[b-hebrew] Baal-Hermon, Part I
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Mon Sep 8 10:23:04 EDT 2008
Baal-Hermon, Part I
Two ancient words from Ugarit in the Late Bronze Age, that were used in a
modified form by the Phoenicians in JEPD times, may hold the clue to
understanding “Baal-Hermon” in the Bible.
Ugarit has ’amn and hmn, both of which terms likely refer to a towering
mountain (though probably not to Mt. Hermon). One or both of these Ugaritic words
is probably the basis of the 1st millennium BCE Phoenician phrase “Baal Hamon”
, which JEPD would likely have known. At least to the Hebrews (though
probably not to the Phoenicians or to the people of Ugarit), “Baal Hamon” may have
been Baal-Hermon, hmn may have been Hermon or Mt. Hermon, and ’amn may have
been Amana, with these four Hebrew words referring either (i) to the three
summits, collectively, at the southern tip of the Anti-Lebanon mountain range, that
constituted the Hebrews’ northern border, or (ii) to individual names for two
of the three summits, where Baal-Hermon/Amana is the easternmost summit, and
Hermon/Mt. Hermon is the westernmost summit (with Shenir being the summit in
In Part II, I will type up a long scholarly quotation that documents ’amn and
hmn in Ugarit, and “Baal Hamon” as being a 1st millennium BCE Phoenician
inscription, with all three such words being mountain imagery words.
1. As is well known, the southern tip of the Anti-Lebanon mountain range,
which is the highest mountain area in greater Canaan, has three distinct
summits, of approximately equal height.
2. Usually the Hebrews referred to all three of these summits, collectively,
as “Hermon” or “Mt. Hermon” or, once, as “Hermons” (Psalms 42: 6). On
rare occasions, when the Hebrews were talking about what the Amorites, or the
local successors to the Amorites, were doing at that locale, the Hebrews referred
to the three summits, collectively, by their Amorite name: Shenir. Ezekiel
27: 5; Deuteronomy 3: 9
3. But sometimes the Hebrews referred to each one of the three summits by an
individual name. In that case, the easternmost summit was Amana or
Baal-Hermon. Shenir was the summit in the center, and Hermon or Mt. Hermon was the
“Amana” may or may not derive from Ugaritic ’amn, as discussed in Part II.
Hermon, Mt. Hermon and Baal-Hermon may or may not derive from Ugaritic hmn, as
discussed in Part II. It seems likely that either Baal-Hermon in Hebrew
derives from Baal Hamon in Phoenician, or at least is a similar phrase. As
discussed in Part II, all of these phrases are a very fitting description for a
towering mountain. Also as discussed in Part II, I myself see M-N as being the
ancient verbal root of all seven of these phrases, with ’amn and hmn effectively
meaning “towering mountain” in Ugaritic, and “Baal Hamon” meaning “lord
mountain” in Phoenician.
As I see it, all seven of these words or phrases -- ’amn, hmn, Baal Hamon,
Baal-Hermon, Hermon, Mt. Hermon, Amana -- are ideal words to refer to a towering
mountain. That is based on my view that the verbal root in all seven cases
is M-N, one of whose key meanings was “to be appointed to oversee” (per I
Chronicles 9: 29).
4. Sites on an east-west axis were usually set forth in the ancient world in
accordance with the sun’s path, that is, from east to west. Now I Chronicles
5: 23 (that you referenced) and Song of Solomon 4: 8 (that you did not
reference) make perfect sense, as each refers to each one of the three summits, in
identical order, from east to west:
“And the children of the half-tribe of Manasseh dwelt in the land, from
Bashan unto  Baal-hermon and  Senir and  mount Hermon, where they
increased.” I Chronicles 5: 23
“Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, with me from Lebanon; look from the
top of  Amana, from the top of  Senir and  Hermon, from the lions'
dens, from the mountains of the leopards.” Song of Solomon 4: 8
Note that if “Baal-Hermon” and “Amana” are one and the same mountain,
namely the easternmost summit at the southern tip of the Anti-Lebanon mountain
range, then all three summits are referred to in the identical order in these two
passages, from east to west, just as one would expect.
5. Your other Biblical cites now make perfect sense as well, with nothing
being “erroneous”, with there being no “ghost-names”, with Baal-Hermon n-o-t
meaning “the peak of Mt. Hermon”, and with Baal-Hermon n-o-t being a “city”
(a) Judges 3: 3 is referring to the easternmost of the three individual
summits: Mt. Baal-Hermon (alternatively called Amana). Lebo-Hamath (or Hamath)
is to the northeast, so the reference makes perfect sense.
“namely, the five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the
Zidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baal-hermon
unto the entrance of Hamath.” Judges 3: 3
(b) Joshua 13: 5 uses “Mt. Hermon” to refer to all three summits,
collectively, which is the most common usage (but not the only usage) of the
references to “Hermon” or “Mt. Hermon” in the Bible.
“and the land of the Gebalites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrising, from
Baal-gad under mount Hermon unto the entrance of Hamath”. Joshua 13: 5
“Baal-Gad” is not Baal-Hermon, but rather is a town at the foot of the
southern end of the Anti-Lebanon mountain range. The reference to “toward the
sunrising” is referring to the area east of the Lebanon mountain range. Both
Judges 3: 3 and Joshua 13: 5 may be including the Lebanon mountain range in their
description. Each description definitely excludes the coastal cities of
modern Lebanon, and definitely excludes all land south of Mt. Hermon (namely
* * *
I see the two Biblical references to Baal-Hermon as meaning the easternmost
of the three summits in the Mt. Hermon area, being identical to the one
Biblical use of Amana. In those cases, Hermon/Mt. Hermon meant only the westernmost
of those three summits (closest to the Hebrews). Usually, however, Hermon/Mt.
Hermon meant all three summits, collectively.
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