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Chapter 2. Biblical Perspectives on the Northern Cult in the Monarchic Period

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Chapter Summary

Keel and Uehlinger, in their comprehensive iconographic survey, note prolific bovine imagery in the Late Bronze Age Levant that tapers off some in the Iron I, followed by a dearth of comparable imagery in the Iron IIA. Later in the Iron IIB, bovine imagery returns in a few examples, located primarily in the northern hill country. Such trends may be seen to parallel the chronology presented in the Hebrew Bible: bovine imagery is associated with Yahweh at a time when the imagery is prevalent in the premonarchic period, only to disappear during the united monarchy with the cherub iconography of David and Solomon, then to be revived by Jeroboam with scattered examples afterward under the influence of his cult. The Yahwistic nature of the Northern cult may be detected in the 1 Kgs 12:31 mention that Jeroboam built a "house of the bāmôṯ" at Bethel.

Keywords: Bethel; bovine imagery; Hebrew Bible; Jeroboam; premonarchic period; Yahweh



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