An almost innate need for people to recognize
a divine mother as well as a divine father
Abraham of the Bible most likely grew up in a religious environment that believed in the Father God El, and the Mother Goddess Asherah. El was the creator of heaven and earth, the divine judge and was known to be wise and compassionate. Asherah was the great Caananite Mother Goddess since about the 13th century BCE.
After Abraham [left UR] and recruited some followers, he had a difficult time cutting out Asherah and the other regional gods. However, as time progressed in the Old Testament, the temptation to worship other gods lessened, while the blatant worship of Asherah along side of Yahweh continued.
One reason for this has been suggested by Raphael Patai in his book, The Hebrew Goddess. He compared religions around the world and saw that there was an almost innate need for people to recognize a divine mother as well as a divine father.
As you probably know, out of the hundreds of thousands of religions that currently exist or have ever existed, only Islam and Judaism can be seen as wholly monotheistic, and, along with Christianity, lacking a female deity.
Patai suggested that it was difficult for the religious leaders in early Judaism to suppress Asherah because of this seemingly universal desire to recognize a nurturing, compassionate, Mother Goddess.
Hebrew women, in general, had a closer attachment to Asherah, seeing as how they did not play much of a role in their religion. Of course, there were some great women such as Esther, Deborah, and Rebecca, but women playing a part in early Judaism was definitely the exception instead of the rule.
Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child
The Queen of Heaven
In Israel and Judah
Between the 10th century BC and the beginning of their exile in 586 polytheism was normal throughout Israel; it was only after the exile that worship of Yahweh alone became established, and possibly only as late as the time of the Maccabees (2nd century BC) that monotheism became universal among Jews. Some biblical scholars believe that Asherah at one time was worshiped as the consort of Yahweh, the national god of Israel.
An 8th century combination of iconography and inscriptions discovered at Kuntillet Ajrud in the northern Sinai desert shows three anthropomorphic figures and an inscription that refers to “Yahweh … and his Asherah”. Asherah functioned as a goddess and consort of Yahweh and was worshiped as the Queen of Heaven. (Wikipedia Info)
Make cakes to the Queen of Heaven
Asherah was worshipped in Israel and Judah, as the Queen of Heaven whose worship Jeremiah (prophet) so vehemently opposed:
“Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.” Book of Jeremiah 7:17 (Pagan News)
Ultimately, the campaign to eliminate the goddess has failed.
“Asherah was buried long ago by the Establishment,” declares respected biblical scholar William H. Dever. “Now, archaeology has excavated her.”
Dever is quite certain that he knows who the Asherah of ancient Israel and of the biblical texts is…
She is the wife or consort of Yahweh… The Lost Goddess of Israel