—Biblical Data:

One of the gods of the Hamathites, an image of which was set up in Samaria by the men of Hamath, whom Sargon settled there after 722 B.C. (II Kings xvii. 30). Jewish tradition explains the name as signifying a short-haired goat. Hence, some suppose that he was a sort of Oriental Pan, a god of woods and shepherds. This explanation is highly improbable. Others have considered the name to be a form of Ashmun (or Eshmun), the Phenician god; while still others have connected it with the name of the Babylonian goddess, Tashmitu, consort of Nabu, the god of learning. Kittel ("Die Bücher der Könige," 1900), following Baudissin, holds that Ashima was an Aramaic deity, probably connected in name with the river Ashmaya, near Tyre. This conjecture seems much more probable, although nothing further is positively known than what is stated in the Biblical passage above cited.

J. Jr. G. A. B.—In Rabbinical Literature:

According to the Rabbis (Yer. 'Ab. Zarah iii. 42d; Sanh. 63b), this idol of the Hamathites had the form of a buck. A curious confusion has been made by some of the later commentators—even by Abraham ibn Ezra—who mistake the idol Ashima for the Samaritan appellation for God, Ashima meaning "the Name"; just as the Jews are accustomed to speak of the Deity as "ha-Shem" (Reifmann, in Gurland's "Ginze Yisrael," 74).

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