Psalm 29 – God’s Might is Above Everything & Ugarit/Ras Shamra

A Psalm of David.

1 Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength.

2 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

3 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters.

4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

5 The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.

6 He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.

7 The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire.

8 The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.

9 The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.

10 The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King forever.

11 The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.

David praises God for His deliverance and His merciful dealings with him.  Experiencing the voice of the Lord for the glory in God’s house.

Ugarit/Ras Shamra

Ugarit was a prominent city-state that flourished during the second millennium B.C.  Its capital of the same name (modern Ras Shamra) was discovered in 1929 on the coast of Syria. 

The Neolithic Age
If you traveled back in time 2.5 million years ago, you would arrive in the periods known as the Ice Age and the Stone Age. These periods first began in Africa, the birthplace of mankind, and then spread across the globe. The first period of the Stone Age was called the Old Stone Age, also called the Paleolithic Age. During this time, man began to use stone to produce tools and weapons in the world’s first technological revolution.

Some of these weapons and tools were set in bone or wood, but predominantly they were made from stone. As it was very cold during these years, mankind needed strong and durable tools and weapons to kill the large animals that were characteristic of the era. Most of these animals were covered in thick fur, which man could wear to survive the cold climate.

Around 600,000 years ago, the Mesolithic Age began, which was the middle part of the era when the world began to warm, causing the earth’s glaciers to melt. During the Paleolithic and the Mesolithic ages, humans had to forage for nuts and berries, and hunt animals for food and clothing, so they were called hunter-gatherers.

Hunter-gatherers learned to farm around the world despite their lack of communication with each other. This agricultural revolution also included the domestication of animals like sheep, pigs, and goats, which provided clothing (wool) and meat. No longer did mankind need to follow animals around or forage for nuts and berries to survive. This knowledge began the New Stone Age, called the Neolithic Age.

Farming and animal domestication required different tools and weapons, so as the lives of mankind changed, so did their tools and weapons.

The site has yielded a wealth of finds, allowing for a reconstruction of its history and an understanding of its influence in the region. 

The history of the site’s occupation can be traced to early Neolithic times (5th millennium B.C.), the period of the first appearance of humans in Syria Canaanites to Ugarit; these peoples settled there, bringing with them a knowledge of metallurgy and an instinct for commerce.

The city developed as an important trade center on the Mediterranean coast, mediating contact between the great Aegean and Mesopotamian civilizations.  At the height of its prosperity, during the 15th and 14th centuries B.C., Ugarit was a crossroads where culture and learning converged:

The Neolithic potters knew well how to choose a suitable clay, clean it and temper it with other materials (grit, sand straw) to give it the qualities they wanted, depending on the kind of vessel they were making.
Neolithic pots as a whole are handmade and usually monochrome, the shapes are few and the decoration, where it exists is incised or painted and limited to linear or geometric motifs. There are of course a few curious vessels with distinctive shapes and peculiar decoration.

The basic types of pots, at least in the Early Neolithic period, were much the same or with slight differences throughout Greece, an indication of the communication between the inhabitants of the different settlements.

The local variations that can be seen are usually due to local conditions, such as the geological formation of the terrain, on which the quality and varieties of the clay depend.

Pottery, because of its importance for dating, has been particularly studied and classified into “styles” corresponding to successive chronological periods and also into phases within each period.

Wine, oil, cosmetics, and pottery from Crete, Egypt, Asia Minor, and Cyprus were traded in the city.

Texts in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the period, as well as in Egyptian, Cypriot, Hittite, and Hurrian attest to Ugarit’s cosmopolitian character.

The excavated areas of the site have yielded temples dedicated to Baal and Dagon (or possibly El), the latter dominating the highest point of the mound.

A spacious royal palace covered nearly three acres.  This and the residences of the high priest and government officials also housed official archives.

The city was densely populated, with roomy houses arranged around individual courtyards, as well as numerous sanctuaries.

Examples of the first indigenous Canaanite metalwork and glyptic art (art of carving or engraving, especially on gems) abound among the artifacts.

Among the most significant finds are some 1,300 inscriptions from the 14th century B.C. in a western Semitic language (called Ugaritic) similar to Biblical Hebrew.  Ugaritic employed an innovative cuneiform alphabet.

Composition such as the Kirta (or Keret) Epic and the Legend of Aqhat bring to light the religion of the people of this land.  Some scholars, in fact, have used Ugaritic poetry to try to decipher some of the more difficult passages in Biblical poetry.

The literature of Ugarit will continue to contribute to our understanding of the cultural environment of ancient Israel.

At the end of the Bronze Age, around 1200 B.C., a great upheaval of unknown origin evidently convulsed the ancient world, causing the collapse of numerous older civilizations.

Ugarit was sacked around this time and the site ultimately abandoned.