Yahweh and his consort in the religion of pre-exilic Israel
Source document: Religio. 1996, vol. 4, iss. 2, pp. -138
ISSN1210-3640 (print)2336-4475 (online)
License: Not specified license
This contribution discusses the problem if the god of the Hebrews was furnished with some female counterpart in the Israelite religious structures before the first fall of Jerusalem. In recent years, the epigraphical discoveries from Kuntillet 'Ajrûd and Khirbet el-Qom have significantly influenced the current views on the history of Israelite religion. Not only do they provide evidence for topographically distinct manifestations of Yahweh ("Yahweh of Teman", "Yahweh of Samaria"), but they also refer several times to Yahweh and "his 'Asherah". It is not the first time that extra-biblical texts refer to some goddess as consort of Yahweh. At the beginning of this century, the publication of Aramaic texts from Elephantine elicited considerable interest for similar motives. Some of the papyri mentioned 'Anat-Yahû. This name is most likely interpreted as a genitival construction, meaning "'Anat of Yahû". Both cases show the unequivocal evidence: that the Jews of Elephantine originated from North Palestine knew the goddess 'Anat, consort of Yahû, as well as the southern Hebrews associated Yahweh with 'Asherah. We suggest that this phenomenon represented an integral part of the pre-exilic structures of the Israelite religion and its impossible to transfer it into the area of "popular religion".