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Baal-Hadad, Hadda or even Haddu (Hebrew: בעל הדד; Ugaritic Haddu), is the god of fertility, rain, thunder and lightning in ancient Canaanite and Mesopotamian religions. His father is either El or Dagan.[1] El was the king of the gods at one point of Ugaritic text, but later Hadad became king.

Baal-Hadad was seen as a bearded deity that wore a horned headdress and carried a club and thunderbolts, emphasizing his reign over thunder, lightning and rain.

Etymology of Baal

The Canaanite deity Hadad typically carried the title Baal, which is a Semitic common noun meaning "The Lord," or "The owner." So associated was Hadad with this title that he was often times simply referred to as Baal.

Baal Cycle

The Baal Cycle is an cycle of stories about the god Baal. The text identifies Baal as the god Hadad. The stories are written in Ugaritic, a Northwest Semitic language, and written in a cuneiform consonantal alphabet. It was discovered on a series of clay tablets found in the 1920s in the Tell of Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra), situated on the Mediterranean coast of northern Syria, a few kilometers north of the modern city of Latakia and far ahead of the current coastline. The stories include The Myth of Baʿal Aliyan and The Death of Baʿal.

The Baal Cycle series of stories are summarized thus:

  • Yam wants to rule over the other gods and be the most powerful of all
  • Baal Hadad opposes Yam and slays him
  • Baal Hadad, with the help of Anath and Athirat, persuades El to allow him a palace
  • Baal Hadad commissions Kothar-wa-Khasis to build him a palace.
  • King of the gods and ruler of the world seeks to subjugate Mot
  • Mot kills Baal Hadad
  • Anath brutally kills Mot, grinds him up and scatters his ashes
  • Baal Hadad returns to Mount Saphon
  • Mot, having recovered from being ground up and scattered, challenges Baal Hadad
  • Baal Hadad refuses; Mot submits
  • Baal Hadad rules again

Baal and his Many Associations

Baal-Hadad is a Canaanite deity from the land of Canaan, in the modern-day Levant, which includes modern-day Israel and Palestine, as well as parts of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. This part of the world map has had a tumultuous history, and has been taken over by several empires throughout it's history.

Due to these many interactions there has been a lot of inter-mixing between cultures, which has lead to widespread religious syncretism- the fusion of diverse religious beliefs and practices.

Merging Deities: Enlil and Marduk

In the Akkadian language (of which Assyrian and Babylonian are variants of) the term for "The Lord" was "Bel." During the time of the Sumerian Empire (4000-2004 BCE), the title Bel was typically used to refer to the deity Enlil, who was the god of the skies and head of the Sumerian pantheon.[2]

After 2004 BCE, the Babylonians began to control the region.[3] The Babylonians also had a head deity of thunderstorms named Marduk, who was also referred to as "Bel.[4]" As the Babylonian influence grew both Enlil and Marduk were worshiped until Enlil was absorbed into Marduk during the reign of Hammurabi of Babylon (1792-1750 BCE).[5]

Through interaction with Semitic peoples, over time Bel-Marduk (Lord Marduk) and Baal-Hadad (Lord Hadad) became associated with one another.[6]

The Egyptian Empire in Canaan

The Egyptian Empire developed during the New Kingdom Period (1570-1069 BCE).[7] During this period the empire spread eastward and northward into the land of Canaan.[8]

Even before this period there was a long history of Egyptians interacting with Semitic nomads from the Levant. Through these interactions worship of Baal-Hadad spread throughout Egypt. In some cases Baal-Hadad was syrcretized with the Egyptian god of the sun and air, Amun.[9]

The Egyptians, through the Influenced of the Aramaeans, used the Babylonian term Bel to describe Baal-Hadad.[10] Over time Bel evolved into his own character- a mythical legendary Egyptian king named Belos.[11]

Increasing Greek Influence

In 336 BCE Alexander the Great came to power. During his short reign, which only lasted until 323 BCE, he created a great empire which united the Greek city-states, Egypt, the Levant, Babylon, and Persia. During this period of Greek power many foreign deities became syncretized with Greek ones.

Bel-Marduk became syncretized with Zeus, the Greek god of thunder and lightening.

The Egyptian god Amum was eventually syncretized with Zeus in the form of Zeus-Ammon, who Alexander the Great claimed to be the son of.

Belos became part of Greco-Egyptian religion as a mortal son of Poseidon.[12] Confusingly, Belos was also sometimes syncretized with Zeus in the form of Zeus-Belos.[13]

Belos was later incorporated into Roman religion as Belus.[14] Belus was also associated with Zeus' Roman counterpart Jupiter, in the form of Jupiter-Belus. Both Zeus-Belos and Jupiter-Belus were associated with Bel-Marduk.[15]

Baal-Hadad in Judaism and Christianity

Baal-Hadad is mentioned numerous times in the Hebrew bible as Yahweh's chief rival diety, often simply referred to as "Ba'al" (Hebrew: "The Lord"). Baal-Hadad may also be synonymous with Beelzebub (Baal-Zebub, "The Lord of the Flies"), the patron deity of the Philistine city of Ekron in modern-day Israel, and Belphegor (Baal-Peor, "The Lord of Mount Peor"), the patron deity of Mount Peor in modern-day Israel.

Because of Baal-Hadad's rivalry with Yahweh in the Hebrew bible, the term "Baal" has become synonymous with Satan. Baal-Hadad is found within Christian demonologies as the demons Baal and Bael.

Baal-Hadad in the Hebrew Bible

"Elijah's Sacrifice Consumed by Fire from Heaven," After the painting by Carl Gottfried Pfannschmidt for Beacon Lights of History, Volume II : Jewish Heroes and Prophets by John Lord (1888)

The term "Baal" ("Ba'al") appears numerous times in the Hebrew bible. Many of these references are intended to be Ba'al-Hadad, but in some cases it can be unclear if the "Baal" used in certain passages is intended to be Hadad, or a different deity that uses the title "Ba'al" ("The Lord"). The most notable scene in the Hebrew bible featuring Ba'al-Hadad is in the First Book of Kings, Chapter 18, where the prophet of Yahweh Elijah faces off against the prophets of Ba'al-Hadad on Mount Carmel:

So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”
“I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals. Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
But the people said nothing.
Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”
Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”
Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” So they took the bull given them and prepared it.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.
Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs (11 kgs or 24 lbs) of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”
“Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.
“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.
At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”
Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.
-1 Kings Ch. 18, Vs. 16-40[16]

Baal-Hadad in Christian and Occult Demonologies

Throughout history multiple formalized classifications of demons have been proposed. None of them however are considered canon by modern mainstream Christian denominations. Instead, lists of formalized demonologies tend to remain popular in occult traditions. Ba'al-Hadad is known in these demonologies as the demon "Baal" or "Bael.[17]"

References


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