Avraham Hai

“I have blessed you by Yahweh of Shomron [Samaria] and by his asherah” reads the inscription that accompanies three figures drawn in red ink on this eighth-century B.C.E. storage jar, or pithos (Pithos A), from Kuntillet ‘Ajrud, a pilgrimage site or caravanserai in the Sinai. The inscription has fueled scholarly debate since the pithos was discovered in the 1970s. Some have interpreted the words as a label identifying the people depicted: Asherah was thought to be the seated female figure who plays a lyre, at right, while the standing figure at far left was thought to be Yahweh. But today scholars generally agree that the two figures at left actually represent the Egyptian god Bes, wearing his usual feather headdress and standing in a typical pose with his hands on his hips. The lyre player is no longer identified as a goddess, but merely as a musician.