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2 Kings 13:6 describes the "asherah", "stem", or "pole" still in Samaria, was this used in the Baal worship that Jehu was supposed to have wiped out as noted in 2 Kings 10:28,29 denoting that he had not completely cut the poles down or does this have reference to the false worship that Jeroboam instituted that continued to plague the Israelites? And if it refers to Baal worship, was the "pole" still remaining or was it erected after Jehu's death?

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The crux of the question about 2 King 13:6 and the Asherah pole that remained, really concerns 2 Kings 10:28 -

Thus Jehu eradicated Baal from Israel

The previous verse, V18-27 describe what Jehu actually did to eradicate Baal worship in Israel. His actions consisted of:

  • killed all the prophets of Baal (V18-25)
  • destroyed the sacred Ball pillar by burning it (V26
  • demolished the temple of Baal and turned it into a latrine.

Note what the story does NOT say:

  • there is no mention of destruction of the worship of Asherah
  • there is no mention of the destruction of the Asherah poles.

Thus, only "the head of the serpent" was killed - the priests of Baal and the main temple. Presumably, many of the Asherah poles were left standing, precisely as 2 Kings 13:6 records.

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  • Could the asherah "poles" have been involved in the worship that Jereboam instituted on the high places? Even though calf worship was primary, was it possible it also involved sex worship?
    – ACME
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 2:37
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    @ACME - that is highly probable (but we are not told) - all false worship involved some kind of sex worship.
    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 3:27
  • Thanks, I guess the adage applys, 'don't go beyond what is written.....'
    – ACME
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 3:09
  • We should be aware that it was not only the priests of Baal who were massacred by Jehu, but apparently hundreds of worshipers... an act that is hard to justify morally even if done in God's name. "Now therefore call to me all the prophets of Ba′al, all his worshipers and all his priests; let none be missing, for I have a great sacrifice to offer to Ba′al; whoever is missing shall not live.” But Jehu did it with cunning in order to destroy the worshipers of Ba′al. " Commented Dec 31, 2022 at 15:55
  • @DanFefferman - how do you know that? The record in 2 Kings 10 simply says that Jehu killed only priests and servants of Baal, many hundreds of such people. The word "worshipers" does not occur in the text.
    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 31, 2022 at 20:07
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The OT uses the term "ashera" and "asherim" in several different senses. It can sometimes refer to the Canaanite goddess Asherah, who was the consort of El and sometimes even of Yahweh. Deuteronomy 16:21: speaks of it as a sacred tree planted next to God's altar: “You shall not plant any tree as an Ashe′rah beside the altar of the Lord your God which you shall make." At other times it refers to a pillar which may or may not have been erected in honor of the goddess. The Jewish Encyclopedia explains:

This pole was often of considerable size (Judges vi. 25), since it could furnish fuel for the sacrifice of a bullock. It was found near the altars of Baal, and, down to the days of Josiah, near those of Yhwh also, not only at Samaria (II Kings xiii. 6) and Beth-el (II Kings xxiii. 15), but even at Jerusalem (II Kings xxiii. 6).

As @Dottard's answer indicates, Jehu reportedly eradicated Baal worship in Israel when he destroyed that deity's temple with the worshippers trapped inside. However, the asherim were another story. They continued to exist in both Israel and Judah until at least the time of King Josiah and probably beyond. Thus we are told:

Jehu wiped out Ba′al from Israel. But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jerobo′am the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and in Dan.

Although no Asherah pole is mentioned here, we learn in 2 Kings 23:15 that one existed at Bethel in the time of King Josiah. We may also presume that Jehu mainly concerned himself with the capital, namely Samaria, and not local worship at the high places or "under every green tree." (Deuteronomy 12:2, etc.)

Even in Judah, the asherim continued to exist: 2 Kings 18:4 tells us of Hezekiah:

He removed the high places, and broke the pillars, and cut down the Ashe′rah.

Conclusion: Although Jehu is described as wiping out Baal worship in Israel, his actions seem to have been focused on the capital city of Samaria where Baal's temple stood. Moreover even if he completely destroyed formal Baal worship throughout the nation, this does not preclude the existence asherim, either as a goddess or as a sacred pillar associated with the primitive worship of El and/or Yahweh.

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