Resheph

Resheph

Resheph, in the Bible, Ephraim's son.

Resheph or Reshef (Canaanite/Hebrew ršp רשף) was a Canaanite deity of plague and war. Resheph is associated with lightning, and hence also interpreted as a weather deity. In Ugarit, Resheph was identified with Nergal, in Idalion, Cyprus, with Apollo.. The name appears as a word in Classical Hebrew with the meaning "flame, lightning" (Psalm 78:48) and the derived or figurative meanings of "arrow" (as "lightning of the bow", Job 5:7) and "a burning fever, a plague" (by which the body is "inflamed", Deuteronomy 32:24). Resheph as a personal name, a grandson of Ephraim, occurs in 1 Chronicles 7:25.

Resheph is mentioned in Ugaritic mythological texts such as the epic of Kirta and The Mare and Horon. In Phoenician inscriptions he is called rshp gn 'Resheph of the Garden' and b`l chtz 'lord of the arrow'. Phoenician-Hittite bilinguals refer to him as 'deer god' and 'gazelle god'.

In Kition, Cyprus, Resheph had the epithet of ḥṣ, interpreted as "arrow" by Javier Teixidor, who consequently interprets Resheph as a god of plague, comparable to Apollo whose arrows bring plague to the Danaans (Iliad I.42-55).

Resheph become popular in Egypt under Amenhotep II (18th dynasty), where he served as god of horses and chariots. Originally adopted into the royal cult, Resheph became a popular deity in the Ramesside Period, at the same time disappearing from royal inscriptions. In this later period, he is depicted with a ram's head, armed with shield, spear and axe, often together with Qetesh and Min.

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References

  • Wolfgang Helck: Die Beziehungen Ägyptens zu Vorderasien im 3. und 2. Jahrtausend v. Chr., (Ägyptologische Abhandlungen, Band 5) 2. Auflage, Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1971 ISBN 3-447-01298-6 (Zu Reschef in Ägypten: S. 450-454)

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