Anat (/ˈɑːnɑːt/, /ˈænæt/), classically Anath (/ˈnəθ, ˈˌnæθ/; Hebrew: עֲנָת ʿĂnāth; Phoenician: 𐤏𐤍𐤕 ʿAnōt; Ugaritic: 𐎓𐎐𐎚 ʿnt; Greek: Αναθ Anath; Egyptian Antit, Anit, Anti, or Anant) is a major northwest Semitic goddess. Her attributes vary widely among different cultures and over time,[1] and even within particular myths.[2]

War Goddess
Bronze figurine of Anat wearing an atef crown with arm raised (originally holding an axe or club), dated to 1400–1200 BC, found in Syria
SymbolAtef Crown
RegionCanaan and Levant
ConsortBa‘al Hadad (Ugarit)
Yahweh (Elephantine Yahwism)
Set (Ancient Egyptian religion)
ParentsEl and Asherah
Greek equivalentEnyo, Athena
Roman equivalentBellona, Minerva
Hinduism equivalentKali

In Ugarit

In Ugaritic texts, Anat is depicted as violent, delighting in war, but also as the establisher of peace; she is depicted as sexual and fertile, bringing forth offspring, while still continuing to be called a virgin and a maiden.[2] In the Baal Cycle texts, Anat appears as a war-goddess, initially called upon by her father El to set the stage for the coronation of Yam; Anat, however, agitates for her younger brother (and possibly lover) Baal.[2]

Text fragments describe her appearance in battle;[2] in a fragmentary passage from Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra, Syria)[3] ‘Anat appears as a fierce, wild and furious warrior in a battle, wading knee-deep in blood, striking off heads, cutting off hands, binding the heads to her torso and the hands in her sash, driving out the old men and townsfolk with her arrows, her heart filled with joy. "Her character in this passage anticipates her subsequent warlike role against the enemies of Baal".[4] She is later described ritually re-enacting battle, and then purifying herself, in her temple, where she receives a message from Baal asking her to establish peace on terms favorable to him.[2]

She is initially concerned that new enemies of him have arisen, and notes that she put an end to Yam, "the beloved of El", and to other enemies of Baal[2] including a seven-headed serpent; Arsh the darling of the gods; Atik ("Quarrelsome"), the calf of El; Ishat ("Fire"), the bitch of the gods; and Zabib, the daughter of El. Anat goes to Baal and washes herself and makes herself beautiful before a feast with her younger brother;[2] text fragments then describe Baal and Anat grasping each other's genitals, aroused, and later Anat giving birth to her younger brother's child,[2] though Anat continues to be referred to as a maiden and the "virgin Anat".[2] (Another title used repeatedly for Anat is "sister-in-law of the peoples" (or "progenitress of the peoples" or "sister-in-law, widow of the Li’mites").)

When Baal complains he has no (royal) house, Anat vows to intercede with her father El, and threatens to bloody him if he does not grant Baal a house; she also asks Athirat to intercede with El, after which he grants Baal a house.[2] Anat and Baal rejoice and hold a celebratory feast, but Mot is angered at not being invited, and threatens Baal.[2] After Baal descends to the underworld, El and Anat mourn his death, and Anat searches the world and the underworld for him, her concern described in maternal terms,[2] "like a cow[5] [searches] for its calf". Anat finds Baal's body and carries it to the gods' sacred mountain, Saphon (Zephon), where she performs funeral rites and ritual sacrifices of animals, after which Baal is revived.[2] Anat then finds Mot, seizes him, and splits him with a sword or knife, winnows him and burns him, and then grinds him with millstones and sifts him through a sieve like grain, and sows his remains into the sea[2] or to the birds. Nonetheless, Mot returns and struggles further with Baal before finally acknowledging his kingship.[2]

Text CTA 10 tells of Anat seeking out Baal while he is out hunting; she finds him and is told she will bear a steer to him. Following the birth she brings the new calf to Baal on Mount Saphon. Nowhere in these texts is Anat explicitly Ba'al Hadad's consort. She is not Baal's wife, but is the power behind the throne.[2] To judge from later traditions ‘Athtart (who also appears in these texts) is more likely to be Ba‘al Hadad's consort; however, complicating matters is that northwest Semitic culture permitted more than one wife and nonmonogamy is normal for deities in many pantheons.

In the North Canaanite stories of Aqhat,[6] Anat covets a special bow and set of arrows which are given to Aqhat,[2] the son of the judge Danel (Dn'il). These were created for Anat by the craftsman god Kothar-wa-Khasis, but given to Danel to give his infant son. When Aqhat grows to be a young man, the goddess Anat tries to buy the bow from hom, offering him gold and silver and even immortality, but Aqhat refuses all offers, saying that he accepts that it is the lot of humans to be mortal.[2] He also insults Anat, saying that bows and arrows are tools for men, not women (asking "what would a woman do with a bow?"), angering the huntress goddess.[2]

Like Inanna in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Anat complains to El and threatens to harm El if he does not let her take vengeance on Aqhat; El concedes. Anat arranges for a her attendant Yatpan, in the form of a hawk or vulture, to attack Aqhat.[2] However, instead of merely knocking the breath out of him and stealing the bow, Yatpan kills Aqhat; Yatpan then runs away and the bow and arrows fall into the sea. Aqhat's death makes the land infertile (due to drought) for a time, and his wise younger sister Paghat sets out to avenge him by killing the vulture that killed him; Anat regrets her decision and mourns for Aqhat (and the loss of the bow), but the ending of the story is missing.[2] It breaks off at an extremely dramatic moment when Paghat discovers that the mercenary whom she has hired to help her avenge the death is, in fact, Yatpan, her brother's murderer. The story parallels that of Anat and her revenge on Mot for the killing of her brother.

Gibson (1978) thinks Rahmay ('The Merciful'), co-wife of El with Athirat, is also the goddess ‘Anat, but he fails to take into account the primary source documents. Use of dual names of deities in Ugaritic poetry are an essential part of the verse form, and that two names for the same deity are traditionally mentioned in parallel lines. In the same way, Athirat is called Elath (meaning "The Goddess") in paired couplets. The poetic structure can also be seen in early Hebrew verse forms.

In Egypt

Anat is sporadically attested in Egypt since the 18th century, and is found in the name of Anat-her,[7] a fragmentarily attested figure (possibly a Hyksos ruler) of the 12th, 15th or 16th dynasty whose name means "Anat is content" and is taken to indicate Canaanite descent. As a warrior-goddess, Anat was one of several Syrian / northwest Semitic deities who was prominently worshipped by the warrior-pharaohs of the 16th Dynasty.[7] She was often paired with the goddess Ashtart. In the Contest Between Horus and Set, these two goddesses appear as daughters of Re and are given as allies to the god Set, who had been identified with the Semitic god Hadad.

During the Hyksos period Anat had temples in the Hyksos capital of Avaris and in Beth-Shan (Israel) as well as being worshipped in Memphis. On inscriptions from Memphis of 15th to 12th centuries BCE, Anat is called "Bin-Ptah", Daughter of Ptah. She is associated with Reshpu (Canaanite: Resheph) in some texts and sometimes identified with the native Egyptian goddess Neith. She is sometimes called "Queen of Heaven". Her iconography varies. She is usually shown carrying one or more weapons.

During the 19th Dynasty (in the New Kingdom period), Seti I's favourite chariot team was named "Anat is content".[7] Ramesses II made Anat his personal guardian in battle and enlarged her temple in Pi-Ramesses, and also named his daughter (whom he later married) Bint-Anat, "Daughter of Anat". Ramesses II furthermore named his sword "Anat is victorious" and his dog "Anat protects"[7] (the dog appears in a carving in a Beit el Wali temple), and named one of his horses "Anat is content".

In Mesopotamia

In Akkadian, the form one would expect Anat to take would be Antu, earlier Antum. This would also be the normal feminine form that would be taken by Anu, the Akkadian form of An 'Sky', the Sumerian god of heaven. Antu appears in Akkadian texts mostly as a rather colorless consort of Anu, the mother of Ishtar in the Gilgamesh story, but is also identified with the northwest Semitic goddess ‘Anat of essentially the same name. It is unknown whether this is an equation of two originally separate goddesses whose names happened to fall together or whether Anat's cult spread to Mesopotamia, where she came to be worshipped as Anu's spouse because the Mesopotamian form of her name suggested she was a counterpart to Anu.

It has also been suggested that the parallelism between the names of the Sumerian goddess, Inanna, and her West Semitic counterpart, Ishtar, continued in Canaanite tradition as Anath and Astarte, particularly in the poetry of Ugarit. The two goddesses were invariably linked in Ugaritic scripture and are also known to have formed a triad (known from sculpture) with a third goddess who was given the name/title of Qadesh (meaning "the holy one").

In Israel

The goddess name ‘Anat is preserved in the city names Beth-Anath and Anathoth. Anathoth seems to be a plural form of the name, perhaps a shortening of bêt ‘anātôt 'House of the ‘Anats', either a reference to many shrines of the goddess or a plural of intensification.

The ancient hero Shamgar, son of ‘Anat, is mentioned in Judges 3.31 and 5:6, which raises the idea that this judge or hero may have been understood as a demi-god, a mortal son of the goddess. But John Day (2000) notes that a number of Canaanites known from non-Biblical sources bore that title and theorizes that it was a military designation indicating a warrior under ‘Anat's protection. Asenath, "holy to Anath", was the wife of the Hebrew patriarch Joseph.

In Elephantine (modern Aswan) in Egypt, the 5th century BCE Elephantine papyri make mention of a goddess called Anat-Yahu (Anat-Yahweh) worshiped in the temple to Yahweh originally built by Jewish refugees from the Babylonian conquest of Judah. These suggest that "even in exile and beyond the worship of a female deity endured."[8] The texts were written by a group of Jews living at Elephantine near the Nubian border, whose religion has been described as "nearly identical to Iron Age II Judahite religion".[9] The papyri describe the Jews as worshiping Anat-Yahu (or AnatYahu). Anat-Yahu is described as either the wife[10] or paredra (sacred consort)[11] of Yahweh or as a hypostatized aspect[12] of Yahweh.[13][14]

In contemporary Israel, "Anat" is a common female first name - see Anat (disambiguation). Philologist Anat Bechar, who herself bears the name, wrote: "The Biblical Shamgar was a rather minor and obscure character, and of his mother Anat we know nothing but her name. We do know that it was the name of a goddess in a Semitic pantheon to which the author(s) of the Bible were strongly and vehemently opposed, though it seems some of our ancestors did at some times worship her. None of which explains the popularity of the name in present-day Israel. To my mind, the reason is likely to be found in the completely accidental similarity of "Anat" with the European name "Annette", which appealed to Zionist pioneers coming from Europe and steeped in European culture. However, this hypothesis needs a thorough research in the Hebrew records from the early 20th Century, to verify or disprove".[15]

In Phoenician and Cyprian inscriptions, Athene

Anat is attested in a few Phoenician inscriptions from Cyprus.[1] In the Cyprian inscription KAI. 42, the Greek goddess Athêna Sôteira Nikê is equated with ‘Anat, who is described in the inscription as the strength of life : l‘uzza hayim.

Anat is also presumably the goddess whom Sanchuniathon calls Athene, a daughter of El, mother unnamed, who with Hermes (that is Thoth) counselled El on the making of a sickle and a spear of iron, presumably to use against his father Uranus. However, in the Baal cycle, that rôle is assigned to Asherah / ‘Elat and ‘Anat is there called the "Virgin."[16]

Possible late transfigurations

The goddess ‘Atah worshipped at Palmyra may possibly be in origin identical with ‘Anat. ‘Atah was combined with ‘Ashtart under the name Atar into the goddess ‘Atar‘atah known to the Hellenes as Atargatis. If this origin for ‘Atah is correct, then Atargatis is effectively a combining of ‘Ashtart and ‘Anat.

It has also been proposed that (Indo-)Iranian Anahita meaning 'immaculate' in Avestan (a 'not' + ahit 'unclean') is a variant of ‘Anat. It is however unlikely given that the Indo-Iranian roots of the term are related to the Semitic ones and although—through conflation—Aredvi Sura Anahita (so the full name) inherited much from Ishtar-Inanna, the two are considered historically distinct.

In the Book of Zohar, ‘Anat is numbered among the holiest of angelic powers under the name of Anathiel.

In Sefer Yetzirah by Rabbi Kaplan, he mentions that this angel is the ruling malach over Venus. [17]

See also


  1. Anthony Bonanno, Archaeology and Fertility Cult in the Ancient Mediterranean (1986), pp. 172-173.
  2. Rosemary Ruether, Goddesses and the Divine Feminine: A Western Religious History (2006), ISBN 978-0-520-25005-5, pages 56-61.
  3. CTA 3 B (= UT 'nt II)
  4. P. C. Craigie, "A Reconsideration of Shamgar Ben Anath (Judg 3:31 and 5:6)", Journal of Biblical Literature 91.2 (June 1972:239–240), p. 239.
  5. A wild cow, Albright clarifies, in Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan.
  6. H. L. Ginsberg, "The North-Canaanite myth of Anath and Aqhat", Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 97 (February 1945:3-10).
  7. John Gray, Legacy of Canaan: The Ras Shamra texts and their relevance to the Old Testament (1965), p. 174
  8. Gnuse, Robert Karl (1997). No Other Gods: Emergent Monotheism in Israel. T&T Clark. p. 185. ISBN 978-1850756576.
  9. Noll, K.L. Canaan and Israel in Antiquity: An Introduction. 2001: Sheffield Academic Press. p. 248.
  10. Day, John (2002). Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan. 143: Sheffield Academic Press. ISBN 978-0826468307.
  11. Edelman, Diana Vikander (1996). The triumph of Elohim: from Yahwisms to Judaisms. William B. Eerdmans. p. 58. ISBN 978-0802841612.
  12. similar to the relationship of Jesus to God the Father
  13. Susan Ackerman (2004). "Goddesses". In Suzanne Richard (ed.). Near Eastern archaeology: a reader. Eisenbrauns. p. 394. ISBN 978-1575060835.
  14. Noll, K.L. Canaan and Israel in Antiquity: An Introduction. 2001: Sheffield Academic Press. p. 248.
  15. Dr. Anat Bechar, "What's In A Name?"(in Hebrew) in Dr. Amnon Katz (ed.), "Round-up of Essays in Contemporary Israeli Society and Culture", Tel Aviv, 1978.
  16. "The Myth of Baal". Archived from the original on 2009-10-27.


  • Albright, W. F. (1942, 5th ed., 1968). Archaeology and the Religion of Israel (5th ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. ISBN 0-8018-0011-0.
  • Day, John (2000). Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press. ISBN 1-85075-986-3.
  • Gibson, J. C. L. (1978). Canaanite Myths and Legends (2nd ed.). T. & T. Clark: Edinburgh. Released again in 2000. ISBN 0-567-02351-6.
  • Harden, Donald (1980). The Phoenicians (2nd ed.). London: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-021375-9.
  • Kapelrud, Arvid Schou, 1969. The violent goddess: Anat in the Ras Shamra Texts Oslo: University Press
  • KAI = Kanaanäische und Aramäische Inscriften (2000). H. Donner and W. Röllig (Eds.). Revised edition. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 3-447-04587-6.
  • Putting God on Trial - The Biblical Book of Job – A Biblical reworking of the combat motif between Yam, Anat and Baal.
  • Theodor Gaster, Thespis: Ritual, Myth, and Drama in the Ancient Near East. 1950.
  • The Hebrew Goddess Raphael Patai, Wayne State University Press, ISBN 0-8143-2271-9
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