Ishtar

ISHTAR ĭsh’ tär (meaning unknown). The Sumero-Sem. goddess of love and fertility and, mainly in Assyria, goddess of war.

Though prob. not mentioned by name in the OT, she was worshiped widely throughout Babylonia and Assyria where temples were dedicated to her in the main cities and chapels in many towns. In addition at Babylon alone there were 180 wayside open-air shrines, for hymns and prayers to her as goddess of fertility were frequent. As “Lady of the lands” she was revered throughout the ancient Near E, though sometimes under other names. She was identified with Isis (Egypt), the male deity ’Attar (S Arabia), Astarte (Greece) and Anat (Syria). In Judah women were upbraided for making sacrificial cakes or incense for her under her title as “Queen of Heaven” (Jer 7:18; 44:19). According to Babylonian tradition this goddess (as the Sumer. Inanna or [I]nnini) descended to the underworld in search of her missing lover Tammuz with the result that fertility ceased and women wept (cf. Ezek 5:14). In her various capacities Ishtar is represented as the evening and morning star (Venus).

Bibliography

J. Nougayrol, J-M. Aynard, La Mésopotamie (1965), 41-44.