by Ronald L. Ecker
from the book ’And Adam Knew Eve’
from Hodge&Braddoc Website
YAHWEH - "Thy Maker Is Thine Husband"
(The other name by which the deity is most often referred to in the Hebrew Bible is Elohim [translated "God"], an originally plural form meaning "gods." "The LORD" in English versions translates Yahweh--the assumed pronunciation of YHWH [a name of uncertain meaning], there being no vowels in the original Hebrew text.)
But then Isaiah also refers to kings as
"nursing fathers" (49:23) and to daughters who "shalt suck the
breasts of kings" (60:16), words that cannot be taken literally. In
any case, Yahweh outside of some Isaianic imagery is masculine in
the Hebrew Bible.
Elaine Pagels points out that some Christian Gnostics thought of the divine in both masculine and feminine terms, with Jesus referring to the Holy Spirit as his Mother in the Gospel of Thomas and in the Gospel to the Hebrews, and with the Apocryphon of John describing the Trinity as Father, Mother, and Son.
notes, however, such views were suppressed as heretical, with none
of the Gnostic texts included in the New Testament canon. (The Nag Hammadi Library)
Wisdom (Hebrew hokma, a feminine noun) is personified in Proverbs not only as a woman but as a preexistent entity with Yahweh.
It was through Wisdom that Yahweh "founded the earth" (3:19), she is "a tree of life" to those who lay hold of her (3:18), and she offers to reward all who seek her:
In the Apocrypha, Lady Wisdom is identified with the Torah or
biblical law (Sirach 24:23; Baruch 4:1). In the New Testament, the
preexistent Word (Greek Logos) at the beginning of the Gospel of
John is reminiscent of Wisdom, and in 1 Cor. 1:24 Paul calls
"the wisdom of God" (Greek Theou Sophia).
The wife’s infidelity is thus a metaphor for the Israelite people’s idolatry.
At one point Yahweh divorces Israel for
her adultery, only to have "her treacherous sister Judah" commit
adultery also (Jer. 3:8). Ezekiel 23 allegorizes Samaria and
Jerusalem, the Israelite and Judahite capitals, as two sisters with
a host of foreign lovers while both are married to Yahweh.
In Lamentations, Yahweh trods "the virgin" Jerusalem "as in a winepress" (1:15), and in Ezekiel he tells his wife Oholibah (Jerusalem),
Needless to say, the thought behind these metaphors of Yahweh the husband physically abusing his wife presents a challenge to modern biblical interpreters. Through such imagery "the Bible," writes Sharon H. Ringe in The Women’s Bible Commentary,
The brutality seems hardly ameliorated by Yahweh’s assurances to his mutilated wife of a brighter tomorrow, for they make God sound like the stereotypical wife beater who minimizes what he has done and promises not to do it again:
ASHERAH - The Lord God’s Lady?
In the Bible her name often appears as ha asherah, meaning "the" asherah. In such instances the reference is not to the goddess but to a symbol of her, an object (in the plural asherim) that was apparently a sacred pole, tree, or group of trees (hence the translation "groves") at Israelite sanctuaries or "high places" as well as by altars of Baal. The erecting of asherim was among the "evil" deeds of kings like Ahab and Manasseh, and cutting the things down was a regular chore of "right" kings like Hezekiah and Josiah.
We know from references to,
...that Yahweh was not alone in his heaven.
We know also that Yahweh supplanted the Canaanite El to the extent that God’s other names in the Hebrew Bible include El, El Elyon ("God Most High"), El Shaddai ("God Almighty"), and the (originally) plural form Elohim (as in Gen. 1:1).
But did Yahweh take El’s woman too?
The graffiti includes blessings such as,
Does this mean by Yahweh and by his goddess? Or is it saying "by Yahweh and by his sacred pole"?
All we may safely assume at this point has been well put by the French epigrapher Andre Lemaire: