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Asherah

Hebrew: אֲשֵׁרָה —transliteration: Asherah or 'asherah —meaning: a goddess of this name or an image of her

Plural: Asherim

also known as: Astarte (Canaanites, Phoenicians), Ashtart and Athtart

Asherah is one of the names of a sensual Canaanite goddess Astarte (Ashtoreth) (Greek: Ἀστάρτη), equivalent to the Assyrian goddess Ishtar.

Its symbol was the stem of a tree deprived of its boughs, and rudely shaped into an image, and planted in the ground. Such religious symbols were often set up in a grove (2 Kings 21:7; 23:4) or a high place.

You shall not plant for yourself an Asherah of any kind of tree beside the altar of the Lord your God, which you shall make for yourself. —Deuteronomy 16:21 NASB

“They set for themselves sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree,” —2 Kings 17:10 NASB

These images were also sometimes made of silver or of carved stone (2 Kings 21:7; “the graven image of Asherah,” Revised King James Version).

And he [King Josiah] tore down the cubicles of the male cult prostitutes which were in the house of the Lord, where the women were weaving hangings [or dresses] for the Asherah. —2 Kings 23:7 NASB

He [King Josiah] also smashed to pieces the memorial stones and cut down the Asherim, and filled their places with human bones. —2 Kings 23:14 NASB

Now on the same night the Lord said to him [Gideon], “Take your father’s bull and a second bull seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it; —Judges 6:25 NASB

Idolaters considered the cutting down of an Asherah worthy of the death penalty:

Then the men of the city [Ophrah of the Abi-ezrites] said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has torn down the altar of Baal, and indeed, he has cut down the Asherah which was beside it.” —Judges 6:30 NASB

In the Revised King James Version, the word “Asherah” was introduced as a proper noun, the name of the wooden symbol of the goddess, with the plurals Asherim (Exodus 34:13 NASB) and Asheroth (Judges 3:13 NASB).

The Septuagint rendered Asherah in 2 Chronicles 15:16 by “Astarte.” The Vulgate did also in Judges 3:7 (whereas the NASB says “Asheroth.”

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Article Version: July 13, 2021