: Edomite deity Qos or Qāws
A profile of deity Qos/ Qāws
The former national Edomite deity, Qos or Qaus is not mentioned in the Biblical record. That's a bit strange as Idumea, a former Edomite territority just south of Jerusalem, was the center of Qos worship during the two centuries before BC. How can the Tanakh and Old Testament often be so specific but forget a monotheistic deity that's is worshiped a few miles south of the city of Jerusalem? After all, the Old Testament is all about the introduction of monotheism.
The Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu
The eqotation of Yahweh with Qos may be very old. The same Egyptian hieroglyphic texts that associate Yahweh with the nomadic Shasu tribes do describe various clan or common names on the temple of Karnak and Medinet Habu with the prefix or theophoric element qś
q-ś-r-a, q-ś-n-r-m, q-ś-r y-b-n, q-¾-i-ś-r and others.
These texts indicate to be associated with Edom. For instance the list of of Thutmosis III (1479–1425 BC) mentions toponym i-d-ma
which could be takes to mean Edom or even Idum(e)a
, the Edomite region just south of Jerusalem. So this would mean that the name Qos and even Edom are much older than previously thought.
The view of the Edomite deity that currently prevails in the field is that Qos, like Yahweh and the Canaanite Baal, was probably a local manifestation of the ancient Near Eastern storm-deity, specifically Hadad (Adad), who is often depicted as playing two major roles: warrior and bringer of fertility (See Knauf 1999a: 677; Dearman 1995: 126; Green 2003: 166–218, 275–280)
So what are the connections between Yahweh and Qos?
Early Israelite traditions preserve a vestigial glimpse at the origins of Yahweh. Deuteronomy 33:2 and Judges 5:4 (cf. Ps 68:8) preserve the potentially archaic notion that Yahweh came from Edom, i.e. that his mountain dwelling, Sinai, was located in Edom, or possibly northwestern Arabia where the name Kaws was followed by kuzah ̣ in order to define his specialty.” Thus the phrase qaus Quzah, “bow of Quzah,” became an Arabic idiom meaning “rainbow.” Etymologically, the idiom combines the name of the deity Qaus/Qos and the term quzah, which refers to a multicolored band.
Certain extrabiblical evidence may also bear witness to the southern origins of Yahweh. Three of the inscriptions from Kuntillet ‘Ajrud contain the words “YHWH of Teman,” which may indicate that Yahweh was revered in Edom, specifically in Teman (circa 10th century BC).
Egyptian toponyms that mention the Shasu Bedouin, who, as we have seen were in some way associated with Edom, contain the tantalizing words tЗ šЗsw yhw, “Yhw (perhaps to be read Ya-h-wi) in the land of Shasu.”
Yahweh, Qos and metallurgy
A more or less recent intriguing suggestion put forth for the origin of Yahwism by Nissim Amzallag is that Yahweh was originally an archaic god of metallurgy. Amzallag, building on the older Midianite/Kenite hypothesis, and based on certain clues in the biblical text, sees Yahweh as the patron deity of the metalworking peoples of the south—namely the Edomites, Midianites, and Kenites.
An intriguing, though admittedly problematic connection between Yahweh and Qos, comes in the chronicler’s account of David’s entry into Jerusalem with the Ark of the Covenant. The name Kushaiah (קושיהו (may be a combination of the theophoric elements qws and yhw, which could yield a translation of “Qos is Yahweh.”
Having put forth the theory that Yahweh and Qos were worshipped as one deity among the network of the tribal people of the northwestern Arabian Peninsula, people that would eventually become the inhabitants of Judah and Edom, two issues remain. First, it is important to understand how Yahweh became exclusive to Israel/Judah. Second, it is necessary to try to explain the silence of the biblical text on Qos worship among the Edomites.
Collective memory and amnesia of the biblical writers
It is evident, however, from the biblical literature that the Qos aspect of Yahweh was eventually lost, or perhaps censored, in the official religion of Judah. This process is described by Smith (2004: 124–158) as:
The phenomenon of collective memory and amnesia of the biblical writers, noting that, “The biblical tradition preserved the vestiges of the older religious situation, but forgot crucial aspects of it.”
This can be seen in the fact that nowhere in the biblical text is Qos mentioned in association with the Israelite Yahweh, nor is he mentioned in relation to Edom. This anomaly is perhaps due to developments within Israel but still stange. But nevertheless Qos ecurs in the Nabataean language in an inscription at Khirbet et-Tannur,where he is represented flanked by bulls, seated on a throne while wielding in his left hand a multi-pronged thunderbolt. Just like Dagan, Hadad, Yahweh, and Baal-Shamin.