Scholarly research differences are based on both the scholar performing it and the school of thought he\she adheres to. This especially applies when one is discussing research done on ancient times and civilizations. Unfortunately, there is usually a lack of information about the civilizations before us because so much is lost to time or an ability to adequately record history. As for the records that did manage to survive, they are written in ancient languages that must be translated. However, these translations tend to vary due to additions or the scholar doing the translating, which leads to another source of inconsistency. Most of the ancient languages were written in fashions different from modern ones, such as using only constants, like Ancient Hebrew, or not using punctuation of any kind.
The debate surrounding the existence and definition of the word “Asherah,” is one such issue brought about by the differing opinions and translations of scholars. Many scholars have offered different views on what or who “Asherah” is because the word is seen in several different contexts across different csources and languages. Two sources in which “Asherah” is mentioned most often are the Ugaritic texts, ancient tablets found in the Canaanite city of Ugarit, and the Hebrew Bible, which is also known as the Torah to Jews and the Old Testament to Christians. However, due to the fact that both of these sources where originally in Ugaritic (an ancient Northwestern Semitic language) and Ancient Hebrew, respectively, translations differ. One important thing to note is that the Ugaritic Texts, much like the Hebrew Bible, comment on both the Canaanite and the ancient Israelite culture.
“Asherah” is mentioned several times in the Ugaritic Texts and the Hebrew Bible, but in several different contexts, which is one of the multitudes of factors that contributes to the debate surrounding the true definition of “Asherah.” There are three prevailing theories about what exactly “Asherah” means: 1) it could be the name of a goddess, 2) “Asherah” is the name of a cultic object used to represent the goddess Asherah, and 3) “Asherah” could be stylized trees\poles (Day 401). These three meanings have been derived based on context, archaeological evidence, and language structure.
The most prevalent theory about Asherah is that she was a Canaanite deity. Asherah was first seen in texts dating back to approximately 2350 BCE. However, this mention was brief, as well as unconfirmed. Asherah does not come up again in the Ebla texts. By all reports, she was not a particularly important or well-known goddess to that settlement, but was “well-attested” (Day 385-86). However, this was not the end of the mentions of Asherah in Northwestern Semitic texts. She is once again mentioned in the Ugaritic Texts, which date back to about 1200 BCE and this time, it is very clear as it mentions her by name (Day 387). ...