[b-hebrew] Asher again

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Thu Jul 15 00:03:06 EDT 2010

On Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 6:49 AM, K Randolph wrote:

> Whether or not a male form of Asherah existed is
> unknown, speculation, as it is never found in the
> Hebrew text.

For a short period of time, the list became a nice place to
discuss not only views acceptable to fundamentalist Christian
anti-academic theology but also academic views on the Bible.
This was quite refreshing.  Karl evidently sees the need to
correct this absence of a hostile atmosphere and has therefore
taken upon himself to repeatedly identify the academic views as
"myths" despite the fact that he himself doesn't even know
what the various current academic views are, and is therefore
in no position to classify them.  Not only was this intentionally
provocative, it was also unnecessary. Karl's first post on the issue
- http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-hebrew/2010-July/042486.html
- has to go out of its way to deal with this point.  Why couldn't
Karl just respond, "No way.  The story records that the name is
based upon the expectation that she would be counted as happy
because she bore a son"?

It may be too much to expect that he would read the
scholarship that he criticizes before he criticizes it.  But a
sweeping statement like the one above should be made only
after he is sufficiently familiar with the Biblical usage of the
terms.  The Biblical text repeatedly refers to the אשרים, a
masculine form.  Further, the term is used in conjunction with
בעלים and חמנים.  Both plurals are generally viewed as generic
terms (idols, altars) but in both cases, the singular form is the
name of a masculine deity (Baal Hadad and Baal Hammon).
Also, in at least some of these cases, such as בעלים in Jud 3:7,
and אשרים in 2 Ch 24:18, the terms may be referring to actual
gods.  Just like Ashtart was a popular deity for whom there was
a rarely attested masculine counterpart Ashtar,  the Asherah
too might have had a masculine counterpart.

As for the name of the tribe, it just so happens that Zilpah's
other son -- Gad -- was also the name of a Canaanite deity.
In both cases the name attributed to the son is prefixed with
ב as in בגד, באשרי, and this could be taken to read as an
invocation of the deity's name ("in honor of Gad", "in honor
of my Asher.")

Yitzhak Sapir

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list