|ASHTORETH, PLURAL ASH’TAROTH |
Called by the Greeks Astarte, was a goddess of the Phoenicians, 2 Kings 23:13, whose worship was also introduced among the Israelites and Philistines, 1 Kings 11:5,33 1 Samuel 7:3 31:10. She is commonly named in connection with Baal, Judges 2:13 10:6 1 Samuel 7:4 12:10. Another Hebrew name for the same goddess is Aherah, the happy, the fortunate; or more simply, fortune. This last name is commonly rendered in the English version "grove;" but eminent Hebrew scholars think this meaning is unsupported either by the etymology or the context. Both these Hebrew names of Astarte, when used in the plural, often signify images or statues of Astarte; which are said to be set up, broken down, destroyed, etc. In connection with the worship of Atari there was much of dissolute licentiousness; and the public prostitutes of both sexes were regarded as consecrated to her. See 2 Kings 23:7. Compare Leviticus 19:29 Deuteronomy 23:18.
As Baal or Bel denotes, in the astrological mythology of the East, the male star of fortune, the planet Jupiter; so Ashtoreth signifies the female star of fortune, the planet Venus. As to the opinion that Baal designates the sun, and Ashtoreth the moon, see under BAAL. Compare Jeremiah 7:18 11:13 44:17,18 Ezekiel 16:1-63.