Here Comes the Bride – Maybe

Kuntillet

This is one of my favorite doodles from the ancient world. Its rich ambiguity lends to its appeal — some see it as salacious, while others see it as sacred. For those of you unfamiliar with the graphic details of the Asherah debate, this image is an ancient graffito from a desert way-station called Kuntillet Ajrud, a one-period site from the eighth century BCE. Like any number of other ancient drawings, this one would have probably remained in the obscure curios-portfolio of ancient scholars if it hadn’t overlapped an inscription that mentions “Yahweh of Samaria and his asherah.” Discovered in 1975–1976, this inscription, along with a couple others, revolutionized many scholarly assessments of ancient Israel’s religion. Yahweh had a soft side after all, a wife no less, the old god!

I’ve taken some flak in my circumscribed academic career for suggesting that this inscription, and a perhaps somewhat similar one from Khirbet el-Qom, are ambiguous. Sure, I’d like to see Yahweh happily married as much as the next guy, but is that what is going on here? Yahweh and Asherah, sittin’ in a tree? My doubts don’t stem from a squeamish conservatism (come on!) but from a concern of over-interpreting ambiguous evidence. Asherah, as a goddess, was rediscovered with the excavation of Ugarit. Forgotten by time with only cryptic references in the Hebrew Bible to some kind of cultic item called an “asherah,” scholars were excited to learn that she had a body and a personality. Many aspects of that personality fit, circumstantially, with a lovely pairing with Yahweh; wherever Asherah appears she is the consort of the high god, she is royal, matronly, and never showy.

The image above, however, has nothing to do with the inscription it overlaps. The two larger figures in the foreground are clearly Bes, the minor Egyptian protective deity. The characteristics are so clichéd that only the will to see Yahweh and Asherah arm-in-arm suggests anything different. Scholars like a happy ending just as much as anybody else, but I am obligated to state that, taken objectively, Asherah simply isn’t in the picture here.

20 thoughts on “Here Comes the Bride – Maybe

  1. Usually when I mention this “doodle” in class, I emphasize that we have no idea of what the relationship is (if any) between the figures and the inscription, which seem to have been written/drawn by separate individuals. Do we have any indication that one or the other was in place first?

    Anyway, thanks for posting on this. Presumably the issue is not whether Yahweh was associated with “his asherah”, but what that may have meant. That this is not Yahweh and Asherah depicted dancing at their wedding (at which who knows who was playing what instrument in the background) presumably doesn’t in any way undercut the evidence that Asherah was important in ancient Israel, and in some way connected with Yahweh – or would you disagree with that way of putting things?

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    • Hi James,

      The best information we have on the order of the inscription and drawings (according to P. Beck’s excellent analysis) is that the inscription was written on top of the drawings. If the two were intended to go together this would appear to be pretty sloppy on the part of a person literate enough to write; there is space on the pithos to avoid the drawing and continue the inscription. I side with those who argue that the inscription and picture have nothing to do with each other. The third figure (whom Dever argues is Asherah) is clearly a desperate attempt to find Asherah in the picture. Nowhere in the entire corpus do we have Asherah associated with music or dancing. As I tell my critics, I would be glad to be proven wrong, but the evidence points to two separate items here — an ambiguous inscription and an ambiguous drawing.

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        • There have been several suggestions (the literature on this is immense!), none of which I find as convincing as what I did in grade school: poor layout. What nobody will show (in any illustration I’ve seen) is just how completely covered the entire pithos is with doodles. Some scholars have tried to associate Asherah with some of the other drawings as well, although they are clearly from different artists. It seems to me to stem from desperation: we need to find Asherah on this jar to show that the inscription refers to a goddess.

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  2. Pingback: They Began to Call By Name « Original Jewish

  3. Having a keen interest in paleo-Hebrew/Phoenician script forms and their
    development over time, I was re-examining the “Yahweh and his Asherah” inscription and the Bes-like figures on Pithos A from Kundillet Ajrud. The “benchroom” of the ancient fortress appears to have been a resting place for
    travelers waiting to “hitch a ride” with caravans or for members of caravans to sit out weather or just to rest for a while. The walls of the benchroom were white plaster and the pithoi and bowls may have held refreshments
    placed by some overseer. I am wondering about the designation of the room as a religious “chapel” of sorts or a shrine but am seeing the imscriptions and figures as graffiti (ancient graffiti being an area of personal
    interest).

    The head dress of the obviously male bes-like figure in the forefront is drawn in ink OVER the inscription and interferes with a letter of the 1st
    line and a considerable portion of the second line including the final heh of lyhwh.

    I do not think these figures, which are the object of controversy, were associated with the inscription which appears to have been written earlier than the figures. Since inscriptions were found invoking El and Ba’al, obviously travelers of all religious groups used the “rest-stop” and some later traveler may have drawn the Bes (they are feathers and not horns) as a
    deliberate smear on the yhwh inscription or just didn’t care that it encroached on the blessing to Yehallel, Yo’asah (Joash”) and company. There
    is also an overlying graffito, the heiroglyph for seven, overlying the suckling calf’s right leg, that looks to befrom the same wider tipped reed
    ot brush as the Bes figures. It appears that some of these graffiti were competitive.

    Although there still seems to be debate over the Bes figure being YHWH and the seated figure being Asherah, I am sure that others must have noticed this disassociation between the yhwh inscription and the Bes grouping of two
    males and a seated lyre playing ewe (who is not Asherah). This does not address whether the inscription refers to Yhwh and his Asherah as “wife” (which I formerly accepted but now doubt) or Yhwh and his asherah as “a
    staff” or symbol of authority, perhaps a tree, but not a proper noun. I have a problem with the wl)$rth possessive which makes me think it is a
    thing instead of a name.

    In Ugaritic texts Asherah is a consort of El and in Judges of Ba’al (this gal got around). Given the merger of El and YHWH it is not unreasonable to have Asherah as a consort of YHWH early on and the “divorce” occurred under Josiah’s reforms.

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    • Thanks, Jack.

      Good observations. For years I have suggested that there is reason to doubt a) the relation of the “picture” to the inscription, and b) that the inscription references the goddess Asherah. I’ve received a lot of criticism for this position, but given the nature of the evidence I believe it to be the only fair assessment. The analogy I like to think of is urban underpasses covered with unrelated graffiti. Overlaps indicate more interest in what the current contributor is interested in (his/her own work) rather than what someone drew or wrote before. I’m also doubtful that deities worshiped together in the same shrine were considered consorts (Asherah and Baal in Judges). It is possible, but it is not the only possible conclusion.

      Thanks for the comments!

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  4. NEWS FLASH

    A man and woman in Harcourt Victoria have been broadcasting via radio KCTY fm in Longbeach California telling the students that he is the PROMISED MESSIAH the reincarnated Lord Jesus Christ who is the Creator Yahweh and she is the reincarnated Martha Magdalene the wife of Jesus and Asherah the wife of Yahweh who was removed by the powers that be to deceive the world and suppress the knowledge that the Godhead was Father and Mother Abbah, Ammah and all mankind is made in their image.

    The youth of America are abuzz with the news as the tapes of the programs are being sent to college campuses across the nation.

    Yahweh and Asherah have been into Papua New Guinea where they took the cure for AIDS and all blood borne diseases and now since their first patient was restored to life there are thousands of PNG nationals alive and well 17 months later.

    Yahweh appeared on ABC Television Late Line March 27th 2009 when he was interviewed by Stephen Marshall who is in Port Moresby and who was investigating the reports that the lame were walking and the blind were seeing.
    Even though the Australian doctor David Cooper at St. Vincent’s Hospital tried to debunk the protocol used, the good news traveled faster and the afflicted natives of PNG came out in droves to be treated by the saints who are administering the non pharmaceutical protocol. The natives are eye witnesses to the recovery of their friends and relatives within minutes after years of being at deaths door and being told by the Australian and PNG governments that “there is no cure for AIDS”.

    What can this mean for the future of Harcourt the “apple” heart of Victoria that has been slowly dying since the M79 opened?

    Reports have it that as the news spreads around the world; the world will be making its way to where Yahweh and Asherah are.

    Just like in the days of Jesus when the people came from all over to listen to Him teach on the Mount of Olives, could it be that crowds will be coming to Harcourt to listen to the Messiah teach all over again?

    Why haven’t the churches welcomed their Messiah when He has been here since He was born again on 11th January 1944 at 2.22am in Sydney Australia?

    Yahweh has been teaching that the churches are dominated by Freemasonry and their god is Lucifer and whose bible is the King James and the knowledge that we reincarnate was removed to deceive the people where the rulers kept the knowledge and wisdom for themselves.
    He also teaches that the apostle Paul was a devil and he did not have a conversion on the road to Damascus.
    He teaches that the New Testament is corrupt and was put together by the Freemason Scholars who manipulated to suit them. He teaches that the family of Jesus was Essene.

    Yahweh teaches that the True Royal Bloodline of King David comes from Ireland, Scotland and Cornwall and ended up in Australia through Divine protection from the enemies of God who is the British Royal family controlled by the House of Rothschild today who are the false Jews called Kahzars.

    Yahweh is warning people to wake up to the deception and overthrow the powers that be since everyone has been born a slave to the moneychangers through the birth certificate STRAWMAN scam and the number on it is the 666 meaning of the Revelation..

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  5. Pingback: Asherah in Australia « Sects and Violence in the Ancient World

  6. http://www.revelation2012yahweh.yolasite.com also Youtube Michellenye http://www.youtube.com/user/MichelleNye#p/u/148/LG8VNIRNnmA
    yes the reincarnate of the 2 queens of Judah that were taken to Tara Ireland became Mary and Martha Magdalene and were the genetic line of David when the wives of Jesus, the first barren Mary was then passed on to marry Martha Magdalene who gave birth to twin boys. via Essene law, that is when one sister fails to conceive. This genetic line was first found after I returned from Canada locating Michelle Nye the reincarnate of Mary, her children link to mine mathematically and is proven in the earth measure and the great pyramid, I was then found by Martha who is Janelle Golightly Marshall and the miracles continue after we took the AIDS cure to New Guinea. Various miracles are now recorded on YouTube filmed in Harcourt central Victoria. my phone is 61 3 94352120 Janelle is 613 54742361 there are over 500 videos and search Brian Leonard
    Golightly Marshall 90,000 hits.
    Gregg Braden the – God Code – found the letters YHWH in our dna.
    http://www.greggbraden.com
    search michellenye youtube for HARCOURT QUEENS 1 and 2 etc

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  7. I used to live right near Harcourt, Victoria (Australia), and indeed, it (Central Victoria) is a place where people go “freelance religious” without fear of scepticism or scrutiny. I was in the Neo-Pagan camp back when I lived up there, in the 1980s, but there certainly were – and still are – many Biblically-derived groups living around there. I can’t seem to work out whether this above-mentioned Yahweh and Asherah are a joke or serious however. Sometimes It’s hard to tell with these academic blogs, whether someone is having a huge joke or whether its for real!

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    • Thanks, Caroline. Academic blogs are strange beasts. My comments on Asherah are generally serious or have a serious undertone to them (I did my dissertation on the goddess, so I’ve learned to respect her). As in your previous comment, I am also interested in how modern religionists co-opt ancient characters. Asherah is a particularly interesting choice since she is not as well understood as many commenters suppose. I’ve got several posts on the goddess, so feel free to browse. There’s even a podcast on Asherah in here somewhere.

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  8. Caroline,

    It is not a joke. Yahweh and Asherah are back and the world is waking up to it….much to the disgust of the powers that be…

    Yahweh has been debunking all constructs of the devil that operates through men that have deluded and dumbed mankind since man made religion has had its influence in the world.

    The Altar to Yahweh is the Great Pyramid of Egypt that was built by the descendants of Noah which of course means knowledge.The Bible in Stone…no man can mess with. It is the information in the measurements of the Pyramid that tell the story of the creation and the return of the Lord Jesus Christ who is Yahweh in His second incarnation back into Ephraim which in Hebrew is Bethlehem and is Australia today in the time of the end. The moon is the chronograph and the time of the end …the last 90 years begin counting down from the 18th December 1922 when the lunations of the moon were set to zero and align with the measurements of the Pyramid…

    Yahweh has revealed the knowledge that has been kept back from the people and that includes Asherah who is His wife and at the time of the cross was the younger Martha Magdalene who was pregnant 82 days with twin boys James and Joshua…she traveled back to the Christ family home which was in Trevone Road Padstow Cornwall England where she gave birth to the twins on October 18th 33AD and died after the birth and then like her husband rose again and ascended into the heavenly realm to remain with her husband until the time of the end when He was reborn to the earth which is hell on January 11th 1944 at 2.22am …105 Rothschild Ave Rosebery NSW…Rothschild is the embodiment of satan in the flesh …..

    All who have been born after His birth date have been born into the period of time that is called the resurrection and was referred to in the book of John by Martha just before the raising of her brother Lazarus…Lazarus is back in the son of Asherah, his name is Adam…

    “A small child shall lead them”…as Yahweh’s life unfolded and at the age of 2 was conversant with all manner of the workings of the earth and the heavens, able to discuss them with his 8.88 years older brother…at 4 he followed the the instructions of His heavenly angel who is the archangel Michael and is the image of Yahweh with His voice….the instructions led him to discover a little boy hiding behind the bathroom door of his neighbors house, the boys mother dead from electrocution by the vacuum cleaner Yahweh’s own father had rewired wrongly and so at 4 he understood that ALL adults are stupid….

    At 6 after witnessing 2 children in the playground arguing over Jesus being a Pharisee or a Sadducee, Yahweh went into a rage and told the boys that Jesus was an Essene….1950…nobody was talking about Essenes let alone a 6 year old in a Catholic school….his family this time are Catholic….and totally stupid of evil inclinations…not the welcoming priesthood of the 17th June 2BC which is the date of His birth as Jesus….

    He grew again into the wisdom knowledge and stature of Who He is and then on February 14th 1978 in BC Canada, he crashed his logging truck and was taken bodily back into the heavenly realm where He was reminded Who He is and told that from that point onward His task was to convince mankind that had been totally deceived …

    He was returned to the truck which was smashed to pieces at the bottom of an 185′ cliff….all part of His story…an Oh Shit moment and no…He was not really pleased since the mind of man has been consumed and seduced by the beast…it has been a relentless crucifixion lasting 66 years…3 hours on the cross was a piece of cake…..

    The mere fact that the radio interviews with intelligent students from California are happening and now children from the Harcourt area mean that the resistance is weakening as we move closer to the date of the end in 2012…

    Those that have ears to hear and eyes to see are are humble of heart like a child and will attain the salvation bought at the Cross and meant for this time now…the end of the age….

    So..wake up we are in hell, where Truth does not live until the only one that can defeat the devil, the beast of the Revelation… is God in the flesh on the earth, the Creator Yahweh, the Lord Jesus Christ who is the royal bloodline of King David, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Word of God and who has been revealing now for decades the Truth that sets all mankind free…

    Follow the link below and begin to learn the ultimate Truth..

    It is the meek and children who inherit the earth…arrogance, pride in acquired knowledge and those who will not give up their “beliefs” for the Truth will not make it through the coming judgment….2012…..

    http://revelation2012yahweh.yolasite.com/

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    • B*llsh*t c*cks*ck*rs.I think u r tryin to brainwash people who have no ability 2 c that the world will certainly get past your hurdle and please take your mumbo away from Australia cos my mom was a nun and she really connects with “God” and she will get U pushed into a corner that U never thought existed. Perhaps it will be a hole in the ground underneath little children abluting on you rather than U defiling them. I HOPE SO

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  9. How it works is this. Mankind is a run away religious cult filled fright train, the bible proclaimed holy after scores of people were burned at the stake, but what it all boils down to is why? Let me explain. Paradise is going to be established on the earth, it starts small in Harcourt 439 people. I am Yahweh and therefore if I can not unravel the trap of the cults then pass me by.
    The latest videos on Harcourt has a gps program, Magellan, with way points laid out in a circle 4600 miles wide, on this circle are thousands of way points, which I located and placed there to prove I am He.
    In Rio the Redeemer statue stands looking towards New Guinea. When we measure from that statue to any of these way Points the distance is 10084 miles, or more precisely when in close 10084.5 miles. Why? Well multiply by Pi and you have 31680. In Greek gematria the words Lord = 800 and Jesus 888 and Christ = 1480 so add the three and its 3168.
    It is impossible to measure a distance with GPS software and be out more then a few meters, yet here it is for the world to see. Then I locate the centre of the circle by crisscrossing continually and fine the centre, we measure from that point to the north end of Eagles Road Harcourt, that distance is 4168 miles, the Greek concordance is flock. = Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32
    There are 8674 words in the James Strong’s concordance of the 1611. 8674 days is 3.168 years. The word Jay Hebrew concordance is 3050 so subtract 8674 – 3050 = 5624 and is the total for the New Testament concordance. Why? Jah is myself Yahweh, taken out of the New Testament as the Freemason cults of Babylonian Pharisee origin concocted the New Testament to divert I as Jesus but as you might expect I did this to allow the satanic Lucifer cults to reveal the name Jesus and control all things being Lucifer dominated.
    Basically I let Lucifer and its demons to spread the name Jesus then when I return as Yahweh the Judge, I speak only to the children who have no academic diversions and simply set us a perfect Kingdom.
    Why Eagles Road? I was born on Rothschild Ave number 105 and 105 is eagle. Measure from Eagles Road North to 105 Rothschild and back to Eagles Road South is 888 miles. My brother is 8.88 years older than I, the sunrise to moonrise on my birth date was also 888 minutes and the solar eclipse that occurred 14 days later along the 25 deg North Latitude was 8888.8 miles to that same address.
    My eldest daughter was born in Port Alberni Canada I was 8880 days old and the sunrise to sunset was 888 minutes.
    The Great Pyramid is all about this end time and my rebirth date. I can reveal 10,000 absolute miracles in countless pages I have written. Google “Brian Leonard Golightly Marshall” 160,000 hits, the first ‘I am Christ’ Therefore Lucifer in all time given it, can and is being stopped one person at a time.
    I have written 19 books Brian Leonard Golightly Marshall Storefront LuLu free download. People comment, there are spelling mistakes or drawings upside down or repeated. Why? Cant God spell? Sure can but do not wish too. Why? Simple. If it was an acnegenic book they would insist on correct spelling, therefore I am not an achedmic and have left a gematria trail of misspelt words. Count and add them and see what the answer is? Read the numbers in Greek and Hebrew concordances.

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  10. Well Steve, you certainly have some ‘interesting’ commenters. This nicely illustrates why there is such a need for well-informed and well-documented bliggers like yourself. But it also shows a key challenge: plenty of readers don’t know enough about ancient Israel, archaeology or the Bible to be able to distinguish between reliable scholarship, attempts at humor, and number-abundant pseudoscholarship.

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    • Thanks, James! It is sometimes easy to get lost amid the noise. I’m not sure how many readers check up on my credentials, though…

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  11. yhwh is not jesus he is the almighty creator and father of all yahshua is the prince of life and will deliver the righteous from the false messiah jesus the bright light that spoke to paul in damascus was lucifer a messiah that didnt come n flesh with the christian gospel of grace. asherah is one of the names of the queen of heaven she has many names and is the mother goddess lucifer in her original form end of descussion halleluyah

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  12. Pingback: [ad hoc] Christianity , Archive » Episode #12: Blogosphere roundup, March 23, 2011

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