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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Asherah

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'Ăshêrâh (אֲשֵׁירָה, Strong's #842), "Asherah, Asherim (pl.)." This noun, which has an Ugaritic cognate, first appears in the Bible in passages anticipating the settlement in Palestine. The word's most frequent appearances, however, are usually in historical literature. Of its 40 appearances, 4 are in Israel's law code, 4 in Judges, 4 in prophetic books, and the rest are in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles. 'Ăshêrâh refers to a cultic object representing the presence of the Canaanite goddess Asherah. When the people of Israel entered Palestine, they were to have nothing to do with the idolatrous religions of its inhabitants. Rather, God said, "But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves [‘asherim] …" ( Exodus 34:13). This cult object was manufactured from wood ( Judges 6:26; 1 Kings 14:15) and it could be burned ( Deuteronomy 12:3). Some scholars conclude that it was a sacred pole set up near an altar to Baal. Since there was only one goddess with this name, the plural (‘asherim) probably represents her several "poles." '

Ăshêrâh signifies the name of the goddess herself: "Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves ['ăshêrâh] four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table" (1 Kings 18:19). The Canaanites believed that 'ăshêrâh ruled the sea, was the mother of all the gods including Baal, and sometimes was his deadly enemy. Apparently, the mythology of Canaan maintained that 'ăshêrâh was the consort of Baal, who had displaced El as their highest god. Thus her sacred objects (poles) were immediately beside altars to Baal, and she was worshiped along with him.

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Asherah'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/vot/a/asherah.html. 1940.

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