When the Israelite women baked cakes for the Queen of Heaven (mother of the gods) the image was easier to produce in bread dough:
Some scholars say early versions of the Bible featured Asherah, a powerful fertility goddess who may have been God’s wife. Research by Francesca Stavrakopoulou, a senior lecturer in the department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter, unearthed clues to her identity, but good luck finding mention of her in the Bible. If Stavrakopoulou is right, heavy-handed male editors of the text all but removed her from the sacred book.
What remains of God’s purported other half are clues in ancient texts, amulets and figurines unearthed primarily in an ancient Canaanite coastal city, now in modern-day Syria. Inscriptions on pottery found in the Sinai desert also show Yahweh and Asherah were worshipped as a pair, and a passage in the Book of Kings mentions the goddess as being housed in the temple of Yahweh.
J. Edward Wright, president of The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies and The Albright Institute for Archaeological Research, backs Stavrakopoulou’s findings, saying several Hebrew inscriptions mention “Yahweh and his Asherah.” He adds Asherah was not entirely edited out of the Bible by its male editors.
“Traces of her remain, and based on those traces… we can reconstruct her role in the religions of the Southern Levant,” he told Discovery News.
…Aaron Brody, director of the Bade Museum and an associate professor of Bible and archaeology at the Pacific School of Religion, says the ancient Israelites were polytheists, with only a “small majority” worshipping God alone. He says it was the exiling of an elite community within Judea and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 586 B.C that lead to a more “universal vision of strict monotheism.”
Well, as for Biblical references, we do have these
וַיָּקֶם מִזְבְּחֹת לַבַּעַל, וַיַּעַשׂ אֲשֵׁרָה כַּאֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה אַחְאָב מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל, וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ לְכָל-צְבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם, וַיַּעֲבֹד אֹתָם.
and he reared up altars for Baal, and made an Asherah, as did Ahab king of Israel,
2 King 21:3
וְהִנֵּה נֻתַּץ מִזְבַּח הַבַּעַל, וְהָאֲשֵׁרָה אֲשֶׁר-עָלָיו כֹּרָתָה
the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah was cut down that was by it
But the Torah has this:
לֹא-תִטַּע לְךָ אֲשֵׁרָה, כָּל-עֵץ: אֵצֶל, מִזְבַּח יְ וָה אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ
Thou shalt not plant thee an Asherah of any kind of tree beside the altar of the LORD thy God, which thou shalt make thee
(A Hebrew-language Wikipedia summary. A larger one in English.)
Seems to me Asherah is very prominent and well-known in the Bible. So what’s the big deal? Does one have to possess weird theories to be famous?
Violent Ancient Feminism Confronting the Hebrew
I was reading some interesting things about Ba’al. the Assyrian god was El… who is the creator god that some people believe Judaism turned into Elohim. El’s wife was Asherah. This character called Ba’al kept the god El in check by castrating him. These religions were deeply lunar, matriarchal and violent. Kind of a mother goddess Gloria Steinem religion before contemporary feminism. El is apparently some kind of Bull who is castrated. Ba’al acts within the control of Asherah who is a woman. Kind of like Hilary Clinton but worse.
Asherah: The Goddess of the Sea and wife of El. An important council to El with a minor association to fertility.
Ba’al was apparently a war god. the bible does not clarify this. he is not the big cheese. kind of funny that the Hebrew word for “Master” comes from Ba’al. like Ba’al Shem Tov…. meaning “Master of the Good Word”
but it is interesting to me that the creator god gets castrated by the “Master”. it would seem that women had a lot of power in this theology.