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Asherah

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The Oxford Companion to the Bible What is This? Provides authoritative interpretive entries on Biblical people, places, beliefs, events, and secular influences.

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    Asherah

    The Canaanite mother goddess, associated with lions, serpents, and sacred trees. The word “asherah” in the Bible most often refers to a stylized wooden tree.

    The biblical writers generally condemn worship of the goddess, but there is evidence that many in Israel devoted themselves to Asherah, perhaps even worshiping her as consort of Yahweh. At several times an asherah stood in Yahweh's Temple in Jerusalem (2 Kings 18.4; 21.7; 23.6); there were in the Temple, moreover, vessels dedicated to Asherah (2 Kings 23.4) and a compound in which women wove garments for her statue (2 Kings 23.7). An asherah also stood in Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 16.33; 2 Kings 13.6) and in Yahweh's temple in Bethel (2 Kings 23.15). Recent archaeological discoveries have confirmed that the cult of Asherah was a part of Yahwistic tradition for at least some Israelites.

    Susan Ackerman

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    Oxford University Press

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