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Local Manifestations of Yahweh and Worship in the Interstices: A Note on Kuntillet Ajrud

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image of Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions

The Shema (Deut 6:4) has long posed a crux interpretum in studies of early Israelite religion. Although the verse is often understood as a rejection of “foreign” deities in favor of Israel’s God Yahweh, some have understood the verse as a textual consolidation of Yahweh’s multiple identities. The present study draws attention to the specific local manifestations of Yahweh at Kuntillet Ajrud and their respective archaeological contexts, locating those expressions within the larger regional and pan-Israelite religious system. Attentiveness to the archaeological provenance of each pertinent inscription suggests that distinctions obtained between the devotional expressions towards each local manifestation of Yahweh. Insofar as it is possible to draw conclusions from the extant epigraphic and iconographic data, the expressions of devotion towards Yahweh of Teman was officially sanctioned; no such official recognition of Yahweh of Samaria existed. When no sanctioned space existed for such recognition, personal expressions of piety were expressed interstitially.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biblical Studies, Princeton Theological Seminary P.O. Box 821, Princeton, NJ 08542-0803, Email:


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