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Literally, ruler, possessor. Pagan god of rain and fertility; foremost among Canaanite gods. Baal was not the name of one particular god, but the presiding deity of a given locality. He was killed each year by the hosts of Mot, the god of drought and death. Fertility and growth ceased until autumn, when Baal came to life, bringing back the rains. In spring, Baal married the goddess of fertility and war, returning fruitfulness to the land and its inhabitants. The Canaanites worshiped Baal with idolatry and fertility rites. The Bible records how judges and prophets opposed Baal worship among the people of Israel. (See also Elijah.)

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