Astoreth, was a Palestinian and Philistine (Israel, Lebanon) fertility goddess. It was worshipped from around 1200 BC until 200 BC.
Her name was synonymous with Astaroth. And her cult centers were throughout the Palestine coastal region including Jerusalem.
She was thought of as love and war goddess. And usually depicted as wearing a horned headdress. Biblical references to her include 1 Kings 11:5 and 2 Kings 23:13. Solomon built a temple for her near Jerusalem. A.G.H.
Astoreth, a prominent deity in the ancient Near Eastern pantheon, holds a significant place in the religious history of the region encompassing present-day Israel, Lebanon, and surrounding areas. Recognized primarily as a fertility goddess, her worship and cultural impact were widespread from around 1200 BC to 200 BC.
Origins and Worship
- Regional Significance: Astoreth was worshipped by various peoples in the region, including the Palestinians and Philistines. Her cult centers were spread throughout the coastal regions of Palestine, including notable cities like Jerusalem.
- Synonym with Astaroth: The name Astoreth was synonymous with Astaroth. These names, often used interchangeably in ancient texts and inscriptions, refer to the same deity.
Cultural and Mythological Associations
- Connection with Astarte and Ishtar: Astoreth was equated with the Syrian goddess Astarte. Both Astoreth and Astarte were modeled on the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar, illustrating the interconnectedness of ancient Near Eastern cultures and their pantheons. This link highlights the shared themes and characteristics of fertility goddesses across different cultures in the region.
- Goddess of Love and War: Astoreth was considered a goddess of both love and war, embodying a complex character that combined elements of nurturing, fertility, and aggression. This dual nature is reflective of the multifaceted roles that deities often held in ancient mythologies.
- Iconography: She was typically depicted wearing a horned headdress, a common symbol of divinity and power in the ancient Near East. This iconography would have been significant in her worship and representation in art and temple reliefs.
Biblical References and Solomon’s Temple
- Mentions in the Hebrew Bible: Astoreth is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, specifically in 1 Kings 11:5 and 2 Kings 23:13. These references indicate her prominence and the extent of her worship in the region, even among the Israelites.
- Solomon’s Temple: According to the Bible, King Solomon built a temple for Astoreth near Jerusalem, showcasing the extent to which foreign deities were sometimes integrated into Israelite religious practices, particularly during periods of religious syncretism.
Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, p. 29-30