Easter / Ishtar

The name Ishtar is likely Semitic in origin, and was identified in ancient times with Canaanite goddess Ashtoreth or Astarte (Biblical Hebrew עשתרת). It is possible that the underlying stem is the same as that of Assur, meaning the "leading one" or "chief." The older Sumerian name, Inanna, means "Great Lady of An"—An (or Anu) being the god of the sky or heaven.

Some scholars have suggested that Esther and Mordecai—the heroes of the Biblical Book of Esther—may be Judaized versions of some lost story about Isthar and the Babylonian deity Marduk. Their names, at least, are indeed similar to the Biblical ones. Scholars likewise speculate that Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of Spring whose name later gave rise to modern the English "Easter," may be etymologically connected to Ishtar.

Ishtar was the Mesopotamian goddess of love, fertility and war, a complex character who could give life, and take it away.


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