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Ancient Egyptian deities: Baal
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    Baal, Egyptian bar,[1] originally a Canaanite storm and fertility god, was brought to Egypt by the Hyksos.[2] Mentioned first by Amenhotep II [3] the god found few adherents among the native kings before the 19th dynasty, having been a major deity of the Hyksos enemies, but he had entered the pantheon of Peru-nefer near Memphis [4] by the reign of Thutmose III and his cult was well established under the 18th dynasty. 400 year stela
    His importance grew under Ramses II when he rose to prominence as Seth-Baal, but his cult declined at the beginning of the first millennium BCE when Seth fell from favour and was more and more considered to be wholly evil.[5]

Depiction of Seth-Baal on the 400 Year Stela of Ramses II


    Baal's original roles of storm and fertility god were abandoned in favour of his new function of defender of creation, battling serpents and lions, taming the sea,[6] and supporting the military endeavours of the pharaohs against their foreign enemies, who liked to compare themselves to the god and the terror he inspired, as did Seti I at Karnak:
great with fear like Baal over the foreign countries
Seti I, Karnak.[7]


    From the time of Amenhotep II a record exists concerning a sacrifice to Baal at Peru-nefer, which was, according to some, the harbour city quarter of Memphis. He may have been worshipped there as tamer of the sea.[6] But Baal never caught the public imagination as did another Canaanite god, Reshef. A few private stelae were erected by officials in his honour and some miniature art (seals, scarabs) has been found.[3]


    The identification of Baal with Seth was perhaps more complete than that of any other foreign deity with an Egyptian. Both had been storm gods in their own native cultures, both had fought against serpentine monsters, both had defended the world against the threatening sea.[8] Seth-Baal was deeply involved in warfare. It was he who taught pharaoh the use of the bow and other weapons.[9]
    Baal was also merged with the Theban war god Montu and as Month-Baal he at times wore the epithet "courageous in battle".[10]


    Baal was generally represented as a striding man raising his hand in a menacing gesture, standing on an animal, such as a lion, a bull or a horse–a typical Canaanite motif (cf. Kadesh)–or as Baal-Seth killing a serpent or some other monster. His looks and dress are often foreign, reminiscent of his western Semitic origins.[11] Baal-Seth is at times represented with wings.[3]
Dagmar Budde, Lexikon der ägyptischen Götter und Götterbezeichnungen, Volume 1, Peeters Publishers, 2003
Günter Burkard, Heinz J. Thissen, Einführung in die altägyptische Literaturgeschichte, Volume 2, LIT Verlag Berlin-Hamburg-Münster, 2003
Izak Cornelius, The Iconography of the Canaanite Gods Reshef and Ba'al. Late Bronze and Iron Age I Periods (c 1500 - 1000 BCE), Fribourg (Switzerland), University Press / Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1994
Ithamar Gruenwald, Ilai Alon, Itamar Singer, Concepts of the Other in Near Eastern Religions, Brill, 1994
Otto Kaiser, Die mythische Bedeutung des Meeres in Ägypten, Ugarit und Israel, Alfred Töpelmann, Berlin 1962
Manfred Lurker, The Routledge dictionary of gods and goddesses, devils and demons, Routledge, 2004
Herman te Velde, Seth, God of Confusion: a study of his role in Egyptian mythology and religion, Brill Archive, 1977
Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, Volume 3, Wiegandt und Hempel, 1871, p.139
[1] transliteration bar; Wb 1, 447.10-12
[2] Lurker 2004, p.27
[3] Cornelius 1994
[4] Burkard & Thissen 2003, p.61
[5] Gruenwald et al. 1994, pp.60f
[6] te Velde 1997, p.122
[7] After a transliteration and German translation on the Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website: Altägyptisches Wörterbuch, Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften => Historisch-rhetorische Königstexte (19.Dynastie) => Karnak => Tempel des Amun => Hypostyl (Aussen)/Nordwand => Westseite => 1. Unteres Register Kriegszug gegen die Hethiter
[8] Kaiser 1962, pp.88ff.
[9] Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, Volume 3, 1871, p.139
{10] Budde 2003, p.215
[11] te Velde p.124

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