Judean Pillar Figurines (Probably not a Goddess)

Excellent article here at Haaretz about Judean Pillar Figurines, thousands of which have been dug up in Jerusalem and its surroundings from the First Temple Period. The author makes reference to scholarship and speculation by Carol Meyers and Erin Darby about these figures. Probably not a goddess like Asherah, since figurines lack emblems that statues of Near Eastern gods generally carry. Not “idols,” they are simple and plain and simply made out of clay. Maybe an magical votive object for fertility. Or perhaps an embodied apotropaic votive image based on belief in the curative power of milk to protect and ward off injury, hurt, and harm; which would clarify why the figurines are holding up their breasts. I am tagging this item under the misleading tags: “Jewish art” and “Bible” and “gender.”

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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