Sadly, the whole of biblical history is punctuated by the numerous times the people of God turned away from him to engage in the worship of a strange god or goddess. People in the lands surrounding Israel had deities that continually tempted the Israelites to turn from their own God.
Artemis. Greek goddess (K. J. V. Diana) of fertility worshiped at Ephesus and elsewhere during the New Testament era. Her worship combined Greek, Roman, and Anatolian elements and dates back to ca. 1000 b.c. In Ephesus a temple was built in the third century b.c. to replace an earlier one that burned down and became known as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. A well-known statue of Artemis emphasizes fertility. Paul's preaching directly challenged her worship and precipitated a riot that only official interaction could quell ( Acts 19:23-41 ). In the end the worship of Christ prevailed and the cult of Artemis disappeared from history.
Asherah. The people of Israel had been settled in the promised land for only a brief time before their attention turned to the deities of the Canaanites. The Book of Judges chronicles this apostasy. The people forsook the Lord God to serve Asherah and her husband Baal (Ashteroth is an alternative name for Asherah, Judges 2:13 ; 3:7 ).
The name "Asherah" and its variant spellings occur thirty-nine times in the Old Testament. In a number of these instances, Baal is mentioned along with Asherah. Evidence from Ugaritic mythologies and other texts suggests that the term refers to both the Canaanite goddess and cultic objects facilitating her worship. . . continue reading>>