20 April, 2008

Yahweh's Love Interest

The Biblical Archaeology Review has an article in this issue regarding "A Temple Built for Two." The inspiration is a little house shrine evidently showing a 2-seated throne. One of the seats they suppose to be for Yahweh, and the other for His consort, the local fertility goddess, Asherah.

The article does a fine job evaluating the possible meanings of the idol, and makes a good argument that, yes, in the local popular religion (as opposed to the intellectual religion of the priesthood) Yahweh did not abide alone. One of the chief points the article makes is that the prophets all spent reams of parchment decrying Asherah. The prophets' complaint that sanctuaries to "The Queen of Heaven" were "on every hill and under every green tree," is about as good a proof as one needs that Asherah was big medicine. The little house shrine portrayed in BAR merely gives an indication that the Israelites came up with the usual way of reconciling their conflicting deities.

The point that occurs to me while reading this article is that Yahweh is the only God I can remember who has no mate, except His people, and them as a whole. I can think of many examples of gods who are mated to other gods. I can think of gods who have been taken with individual humans. I can think of gods who have every human romantic problem. I cannot think of a single other god who mates himself to all willing humans as a single entity.

Yahweh calls Israel His wife, and mourns her departures. He brings Israel gifts, protects her from enemies, nurtures her, and makes life promises to her that are unique in all religious history so far as my memory recalls. Ours is a God Who loves inhumanly. He loves a being no human has ever imagined as an individual before, the church, with a pure grace no human has ever conjured up in any religious fiction.

As the heavens are above the earth, so His love is above our love, His intent above our intentions.

We are so much more than lucky to be so loved. Praise the Lord our King.


Milly said...

>We are so much more than lucky to be so loved. Praise the Lord our King.


Kansas Bob said...

I love it that we.. not me.. are the bride of Christ. Hard to get our heads around.. His ways are really higher!

Anonymous said...

I think it just goes to show that the ancient mind didn't understand that Yahweh wanted love and dedication from His people any more than we struggle with it today. We don't generally use shrines today, but we could easily put our likenes on the throne next to Yahweh. Or maybe money, tv, drugs, women. Today we still struggle with worshipping Yahweh
only. We still don't understand that he want us not money, songs, prayer, perfection.

May we all give ourselves to Him.