The Connection Between God of Canaan and God of Israel
The Connection Between God of Canaan and God of Israel

The Connection Between God of Canaan and God of Israel

The Connection Between God of Canaan and God of Israel

The connection between Yahweh and Baal is undeniable. We find narrative instances of the Israelites undertake to understand this connection in parts of the Hebrew text such as Exodus 32:8 “…Crafting of the bull by Aaron by the Hebrews when Moses was on Sinai. Their bulls are referred to as gods, in which it is said: “These are your gods o Israel.”We see in the Israelite religion precisely what one should expect to see from a religion evolving from and assimilating surrounding religions. In numerous passages, Yahweh is depicted as any ancient Near East storm deity, the most notable of which is Baal Hadad. Like Baal, Yahweh is a warrior, who descends from his mountain home riding on a chariot of clouds, his voice is thunder and his weapon is lightning and earthquakes. The skies release rain at his command. In primaeval times, he asserted his authority by defeating the sea becoming the ruler of the skies. Exodus 15:3 reads “Yahweh is a warrior, Yahweh is his name” Numbers 23:22 “El who brings them out of Egypt is for them the horns of a wild bull.” Numbers” 24:8 “El who brings them out of Egypt is like the horns of a wild bull. For them, he shall devour the nations that are his foes and break their bones.” El of the Canaanites was also called bull and warrior. Here are some examples of parallels between Baal and Yahweh, as attested to by the Ugaritic literature in the Baal cycle and the Hebrew Bible:

  • “Let me tell you, Prince Baal,
  • Let me repeat, Rider on the Clouds,
  • Now your enemy Baal,
  • Now you will kill your enemy,
  • Now you will annihilate your foe,
  • You will take your eternal kingship,
  • Your dominion forever and ever.

And the Hebrew Bible reads:

  • Behold your enemies Yahweh,
  • Behold your enemies perish,
  • All evildoers are scattered,
  • Your kingship is an eternal kingship,
  • Your dominion is forever and ever.

The parallels with Baal extend also to the motif of the mountain where Yahweh has revealed himself. There were thunder and lightning and the heavy cloud on the mountain and Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because Yahweh had descended upon it in a fire. The whole mountain trembled violently.

Canaanite Phoenician God El

The same imagery is used of Baal theophany:

  • “Then Baal opened a break in the clouds.
  • Baal sounded his holy voice.
  • Baal thundered from his lips…
  • The Earth’s high places
  • [mountains] shook.”
  • “Oldest of the gods (Father of Years)
  • Head of Pantheon (Divine Council)
  • Progenitor of other deities
  • Father of Adam (Man — Divine King)
  • Ruler of the Universe and Supreme Arbiter
  • Full of grace and compassion…”

The association of Yahweh as a storm God is also echoed in Judges 5:4-5

  • “Yahweh when you marched from the highland of Edom,
  • The earth shook.
  • And heavens, too, streamed,
  • And the clouds streamed with water;
  • The mountain shook.
  • Before Yahweh, the one of Sinai,
  • Before Yahweh, the god of Israel.”

And Psalm 104:3

“Yahweh sets the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot, he rides on the wings of the wind.”

There is also a shared emphasis, on the seventh day. For it was on the seventh day of Daniel’s incubation right, in the temple, that Baal intercedes for him and El blesses him. Similarly, as it is on the seventh day that, Yahweh called to Moses on the cloud-covered mountain. Indeed, the characteristic origin of Yahweh in the roots of El and Baal is preserved in Hosea 2:16 which read “Yahweh says you will call me‘my husband’and no longer‘my Baal.’”

Frank M. Cross* suggested, in 1973, a potential connection with the Egyptian deity, Patah who has given the title du gitti, “Lord of Gath” in which Patah is called Lord Eternal. It may be this identification of El with Patah that led to the epithet Olam which means eternal so early and so consistently with the Israelites. Another similarity is that both the gods Pathan and El create the world through their very will and not through a divine battle between gods.

* Frank Moore Cross, Jr. was the Hancock Professor of Hebrew and Other Oriental Languages Emeritus at Harvard University, notable for his work in the interpretation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. In his “Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, Essays in the History of the Religion of Israel,” he traces the continuities between early Israelite religion and the Canaanite culture from which it emerged.

Canaanite Phoenician God El After Whom all the Names of God Come

The Jews also seemed to be oddly concerned with circumcision, which serves as another connection to Egyptian culture. The earliest historical record of circumcision comes from Egypt in an inscription of the tomb at Saqqara dating to around 2,400 BC. While circumcision might have been done for hygienic reasons, it was for the Egyptians part of their obsession with purity and was associated with spiritual and intellectual development. These connections would all make sense considering the Levant was politically and culturally dominated by the Egyptian Empire.

Though the Israelites are thought to have arisen, by the end of the Late Bronze (1,500–1,200 BC) period; however, it is probably not until the Iron Age I (1,200–1,000 BC) that a population began to identify itself as Israelite. The earliest documented instance of the name Israel is from the Egyptians stele of Pharaoh Merneptah around 1,208 BC. It records that Israel is laid waste and his seed is not. The earliest possible occurrence of the name Yahweh is like a place name in the Egyptian inscription from the time of Pharaoh Amenhotep III. He reigned from 1,402 to 1,363 BC. He refers to the land of Yahweh which is the land of the Shasho, being nomads from Midian. Thus, the worship of Yahweh seems to have originated in areas south of Israel. The name Yahweh took on various forms in the Semitic tongue: Yah for theophoric purposes. For example, Adonaijah, which is Adon, master and Yah, referring to Yah or Yahweh contains the core name Yah. Along with being the chief and ruler God, Yahweh shares unequivocal resemblances to the Sumerian god Yah, who is culturally synonymous with Marduk and Baal Haddad — Yah and Yahweh are virtually the same God.

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