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Ancient Mesopotamia
Assyria Nineveh
Arslan Tash Til Barsip
Iran Palace of Darius
Phoenicia Arabia Palmyra
Syrian coast
Ougarit Byblos


Scene of Libation
to the God Shamash

 Sb 7
Richelieu room 3
A sovereign pours libation on an altar
before a seated god, recognisable by
his tiara (crown) with several rows of horns.
The god holds a ring and a rod,
symbols of power and justice.
A rayed sun disc dominates the scene.
These symbols are often associated
with Shamash, sun-god but also god of justice. 

 God Shamash

  The symbolism in the Bible is identical.
Judah gives his signet ‘ring’ and the ‘staff that is in thy hand’, both personal and precious, as a pledge to Tamar (Genesis 38:18). The rod of Moses became a symbol of his authority. - (Exodus 14) In his blessing on his deathbed, Jacob said to Judah that ‘the ruler’s staff’ shall not depart from between his feet until Shiloh comes (Genesis 49:10)
This detail is an indication of future extended authority.

“The rod of your strength Jehovah
will send out of Zion, [saying:] ‘Go subduing in the midst of your enemies’ ” (Psalm 110:1, 2).

Paul the Apostle was to apply
these verses to Jesus Christ
who came as the representative
of God (Hebrews 10:12, 13).
It is said that this 'King of kings' made war with justice with a rod of iron (Revelation 19:15).
In Babylon, the Hebrew form of the name Sheshbazzar, governor of the Jews returning from exile, meant: “Oh Shamash, protect the Father”. He is identified with Zerubbabel. - Ezra 1:8

 Sun in the Bible

Shamash and Code of Hammurabi

In the Bible, the sun is never deified because, as an impersonal force, it was created by God as a great light to light up the Earth and set a calendar. The existence of sun worship in the Kingdom of Judah is reported by the Prophet Ezekiel. “They were bowing down to the east, to the sun.” (Ezekiel 8:16).
This apostate behaviour went against the Law (Deuteronomy 4:19) and the words of the psalmist, “For Jehovah God is a sun and a shield; Favor and glory are what he gives.” (Psalm 84:11). Years earlier, the King Josiah had however abolished worship of the sun-god. - 2 Kings 23:5.
The Temptation of Christ      MI 285
Ary Scheffer
Sully 2nd room 63

 The sun, source of life and fertility,

is nevertheless revered
in most cultures. A149
The incarnation of light in the form of the
Egyptian god Ra, it would be Helios then
Apollo among the Greeks.
The worship of the Persian sun-god Mithra is
at the origin of the feast of Christmas.
The influence of this pagan worship of the sun
also explains the presence of a ring of light,
the halo, around the heads
icons of Christendom.

The halo,  an influence of this pagan worship of the sun ?

In Hellenic and Roman art, the sun-god Helios and Roman emperors are often depicted with a radiant crown. The latter was not used in primitive Christian art because of its pagan origins, but from the mid 4th Century, Christ is thus represented. It was only from the 6th Century onwards that the halo began to be seen in most representations of the Virgin Mary and other saints.

“The halos that artists during
the Middle Ages put around
the heads of saints are
a remnant of sun worship.”

Will Durant A150 

“From the 4th Century, Christian artists began
to paint Jesus with a halo of light,
and later Mary and the Apostles.

It is also characteristic of the representations
of Buddha and Mohammed.”

 Sven Achen  

 The halos, a remnant of sun worship

Panel of Christ and Abbot Mena
E 11565
Denon Entresol room C showcase 6
The church of the monastery
of Bawit is reconstructed
in part in this room.
Suspended from the wall
of the altar is one of the oldest images of Christ, showing him
in the company of an abbot.
It is also one of the first appearances of a halo of light around the head of the saints. A151
Icons form an integral part of the Orthodox world. The worship of these two-dimensional images of Christ or of the saints took effect in the religions of Babylon and Ancient Greece. Believers considered the image used for worship as a divinity in itself. Christian artists adapted this syncretism and used pagan symbols which they introduced in a new context without however totally purifying them.


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