And they forsook the Lord
The worship of the Lord, as the Targum; this is repeated to observe the heinous sin they were guilty of, and how displeasing it was to God:
and served Baal and Ashtaroth;
two images, as the Arabic version adds; Baal, from whence Baalim, may signify the he deities of the Gentiles, as Jupiter, Hercules and Ashtaroth their female deities, as Juno, Venus, Diana the word is plural, and used for flocks of sheep, so called because they make the owners of them rich; and Kimchi and Ben Melech say these were images in the form of female sheep. Perhaps, as Baal may signify the sun, so Ashtaroth the moon, and the stars like flocks of sheep about her. Ashtaroth was the goddess of the Zidonians, ( 1 Kings 11:5 1 Kings 11:33 ) ; the same with Astarte, the wife of Cronus or Ham, said to be the Phoenician or Syrian Venus. So Lucian says F18 there was a temple in Phoenicia, belonging to the Sidonians, which they say is the temple of Astarte; and, says he, I think that Astarte is the moon; and Astarte is both by the Phoenicians F19 and Grecians F20 said to be Venus, and was worshipped by the Syrians also, as Minutius Felix F21 and Tertullian F23 affirm; the same with Eostre, or Aestar, the Saxon goddess; hence to this day we call the passover Easter F24, being in Eoster-month; and with Andraste, a goddess of the ancient Britains F25. There were four of them, and therefore the Septuagint here uses the plural number Astartes; so called either from Asher, being reckoned "blessed" ones, or from Asheroth, the groves they were worshipped in; or from (ve) , "Ash", and (rwt) , "Tor", the constellation Taurus or the bull; so Astarte by Sanchoniatho is said to put upon her head the head of a bull, as the token of her sovereignty; (See Gill on Genesis 14:5).
F18 De Dea Syria.
F19 Sanchoniatho apud Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 1. p. 38.
F20 Suidas in voce (astarth) .
F21 In Octavio, p. 6.
F23 Apolog. c. 24.
F24 Vid. Owen. Theologoumen, l. 3. c. 4. p. 192.
F25 lb. c. 11. p. 244.