Isa 14: Canaanite mythology
"There was [a] text... concerning 'Baal and Anat' with which
Isaiah must have been familiar. The story at this point concerns finding a
replacement for Baal who has just died at the hands of Mot, the god of sterility
and the dead. It is suggested that Athtar succeed to the throne of Baal but he
soon proves to be inadequate and has to step down to become god of the
underworld. The text is as follows:
'Then Athtar the Awesome climbed Mount Zaphon,
There are some striking similarities between this text and Isa
14:12-15... a couple of strong parallels which more then suggest that Isaiah
knew this Canaanite myth and was using it as part of his taunting proverb about
the king of Babylon:
Ascended the throne of Ba'al the Almighty.
But his feet did not reach the footstool,
His head did not touch the headrest.
Then, Athar the Awesome spoke,
. . . . .
'I cannot serve as king,
I cannot dwell on the heights of Zaphon!'
So, Athtar the Awesome descended,
Stepped down from the throne of Ba'al the Almighty.
He became king of the Underworld,
Lord of the River of the Dead.'
(Victor Matthews, Don Benjamin, Old Testament Parallels
Isaiah is using the Canaanite myth of Athtar's inability to
reign in Baal's place and he is using it to deride the King of Babylon. The
links are undeniable and it is a wonderful twist of this false religion to use
it as a taunt." (TY)
- Both texts mention ascending to an exalted throne.
- Isaiah mentions the
"sides of the north" which is the Hebrew word "zaphon" and this is used in the
Canaanite text as Mount Zaphon.
- Isaiah mentions hell (Heb sheol) and the pit
(Heb bowr) while the Canaanite text talks about the Underworld.
mentions Lucifer (Heb Helel) which means the morning star or Venus: the
Canaanite god Ashtar or Athtar is associated with Venus. ["Before the sun
revolves, a very large star named Venus, which varies its course alternatively,
and whose alternative names in themselves indicate its rivalry with the sun and
moon -- when in advance and rising before dawn it receives the name of Lucifer,
and being another sun and bringing the dawn, whereas when it shines after sunset
it is named Vesper, as prolonging the daylight, or as being deputy for the
moon..." -- Pliny the Elder, Historia Naturalis. "In the seasonal Canaanite rite
of the dying god, "a substitute is sought for Ba'al in his eclipse, and Athtar
the Fierce, originally the god manifest in the bright Venus star and secondarily
associated with vegetation, is proposed since his brightness might be thought to
qualify him for the place of Ba'al, whose potent advent is signalized in
lightning. But the attempt is abortive" -- John Gray, Near Eastern
- Isaiah mentions that Lucifer is the "son of the morning." The
Canaanites also had a god named Shachar which means 'Dawn' and he was the father
of Athtar. Therefore Athtar (Lucifer) was literally a son of Shachar (Morning)
to the Canaanites.