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Kothar-wa-Khasis

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Title: Kothar-wa-Khasis  
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Subject: Baal, Baal Cycle, Moloch, Yahweh, Canaanite religion
Collection: Arts Gods, Egyptian Gods, Middle Eastern Mythology, Phoenician Mythology, Smithing Gods
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Kothar-wa-Khasis

Kothar-wa-Khasis (Ugaritic 𐎋𐎘𐎗𐎆𐎃𐎒𐎒Kothar-wa-Khasis) (Hebrew: כושר וחסיס‎) is a Canaanite god whose name means "Skillful-and-Wise" or "Adroit-and-Perceptive" or "Deft-and-Clever". Another of his names means "Deft-with-both-hands". Kothar is smith, craftsman, engineer, architect, and inventor. He is also soothsayer and magician, creating sacred words and spells, in part because there is an association in many cultures of metalworking deities with magic. The god-name Ka-sha-lu in texts from Ebla suggests that he was known in Syria as early as the late third millennium BC.

Kothar aids Baal in his battles, as recounted in the Myth of Baal, by creating and naming two magic clubs (Yagrush and Ayamur) with which Baʿal defeats Yam. Kothar also creates beautiful furniture adorned with silver and gold as gifts for Athirat. And he builds Baʿal's palace of silver, gold, lapis lazuli, and fragrant cedar wood. One of his significant actions is as the opener of the window through which Baʿal's rains can come and go to fertilize the earth and provide for the continuance of life.

Kothar's abode is Egypt, written in Ugaritic as HKPT - read perhaps as "hikaptah" - derived from the Egyptian for "the house of the ka of Ptah" used for Memphis and paralleled in a poem with KPTR - representing Caphtor. Memphis is the site of the temple of Ptah, the Egyptian god responsible for crafts, whose name means "the Opener".

In his book on the Myth of Baal, Mark Smith notes that there is a possible pun involved in Kothar's epithet "The Opener". According to the Phoenician mythology related by Mochos of Sidon, as cited in Damascius's De principiis (Attridge and Oden 1981:102-03), Chusor, Kothar's name in Phoenician Greek, was the first "opener." Assuming the West Semitic root *pth, "to open," Albright argues that this title represents word-play on the name of the Egyptian god Ptah.

Smith further explains Kothar's double abodes as reflexes of metal or craft trade both from Egypt and from the Mediterranean Sea to Ugarit, as Kothar is imputed to be the divine patron of these skills.

Kothar had a minor role in ancient Egyptian religion, as the mythological builder of chapels for Egypt's more important deities.

References

  • Gibson, J. C. L., originally edited by G. R. Driver. Canaanite Myths and Legends. Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, Ltd., 1956, 1977.
  • Meeks, Dimitri, and Christine Favard-Meeks. Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods. Translated by G. M. Goshgarian. Cornell University Press. 1996.
  • Smith, Mark S. The Ugaritic Baal Cycle. Volume 1: Introduction with Text, Translation & Commentary of KTU 1.1–1.2. Supplements to Vetus Testamentum, Volume LV. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1994.
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