|Deities of the ancient Near East|
|Religions of the ancient Near East|
Shapash, Shapsh, Shapshu or sometimes Shemesh was the Canaanite goddess of the sun, daughter of El and Asherah. She is known as "torch of the gods" and is considered an important deity in the Canaanite pantheon and among the Phoenicians. She is not to be confused with the Akkadian sun god, Shamash.
In the Epic of Baal, Shapash plays an important part in the plot, as she interacts with all of the main characters, and in the end she is favourable to Baal's position as king. She announces that El supports Yam. By delivering her verdict in the final struggle of Baal with Mot, she reveals her role as judge among the gods, and by her judgement against Mot, as saviour of humankind, two aspects, Brian B. Schmidt observes, that conform with what is known of Shamash's function in Mesopotamia. After Baal is killed, she helps Anat bury and mourn him, and then stops shining. Following El's dream about the resurrection of Baal, El asks Anat to persuade Shapash to shine again, which she agrees to, but declares that she will continue to search for him. In the battle between Baal and Mot, she threatens Mot that El will intervene in Baal's favour, a threat which ends the battle.
In the Tanakh
In the Tanakh, worshiping Shemesh is forbidden and is punishable by stoning. Worshiping Shemesh was said to include bowing to the east, in the direction of the sun, as well as rituals related to horses and chariots, which were associated with her.[better source needed] King Josiah was also said to have abolished sun worship (among others).[better source needed]
In the Bible
The Bible in general attempts to portray the sun non-anthropomorphically or as representing Yahweh's power. Shapash/Shemesh is usually substituted for euphemisms like "or" (light), and it appears that sun worship, even in an Yahwist way, was avoided at all costs. However, the Woman of the Apocalypse, may directly allude to ancient Near Eastern sun goddesses.
- Canaanite/Ugaritic Mythology FAQ, ver. 1.2
- K. L. Noll (2001). "The Religions of Canaan: A Short Tour". Canaan and Israel in Antiquity: An Introduction. The Biblical Seminar. London: Sheffield Academic Press. p. 245. ISBN 1-84127-258-2. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
... the sun was Shapash (written Shemesh in other ancient texts).
- Keil-alphabetische Texte aus Ugarit 1.2.xv and xxii.
- Entry at The Obscure Goddess Online Dictionary; for example, "Baal, Anat, Mot, and Shemesh/Shapshu, as well as lesser-known deities" are seen as "upper-level management" in Lowell K. Handy's Among the Host of Heaven: The Syro-Palestinian Pantheon As Bureaucracy (Eisenbrauns, 1994; ISBN 978-0-931464-84-3). That is, ranking below the "owners," El and Asherah, "they run day-to-day affairs and are, in practical terms, sovereigns" (the Steve A. Wiggins, book review Archived 2008-05-13 at the Wayback Machine in ASOR Bulletin, No. 297, (February 1995); p. 94.
- Smith, Mark S. The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel's Polytheistic Background and Ugaritic Texts, Oxford University Press (2001), p. 127; ISBN 0-19-513480-X
- KTU. 1.2.III
- Schmidt, Israel's Beneficent Dead: Ancestor Cult and Necromancy in Ancient Israelite Religion and Tradition (Eisebrauns) 1994, pp 85f.
- KTU. 1.6.I
- Smith, Mark S. The Ugaritic Baal Cycle: Volume I., Brill Publishers (1994), p.257; ISBN 90-04-09995-6
- KTU. 1.6.III
- KTU. 1.6.VI
- Ezekiel 8:16
- Deuteronomy. 4-19 and 17-3
- 2 Kings 23:4