See Jane Daggett Dillenberger, “Jesus as Pop Icon: The Unknown Religious Art of Andy Warhol,” BR 12:05.


The court apparently disagreed with the papal authorities who, nine years earlier, had loincloths painted on some of the male nudes in Michelangelo’s masterpiece. The artists became known as the braghettoni or breeches-painters. See A. Dean McKenzie, “Michelangelo’s Masterpiece Reclaimed,” BR 12:06.


The essentially synonymous term Adonai (literally “my Lord,” from ’adon, “Lord,” eventually became the preferred title of YHWH. It, too, now functions as a name. In Jewish practice to this day, out of respect for God’s name, wherever the Hebrew text of the Bible says YHWH, it is usually pronounced Adonai and not Yahweh.


Midrash is a homiletic exposition of the biblical text by the rabbis of the Talmudic period (70-600 C.E.) and later. The term refers both to individual interpretations of this sort and to anthologies and compilations of such.



English translations of the transcripts appear in Philipp Fehl, “Veronese and the Inquisition: A Study of the Subject Matter of the So-called ‘Feast in the House of Levi,’” Gazette des beaux-arts 58 (1961), 6th series, pp. 325–354; and Giuseppe Delogu, Veronese: The Supper in the House of Levi (Milan: Art Editions Amilcare Pizzi; New York: Transbook Company, Inc., 1950).


Fehl, “Veronese and the Inquisition.”


Avigad and Sass, Corpus, p. 64, no. 39.


In addition to the biblical king Menahem (2 Kings 15:14), see James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (ANET), 3d ed. (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1969), p. 553a; Frauke Gröndahl, Die Personennamen der Texte aus Ugarit, Studia Pohl 1 (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1967), p. 165; Frank L. Benz, Personal Names in the Phoenician and Punic Inscriptions, Studia Pohl 8 (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1972), p. 360; Avigad and Sass, Corpus, p. 514.


These statistics are based on data collected by Dana M. Pike, “Israelite Theophoric Personal Names in the Bible and Their Implications for Religious History” (Univ. of Pennsylvania Ph.D. dissertation, 1990) esp. p. 11, table 10. Pike’s own statistical conclusions differ from those presented in the chart because he does not count names containing ba‘al. While I think it doubtful that the ba‘al names refer to the Canaanite god, I have nevertheless counted them as plausibly pagan in my statistics since many scholars view them that way and I wanted to give the case for pagan names every reasonable benefit of the doubt. After recomputing Pike’s statistics to include ba‘al names, the breakdown of theophoric names in the Bible by period is roughly as appears on my chart.

In the chart, names with the elements ’el or ’eli are disregarded here since they are equivocal: ’el can mean “God” or “the god” (’eli = my god) or can refer to the Canaanite deity El. Even when it has the latter meaning, it is difficult to tell whether the Canaanite deity is meant, or whether it was understood as a synonym of YHWH (there is little evidence that the Israelites worshiped El as a deity distinct from YHWH).


Shmuel Ahituv, “Pashhur,” Israel Exploration Journal 20 (1970), pp. 95–96.


The others are (a) Baal, 1 Chronicles 5:5, the father of a man exiled by Tiglath-Pileser; (b) another Baal, 1 Chronicles 8:30 and 9:36; (c) David’s son Beeliada, 1 Chronicles 14:7 (called Eliada in 2 Samuel 5:16 and 1 Chronicles 3:8); and (d) Baalhanan, 1 Chronicles 27:28. “Mephibosheth” the son of Saul in 2 Samuel 21:8 may imply an eighth. See the discussion by P. Kyle McCarter, II Samuel, Anchor Bible 9 (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1984), pp. 85-87, 124-125, 128, 439. I do not include other names that are only conjectured to include ba‘al, since they can be explained plausibly in their present forms. See Jeffrey H. Tigay, You Shall Have No Other Gods: Israelite Religion in the Light of Hebrew Inscriptions, Harvard Semitic Studies 31 (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1986), p. 8 n. 10; Pike, “Israelite Theophoric Personal Names,” pp. 109–120.


Cf. Genesis 31:13, 35:7. See Wolfgang Röllig, s.v. “Bethel,” in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, ed. Karel van der Toorn et al., 2d ed. (Leiden: Brill, 1999), pp. 173–175.


Whether Moloch represents the name of a deity is debated; see Moshe Weinfeld, “The Worship of Molech and the Queen of Heaven and Its Background,” Ugarit-Forschungen 4 (1972), pp. 133–154; Morton Smith, “On Burning Babies,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 95 (1975), pp. 477–479; Weinfeld, “Burning Babies in Ancient Israel,” Ugarit-Forschungen 10 (1978), pp. 411–413; and Lawrence E. Stager, “Child Sacrifice at Carthage—Religious Rite or Population Control?” Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR), January/February 1984.


Most references to ’asherah in the Bible are to a tree or some other type of object that may or may not symbolize the goddess. See Ruth Hestrin, “Understanding Asherah—Exploring Semitic Iconography,” Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 1991.


“Samson” (Shimshon, from shemesh, “sun”) could refer to the sun-god Shamash, but it is just as likely to be a characterization of its bearer as “sunny.”


For details see Tigay, No Other Gods. These statistics now include the name Baalhanan inscribed on a seal impression (Avigad and Sass, Corpus, no. 297) that I had overlooked in No Other Gods. There are other names that could conceivably refer to other deities, but more likely do not. For those in the inscriptions, see No Other Gods, appendix 3; for those in the Bible, see Pike, “Israelite Theophoric Personal Names.” Since the publication of No Other Gods, numerous other Hebrew inscriptions have been published, and the number of individuals with Yahwistic personal names has increased considerably. I am not aware of any further pagan names that have been discovered, but even if a few have been, if all the new names were factored in, the statistical predominance of Yahwistic names over those mentioning other deities would be even greater today.


As noted, these statistics are based on all inscriptions that had been published when You Shall Have No Other Gods was written. Many of the inscriptions (mainly seal inscriptions) were acquired in the antiquities market and hence their provenience is unknown, their date uncertain and some may be modern forgeries (see the comments of J. Naveh and B. Sass in Avigad and Sass, Corpus, pp. 12, 15, 453–460; Nili S. Fox, In the Service of the King: Officialdom in Ancient Israel and Judah [Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 2000], pp. 23–32); they are classified as Israelite or non-Israelite on paleographic or onomastic grounds, which are not foolproof. Since we cannot exclude the possibility of forgery or erroneous classification as Israelite, the statistics were calculated in two ways. The first was restricted to names that appear in inscriptions on objects acquired in controlled archaeological excavations at Israelite sites or, if the names are explicitly identified as Israelite, abroad. The second consists of all Israelites whose names are preserved in epigraphic sources, including those found on the surface and those acquired in the antiquities market and identified as Israelite by paleographic or onomastic evidence. These two sets of statistics do not differ from each other significantly: In the corpus of names found in controlled archaeological excavations 213 (91.4 percent) are Yahwistic and 20 (8.6 percent) are likely to be pagan. This means that even if there are some forged or non-Israelite inscriptions in the larger corpus, they have not significantly skewed the evidence we are considering.


It has sometimes been suggested that fear of persecution would have dissuaded polytheistic Israelites from invoking other deities in their children’s names, but this is unlikely since many of the inscriptional names come from the time of Manasseh, whose 55-year-long reign (698–42 B.C.E.) was the most hospitable to polytheism of any period in Judah’s history (2 Kings 21:1–18). It is of course possible that factors extraneous to meaning, such as fashion, tradition or aesthetics, influenced some parents’ choice of names, but what is important for present purposes is that the divine name within Hebrew personal names could not have gone unrecognized.


See Tigay, No Other Gods, p. 49; cf. biblical Gaddiel (Numbers 13:10).


Avigad and Sass, Corpus pp. 62, 477.


R. Harris, “Notes on the Nomenclature of Old Babylonian Sippar,” Journal of Cuneiform Studies 24 (1972), p. 103.


ANET, p. 662.


Adolf Harnack, The Mission and Expansion of Christianity (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1962), pp. 422–430.


See, further, Tigay, No Other Gods, pp. 19–20; Saul Olyan, Asherah and the Cult of Yahweh in Israel (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988), p. 37.


See Cyrus H. Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook, Analecta Orientalia 38 (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1965), texts 23:3, 1:6 and 3:16.


Athtart appears in no names, Athirat in one, and Anath in a dozen or so names, relatively few for Ugarit. See Gröndahl, Die Personennamen der Texte aus Ugarit, pp. 103, 111, and 83.


Olyan, Asherah, pp. 35–37.


See Tigay, No Other Gods, chapter 2. Iconographic evidence must also be considered. I briefly reviewed the evidence as it appeared to me at the time in No Other Gods, Appendix F. Today such a review would have to take account of further evidence discussed in more recent works, such as Karel van der Toorn, ed., The Image and the Book (Leuven: Peeters, 1997); Otto Keel and Carl Uehlinger, Gods, Goddesses, and Images of God in Ancient Israel (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998); and Ziony Zevit, The Religions of Ancient Israel: A Synthesis of Parallactic Approaches (London and New York: Continuum, 2001), esp. chap. 4 (see also Zevit’s analysis of theophoric toponyms, pp. 592–609); Ephraim Stern, “Pagan Yahwism: The Folk Religion of Ancient Israel,” BAR May/June, 2001, pp. 20–29 (see also my comments on “syncretistic Yahwism,” in Tigay “The Significance of the End of Deuteronomy [Deuteronomy 34:10–12],” in Texts, Temples, and Traditions: A Tribute to Menahem Haran, ed. M.V. Fox et al. [Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbraun’s], pp. 137–143). As in the case of pagan names, an important question about polytheistic iconography is to determine what percentage of the Israelite population venerated the gods depicted. I continue to believe (cf. Tigay, No Other Gods, p. 92) that verbal (textual/inscriptional) evidence is more telling: In a population in which relatively few people invoked deities other than YHWH in names, blessings, votive inscriptions, prayers, oath formulas, religious graffiti, amulets, etc., the polytheism represented by the iconography was probably no more widespread.


The inscriptional evidence is not very helpful here, simply because it is difficult to identify Israelites as Israelites unless they bear Yahwistic names. Babylonian and Assyrian scribes rarely identified people by nationality, and Israelite names were so similar to those of other Northwest Semitic peoples that it is difficult to tell them apart. Even if we hear of a Menahem or Michael or Elisha in Mesopotamia, we can’t be sure if he is an Israelite or, for example, a Moabite or Ammonite or Phoenician.


See Pike, p. 311, table 10. The vast majority of post-Exilic names are those mentioned in the books of Haggai, Zechariah and Ezra-Nehemiah. See especially Ezra 2:1–61 (=Nehemiah 7:6–63); Ezra 8:2–14, 16–19, 10:18–44, Nehemiah 3:2–31, 8:4, 7, 10:2–28, 11:4–5.


Others think that Sheshbazzar is derived from Babylonian Shamash-apla-utzur, “Shamash [the sun-god], guard the child” (Shamash-apla-utzur > Shawash-bala-utzur > Shawash-bal-tzur > Shashbatzar > Sheshbatzar).


Esther was also called Hadassah (“Myrtle”), and since that name is mentioned first (Esther 2:7), perhaps that was her original name and Esther was given to her later (perhaps as a royal name, when she married Ahasuerus). Likewise Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were given the Babylonian names Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego in addition to their Hebrew names (Daniel 1:6–7).


Elias Bickerman, “The Generation of Ezra and Nehemiah,” Proceedings of the American Academy of Jewish Research 45 (1978), pp. 1–28.


Bickerman, “The Generation of Ezra and Nehemiah,” p. 24.


Bickerman’s colleague Morton Smith (both scholars taught at Columbia University) held that Bickerman’s view was “a possible and plausible explanation of the facts,” but nonetheless suggested that an alternative explanation was possible: “that the parents who bore pagan names were not Judeans, and that their imposition of Yahwist names on their children was due to the increasing repute of Yahweh as a god of miraculous powers,” partly due, perhaps, to the rebuilding of his Temple. Since Isaiah 56:3, 6 indicates that there were indeed gentiles in Babylonia who “attached themselves to YHWH,” it is possible that some of the pagan-named men who gave their sons Yahwistic names were among them. See Morton Smith, “Jewish Religious Life in the Persian Period,” in W.D. Davies and Louis Finkelstein, eds., The Cambridge History of Judaism, vol. 1, The Persian Period (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1984), p. 222.


Leviticus Rabbah 32:5 and parallel sources. Discussion by Saul Lieberman, Studies in Palestinian Talmudic Literature, ed. David Rosenthal (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1991), pp. 129–130, 425 (in Hebrew); M. Mirkin, Midrash Rabbah, 2nd ed. (Tel Aviv: Yavneh, 1972), Shmot, part 1, pp. 43–44 (in Hebrew).