SPECIAL TOPIC: MOON WORSHIP

Moon worship was the most widespread mythology of the Ancient Near East starting with Sumer (the first writing culture of the ANE). There was both a male and female aspect to the myth. Originally the moon god came from the rape of the grain goddess, Ninlil by Enlil, the sky god.  Enlil was cast out of the pantheon and condemned to the underworld for his act, but when Ninlil found out she was with child she joined him.  The child, Sin, was allowed to climb into the sky each night.

The worship of the moon is designed by its different phases.

1. new moon – Asimbabbar

2. crescent moon – Sin

3. full moon – Nanna (Sumerian "illumination" from En-su, "lord of wisdom")

These names basically mean "wise lord" (i.e., Su'en, Akkadian) or "illumination" (Nanna, Sumerian) worshiped at Ur of the Chaldees. The city itself was often called the city of Nannar. The fertility pair (i.e., En'su and consort Ningal) were worshiped at Ziggurats (large pyramids with flat tops) located in the city.  The sun god (Shamash) was the firstborn of the couple and later Ereshkigal (the Queen of the Underworld) and Inanna (the Queen of Heaven/sky).

The cult was spread all across the ANE, but the major centers of worship were

1. Ur

2. Haran

3. Tema

4. Canaan

5. Mecca

Basically this mythology combined the fertility emphasis with astral worship.

The OT rejects astral worship (cf. Deut. 4:19; 17:3; 2 Kgs. 21:3,5; 23:5; Jer. 8:2; 19:13; Zeph. 1:5) and fertility worship (i.e., Ba'al and Asherah, Ugarit poems). The Hebrews, originally nomads, were very careful to resist moon worship because in general moon worship was characteristic of nomadic peoples who traveled at night, while the sun was much more generally worshiped by settled or agricultural peoples.  Eventually nomads settle and then astral worship in general became the problem. 

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