By Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou
Updated: 01:11 BST, 6 Walk 2011
Gospel truth? Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou finishes up antiquated Israelites venerated a God what’s more, Goddess in the same temple
You might know him as Yahweh, Allah or, on the other hand God. Yet on this fact, Jews, Muslims what’s more, Christians, the individuals of the incredible Abrahamic religions, are agreed: there is as it were one of Him. He is a single figure, a single, all inclusive creator, not one God among many.
Or so we like to believe. After a long time of look into practicing in the history what’s more, religion of Israel, however, I have come to a brilliant what’s more, what could appear – to a few – awkward conclusion: that God had a wife.
Archaeological confirm counting inscriptions, dolls what’s more, antiquated writings as well as subtle elements in the Bible, show not just that he was one of a few revered in old Israel, yet that he was moreover coupled with a goddess. She was revered nearby him in his sanctuary in Jerusalem.
My intrigue in the Book of scriptures sprang from my interest with my Greek heritage. Indeed in spite of the fact that I was brought up in a mainstream family unit in London, religion was all over at home: storybooks retelling myths about the divine beings what’s more, goddesses of Mount Olympus sat nearby Greek Customary symbols of the Virgin Mary.
I sought after it at Oxford, where I spent a few a long time practicing in the social what’s more, social settings of the Bible. I found that Yahweh, the God we have come to know, had to see off a number of contenders to accomplish his position as the one what’s more, as it were god of the antiquated Israelites.
The scriptural writings name numerous of them: El, Baal, Molek, Asherah. In spite of Yahweh’s affirmation in the Ten Edicts that ‘You should have no other divine beings some time recently me’, it shows up these divine beings were venerated close by Him, what’s more, the Book of scriptures recognizes this.
Far more noteworthy is the Bible’s affirmation that the goddess Asherah was venerated in Yahweh’s sanctuary in Jerusalem. In the Book Of Kings, we’re told that a statue of Asherah was housed in the sanctuary what’s more, that female sanctuary staff wove custom materials for her.
In fact, despite the fact that the Book of scriptures censures all of these practices, the scriptural writings recommend that goddess venerate was a flourishing highlight of high-status religion in Jerusalem. What, then, was her relationship to Yahweh?
I endeavored to track down this divine couple in my new BBC2 narrative series, Bible’s Covered Secrets. Until the revelation in the early 20th Century of an antiquated Canaanite waterfront city called Ugarit in what is presently modern-day Syria, extremely little was known about the goddess Asherah.
But old texts, special necklaces what’s more, dolls uncovered here uncover that she was a effective fruitfulness goddess.
But maybe most critical of all, Asherah was moreover the spouse of El, the high god at UgaritÂ -Â a god who shares much in normal with Yahweh. Given the confirm inside the Book of scriptures that she was revered in the sanctuary in Jerusalem, might she have played the part of a divine spouse in antiquated Israel too?
Strikingly, Yahweh is frequently called ‘El’ in the Book of scriptures what’s more, he performs numerous of the same roles.
In spite of various references to Asherah adore in the Bible, there wasn’t enough confirm to connect her unequivocally with the high god of antiquated Israel, Yahweh. Until, that is, the revelation of a noteworthy clay engraving in the Sinai desert.Â
Evidence? Dr Stavrakopoulou with a reproduction of a scriptural engraving saying Asherah what’s more, Yahweh
The engraving was shot what’s more, recorded by archeologists what’s more, researchers of old Israelite religion, so we know what it looked likeÂ -Â what’s more, importantlyÂ -Â what it said.
Dating to about the 8th Century BC, it was found at a remote site called Kuntillet ‘Ajrud, what’s more, was composed on a huge piece of a broken pottery.
Its author was most likely a explorer or, on the other hand a merchant, moving between the towns of antiquated Israel. For any traveller, a travel was dangerous, so divine insurance was important.
The engraving is a request for a blessing. Crucially, the engraving inquires for a favoring from ‘Yahweh what’s more, his Asherah’. Here was confirm that displayed Yahweh what’s more, Asherah as a divine pair. What’s more, presently a modest bunch of comparative engravings have since been found, all of which offer assistance to reinforce the case that the God of the Book of scriptures once had a wife.
Finding the unique inscription, however, has demonstrated impossible. Found in the Sinai in the Seventies, the genuine thing has since been strangely ‘lost’. Not one or the other the BBC group of analysts nor my scholastic associates what’s more, contacts could find it.
The ancient pieces specialists of Israel what’s more, Egypt guarantee to have no information of its whereabouts. Was the engraving essentially a loss of the bureaucratic perplexity emerging from the outcome of the Six-Day War in 1967?
Or did somebody take the choice that such a possibly disrupting piece of confirm about the Jewish what’s more, Christian God was better hidden?
God’s relationship with Asherah was brought to an end with the rise of monotheism just a maybe a couple hundreds of years after our voyager engraved his ask for a favoring on an old piece of pottery.
Just as other divinities revered in antiquated Israel were consigned to move toward becoming angels, or, on the other hand rejected as ‘abhorrent’, so as well Asherah was done away with.
Consequently, two of the world’s greatest monotheistic religions, Judaism what’s more, Christianity, presently have at their heart a singular male deity.
I can’t offer assistance yet ponder what the world would be like had the goddess remained.
Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou is Senior Teacher in Hebrew Book of scriptures at the Division of Religious philosophy what’s more, Religion, College of Exeter.
The to begin with scene of Bible’s Covered Mysteries will be screened on BBC2 at 9pm on Walk 15.
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