Mike Swartwout writes:
"Though we have only indirect evidence, my suspicion is that Baal was a god who let you do as you please. I'm sure the high priest of Baal enjoyed a cozy life in Jezebel's kingdom because he gave Baal's stamp of approval to all she chose to do. 'Steal another man's vineyard? Of course! Baal always says that the king can do as he pleases!'
But God's prophets were constantly rebuking the kings/nobles/merchants for their injustice and oppression—especially of the widow, orphan and alien.
(This, in turn, is why I think that Josiah's renaissance was temporary—as soon as he was out of power, Judahites went back to selfish oppression. It wasn't that God refused to honor their repentance, but that Judah's repentance was a superficial change imposed by one king—once he was gone, it was back to business as usual.)
Given the choice between a God who told you to stop overindulging yourself and look out for the powerless in the kingdom, and a god who told you that the plight of the powerless was not your responsibility—or, stronger yet, that the powerless deserved their fate as surely as you deserved your trappings of power ... well, it's not a real surprise, is it?"
Chris Yarosh writes:
"Ever since Genesis, man has been trying to reconcile himself with God. For the Jews, this means following the Law, the outward sign of God's covenant. However, the Law is so strict and specific that it becomes overwhelming and too difficult to keep, especially compared to the abhorrent practices of the pagans who worship Baal. That is probably why the Jews ignore it so much despite the awesome presence of God in their midst. This is precisely the reason why St. Paul later advocates freedom from the Law for Christians, basing reconciliation and restoration instead on 'justification by faith.' Justification by faith more resembles Abraham's relationship to God. Abe had no Law and is not known for many 'good works,' but was credited as righteous anyway because of his loyalty to God."
James Hirschhorn writes:
"The local pagan religions seem to have had a very different attitude towards sex, treating it as a positive force essential for the fertility of the land. Ritualized intercourse with women attached to pagan shrines was part of the cult of fertility/mother goddesses like Astarte, and the pillars or columns sacred to Baal were phallic. Note how often the Jewish prophets denounce the 'harlotries,' 'lewdness,' or 'uncleanness' of the pagans. Judaism, and after it Christianity and Islam, view the sexual impulse in general and female sexuality in particular as sinful unless kept within very narrow bounds. That attitude—even more than the dietary lawsset the Jews apart from their pagan neighbors. It also meant, as it does today, that the God of the Jews had a hard time competing with the attitude that getting it on early and often was not only permissible but essential.
And as far as long run competition goes, there are a lot of Baalites around these days. We just call them post-Freudian, modern, enlightened or sophisticated."
Jim Lyle writes:
"Maybe [the Israelites were faithless] for the same reason that I wasn't faithful to a wife who deeply loved me? It wasn't about her. It was about me."