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I *really* suggest anyone interested in goddesses and if you want to go by more modern terms: 'The Goddess' and how they/she was worshipped by ancient Hebrews and how it effects Kabbalah and the supposed dual gender of God, to read the Hebrew Goddess by famed scholar Raphael Patai. It also includes a chapter on the demon Lilith for those interested. Snippets of the book can be found here.

I'm going to cover some things from the book and other resources in a small overview of the goddesses that the Hebrews worshipped and its effect on the image of God, as well as demonstrate just how much paganism is actually in Judaism. I'm going to put this in a series of "chapters" so that the reader, if citing can skip to where the want to.


Asherah:

The Canaanite goddess Asherah appears to be the earliest female deity that the ancient Isralites adapted to worship. This early period, in which Asherah was first worshipped, is following the arrival of the Isralite tribes in Canaan. The Hebrews worshipped her for about six centuries, until about 586 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem.

Despite the bible's anti-polytheistic attitude, theres a hesitation by the writers to reveal any ritual detail of worship of deities other than Yahweh in Israel's religious transgressions. However, it is from the bible that we know of three goddesses the Hebrews worshipped during the days of Babylonian exile. One of them being the Queen of Heaven; Asherah.

Starting from before Hebrew adaptation, its clear that Asherah is the chief Canaanite goddess by rich archeological evidence discovered in Ugarit. (Modern Ras Shamra) Here Asherah was the prominent wife of El, the chief god. Her name in its entirity was "Lady Asherah of the Sea". As her husband's domain was heaven, hers was the ocean. She was also referred to Elath or "Goddess". Her devotion to her husband was not unlike a Oriental queen to her master. When Baal wanted to have permission to build his house, he'd have his mother: Asherah, to intercede with El. When Baal dies, it is El that asks her to name one of sons to succeed him as king.

She was labeled as "the Progenitress of the Gods", that is all other gods, numbering 70, were her children. This including Baal, Anath, and Mot. Asherah is a mother goddess whose maternal instinct goes so far as to be a wetnurse to the gods. She suckled deserving humans as well. Such as Yassib, the son of King Keret.

Not much is known about Asherah before the Urgaritic myths. A Sumerian inscription from ca. 1750 B.C. in honor of the Hammurabi, labels Asherah as Ashtratum and the bride of Anu. The Akkadian and Sumerian deity Anu bears a resemblence to the Canaanite El in being the god of heaven, so then it appears that Asherah may have been worshipped and held a chief or mother goddess postion at least for three centuries prior to the Ugaritic period. She was known in Southern Arabia from Ugarit tablets as "Atharath" and in letters from Canaanite chieftens to the pharaoh of Egypt the names "Astarte" and "Asherah" interchange. The same confusion between Astarte and Asherah is found in the Hebrew bible and has still persisted in the modern era among scholars.


Among the Hebrews we find biblical references to "Asherahs". This seems to indicate the carved wooden images, which were set up by implanting their base into the ground. Thus the word "Asherah" in the bible can refer to the goddess herself or her images. Because of the climate of Palestine, unfortunaley none of these wooden objects survive. However, evidence of Asherah as a important household goddess does survive, which consists of small clay nude images of the goddess. They were discovered across Palestine and are dated from all ages of the Israelite period. They may have been clay counterparts to the Asherah poles. The frequent occurance of these figures that are indentipendant of male deities gives us the idea of just how widely popular Asherah was in all segments of Hebrew society. This may have to do with belief that the goddess helped in childbirth and promoted fertility. A Hebrew incantation from Arslan Tarsh and dated 7th B.C. seeks the help of Asherah for a woman in childbirth. < Patai p.39>

In the biblical story of Elijah's challenge to the Baal prophets of Mt. Carmel that ended in the defeat of a Canaanite deity and the victory of Yahweh, that Elijah did not accuse the people of abandoning Yahweh for outside gods, but rather for dividing attention among both. It is in this contest between Elijah and Baal priests that it seems the priests of Asherah attended, but were never challenged. It would appear that Baal was considered a threatening rival to Yahweh, while Asherah was considered a inevitable, tolerable, female counterpart.

Shocking archeological evidence of Asherah's consort role with the Hebrew Yahweh has been discovered. Two large pithoi (storage jars) were discovered, one of them had a inscription that read: "Amaryau said to my lord... may you be blessed by Yahweh and by his Asherah" Another inscription from the same site says " I may have blessed you by Yahweh shmrn and his Asherah." The word "shmrn" has a unknown meaning, but it may refer to Shomon, that is Samaria. Nine miles west of Hebron, has a inscription that says: "Uriah the rich has caused it to be written: Blessed be uriah by Yahweh and by his Asherah; from his enemies he has saved them." These inscriptions would lead us to assume that the very popular Asherah was associated with Yahweh, probaly as his consort, and that they were the most popular divine couple. These finds have helped piece togather a emendation of a difficult passage in Hosea, in which God is speaking. Pieced togather the passage of 14:9 would be:
"Ephraim, what have I to do any more with idols?
I [Yahweh] am his Anath and Asherah,
I am like a leafy cypress tree
From me is thy fruit found"

Summarized from this passage in Hosea, coupled with the historical evidence, we have a picture of Asherah as the consort of Yahweh and who was a integral part of religious life until the reforms introduced by King Josiah in 621 B.C. < Patai p.53>

We can also summarize the history of Asherah worship among the ancient Hebrews:

1.The Israelites took over the cult of the Canaanite mother goddess Asherah from the days of their first settlements.
2. Wooden carvings of the goddess implanted into the ground and set next to a altar of Baal, and located on hilltops or under leafy trees were used in public worship of Asherah. While popular private religious use consisted of clay figurines of Asherah, where she is depicted with emphasis on her fertility by making the gesture of holding her breasts.
3.During Ahab's reign, his Sidonian wife, Jezebel convinced him to make a elaborate public statue of Asherah and it was made and set up in the city Samaria. Making Ahab's capital the center of the Asherah cult.
4. Asherah's cult avoids the anti-Baal and Pro-Yahweh upsurging led by Elijah, that took place under Ahab.
5. Number of years later, the Asherah of Samaria escapes harm when Jehu destroys Baal's temple and massacres Baalists, & her worship contiued until the end of Israel monarchy when the Assyrians put a end to the kingdom.< Patai p.45>

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"perhaps?"

lol - don't you know already, SIN?

we fear women for the same reasons posters of everything from cars to video games features pictures of full-bodied, scantily clad women. men are strong in the spirit, proud, fiery, but extremely weak to the flesh. unbalanced, probably to an extent that women can never fully understand, grounded as they are in the root and receive much stronger light of insight and wisdom from that direct proximity. we men are the half that has been split off to pass far into the cold darkness then return to the root with new potentiality; dangerous, violent, explosive, bearers of change, heralds of variety (and often addicts of it). but our entire existence is premised on being destined to return to the root with our cargo, and that imperative absolutely dominates us. when intelligently yoked by that divine compulsion the strength of man is no more than that of an ox.

such power is easily abused. but even without malice, the greatest possible threat to our independence and self-determination embodies itself in that image of the ancient temple whore - part of why prostitution is aggressively kept in the lowest social status through cultural manipulation and why the sex organs are more taboo to us than blood and slaughter. it's likely that man's rebellion against woman is as much unconscious as it is conscious. it's hard to say whether this is a response to some feminine cults becoming intolerably overbearing in the past, or whether we simply associate them with oppression because the first civilizations were goddess-dominated and civilization itself is oppressive (meaning we possibly are simply mistaking the messenger for the message). but any final answers on this sort of thing are far beyond me.

anything at all. yes. when properly harnessed; the beast on the left with lust, the beast on the right with love. women have an infinite supply of the most addictive thing in human experience sitting in their laps, it's a more powerful tool for controlling the masses than crack cocaine, and more plentiful by far. yet women have been masterfully convinced that using it for advantage is shameful and a disgrace. doesn't it make sense though? without passage through the gates of ishtar, we are all lifeless husks. the sacred yoni is ESSENTIAL to life. we men have no independent connection to the source - we must either beg access through you, trick you into giving it, or compel you by force... and if nothing else we are proud. imagine the power of a group with complete control over all the fresh water on the planet - it is ultimate. women are only overthrown by resorting to deep black magic (i.e. systematic and scientific mind control and social manipulation). but perhaps that is just our counter-balance and our own gift from the divine and you girls have simply been caught of your guard for a few thousand years. or perhaps even now women exercise more power over us than they know and are simply made to believe otherwise^_^
i was born jewish and i never knew this....
Ancient Hebrew religion, as it started out, was entirely different. It also was not monotheism over night. It took centuries for that to happen.
try telling this to my parents.. they think paganism or anything related to it is B>S> this blows their current beliefs or lack of it out of the water.

maybe thats why ive always been drawn in this direction?
I would suggest checking out the Hebrew Goddess book. It has all the evidence for it.

Are you into judeo-paganism? If you are interested I think I have links for you.
i used to hate being jewish as from what i viewed it was a guilt ridden hollow religion.. but this would help me get back to my roots and maybe i could see it in a new light.
That's why many former Jews are Judeo-pagans, Jewitchery, or Sumerian/Canaanite recons now.

There's some links and resources here:

http://www.lilitu.com/jap/
this is very interesting. a bit thin for my taste, but worth further investigation surely. thank you. i've always thought of judaism as having an underground polytheistic flavor, though for other reasons.
and by thin i don't mean to put down the discussion, only the evidence available is poor. sufficient, but poor.
There is a slow growing revival of sorts of the "Jewish Goddess" who's name is "Shekinah". I believe she is a "sanitized" version of Asherah.
I think Patai supports this theory. I tend to agree.

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