The garden of Uzza - The family sepulcher or burying-place.
It is said 2 Kings 21:3, 2 Kings 21:7, that "Manasseh made a grove; and he set a graven image of the grove," etc. עשה אשר האשרה פסל את וישם vaiyasem eth pesel haasherah, asher asah : "And he put the graven image of Asherah, which he had made," into the house.
Asherah, which we translate grove, is undoubtedly the name of an idol; and probably of one which was carved out of wood.
R. S. Jarchi, on Genesis 12:3, says, "that אשרה asherah means a tree which was worshipped by the Gentiles;" like as the oak was worshipped by the ancient Druids in Britain.
Castel, in Lex. Hept. sub voce אשר , defines אשרה asherah thus, Simulacrum ligneum Astartae dicatum; "A wooden image dedicated to Astrate or Venus."
The Septuagint render the words by αλσος ; and Flamminius Nobilis, on 2 Kings 23:4, says Rursus notat Theodoretusτο αλσοςπ esse Astartem et Venerem, et ab aliis interpretibus dictum Ashatroth; i.e. "Again Theodoret observes, αλσος is Astarte and Venus; and by other interpreters called Ashtaroth."
The Targum of Ben Uzziel, on Deuteronomy 7:5, תגדעון ואשירהם vaasheyrehem tegaddeun ; i.e., "Their groves shall ye cut down" - translates the place thus, e ecalp,suht תקצצון סיגדיהון ואילני veilaney sigedeyhon tekatsetsun ; "And the oaks of their adoration shall ye cut down."
From the above it is pretty evident that idols, not groves, are generally intended where אשרה asherah and its derivatives are used.
Here follow proofs: -
In 2 Kings 23:6, it is said that "Josiah brought out the grove from the house of the Lord." This translation seems very absurd; for what grove could there be in the temple? There was none planted there, nor was there room for any. The plain meaning of יהוה מבית השרה את ויצא vaiyotse eth haasherah mibbeyth Jehovah, is, "And he brought out the (goddess) Asherah from the house of the Lord, and burnt it," etc.
That this is the true meaning of the place appears farther from 2 Kings 23:7, where it is said, "He broke down the houses of the sodomites," (הקדשים hakkedeshim, of the whoremongers), "where the women wove hangings for the grove" (לאשרה בתים bottim laasherah, "houses or shrines for Asherah.") Similar perhaps to those which the silversmiths made for Diana, Acts 19:24. It is rather absurd to suppose that the women were employed in making curtains to encompass a grove.
The Syriac and Arabic versions countenance the interpretation I have given above. In 2 Kings 23:6, the former says, "He cast out the idol, dechlotho, from the house of the Lord;" and in 2 Kings 23:7; : "He threw down the houses, dazoine, of the prostitutes; and the women who wove garments, ledechlotho, for the idols which were there." The Arabic is exactly the same.
From the whole it is evident that Asherah was no other than Venus; the nature of whose worship is plain enough from the mention of whoremongers and prostitutes.
I deny not that there were groves consecrated to idolatrous worship among the Gentiles, but I am sure that such are not intended in the above-cited passages; and the text, in most places, reads better when understood in this way.
The kingdom of Judah, prosperous throughout the times of Hezekiah, was once more brought low during the long years of Manasseh's wicked reign, when paganism was revived, and many of the people were led into idolatry. “Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen.” 2 Chronicles 33:9. The glorious light of former generations was followed by the darkness of superstition and error. Gross evils sprang up and flourished—tyranny, oppression, hatred of all that is good. Justice was perverted; violence prevailed. PK 381.1
Yet those evil times were not without witnesses for God and the right. The trying experiences through which Judah had safely passed during Hezekiah's reign had developed, in the hearts of many, a sturdiness of character that now served as a bulwark against the prevailing iniquity. Their testimony in behalf of truth and righteousness aroused the anger of Manasseh and his associates in authority, who endeavored to establish themselves in evil-doing by silencing every voice of disapproval. “Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another.” 2 Kings 21:16. PK 381.2Read in context »