Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 16

About the religion of Baal

1 Kings 16:31-32

The religion of the false god Baal was popular in many countries long before Ahab introduced it to Israel (for example, Numbers chapter 25).

The word ‘Baal’ means a master, a husband or an owner. This religion therefore emphasised power, especially male power – however some women, particularly Jezebel and Athaliah, also used it to gain power for themselves. It also emphasised wrong sex acts as a means to gain power. In particular, the priests and people used extreme and often cruel methods to get power in the spirit world. They believed that, with such power, they would be rich and successful in this world.

The image of Baal was a bull, the strongest male farm animal. That was like the images (idols) in Jeroboam’s religion, which were calves (young bulls) – 1 Kings 12:28. However, this was not the same as Jeroboam’s religion. In Jeroboam’s religion, the people probably believed that they were using their idols to assist with their prayers to the true God. In the religion of Baal, it was clear to the people that Baal was the enemy of the true God, Israel’s God (18:4; 18:16-40). In Jeroboam’s religion, most people probably tried to live in a morally right manner. In the religion of Baal, that simply was not possible.

It was Jezebel, Ahab’s wife, who persuaded Ahab to accept the religion of Baal as the official religion of his nation. As we shall see, she was an extremely powerful, wicked and cruel person.

Next part: The religion of Asherah (1 Kings 16:33)


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