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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Heb. Tartak', תִּרתָֹּק ; Sept. Θαρθάκ ; Vulg. Tharthac), one of the gods of the Avite, or Avvite, colonists who were planted in the cities of Samaria after the removal of the tribes by Shalmaneser (2 Kings 17:31). According to Rabbinical tradition, T'artak is said to have been worshipped inder the form of au ass (Talm. Babyl. Sanhedrin, fol. 63 b). From this it has been conjectured that this idol was the Egyptian Typho; but; though in the hieroglyphics the ass is the symbol of Typho, it was so far from being regarded as an object of worship that it was considered absolutely unclean (Plutarch, Is. et Os. c. 14). A Persian or Pehlvi origin has been suggested for Tartak, according to which it signifies either "intense darkness," or "hero of darkness," or the underworld, and so, perhaps, some planet of ill- luck, as Saturn or Mars (Gesenius, Thesaur. s.v.; Fü rst, Handw. s.v.). The Carmaniails, a warlike race on the Persian Gulf, worshipped Mars alone of all the gods, and sacrificed an ass in his honor (Strabo, 15:727). Perhaps some trace of this worship may have given rise to the Jewish tradition.

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

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