The Asherah Tug-Of-War

For some reason, Baal gets all the attention when there’s another Old Testament deity that’s frequently mentioned: Asherah:

(I should mention that this popularity contest is a bigger knowledge gap for OT readers than it is for Stargate viewers, I’m just saying…)

Anyway, for my OT Theology class I’m reading a dissertation about the Asherah. I’ll get back to that towards the end of the semester, but for now, I think it’s interesting to see the tug-of-war that happens in Israel/Judah as it relates to the setting up and destruction of the Asherah.

Here’s the back and forth (all verses NIV):

Worship of Asherah

  1. Jdg. 3:7 – The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs.
  2. 1 Ki. 14:15 – And the LORD will strike Israel, so that it will be like a reed swaying in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land that he gave to their ancestors and scatter them beyond the Euphrates River, because they aroused the LORD’s anger by making Asherah poles.
  3. 1 Ki. 14:23 – They also set up for themselves high places, sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree.
  4. 1 Ki. 16:33 – Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.
  5. 1 Ki. 18:19 – Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
  6. 2 Ki. 13:6 – But they did not turn away from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit; they continued in them. Also, the Asherah pole remained standing in Samaria.
  7. 2 Ki. 17:10 – They set up sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree.
  8. 2 Ki. 17:16 – They forsook all the commands of the LORD their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshiped Baal.
  9. 2 Ki. 21:3 – He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them.
  10. 2 Ki. 21:7 – He took the carved Asherah pole he had made and put it in the temple, of which the LORD had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever.
  11. 2 Chr. 33:3 – He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had demolished; he also erected altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them.
  12. 2 Chr. 33:19 – His prayer and how God was moved by his entreaty, as well as all his sins and unfaithfulness, and the sites where he built high places and set up Asherah poles and idols before he humbled himself– all these are written in the records of the seers.
  13. Jer. 17:2 – Even their children remember their altars and Asherah poles beside the spreading trees and on the high hills.

Prohibition and Destruction of Asherah

  1. Exod. 34:13 – Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles.
  2. Deut. 7:5 – This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire.
  3. Deut. 12:3 – Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places.
  4. Deut. 16:21 – Do not set up any wooden Asherah pole beside the altar you build to the LORD your God,
  5. Jdg. 6:25 – That same night the LORD said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.
  6. Jdg. 6:26 – Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.”
  7. Jdg. 6:28 – In the morning when the people of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!
  8. Jdg. 6:30 – The people of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”
  9. 1 Ki. 15:13 – He even deposed his grandmother Maakah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive image for the worship of Asherah. Asa cut it down and burned it in the Kidron Valley.
  10. 2 Ki. 18:4 – He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.)
  11. 2 Ki. 23:4 – The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of the LORD all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel.
  12. 2 Ki. 23:6 – He took the Asherah pole from the temple of the LORD to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it there. He ground it to powder and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people.
  13. 2 Ki. 23:7 – He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes that were in the temple of the LORD, the quarters where women did weaving for Asherah.
  14. 2 Ki. 23:14 – Josiah smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles and covered the sites with human bones.
  15. 2 Ki. 23:15 – Even the altar at Bethel, the high place made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had caused Israel to sin– even that altar and high place he demolished. He burned the high place and ground it to powder, and burned the Asherah pole also.
  16. 2 Chr. 14:3 – He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles.
  17. 2 Chr. 15:16 – King Asa also deposed his grandmother Maakah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive image for the worship of Asherah. Asa cut it down, broke it up and burned it in the Kidron Valley.
  18. 2 Chr. 17:6 – His heart was devoted to the ways of the LORD; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah.
  19. 2 Chr. 19:3 – There is, however, some good in you, for you have rid the land of the Asherah poles and have set your heart on seeking God.”
  20. 2 Chr. 24:18 – They abandoned the temple of the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God’s anger came on Judah and Jerusalem.
  21. 2 Chr. 31:1 – When all this had ended, the Israelites who were there went out to the towns of Judah, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. They destroyed the high places and the altars throughout Judah and Benjamin and in Ephraim and Manasseh. After they had destroyed all of them, the Israelites returned to their own towns and to their own property.
  22. 2 Chr. 34:3 – In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David. In his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles and idols.
  23. 2 Chr. 34:4 – Under his direction the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to pieces the incense altars that were above them, and smashed the Asherah poles and the idols. These he broke to pieces and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them.
  24. 2 Chr. 34:7 – he tore down the altars and the Asherah poles and crushed the idols to powder and cut to pieces all the incense altars throughout Israel. Then he went back to Jerusalem.
  25. Isa. 17:8 – They will not look to the altars, the work of their hands, and they will have no regard for the Asherah poles and the incense altars their fingers have made.
  26. Isa. 27:9 – By this, then, will Jacob’s guilt be atoned for, and this will be the full fruit of the removal of his sin: When he makes all the altar stones to be like limestone crushed to pieces, no Asherah poles or incense altars will be left standing.
  27. Mic. 5:14 – I will uproot from among you your Asherah poles when I demolish your cities.