Dr Baruch Halpern wrote this classic article sometime in
1992 (just before he left for Penn State). On the latter date, Tzimon Yliaster,
an Anarchist, transcribed the whole essay into text and placed it on his website.
He considered it a foundation document for his philosophy-religion of Chaos.
Our canonical documents, particularly the books of the Former
and the Latter Prophets, level an extensive polemic against Israelite devotion
Baal" (ba`al), or "
the baal" (hab-ba`al)
the baals" (hab-be`alim), among other gods imagined to be
subordinate or even alien to the state god, Yhwh -- the host of heaven, the
Asherah/Asherim, the Ashtoret/Ashtarot, the Queen of Heaven, to name a few.
Modern scholars, for the most part, have taken the Biblical testimony at its
word. They thus understand the cults of such gods as imports either from the
nations Israel had defeated in Canaan (as Judg 1:1- 3:5) or from
the nations "
around" Israel (as Spieckermann 1982:201-211):
astral worship (the host of heaven, the Queen of Heaven), for example, is sometimes
ascribed to Assyrian influence (see Stahelin 1843:85-86; Spieckermann
1982:215-225; Lemaire 1986:228; contrast Kaufmann
1956:3/2:389- 90); in origin, the gods were those of foreigners.
Yet this perspective, whatever its merits or defects, certainly cannot reflect the subjective experience of the Israelites who performed oblations to the "baals". Israel's public culture was given to fits of nativism: Jeroboam I's secession, for example, must have represented a reaction in part against the centralization of the state cult in Jerusalem under Solomon; Jeroboam thus consciously built his state shrines, at Dan and Bethel, not in the back yard of his palace at Tirzah, but distant from it. The notion of a separation of the cult from the kingship under Jeroboam and his successors reflects a popular concern about the usurpation of the national cult by the state. Interestingly, another nativist movement, that of Jehu ben-Nimshi, reacted against ostensibly foreign cults at a time when another temple had been erected in the Israelite capital: presumably, Ahab had adopted the Solomonic course. Even the programme implemented by Josiah to eradicate worship of the host of heaven and the baals clothed itself in the rhetoric of nativism -- Josiah's history of Israel, the Deuteronomistic History, identifies the high places and the baals as remnants of the Canaanites whom Joshua had conquered (Halpern 1988:220-228).
Such an appeal to "authentic" Israelite praxis in the past betrays a concern for identity: what is "authentic" is good, what is "foreign" is bad. To say, under the circumstances, that Israelite worshippers of "the baals" experienced those gods as foreign is to mistake the polemic against the baals for portrayal rather than caricature. It is at the same time to misunderstand how the polemic works: the baals are inappropriate objects of devotion -- despite what their worshippers think -- because they are foreign. But if the worshippers already understood the baals to be foreign, this polemic can have had no persuasive effect. It is only by tracing the baals to foreign sources -- to the Amorites and to Jezebel -- in the remote, and forgotten, past that the polemicist can hope to show quondam adherents of the baals that they have been misguided. In other words, the votary of the baals and other gods must have understood those gods to be ancestral, those of his father, "authentic" Israelite deities.
This is indeed the understanding expressed in the only Biblical text in which the alleged apostates actually speak up for themselves. Jeremiah 44, an exilic text, preserves at least a reasonable version of their defense. It does so in the interest of attacking that defense, but the apostates' logic seems unimpeachable. Probably, the record of the episode survived only because it established a plausible rationale for why the Restoration community should come from Mesopotamia -- it denied the possibility of a return from exile in Egypt.
In Egypt, Jeremiah announces that Yhwh had exiled Judah
because of its worship of "
other gods whom they didn't know -- they, you
and your fathers" (44:3, the last phrase of which has accrued
from Deut 13:3,7 and parallels in Deuteronomy: see
Dion 1991:151, 182 #38). Continuation of these practices in Egypt
precludes a restoration to Judah from the Judaean settlements there (44:7-14).
Astonishingly, at this point the objects of Jeremiah's harangue are quoted --
There answered Jeremiah all the men who knew that their wives were burning incense to other gods, and all the women who were standing in (ha-`omedot, G om.) a large congregation, and all the people who dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Patros, saying:
"As to the word which you have spoken to us in the name of Yhwh, we will not listen to you. For we will do everything that came forth from our (G: your) mouth, burning incense to the Queen of the Heavens, and pouring libations to her, just as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our officials, in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, and we were sated with bread, and we were good, and evil we did not see. It was when we desisted from burning incense to the Queen of the Heavens, and from pouring out libations to her (G om.), that we lacked everything, and perished by the sword and by famine."
Jeremiah disputes this perfectly sensible interpretation of the Josianic reform and its aftermath -- insisting that it was the cultic activity of the Judaean fugitives and their ancestors, their kings and their officials, that had led Yhwh to devastate Judah. He prophesies the decimation of the Judaeans in Egypt, ostensibly by the Babylonians (44:20-30).
The critical aspect of this account is Jeremiah's admission
(v 21) that the cult of "other gods" was indeed the ancestral and
state practice that the Judaeans represent it as having been. Villagers are
notoriously conservative, the more so in the realm of religion -- and one of
Mohammed's regular complaints was that the villagers preferred "
the way of our ancestors" rather than listen to his revelations from the
heavens (Quran Sura 2.165; 43.20-23). The state, too (before Josiah),
conducted such a cult -- kings and officials (44:17,21), a phrase
that does not stipulate Manasseh, or even Manasseh and Amon, as the only guilty
parties. It is thus no coincidence that the Deuteronomistic History, and in
particular Kings (1 Kgs 11:1-10; Judg 1:1-3:5), is
careful to trace the introduction of such practices well beyond the bounds of
living memory, and even beyond those of normal family tradition. For the Judahites
of the late 7th and early 6th century, worship of these "other gods", including
the Queen of Heaven, was indeed traditional practice, part of the folk- and
traditional state religion of Judah.
Given these circumstances, the worship of the baals, principally attacked in the Josianic and post-Josianic era in such texts as Jeremiah (as 8:2; 19:13), Zephaniah (1:5) and the Deuteronomistic History (Deut 4:19; 17:3), was probably equally traditional. In the same period, the worship of the Host of Heaven came under attack, probably for the first time (Halpern and Vanderhooft 1992): the first negative reference to the Host in Kings comes at 2 Kgs 17:16 in connection with Israel, and in 2 Kgs 21:3,5 in connection with Judah (Lemaire 1986:228). It is only in literature concentrated after the reign of Hezekiah, thus, that the Host seem to come under attack.
The coincidence of polemic against the baals in the 7th-century
prophets and the Deuteronomistic History with polemic against the Host in the
same prophets and the same history raises the question whether the two were
substantially related. It has been the tendency among biblicists to assume that
the term, Baal (ba`al), referred to Haddu, the figure addressed as
Baal in the Ugaritic mythological, liturgical and ritual texts (as Smith
1990:41- 64), to Melqart, or to Baal Shamem (B. Mazar 1986:79-81;
Eissfeldt 1962:1-12). The confrontation between Yhwh and the baal
-- certainly an individual god held in opposition to Yhwh in 1 Kings 18:21,25-27
(but baals in 18:18, where the Lucianic recension corrects back
to the singular) -- in the Elijah-Elisha cycle has conditioned this assumption.
The phraseology "
If the baal is the god, go after him" (18:21),
for he is a god" (18:27) leaves no doubt that a single
deity is under scrutiny (so, too, Judg 6:31). Yet the seventh-century
polemicists regularly refer to baals, not just to a single Baal, and this is
even true of Hosea, the lone literary prophet to complain about devotion to
the baals in the 8th century. It is thus possible that the polemic against the
baals in the seventh century is connected with the new assault on the cult of
the Host. Indeed, it may be that the baals are partly identical with the Host
of Heaven, who are represented, of course, by the stars.
For assessing the identity of the baals in 8th-7th century literature, it is important first to understand the morphosyntactical properties of the word, ba`al, itself. When ba`al in HB refers to immortals, it is without exception a determined noun. Where it occurs in the absolute state without a proclitic, it is always preceded by the definite article. Massoretic pointing carries this pattern through by vocalizing all cases where baal appears with a proclitic as determined. This pattern also characterizes occurrences in the plural. One might propose repointing in one or another case, but the ubiquity of the definite article where the orthography leaves it susceptible to observation contraindicates such a hypothesis.
The same pattern holds, as well, for the term, 'asera,
Asherah", when this denotes a goddess, an object of devotion (singular
in 1 Kgs 15:13//2 Chr 15:16 [Asa's mother made a mipleset for the
asherah]; 1 Kgs 18:19 [OG renders plural, then adds a singular
in 18:22 -- prophets of the asherah]; 2 Kgs 21:7 [the
graven image of the asherah]; 23:4 [the implements dedicated to
the baal, and to the asherah, and to all the host of the heavens], 7
[where women wove 'houses' for the asherah]; plural only in Judg 3:7,
'aserot [they did service to the baals and the asherahs]). It does
not hold, however, where the asherah is, or the asherim/ot are, objects
dedicated to a goddess -- and thus the object of a verb such as "build", "cut
down" or "remove", or classified together with "stelae", "high places" or the
like. Not altogether dissimilar is usage in connection with the term 'elohim:
used with plural reference, as a common noun, it does not require a determinative;
used with singular reference, it can serve as an effective substitute for a
proper noun, a "divine name," in effect, but can also take the definite article,
at which point it becomes a title, a common noun (similarly, 'el).
In the case of the term, `astarot, "
a more interesting pattern arises. In three passages referring to the high places
built by Solomon on the Mount of Olives, the singular, Ashtoret, appears without
a definite article:
Solomon went after Ashtoret, the god of Tyrians, and after Milcom, the abomination of Ammonites....Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Ammon, on the mountain which is opposite Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed (D) to their gods.
(1 Kgs 11:5-8, MT).
Here, the Old Greek, which may have suffered a haplography
David, his father" to "
David, his father") and some revision,
preserves the reading "Milcom" for the Ammonite abomination, and the idea that
the high place was dedicated to Ashtoret as well as to Chemosh and Milcom.
A second passage in 1 Kgs 11:33 refers to the first. Yhwh announces the division of the kingdom,
Because they abandoned me and prostrated themselves to Ashtoret, the god of Sidonians, to Chemosh, the god of Moab, and to Milcom, the god of the children of Ammon...
Finally, 2 Kgs 23:13 reports Josiah's demolition of the Solomonic high places, which, along with dedications to the Host and altars to the Host in Jerusalem, had survived Hezekiah's reform:
And the high places [G: singular, as in 1 Kgs 11:7] which are opposite Jerusalem, which are south of the Mount of the Vanguard (?), which Solomon, king of Israel, built for Ashtoret, the abomination of Sidonians, and for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom, the vexation of the children of Ammon, the king defiled.
In these passages, Ashtoret is a specific goddess (i.e.,
Astarte) particularly venerated in Sidon (c.f., e.g., KAI
13-14, where "
priest[ess] of Astarte" is the sinecure of kings
and queen-mothers). She is mentioned by name along with other national gods.
None of the divine names in any of the passages, therefore, is marked with a
definite article: the proper noun is definite in and of itself.
Contrast, however, the occurrences of the plural, ashtorets
(`astarot), where goddesses are the reference: Judg 2:13:
they did service to the baal [singular] and to the ashtorets". Judg
they did service to the baals and the astorets." 1
Sam 7:3-4: "
Put away the foreign gods from your midst and the ashtorets....The
children of Israel put away the baals and the ashtorets." 1 Sam 12:10:
We have abandoned Yhwh and we have done service to the baals and the ashtorets."
Each occurrence in which one specific goddess is not in point takes the definite
article. Notably, the Biblical place name formed from this term is itself
in the plural: Ashtarot, and it is useful to compare to this the names Anathoth
and Baaloth (as Josh 15:24; 1 Kgs 4:16).
The alternation between a determined plural and a non-determined
singular status in the case of Ashtoret hinges on the semantic shift that occurs
as once switches numbers. In the singular, in the texts adduced above, Ashtoret
functions as a name. In the plural, however, it is not a name, but a common
noun denoting a group of individual goddesses. It is immaterial here whether
the various ashtorets to which the texts allude are all manifestations of a
single deity (so, e.g. Smith 1990:48), though the usage
would in that case be a trifle awkward: why would the authors of Judges and
Samuel not say, "
They did service to Ashtoret" if they recognized the
identity of these gods? There is no evidence that Biblical usage distinguished
the different local manifestations of a single god -- rather, the tendency is
the reverse, with El Elohe Israel identified with El Elyon and the like, all
of them identified -- already in JE -- with Yhwh. In either case, however, the
plural form functions solely as a common noun, which requires the definite article.
In the case of the term, asherah, the existence of a cult
object of the same name somewhat obscures the situation. "
Do not plant an
asherah," warns Deuteronomy 16:21, "
any tree near the altar
of Yhwh your god." Where the cult object is concerned, no definite article
is required. However, wherever a goddess may be called an asherah, the definite
article consistently appears. The implication is that, singular or plural, the
Hebrew term, asherah, is not a proper noun, not a name, but, like ashtorets
in the plural, a common noun, denoting a female divinity.
Indeed, except for Judg 3:7, the term asherah does not occur in the plural with reference to a goddess. This occurrence, at the start of the Othniel story, is sometimes divorced from the (Josianic -- i.e., H[Dtr]) stratum in Judges (Budde 1890:93; Noth 1943:50-51; Richter 1963; 1964:23-26), and the variation in usage -- against ashtorets in Judg 2:13; 10:16 -- may be taken to confirm that view (but Halpern 1988:142 n. 21). In either case, the standard term in Biblical (Deuteronomistic) usage for "goddess" in the plural is ashtorets, which is not a common noun in the singular (in the singular, we should also expect 'ela, which occurs in the onomasticon, but not in the lexicon, despite 'lt on the Lachish ewer, as a reference to a goddess).
The implications for the term, baal, are stark. As designations
of divine beings, baal, singular or plural, asherah in the singular, and ashtorets
(plural) in HB usage are not proper nouns, but rather titles, like "king," that
attach to particular figures. The definite article, or a genitive following
baal in construct, indicates which particular god of this class is in point.
That is why the term Baal Berith (Judg 8:33; 9:4) can freely take
the alloform, El Berith (Judg 9:46): the "
lord of the covenant"
or the "
god of the covenant" is equally nameless, but equally accurately
described. By the same token, Phoenician adulation was directed toward no fewer
than five "baals" -- such as Baal Hammon (as KAI 24:16),
Baal Lebanon (KAI 31:1-2), Baal Zaphon (KAI
50:2-3; 69:1), and, on the other hand, Baal Addir (KAI
9.B:5, distinct from Baal Hammon in KAI 162:1),
Baal Semed (KAI 24:15, distinct from Baal Hammon),
and Baal Shamem (distinct from Baal Hammon and Baal mgnm in KAI
78:2-4). Toponyms, such as Baal Hermon and Baal Rosh may also indicate
the existence of local "baals" (see Peckham 1987:80); if so, the number of such
local cults would be astronomical. Yet the identity of these gods with one another,
let alone with actual divine proper names, is difficult to establish with anything
It is worth observing that in connection with "baal", the pull of the plural is such that, formally, there is no 3 m. s. possessive suffix on the singular noun (ba`lo); the 3 m.s. possessive suffix, even in reference to a singular baal, is appended to the plural stem (be`alayw -- Ex 21:29 bis, 34, 36; 22:10, 11, 13, 14; Isa 1:3; Prov 1:19; 3:27; 16:22; 17:8; Eccl 8:8). This is not the case with comparable nouns, notably ma`al, of the pattern bilabial-`ayin-lamed, or comparable medial `ayin formations: ba`ad, za`am, ka`as, ma`an, na`al, na`ar, sa`ad, se`ar, so`al all occur in HB with a 3 m.s. suffix on a singular nominal base. In other words, substantive, rather than phonological, patterning has determined the suffix paradigm for ba`al.
"The baal", Hebrew hab-ba`al, does not refer to
a single god, Baal, by name, but is a title, specifically, "master, lord." It
is sometimes applied to Yhwh, the high god (as in Isa 1:3; and
in the onomasticon in the case of Saul's sons Ishbaal and Meribbaal or the judge
Jerubbaal -- see Cross 1973:263-264). This is plain in the case
of the name b`lyh, one of David's heroes in 1 Chr 12:6:
the name should be construed, "
Yhwh is my baal," or, with the MT, "
acts as master/baal". Hosea, moreover, claims that Yhwh instructs Israel,
Call me no more 'My baal'" (2:18), implying that such had indeed been
the practice. As a term for "husband", this expression, applied to Yhwh, fathered
Hosea's imagery portraying Israel's alleged apostasy as marital infidelity.
Hosea's Yhwh, thus, counsels the use of the term 'is, "man," in its
place. To this text, we will recur.
Isaiah's clever couplet, "
An ox knows its owner, and
(even) a donkey it's master's trough, but Israel do not know, my people do not
understand" (1:3) identifies Yhwh as the owner and master of
Israel. For the owner, the term is qoneh, "
owner, purchaser, creator,"
a not too oblique reference to the epithet, qoneh samayim wa-'ares,
creator of heaven and earth" (Gen 14:19),witnessed both
in the second-millennium myth of Elqunirsa and in the godhead 'l qn 'rs,
"El, creator of the earth,"" at Karatepe (KAI
26 A III 18), as well as in the epigraph, qn 'rs from 8th-7th
c. Jerusalem (Avigad 1983:41; c.f. KAI
129:1). For the master, Isaiah's term is ba`al, another Yahwistic
epithet. If we also equate Israel, "my people", with its animal counterparts
here, the first, "bull/ox", is an El epithet at Ugarit, but the resonance in
the Israelite context is with the name Israel or its synonym, Jeshurun (sor:
yesurun/yisra'el; c.f. Hos 8:6, construed by Wyatt
[1990:46] as my swr 'l -- "
who is the bull of El"; though
MT is comprehensible, the pun on the fathering of the "calf" may remain). The
donkey is harder to connect to tradition, except to Hamor in Genesis 34. However,
use of the term, "
trough" ('bws), here is surely related to
the root, bws, "
trampling" -- Israel should recognize that its
trampling is Yhwh's doing, the point of the passage as a whole -- a root deployed
in Isaiah 14:19, 25; 18:2, 7; 22:5, in 31.25% of its occurrences.
A layering of paronomasia is in point, and at its center is the use of the epithet,
baal, to denote Yhwh.
Not coincidentally, a fragmentary plaster inscription at
Kuntillet `Ajrud, where Yhwh (and his asherah -- below) was the primary object
of veneration, runs, "
When El shines forth [from Teman?] ... the mountains
are melted ... To bless Baal in the day of batt[le] [...] For the name of El
in the day of [his] batt[le]" -- probably, El is the baal in this text,
both being identical with Yhwh. Not coincidentally, the expression brk b`l
(Baal bless) occurs at Kuntillet `Ajrud (Meshel 1978), again, given
the distribution of divine names at the site, probably of Yhwh, and if not,
certainly of a subordinate.
In light of this data, Baal-theophorics in HB and in Hebrew seals are more probably to be connected with Yhwh, as "the baal", than with some alien god. The onomasticon is otherwise virtually without reference to other gods (Tigay 1986). Most of the identifiable references to other gods include Egyptian names (Horus, Bes), quite possibly in historical, rather than devotional, use, especially among priestly families (Pashhur, etc.). The Tyrian baal of Jezebel is the one major exception, where "the baal" refers to a determinate god other than Yhwh with a distinctive identity (but also Judg 6:31); and, the name Adoram/Hadoram, of Rehoboam's tax collector, includes the divine name, Haddu (the name of Samson has the sun god as its theophoric; cf. Beth Shemesh, in the vicinity of his activity). Several names with baal- theophorics occur in the Samaria ostraca -- b`l', 'bb`l, mrb`l, b`lzmr, b`lm`ny (a geographical point of origin), b`lzkr (see 39:3, not b`l`zkr as 37:3) (Reisner 1924). Notably, all other texts concerning foreign gods, especially of neighboring kingdoms, either name those gods explicitly (1 Kgs 11:1-3, e.g., with the names of the gods of the Transjordanian Hebrews; 2 Kgs 1:2,3,6,16 with Baal Zebub as the chief god of Eqron) or call them "other gods". A collection of names in Jerusalem at the start of the 6th c. contains no names with baal-theophorics; but this is in the aftermath of the era of reform, when the epithet was in patent disrepute (Avigad 1986). The only late name with a baal-theophoric occurs in an ostracon at Mesad Hashavyahu (b`l, Naveh 1962), and in light of the probable connection of the site with corveé may not represent a Judahite (see also Na'aman 1987:7, 12-14).
In sum, until the seventh century, at least, Yhwh was probably "the baal" par excellence in the Israelite pantheon of baals (as Hos 2:18; c.f. Jer 31:32): there is a parallel here to the usage, El Shadday, for Yhwh in P's protohistory, as a class of subordinate deities known as the sedim (Shaddayim) is known from the Deir Alla plasters and from Deut 32:17; Ps 106:37 -- Yhwh is again the archetype after whom the pantheon is denominated (and the Shaddayim are doubtless either the host/baals or the chthonic pantheon; cf. also KAI 15; 16, where sd qds is an epithet of Eshmun; the divine name Shad-rapa', parallel to Biblical El-Rapa', at Sarepta -- Pritchard 1978:100-102).
An illuminating related phenomenon is the use of the 3 m.s.
possessive suffix on the term, asherah (so, 'srth), as at Kuntillet
`Ajrud (Meshel 1978) and Khirbet el-Qom (esp. Lemaire 1977).
Asherah here cannot be a proper noun -- proper nouns in Hebrew do not take possessive
suffixes. Yet it surely denominates a goddess rather than a sanctuary or cult
object (the Biblical asherah that is erected, planted or cut down): S.
M. Olyan (1988a:23-33) plausibly relates the inscription, lyhwh smrn
wl'srth at Kuntillet `Ajrud to the asherah-icon Ahab is said to have "made"
(1 Kgs 16:33; 2 Kgs 13:6), taking the epigraph as a dedication
to Yhwh of Samaria and to Samaria's asherah-icon. Still, the same reading does
not apply convincingly to the parallel Kuntillet `Ajrud dedication, lyhwh
tmn wl'srth -- Teman is the south generally, not a specific site with a
specific asherah-icon (Weinfeld 1977:284 compares Hab 3:3).
Moreover, the correct reading of the Khirbet el-Qom epigraph, "
Uriahu) to Yhwh and [...] to his asherah" leaves no doubt as to the
referent of the 3 m.s. possessive suffix on the term, asherah: it is neither
Samaria nor Teman, nor yet Uriah, but Yhwh. In this case there is absolutely
no indication which particular asherah-icon is the source of blessing -- is
it the one (better, one of the ones) in Samaria? the one in the Jerusalem temple?
the one in the Arad temple? the one at Bethel, or Dan, or Gilgal? Is it a hypostatized
version of the icon, an idealized icon? Yet what is the icon except a representation
(whether figurative or not) of the goddess, and thus what is the goddess herself
but the idealization of the icon (see McCarter 1987:149)?
In other words, Yhwh's asherah is indeed the goddess. Recent
finds of direct dedications to Asherah ("
sacred to [the?] Asherah", "
[the?] Asherah") in a 7th-century stratum (IB) at Tel Miqneh should put
paid to the idea that asherah cannot function as a noun for or name for a goddess.
Here, she is no one's asherah but her own, and it is all but inconceivable that
one should have agricultural goods "dedicated to the pole": such a notion regresses
to the level of taking literally prophetic polemic against idolatry -- assuming
that the worshippers being accused of it could not distinguish at all between
the sublime deity and the concrete representation standing in front of them.
Indeed, in Biblical usage, "
sacred to ..." can be completed only with
the name of Yhwh, with the word "priest" or with a term denoting Israelites.
"Asherah" in the Miqneh inscriptions therefore almost certainly functions as
a name for or soubriquet of a goddess.
Recognizing that the asherah in the inscriptions is the goddess (see also Dever 1984), D. N. Freedman (1987) proposes that the suffix implies the asherah is Asherah of Yhwh, much as Athiratu Yammi in Ugaritic can so be denominated (or is this an objective, rather than genitive, relationship -- the Lady who treads the sea?). Ashtar Kemosh, the recipient of sacrificed captives, is the parallel in the Mesha inscription (KAI 181:17), the gods Atargatis (Astarte-Anat) and Anatyahu (Porten and Yardeni 1989: B7.3:3) other examples of compounds. On this logic, the goddess is Asherat Yhwh. Against Freedman's construction, however, there is no other case where a suffix is used as a substitute for the second component of a compounded theonym.
A preferable alternative, in the light of HB usage, where
asherah, as a term for a god, like baal, is always determined, is to conclude
that asherah denotes a class of deities (the Asherot or Ashtarot of HB), and
that the suffix here stipulates precisely which member of the goddess-class,
asherah, is meant. The text is a dedication to Yhwh of Samaria and his asherah,
as opposed to any of the other asherahs/ashtorets, that is, goddesses. The usage
of Akk istar, istarate is parallel: the term does not denote
only Ishtar, nor yet, when plural, the various cultic manifestations of Ishtar
(as Ishtar of Nineveh and Ishtar of Arbela), but goddesses generally, just as
ilu, ilani denotes gods generally (including ancestral spirits).
Thus, in one text from the time of Esarhaddon, two distinct figures, Ninlil
and Ishtar, together announce, aninu distaratu, "
Given the fact that in Biblical usage, asherah in the singular is not the name of a goddess, but a common noun sometimes denoting a goddess, it is understandable that a possessive suffix might be employed -- in place of a definite article -- to indicate precisely which goddess is being mentioned. For the same reason, the definite article is attached to the term, baal, to stipulate which of the baals is under discussion. And Yhwh, for example, is distinguished with a possessive suffix when he appears as "my baal" in Hos 2:18: Yhwh, here, is the baal who presides over the other baals. Yet there is another dynamic at work as well in connection with the noun, baal, and probably with asherah as a term for goddess.
In 8th-century and later literature, hab-ba`al,
"the baal", appears alongside the plural, "the baals", "the gods of the class,
baals". Hosea abjures the use of the term, "my baal" as an epithet of Yhwh,
and speaks of dedications made to "the baal" (2:10) in the
same breath as promising to wipe the name of the baals, plural, from Israel's
tongue (2:15,19; 11:2). His complaint about "
the days of the
baals" seems to be that devotion to them eclipsed the loyalty due Yhwh (2:15)
Later, Jeremiah speaks of the baals in the plural: in 2:23,
he asks, "
How can you say 'I am not profaned, I have not gone after the baals?'
Look at your way in the Valley," just after denouncing prophets who prophesy
by the baal" (2:8, singular), then accusing his people
of abandoning him, the (singular) "
source of living waters to cut themselves
cisterns [plural], broken cisterns that don't hold the water" (2:13).
The cisterns and the baals are identical, and plural, yet the prophets prophesy
by the formally singular baal. 2:23 is of special interest in that
the prophet presupposes his audience would deny its allegiance to "the baals":
the suggestion is that the term, baals, has an expanded semantic range in Jeremiah's
rhetoric, including (ancestral?) elements that earlier would not have been covered
by the same word.
Tying this polemic to the iconographic tradition in the
cult, Jeremiah refers to those -- including people, kings, officials, priests
and prophets -- "
who say to a tree, 'You are my father,' and to a stone,
'You gave birth to me'" (2:27), where one might take the reference
to be to a single pair of icons. Yet in the very next line, Jeremiah complains,
Where are your gods, which you made for yourself; let them rise up, they
will not save you in your time of evil, for as numerous as your towns were your
gods, Judah" (2:28: G adds:
and as many as were the streets
of Jerusalem they sacrificed to the baal). The multiple gods are identical
to the cisterns and the baals in Jeremiah's rhetoric. Yet the references to
the baal, and to the tree and stone, in the singular, accompany those in the
In 7:9, in the context of a litany of wrongdoing
reminiscent of Hos 4:2, Jeremiah introduces this interesting juxtaposition:
the cultic offenses are two, "
burning incense to the baal, and going after
other gods whom you do not know." Again, the ritual act is oriented to the
(singular) baal, the general accusation of apostasy is connected with gods,
Some insight into the specific valences of this sort of
rhetoric is to be had from Jer 7:18. Here, Yhwh accuses the children
of gathering the firewood, the fathers of kindling the fire and the women of
preparing the dough to make "cookies" (kawwanim) for the Queen of the
Heavens, and "
to pour out libations to other gods." Is it possible that
the ritual discussed in Jeremiah 44 is generalized here, and that
the accusation of cultic activity for other gods is triggered by devotion to
one particular "other" deity? More likely, the cult of the Queen of Heaven involved
invoking her (and Yhwh's) retinue -- the Host of Heaven. As Jer 9:13
They went ... after the baals, whom their fathers had taught them."
The plural other gods, as in 7:18; 2:28, and chap. 44,
are admittedly traditional deities (so, too, 11:10; 16:11,13; contrast
Even more important is Jeremiah's reiteration of the multiplicity
of Judah's gods: he correlates this to the multiplicity of its "
burn incense to 'the baal'" (11:12-13). Clearly, the "
to whom they burn incense" are the gods for whom they built "
burn incense to 'the baal'": again, the ritual act is oriented toward the
(singular) baal; again, a multitude of actual gods is at issue. The same relation
-- of a ritual act -- to a formally singular baal obtains in Jer 11:17
(sacrifice); 12:16 (invocation in oaths, cf. Hos 2:19);
19:5 (building altars, burning sons); 23:13 (prophesying
by the baal), 27 (speaking in the name of the baal); 32:29
(sacrificing), 35 (building high places and sacrificing children).
Yet Jeremiah plainly equates these activities with sacrifice and building high
places for, prophesying in the name of and invoking "other gods" or "non-gods"
(2:11, devotion to non-gods; 5:7, oaths invoking non-gods;
7:9, incense burning for the baal // going after other gods; cf.
11:10; 13:10; 25:6; 35:15, going after other gods; 16:11,
13 bowing to and serving other gods; 1:16; 19:4; 44:3,5,8,15,
burning incense for other gods; 7:18; 19:13; 32:29, pouring out
libations for other gods).
Particularly, Jeremiah identifies child sacrifice as a rite
directed toward "the baal". In 7:32-8:3 he predicts that "
will no longer be called, 'the Tophet' and 'the Valley of ben-Hinnom', but the
Valley of Killing...." When punishment is visited upon Jerusalem, "
will bring out the bones of the kings of Judah and the bones of its officials
and the bones of the priests and the bones of the prophets and the bones of
the inhabitants of Jerusalem from their graves. And they will slaughter them
to the sun and to the moon and to all the Host of the Heavens whom they loved
and whom they served and whom they went after and whom they sought and whom
they bowed down to..." The beneficiaries of the human sacrifice, from Jeremiah's
perspective, were "
the sun and the moon and all the host of heaven".
The contrast is to Jer 19:5,11-13. Here, the
prophet declaims, on site, the accusation that in the Valley of ben-Hinnom,
the Judahites burned incense to other gods, whom their fathers did not know
(19:4, cited above). They "
built the high places of the baal
to burn their children in fire as burnt offerings to the baal, which I did not
command and did not speak and which never entered my mind" (19:5).
In his peroration, Jeremiah observes that Yhwh will shatter the people like
an unmendable pot, "
making this city like the Tophet. And the houses of Jerusalem
and the houses of the kings of Judah will be like the profaned Tophet, all the
houses where they burned incense on their roofs to all the Host of the Heavens
and poured out libations to other gods" (19:11-13).
Against this background, the parallel text (32:29)
which speaks of "
the houses on the roofs of which they burned incense to
the baal and poured out libations to other gods" is decisive, prose or not.
The rituals of the Valley (c.f. 2:23, cited above) are dedicated
to the baal, to the Host, to other gods. Micah (6:6-7) portrays
child sacrifice as the highest order of devotion to Yhwh, as does Genesis
22 (where adventitious substitution is legitimated, but where the intention
to sacrifice the child is indispensable). Isaiah (30:33) speaks
of Yhwh himself preparing a Tophet beside Jerusalem in which to slaughter the
Assyrians. Yet Jeremiah identifies the Tophet, in a variety of passages, with
the Host (including Sun and Moon), with other gods (plural), and with the baal
(singular). He explicitly denies that the rite is oriented toward Yhwh (19:5):
evidently, the worshippers claimed that it was, and denied, despite their activities
in the Valley (i.e., the Tophet), that they followed the baals (plural,
2:23), as distinct from Yhwh. Jeremiah employs the term, baal,
to denote a class of deities, the baals, which includes the Host of Heaven,
and which, though subordinate to Yhwh in the traditional theology, are the beneficiaries
of child sacrifice (compare Ashtar Kemosh in the Mesha stela; and c.f.
Deut 4:19 where the astral cult is proscribed in identical language):
in Jeremiah's mind, the "host" and "the baal" are identical. "The baal" is a
Another constellation of texts buttresses this inference.
Jer 3:17 enunciates a standing motif of the book of Jeremiah, and
more particularly of chapters 1-25: the Israelites "
after the srrwt (imagining?) of his own heart". This clause occurs
again in 7:24, following an accusation of service to the Queen
of the Heavens (7:18). It is succeeded by a judgment predicated
on the accusation that the Israelites introduced abominations into the temple,
and built the high places of the Tophet in the Valley of ben- Hinnom to
burn their sons and daughters in the fire, which I never commanded, and which
never entered my mind" (Jer 7:30-8:3). The same passage, as
noted above, links the Tophet to the Host of Heaven.
The locution, "
went after the imagining of their hearts,"
recurs in 9:13. Here, it is explicitly linked to worship of the
baals. In 11:8, the same expression, in a generalized accusation
of covenant violation, is immediately followed by the specific indictment of
Israel for "
going after other gods to serve them" (11:10).
The same referent for the phrase appears in 13:10 and in 16:11-13.
In 18:12; 23:17, where the phrase recurs, there is no further explanation
of its meaning. Yet the valence, by now, is clear. Going after the imaginings
of one's heart means abandoning Yhwh: what one abandons him for are other gods,
baals, the Queen of Heaven and the Host. Jeremiah's equation of these terms
may be a moral one, but the terms "baals", and "other gods" seem to include
the Host, just as service to "the baal" seems to imply going after other gods,
the baals, and the Host. Jeremiah's poetry accounts for 8 of 10 occurrences
of "imaginings" in HB. Of the other two, Deut 29:18 (cf.
Jer 23:17) refers to "going after the gods of those nations" to
which the Israelites had been exposed (v 17). Ps 81:13
(cf. Jer 7:24) speaks of more general apostasy, but is probably
"The baal," in sum, seems to be a collective plural. That
this is the case, and that the noun in the singular can embrace a variety of
gods, is reflected grammatically in several texts. 2 Kgs 23:5 speaks
of those "
who burn incense lab-ba`al (to the baal), to the sun and
to the moon and to the constellations and to all the host of heaven." Here,
hab-ba`al is set into apposition with the succeeding objects of worship:
the absence of the conjunction before the first element of the astral list is
not inadvertent, anymore than its presence before each element succeeding the
first in that list is inadvertent. This text, like Jeremiah, identifies the
baal with the Host. Moreover, the baal is a collective noun: to burn incense
to the baal is to adore the sun, the moon, the constellations and all the host.
In the same period, and in the same setting, Zephaniah includes
priests and worshippers of the host of heaven among the "
remainder of hab-ba`al."
This expression implies a collective plural (1:4-5) -- elsewhere
"remainder" (s'r) always implies plurality within an overarching unity
-- the remainder of Israel, or a people (Isa 10:20-22; 11:11,16; 17:3;
28:5), of the trees of the forest (Isa 10:19), of the silver (2
Chr 24:14), and the like. On rare occasion, it refers to descendants
(Isa 14:22), or, rather, to a surviving part of a lineage able
to generate descendants, but for the most part this semantic function is fulfilled
by the alloform, "remnant" (s'ryt, as Gen 45:7; 2 Kgs 21:14;
Am 1:8; Mic 2:12 > Jer 23:3; Jer 11:23; 39:3; 44:7; 40:15; 50:26).
One cannot thus take the passage to refer to some relict of the baal, such as
his (their) iconography: it is the survival of the baal(s), or of their memory,
or the survival of some of the baals, in contradistinction to others, that is
In light of the usage, one might choose to argue that the
remainder of the baal" in Zeph 1:4 are those who perpetuate
the name of the baal, and thus conclude that it is the plural adherents who
are under attack, while "the baal" is a single god. However, this violates the
pattern of usage in that the "remainder of the baal" are, by the very argument,
divorced from "the baal" (singular). More important, Zephaniah
stipulates what the extirpation of the "rest of the baal" entails: "
of the kmrym with (that of) the priests, and those who prostrate themselves
on the roofs to the Host of the Heavens..." Spieckermann (1982:83-85)
identifies the kmrym of Hos 10:5; Zeph 1:4; 2 Kgs 23:4
with the astral priests of KAI 225-226 (see KAI 2.275).
That they are integral to the worship of "the baal" here is indisputable. Yet
what is it that those who worship "the baal" devote themselves to? The Host
of Heaven. Moreover, Zephaniah adds to his list of votaries of "the baal" "
who prostrate themselves, who swear to Yhwh and who swear by Milcom"
(1:5). Is it a coincidence that Milcom, like Ashtoret, is one of
the baals to whom Solomon constructed a high place on the Mount of Olives? Rather,
like Ashtoret and the Queen of Heaven, Milcom was probably regarded as an important
astral underling of Yhwh, corresponding to one of the planets.
Under the circumstances, the context in which Jer 7:22 cites Am 5:25 -- both deny the efficacy of sacrifice with an allusion to the absence of a sacrificial cultus during the wilderness era (contra P, and c.f., significantly, 2 Sam 7:7) may be significant. Jeremiah's citation comes in a segment sandwiched between his accusation about worship of the Queen of the Heavens and his prediction about the Tophet that was dedicated to the Host. The source-text in Amos succeeds a segment in which Yhwh is named, among other things, as the creator of the constellations. More important, it leads directly to a prediction of exile for the Israelites together with their astral images (latterly, Andersen and Freedman 1989). Amos's reference to "your king" (mlkkm) may even represent a pun on or error for (G: Molech) the name of Milkom (mlkm). In that case, the god's astral connections would be confirmed. Such a reading draws some support from Hosea's reference to kmrym in connection with the exile of Samaria (10:5), supposing Spieckermann's identification of these figures as astral priests (above) to be correct.
In Zephaniah's text, the identity of interest among the
kmrym, the priests of "the baal" and the rooftop worshippers of the
Host is organic: for reformationists of the Josianic period, the Host and the
"baal" are identical. These and other texts suggest that the baals were included,
at least in Josianic theology, among the host of heaven. They also indicate
that hab-ba`al, formally singular, could serve as a collective -- not
just grammatically, but for a multiplicity of gods such as composed the heavenly
host. Such a collective plural is also witnessed in Mesopotamia: Enuma
Elish 6:116 speaks of mankind's DINGIR (var. i-la-)-si-na
[formally singular] istarsina [formally singular] -- their gods and
goddesses -- who should bring tribute to Marduk. A text of Esarhaddon's speaks
of messages for the gods and goddesses, nasparti DINGIR distar
(formally singular -- Borger 1956:45 ii 6). An inscription of Nabopolassar
speaks of him "
who in his mind has understood the worship due the gods and
goddesses" (sa palah DINGIR u INNIN litmudu surrussu), where both
"gods" and "goddesses" are formally singular (Langdon 1912:60:17).
The equation of "other gods" with "baals" is not restricted
to Jeremiah. Thus, in 1 Sam 7:3, Samuel urges the Israelites to
remove the "
foreign gods...and the ashtorets....So the Israelites removed
the baals and the ashtorets." In the book of Judges, more particularly,
whatever its editorial history (Halpern 1988:121-143, 220-228 for
a Josianic date, with bibliography), a very revealing sequence occurs. Israel
have failed to supplant the inhabitants of some of the tracts Joshua conquered.
Yhwh therefore decrees his unwillingness to evict these peoples -- leaving their
gods in place as snares (2:3). The Israelites of the next generation,
who had not witnessed the conquest, "
did service to the baals". Specifically,
they went after other gods from the gods of the nations which were around
They did service to the baal [singular] and to the ashtorets"
(2:11-13). Who is the baal Israel served? "The baal" represents
the baals, the male gods of the nations of Israel's environs. These are the
"other gods" to whom the nation's cultic attentions relapse even when "judges"
arise (2:17,19): the other gods are the snares intentionally left
by Yhwh. Intermarrying with the surrounding nations, the Israelites "
service to their gods" (3:6). After 2:13, "other
gods" alone represents a term inclusive of the baals and ashtorets. Arguably,
"baals" in 2:11, and, more certainly, "other gods" in 2:12,
are also inclusive of the ashtorets. It is not to be assumed, on the basis of
1 Sam 7:3, that the ashtorets are identified by H(Dtr) as indigenous.
Judg 3:7, implementing the programmatic cycle of 2:11-19,
stipulates that "
The Israelites did what was evil in Yhwh's sight, and forgot
Yhwh their god, and served the baals [plural] and the asherahs [plural]."
This polytheistic apostasy is thus established as the referent for "
did what was evil..." at the start of the cycles of succeeding major judges
(3:12; 4:1; 6:1; 13:1). Two texts are more specific. Judg
8:33 states that on Gideon's death, the Israelites "
whored after the
baals, and made Baal Berit into their god". The particular figure of Baal
Berit is drawn from the Abimelek story (Judg 9:4), but the editorial
elaboration on that attestation deserves particular attention: service to Baal
Berit implies service not just to one figure, but to many, to the baals generally.
The editor's choice of the plural term here is a device to avoid the collective
singular, and thus ambiguity in his formulation. Conversely, "the baal" with
the altar in Judg 6:25-32 is understood to be a single figure (esp.
Even more elaborate is the indictment in Judg 10:6-16.
Here, the Israelite relapse explicitly involves service to "
the baals and
the ashtorets and the gods of Aram and the gods of Sidon and the gods of
Moab and the gods of the children of Ammon and the gods of the Philistines"
(10:6). From the formulation, one might expect that the baals and
ashtorets were to be divorced, as the gods of aboriginal Canaanites, from the
gods of the Iron-Age successor-nations -- the Arameans, Phoenicians, Transjordanian
Hebrews and Philistines. Yet the continuation belies such an inference: the
Israelites confess, "
We served the baals" (10:10), a text
quoted at 1 Sam 12:10 as, "
We served the baals and the ashtorets."
The term "baals" here includes the various gods mentioned in Judg 10:6,
the baals and the ashtorets" in 1 Sam 12:10 does. Yhwh's
rebuttal then mentions "
other gods" (10:13), so the Israelites
the foreign gods" (10:16). The "baal/baals" in Josianic
usage, and the ashtorets, are all other gods, foreign gods, including the Host
(17:3). The Host and the baal were in large measure congruent.
For the Host and the baal, a typical cult practice was to
burn incense on rooftops -- Jer 19:13 (c.f. 8:2-3);
32:29 -- where various cultic activities took place (1 Sam
9:25-26, the designation of Saul; 2 Sam 16:2 after 11:2,
Absalom entering David's harem on the spot where David had spotted Bathsheba;
Isa 22:1,13, sacrificial feasting in the face of Sennacherib's
destruction of the countryside; Neh 8:16, tabernacles on the rooves;
Isa 15:3; Jer 48:38, Moabite mourning on rooftops [and in streets
and piazzas]; Judg 16:27, Philistines watching Samson from the
temple roof; cf. Josh 2:6, Rahab's roof with psty h`s
spread out; Prov 21:9; 25:24). This is also identified as the locus
of proskynesis to the host in Zeph 1:5. It follows that Ahaz's
upper chamber" with the altars built by "
the kings of Judah"
was an astral installation on the rooftop outside of an interior upper chamber,
possibly a throne room or a wing of the clerestory of the temple (Halpern
1988:43-54): as in the case of Solomon's high places on the Mount of
Olives, the cult of the host survived Hezekiah's measures unimpaired. The cultic
activity attested for the host is the same as that attested for the baals, chiefly
burning incense and child sacrifice (Jeremiah, above, and Ps 106:28, 38,
zbhw l`sby kn`n). Again, Spieckermann's (1982:83-85) identification
of the kmrym of Hos 10:5; Zeph 1:4; 2 Kgs 23:4 as priests
of astral cults is central: it was "
to burn incense on the high places in
the towns of Judah and on the outskirts of Jerusalem" that "
of Judah" had appointed the kmrym -- who led those "
incense to the baal: to the sun and to the moon and to the constellations and
to all the Host of the Heavens." The collocation is not accidental, but
essential. The suppression of Ahaz's upper chamber with the altars built by
the kings of Judah (starting, one presumes, at least with Ahaz himself: contrast
the altar which Manasseh made" in the same verse), the suppression of
the astral priests appointed by the kings of Judah -- including in the vicinity
of Jerusalem, where Solomon's high places continued in use -- the devotion of
the kings of Judah to the Queen of Heaven and to the Host/baal(s) are all of
The restriction of the cult to incense offerings is of particular interest. Exod 22:19, zbh l'lhym yhrm blty lyhwh lbdw, already proscribes animal sacrifice for any god but Yhwh. This rule may have been honored traditionally, though sometimes, no doubt, as with child sacrifice, in the breach as much as in the observance (contrast Hos 11:2, but note the MT vocalization, in D). By the same lights, no Catholic or traditional Jew or Muslim would imagine that a prohibition on sacrifice to any but the chief god precluded the dedication of candles, or like rites, to Mary, angels, saints or ancestors. Attention lavished on the high god's retainers, after all, was a mere corollary of the worship of the high god.
The noun, zbh, "sacrifice, sacrificial feast (involving
meat)" is applied to "the baal" only in 2 Kgs 10:19,24 in the Primary
History, where Jehu announces such a feast as a trap. In 2 Kgs 5:17,
Naaman declares that he will devote neither burnt offering nor meat sacrifice
to other gods, but only to Yhwh: notably, he makes no such declaration in connection
with other forms of offering, such as incense. As to the verb, zbh,
1 Kgs 11:8 mentions sacrifice (D) by Solomon's foreign wives, along
with incense burning, to their respective gods -- it seems natural that these
foreigners should in fact seek to dedicate meat sacrifices to their respective
high gods (including Ashtoret). On the same principle, Judg 16:23
mentions a Philistine sacrifice (G with cognate accusative) to Dagon, Num
22:40 a sacrifice (G) by Balaq, king of Moab. 1 Kgs 12:32
claims that Jeroboam sacrificed (D) to his calves. Exod 32:8 describes
sacrifices (G, burnt and whole offerings in v 6) to the golden
calf, and Deut 32:17, sacrifices (G) to sedim -- to be
understood, in light of the Deir Alla plaster, as the subordinate gods of which
Yhwh in P, El Shadday, is the chief (cf. Ps 106:37, G, child sacrifice
to sedim). This material is plainly polemical, and does not represent
the subjective experience of the alleged votaries. Exod 34:15 warns
against sacrifice (G) to the gods of the Canaanites, Lev 17:7 against
sacrifice (G) in the field to demons (?; s`rym; cf. the possible pun
in Deut 32:17, s`rwm), Exod 22:19, as noted,
against sacrifice (G) to any other god but Yhwh. Otherwise, in the Primary History,
there is no reference to sacrifice to alien deities (but in the postexilic context,
2 Chr 33:22, Amon [D] to "icons", pesilim, a term inserted
in the parallel Hos 11:2 -- [D]; 2 Chr 28:23, where
sacrificed" [G] to the god[s] of Damascus, saying "
Let me 'sacrifice'
[D] to the gods of Aram" -- those who were smiting him, in the hope of placation
according to Chr -- in the latter case, Chr deduces the act of meat sacrifice
from the importation of an altar on a Damascene model).
Notably, the D stem of zbh is attached to sacrifice not just to foreign gods, but to Yhwh, presumably, on the high places: 1 Kgs 3:2,3; 22:44; 2 Kgs 12:4; 14:4; 15:4,35; 16:4//2 Chr 28:4 (also Hos 4:13-14; 12:12 at Gilgal; probably 13:2, at Adam, en route to Bethel from the Jordan, where the context condemns the calf iconography; contrast 2 Chr 33:17, G, in Chr's non-synoptic section after the rehabilitation of Manasseh; Ezek 20:28, G); and, at the place of the ark rather than in the temple -- 1 Kgs 8:5//2 Chr 5:6. The only place where the D-stem is used of sacrifice that earns an author's unreserved approbation is in 2 Chr 30:22, where, however, it is the Levites, rather than the Aaronides, who conduct the ritual. All this suggests that the D form is applied to irregular activities, and, to judge from participial forms in which the orthography indicates the conjugation, in this matter the Massora merely follows the lead of the consonantal text.
In Isa 57:7, as in Ps 106:28,38,
the noun, zbh pertains to the funerary cult (at the highland bench-tomb)
in connection with child sacrifice (57:5-6; also 65:3-4,
sacrifice on rooftops, burn incense on bricks [?]"). Ezek
16:16-21; 20:28-31 likewise places child sacrifice on the high places,
in connection with metal icons, but with no necessary connection to the funerary
cult (Ps 106:37 connects it to sedim). 1 Kgs 13:2
predicts, and 2 Kgs 23:20 relates the sacrifice of priests of the
high places by Josiah, but this to Yhwh, in the way of a ban. 2 Chr 34:4
relates that Josiah's men "
tore down the altars of the baals and chopped
down the hmnym which were above them and broke up the 'aserim
and the icons (pesilim) and the plating (of the icons -- massekot),"
where the altars of the baals and the hmnym that were above them occupy
the place of the "high places" in v 3. In other words, as in Ezek
16:16-21, where it is described at some length (c.f. 20:28-31,
and further below), the main specific activity connected with the baals, and
with the host of heaven, other than child sacrifice, is incense burning, not
The cultic situation at Tell Miqneh/Eqron IB, in the mid-to-late 7th c. contributes substantially to our understanding of this circumstance. In connection with a huge boom in olive oil production -- to 1.1 million litres/year, minimum, commanding at least 50,000 dunams of groves, and more probably over 100,000 (Eitam and Shomroni 1987:48-49) -- there is a sudden explosion of incense altars. These are found both in the middle room of the processing workshops (where the pressed oil was presumably finished, possibly by the addition of aromatics) and in the elite area. The incense altars are of a type previously found in Israel and Judah, not Philistia, and may well indicate the socialization of Israelite folk religion at Eqron in the 7th century in both the elite and the industrial and domestic zones (Gitin 1989). This would not be inconsistent with the occurrence of the Phoenician-type name, hmlk, (A)himelek (cf. [A]hiram), in an unpublished ostracon on the site (but written in Aramaic script!). Indeed, a deportation of Phoenicians (or of Israelites originating near Phoenicia) to Eqron in the 7th century might explain how the author of Kings came to identify Ashtoret particularly with Sidonians. However, if the incense altars found on the steps of the adyton of the Arad sanctuary are 7th-century (Ussishkin 1988), and thus absent from earlier levels in Judah, the influence at Eqron is probably strictly Israelite.
As to gods at Eqron, an ostracon uncovered in 1990 reads
to hq..s" (h-q-r/d-w?-s),
a divine name or epithet possibly from a dialect related to that of the patronymics
(?) found in the ostraca from Tel Jemme (Naveh 1985). This would
tend to sustain Kempinski's view (1987) that the Jemme names are
traditional ones of Philistine social groups: conceivably, the Eqron ostracon
even reflects a cult of a deified ancestor or cult founder. Asherah, however,
appears in several ostraca at Eqron (including one complete, "
sacred to Asherah")
in the elite area, where further incense altars were uncovered in IB.
Iconographically, Asherah was associated with trees (usually palms -- see Hestrin 1987:222-223); it may be that as Asherah gives suck to the gods, she is naturally associated with the production of liquids. If she was the primary object of the incense offerings (or first fruits of the presses) in the industrial zone, we would have at Eqron the first reflex of the theology against which Israel's reformationist literature is railing. Since the burning of incense is regularly associated in Israelite (reformationist) literature with homage to gods inferior to Yhwh called baals and asherot/ashtarot, the generic names for Israelite gods and goddesses (styled foreign in Josianic literature, but see Halpern 1987), the connection seems a likely one. In any case, the situation at Philistine Eqron in the 7th century establishes the basis for later associations of Demeter with the Philistine coast.
Yhwh's asherah, similarly, is the principal candidate for
the goddess called the Queen of Heaven in Jeremiah 44. This goddess
is identified as the traditional recipient of incense, libations and fragrant
cakes or cookies, shaped in her form (presumably the triangle, later the symbol
of Tannit), in the female cult (44:15-19; 7:18). Yhwh's epithet
in the Elephantine papyri, mr' smy' (also, 'lh smy'), is not
unrelated to this issue: that the Lord of the Heavens' consort should be the
Queen of the Heavens seems most likely. The association of an asherah with incense,
and probably oil-based cakes, at Eqron considerably strengthens the case. At
the same time, the erection of a high place outside Jerusalem for "
the god(dess) of the Sidonians" -- and the fact that this is the only proper
name for a goddess (the scantily attested Anat aside) preserved in HB, suggests
that this was the personal name of Yhwh's asherah: the latter term, as noted,
was a common noun in the singular, yet the standard 7th-century plural for "goddesses"
was apparently "Ashtorets".
Olyan (1988b, against which Hestrin 1987) has made a persuasive case, independent of these considerations, for the identity of the Queen of Heaven with Ashtoret -- the "cookies", for example, used in her cult are denominated by a term cognate to kamanu, the cakes used in Ishtar's cult (Held 1982); Ishtar's name is cognate with that of Ashtoret. It may be added, the association of cakes -- of a sort excluded from the cult of Yhwh in Lev 2:11 - - with the cult of Ashtoret is assured by an epigraph from Kition (KAI 37.A:10; Peckham 1987:96-97 n. 79). First millennium inscriptions mentioning Ashtoret confirm her stature among Phoenicians across the Mediterranean. And there is no doubt that she is sometimes referred to as a heavenly deity, although it is by no means clear that the epithet "queen" attaches to her (as KAI 37.A:7, 10) in contradistinction to the other major goddesses.
Thus, it may well be that Ashtoret as Queen of Heaven is identical with the asherah of the chief god, even that Ashtoret was somehow identified with Asherah proper: a Phoenician shrine in 7th-6th century Egypt was dedicated to twin goddesses, and a similar shrine in 11th-10th-c. Tel Qasile may reflect the early establishment of such a cult in Philistia; in Carthage, there is evidence of a temple devoted in common to Astarte and Tannit of Lebanon (most likely, Asherah; Cross 1973:30, 31-43; Olyan 1988a:53-61). The temple of the Queen of Heaven referred to in Hermopolis Letter 4.1 (Olyan 1988b; Milik 1967:556-564) would presumably have been dedicated to the single figure that emerged from such a union: the goddess, Tannit-Astarte, of the Sareptah ivory plaque, furnishes such a figure, in Phoenicia already in the 7th century, and possibly associated with a wooden icon (Pritchard 1978:104-108; see Peckham 1987:80). Peckham has explored the parallels between the cult of the Queen and Heaven and that of Astarte at Kition (KAI 37), including the mourning rite of cutting one's hair, possibly in connection with a dying god and child sacrifice. The incense central to the cults of the asherah at Eqron, the Queen of Heaven in Judah and in the worship of Ashtoret and Yhwh's asherah, as well as in the cult of the baals and the Host suggests that these cults stood on a level, and reinforces the possibility of their identity in 8th-7th century Judah. In this case, the Queen of Heaven is Ashtoret, identified with but not necessarily compounded with, Asherah.
Incense, used liberally in the cult of Yhwh, appears as
an offering to other gods in a number of texts. qtr ("
without explicit mention of a meat sacrifice, however, need not imply the absence
of the latter. This verb often refers to the practice of burning the fat for
the gods. In fact, Ahaz in 2 Kgs 16:13 is said to have "
his burnt offering and his meal offering as incense" (wyqtr 't `ltw
w't mnhtw). The nouns, qetoret, qetora and qitor
refer to the substances employed as incense, to the odors thereby produced (also
pleasing odors"), and to the fumes respectively. In the last case, no
implication of vegetarianism is present, and this is probably true in the other
cases as well. The instances in HB are as follows:
In Kings: 1 Kgs 12:33; 13:1:
Jeroboam standing by the altar to burn incense (C), allegedly to his calf --
the referent may be burnt fat; 2 Kgs 17:11: the Israelites on high
places, to standing stones and asherim, worshipping gillulim forbidden
by Yhwh, identified as Amorite gods, or as icons; 18:4: Israelites,
to Nehushtan, the bronze serpent; 22:17//2 Chr 34:5: in Huldah's
prophecy, to "other gods" (but on "
their manufacture/the deeds of their hands"
cf. Jer 1:16//"other gods"); 23:5: Josiah "
the kmrym [astral priests] whom the kings of Judah appointed to [with
OG] burn incense on the high places in the towns of Judah and in the environs
of Jerusalem and those who burned incense to 'the baal': to the sun and to the
moon and to the constellations and to all the host of heaven"; cf. 23:4,
implements donated to 'the baal' and 'the asherah' and to all the host of
heaven"; 23:8, "
the high places where the priests burned incense from
Geba to Beersheva").
In Jeremiah: Jer 11:12-13:
So the towns of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go forth, and
cry out to the gods to whom they burn incense. But these will never deliver
them in their time of evil fate. For as the number of your towns were your gods,
Judah, and as the number of Jerusalem's streets your made altars to 'Shame',
altars to burn incense to 'the baal'" (collective plural); 44:21-23:
is this not the incense-burning which you burned in the towns of Judah and
in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your fathers and your kings and your officials
and the people of the land, and Yhwh remembered and it entered his mind...and
your land became desolate, and a waste, and a curse for want of residents as
on this day, because you burned incense and sinned against Yhwh..."; 19:13:
all the houses where they burned incense on their rooftops to all the host
of heaven and poured out libations to other gods"; 32:29: "
the houses where they burned incense on their rooftops to 'the baal' [collective
plural] and poured out libations to other gods"; 44:3,5,8,15,17,18,19,21,23,25:
Jerusalem fell because Judahites angered Yhwh by burning incense "
gods, whom they didn't know, they, you, and your fathers", so none of the
Judahites in Egypt will return to Judah (a key to the theology of the return).
As noted above, the popular response to Jeremiah's oracle
is rejection: "
We will nevertheless do everything which issued from (y)our
mouth, burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out libations to her,
as we have done -- we, and our fathers, our kings and our officials, in the
towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem -- when we were sated with bread
and it was well with us, and we saw no evil. It is only since we ceased to burn
incense to the Queen of Heaven, and pour out libations to her, that we have
lacked everything, and have been finished off by the sword and by famine...."
The devotions fulfill their vows (ndrynw 'sr ndrnw lqtr lmlkt hsmym,
v 25); 7:9: "
After robbing, murdering and committing
adultery and uttering false oaths and burning incense to 'the baal' and going
after other gods whom you don't know, you come and stand before me in this house...?";
11:17: to 'the baal'; 18:5: lsw', in Jeremiah's
usage either "
vainly" or "
to a vain thing"; 1:16:
they burned incense to other gods, and prostrated themselves to their own
manufacture"; 19:4-5: in the Valley of ben-Hinnom, "
left me and alienated this place and burned incense in it to other gods whom
they didn't know -- they and their fathers and the kings of Judah -- and filled
this place with the blood of innocents, and built the high places of 'the baal'
to burn their sons in fire as burnt offerings to 'the baal', which I did not
command, nor did I say, nor did it enter my mind" -- here, in the background
to the destruction of the rooftops in 19:13; 32:29, where "the
baal" is collective, for the host -- the combination of burning incense at the
Tophet in the Valley of ben-Hinnom with child sacrifice is also projected onto
Ahaz in 2 Chr 28:3, based on 2 Kgs 16:3, where incense
does not appear; 48:35: by Moabites who build high places and burn
incense to their god.
In Ezekiel: Ezek 8:11: to gillulim, possibly representations of animals/cherubim inscribed into a wall; 16:18: to male precious metal icons; effectively 23:41: to gillulim, v 37, recipients of child sacrifice, presumably congruent with Jeremiah's 'baal' and possibly even the active Host.
Note also these occurrences in Chronicles: 2 Chr 25:14: Amaziah bowed and burned incense before captured Edomite icons; 28:24-25: Ahaz multiplied altars all over Jerusalem and Judah to burn incense to other gods; 30:14: Hezekiah removed the altars and the mqtrwt, possibly incense altars in the context.
Aside from the previous texts, incense burning is described
as the principal Yhwhistic rite on the high places in 2 Kgs 23:8,
and, in the past, Isa 65:7 on the mountains and hills (but Isa
65:3 with sacrifice on rooftops, incense on bricks[?]; c.f. 66:3).
Even 1 Kgs 13:2 predicts a sacrifice on the Bethel altar of "
priests of the high places who burn incense upon you," rather than those
who sacrifice meat. Hos 4:13 speaks of sacrifice and incense burning
on the hills, where the prostitutes and sacred prostitutes practice. But the
object of the sacrifice forecast in 1 Kgs 13:2 is in fact Yhwh,
and the same may be true in the case of the meat sacrifices mocked by Hosea.
Hos 2:15 speaks of "
the days of the baals, when she [Israel]
burned incense to them." And Hos 11:2 states, "
to them, thus they went from my presence. They sacrificed to the baals, and
burned incense to the carved icons." In context, this might refer to almost
any incident of apostasy in the tradition, or to all of them. However, it likely
reflects contemporary practice. Hosea's main complaint is that attention to
the baals entailed forgetfulness about Yhwh's being the one who really -- behind
the scenes -- promoted welfare. That is, the baals are real enough, but Yhwh
is the director of their actions.
Incense burning with sacrifice occurs in 1 Kgs 3:3, where the activity (vv 2-4) is surely Yhwhistic; 11:8, where it is not; 22:44; 2 Kgs 12:4; 14:4; 15:4,35; 16:4//2 Chr 28:4; but here, though it is on the high places, the assumption is the worship is of Yhwh, or at least of Yhwh along with other deities (see Halpern 1988:220-228).
Overall, incense burning appears to be the ritual characteristic of the baals-cult, and is related to infant sacrifice by Jeremiah and Chronicles. In some contexts, mention of incense burning alone can stand in for a larger sacrificial complex, as, in connection with Yhwh, in 2 Chr 32:12 (where an Assyrian official equates Yhwh, in the Chronicler's rhetoric, with a lesser god by suggesting that centralization involved restriction of incense burning to the temple in Jerusalem). However, this is not the case with regard to Yhwh in Kings, nor is it transparently the case in Jeremiah, Hosea or Ezekiel. Thus the incense burning to 'the baal', identified by Jeremiah, Kings and Zephaniah with the host of heaven, and with the Queen of Heaven in Jer 7:18; 44, and probably with the asherah at Eqron, represent part of the same cultural matrix.
Nevertheless, the literary evidence implies a cultural transition. Hosea, from the mid-eighth century, mentions meat sacrifices to the baals, and other eighth-century sources, such as E, have similar implications (1 Kgs 12 and Exodus 32 are mutually referential, the former perhaps part of the first edition of DtrH). When one sacrificed, in the distributed clan sacrificial cult of the traditional social organization of Israel, one typically invited Yhwh's subordinates, along with Yhwh, to the repast. The seventh-sixth-century sources, however, including Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the Josianic stratum of the books of Kings, basically do not describe Israelite meat sacrifices to the baals. One nexus for the transition may have been -- with the increasing availability of spices in the period as documented at Miqneh and in the resettlement pattern of the seventh century -- a changing semantic weighting of the term, qtr. In Judah, at least, a transition from meat to incense and meal offerings for deities subordinate to Yhwh may well have been one outcropping of Hezekiah's reform. Interestingly, a large altar went out of use at Beersheba in this reform, before the destruction of Beersheba II.
At Arad, Aharoni (1968:26-27) held that the
main, earth-and-fieldstone altar for burnt offerings went out of use after stratum
VIII, as a result of Hezekiah's reform (and remained out of use until Josiah
ruined the sanctuary): he reports an intact floor of stratum VII, with an oven,
on the spot where the altar stood, with the altar's last phase belonging to
stratum VIII. Aharoni held that, probably in the same phase, two "
altars" (see generally Gitin 1989:52-67, esp. n. 4
where an association with "
meal offerings" is suggested) were buried
in the steps of the holy of holies, and two stelae plastered over inside the
holy of holies (the removal of the incense altars was originally attributed
to stratum IX, but it is now clear that the sanctuary cannot have been built
before stratum IX, sometime in the 8th century -- Ussishkin 1988).
Aharoni also reported that Josiah subsequently buried the holy of holies under a casemate wall (further Herzog, Aharoni, Rainey and Moshkovitz 1984). But this wall has proven to derive from the Hellenistic period, not the 7th century (Mazar and Netzer 1986; c.f. Herzog 1987). Nevertheless, there may be signs of Josiah's reform in some Iron-Age partition walls above the holy of holies (Mazar and Netzer 1986), which would imply that the temple was in disuse. Ussishkin (1988), however, has shown that the incense altars may have been discarded only at the final destruction of the shrine in stratum VI. This in turn implies that only the covering over of the large, courtyard altar, and the plastering over of the pillars inside the Holy of Holies could possibly antedate Josiah; it seems unlikely that the latter will have occurred without the discarding of the incense altars. In short, it now seems most likely that the incense altars and the pillars survived Hezekiah's reform, and it is even possible that they survived Josiah's.
Should the two (small) incense altars be correlated to the two stelae, and associated with oblations to male and female classes of intermediate divinities -- the baals and ashtorets -- chiefly served through the burning of incense, according to our contemporary texts? The huge altar of burnt-offering would then pertain to Yhwh, the main object of meat sacrifices. It may be that the larger stela in fact represents the presence of Yhwh himself, and that the smaller represents that of the baals: the ashtorets seem to have had poles or trees as their icons, rather than stones.
In any event, Hezekiah certainly left the temple standing as a functional structure, and probably even built it. This is consonant with the general character of Hezekiah's reform: it was his strategy to abandon the countryside to the Assyrians, and concentrate the rural population inside fortresses to protract the campaign in the hope of Egyptian or other intervention (the Egyptian intervention did, as it happens, prove decisive). As a corollary of this strategy, state shrines had to be renewed in the fortresses, and the population and priesthoods had to be registered (see Halpern 1991 for the reconstruction of the reform in its strategic valence). It is improbable, however, that Hezekiah left the priesthoods at Arad intact or enrolled additional rural priests there, as part of his centralization of the population to state fortresses, without some provision for cultic activity. Yet it is incontrovertible that cultic activity at Arad -- inside the fortress itself, which was closely linked to Jerusalem -- survived Hezekiah's period. It follows that at least incense burning, and possibly even animal sacrifice, continued at least until Josiah's day.
Some of the ambiguities in the interpretation of the data will be clarified with the final publication of the site, which Herzog promises (1987:77-79). For the interim, it seems most conservative to suggest that any marked reform of the temple at Arad be associated with Josiah, or the Babylonians. However, if a floor of stratum VII did indeed overlie the altar, it is a sign that sometime between 725 and about 610 the cult at Arad shifted away from meat offerings toward meal and incense offerings, as a residue of Hezekiah's reform.
A parallel development later occurs at the Elephantine temple,
which before its destruction conducted meat and meal (and incense) offerings,
but which after its reconstruction was licensed from Jerusalem to conduct the
latter only (Porten and Yardeni 1986:A4.7:21, 25-26, 27-28; A4.8:20-21,
24-25, 26-27; A4.9:9-11). The "
solar temple" at Lachish, too,
at its apparent end-use in 701, divulged incense burners and an "
altar" but no large meat altar (Aharoni 1975:26-32). The Elephantine
situation, at least, reflects fundamentally the notion of reform presented in
Deuteronomy (and this in turn reflects seventh-century state practice): Deuteronomy
12 regulates all sorts of behaviors, but the explicit injunction is against
meat sacrifice (12:13-14) outside the "
central) place. There is an enjoinder on enjoying meal offerings for first fruits
and vows at home, too (12:17-18). But the central issue is that
of meat sacrifices, for which reason the question of profane slaughter is treated
at great length (12:15-16, 21-25; 15:22-23). Implicitly, the injunction
distinguishes meat sacrifice -- for any meat derived from domestic herds --
from other forms of nourishment whose preparation did not necessarily involve
cultic activity. There is no explicit injuction against the oblique devotion
of such foodstuffs to subordinate gods in one's pantheon. The latter are illicit,
surely. But they fall into a different category from that into which meat offerings
fall. Indeed, on bringing the tithe of the third year to the gate for the indigent
to enjoy, the lawcode lays an obligation on the Israelite pilgrim to declare,
before Yhwh", that he gave none of it to the ancestors. Again, not surprisingly,
there is no such interdict on the rest of the agricultural produce of the land.
What is interesting in the late 7th century is that even incense burning -- and meal-offerings in Jeremiah 44 -- to subordinate gods in the pantheon now attract opposition, from Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Deuteronomy, Kings and Zephaniah. Thus, Jeremiah, as noted, identifies the host of heaven as baals, as does Zephaniah and 2 Kgs 23:4-5. Early texts (Judg 5:20) and texts coming from certain traditions into Kings (1 Kgs 22:19//2 Chr 18:18, on the redactional history of which see Halpern and Vanderhooft 1992) and the Deuteronomistic History even reflect favorably on the "host" (Josh 5:14-15, with Joshua prostrating himself to the captain of the "host"; 10:10-13, substantively parallel to Judg 5:20 in that the heavenly bodies conspire with the Israelites against the Canaanites).
Other positive or neutral references to the host, occur
both in preexilic and in post-exilic materials. In Isa 13:4-6,
the host are Yhwh's army, just as in Judg 5:20. In Isa 14:13,
ascendancy among the "
stars of El" is the mark of the master of the heavens.
Ps 148:3 portrays the sun, moon and stars, among the Host, praising
Yhwh -- in a topos connected with the "
sons of gods" in Ps 29:1-2.
In Job 38:7, the stars, understood to represent the sons of Yhwh,
cheer Yhwh's foundation of the universe. It is not irrelevant that Israel is
compared in number or otherwise to the stars (as Gen 15:5; 22:17; 26:4;
37:9; Exod 32:13; Num 24:17), a metaphor that reflects positively on
the host or stars (residual in Jer 33:22). The title, Yhwh of Hosts
he summons Hosts into being", parallel to Yhwh Elohim: Halpern
1987:85; but c.f. Mettinger 1987:30-32; and the Carian
Zeus Stratios in Herodotus 5.120), also reflects positively on
the host of heaven in sources that construe that body to consist of animate
beings under Yhwh's control (as above, and including J, E, most of Samuel, Amos
[3:13; 6:14; 9:5]; Hosea [12:6, interpreting Exod 3:15, after 12:4-5];
proto-Isaiah, Micah [4:4], Nahum, Habakkuk, parts of Psalms, etc.;
probably Zechariah). Unsurprisingly, in light of all this, Sargon's report of
the sack of Samaria includes a reference to "
the gods on whom they relied"
(Gadd 1954:179.iv.32). The references to astral deities connected
with Samarian exile, noted above, find confirmation in this report.
However, in some texts, the "Host" or the "Host of Heaven"
is a demythologized cliché. P, for example, identifies Israel as the "hosts"
of Yhwh of Hosts. In Exod 7:4, Yhwh vows to withdraw "
my people, the children of Israel from the land of Egypt." In Exod
12:17, Yhwh commemorates the day on which "
I withdrew your hosts from
the land of Egypt." And, in Exod 12:41 (similarly, Ps
all the hosts of Yhwh withdrew from the land of Egypt"
(cf. also 12:51). The identification of Israel as the Host is the
logical corollary of earlier promises (JE) that Israel will be as numerous as
the stars: the stars now become, instead of the counterparts of the gods, those
of the Israelites, Yhwh's adopted children.
As to the stars themselves, identified as the Host, these
reach the cusp of inanimacy in P at Gen 2:1, where the heavenly
host is depersonalized, along with the other aspects of nature. In Isa
40:26; 45:12; Ps 33:6, where the creation of the stars (host) is witness
to Yhwh's puissance, no personality or function is attributed to the host. In
some texts, actual hostility against the host is present: in Isa 24:21;
34:2-4, violence visited on the host reflects violence against mundane
foes with whom the host is identified (more metaphorically, Dan 8:10).
Not all texts share this hostility. Zech 4:10b identifies the seven
branches of an oil lamp (inscribed on the lintel of the Second Temple, but received
as a vision in 4:2) as "
the eyes of Yhwh, they scout out all
the earth." The "eyes" and the lamps figure the seven planets. Similarly,
the "eyes" filling the backs of Ezekiel's fiery beasts or the wheels beneath
them (1:18; 10:12) must represent the Host, again as Yhwh's scouts.
It may be that the concept of "
wheels within wheels" (Ezek 1:16),
intended to afford mobility in all directions to the chariot of Yhwh (which
is itself modelled on the basin stands of Solomon's temple, removed by Ahaz),
reflects the "Egyptian" astronomy on which Herakleides system was allegedly
based -- with Mercury and Venus circling the sun, a wheel within the wheel of
the sun's circling the earth. Still, even where the stars or planets are Yhwh's
eyes, they lack individuality, are mere organs of his senses.
The background of this alienation of the Host from Yhwh
and from Israel -- its depersonalization, its rejection, can be summarized in
a word: the host is foreign, in Josianic theory. In Deut 4:19-20
(cf. Jer 10:2), the host is explicitly identified as that
body of manifestations which Yhwh had assigned to the "nations", not Israel.
In the traditional cosmology, the host is at least potentially identical with
those subordinate deities responsible for administering foreign nations. Thus,
Deut 32:8-9 affirm (with LXX) that Yhwh determined the territories
of the nations "
according to the numbers of the sons of El", choosing
as his own portion Israel. Each "son of El" administers a single territory,
but Israel is under direct rule. The model for such a conception is of course
the phenomenon of vassalship, or the appointment of governors within an empire
-- a model familiar in Canaan from the time of the first Egyptian conquests
there, through Solomon, and down to the British Mandate.
Mic 4:4-5 affirms the same theology: "
all the nations go each in the name of its god, and we will go in the name of
Yhwh [Sebaoth: 4:4] our god forever and aye." Even inside DtrH, traces of
a similar attitude survive: in Judg 11:24, Jephthah pleads with
the Ammonites, "
Should you not take possession of whatever (territory) Chemosh,
your god, supplants for you, and what Yhwh, our god, supplants from before us,
of that, we should take possession?" The underlying notion is that Yhwh
and Chemosh (usually identified with Moab) each administer separate territories
-- though admittedly, this is a case of international diplomacy in which such
a tolerant assumption is most circumspect (which may be why the tradition survives).
Nevertheless, reference to Moab as "
the people of Chemosh" (Num
21:29), as to Israel as "
the people of Yhwh", as much as concedes
the legitimacy of Moabite devotion to Chemosh. This, after all, was nothing
more than an expression of their national identity, their common kinship.
The traditional Israelite conception, in sum, is that Yhwh
Sebaoth is the god, and direct administrator, of Israel: in the natural order,
arranged by Yhwh, each nation is assigned a divine master, subordinate to Yhwh
-- one of his sons, which is to say, an officer of his Host. The cults of the
foreign nations, therefore, are dedicated to the subordinates (to whom Israelites
also turn -- interestingly, Micah and Isaiah both refer positively or neutrally
to human sacrifice). In the circumstances, the god of a foreign nation might
be regarded as its master -- its baal -- just as Yhwh is Israel's baal (Hos
2:18; c.f. Jer 3:14; 31:32). Probably, it is in just
such a connection that Isaiah speaks of "
the baals of the nations" destroying
Moab (Isa 16:8, omitted in Jer 48:31-32): these are
the gods to whom Moab will no longer be able to pray when it enters the sanctuaries
on its high places (Isa 16:12; c.f. Jer 48:35).
Indeed, it is tempting to speculate that traditions of a council of seventy
elders or sons of a judge or king, headed by Moses and Aaron (in E) or by the
judge or king and queen, like the image of seventy sons of Asherah (and El)
at Ugarit, reflect ideas of a natural cosmology in which seventy(-two) Great
Gods (fifty in Babylonia, and in Zech 4:2-3) administer all the
Yet, on this theory, the Host stood in an ambivalent position.
On the one hand, the Host is construed as Yhwh's court (1 Kgs 22:19),
as the "
sons of gods" (Ps 29:2), as "
gods, sons of Elyon"
(Ps 82:6). Yet at the same time, the great gods were those of foreign
nations. As a consequence, attention to the great gods, the baals, to the host,
can be construed as foreign worship. It is no coincidence that Hosea rails on
against both the baals and foreign alliances: symbolically, embracing a foreign
patron can be modelled as an equivalent to exalting a subordinate in Yhwh's
pantheon. And thus, starting with Hosea in the mid-eighth century, xenophobia,
a driving force in the following century in Judah, was enlisted to alienate
the pantheon from its controller, Yhwh.
One symptom that this process was the decisive one is the
characteristic equation of astral worship in Deut 17:3 with that
of "other gods", the cardinal sin of alien worship. In 2 Kgs 17:16,
the context of worship of the host is worship of 'the baal' and 'the asherah'
and child sacrifice, accusations against the Israelites (not Judah) concretized
in accounts of 'baal'-worship and the erection of an 'asherah under
the Omrides. All this material attests to the "otherness" of these classically
"other gods", "
gods of the foreigner", in this literature. In 2
Kgs 21:3,5, Manasseh is accused of building altars for 'the baal' and
'the 'asherah', an activity resulting in the building of altars for
all the host of heaven in the temple courts (destroyed in 2 Kgs 23:12):
Manasseh was worse than the nations Yhwh supplanted from before the Israelites
(21:2), presumably insofar as he introduced such abominations into
the temple of Yhwh itself. And in 2 Kgs 23:4-5, as noted, the identity
of the host with the baals cannot be gainsaid. The same equation is clear in
Jer 8:2; 19:3; Zeph 1:4-5. The late seventh-century revisionist
elite view, again, was that any divine subordinate was an alien (contrast the
traditionalists of Jeremiah 44). The identification of the baals
with the gods of foreigners, other gods, had alienated the Host of Yhwh of Hosts.
Was this the case with Hosea in the mid-eighth century? The chances are, the answer is yes. Hosea accuses Israel of abandoning her "husband" (baal), Yhwh, for "lovers" whom she thinks sustain her (2:7) -- as noted, the concept of Yhwh as a baal (= husband) has inspired the adultery metaphor. But it is Yhwh himself who has furnished her fertility and rare earths, which she dedicates to 'the baal' (2:10; c.f. 2:15). No longer to be called her 'baal' (husband), but her 'is, her "man"; here, Hosea puns on the affirmation "DN is!", "there is", as in the names of Jesse and Eshbaal (Cross 1973:64) -- he represents Yhwh as the living god, 2:1. Yhwh, Hosea avers, will suppress the names of the baals (2:19) and renew his marriage to Israel as a faithful one, without other gods (2:23-3:5). Aside from breaking the social contract (4:1ff.; 7:1; 10:4), Israel have sacrificed on the hills (4:13-14; 10:2,8; multiplying altars to sin, 8:11), using icons (8:4-6; 10:2,5; 13:2, after a tradition that Ephraim died for involvement with 'the baal', 13:1; 14:9), and have sought foreign alliances (7:11-12; 14:4,9), which will lead to exile in those countries (9:3 [cf. Jer 6:20 on 9:4]; 10:6), a motif connected with serving the baals and icons in 11:2,5. The alternation in Hosea between foreign alliance and rural cult and 'baal' suggests that the intellectual process involved is a denial both of subordinate gods and of foreign entanglements, or, to put it differently, of the equation of what is foreign (and what is unjust) with worship of subordinate deities.
In Hosea, the background for the intellectual developments of the late 8th and, later, 7th century are present. Indeed, the identification of the "baals" as gods of foreign nations (and Micah 4:4-5 at the end of the 8th century, probably Isa 16:8), as distinct from as gods subordinate to Yhwh, lies at the base of their rejection. The equation of what is foreign with what is evil is a chief point of the method of the historian who produced DtrH. The likelihood is that this was a tendency inherited from earlier members of the Jerusalem elite, starting at least with Hezekiah (c.f. Spieckermann 1982:201-211; Noth 1966:52-55; Halpern 1987; 1991).
The depersonalization of natural phenomena implied in this
transition, the depersonalization of the Host, was part and parcel of the implications
of increasingly rigorous monotheism. So, too, was the denial of the power of
the dead, of the ancestors, who perhaps figure subliminally as connected to
the baal in Jeremiah's metaphor of subterranean "
broken cisterns" (Halpern
1987; 1991). But who was the singular Baal with whom Yhwh allegedly came
into conflict in Judg 6:31-32; 1 Kings 18? The traditional candidates
all have their attractions. However, just as Yhwh was the baal at the head of
all the baals into the eighth century, it seems most likely that the polemicists
of the seventh century understood the baals to be representatives, even reflections,
of a single, paradigmatic Baal. And the likelihood is that this figure was identified
with the Chemosh, and Milcom, of Solomon's shrine, and with the sun, as the
head of all those planets (see Taylor 1989). It is difficult, thus,
to imagine any candidate more likely to impress itself on the mind of contemporary
Jerusalemites than Baal Shamem, "
the lord of the heavens", known both
through Phoenician and through Aramaic sources, and an appropriate counterpart
to the Queen of the Heavens (c.f. B. Mazar 1986:79-81).
But this is not to say that Baal Shamem was the figure with
whom Elijah came into conflict, since Jezebel will presumably have come to Samaria,
as Solomon's wives came to Jerusalem, with a full panoply of Phoenician gods
to placate: "the baal", remembered in the tradition as a single figure, was
probably virtually indistinguishable from the Israelite pantheon at the time,
but with a Tyrian twist. Hosea's perspective, that the "
day of Jezreel",
the bloodbath of Jehu, was to be visited on the Nimshides betrays a divorce
of that occasion from the confrontation reconstructed in Kings. Hosea's complaints
about the baal/baals under the Nimshides underscore the same point. Rather,
the reconstruction of a Baal other than Yhwh with whom Yhwh came into conflict
probably reflects the alienation of the baals, the Host, from Yhwh in the seventh
century. Yhwh, on Hosea's admonition, was no longer the Baal, but rather an
'is. He was no longer identified with the sun. Into this vacuum some
other emblematic baal had to be sucked. And whoever that figure was -- Milcom,
Chemosh, Baal Shamem, or all of them or some other -- his foreign affiliations
contributed to the operation of the Josianic polemic, the xenophobic critique
of the seventh-century prophets.
The Israelite elite, represented at the end of the Iron Age by Josiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, P and H(Dtr), did not arrive at a doctrine of monotheism by rejecting the gods of other peoples. Rather, it arrived at this pass by rejecting the gods that traditional culture, and earlier elite culture, had inherited from the fathers from the remotest bounds of the collective memory. The Deuteronomistic History as much as admits that such gods, and the cultic appurtenances characteristic of their cults, stemmed from the earliest moments of Israel's life in Canaan. And the attribution of Deuteronomy to Moses represents an attempt to manufacture a tradition, of alienation from all gods other than Yhwh, that is older than memory itself -- older than the memories of "other gods" who were Israelite gods, who were, in the traditional understanding, a part of Yhwh's heavenly court.
Revolutionaries, like Jeremiah and H(Dtr), lack historical perspective. Whether pretending to be reactionaries, restoring humankind to a primitive Garden of Eden, or whether posing as social engineers, murdering, by the guillotine or by some less violent form of attrition the resistant membership of some former governing class, such world-makers theoretically demonize their opponents' customs, without placing them in a context. This sort of adolescent idealism, unnuanced by an interest in actual observation, invariably breaks down when its adherents achieve power: the result is a Terror concentrated on consolidating the power of the Party. Josiah supplied such a terror, an extended attack on the institutions and regalia of traditional culture in Judah and Samaria. Monotheistic purists, in love with the theory of a unified, rather than multifarious, reality, ultimately had to slay the demons of other divinities than Yhwh. Not ironically, to slay those demons, they had to demonize their own history.
1. Typically, Deuteronomy 4 is dated quite late, but on the basis of a kulturgeschichtliche typology that is itself built on a literary assumption -- mainly, that the language of the chapter is coordinate with or later than that of the exilic editors of DtrH (E[Dtr]x in the terminology of Halpern 1988). Contrast Friedman 1981:16-22, excising only Deut 4:25-32. Even these verses are consistent with the overall trajectory of Deuteronomistic thought in the period of the Josianic reform, such that if the language is exilic, the thinking is not. On the date of Deut 17:3, note Dion 1991, with the implication that the segment may well be part of the Josianic edition of Deuteronomy.
2. This is of course the reason for assuming the astral cult was Assyrian. Thus, Stahelin 1843:85-86 cites Movers as having analyzed the Host as an Assyrian import on the basis that it was first mentioned in Manasseh's regnal account as a problem. He asked whether the town name, Beth Shemesh, indicated earlier cultic activity and noted that human sacrifice (Molech) is first mentioned in connection with Ahaz and might therefore be an innovation of his time. Stahelin, operating without the data available today and in the framework of thought of his teacher, de Wette, adduced Exod 20:4 and Am 5:26 as contrary currents. In fact, Exod 20:4 is certainly Priestly and late, and Am 5:26 indicates nothing at all about concern with the astral cult in Judah, or under Assyrian influence. Note Olyan 1988b.
3. So it is not significant -- against Smith 1990:43 -- that the object of worship in 1 Kgs 18:19, 22, 25, 26, 40 is called "the baal." Rather, "the" baal merely reflects the status of the lexeme in Hebrew usage, as "the" king does.
4. Singular in Deut 16:21; Judg 6:25, 26, 28, 30; 1 Kgs 16:33; 2 Kgs 13:6; 17:16; 18:4; 21:3; 23:6, 15. Plural 'aserim in Exod 34:13; Deut 7:5; 12:3 (these being three injunctions to destroy Canaanite 'aserim); 1 Kgs 14:15, 23; 2 Kgs 17:10; 23:14; Isa 17:8; 27:9; Jer 17:2; Mic 5:13; 2 Chr 14:2; 17:6; 19:3 ('aserot); 24:18 (an object of worship, but clearly an icon in the context of "idols", `assabbim; Chr never otherwise refers to the goddess/goddesses with this term); 31:1 (// in 2 Kgs 18:4 singular); 33:3 ('aserot// in 2 Kgs 21:3 singular), 19; 34:3,4 (typological // in 2 Kgs 23:6 singular), 7. Chr's predilection for the plural here is particularly remarkable, and reflects an interpretation of the phenomenon that, while possibly erroneous because founded on contemporary examples from outside Jerusalem, understands the singular in Kings to function as a collective plural.
5. For this reason, it is unlikely that 1 Sam 31:10
speaks of a "temple of ashtorets" (G Astarteion) because it lacks the
definite article. More likely, it reports a place name -- that of Ashtarot in
Transjordan, the b`strh (an apocopated byt `strh? -- Mandelkern
1959:1382) of Josh 21:27. Thus, the "
temple of Ashtarot",
or the toponym, Beth-Ashtarot, is placed into parallelism with the "
wall of Beth Shan".
6. There is no pertinent parallel to the preposition `al in its bound forms, as these are uniformly attached to the plural stem due to the influence of the alloform `ale.
7. Weinfeld 1978/79: wbzrh 'l ... wymsn hrm ... /lbrk b`l bym mlh[mh] /lsm 'l bym mlh[mth].
8. On b`lplt at Tel Dan, and blntn on the Calah ostracon, c.f. Smith 1990:65 n. 3. The latter can certainly be construed as Israelite, but could also be Transjordanian, or, for that matter, Sam'alian. It should be added that names citing Qaus are so far restricted to Negev ostraca of the late 7th century and later, and probably reflect Edomite activity rather than a change in onomastic patterns. A unprovenanced seal of the 9th/8th centuries containing the name b`l`dn, and stemming from a private collection, will be published shortly by Walter Aufrecht. For the suppression of the lexeme ba`al in the 7th century, see further below, regarding Hos 2:18 and terms for "husband".
9. For the best treatment of asherah as a (hypostatized) sanctuary, see McCarter 1987. Note particularly KAI 222.B:11 (a treaty with Bit Agusi and its people, together with 'srthm, presumably their cult places) and KAI 277:1, 'sr, m., presumably as a cult place of Ashtoret; also, Akk. asirtu.
10. I take the intervening text between "
and his asherah" to have been incised over the original blessing, along
with much else in the epigraph. But see Lemaire 1977; c.f.
also Dever 1984; Zevit 1984; Hadley 1987.
11. c.f. the ivory pomegranate, in the Israel Museum,
sacred (thing) of the priests to the house of ...h"
(qds khnm lbyt ...h). This can be the house of Yhwh, of Asherah, or
of some priestly lineage. There is no adjudicating among these alternatives,
although the existence of a "house of Asherah" is not yet witnessed in any text.
Sacred to Yhwh": Lev 19:8 (> Mal 2:11); 23:20; 27:14, 21, 23, 30, 32; Josh 6:19; Isa 23:18; Jer 2:3; 31:40; Ezek 45:1; Zech 14:20,21; Ezra 8:28.
Sacred to the priest(s)": Lev 23:20; Num 6:20; Ezek 45:4.
Sacred to you" (i.e., Israel): Lev 25:12; Nu 18:10.
In DtrH, the term, qodes occurs only in Deut 26:13; 33:2; 1 Sam 21:5-7; 1 Kgs 7:51; 8:4,8,10 (the latter two reflecting the meaning, "adyton"); 15:15.
The pattern of distribution in the Phoenician sphere is not dissimilar: gods are called "sacred", and the term is restricted to them alone.
12. Smith 1990:107 n. 52 cites KTU
2.31.39 (read 2.31.41), 'atrty and 1.43.13
`nth, neither of them in a transparent context, neither certainly the
name of a goddess. He also cites EA 84:33 DA-MU-ia,
my Tammuz" and Ezek 8:14, "
the Tammuz", and suffixes
on the Ugaritic 'il'ib. The usage in Ezekiel conforms to other patterns
in Hebrew explored here, and for that matter may take Tammuz to represent a
common noun rather than a proper name. In the EA reference
Rib-Addi is simply erecting a contrast, telling the pharaoh to send emissaries
to take whatever belongs to his DA.MU to the pharaoh, but not to suffer
the enemy taking what belongs to the pharaoh's god (= DA.MU): the cultic
establishment, not the abstracted divinity, is at issue; the referent is probably
the title, 'dn; and, in the contrast, "
my god::your god(s)",
it may be that the suffix is -- semantically, if not formally -- attached to
the determinative, "god", rather than to the name itself. As to 'il'ib,
the very strong likelihood that it refers to an ancestral spirit (not, the god
of the father, but the father's ghost -- K. van der Toorn, forthcoming)
puts a strong dent in the value of the citation: it is common for ancestral
spirits to be mentioned with possessive suffixes, at least in Akkadian, and
apparently also in Ugaritic ("
my ancestral spirits", etc.).
13. In a forthcoming study, K. van der Toorn
adduces a text mentioning DINGIR a-bi ú dINNIN um-mi (Meier
1941-44:142:36-37). As he demonstrates, this must be "
the ghost of
the father and the ghost of the mother" because there is no evidence that
women had personal goddesses divorced from their husbands' or fathers' personal
gods. A parallel to the locution, also adduced by van der Toorn, is DINGIR
E and dINNIN E // dIstar bitim.
14. K12033 + 82-5-22, 527 I 1'-14', line 8':
see Weippert 1981. It is interesting to speculate on the possible
appropriation of a Middle Assyrian term in Israel as well: esirtu in
the Middle Assyrian Laws specifically denotes a concubine (pl. esrate:
Driver and Miles 1935:41). The term is cognate with Heb. 'sr,
Akk. eseru, with the meaning, "
captive". However, the Assyrian
sibilant will have been experienced as /s/ in Israel (see Millard
1976), as it was in some Hittite texts, and the automatic association
would have been with asherah. Since Hebrew seems to have borrowed its term for
"concubine" from some other language family (pileges // Gr. pallax,
Lat. pellex), the possibility of a congeneric assimilation of the Assyrian
term with the term asherah should not altogether be ruled out of court.
15. Against Andersen and Freedman 1980, the
phrase `sw lb`l is to be compared to 2 Kgs 23:4, "
`swym to the baal, and to the asherah, and to all the Host of the Heavens":
clearly, these vessels have not been hammered into the form of a baal or an
asherah, let alone of all the Host of Heaven. Rather, they have been made for
or dedicated to those objects of devotion. As there is absolutely no indication
in Hosea 2 of any polemic against iconography, and as no identification
of the baal(s) with icons until 11:2, it seems most likely that
the locution in 2:10 refers to dedications as well.
16. The reference is probably to a stela, as in the Holy of Holies of the Arad shrine -- stelae remained an integral part of the cult at least until Josiah's reform not just on the literary evidence, but on that of the state shrine at Arad as well (see below on the Arad shrine). On the passage in question, see esp. Olyan 1987.
17. First Isaiah prefers the nominal form, s'r, which otherwise apppears in preexilic materials only in Zeph 1:4. The other passages in which the term appears are: Isa 10:19,20,21,22; 11:11,16; 14:22; 16:14; 17:3; 21:17; 28:5. In none of these, except Isa 14:22, is the reference to anything but the remainder of a people, literally or metaphorically, who have survived disaster. In post-exilic materials, the term appears in Mal 2:15 (the rest of the spirit); Esth 9:12 (in the rest of the states), 16 (the rest of the Jews); Ezra 3:8 (the rest of their brother priests and Levites); 4:3 (the rest of the clan chiefs of Israel), 7 (the rest of his cohorts); Neh 10:29; 11:1, 20 (the rest of the people); 1 Chr 11:8 (the rest of the city); 16:41 (the rest of the singers); 2 Chr 9:29 (the rest of the affairs of Solomon); 24:14 (the rest of the silver). None of the post-exilic usage, except conceivably 1 Chr 11:8, remotely implies survival of catastrophe, to which others have succumbed. In fact, the lexeme in postexilic texts where it governs a distributive term (Jews, states, cohorts, etc.) always has the meaning, "other", as distinct from those who have been named to this point.
Conversely, Deutero-Isaiah, Jeremiah, DtrH, Zephaniah, Amos,
Micah, Zechariah, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles all prefer the form s'ryt
for the survivors of cataclysm. This form also appears in Isa 14:30; 15:9,
and in Isa 37:4 (< 2 Kgs 19:4). But its use is consistent across
the other sources, although Haggai (alone) seems to deploy it as
the post-exilic sources use s'r (1:12, 14; 2:2). It is
frequently either affixed to or brought into equivalence with plth
(as Ezra 9:14, e.g.). It is always used of a people, with
the single exception of 2 Sam 14:7, where the wise woman of Tekoa
invokes it to plead for the provision of "
name and remnant" (c.f.
Isa 14:22) for her deceased husband.
18. So MT. G omits, and this is probably a double reading.
19. MT "
their king", but read with Sinaiticus and
the Lucianic recensions, Syriac, V.
20. 4QJudga omits Judg 6:7-10,
which is probably quite late. Nevertheless, in identifying "
the gods of the
Amorites" as the objects of Israelite apostasy, the author of this text
has clearly understood the implications of Judges 1-3 that the
baals and ashtorets were in origin Canaanite deities absorbed by Israel. This
is also the perspective of Deuteronomy, which like the Former Prophets is interested
in tracing both the Host and the high places to the supplanted Canaanites.
21. GA omits "
and the gods of Aram", which is most
likely a haplography by homoioarcton. That said, however, this is precisely
the sort of list which is subject to scribal expansion over generations of transmission,
and not all the present elements may belong to the first edition of DtrH.
22. See A. Mazar, Sefunim 2:000-000. [drr: c.f. Bibliography: the textfile source was corrupt]
23. Peckham 1987:84-87: the association of
Astarte with the dying god, Eshmun, may well be related to child sacrifice,
as Peckham; Robertson 1982:329. Given the parallel to Genesis
22, the tradition of Kronos sacrificing his only son as a part of the
Phoenician cult looks to be related to the thriving business of infant sacrifice
in Phoenician culture. The mourning ritual connected with Astarte in KAI
37 and elsewhere, and the tradition of "
raising the god" (mqm
'lm), identified as Astarte's bridegroom in KAI
44:2, in Phoenician epigraphs (c.f. the Eqron epigraph, lmqm,
in the seventh c., where other indications of Phoenician influence are present),
suggest the importance of the cycle through the underworld in this cult.
24. Note the reflex in 2 Chr 28:3, which reflects Jeremiah's position on the baals and the Host in the Valley of ben-Hinnom. It should be noted, too, that qtr, C, outside of P and Chronicles, seems chiefly to pertain to the burning of the fat. It can have the same valence within P, as at Exod 30:20; Lev 4:26; 8:21, 28; 9:13-20; 16:25; Num 18:17, for example, but this is far from being its only implication.
25. The actual history of the Yeb temple controversy is probably a bit more intricate than is usually indicated. Having failed, during the troubles of 410, to extract any sign of support from Jerusalem itself (or the high priest Yohanan) -- very likely because of opposition to the existence of any functioning temple outside of Jerusalem -- Yedaniah in 407 turned instead to the governor of Samaria and to Bagoas, who was the person responsible for the governance of the province of Yehud (Porten and Yardeni 1986:A4.7:1). Yet the response to this inquiry came from Bagoas and Delaiah, son of Sanballat, then the governor of Samaria (Porten and Yardeni 1986:A4.9, but also attested in the Wadi Daliyeh papyri). Josephus's tradition (Ant. IX.7.1-2) of a Bagoses who came into conflict with a high priest, John (Yohanan), and with Jerusalem generally, in conjunction with a governor of Samaria, Sanballat, presumably telescopes the Elephantine contretemps with the recognition of a subsequent Sanballat by Alexander.
The conclusion to be drawn is that the Jerusalem establishment rejected Elephantine's bona fides, and was perhaps more sympathetic to the rebel, Vidranga, than not. Yet the Judaeans of Yeb found willing ears in Samaria and in the "general" (Josephus identifies him as an officer serving Artaxerxes, but Josephus is not altogether reliable on the identities of Persian kings at moments when their activities intersect with his history -- a great deal of his information concerning the Achaemenids derives from reconstruction, and, in this case, the book of Esther interferes). The conflict between Bagoses and Jerusalem is reflected in that between Yeb and Jerusalem. Both the Samarian establishment and the anti-Jerusalemite general/governor had an interest in subsidizing the temple at Yeb.
26. Such a tradition is present in the Talmud, and is understood in passages there referring to Michael as "the great official", as TB Men 110a and the like. The implication is (and other passages naming Gabriel, for example likewise imply) that there are other "officials" of the Host. The tradition of seventy(-two) great gods thus presumes that for each planet, there are ten members of the officialdom (as captains of hundreds versus captains of tens), plus two leaders (Yhwh and his asherah?). The tradition of fifty great gods presupposes seven members of the officialdom for each of the planets (plus Marduk, or, in Zech 4:2-3, Yhwh). It is worth noting that the apologetic emendation of Deut 32:9, "El" to "Israel" reflects an equation of Israel with the stars, and of the stars with the administration of human nations, a sort of combination of the P notion that Israel was Yhwh's host, the notion, shared by P, that the host of heaven were the stars and the view of Deut 32:8-9 itself, that the host administered the nations.
27. Significantly, this usage for "husband" occurs only in the following texts: Gen 20:3 (E); Exod 21:3, 22; Deut 22:22 (phrase of Gen 20:3); 24:4 (note also, however, 21:13; 24:1); 2 Sam 11:26; Hos 2:18; and, in postexilic texts, Joel 1:8; Prov 12:4; 31:11, 23, 28; Esth 1:17, 20. Allowing that the concept, "husband", presupposes that a female figure is the subject of discourse, nevertheless, the absence of the term from J, P and Ezekiel, and, two specific laws apart, from nearly all of Deuteronomistic literature and from Jeremiah is striking -- a virtual adoption of Hosea's advice (Jeremiah does, however, use the verb -- 3:14; 31:32). This distribution, with a few exceptions, basically characterizes the use of ba`al as a designation for "owner" as well, though texts within DtrH do make use of it -- in the following constellations:
[drr: placed into list for clarity]
Most of these passages either derive from sources or reflect some other hand than that of H(Dtr). For 'is, "man", as husband, see, e.g., Deut 22:23; 25:11; Judg 13:6, 9, 10; 14:15; 19:3; 20:4; 1 Sam 1:8, 22, 23; 2:19; 3:16; 4:19, 21; 25:19; 2 Sam 11:26; 14:5, 7; 2 Kgs 4:1, 9, 14, 22, 26. This term in this semantic capacity is much more widely distributed outside DtrH in preexilic and exilic literature than is ba`al, including occurrences in J (as Gen 3:6; 16:3), E (as Gen 29:32, 34; 30:15, 18, 20), P (Lev 21:7; Nu 5:13, 19-20, 27, 29; 30:11-15 ) and Ezekiel (16:32); further, in the plural, arguably Jer 29:6; Ezek 16:45, but more clearly, Jer 44:19. In the postexilic period, however, ba`al alone assumes this meaning.
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1959 Veteris Testamenti Concordantiae Hebraicae atque Chaldaicae. 4th ed. Tel Aviv: Schocken.
1941-44 Die zweite Tafel der Serie bit meseri. AfO 14:139-152.
1978 Kuntillet `Ajrud. A Religious Centre from the Time of the Judaean Monarchy on the Border of Sinai. Israel Museum Catalogue 175. Jerusalem: Israel Museum.
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1987 In Search of God. The Meaning and Message of the Everlasting Names. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
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1967 Les papyrus arameens d'Hermoupolis et les cultes syro-pheniciens en Egypte perse. Biblica 48:546-621.
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1976 Assyrian Royal Names in Biblical Hebrew. JSS 21:1-14.
1987 The Negev in the Last Days of the Kingdom of Judah. Cathedra 42:4-15.
1962 The Excavations at Mesad Hashavyahu: Preliminary Report. IEJ 12:90-113.
1985 Writing and Scripts in Seventh-Century BCE Philistia: The New Evidence from Tell Jemmeh. IEJ 35:9-21.
1943 Uberlieferungsgeschichtliche Studien. Halle: Niemeyer.
1966 The Laws in the Pentateuch and Other Essays. Philadelphia: Fortress.
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1987 The Cultic Confessions of Jer 2,27a. ZAW 99:254-259.
1988a Asherah and the Cult of Yahweh in Israel. SBLMS 34. Atlanta: Scholars.
1988b Some Observations Concerning the Identity of the Queen of Heaven. UF 19:161-174.
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1987 Phoenicia and the Religion of Israel: The Epigraphic Evidence. Pp. 79-99 in Ancient Israelite Religion. Essays in Honor of Frank Moore Cross, ed. P. D. Miller, P. D. Hanson and S. D. McBride. Philadelphia: Fortress.
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1986 Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt. 1. Letters. Texts and Studies for Students. Jerusalem: Hebrew University. Department of the History of the Jewish People.
1989 Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt. 2. Contracts. Texts and Studies for Students. Jerusalem: Hebrew University Department of the History of the Jewish People.
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1978 Recovering Sarepta, A Phoenician City. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
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1924 Israelite Ostraca from Samaria. Cambridge: Harvard University.
1963 Traditionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen zum Richterbuch. BBB 18. Bonn: P. Hanstein.
1964 Die Bearbeitung des "Retterbuches" in der deuteronomischen Epoche. BBB 21. Bonn: P. Hanstein.
1982 The Ritual Background of the Dying God in Cyprus and Syro-Palestine. HTR 75:313-359.
1990 The Early History of God. San Francisco: Harper Row.
1982 Juda unter Assur in der Sargonidenzeit. FRLANT 129. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck Ruprecht.
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1843 Untersuchungen uber den Pentateuch, die Bucher Joshua, Richter, Samuelis und Konige. Berlin: Reimer.
1989 Solar Worship in the Bible and Its World. Ph. D. dss., Yale University.
1986 You Shall Have No Other Gods. Israelite Religion in the Light of Hebrew Inscriptions. HSS 31. Atlanta: Scholars.
1988 The Date of the Judaean Shrine at Arad. IEJ 38:142-157.
1977 Review of Meshel 1978. Shnaton 4:280-284.
1978/9 Further to the Inscriptions of `Ajrud. Shnaton 5-6:237-239.
1981 Assyrische Prophetien der Zeit Asarhaddons und Assurbanipals. Pp. 71-115 in Assyrian Royal Inscriptions: New Horizons in Literary, Ideological, and Historical Analysis, ed. F. M. Fales. Orientis Antiqui Collectio, 17. Rome: Istituto per l'oriente, Centro per la antichita e la storia dell'arte del vicino oriente.
1990 Where Did Jacob Dream His Dream? SJOT 2:44-57.
1984 The Khirbet el-Qom Inscription Mentioning a Goddess. BASOR 255:39-47.