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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Baal

(Heb.). From the Hebrew Ba’al meaning Lord. The chief male deity of the Phoenician and Canaanitish nations, also many other ancient near eastern communities. According to Helena P. BLAVATSKY, there was a correlation between “Bel,” the Sun being of the Gauls; “Helios” with the Greeks; Baal with the Phoenicians; “El” in Chaldean (hence ‘El-ohim); “Emanu-El,” or El, “god” in Hebrew (SD II:540). If her statement is correct, then Baal would qualify as one of the most widely worshiped gods in history. Unfortunately readily accessible records seem to concentrate on the less pleasant aspect of Baal worship such as the custom followed by the Phoenicians of sacrificing children to him (The Golden Bough, pt. III p. 167).

Much of what is known about Baal is derived from tablets uncovered in 1929 at Ugarit, situated on the northern coast of Syria. These tablets date from the 2nd millennium BCE. Although Baal is associated with a large variety of responsibilities which vary according to the locality, he seems primarily to be the god of agricultural activities such as the fertility of the fields and the cattle.

The most well-known accounts of Baal occur in the Old Testament, such as in I Kings 18:21 where Elijah challenges four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal to get their god to accept the sacrifice of a young bull without fire and they are unanswered; he then single-handedly bests them by having Jehovah, so it seems, burn the offering although it is drenched with water.

P.S.H.

 

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