Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The Queen of Heaven

They [the people of the land after the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem] have a different view as to the cause of the destruction of Jerusalem. To them the catastrophe is not the outcome of their continued veneration of “other deities” but results from a breach in what they construe as legitimate religion. They communicate the fact that from times of old they have worshiped the Queen of Heaven. At some point they stopped this veneration. Most probably this should be interpreted as a reference to the cult reformation under King Josiah. 2 Kings 22–23 narrate how this king of Judah reacted to the discovery of a law-book in the temple of Jerusalem. After finding this book of law—which most probably contained the kernel of what is now the book of Deuteronomy— Shaphan the royal secretary reads it aloud to the king. Josiah then takes drastic measures: the worship of YHWH must be concentrated in the temple of Jerusalem. All other sanctuaries throughout the land are declared illegitimate. Next, the cult is purified of strange and foreign elements. It is plausible that, in that process, the veneration of Asherah and/or the Queen of Heaven was banned. The Judeans whom Jeremiah confronts in Egypt understand the ruination of Jerusalem and their exile to Egypt as the consequence of this cult reformation. Their abandonment of the worship of the Queen of Heaven has caused the disfavor of this goddess. Ending their offerings to this deity has, in their perception, ended her protection, patronage, and blessing of the people of Judah, with catastrophic results. To regain the blessing of the Queen of Heaven, they start to appease her by bringing offerings.— Bob Becking in Divine Doppelgängers: YHWH’s Ancient Look-Alikes, p. 67

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