In Search of Asherah: The Lost Hebrew Goddess

Situated on the Mediterranean in today’s northern Syria, Ugarit, a second millennium Canaanite port city, was the site of a major excavation in 1928 that unearthed a veritable treasure of cuneiform alphabetic texts. Located in modern day Ras Shamra, the ancient tablets date back to the fourteenth century BCE and had text very similar to ancient Hebrew and Aramaic.  The cuneiform text, which features the mythology of the region, had likely flourished for several hundred years. Asherah, called Athirat in Ugarit, figures prominently as the wife of El, the supreme god. In his preeminent book The Hebrew Goddess, Rafael Patai asserts: “Asherah was ‘progenitor of the gods:’ all other gods, numbering 70 were her children, including Baal and Anat, and other chief protagonists of the Ugarit pantheon.”[i] For perhaps hundreds of years before Abraham (ca 2200-1700 BCE) migrated to what would become known as Israel, Asherah was revered as Athirat, Earth Mother and Fertility Goddess.

Upon entering the region, the ancient Israelites soon adopted her and gave her the Hebrew equivalent name of Asherah. Judith Hadley, professor of Theology and Religious studies at Villanova University, in her paper “Asherah-Archeological and Textual Evidence” states: “The discovery of the Ugaritic material has established the existence of a goddess Asherah at Ugarit without any doubt. Although in Ugaritic her name appears as Athirat, this is etymologically equivalent to Hebrew Asherah.”[ii] The Ugarit excavation in 1928 put Asherah, the goddess, on the map again after having lost her place for thousands of years.

But who was Asherah to the ancient Israelites?  And why is she often paired with Yahweh, their supreme god? Based on scholarly research, historians and archeologists have pieced together Asherah’s narrative finding large chunks of it interwoven in the artifacts from the region and in the sacred scriptures of the Hebrew Bible itself. The purpose of this paper is to uncover the lost Hebrew goddess by analyzing both her role within the ancient Israelite and Judaic cults and her relationship with Yahweh, the supreme Hebrew god.  We will do this by discussing a portion of the archeological findings associated with Asherah from the region and some of the scholarship surrounding them. Because evidence suggests that Asherah was observed in ancient Israel and Judah as early as the twelfth century BCE to a few decades before the fall of the southern kingdom of Judah (ca 587-588 BCE), we will focus on this pre-exilic period.

Researching the presence of a Hebrew goddess begs the question: how monotheistic were the pre-exilic Israelites and Judeans? Certainly, the very notion of polytheism is inherent in the quest for Asherah. Moreover, the many artifacts representing Asherah and her cult from the region belies the biblical prohibition against the creation of idols. Although discussing the intricacies of the Bible is beyond the scope of this paper, we will assess a portion of the scholarly research associated with the bible pertaining to Asherah the goddess, and asherah, her cult symbol.

Folk Religion versus Book Religion

For the purpose of our study it is imperative to review the differences between popular or folk religion and the official or book religion of the high priests and ruling classes in ancient Israel.  Folk religion was primarily practiced away from the metropolis, out in the country or in rural communities, of which most Israelites were a part. In his paper titled “Women and Religion in the Old Testament,” Meindert Dijkstra maintains, “In all periods of history, religion in ancient Israel has been more pluriform than the biblical writers wanted to indicate. In many instances they have only superficially masked this pluriformity in religious tradition.”[iii] Because most Israelites and Judeans lived a good distance from the Temple of Jerusalem, they were not as influenced by the book religion and instead had their own religious beliefs and practiced their faith locally and in many cases at home.

In Search of Asherah

Dutch scholar of ancient religions, Karel van der Toorn in his book From Her Cradle To Her Grave suggests, “The official religion is called official because it is the religion of the upper social class or was so in the past. Folk religion began at the bottom as a sort of compensation for what could or could not be done in the official religion.”[iv] It was very likely that some form of folk religion had been passed down through the generations making homespun beliefs an integral part of their everyday lives. By way of contrast, an affinity between the intellectual community and the aristocracy produced a text, which was written entirely from the perspective of the upper class.

It is important to remember that the Hebrew Bible has an inherent bias in favor of a particular canonical angle. Therefore the historical accuracy of the tome is subordinated to stay on message. To be sure, items that seem of minor importance in the Hebrew Bible could in fact be most illuminating for the purpose of our study.

The Literate versus The Illiterate   

In rural communities of the ancient world, literacy was close to non-existent.  Because of this, literary writing was left to the professional scribes in the employment of those in the ruling classes. In his seminal book titled Did God Have a Wife? William Dever, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Archeology at the University of Arizona asserts, “In the ancient world generally, the populace was almost totally illiterate. Even priests and kings could not read and depended on a small cadre of professional scribes to communicate and to carry on their affairs.”[v] Indeed, even rudimentary writing does not become widespread until the eighth century BCE at which time many were able to write their names, numbers and the names of a few commodities for trade but certainly a long way from being able to read the literary achievement that we find in the Hebrew Bible.

If the Bible were written by and large for the ruling class, how can we know the way common people worshipped? In addition to looking at artifacts in the region to help piece the puzzle into place, ironically, we can also find many of the rituals practiced by the common people from the Bible itself. In “Digging Up Deborah,” Susan Ackerman, Professor of Religion at Dartmouth College writes about a passage in Jeremiah 44:25, “To be sure, Jeremiah, as part of his efforts to promote a form of Israelite religion devoted to the worship of Yahweh alone, speaks out against all aspects of the Queen of Heaven’s cult and against all the goddess worshipers.”[vi] By and large the biblical writers were unhappy that Asherah or the “Queen of Heaven” shared the platform with their male deity, Yahweh and repeatedly tried to dissuade their union. Later in her paper Ackerman suggests that one can define folk religion as everything that those who wrote the Bible condemned.

Women and Religion

At this point the role of Hebrew women in the religion must be noted. If the commoners, that is to say the majority of the population, were marginalized in terms of their religious beliefs then it would follow suit that women within that population would be further subjugated. Indeed, life in the agricultural society of ancient Israel and Judah was difficult for everyone. But in a region known for its dominant men, women in the ancient Near East found themselves relegated into traditional roles, both in their homes and within the community at large. It is likely that in this environment, women’s voices often went unheard, muted against those of the authoritative male.

But did women have a role in religious life? Although to date, extra-biblical text remains scant, thousands of figurines suggestive of female veneration have been found in the region. Some of these figurines are thought to be associated with fertility and will be discussed in greater detail later in this paper. Though artifacts are one source in determining the role women played in religious life, the Hebrew Bible gives us a further glimpse of women’s participation. Albeit, the Bible generally rails against women and worship, we learn of several incidents, relating to the cult of Asherah in particular, where their religious contribution is compelling.

Queen Maacah is one such case, though clearly no commoner, she is chastised for making an “obscene object” for the Asherah in 1 Kings 15.13. Later, in 2 Kings 23.7 we find women being scolded for expressing their devotion to Asherah by weaving veils for her. Lastly, in Jeramiah 7.17 women bake cakes for the Queen of Heaven and are admonished for having done so.[vii] These are just a few examples of many more available in the Bible pertaining to women’s role in religion. Although the biblical writers revile these women and find them disreputable, nonetheless their presence within the religious community must have been felt.

 

                    

 

Icons and Text

To be sure, aniconism was, and still is, inherent in the Hebrew Bible but ample archeological evidence suggests that those who lived outside the metropolis—and indeed sometimes right inside it—idolized statuary and cult objects as part of their popular or folk religion. In A History of God, Karen Armstrong declares, “Men and women created religions at the same time as they created works of art.”[viii] While we have no text or sacred scriptures from the folk religion of this considerable group of people, we do have much in the way of artifacts from the region. Because artifacts do not have an agenda, they cannot mislead and therefore tend to be far more accurate in terms of the historicity than texts alone. Ziony Zevet, in his eminent book The Religions of Ancient Israel: A Synthesis of Parallactic Approaches asserts, “Israelite religion is most approachable through its manifestations in physical evidence discovered in archeological excavations that have uncovered cultic artifacts and structure.”[ix] Thirty or so years ago most biblical archeologists were also biblical scholars and tended to accept without examination the stories we find in the Judeo-Christian Bible as fact. However, today biblical archeologists tend to be more objective and their research more revealing. As such archaeological sourcing is now a fundamental means of interpreting the ancient Israelite religion.[x] Ostensibly, iconography tends to be more redolent of the past than mere words and, examined together with the Bible and extra-biblical text, can provide us with a deeper understanding of the religio-historical evolution than a purely text-oriented approach.

Because most people in ancient Israel and Judah were functionally illiterate, iconography was of primary importance to them. From the many tens of thousands of artifacts excavated from the region we know that the Israelites and Judeans expressed devotional adherence by statuary and iconography.  The idolatry that is often scorned in the Hebrew Bible could be indicative of the prevailing activity of the region.

The Inscriptions at Kuntillet Ajrud

Although Asherah is mentioned in the Bible forty separate times, the findings at Kuntillet Ajrud and Khirbet el-Qom have further solidified the role she played in the Yahweh “pantheon.” An obscure ancient Hebrew inscription and accompanying diagram has sparked a lively and at times irascible debate within the academic community.  Excavated in 1975-76 near the river of Egypt in northeast Sinai by Judah’s south border, Kuntillet Ajrud was a ninth to eighth century BCE Israelite caravanserai with an attached shrine. The inscriptions under contention were found on sherds from two large pithoi or storage jars uncovered within the caravanserai. The ambiguous inscription reads: “I have blessed you by Yahweh of Samaria and his Asherah.” The same text is found a number of times with geographical differences, leading one scholar to speculate that perhaps the locations; Samaria, Jerusalem and Teman were sites of Yahweh sanctuaries, as one such sanctuary is known to have existed for Yahweh in Samaria.[xi] Thus, the scribe at Kuntillet Ajrud may have had familiarity with these sanctuaries of Yahweh where the presence of “his Asherah” ought to have been felt.

As background, it is interesting to note that the possessive pronoun or the Hebrew pronominal suffix “his Asherah” appears in probably the oldest text we have referencing the goddess in the Hebrew Bible. In Deuteronomy 33.2-3, “at his right had his own Asherah.[xii] Because “Yahweh….his Asherah” is quoted in both biblical and extra-biblical texts the phrase must have been widely recognized and perhaps used often in the region indicating a close relationship between the pair within the cult.

But what is “his Asherah” supposed to mean? Most scholars agree Asherah, the goddess or asherah, her cult object was associated with Yahweh.  In his paper titled “I Have Blessed You By Yahweh of Samaria and His Asherah,” Dijkstra writes: “From the outset most scholars differed about the question whether Asherah means the name or title of the goddess or the word refers to the cultic object which is known from the modern Old Testament translations as sacred pole.”[xiii] Regardless if the inscription refers to the goddess herself or her cult object, the intent remains the same; Yahweh is linked to Asherah.

The associated cultic object for which Asherah was known was a wooden or sacred pole, which is referenced many times in the Bible such as in Deuteronomy 16:21-22, “You shall not plant any wooden thing as an Asherah beside the altar of the Lord your God which you shall make. And you shall not set up a pillar, which the Lord your God hates.” That prohibitions need to be set implies observance at some level. Ostensibly, worship of Asherah was being upheld by the Israelites or else forbiddance would have been superfluous. In his paper titled “Asherah in the Hebrew Bible,” John Day contends, “The presence of the symbol of the goddess Asherah next to Yahweh’s altar most naturally suggests that she was regarded in syncretistic circles as Yahweh’s consort.”[xiv] Since the findings of Kuntillet Ajrud, a preponderance of the academic community is in agreement that likely Asherah functioned as Yahweh’s consort, if not in the official religion then most assuredly in the popular religion of the average people.

Whether the inscription refers to a cult object, which symbolized their worship of her or the goddess herself is largely up for speculation. J.A. Emerton in his paper “Yahweh and His Asherah” talks about how the plural of Asherah is used in some of the inscriptions, which presents difficulty when referring to a goddess but not so in reference to her cult object. He discusses several instances in the Hebrew Bible where the plural term “asherim” is used signifying multiple sacred poles or trees, “An examination of the places ‘aserim” appears in the Old Testament supports the view that it is, in fact, used as the symbol of the goddess.”[xv] Comparing the grammar used in the Hebrew Bible to that found in the inscriptions is wise as the same group of people wrote both at approximately the same time. Although not all scholars agree with his interpretation, most concur that the inscriptions at Kuntillet Ajrud are referring to Asherah’s cult object and not to the goddess herself.

 

The Drawings at Kuntillet Ajrud

Found next to the text of “Yahweh and his Asherah” is a drawing of two figures in the foreground, and another in the background. Because the sherds contain both the inscription and the drawing it is assumed by some scholars, though not all, that the sketch is representative of “Yahweh and his Asherah.” Might this drawing be further proof that it was Asherah, the goddess and not her cult object who was referred to in the inscription? But if that is the case, why are there three figures? That question has stumped many scholars into concluding the text and the drawings are unrelated. Pirhiya Beck in her paper “The Drawings from Horvat Teiman,” is among one group who argues that the two figures in the foreground represent the minor Egyptian deity Bes and his female counterpart and are completely unrelated to the inscription.  Part of the reasoning behind the latter is that the figures were done with a thicker brush than the inscriptions.[xvi] Ultimately, as with most of the findings on Kuntillet Ajrud, the scholarship community is divided between one which thinks that the diagrams are exhibitive of the inscriptions, and the other, which finds them to be totally unrelated to each other.

One of the ancillary drawings found near the inscription is of the “Asherah Tree”. The wooden pole with which Asherah was associated was also symbolic of the “tree of life.” Mark Smith in “God Male and Female in the Old Testament” writes, “Asherah was a nurturing mother goddess. The religious symbol of the goddess, the asherah, was in Israel a wooden pole, or perhaps a tree, representing the ‘tree of life.’”[xvii] The ‘tree of life’ was a recurrent theme in the ancient Near East. In an arid region trees were revered as symbols of life and nourishment and so became associated with the goddess and her cult. We see this “tree of life” in the Garden of Eden allegory.

In her book When God Was A Woman, Merlin Stone discusses the acrimony the patriarchy felt toward the “asherim” which she calls a major symbol of the female religion, “It would not be too surprising if the symbolism of the tree of forbidden fruit, said to offer the knowledge of good and evil, was included in the creation story to warn that eating the fruit of this tree had caused the downfall of all humanity.”[xviii] It would appear that amongst the average people, much to the disdain of the ruling elite, Asherah’s name was increasingly linked to Yahweh’s.  Because of this union the writers of the Bible may have felt the need to propagandize against goddess worship by integrating the story of the fall of mankind to a tree that clearly was associated with her.

 

Archeological findings at Khirbet el-Qom

In 1968, an inscription was found in an ancient burial ground west of Hebron at a site called Khirbet el-Qom. The inscription found on a tombstone reads:

Blessed by Uriah by Yahweh,

Yea from his enemies by his Asherah he has saved him

By Oniah

By his Asherah

And by his A(she)rah.

The inscription has been dated to ca 750 BCE and the syntax has the same ambiguity as the inscriptions found at Kuntillet Ajrud. As noted previously, “Yahweh… and his Asherah” was a phrase that had to have been fairly common in the area as sixty or so miles separates Kuntillet Ajrud and Khirbet el-Qom, not an easy jaunt considering the limited transportation options available at the time. Furthermore, the inscription was found at an ancient burial site signifying the sanctity with which the phrase “Yahweh and his Asherah” was regarded in the region. As with the findings at Kuntillet Ajrud, scholarship is divided, though most accede that the text refers to asherah as cult object.

In her book Under Every Green Tree: Popular Religion in Sixth-Century Judah, Susan Ackerman summed it up best:

In the ancient Near East the idol was god. ‘Srth at Kuntellet Ajrud or Kh. el-Qom could refer to Asherah’s cult object, the stylized tree, or even to some  hypostatized aspect of the female side of Yahweh. But what was the stylized   tree or the hypostasis of the female side of Yahweh to the average  worshipper?  Nothing other than Asherah, the goddess. [xix]

 

Indeed when Israelites were revering Asherah’s cult object or sacred pole they were not worshipping a pole but the symbol of a deity, namely Asherah. Not unlike present day adherents of any religion venerating an object, which represents to them their sacred deity.

While the author or authors of both the inscriptions and the drawings can never be known, there seems little doubt in the academic community that Asherah played a large role in the belief practices of the pre-exilic Israelite-Judean community and was quite possibly known throughout the region as a consort of Yahweh.

Figurines of Asherah

Anthropomorphically Asherah is represented many times in various forms scattered throughout the region. However, for the purposes of this study we will focus on those which are most prolific in the area: the pillar figurines. The figurines first started appearing in the late tenth to ninth century BCE and had become very common from the eighth through the seventh centuries. There is now considerable evidence that these figurines signify Asherah. The term “Images of Asherah” is used often in the Hebrew Bible, it is thought that “pillar figurines” are what the writers of the bible had in mind.

The figurines have been found in two varieties: one with an elaborately molded head and the other with a “pinched nose”. The heads on the “molded head” variety appear to be mass-produced, yet the bodies are hand-made, leading one scholar to suggest that the person for whom the figurine was intended individually crafted the figurine’s body.[xx] This would help explain the rough manner in which the bodies were assembled. The “pinched nose” variety was likely for those who were unable to acquire a molded head. Plain as the pinched nose figurines are, their being found in large quantities underscores the importance that acquiring one of these figurines may have played in the community.

But what were these figurines meant to convey? And why were they important to the Judean community? Because the breasts are exaggerated with the hands more or less supporting them they are thought to symbolize the nurturing aspect of the mother goddess. Interestingly, although her cult objects are in public worship spaces, the pillar figurines are found mostly in private houses, which suggest the domesticity of the figurines.[xxi] Dever is among a growing number of scholars who assert that the pillar figurines were representative for women of fertility. He declares, “I am suggesting that the female figurines were connected principally though not exclusively with reproduction. They are better understood as images representing the goddess Asherah, used as talismans to secure her favors.”[xxii] Though the figurines may have been used principally by and for women with regards to fertility, because many of them were found in tombs, their somber nature is highlighted. Leading Elizabeth Bloch-Smith to assert:

Whether the figurines represented Asherah, the cult symbol asherah, an appeal to Yahweh’s nurturing concerns or simply a superstitious or folk-loric practice, their presence in tombs throughout Judah including Jerusalem indicates widespread concern for adequate lactation to nourish newborns   and infants and an acceptance of the use of figurines for sympathetic magic.[xxiii]

Considering survival was the ultimate concern for the average Israelite or Judean, apprehension about lactation, and perhaps fertility was probably widespread. Sadly lactation and fertility concerns are indicative of some type of famine for which the region was prone.

At this point it is useful to consider how difficult life was for the average Judean or Israelite. Surrounded by the resource rich empires of Egypt and Mesopotamia, Israel and Judah were not only vulnerable to invasion but also lacked natural resources and a friendly climate for agriculture with which to support themselves. In a capricious world, religion was wrapped around the quest for survival and appeasing the deities was of ultimate concern. To an ancient Israelite there was no difference between life and religion. Indeed, when they were not toiling to support their families, they were engaged in religious and ritualistic practices both in the cultic community and in their individual homes. It is in this context that the figurines should be contemplated.

The pillar figurines have mostly been found in the Judah region, many in the metropolis of Jerusalem itself. Both Bloch-Smith and Hadley concur that these figurines are small clay counterparts to the sacred wooden asherah poles. Because their elongated base is suggestive of a tree it is easy to visualize how they might look on a pole. As discussed previously, trees were symbolic of the nourishing aspect of the goddess, Asherah.

Hadley adds that “for several centuries asherah poles stood in the temple of Jerusalem.”[xxiv] Although it is enchanting to speculate that asherah cult objects were in the First Temple of Jerusalem, could it be true?  Surprisingly, Hadley’s assertion is based on Hebrew Bible itself.  In 2 Kings 23 dating from the late seventh century during King Josiah’s reforms, the biblical writer talks about purging the temple of all the cult regalia of Asherah.  If her cult regalia could be found in the First Temple of Jerusalem then the Asherah cult was not only revered in the folk religion of the common people but more importantly her cult was incorporated into the state or official religion as well. Christopher Uehlinger asserts, “Judahite pillar figurines seem to have disappeared some time during the later seventh century.”[xxv] Perhaps along with her figurines, the sacred poles had also disappeared, as the late seventh century date would be in line with the biblical timeline mandating the purge of her cult objects from the temple. Sadly, because of the perishable nature of wood no asherah sacred pole artifacts have been found in any of the excavations from the region.

It must be remembered that within fifty to one hundred years of this period the fall of Judah occurred (ca 586 BCE) making it all the more certain for a religious alteration. As mentioned earlier in the paper, Asherah artifacts and textual references are, for the most part, restricted to pre-exilic or the period proceeding the destruction of Jerusalem and the First Temple of Jerusalem. From the vast scholarship on the subject we know that the Israelites of the post-exilic period were manifestly more monotheistic than their pre-exilic counterparts.

Conclusion

On our quest to find Asherah she has appeared in some unlikely places. We find her writ large in the ancient mythology of a neighboring state. Later, in an obscure blessing from the Hebrew Bible, we are introduced to the now familiar phrase “Yahweh….and his Asherah.” The blessing, perhaps well recognized in the region, comes up in a variety of settings, such as in a remote caravanserai and in a burial site located quite a distance from it. Further, she is found in drawings illustrating her cult imagery and perhaps depicting the sacred couple themselves alongside the now famous inscriptions. We learned of her pillar figurines, primarily found in the southern kingdom of Judah, numbering in the thousands and what they might have signified about the ancient Judeans’ devotion to her.

But nagging questions remain. Was Asherah Yahweh’s consort, as many scholars believe? Was her worship confined to folk religion only, as we have seen from the evidence, or was her influence felt in the official cult as indicated in the Hebrew Bible itself? The artifacts and inscriptions linking her name to Yahweh’s are impressive but like so much in this field not absolute. And although research finds her cult prominent within the folk religion of the average person, evidence for veneration of her in the official religion is inconclusive. Fascinating as it is, examining a topic that dates back three millennia has its distinct disadvantages.  And while there is voluminous scholarship and artifacts associated with Asherah in the region, there are still a number of pieces missing to the puzzle. Nonetheless, with this paper it has been my attempt to bring the discussion into greater focus with the expectation and promise of further scrutiny and more scholarship to come in this area.


[i] Raphael Patai, The Hebrew Goddess (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1990), 37.

[ii] Judith M. Hadley, “Yahweh and His Asherah: Archeological and Textual Evidence,” Ein Gott allein? Eds. Walter Dietrich and Martin A. Klopfenstein (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1994), 236.

[iii] Meindert Dijkstra,“Women and Religion in the Old Testament,” in Only One God? Eds. Bob Becking and Meindert Dijkstra (New York: Sheffield Academic Press Ltd, 2001), 165.

[iv] Karel Van Der Toorn From Her Cradle To Her Grave (Wiltshire: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994), 112.

[v] William G. Dever, Did God Have a Wife? (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdsmans Publishing Co., 2005), 28.

[vi] Susan Ackerman, “Digging Up Deborah,” Near Eastern Archeology Vol. 66, No 4 (December 2003): 179. http://ehis.ebscohost.com (accessed October 9, 2010).

[vii] Meindert Dijkstra, “Women and Religion in the Old Testament,” 164.

[viii] Karen Armstrong, A History of God, (1994).  Quoted in Jonathan Kirsch, God Against The Gods (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), 1.

[ix] Ziony Zevet, The Religions of Ancient Israel: A Synthesis of Parallactic Approaches, (2001), Quoted in William G. Dever, Did God Have A Wife? 46.

[x] William G. Dever. Did God Have A Wife? 54.

[xi] Meindert Dijkstra, “El, the God of Israel” in Only One God? Eds. Bob Becking and Meindert Dijkstra (New York: Sheffield Academic Press Ltd, 2001), 117.

[xii] Meindert Dijkstra, “El, the God of Israel,” 115.

[xiii] Meindert Dijkstra, “I Have Blessed You by Yahweh of Samaria and His Asherah,” in Only One God? Eds. Bob Becking and Meindert Dijkstra (New York: Sheffield Academic Press Ltd, 2001), 25.

[xiv] John Day, “Asherah in the Hebrew Bible and Northwest Semitic Literature,” in Journal of Biblical Literature 105, (1986): 392.

[xv] J.A. Emerton, “’Yahweh and His Asherah’: The Goddess or Her Symbol?” Vestus Testamentum 49, no 3 (July 1999): 327. http://ehis.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.

dominican.edu/ehost/detail?vid=3&hid (accessed Sept, 14 2010).

[xvi] Pirhiya Beck,“The Drawings from Horvat Teiman (Kuntillet Ajrud),”Tel Aviv 9 (1982) 27-31, quoted in John Day, “Asherah in the Hebrew Bible,” 393.

[xvii] Mark S. Smith, “God Male and Female in the Old Testament: Yahweh and His ‘Asherah,’” Theological Studies 48, no 2 (June 1987): 334.

[xviii] Merlin Stone, When God Was a Woman, (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace, 1976), 217.

[xix] Susan Ackerman. Under Every Green Tree: Popular Religion in Sixth-Century Judah (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992), 66.

[xx] Judith M. Hadley, The Cult of Asherah in Ancient Israel and Judah (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000) 197.

[xxi] John Day, Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), 55.

[xxii] William G. Dever, Did God Have a Wife? 194.

[xxiii] Elizabeth M. Bloch-Smith, Judahite Burial Practices and Beliefs About the Dead (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press 1991) quoted in Judith M. Hadley The Cult of Asherah, 200.

[xxiv] Judith M. Hadley, The Cult of Asherah, 201.

[xxv] Christoph Uehlinger, “Anthropomorphic Cult Statuary in Iron Age Palestine,” in The Image and The Book, ed. Karel Van Der Toorn (Bondgenotenlaan:Uitgeverij Peeters, 1997), 133.

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  1. Quoted in William G. Dever, Did God Have A Wife?

 

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