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ISHTAR was one of the most prominent of the deities of the Accadian and Assyrian Pantheon. She was the Assyrian goddess of Love. She was the Ashtoreth of the Jews or Hebrews. She is the planetary Venus, and in general features corresponds with the classical goddess of Love. Her name Ishtar is that by which she was known in Assyria, and the same name prevailed, with slight modifications, among the Semite nations generally. In Babylonia the goddess was known as Nana, which seems to be the Nanoea of the second book of Maccabees (2 Mac. i. 13—15), and the Nam of the modern Syrians. She was the goddess of the moon, or moonfaced goddess. The crescent was supposed to have adorned her crown or diadem, hence she was called "the moon-faced goddess," or "the goddess with the horned face."
She may be identified with Eostre of the Germans, or Easter. To this goddess our Saxon or German ancestors sacrificed in April, which was therefore by them styled Eostur-monath, and from thence arose our word Easter, which the Saxons retained after their conversion to Christianity, so that our Easter-day is nothing more nor less than Ishtar's day. See Park. Heb. Lex., p. 481. Calmet says in his dictionary (p. 363) that "this was the Saxon day of Estera, in honour of whom sacrifices were offered about the passover time of the year (spring). The name became attached by association of ideas to the Christian festival of the Resurrection (of Christ), which happened at the time of the passover." The Rev. Geo. P. Tyler, in his Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, or Dictionary of the Bible, Theology, Religious Biography, &c, published in 1858, says (p. 483), the festival of Easter originated as follows: "The English name Easter, and the German Ostern, are derived from the name of the Teutonic goddess Ostera (Anglo-Saxon Eostre), whose festival was celebrated by the ancient Saxons with peculiar solemnities in the month of April; and for which, as in many other instances, tbe first Romish missionaries substituted the paschal feast." The Council of Nice "ordained (A.D. 325) that it should be kept always on a Sunday." Thus we find that it was originally the festival of Ishtar, and occurred on the Sabattu of Elul, or the festival Sabbath of the Assyrians, which occurred in August or harvest time; and that it afterwards became united with the passover or paschal feast of the Jews, and finally adopted by the Christian Church as the Easter Sabbath, changing the date to the spring or seed time, or in April from the harvest month or August. Among the Assyrians it was the feast day of Ishtar and Nergal.
The Phoenician name of Ishtar was Astarte, the later Mendaean form of which was Ashtar. She was called by Jeremiah, "the queen of heaven," Jer. vii. 18, and xliv. 17—25. During the reign of Solomon over Israel, a temple was erected for her by the Jews upon the Mount of Olives, I Kings xi. 4—8. Among the Assyrians she was "the goddess who rejoices mankind," or Ashurah, "the fortunate," "the happy." She was called "the mistress of heaven and earth;"' "the great goddess;" "the queen of victory;" "the goddess of war and battles;" "the queen of all the gods;" "she who arranges battles;" and she was sometimes called "the goddess of the chase," corresponding to Diana, as well as to Venus, the goddess of Love. Mr. George Rawlinson says: "The worship of Ishtar was widespread, and her shrines were numerous. She is often called 'the queen of Babylon,' and must certainly have had a temple in that city. She had also temples at Asshur (Kileh-Sherghat), at Arbela, and at Nineveh. It may be suspected that her symbol was the naked female form, which is not uncommon upon the cylinders. She may also be represented by the rude images in baked clay so common throughout the Mesopotamian ruins, which are generally regarded as images of Mylitta."—See "Rawlinson's Ancient Monarchies," vol i., pp. 138, 139.