Baal

Canaanite god of rain and storm, Baal was often pictured, as here (right "Baal au foudre" from the Edinburgh Ras Shamra Project), with thunderbolts in hand. Often he is standing on the back of a bull.

As the victor in a conflict with the god "Sea", Baal became King of the gods. Mot, god of death and of the dry season, was his rival and killed him, taking him down to his domain in the underworld. Baal was called back to life by his sister/wife Anat, who slashes herself with knives as a sign of mourning (cf. 1 Kgs 18:27-8).

In Hebrew ba'al means "lord", "master" or "husband" so the word and perhaps the name were used by Israelites to speak of YHWH, the LORD (cf. Hos 2:16-17 vv.18-19 in Hebrew). It is evident from Hosea and 1-2 Kgs that both the cult of the Canaanite god and the assimilation of Adonai to Baal were prevalent dangers to Israelite religion in Amos' day. However there is little if any evidence for this in the book of Amos itself, and this was not his concern. Where Amos attacked religious practice, (2:8; 4:4-5; 5:4-6, 21-27; 8:5) syncretism and foreign gods were not his target (the exception is perhaps 8:14).


This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos,

© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.