>The Jewish Goddess

>Jay Michaelson has written a review of two books that deal with a very controversial subject: the Jewish Goddess.  His review of Did God Have a Wife? Archeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel by William G. Dever (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2005) and The Divine Feminine in Biblical Wisdom Literature by Rami Shapiro (Skylight Paths Publishing, 2005) presents a perspective of Israelite religion that may be unknown to many readers.

Archaeologists have uncovered household shrines, figurines of females with exposed breasts, and an inscription that mentions “Yahweh and his Asherah.”  These and other discoveries may indicate that in pre-exilic Israel there was a type of worship that included the veneration of the goddess.

Michaelson provides additional evidence he says was omitted by Dever.  According to Michaelson, the “Zohar’s use of ‘Asherah’ as a name for the Shechinah, the feminine aspect of God,” may indicate the presence of the divine feminine in Israel.

Michaelson also wrote in his review that “In the Jewish tradition, the most obvious symbol of the Divine Feminine may be none other than the Torah itself.”    He said: “Called the ‘Tree of Life’ (yet another euphemism for Asherah), the Torah’s symbolism enacts the revelation of the Goddess. ‘The ark, the Holy of Holies, is separated by a curtain, like in the Temple, and behind it is the Torah, wearing a silver crown and velvet dress, always referred to in the feminine. Then we bring her out with great decorum, kiss her, undress her, open her up and commence the ritual of knowledge in the biblical sense.’”

Michaelson’s review of these two books may be controversial, but it is worth reading.  Although I not agree with many of his conclusions, the fact remains that Asherah played an important role in the religious life of many people in Israel.

To read Michaelson’s review of these two books, click here.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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5 Responses to >The Jewish Goddess

  1. >Dr. Mariottini,Perhaps I missed it, but did this review by Micaelson note whether these speculations of the Jewish Goddess where confined to the pre-exilic periods? Is there any kind of a scholarly consensus that the post-exilic period represented a worship of Yahweh that was radically exclusive – hence a hit-the-road-Jack(ie) attitude towards any notion of goddess that might rival Yahweh? I am thinking particularly about the reforms of Nehemiah and Ezra. Is there any serious scholarly suggestions that after the beginning of the 2nd Temple period that there was still a great deal of Goddess worship alongside of Yahweh? My impression was that for the Second Temple Jew it was a “My-way-or-the-Highway” view of Yahweh, or perhaps we could say a “Yahweh-or-the-highway”!I would also be interested on you expanding your thoughts on the specific issues that you disagreed with that you alluded to in the last paragraph.Thanks,Jon


  2. fencekicker says:

    >Controversial is an apt description of the article. In case you are interested,I have also commented Michaelson’s article on my blog, http://journalofheresies.blogspot.com/


  3. >Dear Jon,After the exile, there was an effort in Israel to eliminate the notion that other gods were real. Monotheistic faith existed in Israel even in pre-exilic time among faithful Yahwists. However, it was the experience of exile that led Israel to accept true monotheism.The Yahweh alone group in Israel gradually moved the people away from the cult of Asherah. This was done probably by absorbing some of feminine characteristics of the goddess into Yahweh, together with some of her divine powers. The other gods either became demons or members of the divine council presided by Yahweh.As for a detailed evaluation of what I disagree with Michaelson’s review, I am unable to do it at this time. Maybe in a future post I will present a study of the goddess in the Old Testament.Thank you for your comments.Claude Mariottini


  4. >Dear FencekickerYou are right: the view presented in Michaelson’s article is controversial. I read your post and I left a comment there about what you wrote. Thank you for your very insightful post. Anyone who reads my post should also read Fencekicker’s post at http://journalofheresies.blogspot.com.Claude Mariottini


  5. >Shalom Pastor MariottiniI was just passing by and I had to take a minute and add a comment. When We speak about the “goddess” as Learned Clergy-folk. We need to understand that there are many un-read students,that are investigating this information,mostly because they have become suddenly intrigued with their “Notions”,and they are not protected many times.Our Sovereign L-RD G-D has sent many reminders that he does not want us to chase “Wisdom”. When the Jewish people left His protection to follow the Romans and the Egyptians,they were:1) Enslaved2) Frequently Murdered or Martyred3)Forced into Exhile from their G-D given Nation.The “goddess” not only representsknowledge,but also “sin”. Not that our G-D makes Sexuality a Sin,however he indeed hates the diseases that Mother Nature creates from the Promiscuous use of Sexuality…which is the Sin that we need to address and is why he gave us laws for Poligamy,and how often are their people in need of His healing the Diseases Mother Nature makes from promiscuity?Too Often.Jesus did not destroy the Sanctity of the Laws,Roman-ization did.Now we discuss the Roman,Egyptians and East Indian “goddesses” like “she” is a good thing to bring back into the world. At a time when we do not even follow the wisest of the Jewish kings,in his way of following.Almost all of the goddesses requiered Ritual killing of Human beings as part of their Faith. “She” represents Witch Craft and the “doctrine of Demons”. Please try to keep that information out front in every discussion that you have about her. Because “she” is always accompianied by “Satan”. And when Jesus Christ warns us to becareful of evil gods.He is speaking of the goddess.Thanks for your efforts.In Service,Rev.Dave


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