Our Pagan World: The Easter (Ishtar Goddess) Myth Exposed! Part 3
Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics

Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
April 19, 2000

Last Updated :
April 16, 2011

Ostara Easter Aurora Venus Eos And Aphrodite All Equal Ishtar, More On Ashtoreth Astarte And Ishtar, Ancient Sun Gods Baal And Tammuz, Pagan Worship Of Backslidden Israelites, Groves In The Old Testament, Ishtar Asherah And Yahweh, Cut Down The Groves, Wooden Phalluses And Lewd Sexual Acts, Michal Struck Barren By God, Pregnancy Viewed As A Sign Of Divine Blessing, Various Symbols Of The Sex And Fertility Goddess Ishtar/Easter

Earlier in this series, I explained to you that these false gods and goddesses of the past appear throughout the annals of human history, under different names, and in different guises. Thus, while the English may have borrowed the Easter goddess from the Germans, the Germans were by no means the originators of the same. The northern Europeans, such as the British and the Germans -- who were an important part of the Holy Roman Empire -- merely adapted the ancient Roman gods and goddesses to their own culture, by renaming them.

In Roman culture, as noted earlier, Ostara -- or Easter -- was known as Aurora. She was the goddess of the dawn, or the sunrise if you prefer. Ostara's attributes were also closely related to Venus. Venus, of course, was the Roman goddess of love and beauty. In the Greek culture, Ostara was known as Eos; who was likewise the goddess of the dawn; and she was also closely associated with the Greek goddess Aphrodite, who similar to the Roman Venus, was also the goddess of love and beauty. In short, it is rather plain to see that all of these false goddesses of these various cultures, that is, Ostara, Easter, Aurora, Venus, Eos and Aphrodite, were associated with love, sex, fertility, beauty and the rising of the sun. In light of this fact, doesn't it seem to strongly suggest that they may have all been one and the same deceptive demon posing as different deities down through history?

Thus far we have traced the origin of the false sex goddess "Easter" as far back as the Roman Empire, but is that truly the end of the trail? Quite frankly, no it isn't; so let us continue with this amazing, yet deceptive, story.

We've just seen that the Anglo-Saxons of Germany adopted the fertility goddess Ostara, or "Easter", from the Roman and Greek cultures, and that these Germanic peoples viewed her as the personification of the rising sun. As I mentioned earlier, this is a rather significant point. If we travel back hundreds of years in time before the Greeks, we make a very startling discovery. Within the pantheon of Babylonian false gods and goddesses, there was a chief goddess who was known as Ishtar. Who exactly was this Ishtar? To answer this question, let us consider some excerpts from a few reputable sources. Under the heading "Gods, Pagan", the 1986 edition of Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary has the following to say regarding Ishtar. Please notice that just as the Germanic, Roman and Greek deity was viewed as a goddess of love and fertility, and was closely associated with the sun, so likewise was the Assyrian/Babylonian goddess Ishtar:

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The ancient Babylonian and Assyrian goddess Ishtar symbolized Mother Earth in the natural cycles of fertility on earth. Many myths grew up around this female deity. She was the goddess of love, so the practice of ritual prostitution became widespread in the fertility cult dedicated to her name. Temples to Ishtar had many priestesses, or sacred prostitutes, who symbolically acted out the fertility rites of the cycle of nature. Ishtar has been identified with the Phoenician Astarte, the Semitic Ashtoreth, and the Sumerian Inanna. Strong similarities also exist between Ishtar and the Egyptian Isis, the Greek Aphrodite, and the Roman Venus.

Associated with Ishtar was the young god Tammuz, considered both divine and mortal [Ezek. 8:14]. In Babylonian mythology Tammuz died annually and was reborn year after year, representing the yearly cycle of the seasons and the crops. This pagan belief later was identified with the pagan gods Baal and Anat in Canaan.

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The Encarta Encyclopedia likewise has this to say regarding the sex and fertility goddess, Ishtar, who was associated with the sun god, Tammuz:

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Ishtar, chief goddess of the Babylonians and the Assyrians and the counterpart of Astarte, a Phoenician goddess. The name appeared in different forms in every part of the ancient Semitic world; thus it was Athtar in Arabia, Astar in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), and Ashtart in Canaan and Israel. The sex of the divinity also varied: Athtar and Astar were male deities. Ishtar of Erech (in Babylonia) was a goddess worshiped in connection with the evening star, but Ishtar of Akkad (also in Babylonia) was a god identified with the morning star. As a goddess, Ishtar was the Great Mother, the goddess of fertility and the queen of heaven.

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As we observed in the explanation provided by the Encarta Encyclopedia, Ishtar was known by different, yet very similar names amongst the various cultures which inhabited the lands of the Middle East in ancient times. The 1988 edition of the New Unger's Bible Dictionary, provides us with the following additional information regarding Astarte -- the Phoenician version of Ishtar -- under the heading "Gods, False". As a side note, the land occupied by Phoenicia is currently a part of modern Lebanon. The Biblical Sidon and Tyre were located there; and as I explain in other articles, it was from King Hiram of Tyre, that King David obtained timber for his house. King Solomon -- who was David's son -- likewise obtained cedar trees, and an experienced work force, for the construction of the first Temple in Jerusalem from Hiram:

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Ash'toreth (ash'to-reth). Astarte, a Canaanite goddess. In S Arabia the name is found as 'Athtar (apparently from `athara, "to be fertile, to irrigate"), a god identified with the planet Venus. The name is cognate with Babylonian Ishtar, the goddess of sensual love, maternity, and fertility. Licentious worship was conducted in honor of her. As Asherah and Anat of Ras Shamra, she was the patroness of war as well as sex and is sometimes identified with these goddesses. The Amarna Letters present Ashtoreth as Ashtartu. In the Ras Shamra Tablets are found both the masculine form 'Athtar and the feminine 'Athtart. Ashtoreth worship was entrenched early at Sidon [1 Kin. 11:5,33; 2 Kin. 23:13]. Her cult even presented a danger of pollution to early Israel [Judg. 2:13; 10:6]; Solomon succumbed to her voluptuous worship [1 Kin. 11:5; 2 Kin. 23:13]. The peculiar vocalization Ashtoreth, instead of the more primitive Ashtaroth, is evidently a deliberate alteration by the Hebrews to express their abhorrence for her cult by giving her the vowels of their word for "shame" (boshet). See also Anat; Ashera; Diana. (m.f.u.)

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Returning to the 1986 edition of Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, we also find the following explanation regarding "Ashtoreth", or in the plural form, "Ashtaroth". Please note that the Assyrian/Babylonian god Tammuz later became known as the supreme Sun god Baal who was worshiped by the various cultures which inhabited the ancient land of Canaan -- such as the Philistines -- and that Ishtar, or Ashorteth, became his -- meaning Baal's -- consort, companion, and wife, thus once again confirming this false goddess's association with the Sun. In other words, from the Germanic Ostara/Easter to the Middle Eastern Ishtar/Astarte/Ashtoreth, this goddess is associated with love, sex, beauty, fertility and the Sun:

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[ASH tah rahth] (wives)-- the plural form of Ashtoreth, a pagan goddess. [1 Samuel 31:10] connects her with the Philistines, and [1 Kings 11:5] connects her with the Sidonians. She was often considered the companion or partner of the male god BAAL [Judg. 2:13].

Apparently the worship of these goddesses was practiced by the Israelites from time to time. Solomon compromised his faith by worshiping at the altar of Ashtaroth [1 Kin. 11:5,33]. Along with the Baalim (the plural of Baal), the Ashtaroth were thought by the Philistines to be responsible for fertility and the growth of crops and herds.

The Ashtaroth were worshiped by other peoples under such names as Astarte (Phoenicians and Canaanites), Inanna (Sumerians), Ishtar (Babylonians), Aphrodite (Greeks), and Venus (Romans). All these were goddesses of sensual love and fertility.

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Consider now what the Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Hebrew Aramaic English Lexicon states regarding the names Ashtoreth, Tammuz and Baal:

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Ashtoreth {ash-to'reth}

Ashtoreth = "star"
1) the principal female deity of the Phoenicians worshipped in war and fertility
1a) also 'Ishtar' of Assyria and 'Astarte' by the Greeks and Romans

. . . . .

Tammuwz {tam-mooz'}

Tammuz = "sprout of life"
1) a Sumerian deity of food or vegetation

. . . . .

Ba`al {bah'-al}

Baal = "lord" n pr m
1) supreme male divinity of the Phoenicians or Canaanites

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The Encyclopedia Mythica also has this to say regarding the false god and goddess team of Ishtar/Ashtoreth/Astarte and Tammuz:

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Ishtar was the ancient Sumero-Babylonian goddess of love and fertility. She is often described as the daughter of Anu, the god of the air. In most of the myths concerning her, she is described as an evil, heartless, women who destroyed her mates and lovers. Her greatest lover was the farm god Tammuz, who is similar to the Greek Adonis . . .

. . . . .


Also Astarte or Ashtar. The supreme female divinity of the Phoenician nations, the goddess of love and fruitfulness. She symbolized the female principle, as Baal symbolized maleness. The Babylonian and Assyrian counterpart of Ashtoreth was Ishtar.

. . . . .


The Phoenician goddess of fertility and reproduction and the principal deity of the port city of Sidon. As Astarte she was worshipped as far west as Carthage, Sicily, Sardinia and Cyprus. She was also the sister and co-consort of Baal, sharing this role with their sister Anath. Astarte is also known as Istar in Akkadian and Athtar in Sabaean.

. . . . .


The Akkadian vegetation-god, counterpart of the Sumerian Damuzi and the symbol of death and rebirth in nature. He is the son of Ea and husband of Ishtar. Each year he dies in the hot summer (in the month tammus, June/July) and his soul is taken by the Gallu demons to the underworld. Woe and desolation fall upon the earth, and Ishtar leads the world in lamentation. She then descends to the nether world, ruled by Ereshkigal, and after many trials succeeds in bringing him back, as a result of which fertility and joy return to the earth. In Syria he was identified with Adonis.

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Easton's Bible Dictionary also provides us with the following information regarding the false Sumerian/Assyrian/Babylonian god Tammuz, who later became known as Baal the Sun god to the Canaanites:

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A corruption of Dumuzi, the Accadian sun-god (the Adonis of the Greeks), the husband of the goddess Ishtar. In the Chaldean calendar there was a month set apart in honour of this god, the month of June to July, the beginning of the summer solstice. At this festival, which lasted six days, the worshippers, with loud lamentations, bewailed the funeral of the god, they sat "weeping for Tammuz" Eze 8:14. The name, also borrowed from Chaldea, of one of the months of the Hebrew calendar.

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Sadly, as is revealed by the previous excerpts, and as I also clearly explain in such articles as the seven-part series "The Fruits Of Disobedience", the ancient Israelites did not remain immune to the worship of the false god and goddess team of Baal and Ashtoreth, or Tammuz and Ishtar if you prefer. The Bible plainly informs us that it was as a result of their blatant worship of these false deities, in defiance of the one true God of Heaven, that time and time again, they found themselves in serious trouble with the Lord. Even King Solomon, in all of his greatness, could not resist the temptations of this very sensual god and goddess team. It was when Solomon married pagan women who worshiped Baal and Ashtoreth, that he was led astray from the Lord in his old age, and his kingdom was eventually divided during the reign of his foolish son, Rehoboam. Please consider the following verses where some of this pagan worship by the backslidden Israelites is mentioned:

"And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth."
Judges 2:13, KJV

"For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites . . . Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father."
1 Kings 11:5, 33, KJV

"Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger. Do they provoke me to anger? saith the LORD: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?"
Jeremiah 7:17-19, KJV

"He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD'S house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these. And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD'S house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east."
Ezekiel 8:13-16, KJV

Allow me to call your attention to the last group of verses, as it clearly describes to what degree the Israelites had turned against the Lord, in favor of the false gods of the Babylonians and their ancestors. Not only were these women at the North Gate observing the festival dedicated to Tammuz by weeping for him, but we are also told that in the inner court of Solomon's Temple, these men were turned AWAY from the Temple of the Lord, and they were facing east. Just as Muslims located at points west of Mecca will turn east in order to pray, these backslidden Israelites were facing east and worshipping the false Sun god!

Please take note of the fact that Tammuz wasn't only the god of food and agriculture; he was likewise the Sun god, which is why it was obviously so easy for him to evolve into Baal, just as Ishtar later evolved into Ashorteth. As a side note, it may also interest you to know that a number of years ago, the Palestinian National Authority published a new postage stamp which bears the image of the false god Baal, or Tammuz. Does this fact offer us a subtle hint regarding who Allah may really be?

To gain an even better understanding of Israel's backslidden state, I again encourage you to read my in-depth series "The Fruits Of Disobedience", as it mentions many other false gods and goddesses which were worshiped by the ancient Israelites, and clearly reveals the dire consequences of abandoning the one true God of Heaven. In addition to reading this series, allow me to also encourage you to undertake an in-depth study of the word "groves" as it is found in the pages of the Old Testament, from the Book of Exodus, to the Book of Micah. You will find this word mentioned in such verses as the following:

"For the LORD shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to anger. And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin."
I King 14:15-16, KJV

Exactly what where these "groves"? To say the least, it has a very negative meaning. The Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Hebrew Aramaic English Lexicon informs us that these groves were places of worship which were established on the high hills of Israel, in order to honor the false goddess of sex and fertility -- that is, Baal's wife -- who as we have now established is likewise known as Ashtoreth, Ishtar, Astarte, Ostara and Easter. Furthermore, you will also notice from the following excerpt that she was sometimes equated with the false goddess Asherah, who was also a mother goddess in a variety of the ancient cultures of the Middle East. Some scholars believe that Ishtar and Asherah originally may not have been exactly the same goddess, but that with time, this subtle distinction may have become blurred:

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0842 'asherah {ash-ay-raw'} or 'asheyrah {ash-ay-raw'}

from 0833; TWOT - 183h; n pr f

AV - grove 40; 40

Ashera(h) = "groves (for idol worship)"

1) a Babylonian (Astarte)-Canaanite goddess (of fortune and happiness), the supposed consort of Baal, her images
1a) the goddess, goddesses
1b) her images
1c) sacred trees or poles set up near an altar

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There are a number of other shocking facts which are related to the goddess Asherah. Some sources suggest that Asherah may have possibly been the wife -- or consort -- of the Hebrew God Yahweh. For example, the Wikipedia website notes the following:

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Figurines identified with Asherah are strikingly common in the archaeological record, indicating the popularity of her cult from the earliest times to the Babylonian exile. More rarely, inscriptions linking Yahweh and Asherah have been discovered: an 8th century BCE ostracon inscribed "Berakhti etkhem l’YHVH Shomron ul’Asherato" (Hebrew: בירכתי אתכם ליהוה שומרון ולאשרתו‎) was discovered by Israeli archeologists at Kuntillet Ajrud (Hebrew "Horvat Teman") in the course of excavations in the Sinai desert in 1975. This translates as: "I have blessed you by YHVH of Samaria and His Asherah" (or perhaps ". . . by YHVH our guardian and His Asherah", if "Shomron" is to be read "shomrenu"). Another inscription, from Khirbet el-Kom near Hebron, reads: "Blessed be Uriyahu by Yahweh and by his Asherah; from his enemies he saved him!". Tilde Binger notes in her study, Asherah: Goddesses in Ugarit, Israel and the Old Testament (1997, p. 141), that there is warrant for seeing an Asherah as, variously, "a wooden-aniconic-stela or column of some kind; a living tree; or a more regular statue." A rudely carved wooden statue planted on the ground of the house was Asherah's symbol, and sometimes a clay statue without legs. Her cult images -- "idols" -- were found also in forests, carved on living trees, or in the form of poles beside altars that were placed at the side of some roads. Asherah poles are mentioned in the books of Exodus, Deuteronomy, Judges, the Books of Kings, the second Book of Chronicles, and the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Micah. The term often appears as merely אשרה, Asherah; this is translated as "groves" in the King James Version and "poles" in the New Revised Standard Version, although there is disagreement about the translation of the ancient Hebrew as "poles."

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Of course, not all Bible scholars and archaeologists agree with the view that Asherah was actually the wife or consort of Yahweh. Some believe that the Hebrew word "asherah" -- as is noted in the lexicon -- simply refers to wooden poles or sculpted trees which were used during these pagan worship ceremonies by the Israelites. If we examine a number of the specific verses that are found in the Old Testament, they do indicate that these "asherah" -- or groves -- were chopped down or burned down, which suggests that they were made out of wood. Consider these example verses:

"But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:"
Exodus 34:13, KJV

"But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire."
Deuteronomy 7:5, KJV

"And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place."
Deuteronomy 12:3, KJV

"He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan."
2 Kings 18:4, KJV

"And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men."
2 Kings 23:14, KJV

Regardless of whether "asherah" was actually a female goddess who was worshiped by the Israelites, or simply wooden objects of worship, that still isn't the end of the "asherah" story. While this may shock some of you, there are some writers who have suggested that the wooden poles which were erected at these abominable pagan worship sites were carved in the shape of the human phallus -- that is, in the form of the male sexual organ -- and that prostitution and other lewd sexual acts were performed in honor of this pagan sex goddess, in order to receive her blessings. Of course, the greatest of these blessings would obviously be the ability to bear many children. The notion that such acts were performed would be in perfect agreement with some of the previous information that we have already examined.

As you may know, during ancient times, women who were barren were scorned, and were often viewed as being cursed. We find a clear example of this in the Second Book of Samuel where the Lord cursed Michal -- the daughter of King Saul -- after she had berated King David -- who was her husband at the time -- because he chose to dance somewhat naked before the women of Israel, as the Ark of the Covenant was being returned to Jerusalem. Consider the following verses:

"And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul's daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart. And they brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it: and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. And as soon as David had made an end of offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts. And he dealt among all the people, even among the whole multitude of Israel, as well to the women as men, to every one a cake of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine. So all the people departed every one to his house. Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself! And David said unto Michal, It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD. And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour. Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death."
2 Samuel 6:16-23, KJV

So let's not forget that Ashtoreth/Ishtar/Easter was in fact worshipped as the supreme goddess of love, fruitfulness and fertility. Petitions were made to her in order that women might become pregnant -- which would ultimately contribute to the size, strength and army of a nation -- and also to ensure that the spring cultivation would later result in the Earth yielding her crops during the summer months, right before Tammuz -- the vegetation god and Sun god -- supposedly died. Of course, it was also at this time that livestock would reproduce as well.

As we saw earlier, Ishtar, who was represented by the moon, supposedly brought Tammuz, the Sun god, back to life during the Spring season following his long winter death; just as Easter -- that is, the Feast of Ishtar -- is now celebrated each year shortly after the vernal equinox on or about March 21st, when the Spring growth season officially begins. So if we pause to consider the various symbols which have become associated with this pagan goddess -- that is, Easter eggs, the Easter Bunny, the human phallus, the blossoming of new life at springtime, etc. -- it is easy to determine that the central theme is clearly sex and fertility. I've discovered that even in ancient Egyptian drawings, the egg is often used as a sacred symbol of fertility. So it is evident that belief in a sexy fertility goddess was widespread throughout the lands of the Middle East, the Mediterranean region, and North Africa.

Please go to part four for the continuation of this series.

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