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Meaning and etymology of the name Baal

Baal Baal

In the Bible, the name Baal is applied to two different men, one town and one idol; Baal the male god of Canaan and Phoenicians; counterpart of the female Asherah (Judges 2:13).
The town called Baal is located in the southern part of the territory of Judah (Joshua 15:29), and is probably the same as the town named Bilhah (1 Chronicles 4:29), and perhaps even the town named Balah (Joshua 19:3).
The two men named Baal are a descendant of Reuben (1 Chronicles 5:6), and a son of Jeiel and Maacah of Gibeon in Benjamin (1 Chronicles 8:30).

Note: this name shouldn't be pronounced as a monosyllabic "Bale" but as Bah-Al.

The word Baal is derived from the common Hebrew verb baal (ba'al), own, rule, possess. The verb is even used to indicate the husband's relationship to his wife (Deuteronomy 24:1) and is applied to the relationship between God and man, "For your husband (ba'al) is your Maker..." (Isaiah 54:5).

Because the God-man marriage image is so strong in the Bible, worshiping an un-god named Husband must be extra painful for the true Husband. Hence the lavish use of the adultery image where unfaithfulness to God is concerned (Judges 2:17, Ezekiel 16:15, James 4:4).

Other derivations of this verb are baala (ba'ala 262b), female owner, and Bel (bel), Bel, the patron god of Babylon, whose name returns in names such as Belshazzar (Dan 5:1). Even one of the prominent Hebrew names of satan comes from this verb: Beelzebub / Baal Zebub; Lord Of The Flies.

NOBS Study Bible Name List translates the name Baal with Lord, Possessor, Husband. BDB Theological Dictionary lists an enourmous array of meanings but sticks with Possessor where translating the many specific Baal names (such as Baal Peor, Baal Zebub). Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names grimly states Lord.

There are many names that incorporate the word ba'al but it should be noted that Baal-names do not necessarily have to do with the idol named Baal. In much the same way as we call Jesus Lord, so called the worshipers of Baal their god Lord. Possibly the most striking (if not unexpected) Baal-name is Bealiah, meaning Yahweh Is Lord.



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