• Gods, goddesses, and images of God in ancient Israël, Fortress Press, 1998, p. 68. A goddess, maybe Anat-Anath, on a horse, with two male figures on her sides. Tel-Qarnayim, 13-14 century BCE | Photo: Wikimedia Commons by Othmar Keel and Christoph Uelinger

Gaza and the Gods of Mesopotamia

Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer - 20 February 2024

The gods of Mesopotamia also include the old Canaanite gods. And these gods are still relevant today. I found an article about the goddess Anad, or Anat, in “The New Arab” by Sally Ibrahim, 27 April 2022. According to this article I read: “The Hamas led Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Gaza announced the discovery on Tuesday of a 4,500-year-old statue, called “Anat” from the Canaanite period.” It is an archaeological find by a Palestinian farmer: a 4,500-year-old rare statue of the goddess “Anat” excavated in Gaza. The limestone statue of “Anat” is 22 centimeters high, consisting of a head crowned with a snake, worn by the gods as a symbol of strength and invincibility.

Statue of Anat (Anath), Canaanite goddess | Photo: Wikimedia Commons by Camocon

“Anat was the goddess of love, beauty and war in the Canaanite mythology”, one Abu Rida said during the press conference. One of the conclusions caused by the presence of this statue is that the land of Palestine and the Gaza Strip in particular, knew many human civilizations, whether Canaanite, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic and other human civilizations. And thus is proof, that the Zionist claim that the Land of Palestine is a land without people and a people without land, is false, he added.

According to Abu Rida the statue was discovered by Nidal Abu Eid, a local farmer, while he was tilling his land in the Palestinian town of al-Qarara north of Khan Yunis. “I just happened to find it when I was tilling my land. It was muddy, but when I rinsed it, I realized that it is a valuable item”, Abu Eid told “The New Arab”. I am so proud that our land still has large archaeological values. It means that this land is ours and that we have a civilization and history of thousands of years before Christ, since the Canaanite era,” Abu Eid added.

The goddess “Anath” had a violent reputation. Her father was El. Later she would be equated with Astarte in the Phoenician mythology. In the 14th century BC her cult experienced a peak in Ugarit. There she had praising epithets like: “Mistress of the Heavens” and “Mistress of the Kingship”. Anat is considered to be a virgin, but with a robust sexual character. It was told that she had intercourse with Reshep and Baal. Therefore she also was the goddess of sexuality and fertility. She also was the goddess of hunting.

“Anat, Anath or Anatha was an important North-West Semitic goddess in Syria, particularly in Ugarit and Mount Lebanon”

In a myth she slaughtered the worshippers of Baal and stopped this attack not before Baal promised her to reveal the secret of lightning to her. Later she begged the supreme god El for a home for Baal. After Baal occupied his dwelling place, he became arrogant. He started bragging and imagined himself to be supreme. He even dared Mot, the god of death, to duel with him. But it was Anat who ultimately destroyed Mot. She killed, trampled and burnt him.

Anat, Anath or Anatha was an important North-West Semitic goddess in Syria, particularly in Ugarit and Mount Lebanon. The Canaanites, Amorites, Egyptians, Libyans and Hebrews all worshipped this goddess at some point. Her characteristics varied strongly between different cultures and over  time even within certain myths. She has probably strongly influenced the character of the Greek goddess “Athena”.

So, this archeological find is being used to demonstrate the right that the Palestinian (i.e. Arab) inhabitants of the Biblical areas of Judea, Samaria and Gaza claim for an independent Palestinian State. “Our rights are older than the rights of the Jewish people and Israel. Just look at these and other Canaanite finds”, they say. And, as a matter of fact, before the Hebrews, the Israelites entered the Promised Land of Canaan coming from Egypt the Canaanites were already living there.

“The present-day Palestinians, i.e. the mixed Arab population, in reality do not descend from these Canaanites”

The present-day Palestinians, i.e. the mixed Arab population, in reality do not descend from these Canaanites. They are Arabs who started to live in this deserted land over the centuries under the dominant and successive powers here in this deserted land, after the deportation of the Jews by the Romans, the Roman Exile that lasted for nearly 2,000 years and is coming to an end in our days. Especially also the migrant workers who came from the surrounding Arab countries when the Jewish people began to return at the beginning of the 20th century from all parts of the world and started to build up the completely neglected land. None of the native inhabitants of the days of Abraham – around 2000 BC – can be found or identified in the other peoples they dissolved or merged into. God gave the land to Abraham and his descendants.

In Genesis 15:17-21 we read:
“When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi[e] of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”” 

And the reason of the expulsion of these Canaanites and others in those days we also find in the Bible. We read in Deuteronomy 9:3-5 that Moses says to the people:
“But be assured today that the Lord your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy them; he will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as the Lord has promised you. After the Lord your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, “The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.” No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you. It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

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