Version 1

13 January 2004

 

Asherah in Deuteronomy 33?

by David Steinberg

david@adath-shalom.ca 

Home page http://www.houseofdavid.ca/

 

Dukstra wrote[1]

The oldest (biblical) text in, which we meet the goddess Asherah is probably the ancient hymn I Deut. 33:2-3:

YHWH came from Sinai

and shone forth from his own Seir,

He showed himself from Mount Paran.

Yea, he came among the myriads of Qudhsu,

at his right hand his own Asherah,

Indeed, he who loves the clans

and all his holy ones on his left.

 

Accepting a minor correction to the text, it is possibly the only passage in which Asherah is mentioned as YHWH's spouse or companion under her own name, and under her title Qodesh/Qudshu.[2] In it, YHWH leads the myriads of Qodesh, which apparently may include gods and men, the heavenly and earthly family of El. This image closely resembles the mythical descriptions in the Ugaritic texts.

 

I would like to suggest a slightly different treatment of this text[3]

YHW msn b

zrH[4] cr lm

hwpc mhr prn

t mrbbt qd[5]

mymn rt lm

I would translate this as

YHWH came from Sinai

He shone forth from his own Seir,

He showed himself from Mount Paran.

 

Yea, he came out from among among the myriads of Qode (= Asherah),

at his right hand his own Asherah[6],

 

 

Nb. Each of the verse sections has 3 stressed syllables.



[1] Meinhardt Dukstra El, the God of Israel Israel the people of YHWH: On the Origins of Ancient Israelite Yahwism in Only One God?: Monotheism in Ancient Israel and the Veneration of the Goddess Asherah (Biblical Seminar ) by Bob Becking, Meindert Dijkstra, Marjo C. A. Korpel, Karel J. H. Vriezen, Sheffield Academic Press 2001

[2] Weinfeld, 'Kuntillet 'Agrud Inscriptions and their Significance', p. 124; Dijkstra, 'Yahweh, EI and their Asherah', pp. 68-69 van der Toorn, 'Yahweh', DDD', p. 918.

[3] I am accepting the Cross-Freedman view that the original contained no vowel letters. See p.97 in Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry by Frank Moore Cross, Jr. and David Noel Freedman, SBL Dissertation Series 21, Scholars press 1975.

[4] see note 4 p.105 in Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry by Frank Moore Cross, Jr. and David Noel Freedman, SBL Dissertation Series 21, Scholars press 1975.

[5] see note 7 p.105 in Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry by Frank Moore Cross, Jr. and David Noel Freedman, SBL Dissertation Series 21, Scholars press 1975.

[6] The discussion of these texts revealed that scholars differ about the interpretation (of the Kuntillet el-'Ajrud inscriptions), reading either 'Asherata' or 'his Asherah' and also about the question whether only the sacred pole is implied. The initial objection to the rendering 'his Asherah' that a possessive pronoun could not be attached to a proper name, is increasingly proved to be unfounded by a great deal of comparative material (Especially P. Xella, 'Le dieu et sa desse: I'utilisation des suffixes pronominaux avec des thonymes d'Ebla Ugarit et Kuntillet 'Ajrud', UF 27 (1995), pp. 599-610). Furthermore, this objection is no longer valid if one accepts that 'asherah', like Babylonian istaru might also mean a synonym or title for a goddess, in particular, the divine spouse. Meinhardt Dukstra El, the God of Israel Israel the people of YHWH: On the Origins of Ancient Israelite Yahwism in Only One God?: Monotheism in Ancient Israel and the Veneration of the Goddess Asherah (Biblical Seminar ) by Bob Becking, Meindert Dijkstra, Marjo C. A. Korpel, Karel J. H. Vriezen, Sheffield Academic Press 2001, p. 117

I am reading aerato lamo assuming: (a) an original r got corrupted to d (see Cross-Freedman ibid. p. 106) . This can easily happen in either the old Hebrew or the Aramaic script. (b) a construction similar, to the admittedly much later, Song of Songs 1:6 karmi elli.