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ANAHITA  December 1999

ANAHITA December 1999

Subject:

Re: the book "When God was a Woman"

From:

[log in to unmask]

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Tue, 21 Dec 1999 16:18:46 EST

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In a message dated 12/21/99 1:10:39 PM Eastern Standard Time,
[log in to unmask] writes:

<< It's well worth reading, but I was irritated by her insistence that Asherah
 and the multitudinous figurines, including the teraphim, could not be
 goddesses. Her book has quite a pronounced ideological thrust of its own,
 not least in her denial of any sociopolitical context for the shift to an
 almost entirely masculine imaging of YHWH. Her discussion of the prophets'
 metaphor for "idolatry" as whoredom completely ignores the sexual politics:
 God as jealous husband who will vent his wrath on an  adulterous wanton
 wife (Israel). In that light, her notion of the gender-neutrality of Hebrew
 monotheism looks silly.

 Max Dashu
 Suppressed Histories Archives
 <[log in to unmask]>
  >>
    Yes.  So much in that book drives me mad!  But I think it's worth
reading.  Her treatment of female sexuality, as I said in a book review,
could not even cover the plot of "Carmen", nonetheless the passion of a
goddess.  Ishtar, Salome, Anat: Hot Damn!  They had some juice to them.  You
won't find it in _In The Wake of the Goddesses_.
    We must argue as we read; we must write our arguments in the book
margins.  Read everything judiciously.  Particularly here, where we are
breaking new ground every day.  These are exciting times & we cannot expect
"the answer" to our still forming questions.  I think the solution is just to
read everything we can get our hands on, until the happy day when that is too
much for any human being.
    As for the Ashera & the Teraphim...do you think they're associated?  For
those outside these studies, the Ashera was represented by a tree, stylized
tree, or pillar at the door of the sanctuary, (& perhaps sometimes within?).
She was a great goddess in Canaan & seems to have been the mate of Judah's &
Israel's god, as she was of the god El in Ugarit.  The Teraphim were figures,
either great enough to be mistaken for a man, such as David, or small enough
to have been hidden in a sedan chair, as did Rachel.  They were found in both
households & sanctuaries.  They seemed often to be associated with women:
Rachel, Michal, Micah's Mother, Gomer.  They were used to give prophecy.
Biblical commentators have done a lot of 'splainin' about them, over the
years, to little effect.
    Saul Olyan's _Ashera & the Cult of Yahweh_ is the book to read on the
Ashera, but it is not easily accessible to the casual reader.  Neither is
Frank Moore Cross' _Canaanite Myth & Hebrew Epic_.  Looks to me like
something should be done to get the stories of the Ashera into the hands of
the laity.

Sheila Shiki y Michaels

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