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Asherah
Asherah
(/ˈæʃərə/)[a] in ancient Semitic religion, is a mother goddess who appears in a number of ancient sources. She appears in Akkadian
Akkadian
writings by the name of Ašratu(m), and in Hittite as Aserdu(s) or Asertu(s). Asherah
Asherah
is generally considered identical with the Ugaritic goddess ʼAṯirat. Asherah
Asherah
is identified as the queen consort of the Sumerian god Anu, and Ugaritic El,[1] the oldest deities of their respective pantheons,[2] as well as Yahweh, the god of Israel and Judah.[3] This role gave her a similarly high rank in the Ugaritic pantheon.[4] Despite her association with Yahweh
Yahweh
in extra-biblical sources, Yahweh in the Bible commands the destruction of her shrines so as to maintain purity of worship to Yahweh
Yahweh
Himself.[5] The name Dione, which like 'Elat means "Goddess", is clearly associated with Asherah
Asherah
in the Phoenician History of Sanchuniathon, because the same common epithet ('Elat) of "the Goddess
Goddess
par excellence" was used to describe her at Ugarit.[6] The Book of Jeremiah, written circa 628 BC, possibly refers to Asherah
Asherah
when it uses the title "Queen of Heaven"[b] in Jeremiah 7:16-18[7] and Jeremiah 44:17-19, 25.[8]

Contents

1 Ugarit 2 Egypt 3 Israel and Judah 4 Arabia 5 See also 6 Notes 7 References 8 Sources 9 External links

Ugarit[edit] In the Ugaritic texts (before 1200 BC) Athirat is almost always given her full title rabat ʾAṯirat yammi, "Lady Athirat of the Sea" or as more fully translated "she who treads on the sea".[c] This occurs 12 times in the Baʿal Epic alone.[9] The name is understood by various translators and commentators to be from the Ugaritic root ʾaṯr "stride", cognate with the Hebrew root ʾšr, of the same meaning. There she appears to champion Yam, god of the sea, in his struggle with Ba'al. Her other main divine epithet was qaniyatu ʾilhm[d] which may be translated as "the creatrix of the Gods (Elohim)".[9] In those texts, Athirat is the consort of the god El; there is one reference to the 70 sons of Athirat, presumably the same as the 70 sons of El. She is clearly distinguished from ʿAshtart in the Ugaritic documents although in non-Ugaritic sources from later periods the distinction between the two goddesses can be blurred; either as a result of scribal error or through possible syncretism. In any case, the two names begin with different consonants in the Semitic languages; Athirat or Asherah[e] with an aleph or glottal stop consonant (א) versus ʿAshtart or ʿAshtoreth[f] with an ʿayin or voiced pharyngeal consonant (ע), indicating the lack of any plausible etymological connection between the names. She is also called Elat,[g] "Goddess", the feminine form of El (compare Allat) and Qodesh, "holiness".[h] Athirat in Akkadian
Akkadian
texts appears as Ashratum (or, Antu), the wife of Anu, the God
God
of Heaven. In contrast, ʿAshtart is believed to be linked to the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar
Ishtar
who is sometimes portrayed as the daughter of Anu
Anu
while in Ugaritic myth, ʿAshtart is one of the daughters of El, the West Semitic counterpart of Anu. Among the Hittites
Hittites
this goddess appears as Asherdu(s) or Asertu(s), the consort of Elkunirsa
Elkunirsa
("El the Creator of Earth") and mother of either 77 or 88 sons. Among the Amarna letters
Amarna letters
a King of the Amorites is named Abdi-Ashirta, "Servant of Asherah".[10] Egypt[edit] In Egypt, beginning in the Eighteenth Dynasty, a Semitic goddess named Qudshu "Holiness" begins to appear prominently, equated with the native Egyptian goddess Hathor. Some think this is Athirat/Ashratu under her Ugaritic name. This Qudshu seems not to be either ʿAshtart or ʿ Anat
Anat
as both those goddesses appear under their own names and with quite different iconography and appear in at least one pictorial representation along with Qudshu. But in the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman periods in Egypt
Egypt
there was a strong tendency towards syncretism of goddesses and Athirat/Ashratum then seems to have disappeared, at least as a prominent goddess under a recognizable name. Israel and Judah[edit]

Image on pithos sherd found at Kuntillet Ajrud
Kuntillet Ajrud
below the inscription " Yahweh
Yahweh
and his Asherah"

Between the 10th century BC and the beginning of their exile in 586 BC, polytheism was normal throughout Israel;[11] it was only after the exile that worship of Yahweh
Yahweh
alone became established, and possibly only as late as the time of the Maccabees
Maccabees
(2nd century BC) that monotheism became universal among the Jews.[12][13] Some biblical scholars believe that Asherah
Asherah
at one time was worshipped as the consort of Yahweh, the national God
God
of Israel.[12][14][15] There are references to the worship of numerous gods throughout Kings: Solomon builds temples to many gods and Josiah
Josiah
is reported as cutting down the statues of Asherah
Asherah
in the temple Solomon
Solomon
built for Yahweh
Yahweh
(2 Kings 23:14). Josiah's grandfather Manasseh had erected one such statue (2 Kings 21:7[16]). Further evidence includes, for example, an 8th-century combination of iconography and inscriptions discovered at Kuntillet Ajrud
Kuntillet Ajrud
in the northern Sinai desert[17] where a storage jar shows three anthropomorphic figures and several inscriptions.[18][19] The inscriptions found refer not only to Yahweh
Yahweh
but to El and Baal, and two include the phrases " Yahweh
Yahweh
of Samaria
Samaria
and his Asherah" and " Yahweh
Yahweh
of Teman and his Asherah."[20] The references to Samaria (capital of the kingdom of Israel) and Teman (in Edom) suggest that Yahweh
Yahweh
had a temple in Samaria, while raising questions about the relationship between Yahweh
Yahweh
and Kaus, the national god of Edom.[21] The "Asherah" is most likely a cultic object, although the relationship of this object (a stylised tree perhaps) to Yahweh
Yahweh
and to the goddess Asherah, consort of El, is unclear.[22] It has been suggested that the Israelites might have considered Asherah
Asherah
as a consort of Baal
Baal
due to the anti- Asherah
Asherah
ideology which was influenced by the Deuteronomistic History at the later period of Monarchy.[23] In another inscription called " Yahweh
Yahweh
and his Asherah", there appears a cow feeding its calf.[24] If Asherah
Asherah
is to be associated with Hathor/Qudshu, it can then be assumed that it is the cow that is being referred to as Asherah. William Dever's book Did God
God
Have a Wife? adduces further archaeological evidence—for instance, the many female figurines unearthed in ancient Israel, (known as Pillar-Base Figurines)—as supporting the view that in Israelite folk religion of the monarchal period, Asherah
Asherah
functioned as a goddess and consort of Yahweh
Yahweh
and was worshiped as the Queen of Heaven, for whose festival the Hebrews baked small cakes. The word Asherah
Asherah
is translated in Greek as alsos, grove, or alse, groves, or occasionally by dendra, trees; Vulgate in Latin provided lucus or nemus, a grove or a wood (thus KJV Bible uses grove or groves with the consequent loss of Asherah's name and knowledge of her existence to English language readers of the Bible over some 400 years).[25] The association of Asherah
Asherah
with trees in the Hebrew Bible is very strong. For example, she is found under trees (1K 14:23; 2K 17:10) and is made of wood by human beings (1K 14:15, 2K 16:3-4). Trees described as being an asherah or part of an asherah include grapevines, pomegranates, walnuts, myrtles, and willows (Danby:1933:90,176). Some scholars have found an early link between Asherah
Asherah
and Eve, based upon the coincidence of their common title as "the mother of all living" in Genesis 3:20[26] through the identification with the Hurrian
Hurrian
mother goddess Hebat.[27][28] Asherah
Asherah
was also given the title Chawat from which the name Hawwah in Aramaic and the biblical name Eve are derived.[29][page needed] Asherah
Asherah
poles, which were sacred trees or poles, are mentioned many times in the Hebrew Bible. Arabia[edit] A stele, now at the Louvre, discovered by Charles Huber in 1883 in the ancient oasis of Tema,[i] northwestern Arabia, and believed to date to the time of Nabonidus's retirement there in 549 BC, bears an inscription in Aramaic which mentions Ṣalm of Maḥram, Shingala, and Ashira as the gods of Tema. This Ashira might be Athirat/Asherah. Since Aramaic has no way to indicate Arabic
Arabic
th,[vague] corresponding to the Ugaritic th (transliterated as ṯ), if this is the same deity, it is not clear whether the name would be an Arabian reflex of the Ugaritic Athirat or a later borrowing of the Hebrew/Canaanite Asherah.[30] The Arabic
Arabic
root ʼṯr is similar in meaning to the Hebrew indicating "to tread" used as a basis to explain the name of Ashira as "lady of the sea", specially that the Arabic
Arabic
root ymm also means "sea".[31] It has also been recently suggested that the goddess name Athirat might be derived from the passive participle form, referring to "one followed by (the gods)", that is, "pro-genitress or originatress", corresponding with Asherah's image as 'the mother of the gods' in Ugaritic literature.[32] See also[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Asherah.

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Ancient Near East
portal

Shekhinah Khirbet el-Qom Al-Lat List of fertility deities List of Canaanite deities Semitic neopaganism Anat

Notes[edit]

^ Ugaritic: 𐎀𐎘𐎗𐎚 : 'ṯrt; Hebrew: אֲשֵׁרָה‬ ^ Hebrew: מְלֶכֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם‬ ^ Ugaritic 𐎗𐎁𐎚 𐎀𐎘𐎗𐎚 𐎊𐎎, rbt ʾaṯrt ym ^ Ugaritic 𐎖𐎐𐎊𐎚 𐎛𐎍𐎎, qnyt ʾlm ^ Ugaritic: 𐎀𐎘𐎗𐎚, ʾaṯrt ^ Ugaritic 𐎓𐎘𐎚𐎗𐎚, ʿṯtrt ^ Ugaritic 𐎛𐎍𐎚, ilt ^ Ugaritic 𐎖𐎄𐎌, qdš ^ Modern Tayma
Tayma
– Arabic: تيماء‎

References[edit]

^ "Asherah" in The New Encyclopædia Britannica. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
Inc., 15th edn., 1992, Vol. 1, pp. 623-4. ^ Oxford Companion to World Mythology, p.32 ^ Niehr, Herbert (1995). "The Rise of YHWH in the Judahite and Israelite Religion". The Triumph of the Elohim: From Yahwisms to Judaisms. Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA: Eerdmans. pp. 54, 57. ISBN 0-8028-4161-9.  ^ Binger 1997, p. 74 ^ Deuteronomy 12: 3-4 ^ Olyan, Saul M. (1988), Asherah
Asherah
and the cult of Yahweh
Yahweh
in Israel, Scholars Press, p. 79, ISBN 9781555402549  ^ "Therefore pray thou not for this people . . . Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead [their] dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke me to anger." (King James Version) ^ Rainer, Albertz (2010), "Personal piety", in Stavrakopoulou, Francesca; Barton, John, Religious Diversity in Ancient Israel and Judah (reprint ed.), Continuum International Publishing Group, pp. 135–146(at 143), ISBN 9780567032164  ^ a b Gibson, J. C. L.; Driver, G. R. (1978), Canaanite Myths and Legends, T. & T. Clark, ISBN 9780567023513  ^ Noted by Raphael Patai, "The Goddess
Goddess
Asherah", Journal of Near Eastern Studies 24.1/2 (1965: 37–52), p. 39. ^ Finkelstein, Israel, and Silberman, Neil Asher, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, Simon & Schuster, 2002, pp. 241–42. ^ a b "BBC Two - Bible's Buried Secrets, Did God
God
Have a Wife?". BBC. 21 December 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2012.  ^ Quote from the BBC documentary: "Between the 10th century and the beginning of their exile in 586 there was polytheism as normal religion all throughout Israel; only afterwards things begin to change and very slowly they begin to change. I would say it [the sentence "Jews were monotheists" - n.n.] is only correct for the last centuries, maybe only from the period of the Maccabees, that means the second century BC, so in the time of Jesus of Nazareth it is true, but for the time before it, it is not true." ^ Wesler, Kit W. (2012). An Archaeology of Religion. University Press of America. p. 193. ISBN 978-0761858454. Retrieved 3 September 2014.  ^ Mills, Watson, ed. (31 Dec 1999). Mercer Dictionary of the Bible (Reprint ed.). Mercer University Press. p. 494. ISBN 978-0865543737.  ^ "Genesis Chapter 1 (NKJV)". Blue Letter Bible.  ^ Ze'ev Meshel, Kuntillet 'Ajrud: An Israelite Religious Center in Northern Sinai, Expedition 20 (Summer 1978), pp. 50–55 ^ Dever 2005 ^ Hadley 2000, pp. 122–136 ^ Bonanno, Anthony (1986). Archaeology and Fertility Cult in the Ancient Mediterranean: Papers Presented at the First International Conference on Archaeology of the Ancient Mediterranean, University of Malta, 2–5 September 1985. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 238. ISBN 9789060322888. Retrieved 10 March 2014.  ^ Keel, Othmar; Uehlinger, Christoph (1998). Gods, Goddesses, And Images of God. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 228. ISBN 9780567085917. Retrieved 10 March 2014.  ^ Keel, Othmar; Uehlinger, Christoph (1998). Gods, Goddesses, And Images of God. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 232–233. ISBN 9780567085917. Retrieved 10 March 2014.  ^ Sung Jin Park, "The Cultic Identity of Asherah
Asherah
in Deuteronomistic Ideology of Israel," Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 123/4 (2011): 553–564. ^ Dever 2005, p. 163. ^ "Asherah". www.asphodel-long.com. Retrieved 2016-02-14.  ^ Jenny Kein, (2000)"Reinstating the Divine Woman in Judaism" (Universal Publishers; 1 edition (January 15, 2000) ^ Bach, Alice Women in the Hebrew Bible Routledge; 1 edition (3 Nov 1998) ISBN 978-0-415-91561-8 p.171 ^ Donald B. Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times, Princeton University Press, 1992 p.270. ^ Dever 2005. ^ Baruch Margalit, "The Meaning and Significance of Asherah," Vetus Testamentum 40 (July 1990): 264–97. ^ Lucy Goodison and Christine Morris, Ancient Goddesses: Myths and Evidence (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998), 79. ^ Sung Jin Park, "Short Notes on the Etymology of Asherah", Ugarit Forschungen 42 (2010): 527–534.

Sources[edit]

Barker, Margaret (2012), The Mother of the Lord Volume 1: The Lady in the Temple, T & T Clark, ISBN 9780567528155  Binger, Tilde (1997), Asherah: Goddesses in Ugarit, Israel and the Old Testament, Continuum International Publishing Group, ISBN 9781850756378  Dever, William G. (2005), Did God
God
Have A Wife?: Archaeology And Folk Religion In Ancient Israel, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, ISBN 9780802828521  Hadley, Judith M (2000), The Cult of Asherah
Asherah
in Ancient Israel and Judah: The Evidence for a Hebrew Goddess, University of Cambridge Oriental publications, 57, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521662352  Kien, Jenny (2000), Reinstating the Divine Woman in Judaism, Universal Publishers, ISBN 9781581127638  Long, Asphodel P. (1993), In a Chariot Drawn by Lions: The Search for the Female in Deity, Crossing Press, ISBN 9780895945754  Myer, Allen C. (2000), "Asherah", Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, Amsterdam University Press  Park, Sung Jin (2010). "Short Notes on the Etymology of Asherah". Ugarit
Ugarit
Forschungen. 42: 527–534.  Park, Sung Jin (2011). "The Cultic Identity of Asherah
Asherah
in Deuteronomistic Ideology of Israel". Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft. 123 (4): 553–564. doi:10.1515/zaw.2011.036.  Patai, Raphael (1990), The Hebrew Goddess, Jewish folklore and anthropology., Wayne State University Press, ISBN 9780814322710  Reed, William Laforest (1949), The Asherah
Asherah
in the Old Testament, Texas christian university press, OCLC 491761457  Taylor, Joan E (1995), The Asherah, the Menorah and the Sacred Tree, Journal for the study of the Old Testament. no. 66: University of Sheffield, Dept. of Biblical Studies, pp. 29–54, ISSN 0309-0892, OCLC 88542166  Wiggins, Steve A (1993), A Reassessment of 'Asherah': A Study according to the Textual Sources of the First Two Millennia B.C.E, Alter Orient und Altes Testament, Bd. 235., Verlag Butzon & Bercker, ISBN 9783788714796 

External links[edit]

Asherah

Asphodel P. Long, The Goddess
Goddess
in Judaism – An Historical Perspective Asherah, the Tree of Life and the Menorah Jewish Encyclopedia: Asherah Rabbi Jill Hammer, An Altar of Earth: Reflections on Jews, Goddesses and the Zohar University of Birmingham: Deryn Guest: Asherah[dead link] at Archive.org Lilinah biti-Anat, Qadash Kinahnu Deity Temple "Room One, Major Canaanite Deities"

Kuntillet inscriptions

Jacques Berlinerblau, "Official religion and popular religion in pre-Exilic ancient Israel" (Commentary on Yahweh's Asherah.) ANE: Kuntillet bibliography Jeffrey H. Tigay, "A Second Temple Parallel to the Blessings from Kuntillet Ajrud" (University of Pennsylvania) (This equates Asherah with an asherah.)

Israelite religion

David Steinberg, Israelite Religion to Judaism: the Evolution of the Religion of Israel

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 69726

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