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Moabite Temple Finds

September 23, 2010

Steven L Cook has a post on a recently excavated Moabite Temple at Khirbat ‘Ataroz. The post is based on an AP article back on September 1st that slipped past my notice at the time. The article is brief and doesn’t answer many of the questions I have due to my interests in Levantine ritual texts, such as the size of the temple, orientation of the axis, location of altar(s), demarcation of the sacred, etc. However one line the article did pique my interest:

Among the items on display Wednesday, there was a four-legged animal god Hadad, as well as delicate circular clay vessels used in holy rites.

I had to take a moment to parse this. Hadad is Ba‘al (the latter is a title of the former). Ba‘al is known to have been associated with/as a bull (perhaps as a means of transportation; e.g. Yazılıkaya). The four-legged animal depicted my be a bull. So, QED. I can see some why this is posited as an identification. (Pictures of the finds available here.)

However, two things confuse me. First, why call the god Hadad and not Ba‘al? Especially for a popular piece, Ba‘al makes more sense. Second, what about Chemosh? From Moabite epigraphic finds Chemosh seems to have been the major god of the pantheon. Is it possible that the four-legged animal is Chemosh?

I’m looking forward to perusing more scholarly articles on these finds. Maybe then my curiosity will be assuaged.

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