My iGoogle homepage displays photos of various “sacred” sites all over the world, and today I was greeted by a “Temple of Bel” in Palmyra, Syria… [EDIT: The site originally carrying the image seems to have gone away or at the least is having great difficulties. So I am replacing it here with two images from www.traveladventures.org. Head there if you would like to read more. I actually like these pictures better, and TravelAdventures.org does allow downloading of their pictures, for which I have sent them a note of thanks. Very nice of them!]
Wikipedia (which all of us trust explicitly, no?) suggests that the temple is over 3,000 years old, which suggests that it existed during the reign of King Solomon. Plus, the city is mentioned in Scripture as being fortified by Solomon in 2 Chronicles 8:4 by it’s original Aramaic name, Tadmor, and possibly in 1 Kings 9:8 as by a name variant, Tamar, although the Sacred Destinations site points out that “Tamar” could be a different city. Both the city’s Greek name (Palmyra) and its Aramaic name (Tadmor) are mentioned by Josephus, who says that Solomon built it and calls it a “very great city” (Antiquities 8.5.1).
So, I wonder… When Solomon began to turn away from God due to the influence of the pagan wives he had allowed himself to accumulate (1 Kings 11:4), did he worship Bel (or Bol, or Ba’al) here at this temple? In fact, since he was apparently not averse to actually building pagan worship centers for his wives (1 Kings 11:7), is it at all possible that Solomon, himself, used his wealth to have this temple built or expanded?
If so (and, I suppose, even if not!), it is interesting that one of the adversaries that God raised up against Solomon after his apostatizing was named “Hadad” (1 Kings 11:14…25), which is another name for Ba’al.
Anyway — I post it here, today, for those who might find it an interesting stroll.
If I don’t get to post again, today, have a fantastic and profitable Sabbath! May tomorrow’s sunset find each of us closer to God than tonight’s.