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The Dwelling of ˀIlu in Baˁlu and ˀAqhatu

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In an arrival formula that recurs throughout the Ugaritic epics Baˁlu and ˀAqhatu, the dwelling of the chief god, ˀIlu, is described as encompassing, among other things, a {dd}. Scholars have understood this term in various ways, chiefly as “field,” “mountain,” and “defense.” I argue that the etymological rationales grounding the first two semantic analyses are unsound, and that the case for the third understanding, by far the least commonly adopted, can be strengthened by observing a Sabaic cognate that occurs together with terms for land holdings. On these grounds, I offer the English translation “pasture” as the best approximation of the semantics of Ugaritic {dd}. This situates ˀIlu as a tent-dwelling pastoralist, for which there are suggestive parallels elsewhere in West Semitic texts, including the Hebrew Bible.

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