Asherah Edited From Bible

Biblical research is a gift thatkeeps on giving.  It is our one clearwindow into the lifeways of the Bronze Age and its culture.  Other scraps have survived, but none so completelyas that of the Bible unless we accept much older lineages for some of the IndianScriptures.  We should address that.

In the meantime, the originalpantheon consisted of Yahweh and Asherah which is mirrored by all the other pantheonsthroughout the Near East.  The cult of the one god appears to have beentolerated up to the Babylonian exile when the leaders chose to effectivelysuppress all other gods to create the modern Abrahamic religions.

The Levantacted as a religious crucible for the Mesopotamian – Hittite cults, TheEgyptian cults including Atan, and the Cult of Baal which appears to be atleast the Mediterranean Phoenician cult. We also have the Atlantean cult of Zeus and Poseidon identified.

It is startling to uncover ideasand practice that properly explain the often otherwise unexplainable.  Cross fertilization of these cults easilyproduce and even explain the most bizarre assertions.

I wonder how many prayers to Yahwehcan be profitably rewritten as a prayer to the mother goddess.


God's wife, Asherah, was a powerful fertility goddess, according to atheologian.

Fri Mar 18, 2011 07:00 AM ET 

God had a wife, Asherah, whom the Book of Kings suggests was worshipedalongside Yahweh in his temple in Israel, according to an Oxford scholar.

In 1967, Raphael Patai was the first historian to mention that theancient Israelites worshiped both Yahweh and Asherah. The theory has gained newprominence due to the research of Francesca Stavrakopoulou, who began her workat Oxford and is now a senior lecturer in thedepartment of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter.

Information presented in Stavrakopoulou's books, lectures and journalpapers has become the basis of a three-part documentary series, now airing in Europe, where she discusses the Yahweh-Asherahconnection.

"You might know him as Yahweh, Allah or God. But on this fact,Jews, Muslims and Christians, the people of the great Abrahamic religions, areagreed: There is only one of Him," writes Stavrakopoulou in a statementreleased to the British media. "He is a solitary figure, a single,universal creator, not one God among many ... or so we like to believe."

"After years of research specializing in the history and religionof Israel,however, I have come to a colorful and what could seem, to some, uncomfortableconclusion that God had a wife," she added.

Stavrakopoulou bases her theory on ancient texts, amulets and figurinesunearthed primarily in the ancient Canaanite coastal city called Ugarit, nowmodern-day Syria.All of these artifacts reveal that Asherah was a powerful fertility goddess.

Asherah's connection to Yahweh, according to Stavrakopoulou, is spelledout in both the Bible and an 8th century B.C. inscription on pottery found inthe Sinai desert at a site called Kuntillet Ajrud.

"The inscription is a petition for a blessing," she shares."Crucially, the inscription asks for a blessing from 'Yahweh and hisAsherah.' Here was evidence that presented Yahweh and Asherah as a divine pair.And now a handful of similar inscriptions have since been found, all of whichhelp to strengthen the case that the God of the Bible once had a wife."

Also significant, Stavrakopoulou believes, "is the Bible'sadmission that the goddess Asherah was worshiped in Yahweh's Templein Jerusalem. Inthe Book of Kings, we're told that a statue of Asherah was housed in the templeand that female temple personnel wove ritual textiles for her."

J. Edward Wright, president of both The Arizona Center for JudaicStudies and The Albright Institute for Archaeological Research, told DiscoveryNews that he agrees several Hebrew inscriptions mention "Yahweh and hisAsherah."

"Asherah was not entirely edited out of the Bible by its maleeditors," he added. "Traces of her remain, and based on those traces,archaeological evidence and references to her in texts from nations borderingIsrael and Judah, we can reconstruct her role in the religions of the SouthernLevant."

Asherah -- known across the ancient Near East by various othernames, such as Astarte and Istar -- was "an important deity, one who wasboth mighty and nurturing," Wright continued.

"Many English translations prefer to translate 'Asherah' as'Sacred Tree,'" Wright said. "This seems to be in part driven by amodern desire, clearly inspired by the Biblical narratives, to hide Asherahbehind a veil once again."

"Mentions of the goddess Asherah in the Hebrew Bible (OldTestament) are rare and have been heavily edited by the ancient authors whogathered the texts together," Aaron Brody, director of the Bade Museumand an associate professor of Bible and archaeology at the Pacific Schoolof Religion, said.

Asherah as a tree symbol was even said to have been "chopped downand burned outside the Templein acts of certain rulers who were trying to 'purify' the cult, and focus onthe worship of a single male god, Yahweh," he added.

The ancient Israelites were polytheists, Brody told Discovery News,"with only a small minority worshiping Yahweh alone before the historicevents of 586 B.C." In that year, an elite community within Judea wasexiled to Babylon and the Templein Jerusalemwas destroyed. This, Brody said, led to "a more universal vision of strictmonotheism: one god not only for Judah, but for all of thenations."

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