n Journal for Semitics - Iconographic evidence for the worship of heavenly bodies in seventh and sixth century Judah in the light of its prohibition in Deuteronomy 4:19

Volume 16 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1013-8471


In the book of Deuteronomy the worship of heavenly bodies is forbidden (4:19) and punishable by death (17:3-5). Given that it was an ancient practice throughout Israel's history, the article investigates the reasons for its prohibition in the late seventh century. To find an explanation, Eckart Otto's recent Pentateuch theory regarding the origin of Deuteronomy as a theology of resistance against the reigning neo-Assyrian domination is investigated and Israelite / Canaanite glyptic art is called upon to testify to the validity of the theory. The results convincingly illustrate that iconography is an essential primary source in the scholarly study of the Old Testament, for without the ancient Near Eastern pictorial art we would not have understood the ancients' cosmic understanding of their celestial deities.

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