In their haste to posit an Ugaritic origin for the God of the Bible, many Ugariticists have suggested that Mt. Zion was the Israelite answer to Mt. Sapan in the Ugaritic tablets.1 It also is suggested that the Hebrew name for the direction North (tsafon) was taken from the Ugaritic geographical name Mt. Sapan.2 This implies that it has its origin in Baal worship. Is it not possible that the meaning of Mt. Sapan in Ugaritic may be the mountain of the North? Even if Mt. Sapan is only a proper name, if the Hebrew word actually was derived from a mountain of the North, there is no reason to assume the mountain of the Ugaritic texts would be in the mind of the author of the psalm. It should be observed that nowhere in this Psalm does the word tsafon show up, which reduces the theory to nothing more than meaningless conjecture. The whole Psalm will be displayed to show how little it resembles anything resembling a prayer to Baal.

48:1 … Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.
48:2 Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.
48:3 God is known in her palaces for a refuge.
48:4 For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together.
48:5 They saw it, and so they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away.
48:6 Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail.
48:7 Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind.
48:8 As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever. Selah.
48:9 We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple.
48:9 We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple.
48:10 According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of righteousness.
48:11 Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments.
48:12 Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof.
48:13 Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following.
48:14 For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.

The word tsafon shows up only twice in the entire book of Psalms and both times it refers to a direction.

89:13 “The north and the south thou hast created them: Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name.”

Some imaginative scholar, wishing to be creative, might suggest that these are geographical locations, rather than directions.
However, each of these are opposite points on the compass, and Psalm 107:3 makes it clear that they are directions.

107:3 “And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.”

This attempt to undermine the meaning of this Psalm, like other examples that are touted by Ugariticist Bible-scoffers, is little more babble that is lacking in common sense. Of course, the argument will always be used by those whose goal is to destroy Christianity whether it makes any sense or not.


1 The ‘ts’ in tsafon, or tsaphon, represents what would be an s with a dot under if it were possible to display through e-mail. It was probably pronounced like the Ugaritic sound, or close to it. The ‘ts’ actually represents a more modern Hebrew pronunciation. I am forced to use it due to font restraints.
2 Curtis, Adrian. Ugarit (Ras Shamra). Cambridge: Lutterworth, 1985, p. 110.

John Hinton, Ph.D.
Bible Restoration Ministry
A ministry seeking the translating and reprinting of KJV equivalent
Bibles in all the languages of the world.