Baal's Mountain: Mount Casius
Baal's mountain was biblical Zaphon, known in Ugaritic as Sapan, in Hittite and Hurrian as Mount Hazzi, in Akkadian as Ba'lisapuna, in Greek and Latin as Casius (< Kasios), and in modern Arabic as Jebel 'el-Aqra', which stands at a height of 5,660 ft. about 25 miles north of Ras Shamra and 2.5 miles from the coast. Sapan was the site of both Baal's palace and his divine battle with Yamm/Lotan and (later) Mot (cf. KTU 1.1 V 5; 1.6 VI 1-2, 12-13, 33-35). Similarly the Hurrian-Hittite myth of Ullikumi places the conflict between the Storm-god and Ullikumi at Mount Hazzi (cf. ANET 123,8; 205,3), and Zeus similarly fights Typhon and other monsters on Mount Casius (cf. Apollodorus Bibl. I 5.3.7; Iliad 2.782f; Hesiod, Theogony, 820f). Biblical allusions to the mythological battle between Yahweh and dragon appear in Psalm 74:13; 89:9-10; Isaiah 27:1 51:9-10; Revelation 12:7-9, though none of them locate the conflict on a mountain. Familiarity with Zaphon as Baal's abode is evident in the toponym Baal-Zephon in Exodus 14:1, 9, Numbers 33:7.
There are numerous references in the OT to Zaphon as Yahweh's holy mountain, resulting through an identification between Yahweh and Baal. Since Yahweh also merges with El in Israelite religion, the biblical texts conflate Zaphon with El's abode as well as the "mountain of assembly" (where the "divine council" meets). Helal, son of Shahar (the twin brother of Shalam, the god of sunset), declares in Isaiah 14:13-14: "I will sit on the Mount of Assembly in the recesses of Zaphon. I will climb to the top of thunderclouds, I will rival the Most High." Here Zaphon is paired with "the top of thunderclouds", meterological language suitable for Baal, but it is also assigns Zaphon to El (by referring to the "Most High", an epithet of El) and equates it with the mount where the divine council meets. The phrase yarkete zaphon "recesses of Zaphon" also occurs in Psalm 48:3 where it is equated with Zion, Yahweh's holy mountain in Judah:
"Yahweh is great and supremely to be praised, in the city of our God, the holy mountain (hr-qdsw), beautiful where it rises, joy of the whole world; Mount Zion, in the recesses of Zaphon (yrkty zpn), the city of the great king; here among her palaces, God proved to be her fortress." (Psalm 48:1-3)
There is also thought to be an allusion to Zaphon in Psalm 27 through word-play: "One thing I ask of Yahweh, one thing I seek; to live all the days of my life in the house of Yahweh (byt-yhwh), to enjoy the pleasant place of Yahweh (bn'm-yhwh) and to consult him in his temple (bhyklw). For he shelters me (yzpnny) under his awning in times of trouble; he hides me deep in his tent, sets me high on a rock....If my father and mother desert me, Yahweh will shelter me (y'zpny) still" (27:4-5, 10). In this text, zpn "hide, shelter" describes something that happens at "the house of Yahweh" and "his temple"; moreover bn'm "pleasant place" stands in parallel with "his temple" which occurs in reference to Baal's palace in KTU 1.3 III 31. Another reference to Zaphon occurs in Job 26:7:
"He [Yahweh] stretches Zaphon upon chaos (zpn'l-thw), and suspends the earth on nothingness." (Job 26:7)
The parallelism with "earth" suggests that Zaphon, as Yahweh's abode, is here used as a poetic synonym for "heaven". Thus in Isaiah 40:22, 42:5; 44:24, Yahweh is said to "stretch out" the heavens. The connection between "heaven" and Mount Zaphon however is apparent in Isaiah 14:12-13 where Zaphon and "Mount of Assembly" are both paralleled with "the heavens", "higher than the stars of God", and "the top of thunderclouds". The connection with the mountain is also apparent in what Zaphon is stretched over: "chaos" (thw). This word occurs in Genesis 1:1 (as thw-w-bhw) in reference to primeval chaos and may be related to Hebrew thwm in Genesis 1:2 which refers to the watery deep (but cf. Deuteronomy 32:10 Job 6:18, Psalm 107:40 where thw refers to the waste of the desert). It is tempting to see in Job 26:7 an allusion to Baal's palace in Zaphon being built over the carcass of Yamm (the primeval chaos monster), but thw is paralleled with "nothingness" which suggests instead that heavenly Mount Zaphon (and the rest of the earth, by extention) is stretched over the subterranean primeval waters. This notion borrows from the imagery associated with El's mountainous abode, and might reflect further conflation between El and Baal in Israelite tradition. Finally, there is an obscure reference in Job 37:22 that "from Zephon comes gold" (mzpwn zhb y'th), and while this could refer to mining at Mount Casius, this is unlikely in the context referring to divine heavenly splendor. However gold is associated with Baal's palace at Sapan in Canaanite myth. Kothar builds Baal's palace in KTU 1.3 I and he "pours gold by the myriads," producing a throne "adorned with red gold" and golden shoes in his "golden palace". Later on, after the defeat of Baal, Anat declares: "I have smitten for silver, and have repossessed the gold from the one would drive Baal from the heights of Sapan" (KTU 1.3 IV 46-V 1). Prince Yamm also refers to Baal's gold as spoils:
"Standing, make your speech and repeat your instructions. So tell Bull El my father, repeat to the Assembled Council: 'Decree of Yamm, your Master, your Lord, Judge River, 'Give up, you gods, the one you obey, the one you obey, you multitude. Give up Baal that I may humble him, the Son of Dagan that I may seize his gold." (KTU 1.2 I 16-19)
One text in the OT that clearly refers to Baal's palace on Mount Zaphon is Psalm 29, which is widely regarded as originally a Canaanite hymn to Baal. The psalm is rich in Baalist motifs (cf. the bull motif in v. 6, Yahweh's voice being likened to thunder in vs. 3-4, 7-8, lightning shafts as weapons in v. 7, etc.), the geography of the psalm pertains specifically to Lebanon and Syria (cf. Lebanon in v. 5, Sirion in 6, the northern Kadesh in 7, the descriptions of forests of ceders and terebinths in vs. 5 and 9), and a higher level of alliteration is achieved by substituting the name Baal for Yahweh, cf. "The voice of Yahweh in power, the voice of Yahweh in splendor" (qwl yhwh bkch, qwl yhwh bhdr)," versus "The voice of Baal in power, the voice of Baal in splendor" (qwl b'l bkch, qwl b'l bhdr) in v. 4. The psalm explicitly refers to the enthronment of Yahweh in his divine "palace":
"Pay tribute to Yahweh, you sons of El (bny-'lym), tribute to Yahweh of glory and power, tribute to Yahweh of the glory of his name, worship Yahweh in his sacred court. The voice of Yahweh over the waters! Yahweh over the multitudinous waters! The El of glory ('l-kbwd) thunders ... In his palace everything cries, 'Glory!' Yahweh sat enthroned over the Flood, Yahweh sits enthroned as a king forever." (Psalm 29:1-3, 9-10)
The reference to Yahweh enthroned over "multitudinous waters" (mym) and over "the Flood" (mbwl) calls to mind the location of El's abode over the subterranean ocean. The reference to Yahweh as the "El of glory" might suggest some conflation between El and Baal traditions. On the other hand, as suggested above re Job 26:7, Zaphon itself may have been placed over the deeps of the netherworld like El's mountain.
El's Mountain: Mount Hamon and Hermon
According to KTU 1.1 III 12, El's mountain is called ks, or Mount Kasi. The similarity with the name with Greek and Latin Casius had led some to identify El's abode with Zephon, on the theory that Baal took over El's abode and gave it a new name. However texts suggest that Kasi and Sapan were separate mountains belonging to the two different gods, so Kasi is probably derived from the word for "cup" (cf. Hebrew kos, Akkadian kasu), and later Greek and Latin writers associated the name with the wrong mountain. Literary and iconographic evidence shows that El's home existed in the midst of water. According to KTU 1.100.2, El's abode lay "at the springs of the Two Rivers, at the meeting-place of the Double-Deeps" (mbk nhrm b'dt thmtm). The expression "Double-Deeps" suggest a cosmological picture where the peak of El's mountain joined the two cosmic oceans, the upper heavenly waters and the lower subterranean waters. An Israelite reflex of the notion appears in Psalm 42:7-8 in the phrase "in Mount Misar, deep to deep calls" (thwm-'lthwm qwr'). A late survival of this motif may also be found in the Quran (Sura 18:60), which refers to a cosmological "junction of the two seas" (majma'a albahrayni) at the extremity of the world. The concept of a mountain reaching into heaven which joins the heavenly waters with the subterranean waters also occurs in 1 Enoch:
"And they [angels] took me into a place of whirlwind in the mountain, the top of the mountain was reaching into heaven. And I saw chambers of light and thunder in the ultimate end of the depth toward the place where the bow, the arrow, and their quiver and a fiery sword and all lightnings were [i.e. motifs of Baal storm theopany]. And they lifted me up unto the waters of life.... And I saw all the great rivers and reached to the great darkness and went into the place where all flesh must walk cautiously [i.e. Sheol]. And I saw the mountains of the dark storms of the rainy season and from where the waters of all the seas flow." (1 Enoch 17:1-8)
The motif of Yahweh's mountain Zion standing at the source of primeval subterranean waters appears in Isaiah 33:20-22, Ezekiel 47:1-22; Joel 4:18, Zechariah 14:8, 1 Enoch 26:1-2, and is alluded to in Matthew 7:24-25, 16:18, and John 7:38. In later Jewish tradition, the foundation for the Temple was believed to have kept the subterranean floods at bay; it was said to be the stone on which the world is based (Yoma 54b), and David was said to have removed the stone in his search for the great Abyss (Yer Sanh. x. 29a; Suk. 53a). Likening the Qumran community to the Temple, the Thanksgiving Hymns utilize the ancient cosmological concept to connote their struggle against the forces of Satan:
"As the Abysses boil above the foundations of the waters, their towering waves and billows shall rage with the voice of their roaring; and as they rage, Sheol and Abaddon shall open and all the flying arrows of the Pit shall send out their voice to the Abyss. And the gates of Sheol shall open on all the works of vanity and the doors of the Pit shall close on the conceivers of wickedness.....The torrents of Belial shall break into Abaddon, and the deeps of the Abyss shall groan amid the roar of the heaving mud.... The heavenly hosts shall cry out and the world's foundations shall swagger and sway....The deeps resound to my groaning and my soul has journeyed to the gates of death. (1QH 11:16-19, 32-35)
The waters on El's mountain however are not dammed up but flow and water creation. In the Gilgamesh Epic (11.194-96), the abode of the gods lies "at the mouth of the rivers" (ina pi narati), and an Akkadian seal from Mari similarly depicts "a god of the type of El enthroned, between the springs of two streams, on a mountain. He is flanked by two vegetarian goddesses who grow out from the waters" (O. Keel, "Ancient Seals and the Bible," JAOS 1986:309). This recalls the description of the paradise of Eden in Genesis 2:10-44, watered by four rivers springing up in Eden, which according to Ezekiel 28:13-14 was located in "the holy mountain of God//the gods" (hr qds 'lhym). 1 Enoch 25:1-5 also depicts the tree of life as located on the holy mountain of God:
"This tall mountain which you saw whose summit resembles the throne of God is indeed his throne, on which the Holy and Great Lord of Glory, the Eternal King, will sit when he descends to visit the earth with goodness. And as for this fragrant tree, not a single human being has the authority to touch it until the great judgment. This is for the righteous and the pious. And the elect will be presented with its fruit for life." (1 Enoch 25:1-5; cf. Jubilees 4:26 which pairs the "Garden of Eden" with "the Mount of the East")
The language used to describe El's abode also has parallels in the OT. In the Ugaritic material, we find three main descriptions of the waters at El's abode: (1) "the springs of the Double Rivers" (mbk nhrm), (2) "the channels of the Double-Deeps" ('apq thmtm), and (3) "the meeting-place of the Double-Deeps" (b'dt thmtm). The first two expressions occur in the OT in various forms with reference to the subterranean underworld (Genesis 6:11; Job 28:9-11, 38:16-17; Psalm 18:16), with the springs, channels, and sources of the seas and rivers lying beneath mountains and within Sheol.
The terrestial identification of El's mountain is problematic. As mentioned earlier, it is probably not Mount Casius where Baal's abode lay. Frank Moore Cross suggested Mount Amanus, situated on the north Syrian coast, as the locale of El's mountain on the basis of the Punic epithet b'l hmn "lord of the Amanus," which represents a late convergence between El and Baal. Mark Smith also points out that the iconography of Baal Hamon resembles that of El. However Ugaritic texts mention both a Mount hmn and a Mount 'mn, and it is unclear whether both refer to the same mountain or to different peaks in the same range. One curious piece of evidence relates to the throne-name of Roman emperor Elegabalus (< 'el jebel "El of the mountain") who ruled form A.D. 203 to 222. Syrian by birth, Elebagalus brought a statue of Tanit to Rome and identified his wife with the goddess Tanit and himself with the god Elagabal -- replicating the heavenly couple Baal Hamon and Tanit. An identification of El's home with Mount Hamon would fit with coastal Phoenician culture, but evidence suggests that the location shifted depending on the local geographical circumstances. Thus the Gilgamesh Epic and the Elkunirsa legend (cf. ANET 519) place the abode at the headwaters of the Euphrates, north of Carchemish by the Mala River. The Canaanites living in Palestine, dependent on the Jordan River as their main water source, would have looked to Mount Hermon as the abode of El. This is exactly what we find in Psalm 42:4-7 which locates God's "house" at Mount Hermon where the two deeps meet:
"I am on my way to the wonderful Tent, to the House of God, among cries of joy and praise and an exultant throng. Why so downcast, my soul, why do you sigh within me? Put your hope in God, I shall praise him yet, my savior, my God. When my soul is downcast within me, I think of you; from the land of Jordan and in Hermon, in Mount Misar deep is calling to deep as your cataracts roar." (Psalm 42:4-7)
Mount Misar refers to a hill in the Hermon range near the source of the Jordan. The reference to God's house as a tent also parallels the description of El's abode in KTU 1.2 III 4-5: "Then he heads toward El at the springs of the Double-Rivers, amidst the channels of the Double-Deeps. He comes to the mountain of El and enters the tent of the King, the Father of Years." This suggests that while Judah looked to Zion or Horeb as the seat of Yahweh on earth, the northern kingdom of Israel (especially the tribes of Dan and Naphtali) looked to Hermon or Gerizim where Shechem was located. Later evidence relating to Mount Hermon can be found in the pseudepigrapha and in rabbinical literature. In the Testament of Levi, Levi has a vision on Mount Hermon (called Gebel Abila or "mountain of Abilene" in 6:1; cf. 2:6, 6:9) of God's throne and the deeps trembling in heaven (3:9). Mount Hermon is also the portal between heaven and earth in 1 Enoch 6:6 where the fallen angels come to earth. Bereshith Rabbah 33 (67a) says that "three springs of Palestine and vicinity remained open after the Flood: the springs of Tiberias, Abeleni (i.e. Abilene) and the one of the Jordan, issuing from the cave at Banias." The association between Abilene and the waters of Hermon can be seen in the ancient name of the town as Abel-mayim "waters of Abel" in 2 Chronicles 16:4.
Mount of Assembly: Mount Lallar or Mount Hermon
Finally, there was also Mount Lalu, known from KTU 1.2 I 20 as the meeting-place of the divine assembly, a Canaanite version of Mount Olympus. The two different names would suggest two separate mountains, though it is possible that the same mountain had two names. If the mountain is separate from El's abode, it might be identical to Mount Lallar at the southern extremity of the Amanus range, mentioned in the records of Shalmanezer III (cf. ANET 278). However other evidence points to Hermon, or the Hermon range. According to a late Old Babylonian fragment of the Epic of Gilgamesh (ANET 504, 5:C:13), "the dwelling-place of the Anunnaki" is in the area of "the Sirion and the Lebanon ranges" (sa-ri-a u la-ab-na-na). 1 Enoch 6:6-7 also locates the earthly assembly of the fallen angels on Mount Hermon:
"And they were altogether two hundred; and they descended into 'Ardos, which is the summit of Hermon. And they called the mount Armon, for they swore and bound one another by a curse. And their names are as follows: Semyaz, the leader of Arakeb, Rame'el, Tam'el, Ram'el, Dan'el, Ezeqel, Baraqyal, As'el, Armaros, Batar'el, Anan'el, Zaqe'el, Sasomaspwe'el, Kestar'el, Tur'el, Yamayol, and Arazyal." (1 Enoch 6:6-7)
The most explicit reference to the divine assembly in the Baal Cycle occurs here: "The boys depart, they do not sit still. Immediately they head to Mount Lalu, to the Assembled Council (phr m'd). Meanwhile the gods ('lm) sit down to feast, the holy ones (qds) dine, Baal waits on El" (1.2 I 19-21). The divine council is also called "the sons of El" and "the gathering of the gods" ('dt 'lm) in KTU 1.15 II 7, 11. Similarly we read later in Baal Cycle: "Asherah went home to the court of El. She came before the divine council, and spoke of her plan to the gods, her children." Later Phoenician expressions for the divine council include "the assembly of the holy gods of Byblos" (mphrt 'l gbl qdsm) and "all the circle of the divine sons". Psalms 82:1 and 89:5-10 are closest to the traditional Canaanite conception, which refer to the deities as "the council of El" ('dw 'l), "sons of Elyon" (in Canaanite mythology, Elyon is an epithet of El), "gods" ('lhym), "council of holy ones in heaven," and "sons of El" (bn 'l ). Psalm 82:1, 6 says that Yahweh "stands in the assembly of El [Heb. 'dw 'l], among the gods ['lwhm] he dispenses justice...You are gods ('lym), all of you are sons of Elyon (bny-'l'wn)." Psalm 89:5-10 even more vividly evokes the Canaanite notion of the divine assembly, where Yahweh takes the traditional place of Baal:
Yahweh, the council of holy ones (qhl qdsym) in heaven applaud the marvel of your faithfulness. Who in the skies can compare with Yahweh? Which of the sons of El (bn 'l) can rival him? El ('l), dreaded in the council of holy ones (swd-qdsym), great and terrible to all around him, Yahweh, God of Sabaoth, who is like you? Mighty Yahweh, clothed in your faithfulness! You control the pride of the Sea (ym = Yamm), when its waves ride high, you calm them; you split Rahab in two like a carcase (rchb = Yamm-like chaos monster) and scattered your enemies with your mighty arm." (Psalm 89:5-10)
There are two allusions of the divine Mount of Assembly in the OT, in both cases equating it with El's abode. Ezekiel 28, in an oracle delivered against the Phoenician king Ittobaal II of Tyre, has the king sitting on the "holy mountain of the gods" (hr qds 'lhym) in v. 14 and 16 who then declares:
"I am El ('l) in the dwelling of the gods ('lhym); I dwell in the midst of the seas (ymym)." (Ezekiel 28:2)
Here again we have an allusion to the throne of El being at the meeting place of the heavenly ocean and the subterranean ocean. This parody of Canaanite and Phoenician myth is quite consistent with Ugaritic cosmology, except it clearly locates the divine assembly in El's abode. The second reference to the Mount of Assembly, as we have already seen, thoroughly merges Baal and El motifs as it simultaneously conflates Baal's abode with the Mount of Assembly:
"I will climb up to the heavens; and higher than the stars of El (kwkby-'l) I will set my throne. I will sit on the Mount of Assembly (hr-mw'd) in the recesses of Zaphon (yrkty zpn). I will climb to the top of thunderclouds, I will rival Elyon ('l'wn)." (Isaiah 14:13-14)
The "stars of El" refers to the divine assembly, cf. Job 38:7 which refers to the day of creation when "all the stars (kwkby) of morning were singing with joy and the sons of God (bny-'lhym) were chanting praise". The Hebrew word mw'd that refers to the Mount of Assembly is the same one in the Baal Epic that refers to the "Assembled Council" (phr m'd) on Mount Lalu (KTU 1.2 I 19-21). Here however the Mount of Assembly is identified with Mount Zaphon, where Elyon (i.e. El) holds his dominion on the top of thunderclouds (i.e. Baal). The mixing of epithets and motifs of El and Baal is characteristic of Judean Yahwism.
(This post incorporates a lot of information from Mark Smith's 1994 volume on the Ugaritic Baal Cycle.)