Publication Date



College of Arts and Sciences




Yahweh, Ugarit, Anat, Judges, Benevolence, Just Warfare Theory


Biblical Studies | Comparative Literature | Ethics in Religion | Islamic World and Near East History | Military, War, and Peace | Nonfiction | Other English Language and Literature


The actions of ancient Near Eastern warrior gods are often depicted as acts of vengeance, greed, and brutality, serving selfish ambition and never-ending power struggles. These gods and their warfare ethic dominated the worldview of the ancient world in which the events of the Old Testament took place. The actions of the Hebrew God are often included, even emphasized, in discussions of ancient divine warfare today. There are supposed similarities between the actions of war gods like Anat from the Ugaritic pantheon and those of Yahweh from ancient Israel. Unfortunately, this has led to the present-day belief that the God of the Old Testament is violent and vengeful, harboring hidden, malevolent motives. However, a closer look at the warfare ethic of Yahweh and that of Anat reveals a stark distinction between the ethics of each deity in their violent dealings with their enemies.

By comparing the warfare ethic of Yahweh in Judges 4–5 and Anat in the Baal Cycle, it will be made apparent that Yahweh’s violent actions against the Canaanites are ultimately merciful. The stark distinction between the ethic and motives of these two deities make an apologetic for the morally superior warfare ethic of Yahweh and, consequently, His inherently benevolent nature.