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Temples (Ancient Near Eastern)

Subject Religion » Ancient Near East Religions

Key-Topics temples

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ viii ] Originally created by the secular community in Sumer ( see S umerians ) [23: 17–20], temples acquired land and possessions. As the god's home, tended by divine servants, some temples also had a social duty ( see H ammurabi's code ) to make capital available to worshippers, and to provide accommodation for orphans, the offspring of religious prostitution and children dedicated in times of famine. Temples were renewed and restored by successive rulers ( see K ingship (ancient near eastern) ), and varied considerably in size and style during different periods [13: 145–9; 25: 40] Most societies acknowledged the king as high priest of the chief god. At every temple (the ‘god's dwelling’), the priests acted as divine servants [13: 149–55]; they performed rituals, obtained oracular prophecies ( see A strology ) and administered the god's lands. Organized as hierarchies, priesthoods were passed down in families; ritual purity was demanded for performance of the rites. Some establishments had priestesses whose duties included sacred prostitution. At Ur, and Larsa, the high priestess acted as the ‘god's wife’, while others enjoyed special business and inheritance concessions [23: 17–20]. In the temples, priests attended to the deity's supposed bodily needs through ritual enactment, and propitiatory offerings were brought by those seeking healing. These included first-fruits ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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