I understand that YHWH revealed himself to Israel by different names, which "Baal" was never one of such identity tags. Evidently, the revelation of each name was akin to a specific manifestation of his wonders.

I am left with reservations as to whether YHWH by accident or design exhibited some attributes that made Israel to address him as "My Baal". If not, then, why were they addressing YHWH as "My Baal", when Hosea says,

She did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal (Hosea 2:8 ESV).

And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ (Hosea 2:16 ESV)

For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. (Hosea 2:17 ESV).

By contextual analysis, I see the Prophet bemoaning the level of decadence from which idolatrous Israel needed to be rescued at that time.

Another reason I am trying to explore this question is because of the contrast I see in Exodus 23:13 and Hosea 2:17:

In Exodus 23:13, Moses warned the Israelite by saying:

“Pay attention to all that I have said to you, and make no mention of the names of other gods, nor let it be heard on your lips. (ESV)

And in Hosea 2:17, the Prophet Hosea says:

For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. (ESV).

Moses had warned Israel to "make no mention of the names of other gods" and according to Hosea, I see that the Lord was not well pleased that the Israelites were calling him "My Baal" and says, "I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth"

I am trying to explore what Israel meant by sacrificing to idols while calling God "My Master" at the same time.

What really came over them for behaving that way? One would have thought they should have continued to sacrificing to Baal and adoring their idols (verse 8) and left God out of their confusions.

  • This may help? John Newton wrote in an essay on Baal worship: “Though he is of the masculine gender in the Hebrew, [hab·Baʹʽal], the lord, yet Baal is called [he Baʹal], = the lady, in the Septuagint; Hos. ii. 8; Zeph. i. 4; and in the New Testament, Romans xi. 4. At the licentious worship of this androgyne, or two-sexed god, the men on certain occasions wore female garments, whilst the women appeared in male attire, brandishing weapons.”—Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism, by T. Inman, 1875, p. 119. – ethos Nov 4 at 17:38
  • I'm not investigating Baal in this question but the contextual picture in Hosea. What I see in Hosea 2:8 is that Israel had been engulfed with the worship of Baal and they transferred Baal's adoration to Yahweh. Are they the original of the word "Baal"? Why did they suddenly prefer to address Yahweh by a name of the Canaanite gods. Verse 8 says, "She did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal." This verse shows that something was going on among the Israelite that made them address Yahwh as "My Baal". This is my focus! – Ernest Abinokhauno Nov 4 at 18:49
up vote 8 down vote accepted

The noun "baal" (בעל) has several meanings. The four most common are:

  1. owner (or master) - as in Exodus 21:34, "the owner of the pit must pay"
  2. having some characteristic - Genesis 37:19, "here's that dreamer of dreams", Ecclesiastes 10:20, "and a bird [lit. a thing with wings] will inform"
  3. the common term for Canaanite deities, probably from the meaning "master"
  4. husband (master) of a wife - Exodus 21:3, "if he is master of a wife (has a wife, is married)"

The noun "ish" (איש) can mean "man" or in the possessive with relation to a woman means "husband".

So "baal" and "ish" are two common ways of expressing the relationship of husband in Hebrew. As an off-topic side note, in modern Hebrew, although the term "baal" is the more common term for husband, some women who object to the overtone of "master" inherent in "baal" use the term "ishi", "my man" when referring to their husbands rather than "baali".

Hosea uses the allegory of courtship and marriage to describe the relationship of Israel to God, where Israel is the bride and God is the groom or husband. The use of this allegory then sets up possibility of playing off the two meanings of "baal" as the Canaanite god or gods with whom Israel is unfaithful, and "baal" as Israel's "husband", referring to God.

My translation of verse 2:16 (MT 2:18) is

And it will be in that day, says YHVH, that you will call me "my husband" ("ishi") and will no longer call me "my husband" ("baali").

That is, the verse uses two common synonyms for "husband", each with it's own connotations.

The first synonym for husband, "ishi", is a reference to the use of this term for husband in verse 2 (MT 4) where "ishi" connotates intimacy and love "my man" (as noted by RASHI). The second synonym for husband in verse 16, "baali", has a less intimate connotation of "master" and is a play on the use of "baal" referring to the Canaanite gods. Continuing this play on synonyms, the following verse, (NIV 17):

I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked.

can also be read as:

I will remove the names of the husbands [with whom she has been unfaithful to me] from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked.

  • How would you explain the use of "baali" in King James and "baal" in other versions? And also the relationship that the name "baal" has with the gods of the Ekronites? – Ernest Abinokhauno Nov 3 at 21:46
  • Excellent Answer +1 – Dr Peter McGowan Nov 3 at 21:51
  • The KJV solves the synonym translation problem by not translating at all, just using the Hebrew nouns in transliteration, "And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali.". The term "baal" referring to Canaanite gods is not a reference to any specific god or gods, who are of no concern to the prophet, just to foreign gods in general with whom Israel has been unfaithful. – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Nov 3 at 21:54
  • The NIV renders this verse, "you will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me "my master'". – Dr Peter McGowan Nov 3 at 21:54
  • 1
    @ErnestAbinokhauno Baal means master, just like Hebrew Adonay, Babylonian Bel, English Lord – b a Nov 4 at 9:49

In the original Hebrew manuscript, verse 16 mentioned "Baali" which means master. Different from the one mentioned in verse 17:

"for I will take away the names of Baalim..."

which means Baal, the Phoenician deity.

Verse 16 just meant to say they will not call the Lord master anymore but they will call Him Ishi meaning a man/a fellow/husband. Husband being the meaning of Ishi will support the context of verse 19. You can consult the King James version with Strongs Dictionary because it is an older translation and the wordings is more likely preserved from the Hebrew and Greek manuscript.

  • Baalim (בְּעָלִים) is the plural of both master and Baal – b a Nov 4 at 9:46

[] Added

Hosea is delivering from Jehovah a judgment massage against unfaithful Israel using the symbolic terms of Hosea's prostitute wife "Gomer."

This is a prophetic drama were “Gomer” pictures unfaithful Israel and how they prostituted themselves with the false worship of Baal and Assyria as they had lost sight of whom Jehovah was.

Hosea 1:2-3 NWT “Jehovah said to Hosea: “Go, marry a woman [Gomer] of prostitution and have children of prostitution, because by prostitution the land has turned completely away from following Jehovah. 3 So he went and married Goʹmer the daughter of Dib•laʹim, and she conceived and bore him a son. . ”

The symbol is used of the now wife of Hosea (an exprostitute) having a son to a faithful HUSBAND Hosea, like Jehovah had cleaned up the Israelites people in the past to be able to worship him in a clean way, like a husband to a wife via the Mosaic Covenant.

Hosea 1:6, 7 NWT “She conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And He told him: “Name her Lo-ru•haʹmah means [“not show mercy”], for I will no longer show mercy to the house of Israel [10 tribe kingdom], because I will certainly drive them away. 7 But I will show mercy to the house of Judah [2 tribe kingdom], and I will save them by Jehovah their God; I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.”

There was a restoration ahead for Israel:-

Hosea 1:10 NWT “And the number of the people of Israel will be like the grains of sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my [unfaithful] people,’ it will be said to them, ‘The sons [Israelites] of the living God.’ [like that of a faithful wife!]

Of Israel Jehovah says:-

Hosea 2:2 NWT “Accuse your mother [unfaithful Israel]; accuse her, For she is not my wife and I am not her husband [she had gone to Baal]. She should remove her prostitution from herself And her adultery [false worship of Baal] from between her breasts,

Jehovah goes on to say:-

Hosea 2:4, 5 NWT “And to her [Israel’s] sons I will not show mercy, For they are the sons of prostitution [worshiper of Baal]. 5 For their mother has committed prostitution [with Baal]. She who was pregnant with them has acted shamefully, for she said, ‘I will go after my passionate lovers [the pagan nations Israel had form alliances with such as Assyra SEE Hosae 8:9], Those who give me my bread and my water, My wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.’

Next Jehovah says:-

Hosea 2:7, 8 NWT “She [Israel] will chase after her passionate lovers [SEE Hosea 5:13 Pagan “Assyria.”], but she will not overtake them; She will look for them, but she will not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my first husband [Jehovah God], For I was better off at that time than I am now.’ 8 She did not recognize that it was I [Jehovah] who had given her the grain, the new wine, and the oil Not the furtility god Baal], And I who had given her silver in abundance And gold, which they used for [the false worship of] Baʹal.

Judgment from Jehovah:-

Hosea 2:13 NWT “I [Jehovaah] will hold an accounting against her [unfathful Israel] for the days when she offered sacrifices to the Baʹal images, When she would adorn herself with her rings and ornaments and would chase after her passionate lovers, And I was the one she forgot,’ declares Jehovah.

Now Restoration can take place:-

Hosea 2:14, 15 NWT “So I [Jehovah] will persuade her [unfaithful Israel], I will lead her into the wilderness, And I will speak to win her heart. 15 I will give her vineyards back to her from that time onward, And the Valley of Aʹchor as a gateway to hope; She will answer there as in the days of her youth, As in the day when she came out of the land of Egypt. [freed from Pagan Egypt to worship Him].

Hosea 2:16 NWT “And in that day,’ declares Jehovah, ‘You [Israel] will call me My husband [of a spiritualy restored Israel like a faithful wife], and you will no longer call me My master [like Baal but a real and close relationship like husband and wife].’

Why will this take place:--

Hosea 2:17 NWT “I [Jehovah] will remove the names of the Baal images from her mouth [my faithful Israel], And they will no longer be remembered by their name [as His “name” will be restored to pure worship of Him].

Relationship between Jehovah & Israel restored:-

Hosea 2:19, 20 NWT “I will engage [as a faithful husband; not a “master.”] myself to you forever; And I will engage myself to you in righteousness and in justice, In loyal love and in mercy. 20 I will engage myself to you [my wife Israel] in faithfulness, And you will certainly know Jehovah.’

A reminder:-

Hosea 2:23-3:1 NWT “I [Jehovah] will sow her like seed for myself in the earth, And I will show mercy to her who was not shown mercy; I will say to those not my people: “You are my people [future Christians via the Greater Hosea, Jesus],” And they will say: “You [Jehovah and NOT Baal] are my God.”’” 3:1 Then Jehovah said to me: “Go once again, [return like Jehovah did to Israel] love the woman who is loved by another man and is committing adultery, just as Jehovah loves the people of [his wife] Israel while they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes [they used for [used during the false worship of] Baʹal.” {with a hope to restor them].

Just in short as there is much more.

Is this waht you are looking for? How did the name Baal (and other gods) get into the mouths of the Israelites; by disobedance to God!

Texts from The NWT unless noted otherwise.

Exo. 20:1-5 DNKJV "I am Jehovah thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I Jehovah thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me."

Deuteronomy 7:16 “You are to destroy all the peoples whom Jehovah your God gives over to you. You must not feel sorry for them, and you must not serve their gods, because that would be a snare to you.”

This they did not do on both counts!

Result:-

Exodus 34:11-16 ““Pay attention to what I am commanding you today. Here I am driving out from before you the Amʹor•ites, the Caʹnaan•ites, the Hitʹtites, the Perʹiz•zites, the Hiʹvites, and the Jebʹu•sites. 12 Be careful that you do not make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you are going, or it may prove to be a snare among you. 13 But you are to pull down their altars, you are to shatter their sacred pillars, and their sacred poles you are to cut down. 14 You must not bow down to another god, for Jehovah is known for requiring exclusive devotion. Yes, he is a God who requires exclusive devotion. 15 Be careful not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, because when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to their gods, someone will invite you and you will eat from his sacrifice. 16 Then you will surely take some of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters will prostitute themselves to their gods and cause your sons to prostitute themselves to their gods.

&

Joshua 23:12, 13 “But if you should turn back at all and stick to what is left of these nations that remain with you and you form marriage alliances with them and associate with them and they with you, 13 you should know for sure that Jehovah your God will not continue to drive out these nations for you. They will become a trap and a snare and a scourge on your flanks and thorns in your eyes until you have perished from this good land that Jehovah your God has given you.”

EXAMPLES of interfaith of Israel with Pagans:-

1 Kings 16:29-33 >Aʹhab the son of Omʹri became king over Israel in the 38th year of King Aʹsa of Judah, and Aʹhab the son of Omʹri reigned over Israel in Sa•marʹi•a for 22 years. 30 Aʹhab the son of Omʹri was worse in the eyes of Jehovah than all those who were prior to him. 31 As if it were a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jer•o•boʹam the son of Neʹbat, he also took as wife Jezʹe•bel the daughter of Eth•baʹal, the king of the Si•doʹni•ans, and began to serve Baʹal and to bow down to him. 32 Further, he set up an altar to Baʹal at the house of Baʹal that he built in Sa•marʹi•a. 33 Aʹhab also made the sacred pole. Aʹhab did more to offend Jehovah the God of Israel than all the kings of Israel prior to him.”

&

2 Kings 17:16, 17 “And they kept leaving all the commandments of Jehovah their God and proceeded to make for themselves molten statues, two calves, and to make a sacred pole, and they began to bow down to all the army of the heavens and to serve Baal; 17 and they continued to make their sons and their daughters pass through the fire and to practice divination and to look for omens, and they kept selling themselves to do what was bad in the eyes of Jehovah, to offend him.”

The Israelite became Pagan via interfaith with Baal worshipers and others.

  • Something is interesting in your post here ethos. I see you coming close to my guess when you said "The Israelite became Pagan via interfaith with Baal worshipers and others." It is alright to know that Israel had become Pagan at that time. Why did they choose to prepare victuals for their idols and returned to use those praise names on YHWH? This is the bone of contention? – Ernest Abinokhauno Nov 5 at 20:35
  • An example of Baal interfaith is in the days of Elijah when the Israelites worshiped both Baal & Jehovah. Baal was a furtility god so they went to him for rain and good crops, it had not rained for 3 1/2 years (1 Kings 18:18-21; James 5:17 ) by Jehovah's order to show that Baal was not in control, he was!. They went to Jehoavh during war for protection etc. (Jer 11:11-13). They became materistic and lost sight of the fact that Jehovah was The provider of ALL things for the. So while claiming to Worship Jehovah they in reality worship the Demons and made sacrefices to them (Deut. 32:16-22). – ethos Nov 6 at 1:01
  • The Jews had communion meal at the Temple the priest & the persons offering eat with them some was burnt on ther alter so it was like have a meal with God. To use food offered to other gods was to put Jehovah at the Table of the Demons (Ps.106:33:41) Paul said: 1 Cor 10:20-21 “No but I say that what the nations sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers with the demons. You cannot be drinking the cup of Jehovah and the cup of demons; you cannot be partaking of “the table of Jehovah” and the table of demons. “This is the bone of contention?” YES! – ethos Nov 6 at 1:14
  • @Ernest Abinokhauno “Recently, a majority of the scholars believed that Baal was the equivalent of the Canaanites for the Babylonian god named Marduk and the Assyrian god named Hadad. There was also the term “baal”, a Semitic word that literally means “Lord” and was used in the Bible to refer to the local idols.”-amazingbibletimeline.com/blog/gods-of-babylon-baal Being “Baal” means “LORD” we can ask is the same interfaith happening now via the use of the phrase “The LORD.”? – ethos Nov 6 at 1:53
  • 1
    I perfectly agree with you about the same interfaith via the use of the phrase The LORD. If I understand you correctly they used THE LORD to refer to God - fine! But did you see verse 8 saying "She did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal"? So they were calling God "THE LORD" and preparing victuals for idols at the same time. I'm trying to understand the twist of fate. They should have reserved THE LORD for the idols they were serving and left God out of their confusion. This is the issue I have with Israel in Hosea. – Ernest Abinokhauno Nov 6 at 7:57

It seems Israel prepared victuals for idols and called YHWH "My Baal" because they were in their backsliden state. The Prophet is crying in Hosea 2 against a nation that had rejected God. In chapter 2:8, the people worshiped idols with their substance while in verse 16, they paid lip services to God calling him "My Baal".

The Lord multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal; the relative "which" may refer to all that goes before; and the sense be, that these gifts of God, and which should have been owned as such, and employed in his service, and to his glory; some were made use of in meat and drink offerings to Baal; and others in decking themselves to appear in his worship to his honour; or in ornamenting the idol therewith, or in making it thereof, so the Targum and Syriac version: and all this may be said to be done, when these things are spent in the service of other lords than the Lord himself; when they are abused to sinful purposes, and consumed on the lusts of men, to gratify their sensuality, pride, and vanity, which the Jews did.

Source: https://biblehub.com/commentaries/hosea/2-8.htm

God allowed them to wallow in their foolishness according to Romans 1:28:

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. (Romans 1:28 ESV)

But there is good news for the people of God in Hosea 2:17 and 23. The Lord promises to remove foolishness from them and also remove the name Baal from their mouth (verse 16) and call them his people which were not his people (verse 23). He would then make them endear to himself.

Verses 16, 17. - In these verses a renewal of God's covenant with Israel, under the figure of a marriage contract, is predicted. The name by which Israel shall address her beloved shall be henceforth Ishi, not Baali; that is, a term of tender affection, not of stern authority. (1) The title of "My Husband" will take the place of "My Lord." Some suppose that the latter title was the idol's name, which, in the lips of Israel, had superseded that of the true God, the meaning being (2) "Thou wilt no more call to me, My Baal." Nay, the names of Baals shall become so abhorrent to their better feelings, as well as hateful to Jehovah, that they shall pass away at once from their mouth and from their memory, never more to be mentioned and never more to be remembered. Rashi's comment favors (1); thus: "Ye shall serve me out of love, and not out of fear; ishi denoting marriage and youthful love; baali, lordship and fear."

Source: https://biblehub.com/commentaries/hosea/2-16.htm

  • @Perry Webb: This is my argument. The name "My Baal" that was in their mouth was a misplaced identity tag for YHWH. Initially I said I don't see anyone supporting this argument. Thanks to this post as it has beamed the light on Hosea 2:8: "She did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal" in conversation with Hosea 2:16,17. – Ernest Abinokhauno Nov 7 at 13:34
  • @ethos: This is my argument. The name "My Baal" that was in their mouth was a misplaced identity tag for YHWH. Initially I said I don't see anyone supporting this argument. Thanks to this post as it has beamed the light on Hosea 2:8: "She did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal" in conversation with Hosea 2:16,17. – Ernest Abinokhauno Nov 7 at 13:35

Just to add to @AbuMunirIbnIbrahim excellent answer regarding the meaning of Baal בעל - i like to point that actually Hoshea wasn't the only incident that Baal come (instead?) with Jehova in OT:

Reading 2nd Samuel chapter 5 verse 20 we can see that in honor of that Jehovah helped him, David named that place בעל פרצים instead of maybe *פרציהו or even *פרצאל.

In my point of view it's Paganism but luckily Hebrew use בעל in sort of way that it can be ok here and there.

  • Great post. I appreciate this addendum, A Meshu. You know Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim really did an excellent post regarding the meaning of Baal בעל - but I wasn't seeking solely to understand the meaning of Baal. I was trying to explore what Israel meant by sacrificing to idols while calling God "My Master" at the same time. – Ernest Abinokhauno Nov 8 at 9:58
  • As the comments say cleverly, בעל is like אדון or Master. Since one of the Gods of Canaan called also בעל Jehovah ask to stop using that name completely. It important to understand that when Israel sacrifice/pray and addressed Jehovah as בעל or אדון instead of יהוה (or בעלי or אדוני etc) it is a sin because it strictly said in the 10 commandments that God has his own name. Today even saying/writing that name is forbidden... – A. Meshu Nov 8 at 14:53
  • Exactly! What really came over them for behaving that way? One would have thought they should have continued to sacrificing to Baal and adoring their idols (verse 8) and left God out of their confusions. – Ernest Abinokhauno Nov 8 at 18:14
  • Well a clue maybe hidding on Kuntillet Ajrud. In the OT Baal and Ashera are two Cnaanian gods but on this findings it's written Jehovah and Ashera intead of Baal. Hoshea was from that time.. – A. Meshu Nov 8 at 18:28
  • I appreciate this. Please could you post the link to Kuntillet Ajrud. – Ernest Abinokhauno Nov 8 at 18:31

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