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Not only was female consort same, various nations used same cult objects, same types if incense altars made of stone and clay, same bronze and clay censers, cult stands and incense burners, same chalices and goblets and same bronze and ivory rods adorned with pomegranates. It was easy to take cult vessels of one deity and place them in service of another one--and this was commonly done. For example, in ninth-century B.C.E., stela erected by Mesha, king of Moab, he describes himself as 'son of Chemosh,' and tells how he defeated Israelites (see also 2 Kings 3:4-27). He then brags,'(I) took t(he ves)sels of Yahweh, and I hauled them before face of Chemosh.'
We sometimes get impression that after Solomon built Temple in Jerusalem, Yahweh had no other sanctuary in ancient Israel -- but this is not case." (1)
It is possible that prevalence of 'one god' was actually a one goddess as we see in fact they all worshipped one similarly named(identical really)goddess. The reality as we see it was almost same for Ba'al in this period as well. He goes on to show these multiple and pantheistic practices seem to disappear when exiles are returned from Persia, so maybe Cyrus and Zoroaster were able to convince them of error of their ways and we might see what many have pondered in regards to magi of Zoroaster being a major influence on Christianity in original foundations and not more ritualistic Moses. At Qumran many scholars note people called themselves 'Covenanters of Law'. Most of them note this law was Mosaic but my perception is different and I believe it was a syncretism akin to Gnosticism and with many adept understandings such as healing practices of Therapeutae. Golb makes it clear he is on side of Qumran library having been a collection of all factions of religion and practices in a large area even beyond Judaea. The Roman practice of destroying all literature and writing new ones around old beliefs which were in line with their approaches was reason for this, and all tribes, zealots or cults knew it.
The henges of Emerald Isles which were once wood as some are seeing today, are in Negev and Sinai deserts as well. The 'Bedouin' ('tent dweller') fiction is not root as we showed from scholars of excellent book Carthage. The article following one just quoted from Biblical Archaeology Review says this:
"Take even a one- or two-day trip through Sinai or Negev deserts and you'll come across scores of them--standing stones erected in a variety of combinations. These stone installations may help us understand very origins of Israelite religion.” (2)
Last year word about pre-hieroglyphic alphabets in Sahara were accompanied by more on agricultural savannah people who had henges too. This is where Berbers were from and connection if no simple chance occurrence. The article goes on to discuss 'fertility triads' and whenever you see triad or troad (Greek) you are looking at central laws of philosophic Kelts. These parables of process and moral or spiritual concepts are a wealth of insight to this very day. The Triune Nature of Man that was plagiarized into 'Holy Trinity' and raised to a deity took more of man's self awareness and divinity away from humanity than any of us can imagine. A central theme in Dead Sea Scrolls is said to be very Zoroastrian in nature (and Mani attempt to join Christianity and it in one ecumenical religion that Augustine was a promoter of until bought out by Catholics); - it is simply this: 'There are two spirits 'truth and error'. We surely see real original sin of Gnostics who saved Dag Hammadi Scrolls and gave their lives protecting Library of Alexandria in this. These people who were with Cathars a millennium later say 'The original sin that separates us from God - is IGNORANCE!'
Another culture that really worshipped this goddess at one time is Greek or Hellenic culture of Dionysius and Aphrodite as we see a practice that was at work while Yahweh became one and sole male god Jehovah and that development was not mentioned in BAR.
"In Cyprus it appears that before marriage all women were formerly obliged by custom to prostitute themselves to strangers at sanctuary of goddess, whether she went by name of Aphrodite, Astarte, or what not. Similar customs prevailed in many parts of Western Asia.” (3)
Casting aspersions on great thinkers like Augustine is easy and I don't want any readers to think I'm saying these things without basis in fact. We have his own book to work with in that regard. Here is a little from Augustine’s autobiography called Confessions.
"As literature, Scriptures compared poorly with polished prose of Cicero and he thought them fit only for simple minded." That was when he was a Manichean before "the mercy of God had saved him from this evil.” (4)
Author and activist for egalitarian means and Brotherhood.