Baal-berith ("Baal of the Covenant") and El-berith ("El of the Covenant") are two gods, or one god, worshiped in Shechem, in ancient Israel. Berith probably appears also, as brt, in Ugaritic texts (second millennium BCE), in connection with Ba'al, and perhaps as Beruth in Sanchuniathon's work.
Judges (8:33, 9:4, and 9:46) is the only Biblical book that mentions Baal-berith and El-berith. It is not clear whether they are separate forms of the gods Ba'al and El or are actually one god. Scholars suppose that he or they may have been (a) fertility and vegetation god(s), based on Judges 9:27. Also unclear is what covenant or covenants are referred to by the name Berith. In Judges 9:28 some of the Shechemites are called "men of Hamor"; this is compared to "sons of Hamor", which in the ancient Middle East referred to people who had entered into a covenant sealed by the sacrifice of a hamor, an ass. 'Children/sons of Hamor' itself appears in Genesis 33:19 and Joshua 24:32, in both of which, as in Judges 9:28, Hamor is called the father of Shechem. Genesis 34 features a man named Hamor who ruled in the area of Shechem (Gen. 33:18) and had a son named Shechem.
In his euhemeristic account of the Phoenician deities, Sanchuniathon says that a certain Elioun, called also "the Most High", and a female named Beruth dwelt in the neighbourhood of Byblos, on the coast of present-day Lebanon. They had two children—a male called Epigeius/Autochthon/Sky and a daughter called Earth. Because of the latter pair's beauty, the sky and the earth, respectively, were named after them. According to Sanchuniathon it is from Sky and Earth that El and various other deities are born, though ancient texts refer to El as creator of heaven and earth. A relationship with Hebrew bərīt 'covenant' or with the city of Beirut have both been suggested for Beruth. The Hittite theogony knows of a primal god named Alalu who fathered Sky (and possibly Earth) and who was overthrown by his son Sky, who was in turn overthrown by his (Sky's) son Kumarbi. A similar tradition seems to be at the basis of Sanchuniathon's account.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 van der Toorn, K.; Becking, Bob; van der Horst, Pieter Willem (1999). Dictionary of deities and demons in the Bible DDD. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 141–144. ISBN 9004111190, 9789004111196. http://books.google.com/books?id=yCkRz5pfxz0C&pg=PA141.
- ↑ "JewishEncyclopedia.com - BAAL-BERITH". http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=4&letter=B&search=Berith. Retrieved 2010-04-06.
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