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Biblical Archaeology Review 20:3, May/June 1994

Was Yahweh Worshiped as the Sun?

Israel’s God was abstract, but he may also have had a consort

By J. Glen Taylor

Did Yahweh,a the Israelite God, have a consort? Like many other scholars, I believe that a substantial number of Israelites thought so. Unlike most others scholars, however, I believe that many of these same Israelites considered the sun a symbol or icon of Israel’s God, Yahweh. Yet early Israel was far more developed than we might guess from this; the same evidence that points to Yahweh as having a consort (or wife) and being symbolized by the sun, also points to an understanding of Yahweh as an abstract, non-anthropomorphic deity. In short, many early Israelites combined various notions about Yahweh that we would call “orthodox” and “pagan.” Unravelling these various strands proves to be a fascinating exercise.

Our principal evidence, in addition to the Bible, will be two archaeological finds familiar to long-time BAR readers—the pithoi (storage jars) from Kuntillet ‘Ajrud in the Sinai with their pictures and inscriptions;b and the famous four-tiered cult stand from Taanach that graced the cover of the BAR 17:05.

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