A Palestinian farmer has discovered the head of a 4,500-year-old statue of Anat, an idol of the ancient people whom God ordered the Israelites to drive out of the Promised Land for breaking his commandments and worshiping false gods.
The limestone statue stands approximately 8 inches tall and is carved into the head with a face wearing a serpent as a crown. Anat was an idol of the Canaanites, a group of people God commanded to be cast out of Israel in the Old Testament.
The Hamas-run Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced the discovery of the leader at a press conference in Gaza on Tuesday. The New Arab reported that Jamal Abu Rida, director general of the Ministry of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage, estimated that the statue dates back to 2,500 BC.
“Anat was the goddess of love, beauty and war in Canaanite mythology,” Abu Rida said.
Abu Rida argued that the statue raised a political point, stating that its “presence” refutes “the Zionist claim that the land of Palestine is a land without a people for a people without a land”. He also claimed that the farmer who made the discovery, Nidal Abu Eid, found the artifact on Monday in Khan Younis town of al-Qarara.
“I found it by chance while I was cultivating my land. It was muddy but when I washed it with water I realized it was a precious thing, Abu Eid told New Arab.
The farmer initially considered selling the statue of the goddess, but changed his mind when an archaeologist informed him of its “great archaeological value”.
“I am so proud that our land still has great archaeological values,” Abu Eid added. “It means this land is ours and we have a civilization and a history of thousands of years BC since Canaanite times.”
As the BBC reported, Anat’s statue is on display in one of Gaza’s few museums in Qasr al-Basha. Due to growing tensions between Israel and the Hamas-occupied territory, many Gazans are said to be making sarcastic comments on social media about how the discovery of a goddess associated with war seems appropriate.
Hamas is a military terrorist group that took control of Gaza after Israel withdrew in 2005. Archaeological finds in Gaza would not have been well managed in the past due to the group’s development of the land. As The Times of Israel reported in 2017, Hamas destroyed the remains of the Canaanite city of Tel es-Sakan to build homes and military bases.
At the time, Abu Rida said the destruction of the Canaanite city was “disastrous for the archeology and cultural heritage of Palestine”.
According to the Biblical Project, the Canaanites occupied Israel, the land that God had promised to Abraham. They were descendants of Canaan, the grandson of Noah, who was cursed for his father’s sin against Noah in Genesis 9:20-25.
The Canaanites angered the Lord by worshiping idols and sacrificing children to their false gods. These actions violate the first and second of God’s Ten Commandments, which state “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” and “Thou shalt not make unto thee a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in the sky above, or which is in the earth below, or which is in the water under the earth”, respectively.
After Moses led the Jewish people out of Egypt, Joshua assumed leadership of the Israelites, according to Bible Project. God gave Joshua the role of taking his people to Canaan and reclaiming the land of Israel.
God told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 9:5 that “it is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you will take possession of their land; but because of the wickedness of these nations, the LORD your God will drive them out before you, to fulfill what he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
He also warned the Israelites not to be influenced by the Canaanites and the culture that approved of their practices. Instead, they were to cleanse the land of such wickedness and fulfill God’s promise in Genesis 12 to make Abraham and his descendants a “great nation.”