Did God Have a Wife? Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel

While Did God Have a Wife? is a catchy title (no doubt employed to pique interest and increase sales), William Dever’s latest foray into Israelite religion has more to do with its subtitle, Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel, than with God’s marital status. Nevertheless, Latter-day Saints may be more interested in the answer to the question of whether the God of Israel had a wife than in a tour de force through what archaeology can tell us about the religion of biblical Israel—even if that grand tour was produced by arguably the foremost living American archaeologist of all things associated with the Old Testament.

Dever answers the question posed in his title with an unqualified “Yes!” In his view, the God of the Old Testament (“Yahweh” in scholarly cliques and “Jehovah” in conservative circles) certainly did have a consort, and her name was Asherah. The evidence is laid out in great detail throughout the book, but specifically in chapters 6 and 7. The data he presents consist of (1) textual evidences, such as the “asherah” and “asheroth” (plural of “asherah”) mentioned in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament but not always recognizable in the King James English translation, (2) ancient graffiti found in Israelite territory mentioning “Yahweh and his Asherah,” and (3) evidence from numerous archaeological excavations conducted in and around the lands traditionally associated with the Israelites of the Old Testament.

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