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YAHWEH (/ˈjɑːhweɪ/ , or often /ˈjɑːweɪ/ in English; Hebrew : יהוה‎) was the national god of the Iron Age
Iron Age
kingdoms of Israel (Samaria) and Judah . His exact origins are disputed, although they reach back to the early Iron Age
Iron Age
and even the Late Bronze : his name may have begun as an epithet of El , head of the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
Canaanite pantheon , but the earliest plausible mentions are in Egyptian texts that place him among the nomads of the southern Transjordan . In the oldest biblical literature he is a typical ancient Near Eastern "divine warrior" who leads the heavenly army against Israel's enemies; he later became the main god of the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) and of Judah , and over time the royal court and temple promoted Yahweh as the god of the entire cosmos, possessing all the positive qualities previously attributed to the other gods and goddesses. By the end of the Babylonian exile (6th century BCE), the very existence of foreign gods was denied, and Yahweh
Yahweh
was proclaimed as the creator of the cosmos and the true god of all the world.

CONTENTS

* 1 Bronze Age
Bronze Age
origins * 2 Iron Age
Iron Age
I: El, Yahweh, and the origins of Israel * 3 Iron Age
Iron Age
II (930–586 BCE): Yahweh
Yahweh
as God
God
of Israel * 4 Yahweh
Yahweh
and the rise of monotheism * 5 Graeco-Roman syncretic folk religion * 6 See also * 7 Notes

* 8 References

* 8.1 Citations * 8.2 Bibliography

BRONZE AGE ORIGINS

The Israelites originated as Bronze Age
Bronze Age
Canaanites, but Yahweh
Yahweh
does not appear to have been a Canaanite god. The head of the Canaanite pantheon was El , and one theory is that the name Yahweh
Yahweh
is a shortened form of _el dū yahwī ṣaba’ôt_, "El who creates the hosts", meaning the heavenly army accompanying El as he marched beside the earthly armies of Israel. But Yahweh's earliest possible occurrence is as a place-name, "land of Shasu of YHW ", in an Egyptian inscription from the time of Amenhotep III (1402–1363 BCE), the Shasu being nomads from Midian
Midian
and Edom in northern Arabia. In this case a plausible etymology for the name could be from the root _HWY_, which would yield the meaning "he blows", appropriate to a weather divinity.

There is considerable but not universal support for the view that the Egyptian inscriptions refer to Yahweh. This raises the question of how he made his way to the north. A widely accepted hypothesis is that traders brought Yahweh
Yahweh
to Israel along the caravan routes between Egypt and Canaan
Canaan
, the Kenite hypothesis, named after one of the groups involved. The strength of the Kenite hypothesis is the way it ties together various points of data, such as the absence of Yahweh from Canaan, his links with Edom and Midian
Midian
in the biblical stories, and the Kenite or Midianite ties of Moses. However, while it is highly plausible that the Kenites, Midianites and others may have introduced Israel to Yahweh, it is highly unlikely that they did so outside the borders of Israel or under the aegis of Moses, as the Exodus story has it.

IRON AGE I: EL, YAHWEH, AND THE ORIGINS OF ISRAEL

Image on pithos sherd found at Kuntillet Ajrud below the inscription " Yahweh
Yahweh
and his Asherah", depicting the two as bulls with the Egyptian god/goddess Bes

Israel emerges into the historical record in the last decades of the 13th century BCE, at the very end of the Late Bronze Age
Bronze Age
, as the Canaanite city-state system was ending. The milieu from which Israelite religion emerged was accordingly Canaanite. El , "the kind, the compassionate", "the creator of creatures", was the chief of the Canaanite gods, and he, not Yahweh, was the original " God
God
of Israel"—the word "Israel" is based on the name El rather than Yahweh. He lived in a tent on a mountain from whose base originated all the fresh waters of the world, with the goddess Asherah as his consort. This pair made up the top tier of the Canaanite pantheon; the second tier was made up of their children, the "seventy sons of Athirat" (a variant of the name Asherah). Prominent in this group was Baal , who had his home on Mount Zaphon ; over time Baal became the dominant Canaanite deity, so that El became the executive power and Baal the military power in the cosmos. Baal's sphere was the thunderstorm with its life-giving rains, so that he was also a fertility god, although not quite _the_ fertility god. Below the seventy second-tier gods was a third tier made up of comparatively minor craftsman and trader deities, with a fourth and final tier of divine messengers and the like.

El and his sons made up the Assembly of the Gods, each member of which had a human nation under his care, and a textual variant of Deuteronomy
Deuteronomy
32:8–9 describes the sons of El, including Yahweh, each receiving his own people:

When the Most High (Elyon, i.e., El) gave the nations their inheritance, when he separated humanity, he fixed the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of divine beings, for Yahweh's portion is his people, Jacob
Jacob
his allotted heritage.

Following the introduction of Yahweh, a shift in theophoric naming occurred in which the original and most ancient biblical names paying tribute to El (Isra-el , Dani-el, Samu-el, Micha-el etc.) began to be displaced by names paying tribute to Yahweh
Yahweh
. Exodus 6:3 seeks to merge the ancient Canaanite deity El with Yahweh
Yahweh
through a process of redaction :

I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob
Jacob
as El-Shaddai but I did not reveal my name, Yahweh, to them.

In the earliest literature such as the Song of the Sea (Exodus 15:1–18, celebrating Yahweh's victory over Egypt at the exodus ), Yahweh
Yahweh
is a warrior for his people, a storm-god typical of ancient Near Eastern myths, marching out from a region to the south or south-east of Israel with the heavenly host of stars and planets that make up his army. Israel's battles are Yahweh's battles, Israel's victories are his victories, and while other peoples have other gods, Israel's god is Yahweh, who will procure a fertile resting-place for them:

There is none like God, O Jeshurun (i.e., Israel) who rides through the heavens to your help ... he subdues the ancient gods, shatters the forces of old ... so Israel lives in safety, untroubled is Jacob's abode ... Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread on their backs. ( Deuteronomy
Deuteronomy
33:26–29)

IRON AGE II (930–586 BCE): YAHWEH AS GOD OF ISRAEL

Solomon
Solomon
dedicates the Temple at Jerusalem
Jerusalem
(painting by James Tissot or follower, c. 1896–1902)

Iron Age
Iron Age
Yahweh
Yahweh
was the national god of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah , and appears to have been worshiped only in these two kingdoms; this was unusual in the Ancient Near East but not unknown—the god Ashur , for example, was worshiped only by the Assyrians .

After the 9th century BCE the tribes and chiefdoms of Iron Age
Iron Age
I were replaced by ethnic nation states , Israel , Judah , Moab
Moab
, Ammon
Ammon
and others, each with its national god, and all more or less equal. Thus Chemosh was the god of the Moabites, Milcom the god of the Ammonites , Qaus the god of the Edomites , and Yahweh
Yahweh
the " God
God
of Israel " (no " God
God
of Judah" is mentioned anywhere in the Bible). In each kingdom the king was also the head of the national religion and thus the viceroy on Earth of the national god; in Jerusalem
Jerusalem
this was reflected each year when the king presided over a ceremony at which Yahweh
Yahweh
was enthroned in the Temple.

The centre of Yahweh's worship lay in three great annual festivals coinciding with major events in rural life: Passover
Passover
with the birthing of lambs, Shavuot with the cereal harvest, and Sukkot
Sukkot
with the fruit harvest. These probably pre-dated the arrival of the Yahweh
Yahweh
religion, but they became linked to events in the national mythos of Israel: Passover
Passover
with the exodus from Egypt, Shavuot with the law-giving at Sinai, and Sukkot
Sukkot
with the wilderness wanderings. The festivals thus celebrated Yahweh's salvation of Israel and Israel's status as his holy people, although the earlier agricultural meaning was not entirely lost. His worship presumably involved sacrifice, but many scholars have concluded that the rituals detailed in Leviticus
Leviticus
1–16, with their stress on purity and atonement, were introduced only after the Babylonian exile , and that in reality any head of a family was able to offer sacrifice as occasion demanded. (A number of scholars have also drawn the conclusion that infant sacrifice, whether to the underworld deity Molech or to Yahweh
Yahweh
himself, was a part of Israelite/Judahite religion until the reforms of King Josiah in the late 7th century BCE). Sacrifice was presumably complemented by the singing or recital of psalms , but again the details are scant. Prayer played little role in official worship.

The Hebrew Bible gives the impression that the Jerusalem
Jerusalem
temple was always meant to be the central or even sole temple of Yahweh, but this was not the case: the earliest known Israelite place of worship is a 12th-century open-air altar in the hills of Samaria featuring a bronze bull reminiscent of Canaanite "Bull-El" (El in the form of a bull), and the archaeological remains of further temples have been found at Dan on Israel's northern border and at Arad in the Negev
Negev
and Beersheba , both in the territory of Judah. Shiloh , Bethel
Bethel
, Gilgal , Mizpah , Ramah and Dan were also major sites for festivals, sacrifices, the making of vows, private rituals, and the adjudication of legal disputes.

Yahweh-worship was famously aniconic , meaning that the god was not depicted by a statue or other image. This is not to say that he was not represented in some symbolic form, and early Israelite worship probably focused on standing stones, but according to the Biblical texts the temple in Jerusalem
Jerusalem
featured Yahweh's throne in the form of two cherubim, their inner wings forming the seat and a box (the Ark of the Covenant ) as a footstool, while the throne itself was empty. No satisfactory explanation of Israelite aniconism has been advanced, and a number of recent scholars have argued that Yahweh
Yahweh
was in fact represented prior to the reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah
Josiah
late in the monarchic period: to quote one recent study, "n early aniconism, _de facto_ or otherwise, is purely a projection of the post-exilic imagination" (MacDonald, 2007).

YAHWEH AND THE RISE OF MONOTHEISM

Pre-exilic Israel, like its neighbours, was polytheistic , and Israelite monotheism was the result of unique historical circumstances. The original god of Israel was El, as the name demonstrates—its probable meaning is "may El rule" or some other sentence-form involving the name of El. In the early tribal period each tribe would have had its own patron god ; when kingship emerged the state promoted Yahweh
Yahweh
as the national god of Israel, supreme over the other gods, and gradually Yahweh
Yahweh
absorbed all the positive traits of the other gods and goddesses. Yahweh
Yahweh
and El merged at religious centres such as Shechem, Shiloh and Jerusalem, with El's name becoming a generic term for "god" and Yahweh, the national god, appropriating many of the older supreme god's titles such as Shaddai (Almighty) and Elyon (Most High).

Asherah , formerly the wife of El, was worshipped as Yahweh's consort, and various biblical passages indicate that her statues were kept in his temples in Jerusalem, Bethel, and Samaria. Yahweh
Yahweh
may also have appropriated Anat
Anat
, the wife of Baal, as his consort, as Anat-Yahu (" Anat
Anat
of Yahu," i.e., Yahweh) is mentioned in 5th century BCE records from the Jewish colony at Elephantine in Egypt. A goddess called the Queen of Heaven was also worshipped, probably a fusion of Astarte
Astarte
and the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar
Ishtar
. Worship to Baal and Yahweh
Yahweh
coexisted in the early period of Israel's history, but they were considered irreconcilable after the 9th century BCE, following the efforts of King Ahab and his queen Jezebel
Jezebel
to elevate Baal to the status of national god, although the cult of Baal did continue for some time.

The worship of Yahweh
Yahweh
alone began at the earliest with Elijah in the 9th century BCE, but more likely with the prophet Hosea in the 8th; even then it remained the concern of a small party before gaining ascendancy in the exilic and early post-exilic period . The early supporters of this faction are widely regarded as being monolatrists rather than true monotheists ; they did not believe that Yahweh
Yahweh
was the only god in existence, but instead believed that he was the only god the people of Israel should worship. Finally, in the national crisis of the exile, the followers of Yahweh
Yahweh
went a step further and outright denied that the other deities aside from Yahweh
Yahweh
even existed, thus marking the transition from monolatrism to true monotheism.

GRAECO-ROMAN SYNCRETIC FOLK RELIGION

Yahweh
Yahweh
is frequently invoked in Graeco-Roman magical texts dating from the second century BCE to the fifth century CE, most notably in the Greek Magical Papyri , under the names Iao , Adonai , Sabaoth , and Eloai . In these texts, he is often mentioned alongside traditional Graeco-Roman deities and also Egyptian deities . The archangels Michael
Michael
, Gabriel
Gabriel
, Raphael , and Ouriel and Jewish cultural heroes such as Abraham
Abraham
, Jacob
Jacob
, and Moses
Moses
are also invoked frequently as well. The frequent occurrence of Yahweh's name is probably due to Greek and Roman folk magicians seeking to make their spells more powerful through the invocation of a prestigious foreign deity. In his _Quaestiones Convivales _, the Greek writer Plutarch of Chaeronea claimed, without providing any evidence, that Yahweh
Yahweh
was equivalent to Dionysus , the ancient Greek god of wine, drunkenness, and ritual madness.

SEE ALSO

* Ancient Semitic religion * Canaanite religion * God
God
* God
God
in Abrahamic religions * Historicity of the Bible * History of ancient Israel and Judah * Jah * Jehovah * Kyrios * Names of God in Judaism * Qos (deity) * Second Temple Judaism * Sacred Name Movement * YHWH
YHWH

NOTES

* ^ "Canaanites" in this article means the indigenous Bronze Age and early Iron Age
Iron Age
inhabitants of southern Syria, the coast of Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank and Jordan – see Dever, 2002, p. 219 * ^ For the varying texts of this verse, see Smith, 2012, pp. 139–40 and also chapter 4. * ^ Refer to any Hebrew interlinear of the Masoretic Text or Greek interlinear of LXX Septuagint for Exodus 6:3. Additionally, the NLT attempts to preserve these names at Exodus 6:3.

REFERENCES

CITATIONS

* ^ Van Der Toorn 1999 , p. 766. * ^ Edelman 1995 , p. 190. * ^ _A_ _B_ Miller 1986 , p. 110. * ^ Smith, Mark S. (28 June 2010). _ God
God
in Translation: Deities in Cross-Cultural Discourse in the Biblical World_. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 96–98. ISBN 978-0-8028-6433-8 . A fair reading of the very difficult evidence would suggest that Yahweh
Yahweh
was a god secondarily imported into the highlands of Israel from the south (Edom/Paran/Teiman/Seir in Deuteronomy
Deuteronomy
33:2, Judges 5:4, Psalm 68:8, 18, and Habakkuk 3:3, 7) and that he was identified secondarily at some point with the indigenous Canaanite and early Israelite god El. (This would be reflected in later texts that reflect an older distinction between the two gods, such as the original text of Deuteronomy
Deuteronomy
32:8-9.) The old southern tradition for Yahweh, over and against the well-attested tradition of El in Canaan
Canaan
(long recognized by many scholars), points to the secondary identification of El and Yahweh, which might constitute the earliest Israelite case of cross-cultural translatability, specifically in their capacities as chief-gods of their respective regions (despite their rather divergent natures). If correct, translatability would lie at the very heart of early Israelite divinity. However, several scholars hold what seems to be a less likely view, namely that Yahweh
Yahweh
was originally derived as a title of El. Claims in either direction about the original relationship between these two gods cannot be established with confidence. * ^ Miller 2000 , p. 1. * ^ Dijkstra 2001 , p. 92. * ^ Dever 2003b , p. 128. * ^ _A_ _B_ Hackett 2001 , pp. 158–59. * ^ Smith 2002 , p. 72. * ^ Wyatt 2010 , pp. 69–70. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Betz 2000 , p. 917. * ^ Day 2002 , p. 15. * ^ Dever 2003b , p. 125. * ^ Miller 2000 , p. 2. * ^ Freedman, O\'Connor & Ringgren 1986 , p. 520. * ^ Grabbe 2007 , p. 151. * ^ Dicou 1994 , pp. 167–81, 177. * ^ Anderson 2015 , p. 101. * ^ Grabbe 2007 , p. 153. * ^ Van der Toorn 1999 , p. 912. * ^ Van der Toorn 1999 , pp. 912–13. * ^ Van der Toorn 1995 , pp. 247–48. * ^ Shanks, Hershel. “The Persisting Uncertainties of Kuntillet ‘Ajrud.” _Biblical Archaeology Review_, Nov/Dec 2012. * ^ Noll 2001 , pp. 124–26. * ^ Cook 2004 , p. 7. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Coogan & Smith 2012 , p. 8. * ^ _A_ _B_ Smith 2002 , p. 32. * ^ Smith 2002 , p. 33. * ^ _A_ _B_ Hess 2007 , p. 103. * ^ Coogan & Smith 2012 , pp. 7–8. * ^ Handy 1994 , p. 101. * ^ _A_ _B_ theyellowdart (19 March 2010). "When Jehovah Was Not the God
God
of the Old Testament. Part II". _Patheos — Faith promoting rumor_. Retrieved 6 August 2017. * ^ _A_ _B_ "rlst 145: Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) — Lecture 7 - Israel in Egypt: Moses
Moses
and the Beginning of Yahwism (Genesis 37- Exodus 4)". _Open Yale Courses_. Retrieved 6 August 2017. * ^ Hackett 2001 , p. 160. * ^ Grabbe 2010 , p. 184. * ^ Noll 2001 , p. 251. * ^ Schniedewind 2013 , p. 93. * ^ Smith 2010 , p. 119. * ^ Hackett 2001 , p. 156. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Davies 2010 , p. 112. * ^ Miller 2000 , p. 90. * ^ Petersen 1998 , p. 23. * ^ _A_ _B_ Albertz 1994 , p. 89. * ^ Gorman 2000 , p. 458. * ^ Davies & Rogerson 2005 , pp. 151–52. * ^ Gnuse 1997 , p. 118. * ^ Davies & Rogerson 2005 , pp. 158–65. * ^ Cohen 1999 , p. 302. * ^ Dever 2003a , p. 388. * ^ Bennett 2002 , p. 83. * ^ Mettinger 2006 , pp. 288–90. * ^ MacDonald 2007 , pp. 21, 26–27. * ^ _A_ _B_ Albertz 1994 , p. 61. * ^ Gnuse 1997 , p. 214. * ^ Romer 2014 , p. unpaginated. * ^ Smith 2001 , p. 140. * ^ Smith 2002 , pp. 33, 47. * ^ Niehr 1995 , pp. 54, 57. * ^ _A_ _B_ Ackerman 2003 , p. 395. * ^ Day 2002 , p. 143. * ^ Smith 2002 , p. 47. * ^ Smith 2002 , p. 74. * ^ Eakin 1971 , pp. 70 and 263. * ^ McKenzie 1990 , p. 1287. * ^ Betz 1996 . * ^ _A_ _B_ Smith & Cohen 1996 , pp. 242–56. * ^ Arnold 1996 . * ^ Smith & Cohen 1996 , pp. 242–256. * ^ Plutarch & trans. Goodwin . * ^ Hedreen 1992 , p. 1. * ^ Oliver 1966 , p. 234.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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David. _The Oxford History of the Biblical World_. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-513937-2 . * MacDonald, Nathan (2007). "Aniconism in the Old Testament". In Gordon, R.P. _The God
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of Israel_. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521873659 . * Miller, Patrick D (2000). _The Religion of Ancient Israel_. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 978-0-664-22145-4 . * Miller, Patrick D (1986). _A History of Ancient Israel and Judah_. Westminster John Knox Press. * Moore, Megan Bishop; Kelle, Brad E. (2011). _Biblical History and Israel\'s Past: The Changing Study of the Bible and History_. Eerdmans. * Niehr, Herbert (1995). "The Rise of YHWH
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in Judahite and Israelite Religion". In Edelman, Diana Vikander. _The Triumph of Elohim: From Yahwisms to Judaisms_. Peeters Publishers. ISBN 9053565035 . * Noll, K.L. (2001). _ Canaan
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and Israel in Antiquity: An Introduction_. A&C Black. * Oliver, James Edwin (1966). _The Tree of Life: An Archaeological Study_. Brill Publications. p. 234. ISBN 9789004016125 . * Petersen, Allan Rosengren (1998). _The Royal God: Enthronement Festivals in Ancient Israel and Ugarit?_. A&C Black. * Plutarch, --. "Quaestiones Convivales". _Perseus_. Translated by Goodwin, William W. Tufts University. Retrieved 1 April 2017. * Romer, Thomas (2014). _The Invention of Yahweh_. Harvard University Press. * Schniedewind, William M. (2013). _A Social History of Hebrew: Its Origins Through the Rabbinic Period_. Yale University Press. * Smith, Mark S. (2000). "El". In Freedman, David Noel; Myer, Allen C. _Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible_. Eerdmans. * Smith, Mark S. (2001). _The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel\'s Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts_. Oxford University Press. * Smith, Mark S. (2002). _The Early History of God: Yahweh
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and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel_. Eerdmans. * Smith, Mark S. (2003). "Astral Religion and the Divinity". In Noegel, Scott; Walker, Joel. _Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World_. Penn State Press. * Smith, Mark S. (2010). _ God
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in Translation: Deities in Cross-Cultural Discourse in the Biblical World_. Eerdmans. * Smith, Morton (1984). "Jewish Religious Life in the Persian Period". In Finkelstein, Louis. _The Cambridge History of Judaism: Volume 1, Introduction: The Persian Period_. Cambridge University Press. * Smith, Morton; Cohen, Shaye J.D. (1996). _Studies in the Cult of Yahweh, Volume Two: New Testament, Christianity, and Magic_. New York: E. J. Brill. pp. 242–56. ISBN 90-04-10479-8 . * Sommer, Benjamin D. (2011). "God, names of". In Berlin, Adele; Grossman, Maxine L. _The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion_. Oxford University Press. * Van der Toorn, Karel (1995). "Ritual Resistance and Self-Assertion". In Platvoet, Jan. G.; Van der Toorn, Karel. _Pluralism and Identity: Studies in Ritual Behaviour_. BRILL. * Van der Toorn, Karel (1999). "Yahweh". In Van der Toorn, Karel; Becking, Bob; Van der Horst, Pieter Willem. _Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible_. Eerdmans. * Van der Toorn, Karel (1996). _Family Religion in Babylonia, Ugarit and Israel: Continuity and Changes in the Forms of Religious Life_. BRILL. * Wright, J. Edward (2002). _The Early History of Heaven_. Oxford University Press. * Wyatt, Nicolas (2010). "Royal Religion in Ancient Judah". In Stavrakopoulou, Francesca; Barton, John. _Religious Diversity in Ancient Israel and Judah_. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-567-03216-4 .

* v * t * e

Names of God
God

In Christianity • In Hinduism • In Islam • In Judaism • In Zoroastrianism • In Chinese language

* Adonai * Ahura Mazda * Allah
Allah
* Brahman * Cao Đài
Cao Đài
* Elohim
Elohim
* Elyon * El Shaddai * Great Spirit
Great Spirit
* Haneullim * Hu * I Am that I Am * Ik Onkar * Ishvara
Ishvara
* Jah * Khuda * The Lord * Ngai
Ngai
* Olodumare * The One * Parvardigar * Shangdi
Shangdi
* Svayam Bhagavan * Tianzhu * Waheguru

* YHWH
YHWH

* Jehovah * Yahweh

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Yahweh
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