Isara was the goddess of marriage and childbirth, Mesopotamian (Babylonian-Akkadian) and western Semitic. This deity also was concerned with the enforcement of oaths. She was known mainly from early inscriptions and Akkadian texts. Her Mesopotamian cult center was centered in the Babylonian town of Kisurra, but she was said to have worshippers over a vast area including Syrians, Canaanites, and Hittites. Her symbol was the scorpion. A.G.H.
Isara, a goddess revered in ancient Mesopotamian and Western Semitic cultures, played a significant role in the religious and cultural life of these civilizations. Her attributes and worship reflect the diverse and rich mythology of the ancient Near East.
Roles and Associations
- Goddess of Marriage and Childbirth: Isara was primarily known as a goddess of marriage and childbirth. In these roles, she was likely invoked for protection and blessings in marital unions and during childbirth, both critical aspects of ancient societies where family and lineage were of paramount importance.
- Enforcement of Oaths: Another important aspect of Isara’s divine portfolio was her association with oaths and their enforcement. In ancient times, oaths were integral to legal and social contracts, and invoking a deity in their swearing and enforcement underscored their seriousness and sanctity.
Cult and Worship
- Mesopotamian Cult Center: Isara’s main cult center was in Kisurra, a Babylonian town, indicating her significance in the Babylonian-Akkadian religious context. Kisurra, like many ancient Mesopotamian cities, would have had a temple dedicated to its patron deity, where rituals and offerings would be made.
- Widespread Worship: Her worship was not confined to Mesopotamia; she also had worshippers among the Syrians, Canaanites, and Hittites. This wide geographic spread of her cult suggests that her influence extended well beyond the borders of Babylon and Akkad, possibly due to the intermingling of cultures and peoples through trade, warfare, and diplomacy.
- Scorpion Symbol: The scorpion was her symbol, an emblem that may have represented protection and defense. In many ancient cultures, animals associated with deities often symbolized the attributes of the god or goddess. The scorpion, with its potent sting and defensive posture, could symbolize protection against evil or harm, especially pertinent to her roles in marriage and childbirth.
Literary and Historical Evidence
- Early Inscriptions and Akkadian Texts: Knowledge of Isara primarily comes from early inscriptions and Akkadian texts. These sources provide valuable insights into her roles and the nature of her worship but also highlight the gaps in our understanding of many ancient Near Eastern deities due to the fragmentary nature of archaeological and textual evidence.
Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, p. 117