Origin of the name BEL.
Etymology of the
Meaning of the baby name BEL.
[Hebrew, a contraction of Beel, i.e. Baal
One of the
chief "gods" of Babylon (Isa. xlvi. 1; Jer. l. 2; li.
44). He corresponded to the Phoenician Baal (q.v.). Gesenius
considered that he symbolised the planet Jupiter; but it is now believed
that, like Baal, he was the Sun-god, and was the supreme divinity.
He appeared in two aspects, the one beneficent, giving life and light,
the other in wrath. In the latter case he demanded the sacrifice
of the first-born to gain his favour. He was the same as Merodach.
His consort was Bilat or Beltis. The germs of his worship were to
be seen among the Accadians, with whom, however, he was not the chief
divinity. The Assyrians borrowed from the Babylonians the
adoration of Bel. They first reared idols in his honour.
¶ The Idol Bel and the Dragon [Apocrypha, ¶
ii.]. (The Sunday School Teacher's Bible Manual, Hunter, 1894)
second member of the Assyrian Nature Triad is called "lord of the
world," "lord who protects the land." He was the
ruler of the earth. (Encyclopedia Britannica, Chambers, v.1, 1901). It is a
Baal (בַּעַל), possibly meaning
"lord, master" or "possessor." Many compound
names have been made with Bel; for example, Belshazzar.
(Notes, Barnes, 1840)
word is to be understood as a contracted form of the name Belinus, or
Apollo, in all cases where it occurs connected with topographical names
in Great Britain, as in the words Belerion, Beltyne, etc. But
where it forms part of archaic words it seems better to understand it in
the more primitive form of Bel, or Baal, i.e. "the lord," as
in the word Belatucadr for Bel-at-o-cadr. This word occurs in a
lapidary inscription in England, conjoined with Mars, in this form, Deo
Sancto Marti Belatucadro, as in Lysons' Reliquiæ Romance, No.
37, and is to be interpreted as "the lord, i.e., the divinity;
accustomed to the dire onslaught of battle," or, in other words,
Mars. The word Baal, Bel, or Belus, it seems has two
significations; one as a proper name, the other as
"lord." This double form is quite agreeable to the
ancient oriental use of the word. Compare Judges vi, 31,
and 1 Kings xviii, 21, with 1 Samuel xii, 10; in the two
former of which passages the word Baal means some determinate divinity,
while in the latter passage baalim, the plural number of the word
baal, means divinities generally. When Baal, Bel, or
Belinus, is to be taken as the name of any specific divinity, it is to
be understood to signify, in the western parts of Europe, Apollo,
while in the east it implied Jupiter,
according to Pliny, who, in describing Babylon, says, "Ibi Jovis
Beli templum." In English, "There is the temple of
Jupiter Belus." (Celtic Inscriptions on Gaulish & British
Coins, Poste, 1861)
BEL. The great national
deity of the Babylonians, as Assur was of the Assyrians. He was
one of the deities of the first triad, consisting of Anu, Hea, and Bel,
and in Accadian his name was written Engi. He was also called Elu,
or Ilu, in which form he takes a prominent position in the Izdubar
Legends, and more generally Bilu, whence the Greek name Bel. His
chief titles were "The God of the World," that is of the
affairs of the world, "Determiner of Destinies," and
"Father of the Gods," in this case the term gods being applied
to the stars. He is now considered to represent the great
deification of physical power, and he was the presiding deity of the
moving heavenly bodies. Hence, therefore, the great astronomical
work of Sargon I. was called Namar-Bili, "The Illumination (or the
eye of) Bel." In the ancient mythical tablet recording the
war of the gods, Sin, the moon, Shamas, the sun, and Ishtar, the queen
of the stars, are called his children. In the Deluge Legend, Bel
is the chief god by whom the destruction of mankind is effected, and he
was the only deity who murmured at Harisadra being saved; as a
punishment for which offence he was shut out of heaven and no offerings
were made by the patriarch to him. Bel is continually represented
as taking council of the wise and benevolent Hea, and generally his
characteristics were those of force and wrath, rather than of wisdom or
love. The consort of Bel was the goddess Bilat, or Belat, who was
a goddess of reproductive nature and a feminine form of himself, in
which latter character she was also a goddess of war. Bel was
represented on the sculpture under the figure of a king, wearing a tiara
crested with bulls' horns and a sceptre as the emblems of power.
See also Baal. (An Archaic Dictionary, Cooper, 1876).
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