"admittedly syncretistic Kuntillet Ajrud fragments"

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at mclink.it
Thu Jan 24 03:30:27 EST 2002

If a pundit tells you to back a certain racehorse, would you?

The pundits must realize that the earliest recognisable biblical text is from 
Qumran. Was any biblical text written long before that?

The Lachish letters do give blessings by yhwh and don't mention a consort.

What is your exact source for the citation of Ba`al and 'El at KA? (This info 
would be of interest to at least one other listmember!)

(I don't really know why they are labeled Bes images. I've seen lots and they 
certainly don't look like the ones at KA. It could be just the fact that these 
are pretty odd, mishapen figures, just as Bes was an odd, mishapen figure.)

Syncretism is the equating of one god with another, or at least the absorption 
of traits from one to another. Polytheism is visible, but is syncretism?


First, I'm not aware that the Lachish letters mention a consort, and
they're quite certainly pre-exilic, if only barely so.  Also, a number
of the prophets are, I believe, securely datable before the exile, and
surely they don't refer to any consort of Yahweh; that's precisely the
sort of thing that they'd have been ranting against at some length,
don't you think?  In addition, Deuteronomy is generally dated to the
reign of either Hezekiah or Josiah (are there any good arguments for an
exilic or post-exilic dating?), and the idea of Yahweh having a consort
would certainly have been inimical to its author.

Second, some of the other inscriptions at Kuntillet Ajrud mention other
gods, such as Baal and El:


And whether or not the two gods immediately below the inscription I
referred to earlier are Bes or not, most scholars seem to think that
they at least look an awful lot like Bes.  In other words, it appears
that other gods were, in fact, worshipped at Kuntillet Ajrud besides
Yahweh and/or influenced the worship and portrayal of Yahweh; and that's
pretty much the definition of syncretism, isn't it?

And finally, I don't at all dispute that, among the Israelites and their
neighbors, there would have been a strong tendency towards the sort of
thing you see in the Kuntillet Ajrud fragments.  (The Bible itself is
the strongest argument that these tendencies existed.)  Maybe you could
even say that it was the mainstream way of thinking.  (Whether it was an
appropriate way to think about Yahweh is, of course, a question entirely
independent of whether it was the majority view.)  But just because it's
mainstream doesn't mean it's not syncretistic.  Wasn't syncretism pretty
much universal in the ANE?  Why shouldn't we think that wasn't exactly
the case at KA?

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