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Baal (/ˈbeɪl/ BAYL; sometimes spelled Bael, Baël (French), Baell) is in 17th Century goetic occult writings one of the seven princes of Hell. The name is drawn from the Canaanite deity Baal mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as the primary god of the Phoenicians.
The Demon Baal
While his Semitic predecessor was depicted as a man or a bull, the demon Baal was in grimoire tradition said to appear in the forms of a man, cat, toad, or combinations thereof. An illustration in Collin de Plancy's 1818 book Dictionnaire Infernal rather curiously placed the heads of the three creatures onto a set of spider legs.
Until archaeological digs at Ras Shamra and Ebla uncovered texts explaining the Syrian pantheon, the demon Ba‘al Zebûb was frequently confused with various Semitic spirits and deities entitled Baal, and in some Christian writings, it might refer to a high-ranking devil or to Satan himself.
In the ancient world of the Persian Empire, as monotheistic strains of thought were gaining steam, from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, worship of inanimate idols of wood and metal was being rejected in favor of "the one living God". In the Levant the idols were called "ba'als", each of which represented a local spirit-deity or "demon". Worship of all such spirits was rejected as immoral, and many were in fact considered malevolent and dangerous.
Early demonologists, unaware of Hadad or that "Ba'al" in the Bible referred to any number of local spirits, came to regard the term as referring to but one personage. Baal (usually spelt "Bael" in this context; there is a possibility that the two figures aren't connected) was ranked as the first and principal king in Hell, ruling over the East. According to some authors Baal is a duke, with 66 legions of demons under his command.
During the English Puritan period, Baal was either compared to Satan or considered his main lieutenant. According to Francis Barrett, he has the power to make those who invoke him invisible.
While the Semitic high god Ba'al Hadad was depicted as a human, ram or a bull, the demon Bael was in grimoire tradition said to appear in the forms of a man, cat, toad, or combinations thereof. An illustration in Collin de Plancy's 1818 book Dictionnaire Infernal rather curiously placed the heads of the three creatures onto a set of spider legs.
In 1979, Jeff Rovin added to the confusion with The Fantasy Encyclopedia, in which Astaroth was given Baal's likeness, inlcuding in a new illustration. This error has been repeated elsewhere, such as a Baal-like Astaroth as #102 in the Monster in My Pocket series.
Also see: Beelzebub
Another version of the demon Baal is Beelzebub, or more accurately Ba‘al Zebûb or Ba‘al Zəbûb (Hebrew בעל-זבוב, Ba'al zvuv), who was originally the name of a deity worshipped in the Philistine city of Ekron. Ba‘al Zebûb might mean 'Lord of Zebûb', referring to an unknown place named Zebûb, a pun with 'Lord of flies', zebûb being a Hebrew collective noun meaning 'fly'. This may mean that the Hebrews were derogating the god of their enemy.
Later, Christian writings referred to Ba‘al Zebûb as a demon or devil, often interchanged with Beelzebul. Either form may appear as an alternate name for Satan (or the Devil) or may appear to refer to the name of a lesser devil. As with several religions, the names of any earlier foreign or "pagan" deities often became synonymous with the concept of an adversarial entity. The demonization of Ba‘al Zebûb led to much of the modern religious personification of Satan as the adversary of the Abrahamic God.
Some scholars have suggested that Ba'al Zebul which means 'lord prince' was deliberately changed by the worshippers of Yahweh to Ba'al Zebub ('lord of the flies') in order to ridicule and protest the worship of Ba'al Zebul. (NIV Study Bible published by Zondervan)
- Miller, Patrick (2000).Israelite religion and Biblical theology: collected essays. Continuum International Publishing Group, p. 32. ISBN 1-84127-142-X
- The Bible of Mystery http://thebibleofmysteries.blogspot.com/2011/02/all-about-demon-baal.html
- S. L. MacGregor Mathers, A. Crowley, The Goetia: The Lesser Key of Solomon the King (1904). 1995 reprint: ISBN 0-87728-847-X.