[b-hebrew] Asher

George Athas George.Athas at moore.edu.au
Thu Jul 8 07:13:21 EDT 2010

I’m not sure there is a linguistic connection between אשר and עשר, though I’m suspect Isaac Fried will beg to differ.

The root אשר seems to refer to being ‘well off’ in some way. This may be because the person is blessed, lucky, happy, or (as in modern parlance) rich. I think the semantic range allows for all these connotations. I’d argue that this is the root underlying the title אשרה. Accordingly, I’m not sure that ‘masculinized’ makes a lot of sense. You seem to imply by it that the title אשרה is the root substantive, but morphologically it has a feminine ending. So, if anything, אשרה is the feminine form of אשר (which would be the root form).

As far as Asherah goes, my ambivalence on her identification comes from the considerable doubt about exactly who or what she was. Yes, she may have been a goddess, or ‘it’ simply have been a religious totem of some kind, dedicated to or symbolising any deity (including Yahweh). The evidence goes both ways and it’s easy to come down on either side. Personally I favour the identification of her as a goddess, as you seem to, but I can see the argument for an religious object too.

Moore Theological College (Sydney, Australia)

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