Praise Be To Ba’al?

The Temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria was reported on August 31, 2015 to be significantly damaged. Unitar (The United Nations Institute for Training and Research) both conducted the investigation and released the report. The Guardian quoted Unitar’s statement: “‘We can confirm destruction of the main building of the Temple of Bel as well as a row of columns in its immediate vicinity,’ the agency said on Monday, providing satellite images from before and after a powerful blast” (Quinn, 2015). The first image, taken on August 27, is a high quality photo showing great detail of the temple site and its surrounding wall. The second image is blurry and dark, apparently showing a smudged-out rectangle in place of the temple, and one solitary arch. The blast was heard on Sunday, August 30. According to an anonymous group and unnamed activists on an unnamed social media platform, the demolition was the work of Isis (Reuters, 2015). The relics of Syria hold a special meaning for today’s world leaders. “Chief among these was the Temple of Bel, which has been called the most important temple in the entire Middle East, along with Lebanon’s Baalbek” (Pruitt, 2015). Bel is the Mesopotamian counterpart of Ba’al (pronounced like “ball” with a break as in “uh-oh”), a pagan-Semitic god. First mentioned in the Bible in Numbers 25:3, Israel began to worship Ba’al after mingling with...

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