Digging for Asherah
Finding the Hebrew Goddess
But who was Asherah to the ancient Israelites? And why is she often paired with Yahweh, their supreme god? Historians and archeologists have pieced together Asherah’s narrative finding large chunks of it interwoven in the artifacts from the region and in the sacred scriptures of the Hebrew Bible itself. Because evidence suggests that Asherah was observed in ancient Israel and Judah as early as the 12th century BC to a few decades before the fall of the southern kingdom of Judah (ca 587-588 BC), the focus will be on this pre-exilic period.
Researching the presence of a Hebrew goddess begs the question: how monotheistic were the pre-exilic Israelites and Judeans? The very notion of polytheism is inherent in the quest for Asherah. Moreover, the many artifacts representing Asherah and her cult from the region belies the biblical prohibition against the creation of idols. While discussing the intricacies of the Bible is beyond our scope, a portion of the research associated with the Bible pertaining to Asherah, the goddess, and asherah, her cult symbol will be assessed. Moreover, the significant roles of women within the cult will be reviewed as will comparisons made between the folk religion of the illiterate class versus the book religion of the elites.