Ze’ev Meshel/Israel Exploration Journal, Vol. 7, Number 4

Tree of Life? The pithos from eighth-century B.C.E. Kuntillet ‘Ajrud also contains a drawing of a tree flanked by ibexes above a lion. The accompanying text solicits a blessing from “Yahweh … and his Asherah.” The term “asherah” appears many times in the Hebrew Bible. Sometimes asherah refers to an anthropomorphic deity (2 Kings 23:4), probably related to the Canaanite goddess Asherah (who was often associated with lions). Elsewhere in the Bible, asherah is described as a wooden cult object—a sacred pole or a tree (1 Kings 14:23). In either case, pre-reform Israelite cults often conceived of a quasi-divine entity in association with their national god, Yahweh.