Today's poets, today's poems. Share yours, send to firstname.lastname@example.org
The word "ba'al" in various ancient Semitic languages meant "owner." It was applied (as in the sense of "lord") to various deities, especially Adad, a storm and fertility god. As Adad's cult grew in importance, his name became too holy to be used, so "Ba'al" became an acceptable synonym. However, by the 1st millennium BCE they became distinct figures, with Adad being worshipped by the Aramaeans in Syria and Ba'al by the Canaanites (including the Phoenicians), who regarded him as the patron of sailors and the leader of the semi-deified ancestral spirits. His name may have also been one of the names the Jews used for god, as in the names of Jeruba'al ("Gideon," "The Lord Strives") [after his death, the Jews briefly worshipped Baʿal Berith ("Lord of the Covenant"), whose priests gave his son 'Abimelek ("My Father is King") money to kill his 70 1/2 brothers], king Saul's son and successor Eshba'al ("The Lord is Great"), and king David's son Beeliada ("The Lord Knows"). Cultic conflict led to name changes (Eshba'al became Ish-bosheth ["bosheth" meant shame] and Beeliada became Eliada). The Phoenicians spread his cult to Egypt and the entire Mediterranean region. In the 5th century BCE, as Ba'al Hammon, he became the supreme god in Carthage (in modern Tunisia), and the Carthaginians sacrificed their children to him. In the 9th century BCE king Ahab's queen Jezebel tried to establish his worship in Israel but the prophet Eliyahu ("Elijah," meaning "My God is Yahweh") foiled her plan, but the theophoric use in names continued to the time of the prophet Hoshea ("Salvation") in the 8th century BCE. Eliyahu also condemned Ahab's successor 'Aḥazyah ("Yah has grasped") for consulting with the priests of Ba'al Zebub ("Fly Lord"); in the New Testament, Beelzebub became identified as Satan, the prince of demons. In the 1667 epic "Paradise Lost" John Milton called the male angels who revolted against God the "Baalim."
Join the conversation! What is your reaction to the post?