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Anat, also ‘Anat (in ASCII spelling `Anat and often simplified to Anat), Hebrew or Phoenician ענת (‘Anāt), Ugaritic ‘nt, Greek Αναθ (Englished as Anath), in Egyptian rendered as Antit, Anit, Anti, or Anant, is a major northwest Semitic goddess.
‘Anat in Ugarit
In the Ugaritic Ba‘al/Hadad cycle ‘Anat is a violent war-goddess and the sister of the great Ba‘al known as Hadad. Ba‘al is usually called the son of Dagon but ‘Anat is addressed by El as "daughter". Either one relationship or the other is probably figurative.
‘Anat's titles used again and again are "virgin ‘Anat" and "sister-in-law of the peoples" (or "progenitress of the peoples" or "sister-in-law, widow of the Li’mites").
In a fragmentary passage ‘Anat appears as a wild and furious warrior in a battle, wading knee-deep in blood, striking off heads, cutting off hands, binding the heads to her torso and the hands in her sash, driving out the old men and townsfolk with her arrows, her heart filled with joy.
’Anat boasts that she has put an end to Yamm the darling of El, to the seven-headed serpent, to Arsh the darling of the gods, to Atik 'Quarrelsome' the calf of El, to Ishat 'Fire' the bitch of the gods, and to Zabib 'flame?' the daughter of El. Later, when Ba‘al is believed to be dead, she seeks after Ba‘al "like a cow for its calf" and finds his body (or supposed body) and buries it with great sacrifices and weeping. ‘Anat then finds Mot, Ba‘al/Hadad's supposed slayer and she siezes Mot, splits him with a sword, winnows him with a sieve, burns him with fire, grinds him with millstones and scatters the remnants to the birds.
Text CTA 10 tells how ‘Anat seeks after Ba‘al who is out hunting, finds him, and is told she will bear a steer to him. Following the birth she brings the new to Ba‘al on Mount Zephon. But nowhere in these texts is ‘Anat explicitly Ba‘al/Hadad's consort. To judge from later traditions ‘Athtart (who also appears in these texts) is more likely to be Ba‘al/Hadad's consort. But of course northwest Semitic culture permitted more than one wife and liasons outside marriage are normal for deities in all pantheons.
In the story of Aqhat, the protoganist Aqhat son of Daniel is given a wonderful bow and arrows by the craftsman god Kothar-wa-Khasis. The goddess ‘Anat tries to buy the bow from Aqhat, offering even immortality, but Aqhat refuses all offers, calling her a liar since old age and death are the lot of all men. ‘Anat complains to El and threatens El himself if he does not allow her to take vengeance on Aqhat. El concedes. ‘Anat launches her attendant Yatpan in hawk form against Aqhat to slay him. The plan succeeds, but somehow (text is missing here) the bow and arrows fall into the sea and all is lost. ‘Anat mourns. She then drops out of the story which is unfortunately incomplete.
Gibson (1978) thinks Rahmay 'Merciful', co-wife of El with Athirat, is also the goddess ‘Anat.
‘Anat in Egypt
‘Anat first appears in Egypt in the 18th dynasty along with other northwest Semitic deities. She was especially worshipped in her aspect of a war goddess, often paired with the goddess ‘Ashtart. In the Contest Between Horus and Set, these two goddesses appear as daughters of Re and are given in marriage to the god Set, who had been identified with the Semitic god Hadad.
During the Hyksos period ‘Anat had temples in the Hyksos capital of Tanis (Egypt) and in Beth-Shan (Palestine) as well as being worshipped in Memphis. On inscriptions from Memphis of 15th to 12th centuries BCE, ‘Anat is called "Bin-Ptah", Daughter of Ptah. She is associated with Reshpu in some texts and sometimes identified with the native Egyptian goddess Neith. She is sometimes called "Queen of Heaven". Her iconography varies, but she is usually shown carrying one or more weapons.
In the New Kingdom Ramesses II made ‘Anat his personal guardian in battle and enlarged ‘Anat's temple in Tanis. Ramesses named his daughter (whom he later married) Bint-Anat 'Daughter of ‘Anat'. His dog appears in a carving in Beit el Wali temple with the name "Anat-in-vigor" and one of his horses was named ‘Ana-herte '‘Anat-is-satisfied'.
‘Anat in Mesoptamia
In Akkadian the form one would expect ‘Anat to take would be Antu earlier Antum. This would also be the normal femanine form that would be taken by Anu, the Akkadian form of An 'Sky', the Sumerian god of heaven. Antu appears in Akkadian texts mostly as a rather colorless consort of Anu, the mother of Ishtar in the Gilgamesh story, but is also identified with the northwest Semitic goddess ‘Anat of essentially the same name. It is unknown whether this is an equation of two originally separate goddesses whose names happened to fall together or whether ‘Anat's cult spread to Mesopotamia where she came to be worshippped as Anu's spouse because the Mesopotamia form of her name suggested she was a counterpart to Anu.
‘Anat in Israel
The goddess ‘Anat is never mentioned in Hebrew scriptures as a goddess, though her name is apparently preserved in the city names Beth Anath and Anathoth. Anathoth seems to be a plural form of the name, perhaps a shortening of bêt ‘anātôt 'House of the ‘Anats', either a reference to many shrines of the goddess or a plural of intensification. The ancient hero Shamgar son of ‘Anat is mentioned in Judges 3.31;5:6 which raises the idea that this hero may have been imagined as a demi-god, a mortal son of the goddess. But John Day (2000) notes that a number of Canaanites known from non-Biblical sources bore that title and theorizes that it was a military designation indicating a warrior under ‘Anat's protection.
In Elephantine (modern Aswan) in Egypt, Jewish mercenaries, c. 410nbsp;BCE, make mention of a goddess called Anat-Yahu (Anat-Yahweh) worshipped in the temple to Yahweh originally built by Jewish refugees from the Babylonian conquest of Judah.
‘Anat and Athene
In a Cyprian inscription (KAI. 42) the Greek goddess Athêna Sôteira Nikê is equated with ‘Anat. ‘Anat is also presumably the goddess whom Sanchuniathon calls Athene, a daugher of El, mother unnamed, who with Hermes (that is Thoth) councelled El on the making of a sickle and a spear of iron, presumably to use against his father Uranus.
Possible late transfigurations
The goddess ‘Atah worshipped at Palmyra may possibly be in origin identical with ‘Anat. ‘Atah was combined with ‘Ashtart under the name Atar into the goddess ‘Atar‘atah known to the Hellenes as Atargatis. If this origin for ‘Atah is correct, then Atargatis is effectively a combining of ‘Ashtart and ‘Anat.
The name of the Persian goddess Anahita means 'immaculate' in Avestan (a 'not' + ahit 'unclean'). But the resemblance of the name to ‘Anat suggests a possible connection to the goddess ‘Anat. This might be a connection in origin with the Avestan form being a secondary adaptation of the name or through assimilation between the two because of an accidental resemblance between the names.
([Ugaritic reading list, ]
- Albright, W. F. (1868). Archaeology and the Religion of Israel (5th ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. ISBN 0801800110.
- Day, John (2000). Yahweh & the Gods & Goddesses of Canaan. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press. ISBN 1850759863.
- Gibson, J. C. L. (1978). Canaanite Myths and Legends (2nd ed.). T. & T. Clark: Edinburgh. Released again in 2000. ISBN 0567023516.
- Harden, Donald (1980). The Phoenicians (2nd ed.). London: Penguin. ISBN 0140213759.
- Kapelrud, Arvid Schou, 1969. The violent goddess: Anat in the Ras Shamra texts Oslo: University Press
- KAI = Kanaanäische und Aramäische Inscriften (2000). H. Donner and W. Röllig (Eds.). Revised edition. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 3447045876.
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