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“Back in the days of the exodus, and later in the days of the prophet Samuel, and still later in the time of Elijah and beyond, there was a prominent and pervasive form of idol worship known as Baalism. Baal was a God of the Canaanites, whose land Israel conquered. But there's far more to the story than that.

The Hebrew would baal means simply ‘lord’ or ‘master’ (even husband in some cases). It was the name not only of the primary Canaanite deity but also the God of Tyre (who was also called Melqart), the god of Mount Peor, and the God of the Akkadians (also called Hadad).

This god, Baal, could be found nearly everywhere in ancient society in one form or another. He seemed easily to infiltrate differing cultures including Israelite culture. Baal worship seemed to hold on stubbornly and return regularly in spite of frequent and courageous attempts to expel him.

In these respects Baal (the false god of ancient Canaan) is much like money, a modern American Idol. This idol takes many forms -not only dollars, but also gold, silver, yen, pounds, francs, deutsche marks and more. It is pervasive: one needs only to read the Wall Street Journal or Fortune magazine; scan the daily stories of merger, scandal and economic conquest; read ads promising strong yields, quick returns, and fail- safe schemes; attend gatherings promising a piece of the action. And this modern Baal has infiltrated the church itself, where it holds on stubbornly and returns easily despite efforts to expel it.

When Jesus said, in the Sermon on the Mount, ‘You cannot be slaves of God and money,’ (Matt. 6:24), he could have used a half a dozen Greek words for money:

Argurion (Matt. 25:18, 27; Luke 9:3)
chrema ( Acts 4:37; 8: 18, 20)
chalkos (Mark 6:8; 12:41)
stater (Matt. 17:27)
nomisma (Matt. 22:19)
philarguria (1 Tim. 6:10)

But he used none of these terms. Instead he used the word mamonas or mammon. That single word puts his comment in a different light. Richard foster writes;

‘When Jesus uses the Aramaic term mammon to refer to wealth, he is giving it a personal and spiritual character. When he declares ‘You cannot serve God and mammon (Matt. 6:24), he is personifying mammon as a rival God.’” (Bob Hostetler, American Idols, 2006, p. 189-190)

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