Character Study - Baal

1.      A West Semitic weather and warrior deity.

2.      There is evidence that “Baal,” meaning “lord,” was a proper name for a deity as early as the third millennium BC and may have been identified with the god Hadad.

3.      Excavations from the city of Ugarit have uncovered second-millennium BC texts dealing with the cult and mythology of Baal. These texts depict Baal as a god of weather and storm whose provision of precipitation ensures the seasonal cycles of crops.

4.      The Baal Cycle from Ugarit also depicts him defeating Yamm, the god of the sea, and Mot, the god of death.

5.      Some of these associations shed light on polemics against Baal in the OT. Yahweh’s withholding rain at Elijah’s request (1 Kings 17:1), for example, undermines Baal’s claim to control the weather.

6.      Further, descriptions of Yahweh as a storm god, such as Ps. 29, may be understood as polemical statements that Yahweh, not Baal, is the one who really controls the storm.

7.      The worship of Baal alongside Yahweh received official sponsorship in Israel under Ahab (1 Kings 16:31–33) and in Judah under Manasseh (2 Kings 10:18–27). The worship of this deity was grounds for the exile of Israel (2 Kings 17:16).