Canaanite Gods

Canaanite religion is the name for the group of Ancient Semitic religions practiced by the Canaanites living in the ancient Levant from at least the early Bronze Age through the first centuries of the Common Era. Canaanite religion was polytheistic, and in some cases monolatristic.
In Canaanite mythology there were twin mountains Targhizizi and Tharumagi which hold the firmament up above the earth-circling ocean, thereby bounding the earth. The idea of two mountains being associated here as the breasts of the Earth, fits into the Canaanite mythology quite well. The ideas of pairs of mountains seem to be quite common in Canaanite mythology (similar to Horeb and Sinai in the Bible).
The late period of this cosmology makes it difficult to tell what influences (Roman, Greek, or Hebrew) may have informed Philo's writings.

In the Baal cycle, Ba'al Hadad is challenged by and defeats Yam, using two magical weapons (called "Driver" and "Chaser") made for Him by Kothar-wa-Khasis. Afterward, with the help of Athirat and Anat, Ba'al persuades El to allow Him a palace. El approves, and the palace is built by Kothar-wa-Khasis. After the palace is constructed, Ba'al gives forth a thunderous roar out of the palace window and challenges Mot. Mot enters through the window and swallows Ba'al, sending Him to the Underworld. With no one to give rain, there is a terrible drought in Ba'al's absence. The other deities, especially El and Anat, are distraught that Ba'al has been taken to the Underworld. Anat goes to the Underworld, attacks Mot with a knife, grinds Him up into pieces, and scatters Him far and wide. With Mot defeated, Ba'al is able to return and refresh the Earth with rain.

The Akkadian word "kinahhu", however referred to the purple-colored wool, dyed from the Murex molluscs of the coast, which was throughout history a key export of the region. When the Greeks later traded with the Canaanites, this meaning of the word seems to have predominated as they called the Canaanites the Phoenikes or "Phoenicians", which may derive from the Greek word "Phoenix" meaning crimson or purple, and again described the cloth for which the Greeks also traded. The Romans transcribed "phoenix" to "poenus", thus calling the descendants of the Canaanite settlers in Carthage "Punic". Thus while "Phoenician" and "Canaanite" refer to the same culture, archaeologists and historians commonly refer to the Bronze Age, pre-1200 BC Levantines as Canaanites and their Iron Age descendants, particularly those living on the coast, as Phoenicians. More recently, the term Canaanite has been used for the secondary Iron Age states of the interior, that were not ruled by Aramaean peoples, a separate and closely related ethnic group which included the Philistines and the states of Israel and Judah.

Canaanite religion was strongly influenced by their more powerful and populous neighbors, and shows clear influence of Mesopotamian and Egyptian religious practices. Like other people of the Ancient Near East Canaanite religious beliefs were polytheistic, with families typically focusing worship on ancestral household gods and goddesses, the Elohim, while acknowledging the existence of other deities such as Baal and El. Kings also played an important religious role and in certain ceremonies, such as the sacred marriage of the New Year Festival may have been revered as gods. "At the center of Canaanite religion was royal concern for religious and political legitimacy and the imposition of a divinely ordained legal structure, as well as peasant emphasis on fertility of the crops, flocks, and humans." Canaanite religion was influenced by its peripheral position, intermediary between Egypt and Mesopotamia, whose religions had a growing impact upon Canaanite religion. The Hurrian goddess Hebat was worshiped in Jerusalem, and Baal was closely considered equivalent to the Hurrian storm god Teshub and the Hittite storm god Tarhunt. Canaanite divinities seem to have been almost identical in form and function to the neighboring Aramaeans to the east, and Baal Hadad and El can be distinguished amongst earlier Amorites, who at the end of the Early Bronze Age invaded Mesopotamia.
Carried west by Phoenician sailors, Canaanite religious influences can be seen in Greek mythology, particularly in the tripartite division between the Olympians Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, mirroring the division between Baal, Yam and Mot, and in the story of the Labours of Hercules, mirroring the stories of the Tyrian Melkart, who was often equated with Hercules.


Some Canaanite Gods;

Anat - virgin goddess of war and strife, sister and putative mate of Ba'al Hadad

Athirat - "walker of the sea", Mother Goddess, wife of El (also known as Elat and after the Bronze Age as Asherah)

Athtart - better known by her Greek name Astarte, assists Anat in The Myth of Ba'al

Baalat - or Baalit, the wife or female counterpart of Baal (also Belili)

Ba'al Hadad - storm god, perhaps superseded El as head of the Pantheon

Baal Hammon - god of fertility and renewer of all energies in the Phoenician colonies of the Western Mediterranean

Dagon - god of crop fertility and grain, father of Baal or Hadad

Eshmun - god, or as Baalat Asclepius, goddess, of healing

Ishat - goddess of fire. She was slain by Anat.

Kotharat - goddesses of marriage and pregnancy

Kothar-wa-Khasis - the skilled, god of craftsmanship

Lotan - serpent ally of Yam

Marqod - God of Dance

Melqart - king of the city, the underworld and cycle of vegetation in Tyre

Molech - or Moloch, putative god of fire

Mot - or Mawat, god of death (not worshiped or given offerings)

Nikkal-wa-Ib - goddess of orchards and fruit

Qadeshtu - putative goddess of love, modernly thought to be a sacred prostitute, although there is no evidence of sacred prostitution in ancient Canaanite cities

Resheph - god of plague and of healing

Shachar - and Shalim, twin gods of dawn and dusk, respectively

Shamayim - the god of the heavens

Shapash - also transliterated Shapshu, goddess of the sun; sometimes equated with the Mesopotamian sun god Shemesh whose gender is disputed

Yam-nahar - or Yaw, also called Judge Nahar.

Yarikh - god of the moon and husband of Nikkal


Some Hittite Gods;

A'as - god of wisdom, derived from the Mesopotamian god Enki

Alalus - primordial entity

Arinna - sun goddess and consort of Tarhunt

Arinniti - sun goddess, possibly another name for Arinna

Arma - minor moon god

Aruna - god of the sea and son of Kamrusepa

Aserdus - goddess of fertility and wife of Elkunirsa

Elkunirsa - creator god and husband of Aserdus

Ellel - god of the sky and protector of oaths

Halki - god of grain

Hannahannah - mother goddess

Hanwasuit - goddess of sovereignty

Hasameli - god of metalworkers and craftsmen

Hazzi - god of the mountains and oaths

Hutena - goddesses of fate, similar to the Moirae

Inara - goddess of the wild animals of the steppe

Ishara - goddess of oaths and love

Istanu - god of the sun and of judgement

Jarri - god of plague and pestilence

Kamrusepa - goddess of healing, medicine and magic

Kaskuh - god of the moon

Khipa - tutelary deity

Lelwani - goddess of the underworld

Pirwa - deity of uncertain nature

Rundas - god of the hunt and good fortune

Sandas - lion god

Sarruma - god of the mountains, son of Teshub and Hebat

Šauška - goddess of fertility, war and healing

Sutekh - weather god, possibly another name for Teshub

Telepinu - god of farming

Teshub - god of the sky, weather and storms

Tilla - bull god

Upelluri - god of dreaming

Wurrukatte - god of war

Zababa - god of war, possibly another name for Wurrukatte



Pantheons Index