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Bay´uhl, bah-ahl´

A Canaanite god. The Semitic word baal means “owner,” “husband,” “lord,” “master.” It can be used as a common noun or as a proper noun. In the latter case it refers to the god Baal (associated primarily with nature, weather, and sexual congress). Also, gods other than this specific Baal may be called “baals.” In the Bible it is not always clear which use is intended. We hear of the cult of Baal in a number of local manifestations: Baal of the Covenant at Shechem (Judg 9:4); Baal of Peor at Shittim (Num 25:3); Baal “Zebub” of Philistia (2Kgs 1:2-3); and perhaps Baal of Hamon (Song 8:11). Jezebel introduced to Samaria the worship of Tyre’s god Baal (1Kgs 18:19). Opposition to the worship of Baal is a persistent theme of the Israelite literature. Historical narratives applaud the destruction of the Baal temple at Jerusalem in the revolt against Athaliah (2Kgs 11:18) and include stories of conflict between the worshipers of Yahweh and the followers of Baal (Judg 6:25-32; 1Kgs 18:16-40). But since Yahweh could also be called lord (baal), the danger existed that Israel’s God would take on characteristics of the Canaanite god. Israel’s prophets fought to preserve a vision of transcendent Yahweh over against the Canaanite concept of Baal.