Insights: The Newsletter of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship



Old Testament, themes, religion, texts, translation


In “Who Controls the Water? Yahweh vs. Baal,” the lead article in Occasional Papers 4, Fred E. Woods presents a fascinating discussion of the polemical usage of water and storm language in the Deuteronomic History (the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings). As Woods notes, the most active deity at the Canaanite city of Ugarit (located in present-day Syria near the Mediterranean coast) is Baal, the god of water and storm. The strong denunciation of Baal in the Old Testament indicates that the Baal cult had deeply penetrated Israelite culture. And while scholars have long been aware of the explicit warnings against worshipping Baal, the metaphorical arguments against Baal have gone virtually unnoticed.