Sunday, 22 January 2012

More about 'Asherah - wife of Yahweh'

This is an unusual post today - drawing together some interesting feedback from an earlier article and a bit of a plug for the Reddit community.

One of my posts about the gods of the Old Testament from earlier in the year was submitted to the Reddit site recently, and for whatever reason it took off as a success for a day.  Reddit is a great site and I recommend it highly, whatever topic you might be interested it.  I still find the 'rediquette' slightly mysterious, and users seem to get accused of being spammers sometimes when they hadn't realised that they were doing anything wrong.  However, it seems to bring a good quantity of traffic to a web site or blog, along with an opportunity for feedback (good and bad) and there is a sense of community on many of the individual sub-reddits.

Since some of the readers of this blog will not have taken the plunge to become members of Reddit they will have missed some of the good feedback about 'Asherah - wife of Yahweh', which received over 3000 visits one day recently, along with more than 10 comments.  I'll quote a few of the most useful comments here and add links to some relevant items.

Irish_Whiskey kindly says

It's very interesting. The writer is correct in saying that there isn't "strong evidence" and it's one explanation among many, but is just one more thing which "all points towards the Old Testament being a huge mixed bag of myth and legend".

All the Abrahamic beliefs have changed massively over time. Christianity today hasn't been around for hundreds of years, let alone thousands. It just shares a name and a few limited claims with much older religions it descended from that were very different in practice and beliefs.

Keldrath has kindly provided a link to an interesting and believable Youtube video about polytheism in the bible.

unfinite gave a link to a BBC documentary on about polytheism in the bible.  Francesca Stavrakopoulou's BBC programme "The Bible's Buried Secrets - Did God have a wife?"

This is indeed the programme which provoked the thoughts leading to my series of posts about polytheism in the old testament. I have provided the link but I fear that it might not be available worldwide

Flonkkertiin says :
I took a class on ancient israel and this is a common thought. It is all part of the henotheistic origins that judaism is believed to have. YHWH started to pick up attributes from other deities to the point where he could replace them. Henotheism evolves into monolotry, monolotry to monotheism. Pretty interesting stuff I always thought.

cosmonaut205 says:
It's believed that Asherah was once the wife of El, amongst a pantheon of Gods, in which Yahweh was just one of many. In the earliest stages of the transition to monotheism (enacted mostly as a political measure to ensure a centralized worship center) Asherah was thus transitioned to be a wife of Yahweh instead.

The transition from polytheism to monotheism is referenced in Psalm 82.

badcatdog says:
I enjoy the "Persian imperial authorisation" motivation for Monotheism. 

I can't provide a link because I'm on a mobile and don't know how to copy and paste but try googling youtube user Evid3nc3 and watch his video titled 3.3.3 A History of God. He does a good job covering Karen Armstrong's book by the same name.  [That is the video shown above.]

kontankarite just says:
Man, that's some interesting shit.

As you can see - Reddit provides some interesting feedback sometimes!  Why not join the redditors?


Kenny Wyland said...

Fascinating! Thanks for posting this!

Anonymous said...

It was a trinity of Father, Son, Mother: El, Baal, Asherah. Christianity replaces it with Father, Son, Holy Ghost. 'Spirit' in Hebrew unlike Greek (where it is neuter) is feminine, thus the connection of Mother and Spirit. But JHVH's wife's name per Proverbs and Ben Sira (in the apocrypha) would have to be Chockmah (Wisdom, Sophia in Greek). In these texts Lady Wisdom speaks of how she participated in creation, how "the LORD" gave her a throne in Jerusalem and so on. Concerning Chockmah Ben Sira makes a pun that only works in Hebrew "Wisdom is hard like her name; she is not known by many" (haha! hardy harr!) But it works in the context of these discussions about JHVH having a wife. Everybody always wants to give him El's wife and make him a homewrecker when he apparently had his own wife.

Anonymous said...

Of course to the prophets, Israel is his wife. So its possible that three different strands of Israelite religion gave JHVH a different wife. The Sages gave him Chockmah, the Prophets gave him the nation, and the Baal worshippers who conflated him with El and continued to worship Baal as his son gave him Asherah. I guess it could work like that.