Reconstruction of the Baal temple. Baal was the patron deity of the city.
From the Enc. Britt.: Knowledge of Baal's personality and functions derives chiefly from a number of tablets uncovered from 1929 onward at Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra), in northern Syria, and dating to the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. The tablets, although closely attached to the worship of Baal at his local temple, probably represent Canaanite belief generally. Fertility was envisaged in terms of seven-year cycles. In the mythology of Canaan, Baal, the god of life and fertility, locked in mortal combat with Mot, the god of death and sterility. If Baal triumphed, a seven-year cycle of fertility would ensue; but, if he were vanquished by Mot, seven years of drought and famine would ensue.
Ross Burns stresses Baal was not the supreme deity, who was El, on which the Enc. Britt. has: the general term for “deity” in Semitic languages as well as the name of the chief deity of the West Semites. In the ancient texts from Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit) in Syria, El was described as the titular head of the pantheon, husband of Asherah, and father of all the other gods (except for Baal). His most common epithet was “the Bull,” but he was also sometimes called “Creator/Possessor of Heaven and Earth.” Although a venerable deity, he was not active in the myths, which primarily concerned his daughters and sons.
He was usually portrayed as an old man with a long beard and, often, two wings. He was the equivalent of the Hurrian god Kumarbi and the Greek god Cronus. In the Old Testament, El is commonly used as a synonym for Yahweh and less commonly as the general term for “deity.”