by Mark Raines
1. Qadash Kinahnu, A Canaanite-Phoenician Temple [downloaded from this URL in 2000 http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Lofts/2938/majdei.html ]
"Jews, Christians, and Muslims usually lead adherents to believe that El simply translates to God, and is just one of the titles of the God they worship. They are right - to a point. El is simply a title, and it is one of the titles of the father god. But it is not only Jews, Christians, and Muslims who have worshiped Him. In fact, before Judaism ever existed (let alone Christianity or Islam), El was worshiped as the chief of the Canaanite pantheon. El has many intriguing titles such as Father of Humanity, the Creator of Creatures, and the King, the Father of Time. He is, without doubt, the god of the desert religions, since Abraham specifically called his god by this title: El Elyon. From the Bible, El also receives these titles: Eternal Father, El the Eternal One, and Ancient of Days.
But who is He? He is an ancient sky God, depicted as an old bearded man sitting upon His throne on the mountain between the two rivers which are the source of the world's oceans. As children, many of us pictured God as a bearded old man. You may never have heard the Ugaritic myths of El, but through genetic memory the truth of his elderliness rang out to you. However, this certainly does not mean that El is a powerless God. He is the undisputed leader of the pantheon, more powerful even than the great Ba'al (his son who died and was resurrected by El's daughter Anat). El is seen as unapproachable on His mountain, and the ancient Canaanite religion believed that a mediatrix, a go-between, was needed to send prayers to El.
This is true of the God of the desert religions as well. In Catholicism there is a tradition that Mary is the Mediatrix, who takes prayers before Yeshua and El. This continues an ancient tradition, in which Asherah (Lady of the Sea, who shares many similarities with Mary) takes petitions to El. Within all of Christianity, Yeshua himself is seen as the Mediatrix. Within Judaism, prayers are taken to El via the angels. But, according to the most ancient myths, He cannot hear them directly. This goes back to the ancient Canaanite myths, whether we knew it or not.
And let us not forget that our God, the God of the desert religions, is like this El in yet another significant way - He is constantly being spoken to on mountains and high places. Where did Moses commune with God? Mount Sinai. Where was the Temple built? Mount Moriah. Where did Yeshua give the beatitudes and pray frequently to His Father? Mount Olivet. What was seen as one of the most sacred places in Jerusalem? Mount Tsion. El, our God and their God, is a God of High Places! Perhaps that is why Melchizedek and Abraham gave him the title El Elyon, or God Most High.
But El has evolved over the years, or at least our vision of Him has evolved. He was originally seen as a distant God, always in need of a go-between to send prayers to Him. This tradition carried over into Judaism and Christianity to a lesser degree, but now it is almost gone. He was also not the only God, but the King of many Gods. This, too, carried over into Judaism until the time of the patriarchal prophets. Some of the prophets were allegedly able to defeat the prophets of Ba'al, but this is something any Canaanite priest could have predicted, and does not mean that Ba'al and the other Gods did not exist. El was the King of the Gods, more powerful even than Ba'al, so naturally His prophets would defeat Ba'al's. Indeed, Moses did not say that El commanded the Jews not to have any other Gods at all - the original translation says that there should be no other Gods before Him, implying that there were other Gods and that they could be worshiped as long as they were not worshiped more or as greater than El Himself. Remember that the apostates at Mount Sinai abandoned El completely for the golden calf - they were not worshiping El alongside the idol, but were worshiping the idol alone".