And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord,
&c.] Openly and publicly, boldly and impudently, in the very face of God, and amidst all the good things they received from him, which were aggravating circumstances of their sins; what the evil was they did is next observed:
and served Baalim;
the idol Baal, as the Arabic version, of which there were many, and therefore a plural word is used; to which the apostle refers ( 1 Corinthians 8:5 ) ; for the word signifies "lords", and there were Baalpeor, Baalzebub, Baalberith and who seem to have their name from Bal, Bel, or Belus, a king of Babylon after Nimrod, and who was the first monarch that was deified, the Jupiter of the Heathens. Theophilus of Antioch F16 says, that, according to the history of Thallus, Belus the king of the Assyrians, whom they worshipped, was older than the Trojan war three hundred twenty two years; and that some call Cronus or Saturn Bel and Bal; by the Assyrians called Bel, and in the Punic or Phoenician language Bal F17.
F16 Ad Autolyc. l. 3. p. 138, 139. Vid. Lactant. de fals. Relig. l. 1. c. 23.
F17 Servius in Virgil. Aeneid. 1. prope finem.