The Canaanites

Between the basin of the Euphrates and Tigris and the Mediterranean rise the mountains of Syria, an elevated plateau which ascends gradually from the right bank of the Euphrates and descends steeply on the sea-coast. A peculiar depression, known as Hollow Syria,[477] divides this region in its entire length from north to south—from the Taurus to the N.E. point of the Red Sea, and separates the plateau into an eastern and a western half. The bed of the narrow valley reaches its greatest elevation in the neighbourhood of the city of Baalbec (Heliopolis). From this point the Orontes flows towards the north and irrigates the green gardens of Emesa and Hamath, till it turns westward and finds a way toward the sea at Antioch; the Leontes and the Jordan flow towards the south. Between steep walls of rock the Jordan hurries down the gorge, and passes in a rapid course through the lakes of Merom and Kinneroth (Gennesareth), which are formed by the streams from the mountains on either side. The deeper the bed of the valley the more valuable are the fruits growing in the tropic atmosphere. The country round Jericho, the city of palms, sheltered from the winds of the table-land and heated by the rays refracted from the walls of rock, produces grapes and figs for ten months in the year; its wealth in dates and balsam was rated high in antiquity.[478] The course of the Jordan ends in the Dead Sea, the surface of which is about 1,300 feet below the level of the Mediterranean.

Out of Hollow Syria rises on the east like a wall of rock the plateau of Aram,[479] in naked, wild, and broken ridges, which, in Antilibanus, the highest point, reaches 9,000 feet. On the back of the mountains we find at first green pastures overshadowed by forests of oak, but further towards the east the heights become bald and desolate, until the land, as it sinks towards the Euphrates, gradually assumes the character of the deserts, which are broken only by the fruitful depressions of Damascus, Hieropolis (Membidsh), and Tadmor (Palmyra).

On the west of the fissure the land is differently shaped. The coast is a narrow strip of land, which only extends into small plains at the mouths of the mountain streams; it is hot, moist, and unhealthy, but of great fertility. Soon the white and yellow limestone rocks of the mountains begin to rise. On these heights the air is purer and cooler, and terraces planted with myrtles and oleanders, with pines, fig-trees, and mulberries, alternate with vineyards. On the broad slopes of the loftier mountain ridges rise splendid forests of tamarisks, planes, cypresses and nut-trees, and above all magnificent cedars. Even now some trees are found here forty feet in girth and ninety feet in height.[480] Just in front of the highest ridges of rock lie green slopes, on which feed numerous flocks of black goats, disturbed by jackals, bears, and lions, dwelling in the desolate gorges. Between the mouth of the Orontes and the promontory of Carmel, which runs out far into the sea, this mountain wall, which stretches out to the sea, reaches its greatest height in the peaks of Libanus (over 10,000 feet) of which Tacitus remarks with astonishment that they retained the snow even in that hot climate.[481] Rising above the green pastures and forests, the cultivated and watered fields, this ridge with its white mantle of snow gives the appearance of a winter landscape above perpetual spring. Southward of Carmel the mountains become lower, and at the same time less precipitous and picturesque. The coast is broader and more sandy, flatter, and with fewer harbours. In the place of the steep ridges is a grassy depression (Esdraelon, Galilee), overtopped by one or two peaks only, like Tabor (1,700 feet). Then parallel ridges again form valleys, broad and fruitful and overshadowed by forests (Samaria), until the land between the Dead Sea and the coast assumes a severer and wilder character. There the table-land is rough and bare, the valleys are narrow and deep clefts, the soil is stony. From Libanus the eye looks out on the most various groups of wooded promontories and a smiling coast, but in Judæa the landscape exhibits none but severe and simple outlines. On the wide expanses only a few bushes of pale olives arise, or transparent groups of a few palm-trees. The grassy plains have made way for steppes or downs, and even the bed of the valleys is covered with fresh green only in the brief rainy season. The region round the Dead Sea is wholly desolate. Springs of sulphur and beds of bitumen point to a volcanic origin; the large proportion of salt contained in the water makes it impossible for fish to live in the lake, and the deposits of salt which cover the country round restrict the vegetation.

In contrast to the vast and uniform regions of the Tigris and Euphrates and Arabia, the western mountains of Syria exhibit change and variety. The narrowness of the coast forces the inhabitants upon the sea, the luxuriant fertility of the deeper valleys invites to cultivation of the land and the planting of vines and orchards, while the upland valleys and mountain slopes permit nothing but pastoral life, combined with a little agriculture. There is no central district from which these numerous and for the most part secluded mountain cantons can be brought into unity and governed. In the place of the uniform development of large masses of people we have here to expect a variety of modes of culture; in the place of one huge despotic kingdom, and the uniform movement of wandering tribes a more independent and unfettered development of small communities; sharp contrasts appear in the place of a general civilisation. At the same time these Syrian coasts by the sea and mountain air, by life on the ocean and among the hills, compensate to a great degree the enervating influences of the Eastern sun, and thus the elements are combined which are wont to keep fresh and vigorous the life and power of the inhabitants. As the sea attracted the inhabitants to distant regions, and trained upon its waves a mobile, enterprising, active population, so on the other hand did the severe formation of the hills and the seclusion of the valleys lead to a uniform unchanging mode of life and a desire to retain what was customary and traditional. The nearer these opposites approached each other the more energetic must have been their mutual operation, the more lively the process of intellectual life, and the more productive its results.

The mountain district extending on the west of the fissure from Mount Hermon and the sources of the Orontes southward as far as the desert which divides Syria from Egypt was by its inhabitants called Canaan. We met with this name already in the inscriptions of Sethos I. It means lower land, and has obviously been transferred from the coast to the interior. Among the Greeks the southern strip of coast was named Palæstina, after the Philistines (the Pelishtim) who possessed it; the northern part, from Carmel to the Eleutherus (Nahr-el-Kebir) was Phenicia; among the Egyptians the coast was known as Kaft; the tribes of the interior, and more especially those of Northern Syria, were known as Retennu.[482]

The oldest information about these districts which has come down to us is contained in the statements about the campaigns which Kudur-Lagamer and Kudur-Mabuk of Elam are said to have undertaken against Syria. If we might regard the kings of Elam, who extended their power over Babylonia, and then forced their way to Syria, as belonging to the fourth dynasty of Berosus, the campaign of Kudur-Lagamer and Kudur-Mabuk could be placed about the year 2000 B.C. When Babylonia under Sarrukin and Hammurabi shook off the supremacy of Elam, Sarrukin is said to have advanced towards Syria as far as the "Western Sea". Three centuries later Syria was attacked from the western or opposite side. As soon as the kings of Upper Egypt had succeeded in expelling the Hyksos from the land, they carried their arms towards Syria, and in these campaigns repeatedly touched the Euphrates. In the times of Tuthmosis I. (1646-1625 B.C.) we are told that he traversed Syria towards the north, advanced as far as the Euphrates, and set up a column there. Tuthmosis III. (1591-1565 B.C.) marched seven times against Syria; in the fourth campaign (1580 B.C.) he reached and crossed the Euphrates; then he appears to have advanced through Mesopotamia as far as the Tigris, and to have collected tribute there.[483] More than one hundred and fifty years later Sethos I. (1439-1388 B.C.) fought against the Schasu, i. e. the Shepherds, "who extend as far as Canana," the Cheta (Hittites), and the Retennu, i. e. the Syrians. Ramses II. (1388-1322 B.C.) invaded the land of Kaft, and caused memorials of his victories to be engraved upon the rocks at Nahr-el-Kelb, in the neighbourhood of Berytus, fought against the Hittites and their allies from the Euphrates, the prince of Karchemish, and then concluded peace and entered into friendship with the prince of the Cheta. The campaigns of Ramses III. (1269-1244 B.C.) were also directed against the Schasu, the Cheta, whose prince he took alive, the Amari (the Amorites) and the Pulista (the Philistines, p. 164 ).

The inscriptions of these Pharaohs prove that the tribes of Syria, even as early as the sixteenth century B.C., had arrived not only at a settled mode of life, but at a vigorous trade and a civilisation far from contemptible. The princes of Syria met Tuthmosis III. with numerous war-chariots, of which in the battle of Megiddo they lost 924. If Tuthmosis can mention 107 cities from Hamath in the north to Gaza in the south which he had subjugated, the population must have been already more numerous and the land more thickly inhabited. The names quoted prove that Gaza (Kazatu), Damascus (Tamesku), Hamath (Hamtu), Joppa (Japu), Berothai (Berytus), Kades (Kadeshu), Ashtaroth Karnaim (Astartu), and many cities frequently mentioned at a later date, were already in existence: several of them are represented to us on the monuments of the Pharaohs, as situated on heights and surrounded by strong walls.

The tribute received by Tuthmosis III. from Syria is sufficient evidence that the valleys of Canaan were well cultivated, that extensive trade relations had already been formed, and that metals were in use to a considerable amount. Syria contributed to Tuthmosis not wine only, honey and dates, but also considerable quantities of spices. The Retennu contributed at one time 1,718 minæ of sweet wine. The Hittites contributed 8 silver rings, weighing in all 301 Egyptian pounds, and 93 Egyptian pounds of gold; the Retennu paid 40 bars, and afterwards 80 bars (bricks) of iron; on one occasion they contributed 761 Egyptian pounds, and in another year 1,495 pounds of silver and 55 pounds of gold.[484] It was remarked above that these tributes also prove that the measures and weights of Babylon were already in use in Syria at that time.

The monuments of the Pharaohs also prove that the land was divided into independent districts, governed by hereditary princes. The leading and most powerful tribe at the time of the Ramessids was that of the Hittites in the south of Canaan. In the fourteenth century B.C. this tribe, with its confederates, could place 2,500 war chariots in the field. We have already seen that the king of the Hittites, the son of Maursar and grandson of Sepalulu, entered into an alliance and compact with Rameses II., as one power with another. In the records of the Egyptians the court and army of the Hittites are found well arranged. Generals of the cavalry, masters of the horse, and scribes are mentioned, and the sculptures of the Pharaohs exhibit the Hittites in their chariots in magnificent clothing and armour. The inscriptions of Rameses II. mention Baal and Astarte as gods of the Hittites—deities which we have already found at Babylon under the names of Bel and Istar. We have less information of the land of Kaft, of the Amari, and finally of the Pulista, who are first mentioned under Rameses III., and of the tribes of the Retennu to the north of the Cheta. As was remarked above, the Pharaohs did not succeed in establishing a lasting supremacy over Syria. Even Tuthmosis III., who achieved the greatest successes, did no more than force the Syrian princes to pay him tribute for a short series of years.

Thus the beginnings of settled life, of agriculture, of cities and trade in Canaan cannot be placed later than the year 2,000 B.C., and this result is confirmed by the tradition of the Hebrews. According to Genesis, Ham, the second son of Noah, begat Canaan, and Canaan begat Sidon, his firstborn, and Heth, and Amori, and Hivi, and Arvadi, and Hamathi, and afterwards the families of the Canaanites were spread abroad.[485]Hence, with the Hebrews, the Sidonians passed for the oldest Canaanites. The name means Fishcatcher, and a tribe limited to a narrow strip of coast may soon have betaken themselves to the sea. The primogeniture of the Sidonians was afterwards explained to mean that the origin of their city, Sidon, belonged to the oldest period. That the second city of this tribe, Sor (Tyre), "the daughter of Sidon,"[486] was proud of her great antiquity, we learn from other sources. When Herodotus was there, and inquired about the erection of the most sacred temple in the city, the temple of Melkarth, he received the answer that this shrine had been built, together with the city, about 2,300 years before his time, i.e. about the year 2,750 B.C. Lucian also assures us that the temples of Phenicia and the temple of Melkarth at Tyre were founded not much later than the oldest Egyptian temples.[487]

Northward of Sidon, at the mouths of the Nahr Ibrahim and the Nahr-el-Kelb (Adonis and Lycus), was settled the tribe of the Giblites, i. e. the mountaineers, whose cities were Gebal (Byblus) and Berothai (Berytus). Byblus claimed to be the oldest city in the land—older than Sidon—and to have been built by El, the supreme deity. At any rate, as we have already seen, it was in existence at the time of Tuthmosis III., whose inscriptions also mention the city of a third tribe, that of Arvadi, i. e. the Arvadites, whom the Hebrews mention among the sons of Canaan. This tribe was in possession of a considerable district to the north of Byblus, on the mouth of the Nahr-el-Kebir (Eleutherus), and of a rocky island off the coast, on which lay their city Arvad, the Aratu of the Egyptians, the Aradus of the Greeks.

The tradition of the Hebrews derived the Hittites from Heth, the second son of Canaan. The centre of their land, which stretched from the coast to the Jordan, was formed by the bare and stony mountains round Hebron. Here, according to Hebrew story, giants once dwelt—the Anakim—whose father and chief was Arba; after this prince, Hebron was formerly called Kirjath-Arba. To this city also the Hebrews ascribe a great antiquity; it was built seven years earlier than Zoan (Tanis) in Egypt.[488] We do not know the date of the building of Zoan, but the name occurs as early as the inscriptions of Sesurtesen I., whose reign we must place about the year 2,350 B.C.[489] With the Hittites of Hebron the Hebrew Scriptures represent their own forefathers as living in peaceful and friendly intercourse in the century 2100-2000 B.C. We have already seen what a sustained resistance the disciplined forces of the princes of the Hittites were able to make against the attacks of Egypt for two centuries—from the middle of the fifteenth to the middle of the thirteenth century B.C. War against the Cheta is a standing item in the inscriptions of the Ramessids.

Northward of the Hittites lay the tribes which the tradition of the Hebrews derives from Hivi and Amori, the younger sons of Canaan, the Hivites and Amorites—the former in the beautiful mountain valleys round Gibeon and Sichem, northwards as far as Mount Hermon; the latter, a numerous and powerful tribe, outside the land of Canaan, north-east of Jordan, from the Jabbok in the south to Hermon in the north.[490] The Amorites, as we may venture to assume, were the Amari of Egyptian inscriptions. Furthest to the north, in the valley of the Orontes, were the Hamathites, whom the Hebrews also reckon among the sons of Canaan.

On the other hand, the Damascenes, the northern neighbours of the Amorites, whose city is mentioned by the Egyptians with Hamath as early as the sixteenth century, and who in the ninth and eighth centuries B.C.were the centre of the most powerful community in the Syrian interior, were not reckoned by the Hebrews among the sons of Canaan; and the inscriptions of the Assyrians also place the Damascenes among the Arimi, i. e. Aramaeens. Nor are the old inhabitants of the valley of the Jordan included by Hebrew tradition among the Canaanites, which is here associated with the principalities of Sodom and Gomorrah, of Adamah, Zeboim, and Zoar, and the names of the princes who once fought against Kedor Laomer in the valley of Siddim. But Jehovah caused fire and brimstone to rain upon Sodom and Gomorrah owing to the sins of the inhabitants, and destroyed these cities and the whole region. The Philistines also, whom we find in possession of the coast from Gaza in the south to Carmel in the north, were not counted by the Hebrews among the sons of Canaan. It has been remarked that the name occurs for the first time in Egyptian inscriptions in the first half of the thirteenth century B.C. The Hebrews tell us that the Philistines marched from Caphtor and overcame the Avites, who dwell "in villages as far as Gaza." By Caphtor we should probably understand the eastern sea coast of Egypt, the north-east of the Delta, where a Semitic population may have established itself firmly from the time of the Hyksos, and may have been able to maintain themselves after their expulsion. Yet there is nothing to contradict the assumption that, at the time of their expulsion by Amosis and the Tuthmosis, a part of the Hyksos turned towards Syria, and that the Philistines were sprung from these. We may remember that Manetho terms the Hyksos Phenicians, or kinsmen of the Phenicians, and tells us that they retired in the direction of Syria, and Herodotus represents the shepherd Philitis as pasturing his flocks at Memphis.[491] In the eleventh century B.C. we find the Philistines under the dominion of the princes of the cities of Gaza, Ascalon, Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron. The princes had their palaces; the cities were protected by walls and towers, and possessed extensive temples, in which were images of wood and iron, and rich offerings. The five cities formed a federation, their princes (Seranim) sat in a common council, led out their armies in common, and in common offered thankofferings for the victories won. They could bring into the field a splendid army of chariots, horsemen, heavy-armed soldiers, and bowmen; the soldiers were divided into troops of hundreds and thousands.[492]

Towards the middle of the thirteenth century a considerable alteration took place in the interior of Canaan, between the coast of the Philistines and the valley of the Jordan. The Amorites advanced towards the south over the Jabbok, and subjugated the Moabites, who dwelt in this district to the east of the Dead Sea, as far as the Arnon. They spread westwards over the Jordan, and overthrew the ancient federation of the Hittites. These were either subjugated or driven out; only in some mountain cantons did the Hittites maintain themselves. In their place the Amorites ruled between the coast and the Dead Sea, and this district was now known as the "Mountain of the Amorites."[493]

Northwards also the Amorites pressed forward against the Hittites, and took possession of their land as far as Lake Merom.[494] It was only in Gibeon and the surrounding districts that the Hivites held their own;[495]and all the Hittites and Hivites who refused subjugation and slavery were compelled to retire to the coast. It must have been a heavy blow that could shatter the power of the Hittites; while the collection of a numerous population on the coast, which was caused by the new supremacy of the Amorites, was in its turn of important consequence for the cities of Phenicia. But the new masters of the southern land did not form a consolidated power, like the Hittites before them; they were broken up into separate tribes, so that among them, and the remnants of the Hittites and Hivites, there were about thirty small principalities. The ancient power of the Hittites must have been important enough to leave behind a very lasting impression. The Book of Joshua uses the expression "land of the Hittites," for the whole region from the sea to the Euphrates, andthe Assyrian inscriptions of the ninth, eighth, and seventh centuries include beside the land of Arimi, i. e. of the Aramæans the whole of Canaan from Hamath to the sea and southwards as far as Egypt, under the name of the "land of Chatti."[496]


[477]Strabo, p. 756. "It is true that the whole land from Seleucis to Egypt and Arabia is also called Hollow Syria, but strictly speaking the name is given only to the land between Libanus and Antilibanus."

[478]Strabo, p. 763.

[479]Genesis xxxi. 20-24; Strabo, pp. 627, 784.

[480]Lepsius, "Briefe," s. 396.

[481]Tacit. "Histor." 5, 6.

[482]Ebers, "Ægypten und die Bücher Mose's," s. 131 ff.

[483]De Rougé, "Annales de Toutmes;" cf. supra  p. 136.

[484]Brandis, "Münzwesen," s. 80, 92.

[485]Genesis x. 15-19.

[486]Isaiah xxiii. 3; Justin, 18, 3.

[487]Herod. 2, 34; Lucian, "De dea Syria," 2, 3.

[488]Judges i. 10; Joshua xiv. 12, 15; xv. 13, 14; Numbers xiii. 23.

[489]Ebers, "Ægypten," s. 188.

[490]Genesis xv. 16; xxxiv. 2; Joshua iii. 10; xi. 3; Jud. iii. 3.

[491]Gen. x. 13, 14; Amos ix. 7; Deut. ii. 23; Jeremiah xlvii. 4; Stark, "Gaza," s. 104 ff. Ebers explains Kaphtor by Kaft-uri. e. Great Kaft, Great Phenicia. To Ai-Kaphtor the Egyptian Aa-Kaft, i. e. island and coast land, curved coast land would correspond.—"Ægypten," s. 131 ff.

[492]Stark, "Gaza," s. 132-136, 318 ff.

[493]Deut. i. 7, 20, 44; Joshua x. 5, 6; xi. 3. The Jebusites who possessed the Jerusalem of later times were a tribe of the Amorites. They and their king are expressly mentioned as Amorites.

[494]In the book of Joshua, as well as in the prophet Amos, it is the Amorites whom the Hebrews have to contend against, mingled with scanty remnants of the Hittites and Hivites. Besides this, the advance of the Amorites against the Moabites is sufficiently proved (vide  Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), and the migration of the Hittites by their settlement in Cyprus.

[495]Joshua ix. 7, 10.

[496]Joshua i. 4; Schrader, "Keilsch. und Alt. Test," s. 30.

The Religious Rites of the Canaanites

Our knowledge of the religious conceptions of the Canaanites consists of scattered and meagre statements. Yet these statements are enough to show with certainty that the ideas of the Syrians about the powers of Heaven rested on the same basis as the worship of the Babylonians. But the sensual and lascivious side of this worship, no less than the cruel and bloody side, is more strongly and broadly developed in Syria than in Babylonia, while, on the other hand, the complete development of the star-worship, as we found it on the lower Euphrates, is unknown in Syria. The gods who were regarded as alien and hostile to natural life were worshipped by the Canaanites with severe abstinence and harsh asceticism, with self-mutilation and human sacrifices; while the deities of procreation and birth, who were considered favourable to life, were worshipped with the most shameless prostitution and the most unbridled debauchery. Indeed these rites, distinguished by sensual excess and bloody asceticism, were united by that mysterious link which in the human breast brings debauchery and pain into close connection; and hence this worship is a true copy of the Semitic mode of feeling, which wavers between luxurious enjoyment and fanatical destruction, between cringing servility and stiff-necked obstinacy, between effeminate retirement in the harem, and bold achievements in the battle-field.

The Phenicians are said to have possessed sacred scriptures of very great antiquity. In Babylonia we found a city to which the sacred scriptures were specially allotted, Sepharvaim on the Euphrates; in Canaan, Debir, in the neighbourhood of Hebron, was at one time called Kiriath Sepher, i. e. "city of scriptures." The scriptures of the Phenicians are said to be derived from Esmun one of their gods, or from a series of hierophants, Thabion, Isiris, Sanchuniathon and Mochus. According to the evidence of Poseidonius, Mochus lived before the Trojan war.[497] Sanchuniathon also, a Sidonian according to some, according to others a Syrian, and to others a Berytean, is said to have lived before or during the time of the Trojan war. He is said to have collected his writings from the archives of the Phenician cities, from the records in the temples, and a document of Hierombal which had been placed by the latter before Abelbaal, king of Berytus, and had met with approval, and it is maintained from the catalogue of the Phenician kings that Hierombal and Sanchuniathon lived before the Trojan war.[498] Of the writings of Sanchuniathon, Philo of Byblus, who wrote in the first half of the second century, B.C., is said to have given a Greek translation in his History of the Phenicians. Of this supposed translation of a supposed original, discovered after much research by Philo, besides which he pretended to have made use of the sacred scriptures of the Egyptians, the Books of Thoth, some excerpts and fragments have come down to us. Scanty and unconnected as these are, they show us at once that Philo, whatever his original may have been, was far removed from any mere repetition of old religious views, that the syncretistic culture of his time had exercised a strong influence on his own ideas, and that his whole point of view belongs to that kind of enlightenment which pretended to find in the gods a number of deified kings, who had once ruled over the land in ancient days. Yet Philo also allowed that, over and above these, the sun, moon, planets, and certain elements were worshipped as gods.[499]

Following the cosmogonic systems, as they may have been drawn out with greater definiteness after the Hellenistic period, Philo assumes as the beginning of all things an obscure and moving atmosphere, and a dark and melancholy chaos. When the wind of his Beginning felt the yearning of love, a mixture took place, and this combination was named Desire. Desire is the beginning of all things. From the union of the wind with itself arose Mot, which some explain as mud, others as putrefaction of a watery mixture. Out of this arose the seeds of all and the origin of all things. Mot was fashioned after the form of an egg. "And then shone forth the sun and moon, and the great constellations. As the air now sent forth a fiery glow, winds and clouds arose from the kindling of the sea and the earth, and vast tempests of rain streamed down; and when all this dashed together, there followed thunderings and lightning, by which the creatures were awaked, and on the earth and in the sea the male and the female elements began to move.[500] And from the wind Kolpia and his wife Baau, which means night, Aeon and Protogonus, mortal men, were begotten. Aeon discovered the nourishment obtained from trees. And Aeon and Protogonus begot Genos and Genea, who dwelt in Phœnicia; and when the fierce heat came they stretched out their hands to the sky and the sun. As they regarded the sun as the only lord of the sky, they called him Belsamen, which among the Phenicians means lord of the sky, and among the Greeks Zeus." But Aeon and Protogonus had also begotten children, called by the names of Phos (light), Pyr (fire), and Phlox (flame). These discovered fire by rubbing two pieces of wood together, and taught the use of fire, and begot children who surpassed all others in size and stature. The names of these giants were given to the mountains of which they possessed themselves, to Casius, Libanus, Anti-libanus, and Brathy (Tabor?). The giants begot Samemrumus, who is also called Hypsuranius, and Usous. These made a traffic of their mothers, for it was the custom in those days for the women to associate with any one. Samemrumus lived at Tyre, and discovered the art of making huts out of reeds and sedge, while Usous invented clothing made of the skins of the beasts which he knew how to slay. Samemrumus rebelled against Usous, but the latter took a tree and divested it of the branches, and was the first who went on board a vessel. Then he dedicated two pillars to the fire and the wind, and offered to these the blood of the beasts which he had taken. When the brothers were dead, prayers were offered to the pillars, and each year a festival was celebrated in honour of them. And for a long time afterwards Agreus (the hunter) was among the descendants of Usous, and Halieus (the fisher) among those of Samemrumus. From these sprung two brothers, of whom the one was Chusor, i. e. Hephaestus, who discovered the working of iron, and the other, who invented the fish-hook and was the first navigator, was named Zeus Meilichius;[501]and the two together discovered the building of walls by bricks. From these came Agros (the field), and Agrotes (the husbandman), who was worshipped in Phœnicia as a god, and was called the greatest god in Byblus. From these sprung Misor and Sydyk; from Sydyk came the Cabiri, who invented the ship.

About this time Eljon, named "the Highest," was born, and a woman of the name of Beruth; and these two dwelt at Byblus. They begot Uranus and Ge, and when "the Highest" fell in conflict with wild beasts, he was worshipped by his children as a god with libation and sacrifices. But Uranus succeeded his father in the kingdom, and took his sister Ge to wife, and with her begot El, who is also called Cronus, Dagon, who, after discovering corn and the plough, was called Zeus Arotrius, and Atlas. But as Uranus begot children with other women, El, when he was grown up, determined to revenge the slight put upon his mother. He provided himself with a sickle and a lance of iron, attacked Uranus, drove him from his throne, expelled him from the land, and took the kingdom for himself. He surrounded his house with a wall, and built Byblus, the first city of the Phenicians. His brother Atlas, whom he suspected, he threw into the abyss, and covered him with earth; his son he slew with the sword, and cut off his daughter's head. When in the thirty-second year of his reign he had laid an ambush for his father Uranus in the interior of the land, and in this way had got him into his power, he cut off his genitals, close by some springs and rivers. The blood flowed into these springs and streams, and this place became sacred, and is shown even at the present day. At the wish of El, "Astarte the Great," the daughter of Uranus, and Zeus Demarus, the son of Uranus by a concubine, and Adodus "the king of the gods," ruled over the land. As a symbol of her supremacy, Astarte placed the head of an ox on her own head, and when she had wandered over the whole earth she found a star fallen from heaven, took it, and dedicated it at Tyre on the sacred island. But when a pestilence came, and a mortality, El burnt his only son in royal robes as a sacrifice to Uranus on the altar which he had erected, and circumcised himself and forced his comrades to do the same. The city of Byblus he handed over to the goddess Baaltis, Berytus to the sea-god, to the Cabiri, and to the descendants of Agrotes (the husbandman) and of Halieus (the fisher), and when El came into the land of the South, he gave all Egypt over to Taauthus to be a royal habitation for him. To El, after his death, was consecrated the star named after him.[502]

We should indeed be in an evil case if we were restricted for our knowledge of Canaanitish rites to these fragments, which carry so plainly on the front of them their late origin, their fictitious genealogical combinations, into which the gods are brought, their over-subtle Euhemerism, and their mixture with Greek and Egyptian ideas. That threads of various systems of cosmogony intertwine and cross each other in these fragments is proved by the derivation of the origin of the world, first from the wind, and next from chaos, and then from Kolpia and Baau, and by the repetition even to the third time of the discovery of hunting, agriculture, and navigation. Happily there are other sources of information which allow us to bring the statements of Philo into some sort of order, and to supplement them in very essential points. We saw that the highest god of the Babylonians was El. If Philo tells us that the star known by his name, i. e. the planet Saturn, was consecrated to king El after his death, and if this king allows Astarte, Demarus, and even Adodus, the king of the gods, to rule after his death,—if he apportions cities and provinces to Baaltis and the Cabiri,—it becomes clear enough that for the Canaanites also El was the ruling god, and that in Syria also the planet Saturn belonged to him. But from the contest of El with Uranus, i. e. with the sky-god, in Philo, we may also with certainty conclude, that among the Canaanites also the highest place was allotted to Baal-Samim, i. e. to the lord of the sky, as Philo rightly explains that name; Philo denotes him as the god worshipped by the earliest generations of mankind. Among the Greeks also there was a myth, borrowed no doubt from the East, that Zeus (Baal) had once striven with El-Cronus.[503] As the god of Saturn, the El of the Canaanites would have to be placed beside the Adar of the Eastern Semitic nations. The inscriptions of Ramses II. have already mentioned Baal as the god of the Cheta. We also saw that the nomads of the peninsula of Sinai consecrated their highest mountain summit to the god of this name. The Moabites invoked Baal on Mount Peor. In Canaan also the mountain summits were sacred to this deity; in the south of the land the lonely peak of Casius on the Serbonian lake, then Carmel, Tabor, and Hermon. The Philistines worshipped him at Ekron; the names of numerous places in Canaan,—Baal Hamon, Baal Hazor, Baal Meon, Baal Gad, Baal Perazim, Baal Tamar, Baalath, Baalbec, &c.,—give us sufficient proof of the widespread worship of Baal in Canaan. We shall not go wrong if we regard him as the deity of the beneficent operation of the sun. If El cuts off the genitals of Uranus, i. e. of Baal-Samim, and the blood flows into the springs and streams, the meaning of the myth is without doubt that the beneficent god has imparted his life-giving, creating power to the fertilising water. Among the Phenicians springs and streams were sacred. The Carthaginian Hannibal swore to his compact with Philip king of Macedonia before "the rivers, meadows, and waters," and the Zeus Demarus of Philo must be explained as Baal Tamar, i. e. Baal in the procreative power. Northward of Sidon there falls into the sea a river especially sacred to Baal Tamar, which the Greeks called Tamyras (now Nahr Damur). It marks, no doubt, the spot where the act in the myth was localised, which, as Philo observes, was still pointed out. Pliny tells us that with the Belus, i. e. Baal (Sihor Libnath of the Hebrews), a mountain stream falling into the sea southward of Sidon, after a brief, and in the plain, a sluggish course from the parent lake, customs of a very sacred nature were connected.[504]

The goddess whom the Syrians invoked, beside the sun-god, had various names. According to the fragments of Philo, El had handed over the government of the city of Byblus to Baaltis, i. e. to Bilit, the "mistress." At Ascalon she was known as Derceto, at Hierapolis (Bambyke, Membidsh) as Atargatis;[505] the Hebrews call her Ashera. Herodotus calls the goddess of Ascalon Aphrodite Urania; he also denotes her as the goddess of the sexual impulse and of procreation, and mentions the temple at Ascalon, as the oldest temple of this goddess which he knew; "from this comes the shrine of Urania in Cyprus, as the Cyprians themselves said; and the Phenicians, who also belonged to Syria, founded the temple of Urania on Cythera." Pausanias observes that the Assyrians had been the first among men to worship Urania, and after the Assyrians came the Paphians in Cyprus, and the Phenicians at Ascalon.[506] Hence we may conclude that Baaltis, in nature or in name, was not far removed from the Bilit or Mylitta of the Babylonians, and this conclusion is sufficiently confirmed by all that we know of the worship of Baaltis. Cinyras, the first king of Byblus, is said to have erected shrines to Aphrodite at Byblus and in Cyprus, and his daughters are said to have paid service to the goddess with their persons. The maidens of Byblus waited for strangers in the market-places, just as the maidens of Babylon waited in the temple, and the price of compliance was paid, as in Babylon, to Aphrodite.[507] Of the maidens of Cyprus we are told that they went down to the sea shore in order to sell themselves to the sailors on landing.[508] We also find that sacred servants, male and female, who dedicated themselves to this form of worship, were always to be found in the temples of the Syrian goddess, and even married women entered their ranks at certain times.[509] The Hebrews tell us that the women wove tents for Ashera, and that paramours, male and female, were in her sanctuaries.[510] In shady groves, on green hills, and among the mountain forests of Libanus, sacrifice was offered to this goddess. The lofty trees, the terebinth, the evergreen pine and the cypress were sacred to her; the pomegranate, the symbol of fruitfulness, was her peculiar fruit. The ram, the he-goat, and the dove, especially the white dove, animals of vigorous procreation and reproduction, were dedicated to her, and formed the most welcome offerings. In the temples of the goddess before the cell in which she was worshipped under the form of conical stones or upright pillars of wood, were dove-cotes and pools of water.[511] Fish also were dedicated to this goddess; and certain kinds of fish were sacred among the Syrians. These were not to be injured, and enjoyed divine honours.[512] Beside the rich and ancient temple of Derceto at Ascalon was a lake abounding in fish. At Hierapolis the image of Atargatis, which had a dove on the head, was carried down to the lake near the temple. This image of "the Assyrian Urania" was also carried down to the sea, amid a great crowd collected from Syria, Arabia, and Mesopotamia.[513] The image of Derceto at Ascalon, on the shore of the sea, in that temple which was the oldest of Urania, known to Herodotus, was a woman as far as the waist, but from the thighs downwards she had the body of a fish.[514] From the custom of carrying the image of the goddess to pools of water, and the form of the goddess at Ascalon, has arisen the legend of the Greeks, that at Ascalon or Hierapolis she threw herself into the water, and was changed into a fish. The colonies of the Phenicians worshipped a Venus Marina, and the goddess of Berytus is said to have come from the sea; with the Greeks the goddess of Cyprus and Cythera is said to have risen from the sea.[515] Appian remarks that the goddess of Hierapolis was regarded by some as Aphrodite, by others as Hera, and by others again as the source and spring of all that came out of moisture.[516] Hence the Bilit (Baaltis) of Byblus, the Derceto of Ascalon, the Atargatis of Hierapolis, the Ashera of the Hebrews, was a deity favourable to birth and fertility, the power of nature which creates from moisture and water.

A male deity also, who gave fruit and increase from water, was worshipped by the Canaanites. At Gaza and Ashdod, the cities of the Philistines, and near the coast, at Beth-Dagon, and Kaphar-Dagon, the god Dagon was invoked, whom Philo mentioned as the Zeus Arotrius, the Zeus of the field, the god of nourishment. His temple at Gaza was the pre-eminent shrine of the Philistines, the centre of their federation. The image of Dagon in his temple at Ashdod had the face and hands of a man, the body of a fish, and again the feet of a man.[517] Philo's account denotes Dagon as the discoverer of the plough and the god of nourishment, as the giver of corn and protector of the field, and therefore he must in any case have been a spirit of increase and fertility. We found the name of this god in Babylonian inscriptions of the time of Hammurabi, and before it, his image, and that of his priests, among the monuments of Assyria. We saw that his name designated him as a fish-god, and know that Babylonian legends connected him with the sea, and represented him as arising from the sea.

By the side of the deities of the beneficent powers of nature and of birth, the Canaanites placed severe and gloomy deities, who were averse and hostile to the bloom of nature, the life and generation of mankind. These were Moloch and Astarte. The first is known to the Greeks under the name of Cronus, and from Philo's account of El we must deduce the relation of this god to Saturn. The Moloch of the Canaanites is the cruel destroying god of war; fire in its consuming, though also in its purifying properties, was his element. He is said to have been represented in the form of a bull or with a bull's head or horns.[518] Among the booty which Sethos I. (1439-1388 B.C.) brought back from his campaigns against the Cheta and Retennu we may see, in the sculptures at Karnak, the image of a bull.[519] The Canaanites offered human sacrifices to Moloch. If we remember that the Sepharvites of Babylonia offered up men to Adrammelech,i. e. "to king Adar," the spirit of the planet Saturn, we may venture to regard the Moloch of the Canaanites as the god of Saturn, without excluding the possibility that the burning glow of the midsummer sun may have lain at the root of the Canaanite conception of this god.[520] Not only were captives, often to the number of thousands, sacrificed to Moloch in gratitude for the victory bestowed;[521] but also at the beginning of an important undertaking, or the opening of a campaign, his favour was sought by human sacrifices. These were indispensable in order to appease his wrath, and turn destruction from all upon the head of a few.[522] If the crops withered, or a pestilence devastated the cities, or great reverses fell upon the land in war, human victims were burned as expiatory offerings.[523] Such offerings could only be taken from among the native families. Pure victims as yet undefiled by sexual intercourse, children and youths, were, as it seems, the most welcome sacrifice. The dearest possession was the most powerful expiation. The best beloved children, the firstborn or only son, must be offered to the god "as a ransom."[524] We have seen above, how Philo represents El himself as performing this sacrifice of a son. Only the surrender of what was dearest could touch the cruel feeling of the relentless god, and turn his wrath upon the enemy so that he laid his curse upon him. Thus it came to pass that the eldest son of the king was clothed with purple and burned to Moloch in the place of the ruler of the land. When Joram, king of Israel, had shut up the king of Moab in Kir Harosheth, "the Moabite took his firstborn son, who would have been king in his place, and sacrificed him as a burnt offering upon the wall. Then there was great indignation against Israel, and Israel turned back to his own land."[525] Hamilcar, Hanno's son, burnt himself in the year 480 B.C., when the battle of Himera went against the Carthaginians; and when Himilco, in the year 406 B.C., besieged Agrigentum, and a pestilence came upon the army, he sacrificed a boy to Cronus, in order to stay the plague.[526] When Agathocles of Syracuse, after landing in Africa had defeated the Carthaginian army, and encamped under the walls of Carthage, the Carthaginians believed that they had brought the anger of the god upon them because of late, instead of sacrificing the children of the noblest citizens, they had secretly purchased and substituted other children. Inquiry showed that this had been done in some cases. In expiation, 200 boys of the first families were selected as victims, and the families, who were suspected of previously withdrawing their children from the god, now spontaneously brought forward 300 children. "In Carthage," so Diodorus, who tells us this incident, continues, "there was an iron image of Cronus, which held out the hands in a downward position, so that the victim placed upon them rolled into a cavity filled with fire."[527] The cries of the victims, Plutarch tells us, were drowned by the noise of drums and flutes; the mothers were compelled to stand by without lamentation or sighing. If a sigh or a tear escaped them, they were regarded as dishonoured; but the child was burnt just the same. A Roman poet gives an invocation to the "paternal gods" of Carthage, whose temples are cleansed by murder, and who rejoice in being worshipped by the agony of mothers.[528]

The inscriptions of Ramses II. mentioned Astarte as the goddess of the Hittites; the name of their city Astaroth we have already found in the form of Astartu in the inscriptions of Tuthmosis III.. The Philistines worshipped Astarte; for the Sidonians, the "great Astarte" was the goddess of their city. "A virgin-goddess"[529] she ruled over the fortune of battle; she is the goddess of war, bringing death and destruction, the goddess of death. Coins of Sidon represent her with a spear in her hand. As the goddess of war she carried a spear in her temples in Cyprus and Cythera.[530] In her temple on the ancient fortress of Carthage, she was represented riding on a lion, with a spear in her hand. The Istar of the Babylonians and Assyrians carried the bow. When the Philistines carried off the armour of Saul, king of Israel, they dedicated it in the house of Astarte. If Astarte, according to Philo, consecrates a star on the island of Tyre, we have already seen that Venus when rising was the star of Istar at Babylon. Yet the Astarte of the Syrians stood in a closer relation to the moon. Philo told us that she carried on her head the head of an ox. The monuments of Sethos display, beside the bull's image of Baal, a cow's head with a segment of the moon; and on Carthaginian stones we find the full moon between the horns of an ox. With the horns of the moon the goddess is known as Astaroth Karnaim, i. e. the horned Astarte. The priests of Astarte were pledged to continence and celibacy, and on the priestesses of the "heavenly maiden," the "maiden of the sky,"[531] virginity was imposed. No married woman could enter her temples. In her temples, as in those of Moloch, burned the eternal fire.[532] Like Moloch, Astarte also received human sacrifices. To the virgin-goddess the youthful were offered, and maidens and women were burned.[533] As in the worship of Ashera the Syrians attempted to transfuse themselves into the nature of the goddess, to sink and pass into her being, so also the worship of Astarte required that they should become like the goddess, and that lust should be killed in them. It was the highest and most acceptable sacrifice, if priests and laymen made themselves eunuchs in honour of the virgin-goddess. During the festival of Astarte it was the custom, while the congregated people were thrown into excitement and frenzy by the sound of cymbals, drums, and double pipes, for young men to spring forward, seize the ancient sword which lay on the altar of the goddess, and therewith to mutilate themselves.[534] At a later time there were thousands of eunuch-attendants in the temples of Astarte, while others went about through the land in female clothing, their faces painted after the manner of women, begging and mortifying their flesh. To the sound of drums and pipes they whirled round with wild movements and contortions of the body, and bent their heads to the ground, so that their hair trailed in the mire. At the same time they bit their arms and cut themselves with swords. The most frenzied began to moan and prophesy. At last he bewailed his sins, took up the knotted whip, and beat himself on the back till the blood ran down. When the dancing and the scourging was ended, the eunuchs collected subscriptions from the bystanders. Some gave money; others, milk, wine, cheese, and meal. These they hastily gathered together in order to compensate, by a hearty meal at evening in their retreat, for the torments of the day.[535]

These friendly and hostile, creative and destructive, natural and supernatural powers stood mutually opposed in the religious consciousness of the Syrians. Just as the Egyptians went forward, and saw in the myth of Osiris the beneficent deity as the conqueror of the evil god in the process of vegetative life and in the revolution of the year, so did the Semitic nations unite the beneficent and destructive powers of heaven in the same deities, who in turn dispensed blessing and destruction, and by themselves and in themselves overcame the destructive element. This combination is obvious in the form of Baal of Tyre, whom the Tyrians invoked as the king and protector of their city under the name of Melkarth, i.e. city-king.[536] The Greeks identified this god with their own Heracles; but as the protector of navigation and the god of the sea, they are acquainted with Melkarth, under his native name of Melicertes. Herodotus was astonished at the splendour of the ancient temple of this god at Tyre, at the richness and beauty of the votive offerings, and the two rectangular pillars in the temple, the one of pure gold, the other of emerald, and so large that it shone by night.[537] Hiram, king of Tyre, had dedicated the first about the year 1,000 B.C. to Melkarth. To the Phenicians Baal Melkarth was a labouring and conquering deity, who creates new life out of destruction, vanquishes the baneful signs in the zodiac, brings back the sun from perigee and apogee, from excessive heat and wintry cold, to beneficial operation, whose life is seen in the sun's course.[538] When the sun burned with the fiercest glow, and stood in the sign of the lion, then the good sun-god must vanquish thelion or symbol of fiery heat; he pressed the lion to his own breast, forced back into himself the fiery beams, and consumed himself in his own heat. The good sun-god must overcome the evil sun-god, or he must consume himself, so that with renewed youth he may again secure gentler warmth for the earth. When the sun appeared most remote from the earth, Baal of Tyre had gone on a journey or was asleep. In the Phenician colonies in the West, in Crete, Sicily, and at Gades, in the distant land of the setting sun, were pointed out the resting-places of the deity, from which he arose with the vernal sun to new activity and life. At the end of February or the beginning of March the festival of the awakening of the god took place;[539]and if the Greeks tell us that Iolaus awoke the god, Iolaus is merely a Grecised form of Jubal, i. e. the beauty of Baal, and therefore only a mythical expression for the god himself as re-awakening with the beautiful vernal sun.[540] From these ideas of strife and conquest Melkarth could become in the eyes of the Phenicians a warrior-hero, who was thought to have wandered over the earth, as the sun revolves round it, in order to set it free from hostile powers. With this conception may be connected the story that the procreative power was taken from Uranus and transferred to the springs and rivers, and that El's brother Atlas, i. e. Atel, a name which perhaps may be explained as meaning darkness, is overthrown and cast into the abyss. In the legends of the Phenicians it was Melkarth who reduced the barbarous tribes of the distant coasts, who founded the ancient colonies of the Phenicians on the western coasts of the Mediterranean, and set up, as theboundary stone of his wanderings, the two great pillars at the end of the earth, the rocks of Calpe and Abyle on the Straits of Gibraltar. As the restrainer of the burning heat, of the lion, and of giants, Melkarth is the Heracles of the Greeks; as a wandering god who gives order to the life of mankind, he bears, in Greece, the names Minos and Cadmus (the name Kadmon means, "the man of the East"), by which forms they expressed not the deity only, but the old supremacy of the Phenicians, and their settlements on their islands and coasts. The Hebrews tell us that once, when a great drought attacked the land, the priests of Baal assembled at Carmel and invoked the god to consume with his rays the bull which they placed as a sacrifice on the billets of the altar. But the god heard them not. Then Elijah, the prophet of the Jews, mocked them. "Call louder," he said: "perhaps he is meditating or hath a pursuit; he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and will wake up again." The priests called louder, and became frantic, and cut themselves with knives and lancets, so that the blood gushed out.[541]

As Baal and Moloch, the beneficent and the baneful powers, were united in Baal of Tyre, and in the form of Melkarth, so also was the goddess of reproduction, of birth, and procreation amalgamated with the warrior goddess, the maiden who brought death. It was this deity which in turn gave blessing and destruction, sensual enjoyment and war, birth and death. She inspired consuming sensual passion, and then caused death to overtake her lover, even if she did not slay him herself. Thus a Roman poet can put into the mouth of a Carthaginian the invocation, "Goddess Astarte, power of gods and men, life and safety, and again destruction, death, and dissolution."[542] We find that the Venus of Tyre was called Astarte, that at Ashtaroth Karnaim, the ancient seat of the worship of the horned Astarte, the maiden with the horns of the moon, there was a sanctuary of Atargatis,[543] and that fire-festivals were celebrated at Hierapolis in the sanctuary of Atargatis, which festivals belonged to Astarte; that the Urania, i. e. the birth-goddess, of Ascalon, Cyprus, and Cythera became an Aphrodite Areia, i. e. a warlike Aphrodite;[544] that after Cinyras, the king of Byblus, whose daughters paid service to the goddess of Byblus with their bodies, Pygmalion became king, and he regarded with abhorrence the unchaste daughters of Cinyras, and worshipped the pure goddess of heaven, and taught how to appease her anger by human sacrifices.[545] At Carthage a good goddess of the sky (bona cœlestis ) was worshipped beside an evil one (inferna cœlestis ). If human sacrifices were here burnt to the goddess Dido, just as the supposed foundress of Carthage is said to have burnt herself,[546] her sister Anna, i. e. the charming one, was worshipped with cheerful rites. Other accounts mention that the two sisters Dido and Anna were one and the same goddess. Without doubt they are right. We saw that with the Babylonians the planet Venus, when rising, was the war-goddess Istar, and, when setting, she was Mylitta, the goddess of love.

The relation of the Tyrian goddess Astarte to the moon has already been touched upon. As goddess of the moon, she was a changing, wandering deity. With the waning light of the moon she retired into the gloom of the west, the region of the setting sun; and on the disappearance of the goddess on the "bad evening," the Tyrians performed rites of mourning. As a "wandering goddess,"[547] Astarte was called among the Phenicians Dido, i. e. the rover, and among the Westerns Europa, i. e. the dark one.[548] With the retirement of the goddess was connected the legend how her destructive power was overcome; it showed how Astarte could be worshipped in Tyre as the wife of Melkarth, as Milkath (Melecheth, i. e. queen).[549] The wandering sun-god went in search of the lost goddess. At length he found her in the remote distance, and loosed her girdle; the goddess surrendered herself to him, and sacred marriage changed the warlike goddess into the friendly deity favourable to procreation, Astarte into Ashera, Dido into Anna, Artemis or Athena into Atargatis. The "maiden of the sky" is now the wife of the god of Tyre, the Hera of the sky, the Ada (Athe) of the Syrians. From the embraces of Melkarth and Astarte, the sun-god and the moon-goddess, and the conquest of the cruel goddess of war, spring life, order, and law. The sacred marriage is said to have taken place in the West, at Samothrace, and further still, on the Cadmeia, the citadel of Cadmus,[550] i. e. of the searching Melkarth, and finally beyond the pillars of the god, on the happy islands of the Western Sea, where all fruits of every kind grew spontaneously, especially the apples of life, the pomegranates of Ashera, the apples of the Hesperides,—the pledge of love, the symbol of life and light returning out of darkness. Here also Melkarth sank down to rest in the streams of the Western Sea, which his beams had warmed.[551]

The Syrians did not remain content with combining the beneficent and destructive powers into one form only, into Baal-Melkarth and Astarte-Ashera. While searching for the unity of the divine powers and the divine nature, they also combined the male and female deities into one figure, and the creative and receptive powers were amalgamated in one and the same form. As the combination of mighty heroic power with luxurious sensuality is the practical ideal of the East, so in theory also the highest union of the powers of nature and divine being, the amalgamation of male and female is attained by the same combination. When Astarte had become Ashera, and had surrendered herself to the god, the god in turn surrendered himself to the goddess. He plied female tasks, she carried the weapons. But even their nature became one, their forms were combined. Astarte and the Baal placed at her side became one deity. The male deity of the Moabites was Camos. When Mesha, king of Moab, took Nebo from the Israelites, he dedicated it to Ashtor-Camos.[552] At Carthage Dido-Astarte was represented with the beard of Melkarth.[553] At Paphos there was a standing image of the bearded Aphrodite, which was worshipped as a great divinity. It is this unification which lies at the root of the legends of Heracles (Melkarth) and Omphale (perhaps, mother [554]), of Semiramis and Sardanapalus. At certain festivals of Baal the priests and worshippers of the androgynous deity appeared in red transparent female garments, and were otherwise dressed as women, while the women were dressed as men, and carried swords and lances.[555] The law of the Jews strictly forbids the erection of Astartes and pillars, the bringing of the hire of the harlot or the pay of the fornicator into the house of Jehovah, the tearing of the skin, or the cutting of the hair (which was customary among the Syrians in different ways as the symbol of the worship of certain deities), and insists that no eunuch shall come into the people of Jehovah, that no woman shall wear a man's clothes, and no man the clothes of a woman.[556]

Philo told us above that Eljon of Byblus, who was called the Highest, was slain in conflict with wild beasts, and was worshipped by after generations with libations and sacrifice. In Byblus, under the name Adonis (Adon, i. e. Lord), a god was worshipped, who was thought to have disappeared, or to have been carried off in the bloom of youth. Eljon and Adonis are one and the same form. When the maritime river named after this deity, the Adonis (now Nahr Ibrahim), near Byblus, began to run red in July (Thammuz), owing to the red earth washed down from the mountains, then it was believed that the beautiful Adonis was slain on Libanus by the savage boar of the war-god. With lamentations and cries the women sat in the shrine at Byblus; or lingered by the wayside lamenting the death of Adonis. They cut off their hair, tore their breasts, and cried out—Ailanu, ailanu (woe to us). Adonis was lost, and was now called Thammuz (the Departed).[557] A time of lamentation was observed, during which his wooden image was washed and anointed, and laid upon a bier, which the priests carried about with their garments rent and beards shorn. But the god appeared again; he came to life again, as it seems, with the new spring. And as the lamentations for his death had been excessive, so also was the sensuality with which his return to life was celebrated.[558]Hence we must assume that in Adonis was personified the vernal sun, the bloom of vegetation, which so soon begins to droop. If it was the boar of the war-god, i. e. of Moloch, which slew Adonis, as one account maintains, then in the minds of the Syrians the destructive sun-god, the glow of the midsummer sun which makes vegetation wither, was the cause of the death of Adonis.

Philo further told us of the two sons of the giants, the brothers Samemrumus and Usous, at Tyre. The name Samemrumus means the High One of the Sky, a meaning which is clearly confirmed by the Greek attribute Hypsuranius. Hence Samemrumus was the god, the Baal of Tyre, Baal Melkarth. That Usous also was a god of Tyre is clear from the observation of Eusebius, that Usous, a man of little account, had been deified at Tyre beside Melicertes.[559] Usous, who knew how to catch and destroy wild animals, and clad himself in their skins, the ancestor of hunters, reminds us of the Esau of Hebrew tradition. Compared in point of language the names of Usous and Esau coincide: "Usous" (Usov) means, like "Esav," the hairy one. Completely reversing the natural connection, Philo ascribes to Usous the erection of the pillars which belong to his brother, and represents the hunter as embarking on the earliest ship, whereas Samemrumus, the father of the fisherman, must have embarked on the first ship. We saw that the name Sidon means "fish-catchers". Hence the legends of the Phenicians carried back the origin of the Sidonians, to whom not only the city of Sidon but also Tyre belonged, to Baal Melkarth. From this god the tribe of the Sidonians, as it seems, pretended to have sprung. At a later period the mariners of the coast, i. e.the population of the harbour towns, looked down with scorn on the shepherds and hunters of the mountains, although they could not refuse to recognise the greater antiquity of this mode of life. Usous, therefore, must be regarded as the elder brother, the hunter of the mountains, like the Esau of the Hebrews, while the younger Melkarth takes up his abode in Tyre. That Usous is the firstborn is clear from Philo's remark, that Samemrumus rebelled against his brother. The contrast between the two brothers is marked by the statement of Eusebius, that Usous was of little account, more strongly than in Philo. From this we may perhaps conclude that Usous, the older god, was originally looked upon as a hostile power, as Baal Moloch; while in Samemrumus the friendly, helpful, beneficent power of the deity was personified as Baal Melkarth. An obscure trace of the contrast of the two gods is to be found also in the name Surmubel, i. e. Opponent of Baal, in Philo, which seems to belong to Baal Melkarth in opposition to Baal Moloch.[560]

The gods, whom the various cities of the Phenicians worshipped as their tutelary deities, were placed side by side as soon as the feeling of community in the cities became more lively, and intercourse between them more vigorous. Hence it came about that a common worship was also paid to these tutelary deities. Beside their significance in the natural and moral world, there resided from antiquity in certain deities peculiar relations to hunting and agriculture, and it was natural that as naval occupations, trade, and industry developed in the cities, the gods should be brought into relation to these spheres of activity also. In the same degree as it was felt that trade and commerce could only prosper amid internal peace and security in the cities, and under the protection of law and justice, the gods who maintained order in the world must become the protectors of order and law in the cities. In this feeling, and starting from conceptions of this kind, the priests of the Phenicians brought the gods of their cities into a connected system which, following the sacred number seven, included seven gods. The deities brought into this circle were known by the collective name Cabirim, i.e. the "Powerful," the "Great." Among the descendants of the "field" and the "husbandman," Philo has already mentioned Misor, i. e. Sydyk (justice). As powers ruling in justice, law, and equity, and maintaining order in the cities, the Cabiri are the children of Sydyk. The Greeks call them children of the sun-god, i. e. of Baal Samim; and if others connect the Cabiri with Ptah, the god of light among theEgyptians, the conclusion to be drawn is, that it was Baal Samim who, in his relation to the Cabiri, was denoted by the name of the Just, the supreme champion of justice. From the hunter and the fisher Philo derives Chusor, who discovered the working of iron; he calls him Hephæstus. Chusor, so far as we can tell, was the foremost deity within the circle of the Cabiri. Phenician coins exhibit him with a leather apron, hammer, and tongs; the name seems to denote "arranger." He was the tutelary god of the life of the cities occupied in navigation and handicraft. Next to Chusor came a female deity, Chusarthis, also called Turo (Thorah, law), whom the Greeks call by the name Harmonia. As the same deity is also called the goddess of the moon, we cannot doubt that Chusarthis is Astarte, which is also sufficiently clear from other evidence; only in the new system the severe goddess was connected in a definite manner with the upholding of justice and preservation of law. Next to Astarte in the series of the Cabiri comes Baal Melkarth of Tyre, who is known to the Greeks under the name of Cadmus. He is regarded as the discoverer of mining and masonry and the inventor of writing. He searches for the lost Harmonia, and with her when found celebrates the sacred marriage. Hence Cadmus could be worshipped in this system as a life-awakening, phallic god, as well as the tutelar god of marriage. A peculiar reverence was enjoyed among the Cabiri by the deity who was added as an eighth to these seven; his name was Esmun, i. e. the Eighth. In this form it seems that the peculiarities of the seven gods were taken up and gathered together. At any rate in Carthage the temple of Esmun stood in the Byrsa, and on the highest part of it. In this temple the holiest relics of the city were preserved and the most important deliberations held. The Greeks call Esmun by the name of Asclepius, but also add that he was different from the Greek Asclepius. He was, it appears, a healing, i. e. an appeasing deity, like Jasion in the Cabiric mysteries of Samothrace. Esmun is also compared and confounded with Hermes, as with the Thoth of the Egyptians. Just as Thoth revealed the sacred books of the Egyptians, did Esmun reveal the sacred books of the Phenicians. Esmun was represented with a serpent in his hand as the serpent-holder (Ophiuchus), and his head as surrounded by eight rays. The forms of the eight tutelar gods were carved by the Phenicians on the prows of their ships; it was the Cabiri, as Philo told us, who discovered the ship. Even now Phenician coins exhibit the Cabiri in that dwarfed and distorted form in which the Phenicians loved to represent the nature and superhuman power of the gods.[561]

From the circumstance that the Greeks, when settling in Lemnos, Imbros, Samothrace, and Rhodes, found the worship of the Cabiri in existence, and adopted it, though not without certain alterations, we may conclude that the Cabiric system was established before the year 1000 B.C. In the tutelary gods of the sea-loving nation of the Phenicians the Greeks recognised and worshipped the deities favourable to mariners, and from this side they combined them with their own Dioscuri. On the other side the myth of Melkarth and Astarte, who were adopted into this circle of divinities, the myth of Melkarth, who discovers the lost moon-goddess in the land of gloom, and returns thence with her to new light and life, and who wakes to new life after the slumber of the winter, gave the Greeks an opportunity of connecting with the mysteries of the Cabiri those conceptions of the life after death, which grew up among them after the beginning of the sixth century.

When the great deities had been combined with the circle of the Cabiri, the subordinate spirits followed in their course. By degrees a scheme of thrice seven was reached, a scheme of twenty-one or rather twenty-two deities, since an eighth was added to the seven Cabiri. These, beginning with El, were arranged according to the twenty-two letters of the Phenician alphabet, and stood in a certain relation to them. From this number of deities, their various names, and the order of succession, various schemes of the origin of the gods were developed, and with the help of these genealogies certain systems of theogony and cosmogony were formed, of which the dislocated and confused fragments were found in Philo; and the chief of them I have given above. The wind Kolpia modern research would explain by Kol-pyah, i. e. "breath of the month;" Baau, the wife of this wind, by Bohu, i. e. Chaos, the Tohu-wa-Bohu of the Hebrews. The more abstract the potentialities with which these systems begin, the later we may assume their origin to be.

Like the Arabs, the Syrians originally worshipped their gods upon the mountains and in stones; then they erected pillars of wood and stone to them, and images, figures of bulls, or shapes combined from the forms of men and fish. They also erected statues male and female, or androgynous. At the great festivals the sacred tents and chests in which ancient symbols and tokens of the deities were preserved, or the images of the gods, were carried round in solemn procession.[562] Of the festival in the temple of Atargatis, at Hierapolis, we have already spoken; of the fire-festival which the Tyrians held in the spring, Lucian tells us: "They trim great trees, set them up in the court of the temple, and bring goats, sheep, birds, and other victims. These they fasten to the trees, and in addition, clothes and gold and silver jewellery. After these preliminaries they carry the images of the gods round the trees; the pyre is then kindled, and all consumed."[563]

As we may conclude from Lucian's account and from ruins, the temples were on a tolerably extensive scale. There were two or three courts, one after the other, either rectangular as at Paphus and Marathus, or oval, as at Malta and Gaulus, surrounded by strong walls, and furnished with pillars, altars, and pools of water. With these was connected a narrow and small shrine, containing the sacred stone or image. The tithes belonged to the gods. Every year, at the festival of Melkarth, in Tyre, an embassy appeared from Carthage which offered to the god of the mother city the tenth of the revenue of their state, and after great victories the Carthaginians probably sent a tenth of the spoil to the gods of Tyre.[564] The number of priests was great; we often find hundreds engaged in a single sacrifice,[565] and the ritual was complicated. The human sacrifices, mutilation, and prostitution, by which the Syrians sought to win the favour of their deities, we have already heard of. At a later time at all the great sanctuaries there were thousands of male and female servants beside the priests. The priests lived on the tithes, the temple lands, and the part which fell to them in the sacrifices. The ritual distinguished burnt offerings, offerings of purification, expiatory offerings, and offerings of the first fruits; besides animals and the firstlings of the field, sacrificial cakes were frequently offered. The bull was the most acceptable victim; cows were not sacrificed, nor the flesh eaten. Beside bulls, rams and he-goats, and of birds, the dove, the partridge, the quail, and the goose were offered. The animals were required to be pure, without blemish, of the male sex, and capable of procreation. To guard against the offering of unclean beasts, the priests of Hierapolis refused to sacrifice any but those bought from themselves.[566] Two Phenician inscriptions of Massilia and Carthage have come down to us from the fourth century B.C., containing the edicts of the Carthaginian Suffetes about the part of the sacrifice belonging to the priests, the fee to be paid for the sacrifice, and finally the price of the victims purchased of the priests. The Carthaginian inscription lays down the rule that of a bull, a ram, or a goat, offered as a burnt-offering, the skin was to be the property of the priests and the inwards the property of the person presenting the victim. Moreover, of every victim offered, the cut and roasted flesh went to the priests. On the other hand, the inscription of Massilia gives the skin to those who present the victim (the law of the Hebrews also gives the skin of a burnt-offering to the man who offers the victim), but according to this decree the victims must be bought from the priests. For a bull ten shekels were to be paid to them, and though the tariff at Carthage lays upon the sacrificer a fee of only 2 sus  for each head of fowl sacrificed, the inscription of Massilia raises the fee to 3/4 of a shekel and 2 sus.[567]


[497]In Strabo, p. 756.

[498]Philo. Frag. 1. ed. Müller.

[499]Philon. frag. 1, 6, 7, ed. Müller.

[500]Loc. cit. 2, 1-4, ed. Müller; cf. Bunsen, "Ægypten," 5, 1, 257 ff.

[501]Such is obviously the meaning of this passage.—Baudissin, "Abh. z. semit. Relig." s. 14.

[502]Fragm. 2, 4, 5, ed. Müller.

[503]Pausan. 5, 7, 10.

[504]"Hist. Nat." 36, 65.

[505]Athar-ath, i. e. Astarte-Athe; Brandis, "Münzwesen," s. 431. Diod. 2, 4, 30. 2 Maccab. xi. 26.

[506]Herod. 1, 105. Pausan. 1, 14, 7.

[507]Lucian, "De Dea Syria," c. 16. The cutting off of the hair which Lucian mentions is also a vicarious custom.

[508]Justin. 18, 3.

[509]Movers, "Phœniz." Encycl. v. Ersch. s. 388, ff.

[510]2 Kings xxiii. 7. Ezek. xxiii. 40, ff.

[511]Movers, "Phœniz." 1, 197, 579; Munter, "Tempel der Göttin von Paphos," and the Syrian coins in De Luynes, "Numismatique," pl. 1. Lucian, "De Dea Syr." 13, 28. On the pillars of Marathus and Paphos, Gerhard, "Kunst der Phœniker," s. 23.

[512]Xenoph. "Anab." 1, 4; Diod. 2, 4; Lucian, loc. cit. 14.

[513]Lucian, loc. cit. 33, 39.

[514]Stark, "Forschungen," s. 248, ff.

[515]Avien. "Ora maritima," v. 305.

[516]De Bell. Parth. 28.

[517]Judges xiv. 23; 1 Samuel, v. ff.

[518]Gesenius, "Monum. Tab." 25. Silius Ital. Pun. 3, 104.

[519]Osborne, "Egypt," p. 144.

[520]Baudissin ("Jahve et Moloch," p. 47) regards the amalgamation of Moloch and Adar as of later origin; to me the connection between Saturn and the sun (Diod. 2, 30) appears of later origin.

[521]e. g. Diod. 20, 65.

[522]Justin. 18, 6. 19, 1; Plin. "H. N." 36, 4.

[523]Curtius, 4, 15, ed. Mützell; "Porphyr. de Abstinentiâ," 2, 56.

[524]Euseb. "Præcept. Evang." 4, 26.

[525]2 Kings iii. 27; see below.

[526]Diod. 13, 86.

[527]Diod. 20, 14.

[528]Plut. "De Superstitione," p. 171; Sil. Ital. 4, 767.

[529]Numen virginale; virgo cælestis.

[530]De Luynes, "Numism." pl. v.; Hockh. "Kreta," 1, 98.

[531]Lucian, "De Dea Syria," 4, 32; Augustin, "De Civitate Dei," 2, 26.

[532]Movers, "Religion der Phœn." s. 605, 611, 621 ff.

[533]Procop. "De bello Persico," 2, 28.

[534]Lucian, "De Dea Syr." 15, 27, 43, 50, 51.

[535]Movers, "Religion der Phœn.," s. 681.

[536]"Our Lord Melkarth, Baal of Tyre," as he is called in an inscription found at Malta.

[537]Herod. 2, 44; Plin. H. N. 37, 75; Theophr. "De Lap." 25.

[538]Thus Virgil says of the minstrel of Dido: "Canit errantem lunam, solisque labores," Æn. 1, 742.

[539]Joseph. Ant. 8, 53; Movers, "Religion der Phœnizier," s. 150.

[540]Athen. p. 392; Movers, loc. cit. s. 536.

[541]1 Kings xviii. 28.

[542]Plaut. "Merc." 4, 6.

[543]Cic. "De Nat. Deorum," 3, 23; 1 Macc. v. 43; 2, xii. 26.

[544]Pausan. 3, 23, 1.

[545]Movers, "Phœniz." 2, 230.

[546]Sil. Ital. 4, 81, 819; Justin. 18, 6.

[547]Virg. "Æn." 1, 742.

[548]Hesychius: "Εὐρωπὸν σκοτεινόν, πλατύ. Εὐρώπη ἡ χώρα τῆς δύσεως ἤ σκοτεινή." That Europe is Astarte follows from Hesychius: "Ἑλλωπία, ἑορτὴ Εὐρώπης ἐν Κρήτῃ." The "Etymolog. Mag." pp. 232, 333, says: "Europa was anciently called Hellotia, 'ὅτι οἱ φοίνικες τὴν παρθένον Ἑλλωτίαν καλοῦσιν.'" Eloth signifies "goddess."

[549]Jeremiah vii. 18; xliv. 17-23.

[550]Pindar, "Pyth." 3, 90; Cic. "De Nat. Deor." 3, 23.

[551]Appian, "De Reb. Hisp." c. 2; Movers, "Kolonieen der Phœnizier," s. 63 ff. We shall see below what a conglomeration of fables the Greeks have gathered round the wandering Astarte, who rides on a bull and is represented with the crescent of the moon, and a cow's horns. With them she is not only Europe whom the Bull-Zeus carries from Phœnicia, who is sought by Cadmus the son of Phœnix. In her crescent and cow's horns they also recognise their Argive Moon-goddess, Io, and represent her as wandering to Phœnicia and Egypt, where Isis, who here again wears the cow's horns or head, or is entirely represented as a cow, becomes their Io. The wanderings of Dido-Astarte then became confused with the stories of Helena, with the wanderings and fortunes of the foundress of Carthage, and the travels of Æneas, the favourite of Aphrodite, were directed to the most famous seats of the worship of Ashera.

[552]Nöldeke, "Inschrift des Mesa."

[553]Serv. ad Æn. 2, 632; Gerhard, "Kunst der Phœniker," s. 36, 38.

[554]According to Lenormant, um-pali, "mother of the sword."

[555]Joh. Lyd. "De Mensibus," 4, 46.

[556]Lev. xix, 27-29; Deut. xiv. 1; xxii. 5; xvi. 21; xxiii. 1.

[557]Ezek. viii. 14.

[558]Lucian, "De Dea Syria," c. 8; Strabo, p. 755.

[559]"De Laudib. Constant." c. 13.

[560]Bunsen, "Ægypten," 5, 1, 379.

[561]Herod. 3, 37; Gerhard, "Kunst der Phœnicker Taf." 4, 5; Movers, "Phœnizier," 2, 87-99; "Phœniz." in Ersch. s. 391 ff.

[562]Jerem. x. 5; Baruch, vi. 3, xxv. 26; Diod. 20, 65.

[563]Lucian, "De Dea Syria," c. 49.

[564]Polyb. 31, 20; Diod. 20, 14; Just. 18, 7; Curt, 4, 13.

[565]1 Kings xviii. 17-24.

[566]Movers, "Phœniz." in Ersch. s. 419.

[567]Movers, "Opferwesen der Karthager," s. 8; Blau, "Opfertarif von Karthago;" Zeitschrift d. d. M. G. 16, 438.