This Week in COS: Hebat of Uda and the Shema

Charles Halton has provided a schedule for reading Hallo and Younger’s The Context of Scripture in a year. Grab a schedule and join in any time.

We have just left the Hittite archival documents behind for a while and gotten back into the Egyptian canonical stuff as well as the Hebrew letters from Lachish. As a kind of “parting gift,” the Hittite docs yielded a votive record—that is, a record of gifts given to the gods in fulfillment of a vow—containing a nice point of contact with my usual introductory teaching on Josiah’s reform in 7th Century Judah.

Dream of the queen. In my dream Hebat asked for a necklace with sun-disks and lapis lazuli. We inquired further by oracle, and it was determined that (this Hebat was) the Hebat of Uda. [COS III:36}

“Uda” is a place name, presumably a city in which [there was] a shrine to the goddess Hebat. Other cities would also have shrines to the same goddess, and in some sense, the “Hebats” of different shrines are held to be distinct. For the queen, it makes a difference whether she is expected to offer her gift to “the Hebat of Uda” or to some other Hebat.

While the COS makes no such cross reference as this, the same kind of distinction may well be implied in the 8th Century Hebrew inscriptions of Kuntillet Ajrud, which offers blessings in the name of “YHWH of Samaria” and “YHWH of Teman.” If so, then Josiah’s 7th Century centralization of the Yahwistic cult into Jerusalem would have found resistance among those who feared offending distinct “YHWHs” among the several shrines of the Judean countryside. This theology reflected in such epithets as “Hebat of Uda,” “YHWH of Samaria,” and “YHWH of Teman, would be the likely foil for the biblical Shema, read (arguably most naturally) as “Hear, O Israel: YHWH our God is one YHWH!” (שמע ישראל יהוה אלהנו יהוה אחד).

Have you added your own cross-references to COS lately?

[This Week in COS: Hebat of Uda and the Shema was written by G. Brooke Lester for and was originally posted on 2010/02/18. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

2 Responses

  1. […] weeks readings, though I will resist. We concluded this week the Hittite archival documents (see here for Brook Lester’s “parting gift”) and were introduced to some Hebrew letters […]

  2. […] This Week in COS: Hebat of Uda and the Shema […]

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