Succoth Benoth

Suc'coth Be'noth (Heb. Sukkoth' Benoth', סֻכּוֹתאּבּנוֹת, booths of daughters; Sept. Σωκχὼθ Βενίθ v.r. Σοκχὼθ [and even ῾Ροκχὼθ] Βενιθεί; Vulg. Sochoth-benoth) occurs only in 2Ki 17:30, as the name of some deity whose worship the Babylonian settlers in Samaria are said to have set up on their arrival in that country. It has generally been supposed that "this term is pure Hebrew, and as such most interpreters explain it to mean "the booths in which the daughters of the Babylonians prostituted themselves in honor of their idol" (i.e. Mylitta, see Herod. 1, 199; Strabo, 16:745); others "small tabernacles in which were contained images of female deities" (comp.

Calmet, Cimmentaire Littiral, 2, 897). It is in objection to both these explanations that Succoth-benoth which in the passage in Kings occurs in the same construction with Nergal and various other gods, is thus not a deity at all, nor, strictly speaking, an object of worship. It should be noted, however, that the expression "made" (עָשׂוּ) does not necessarily require such an interpretation. Sir H. Rawlinson thinks that Succoth-benoth represents the Chaldtean goddess Zir-banif, the wife of Merodach, who was especially worshipped at Babylon, in conjunction with her husband, and who is called-the "queen" of the place. Succoth he supposes to be either "a Hamitic term equivalent to Zir," or possibly a Shemitic mistranslation of the term-Zirat, "supreme," being confounded with Zarat, "tents" (see the E'ssay of: Sir H. Rawlinson in Rawlinson's Herodotus, 1, 630). Gesenius arbitrarily alters the reading to סֻכּוֹת בָּמוֹת, booths of the high-places (Thesaur. s.v.); and Movers (Phonic. 1, 596) understands "involucra or secreta mulierum," having reference to phallus-worship (so Nork, Mythol. 1, 124). The rabbins. (see Kimchi and Jarch I, ad loc.) fable that it was a goddess under the form of a hen and chickens; which Kircher (Ed. 1, 3354) regards as an astronomical emblem of the Babylonians. See Selden, De Dis Syris, 2, 7, 308 sq. Vos, Theol. Gent. 2, 22; Creusius, De Succoth Benoth, in Ugolino, Thesaur. 23.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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