HOUSE OF EL
|The Canaanites were actually a collection of peoples that
included the Ammonites, Amorites, Edomites, Midianites, and Moabites,.
The Ammonite tribe lived on the east side of the Dead Sea, just south of
Mount Nebo. The Amorites lived to their north. The Amorites eventually
conquered the Ammonites and pushed them back to the east, across the
Trans-Jordan. South of the Ammonites lived the Moabites, and to their
south were the Edomites, who dwelt just north of Petra and east of the
Arabah depression (the dry portion of the Dead Sea rift, leading to the
Gulf of Aqaba. The Amalekites lived on the west side of the depression.
West of the Sea of Galilee was the land of Hebron. Midian, home of the
Midianites, where Moses met and married Zipporah, daughter of Jethro,
was south of Petra and east of Arabah. It consisted of rich pastureland
which rimmed the Sinai.
|Religion in the ancient Near East was closely tied to
place and politics. Deities were associated with particular places, such
as cities and eventually nations. Temples functioned quite
literally as the god's house, where the god resided in the form of a
Priests and followers fed, clothed and cared for the deity in a
series of rituals and offerings. Chief among the god's adherents was the
king or city-ruler. As builder of the temple and chief official in the
cult, the king had a special relationship with the god. This association
between place, deity and royalty made religion a powerful factor in
defining group identities in the ancient Near East.
The earliest Canaanite temples of the Bronze Age consisted of a broad
room, open porch and court. Facing the entrance in the broad room was a
stone altar for sacrifices. Over time, temples developed into tripartite
buildings, consisting of an entrance porch and a main room with a cult
niche, sometimes called the "Holy of Holies." Excavated
temples reveal cult objects such as libation tables, incense altars,
cylindrical offering stands, seals and bronze figurines. A few temples
have produced tall basalt stele and seated statues of a male god.
of Pennsylvania Museum