Two events made a profound impression on me as a young student, and now, decades later, I realize how formative they were for setting the direction of my interests in the study of the religious imagination. The first event, textual in nature, was triggered by an apparently dry, legal term in the Mishnah that referred to certain fields as sedeh ba'al (Shevi'it 2:9). In context,this could only mean a field that depended on rainfall (not irrigation). It was thus possible to wonder whether this designation gave mythic expression to a field fructified by the ancient Canaanite god of the stormâ"Baal. But how could this be? And if it could, perhaps this was merely a dead metaphor with no living force. A trip to the Talmud turned me upside down; for there Rav Judah is reported as saying that "rain is the husband (ba'ala) of the soil" (Ta'anit 6b). This is certainly no myth, though it may be the stepson of a myth; and the biblical proof text offered by the sage, stating that the rain-soaked earth "gives birth" to its produce (Isaiah 55:10), may likewise be some half-breed of older mythic thinking.