Statue of Baʿal Hammon on his throne with a crown and flanked by sphinxes, 1st century.
Baal Hammon, properly Baʿal Ḥammon or Ḥamon (Phoenician: 𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤇𐤌𐤍 baʿal ḥamūn; Punic: bʻl ḥmn), was the chief god of Carthage. He was a weather god considered responsible for the fertility of vegetation and esteemed as King of the Gods. He was depicted as a bearded older man with curling ram's horns. Baʿal Ḥammon'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 fifth century BC, after relations between Carthage and Tyre were broken off at the time of the Battle of Himera (480 BC). 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.
The interpretatio graeca 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 festival of 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 (Amunus in Philo's work) was a fertility god.
Name and functions
The meaning of "Hammon" 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 Northwest Semitic ḥammān ("brazier") has been proposed, suggesting the sense "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.
Ba'al Hamon was a place mentioned in the Song of Solomon. 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.
- Krahmalkov, Charles R. (2000). Phoenician-Punic Dictionary. Leuven: Peeters. p. 113. ISBN 90-429-0770-3.
- Brouillet, Monique Seefried, ed. From Hannibal to Saint Augustine: Ancient Art of North Africa from the Musee du Louvre. Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University: Atlanta GA, 1994.
- Serge Lancel. Carthage: A History. p. 195.
- Moscati, Sabatino (2001). The Phoenicians. Tauris, p. 132. ISBN 1-85043-533-2
- "Carthaginian Religion". Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2017-08-04.
- Roberto Peter Bongiovanni (2014). In Tunisia also, a culture is called "Baali" if it is conducted without irrigation, or at the grace of God. "The Interchange of Plain Velar and Aspirate in Kronos/Chronos: A Case for Etymological Equivalence". Master's thesis at CUNY.
- Robert E.A. Palmer, Rome and Carthage at Peace (Franz Steiner, 1997), pp. 63–64.
- Serge Lancel (1995). Carthage: A History, p197.
- Walbank, Frank William (1979). A Historical Commentary on Polybius, Volume 2, Clarendon Press, p. 47
- Edward Lipinski, Dictionnaire de la civilisation phenicienne et punique (1992: ISBN 2-503-50033-1).
- Cross, Frank Moore (1973). Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic. Harvard University Press. p. 26-28. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
- Song of Solomon 8:11.
- Joshua 19:28
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