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Baal


2 Ki 23:3 And the king [Josiah] stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.

2 Ki 23:4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel.

2 Ki 23:5 And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. 2 Ki 23:6 And he brought out the grove from the house of the LORD, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people.

Baal as a Deity
Baal was both the sun god and storm god. He was worshiped as sun god when the people wished to express thanks and gratitude for light and warmth and fertility. In many Chanaanite, Phoenician, or Palmyrene shrines, the sun was the Baal worshipped.

When applied to a deity, the word Baal retained its connotation of ownership. There was the Baal of Tyre, of Harran, of Tarsus, of Herman, of Lebanon of Tamar (a river south of Beirut), of heaven.

According to W.R. Smith, the Baal is a local God who, by fertilizing his own district through springs and streams, becomes its lawful owner. Some authorities, nevertheless, oppose this view, and hold that the Baal is the genius-lord of the place and of all the elements that cause its fecundity; it is he who gives "bread, water, wool, flax, oil, and drink"; he is the male principle of life and reproduction in nature, and such is sometimes honoured by acts of the foulest sensuality.

Baal worship-among the Israelites
Nothing could be more fatal to a spiritual relationship with God than this sensual religion. In fact, no sooner than the Israelites, coming forth from the wilderness, been brought into contact with the Baal-worshippers, than they were, through the guile of the Madianites, and the attractions of the licentious worship offered to the Moabitish deity, easily seduced from their allegiance to God (Num., xxv, 1-9). Henceforth the name of Beelphegor remained like a dark spot on the early history of Israel.

The terrible punishment inflicted upon the guilty sobered for awhile the minds of the Hebrews. How long the impression lasted we are hardly able to tell; but this we know, that when they had settled in the Promised Land, the Israelites, again forsaking the One True God, paid their homage to the deities of their Chanaanite neighours (Judges, ii, 11, 13 etc.). Over and over again in the Bible, we see the Israelites becoming involved in Baal Worship.


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