The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammorites, and the gods of the Philistines. And they forsook the Lord and did not serve him.
1 Samuel 7:4
So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only.
This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You and your wives have done what you said you would do when you promised, ‘We will certainly carry out the vows we made to burn incense and pour out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven.’ “Go ahead then, do what you promised! Keep your vows!
Early civilization worshipped a Great Goddess who represented fertility and the earth.
The earliest depiction of a human is a woman's pelvic area. Two upright legs support a woman's pubic triangle.
The charcoal drawing is over 30,000 years old, one of the oldest paintings in Chauvet Cave. The bull was painted over it at a later time.
At this early time in humankind's religious development, the Great Goddess was equated with the earth. Early peoples observed that the Earth, like women, gave birth, nurtured, and finally “took back” life into some mysterious underground realm (Womb/Tomb) to return again in the springtime.
That's why caves were so important. However, as agriculture developed humans realized that by looking at the sky the year could be divided into repeatable seasons. That's when the Earth Goddess morphed into a sky deity. The planet Venus was particularly attractive to these early farmers.
In ancient Mesopotamia Inanna was the Queen of Heaven and goddess of fertility and war, and her known period of worship was circa 3500 BC to 1750 BC, with cult centres at from Uruk to Nineveh.
Here is Inanna, the earth goddess of the ancient Sumerians, the ancient people living in the Cradle of Western Civilization between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. She was known as the "Queen of Heaven." Identified with Venus, Inanna was a snake goddess and originally a vegetation goddess. She was patron of the vine, of flocks, herds, with an associated snake iconography. Inanna’s prime concern was with the fertility of the earth and, in conjunction with the shepherd-god Dumuzi she was the source of universal life. All life in ancient Mesopotamia was conceived as the result of the union between earth, water and air as the personified goddess. Innana was the Sumerian Queen of the Land and source of the blood of the earth. Also Queen Moon, Great Goddess of the Bronze Age, ruler of stars, planets and rain clouds, accompanied by winged lions. She was the great Sumerian Mother goddess and later identified with the Babylonian Ishtar.
Marriage evolved as an institution following the introduction of the sacred marriage to the goddess Innana around 2350 B.C.
Inanna’s cult of the earth was synchronised with seasonal cycles in both myth and ritual where the goddess as Inanna/Ishtar “…represented the source of all generative power in nature and in mankind as the Universal Mother.
Before the idea of marriage between gods developed, families consisted of loosely organized groups of as many as 30 people, with several male leaders, multiple women shared by them, and children. As hunter-gatherers settled down into agrarian civilizations, society had a need for more stable arrangements. Once better farming methods developed, people began to grow more organized and build cities. Leadership and military might became more valued than agriculture. Patriarchy came to dominate.
In Mesopotamia the goddess was the first cause and thus the dominant figure.The symbolism of the sacred marriage between the goddess and the god, who was her husband/brother.
The ritual and symbolism reached its climax at the seasonal spring sacred marriage, which is represented visually in Akkadian seals. In these seals the Mother-goddess is shown with tree branches, the sacred tree the symbol of the goddess.