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Double Offering Bowl

Double Offering Bowl

Syria or Turkey, early 2nd millennium B.C.E.
  • Basalt: ground
  • Height: 9 in. (22.9 cm) Diameter: 8 in. (20.3 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Gift of A. A. Rosen, 1981-313
  • Digital image © 2006 The Jewish Museum, New York Photo by Ardon Bar Hama
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Double Offering Bowl

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The Israelites were not the only people living in and around the land of Israel in ancient times. There were Syrians, Hittites, Canaanites, and others who lived nearby and had distinct cultures and beliefs. These people were mainly polytheistic—worshiping multiple gods.

The two bowls making up this piece were intended for the worship of two different Syrian or Hittite gods. When the smaller bowl is on top, as in this picture, one of the vertical supports shows the image of a god standing on snakes (probably a weather god) turned right-side up. Another support has a representation of the sun -god standing on a lion. When the larger bowl is on top, that image is turned right-side up. Worshippers may have placed small offerings to the gods in the bowls.

Although the ancient Israelites did not officially worship multiple gods, some people were influenced by the religious practices of their neighbors. And the Israelites did make offerings to their god at local shrines and later at the Temple in Jerusalem. This object represents the polytheistic faiths and the manner of worship out of which Israelite monotheism arose and was practiced.