3

Exodus 34:13 but ye shall demolish their altars, shatter their statues, and hew down their Asherahs.

For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

Is Asherah related to Ashtoreth?

5

I don't think so.

Ashtoreth

Ashtoreth is an intentional Hebrew mispelling of Astarte.

From the Lexham Bible Dictionary[1]:

The Hebrew designation for the Canaanite goddess also known as Ashtart or Astarte.[...]

Most interpreters believe the Old Testament pronunciation, “Ashtoreth,” is an intentional alteration of the name aštart, by which the goddess was known in nonbiblical sources. The Hebrew pronunciation replaces the usual vowels in Astarte’s name with the vowels for the word “shame” (בֹּשֶׁת, bosheth). We find a similar Hebrew wordplay in 2 Sam 2:12, where Esh-baal’s name (אֶשְׁבָּעַל, eshba'al—”man of Baal,” see 1 Chr 8:33) is transformed into Ish-bosheth (אִישׁ־בֹּשֶׁת, ish-bosheth—”man of Shame”).

But in the (excellent!) Dictionary of Dieties and Demons in the Bible[2], Astarte is mentioned as playing only a minor role in the Baal-cycle:

The divine name Astarte is found in the following forms: Ug ʿṯtrt (‘Athtart[u]’); Phoen ʿštrt (‘Ashtart’); Heb ʿAštōret (singular); ʿAštārôt (generally construed as plural); Eg variously ʿsṯrt, ʿsṯrṯ, isṯrt; Gk Astartē. It is the feminine form of the masculine ʿṯtr (‘Athtar’, ‘Ashtar’) and this in turn occurs, though as the name of a goddess, as Akkadian →Ishtar. The Akkadian Aš-tar-[tum?] is used of her (AGE 330). The etymology remains obscure.[..]

II.
Ugarit. The goddess Ashtart is mentioned 46 times in the Ugaritic texts, but appears relatively rarely in the mythological texts. These appearances are as follows: in the Baal cycle (KTU 1.2 i 7–8) →Baal curses Yam (→Sea), inviting →Horon (cf. →Horus!) and ‘Ashtart-šm-Baal’ (see below) to smash his skull—Keret uses the same curse on his son Yaṣib in KTU 1.16 vi 54–57, showing it to be formulaic language. When Baal loses control in the divine council at the appearance of Yam’s ambassadors, →Anat and Ashtart restrain him forcibly (KTU 1.2 i 40). When Baal is about to kill Yam, Ashtart intervenes: either to taunt Baal(?), or more probably to urge him to deliver the coup de grâce (KTU 1.2 iv 28–30). In the Keret story, in addition to the curse noted above, Hurriya is compared in her beauty with Anat and Ashtart (KTU 1.14 iii 41–44 = vi:26–30).

Asherah

Asherah has two meanings, as a sacred grove or cultic object (the mishna treats it as a tree) as well as a divine name of the consort of El, the chief God. As the goddess Asherah, she is very prominent in Ugaritic mythology and appears in the same Baal cycle as a different character than Astarte[3]:

II. Ugarit. Ugaritic literature provides our primary source concerning the goddess. The name is spelt aṯrt, usually vocalised as ‘Athirat(u)’, or, following Hebrew convention, ‘Asherah’. She appears in the following contexts. In the ‘Baal cycle’ of myths, KTU 1.1–6, she is a great goddess, mother of the minor gods of the pantheon, referred to as ‘the seventy sons of Athirat’ (šbʿm bn aṯrt, KTU 1.4 vi:46), who intercedes for →Baal and →Anat before →El (KTU 1.4 iv), and who supplies a son to reign following the descent of Baal into the netherworld (KTU 1.6 i:45–55).

However, that these goddesses were distinct in canaanite pantheons does not mean that, theologically, they don't play a similar role in the OT. However even here, it's important to distinguish between the sacred groves in which there were Asherah poles and the divine names of both Asherah and Astarte.


[1] Boeckel, P. B. (2016). Ashtoreth. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[2] Wyatt, N. (1999). Astarte. In K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst (Eds.), Dictionary of deities and demons in the Bible (2nd extensively rev. ed., pp. 109–110). Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans.

[3] Ibid. Asherah.

2

Probably not; in Hebrew they are not as similar. However, Gesenius identified them as the same, apparently based on Greek. But, BDB identifies them as one Canaanite and the other Phoenician. Gesenius predated the find at Ugarit.

Exodus 34:13

אֲשֵׁרָה rarely אֲשֵׁירָה Micah 5:13; Deut. 7:5. Pl. אֲשֵׁרִים and אֲשֵׁרוֹת, Jud. 3:7; 2 Ch. 33:3, f. [see below] pr. fortune, i.e. in the idolatry of the Phœnicians and Aramæans, Astarte or the planet Venus, elsewhere called עַשְׁתֹּרֶת (see under that word, also my Comment. on Isa. 65:11, and vol.ii. p. 337, seq.); apparently the companion and consort of Baal: and her image; in pl. images of Astarte, and perhaps generally images of idols, at least those of a particular kind (compare Ἑρμαί of the Greeks). -- Gesenius, W., & Tregelles, S. P. (2003). Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (p. 90). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

אֲשֵׁרָה S842 TWOT183h GK895, אֲשֵׁירָה 2 K 17:16 n.pr.f. Ashera (Assyrian n.pr.f. Aš-ra-tu, c. sign for deity, in Canaanitish n.pr. Abad-Ašratum, servant of A. Schr 1888, 363, cf. Wkl & AbelThontafelfund v. El Amarna ii. 77, 1. 9, & Sayce. ii. 67, iii. 71; on deriv. cf. Assyrian aširat, adj. fem. gracious, COT) see now also GFM ASHERAH Dr Dt 16:21 Allen ASHERAH, all doubtful as to Can. goddess Asherah; question left open by Zim. 436 ff. (on Sem. goddess Aširtu-Ašratu Id. ib. 432 ff.); but v. JeremAT1 im Licht d. Alten Orients 207 (name of goddess Aširat in letter found at Taanach by Sellin (1902–3) and Id. ib. 37. 237) (Oppenheim’s find at Ras el-’Ain in Mesop., stone shaft with veiled head as top, supposed to identify post with goddess; if 2 K 23:7 refers to draped Asherim [v. on text Benz Bur], this even more plausible), Id. ib. 23, 208 f., 286. On pictorial representations of Asherah-symbol v. WHWard xix. 1 (Oct. 1902).:—usually with the art.: prob. a. a Canaanitish goddess of fortune & happiness; having prophets 1 K 18:19, an image 15:13 = 2 Ch 15:16 2 K 21:7, sacred vessels 2 K 23:4, houses v 7. b. a symbol of this goddess, a sacred tree or pole set up near an altar 1 K 16:33 2 K 13:6; 17:16; 18:4; 21:3; 23:6, 15; prohibited Dt 16:21; burnt by Gideon Ju 6:25, 26, 28, 30. Pl. אֲשֵׁרוֹת a. the goddess Ju 3:7 (prob. error for עַשְׁתָּרֹת 𝔙). b. sacred trees or poles 2 Ch 19:3; 33:3; elsewhere אֲשֵׁרִים id. Is 27:9 + 12 times; sf. Mi 5:13 + 5 times;—Ex 34:13 (J) Dt 7:5; 12:3 Is 17:8; 27:9 Je 17:2 Mi 5:13 1 K 14:15, 23 2 K 17:10, 23:14 2 Ch 14:2; 17:6; 24:18; 31:1; 33:19; 34:3, 4, 7.—(Cf. also Sta 1881, 344 f. RS i. 171 f., 175n. We 235, who think א׳ only the sacred pole.) -- Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (1977). Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (p. 81). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

1 Kings 11:5

עַשְׁתֹּרֶת f. [Ashtoreth], Greek Ἀστάρτη, Astarte, pr.n. of a female idol, worshipped by the Phœnicians (2 Kings 23:13); sometimes also by the Hebrews (1 Ki. 11:5, 33; 1 Sa. 7:3); and the Philistines (1 Sam. 31:10), with great honour, together with Baal (Jud. 2:13; 10:6; 1 Sam. 7:4; 12:10; compare the pr.n. of Phœnician men, as Abdastartus, = עֶבֶד עַשְׁתֹּרֶת, also אמת עשתרת Inscr. Cit. 2, Astarimus, etc.) I have no doubt that the name itself, the origin of which was long a matter of inquiry, is the same as the Syriac ܥܣܬܪܘܬ, ܙܣܬܪܐ (from the Pers. ستاره), and pr.n. אֶסְתֵּר star; specially the planet Venus, the goddess of love and fortune, for this latter reason called also אֲשֵׁרָה and מְנִי, which see. I have given more account of this idol in Comment. on Isa. iii. p. 237, and more fully in Gruber’s Univ. Encycl. vol. xxi. p. 98, 99. There is also a passage of Sanchoniathon containing the mythos concerning Astarte (ap. Eusebium de Præp. Evang. i. 10), in which the reason of the horned statues of Astarte (see plur. No. 3) is shewn: “Ἀστάρτη δὲ ἡ μεγίστη, καὶ Ζεὺς Δημαροῦς, καὶ Ἄδωδος (הדד) βασιλεὺς θεῶν ἐβασίλευον τῆς χώρας, Κρόνου γνώμῃͅ· Ἡ δὲ Ἀστάρτη ἐπέθηκε τῇ ἰδίᾳ κεφαλῇ βασιλείας παράσημον κεφαλὴν ταύρου· περινοστοῦσα δὲ τὴν οἰκουμένην, εὗρεν ἀεροπετῆ ἀστέρα, ἃν καὶ ἀνελομένη ἐν Τύρῳ τῇ ἁγίᾳ νήσῳ ἀφιέρωσε.” “Τὴν δὲ Ἀστάρτην Φοίνικες τὴν Ἀφροδίτην εἶναι λέγουσι.” Plur. עַשְׁתָּרוֹת—(1) Astartes, i.e. statues of Astarte (comp. בְּעָלִים, אֲשֵׁרוֹת, Ἑρμαὶ), Jud. 2:13; 10:6; 1 Sa. 7:3, 4; 12:10; 31:10. (2) עַשְׁתְּרוֹת צאֹן Deu. 7:13; 28:4, 18, 51, the loves of the flocks, i.e. the offspring procreated, the increase, progeny of the flock; [in Thes. “breeding ewes.”] (3) pr.n. of a city of Bashan, Deu. 1:4; Josh. 13:12; more fully called עַשְׁתְּרוֹת קַרְנַיִם (“the horned Astartes”), [Ashtaroth-karnaim], Gen. 14:5, and בְּעֶשְׁתְּרָה which see, so called doubtless from a temple and statues of Astarte. Gent. noun עַשְׁתְּרָתִי 1 Ch. 11:44.

-- Gesenius, W., & Tregelles, S. P. (2003). Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (p. 661). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

עַשְׁתֹּ֫רֶת S6253 TWOT1718 GK6956 n.pr.deae. ʿAštōreth, < ʿAštart, ʿAštéreth (v. infr.) (MI17 עשתר כמש; Ph. עשתרת ( + often in n. pr.), n. pr. עבד עשתר Cook Jan. 18, 1896 Sab. n. pr. dei עתֿתר v. especially Os xx (1866), 279 f. DHM ib. xxxvii (1883), 376 Fell Götternamen, liv (1900), 231 ff., especially 237 ff.; Assyrian Ištar; Old Aramaic Palm. עתר ( = עתֿתר) in n. pr.; in Egyptian ʿastirati WMM 313; Gk. Ἀστάρτη; on other Gk. equivalents (e.g. Ἀφροδίτη) cf. Lewy 148, 186 f. 250);——ֶֹ prob. artificial, to suggest בֹּשֶׁת, orig. -תַּרְתְּ, -תֶּרֶת, cf. Ištar, Ασταρτη, etc.; ע׳ 1 K 11:5 + 2 times; pl. -תָּרוֹת Ju 2:13 + 3 times + -רֹת 1 S 7:4; 1 S 31:10 read prob. sg. (Dr al.);—ʿAštart, ʿAštereth (Ασταρτη, pl. Ασταρται, but Ju 10:6; 1 S 7:4 Ασταρωθ), ancient Sem. goddess (with male counterpart in Moab., Sab. and appar. Ph.); Phoenician diety, עשׁתרת אֱלֹהֵי צִדֹנִים 1 K 11:5, 33, ע׳ שִׁקֻּץ צ׳ 2 K 23:13; so prob. בֵּית ע׳ 1 S 31:10 (reading sg.; v. especially Dr); elsewhere pl., of various local goddesses, called עַשְׁתָּרוֹת (cf. Assyrian ilâni u ištarat = gods and Ištars (i.e. goddesses), usually + בעל(ים), as Canaanitish deities Ju 2:13; 10:6; 1 S 7:4; 12:10; || אֱלֹהֵי הַנֵּכָר 7:3.—Vid. especially Dr Ashtoreth in Hast; on Ištar Jastr especially 202 f.; on ʿAthtar Bae 117 f.; on Ph. ʿAštart Pietschm Phön. 184 f.; on ʿAshtoreth Barton x (1891), 73 ff. GFM -- Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (1977). Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (p. 800). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.