[b-hebrew] Explain translation of "Asherah" as "grove" in 2Kings23.7?

Dora Smith villandra at austin.rr.com
Wed Jul 14 15:04:06 EDT 2004

OK, I just finished researching in Strong's and in the concordance at
Crosswalk.com, and learning that the Asherah was an object, probably of
wood, constructed in Yahweh's temple, and also under green trees on high
places.   This object could be cut down, could be burnt, and was built or
made by man.    It was usually accompanied by an "image" or "idol", the term
for which almost always translates as stone pillar.      Stone pillars did
not only go with Asherah; they witnessed covenants between Israel and
Yahweh, including the one Joash made in front of the people at Passover at
the beginning of his campaign of terror to impose his own distintly neither
traditional nor popular version of Yahwism.   Temples and altars to Yahweh
were as likely to have stone pillars as the heathan shrines they most often

All other versions of the Bible seem to translate the word asherah as

Kadushim were cult prostitutes, as many of you have explained to me, and
they account for extrapentateuchal references to sodomites.

The word for wove in the statement that the women wove houses for Asherah,
is the word for "to weave" and is used in numerous contexts elsewhere in the
bible; sometimes in the context of an ordinary loom, and sometimes in the
context of the making of sacred garments.   The word for what the women wove
was the common word bayit for house.    I saw lots of notes that it ahs been
translated as hangings in a temple or on a sacred object, but nothing to
suggest it should be translated that way.   It appears to always be used
elsewhere in the Bible to mean "house" or "lineage", except for about a half
dozen cases where it means "within".  In context, the statement could have
said that "he broke down the houses of the temple prostitutes, that were  by
the house of the Lord, WHEREIN the women wove for Asherah.   It makes more
sense than trying to translate "house" as garment or hanging, and the even
more strained effort to translate the word as tent.   There is no evidence
that Asherah's wore tents.   They were in the open under trees.

El, the high father god of Palestine and Syria, was married to Asherah, the
Queen of Heaven and Great Mother Goddess.   I was a bit mixed up.   Ba'al
and Yahweh (Yamm, Yah) were two of the sons of El.   Documents at Ugarit
state that Yaw (Yahweh) evolved into Yamm.    Both were sometimes depicted
as calf gods who were suckled by Asherah the mother cow.    One was a rain
and fertility god, and the other was a sea, underground water and desert
storm god, they competed for hegemony, and they took each others' functions.
In time, they usurped the role of El, and also his wife Asherah.    Common
peop;le atleast by the 8th century virtually thought of Yahweh and Ba'al as
two names for the same god, but you mentioned them both to be safe or
something of the sort.   Ba'al actually originally had a helpmate named
Anath, a promiscuous virginal warrior goddess, but she apparently got
dropped as he rose in status and was married to Asherah instead.

Several inscriptions unequivocally state that Asherah was married to Yahweh
as well as to Ba'al.   The presence of an Asherah in Yahweh's temple
unequivocally makes that point, too.

I don't know how one sees room to dither with "Blessings on Yahweh and Ba;al
and their Asherah", but then my housemate told me that a silly magazine
article that states that domestic pigs originated in southeast Asia and were
cultivated into three types during the Meiocene explains why Jews don't eat
pork and hate Arabs, and someone else responded to the same article by
telling us that her coworker insists that rabbits lay eggs.    Enough people
would still believe the world is flat if they perceived it to back
traditional interpretations fo the Bible!

I've actually read more than the Internet on that subject.   I've read Frank
Cross's work, and others'.

I did not ice that about a third of the time, worship of Asherah was
associated with Baal, but atleast half of the time worshipping Asherah,
often in conjunction with the worship of Yahweh, was cited as the only sin
the people, priests, king or whoever were guilty of.    The followers of the
form of Yahwism that won out had it in for Asherah.   This could reflect
Indo-Aryan heritage of denigration of females and need to impose sexual
aesceticism, or it might have been part of the heritage of the desert
followers of Yahweh.

But once again, notice that what is under attack is the association of
Asherah with Yahweh, and her worship by an entire nation of people to whom
Yahweh was their national god.    Syncretism, or the idea that Yahweh and
Ba'al are the same god, is also under attack.  Possibly the sect that won
out associated this with Syrian domination under certain Judean and
Israelite kings.   But from the beginning, Yahweh and Ba'al made internecine
war within the house of El.   The myths at Ugarit show that clearly.   They
and their followers were essentially  in competition, and the party that won
saw no room for them to coexist.

I found others than Walter Mattfield and certain people on the ABH list
arguing that this all meant that Yahweh was a hermaphrodite.   But the
evidence cited for that supports the opposite conclusion.   Yahweh was a
male married to the female goddess Asherah.

There is also evidence that the worship of sacred pillars had a life of its
own in Egypt - but no evidence that ideas travelled unidimensionally.
Actually, the authors on the web who discussed the subject state clearly
that the sacred pillar idea travelled from Syria to Egypt, while Walter
argues consistently and repeatedly that all religious ideas that have ever
existed throughout the Near East stem from Egypt.   Donald Redford
demonstrates clearly that ideas travelled from Mesoptamia to Egypt from the
very earliest times.

Dora Smith
Austin, Texas
villandra at austin.rr.com

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