Pax Christi everybody!
So I was doing some research on the Semitic goddess Asherah, and I learned some stuff about her I have trouble wrapping my head around.
While there was undoubtedly a goddess who was sure to have been worshipped alongside Yahweh, seen in The Text and extra-Biblical evidence, there are only about 8 places in The Scriptures where her name wasn’t accompanied by a “the”, which might indicate that some “Asherahs” were cult stands, most likely Canaanite ritual objects or practices appropriated for monolatristic Yahwist use.
This doesn’t sound like a wacky proposition; we already have great examples of Pagan or traditional things used to exemplify Yahweh in The Bible already: God is described as “Rider Of The Clouds” and smiting Leviathan at the beginning of time, things attributed to Ba’al Hadad, the universal sea above and below is attested to all across the ANE, Yahweh has Seraphim, or divine cobras, as His servants, and He came down to Moses on a mountain, just like all manner of ANE gods.
But as I said before, this was associated with a deity, and we are unsure if this was forgotten or disregarded by some of the people erecting them. I don’t dispute that her worship was common (though I do dispute that JPFs were supposed to be Asherah and not simply domestic magical talismans) and I am not disturbed by this fact.
What does disturb me is the possibility that someone plastered over her; Abraham planting a tree to God, Jehu the reformer leaving one there…does this mean that they weren’t faithful? The earlier prophets were concerned with Ba’al and don’t speak about the evils of Asherah; is this because The Prophets had yet more to learn of what pleased The Lord and stop erecting these symbols for God, or were they simply okay with the worship of a consort deity they full well knew was embodied in the stand? Surely the thing about The Prophets cannot be, right?
If it is, I find this extremely troubling; why would god allow this worship? Does he not want to be in an honest relationship?
I would like to hear your thoughts.