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ANAHITA Home

ANAHITA  August 1997

ANAHITA August 1997

Subject:

Re: Asherah sub one and Asherah sub two

From:

Tilde Binger <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Sat, 2 Aug 1997 04:40:38 -0400

Content-Type:

Text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

Text/plain (90 lines)

Dear Maenad.
Concerning the title ATRT YM, I think we have discussed this as
recently as early June. As far as I know, Anahita has a log
somewhere, in which case you should be able to access it.

> Based on what I've read, I've gotten the impression that the equation of
> Asherah with Astarte was actually a much more complicated process.
> Asherah, "she who treads on the sea", was a Ugaritic goddess, the wife of
> the Canaanite god El -- as El was king of the gods, Asherah was Queen of
> the Gods.  She was also Mother of the Gods.  Anat, another Ugaritic
> goddess, was a fertility/warrior goddess who was also the consort of Baal.
> She was, I have read, often confused with the imported goddess Astarte, who
> was very similar.
Well, that is one way of putting it.
I guess that Astarte was known to be a goddess (from the OT), whereas
Asherah was not recognized as such before the Ugarit-finds.
Therefore, every goddess in the west-semitic area would be "Astarte",
since we "knew" that this was what a pagan goddess was called in the
OT. The confusion of Anat and Astarte is probably more due to their
similar functions in Bronze-age Egypt.

> When the cult of Baal began to eclipse that of El in the Ugaritic sea
> ports, he began to be associated with Asherah, El's wife, and Asherah began
> to be merged with Anat, Baal's former consort.  As Asherah became
> equivalent to Anat in the minds of the Canaanites, she also became
> confused/associated with Astarte, who was already regularly confused with
> Anat.
This is a nice theory, as far as I remember brought forth by Pope in
the 50'es.
What he forgets to take into considreation is, that Asherah is the
mother of the gods, including El. Pope's reading of the relationships
between El - Baal -Asherah - Anat in the Ugaritic texts has a taste
of 1950'es US-middle-class morals. As far as I remember, he
discards the possibility of Baal and Anat being lovers, since they
are brother and sister. The book "El in the Ugaritic texts" is not a
very good book, much better ones have come forward since then.

That Asherah should change her alliegance, and switch to Baal is
mostly based on the OT, and a semitic text from the hittite capital
at modern Boghazkoey in Turkey, where Baal tries to get between
Ilkunirsa (El, creator of the world) and his spouse Asherah. Since
this fragment ends with a great reconciliacion scene between El and
Asherah, it would be safe to assume that no such change took place
then.

IMO, Asherah is simply a title, given to the number one goddess of the
given pantheon in the ancient west-semitic world. Therefore we find
the "name" all over the place, denoting clearly different goddesses.

This means, that if Astarte was the primary goddess of the pantheon,
she would be "the Asherah", if Anat was so, she would be "the
Asherah". The primary male god of the pantheon would then be the
spouse of "(the) Asherah", disregarding whether he was "Baal" (=
lord) or "El" (= God).
It is very, very important, when working with the west-semitic
panthea of the bronze- and iron-ages to keep in mind, that many of
the words we see as names are not names at all, but epithets and
titles.
For this reason, e.g., Baal Shamajim (Lord of Heavens) and El
Shamajim (God of Heavens) can be equated with relative ease, if and
when their functions are sufficiently similar (Cf. Herbert Niehrs
wonderful book "Der Hoechste Gott", which has recently been translated
into English).
Hope this helps

Tilde
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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