Baal, Baalim

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The name signifies “master, possessor;” and whether singular or plural it always has the article. The chief male god of the Phoenicians and the Canaanites, as ASHTORETH was the chief female goddess. The Israelites in coming into the land doubtless found temples, groves, altars and high places set apart to Baal: incense was offered and offerings burnt, and children were sacrificed to him, while a great retinue of prophets and priests was maintained in his service, as is manifest by its revival afterward (Num. 22:4141And it came to pass on the morrow, that Balak took Balaam, and brought him up into the high places of Baal, that thence he might see the utmost part of the people. (Numbers 22:41); 1 Kings 18:2222Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men. (1 Kings 18:22); Jer. 11:1313For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to that shameful thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal. (Jeremiah 11:13); Jer. 19:55They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind: (Jeremiah 19:5); Jer. 32:2929And the Chaldeans, that fight against this city, shall come and set fire on this city, and burn it with the houses, upon whose roofs they have offered incense unto Baal, and poured out drink offerings unto other gods, to provoke me to anger. (Jeremiah 32:29)).
The children of Israel were soon led away to the worship of Baal (Judg. 2:11,1311And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim: (Judges 2:11)
13And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. (Judges 2:13)
; Judg. 3:77And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgat the Lord their God, and served Baalim and the groves. (Judges 3:7); Judg. 6:31-3231And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar. 32Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, Let Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar. (Judges 6:31‑32); Judg. 8:3333And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baal-berith their god. (Judges 8:33); Judg. 10:6,106And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the Lord, and served not him. (Judges 10:6)
10And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim. (Judges 10:10)
); and though under Samuel they relinquished it, (1 Sam. 7:44Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only. (1 Samuel 7:4); 1 Sam. 12:1010And they cried unto the Lord, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord, and have served Baalim and Ashtaroth: but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve thee. (1 Samuel 12:10)), yet after the division of the kingdom it was by Ahab fully established in Israel (1 Kings 16:3232And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. (1 Kings 16:32)). Elijah however stood for Jehovah, and raised the question with Israel whether Jehovah was God, or whether Baal, and established the rights of Jehovah by fire from heaven. This led to the destruction of all the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:17-4017And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? 18And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim. 19Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table. 20So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. 21And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. 22Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men. 23Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: 24And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. 25And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. 26And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. 27And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. 28And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. 29And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded. 30And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. 31And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: 32And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. 33And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. 34And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. 35And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water. 36And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. 37Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. 38Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God. 40And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there. (1 Kings 18:17‑40)); but his idolatrous worship continued until the days of Jehu, who slew his worshippers and destroyed his house and images (2 Kings 10:18-2818And Jehu gathered all the people together, and said unto them, Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu shall serve him much. 19Now therefore call unto me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests; let none be wanting: for I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live. But Jehu did it in subtilty, to the intent that he might destroy the worshippers of Baal. 20And Jehu said, Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it. 21And Jehu sent through all Israel: and all the worshippers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left that came not. And they came into the house of Baal; and the house of Baal was full from one end to another. 22And he said unto him that was over the vestry, Bring forth vestments for all the worshippers of Baal. And he brought them forth vestments. 23And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and said unto the worshippers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the Lord, but the worshippers of Baal only. 24And when they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings, Jehu appointed fourscore men without, and said, If any of the men whom I have brought into your hands escape, he that letteth him go, his life shall be for the life of him. 25And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, that Jehu said to the guard and to the captains, Go in, and slay them; let none come forth. And they smote them with the edge of the sword; and the guard and the captains cast them out, and went to the city of the house of Baal. 26And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them. 27And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day. 28Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel. (2 Kings 10:18‑28)). It however revived again in Israel, and under Ahaziah and Athaliah extended also to Judah, and during the reigns of Ahaz and Manasseh worshippers of Baal are found there (2 Kings 11:1818And all the people of the land went into the house of Baal, and brake it down; his altars and his images brake they in pieces thoroughly, and slew Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest appointed officers over the house of the Lord. (2 Kings 11:18); 2 Kings 16:3-43But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel. 4And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree. (2 Kings 16:3‑4); 2 Kings 17:16-1716And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. 17And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger. (2 Kings 17:16‑17); 2 Kings 21:33For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. (2 Kings 21:3)). Thus did Satan succeed in leading aside to idolatry God’s favored people for whom He had done so much.
Balaam’s advice was only too successful, the women of Canaan being the snare that led to idolatry.
The word Baal is used in several compounds, at times referring to the god and in other cases to persons or places.