Asherah – goddess worship in the bible


Asherah was a Semitic mother goddess in Semitic mythology and was mentioned in Akkadian and Hittite literature. Possibly her name originates from Old Iranian asa «»Universal Law,» a law of matriarch, like Roman ius naturale.

Asherah was «in wisdom the Mistress of the Gods». The Sumerians called her Ashran «the strength of all things,» and «a kindly and bountiful maiden.» Her sacred city Mar-ash is biblically mentioned as Mareshah (Joshua 15:44).

She is considered identical to the Ugarit goddess Athirat and the consort of the Sumerian god Anu and the Ugarit god El. Being the consort of El gave her a superior rank within the Ugaritic pantheon. One of her epithets is «goddess par excellence.»

As the consort of El she was the Holy Cow and he the Bull. After their sacred marriage she bore the Heavenly Twins, Shaler and Shalem, the morning and evening stars. Their marital rite seemed to involve the cooking of the kid in the mother’s milk, a procedure later forbidden by Jewish priests (Exodus 23:19).

This goddess has probable biblical recognition elsewhere. Asherah is possible referred in the Book of Jeremiah (7:18; 44:7-8,25) «pray not for this people, and the fathers kindle the wood, and the women knead their dough to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings for other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.»

Of course one must note that the epithet «queen of heaven» could refer to any of the goddesses of the time because the Israelites practiced polytheism until the post exilic period. Sufficient biblical evidence establishes such polytheism.

Solomon built a temple to Yahweh, the Hebrew national god, housing statues of Asherah leading scholars to think at one time Asherah was thought the consort of Yahweh.