Oxford Scholar Brings God’s Wife Back To Life

Hebrew god, asherah, tree of life

Is the Hebrew god’s wife, Asherah, The Tree of Life? Though an uncomfortable notion for some, scholarship suggests that God had a wife.

Scholars have known since the late 1960s that the ancient Israelites worshiped both Yahweh and his wife Asherah. Despite efforts by some editors to translate Asherah’s name to mean ‘Sacred Tree,’ archaeological findings and excerpts from the Book of Kings depict God’s wife as a powerful fertility Goddess.

(Read how present day Jews continue to maintain solid connections to nature.) Formerly an Oxford scholar and currently Senior Lecturer at the Department of Theology and Religion and the University of Exeter, Francesca Stavrakopoulou’s books, lectures and journal papers present background on a subject that is bound to be controversial.

You might know him as Yahweh, Allah or God. But on this fact, Jews, Muslims and Christians, the people of the great Abrahamic religions, are agreed: There is only one of Him, writes Stavrakopoulou in a statement released to the British media. He is a solitary figure, a single, universal creator, not one God among many … or so we like to believe.

In 1967, the historian Raphael Patai revealed that the ancient Israelites worshiped both Yahweh and his wife Asherah. Stavrakopoulous has since taken up this issue anew and after several years of research has presented several finds that remove all doubt.

Stavrakopoulou discovered references to Asherah in the Bible and an 8th century BC pottery inscription. Found in the Sinai desert at a site called Kuntillet Ajrud, the inscription, she says, in a petition for a blessing.

Crucially, the inscription asks for a blessing from ‘Yahweh and his Asherah.’ Here was evidence that presented Yahweh and Asherah as a divine pair. And now a handful of similar inscriptions have since been found, all of which help to strengthen the case that the God of the Bible once had a wife.

Many ancient texts, amulets, and figurines found mostly in the Canaanite city Ugarit (modern day Syria) reaffirm that Asherah was a ‘mighty and nurturing fertility goddess.’ The Book of Kings describes how she was worshiped in the temple of Jerusalem alongside Yahweh, and how female personnel wove ritual textiles for her.

Both J. Edward Wright, President of the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies and the Albright Institute for Archaeological Research, and Aaron Brody, Director of the Bade Museum and Associate Professor of the Bible and Archaeology at the Pacific School of Religion confirm Stavrakopolou’s assertions.

Brody notes that ancient authors intent on maintaining Judaism as a monotheistic tradition replaced mentions of Asherah with the translation ‘Sacred Tree.’

This is what he told Discovery News:

Asherah as a tree symbol was even said to have been “chopped down and burned outside the Temple in acts of certain rulers who were trying to ‘purify’ the cult, and focus on the worship of a single male god, Yahweh.”

Stavrakopolou’s research will form the basis of a three part documentary series airing in Europe.

:: Discovery News

More on religion and the environment:

Eco-Activist in Jerusalem Brings the Torah Down To Earth

Rabbi Julian Joins Others to ‘Love God, Heal Earth’

Faith and the Environment: Multi-Faith Perspectives

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12 thoughts on “Oxford Scholar Brings God’s Wife Back To Life”

  1. abchrysler says:

    Tafline: “…the women wove HANGINGS for the grove.” (II Kings 23:7)

  2. When God created man, she was only kidding…

  3. Stewart says:

    Francesca Stavrakopoulou is anything but a scholar, She is more like a idiot! That’s what comes out of Oxford? Yes the Jews worshiped Asherah a pagan fertility goddess (lower case g). They were warned by G-D NOT to commit this idolatry, but they did anyway. When the scholar? Has she read the whole story or the whole book of Kings she might not have made the headlines this week they by selling some more books. I am glad I am not a scholar like Francesca and I am glad I never went to Oxford! I’M a lot smarter for that!

  4. @ abchrysler: There are specific mentions of “Yahweh and his Asherah”… somehow it seems unlikely that the women in the temple wove ritual textiles for a sacred tree.

  5. abchrysler says:

    There is mention of “excerpts from the book of Kings” that depict God’s wife as a powerful fertility goddess. Is this found in I Kings or II Kings? What chapter and verse? Aaron Brody notes that ancient authors intent on maintaining Judaism as a monotheistic tradition replaced mentions of Asherah with the translation “sacred tree”. The sacred tree is depicted on countless artifacts and played an important role in the beliefs of people in ancient times. You cannot simply remove “sacred tree” every time it appears in the Bible and replace it with “Asherah”.

  6. Gershom May says:

    OH – BTW. By the rationale – these scholars are using. Just because I have a Internet Bookmark for NBC/BBC/CNN News,etc., – or a picture of Ronald Reagan – or?. It can be alluded that – I support all these sources – as PURE – HONEST – and FORTHRIGHT news reporting agencies. And that – Ronald Reagan and I – could be related.

  7. Gershom May says:

    What unadulterated chutzpah – revisionist manipulation of biblical history!
    In the Torah – which G-D Himself – gave the Jewish Nation People – through Moses. He is referred to – in the first person singular – hundreds of times – as HE – or a single monotheistic G-D. EG: “I alone am He”. Or “There is no other G-D but Me”.
    So – no intelligent Torah/Prophet(s) scholar(s) – can seriously make/allude the claim that – because a SEGMENT – of Jewish and other peoples – of the time – worshiped false deities. In this case – Asherah. That the TORAH – which G-D gave the Jewish Nation People – is false.
    Actually – it only validates – those recalcitrant Jews – who openly violated G-D’s Torah Law for the Jewish Nation Peoples.

  8. Maurice Picow says:

    People believe what they want to believe. In the Hindu religion, doesn’t Krishna have several wives?

  9. Biblical Archaeological Review published several articles about this important understanding of ancient Israelite/Canaanite worship. See the March/April 1979 issue, Did Yahweh Have a Consort?
    The new religious inscriptions from the Sinai
    By Ze’ev Meshel

    I find it very fascinating reading. And, despite what the religious fundamentalists want to believe, very understandably true.

  10. Alan Kochavi says:

    What crap. Asherah (Ashtoret) was a Canaanite fertility pagan goddess of the pantheon – such as Baal, Molekh, Anat etc. – that the Hebrew Bible was fighting against. The fact that ancient Israelites worshipped her was exactly the problem. For centuries the Israelite establishment fought against the Canaanite idol worship that crept into the Jewish religion. That even included the Canaanite-Phoenician abomination of sacrificing the first male child to Baal/Molekh which certain sinful Israelites were carrying out in the Valley of Hinnom (Gei Hinnom which became Gehennim or Gehenna – synonymous with hell) just a short distance away from the walls of Jerusalem. This article certainly gets it upside down.

  11. David Durham says:

    Well I certainly wouldn’t discount this idea. I mean if male hegemony over the generations is still existent, the early form of religion in the middle east would have more a pluralist and multi-god form. We all can accept women have been sidelined so in all honesty it isn’t the biggest of shocks to see if this female god had been given the boot!

  12. simon gangte says:

    This is the most ridiculous article I have ever had the pleasure of reading, these so-called experts wouldn’t even recognise a bamboo tree even if it grew out of their nose let alone verses and statements made in ancient Hebrew, in other words, this is pathetic. And shame on you for publishing this article.

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