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Baal of Peor

Baal (usually pronounced "bail") is mentioned widely in the Old Testament as the primary pagan idol of the Phoenicians, which was often associated with the heathen goddess Ashtaroth. The photo below shows Baal's fictitious image from an ancient stone carving. He was the supposed son of the non-existent god Dagon.

Unfortunately, to their eventual bitter regret, the Israelites became deeply involved in the cult of the Baals. The evil "worship" included a wide range of perverted behavior, even sacrificing their infants in fire. It wasn't just misguided - it was outright wickedness.

Phoenician baal The term "Baal" is used in various ways in the Old Testament, with the usual meaning of master, or owner. It came to sometimes mean the local pagan god of a particular people, and at the same time all of the idols of the land. It is also found in several places in the plural Baalim, or Baals (Judges 2:11, 10:10). There were many variations, such as the sun god, the god of fertility, and Beelzebub, or the "lord of flies".

According to one tradition, the ancient priest Berosus served Belus, or Bel, as it was originally called. It was allegedly Berosus that partially built the Tower of Babel, named after Baal, or Bel, on the plain of Shinar in the The Tigris-Euphrates Valley. Babylon also originates from the pagan god's name. The writings of Berosus also record the story, apart from the Bible record, of the great Flood.

Through the Moabites, the Israelites became involved with it as the "Baal of Peor" (Numbers 25:3, Deuteronomy 4:3), which they worshiped along with the pagan Ashtoreth, until the time of Samuel (1 Samuel 7:4). Later, the northern ten tribes of Israel became corrupted by it in the time of Ahab (see Kings of Israel and Judah) and Jezebel (1 Kings 16:31-33, 18:19-22). The southern kingdom of Judah also was guilty of it (2 Kings 8:27, 11:18, 16:3, 2 Chronicles 28:2) until their defeat and exile (Zephaniah 1:4-6) by King Nebuchadnezzar.

The priests of Baal were in great numbers (1 Kings 18:19), and of various classes (2 Kings 10:19) throughout the land. Their fraud was exposed however in a great contest with the prophet Elijah on Mount Carmel. Out numbered hundreds to one, Elijah, with the power of God, destroyed them all (1 Kings 18:16-40).

Fact Finder: What are The First and Second Commandments?
Exodus 20:1-6
See also The Ten Commandments and Images and Idols

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This Week's Bible Quiz

1. What is the name of the city where people were first called "Christians"?

2. Was Deborah a judge of Israel?

3. Did Jesus Christ have biological brothers and sisters?

4. Was Peter married?

5. Who ordered the slaughter of young boys around Bethlehem after Christ was born? Caesar Augustus, Herod The Great, or Pontius Pilate?

6. What was the name of the father of John The Baptist?

7. How many days did the Temptation of Christ by Satan go on?

8. Did Jesus describe the way to eternal life as a wide, or narrow, road?

9. Which of the apostles was a tax collector before he was called?

10. What sort of animal did Jesus ride into Jerusalem on His triumphal entry?

For the answers to this May 7 2002 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page

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