In studying the inscriptions from Kuntillet Ajrud, Ze'ev Meshel and others have held that in the blessings "by YHWH of Samaria/Teman and His/its asherah," the term asherah refers to the cultic object of that name and not to the goddess Asherah.<1> The plausibility of this interpretation, I believe, is enhanced by a practice of late Second Temple times in which YHWH and a personified cult object are addressed in the same breath. According to Tanaaitic sources, the alter was addressed on the seventh day of Sukkoth: "When they departed, what did they say? 'Praise to you, O Altar! Praise to you, O Altar!'" (m. Suk. 4:5) According to Rabbi Eliezer b. Jacob, they said "To Yah and to you, O Altar! To Yah and to you, O Altar!" (t. Suk. 3:1 end).<2>
Rabbi Eliezer b. Jacob's version of the address apparently raised eyebrows in Talmudic times much as the Kuntillet Ajrud blessings have in modern times. The Babylonian Talmud asks whether it doesn't violate the prohibition on "joining the name of the Lord with something else" -- that is, treating something else as divine alongside the Lord -- thus violating the rabbinic understanding of Exod. 22:19b ("save for the Lord alone"). It answers that the meaning is simply "To Yah we give thanks and to you, O Altar, we give praise!" (b. Suk. 45b).
Whether or not the Talmudic explanation represents exactly what the address meant, the address itself shows that people who were unquestionably monotheistic did not hesitate to address YHWH and a personified cult object in a way which seems to give comparable status to each. This is similar to what is done in the blessings from Kuntillet Ajrud, according to the view that the asherah is a personified cult object and not a goddess. The parallel thus lends plausibility to this view.<3>
1. For the text of the inscriptions see Meshel, *Kuntillet Ajrud. A Religious Centre from the Time of the Judaean Monarchy on the Border of Sinai.* Israel Museum Catalogue no. 175. Jerusalem: Israel Museum, 1978. Heb. Section, p. 20 (page facing pl. 10), Eng. Section, p. 13; M. Weinfeld, "Further Remarks on the Ajrud Inscriptions, " *Shnaton* 5-6 (1978-79): 237 (in Hebrew: revised English version in "Kuntillet Ajrud Inscriptions and Their Significance," in *Studi Epigrafici e Linguistici* 1 :125).
For the view that asherah does not refer to a goddess in these inscriptions see Meshel, loc. cit., and "Did Yahweh Have a Consort? The New Religious Inscriptions from the Sinai," BAR 5/2 (March/April, 1979):24-35; A. Lemaire, "Who or What Was Yahweh's Asherah?" BAR 10/6 (November/December, 1984): 42-51 (cf. idem "Les Inscriptions de Khirbet el-Qom et l'Asherah de YHWH," RB 84 603-8); Tigay, *You Shall Have No Other Gods. Israelite Religion in the Light of Hebrew Inscriptions* (HSS 31. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1986), p. 174; P. Kyle McCarter, "Aspects of the Religion of the Israelite Monarchy: Biblical and Epigraphic Data," pp. 143-149, in *Ancient Israelite Religion. Essays in Honor of Frank Moore Cross*, ed. Partrick D. Miller, Jr., Paul D. Hanson, and S. Dean McBride (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987). For the view that the inscriptions do refer to the goddess Asherah see M. Gilula, "To Yahweh Shomron and his Asherah," *Shnaton* 3 (1978-79): 134-37 (in Hebrew; English summary, pp. XV-XVI); W. Dever, "Asherah, Consort of Yahweh? New Evidence from Kuntillet cAjrud," BASOR 255 (1984)21-37; Michael D. Coogan, "Canaanite Origins and Lineage: Reflections on the Religion of Ancient Israel," on pp. 118-119 *Ancient Israelite Religion* (see above); see also J. Naveh, "Graffiti and Dedications," BASOR 235 (1979):28; Z. Zevit, "The Khirbet el-Qom Inscription Mentioning a Goddess," BASOR 255 (1984):39-47. J.A. Emerton argues that the inscription is probably referring to the wooden symbol of the goddess Asherah; see Emerton, "New Light on Israelite Religion: The Implications of the Inscriptions from Kuntillet Ajrud," ZAW 94 (1982): 2-20.
2. This passage also appears in some editions of the Mishnah, but it is not original there. See J.N. Epstein, *Mavo Le-Nusah Ha-Mishnah* (2d ed. Jerusalem: Magnes and Tel Aviv: Dvir, 1964), 2:928-929; S. Lieberman, *Tosefta Kifshutah* Pt. 4 (Mo'ed) (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1962):871; see also the comment of Lieberman in *qls qylwsyn*, in Alei Ayin (S. Schocken volume, Jerusalem, 1948-52), 81 n. 33. Cf. Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Shevuot 11:2.
3. I noticed two further item relating to subjects discussed in *You Shall Have No Other Gods* too late to include there:
To pp. 69-70. The compatibility of the recognition of *gad* with monotheism is shown by reference in Talmudic sources to the *gad* of Jewish homes. Gen. Rab 71:11 refers to "the *gad* of the house." B. Sanh. 20a refers to "the bed (or couch) of the *gad*" kept in the home. Neither passage shows any sign of disapproval.
To Appendix E. For further Yahwistic names found in Assyrian documents
see I. Eph'al, "Israel: Fall and Exile," in WHJP 4/1, 190.