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ANAHITA  July 1997

ANAHITA July 1997

Subject:

Re: Asherah and Hermes

From:

Tilde Binger <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Women and Gender in the Ancient World <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 17 Jul 1997 04:27:32 -0400

Content-Type:

Text/plain

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>    I would like to propose a discussion related to the Asherah inscriptions.
By all means.
What is it you want to discuss ?

>  I feel that there is a real problem in determining the precise relationship
> between asherot and the Canaanite goddess Asherah.
Which "Canaanite goddess Asherah"? The Asherah of Ugarit ? The Ashera
mentioned in accadian texts ? (Both of the 2nd millenium BCE)
The Asherah of the 1st millenium BCE inscriptions from "Israel"  ?
The Asherah of the OT ?

These 4 personages are not automatically to be identified you know.
(This time I hope you will bother to answer me, but that perhaps is
too much to ask ?).
If it is the latter (the Asherah of the OT), then I must - once again
- beg to differ, and inform you, that the OT very much discerns
between Astarte, who is portrayed as a foreign or "canaanite"
goddess, and Asherah who is positioned as an indigenous "israelite"
goddess.

There seems, from rabbinical material, little doubt that "Asherah"
was used as the name of the tree - not pole - used in the cult of
Asherah in "ancient Israel".
This might (!!!!) also be the case of the OT-texts, but here the
interpretation depends on a number of uncertainties (not
unsurmountable, but still ...)

This does not reduce the goddess to a thing, as is done masterly by
the so-called deuteronomists of the OT (their polemics and the way it
is done is a text-book example of how to make propaganda). The
godddess is still the goddess, and the Asherah-tree was still, in the
1st-2nd c. CE so well-known that it is discussed at length in the
treatise "Abodat Zara". (This could indicate, that the worship of
Asherah lived on far into CE, and was not something which was ended
in the 6th c. BCE as the OT wants us to believe)

The rabbis discussing "Asherah" in "Abodat Zara", are not in doubt
about the numinous (i.e. dangerous) qualities inherent in  "Asherah",
wherefore they not only discuss what is to be done about a living
tree, but whether one may - as a pious Jew - use the wood from a
cut-down Asherah to bake bread, or whether one may grow lettuce in
the shade of Asherah, or whether a man who sleeps under Asherah is
unclean or not. (He is only unclean for the rest of the day if he
fell asleep outside the shade, and the shade moved to cover him,
during his sleep, if he does it intentionally however, he is in
trouble, since he has then committed idolatry)

Tilde Binger
University of Copenhagen
Dptm.of Biblical Studies
Kcbmagergade 44-46
DK-1150 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone +45 35 32 36 58
Fax   +45 35 32 36 52
e-mail [log in to unmask]

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Diotima's address: http://www.uky.edu/ArtsSciences/Classics/gender.html

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