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ẒARIFA:

Name of a goddess mentioned in a single passage of the Talmud ('Ab. Zarah 12a) as having been worshiped at Ashkelon. Kohut, Levy, and other Jewish lexicographers identify her with Serapis; but the Hebrew spelling would seem to imply that the deity was the goddess Sarapia or Serapia, another name of Isis Pharia, whose festival was celebrated in April (Preller, "Römische Mythologie," 3d ed., ii. 382, Berlin, 1883). It is possible, however, since Ẓarifa is mentioned in connection with Ashkelon, that she is to be identified with Derceto, who was worshiped in that city (Diodorus, Siculus, i. 4; Ovid, "Metamorphoses," iv. 3), the term "ẓarifa" (= "composite") being especially fitting for a goddess represented with a human head and the body of a fish. Joseph Halévy, on the other hand, suggests ("Revue Sémitique," vi. 177) that Ẓarifa represents the Babylonian divinity Zarpanit, wife of Marduk. For a variant view see Ashkelon.

Bibliography:
  • Krauss, Lehnwörter, ii., s.v.;
  • Neubauer, G. T. p. 69.
S. M. Sel.
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