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Evidence of Homophobia at Ugarit? Possible Discrimination Against Gods Who Moisturize

Posted by NT Wrong on July 29, 2008

Ugaritic God in Early Morning Ritual

Ugaritic God in Early Morning Ritual

In the sixth tablet of the Ugaritic Baal Myth, Athirat and El discuss Baal’s replacement — because they think that Baal has died. Athirat suggests that Baal’s replacement should be ydˁ ylḥn (KTU 1.6 i 48). Ugaritic scholar Baruch Margalit translates the phrase ydˁ ylḥn as a divine name or divine epithet.

Margalit’s translation of Ydˁ Ylḥn amused me:

“He-Who-Knows-How-To-Moisturize”

I am quite sure I have got entirely the wrong image in my head.

According to Margalit’s interpretation, El didn’t think this moisturizing god was up to the job, so dismissed Athirat’s suggestion out of hand. Could this be evidence of homophobia in the Ugaritic pantheon? It sounds like a clear case of divine discrimination to me.

And it’s notable that “He-Who-Knows-How-To-Accessorize” didn’t even get nominated!

[Boring Serious Note: The “moisturizing” was in fact a description of Ydˁ Ylḥn’s seasonal moisturizing of the land, in Margalit’s description. That is, the god wasn’t really known for pampering his skin, but for causing rain to come down on the land. Moreover, most other scholars have interpreted ydˁ ylḥn as a generic dual description of a god’s qualities, and they have understood this description to refer to Baal’s eventual replacement, Athtar (so that there is only one god suggested by Athirat in the Baal Myth — who is Athtar — not two). On the more widely accepted view, the generic dual description is usually interpreted along the lines of “knowing and shrewd/cunning”.]

One Response to “Evidence of Homophobia at Ugarit? Possible Discrimination Against Gods Who Moisturize”

  1. Duane said

    Fun post. Thanks

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