Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Flat Chemosh

First, the portrayal of Chemosh in the Mesha Inscription emerges as one-dimensional and superficial. Chemosh is primarily a god present in time of war, enabling either an aggressive Israel to oppress Moab or a resurgent Moab to drive out her enemies. There is no explanation given for Chemosh’s anger or for his reversal. Nothing is said about the deity’s character or the reason for his disposition toward Moab. He is a cipher and may have been viewed as arbitrary and been feared more than loved. His relationship with Moab was driven by the rational exchange of favors between god and devotee. While the HB presents YHWH as also capable of great violence, Israel’s God is characterized by justice, faithfulness, and compassion. This God sought not just the respect of Israel but also her love, exclusive devotion, and understanding.—M. Patrick Graham in Divine Doppelgängers: YHWH’s Ancient Look-Alikes, p. 137

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