Question:

It is my understanding that the word "lord" means "baal." Can you shed some light on this?

Answer:

The word baal is a root word in Hebrew and other Semitic languages which can mean lord, owner, master, possessor, or husband depending on the context in which it is used.

Owner

"If an ox gores a man or a woman to death, then the ox shall surely be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be acquitted" (Exodus 21:28).

Master

"If the thief is not found, then the master of the house shall be brought to the judges to see whether he has put his hand into his neighbor's goods" (Exodus 22:8).

Possessor

"And his mother's brothers spoke all these words concerning him in the hearing of all the men of Shechem; and their heart was inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, "He is our brother"" (Judges 9:3).

"A present is a precious stone in the eyes of its possessor; Wherever he turns, he prospers" (Proverbs 17:8).

Husband

"When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband" (II Samuel 11:26).

Lord

"For the fields of Heshbon languish, And the vine of Sibmah; The lords of the nations have broken down its choice plants, Which have reached to Jazer And wandered through the wilderness. Her branches are stretched out, They are gone over the sea" (Isaiah 16:8).

Most often you find baal attached to the name of a place, in which case it indicates a location that possesses some feature or where something is found, such as Baal Tamar, which means "the owner of palm trees" in Judges 20:33.

A lot of the Canaanite deities had baal as part of their names. The one most often mentioned as just plain Baal in the Scriptures refers to Baal Haddu, the Canaanite war god who was supposed to have been the husband of Asharoth, the fertility goddess. Storms bring fertility to dry lands, so Baal served as the male counterpart of fertility rites.

But most of the time when you see "lord" in the Old Testament, this word is translating the Hebrew word adonai, a reference to God, or the Hebrew word adown, which means sovereign, lord, or master. When spelled in all capitals, "LORD" is translating the Hebrew word yahweh, which is another reference to God.