BAAL-BERITH


BAAL-BERITH
BAAL-BERITH (Heb. בַּעַל בְּרִית; "Lord of Covenant"), the name of the deity worshiped in the earliest Israelite period at the Temple of Shechem (Judg. 9:4). That temple was destroyed in the 12th century B.C.E. by abimelech , the half-Shechemite son of the great judge Gideon (Jerubbaal), after his suppression of a counter-revolt. Abimelech himself had come to power as "king" with the aid of funds from the Baal-Berith temple. As Abimelech's revenge moved apace, the terrified populace sought refuge in the "stronghold of El-Berith" (9:46), where they died en masse. The polemic of the narrative is directed against Abimelech and the conspirators who had   profaned the great Shechem temple; it was never again rebuilt, except as a granary, as archaeological work has shown. Critics have suggested that the narrative of Abimelech seems to be an old pre-Deuteronomic account later inserted into the historical work because it explicated a brief Deuteronomic reference to an early particularist tendency in 8:33–35. In that place it is asserted that Israel's whoring after the Baalim consisted of making Baal-Berith their god and forgetting YHWH when they betrayed the family of YHWH's charismatic deliverer. In later circles the original significance of the "house of Baal-Berith" had long been lost, and the element "baal" in such a combination could only smack of the repudiated fertility cult. Something of its earliest significance can be glimpsed, however, in patriarchal stories connecting Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph with the site in various ways and in the archaeology of Shechem. The Baal-Berith temple was preceded on the same site by a Middle Bronze Age fortress-temple, which in turn perpetuated a piece of ground considered holy since the first half of the 18th century B.C.E. Genesis 34:2 personifies Shechem as one of the sons of Hamor ("ass"), reminiscent of Amorite treaty terminology at Mari, where "killing an ass" is a technical term for concluding a covenant. That Joshua-Judges contains no developed conquest tradition for the Shechem area is largely due, according to some scholars, to the influence of the Baal-Berith sanctuary (Josh. 24). According to tradition, such a situation had been anticipated by the strategists (Deut. 27; Josh. 8:30–35). The Hebrew term Baal-Berit is also applied to the father of the child at a circumcision (berit) ceremony, and in modern Hebrew the term means "ally" based on the plural form in Genesis 14:13. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: G.E. Wright, Shechem: Biography of a Biblical City (1965), 80–138. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: T.J. Lewis, in: JBL, 115 (1996), 401–23; M. Mulder, in: DDD, 141–44. (Robert G. Boling)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Baal-berith — was the god of the Canaanite city. His temple was destroyed when Abimelech quelled the rising of his fickle subjects (Jud. iX. 4, 46). The name denotes a form of Ba al worship prevailing in Israel, according to the Book of Judges (viii. 33), and… …   Wikipedia

  • Baal-Berith — u. Baal Gad (Myth.), s.u. Baal …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Baal-berith — BAAL BERITH, war also bey den Phöniciern und andern der Gott der Bündnisse und Eidschwüre, weil Berith ein Bund heißt. Man will, daß er mit der Gottheit der Kretenser Britomartis einerley sey. S. Britomartis. Jedoch, da die Phönicier zwo… …   Gründliches mythologisches Lexikon

  • BAAL-BERITH — Latine dominus foederis. Iudic. c. 9. v. 4. Beryti urbis idolum facit Bochartus, quem sis consule Geogr. p. 859. Hîc filii Israel exstruxerunt Fanum Baali, ibique iurârunt, et foedus inierunt, cum Baal, ut esset ipsorum Deus. Est in Tribu Ephraim …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Baal-berith —    Covenant lord, the name of the god worshipped in Shechem after the death of Gideon (Judg. 8:33; 9:4). In 9:46 he is called simply the god Berith. The name denotes the god of the covenant into which the Israelites entered with the Canaanites,… …   Easton's Bible Dictionary

  • Baal-Berith —    ‘God of the covenant’, who presided over contracts and agreements …   Who’s Who in non-classical mythology

  • Baal [1] — Baal (babyl. Bel), 1) in der phönicischen Mythologie der oberste Gott, während Baaltis od. Astarte die oberste Göttin war. B. ist die Sonne, u. als solche die durch Licht u. Wärme die Natur beherrschende Macht; bei den Sabäern der Planet Jupiter; …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Baal — Ba al (b[=a] al), n.; Heb. pl. {Baalim} ( [i^]m). [Heb. ba al lord.] 1. (Myth.) The supreme male divinity of the Phoenician and Canaanitish nations. [1913 Webster] Note: The name of this god occurs in the Old Testament and elsewhere with… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Berith — This article is about Berith (or Beherit) the demon. For the black metal band see Beherit (band). For the god see Berith (god). For the item in Berserk, see Behelit In demonology, Berith is a Great Duke of Hell, powerful and terrible, and has… …   Wikipedia

  • BAAL WORSHIP — Name and Etymology The word baʿl, common Semitic for owner, master, husband, became the usual designation of the great weather god of the Western Semites. In spite of the fact that the word is used as the theophorous element in personal names,… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism


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