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In the culture and religion of the ancient Jews, relying on monolatrius yahwism, the great infl uence had the pagan deities of fertility of the Canaanitish origin. Ashera was among them and can be considered the wife of Yahweh. Traces of the worship Ashera (which were remaining after eventual deuteronomistic edition) are found in the Old Testament texts. When studying the latter, one discovers that the possible meaning of “holy woman/holy man” for qedēšâ and qādēš may be explained by relationship of these terms with spiritual veneration of Ashera, the goddess of fertility, and this one of Yahweh also, who in the course of time overtook functions of other deities and replaced them (i.e., incorporated Ashera’s “holiness”). The “holiness” is associated with existential sanctifi cation of the world by “the divinity” for the sake of life renewal and continuation through the ritual of “sacred marriage” between the royal anointed of Yahweh and the priestess qedēšâ representing Ashera which probably took place in the life of the ancient Jews’ society and state. The relationship of qedēšâ with hierodula and traditional prostitution is not proven. Attempt to compare qedēšâ and zānâh and parallel use of both terms could be ekzegetically associated with the meaning zānâh as «idolatrous fornication». Other functions of the “holy” ministers of religion could be associated with some processes of childbirth care and service in the temple. “Holy” is separated from “human”, and it is just in this regard “the separateness” for qedēšâ/qādēš is determined as involvement in the orhtodoxal «divine and sacerdotal» thing retrospectively associated with the cults of fertility.


Ancient Jewish history, holiness, qedeshot, Ashera, Yahweh, hierodula, “sacred marriage”.

Sergey S. Kochergin

Tula State Lev Tolstoy Pedagogical University, Tula, Russia

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