His strongest denunciation is directed against the religious practices of the time in Judea - the worship of the Canaanite local deities (the Baals), the Phoenician Tammuz, and the sun and other Babylonian and Assyrian gods (vi., viii., xvi., xxiii.); he maintained vigorously the prophetic struggle for the sole worship of Yahweh.
The prophet reproaches his Ephraimite countrymen for going after their " lovers," the old local Baals who were supposed to have bestowed on them the bread, water, wool, flax and oil, and for not knowing that " it is I (Yahweh) who have bestowed on her (i.e.
"the Baal"; and the baals of different tribes or sanctuaries were not necessarily conceived as identical, so that we find frequent mention of Baalim, or rather "the Baalim" in the plural.
Baal being originally a title, and not a proper name, the innumerable baals could be distinguished by the addition of the name of a place or of some special attribute.
2 Accordingly, the baals are not to be regarded necessarily as local variations of one and the same god, like the many Virgins or Madonnas of Catholic lands, but as distinct numina.
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