[b-hebrew] "their altars" or "his/its altars"?

Deborah Millier deborahmillier at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 8 00:12:22 EST 2005

Uri Hurwitz wrote:

> The argument can be made, and I 
> support it, that because of the 
> pronominal suffix the asherah in 
> both cases refers to sacred wooden 
> pole or some similar ritualistic 
> accessory rather than to the famous 
> godess. 

> This is based on the known fact that 
> no proper noun can be declined in BH. 

But you haven’t made your case, Uri. Are you
“support[ing]” the argument that in Exo 34:13, Asherah
is not a proper name, but rather the name of some
“accessory”? “Accessory” to what? The Asherah cult
(hence the name)? Or what? In your understanding, is
there a relationship at all between the Asherah
goddess referred to elsewhere in the Bible and the
“accessory”? Or is the spelling just coincidental?

If it is merely some cultic “accessory,” then your
stated “known fact” might be true. But that would have
to be established. Presently I think one could only
claim that there is a general trend suggesting the
non-declinibility of proper names (. . . in all
Hebrew, or just biblical Hebrew?). 

If, however, Asherah turns out to be a proper noun in
Exo 34:13 (and, face it, other biblical verses appear
to support this) plus the male and female stick
figures at the Khirbet El-Qom inscription end up being
actual illustrations to fit the words there; not just
relationless graffiti, then it would seem likely that
at least one Hebrew proper noun has been declined,
> Others hold that regardless, the 
> reference is to a female consort, 
> which must have been prevalent in 
> folk religion, based on the many 
> denounciations of the Asherot in 
> the biblical literatue, and now on 
> the finding of two surviving extra-
> bilical examples of it.

All I can say is that in Exo 34:13, the “YHWH and his
Asherah” theory doesn’t have much to commend itself
textually. So, from my vantage point, we’re back to
taking stabs employing exegesis, rather than

On the other hand, the OG evidence cited by Kelton
Graham at least tells us that in the history of the
text’s interpretation,  ):aS"RaYW  was understood by
someone as referring to the idolatrous inhabitants of
the land. Any other theories why? Does anyone have
quick access to the Samaritan Pentateuch? 

--Michael Millier
Manila, Philippines

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