Who, or What, Is Asherah?

The Bible contains numerous references to Asherah or to “asherahs,” usually in the context of calls for their destruction or rebukes to those who worship them. It is not always clear whether the term refers to a female deity or ritual objects associated with that deity, which might have been statues, or poles thought to represent trees, or actual sacred trees. There are also competing theories about which Levantine deities were Asherah’s equivalent. And then there seem to have been those who worshipped both Asherah and the biblical God. Ellen White writes:

Inscriptions . . . contain the phrase “Yahweh and his Asherah.” Some take this to mean it was believed that she was seen as the wife of Yahweh and represents the goddess herself. Yet the presence of [the possessive “his”] could suggest that it is not a personal name. This has led others to believe it is a reference to the cult symbol. A more obscure opinion claims it means a cella or chapel; this meaning is found in other Semitic languages, but not Hebrew. Because of the similarities between [the pagan god] El and Yahweh, it is understandable that Asherah could have been linked to Yahweh. While some readers might find disturbing the idea that Yahweh had a wife, it was common in the ancient world to believe that gods married and even bore children. This popular connection between Yahweh and Asherah, and the eventual purging of Asherah from the Israelite cult, is likely a reflection of the emergence of monotheism from the Israelites’ previous polytheistic worldview.

Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Bible, Idolatry

The Diplomatic Goals of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Visit to the U.S.

Yesterday, the Israeli prime minister arrived in the U.S., and he plans to address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, but it remains uncertain whether he will meet with President Biden. Nonetheless, Amit Yagur urges Benjamin Netanyahu to use the trip for ordinary as well as public diplomacy—“assuming,” Yagur writes, “there is someone to talk to in the politically turbulent U.S.” He argues that the first priority should be discussing how to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons. But there are other issues to tackle as well:

From the American perspective, as long as Hamas is not the official ruler in the Gaza Strip, any solution agreed upon is good. For Israel, however, it is quite clear that if Hamas remains a legitimate power factor, even if it does not head the leadership in Gaza, sooner or later, Gaza will reach the Hizballah model in Lebanon. To clarify, this means that Hamas is the actual ruler of the Strip, and sooner or later, we will see a [return] of its military capabilities as well as its actual control over the population. . . .

The UN aid organization UNRWA . . . served as a platform for Hamas terrorist elements to establish, disguise, and use UN infrastructure for terrorism. This is beside the fact that UNRWA essentially perpetuates the conflict rather than helps resolve it. How do we remove the UN and UNRWA from the “day after” equation? Can the American aid organization USAID step into UNRWA’s shoes, and what assistance can the U.S. provide to Israel in re-freezing donor-country contributions to UNRWA?

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Gaza War 2023, U.S.-Israel relationship