Eshmun: Dying & Rising God of Healing (6 BC) preceding Jesus (33 AD) - Gnostic Informant

Published: 22 May 2022  ·  Uploaded: 04 Oct 2022 Watch on Youtube.com
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ESHMUN was a Phoenician healer god, later identified with Asklepios, the patron of medicine, by the Greeks and the Romans. He seems to be attested since the third millennium bce in Syria, though his physiognomy becomes clear only in the first millennium bce. The etymology of Eshmun clearly connects him with "oil," which had therapeutic and ritual functions (in relationship with the kingship ritual) in the ancient Near East. In the Ebla archives (middle of the third millennium bce), the theophoric element sí-mi-nu/a is found in some personal names, written dì-giš in Sumerian, meaning "oil." In the ritual texts of Ugarit and Ras Ibn Hani, in the late Bronze Age (eighteenth century bce), the god Šmn is also mentioned as a beneficiary of offerings (Keilalphabetischen Texte aus Ugarit 1.164:9, 1.41:[45], 1.87:50). Unfortunately nothing is known about the functions or the role of this god in the Syrian pantheons, but his connection with oil must indicate that he was "the one who oils," and thus "the one who heals." This is surely the main reason why Eshmun was later assimilated to Asklepios/Aesculapius. His occasional interpretatio as Apollo (for example, in Carthage) is also based on the same background, because Apollo was also a salvific god. According to Philo of Byblos (Eus., Praeparation Evangelica I, 10, 38), Eshmun was Sydyk's son (Sydyk was the personification of Justice), while Damascius (Vita Is. ß 302) knows his father as Sadykos, who had first seven sons, the Dioscouri or Kabeiri, then an eighth son, Eshmun (Esmounos; the number 8 was a sign of election, of a special destiny). According to Pausanias (VII, 23,7–8), who refers a Sidonian testimony, Eshmun's father was Apollo, while the god himself was the Air, which brings health. According to Cicero (Nat. deor. III, 22, 57) and Lydus (De mens. IV, 142), Arsippos was the name of the third Aesculapius, that is, Rashap (Reshef), the semitic Apollo.

Eshmun and the Baal Tradition
From a typological and historical point of view, Eshmun, though he is not a storm god, seems to be near to the Syrian Baal tradition, which emphasizes the salvific functions of the god, documented in Ugarit through Baal's connection with the Rapiu/Refaim ("the healers"=the dead). Eshmun's cult is documented not only in the sphere of public religion, but also on the level of private or popular beliefs, where the questions of health, wealth, and salvation were essential.

The earliest attestation of Eshmun seems to be the London Medical Papyrus, where we find, transcribed into Egyptian hieratic syllabic script, some short West Semitic magical texts, dated from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries bce (Steiner, J. C., Journal of Near Eastern Studies 51, 1992, pp. 191–200). One of them (no. 28) contains the name of Eshmun and probably also of Astarte, while the text of number 33 alludes to an anonymous "healer" (rpy), who is probably Eshmun.

Eshmun in Phoenicia
The first epigraphical evidence related to Eshmun is the treaty (754 bce) between Mati'el, the king of Arpad (North Syria) and Assurnirari V, king of Assyria, where Eshmun is mentioned in the group of the Syrian gods who warrant the treaty, together with Melqart (the Baal of Tyre; cf. State Archives of Assyria II, 1988, no. 2, VI, 22, p. 13). Both appear again in the treaty between Asarhaddon of Assyria and Baal of Tyre (675–670 bce). The consequences are stated, should the Tyrian king not respect the oath: "May Melqart and Eshmun deliver your land to destruction and your people to deportation; may they [uproot] you from your land and take away the food from your mouth, the clothes from your body, and the oil for your anointing" (State Archives of Assyria II, 1988, no. 5, IV, 14–17, p. 27). The mention of the oil probably alludes to Eshmun's specific functions. The association of Melqart, Baal of Tyre, and Eshmun, Baal of Sidon, is not rare. For example, in Batsalos, near Kition (Cyprus), the double divine name, Eshmun-Melqart, indicates a strong cultural association between the two gods, who protected and defended the people.


"Eshmun ." Encyclopedia of Religion. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Aug. 2022 https://www.encyclopedia.com.





#Eshmun #Tammuz #Asclepius


Shared on: 04 Oct 2022

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