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One question, people say that (Psalm 29) was originally a Canaanite psalm for their storm god Baal-Hadad and there seems to be verses in (Psalm 29) which supports this. Especially with verse 3 which says:

"The Voice of Hashem is upon the waters, THE G-D OF GLORY THUNDERS; Hashem is over the vast waters."

Baal-Hadad was the son of the chief god El and he was also a weather, rain, storm and thunder god whose cult originated in Mesopotamia (originally called "Ishkur" in Sumer and "Haddad" in Akkad). So was this chapter adopted from the Canaanites but altered so that it could be a psalm for Hashem instead of Hadad? I've been confronted by this point brought up by atheists, and I have no idea how to answer.

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    I'm not following. So there's a Canaanite god of thunder, and since Psalm 29 says "The G-d of glory thunders" that's proof that it was originally praising the Canaanite god? How does that even make any sense? That's a very silly claim by those "atheists" you've met. It just doesn't have any support to it! Any other "proof" you could provide to why some believe this? Because at this point it seems the short answer is "no". – ezra Nov 26 '17 at 7:10
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+150

Samuel Sandmel popularized the term "parallelomania": extrapolating from the fact that two passages have some resemblance that they must have a literary connection, or that one was necessarily the source of the other.

Considering the fact that Canaanites lived alongside the Israelites in Canaan, similarities in their diction shouldn't be surprising. But a deity that has some connection to a storm is a very common trope, to the point that such a parallel is meaningless. To extrapolate further that the hypothetical Canaanite psalm to Baal is the source for Psalm 29 is parallelomania.

Finding parallels within the Bible itself is much more productive. Consider the following:

I Samuel 2:10

יְהוָ֞ה יֵחַ֣תּוּ מְרִיבָ֗ו עָלָו֙ בַּשָּׁמַ֣יִם יַרְעֵ֔ם יְהוָ֖ה יָדִ֣ין אַפְסֵי־אָ֑רֶץ וְיִתֶּן־עֹ֣ז לְמַלְכּ֔וֹ וְיָרֵ֖ם קֶ֥רֶן מְשִׁיחֽוֹ

"On them (or "the most high") in the heavens thunders"

Psalms 18:14 (= II Samuel 22:14):

וַיַּרְעֵ֬ם בַּשָּׁמַ֨יִם ׀ יְֽהוָ֗ה וְ֭עֶלְיוֹן יִתֵּ֣ן קֹל֑וֹ בָּ֝רָ֗ד וְגַֽחֲלֵי־אֵֽשׁ

"YHVH thunders in heaven"

Nahum 1:3

יְהוָ֗ה אֶ֤רֶךְ אַפַּ֨יִם֙ וגדול־ (וּגְדָל־) כֹּ֔חַ וְנַקֵּ֖ה לֹ֣א יְנַקֶּ֑ה יְהוָ֗ה בְּסוּפָ֤ה וּבִשְׂעָרָה֙ דַּרְכּ֔וֹ וְעָנָ֖ן אֲבַ֥ק רַגְלָֽיו

"His way is in storm and tempest"

Or even the prose description of God's descent on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:16):

וַיְהִי֩ בַיּ֨וֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁ֜י בִּֽהְיֹ֣ת הַבֹּ֗קֶר וַיְהִי֩ קֹלֹ֨ת וּבְרָקִ֜ים וְעָנָ֤ן כָּבֵד֙ עַל־הָהָ֔ר וְקֹ֥ל שֹׁפָ֖ר חָזָ֣ק מְאֹ֑ד וַיֶּֽחֱרַ֥ד כָּל־הָעָ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר בַּֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃

"And there was thunder and lightning, and a heavy cloud on the mountain"

Examining Psalm 29 in the context of these other sources shows it has ample context within the Bible itself.

  • Thank you! Your answer is very much appreciated! I hate to really see people who hate on the Tanakh (like atheists) and cherry-pick every single thing in the Tanakh to make it look bad or "mythological". I feel sick when I read their comments and speak with them when they do these kinds of things. – Sammy Dec 21 '17 at 13:34
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The Canaanite origin of this psalm was challenged by B. Margulis (1) on the grounds that midbar Kadesh (v. 9) refers to Sinai/Red Sea (not N. Syria, as the theory says) and "that subject of the poem was Yahweh, not Baal, and that its author was accordingly a Yahwist" (2). He also says that "the reverberations of this deity's activities are all consonant with the tradition associated with His epiphany (e.g. Jgs 5,4-3; Hb 3,3-5; Na 1,3-5; Pss 18, 50, 77, 97 etc)" (3).

Other scholars who do not accept the theory of the "Canaanite background" include Craigie (4), Cunchillos (5) and Loretz (6).


(1) B. Margulis, “The Canaanite Origin of Psalm 29 Reconsidered,” Bib 51 (1970): 332–48

(2) ibid. p. 346.

(3) ibid. p. 347.

(4) Craigie, P. C. 1979. "Parallel Word Pairs in Ugaritic Poetry: A Critical Evaluation of their Relevance for Psalm 29." Ugarit-Forschungen 11: 135-40.

(5) Cunchillos. J. L. 1976. Estudio del Salmo 29. Instituci6n San Jeronimo 6. Valencia.

(6) Loretz, 0. 1984. Psalm 29: Kanaaniiische El- und Baaltraditionen in judischer Sicht. Ugaritisch-Biblische Literatur 2. Altenberge.

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The OP's Question was "Was this Chapter adopted from Canaanites but altered so that it could be a psalm for Hashem instead of Hadad?" My answer is NO. There is no evidence, therefore "this Chapter" was not adopted. Elements within the Chapter do exist in earlier Ugaritic sources, which is not uncommon among the canonical writings. I would refer us to Michael Heiser's article, at http://drmsh.com/the-function-of-the-divine-council-in-heavenly-worship-piety-not-mysticism-part-3/ Section dealing with Ps 29: [edited by me for brevity - look it up] " Psalm 29:1–2: This praise psalm deals with the glory of the LORD... especially in nature. The sense of this psalm attributes glory and power over creation to [LORD] instead of to Baal. In so doing, I see the Ugaritic parallels as part of the overall rhetorical strategy of taking back what rightfully belongs to [LORD], which had been stolen by worshipers of Baal.

The psalm opens with a call to the beney ’elim, the sons of God, to give praise to [LORD]. By doing this, the writer begins “at the top” both in terms of cosmology and importance. He calls on the members of the top tier of the divine council to ascribe kavod to [LORD]. ...

  • Thanks, I appreciate it. I've been debating a few atheists and they kept on bringing this topic up, at some point I was annoyed and had to ask this question (since I don't know much of Biblical or ancient history). – Sammy Dec 21 '17 at 13:32

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