Drawing of a statue of a Canaanite goddess, original in the Louvre.

polytheism

Polytheists worship more than one god. Ancient Israel's neighbors were polytheists, and their is evidence of both idolatry and polytheism in the actual practice of Ancient Israel.

In a poly-theology different gods and goddesses specialize in different areas of life. So in Canaanite religion Mot (death) was god of the dry season and death, while Baal was a storm god and hence sought out to promise new growth. In a system with many gods there can be conflict. Baal had become king of the gods by defeating Yam (sea). However, each year Mot was thought to capture Baal and drag him down to the underworld, until his sister/wife Anat sought him and rescued him. Worshipers aided this process by mimicking Anat's mourning of dead Baal by cutting themselves with knives (cf. 1 Kgs 18:28).


This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos,

© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.