the moon goddess of the Phoenicians, representing the passive principle in nature, their principal female deity; frequently associated with the name of Baal, the sun-god, their chief male deity (Jg 10:6; 1Sa 7:4; 12:10). These names often occur in the plural (Ashtaroth, Baalim), probably as indicating either different statues or different modifications of the deities. This deity is spoken of as Ashtoreth of the Zidonians. She was the Ishtar of the Accadians and the Astarte of the Greeks (Jer 44:17; 1Ki 11:5,33; 2Ki 23:13). There was a temple of this goddess among the Philistines in the time of Saul (1Sa 31:10). Under the name of Ishtar, she was one of the great deities of the Assyrians. The Phoenicians called her Astarte. Solomon introduced the worship of this idol (1Ki 11:33). Jezebel's 400 priests were probably employed in its service (1Ki 18:19). It was called the "queen of heaven" (Jer 44:25).
Illustration: Assyrian Ishtar
The chief goddess of the Phoenicians, as Baal was the male. By the plural (ASHTAROTH, Baalim: Jg 10:6; 1Sa 7:4) different phases of the same deity, according to the different places of worship, are indicated. Always plural until under Solomon Ashtoreth or Astarte of Zidon was introduced (1Ki 11:5,3). She appears among the Philistines as the idol in whose temple they hung up Saul's armor (1Sa 31:10). She is identified as Ishtar or Nana, the planetary Venus among the Assyrian gods in inscriptions. Her name appears also in Cyprian and Carthaginian monuments; and on the sarcophagus of a king Esmunazar, who restored her temple at Zidon, along with his mother her priestess, Am-ashtoreth. She partly represents the planet Venus, partly the moon, "the queen of heaven" (Jer 7:18; 44:17-18). (See ASHTEROTH-KARNAIM)
Our "star," Greek " aster," Latin stella, is akin. Her worship was most licentious and abominable; closely connected with that of (See ASHERAH, "THE GROVE". Ashtoreh is the goddess, asherah "the grove," the image or the symbol of the goddess, of wood; asher, yashar, "to be straight," a straight stem of a tree living, or fixed upright (1Ki 18:19; 2Ki 21:7; 23:6,13-15; Jg 6:25,30). The "bringing out the asherah from the house of the Lord," and the "cutting down," suit such a symbol, not a grace in our sense. The active and passive powers of nature, generative and receptive, suggested the male and female deities, Baal and Ashtoreh. The ewes of a flock were called Ashteroth on this principle, propagating the flock (De 7:13).
The earliest worship of apostasy was that of the sun, moon, etc. This naturally was grafted on idol worship, Baal sometimes being the sun god, sometimes distinct (2Ki 23:5). So Ashtoreh and the moon. The stone pillar was the symbol of Baal, as the sacred tree was the symbol of Ashtoreh; stone marking his strength as the male, the tree her fruitfulness (De 16:21). The sacred tree constantly accompanies the gods in the Assyrian monuments. In the Moabite Dibon stone the male form Astar is prefixed to Chamos or Chemosh, answering to the female Astarte. Identical with Athtar or Athtor of the Himyeritic inscriptions, and Estar of the Ninevite inscriptions; the Canaanite form of the male Aphroditos answering to the female Aphrodite.
This deity, especially known as the Sidonian goddess for whom Solomon erected a shrine, later destroyed by Josiah (1Ki 11:5,33; 2Ki 23:13), was worshipped by all Semitic nations. In her temple at Ashkelon, the Philistines hung the armour of Saul (1Sa 31:10). In Bashan, the cities Ashtaroth or Be-eshterah and Ashteroth-karnaim presumably derived their names from the fact that various Ashtoreth-cults were located there. At Ashteroth-karnaim ('horned Ashtaroth') one might even be justified in supposing from the name that 'Ashtoreth was represented with the horns of a cow or a ram. Mesha, king of Moab, dedicated his prisoners to a composite goddess 'Ashtar-Chemosh. Indeed, her existence in S. Arabia is evidenced by the probably equivalent male god 'Athtar. In Abyssinia, she was called Astar; in Assyria and Babylonia, Ishtar (used also in the pl. ishtar
(a star) the principal female divinity of the Phoenicians, called Ishtar by the Assyrians and Astarte by the Greeks and Romans. She was by some ancient writers identified with the moon. But on the other hand the Assyrian Ishtar was not the moon-goddess, but the planet Venus; and Astarte was by many identified with the goddess Venus (or Aphrodite), as well as with the plant of that name. It is certain that the worship of Astarte became identified with that of Venus, and that this worship was connected with the most impure rites is apparent from the close connection of this goddess with ASHERAH.