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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Ναναία ). The last act of Antiochus Epiphanes was his attempt to plunder the temple of Nansea at Elyamais, which had been enriched by the gifts and trophies of Alexander the Great (1 Maccabees 6:1-4; 2 Maccabees 1:13-16). The Persian goddess Nansea, called also A ancetis (Ἀναῖτις, Strabo, 15, page 733), is apparently the Moon goddess, of whom the Greek Artemis was the nearest representative in Polybius (quoted by Josephus, Ant. 12:9). Beyer calls her the "Elymaean Venus" (ad Joh. Seldeni, etc. addit. page 345), and some have identified Nausea with Meni (q.v.), and both with the planet Venus, the star of luck, called by the Syrians Nani, and in Zend Nahid, or Anahid. (See DIANA).

Elphinstone in 1811 found coins of the Sassanians with the inscription NANAIA, and on the reverse a figure with nimbus and lotus-flower (Movers, Phon. 1:626). It is probable that Nanaea is identical with the deity named by Strabo (11, page 532) as the numen patrium of the Persians, who was also honored by the Medes, Armenians, and in many districts of Asia Minor. Other forms of the name are Ἀναία, given by Strabo, Αἴνη by Polybius, Ἀνεῖτις by Plutarch, and Ταναϊ v ς by Clemens Alexandrinus, with which last the variations of some MSS. of Strabo correspond. In consequence of a confusion between the Greek and Eastern mythologies, Nanaea has been identified with Artemis and Aphrodite, the probability being that she corresponds with the Tauric or Ephesian Artemis, who was invested with the attributes of Aphrodite, and represented the productive power of nature. In this case some weight may be allowed to the conjecture that "the desire of women" mentioned in Daniel 11:37 is the same as the goddess Nanaea. "This female deity," Stuart remarks, "under different names, was worshipped in Africa, Syria, Phoenicia, Cyprus, Greece, Rome, Babylonia, Persia, and other countries. The Mylitta ( Heb. מוֹלֶדֶת , generatrix) of the East was the Venus of the West, the Neith of Egypt, the Astarte of the Syrians, the Anais or Anaitis of the Armenians, all uniting in the worship of the power which represented maternal productiveness... Antiochus, it seems, paid little or no regard to this idol" (Commentary on Dan. ad loc.). In 2 Maccabees 9:1-2, there appears to be a different account of the same sacrilegious attempt of Antiochus; but the scene of the event is there placed at Persepolis, "the city of the Persians," where there might well have been a temple to the national deity. But Grimm considers it far more probable that it was an Elymsean temple which excited the cupidity of the king. See Gesenius, Jesaia, 3:337, and Grimm's Commentar in the Kurzgef. Handb. ad loc.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Nanaea'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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