Ba’al, 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, Num. 22:41, and through them spread to the Israelites. Num. 25:3-18; Deut. 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. 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, Isa. 46:1, or Belus, as essentially identical with Baal, though perhaps under some modified form. The plural, Baalim, is found frequently, showing that he was probably worshipped under different compounds, among which appear—
3. Baal-hanan. a. The name of one of the early kings of Edom. Gen. 36:38, 39; 1 Chron. 1:49, 50. b. The name of one of David’s officers, who had the superintendence of his olive and sycamore plantations. 1 Chron. 27:28.
4. Baal-peor (lord of the opening, i.e., for others to join in the worship). We have already referred to the worship of this god. The narrative (Num. 25) seems clearly to show that this form of Baal-worship was connected with licentious rites.