Baal – from Wikipedia

Baal –
from Wikipedia


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other uses, see Baal (disambiguation)

that is used for various gods, spirits
particularly of the Levant.

"Baal" can refer to any god
and even to human officials; in some mythological
texts it is used as a substitute for Hadad, a
god of the sun, rain, thunder, fertility and agriculture, and the lord
of Heaven.
Since only priests were allowed to utter his divine name Hadad, Baal
was used commonly. Nevertheless, few if any Biblical
uses of "Baal" refer to Hadad, the lord over the assembly of gods on
the holy mount of Heaven, but rather refer to any number of local
spirit-deities worshipped as cult
, each called baal and regarded as an "idol".
Therefore, in any text using the word baal it is important
first to determine precisely which god, spirit or demon is meant.

Deities called Ba’al and

Ba’al with raised arm, 14th12th century BC, found at Ras Sharma
(ancient Ugarit),

more than one god bore the title "Ba’al" and more than one goddess bore
the title "Ba’alat" or "Ba’alah," only the context of a text can
indicate which Ba’al ‘Lord’ or Ba’alath ‘Lady’ a particular inscription
or text is speaking of.

Though the god Hadad (or
Adad) was especially likely to be called
Ba’al, Hadad was far from the only god to have that title. The Ugaritic texts (mainly preserved in the Baal
) place the dwelling of Ba’al/Hadad on Mount Zephon, so one can probably take as
evident that references to Ba’al Zephon in the Tanach
and in inscriptions and tablets refer to Hadad. It is said that Ba’al
, the Lord of Mount Pe’or, whom Israelites were forbidden from
worshipping (Numbers 1–25) was also Hadad. In the Canaanite
pantheon, Hadad was the son of El, who had once
been the primary god of the Canaanite pantheon, and whose name was also
used interchangeably with that of the Hebrew
god, Yahweh.

the god of Tyre, was often called the Ba’al of Tyre. 1 Kings
16.31 relates that Ahab, king of Israel,
married Jezebel, daughter of Ethba’al,
king of the Sidonians,
and then served habba’al (‘the Ba’al’.) The cult of this
god was prominent in Israel until the reign of Jehu, who
put an end to it (2 Kings 10.26):

And they brought out the
pillars (massebahs) of the house of the Ba’al and burned them.
And they pulled down the pillar (massebah) of the Ba’al and
pulled down the house of the Ba’al and turned it into a latrine until
this day.

It is uncertain whether
"the Ba’al" ‘the Lord’ refers to Melqart, to Hadad, who was also
worshipped in Tyre, or Ba’al Shamîm ‘Lord of Heaven’ who was also
worshipped in Tyre and often distinguished from Hadad. Josephus

8.13.1) states clearly that Jezebel "built a temple to the god of the
Tyrians, which they call Belus" which certainly refers to Melqart. But
Josephus may be relying on likelihood rather than knowledge. Hadad is
generally a rain god but Melqart is not known to be connected with
bringing of rain. But so little is known of Melqart’s cult that such
reasoning is not decisive.

In any case, King Ahab,
despite supporting the cult of this Ba‘al,
remained at the same time also a follower of Yahweh. Ahab still
consulted Yahweh’s prophets and cherished Yahweh’s protection when he
named his sons Ahaziah ("Yahweh holds") and Jehoram
("Yahweh is high.")

Ba’al of Carthage

The worship of Ba`al Hammon
flourished in the Phoenician colony of Carthage.
Ba’al Hammon was the supreme god of the Carthaginians and is generally
identified by modern scholars either with the northwest Semitic god El
or with Dagon,
and generally identified by the Greeks with Cronus
and by the Romans with Saturn.

The meaning of Hammon
or Hamon is unclear. In the 19th century when Ernest
excavated the ruins of Hammon (Ḥammon),
the modern Umm al-‘Awamid between Tyre and Acre,
he found two Phoenician inscriptions dedicated to El-Hammon. Since El
was normally identified with Cronus and Ba‘al
Hammon was also identified with Cronus, it seemed possible they could
be equated. More often a connection with Hebrew/Phoenician ḥammān
‘brazier’ has been proposed. Frank Moore Cross argued for a connection
to Khamōn, the Ugaritic and Akkadian name for Mount Amanus, the
great mountain separating Syria from Cilicia
based on the occurrence of an Ugaritic description of El as the one of
the Mountain Haman.

Classical sources relate
how the Carthaginians burned their children as offerings to Ba’al
Hammon. See Moloch
for a discussion of these traditions and conflicting thoughts on the
matter. Such a devouring of children fits well with the Greek
traditions of Cronus.

tend to see Ba’al Hammon as more or less identical with the god El, who
was also generally identified with Cronus and Saturn. However, Yigdal
Ydin thought him to be a moon god. Edward Lipinski identifies him with
the god
in his Dictionnaire de la civilisation phenicienne et punique
(1992: ISBN
). Inscriptions about Punic deities tend to be rather

In Carthage and North
Africa Ba’al Hammon was especially associated
with the ram and was worshipped also as Ba’al Qarnaim ("Lord of Two
Horns") in an open-air sancutary at Jebel Bu Kornein ("the two-horned
hill") across the bay from Carthage.

Ba’al Hammon’s female cult
partner was Tanit.
He was probably not ever identified with Ba’al Melqart,
although one finds this equation in older scholarship.

Ba’alat Gebal ("Lady of Byblos") appears to
have been generally identified with ‘Ashtart,
although Sanchuniathon

distinguishes the two.

Multiple Ba‘als and

One finds in the Tanach the
plural forms bə‘ālîm ‘Ba‘als’ or ‘Lords’ and ‘aštārôt
‘‘Ashtarts’, though such plurals do not appear in Phoenician or
Canaanite or independent Aramaic sources.

One theory is that the folk
of each territory or in each wandering
clan worshipped their own Ba‘al, as the chief deity of each, the source
of all the gifts of nature, the mysterious god of their fathers. As the
god of fertility
all the produce of the soil would be his, and his adherents would bring
to him their tribute of first-fruits. He would be the patron of all
growth and fertility, and, by the use of analogy characteristic of
early thought, this Ba‘al would be the god of the productive element in
its widest sense. Originating perhaps in the observation of the
fertilizing effect of rains and streams upon the receptive and
reproductive soil, Ba‘al worship became identical with nature-worship.
Joined with the Ba‘als there would naturally be corresponding female
figures which might be called ‘Ashtarts, embodiments of ‘Ashtart.

Through analogy and through
the belief that one can control or aid the powers of nature by the
practice of magic, particularly sympathetic magic,
sexuality might characterize part of the cult of the Ba‘als and
‘Ashtarts. Post-Exilic allusions to the cult of Ba‘al Pe‘or suggest
that orgies prevailed. On the summits of hills and mountains flourished
the cult of the givers of increase, and "under every green tree" was
practised the licentiousness which was held to secure abundance of
crops. Human sacrifice, the burning of incense,
violent and ecstatic exercises, ceremonial acts of bowing and kissing,
the preparing of sacred mystic cakes (see also Asherah),
appear among the offences denounced by the post-Exilic prophets; and
show that the cult of Ba‘al (and ‘Ashtart) included characteristic
features of worship which recur in various parts of the Semitic (and
non-Semitic) world, although attached to other names. But it is also
possible that such rites were performed to a local Ba‘al ‘Lord’ and a
local ‘Ashtart without much concern as to whether or not they were the
same as that of a nearby community or how they fitted into the national
theology of Yahweh who had become a ruling high god of the heavens,
increasingly disassociated from such things, at least in the minds of
some worshippers.

Another theory is that the
references to Ba‘als and ‘Ashtarts (and
Asherahs) are to images or other standard symbols of these deities,
that is statues and icons of Ba‘al Hadad, ‘Ashtart, and Asherah set up
in various high places as well as those of other gods, the author
listing the most prominent as types for all. The Deuteronomistic editor
is as angered and saddened by worshipping of images as by worshipping
other deities than Yahweh and wishes to emphasize the plurality of
false deities as opposed to true worship of Yahweh at his single temple
in Jerusalem as called for in the reforms of Josiah.

A reminiscence of Ba‘al as
a title of a local fertility god (or
referring to a particular god of subterraneous water) may occur in the Talmudic
Hebrew phrases field of the ba‘al and place of the ba‘al
and Arabic ba‘l used of land
fertilised by subterraneous waters rather than by rain.

Common confusion over ba‘al

Because the word Baal
is used as a common substitute for the sacred name Hadad, confusion
often arises when the same word is used for other deities, physical
representations of gods and even people.

Historically, this
confusion was resolved the nineteenth century as
new archaeological evidence indicated multiple gods bearing the title
Ba‘al and little about them that connected them to the sun. In 1899, the Encyclopædia
article Baal

by W. Robertson Smith and George F. Moore states:

That Baal was primarily a
sun-god was for a long time
almost a dogma among scholars and is still often repeated. This
doctrine is connected with theories of the origin of religion which are
now almost universally abandoned. The worship of the heavenly bodies is
not the beginning of religion. Moreover, there was not, as this theory
assumes, one god Baal, worshipped under different forms and names by
the Semitic peoples, but a multitude of local Baals, each the
inhabitant of his own place, the protector and benefactor of those who
worshipped him there. Even in the astro-theology of the Babylonians
the star of Bēl was not the sun : it was the planet Jupiter.
There is no intimation in the OT that any of the Canaanite Baals were
sun-gods, or that the worship of the sun (Shemesh), of which we have
ample evidence, both early and late, was connected with that of the
Baals ; in 2 K. 235 cp 11 the
cults are treated as distinct.

Ba’al Zebûb

article: Beelzebub

Beelzebub as depicted in Collin de Plancy‘s Dictionnaire
(Paris, 1825).

Another version of the
demon Ba’al is Beelzebub, or more accurately Ba‘al Zebûb or
Ba‘al Zəbûb (Hebrew בעל זבוב, Ba’al zvuv), who was
originally the name of a deity worshipped in the Philistine
city of Ekron.
Ba‘al Zebûb might mean ‘Lord of Zebûb’, referring to an unknown place
named Zebûb, a pun
with ‘Lord of flies’, zebûb being a Hebrew
collective noun meaning ‘fly’. This may mean that the Hebrews were
derogating the god of their enemy. Later, Christian writings referred
to Ba‘al Zebûb as a demon or devil,
often interchanged with Beelzebul.
Either form may appear as an alternate name for Satan (or the Devil) or
may appear to refer to the name of a lesser devil. As with several
religions, the names of any earlier foreign or "pagan"
deities often became synonymous with the concept of an adversarial
entity. The demonization of Ba‘al Zebûb led to much of
the modern religious personification of Satan as the adversary of the Abrahamic

Some scholars have
suggested that Baal Zebul which means "lord the
prince" was deliberately changed by the worshippers of Yahweh to Baal
Zebub (lord of the flies) in order to ridicule and protest the worship
of Baal Zebul. (NIV Study Bible published by Zondervan)



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