Baal Worship

April 26, 2016

The Ten Commandments began with the words, “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth” (Ex. 20:3-4). This prohibition of idolatry, perhaps more than any other single thing, set apart the people of God from other nations.

Baal, displayed at Hecht Museum at Haifa University, Israel. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Baal, displayed at Hecht Museum at Haifa University, Israel. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Note this info from Nelson’s NIBD: 

The pagan peoples who inhabited the land of Canaan before the Israelites arrived also worshiped many gods and goddesses. The Canaanite literature discovered at RAS SHAMRA (on the site of the ancient city of Ugarit) on the Syrian coast provides abundant information about several gods mentioned in the Bible.

The Canaanite god most often referred to is Baal, which means “lord” or “master.” The word could be used as a title for any person who owned something, or any god considered to be a lord or master. But the word Baal soon became identified with various regional gods that were thought to provide fertility for crops and livestock. As a god who symbolized the productive forces of nature, Baal was worshiped with much sensuality (Num. 22:41; Judg. 2:13; 1 Kin. 16:31–32).

Baal appeared in many forms and under many different names. The Bible often makes reference to the Baalim (the plural of Baal, KJV) or to the Baals (NKJV; Judg. 2:11; 1 Kin. 18:18; Jer. 2:23). (Youngblood, Bruce, & Harrison. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary).

We have previously posted on Baal worship here.


High Place at Dan

October 1, 2015

A study of the biblical “Divided Kingdom” period is challenging, (1 Kgs. 11ff. and 2 Chron. 11ff.) to say the least. The 1st of Israel’s kings, Jeroboam, made several (unauthorized) changes in the pattern for worship that Yahweh had revealed (see our previous post here). Jeroboam’s motive was to solidify his power, and to prevent his subjects from going south to Jerusalem to worship, which he thought would likely cause their loyalty to shift.

At Dan it is possible today to see the site referenced so many times in scripture, that of the high place where Jeroboam placed his golden calf. cf. 1 Kings 12:30: “Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one [golden calf] at Dan.” “This event became sin to the house of Jeroboam, even to blot it out and destroy it from off the face of the earth” (13:34). Reference is made to the sins of Jeroboam “which he committed and with which he made Israel to sin” (14:16).

Info Sign at High Place at Dan. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Info Sign at High Place at Dan. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

View of the altar where sacrifices were offered. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

View of the altar where sacrifices were offered. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Steps leading up to the platform where the golden calf was enshrined. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Steps leading up to the platform where the golden calf was enshrined. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Click images for larger view.


The Egyptian god Bes

April 5, 2010

Many of our recent posts have featured biblically related artifacts which are housed in Istanbul’s Archaeology Museum.

As you enter the main entrance of the museum, you are “greeted” by a 3.5 meter statue of the Egyptian god Bes, depicted as holding a lion by its hind legs.

Image of Bes. Istanbul Archaeology Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

It was believed that Bes protected the individual from evil. BAR editor Hershal Shanks writes, “An Egyptian god adopted into the Canaanite-Phoenician pantheon, Bes served as the ordinary person’s chief talisman against evil. He had already assumed a prominent role by the ninth century B.C.” (15:04 July/August 1989).  It was especially thought that Bes was the protector of pregnant women.

The Biblical World in Pictures notes, “Bes was a household Egyptian deity responsible for the welfare of pregnant women, happiness in the home and prevention of disease. Like many other Egyptian motifs, he was adopted in the Levant, especially in Phoenicia.”

travellinkturkey.com states that the statue of Bes in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum was brought from the island of Cyprus.

Belief in a god such as Bes was only the proverbial “drop in a bucket” of the pervasive idolatry of the ancient world.  In giving the Ten Commandments God called His people to leave all forms of idolatry and be devoted exclusively to Him:

I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God. (Deut. 5:5-9).

The world of the 1st century in which the church was established was permeated by idolatry.  The call of the Gospel is summarized by Paul in 2 Cor. 6:16-2 Cor 7:1:

And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.” Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.


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