From Ugarit to Madaba: Philological and Historical Functions of the marzēah

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The marzēah or marzēhā has long been understood as a socio-religious association congregating for ritual feasting and drinking. It took place in a number of geographical locations in the areas where the various North-West Semitic languages were used. The relevant texts range from pre-biblical to the biblical and post-biblical evidence, specifically Ugarit, Ebla, Phoenicia, Emar, Palmyra, the Land of Israel, Elephantine and Nabataea. Festivals took place in honour of gods and kings and were associated with temples and banqueting structures. The present paper attempts to demonstrate that the marzēah is most convincingly interpreted as an association for periodic religious celebrations, not only for the cult of the dead, but also on featured feasts, sacral sexual orgies and performances in the theatres.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-39
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Semitic Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The author. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the University of Manchester. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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