Biblical Archaeology Review 32:5, September/October 2006

Did God Have a Wife?

By Shmuel Ahituv

Did God Have a Wife? Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel

William G. Dever (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005), xiv+344 pages, $25.00 (hardcover)

“Did God Have a Wife?” is a sexy title to sell a book, but it is also a pivotal question in the author’s treatment of folk religion in ancient Israel. By the end of the book, I was not convinced that YHWH, the God of Israel (often written Yahweha), had a wife. On the other hand, I am not sure that he did not have a wife at a certain earlier phase in his history. The archaeological as well as textual evidence is ambiguous, although I believe the scales tip toward a negative answer.

The author is a well-known American archaeologist, with a fluent pen, who writes a readable book, with bits of gossip here and there, sometimes winking knowingly at his audience. He begins his book as a teacher, with an air of ex cathedra self-appraisal. He grades colleagues, some of them his former students, for their studies in religion, archaeology, anthropology and feminist studies.

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