word "Baal" means 'lord' or 'master' and it is applied as
a general term in the Old Testament to the Canaanite gods encountered
by the Israelites in their settlement and possession of the promised
land. Baal was a male fertility god whose female counterpart
was Asherah. Baal was worshiped at various local shrines in and around
Palestine. The cult included sacred prostitution. Worship of
Baal was promoted by some of the rulers of Israel and Judah, including Jezebel, Ahab, Ahaz, and Manasseh.
The worship of Baal was vigorously opposed by prophets like
Elijah and Hosea. The reforms of King Josiah sought
to remove Baal worship from Judah.