Ba’al

13 July 2010

Baal (Louvre, Paris)

After several postings on updated old webpages, I am happy to be able to announce a completely new page: Ba’al, the name or title of one of the main deities of the ancient Near East. He is of course notorious as one of the favorite targets of the Jewish prophets of the Old Testament, but gods named Ba’al are known from Syria and Phoenicia as well.

Ba’al is especially well-known from a series of tablets from Ugarit, which tell the story about his fight against the sea god, his palace, and his temporary defeat in a conflict with the god of death. The god was also venerated in Carthage, had a twin named Bel in Babylonia, is mentioned on the Mesha stela, and is known from countless personal names.

The most famous story is, of course, that about the prophet Eliah, challenging the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. When I was preparing my article, I received a message from a friend who has been there several times, and remarked that the ancient altars, which were apparently still there, had been removed, because conservative Jews might take umbrage over those pagan objects.

The new page is here.

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Ammon

26 August 2009
The Jabbok

The Jabbok

Continuing my series on the antiquities of Jordan, here’s the second piece: the Ammonites. According to Numbers, their relation to Israel and Judah was determined by a conflict in the Late Bronze Age, when Amorites took control of the east bank of the river Jordan and founded two small kingdoms in land traditionally occupied by the Ammonites. Moses’ wandering Hebrews expelled the Amorites, and the tribes of Rueben and Gad settled on the east bank, creating a casus belli for times to come. Jeptha, Saul, and David are all credited with victorious campaigns against the Ammonites.

My article is here, and the next piece will be about the Edomites.