Ashtoreth in Israel

The Israelites referred to Astarte as “Ashtoreth.” In the Bible, the prophets of God denounced the worship of Ashtoreth, but many of the people worshiped her and her consort, Baal, the sun god. This worship was done amid groves of trees, on the summits of mountains. Here they worshiped sacred stones, practiced divination, and engaged in orgies as part of their worship of Ashtoreth and Baal. Because the myth of Astarte included the idea of a resurrected sun god, the sacred grove worship was carried on at daybreak as the sun was coming up.


The northern kingdom of Israel (Samaria) was destroyed because of such idolary. Later, King Josiah of Judah marched through it and tore down the altars to Baal, ‘and them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets.’ He ‘defiled Topheth . . that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech’; and he smashed the altars that Solomon had built for Chemosh, Milcom, and Astarte (see 2 Kgs 23:2, 4, 10, 13).

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