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A Discussion on Gideon and the Altar of Baal in the Book of Judges

Ironically, at the time of Yahweh revealing this characteristic of His, Ba'alism had almost completely replaced El worship in Canaan, the land He was promising to His people.

When the formerly slave and desert dwelling Israelites entered the Promised Land they were commanded to exterminate every one of the tribal peoples living there. God's intention seemed to be for the Israelites to adapt to a completely alien environment on their own by following His laws. What actually happened was that the Israelites did not pursue their campaign against the Canaanites after Joshua died and instead allowed the Canaanites to remain where they were, those who were still alive, so that they became thorns in the side of the Israelite nation. Since these experienced farmers were present, undoubtedly the Israelites asked their advice on farming the farms already there which the Israelites inherited from the people they'd conquered.

But together with these new methods, they learned the rituals of the Ba'al cult as well, which were considered an integral part of making the soil fertile. To the Israelites, moreover, the specific fertility god Ba'al-Hadad rather than Yahweh, whom they had met in the desert, may have seemed better fit to give them success in farming like the Canaanites."

Ba'al is seen from Ugaritic stories to be one of the chief gods but not the chief god. That position is held by El, who convenes the council of the gods. El appoints "Yam" as king, but Ba'al, at first imprisoned by Yam, escapes with some help and defeats Yam, thus qualifying for kingship. However, he needs a house to operate from, and so must get permission to build one from El. He cannot ask El himself, so he prevails upon Anat to beseech El on his behalf instead. Anat fails to get permission at first. Ba'al then asks Atirat (Asherah) to also ask for him and she later succeeds. El's answer is somewhat vague, and indicates how the people then were aware of bo...

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