Damien F. Mackey
The German orientalist, Georg Heinrich August Ewald (d. 1875), had thought that the account of the two lustful elders who were infatuated with Susanna must have been inspired by a Babylonian tale involving the goddess of love and two old men.
Once again, however, this is a case of biblical historians and commentators presuming that a given biblical story was inevitably dependent upon a pagan myth (or myths) of a similar theme.
Ewald (Geschichte(3), IV, 386) believed that [the story of Susanna] was suggested by the Babylonian legend in which two old men are seduced by the goddess of love (compare Koran 2 96). ….
Looking at this Koran (Qur’ān) reference, 2:96, I find:
And you will surely find them the most greedy of people for life – [even] more than those who associate others with Allah . One of them wishes that he could be granted life a thousand years, but it would not remove him in the least from the [coming] punishment that he should be granted life. And Allah is Seeing of what they do.
Whilst I myself am unaware of the Babylonian legend to which Ewald referred, I would find it very intriguing if this Babylonian “goddess of love” was Ishtar herself – as I think she must have been.
My reason for saying this will become clear later in this series, as I proceed to develop a wider identity for Susanna in a biblical context.