Varda Books



 View book pages:
 Buy this book:
  eBookshuk
  




Baal worship: Fragments

by Isaak Landman,
Baal worship: Fragments of bronze bowls, with Phoenician inscription, dedicated to the local Baal These are preserved in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris Β BAAL. 1. Canaanite Deity. Baal is a term, prob-ably of Western Semitic origin, meaning  lord, hus-band, possessor, and frequently used as a title in the sense of  deity. In this last meaning the word orig-inally was not a proper noun, but was employed much as we do the word  god in phrases such as  the god of Tyre or  the gods of the Greeks ( thus, with a suffixed genitive,  the Baal of Peor, Num. 25: 3; and in the plural,  the Baalim, Judges 2: 11). The fem-inine form of the title, Baalath, also appears. As early as the third millennium B. C. E., the term appears in the Babylonian form, Bel, as the title of the deity Enlil. Later Bel and Baal came to be used as proper nouns, but Baal was still in common use as a title in Palestine and Syria during the second millen-nium B. C. E. The Baals were primarily local deities. Each city had its own Baal, and each of these Baals had a dis-tinctive name. Thus Melkart was the Baal of Tyre, while Astarte was the Baalath ( goddess) of Byblos. Naturally, the inhabitants of any one city would refer to their own Baal as  the Baal, just as we speak of  the president, without adding a name. As a result of this usage, the title Baal became more and more nearly a proper noun. When the first Semitic invaders of Palestine settled down in the country, they found a number of spots which had been regarded as sacred by the native non- Semitic inhabitants— wells, trees, mountains and other natural objects. The Semites took over these shrines and ascribed to each one a Baal of its own; in the same way each town or city worshipped its individual Baal as its local deity. The land was studded with such lo-cal shrines, attended by one or more priests and priest-esses, and serving the religious needs of the region. Side by side, however, with these local deities, there was a wider concept of the role of Baal in nature. Dur-ing the 1st millennium B. C. E., and possibly even be-fore that time, the Baal of the heavens, Baal Shemem, came to be regarded by the Western Semitic nations, who were neighbors of Israel, as the supreme Baal. As such he was considered to be the deification of the sun or of the heaven itself, and therefore the bestower of rain and sunshine, so indispensable for the growth of the crops. As deities of agricultural peoples, the Baals were thought to be vested with control over the powers of nature; consequently the Western Semitic peoples besought them to grant them abundant harvests. Their Baals were the gods of fertility; they were hailed as the dispensers of corn, oil, wool and flax ( cf. Hosea 2: 7, 10). Again, fertility was connected with the idea of sex, and not only was each Baal given a consort in the form of an Ishtar or Astarte, the goddess of human fertility, but also sexual rites became a part of Baal wor-ship. On the hill- tops, under the trees, were the Baal sanctuaries, each with its upright stone pillar and Ashe-rah, symbols of the deities; there the ancient Canaanites worshipped their Baals amid strange, orgiastic rites. When the Israelites entered Canaan ( 13th cent. B. C. E.), they appear to have adopted many elements of the Baal cult along with the agricultural processes they learned from the Canaanites. This was an uncon-scious assimilation of the ways of the land. For cen-turies the god of Israel and the gods of the Canaanites were worshipped side by side; such a pious king as Saul thought it nothing wrong to name one of his sons Jonathan ( Yahveh Gives) and another Ishbaal ( Man of Baal). It was not until the days of Elijah ( 9th cent. B. C. E.) that this assimilative process met with any defi-nite opposition by the religious leaders of the Israelites. It was perhaps not until— under the patronage of Jeze-bel, Tyrian wife of King Ahab— a temple was built to the Baal of Tyre, adjacent to the temple of the Lord in Samaria, that the cult of Baal became an independ-ent, aggressive religious movement in Israel, parallel with and in opposition to the worship of the ancient God of Israel. Thereupon Elijah, and, after him, Elisha vigorously contended against Baal worship. Jehu, who overthrew the house of Omri and succeeded Ahab, is Chapter Home  | Index AAR- AZU  | BAA- CAN | CAN- EDU | EDU- GNO | GOD- IZS | JAB- LEX | LEX- MOS | MOS- PRO | PRO- SPE | SPI- ZYL

Zoom in  zoom  Zoom out
  << Topic >>             |<   <<    Page       >>   >|  
Baal worship: Fragments of bronze bowls, with Phoenician inscription, dedicated to the local Baal These are preserved in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris Β BAAL. 1. Canaanite Deity. Baal is a term, prob-ably of Western Semitic origin, meaning \\" lord, hus-band, possessor,\\" and frequently used as a title in the sense of \\" deity.\\" In this last meaning the word orig-inally was not a proper noun, but was employed much as we do the word \\" god\\" in phrases such as \\" the god of Tyre\\" or \\" the gods of the Greeks\\" ( thus, with a suffixed genitive, \\" the Baal of Peor,\\" Num. 25: 3; and in the plural, \\" the Baalim,\\" Judges 2: 11). The fem-inine form of the title, Baalath, also appears. As early as the third millennium B. C. E., the term appears in the Babylonian form, Bel, as the title of the deity Enlil. Later Bel and Baal came to be used as proper nouns, but Baal was still in common use as a title in Palestine and Syria during the second millen-nium B. C. E. The Baals were primarily local deities. Each city had its own Baal, and each of these Baals had a dis-tinctive name. Thus Melkart was the Baal of Tyre, while Astarte was the Baalath ( goddess) of Byblos. Naturally, the inhabitants of any one city would refer to their own Baal as \\" the Baal,\\" just as we speak of \\" the president,\\" without adding a name. As a result of this usage, the title Baal became more and more nearly a proper noun. When the first Semitic invaders of Palestine settled down in the country, they found a number of spots which had been regarded as sacred by the native non- Semitic inhabitants— wells, trees, mountains and other natural objects. The Semites took over these shrines and ascribed to each one a Baal of its own; in the same way each town or city worshipped its individual Baal as its local deity. The land was studded with such lo-cal shrines, attended by one or more priests and priest-esses, and serving the religious needs of the region. Side by side, however, with these local deities, there was a wider concept of the role of Baal in nature. Dur-ing the 1st millennium B. C. E., and possibly even be-fore that time, the Baal of the heavens, Baal Shemem, came to be regarded by the Western Semitic nations, who were neighbors of Israel, as the supreme Baal. As such he was considered to be the deification of the sun or of the heaven itself, and therefore the bestower of rain and sunshine, so indispensable for the growth of the crops. As deities of agricultural peoples, the Baals were thought to be vested with control over the powers of nature; consequently the Western Semitic peoples besought them to grant them abundant harvests. Their Baals were the gods of fertility; they were hailed as the dispensers of corn, oil, wool and flax ( cf. Hosea 2: 7, 10). Again, fertility was connected with the idea of sex, and not only was each Baal given a consort in the form of an Ishtar or Astarte, the goddess of human fertility, but also sexual rites became a part of Baal wor-ship. On the hill- tops, under the trees, were the Baal sanctuaries, each with its upright stone pillar and Ashe-rah, symbols of the deities; there the ancient Canaanites worshipped their Baals amid strange, orgiastic rites. When the Israelites entered Canaan ( 13th cent. B. C. E.), they appear to have adopted many elements of the Baal cult along with the agricultural processes they learned from the Canaanites. This was an uncon-scious assimilation of the ways of the land. For cen-turies the god of Israel and the gods of the Canaanites were worshipped side by side; such a pious king as Saul thought it nothing wrong to name one of his sons Jonathan ( Yahveh Gives) and another Ishbaal ( Man of Baal). It was not until the days of Elijah ( 9th cent. B. C. E.) that this assimilative process met with any defi-nite opposition by the religious leaders of the Israelites. It was perhaps not until— under the patronage of Jeze-bel, Tyrian wife of King Ahab— a temple was built to the Baal of Tyre, adjacent to the temple of the Lord in Samaria, that the cult of Baal became an independ-ent, aggressive religious movement in Israel, parallel with and in opposition to the worship of the ancient God of Israel. Thereupon Elijah, and, after him, Elisha vigorously contended against Baal worship. Jehu, who overthrew the house of Omri and succeeded Ahab, is << Chapter >> Home | Index AAR- AZU | BAA- CAN | CAN- EDU | EDU- GNO | GOD- IZS | JAB- LEX | LEX- MOS | MOS- PRO | PRO- SPE | SPI- ZYL
Zoom in  zoom  Zoom out
  << Topic >>             |<   <<    Page       >>   >|  

Varda Books - 1-59045-933-4-2


 Already viewed books:
Volume 2, The Universal Jewish EncyclopediaVolume 2, The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia


TANAKH - INTERACTIVE HEBREW BIBLE