Resheph

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Resheph with long hair
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Ršp
in hieroglyphs
Resheph (Rašap, Rešef, Reshef; Canaanite/Hebrew ršp רשף) was a Canaanite deity which provided protection against plague and war. In Egyptian iconography Resheph is depicted wearing the crown of Upper Egypt (White Crown),
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surmounted in front by the head of a gazelle. He has links with Theban war god Montu and was thought of as a guardian deity in battle by many Egyptian pharaohs. Although the iconography of Resheph shares the gazelle with that of the Egyptian-Canaanite Shed, Izak Cornelius writes that "the rest of the attributes are totally different." [1] According to myth, Resheph exerted a benign influence against disease.

In Ugaritic Texts[edit]

Resheph with Qetesh and Min.

In Ugarit, Resheph was identified with Nergal, in Idalion, Cyprus, with Apollo.[2]

Resheph is mentioned in Ugaritic mythological texts such as the epic of Kirta[3] and The Mare and Horon.[4] In Ugaritic inscriptions he is called rshp gn 'Resheph of Gunu'[5] and b`l chtz 'lord of the arrow'. Phoenician-Hittite bilinguals[citation needed] refer to him as 'deer god' and 'gazelle god'.

In Kition, Cyprus, Resheph had the epithet of ḥṣ, interpreted as "arrow" by Javier Teixidor,[2] who consequently interprets Resheph as a god of plague, comparable to Apollo whose arrows bring plague to the Danaans (Iliad I.42-55).

Resheph became popular in Egypt under Amenhotep II (18th dynasty), where he served as god of horses and chariots. Originally adopted into the royal cult, Resheph became a popular deity in the Ramesside Period, at the same time disappearing from royal inscriptions. In this later period, Resheph is often accompanied by Qetesh and Min.

The ancient town of Arsuf in central Israel still incorporates the name Resheph, thousands of years after his worship ceased.

In Eblaite Texts[edit]

Resheph is found in the third millennium tablets from Ebla (Tell Mardikh) as Rasap or Ra-sa-ap. He is listed as the divinity of the cities of Atanni, Gunu, Tunip, and Shechem. Rasap is also one of the chief gods of the city of Ebla having one of the four city gates named in his honor.[6]

In Hebrew Bible[edit]

The Hebrew of Habakkuk 3:5 names Dabir and Resheph marching defeated before El's parade from Teman and Mount Paran. Dabir and Resheph are normally translated as Pestilence and Plague. Due to the literary discoveries at Tell Mardikh, for the first time Dabir is attested as a divinity outside the Hebrew Bible.[7]

The name Resheph appears as a word in Classical Hebrew with the meaning "flame, lightning" (Psalm 78:48) and "a burning fever, a plague" by which the body is "inflamed", Deuteronomy 32:24 but could be understood as archaic language in some instances as a proper name such as in Hab. 3:5 and Job 5:7 in the phrase "sons of Resheph soar in flight".

Resheph as a personal name, a grandson of Ephraim, occurs in 1 Chronicles 7:25.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Cornelius, Izak (1994). The iconography of the Canaanite gods Reshef and Baal: Late Bronze and Iron Age I periods (C 1500-1000 BCE). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. p. 16. ISBN 978-3-7278-0983-5. 
  2. ^ a b Javier Teixidor, The Phoenician Inscriptions of the Cesnola Collection. Metropolitan Museum Journal 11, 1976, 65
  3. ^ tablet 1/CAT 1.14, column 1, lines 18-20; tablet 2/CAT 1.15, column 2, line 6
  4. ^ CAT 1.100, lines 30-31
  5. ^ Studi semitici, 1981 
  6. ^ Giovanni Pettinato, The Archives of Ebla: An Empire Inscribed in Clay. Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1981 ISBN 0-385-13152-6
  7. ^ TM.75.G.1464

References[edit]

  • Wolfgang Helck: Die Beziehungen Ägyptens zu Vorderasien im 3. und 2. Jahrtausend v. Chr., (Ägyptologische Abhandlungen, Band 5) 2. Auflage, Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1971 ISBN 3-447-01298-6 (Zu Reschef in Ägypten: S. 450-454)