Photo by William G. Dever/Drawing after Pirhiya Beck
God’s hand? An enigmatic symbol accompanies an inscription that solicits the blessing of Yahweh and “his Asherah,” on this relief carving from an eighth-century B.C.E. tomb in Khirbet el-Qôm, near Hebron. References to Asherah here and at Kuntillet ‘Ajrud suggest that some Israelites believed that Yahweh had a divine consort—which helps explain why Asherah (whether conceived as a kind of divine being or as the sacred tree of life) is so scathingly criticized in the Bible.