🔼The name Ashtaroth in the Bible
The name Ashtaroth is the plural of the name Ashtoreth, which was the Hebrew equivalent of Astarte, the goddess of fertility and all that. This plural form is sometimes used to indicate multiple manifestations of this deity but often to reflect an intense veneration of one.
The name Ashtaroth appears on the Biblical stage when Israel has just settled in Canaan. After Joshua died, the Israelites forsook YHWH and began to dedicate themselves to Baal and Ashtaroth (Judges 2:13). Again after the death of the judge Jair, Israel followed the Baals and Ashtaroth (Judges 10:6). During the days of Samuel, Israel rejected Ashtaroth (1 Samuel 7:4, 12:10) but when king Saul died on Mount Gilboa, the Philistines took his weapons and placed them in their temple of Ashtaroth (1 Samuel 31:10).
We don't hear from Ashtaroth or Ashtoreth, until no other than Solomon reintroduces it during the final days of his life (1 Kings 11:5).
There was also a place called Ashtaroth. It was situated in Gilead, and was the hometown of king Og of Bashan, who was defeated by Israel under Moses (Deuteronomy 1:4, Joshua 9:10). King Og was the last of the giant Rephaim (Joshua 12:4, 13:12) and the Rephaim were defeated once before, during the War of Four Against Five Kings, when they lived in a place called Ashteroth-karnaim (Genesis 14:5). Some scholars assume that Ashtaroth and Ashteroth-karnaim are the same place, but there is no evidence for this either way.
When the promised land was divided, Ashtaroth was given to the half-tribe of Manasseh, and particularly to the family of Machir (Joshua 13:31). The Chronicler additionally reports that Manasseh subsequently gave Ashtaroth to the Gershomites (1 Chronicles 6:71).
Our name Ashtaroth is commonly spelled עשתרות but the shorter form עשתרת is applied once to Og's hometown (Deuteronomy 1:4) and once to a plural of Ashtoreth (1 Samuel 7:4).
🔼Etymology and meaning of the name Ashtaroth
The etymology and meaning of the name Ashtaroth are a bit complicated. Please see our article on Ashtoreth for a closer look.