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The Hebrew Goddess

(Raphael Patai Series in Jewish Folklore and Anthropology)

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  216 ratings  ·  25 reviews
The Hebrew Goddess demonstrates that the Jewish religion, far from being pure monotheism, contained from earliest times strong polytheistic elements, chief of which was the cult of the mother goddess. Lucidly written and richly illustrated, this third edition contains new chapters on the Shekhina.
Paperback, 3rd enlarged, 408 pages
Published September 1st 1990 by Wayne State University Press (first published 1967)
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Erik Graff
Jan 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: religion
Having read the Myths of Genesis book coauthored with Robert Graves, I was atuned to Patais' name and approach. Finding a copy of his Hebrew Goddess therefore led to its purchase at a local bookstore.

Contrary to some reviewers, the Hebrew bible is replete with contradictions. It's just that people don't read very carefully. Indeed, one could tell the story of Israel as do many of the prophets as one of continual efforts to regularize worship, belief and behavior among restive, polyglot populatio
Brian Griffith
Dec 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Patai presents a vast lore of the Hebrew goddess in all her names and legends - Shekhina, Sophia, the Matronit, the Shabhat Bride. As a classical scholar in Hebrew legends, he shows us a mythology rich in female powers. What does it mean, for example, that a traditional term for the Hebrew goddess was "the neglected cornerstone", and then Jesus spoke of building on the cornerstone which the builders neglected?

The book touches on numerous sides of Jewish heritage. For example, concerning the unde
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A close reader of the Old Testament will notice that throughout the Israelites were worshiping goddesses in addition to Yahweh their national God. Known variously as Asherah, Ashtoreth/Astarte, Anath, the Queen of Heaven etc., they entered Israelite religion at least as early as the period of the Judges (ca. 12th century B.C.). As the book of Judges indicates, while the Israelites conquered most of Canaan, they did not drive the Canaanites out, let alone exterminate them. Over time the Israelite ...more
May 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, msu
Way more mythology than I was expecting. I have several Greek/Roman mythology and literature classes under my belt, but I was still struggling to keep up. A healthy dose of Chaim Potok novels helped me a bit.

Something that was really exciting for me to notice was that the Granny / Macha character in "Song of the Sea" was Lilith. Child killing (well, selkie killing). And she had the owls and everything, plus the eyebrows and nose straight from this relief (also pictured in "The Hebrew Goddess"):
Sharon Buchbinder
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An excellent, in-depth examination of the female goddesses influences on the Yahweh worship and the Jewish religion. The author integrates detailed, scholarly material that gives any reader, not just Jews, insights into the roles of Asherah, Astarte-Anath, the Cherubim, the Shekhina, The Matronit and, yes, even Lilith. Astonishing in breadth and depth, I recommend this to any serious religious scholar and particularly to women seeking the feminine in their spiritual lives.
Steve Cran
Many people may not know it but the Jewish religon through out it's history worshipped a Goddess or at least a feminine life force. First it started out with the worshiping of a Canaanite Goddess Ashera. THrough out the Bible there are constant references to the Israelite worshipping Ashera in the high places and at trees. THis was especially prevalent during Biblical times up until the the Babylonian Exile. THe Israelites have constantly had a debate about worshipping other Gods beside Yahweh. ...more
The Overflowing Inkwell
This was excellent. Having all the research on the different Goddesses of the area put together in one narrative, in reference to the early Hebrews, was honestly a dream come true. No more trawling through contradictory webpages! The beginning of the book up to the Yihudim (Unifications) was a great read; my favourite chapter was that on the Tetrad, with the concept of a Mother-Father, Son-Daughter divine quartet being more fully explored than I had yet found; but the chapter on the Unifications ...more
Brett Folkman
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book. Raphael's grasp of ancient languages, cultures, religions, etc., allows him to create a historic narrative that is fascinating and well documented. My favorite chapter - The Goddess Asherah - is simply amazing! He does an excellent job demonstrating Asherah was worshiped in Israel for at least 600 years and a representation of her was in Solomon's temple most of that time. The well documented Deuteronomist reform attempted to remove traces of her, but weren't completely succes ...more
Oct 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Fue Goodreads quien me sugirió esta lectura y me parece, además de bien documentada, muy instructiva. los neófitos como yo en la religión de los hebreos, hemos creído que a pesar del "becerro de oro"de Aarón, los judíos nunca practicaron el politeísmo. Sin embargo, esta investigación muestra que, desde que penetraron tierra cananea, los hebreos del "Ëxodo", incorporaron a su religión una serie de diosas como compañeras de Yavé y Yavé Elohim. Entre ellas está Asheráh la más antigua de todas y fue ...more
Nov 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: lexicon, relegions

The academic parts were well researched and well presented - very insightful and full of interesting details about the history of several religions, not just the Abrahamic ones, and what the religious landscape looked like a few thousand years ago before people started to put things down in stone and edit the more interesting parts out.

However, the book often strayed away from the academic and researched and tries to convert the reader to some sort of Neo-Pagen Goddess cult. No thank you, I'm, u
Alexander Kennedy
Nov 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: judaism
This was a fantastic book. Patai traces the goddess throughout time from ancient biblical times to more modern Kabbalism. Perhaps the most interesting part of the book is his analysis of how the goddess simultaneously embodies opposite characteristics. She is the chaste virgin and the wanton seductress, the goddess of love and the goddess of bloodthirsty violence. Patai offers a very fascinating insight into the human psyche and discusses how the goddess fulfills a need, especially in the male m ...more
Jul 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: religious history
Recommended to Michelle by: jewitchery group, Patricia Monaghan
This has been recommended from several sources, most notably, Patricia Monaghan, and the members of the yahoo group Jewitch. Need to find it first.

Just got it in the mail, my sister bought it for me for my birthday!! Yippeeeeeee! Too much to read, not enough brain cells!
Jeremy Tibbetts
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
An interesting read. Traces the feminine aspects of God in Judaism and how they were affected by other religions. At times a little bit shocking honestly. The book also seems aware that some of its assumptions could be a little bit of a stretch. Overall a cool and thought provoking read.
Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned SO much about the Shekhina. Incredible.
Benjamin Fasching-Gray
Sep 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: yiddishkeit, religion
Like a dub version of hebrew school.
Diane Black
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The book was a great walk through esoteric history of the feminine in Judaism. I especially enjoyed the walk through Kabbalist from 1100-1700s with the clearly defined meaning of the maggid.
Aaron Y
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The chapter on Lilith is the most thorough thing I've ever read.
Jan 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
James Carroll
Aug 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religious
This is one of the best books on this subject that I have ever found. An insightful glimpse into the early beliefs of Judaism.
M.A. Stern
Jan 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book provides an excellent primer to the various ways Judaism has historically embraced a feminine divinity. This ranges from periods of worshipping more gods than one might think to the Kabbalistic visions of feminine aspects to God to darker demonic feminine presences such as Lilith. It is an undeniably interesting read.
Jonathan Northcote
Mar 08, 2021 rated it liked it
This opens ones' eyes to the fact that Judaism was not (and, hence, other following religions were not) originally as purely monotheistic as is generally accepted. An interesting book but the author does tend to belabour aspects and, as a result, it could have been much shorter. ...more
Mar 25, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
Very slow and took me a long time to get through it, but full of fascinating information.
McCalla Ann
Jul 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely phenomenal and well researched book on the Goddess and the Feminine aspect of the Godhead in the Jewish tradition from tribal times all the way to modern Hasidism
Aug 09, 2008 rated it liked it
I didn't quite finish this one, but it had some interesting things to say about Hebrew traditions. ...more
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Raphael Patai (Hebrew רפאל פטאי; born Ervin György Patai, was a Hungarian-Jewish ethnographer, historian, Orientalist and anthropologist.

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36 likes · 17 comments
“Is the Hebrew goddess dead, or does she merely slumber, soon to awaken rejuvenated by her rest and reclaim the hearts of her sons and lovers?” 1 likes
“Judging from the frequent occurrence of these female figurines, not matched anywhere by images of male gods, the worship of the goddess must have been extremely popular in all segments of Hebrew society. One of the reasons for her popularity may have been the belief that she promoted fertility in women and facilitated childbirth.” 0 likes
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