Cut Down Their Groves

Don Willis
Wichita Falls, Texas

A grove (asherah) is translated a "shrine" Young's Analytical. Several passages raised uncertainty relative to destruction of groves. The Lord told Israel He would drive out the natural inhabitants of Canaan, and give Israel their land, but God said, "Ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou Shalt worship no other God: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God ..." (Ex. 34:13-14). Since a grove was associated with nature, and possibly for the good of the inhabitants, why should Israel "cut down their groves!"

"Like so much else in Canaanite religion, the name and worship of Asherah (note the original for grove, DW) were borrowed from Assyria. She was the wife of the war-god AsirAs the tree-trunk or cone of stone which symbolized Asherah (My Emphasis, DW) was regarded as a Beth-el or 'house of deity,' wherein the goddess was immanent, the word Asirtu, Asherah, came to denote the symbol of the goddess. The trunk of the tree was often provided with branches, and assumed the form of the tree of life. It was as a trunk ... that it was forbidden to be erected by the side of the 'altar of Jehovah' (Deut. 16:21; cf. Judg. 6:25, 28, 30; 2 Kings 23:6; 17:9-10)" (International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Vol. 1, pg. 268, 269).

Hezekiah "removed the high places and brake the images, and cut down the groves ..." (2 Kings 18:4) in destroying the idolatry, even the worship of the brazen serpent, developed by Israel. The iniquity of Manasseh is manifest, "For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove ..:" (2 Kings 21:3), thus re-establishing Israel In idol worship.

To "cut down their groves" is tautological to "destroy the idol worship." Notice, please, that the scripture speaks of "prophets of the groves" (1 Kings 18:19); "vessels of the groves" (2 Kings 23:4), and "images of the groves" (2 Kings 21:7; 2 Chron. 15:16).

December 1968