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3 Bumps

Did God have a Wife?? Was she edited out of the bible?

God had a wife, Asherah, whom the Book of Kings suggests was worshiped alongside Yahweh in his temple in Israel, according to an Oxford scholar.

In 1967, Raphael Patai was the first historian to mention that the ancient Israelites worshiped both Yahweh and Asherah. The theory has gained new prominence due to the research of Francesca Stavrakopoulou, who began her work at Oxford and is now a senior lecturer in the department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter.

Information presented in Stavrakopoulou's books, lectures and journal papers has become the basis of a three-part documentary series, now airing in Europe, where she discusses the Yahweh-Asherah connection.

"You might know him as Yahweh, Allah or God. But on this fact, Jews, Muslims and Christians, the people of the great Abrahamic religions, are agreed: There is only one of Him," writes Stavrakopoulou in a statement released to the British media. "He is a solitary figure, a single, universal creator, not one God among many ... or so we like to believe."

"After years of research specializing in the history and religion of Israel, however, I have come to a colorful and what could seem, to some, uncomfortable conclusion that God had a wife," she added.

Stavrakopoulou bases her theory on ancient texts, amulets and figurines unearthed primarily in the ancient Canaanite coastal city called Ugarit, now modern-day Syria. All of these artifacts reveal that Asherah was a powerful fertility goddess.

Asherah's connection to Yahweh, according to Stavrakopoulou, is spelled out in both the Bible and an 8th century B.C. inscription on pottery found in the Sinai desert at a site called Kuntillet Ajrud.

"The inscription is a petition for a blessing," she shares. "Crucially, the inscription asks for a blessing from 'Yahweh and his Asherah.' Here was evidence that presented Yahweh and Asherah as a divine pair. And now a handful of similar inscriptions have since been found, all of which help to strengthen the case that the God of the Bible once had a wife."

Also significant, Stavrakopoulou believes, "is the Bible's admission that the goddess Asherah was worshiped in Yahweh's Temple in Jerusalem. In the Book of Kings, we're told that a statue of Asherah was housed in the temple and that female temple personnel wove ritual textiles for her."

J. Edward Wright, president of both The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies and The Albright Institute for Archaeological Research, told Discovery News that he agrees several Hebrew inscriptions mention "Yahweh and his Asherah."

"Asherah was not entirely edited out of the Bible by its male editors," he added. "Traces of her remain, and based on those traces, archaeological evidence and references to her in texts from nations bordering Israel and Judah, we can reconstruct her role in the religions of the Southern Levant."

Asherah -- known across the ancient Near East by various other names, such as Astarte and Istar -- was "an important deity, one who was both mighty and nurturing," Wright continued.

"Many English translations prefer to translate 'Asherah' as 'Sacred Tree,'" Wright said. "This seems to be in part driven by a modern desire, clearly inspired by the Biblical narratives, to hide Asherah behind a veil once again."

"Mentions of the goddess Asherah in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) are rare and have been heavily edited by the ancient authors who gathered the texts together," Aaron Brody, director of the Bade Museum and an associate professor of Bible and archaeology at the Pacific School of Religion, said.

Asherah as a tree symbol was even said to have been "chopped down and burned outside the Temple in acts of certain rulers who were trying to 'purify' the cult, and focus on the worship of a single male god, Yahweh," he added.

The ancient Israelites were polytheists, Brody told Discovery News, "with only a small minority worshiping Yahweh alone before the historic events of 586 B.C." In that year, an elite community within Judea was exiled to Babylon and the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. This, Brody said, led to "a more universal vision of strict monotheism: one god not only for Judah, but for all of the nations."

That's the entire article, but here's the link anyways...

So, whatcha' think?

Answer Question

Asked by SabrinaMBowen at 11:03 AM on Mar. 18, 2011 in Religion & Beliefs

Level 40 (122,988 Credits)
Answers (27)
  • very interesting...i hope she writes a book so i can learn more! since i dont believe God to have a gender or to be an actual physical being (w/ a body like ours) it doesnt change much for me. but i know a lot of ppl who would freak out if they read this.

    Answer by okmanders at 11:21 AM on Mar. 18, 2011

  • I've brought it up here before, so I know there will be some not so nice reactions, but this article just came to me so I figured I would post it and see what everyone thought... I'm just hoping the nasty comments can be kept to a minimum! But there are a few books on the subject, I'll have to get you some of the titles.

    Comment by SabrinaMBowen (original poster) at 11:26 AM on Mar. 18, 2011

  • Just as okmanders said, I also do believe God to have a gender or physical being so it would be hard for me to grasp that He would have a "wife" However- the concept is interesting, if not believable to me-

    Answer by soyousay at 11:39 AM on Mar. 18, 2011

  • I know people associate other deities in their way of worship/understanding, but I do believe in just one God, and like okmanders, I don't believe in an anthropomorphic, physical kind of Being.

    That being said, I really enjoy studying the development/progression of religion/beliefs, so I do find this is an interesting concept since, regardless of whether I believe in just one God or not, I do realize that people perceive and relate to Divinity differently, not just now, but especially over the whole span of humanity. That kind of thing, the different ways of looking at and understanding, is something I find fascinating. So I hope she writes a book, too, because its definitely something I'm interested in! :)

    Answer by bandgeek521 at 11:39 AM on Mar. 18, 2011

  • Yes God does have a wife, the Bodyof Christ, which He will come for. Read Revelation.

    Answer by ptomom678 at 11:40 AM on Mar. 18, 2011

  • It does make sense when one examines the origin of the Abrahamic God (From other preious Gods which often had a male and female leader) and the history surrounding the developing areas and wars fought in the region. Records of many Gods have been eliminated over the years.

    Answer by KristiS11384 at 11:43 AM on Mar. 18, 2011

  • Hmmm...That's interesting. I've taken a History of Christianity class taught by an Anglican bishop, I don't remember any of this being mentioned at all. He didn't mind going over any controversial subjects either. I would like to read some of those books too. I've always been intrigued about others religion and beliefs, especially if they were different than mine. IMO with better understanding, we will have more tolerance.

    Answer by mommy_jules at 11:45 AM on Mar. 18, 2011

  • I've taken a History of Christianity class taught by an Anglican bishop, I don't remember any of this being mentioned at all.

    Are you surprised. history of Christianity taught by a Christian...........not to mention this is in regards to the History of the ancient Jewish religion (Israelites) which is where Christianity branched off from.

    Answer by KristiS11384 at 11:49 AM on Mar. 18, 2011

  • – collapse
    Sabrina I think you try really hard to bring God down own your level.

    Answer by ptomom678 at 12:35 PM on Mar. 18, 2011 (hidden) + expand

  • – collapse
    agreed ptomom

    Answer by Anonymous at 12:39 PM on Mar. 18, 2011 (hidden) + expand

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