright form of an Egyptian cobra, used as a symbol of sovereignty) and the sphinx. The ax from the
Bar Hadad Stele may refer to a military role.

The usage of the wꜣs-scepter indicates that MLQRT is a sky god.
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Origins of Yahweh – Punic depictions of MLQRT

Introduction
In today's episode we will take a look at Punic and West-Phoenician scarabs and gems dedicated to either Baal or MLQRT. To be more specific , a collection from the University of Oxford that consists of classical Phoenician scarabs with bull headed deities either representing Baal or MLQRT (see the work of Australian archaeologist and lecturer William Culican: CULICAN W., 1960-1961, Melqart Representations on Phoenician Seals: Abr-Nahrain 2, 41-54 = CULICAN 1986: 195-210).

The Oxford Collection
Classical Phoenician scarabs' were made in Phoenicia in the period of the Achaemenid Persian empire, from the later sixth century to the mid-fourth century BC. Beside the Etruscan, they are the last major production of scarab seals of antiquity. They are made of green jasper, the color probably being of as much importance as their intaglios since it enhances their amuletic value.

Most of the 1500 examples known have been found in the west Phoenician (Punic) cemeteries of Carthage, Sardinia and Ibiza (Spain), but there are many also from the east Mediterranean. It was long held that all were western products but it is more likely, on many other grounds, that they were made in the Phoenician homeland. They served as jewellery, as offerings in tombs and sanctuaries, and for their primary function of sealing. Many were given precious metal mounts.

Baal or MLQRT as bull headed deities
1) Category: Seated before incense-burner

Throne, spear sceptre and incense-burner.

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Throne, sceptre with papyrus top and incense-burner.

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in gold mount

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Incense burner and spear scepter

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2) Category: Fighting

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Wears white crown with topknot, long-sleeved dress with long split skirt, strides forward with raised mace, the forward hand holding a large leaf, and, by the hair, a cowering figure, bearded with long sleeves and supplicating, whose lower body becomes a long hatched 'tail' which curves under the attacker like an exergue line. Cartouche in field. The victim looks a snake-man rather than the more being Phoenician Tritons, and in this respect more like the serpent attacked by Egyptian Seth (Culican, 66, fig. 2), whom Baal here imitates.

3) others

Sphinx throne; tasselled cap; holds spear sceptre

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Sphinx throne; tasselled cap; spear sceptre; incense-burner

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Conclusion
The work of archaeologist William Culican suggests that Tyrian Baal and MLQRT are related – to find out ho we shall consult the work of an eyewitness in the next episode.
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Intermezzo: “A Magical Amulets tells more than a 1000 words”

Introduction
In the previous posts we have researched the Biblical link between Ancient Tyre and the dominion of Yahweh as King Hiram supported the build of Solomon's temple. Now an ancient amulet from Cyprus may reveal another connection between Egypt and ancient Israel.

Magical Amulet from Cyprus
In 2011 a stone amulet was unearthed in the ancient city of Nea Paphos in southwestern Cyprus. It was discovered by archaeologists from the Polish Jagiellonian University excavating an ancient agora at Nea Paphos. One side of this amulet bears a 59-letter Greek inscription that reads the same way backward and forward, a palindrome:

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“ΙΑΕW ΒΑΦΡΕΝΕΜ ΟΥΝΟΘΙΛΑΡΙ ΚΝΙΦΙΑΕΥΕ ΑΙΦΙΝΚΙΡΑΛ ΙΘΟΝΥΟΜΕ ΝΕΡΦΑΒW ΕΑΙ”
meaning:
“Iahweh - The Lord is the bearer of the ancient name; the lion of Ra is safe in its sanctuary”.
The other side contains multiple images such as deity Harpocrates, the Egyptian God of Silence, a mummy in a boat, astral and animal symbols like the sun, moon, a peacock, a snake and a crocodile.

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According to some scholars this amulet has several unusual features that suggest its creator didn't fully understand the mythological characters depicted. The depiction is fairly unskilled and schematic, based on Egyptian sources, for instance Harpocrates 'should be sitting on a lotus flower, with legs drawn up ', the usage of 'mummy bandages' is strange, the crisscrossing lines on bodies and the 'gesture of raising its right paw to its lips in a manner similar to Harpocrates '. So was the creator an imposter pretending to understand the mythological world of Egypt?

Our Analysis
So far we haven't found any article that linked the 59-letter inscription to the symbols and depictions. Let's start with the phrase 'the lion of Ra' – in ancient Egyptian a lion refers to the sun or a protective role. As Ra was the deity of the sun in upper-Egypt it must refer to protection – so who kept Ra from harm?

On the left side a peacock is displayed, a bird that in Egypt the bird was associated with the worship of hybrid deity Amon-Ra and the all-seeing eye of Horus. On the right hand a serpent is depicted – in the context of Ra this could refer to the Apep – the serpent of Chaos. Apep battled many times with Ra but was finally defeated when deity Seth, standing on the prow of Ra's barge defeated the serpent of chaos.

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The depicted serpent is connected with a cynocephalus, a mythical figure depicted with the head of a dog or a jackal. Ancient Egyptian myths said that Apep must lie below the horizon and doesn't persist in the mortal kingdom which makes him part of the underworld. In the mythology of upper-Egypt the afterlife, cemeteries, tombs, and the underworld and depicted as a cynocephalus, with the head of a jackal. So the single depiction of a serpent with a dog headed figure makes perfect sense if it represents Apep, the Serpent of Choas as part of the Egyptian underworld.

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The depicted deity Harpocrates is no-one else then the Egyptian child god Horus who represented the newborn sun, rising each day at dawn. The cynocephalus's gesture of raising its right paw to its lips as the child god Horus or Harpocrates does may come as no surprise – it was the symbol of Horus the Child.

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The depicted crocodile is Sobek-Ra, associated with both Seth, his father, and Horus, whom he helped birth. He was also considered to be the army’s patron because of his ferocity. During the last dynasties of classical Egypt dynasties Sobek-Ra appeared, a fusion of Sobek and Egypt's primary sun god, Ra.

The depicted sun is of course self-explanatory. It is difficult to determine why a barge with a mummy is depicted – it may refer to the underworld in general, the journey of a soul to the underworld or the rite of Osiris from Thonis.

The Protector of Ra
It may obvious that Seth, the god of the desert and the red land is Ra's protector. As the consigliere of Ra he defeats Apep, depicted as a combined serpent and cynocephalus. That the 'the lion of Ra' is mentioned in the context of Horus is not that strange – in the first millennium BC mortal enemies Seth and Horus are fully reconciled.

Iahweh
The mentioning of Iahweh, meaning either 'the lord', 'the king' or 'Yahweh' in the same sentence that refers to 'the lion of Ra' is very intriguing. It suggests that the god of the Old testament is linked with Seth, a manifestation of Seth or that the Israelite religion is deeply influenced by the cult of Seth. For instance, the latest King of the Hyksos at Avaris decided to worship only Seth, syncretized with Baal Zaphon or Hadad, a decision that led to a religious conflict with Egypt's rules and the departure of the Hyksos cult on a date that matches the low chronology of Exodus. It also indicates that there are two religious pipelines that connect Egypt with the Abrahamic religions – through Tyre and the Israelites – and that all sky gods in the Levant are some kind of manifestation of Adad-Seth.
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Some criticism:
As Ra was the deity of the sun in upper-Egypt it must refer to protection
Indeed, Amun-Ra was worshiped in lower Egypt - Heliopolis. Seth became popular (in lower Egypt) during the last centuries of the New Kingdom, the Ramesside period toward the end of the second millennium BC.
After the 10th century BC the worship of Amun gradually declined and his influence abroad was restricted to Nubia and classical Ethiopia.
Well yes, that's what Wiki says. However, before the construction of Alexandria, Thonis-Heracleion was Egypt's largest Mediterranean port. For almost a thousand years, until circa 150 BC, every foreigner would first visit the city of Amun and his (adopted) son Khonsu=Horus. Especially those from Tyre, the major trading hub from Phoenicia.

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Origin of Abrahamism: Part XI The Phoenician Facade of an Egyptian deity

In today's episode we leave the material evidence and consult some textual sources. Not too much of course and only contemporary accounts, written around the same time that an event happened.

Introduction
In previous posts we looked at the relation between Tyre and the Old testament. As the nature of Tyres main deity MLQRT is unknown we use the work of Herodotus to learn more.

Herodotus visits Tyre
The Greek researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus visited Tyre in the mid-fifth century BCE. In Histories 2.44, he offers a description of the sanctuary of Melqart, whom he calls Heracles, because the Greeks believed these two deities were identical – with the notion that the hero Heracles is not the deity named Heracles.
“Because I wanted to know more about it, I made a voyage to Tyre in Phoenicia, because I had been told that in that place there was a holy temple of Heracles. The sanctuary was richly furnished, there were many votive offerings, and I noticed two pillars: one of pure gold and one of an emerald stone of such size as to shine by night.”
“I interviewed the priests of the god, and asked them how long ago their temple had been built, and I discovered that they were at variance with the Greeks, because they said that the temple had been built when Tyre had beend founded, and that this happened 2,300 years ago.”
Despite the eyewitness account of Herodotus - he didn't find a temple dedicated to Heracles but one to MLQRT - little is known about Phoenician religion. The lack of texts and archaeological finds makes it difficult to reconstruct MLQRT's profile. As the Phoenician sources are centuries older than those from Greece it's safe to say that Heracles is the Greek facade of MLQRT. The earliest depictions and scarabs strongly suggests that MLQRT is a Phoenician facade for an Egyptian deity where the city plan for the Tyrian colony at Motya indicates that the Lord of Tyre is associated with another supreme deity.

Herodotus visits Egypt
Many scholars questioned Herodotus' observations and some even doubted if he ever visited Egypt. After visiting the city of Naukratis he writes: “Amasis (pharao) was partial to the Greeks, and among other favors which he granted them, gave to such as liked to settle in Egypt the city of Naucratis for their residence." The recovery of the so-called ' Naucratis stela' lends substantial credence to Herodotus' previously unsupported claim that Heraklion was founded under the Egyptian New Kingdom.

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The excavation of what has been called Ship 17 has revealed a vast crescent-shaped hull and a previously undocumented type of construction involving thick planks assembled with tenons – just as Herodotus observed, in describing a slightly smaller vessel.

So his claim that Heraclion-Thonis was founded during the New Kingdom is now proven. According to Herodotus, a great temple was built at the spot where Heracles first arrived in Egypt which resulted in the Greeks calling the city Heracleion. So who was venerated at Heraclion Thonis?

The main deity at Thonis was Amun-Gereb, a northern manifestation of Amun-Ra, the supreme deity of Egypt during the New Kingdom. Three colossal statues guarded the massive temple complex dedicated to Amun-Gereb where only priests could enter the holiest sites within the temple, but everyone else regularly entered the complex to perform their devotions. Near the temple of Amun-Gereb stood a temple dedicated to his son, Khonsu. The Greeks adopted Khonsu, who became their demi-god Heracles. So through Heracles MLQRT can be associated with Egyptian deity Khonsu. Actually with Khonsu-Toth as the complicated deity Khonsu was one of the companions of Thoth, associated with the moon and the measurement of time.

Herodotus visits Thebes
When Herodotus visits Thebes, the southern mirror of Thonis, he identifies Amun with Greek Zeus:
“The Thebans, and those who by the Theban example will not touch sheep give the following reason for their ordinance: Heracles​* (they say) would by all means look upon Zeus, and Zeus would not be seen by him.​ At last, being earnestly entreated by Heracles, Zeus contrived a device, whereby he showed himself displaying the head and wearing the fleece of a ram which he had flayed and beheaded. It is from this that the Egyptian images of Zeus have a ram's head; and in this the Egyptians are imitated by the Ammonians, who are colonists from Egypt and Ethiopia and speak a language compounded of the tongues of both countries. It was from this, I think, that the Ammonians got their name too; for Amun is the Egyptian name for Zeus.”
The Greeks identified Heracles at Thebes with Egyptian god Shu called Khonsu-Neferhotep. Apparently Shu/Khonsu was one of the oldest deities in Egypt:
“Concerning Heracles, I heard it said that he was one of the twelve gods. But I could nowhere in Egypt hear anything concerning the other Heracles, whom the Greeks know. …. Heracles is a very ancient god in Egypt; as the Egyptians themselves say, the change of the eight gods to the twelve, of whom they deem Heracles one, was made seventeen thousand years before the reign of Amasis.”
Shu was one of the primordial Egyptian gods and one of the nine deities of the Ennead of the Heliopolis cosmogony. Not that does mean much as Egypt had multiple dominant pantheons or cosmogonies.

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Khonsu temple at Kharga Oasis

During the Roman period of Egypt Heracles was still associated with Khonsu as the Yale Nadura Temple project, excavating a sanctuary dedicated to Khonsu at the Kharga Oasis near Thebes, has shown. Although external references to Nadura are lacking Khonsu appears frequently in the decoration program of nearby temples at Hibis, Ghueita, Qasr el-Zayyan, Dush, and Deir el-Haggar. Scholar Guy Wagner noted in his classic study on the Egyptian Oases that theophoric names formed with Khonsu or Heracles (the standard interpretatio Graeca of the Egyptian deity)1 are extremely popular in documents from Hibis and Bagawat 2 with some names like nḫ-pȝ-ẖrd / Chapokrates meaning may the child live possibly referring to Chonsu the Child.

So what about Khonsu?
Khonsu appears in the late Old Kingdom texts as a ferocious deity – he displayed a furious nature in the Cannibal Hymn28, ferocity that connected him later on with Heracles, who was also a child god and the offspring of a god-king. In the Book of the Dead Khonsu’s violent qualities were underlined. Nevertheless, at some point, some new features were linked to Khonsu’s nature: during the second millennium BCE, Khonsu was considered, apart from an aggressive and ferocious divinity, a generous and benevolent young god.

But his role changes over time. Khonsu was a marginal deity before the New Kingdom but at the beginning of this era Khonsu became part the so called Triad of Waset (Ta-Apt ), the Kemetic and ancient Egyptian name of Thebes. Khonsu is now the offspring of Amun and Mut and is known under different epithets such as Khonsu pa-khered 'Khonsy the Child', Khonsu pa ir-sekher or 'Khonsu the Provider' and Khonsu heseb-ahau meaning 'Khonsu decider of the life span'. His name is believed to derive from verb khenes (hnzw) meaning to traverse indicating he who traverses the sky. Alternatively it may mean traveller. Nevertheless deity Khonsu was not exclusively tied to the triad of Thebes – he later appears at Kom Ombo as the son of Sobek and Hathor.

Adopted by Amun-Ra
When the Thebian priesthood became powerful Amun was fused with Ra into Amun-Ra. As Ra had a famous son known as Horus the priesthood at Thebes decided to give Amun a son himself. As the son of Amun(-Re), it should be noted that Khonsu was identified with Shu already in the New Kingdom, because (1) Amun was syncretized with the sun-god Re and thus functioned as a sun-god; and (2) according to the Heliopolitan Cosmology, Shu is the first-born son of the sun-god (Bonnet 1971: 142; Leitz 2005-V: 768, 770-771).

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Theban triad: Amun, Mut, Khonsu

In the funerary sphere, Khonsu-Shu appears as divine helper of the deceased, like other child deities, as he (1) guides the deceased to the sky as god of the sky and (2) imparts air to the deceased as god of air (Bonnet 1971: 142). Khonsu’s role as a god of light is very important in an attempt to explain his filial relationship with Amun(-Re). As mentioned earlier, the moon was believed to replace the sun after sunset and, in this regard, the sun-god could frequently appear as father of the moon. That explains why the moon-god Khonsu is the son of Amun(-Re) in the New Kingdom Theban Triad.

Iconagraphy
In the New Kingdom, the following iconographic patterns of Khonsu can be established:
  • In the archaic form, Khonsu is visualized as a youthful deity in a fully anthropomorphic form wearing the shendyt, the long-haired wig and the divine beard (The Epigraphic Survey 1963: Plate 478, 1979: Plate 60).
  • As a god of light and as a sky-god, Khonsu is also depicted as a falcon-headed god with the lunar headdress. The falcon-headed form is especially prominent in the Khonsu Temple (The Epigraphic Survey 1936: Plate 48A; The Epigraphic Survey 1979: Plates 8, 15, 43, 49, 57A, 102; The Epigraphic Survey 1981: Plates 113, 117), and this iconography is also found in a royal tomb (Guilmant 1907: Plate 48).
  • Khonsu’s most typical iconography is that as child-member of the Theban Triad. Here, he appears as a youthful god enveloped in a mummy wrapping and wearing the headdress of the full lunar disc above a crescent new moon. In addition, the menit is placed around his neck and his hands, almost invisible in the wrapping, hold the two royal insignia or additional scepters (The Epigraphic Survey 1936: Plate 46F; The Epigraphic Survey 1981: Plate 114A; also cf. Fakhry 1942: Plate XLV). Probably the most prominent example in this pattern is the statue of Khonsu with the face of Tutankhamun (CG 38488; also see Tiradritti 1999: 197). In line with the growing popularity of Khonsu in the age of “personal piety” and later, the typical form of Khonsu is widely represented in votive statues (Legrain 1909: Plate 27; Borchardt 1934: 9/no. 971; Wiese 2001: 165/ no. 115), stelae (Černý 1958: Bankes Stela 8; Tosi 1972: 87-88, 283/Turin 50052), amulets (Andrews 1998: 17 and Figs. 11d, 13e, 20c, 24a, 24c, 26d, 98c) and bronze statuettes (Read 1917: 121).
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Chubby Khonsu
The deity Khonsu does not appear in a pure child form (or conflated with Harpocrates) – a chubby boy with one hand in his mouth and a huge side-lock of youth – until the Late Period (for examples of the Twentieth Dynasty, however, see Černý 1958: Bankes Stela 10; Daressy 1905: Plate XII, 1906: 65-66; see also Hall 1977: 56 and Plate XXIV-1; Fakhry 1942: Figs. 32, 106 and Plate XXV).

At the oasis temple of Nadura Chonsu appears twice standing in front of Amun, a unique position of honor he does not occupy elsewhere, not even in the temple of Chonsu at Karnak. It maybe comparable to Carthage where MLQRT has a more prominent position than supreme deity Ammon/Amun.

Associations with other gods
Khonsu’s features as a moon god were expanded when Khonsu assumed functions of Thoth after he became the child-member of the Theban Triad (Bonnet 1952: 142; Derchain 1962: 42). As his father consumes sun deity Ra Khonsu absorbs features of another noon god Toth and Horus. In the stela of Deir el-Medina, Khonsu, shedding his image as a violent god, appears as a benevolent god who hears the prayer of the owner of the stelea. It is the same stelea that identifies Khonsu with Horus. Horus himself is, like Khonsu a god of light who usually appears in the form of falcon and, according to Reinhard, the divine brilliance is especially visualized as a falcon (1980: 1033). Khonsu also appears, like Horus, as a falcon or a falcon-headed man (Leitz 2002-V: 761, 764, 766, 767; Salis 2009: 2, 3).

The moon god Thoth was also believed to possess great magical and healing powers. Both Thoth and Khonsu are thus healing deities. Khonsu, however, is usually credited with miraculous cures based on exorcism (Derchain 1962: 43) like the so-called Bentresh Stela, dating to the Twenty-fifth Dynasty or later mentions. The text relates how a statue of Khonsu was sent to help a foreign princess who was possessed by a spirit.

Most importantly, however, Khonsu became identified with Horus, another god of light, who symbolized the waxing moon always recovering its youth and thus the renewal of royal power (Goyon 1983: 2-7; Fazzini 1988: 19) The evidence of the identification between the two deities is attested in a Nineteenth Dynasty sculpture of a life-size child who wears a side-lock of youth and the moon on his head and crouches at the feet of Horus the Elder (Hall 1977: 56).

Conclusion
Through the work of Herodotus and the identification of Heracles with Khonsu-Horus MLQRT can be associated with Egypt. If Heracles is a Greek Facade for a Phoenician deity then MLQRT is the facade of an Egyptian deity. That deity is likely a variant of Khonsu-Horus. The rise of MLQRT in the western Mediterranean should then probably be accompanied with a simultaneous and attestable rise of (Khonsu) Horus in the Phoenician world.

In the next post we'll return to MLQRT and Tyre and try to match MLQRT with his Egyptian origin.
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Re: The Quran versus the Arab Oral Tradition

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As the next post requires extended research its publication will follow in a few weeks time. The latest data-model makes it obvious that all Abrahamic religions are nothing more than so called rebrands (or rebranding) of ancient religions that go back to at least the fourth millennium BC. They were transformed to address the audiences of the great empires from Antiquity - you can compare it with the upgrade from environmentalism to Climate Religion with the unavoidable end-of-days scenario's.

It's a funny and tragic at the same time - nothing much has changed over the last 5000 years. Documenting this rebranding process will take dozens of posts - alternatively the cancellation of these dogma's would be fairly easy.
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Re: The Quran versus the Arab Oral Tradition

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Part XII: The Phoenician Facade of Egyptian deities: Melqart of Tyre and Eshmun of Sidon
Walk like an Egyptian, Believe like an Egyptian

In today's episode we will link Phoenician deities MLQRT and Eshmin of Sidon with their Egyptian origin through the Kingdom of Kition at Cyprus, the work of scholar Lipinski, a fine remedy for all your snake bites, dwarf god Bes(et), some fashionable lion skins and magical Egyptian steles.

Introduction
In the previous post we learned that through the work of Herodotus MLQRT can be associated with Egypt as Greek hero and deity Heracles is identified with with a form of Khonsu-Horus. It is rather difficult to determine which form influenced the mythical development of Heracles as over the millennia the Egyptians worshiped over twenty-five different forms of Horus where later variants have different theological attributes or qualities.

The material evidence from the first millennium BC makes it clear that the Horus cult, together with that of Isis, became very popular outside Egypt. Once Egypt was annexed by the Roman empire this cult even reached the British isles in the first or second century AD. Outside Egypt Khonsu (the traveller or traverser) was far less popular than Horus who was, with his father Osiris, worshiped by all or most Egyptians and through ancient myths linked with Phoenician cities such as Byblos going back 5000 years. Therefore we consider Horus as the main driver for the expansion of Egyptian religion or theological concepts in the Near East and Phoenician world. In a later stage we will look at Horus's family members such as Isis and Osiris and the special role of Seth, the god of the desert and his mortal and eternal enemy.

Kition
The city-kingdom of Kition was situated on the southern coast of Cyprus om present-day Lanarca. Excavations indicate that Kition already flourished in the late second millennium BC as it benefited from the cooper trade and maybe identical to a town called Kathian mentioned in an inscription by pharaoh Ramesses III (c. 13th century BC).

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Conclusion
Implicit evidence from textual sources such as the Pyramid inscriptions and those from Kition, depictions and iconography strongly indicates that both Eshmun and Melqart are variants of Horus, the eternal son of Osiris. If we compare Heracles-Melqart to Horus you find preciously what you expect: a role as protector, healer and linked with medicinal waters.

This implies that many other deities known from the first millennium are variants of Horus such as for instance Heracles, Roman Hercules or Apollo. If so, the entire history of the Near East needs to be rewritten. And wherever you find a variant of Horus Isis and Osiris should be near. Actually the infant Zeus is nursed by a form of Bes-Heracles thus Bes-Horus. Does that make Zeus a form of Osiris-Anubis?

In the next post we shall first track the 'Eye of Horus' in the Phoenician world – if Eshmun and Melqart are manifestations of Horus the so called 'Eye of Horus' is probably e one of the major symbols in Tyre and Sidon. After doing so, with probably a few side snacks, we return to Tyre in the Biblical context.



After 900 BC the nature of this kingdom changed dramatically. Settles from Tyre repopulated Kition which became a trading hub for merchants from Tyre and Sidon. Unlike other Tyrian settlements in the western Mediterranean the goddess Astarte was worshiped in Kition or Kart hadašt, 'the new city'. From Kition the ships of Sidon and Tyre would sail to Motya, Spain, Carthage and beyond. The importance of Kition should not be underestimated as even in Hebrew the word 'Kittim' or pople from Kition, became the word to indicate all gentile westerners, Cypriote or not.

A remarkable yet consistent and ambigious element of biblical texts and the fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls is the allusion of the Kittim, always mentioned in the plural as a people, both as and agent and victim of destruction. First mentioned in the “Table of the Nations” (Genesis 10:4) the Balaam Prophecies describe that “Ships come from the quarter of Kittim, they subject Ashur, subject Eber. They too shall perish forever. ” Much later Scholar Josephus writes “The name Kittim is given by the Hebrews to all the island and to most of the countries near the sea” so that during the Second Temple period the term Kittim seems to apply to every nation that came to Israel by ship. 1 Josephus (Ant. 1 vi, 1 §128) explains that Kittim (Chetima) was the old name and that one of the cities preserved the old appellation in the Hellenized form of Kition.

So the city-state of Kition and its people the Kittim were not only a fierce Phoenician nation but play also a role in Biblical literature and prophecies. Now this indicates that we are dealing with an important religious hub.

Kition: MLQRT and Eshmun
Many Phoenician inscriptions were discovered by Louis Palma di Cesnola between 1865 and 1871. His excavations unearthed a great number of statues, pottery, inscriptions, sarcophagi and other artifacts which now form the Cesnola Collection of which the major portion is now owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Turin University Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography. All pieces found derive from a single site and derive from a single site sanctuary dedicated to the Phoenician deity Eshmun-Melqart. This collection proves that Tyrian deity MLQRT was worshiped in Kition and remarkably, always associated or equated with Eshmun from Sidon. For instance fragment 74.51.2280 has a closing commendation of this inscription stating:
... To his Lord Esmun Melqart. May he bless him
Another object in this collection has an inscription with a similar formula:
… son of Abdmelqart to his Lord Esmun Melqart. May he bless him
Fragment 74.51.2272-73:
"of the reign of Milkyaton, king of Citium and Idalium ... son of Abdmarnai to his Lord Esmun Melqart. May he bless him"
Scholar Lipinsky tried to reconstruct the entire inscription and proposed:
“On the X day of the month Y in the year Z of King Milkyaton, king of Kition and Idalion, son of Baalrom, this is the vessel (and the contents) that N son of NN (title) gave to his Lord, to Eshmun-Melqart (for he heard their voice); may he bless!”
The phrase 'for he heared their voice' is very interesting as similar expressions occur in Nabataean Aramaic inscriptions.

In the Cesnola collection deity Eshmun is always coupled with MLQRT. Now the worship of couples of deities is a known feature in Phoenician, Punic and Aramaic pantheons 1 which does not erase the fundamental question why these deities were associated. In fragment 74.51.2280 from this collection the names of Eshmun and Melqart are separated by the conjunction w and the preposition l. This indicates that these deities never merged but were at least homologous, being manifestations and/or epithets of a single deity.

The composite name Eshmun-Melqart associates this Kition deity with healing qualities, a warder-off of evils and victor over them. On coins from Kition Melqart is depicted advancing with a bow and club, a lion's skin hanging behind him. In many Cypriot sanctuaries statues of a smitting god waring lion-skin and brandishing a club can be found. He is characterized by a small lion that he is holding by the tail, while the animal is holding up its head as if to bite the god. This detail is typical of the Egyptian god Shed 'the savior' who was merged with Horus-the-Savior in the Late Period and appeared as Shed the Healer 'Sdrp' on the Syro-Phoenician Amrit Stela.

Examples from Kition Coinage
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Kition, Cyprus One-third Stater or tetrobol. Ballmelek I. ca 479-449 BC - Heracles standing right, wearing lionskin on his back, holding drawn bow / Lion standing right, winged solar disk ("mihir") above, ankh in lower right field, all within dotted border in incuse square.

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Kition, Cyprus AR One-third Stater. Ballmelek II, ca 425-400 BC. 3.68 g. Heracles-Melqart in fighting stance right, wearing lionskin on his back and tied around neck, wielding club in right hand and bow in extended left hand; monogram or ankh to right / Lion attacking stag crouching right;

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Kition, Cyprus, AR diobol, ca. 449-429 BC. 1.72g. Rudimentary figure of Heracles-Melqart advancing right, wielding club and holding bow / Lion bringing down a stag kneeling right, within dotted square

Summarized it is obvious that Kition's religion was strongly influenced by Egypt: Melqart-Heracles was depicted with symbols such as the ankh, a winged sundisk and symbols that are typical for Egyptian deity Shed 'the savior' or later Horus-the-Savior such as a club and a lionskin.

So is there material evidence that link the Kition depictions with Phoenicia?
There are many Phoenician Scarabs, popular amulets and impression seals originating in ancient Egypt, depicting Melqart-Hercules with the same themes. A few examples:

1) Walking, with lionskin, raised club, bow
The skin is usually knotted across the body with one or both paws hanging free. Exceptionally, the lion head hangs at his back. Most seem youthful.
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2) From Jerusalem:
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It seems that Melqart-Heracles was pretty popular in Jerusalem.

Amazing Blend of Heracles, Bes and Melqart
In Cyprus we find an amazing blend of Heracles, Bes and Melqart. Before discussing this blend a short introduction on Egyptian deity Bes. This Egyptian dwarf god was protector of households, pregnant women, and children. The primary role of Bes in Egyptian mythology was that of protector against snakes or scorpions and that's why he was sometimes depicted carrying the hieroglyph representing protection.

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Images of Bes appears on a wide and diverse array of objects such as amulets and scarabs during the Achaemenid Empire or the 'First Persian Empire' in western Anatolia and Greece. During the Phoenician era depictions of Bes appeared in the western Mediterranean and Carthage. During the Greco-Roman period Bes was a favored deity when moral teachings in ancient Egypt commanded respects for dwarfs and other individuals with disabilities.

In Greek mythology 'Heracles Daktylos' was the leader of the Daktyloi or Dactyls, five deamons who founded the Olympic Games and were appointed by Rhea to guard the infant god Zeus in a cave on Mount Ida in Krete (Crete). Here a form of Heracles attends the birth of infant Zeus and protects the young. A dwarfish form of Heracles suggests that Bes-Heracles corresponds to the figure of Heracles Daktylos. Both Heracles and Bes were well established in Phoenician cult on the mainland: Bes from the late second millennium and Heracles as Melqart from the main century on. Contact between the Greek and Phoenician worlds spurred the combination of Heracles, Melqart and Bes, all of whom are represented with a lion or conquering one.

Cyprus seems a natural place for this composite figure to emerge as Daktyl. Carved gems from the Archaic period, with antecedents as early as the bronze Age, show Bes blending with Melqart in scenes showing heroes or demons carrying an animal by its pows, and with gorgons and sileni, with whom he shares a mask-like face and apotropaic functions. Cypriot gems of the seventh and sixth centuries show the transition from Bes as Potnios Theron, the Master of Animals, into the Heracles-Melqart figure 4: He appears on these gems shouldering a lion or antelope, holding pairs of inverted animals, or arranged with antithetical beasts. On an agate amulet Bes faces front, holding two deer by the back legs, and two lions by the tail, while two snakes emerge from his hips. This Bes fused with the imagery of Heracles-Melqart conquering the lion of Nemea.

(Comment: images of Bes-Hercales are part of the Scyrig collection - not available on the public Internet).

So what do we have so far?
  • a clear Cypriote association of Melqart with Eshmun from Kition, indicating that both deities are either manifestations or epithets of the same deity.
  • On coins from Kition Melqart-Eshmun is depicted advancing with a bow and club, a lion's skin hanging behind him – a detail is typical of the Egyptian god Shed 'the savior' who was merged with Horus-the-Savior in the Late Period.
  • Cyprus produced blended depictions of Heracles, Egyptian deity Bes and Melqart(-Eshmun) as Bes fused with the imagery of Heracles-Melqart.
  • The composite name Eshmun-Melqart associates both deities with healing qualities
What do we need to research now?
First of all we have to understand why Bes was merged with Melqart-Eshmun in the Cypriote context. This should be fairly easy as both Bes and Eshmun have healing qualities so let's move over to Egypt to do some inquiries.

Egypt: A salve for your snake bite.
In Egypt goddess Isis, a great magician and wife of Osiris, gave birth to Horus in the marshes of the Nile Delta where they were hiding from Osiris's brother Seth. One day she found Horus gravely ill, perhaps stung by a scorpion or a snake. Thoth, the god of wisdom and writing came to Isis with a series of incantations that successfully healed Horus from the poison. These incantations likened the suffering of humans to that of the divine child; consequently, they were guaranteed to heal any person who had been bitten or stung, too.

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Magical stele Egyptian, Late Period, 26th–31st dynasty, c. 664–332 BCE. Limestone. Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Gerhardt Liebmann, 1991.642.

Objects like this magical stele were in use from the 18th dynasty (c. 1550–1295 BCE) through the Roman Period (30 BCE–395 CE), likely by members of all social classes. They vary in size from a few feet high to amulets small enough to be worn or carried around. Protruding from the top of the stele is the leonine face of the Bes.

For ancient Egyptians suffering from similar ailments, this promise of healing took physical form in objects such as this limestone magical stele, an example of what is called the Horus on the Crocodiles type. People would douse, dip, or rub these objects with water and then drink the water to cure their bites and stings. The liquid was believed to absorb the potency of the object’s texts and images, “filling the body” with curative magic.

On many magical Egyptian steles deity Bes is depicted together with deity Horus. On this type of limestone magical steles the head of deity Bes is a standard element on objects of this type and is always placed above the child Horus.

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Cippus of Horus with healing deity Bes, 664–30 B.C.The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Green stone Horus on the Crocodiles dating the the Ptolemaic period. Horus stands naked on a pair of Crocodiles and is holding four snakes, two scorpions, a lion and a gazelle (how dangerous was a gazelle). Bes is above Horus and is protecting the house and its children. The household would pour water over the piece and drink the water as a form of protection.

Summarized: whenever Bes was associated with another deity it symbolized healing qualities. So do Eshmun and Melqart have healing qualities? After all, they have been associated with Bes.

Heracles-Melqart
The blending of Heracles-Melqart with Bes and the composite name Eshmun-Melqart from Cyprus is a strong indicator that MLQRT should have healing capabilities. Unfortunately there are no contemporary textual sources from Phoenicia that describe these qualities. But as Melqart was identified with Greek Heracles, the Greek facade of this Tyrian deity, we can research if Heracles had some.

Throughout Greece there are many cults of Heracles. Scholar Walter Burkert attributes the number of these cults to the fact that there are so many versions of the twelve labors without an established chronology. As a consequence some Greeks worshiped Heracles as a hero and others as a god.

Herakles as a Protector (Kallinikos)
One of Heracles most popular epithets was the “Kallinikos” meaning “the triumphant”. Inscriptions of “Kallinikos” on several Greek buildings revere Herakles as a protector against evil spirits. Similar inscriptions were found on houses in Pompeii, Thasos and Egypt (CIL IV, 733): “Heracleis,” translated as “Heracles save us” and “Apotropaios,” translated as “averter of evil.”

Heracles as a Healer (Alexikakos)
Bearing the surname Alexikakos, Heracles enjoyed cults in Epidauros, Mantineia, and the Athenian deme Melite. “Alexikakos” means in general “the one who averts evil,” but Herakles-Alexikakos was specifically conceived as one of the deities preventing epidemics. And archaeological evidence from Athens confirms this: evidence of pervasive illness in the 420s BC is seen not only in the Kerameikos mass grave and increased burial activity generally, but also in religious monuments and architecture. In or near the Athenian Agora statues were erected to Apollo and Herakles in their role as “Alexikakos” – Averter of Evil. Claudius Aelianus wrote that Egyptians called the god Apollo "Horus" in their own language 1

Heracles as a healing hero and deity
According to Pausanias, a Greek traveler and geographer from the second century AD, Heracles discovered the medicinal waters at the healing shrine of Hippolytos in Troizen (Pausanias (2.32.4) and was explicitly worshiped in Lakonian Geronthraias a healing hero (see IG V 1119). Within the ranks of heroic healers, Heracles as potential cure bringer is unexpected but interesting: some of Heracles’ labors, such as the elimination of the Lernaean Hydra or the cleaning of Augeias’ stables, were already viewed in antiquity as allegorical references to the hygienic engineering feats of Heracles the cultural hero (see Philostr. VA 8.7.9). 2 During the Roman imperial period Hercules Salutaris, a Roman version of Heracles-Melqart became a significant healing deity both in Rome and it's western provinces.

There is a lot more to write about Pausanias’ story. His story connects Herakles Daktylos with a lithic form whose Phoenician resonances and healing powers recall Pythagoras’ initiation on Mount Ida at Crete, and whose animation, prophecy, and antiquity correspond to the historical type of the meteoric cult image or better: a sacred Baetylus from Phoenicia. By describing the statue as Egyptian, Pausanias suggests a Bes figure, whose lion’s skin and warrior attitude approximate Heracles. But this is very unlikely: although Egyptian deities Bes(et) and Tawaret both arrived at Minoan Create during the early 13th dynasty only a few seals referring to Bes(et) have been found.

As Create has no poisonous snakes Bes(et) never became popular which indicates that Pausanias' statue must linked to another Egyptian deity.

Phoenician Eshmun
Eshmun was a deity with healing capabilities with the main center of his cult in Phoenician Sidon. In a famous funerary inscription of Eshmunazor II: 'Eshmun has saved' and mentioned in the two series of Bodashtart's inscriptions (KAI 15–16), which record the restoration of the god's sanctuary, and in the inscription of the young prince Baalshillem (Textbook of Syrian Semitic Inscriptions, T III, no. 29). He was the most import deity of Sidon and wore the title "holy prince" (šr qdš ) of the city. The first epigraphical evidence for Eshmun is a treaty between Mati'el, the king of Arpad (North Syria) and Assurnirari V, king of Assyria, where Eshmun is mentioned in the group of the Syrian gods who warrant the treaty, together with Melqart. Both appear again in the treaty between Asarhaddon of Assyria and Baal of Tyre (675–670 bce):

“May Melqart and Eshmun deliver your land to destruction and your people to deportation; may they [uproot] you from your land and take away the food from your mouth, the clothes from your body and the oil for your anointing" (State Archives of Assyria II, 1988, no. 5, IV, 14–17, p. 27).“

Eshmun loves oil
The mentioning of oil is crucial for our analysis, for multiple reasons. First of all, the etymology of Eshmun clearly connects him with oil which had therapeutic and ritual (kingship ritual) so his name indicates that he is the 'one who oils' and thus the 'one who heals'. Secondly, in the Ebla archives (circa 2500 BC) the theophoric element sí-mi-nu/a referring to oil can be found and the rituals texts of Ugarit, an Amorite city, mention a god Šmn as a beneficiary of offerings.

It's obvious that Eshmun was a healing god. Found near the Sidon temple was a gold plaque of Eshmun showing him holding a staff in his right hand around which a serpent is entwined. A coin of the 3rd century CE from Beirut shows Eshmun standing between two serpents.

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Melita, Sicily, AE20 Sextans, ca. 220-218 BC. Head of Eshmun, caduceus before head (Greek symbol of healing god Hermes), Punic
According to scholar Lipinski and others Egyptian deity Bes should be identified with Eshmun, the Phoenician god of healing. Most evidence for his hypothesis comes from Bithia, Sardinia.

Update: So what have we learned now?
  • A clear Cypriote association of Melqart with Eshmun from Kition, indicating that both deities are either manifestations or epithets of the same deity.
  • On coins from Kition Melqart-Eshmun is depicted advancing with a bow and club, a lion's skin hanging behind him – a detail is typical of the Egyptian god Shed 'the savior' who was merged with Horus-the-Savior in the Late Period.
  • Cyprus produced blended depictions of Heracles, Egyptian deity Bes and Melqart(-Eshmun) as Bes fused with the imagery of Heracles-Melqart.
  • The composite name Eshmun-Melqart from Kition associates both deities with healing qualities
  • In Egypt people would douse, dip, or rub limestone magical stele objects to cure their bites and stings. Many of these objects depict Bes with a variant of Horus.
  • Heracles(-Melqart) is known as protector (Kallinikos) and healer (Alexikakos), was conceived as a deity preventing epidemics and explicitly worshiped in Lakonian Geronthraias a healing hero. His Roman equivalent Hercules Salutis became a significant healing deity.
  • Eshmun from Sidon is a healing deity.
Connecting MLQRT and Eshmun with Egyptian Horus
As previously noted Eshmun means the 'one that oils' and thus the 'one that heals'. But the question is of course?: what kind of oils? Well, Egyptian oils of course.

The Seven Sacred Oils
This term describes the oils known from both temple and tomb inscriptions spanning over 3,500 years that were used especially for their sacred perfumed anointing oils and unguents. Ancient Egyptians knew them as the seven varieties of Merhet, associating each sacred oil with a jar of a different shape. During the reign of female pharaoh Hatshepsut (1507–1458 BC) these oils were mentioned together for the first time:

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It is impossible to overstate the importance of the sacred oils for ancient Egyptians as they were deployed in worship of the Neteru, their gods and goddesses, the preparation for the afterlife and healing procedures.

The Seven Scared Oils as the Eye of Horus
These fragrant oils, often referred to in temple inscriptions as the “Eye of Horus”, evocative of the Egyptian concept of opening the spiritual “eye”, were considered an indispensable element of the temple foundation ceremonies, daily temple rituals and, most notably, the process of mummification.

A common motif in tombs of the late Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth Dynasties, the Kushite and Saite periods respectively of the Late Period, is the tomb-owner sitting on a chair with at least one of the jars containing the ‘seven sacred oils’ depicted beneath it (Pischikova 1994:66). Pischikova (1994:67-69) argues that the frequent depictions of the ‘seven sacred oils’ in Late Period tombs, especially placed under the tomb owner’s chair, where they had not been depicted before, cannot be accidental but must be connected with the symbolism of these oils, which has an ancient origin.

They are mentioned in the Pyramid Texts. PT 51a, 51c, 52a and 139 identify sacred oil as the emblem of the eye of Horus; PT 742b and 742c mention that oil was poured on the head of the deceased as it was placed on the head of Osiris by Horus; PT 52c and 53a indicate that the deceased being anointed with oil provided thephysical, as well as spiritual power for resurrection; and PT 51c indicates that a libation of oil secures the favour of the deities. It was by smelling the sacred oils, that the deceased was united with Osiris.

From the Pyramid texts:
Osiris Unas, I have filled for you your eye with oil. (Seti Heb) OIL
Osiris Unas, accept the foam that is from his face. (Hekhenu) OIL.
Osiris Unas, accept Horus’ eye, on which he caused the devastation. PINE (Sefet) OIL
Osiris Unas, accept Horus’ eye which he rejoined. “REJOINING” (Nekhen) OIL
Osiris Unas, accept Horus’ eye, with which he got the gods. “SUPPORT” (Tuat) OIL
Ointment, ointment, where should you be? You on Horus’ forehead, where should you be.
You were on Horus’ forehead, but I will put you on this Unas’ forehead. You shall make it pleasant for him, wearing you; you shall ankhify him, wearing you; you shall make him have control of his body; you shall put his ferocity in the eyes of all akhs who shall look at him and everyone who hears his name as well. FIRST CLASS CEDAR OIL (Hat-en-Ash)
Osiris Unas, I have gotten for you Horus’ eye which he acquired, to your forehead. FIRST CLASS LIBYAN OIL (Hat-en-Tjhenu)"
Early sources state that the anointing of the deceased entailed pouring of these oils on the head and upon areas of the body corresponding to their “seven souls”, assumed to be based upon the seven-fold proportion standard of the Egyptian bas-relief carvings of the human form (a fascinating correspondence with the seven Chakras of Hinduism).

Other rituals related to the Eye of Horus include the use of incense and represented, like the Egyptian concept ma'at, that what was sound and perfect. A Seti I inscription:
Take for thyself the Eye of Horus, pure for thee is the water which is in it ... thy incense is the incense of Horus, and vice versa. Mayest thou be established amongst thy brothers the gods.
Conclusion
Implicit evidence from textual sources such as the Pyramid inscriptions and those from Kition, depictions and iconography strongly indicates that both Eshmun and Melqart are variants of Horus, the eternal son of Osiris. If we compare Heracles-Melqart to Horus you find preciously what you expect: a role as protector, healer and linked with medicinal waters.

This implies that many other deities known from the first millennium are variants of Horus such as for instance Heracles, Roman Hercules or Apollo. If so, the entire history of the Near East needs to be rewritten. And wherever you find a variant of Horus Isis and Osiris should be near. Actually the infant Zeus is nursed by a form of Bes-Heracles thus Bes-Horus. Does that make Zeus a form of Osiris-Anubis?

In the next post we shall first track the 'Eye of Horus' in the Phoenician world – if Eshmun and Melqart are manifestations of Horus the so called 'Eye of Horus' is probably e one of the major symbols in Tyre and Sidon. After doing so, with probably a few side snacks, we return to Tyre in the Biblical context.
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Re: The Quran versus the Arab Oral Tradition

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The Horus Matrix
Introduction

Whilst researching the religion of Nabataean Petra it came as quite as a surprise that the main deity, Dhu Usir, is of Egyptian origin. Another Petraean deity, Ba'al Shamin or 'The Lord of Heaven', is also of Egyptian descent. The local pattern is too big to be ignored and is actually part of a much bigger one with Osirian religion spreading from London to Afghanistan in the century that would follow the founding of Petra. The main feature of Petraean and Osirian religion is the concept of resurrection – something that in the first century BC could be find in the entire Near East. So after all it was maybe not that surprising that 'The Lord of Heaven' was identified as Horus of Behdet.

When the city of Petra was founded the story of Horus of Behdet was at least 3000 years old and likely 4500 years old. His prominence should not be underestimated – basically every temple in ancient Egypt had a dedication to Horus of Behdet. During the Ptolemaic Kingdom and Roman period (this variant of) Horus became more popular than ever before. Even the seals of the Israelite kings wear the marks of Horus of Behdet: in 2009 archaeologists discovered a mark from the seal of biblical King Hezekiah with a circular inscription in Hebrew script ('Belonging to Hezekiah (son of) Ahaz king of Judah') which depicts a symbol of a two-winged sun and an ankh.

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Seal of king Hezekiah with inscription: 'Belonging to Hezekiah (son of) Ahaz king of Judah'
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Basically this early seal ties the god of the Israelites with Horus of Behdet which suggests that YWHW is a form of Horus. Such an association may invoke a lot of questions – isn't Horus, as many scholars describe, a son of Osiris and mostly venerated as a child god in the Late Period? To answer these kind of questions we first have take a closer look at the nature of Horus of Behdet.

So who was this Horus of Behdet?
Over the millennia of ancient Egypt Horus appeared in many forms – at least so it seems and Horus of Behdet was was of them. This form was locked in a perpetual battle with Seth and his army of darkness to make sure that the sun rose every morning. During the Late Period he was considered to be the husband of Hathor and the father of Hor-sema-tawy meaning 'Horus Uniter of the Two Lands'.

According to myth from Heliopolis it was discovered that Seth was plotting against Ra who sent his son, Horus. He flew into the sky in the form of a winged sun disc and attacked Ra’s enemies. Horus then chased the fleeing army and beheaded the leader (named as Set) before dragging him by the feet throughout Egypt.

We have learned now a couple of things: Horus has different roles in different cosmogonies (for instance Edfu versus Heliopolis) and his mortal enemy is Seth. The next question is if this kind of knowledge is useful and helps with the understanding of the development of Egyptian religion and it's influence over the Near East. The answer is not that much of course – a myth is nothing more then a snapshot of or a religious statement cooked up to explain why rituals, habits take place the way they do or why they changed. In ancient Egypt new myths appear when the capital moves or power shifts from one region to another.

The Horus Matrix
We choose another approach which we call the 'Horus Matrix'. The reason maybe obvious: Horus is the oldest known Egyptian deity who rose to prominence long before Egypt united around 3100 BC. In other words: Horus is Egypt's root god (probably with Seth – the god of the desert, who is probably just an another aspect of Horus), the original creator god who appeared over the millennia in many different forms. The question is if there are many aspects of Horus perhaps known under another name or epithet.

The Pyramid Texts (circa 2400 BC) which describes the cosmogony of Ra appear circa 2000 years after Horus is first attested and circa 1000 years after Ra ('sun') manifests himself. So what was the role of Ra before these texts introduced a new order at Heliopolis? If we look at iconography and depictions the only difference is that Ra is depicted preciously like Horus but with a sun disk. But then Horus is also depicted with a sun disk. The same applies to primary deity Khonsu ('traverser' ) who is depicted like Horus but with a moon disk. And then …. (you get the picture). The identification of Khonsu with Horus is confirmed by inscriptions form Efdu: “Khonsu is Horus”.

How do we explain these similarities? Ra and Khonsu start their career as nothing more then manifestations or aspects of the creator god Horus. Horus is the sky god and the sun (Ra) and moon (Khonsu) attributes of his creation. This approach or 'Horus Matrix' intends to reduce the complexity of Egyptian religion dramatically so we can easily explain the reach and influence of Egypt on other cultures, especially those of the Near East.

That starts with a list of events in chronological order - a return to the source so to speak. And a little gimmick....

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Re: The Quran versus the Arab Oral Tradition

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THE HORUS MATRIX
Part I: Horus: Origin of the Winged Sun disc

Introduction
In the teaser of the 'Horus Matrix' a Seal of Hezekiah depicting a two-winged sun and ankh was briefly discussed. According to the Hebrew Bible Hezekiah (H̱īzəqīyyahū) meaning 'Yahweh strengthens' was the son of Ahaz and the 13th king of Judah. His reign started at the end of the 8th century BC. According to ancient sources Hezekiah witnessed the destruction of the northern Kingdom of Israel by Sargon's Assyrians in c. 722 BCE and the siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib in 701 BCE. Now the main question is of course why a seal of Hezekiah would depict an Egyptian symbol. The importance of this question is further strengthened by the fact that the seal was discovered in a controlled environment (during excavations at Temple Mount in Jerusalem in 2009), that other seals belonging to Hezekiah from private collections show Egyptian dung beetles (the Egyptian symbol of renewal and rebirth) and seals from the northern kingdom of Israel depict a specific variant of the winged sun disk. But let's start with with the question: where and when did the first winged sun disk occur?

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Seal of king Hezekiah with inscription: 'Belonging to Hezekiah (son of) Ahaz king of Judah'. This 2,700-year-old seal impression bearing the name of the bible-era king Hezekiah was discovered during excavations at Temple Mount in Jerusalem in 2009.

The first winged sun disc
The earliest winged sun disk was found on the tomb of Hetepheres, whose tomb was discovered in 1925 on the Giza plateau. Hetepheres I was probably a (minor) wife of pharaoh Sneferu,[1] and the mother of King Khufu during the fourth dynasty. Her titles included King's Mother (mwt-niswt), Mother of the King of the Two Lands (mwt-niswt-biti), Attendant of Horus (ḫt-hrw). Other titles used during this period were 'She who sees Horus and Seth' and 'The mother of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, daughter of the god who sees Horus and Seth'. (Porter and Moss 1974 III(1): 136, Strudwick 2005: 381).

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The tomb of Hetepheres is dated to 2600 BC, circa 300 years before the Pyramid Texts appear. Indeed, sun deity Ra was becoming important but was not yet associated with the winged sun disk.

The first winged solar panel
The fist winged solar image was found in the inscription on a comb's body, as a winged solar panel dated to circa 3000 BC. Such winged solar panels were later found in the funeral picture of Pharaoh Sahure of the fifth dynasty. This symbol is also known as the symbol of Behdety who represented Horus of Edfu, later identified with Ra-Horakhty.

After 2000 BC the symbol of the winged sun had spread to the Near East and Mesopotamia.

Conclusion
The oldest reference to a winged sun is the symbol of Horus the Behedite (circa 3000 BC).
The oldest reference to a winged sun disk is the tomb of Hetepheres (2600 BC) who was known as 'Mother of the King of the Two Lands', 'Attendant of Horus', 'She who sees Horus and Seth'.

In the next episode we'll take a look at the Scarabaeus Sacer, another symbol of Hezekiah.

Further reading
The earliest winged sun disk, coffin of Hetepheres, 4th Dynasty. From plate 11a of G. A. Reisner and W. S. Smith, A History of the Giza Necropolis, vol. 2, The Tomb of Hetepheres the Mother of Cheops: A Study of Egyptian Civilization in the Old Kingdom (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1955).
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Re: The Quran versus the Arab Oral Tradition

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THE HORUS MATRIX
Part II: Tracing Judean iconography to Horus
Horus = One High, the Most High

Introduction
Actually there is a lot of research out there on Judean bullae and seals which has produced a lot of theories on why these symbols were used or were they originated. These bullae, stamps and selas come in differerent categories:
  • 1) Seals belonging to Judean kings or their direct servants (Hezekiah, Ahaz)
  • 2) Seals belonging to Judean officials
  • 3) LMLK seals ('to the king') or ancient Hebrew seals produced since the end of the 8th century and discovered mostly in and around Jerusalem. Some 2.000 impressions made by at least 21 seal types have been published. The iconography consists mainly of two and four winged symbols.
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Seal of Juden King Hezekiah with dung beetle.

These seals show the following symbols (in descending order): two winged symbols, four winged scarab beetle, sun disk, dung beetle, ankh. Some scholars associated these symbols with Egyptian deity Ra (sun). We shall not consider this consider this association as (1) from the start of the New Kingdom period Ra is fully integrated into the Horus cosmogony (of Edfu) as Horus Ra-Horakhty and (2) the originally Egyptian motif of the two winged sun disk and that of the scarab is traced, through Syria to Horus of Edfu.

Ra versus Horus
During the Judean period the status of Heliopolis and its cosmogony had declined and older ones regained their former status. In most nomes (regions) and especially in the norther delta and Upper-Egypt Horus reigned with Ra being nothing more than a side snack or aspect of Horus. A nice example is The Chapel of gods' Throne at Edfu, where the god Horus is depicted as "Horus Ra-Horakhty".



This form of Horus is the form that the falcon god takes when he becomes king of the gods after Ra abdicates in his favor. Indeed, according to Egyptian mythology from Edfu and other Horite cities, after having had Ra poisoned by a snake, Isis succeeded in forcing him to abdicate in favor of her son in exchange for a magical antidote. The design of the temple of Horus at Edfu speaks for itself:

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Origin of symbols
Scholar Tushingham traces the originally Egyptian motif of the scarab to Khepri. In the context of Heliopolis the dung beetle relates to Khepri, a scarab-faced god in ancient Egyptian religion who represents the rising or morning sun. There was no specific cult dedicated to Khepri as he was largely subordinate to the greater sun god Ra (sun). Tushingham argues that these symbols arrived at Judea through the Syrian cultural world from where it could have been transmitted to ancient israel and Judea, probably through via the Phoenicians in the ninth century BC.

Tushing shows that the tho-winged solar disk originated in Egypt as a symbol of Horus of Edfu (Horus the Behedite) but found its way to Srya where variations of the motif were adopted as emblems of kingship. The closest parallels to the winged sun disk are found on ivory plagues from Nimrud and on the Bar-Rakkab orthostat (squared stone block) both dated to the eight century BC. 1

An unprovenienced scaraboid type seal is engraved with a four-winged beetle pushing a solar ball – Nine bullae , small lumps of clay, with a similar motif were discovered at the palace of Samaria indicating that Judean motifs were also used in northern Israel. Even the Ammonites adopted the scarab as a royal motif.

There are primary sources form Egypt that support this theory:

On the ceiling of the Nectanebo naos at Edfu are carved two scarab beetles with falcon wings pushing sun disks with their front legs and holding shen-rings with their hind legs. Both of these winged beetles are named “The Behedite”.

Another inscription from Edfu describes Horys of Edfu as the 'noble winged beetle' who 'reveals' himself as 'the great winged disk':
“The Noble Winged Beetle ( ) when he appears in the Nun after he has crossed the sky as Horakhty . . . as he reveals himself in the sky-goddess between her thighs as the Great Winged Disk ( ) of gold, as he raises himself to the sky upon the arms of the two sisters of Behdet.”
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The relief detail above shows Ra-Horakhty at Abydos, crowned by a sun disk with a scarab beetle. The relief can be found on the north wall in the Chapel of Ra-Horachti, one of the seven chapels that are located directly west of the Second Hypostyle Hall of the Seti I Temple at Abydos. The detail in this picture is part of scene in which pharaoh Seti I lays his hand upon the god. It is one of the 36 episodes of the Daily Temple Ritual that are shown in the chapel.
Another inscription from Edfu:
“For the nose of the Lord of the Two Lands: Live Horus the Behdetite, the Great God, Lord of Mesen, the Great Winged Beetle”
From the Temple of Hathor in Dendera, :
“Horus the Behdetite, the Great God, Lord of the Sky as he transforms into a divine beetle in the morning”
On the ceiling of the Nectanebo naos at Edfu are carved two scarab beetles with falcon wings pushing sun disks with their front legs and holding shen-rings with their hind legs. Both of these winged beetles are named “The Behdetite”.

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Conclusion
Nevertheless the theory of Tushingham has some disadvantages. The distribution of these Egyptian symbols is rather complicated, first through Syria and then Phoenicia before being applied in Samaria and Judea. It does not explain why Horite motifs would be used in Judea or Samaria. So we need a religious link – how about the Lion of Judah?

Further reading:
A Royal Israelite Seal (?) and the Royal Jar Handle Stamps (Part Two), Tushingham, A. D. , Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research Year: 1971, Volume: 201, Pages: 23-35, The University of Chicago Press 1971

A.D. Tushingham, “God in a boat,” Australian Journal of Biblical Archaeology 1.4 (1971): 23-28
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Re: The Quran versus the Arab Oral Tradition

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THE HORUS MATRIX
Part III A: Linking the Lion of Judah to Horus
Horus = One High, the Most High

Introduction
The earliest paleo-Hebrew inscription is found on a clay seal impression from the 8th century BC and mentions Israelite King Jeroboam II. This clay seal was authenticated after years if laboratory testing under supervision of the Ben-Gurion University. The inscribed clay, known as a bullae, was purchased without provenance from a Bedouin antiquities merchant in the 1980s and is now thought to be from Jeroboam II’s 8th century BCE reign.

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Seal dating from Iron II, circa 700 BC, thought to be from Jeroboam II. 2,700-year-old clay sealing from a stamp from the Israelite King Jeroboam II in the 8th century BCE. (Dani Machlis/Ben Gurion University)
The roaring lion
The oval bullae is almost identical to a rare — and now lost — much larger jasper stone seal that was found in 1904 by an archaeological excavation at Tel Megiddo led by Gottlieb Schumacher. Both the remarkable lost seal and the newly authenticated seal impression are adorned by a roaring lion that stands with his tail raised, over which is a paleo-Hebrew inscription, “l’Shema eved Yerov’am” (Belonging to Shema the servant/minister of Jeroboam).

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The Lion of Judah on a Bezalel ceramic tile
The Lion of Judah
The Lion of Judah is known as the Jewish national and cultural symbol, traditionally regarded as the symbol of the Israelite tribe of Judah. The Hebrew Bible contains a large or even excessive amount of lion images associated with Yahweh – so much that in several texts Yahweh might well be described as a Lion God. In the Bible there are more than 150 references to the lion, many of them descriptive, metaphoric, and allegorical. This is shown by:
  • many lion metaphors for Yahweh
  • particular passages where lions are mentioned or associated with god
  • passages where the lion is a favorite or familiar of Yahweh
  • instances where Yahweh uses the lion as the punitive tool of choice
  • places where Yahweh exercises protective powers over Lions
The usage of lions in a Yahwist context finds its correlate in the comparative archeological record of the Near East and ancient Israel. When the widespread use of the lion of God in the Hebrew Bible is considered with this data it becomes even more obvious that this theological metaphor is reverved for the deity, Yahweh. There is no other Canaanite deity that is figured like a Lion like Yahweh – only Mot is associated with a lion but the evidence is scarce – where most others are associated with the bull. Actually most deities associated with lions are female deities in the Near Eastern context like Syrian Hathor, Isthar or Astarte.

Some storm gods are depicted with leonine composites - either the winged lion-griffin-eagle or the winged lion-dragon – and bulls. A deity like Baal-Seth is indeed depicted standing on a lion but there is also the lion-killing motif (see Cornelius, The Iconography of the Canaanite Gods Resehf and Ba'al, figures 3.9 and 4.216).

Conclusion
As the Hebrew Bible employs the lion metaphor exclusively with a deity in the male category we will search in the Egyptian realm for a related deity that is known as a Lion God, who is described as a roaring lion and depicted as a (roaring) lion and is associated with the winged sun disk and dung beetle.

Further reading
Jeroboam seal 1904: The Date of the Seal "Belonging to Shemaʿ (The) Servant (Of) Jeroboam", S. Yeivin , Journal of Near Eastern StudiesVolume 19, Number 3
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Re: The Quran versus the Arab Oral Tradition

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THE HORUS MATRIX
Part III B: The Four Winged Seal
Horus = One High, the Most High

Introduction
According to the tradition Judean King Hezekiah was a violent reformer and reputed destroyer of idols. It is then astonishing that his personal seals contain either the Egyptian dung beatle or sun disk, symbols of solar worship. As during his reign or short thereafter thousands of LMLK seal impressions with iconography consisting mainly of two and four winged symbols (occasionally depicted with dung beetle) the question rises where these symbols originate. The two-winged disk or dung beetle can be associated with Horus of Edfu (=Horus the Behdetite) but how about the four-winged variant?

The Hebrew Bible knows creatures known as the seraphs (Heb. seraphim) who have captured the imagination of artists for the better part of the last two thousand years. The noun saraph (the singular form of seraphim) may connote ‘snake’ or refer to snakes. In Numbers 21.6-9, Yahweh instructs Moses to make a saraph and place it on a pole so he makes a bronze winged snake (nachash hanechoshet) which he sets on a pole.

Outside the Hebrew Bible, winged snakes are attested across various regions and periods of the ancient Near East. Appearing in Egypt as early as the fourth millennium BCE, serpentine traditions permeate both the textual and iconographic records. For instance, the wingless form of the serpent, often in the form of the Egyptian cobra (Naja haje), is closely associated with the goddess Wadjet—the divine midwife. Frequently called the uraeus (Gr. ouraious) in scholarly circles, the Egyptian cobra is generally a protective agent or apotropaic figure in Egyptian lore. Such a protective function is exemplified in texts like the Prophecy of Nefer-Rohu, where the uraeus guards the king from treacherous tempters. (See Karen R. Joines, ‘The Bronze Serpent in the Israelite Cult’, JSOT 87 (1968), 412)

The oldest known four-winged serpent was found on the sarcophagus of Sety I (early thirteenth-century BCE) which displays a two-winged uraeus and a four-winged uraeus.

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When we shift to Israel and Judah during the ninth through seventh centuries, the winged uraeus frequents the iconographic record. In fact, the winged uraeus is second only to the winged scarab-beetle in popularity. What is also significant is that the winged uraeus is almost exclusively an Israelite and Judahite motif. In other words, Israel and Judah’s neighbors, Ammon, Moab, Edom, Aram, Phoenicia, etc., do not share the same preference for the motif when compared to Israel and Judah.

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Four-winged uraeus at the top of a tri-registral Hebrew seal (also note the stylized ankh on the left side the center register and the winged disk in the bottom); right, simple four-winged uraeus seal recently uncovered in Jerusalem Uraeus

The four-winged themed scarab was used in the Phoenician world as well.

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From the Oxford collection

There is even a four-winged version of Horus in the form of a gemstone (Agate) with a flower at either side (Munich 92125). Unfortunately there is no image on the public Internet available.

Pharao Thutmose III is associated with the four-winged serpent. He is often often regarded as the greatest of the rulers of ancient Egypt as this skilled warrior brought the Egyptian empire to the zenith of its power by conquering all of Syria, crossing the Euphrates to defeat the Mitannians, and penetrating south along the Nile River to Napata in the Sudan.

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Phoenician seal depicting a four-winged scarab, two human figures, and the throne name of Thutmose III

The importance of Thutmose III can not be underestimated. This pharaoh is often often regarded as the greatest of the rulers of ancient Egypt as this skilled warrior brought the Egyptian empire to the zenith of its power by conquering all of Syria, crossing the Euphrates (see Tigris-Euphrates river system) to defeat the Mitannians, and penetrating south along the Nile River to Napata in the Sudan.

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A limestone slab, discovered in Tell Hebwa or Tell Heboua in the north western part of the Sinai show two unique scenes showing Thutmose III and queen Hatshepsut making offerings to the mysterious Lord of Mesen and Lord of Tjaru.

Conclusion
The four-winged serpent or scarab is connected to majesty and acts as a symbol that guards the king from treacherous tempters. The oldest known winged serpents originate in Egypt was found on the sarcophagus of Sety I and can be dates to circa 1300 BC. During the Late Period the four-winged serpent or scarab was in the Phoenician world associated with Thutmose III and Horus.
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Re: The Quran versus the Arab Oral Tradition

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THE HORUS MATRIX
Part IV A: MLQRT, the Horus of Tyre
Horus = One High, the Most High


Introduction
In previous posts we have tried to link MLQRT of Tyre with Egyptian deity Amun as countless scarabs and amulets were found in ancient Israel and Phoenicia during the last centuries of the New Kingdom and earlies centuries of the Iron Age. This approach didn't really work as Amun was a political god whose popularity declined during the first millennia BC while the cult of Horus would spread from London to Afghanistan.

In previous posts MLQRT was linked to Horus and before continuing a summary of what was discovered so far:
  • Until the Graecofication of the Phoenician and Punic world depictions of MLQRT are rare: the aniconic iconography of Tyrian MLQRT as observed in Tyre, Gadez (Cadiz) and Tyre is continued at the Phoenician colony of Motya in Sicily until the city comes under Greek influence.
  • From the few early depictions of MLQRT we learn that he was depicted in different ways but that Egyptian art themes and symbols dominate. The most significant symbols are the Ankh or Egyptian Lotus flower as symbols of life, the w3s-scepter from Karnak/Thebes, the Egyptian uraeus (stylized, upright form of an Egyptian cobra, used as a symbol of sovereignty) and the sphinx. The ax from the Bar Hadad Stele may refer to a military role.
  • Through the work of Herodotus and the identification of Heracles with Khonsu-Horus MLQRT can be associated with Egypt. If Heracles is a Greek Facade for a Phoenician deity then MLQRT is the facade of an Egyptian deity.
  • Implicit evidence from textual sources such as the Pyramid inscriptions and those from Kition, depictions and iconography strongly indicates that both Eshmun and MLQRT are variants of Horus, the eternal son of Osiris. If we compare Heracles-MLQRT to Horus you find preciously what you expect: a role as protector, healer and linked with medicinal waters.
So far we haven't addressed the greatest mystery of MLQRT: his exegesis.

The exegesis of MLQRT
A Greek myth attributed to the fourth-century BCE author Eudoxos clearly describes both the death and rebirth of MLQRT, and the rebirth of the god is related directly to the savor of a burnt offering. Eudoxos attributes the origins of the practice of sacrificing quails to MLQRT to a myth about the death and rebirth of the god: MLQRT is killed by Typhon and then resuscitated by the smell of a sacrifice. The quotation of Eudoxos is the only sources to reference both the death and rebirth of the god in the same myth. Combined with the iconographical evidence from a Sidon vase, there is good reason to believe that MLQRT can be categorized as a dying and rising god.

Eudoxus of Cnidus (aprox. 410 - 355 BC)
Image

According to the testimony of Flavius Josephus, King Hiram I was the first to perform the egersis “awakening” of MLQRT in the month of Peritios (February-March) at Tyre. Pseudo-Clement of Rome records in the fourth-century CE that MLQRT was burned on a pyre and immortalized at Tyre. Epigraphical evidence attests to widespread knowledge of the egersis of MLQRT and the sacred marriage to Astarte in the ancient Mediterranean.

The Greek abstract noun egersis “awakening” used by historian Flavius Josephus to describe the rites of MLQRT is found in an agent noun form in the Amman inscription in the cultic title ἐγερσε[ίτην τοῦ] Ἡρακλέου[ς] “resuscitator of Heracles. In a parallel construction, the Semitic word mqm “to raise up” is used in the Phoenician formula mqm ’lm, “resuscitator of the god.”

According to scholar Cook, the Greek term ἐγερσείτην “resuscitator” and the parallel Semitic term mqm ’lm, “resuscitator of the god,” refer to a “sacerdotal function. The formula mqm ’lm is found earliest in the fourth-century BCE inscription from Larnaka-tès-Lapethou on Cyprus, the important Phoenician colony and “theatre of fusion” between Greek, Phoenician, and Egyptian gods.

Taking the syncretism between MLQRT and Heracles into account – as shown in the post about Kition - the Greek formula ἐγερσε[ίτην τοῦ] Ἡρακλέου[ς] “resuscitator of Herakles” is almost direct translation of the Phoenician formula, mqm ’lm ml(qr)t, “the resuscitator of the god MLQRT.”

Unfortunately there is no epigraphical evidence for the rites of egersis between the tenth-century BCE when they were allegedly established by Hiram I and the fourth-century BCE when the earliest inscription with this formula is found at Cyprus. Nevertheless, scholar Bonnet has argued that the concept of the “awakening” of the god is firmly rooted in the beliefs of the Semites from the second millennium BCE. This view may be supported by a sixth-century BCE Phoenician inscription from the Etruscan coastal city of Pyrgi that provides direct Phoenician evidence for cult practices related to the death of an unnamed god, who is most likely MLQRT.

The evidence for MLQRT’s rites is mapped onto the Tyrian trade and colonization network. In turn, this network supported a network of myths that were easily adaptable into Greek versions of Heracles.

MLQRT's festival of death and rebirth
MLQRT was the focus of a festival of resurrection or virtual rebirth each year in the month of Peritia (February-March) in which a sacrifice was made by fire or a figure of the god was ritually burnt. Hence, his other name was the 'fire of heaven'. So let's see if we can connect this to an Egyptian context. In ancient Egypt, fire could represent life and renewal. For instance, during his rejuvenating Heb-Sed festival, the pharaoh kindled a new fire that symbolized his magically renewed life. But we're searching in the context of Horus:

In Plutarch’s rendition of the Isis myth, Isis nurses the child of Queen Astarte during the day, but at night magically sets the child aflame, making him immortal. The Graeco-Egyptian magical papyri suggest an explanation for this fire magic Isis works on the queen’s son. The Charm of the Syrian Woman of Gadara says, “the most majestic Goddess’ child [Horus] was set aflame as an initiate.” Initiation is here seen as purification by fire so that the mortal parts of the initiate are burned away, allowing her or him to more fully understand the ways of the Deities.

Burning Horus Formula
Some scholars believe that this initiatory fire magic may have had its origins in Egyptian healing magic and what they call the “burning Horus” formula. This refers to an Egyptian convention that connects poisoning with fire. In the same way that the uraeus spits fire, when Horus is poisoned, he is also, in a sense, burned. Burn-healing formulae identify the sufferer with Horus and say that “a fire has fallen into” Horus, that is, the sufferer. They invoke Isis to put out the fire and heal the burn. The initiatory connection may come from the fact that the poison-burned Horus experiences near-death before being healed by Isis.
So the mythological mother of Horus, Isis/Hathor, uses fire as:
  • Nebet Neseret, the Lady of Flame, the fire-spitting uraeus cobra who instantly destroys her enemies
  • Magical cure where a (divine) child is set aflame to make it immortal.
This may relate to the 'burning Horus ' formula as Isis transfers her magical capabilities to her son Horus.

Whatever the case, Egyptian convention connects poisoning with fire, symbolized by the fire-spitting uraeus or cobra. Now let's connect MLQRT with the fire-spitting cobra:
  • Astarte, main goddess in Tyre and known as the 'Serpent Lady' or Ba'alat
  • Earliest depiction of Melqart with two uraeus on the Bar Hadad Stele.
  • On scarabs from Tharros Sardinia MLQRT is depicted with an uraeus attached to this atef crown. (See Yahweh Fighting from Heaven: God As Warrior & As God of Heaven in the Hebrew Psalter & Ancient Near Eastern Iconography, Martin Klingbeil, p 233-234)
  • Countless sun disks and uraeus friezes on for instance Phoenician naiskoi and Punic tophets.
Fire of Heaven
Another epithet of MLQRT is the 'Fire of Heaven'. If we search in the Horite mythology then almost any related deity has the capability to use fire (or flame) as a source of cure or destruction. For instance Horakhty or 'Horus of the Horizon' is depicted as a hierocephalic man, whose head is surmounted by a solar disk which is surrounded by a snake-uraeus in order to symbolize the destructive fire of the deity. The Eye of Horus is the flame that burns Seth (see txt P. BM 10252) or Horus uses the Serpent goddess of Buto to burn his enemies. '

Metadata
From Iron I the Tyrian colonization of the Mediterranean is in full swing and the cult of MLQRT spreads from Syria to the Atlantic Ocean. If, as implicit evidence from textual sources, depictions and iconography strongly indicates that Eshmun and MLQRT are variants of Horus, we may expect that deities such as for instance Bes, Horus, Hathor or Isis can be found wherever MLQRT is worshiped, together with depictions of uraei, cobra's and ankhs. Of course this pattern can be attested in the Phoenician and Punic world.

https://www.carc.ox.ac.uk/carc/gems/Sty ... carabs/Bes
https://www.beazley.ox.ac.uk/carc/gems/ ... rabs/Horus
https://www.beazley.ox.ac.uk/carc/gems/ ... rabs/Uraei
https://www.carc.ox.ac.uk/carc/gems/Sty ... d-adorants

Conclusion
MLQRT is a composite deity of multiple Horus variants.

This deity has been identified with Sumerian deity Nergal but the association of Heracles/MLQRT with Khonsui and Horus in Egypt and healing deity Eshmun in Cyprus makes this association extremely unlikely. Nergal brings the plague, Heracles/MLQRT/Eshmun cure it in the role as protector and healer. The forced identification with Nergal smells like fraud.

MLQRT is described as and categorized as a dying and rising god but there is no conclusive evidence. The egersis of MLQRT is described as a sacrifice made by fire or a figure of the god that was ritually burn.

MLQRT is directly associated with the fire-spitting cobra and/or uraeus. The precise origin of this association is unknown but may derive from Astarte/Serpent Lady, Horus the Younger or Horus of the Horizon or Isis, the mythological mother of Horus in the Heliopolite cosmogony.

Through this association MLQRT becomes the 'fire of heaven' who, uses it mostly in the role of protector or healer. Horus is the “solar child,” born in the heavenly Island of Fire after being conceived by flame.

The wide distribution of Egyptian iconography, symbolism and depictions of Horus related deities in places where MLQRT is worshiped (from the Atlantic coast to Syria) supports the identification of MLQRT as a composite form of Horus.

The translation of MLQRT as MELQART or 'King of the City' is very dubious – the translator uses Semitic grammar rules from Yemen and Akkad to explain a Phoenician shortening.
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