The supreme male divinity of the Phoenician and Canaanitish nations, as Ashtoreth was their supreme female divinity. Some suppose Baal to correspond to the sun and Ashtoreth to the moon; others that Baal was Jupiter and Ashtoreth Venus. There can be no doubt of the very high antiquity of the worship of Baal. It prevailed in the time of Moses among the Moabites and Midianites, (Numbers 22:41) and through them spread to the Israelites. (Numbers 25:3-18; 4:3) In the times of the kings it became the religion of the court and people of the ten tribes, (1 Kings 16:31-33; 18:19,22) and appears never to have been permanently abolished among them. (2 Kings 17:16) Temples were erected to Baal in Judah, (1 Kings 16:32) and he was worshipped with much ceremony. (1 Kings 18:19,26-28; 2 Kings 10:22) The attractiveness of this worship to the Jews undoubtedly grew out of its licentious character, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. We find this worship also in Phoenician colonies. The religion of the ancient British islands much resembled this ancient worship of Baal, and may have been derived from it. Nor need we hesitate to regard the Babylonian Bel, (Isaiah 46:1) or Beaus, as essentially identical with Baal, though perhaps under some modified form.
* See other occurrences of the same term: Baal.
Main reference: Smith's Bible Dictionary (1860s)
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