Baal-zephon or Baalsapunu, properly Ba P?n? or sapunu (Hebrew: ?; Akkadian: dIM Be-el ?UR.SAG ?a-zi; Hurrian: T?b ?lb?), was the form of the Canaanite storm god Ba?al (lit. "The Lord") in his role as lord of Mount Zaphon;[n 1] he is identified in the Ugaritic texts as Hadad. Because of the mountain's importance and location, it came to metonymously signify "north" in Hebrew; the name is therefore sometimes mistakenly given in translation as .[n 2] He was equated with the Greek god Zeus in his form and later with the Roman .
Because Ba?al Zaphon was considered a protector of maritime trade, sanctuaries were constructed in his honor around the Mediterranean by his Canaanite and Phoenician devotees. "Baal-zephon" thereby also became a placename, most notably a location mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures' Book of Exodus as the location where the Israelites miraculously crossed the Red Sea during their exodus from Egypt.
The name Ba?al Zaphon never appears in the mythological texts discovered at Ugarit. Instead, it occurs in guides to ritual and in letters, where it is used to differentiate this form of Ba?al from others such as Ba?al Ugarit. The earliest discovered depiction of the god--where he stands astride two mountains in a smiting posture--dates to the 18th century BC. Other depictions show him crowned and bearing a scepter. As a protector of maritime trade, his temples also received votive stone anchors.The treaty between Asarhaddon and King Ba?al of Tyre ranks Ba?al Zaphon third behind Ba?al Shamem and Ba?al Malage. In addition to his temple at Jebel Aqra and Ugarit, Ba?al Zaphon is known to have been worshipped at Tyre and Carthage and served as the chief god of the colony at Tahpanes.
A 14th-century letter from the king of Ugarit to the Egyptian pharaoh places Ba?al Zaphon as equivalent to Amun. Temples to Zeus Kasios are attested in Egypt, Athens, Epidauros, Delos, Corfu, Sicily, and Spain, with the last mention occurring on Rome's German border in the 3rd century.
The books of Exodus and Numbers in the Hebrew Scriptures records that the Israelites were instructed by YHWH to camp across from a place named "Ba?al Zaphon" in order to appear trapped and thereby entice the Pharaoh to pursue them:[n 3]
Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in. And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord. And they did so.
Gmirkin identified this as Arsinoe on the Gulf of Suez. A Ptolemaic-era geographical text at the Cairo Museum lists four border fortresses, the third being "Midgol and Ba?al Zaphon". In context, it appears to have been located on a route to the Red Sea coast, perhaps on the canal from Pithom to a location near Arsinoe.
According to Herodotus (who considered it to mark the boundary between Egypt and Syria), at Ras Kouroun, a small mountain near the marshy Lake Bardawil, the "Serbonian Bog" of Herodotus, where Zeus' ancient opponent Typhon was "said to be hidden". Here, Greeks knew, Baal Sephon was worshipped