"admittedly syncretistic Kuntillet Ajrud fragments"

Lisbeth S. Fried lizfried at umich.edu
Thu Jan 24 09:20:18 EST 2002

I'd like to point out, before we get carried away here,
that Kuntilet Ajrud was not a shrine (pace Dever).
There were no maCCevot, no altars, no incense altars,
nothing that would indicate that any worship at all
whatsoever occurred there.
KA was a caravansary in the middle of the desert, on an oasis.
It was at the crossroads of two (at least) major roads.
It went out of use in the middle of the 8th century.
 Now were huge pithoi were found there with these
scratchings on them to YHWH and his Asherah,
as well as to other gods.
I suspect that people kept food stuffs in the pithoi
and wanted the gods to protect the food until they
got back, it was a way of locking the jars.
I want to know who used this site?
Who traveled the Sinai desert?
No one is asking that question.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ken Smith [mailto:kens at 180solutions.com]
> Sent: Thu, January 24, 2002 2:18 AM
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: RE: "admittedly syncretistic Kuntillet Ajrud fragments"
> 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?
> Ken
> > -----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
> at
> > 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.
> Then
> > 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
> which
> > 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
> to
> > the standards of prophetic monotheism :-).  I know that phrase has
> been
> > interpreted in different ways, but isn't the most straightforward to
> > understand it as a reference to Yahweh and his consort Asherah, who
> are
> > pictured in the drawing below the inscription?
> > 
> > Still, I'm no expert on these matters, and if there's good reason not
> to
> > understand the phrase that way, I'm quite open to learning more.
> > 
> > Ken
> > 
> > 
> > 
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