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Ashima (Hebrew: אֲשִׁימָא, Modern {{{2}}} Tiberian {{{3}}}; Latin: Asima) is one of several deities protecting the individual cities of Samaria who are mentioned specifically by name in 2 Kings 17:30 in the Hebrew Bible. From the scribes' point of view the cities should not have been making cult images ("idols"), because they had agreed to worship the God of the Israelites that had once lived in the land, as described in some detail in the 2 Kings 17:

...And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Avva, and from Hamath and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof. And so it was, at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the Lord; therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them...Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying: 'Carry there one of the priests whom you brought from there; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land.' So one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Beth-el, and taught them how they should fear the Lord. However, every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt. And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima,...Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the Lord, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law or after the commandment which the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom He named Israel; with whom the Lord had made a covenant, and charged them, saying: 'You shall not fear other gods, nor bow down to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them;'...So these nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images; their children likewise, and their children's children, as did their fathers, so do they unto this day. (2 Kings 17:24-41) [1]


Ashima was a West Semitic goddess of fate related to the Akkadian goddess Shimti ("fate"), who was a goddess in her own right but also a title of other goddesses such as Damkina and Ishtar. Damkina, for example, was titled banat shimti, “creator of fate”. The name Ashima could be translated as "the name, portion, or lot" depending on context. It comes from the same root as the Arabian qisma and the Turkish kismet.

As such Ashima is cognate with the South Semitic goddess Manathu (or Manat) whose name meant "the measurer, fate, or portion" who was worshiped by the Nabataean peoples of Jordan and other early South Semitic and Arabian peoples. Both names appear in alternate verses in Ugaritic texts. (In the same way, the name of the goddess Asherah appears in alternate verses with Elath to indicate that both names refer to the same goddess). Ashim-Yahu and Ashim-Beth-El are forms of her name and a variant of her name is also attested in the Hebrew temple in Elephantine in Egypt.

Some speculate that Ashima was praised by tribes in what appears to be Asia Minor and North Africa, but more specifically by Hamath, who were later deported to Samaria in the Land of Israel. The Hebrew Bible states that the goddess should not be worshiped, but that the Samaritans nevertheless worshiped her, together with other deities, clandestinely

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Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

—Biblical Data:

One of the gods of the Hamathites, an image of which was set up in Samaria by the men of Hamath, whom Sargon settled there after 722 B.C. (2Kg 17:30). Jewish tradition explains the name as signifying a short-haired goat. Hence, some suppose that he was a sort of Oriental Pan, a god of woods and shepherds. This explanation is highly improbable. Others have considered the name to be a form of Ashmun (or Eshmun), the Phenician god; while still others have connected it with the name of the Babylonian goddess, Tashmitu, consort of Nabu, the god of learning. Kittel ("Die Bücher der Könige," 1900), following Baudissin, holds that Ashima was an Aramaic deity, probably connected in name with the river Ashmaya, near Tyre. This conjecture seems much more probable, although nothing further is positively known than what is stated in the Biblical passage above cited.

—In Rabbinical Literature:

According to the Rabbis (Yer. 'Ab. Zarah iii. 42d; Sanh. 63b), this idol of the Hamathites had the form of a buck. A curious confusion has been made by some of the later commentators (even by Abraham ibn Ezra) who mistake the idol Ashima for the Samaritan appellation for God, Ashima meaning "the Name"; just as the Jews are accustomed to speak of the Deity as "ha-Shem" (Reifmann, in Gurland's "Ginze Yisrael," 74).

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.


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