Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan

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A&C Black, Dec 1, 2002 - Religion - 290 pages
This masterly book is the climax of over twenty-five years of study of the impact of Canaanite religion and mythology on ancient Israel and the Old Testament. It is John Day's magnum opus in which he sets forth all his main arguments and conclusions on the subject. The work considers in detail the relationship between Yahweh and the various gods and goddesses of Canaan, including the leading gods El and Baal, the great goddesses (Asherah, Astarte and Anat), astral deities (Sun, Moon and Lucifer), and underworld deities (Mot, Resheph, Molech and the Rephaim). Day assesses both what Yahwism assimilated from these deities and what it came to reject. More generally he discusses the impact of Canaanite polytheism on ancient Israel and how monotheism was eventually achieved.

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The book is a wealth of facts and impressive in it research but the conclusions drawn are off the mark and missed many associated scriptures pertaining to the ancient Canaanite paganism.
example the argument of what the Asherah Poles were wasn't resolved. Both positions that the poles were trees or symbols were partially accurate. The Asherah were carved standing tree trunks carved as phallic symbols with the image of the goddess carved in the shaft that were used in ritual sexual practices.
This is why it was forbidden to plant a tree by the alter and make an Asherah. The tree was needed to grow in place until it reached the desired size to carve the shaft. It also explains why the Asherah had to be cut down.
The type of wood in the grove was sacred to the pagan 'El'. The location of the groves on the high places were positioned to represent the womb of the 'mother goddess'. The phallic symbol was to honor Baal while the image carved in them was to honor Ashtoreth/Astarte. The valley below the groves was where the water flowed over the 'smooth stone' into the sacred pool. That pool represented the vaginal opening of the 'mother goddess'. This valley was where the fruit of the womb was sacrificed to Molech during acts of ritual witchcraft.
The unwanted children conceived in the ritual prostitute of the grove were sacrificed to Molech in the valley below the grove. The valley of Hinnom is an example of this. It was directly below the grove outside Jerusalem.
The grove was planted then the trees were thinned out leaving standing trunks under the other trees allowed to grow to maturity. The actual grove on the high place represented the pubic region of the 'mother goddess'.
The author had knowledge of references but lacked understanding of the ritual practices of the cults of those pagan deities therefore missed many of the biblical references to those acts.

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About the author (2002)

John Day is Professor of Old Testament Studies in the University of Oxford and Fellow and Tutor of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.

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