Ishtar, (Akkadian), Sumerian Inanna, in Mesopotamian religion, is the goddess of war and sexual love. Ishtar was linked with the storehouse and thus personified as the goddess of dates, wool, meat, and grain. She was also the goddess of rain and thunderstorms and with An, the sky god. And she was the bride of the god Dumuzi-Amaushumgalana, who represented the growth and fecundity of the date palm. She was known as young, beautiful, and impulsive—never as helpmate or mother.
Different names for Ishtar
She was basically the same deity though worshiped under many names and in many features, such as the earth-mother, the virgin-mother, and is identified in a general sense with Atargatis, the “Great Mother” of Asia Minor, Artemis (Diana) of Ephesus, Venus, and others. Different names allocated to the virgin-mother goddess possess an element meaning “lady,” or “mistress,” as Nana, Innini, Irnini, Beltis.
Some of the names were Belti, “my lady” (the exact equal of the Italian Madonna), Belit-ni, “our lady,” and “queen of heaven,” the name under which Ishtar was worshiped as morning or evening star, with an offering of baked cakes, wine, and incense. Ishtar was also known as the compassionate mother who mediates with the gods for those who revere her. Some of these names and titles are today applied to the virgin Mary.
The Akkadian Ishtar is also, to a greater extent, an astral deity, associated with the planet Venus. With Shamash, the sun god, and Sin, the moon god, she forms a secondary astral triad. In this manifestation, her symbol is a star with 6, 8, or 16 rays within a circle. Inanna is sometimes the daughter of the sky god and sometimes his wife; in other myths she is the daughter of Nanna, god of the moon, or of the wind god, Enlil. In later myth, she was known as Queen of the Universe, taking on the powers of An, Enlil, and Enki.
She was the goddess of bodily love, and the protectress of prostitutes. Part of her cult worship involved temple prostitution. Her fame was universal in the ancient Middle East, and in many centers of worship. Tammuz was a deity variously designated as the brother or son, husband or lover, of the goddess Ishtar.
Ishtar in the Bible
The Assyro-Babylonian Ishtar, the mother goddess, was the equal of the deity known to the Hebrews as Ashtoreth and to the Canaanites as Astarte, whose figurines are found in Palestine. This goddess of fertility, of maternity, of sexual love, and of war was worshiped in very immoral ceremonies. Insomuch as there were wicked rituals associated with this worship, it aroused God’s indignation, especially since it appears to have been a notable part of the idolatry then practiced. God’s prophets publicly denounced it and called the house of Israel to repent of its corrupt practices (Jeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 44:25; Ezekiel 8:14).
God’s second commandment against idolatry states: “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20:3,4).
In His service,
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