"admittedly syncretistic Kuntillet Ajrud fragments"

Ken Smith kens at 180solutions.com
Thu Jan 24 02:17:43 EST 2002

We may be getting a bit off topic here, but I'll toss out three things:

First, I'm not aware that the Lachish letters mention a consort, and
they're quite certainly pre-exilic, if only barely so.  Also, a number
of the prophets are, I believe, securely datable before the exile, and
surely they don't refer to any consort of Yahweh; that's precisely the
sort of thing that they'd have been ranting against at some length,
don't you think?  In addition, Deuteronomy is generally dated to the
reign of either Hezekiah or Josiah (are there any good arguments for an
exilic or post-exilic dating?), and the idea of Yahweh having a consort
would certainly have been inimical to its author.

Second, some of the other inscriptions at Kuntillet Ajrud mention other
gods, such as Baal and El:


And whether or not the two gods immediately below the inscription I
referred to earlier are Bes or not, most scholars seem to think that
they at least look an awful lot like Bes.  In other words, it appears
that other gods were, in fact, worshipped at Kuntillet Ajrud besides
Yahweh and/or influenced the worship and portrayal of Yahweh; and that's
pretty much the definition of syncretism, isn't it?

And finally, I don't at all dispute that, among the Israelites and their
neighbors, there would have been a strong tendency towards the sort of
thing you see in the Kuntillet Ajrud fragments.  (The Bible itself is
the strongest argument that these tendencies existed.)  Maybe you could
even say that it was the mainstream way of thinking.  (Whether it was an
appropriate way to think about Yahweh is, of course, a question entirely
independent of whether it was the majority view.)  But just because it's
mainstream doesn't mean it's not syncretistic.  Wasn't syncretism pretty
much universal in the ANE?  Why shouldn't we think that wasn't exactly
the case at KA?


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ian Hutchesson [mailto:mc2499 at mclink.it]
> Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2002 9:48 PM
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: "admittedly syncretistic Kuntillet Ajrud fragments"
> I can't see how a text mentioning yhwh and '$rth needs be syncretistic
> all.
> If I point to the el-Qom inscription which again talks of yhwh and his
> asherah, then I guess we must
> conclude that that was also an "admittedly syncretistic" inscription.
> again, the yhw of Elephantine
> also had a consort (and perhaps a son).
> Does anyone know of any text securely datable to before the exile
> talks of yhwh without talking
> of a consort?
> We are left only with evidence for yhwh and a consort from the
earliest of
> periods, so I would guess that
> that was the status quo. Wouldn't you?
> Ian
> ------------------
> Well, I guess I was assuming that the reference to "Yahweh and his
> Asherah", heading a drawing of a god and a goddess, wasn't exactly up
> the standards of prophetic monotheism :-).  I know that phrase has
> interpreted in different ways, but isn't the most straightforward to
> understand it as a reference to Yahweh and his consort Asherah, who
> pictured in the drawing below the inscription?
> Still, I'm no expert on these matters, and if there's good reason not
> understand the phrase that way, I'm quite open to learning more.
> Ken
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