|Ruler of a Crowd or a Multitude|
Ba'al-Hamon (Punic: lbʻl ḥmn, "Ruler of a Crowd or Multitude") was the chief god of Carthage. He was a deity of sky and vegetation, depicted as a bearded older man with curling ram's horns. Baʿal Hammon's female cult partner was Tanit.
Cult and attributes
The worship of Baʿal Hammon flourished in the Phoenician colony of Carthage. His supremacy among the Carthaginian gods is believed to date to the 5th century BC, after relations between Carthage and Tyre were broken off at the time of the Punic defeat in Himera. Modern scholars identify him variously with the Northwest Semitic god El or with Dagon.
In Carthage and North Africa Baʿal Hammon was especially associated with the ram and was worshiped also as Baʿal Qarnaim ("Lord of Two Horns") in an open-air sanctuary at Jebel Boukornine ("the two-horned hill") across the bay from Carthage, in Tunisia. He was probably never identified with Baʿal Melqart, although one finds this equation in older scholarship.
Ancient Greek writers identified him with the Titan Cronus. In ancient Rome, he was identified with Saturn, and the cultural exchange between Rome and Carthage as a result of the Second Punic War may have influenced the development of the Roman religious festival Saturnalia.
Greco-Roman sources report that the Carthaginians burned their children as offerings to Baʿal Hammon. (See Moloch for a discussion of these traditions and conflicting thoughts on the matter.) Attributes of his Romanized form as an African Saturn indicate that Hammon was a fertility god.
Name and functions
The meaning of Hammon or Hamon is unclear. In the 19th century when Ernest Renan excavated the ruins of Hammon (Ḥammon), the modern Umm al-‘Awamid between Tyre and Acre, he found two Phoenician inscriptions dedicated to El-Hammon. Since El was normally identified with Cronus and Ba‘al Hammon was also identified with Cronus, it seemed possible they could be equated. More often a connection with Hebrew/Phoenician ḥammān 'brazier' has been proposed, in the sense of "Baal (lord) of the brazier". He has been therefore identified with a solar deity. Yigael Yadin thought him to be a moon god. Edward Lipinski identifies him with the god Dagon.
Frank Moore Cross argued for a connection to Khamōn, the Ugaritic and Akkadian name for Mount Amanus, the great mountain separating Syria from Cilicia based on the occurrence of an Ugaritic description of El as the one of the Mountain Haman.
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Ba'al-Hamon (sometimes written Ba'al-Hammon, Ba'al Khamon, or Baal-Ammon) was a place mentioned in Song of Solomon 8:11. It was the location of a productive vineyard owned by Solomon, who let out the vineyard to tenants, each of whom was to bring him a thousand silver shekels. The locale has been supposed to be identical with Baal-gad, and also with Hammon in the tribe of Asher (Joshua 19:28). Others identify it with Belamon, in Central Palestine, near Dothaim. Some have suggested that it is not to be taken as a literal place, but a figurative indication to the wealthy realm over which Solomon ruled.
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