Khirbet el-Qom is an archaeological site, west of Hebron in the Judean hills. The two tombs that were found there were researched by archaeologist William G. Dever in 1967. This inscription is dated to mid-8th century BCE.





[     ]   L’NYHW

[    ]  L’ShRTh

[    ]  WL’..RTh



UrYahu the chief/ruler writing.

Bless UrYahu by YHWH

And from his enemies/rivals by AShRTh deliverance by her

…by OnYahu

…by AShRTh

…and by [Ash]RTh






While some stress the blessing and deliverance by YHWH, negating the application of AShRTh in the process, I think if we compare the iconography of the hand involved here, you will see that the hand is representative of the blessing of AShRTh.



First lets look at the association of Tanit with Asherah/AShRTh. Tanit was the Phoenician / Carthaginian (814 BCE – 146 BCE) name of this goddess. She is a later version of the mother goddess Athirat / Athirath / Ashratu / Asherah with ties to Athene and Anath. She was the consort to Baal Chammon, having the epithet Pene Baal [Face of Baal].  Her symbol is a circle inside a crescent, supported by a triangle.


If you notice in the images below, they resemble the images of Asherah, with the fertility/plant and animal life to her sides. The grouping of amulets were found in Ashkelon, a Felishthiym [Philistine] city. In Stagers article, Child Sacrifice at Carthage..., showing an ivory plaque, ”Ivory plaque naming ‘Tanit Ashtart,’ found in a small shrine in the industrial quarter of the seventh-century B.C. Phoenician city of Sarepta, eight miles south of Sidon on the Mediterranean coast. Professor James Pritchard of the University of Pennsylvania, who discovered this plaque, only 2 inches long and 1.3 inches wide, thinks that it might have once been attached to a statue. The four line Phoenician inscription reads: ‘The statue which SLM, son of MP’L, son of ~ZY made for Tanit Ashtart.’”  William Dever, Did God Have A Wife?, pg. 232, writes, “Additional iconographic motifs that can be related to Asherah (Keel and Uehlinger say to ‘the goddess’) later in her history in Israel and Judah include doves. Doves appear frequently in connection with the goddess Tanit, the late Phoenician counterpart of Asherah.”  Early History of God, Mark Smith, pg. 119, mentions a text (KAI 81:1) of Tanit in Lebanon, a Phoenician city. Pg. 122, note 64, provides examples of text, “Tanit, face of Baal”, (KAI 78:2, 79:1, 10-11, 85:1, 86:1, 137:1, 87:1).








A further development of Tanit involved the open hand of blessing, which was also protective. This is evidenced by the following stelae from Carthage. This hand symbol continues and becomes more dominant, especially in Judaism and Islam.





Within Judaism, the protective, blessing hand is called a Hamesh. Within Islam, it is called the Hand of Fatima, Hamsa / khamsa / chamsa , which is Arabic for five – the fingers and thumb. These amulets are rampant within Judaism and Islam. “A frequent occurrence is a hand inscribed on the paper parchment amulets. Silver amulets made in the form of hands are common and are usually North African in origin and the hand is supposed to ward off the ‘evil eye.’ It is considered by some to be the hand of Fatima, who was Muhammad’s daughter, but hands have appeared on North African amulets since the times of the Carthaginians and these people antedate the Muslim tradition by more than a thousand years. The tradition of using hands on amulets still persists strongly in Morocco, Tunis, and Algeria, as well as throughout the Muslim world.”-Encyclopedia Judaica CD under Amulet.


After mentioning a reference in the Talmud, Ber. 55b, about how to avert the evil eye by sticking your right thumb in your left hand and your left thumb in your right hand, then proclaiming who you are, the son of and of the seed of Joseph, Encyclopedia Judaica mentions under the subject of Evil Eye, “The belief in the evil eye and the various means, both sacred and profane, of averting it, were very prevalent among the Eastern European Jews; to this day they exist in many oriental Jewish communities. In modern times the use of blue paint and a metal amulet in the form of a (sp) open palm of the hand are still widespread in oriental communities, “






Later this hand symbol includes an eye in the center of the hand to ward off the evil eye. 




Considering that Tanit has a connection with Ashtart / Asherah, a hand of blessing or protection / deliverance and occurs at a similar time to the el-Qom inscription, the hand should be connected to the AShRTh in the inscription.



For another example of YHWH and AShRTh, please see the Kuntillet Ajrud Inscriptions.


Kathryn QannaYahu