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Frantsouzoff S. A parallel to the Second Commandment in the inscriptions of Raybun // Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, vol.28. Brepols, 1998. С. 61-67.


'Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them...' (Ex. 20:4-5).'

This statement included in the Second Commandment is usually considered to be an integral and inseparable part of the strict monotheism. It has seemed self-evident that the religion based on the worship of the unique and invisible God imposed on the Hebrews the complete rejection of any idolatry, of any cult image. To the best of my knowledge no attempt has been made until now to discover the origins of the Second Commandment in ancient Semitic beliefs. This is hardly surprising since among Western and Eastern Semites in antiquity, as well as among pre-Islamic Arabs, the adoration of statues of their deities was widespread. As to the remaining South Semitic peoples (South Arabians and ancient Ethiopians), the information extracted from both epigraphic and narrative sources about their polytheistic religion has been, and to some extent still remains, limited, superficial and often inexact.

Among the epigraphic materials discovered by the Soviet-Yemenite Complex (i.e. multi-disciplinary) Expedition (SOYCE) in 1983-1991 at the site of Raybun in inland Hadramawt there are three inscriptions, one complete and two fragmentary, which contain very interesting and important data on the attitude of official South Arabian polytheism towards creating images of deities. Their provenance as coming from in the temples of the goddess Dhat Himyam is assured: the complete text was put together from numerous fragments excavated in the ruins of Nacman (Raybun V), while two others were found in Rahban (Raybun I).2 Their linguistic peculiarities (the use of the verb 'to dedicate' with the prefix s1- {s'qny) and of the Hadramitic attached pronoun -s3 (sing, f.) instead of -t) and their paleography indicate that these inscriptions belong to stage IV of the chronological scheme elaborated by Bauer for Raybun (Bauer 1989: 154 fig. 1; 1995: 126 fig. 2, 144 fig. 3). It seems preferable, however, to call that stage, which embraced the second-first centuries ВС,3 as the 'classic' period. All the three texts are published here for the first time.

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Вторая заповедь
Зат Химйам
На'ман
посвятительные надписи
Райбун
Советско-йеменская комплексная экспедиция
Хадрамаут
храмы южноаравийские
Южная Аравия

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