Arts and Cultures - Yarikh the Moon God of Canaan

Arts and Cultures

Dr Archana Verma

Nanna or Sin the Moon god of Sumer was marred to Ningal as we saw in the previous post. Ningal is the Sumerian form of Canaanite Nikkal, who was the wife of the Canaanite Moon god Yarikh. Thus, Sumerian Nanna was a derivative of the Canaanite Yarikh. The Moon god Yarikh had a special shrine at Jericho in the West Bank. 

Jericho is regarded as the oldest inhabited city in the world, going back to 9000 BCE. 

About 20 layers of settlements have been excavated at Jericho. Thus, it can be argued that the worship of Moon was as old as the history of settled city in human history. As the urban civilisation spread across the Fertile Crescent, the worship of Moon and his wife Nikkal or Ningal also spread to Mesopotamia.

Yarikh is said to rule the time as the phases of the Moon were used to set the calendar and also agriculture. Thus, Moon was regarded as a sustaining deity.

An ancient poem says that Yarikh asked the King of Sumer for Nikkal. He agreed to pay a large load of silver, gold and lapis lazuli as the bride price for Nikkal.

At Tel-Hazor in Israel, a ring of stelae has been discovered, where at the centre is a stele with the crescent moon on top and a pair hands raised towards it. This is believed to a be shrine of the Moon deity Yarikh.

The name Jericho is said to have emerged from Yarikh. If so, then it means that the city was a major centre of worship of the Moon deity Yarikh.

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