The idea which has long prevailed that Baal was properly a sky-god affords no explanation of the local character of the many baals; on the other hand, on the theory of a higher development where the gods become heavenly or astral beings, the fact that ruder conceptions of nature were still retained (often in the unofficial but more popular forms of cult) is more intelligible.
Probably there was little externally to distinguish the prophet of Yahweh in the days of Samuel from the CanaanitePhoenician prophets of Baal and Asherah (1 Kings xviii.
The great difficulty which has been felt by investigators in determining the character and attributes of the god Baal mainly arises from the original.
Accordingly, whenever His presence and power were displayed in places where the Canaanite Baal had been worshipped, they came to be attached to these spots.
Heliopolis was made a colonia probably by Octavian (coins of 1 st century A.D.), and there must have been a Baal temple there in which Trajan consulted the oracle.
A specific Baal of the heavens appears to have been known among the Hittites in the time of Rameses II., and considerably later, at the beginning of the 7th century, it was the title of one of the gods of Phoenicia.
Both Baal and Astarte were venerated in Egypt at Thebes and Memphis in the XIXth Dynasty, and the former, through the influence of the Aramaeans who borrowed the Babylonian spelling Bel, ultimately became known as the Greek Belos who was identified with Zeus.
For when Yahweh gradually became Israel's local Baal he became worshipped like the old Canaanite deity, and all the sensuous accompaniments of Kedeshoth,' as well as the presence of the asherah or sacred pole, became attached to his cult.
In honour of his wife's god, the king, following the example of Solomon, erected a temple to the Tyrian Baal (see above).
The cult of the Baal of Tyre followed Jezebel to the royal city Samaria and even found its way into Jerusalem.