From the excellent and erudite Poster of a few years ago Leolaia :
" In Ugarit literature, El begat
seventy sons with the goddess Asherah in heaven. These "sons of El"
made up his divine council, the "council of El". In
these Canaanite poems, the "sons of El" (bn 'lm/bn 'l)
were described as "the assembly of the stars". In
another poem, they are also called "holy ones": "Now the gods
were seating to eat, the holy ones to dine, Baal
attending upon El, the gods drop their heads upon their knees".
The psalms incorporate traditional
material from Canaanite mythology, replacing references
to Baal with Yahweh or Elohim(God),
leaving references to El and his divine council occasionally
intact. Ps. 82:1, a Psalm on justice, begins: "God
[Heb.'lwhm] stands in the assembly of El [Heb. 'dw 'l],
among the gods ['lwhm] he dispenses justice." Although the
two are identified, it is still possible to detect that El and Elohim were two
distinct figures. The "assembly of El" is also equated with the
"gods". The likely original of this may have been: "Baal stands
in the assembly of El, among the gods he dispenses justice." Verse 6
continues: "You too are gods, sons of Elyon,
all of you." In Canaanite mythology, Elyon was an epithet of El (El-Elyon).
Another example utilizing traditional material is Ps. 89:5-10:
Yahweh, the assembly of holy ones in
heaven applaud the marvel of your faithfulness. Who in
the skies can compare with Yahweh? Which of the sons of
El (Heb. bn 'l) can rival him? El (Heb. 'l),
dreaded in the assembly of holy ones, great and terrible to
all around him, Yahweh, God of Sabaoth, who is like
you? Mighty Yahweh, clothed in your faithfulness! You control
the pride of the Sea [Heb. ym], when its waves
ride high, you calm them; you split Rahab in two like a carcase and
scattered your enemies with your mighty arm." (Ps. 89:5-10)
In the first half of this passage,
Yahweh is presented as the one whom the other sons of El fail to rival,
implicitly the foremost of the gods in heaven, and distinguished from El. In
the second half, the distinction between El and Yahweh is blurred, but references
to Yahweh's control over the Sea (Heb. ym) and the
mythological splitting of Rahab into two like a carcase, reveals clearly that
Yahweh takes the place of Baal, who in Canaanite myth, fights the Sea monster
Yamm (also known as Lotan=Leviathan, and apparently in Israel as Rahab), and
splits Yamm's body in half (cf. the Enuma Elish battle with
As for the "assembly of
God" being described as "stars" as in the Ugaritic text, witness Job
38:7 which also employs Ugaritic-style parallelism: "when all the
morning stars were singing with joy, and the sons of
God in chorus were chanting praise." The most striking psalm
that bears the most affinities to Ugaritic poems on Baal is Psalm 29:
Pay tribute to Yahweh, you sons of El
[Heb. bn 'lm]
Tribute to Yahweh of glory and power,
tribute to Yahweh of the glory of his name,
worship Yahweh in his sacred court.
The voice of Yahweh over
The voice of Yahweh in power!
The voice of Yahweh in splendor!
The voice of Yahweh shatters
the ceders of Lebanon,
making Lebanon leap like a calf,
Sirion like a wild bull.
The voice of Yahweh sharpens lightning shafts!
The voice of Yahweh sets the wilderness shaking.
Yahweh shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of Yahweh sets the terebinths shuddering,
stripping the forests bare.
The El of glory thunders.
In his palace everything cries, "Glory!"
Yahweh sits enthroned over the Flood
Yahweh sits enthroned as king for ever.
strength to his people
his people with peace
The content of the poem directly
derivative of Canaanite Baal hymnology as attested in Ugarit texts; like Baal,
Yahweh has control over the waters, a voice of thunder, he "sharpens
lightning shafts," resides in a palace built on the defeat of the Flood of
chaos. The "young wild bull" in v. 6 recalls Baal's bull-calf
iconography. The geographical details (Lebanon, the local Phoenician toponym
Sirion, Kadesh which was located north of Damascus, the reference to forests of
cedars) point to an original provenance of the hymn in Syria or Phoenicia.
Finally, the style of the poem, especially the strict parallelism, is
characteristic of the poetry of Ugarit. Most scholars agree that Psalm 29 was
originally an ode to Baal later adapted to Yahweh.