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A New Ritual Calendar from Ugarit

  • Loren R. Fisher (a1)


The new mythological, magical, and liturgical texts which are published by M. Virolleaud in Ugaritica V are very important. I want to thank Professor Schaeffer for giving me the opportunity to work on these texts. One very important text from this group is text 612 (RS 24.249). M. Virolleaud thinks that we are missing about ten lines from the lower edge or the central portion of the text. This text is the most complete ritual calendar that we have from Ugarit for any one month. Texts 3 and 173 (in Gordon, UT) give us more than one month but they are also very fragmentary. Text 613 (RS 24.253) of the new texts is also a text that covers more than one month but it does not seem to use the same structure as the other texts. At any rate, I think that it is important to use text 612 as a basis for this study, and therefore at the outset I want to give my translation.



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* Ch. Virolleaud, Les Nouveaux Textes Mythologiques et Liturgiques de Ras Shamra (XXIVe Campagne, 1961), in Ugaritica V, ed. by Schaeffer, Claude F.-A. (Paris, Imprimerie Nationale, 1968), 545606.

0 Text 612 equals text 12 of Ugaritica V, 588–90. I am following GORDON'S suggestion that we add 600 to VIROLLEAUD'S numbers. See CYRUS H. GORDON, supplement to the Ugaritic Textbook, 549. I will refer to GORDON'S Ugaritic Textbook as UT. Also PRU stands for Palais Royal d'Ugarit.

1 Virolleaud reads this line [']srm lh.ršp l(?)m, but after examining the text and comparing this text with text 1:22, 173:6, 29, 44 (Gordon, Ut), the reading that I have given is the best.

2 Again, when looking at the text, I could see a p but not an h.

3 This last line is also read different than Virolleaud. I cannot understand t over the h and z.

4 For this expression also see text 3, 173 and 9 (Gordon, Ut) and from the new texts see text 613 (RS 24.253). In this translation I have followed Levine, Baruch in his “Ugaritic Descriptive Rituals,” JCS (Dec., 1963).

5 Here the meaning is uncertain, but I have taken it as a Ugaritic word. The word appears again in B13 of 612 and in text 4 from PRU V (text 2004 in Gordon's Ut), which I will discuss below. For this word in Ḫurrian ritual texts see Ugaritica V, RS 24.278, line 8 (p. 510); RS 24.644, line 10 (p. 516); and RS 24.643A, line 17 (p. 517). This last text is a part of text 609 (pp. 579ft.) which has only one section in Ḫurrian, tzǵ in Ḫurrian may be read ti-še-he or “chief” (see Laroche's, remarks in Ugaritica V, 517. Also see Gelb, , Purves, , and Macrae, , Nuzi Personal Names, 268, and Speiser's, E. A.Introduction to Hurrian, AASOS, Vol. XX, 47). In this case (because of the context of the Ḫurrian texts) tzǵ would relate to 'Aṯtart.

6 I cannot be certain about this translation, but it is certainly a real possibility which seems to be avoided by most scholars.

7 For Bbt see text 607, line 31 (RS 24.244), Ugaritica V, 565, where we have ršp bbth, and here bbt seems to be a place. In text 611 (RS 24.260), Ugaritica V, 586, we have bbt ilbt, and here bbt could be a god or a place (i.e., the gate). I have dealt with text 6n which will soon be published in Ugaritica VI under the title of An Ugaritic Ritual and Genesis 1:1–5. Virolleaud's, suggestion (Ugaritica V, 588) that Bbt is the proper name of Baal must be given up. He made this suggestion after reading in text 613 (RS 24.253), line 11, w bbt.b'l.ugrt (Ugaritica V, 592). However, this cannot be treated as a proper name in text 613. As I have said above, text 613 is a calendar with a different form. We begin in line 5 with a ritual for the tenth month. Here the emphasis is on various locations for the ritual (cf. 612, B, 6). In line 11 we have w bbt.b'l.ugrt and in line 19 w burbt ilib and then a major division starting at line 24 with w.šnpt. That bbt is a place i n text 613 is obvious when this text is compared to RS 24.261 (Ugaritica V, 499), which is a Ḫurrian text published by Laroche. Even though the text is Ḫurrian, the locations are given in Ugaritic. It begins bgrn, “at the threshing floor,” and then in line 10 the location changes with the note w bbt. This is what we are dealing with in text 613, line 11 — which should be read, “and in the house of Baal of Ugarit.”

8 This line is very difficult and uncertain. One must compare it to PRU V, text 4 (text 2004 in Gordon's Ut), line 15 (see below).

9 If this translation is correct, then this would be the end of the month.

10 Gordon, and Lacheman, , The Nuzu Menology, Archiv Orientálni (June, 1938), Vol. X, No. 1–2, pp. 51ff.

11 Donner, H.Röllig, W., Kanaanäische und Aramäische Inschriften, Band III, 8.

12 Wiseman, D. J., The Alalakh Tablets, Nos. 6, 310, 346, 348, 269.

13 Koffmahn, E., Sind die altisraelitischen Monatsbezeichnungen kanaanäisch—Phönikischen identisch? Biblische Zeitschrijt (Juli, 1966), 197ft.

14 See Nougayrol's comments on š-ma-an on page 70 (note one) and then note on p. 314, line 46, in-bu ša pa-na šatti mu-ut-ḫu-mi ni-is-sà-ni. The use of Siwân is in a letter — the report of a general. I think that Ḫiyyar was the second month and that it was in the spring. The fact that in Ugaritica V we have some Ḫurrian ritual texts in which the main sections are introduced by Ugaritic lines (RS 24.261, lines 1, 2, and 10, p. 499) might indicate that Ḫiyyar in the Ugaritic rituals comes via ḪHurrian texts.

15 Virolleaud thinks that the feminine form of the numbers suggests that it was on the evening of the fourteenth day. See Ugaritica V, 590.

16 Ugaritica V, 590.

17 This meaning would probably be covered in Ugaritic by 'db or ṯ'r.

18 It is also important to note that the root means “warrior” in Arabic. Terry Fenton has suggested to me that this second part of the text refers to the worship of Baal on the fourteenth and that 'rkm may just mean that one uses the same sacrifices as indicated in the previous section of this text (“at the like,” i.e., “ditto”). Another suggestion would be to see 'rkm as plural and simply translate “Baal of the warriors/army.” In any case it is Baal who is worshiped on this occasion.

19 Jer. 6:23 and 50:42.

20 I have discussed Baal's creative role in Creation at Ugarit and in the Old Testament, Vetus Testamentum, Vol. XV (July, 1963), and in From Chaos to Cosmos, Encounter (Spring, 1965). I have tried to show that there are at least two types of creation at Ugarit. The creation of the El type is basically a theo-gonic creation; El is the father of the gods. However, there is also a creation of the Baal type (which is used in the O.T.). This is a cosmogonic creation, a creation in which Baal creates order and the possibility of life. In text 602 (RS 24.252) we have a situation which seems to be prior to the time when Baal became a creator. In the creation of the Baal type the titles of the creator are very often “King” and “Judge.” Therefore, when one encounters these titles, it is natural t o think of Baal, but on the basis of text 602, we are warned not to do this automatically. The titles and the rôles of the gods change from time to time and place to place, and this can be a source of confusion. Hence the terminology “creation of the Baal type” rests upon the texts of the Baal cycle. El could certainly have participated in both types at certain times or places. (Also in texts 607 [RS 24.244] and 608 [RS 24.251] Špš, the sun goddess, may bring the two types very close together as they seem to be in Egyptian materials.) In text 602, the mlk.'lm, “King Eternal,” is apparently El, and he “sits” (yṯb) and “judges” (ṯpt). In lines 3 and 4, “El judges with Hadd (Baal),” who is called the “Shepherd,” and Hadd's rôle is that of a musician in El's court (il.ṯpt.bhd r'y.dyŠr w yḏmr (4) b.knr.w ṯtlb. btp.w msltm). It should be noted that in this line we have another pair of verbs that are used in the same sequence in biblical poetry (yšr and ḏmr), e.g., Ju. 5:3; Ps. 27:6; 101:1; 104:33; and 105:3. Also on the Verso of text 602, lines 6 and 7, we have the words 'z and ḏmr. In line 9 the phrase 'zk ḏmrk l[n], “your strength, (even) your song/ might is for us” is very interesting and must be seen in light of Is. 12:2; Ps. 118:14; Ex. 15:2 However, one of my students, Eugene Roop, has pointed out that this line could be read 'zk ḏmrk l[a] [n] k htkk nmrtk btk ugrt, “your strength, your might, your victory, your fatherhood, your splendor are in the midst of Ugarit.” I have now checked the original text and this is the correct reading. This may be more significant because now one can see a fuller description. In text 602, the interesting point is that even here Baal is described in terms that are very fitting for the “hero-to-be.” It is well known that both gods and kings are referred to as shepherds, and when we hear of Baal's musical ability, it is almost as if the description was of David in Saul's court (hence David as shepherd and musician has to do with epic description). From such a description we should expect Baal to become creator-king. We know that Baal does become King (the theme of text 51 Corpus 4) and even Judge (si:IV, 44). This may mean that El was once connected with a cosmogonic type of creation but Baal took over this rôle but not the rôle of Father. It is well to remember, as I have stated before, that these changes may have occurred in some localities and not in others, and that we have a large area to deal with. In text 607 (RS 24.244) and text 608 (RS 24.251) El's influence covers a large area. His pantheon includes gods that are far to the south of Ugarit, and one should not expect uniformity in every cultic center. I take all the terms following the names of the gods in text 607 as seats or locations, and I would follow John Gray in seeing mlk 'ṯtrth (line 41) as “Mlk of Ashtaroth” (also note kmṯ). I would translate mlk.b'ṯtrt (text 608, line 17) as “Mlk from Ashtaroth.”

21 An Enthronement Ritual at Ugarit, JNES (July, 1969).

22 There are some traditions which indicate that this is a proper month for the sacred marriage. See Gaster, T. H., Thespis (Doubleday, 1961), 414. Also all Nakata, Ichiro, Problems of the Babylonian Akitu Festival, Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society, Vol. I, No. 1 (Fall, 1968), 47. If text 603 summarizes and dramatizes the entire 'Anat text, then one should probably add, at least for the 'Anat tradition, the sacred marriage to the series of events that equal creation of the Baal type (i.e., conflict, kingship, order, temple building, banquet, and sacred marriage).

23 ykl may mean “to be completed,” “finished,” or “held” in the hand, but all of these meanings are difficult, and we do not have the end of the line. The next letter could be the beginning of a k (hence Khn?). Viroixeaud, refers us to PRU II, 89, 15 yn.d.nkly and 143,6 ksp.d.nkly.b.šd. Also see Talmon, Shemaryahu, The New Hebrew Letter from the Seventh Century B.C. in Historical Perspective, BASOR, No. 176 (Dec, 1964), 30f., and Cross, Frank, Epigraphic notes on Hebrew Documents of the Eighth-Sixth Centuries B.C., BASOR, No. 165 (Feb., 1962), 44, note 42. They both discuss the root kwl in the sense of “measure.”

24 This can also mean “sacrifice.” I do not think that mlk modifies dbh. For this option see PRU V, 8. Also see text 125:40 (Gordon's Ut) for dbh mlk and note other phrases such as: dbḥ ṣpn, dbḥ b'l, and dbḥ 'ṯtrt (for this last one see Ugaritica V, 499).

25 This line and the following two lines contain ritual instructions. For tzǵ see above text 612, A, 7 (RS 24.249). It may be the sound of a musical instrument. Note Num. 29:1, , “The day of the sound of the horn” or Ps. 81:4 lian “Below at the new moon a shophar, at the full moon on the day of our feast” (see Job 29:9 for “full-moon” and note text 610 6 [Ugaritica V] for yrḫ w ksa). Also the word tzǵ may be Ḫurrian (see the above note on text 612, A, 7) and in this case it could refer to 'Aṯtart.

26 The entire discussion concerning ilib needs additional work in light of Nougayrol's suggestions and questions in Ugaritica V, 45f., and Laroche's discussion on pages 518ff.

27 Pdry is the daughter of Baal.

28 Also izr could be some kind of a garment, or it may be worth considering izr as relating to nzr, “to devote” or “to dedicate.”

29 Note that in text 51, VII, 41 (Gordon, Ut), the cedar belongs to Baal. See Fisher and Knutson, op. cit., for a discussion of the tree.

30 I suppose that this line includes more ritual instructions.

31 This line must be compared to text 612, A, 7; B, 3; or better yet to B, 1. See above for the translation.

32 The king in lines 2 and 7 is Baal. Also the temple of the king in lines 10, 11, and 14 should be equated with Baal's temple. Also, I think that the phrase dbh mlk is a general term which is made more explicit by such phrases as dbḥ ṣpn and dbḥ b'l. Or are these separate phases of the dbḥ mlk? The study of this text cannot be completed until one studies the Ḫurrian ritual texts published in Ugaritica V by Laroche. Note especially RS 24.261 (p. 499) that begins in Ugaritic as follows: dbḥh. 'ṯtrt qrat.bgrn.

33 I have used Herdner's, Corpus, 33, p. 116, fig. 79, and pl. XXXVIII, for some of my readings. The last two signs of this word are very strange.

34 Here the first two signs are strange. In fact the t looks like a.

35 From what one can see it looks like kb[mb]m.

36 Herdner says that this may be a z. The problem with reading ṯt is that one would then expect rmtm.

37 ušpǵt is a noun that remains difficult in spite of its use in text 609, 21 and PRU V, text 1, verso, 4 (where it is followed by tišr).

One explanation for the difference might be that in text five you really have the long form of “(as) [she arrives] at the temple of the gods” (5:2b) rather than the long form of “As “Attart … enters the temple of the king,” unless bt mlk and bt ilm should be equated.

39 Also, the b'lt.bhtm appears in both texts as well as the phrase b.ǵb.ršp. In text 2004, the scaronp of the ṣbi (host or warrior!) would be very appropriate for the fourteenth of Ḫiyyar.

40 See Ugaritica V, 584.

41 It may be important to give here the translation of text 603 which Knutson, and I have made for our paper, An Enthronement Ritual at Ugarit, JNES (July, 1969).

The translation is as follows:

OBVERSE: 1) Baal returns because of the throne to (his) mountain, Hadd, the Shetpherd], (2) because of the Flood to the midst of his mountain,

(Yea), the god of Japan to the [midst of] (3) the mountain of (his) victory.

Seven lightnings [and] (4) eight store-houses of thunder, the tree of lightning he [creates].

5) His head is wonderful. Dew is between his eyes.

6) Of hostility speaks his leg

(even) [his] horns (7) which are upon him.

His head is descending from the heave [ns],

8) [from the ten]t of the bull.

There is his mouth as two cloudfs].

9) [] as wine, the beloved.. [

10) — — — — — — —

REVERSE: 1) — — — — — — —

2) — — — — — — —

3) [she] poured out, the lovely one, the bottle[

4) [p]ouring the oil of peace from a bow[l].

[She washes] (5) her hands, the Virgin Anat,

[her] fingers, [the sister-in-law] (6) of the nations.

She takes her lyre in [her] hands;

[she places] (7) corals on her breast;

she sings to the beloved, ot Al[iyan] (8) Baal (whom) she loved.

42 This does not rule out a New Year in the spring, but if Ḫiyyar is the second month, it is not easy to think in these terms.

43 See Segal, J. B., The Hebrew Passover (London, Oxford Univ. Press, 1963), who argues for the early passover as a New Year festival. H. Kosmala is overly critical of this work (Vetus Testamentum, Vol. XIV, No. 4 [Oct. 1964], 504ff.).

44 Traditional arguments for a Canaanite and early Hebrew New Year in the fall are very weak.

45 This notation about the king is used in several of the calendars from Ugarit, but the day is different. In text 613 (RS 24.253, Ugaritica V) the king washes himself on the fourteenth and in text 3 and 173 (Gordon, Ut) on the thirteenth.

46 It may be that w.šnpt in text 613, line 24 (RS 24.253, Ugaritica V) should be compared to Akkadian ša-ni-tam since it marks a major division with a subsequent 'lm in line 32.

47 Donner, H.Röllig, W., Kanaanäische and Aramäische Inschriften, Band II, 86. This is from a comment on text 69, line 12. The translation of this text in ANET, 503, is very poor. “Upon a cake and upon milk and upon fat and upon any sacrifice…” This is as wooden as the translation of in Numbers 28:10 by ⋯π⋯ in the LXX.

48 Exodus 12:8, 9; 23:18; 34:25; Lev. 2:2; 3:4; 4:11; Numbers 9:11; Deut. 16:3.

49 Kraus, Hans-Joachim, Worship in Israel (Richmond, John Knox Press, 1966), translated by Buswell, Geoffrey from Gottesdienst in Israel (1962), 2636.

50 Most of my terminology for the various types of ritual texts is taken from Levine, Baruch A., Ugaritic Descriptive Rituals, JCS 17 (1963), 105–11; The Descriptive Tabernacle Texts of the Pentateuch, JAOS 85 (1965), 307–18; and Levine, Baruch and Hallo, William, Offerings to the Temple Gates at Ur, HUCA 28 (1967), 1758. I do not mean that Levine or Hallo would necessarily move to my way of relating these types. I understand the term “descriptive ritual” to be very basic and quite broad. This type of text has several sub-types: 1) archival notations (e.g., text 2004, PRU V, 4); 2) expanded notations (e.g., Ugaritica V, 609 [RS 24.643] and Gordon, Ut, 5); 3) liturgies for recitation (e.g., Ugaritica V, 603 [RS 24.245]); 4) calendars (e.g., Ugaritica V, 612 [RS 24.249]); and 5) narrative descriptions (e.g., Ugaritica V, 611 [P.S 24.260]). Sometimes these are mixed, but it is helpful to make these kinds of distinctions. Now it seems that these kinds of descriptive rituals may serve as source materials for historical narratives and prescriptive rituals. I should add that the structure, setting in life, and intent of these sub-types vary a great deal. For example, the calendar has the time clause at the beginning, and the narrative description has a time clause at the end. The setting in life may be the palace for the notations with a budgetary intent, whereas the setting of the liturgies is obviously the cult and they provide the words and drama for the worship.

51 It is possible that the phrase which refers to the sin offering in Numbers 28:15a, 22b, 30; 29:5, 11a, 16a, 19a, 22a, 25a, 28a, 31a, 34a, and 38a should also be a part of the “ordinary elements.” However, I think that while this element was common to major events, it is to be distinguished from the common element in the sense of ordinary or usual things that went on with or without major events. Numbers 28:17–25 should be compared to Leviticus 23:5–8.


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