[b-hebrew] re: their altars

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Sat Mar 5 21:48:16 EST 2005

Peter Kirk wrote:
> There is something very strange about your method of arguing here. You
> start with a hypothesis that "perhaps Kuntillet Ajrud was the home of
> the Yahwist", and give some very circumstantial evidence why this might
> be possible. But then you look at the evidence which should immediately
> rule out this hypothesis, the clear fact that the concept of Yahweh
> having a consort Asherah is entirely repugnant to the authors of every
> strand of the Pentateuch, but you don't allow this to be evidence
> against your hypothesis. Rather, you argue from your unproved hypothesis
> to a need to revise the evidence of the actual text supposedly written
> by the Yahwist.

My argument was that perhaps the Yahwist's home was Kuntillet Ajrud.  Not
that we need to revise any evidence.  It was just argued that the view at
Kuntillet Ajrud was odd and aberrant or not in line with the establishment's
view.  Now, as for your claim that the concept of an Asherah is
repugnant, Asherah
is found only once in the Torah outside Deut -- in Ex. 34:13, which is
an interesting
fact considering this is the verse that brought up the discussion. 
This is assigned
to J by Dr. Friedman.  But the context of the verse is problematic.  We can't be
sure if the reason that "their Asherahs should be destroyed" is because Asherah
is problematic or that Yahweh doesn't like other gods having Asherahs just like
he doesn't like other gods having altars.  In fact, the immediate
verse afterwards
-- that Yahweh is a jealous god -- suggests that the problem is that
Yahweh wants
altars, mazzebot, and Asherahs for himself and not for anyone else. 
That's what
jealousy means -- he wants them only for himself.  So while it might
be repugnant
to D it is not necessarily repugnant to J, and in fact, probably isn't.

Just to make it clear, the argument goes: circumstantial evidence is
used to back
up the claim that perhaps the Yahwist's home was Kuntillet Ajrud.  Now, the
evidence is circumstantial, but there is no evidence to any contrary
position.  We
have no evidence for Yahweh worship in this time in Jerusalem, for example.  So
we can't even argue what Yahweh worship was like over there.  The circumstantial
evidence further matches three types of evidence (historical, literary, and
archaeological) on three points (time, place, political orientation). 
And all I argue
from this hypothesis is that one cannot claim that "but this was
clearly not the
view of the establishment."  There is no "clearly" about it.

> >So if we strike out the part about the establishment, what we get is: "some folk
> >in some parts of Israel thought that Yahweh had a consort".  That's
> >not much, but it's perhaps all we can say.
> No, we can't say this much, because Kuntillet Ajrud was not in the land
> of Israel, or at best on its borders, and there is no evidence that the
> worshippers there were Israelites. They could well have been Edomites or
> similar who had grafted the Israelite divine name on to their own
> polytheistic beliefs.

They worshipped Yahweh of Samaria, and the Yahwistic component in their
names is a short one like in Israel, as opposed to Judah.  So I think that is
sufficient reason for that claim.

Yitzhak Sapir

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