ARIZONA CHRISTIAN UNIVERSTIY
BA’AL WORSHIP IN THE TIME OF THE ISRAELITE MONARCHY
SUBMITTED TO PROFESSOR BRYAN FERGUS
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF
BIB 104 GENESIS TO SONG OF SOLOMON
NOVEMBER 14, 2012
BAAL WORSHIP IN THE TIME OF THE ISRAELITE MONARCHY
In all of the Biblical texts, there is no deity more notorious than the ancient Canaanite god known as Baal. The name Baal appears sixty-three times in the scriptures and emerges as Yahwah’s foremost contender for the hearts of His people in Old Testament Israel. It should be noted, however, that the particular deity, Baal, does not deserve all of the credit attributed to his name for the apostasy of Israel. The worship of “the Baals,” as it is sometimes referred to in the scriptures, indicates that there is more than one entity to which this name is attributed. In fact, there are various people in scripture whose names begin with Baal indicating that, apart from the historic deity, it was also an epithet, likely meaning “master” or “lord.”1 This also suggests that the name “Baal,” was used to identify many of the various false deities worshiped in the Old Testament era of the Kings.2 It is highly probable that, apart from Baal, any number of other common local deities, such as Ashtoreth, Molech, and Dagon came to be lumped into this category. Through modern archeological discoveries, we have come to understand many practices used in the worship of these various deities. Solomon’s Apostasy
While idol worship was an ongoing problem for the people of God since the time of Abraham, it began its ascent to commonplace among Israel during the reign of King Solomon. Despite being commissioned by Yahweh to build His Temple in Jerusalem, Solomon was drawn into idol worship by his many wives (1Kings 11:4). In fact, the vary design of the Solomon’s Temple appears to have been based on a design of another temple uncovered by archeologists in Syria-Palestine devoted to the worship of other gods.3 Historians believe this led to the widespread acceptance of heathen worship practices throughout Israel. Scriptures tell us that Solomon worshiped a number of deities and constructed sites of worship for many of them (1 Kings 11:7). Many scholars assert that Solomon likely made provisions for pantheistic worship on the temple grounds along side the temple designated for Yahweh.4 In recent satellite photos, archeologists have identified a pentagonal shaped rock near the site where Solomon’s temple is thought to have been. This rock is consistent with the bases upon which Ashtoreth poles were commonly erected.5 Of all of the gods worshiped by Solomon, the most detestable was Molech, whose worship practices included child sacrifice.6 Excavations such as those at “Tophet,” a site immediately south of Jerusalem credited to Solomon, have revealed shrines strewn with animal bones as well as those of human infants.7 One commentator records: Moloch was an old Canaanites idol, called by the Phoenicians and Carthaginians Melkarth, Baal-melech, Malcom, and other such names, and related to Baal, a sun-god worshipped, like Kronos and Saturn, by the sacrifice of children. It was represented by a brazen statue, which was hollow and capable of being heated, and formed with a bull's head, and arms stretched out to receive the children to be sacrificed. From the time of Ahaz, children were slain at Jerusalem in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and then sacrificed by being laid in the heated arms and burned.
Sacrifice According to Gods Will
Jesus’ priority of sacrifice for the sake of the Kingdom becomes prevalent as the Gospels progress. Throughout the course of the four Gospels Jesus predicts his death twenty-one times and his resurrection eight times. The occasion that clearly most illustrates the importance Jesus put on the priority of the cross is when the Apostle Peter attempts to dissuade Jesus...
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