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Baal (Ba’al, Ball) (lord, owner, possessor) In Near Eastern mythology, generic name for numerous gods of rain, agriculture, and fertility. Many Baals or Baalim, as the Old Testament calls them, were worshipped in the ancient Near East. Usually a god was called Baal when his worshippers had taken “possession” or “ownership” of land by settling it. Many place names in the Old Testament indicate that a local form of Baal was worshipped in the land, thus Baal-peor (Num. 25:3) and Baal-hermon (Judg. 3:3). The influence of Baal worship, with its fertility rites, left its mark on the worship of the Hebrew deity Yahweh since at one time the two gods were worshipped together. Yahweh, however, eclipsed the worship of Baal, and the latter was denounced by the later Hebrew prophets. Yet the titles assigned to Baal were often also assigned to Yahweh. Baal was “he who mounts the clouds,” whereas Yahweh, the god of Jerusalem, was he “who rideth upon the heaven” (Deut. 33:26). Among the most famous Baals worshipped in the Near East were Baal Berith, Baal-hermon, Baal-macod, Baal-peor, Baalsamin, Baalzebub, and Baal-zephon.

Taken from the Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow
Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante

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