God’s Wife

An essential part of Kashrut (Jewish dietary law) is that meat products and milk products are never to be mixed. The scripture by which this proscription is derived is Exodus 23:19 Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.

It’s a rather specific constraint. It’s curious to me why Yahweh would be so particular (e.g. Thou shalt not cook with Saffron except to use not more than ten grams per kilogram of grain but not less than three grams per kilogram of grain, and then give it an extra shake of salt). It’s also curious to me how they’d derive from such a specific recipe the whole bit about Meat / Milk: Choose one! Never together! No cheeseburgers. No Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches. Ham and cheese is right out.)

On the other hand, Yahweh can be a bit temperamental sometimes, so yeah, I think the early Jews — those who survived — learned really quickly to err on the no can do side of Mosaic law.

Here’s what happened:

El was a Mesopotamian god (Sumerian god? It all runs together). He was one of many and He had a wife (bride, consort, better-half, friend with lots of benefits, it’s vague). They were El and Asherah, happy deific couple.

Asherah saw that these people were steeped way too much in tradition (A time to plant, a time to reap, a time to kill, a time to heal, etc.) They weren’t improving their methods. They weren’t developing technology. If anyone failed to fit into their proper niche they were put to death, and so on.

These guys are going to die out, Asherah told El. El went on watching the sports game.

We’re going to die out too unless we find some new guys, She said. El wasn’t listening at all.

You haven’t heard a word I said, have you? Asherah said. El cheered and wooted over the home-team champion slamming the ball into the visiting goal. Seriously it was an amazing play.

Okay, buster, Listen up. Asherah was using her angry voice. He listened. We’re going to find some new guys, and until we do you ain’t getting any. And, you’re sleeping on the sofa. Capiche? *

El was motivated.

And the story goes that He sent Pharaoh of Nubia a prophetic dream and convinced Pharaoh of His divinity in one night. Pharaoh commanded to all to hail the new god. Pharaoh’s priesthood declared him mad, knifed him on his throne and had his name wiped from all records. Oops.

So He tried again with some wondering nomads, and this time it took.

But in time there came a problem: Asherah was supposed to be the girly deity. She was in charge of love, sex, weddings, children, home, cooking, sewing and the pink aisles in department stores. And the people loved their food and they loved their sex.

And Asherah was getting really popular, and it was beginning to look like the Asherah and El show. Or the Asherah show, starring El.

El’s ministry finally had enough, and one night El’s priests crept into the Asheran temples and knifed all of Asherah’s clergy and burned her temples to the ground.

And Asherah was edited out of scripture. And it was decided that women should just keep out of parochial matters. In fact they should stay home barefoot, pregnant and (most importantly) illiterate.

Cooking a kid goat in the milk of it’s own mother was part of a recipe for a wedding feast, and would ensure a blessing from Asherah for a long and prosperous marriage with many children. The proscription of this recipe remains one of the few surviving indicators that Yahweh was not always alone, and even had a wife.

* Legend has it that this was the first-ever sofa. It was not very comfortable.

Image is of Rocky Road ice cream, a not-Kosher flavor since modern marshmallows are made from gelatin which is an animal product. (Old marshmallows were made from the marshmallow plant.)

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