Zophar’s Speech & The Ugaritic Text of the Myth of Baal

Finger Waving UpThat would be tough to have everything taken from you, your kids killed, and be in constant pain, and still not curse You, especially when Job’s friends convict him of something he hasn’t done and his own wife wanted him to curse You.

1. The stele of Baal with Thunderbolt found in Ugarit
The stele of Baal with Thunderbolt found in Ugarit.
In the Bronze Age, Hadad (or Haddad or Adad) was especially likely to be called Baal.

However, Hadad was far from the only god to have that title.

In the Canaanite pantheon as attested in Ugaritic sources, Hadad was the son of El, who had once been the primary god of the Canaanite pantheon.

El and Baal are often associated with the bull in Ugaritic texts, as a symbol both of strength and fertility.

Prior to the discovery of the Ugaritic texts it was supposed that ‘the Baals’ referred to distinct and local Canaanite deities.

However, according to John Day, in Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan, these texts have revealed that these are simply local manifestations of one great, cosmic deity named Hadad.

Of special interest is the designation ʿAliy(ʿly) which is twice applied to Baal in the Ugaritic poem Legend of Keret (also known as ‘krt poem’) among other references made to Ba’al:

“To the earth Baal rained,

To the field rained ʿAliy.

Sweet to the earth was Baal’s rain

To the field the rain of ʿAliy.”

Before the discovery and recognition of this name in Ugaritic, H.S. Nyberg had restored it in Deut 33:12; I Sam 2:10; II Sam 23:1; Is 59:18, 63:7; and Hos 7:16.

Following the verification of the authenticity and antiquity of this divine name in Ugaritic, additional instances have been claimed as occurring in the Psalter and also in Job.

The worship of Ba’al in Canaan was bound to the economy of the land which depends on the regularity and adequacy of the rains, unlike Egypt and Mesopotamia, which depend on irrigation.

Anxiety about the rainfall was a continuing concern of the inhabitants which gave rise to rites to ensure the coming of the rains.

“Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said,

Should not the multitude of words be answered? and should a man full of talk be justified?

Should thy lies make men hold their peace? and when thou mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed?” (Job 11:1-3).

“Like Eliphaz and Bildad, Zophar claims that Job’s sins have caused his troubles.  Zolphar’s failure to put himself in Job’s place before condemning him shows a lack of compassion.

Zophar also is not entirely correct in his condemnation: Job has sincerely challenged what he perceives to be God’s unjust actions, but he has not mocked God, as Zophar accuses him of having done.

For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in thine eyes”(Job 11:4).

In 10:7 & 15 Job had disclaimed being guilty, but in 9:21 he had said he was perfect (a spiritually upright person), which is the word God had used when He described Job to Satan (1:8; 2:3). 

Zophar however implies that Job was claiming absolute purity (sinless perfection), but Job nowhere uses such terms of himself.

“But oh that God would speak, and open his lips against thee” (Job 11:5).

Zophar thought God should speak against Job, but eventually God spoke against Zophar himself (Job  42:7).

“And that he would shew thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is! Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth.

Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?

It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?

The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea” (Job 11:6-9).

Zophar thinks Job is shallow and lacks an understanding of the true nature of God.  In the same way that he speaks of the knowledge of God, the height, depth, length, and width of it, Paul spoke of Christ’s love:

“May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

And to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:18-19).

2. Arch to Temple of Baal Arrives in New York City
Arch to Temple of Baal Arrives in New York City
The Harbinger’s Jonathan Cahn warns this is just one more sign that America has turned from God.
A 50-foot replica of the arch forming the entrance to the Temple of Baal was installed in New York earlier this month, honoring the symbol of a pagan deity that the Islamic State destroyed in 2015. According to the New York Times, the 2,000-year-old Syrian town of Palmyra brought Muslims and Christians together for centuries. What the NYT won’t tell you is the Jewish history of the Temple of Baal and the abomination that it was for God’s people to be remotely connected to it.

Baal was a Canaanite god in Old Testament times. The Israelites grieved God by turning from Him and worshiping Baal, creating idols, participating in sexual immorality and sacrificing their children to the pagan deity. The Israelites’ unfaithfulness to God, even after He brought them out of Egypt, incensed the Lord, and on many occasions He gave them over to their enemies. It was their unfaithfulness and Baal worship that ultimately led to their captivity and displacement as a nation.

Jonathan Cahn, New York Times best-selling author of The Harbinger and well-known messianic rabbi, introduced the unveiling of the arch in New York via video on September 19. Cahn explains that, just as in ancient Israel, “harbingers,” or signs, are appearing in America, perhaps warning the nation of God’s impending judgment on the land. Also as in the case of ancient Israel, America continues to dig deeper in sin and “brazen defiance of God.”

“If America is following in the footsteps of ancient Israel away from God and to judgment, could there be a link to Baal?” Cahn questions. “Of course, no one in America would admit to worshiping Baal. But the truth is American culture is filled with other gods and idols. When a civilization turns away from God, it always ends up bringing in other gods in His place.”

Just after the unveiling, Cahn stood before the arch, and commented on the connections between ancient Israel and America. “And here, now on American soil, in back of me, is the manifesting of the sign of Baal,” adding that Baal’s presence in ancient Israel, as in America now, represented the sign of a nation that departed from its God, a nation in apostasy from God, a nation that once knew good and evil, but now calls evil “good” and good “evil,” a nation that offers its children as sacrifices and a nation that persecutes the followers of God. “And now, September, 2016,” said Cahn, “this harbinger has appeared to America.”

“Since 9/11, America has not only not returned to God — it has rebelled against Him in an ever deepening, ever intensifying and ever accelerating apostasy,” Cahn said. “It is eerily following the judgment template of the harbingers and the footsteps of ancient Israel as it headed to destruction.”

“If he cut off, and shut up, or gather together, then who can hinder him?

For he knoweth vain men: he seeth wickedness also; will he not then consider it?

For vain men would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass’s colt.

If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him;

If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles.

For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear:

Because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away:

And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday: thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning.

And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety.

Also thou shalt lie down, and none shall make thee afraid; yea, many shall make suit unto thee.

But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost” (Job 11:10-20).

Zophar assumes that Job’s problems are rooted in his sin; all Job has to do is to repent, and then his life will become blessed and happy.  But God nowhere guarantees a life clearer than the noonday simply because we are His children.

He has higher purposes for us than our physical prosperity, or people courting our favor.  Zophar’s philosophy is in conflict with Ps 73.

The Ugaritic Text of the Myth of Baal

Discovered at the site of Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit, the Myth of Baal is one of the longest literary works of the western Semitic peoples in the second millennium b.c.

It begins with a con­flict over kingship between Baal, the storm god, and Yam, the sea god. Although Baal is victorious in this battle, he is later defeated and killed by Mot, the god of grain and death.

3. The Storm and Weather god Baal
The Storm and Weather-god Baal. Limestone relief from the sanctuary to the west of the great temple at Ras Shamra, Syria c. 1900-1750BC

After Baal’s sister, Anat, mourns and buries him, she kills Mot in revenge for her brother’s death. She then grinds up his body and sows it as seed.

Subsequently, Baal and Mot come back to life and vie for power once again, with the result that Mot eventually capitulates to Baal.

The incident with Yam is interpreted as Baal’s victory over the sea, while the struggle between Baal and Mot is equated to the fertility cycle, with Baal seasonally “disappearing” from the earth.

Psalm 104, a creation psalm, uses some of the imagery known from the Myth of Baal.

The Lord’s power over the sea in cre­ation is described (v.6.).   

While Baal is the “cloud-rider,” the Lord “makes the clouds his chariot” (v. 3).

Unlike Baal, how­ever, the Lord is neither killed nor needs help in mak­ing the earth pro­duce food (v. 13).

The attribution of as­pects of Baal to the Lord, along with a demonstration of his superiority to Baal, served to exalt and praise the Lord as the true King and God of creation in an envi­ronment in which the temptation to worship Baal was rampant.

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