Baal worship on the rise!

So often when one reads about the fact that the children of Israel chose to worship Baal, in ancient times it’s a bit difficult to picture. Let’s take some time to show that the worship of Baal has in fact never left us!

First of all: who is Baal? Did you see I said ‘is’ ? The term means ‘owner’ or ‘lord’. Other names for Baal are Moloch/Molech or Malcham/Milcom. Is this what the owl shrine represents there at ‘Cremation of Care’ ceremony at Bohemian Grove, California? Interestingly Baal’s wife is Ashtoreth, which we will return to a little bit later. The verb ba?al, means to have dominion over. The word can be used of men to signify ownership, e.g. of a house, land or cattle. The verb also means to take a wife and thus Baal also means husband.

The children of Israel left Egypt and on their journey were involved in battles with other nations. Balak, king of the Moabites obviously heard of the Israelites and their conquests and we as part of his military strategic planning did the following as recorded in Num 22: 5-6: ‘Then he sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor at Pethor which is near the River of the land of the sons of his people, to call him saying: Look, a people has come from Egypt. See they cover the face of the earth, and are settling next to me! Therefore please come at once, curse this people for me, for they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land, for I know he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.’ Then the next day Balak took Balaam to the high places of Baal to see the extent of children of Israel; thus from the beginning worship of Baal is associated with the destruction of God’s people.

What was the real appeal of Baal worship? It must have very powerful as it proved to be an enduring problem for the children of Israel. Baal worship is a syncretistic polytheistic religion, in simple terms: they had many different gods and you could sum up their orientation as ‘anything goes’! Syncretism is not just restricted to Baal worship; syncretism is also the process of blending paganism with Bible truths as we see in some quarters of Christianity.

M. H. Pope writes: ‘The Israelites absorbed the Canaanite ways and learned to identify their god with Baal, whose rains brought fertility to the land. A characteristic feature of the fertility cult was sacral sexual intercourse by priests and priestesses and other specially consecrated persons, sacred prostitutes of both sexes, intended to emulate and stimulate deities who bestowed fertility. The agricultural cult stressed the sacrifice or common meal in which the gods, priests and people partook. Wine was consumed in great quantity in thanksgiving to Baal for the fertility of the vineyards. The wine also helped to induce ecstatic frenzy, and was climaxed by self-laceration, and sometimes by self emasculation. Child-sacrifice was also a feature of the rites’

Thus we see that the powerful attraction to the worship of Baal was sexual promiscuity or licentiousness. Promiscuity is ‘characterised by or involving indiscriminate mingling or association, especially having sexual relations with a number of partners on a casual basis.’ And what is licentiousness? It is the ‘dissolute indulgence in sensual pleasure’ or  ‘lacking legal or moral restraints, especially: disregarding sexual restraints.’

Let’s return now to Ashtoreth as promised. Halley (1922) describes Baal worship, the religion of the Canaanites as follows: ‘Temples of Baal and Ashtoreth were usually together. Priestesses were temple prostitutes. Sodomites were male temple prostitutes. The worship of Baal, Ashtoreth and other Canaanite gods consisted in the most extravagant orgies; their temples were centres of vice.’ Let’s look at that word ‘Ashtoreth’ for a moment. It sounds Easter-ish hey?

Asherah or Ashtoreth was the goddess of war and fertility, called Ishtar by Assyrians and Babylonians, called Astarte by Greeks and Romans and called Tanith by North Africans.  Asherah or Ashtoreth or Ishtar is pronounced the same way we say Easter’.

Legislators all over the world are certainly doing their bit to ensure that we are heading for times of unprecedented filth and immorality! 

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