Photo and drawing by Ze’ev Meshel

This fragment, from an eighth-century B.C.E. pithos (storage jar) found at Kuntillet ‘Ajrud, in Sinai, contains the blessing “By Yahweh of Samaria and His Asherah.” In the crude drawing below the inscription, the bovine-like figure may be the young Bull of Samaria’ (see Hosea 8:6)—the idolatrous form of Yahweh worshiped in the northern kingdom of Israel—while the female figure by his side may be Asherah, who in the Canaanite pantheon was the consort of the chief god El, often pictured as a bull. (According to some scholars, however, the foreground figures are depictions of the Egyptian god Bes, and the lyre player is just a musician.) Also on this pithos is a drawing of a tree flanked by ibexes—which may be another depiction of the semidivine asherah figure.