Queen mother Maacah and Yahweh worship (2 Chr 15:16-15:18)

“King Asa even removed his mother Maacah from being queen mother because she had made an abominable image for Asherah. King Asa cut down her image, crushed it, and burned it at the Wadi Kidron. But the high places were not taken out of Israel. Nevertheless the heart of King Asa was true all his days. He brought into the house of God the votive gifts of his father and his own votive gifts of silver, gold, and utensils. There was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of the reign of King Asa.”

This is based on 1 Kings, chapter 15. More importantly, King Asa walked in the ways of Yahweh with a heart true to Yahweh. He removed his Queen Mother Maacah from her place of prominence. The exact implications of this are not clear. He also burned her picture of the goddess Asherah. Here he also crushed it. However, he did leave the high places of worship alone, but this is in contradiction to the previous chapter that said he removed all the high places. Perhaps this biblical author was just repeating what was in 1 Kings. Yet it in other places he had no trouble expanding or even changing what the author of 1 Kings had said. Anyway, King Asa probably had no control over Israel. Nevertheless both biblical writers held that King Asa made many votive gifts to the temple of gold and silver. Clearly King Asa was a religious reformer who tried to elevate the unique Yahweh cult.

 

Religious reform of the temple, the house of Yahweh (2 Kings 23:4-23:7)

“The king commanded the high priest Hilkiah, the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the threshold, to bring out of the temple of Yahweh all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron. He carried their ashes to Bethel. He deposed the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to make offerings in the high places at the cities of Judah and around Jerusalem. These were the ones who made offerings to Baal, to the sun, the moon, the constellations, and all the host of the heavens. He brought out the image of Asherah from the house of Yahweh, outside Jerusalem, to the Wadi Kidron. They burned it at the Wadi Kidron. They beat it to dust. They threw the dust of it upon the graves of the common people. He broke down the houses of the male temple prostitutes that were in the house of Yahweh, where the women did weaving for Asherah.”

King Josiah commanded the high priests and other priests to get rid of the all the vessels for Baal, Asherah, and the other gods. Clearly the temple had become like a pantheon for all kinds of gods. Monotheism was not a question in this pantheon Jerusalem temple. These vessels and images were burned with the ashes sent to Bethel, the old shrine of the Israelites of the north. He got rid of the priests who worshipped idols in Judah and also in Jerusalem. There was a great worship to Baal, the sun, the moon, the star constellations, and all kinds of celestial items. Apparently the image of Asherah was big here in Jerusalem because King Asa, 300 years earlier burned the image of Asherah at the Wadi Kidron as in 1 Kings, chapter 15. He also got rid of the male prostitutes. This was a continual problem that existed, indicating that there was some support for this fertility rite. The goddess Asherah was a fertility goddess very popular in the Middle East. In fact, in Exodus, chapter 34, Deuteronomy, chapters 7, 12, and 16, Judges, chapter 6, she is mentioned. Somehow some women did weaving for Asherah.