Friday, May 31, 2013

That's a mouthful!

Based on the cultic apparatuses found in the domestic structures, we can conclude that the predominant ritual actions were libation rites with stands and zoomorphic vessels, dry offerings in the stand bowls, the burning of aromatic compounds, as well as votive practices and other ritual actions with human and animal figurines. The ritual apparatuses suggest that daily offerings and gifts were given to deities and ancestors, the latter of which may have been represented by human figurines. The human representations, predominantly the JPFs [Judean Pillar Figurines] in Iron Age IIC, are not divine representations, given their lack of divine emblems, but more probably likenesses of humans, expressing human needs and wishes such as fertility, plentiful progeny, ample lactation for the mother, etc. They were generally multipurpose objects used in various contexts (domestic residences, temples, graves), especially for votive practices. We define votive practices as the use of the figurine as an ex voto, both to give thanks for a benefit from the gods and to give to the gods in exchange for a benefit; they also served as media for prayer by representing the petitioner, and for magical rites such as love charms and apotropaic rituals (see Schmitt 2004: 187–89). Unambiguous divine figures (carrying divine emblems) used in domestic cult activities have not been found in Iron Age Israel, but they are occasionally found in Transjordan and Phoenicia and also in Philistia, where they were more common.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 479

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