Devotion to Asherah in the Khirbet El-Qom Inscription (2 Chronicles 15)

Bilderesultat for Khirbet El-Qom Inscription

Religious syncretism (simultaneous worship of various gods) was widespread in ancient Israel. From the time of the judges many Israelites included the Canaanite gods in their worship. Because the god El was in some respect considered to be analogous with the Lord, many also adopted worship of El’s consort, Asherah, assuming her to be Yahweh’s partner as well. Frequently wooden cult objects representing Asherah were erected in sacred spots. Gideon destroyed such a cult object (Judges 6:25-28), as did Asa (2 Chronicles 15:16), Hezekiah (31:1) and Josiah (34:3-7).

An inscription from Khirbet el-Qom, approximately 13 km west of Hebron demonstrates why it was necessary for Hezekiah and Josiah to continue to demolish Asherah poles even after the religious reforms of Asa. This inscription, dating to the late eighth century B.C. (at least 100 years after Asa), originally appeared on a pillar of the burial chamber for an otherwise unknown man by the name of Uriyahu. His eulogy claims that the Lord had blessed him and delivered him from his enemies “by his Asherah.” Similar inscriptions from Kuntillet Ajrud in the northern Sinai suggest that many Israelites continued their devotion to the goddess Asherah, worshipping her as the Lord’s spouse. It is such religious syncretism and idolatry that Asa attacked in 2 Chronicles 15:8-17.


 

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