Kuntillet cAjrud: A Case for Critical Revision

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International Journal of Research in Social Sciences and Humanities

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220402 Comparative Religious Studies

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Kuntillet cAjrud is an archaeological site with data in objects, images and texts that kept scholars on both sides of the hermeneutical divide busy. The secular/nihilistic orientated archaeologists are trying to connect the dots on both image and text to what they have already chose to see regarding the text: that the text is a late post-exilic creation and archaeology in their view is uncovering the “true Israel and their religion and their pantheon”. The other view is biblically textual-based, a position supported by other extra-biblical sources of literacy in all periods of the Levant in nearly all Ancient cultures continuously, and not only after the sixth century BCE. The hazard to prove earlier writings’ existence archaeologically is the preservation ability of writings materials used that leads to meagreness of data, not the reality of its existence. Kuntillet cAjrud is not only an Ashera site but also a Baal site, mentioning the word “prophet”; included an eschatological text with elements similar to Habakkuk 3 (520 BCE) and the Divine Warrior motif in Kajr 4.2. Ceramics (pithoi) came from Jerusalem, Samaria and even further north. Was Ashera written on the pithoi in Jerusalem or on Kuntillet cAjrud? Ashera also appeared on plaster-texts. Scholars are divided how it should be interpreted: that Ashera is a cultic place, gameboard, goddess or name of person. The 3 rd person singular pronoun added to the name can be shown also at Ebla and Ugarit. However, consensus of nihilists preferred to read “his [Yahweh’s] Ashera”. It was found in this article that a revision of all data rather points to the fact that the Ashera of the Addresee is in mind just like at Khirbet el Qōm where it reads “his [Uryahu’s] Asherah, not that of Yahweh. It does not deny that idolatry was exercised here but as the prophets (early = Amos, Hosea, Isaiah) all condemned Ashera and Baal worship on mountains near Tema, at Samaria, so this continued also with the later prophets Ezechiel and Jeremiah around the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BCE and continuing to 586 BCE. The iconography at the site had strong connections to Greek Vase art, especially the particular connection to one cow and calf motif dating to ca. 520 BCE. Nimrud Ivories are dated not only in the 9 th century but from the 9 th to the 6 th century BCE as the scholars reminded us. Textiles at Kuntillet cAjrud were in abundance, especially linen and also wool. The prophets like Ezechiel indicated the importance of textiles for the idolaters of that era. Whereas nihilistic archaeological-priority scholars find support at Kuntillet cAjrud for Yahweh having a consort and proving their stance that Israel religion transformed from polytheism to monotheism, the opposite view in this article uses their excellent data to prove that the biblical texts (that not only originated after the exile) are text and data connected to such an extent that archaeology cannot be done without a text on the tel. The Lachish III pottery debate leaves open a 800 BCE date or a 597 BCE date (favored by this writer) and Kuntillet cAjrud are filled with these types of ceramics. Radiocarbon dating does not only indicate a 800 BCE date but as Schniedewind indicated may even touch the 10th century BCE. Phoenician influence at the site led Singer in her confrontation with ca. 800 BCE scholars (early Lachish III dating scholars) to move the timing about 50 years later around 730 BCE (herself also an early Lachish III dating scholar). The gods at this site included: Yahweh; Ashera; Bacal; and the Egyptian god Bes and as a trading post with cultic and entertainment facilities for the visitors, they specialized in Phoenician, Israelite, Egyptian, Greek and other visitors to the water sources at this hill. Kuntillet cAjrud is so relevant for biblical studies, that networks are set up by nihilist female archaeologists to make a quest for the historical Ashera and to raise the issue whether the biblical text have pushed Yahweh’s wife out of the picture in the past, setting up for them the agenda, in this day and age with LGBTQH agitations and world transgender legal jurisdiction concensus, also woman ordination contra the biblical text, to try to ”set free“ Ashera image in the modern world. On the other side of the divide, all the fingerprints of idolatry on mountains as complained by the early and later prophets, over a long period, especially the prophets Ezechiel and Jeremiah, are at this site. At the end of the research, after working with the conventional theory that Teman and Shomron are cities of Teman and Samaria, another theory became more appealing, namely that it refers to persons on the basis of Rabbi Redak’s exegesis of Jeremiah 49:7 and Obadiah 9 for linking Teman to a person as Genesis 36:11 did. Extending Redak’s method it was found that at least three people in various stages of Israel’s history were called by the name Shomron. Instead of F = Kajr3.9: “May he [functionary] bless you to Yahweh of Teman [(conventionally a city)] and to his [(Yahweh’s)] Asherah” rather read F = Kajr3.9: “May he [functionary] bless you to Yahweh of Teman [(a person)] and to his [(Teman’s)] Asherah”. The same is the case with Yahweh of Samaria. The result is that the conventional application that Yahweh had a consort no longer is the only interpretation of the syntax and semantics of the inscriptions.

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