SPECIAL TOPIC: Israel's Mandated Response to Canaanite Fertility Worship

Deuteronomy 12:3 lists several cultic items of Ba'al worship and how Israel is to destroy them.

1. "You shall tear down their altars"

a. the verb, BDB 683, KB 736, Piel perfect, cf. Deut. 7:5; 2 Chr. 31:3; 34:4

b. the item, "altars," BDB 258, Ba'al's altars were raised platforms of cut stone with an uplifted stone (pillar) and a hole to plant a tree or secure a wooden, carved stake (Asherah)

2. "smash their sacred pillars"

a. the verb, BDB 990, KB 1402, Piel perfect, cf. Deut. 7:5; 2 Kgs. 3:2; 10:27

b. the item, "pillars," BDB 663. These were uplifted stones used as a phallic symbol for the male fertility god (cf. Deut. 16:22).

3. "burn their Asherim with fire"

a. the verb, BDB 976, KB 1358, Qal imperfect, cf. Deut. 7:5, in 2 Chr. 31:1 and 34:4, they were to be "chopped down." 

b. the item, Asherim, BDB 81. It symbolized the tree of life.  Asherah (cf. ABD, vol. 1, pp. 483-87, although in the poetic literature from Ugarit, Anath is Ba'al's consort, cf. ABD, vol. 1, pp. 225-26) was the female consort of Ba'al.  It may have been a live tree or a carved stake.

4. "you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods"

a. the verb, BDB 154, KB 180, Piel imperfect, cf. Deut. 7:5; 2 Chr. 14:2; 31:1; 34:4,7

b. the item, "engraved images of their gods," BDB 820 construct 43. Deut. 7:5; and 2 Chr. 34:7 make a distinction between the Asherim and the images.

5. "obliterate their name from that place"

a. the verb, BDB 1, KB 2, Piel perfect, cf. Deut. 12:2 (twice)

b. the item, "name," BDB 1027. This seems to represent the god's name as owner of the place, which is now destroyed and, therefore, their names have perished. It is YHWH's name that has a name/worship site now (cf. Deut. 12:5,11). 


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