Monday, November 26, 2007

Eve And Asherah: What's The Connection?
So was the biblical author trying to make a connection between Eve and Asherah? Or are all the similarities merely a coincidence?

According to
Reinstating the Divine Woman in Judaism by Jenny Kien:

Adam names his wife Hawah or Mother of All Living Things (Gen. 3:20).Considering what we now know about Asherah, it should be clear that at any time in the second or early first millennium BCE, when a woman is called "Mother of All Living Things," the text must have something to do with the great goddess Asherah. Indeed, even though biblical scholars are extremely cautious, Hawah's connection with Asherah still shimmers through their analysis. In a careful examination of the speeches in which Hawah named Cain (Gen. 4:1), biblical scholar Ilana Pardes writes:

[Hawah] is endowed with traits which in pagan works characterize the creatress. . . [Hawah] presents herself not only as Cain's mother but also as the bearer of Adam and perhaps even as the ex-consort of Jahweh. . . These are traces from an earlier mythological age in which mother goddesses were very much involved in creation.

According to Genesis 3:20, Adam named his wife Eve because she was "the mother of all living." This occurred after the fall. Although some say it is just a coincidence that Asherah and Eve shared the same title, some scholars do concede that the Bible is deliberately trying to make some kind of a connection between Eve and Asherah. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that Eve became Asherah after her death.

Consider this comment by Bruce Vawter:

Whatever may have once been the sense of the "hawwah" (serpent mother = mother goddess?) which the Yahwist decided to read as "mother of all the living," and whatever the route by which the term came to him in the first place, he may very well have recognized its etymological appropriateness for the present context. What the woman is in her historical state, after all, for good as well as for ill, she owes to the intervention of the serpent (Vawter, Bruce. On Genesis: A New Reading. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1977, page 87).

Certainly, the ancient Jews would have been very familiar with Asherah. They also would have been very aware of the fact that, like Eve, Asherah was often depicted nude with a snake. In fact, not only was Asherah symbolized by a stylized tree and worshipped in sacred groves, she was also referred to as "Lady of the Serpent."

Asherah worship was very prevelant and widespread throughout Jewish history. Asherah figurines are commonplace in the archaeological record, indicating the popularity of Asherah cults from the earliest times to the Babylonian exile.