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Edward Robinson

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BAAL, or Bel, (governor, ruler, lord,) a god of the Phoenicians and Canaanites. Baal and Astaroth are commonly mentioned together; and, as it is be- lieved that Astaroth denotes the moon, Calmet con- cludes that Baal represents the sun. The name Baal is used, in a generical sense, for the superior god of the Phoenicians, Chaldeans, Moabites, and other people, and is often compounded with the name of some place or quality ; as Baal-Peor, Baal- zebub, Baal-Gad, Baal-Zephon, Baal-Berith. Baal is the most ancient god of the Canaanites, and, per- haps, of the East ; and the Hebrews too often im- itated the idolatry of the Canaanites, in adoring him. They offered human sacrifices to him, and erected altars to him, in groves, on high places, and on the terraces of houses. Baal had priests and prophets consecrated to his service ; and many infamous actions were committed in his festivals. Some learned men nave maintained that the Baal of Phoe- nicia was the Saturn of Greece and Rome ; and cer- tainly there was great conformity between their ser- vices and sacrifices. Others are of opinion that Baal was the Phoenician (or Tyrian) Hercules, (an opinion not inconsistent with the other,) but it is generally concluded that Baal was the sun ; and, on this admission, all the characters which he assumes in Scripture, may be easily explained. The great luminary was adored over all the East, and is the most ancient deity acknowledged among the hea- then. See Idolatry. The Hebrews sometimes called the sun Baal- Shemesh; — Baal the sun. Manasseh adored Baal, planted groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven ; but Josiah, desirous to repair the evil in- troduced by Manasseh, put to death " the idolatrous priests that burnt incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. He commanded all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, (Ashreh, or Astaroth,) and for all the host of heaven, to be brought forth out of the temple. He took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, and burnt the chariots of the sun with fire." Here the worship of the sun is particularly described ; and the sun itself is clearly expressed by the name of Baal, 2 Kings xxiii. 11. The temples and altars of the sun, or Baal, were generally on eminences. Manasseh placed in the two courts of the temple at Jerusalem altars to all the host of heaven, and, in ' particular, to Astarte, or the moon, 2 Kings xxi. 5. 7. Jeremiah threatens those of Judah, who had sacrificed to Baal on the house-top, (ch. xxxii. 29.) and Josiah destroyed the altars which Ahaz had erected on the terrace of his palace, 2 Kings xxiii. 12. Human victims were offered. to Baal, as they were to the sun. The Persian Mithra (who is also the gun) was honored with like sacrifices, as was also Apollo. Jeremiah reproaches the inhabitants of Ju- dah and Jerusalem with " building the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt-offer- ings unto Baal," (chap. xix. 5.) — an expression which appears to be decisive, for the actual slaying by fire of the unhappy victims to Baal. The Scripture calls temples consecrated to Baal, i. e. to the sun, chamanim, Lev. xxvi. 30 ; Isa. xvii. 8 ; xxvii. 9 ; Ezek. vi. 4, 6, and 2 Chron. xxxiv. 4. They were places enclosed with walls, in which a per- petual fire was maintained : they were frequent in the East, particularly among the Persians ; and the Greeks called them pyreia, or pyratheia, from the Greek pyr, fire, or pyra, a funeral pile. There was in them, says Strabo, (lib. xv.) an altar, abundance of ashes, and a fire never suffered to go out. Maundrel, in his journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, observed some remains of them in Syria. [The word D'Jcn, chamanim, signifies, to judge from the clearest passage, (2 Chr. xxxiv. 4.) a species of idol statues, or images, which stood upon the altars of Baal. The word is, therefore, always properly rendered in the English version images. The explanation of Jarchi is not improbably the correct one, viz. solar pillars, sun-columns. The god Baal CJiaman (jcn) is not unfrequently mentioned in Phoenician inscriptions, which is best explained by Baal i. e. Deus Solaris. R. Some critics have thought that the god Belus of the Chaldeans and Babylonians was Nimrod, then- first king; others, that he was Belus the Assyri- an, father of Ninus; and others, a son of Semi- ramis. Many have supposed Belus to be the same with Jupiter ; but Calmet concludes that Baal was worshipped as the sun among the Phoenicians and Canaanites ; and that he was often taken in general for the great god of the eastern people. [The preceding observations are mostly from Cal- met himself; but as very much of the idolatry al- luded to in the Old Testament is derived from, or connected with, the rites of Baal, it seems important 1 to give here the views of later commentators, who BaAL [ 121 ] nave been led to investigate the subject with par- ticular care. The principal of these are Gesenius, (in his Thesaurus Ling. Heb. p. 224, and in his Com- mentar zu Isa. ii. p. 335.) and bishop Miinter, ol' Co- penhagen, in his work entitled " Religion der Baby- lonier," Copenh. 1827, p. 16, seq. The word Baal, in the Old Testament, when em- ployed with the article, and without further addition, i. e. the Baal, i. q. the Lord, denotes an idol of the Phoenicians, and particularly of the Tyrians, whose worship was also introduced, with great solemnities, among the Hebrews, and especially at Samaria, along with that of Astarte ; Judg. vi. 25, seq. 2 Kings x. 18, seq. (See Astaroth 1.) In the plural, Baalim, the word signifies images or statues of Baal, Judg. ii. 11 ; x. 10, &c. — Of the extent to which the wor- ship of this idol was domesticated among the Phoe- nicians and Carthaginians, we have an evidence in the proper names of persons ; as among the former Ethbaal, Jerubbaal ; and among the- latter, Hannibal, Asdrubal, &c. — Among the Babylonians the same idol was worshipped under the name of Bel ; which is only the Aramaean form of Baal, i. e. s 3 for Spa, e. g. Isa. xlvi. 1 ; Jer. 1. 2 ; li. 44, &c. His worship was established in that city in the famous tower of Babel, the uppermost room of which served at the same time as an observatory, and was the re- pository of a collection of ancient astronomical ob- servations. (Herodot. i. 181 — 183. Diod. ii. 10. Strabo, xvi. 1. 6.) See also the article Babel. — By Greek and Roman writers the Phoenician Baal is called Hercules and Hercules Tyrius. (Her. ii. 14. Arrian, Exp. Alex. ii. 16. 2 Mace. iv. 18, 20.) That in the astronomical, or rather astrological mythology of the East, we are to look for the origin of this worship in the adoration of the heavenly bodies, is conceded by all critics. But, in conse- quence of the varying statements of ancient authors, who lived at different periods, a considerable di- versity of opinion has arisen in respect to what heavenly body we are to regard Baal as represent- ing. The more common opinion has been, that Baal, or Bel, is the sun ; and that, under this name, this luminary received divine honors. Bishop Miinter supposes that this was the case at least originally ; (p. 17.) that the fundamental idea of all oriental idolatry, — which may also be traced from India to the north of Europe, — is the primeval poiver of nature, which divides itself into the generative, and the con- ceplive or productive power. Of these two, the male and female powers of nature, he supposes (with others) the sun and moon to have been worshipped as the representatives under the names of Baal and Astarte, at least by the most ancient Babylonians and other Semitish tribes. — Gesenius, fixing his view more particularly on a later period, finds that the Greek and Roman writers give to the Babylonian Bel the name of Jupiter Belus. (Plin. H. N. xxxvii. 10. Cic. de Nat. Deor. in. 16. Diod. ii. 8, 9.) By this name, however, they did not mean the " father of the gods," but the planet Jupiter, stella Jovis, (Cic. de Nat. Deor. ii. 20.) which was regarded, along with the planet Venus, as the principle of all good, the guardian and giver of all good fortune ; and forms with Venus the most fortunate of all constellations, under which alone fortunate sovereigns can be born. (Comm. z. Isa. ii. p. 355, seq.) Hence it is also called, by the Arabians, Fortunamqjor. (See Gad, and Meni.) This planet, therefore, Gesenius supposes to have been the object of worship under the name of Baal ; as also the planet Venus unde* that of Astarte. 16 Not that the sun was not an object of idolatrous worship among these nations ; but in that case he is represented under his own name, Shemesh, also Baal- shamaim, (lord of the heavens,) Baal-hamman, Baal- shemesh, &c. (Thesaur. p. 224, col. 2.) — This view, it will be observed, is directly controverted by Miinter, only in reference to the very earliest ages. The following passages have been retained from the English edition of this work, not as illustrating, in any way, the Bible or the idolatrous worship ol Baal, but as being in themselves interesting, and as, perhaps, casting a faint light on the remark of bishop Miinter above, in reference to the worship of the male and female powers of nature, " from India to the north of Europe." *R. The worship of Bel, Belus, Belenus, or Belinus, was general throughout the British islands ; and cer- tain of its rites and observances are still maintained among us, notwithstanding the spread and the es- tablishment of Christianity during so many ages. It might have been thought, that the pompous rituals of popery would have superseded the Druidical superstitions ; or that the reformation to Protestant- ism would have banished them ; or that the prev- alence of various sects would have reduced them to oblivion : but the fact is otherwise. Surely the roots of Druidism were struck extremely deep ! What charm could render them so prevalent and permanent? — "A town in Perthshire, on the borders of the Highlands, is called Tillie- (or Tullie-) beltane, i. e. the eminence, or rising-ground, of the fire of Baal. In the neighborhood is a Druidical temple of eight upright stones, where it is supposed the fire was kindled. At some distance from this is another temple of the same kind, but smaller, and near it a well still held in great veneration. On Beltane morning, superstitious people go to this well, and drink of it ; then they make a procession round it r as we are informed, nine times. After this they in like manner go round the temple. So deep-rooted is this heathenish superstition in the minds of many who reckon themselves good Protestants, that they will not neglect these rites, even when Beltane falls on sabbath." (Statist. Accounts of Scotland, vol. iiL p. 105.) "On the first day of May, which is called Bcltan, or Bal-tein, day, all the boys in a township, or hamlet, meet in the moors. They cut a table in the green sod, of a round figure, by casting a trench in the ground of such circumference as to hold the whole company. They kindle a fire, and dress a repast of eggs and milk in the consistence of a custard. They knead a cake of oatmeal, which is toasted at the embers against a stone. After the custard is eaten up, they divide the cake into so many portions, as similar as possible to one another in size and shape, as there are persons in the com- pany. They daub one of these portions all over with charcoal, until it be perfectly black. They put all the bits of cake into a bonnet. Every one, blindfold, draws out a portion. He who holds the bonnet is entitled to the last bit. Whoever draws the black bit, is the devoted person who is to be sacrificed to Baal, whose favor they mean to implore, in rendering the year productive of the sustenance of man and beast. There is little doubt of these inhuman sacrifices having been once offered in this country, as well as in the East, although they now pass from the act of sacrificing, and only compel the devoted person to leap three times through the flames ; with which the ceremonies of this festival are, closed." (Id. vol. xi. p. 621.) [ "22 1 This pagan ceremony of lighting fires in honor of the Asiatic god Belus, gave its name to the entire month of May, which is to this day called mi na Bealtine, in the Irish language. Dr. Keating, speak- ing of this fire of Beal, says, that the cattle were driven through it, and not sacrificed ; and that the chief design of it was to keep off all contagious dis- orders from them for that year ; and he also says, that all the inhabitants of Ireland quenched their fires on that day, and kindled them again out of some part of thar fire. He adds, from an ancient glossary : " The Druids lighted two solemn fires every year, and drove all four-footed beasts through them in order to preserve them from all contagious distempers during the current year." In Wales this annual fire is kindled in autumn, on the first day of November. In North Wales, especially, this fire is attended by many ceremonies ; such as running through the fire and smoke, each participator casting a stone into the fire, &c. This superstition, says Dr. Macpherson, prevailed throughout the North, as well as throughout the West. "Although the name of Bel-tein is unknown in Swe- den, yet, on the last day of April, i. e. the evening preceding our Bel-tein, the countiy people light great fires on the hills, and spend the night in shooting. This with them is the eve of Walburgh's Mess." Leopold Von Buch, who travelled through Norway in 1807, noticed this practice at Lodingen, N. lat. 68£. His words are — " It was Hansdagsaften, the eve of St. John's day. The people flocked together, on an adjoining hill, to keep up St. John's fire till midnight, as is done throughout all Germany and Norway. It burnt very well, but it did not render the night a whit more light. The midnight sun shone bright and clear on the fire, and we scarcely could see it. The St. John's fire has not certainly been invented in these regions, for it loses here all the power and nightly splendor which extend over whole territories in Germany. Notwithstanding this circumstance, we surrounded the fire in great good humor, and danced in continual circles the whole night through." This extract informs us, not only that this custom maintains itself in the extreme north, but also throughout Germany : in short, we see that it involves all Europe. It can, therefore, occasion no surprise that we find it so inveterately established in the countries mentioned in Scripture, where the sun had infinitely more power and in- fluence, and which are much nearer to the seat of the original observances. The world was then plunged in idolatry, and we cannot wonder that this branch of it prevailed, since many of its cere- monies and superstitious rites still exist, notwith- standing the influence of the gospel. There were many cities in Palestine, into whose name the word Baal entered by composition.


BAAL-BERITH, Lord of the covenant, a deity of the Shecheniites, (Judg. viii. 33 ; ix. 4.) which the Israelites made their god after the death of Gideon. There was at Shechem a temple of Baal-Berith, in whose treasury they accumulated that money which they afterwards gave to Abimelech, son of Gideon. The most simple explanation of the name Baal- Berith, is to take it generally for the god who pre- sides over alliances and oaths. In this sense the true God may be termed the God of covenants ; and if Scripture had not added the name Baal to Berith, it might have been so understood. The most barbarous nations, as well as the most superstitious, the most religious, and the most intelligent, have always invoked the Deity to witness oaths and cove- nants. The Greeks had their Zeus Horkios, Jupiter the witness and arbitrator of oaths ; and the Latins had their Deus Fidius, or Jupiter Pisiius, whom they regarded as the god of honesty and integrity, and who presided over treaties and alliances.


BAAL-GAD, a city at the foot of mount Hermon, which derived its name from the deity Baal, there adored, Josh. xi. 17. Some have erroneously sup- posed it to be the same as Heliopolis, or Baalbeck. It is probably i. q. Baal-Hermon, which see.


BAAL-GIJR, or Gur-Baal, i. e. sojourn of Baal. We read, 2 Chron. xxvi. 7. "the Lord assisted Uz- ziah against the Philistines, and against the Ara- bians, that dwelt at Gur-Baal." The Septuagint has, " the Arabians that dwelt above Petra." It seems to have been a town in Arabia Petrsea, where was probably a temple to Baal.


BAAL-HAZOR, a city of Ephraim, where Absa- lom kept his flocks, 2 Sam. xiii. 23.


BAAL-IIERMON, Judg. iii. 3 ; 1 Chron. v. 23. See Hermon, and Baal-Gad.


BAAL-MEON, a city of Reuben, (Numb, xxxii. 38 ; 1 Chron. v. 8.) sometimes called Beth-Baal- Meon, (Josh. xiii. 17.) the house, or temple, of Baal- Meon; and also Beth-Meon, Jer. xlviii. 23. The Moabites took it from the Reubenites, and were masters of it in the time of Ezekiel, Ezek. xxv. 9. Eusebius and Jerome place it nine miles from Es- bus, or Esebon, at the foot of mount Baaru, or Abarim. BAAL-PEOR. The import of this name is un- certain. Simon takes it to denote " the lord of mount Peor" where this deity was worshipped ; as the heathen had their Jupiter Olympius, Apollo Clarius, Mercurius Cyllenius, &c. It has been taken in an obscene sense, and with too much truth ; for it is certain that the deities of the heathen were, and still are, often of the grossest kind ; not that we know their worshippers to have thought them scandalous, or to have connected them with any offence against decency, or with that sense of shame and indignation which they excite in us. They may have considered them as commemorative memorials of distant persons and times, or as employed to bring to recollection truths, in themselves perfectly innoxious ; although such means of recording his- torical facts, of whatever nature, are in our opinion criminally indecorous, and utterly unfit for public exposure. Of this the compound of the Lingam and Yoni, among the Hindoos, affords open and popular proof ; but there are other observances in some of their festivals, usually postponed till after aU 123 1 Europeans are departed, which too obscenely justify the most offensive derivation of the name. This false god is, by some, supposed to be the Adonis, or Orus, adored by the Egyptians, and other eastern people. Scripture informs us (Numb. xxv. 1 — 3.) that the Israelites, being encamped in the wilderness of Sin, were seduced to worship Baal- Peor, to partake of his sacrifices, and to sin with the daughters of Moab ; and the Psalmist, (Psalm cvi. 28.) adverting to the same event, says, "they ate the offerings of the dead." Peor is Or, or Orus, if we cut oft' the article Pe, which is of no signification. Orus is Adonis, or Osiris. The feasts of Adonis were celebrated after the manner of funerals ; and the worshippers at that time committed a thousand dissolute actions, particularly after they were told that Adonis, whom they had mourned for as dead, was alive again. (See Adonis.) Origen believed Baal-Peor to be Piiapus, or the idol of turpitude, adored principally by women, and that Moses did not think proper to express more clearly what kind of turpitude he meant ; and Jerome says, this idol was represented and worshipped in the same ob- scene manner as Priapus. His opinion is, that effem- inate men and women, who prostituted themselves in honor of idols, as frequently mentioned in Scrip- ture, were consecrated to Baal-Peor, or Priapus. Maimonides asserts that Baal-Peor was adored by the most immodest actions ; and there is no doubt that he was the god of impurity. We know with what impudence the daughters of Moab engaged the Israelites to sin ; (Numb. xxv. 3.) and the prophet Hosea, (chap. ix. 10.) speaking of this crime, says, "They went unto Baal-Peor, and separated them- selves unto that shame." Selden suggests that Baal- Peor is Pluto, the god of the dead, founding his con- jecture on Psalm cvi. 28, where " offerings to the dead" are mentioned, and which he takes to be those that were offered to appease the manes of the dead. Apollinarius, in his paraphrase on this Psalm, says, the Hebrews polluted themselves in the sacri- fices of Baal-Peor, by eating hecatombs offered to the dead; and some affirm that Saturn ranked his son Muth, whom he bad by Rhoa, among the gods, and that he was adored by the Phoenicians, some- times under the name of Death, (which is the sig- nification of the word J\futh,) and sometimes by that of Pluto. (Sanchon. apud Euseb. Prsepar. lib. i. cap. viii.) But these opinions seem less probable than that above proposed, that this deity was (the dead) Ado- nis, or Osiris. It may be added, that some believe Adonis to have been the father of Priapus ; and that funeral entertainments were made in his honor, which may well be understood by the name of sacri- fices : " The priests roar and cry before their gods, as men do at the feast when one is dead," Baruch vi. 32. The Psalmist expresses himself in the plural number ; " they ate the sacrifices," — for the sacrifices of Baal-Peor were repasts, such as were used at funerals ; with this difference, that the latter were often accompanied with real and sincere sorrow ; whereas, in those of Adonis, the tears were feigned, and the debauchery, afterwards indulged, real. See Chiun, and Adonis.


BAAL-PERAZIM, a place in the valley of Re- phaim, not very far distant from Jerusalem, 2 Sam. v. 20; 1 Chron. xiv. 11 ; comp. Is. xxviii. 11. Here David gained a victory over the Philistines.


BAAL-SHALISHA, (2 Kings iv. 42 ; 1 Sam. ix. 4.) a district placed by Jerome and Eusebius fifteen miles from Diospolis north, near mount Ephraim.


BAAL-TAMAR, lord of the palm-tree, a village near Gibeah, where the children of Israel engaged the tribe of Benjamin, Judg. xx. 33. The palm-tree occurs on many coins as a symboi attending Astaite ; a branch of palm is held by the goddess sitting on the rock ; and often by J upiter, who, most probably, answers to the character of the lord of the palm-tree. It may be supposed that this symbol was chiefly adopted where the palm was best known ; nevertheless, we find it applied where it cannot be restrained to the idea of a production of the country merely, and therefore, most proba- bly, it was introduced from where this symbol was locally applicable.


BAAL-ZEBUB, see Beel-zebub.


BAAL-ZEPHON, a station of the Hebrews (Exod. xiv. 2, 9 ; Numb, xxxiii. 7.) near Clysma, or Colsum. Baal-Zephon was, probably, a temple to Baal, at the northern point of the Red sea ; and, most likely, in or near an establishment, or town, like the present Suez. [See, on this point, Stuart's Course of Heb. Study, ii. p. 186, seq. Rosenmueller and Ge- senius suppose the name to mean place or temple oj Typhon, the evil genius of Egypt and enemy of fer- tility, who was worshipped at Heroopolis. R.] — Some describe this deity, viz. Baal-Zephon, as a dog in shape, '(see Anubis,) signifying his vigilant eye over this place, and his office by barking, to give notice of an enemy's arrival ; and to guard the coast of the Red sea, on that side. It is said, he was placed there, principally, to stop slaves that fled frprn their masters. The Jerusalem Targum assures us, that all the statues of the Egyptian gods having been destroyed by the exterminating angel, Baal-Zephon alone resisted ; whereupon, the Egyptians, conceiving great ideas of his power, redoubled their devotion to him. Moses, observing that the people floi ked thither in crowds, petitioned Pharaoh that he, too, might make a jour- ney thither with the Israelites ; which Pharaoh per- mitted ; but as they were employed on the shore of the Red sea, in gathering up the precious stones which the river Phison had carried into the Gihon, and from thence were conveyed into the Red sea, (a notable instance of rabtiinical geography !) Pha- raoh surprised them, and sacrificed to Baal-Zephon, waiting till the next day to attack Israel, whom he be- lieved his god had delivered into his hands : but, in the mean time, thev passed the Red sea and escaped. and RECHAB, officers of Ishbosheth, son of Saul, who privately slew that prince while reposing, and were punished for it by David, 2 Sam. iv. 2, seq.


BAALATH, a city of Dan, Josh. xix. 44 ; 1 Kings ix. 18. Josephus speaks of Baleth, not far from Gazara, Antiq. lib. viii. cap. 2. It was fortified by Solomon, 2 Chron. viii. 6. BAALATH-BEER,' a city of Simeon, Josh. xix. 8, probably the same as Baal, 1 Chron. iv. 33.


BAALIS, a king of the Ammonites, who sent Ish- mael to kill Gedaliah, who governed the remnant of the Jews, not carried captive to Babylon, Jer. xl. 14.


BAASHA, son of Ahiiah, and commander of the armies of Nadab, king of Israel. He killed his mas- ter treacherously at the siege of Gibbethon, and usurped the kingdom, which "he possessed twenty- four years. He exterminated the whole race of Jer- oboam, as God had commanded ; but by his bad conduct, and his idolatry, incurred God's indigna- tion, 1 Kings xv. 27 ; xvi. 7. A. M. 3051. Baasha, instead of making good use of admonition, trans- ported with rage against a prophet, the messenger of it, killed him.


BABEL, or Babylon, a city and province, which received this name, because, when the tower of Babel was building, God confounded the languages of those who were employed in the undertaking, (Gen. x. 10.) about A. M. 1775, 120 years after the deluge t 124 ] Others derive the name from the Arabic word bob, a door or gate, compounded with Bel, e. g. the gate or city of Bel. — For an account of the city of Babylon, see the next article ; and for the geographical descrip- tion, as well as an historical notice of the province or kingdom, see Babylonia. Here we confine our- selves to the tower. Very different conceptions have been formed on the nature and figure of the tower of Babel. Some have delineated it as being round in shape, with a spiral pathway leading up to the top ; but it appears more credible that it was square ; and that certain buildings, yet remaining in various parts of the world, may be considered as transcripts, or imita- tions, of it. To enable the reader to judge of this proposition, Mr. Taylor copied several instances, apparently nearly related to it in form and destina- tion, from which we select the following. This pyramid, rising in several steps or stages, is at Tanjore, in the East Indies ; and affords, it is pre- sumed, a just idea of the tower of Babel. It is, in- deed, wholly constructe'd of stone, in which it (lifters from that more ancient edifice, which, being situated in a couutry destitute of stone, was, of necessity, con- structed of brick. On the top of this pyramid is a chapel or temple ; affording a specimen of the gen- eral nature of this kind of sacred edifices in India. These amazing structures are commonly erected on, or near, the banks of great rivers, for the advantage of ablution. In the courts that surround them, in- numerable multitudes assemble at the rising of the sun, after having bathed in the stream below. The gate of the pagoda uniformly fronts the east.. The internal chamber commonly receives light only from the door. An external pathway, for the purpose of visiting the chapel at the top, merits observation. This is an ancient pyramid, built by the Mexicans in America ; it agrees in figure with the former ; and has, on the outside, an ascent of stairs leading up one side to the upper story, proceeding to the chapels on its summit. This ascent implies that the chap- els were used, from time to time ; and no doubt, it marks the shortest track for that purpose, as it occu- pies one side only. That the tower of Belus had a chapel on the top, ap pears from Herodotus, who, after mentioning the spiral ascent, says, "In the last tower is a large chapel, but no statue," &c. (See in Baal.) Diodo- rus implies the same, when he says, there were stat- ues of gold, of which one was forty feet high : it must have been a large chapel that could be sup- posed to contain such a figure. The ideas collected from the foregoing subjects lead us, (1.) to a pyra- mid of solid construction, in its principal parts, but of less laborious materials internally : (2.) to a chapel, or temple, on the top of such pyramid : (3.) to one or more passages leading to the summit. There are certain points of comparison between the pyramids of Egypt (see Pyramids) and the tower of Babel to which our attention may be directed. (1.) A river runs before the pyramids, which agrees with the notion of their being sacred structures, since the stream was suitable to purposes of ablution ; in like manner, a river ran before the tower of Babel. (2.) The general form of these structures were alike, that is, broad at bottom, rising very high, tapering at top. (3.) The internal construction was of less costly materials than the external ; being of sun- baked bricks, at best ; while the external was fur- nace-baked bricks at Babel, but immense stones in Egypt, which insured the durability of the Egyptian edifices. (4.) A city extended on each side of the river in both instances. (5.) The royal palace was separated from the temple by a considerable width of water. (6.) There were apartments, or chapels, in each. (7.) There were sacred cloisters or courts around. (8.) There was (or was intended to be) at the top a great, image: there are indications of such an intention on the top of the open pyramid. This thought is not new ; the Jerusalem Targum asserts it of Babel, and says that the image was to have held a sword in its hand, as a kind of protector against men and demons — Faciamus nobis Imaginem adorationis in ejus fastigio, et ponanms Gladiumin manu ejus, id conferat contra acies prrelinm, prius quam dispergarnur de superfine terra. These obvious agree- ments sufficiently evince that the structures were alike in form and in destination [?] so that we may judge pretty accurately on what we do not know of the one by what we do know of the other. They contribute, also, to establish the inference, that the same people (though not the same branch of that people) were the builders of both. Being now enabled, by means of these points of comparison, to comprehend the intention of the builders of the tower of Babel, we proceed to con- sider the mode of its construction. We read (Gen. xi. 3.) that they proposed to make bricks and to burn them thoroughly ; that these bricks were em- ployed by them as stones, of which it should ap- pear the country was destitute; — "instead of (mor- tar) chomar they had eiemnr," where the reader will observe, that the same word is used under two pro- nunciations, and this, probably, ought to be thus understood — " instead of" clay-mortar," which is the kind used in countries east of Shinar for build- ings not expected to exceed ordinary duration, these determined builders employed the bitumen which rises in the lands adjacent to this tower, or was brought from sources higher up the Euphrates: — bitumen-mortar, to resist moisture from morasses formed by the river. The quantity of bitumen that must have been employed in building Babylon is scarcely credible. Most probably it was procured from Hit on the Euphrates, where it still abounds [ 125 ] "The master-mason told me, (says M. Beauchamp,) that he found some in a spot where he was digging, about twenty years ago ; which is by no means strange, as it is common enough on the banks of the Euphra- tes. I have myself seen it on the road from Bagdad to Juba, an Arabian village, seated on that river." The men engaged at Babel had two objects in view ; (1.) to build a city, and (2.) a tower. There could be no impiety in proposing to build a city ; yet it is expressly stated, that, in consequence of the divine interposition, the continuation of the city was relinquished. On the other hand, the tower was certainly intended as a place for worship, but not of the true God ; yet it is no where said in Scripture that it was destroyed, or its works suspended. This is not easily explained ; and the circumstance is rendered the more obscure, by the accounts of its overthrow which have been preserved in heathen writers. Eupolemus, quoted by Eusebius, (Praap. lib. ix.) says, " The city Babel was first founded, and afterwards the celebrated tower; both which were built by some of the people who had escaped the deluge. — The tower was eventually ruined by the power of God." Abydenus, in his Assyrian Annals, also mentions the tower ; which, he says, was carried up to heaven ; but that the gods ruined it by storms and whirlwinds, frustrated the purpose for which it was designed, and overthrew it on the heads of those who were engaged in the work. The ruins of it were called Babylon. (Euseb. Chron. p. 13.) The reader will bear this in mind, as it will assist in determining our judgment on the character of the ruins still extant. We do not find in Scripture any subsequent al- lusion to the tower of Babel ; but there is in the a remarkable variation from our Hebrew copies in Isaiah x. 9, where we read, Is not Calno as Carchemish? those translators read, "Have I not taken the region which is above Babylon and Cha- lane, where the tower w r as built ?" That they re- ferred to the ancient attempt of the sons of men cannot be doubted ; and the passage is so under- stood by the Christian fathers, as may be seen in Bochart. The latest accounts by our travellers, es- - pecially the tract of Mr. Rich, with his plates, had raised a doubt whether the original tower of Babel were the same with that known to us by the de- scriptions of ancient authors as the tower of Belus, at Babylon. The same doubt had occurred to Fa- • ther Kircher, (Tunis Babel, lib. ii. cap. 3.) but he produces no authority in support of his conjecture, that a second tower was built by Ninus and Semi- ramis. Certain it is, that no ancient author men- tions two towers ; but if we might be allowed to ad- mit the supposition, it would obviate almost every difficulty that at present appears insurmountable, in attempting to reconcile ancient accounts with actual appearances. — [The supposition of Calmet and others is not improbable, viz. that the tower of Belus was not the tower of Babel itself, but was rather built upon the old foundations of the latter. R. We submit here an instance of a building very similar in form and proportions to the original tower ; and producing effects on the eye and mind of a British traveller analogous to what it may be presumed was intended by the priests and the builders of Babel. It is Mr. Wathen's account of the great pagoda at Conjeveram, the Dewal, or tem- ple of Vurdaraujah ; extracted from his voyage to Madras. " The tower, or most elevated part of this budding, consisted of fifteen stories, or stages ; the floor of the lowest of these was covered with boards somewhat decayed, and was about twenty feet square, having much the appearance of the belfry of a country church in England. A ladder of fifteen rounds conducted us to the next stage, and so on, from story to story, until we reached the top, each stage or floor diminishing gradually in size to the summit. Here our labor was most amply repaid ; for never had I witnessed so beautiful and so sub- lime a prospect. It so far surpassed every idea I had or could have formed of its grandeur and effect, that I was almost entranced in its contemplation. forgot all the world beside, and felt as if I could have continued on this elevated spot for ever." Modern travellers vary in their descriptions of the remains of the tower of Babel. Fabricius says, it might have been about a mile in circumference. Guion says the same. Benjamin, who is much more ancient, informs us, that the foundations were two thousand paces in length. The Sieur de la Bonlaye le Gour, a gentleman of Anjou, who says he made a long stay at Babylon, or Bagdad, declares, that about three leagues from that city, is a tower, called Megara, situated between the Tigris and Euphrates, in an open field, which is solid within, and more like a mountain than a tower. The compass of it is above five hundred paces ; and as the rain and winds have very much ruined it, it cannot be more than about a hundred and thirty-eight feet high. It is built of bricks four inches thick ; and between every seven courses of bricks there is a course of straw, three inches thick, mixed with pitch and bitumen ; from the top to the bottom are about fifty courses. The following particulars of the tower of Belus are from Dr. Prideaux : — " Till the time of Nebu- chadnezzar, the temple of Belus contained no more than the [central] tower only, and the rooms in it served all the occasions of that idolatrous worship, that he enlarged it by vast buildings erected round it, in a square of two furlongs on every side, and a mile in circumference, which was one thousand eight hundred feet more than the square at the tem- ple of Jerusalem, for that was but three thousand feet round; whereas this was, according to this ac- count, four thousand eight hundred ; and on the outside of all these buildings, was a wall enclosing the whole, which may be supposed to have been of equal extent with the square in which it stood, that is, two miles and a half in compass, in which were several gates leading into the temple, all of solid brass ; and the brazen sea, the brazen pillars, and the other brazen vessels, which were carried to Bab- ylon, from the temple of Jerusalem, seem to have been employed in the making of them ; for it is said, that Nebuchadnezzar did put all the sacred vessels, which he carried from Jerusalem, into the house of his god at Babylon, that is, into this house or tem- ple of Bel. This temple stood till the time of Xerxes, but on his return from the Grecian expedi- tion, he demolished the whole of it, and laid it all in rubbish, having first plundered it of its immense riches, among which were several images or statues of massy gold ; and one of them is said by Diodorus Siculus to have been forty feet high, which might perchance have been that which Nebuchadnezzar consecrated in the plains of Dura." [A succinct account of the tower of Belus may be given as follows ; and it will also serve as an il- lustration of the worship of Bel, or Baal, i. e. of the planet Jupiter. (See Baal.) Herodotus saw this temple, still unimpaired. (Herodot. i. 181, seq.) It [ 126 ] stood within the city, in the midst of a square area, surrounded by walls which were furnished with iron gates. It was built of burnt bricks laid in bitumen, and rose to the height of a stadium, i. e. according to Volney, (Recherches, P. iii. p. 72, seq.) about 320 feet. There were eight stages or stories ; to which the ascent was by slanting stairs along the external walls. These stories gradually diminished in breadth from the base upward ; thus giving to the tower the form of a pyramid. Hence Strabo also calls it a square pyramid, (xvi. 1. 5.) The upper story contained a chamber, with a bed, before which stood a golden table. In this chamber Herodotus says no one slept at night except a female, whom the god Belus, according to the Chaldeans the priests of this temple, had selected from the females of the city. Diodorus Siculus says, this chamber served also for astronomical observations. In the next story below was a chapel, with a gigantic statue of Belus, sitting upon a throne with a table be- fore it. The image, throne, and table, throughout, were of pure gold. — Niebuhr and R. K. Porter sup- pose that the remains of this temple are extant in the ruin Birs JYimrood ; and to this Rosenmueller also gives his assent. Bib. Geog. I. ii. p. 24. See under Babylon. R. It is highly probable, that the remains of towers, shown in Babylonia, are only ruins of old Babylon, built by Nebuchadnezzar. See further in the next article. " Babel," says Ibn Haukal, " is a small village, but the most ancient spot in all Irak. The whole region is denominated Babel, from this place. The kings of Canaan resided there, and ruins of great edifices still remain. I am of opinion, that, in for- mer times, it was a very considerable place. They say that Babel was founded by Zokali Piurasp ; and there was Abraham, to whom be peace ! thrown into the fire. There are two heaps, one of which is in a place called Koudi Fereik, the other Koudi Der- bar : in this the ashes still remain ; and they say that it was the fire of Nimrod into which Abraham was cast ; may ^eace be on him !" Now, as it is evidently impossible that a monarch of the Peishda- dian, or first dynasty of the Persian kings, supposed to have reigned ante A. D. 780, should have seen Abra- ham, may not this tradition have some reference to the story of Shadrach, and his companions, cast into the fiery furnace, as recorded in Daniel ? The cir- cumstances of the miraculous delivery are the same, and the memory of this, so much later miracle, is more likely to have been preserved than the other. A_t all events, these traditions of deliverance from the power of fire, show that the memory of a his- tory, of which that was the subject, was strongly and generally impressed on the minds of the inhaH' r ants in neighboring countries; though they migln not accurately report all the particulars of it.


BACA, the valley of, or of tears, (Psalm lxxxiv. 6.) perhaps the same as the valley of Tears, or Weep- ers, or Bocliim, Judg. ii. 1 ; 2 Sam. v. 23. In a moral sense the vale of tears signifies this world, which, to good men, presents only an occasion of grief and tears, because of the disorders that prevail, of the continual dangers to which we are exposed, and the absence of those eternal good things which we ought to long after. The Psalmist says, " Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee, in whose heart are the ways of them, who, passing through the valley of Baca, or tears, make it a well, the rain also filleth the pools ;" from which it has been generally inferred that the. valley of Baca was a dreary, thirsty, unde- sirable place — the very reverse of what appears to be the fact. The following is from De la Roque : (Voy. de Syrie, p. 116.) " I was extremely satisfied with our walk ; which, besides, gave me an opportunity of admiring the most agreeable territory, and the best cultivated, perhaps, in all Syria, lying the length of the plain from north to south, to the mountains which separate it from that of Damascus. This plain, or, more properly speaking, the whole territory of Baal- bec, to the mountains, is named in Arabic, Al-bkaa, which we express by Bekaa. It is watered by the river Letanus, and by many other streams ; it is a delicious, I might say an enchanted, country, and in nothing inferior to the country of Damascus, which is so renowned among the orientals. Beka produces, among other things, those beautiful and excellent grapes which are sent to various parts, under the name of grapes of Damascus." This seems to be the very same place meant.by the Psalmist, and to have retained (or recovered, as many places .have, under the present Arab government) its ancient appellation. It is among the mountains of Lebanon, north of Judea. [It need not, however, be understood, that there was really a valley called Baca, or the vcdley of weeping: The Psalmist in exile, or at least at a dis- tance. from Jerusalem, is speaking of the privileges and happiness of those who are permitted to make the usual pilgrimages to that city in order to worship Jehovah in the temple : " They love the ways which lead thither ; yea, though they must pass through rough and dreary paths, even a vale of tears, yet such 139 j are their hope and joy of heart, that all this is to them as a well watered country, a land crowned with the blessings of the early rain." Something like this would seerr to be the sense of the passage. The plain or valley of Baalbec, referred to above, could not of course lie in the way of any Israelites on such a pilgrimage ; while its fertility is utterly inappro- , priate to the sentiment of the Psalmist. R.


BACCHIDES, the general of the Syrian king Demetrius, and governor beyond the river, *. e. the Euphrates, I Mace. vii. 8. The king sent him with an army against Judea, to establish the notorious Alcimus (q. v.) by force in the dignity of high-priest, 161 B. C. He left with Alcimus a body of troops, that he might maintain himself against Judas Macea- bseus. But, as Judas continued to make progress, Bacchides returned the next year with a chosen ar- my, vanquished and slew Judas at Laisa, (1 Mace, ix. 18.) held Jonathan afterwards at bay, and fortified Jerusalem ; (ix. 49, 50.) but after the death of Alcimus, in the next year, he again withdrew his forces. In die following year, (158 B.C.) however, he returned to Judea on the invitation of some of the discontented Jews ; but concluded a peace with Jonathan on rea- sonable terms, and left him to govern the Jewish state, 1 Mace. ix. 70, seq. # R.


BACHUTH, the oak of weeping, a place in Bethel, where Rebekah's nurse was buried, Gen. xxxv. 8.


BACKBITE, to speak evil of an absent person. Paul classes this sin with several others of a heinous nature, Rom. i. 30.


BACKSLIDE, to depart gradually and insensibly from the faith, love and practice of God's truth, Jer. iii. 6—14 ; Hos. iv. 16. BADGERS' SKINS. Among those inadvertent renderings, which, for want of better information on oriental natural history, have been adopted, in our public translation, that of "badgers' skins" for the covering of the tabernacle, (Exod. xxv. 5, etal.) and for shoes, (Ezek. xvi. 10.) has been liable to great exception. The badger is an inhabitant of cold countries, certainly not of Arabia, and is rare, even where it breeds ; as in England. It i;> a small, in- offensive animal, of the bear genus, and remains torpid all winter. The ancient versions, for the most part, took the word Tahash to signify a color, a violet color, to which the rams' skins were dyed ; and for this opinion Bo- chart contends : but the rabbins insist on its being an animal ; and Aben Ezra thinks it to be of the bull kind ; some animal which is thick and fat ; and in this sense the word appears to be the same as the Arabic Dahash, fat, oily. The conjecture, then, of those who refer the Tahash to the seal, is every way credible; as in our own island the seal is famous for its fat or oil, which, in default of whale oil, is used for similar purposes. Moreover, seal-skins, on account of their durability, are used to cover trunks and boxes, to defend them from the weather ; and as the skin of the Tahash was used for making shoes, (Ezek. xvi. 10.) so the skin of the seal may be, and is, tanned into as good leather as calf-skin itself. It remains, then, to be proved that an animal, fit for the purpose, was readily procurable by the Israel- ites in the wilderness ; for this we quote Thevenot, (p. 166.) who, being at Tor, a port on the Red sea, says, "But they could not furnish me with any thing of a certain fish, which they call a sea-man. However, I got the hand of one since. This fish is taken in the Red sea, about little isles, that are close by Tor. It is a great, strong fish, and hath nothing extraordinary but two hands, which are indeed like the hands of a man, saving that the fingers are joined together vvith la skin like the foot of a goose ; but the skin of the fsh is like the skin of a wild goat, or chamois. When they spy that fish, they strike him on the back with harping irons, as they do whales, ind so kill him. They use the skin of it for making bucklers, which are musket proof." Whether this be a species of seal must be left undetermined ; as nothing is said of its coming ashore, or being am-, phibious ; nevertheless, it may be the Tahash of the Hebrews. Niebuhr says, (p. 157, Fr. edit.) " A mer- chant of Abushahr called Dahash that fish which the captains of English vessels called porpoise, and the Germans sea-hog, or dolphin. In my voyage from Maskat to Abushahr, I saw a prodigious quantity to- gether, near Ras Mussendom, who all were going the same way, and seemed to swim with great ve- hemence." [Gesenius adopts the same opinion, on account of the similarity of the Arabic name Dahash, which means, properly, the dolphin, but is also applied to the seal genus. On many of the small islands of the Red sea, around the peninsula of Sinai, are found seals ; (hence insula phocarum, Strab. xvi. p. 776.) likewise, a species of sea-cow, called also sea- man or sea-camel, the skin of which is an inch thick, and is used by the Arabs of the present day for shoe-leather. Burckhardt remarks that he " saw parts of the skin of a large fish, killed on the coast, which was an inch in thickness, and is employed by the Arabs instead of leather for sandals." (Travels in Syria and the Holy Land, p. 582.) — Rosenmuel- ler(on Ex. xxv. 5.) inclines to the ancient rendering, which makes the word denote some color. R.


BAGOAS, Holofernes' chamberlain, who intro- duced Judith into his master's tent. The word Ba- goas is used for eunuchs in general, and often oc- curs in the history of the East.


BAHURIM, a town of Benjamin, (2 Sam. iii. 16 xvii. 5 ; xvi. 18.) probabh built by the young men who escaped the destruction of their tribe. It is thought to have been also named Almon, (Josh. xxi. 18.) and Alemath, 1 Chron. vi. 60.


BAJITH, a tower of Moab, Isaiah xv.2.


BALA, a city of the tribe of Simeon, Josh. xix. 3 ; called also Bi'lhah, 1 Chr. iv. 29. Josephus also speaks of a place Bala, Ant. vi. 6.

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