Who is god El in Legend of Keret?

  • In Legend of Keret we can read that:

    King Keret of Hubur (or Khuburu), despite being reputed to be a son of the great god El himself.

    To which El god this legend refers to?

    Could be the same El as in the Bible?

  • The name El was a generic name.

    According to the Wikipedia article on El, "El" was a generic name for a god, usually a supreme god. In that sense, "El" functions very much like "God" does in the English language.

    ʾĒl ...is a Northwest Semitic word meaning "god" or "deity", or referring (as a proper name) to any one of multiple major Ancient Near East deities.

    ...

    Specific deities known as El or Il include the supreme god of the Canaanite religion,[4] the supreme god of the Mesopotamian Semites in the pre-Sargonic period,[5] and the God of the Hebrew Bible.

    There are many names of God in the Bible, and many start with "El". Now, the Legend of Keret is an Ugaritic story, whereas the Wikipedia article and the Bible talk about Canaan. So, it's worth noting that

    The foundations of the Bronze Age city Ugarit were divided into quarters. In the north-east quarter of the walled enclosure, the remains of three significant religious buildings were discovered, including two temples (of the gods Baal Hadad and Dagon) and a building referred to as the library or the high priest's house. Within these structures atop the acropolis numerous invaluable mythological texts were found. These texts have provided the basis for understanding of the Canaanite mythological world and religion.

    ~ Wikipedia: Ugaritic Religion

    "Baal" and "Dagon" both appear in the Old Testament as Canaanite/Philistine/pagan gods. So Ugarite and Canaan are closely related.

    El in the Legend of Keret is not the same as El in the Bible.

    As durron597 quoted in his answer,

    [I]n the Ugaritic texts the god El is revealed to be wholly benevolent in nature, whereas Yahweh has a fierce as well as a kind side.

    ~ Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan, John Day, 13-14

    Indeed, looking at the original text, near the end this god El is referred to as

    the Kindly One, El Benign

    ~ Ugaritic Myths, Epics, and Legends, p 148

    I have never heard Yahweh/the Christian God (let's use "Jehovah") called "benign". He is benevolent, yes, but that's not all there is to Him. There are several more quite significant differences that further distinguish "El" and Yahweh/Jehovah, including but not limited to:

    • King Keret is El's son. Yahweh doesn't have a son.
    • King Keret almost died. Jehovah's son wasn't mortal until his birth around 3-4 A.D., give or take 2 years. These myths are separated by 1200-1500 years. (Plus, Jehovah's son did die [and was resurrected, but that's beside the point].)
    • There are multiple positive/neutral references to gods (such as Baal, Asherah, and Ashtoreth) in the Legend of Keret that are strongly condemned in the Old Testament.

    Even if the god "El" referred to in the Legend of Keret and the god that became known as Yahweh used to be the same, so to speak, by the time any of the books in the Bible were written, they were certainly different gods.

License under CC-BY-SA with attribution


Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM