Baal (Semitic, Ba'al; "Master, Lord")

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BAAL (Semitic, ba'al; "master, lord")

Main Canaanite divinity, whose cult is that of fertility, similar to the goddess Astarte (Ashtart, Asherah, Tanit), thought of as the wife of Baal and called also Baalat. Mountain, storm, and rain god for the Phoenicians, Baal represented a great danger for the Israelite head priests and their religion because many of their coreligionists were drawn to his cult. For example, Jews worshipped (especially at Sichem) another Canaanite divinity, Baal Berith (in Hebrew, "master of the covenant"), who presided over compacts between families and individuals. Between 860 and 853 b.c.e., the king of Israel, Ahab, and his wife Jezebel worshipped the god Baal. The main center of the Baal cult was in the Lebanese city of Baalbek. The term baal is used in the Bible to designate false gods.