Historians reconstruct pantheons to better understand their role in society (see below for examples of reconstruction as a historical method). Has there been any attempt to apply this historical method to the Semitic pantheon?

Please consider some of these reported findings of Biblical archaeology and Biblical criticism, from:

  • Kuntillet Ajrud
  • Khirbet el-Qom
  • Edomite culture archaeology
  • The synthesis of the Hebrew Bible as presenting Yahweh as "appearing" from Paran, "coming" from Sinai and Teman, "shining" and "exiting" from Seir with holy hosts and "Ashdat from his right, for them" and "marching" in storm from Edom field – along with the above findings.
  • The idea of an early Israelite approach according to which other gods exist (or can exist) and can be worshiped by non Israelites but shouldn't be worshiped by Israelites because they should only worship Yahweh → contrasted with a late Israelite approach according to which, Yahweh is the only god that ever existed, hence he was the god of this reality (or this cosmos), and worshiping other gods is a great sin.

An example for a reconstruction theory I look for:

A wide historical examination of Biblical archaeology and Biblical criticism, politics of the ancient near east (including the religious aspect of 'city states'), climate changes in the ancient near east, migrations inside the ancient near east and "religious innovation" in the ancient near east (Akhenaten and Yahwism), all can bring one to assume a discourse around several Canaanite polytheistic pantheons coexisting differently in different time periods, and I would like to learn more of it. For example:

  • Northern polytheistic Canaanite pantheon: Gods of Akkad, Phoenicia and Ugarit
  • Eastern polytheistic Canaanite pantheon: Gods of Aram-Damascus, Amon and Moab
  • Middle polytheistic Canaanite Pantheon: Gods of Judah, Israel, Edom and possibly Midianites and Nabataeans (might include El, Yahweh, Asherah Qos, Astarte, Anat, Baal and possibly also Ashdat)
  • Western polytheistic Canaanite pantheon: Gods of North Sinaitic nomads and Amalekites
  • Southern polytheistic Canaanite Pantheon: Gods of the Arabs and Habeshis.

The Yahwism sect rejected any such pantheon, of course.

My question

Have historians attempted to reconstruct the polytheistic Semitic pantheon, dividing it into sub pantheons?

  • Why would they do this? Not challenging it, just trying to understand the analytical framework you're proposing.
    – MCW
    Aug 4 at 18:03

Yahwism, of course, developed its rigid monotheistic nature later than perhaps your comment implies.

Moreover though, I think your question assumes a perspective that is too westernized (as in Ancient Greek or Roman).

Canaanite region religions that arose had relatively few major gods. Three (3) was quite common, a triad (that influenced early Christians to adopt the holy trinity): usually one male, one female, and one child.

A formalized pantheon is unnecessary with so few gods. This is contrasts with a dozen gods in Roman or Greek pantheons. The imperial nature and designs of those two empires (that sought to standardize, control, and expand over vast regions) were well-served by more formalized structures to train and assimilate new populations.

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    Once again, this would benefit from the inclusion of your sources.
    – Steve Bird
    Jul 4 at 22:59
  • phoenicia.org/pagan.html — provides an excellent summary of common Phoenician triad deities, usually specific to each city-state. Jul 5 at 23:14
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    @NowChildrens That's a very interesting source, notably because it names many gods from the Middle East region. But it also starts with a list of 20 Phenician gods, which seems at odds with your main argument about triads. Also, can you point if the same work shown for Phenicians has been made for Hebrews ?
    – Evargalo
    Aug 4 at 9:23
  • Important to identify each of those ~20 to the city in which they were worshipped. When you begin that, you see the overlap (Baal and Melquart — Ashtarte and Tanin — Melquart and Mot as examples). Baalbek would not have a Goddess of the sea, nor a coastal city a Goddess of vegetation or crops. I am Phoenicia-phile by hobby, not by my engineering education. That said, I posit to you that jewish monetheism developed from Phoenician religious practices and beliefs. My admittedly conclusive view is explored more here: phoenicia.org/mobile/godidea.html Aug 5 at 13:24
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    We know for instance that Hebrews once worshipped together both Jehovah and Ashtarte. This again speaks to my earlier point that the people in the region had more fluid and “neighborly”(less rigid and imperial) religious practices and beliefs. Oddly enough, this sort of “orientalism” was disparaged by 18th and 19th century historians/philosophers (though it’s certainly back in fashion in other elements of today’s society). Whether you accept my conclusion or not, perhaps these more original sources will assist you further. Porphyry, Plotinus, Sanchuniathon, and Maimonides. Aug 5 at 13:40

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