ASHTORETH (ash'to-reth or ash-to'reth), (Heb.
ash-tow-reth, I Kings xi:5).
(1) The Goddess of the Zidonians. This is the name of Astarte, goddess of the Zidonians (I Kings xi:5, 33),and also of the Philistines (I Sam. xxxi:lo), whose worship was introduced among the Israel ites during the period of the judges (Judg. ii:13; I Sam. vii: 4), and was celebrated by Solomon him self (I Kings xi:5), and was finally put down by Josiah (2 Kings xxiii: 13). She is frequently men tioned in connection with Baal, as the correspond ing female divinity (Judg. 3); and from the dition of the words 'and all the host of heaven,' in 2 Kings xxiii: 4 (although Asherah occurs there, and not Ashtoreth, which will be accounted for below), it is probable that she represented one of the celestial bodies.
(2) Queen of Heaven. There is also reason to believe that she is meant by the 'queen of heaven,' in Jer.vii:t8; xliv:17, whose worship is there said to have been solemnized by burning, incense, pouring libations, and offering cakes. Further, by com paring the two passages, 2 Kings xxiii: 4 and Jer. vii:z, which last speaks of the `sun and moon and all the host of heaven, whom they served,' we may conclude that the moon was worshiped under the names of queen of heaven and of Ashtoreth, pro vided the connection between these titles is established. This constitutes nearly the sum of all the indications in the Old Test. concerning Ashtoreth.
(3) Rites. The rites of her worship, if we may assume their resembling those which profane au thors describe as paid to the cognate goddesses, agree with the few indications in the Old Test., in part complete the brief notices there into an accordant picture. The cakes mentioned in Jer. vii: 18, which are called in Hebrew Kavvaninz, were also known to the Greeks by the name Cha Nnes, and were by them made in the shape of a sickle, in reference to the new moon. Among animals, the dove, the crab, and, in later times, the lion, were sacred to her ; and among fruits, the pomegranate. No blood was shed on her altar ; but male animals, and chiefly kids, were sacrificed to her (Tacit. Hist. ii :3). Hence some suppose that the reason why Judah promised the harlot a kid was that she might sacrifice it to Ashtoreth (see Tuch's note to Gen. xxxviii :17). The most
prominent part of her worship, however, consisted of those libidinous orgies which Augustine, who was an eye witness of their horrors in Carthage, describes with such indignation (De Civit. Dci, 3). Her priests were eunuchs in women's attire (the peculiar name of whom is Kadeshini', male devotees, sacri, 1 Kings xiv :24), and women Dedeshoth'. female devotees, sacra., i. e. meretriccs or prostitutes (Hos. iv :14), which term ought to be distinguished from ordinary harlots, Zonal:, who, like the Bayaderes of India, prostituted themselves to enrich the temple of this goddess. The prohibition in Deut. xxiii :18 appears to allude to the dedication of such funds to such a purpose.
(See PROSTITUTION, SACRED.) (4) Places. As for the places consecrated to her worship, although the numerous passages in which the Authorized Version has erroneously rendered Aslicralt by grove are to be deducted (as is explained below), there are yet several occa sions on which gardens and shady trees are men tioned as peculiar seats of (probably, her) lasciv ious rites (Is. i:29; lvii: 5; lxvi:17; lxv: 3; i Kings xiv:23; Hos. iv:13, 14; Jer. ii:20; iii: 13). She also had celebrated temples (I Sam. xxxi: to).
"Lucian (De dea Syria, Sec. 4) visited a great tem ple of Aphrodite in Byblus (Gebal), in which the rites of Adonis (who corresponded to Tammuz), were performed; here such women as would not shave their hair in commemoration of his burial were obliged to sell themselves to a stranger, the money received being expended on a sacrifice to Aphrodite (Comp, the Babylonian custom referred to above). At Aphaka in the Lebanon there was a temple of Aphrodite, the rites practiced at which were of such a character that they were suppressed by Constantine (Euseb. Const. iii: 55)." (R. S. Driver, Hastings' Bib. Diet.) With regard to Asherah (Judg. vi:25; Ex. xxxiv: 13; Deut. vii: 5): Selden was the first who endeavored to show that this word—which in the LXX and Vulgate is generally rendered grove, in which our Authorized Version has followed them—must in some places, for the sake of the sense, he taken to mean a wooden linage of Ash toreth (De Diis Syrtis, ii:2). Not long after Spen cer made the same assertion (De Lee. Hebrerar L.