(Heb. id. בֵּלּ, contracted from בּעֵל, the Aramaic form of בִּעִל; Sept. Βήλ and Βῆλος) is the name under which the national god of the Babylonians is cursorily mentioned in Isa 46:1; Jer 1; Jer 2; Jer 51:44. The only passages in the (apocryphal) Bible which contain any farther notice of this deity are Bar. 6:40, and the addition to the book of Daniel, in the Sept., 14:1, sq., where we read of meat and drink being daily offered to him, according to a usage occurring in classical idolatry, and termed Lectisternia (Jer 51:44?). But a particular account of the pyramidal temple of Bel, at Babylon, is given by Herodotus, 1:181-183. SEE BABEL. It is there also stated that the sacrifices of this god consisted of adult cattle (πρόβατα), of their young, when sucking (which last class were the only victims offered up on the golden altar), and of incense. The custom of providing him with Lectisternia may be inferred from the table placed before the statue, but it is not expressly mentioned. Diodorus (2, 9) gives a similar account of this temple; but adds that there were large golden statues of Zeus, Hera, and Rhea on its summit, with a table, common to them all, before them. Gesenius, in order to support his own theory, endeavors to show that this statue of Zeus must have been that of Saturn, while that of Rhea represented the sun. Hitzig, however, in his note to Isa 17:8, more justly observes that Hera is the female counterpart to Zeus-Bel, that she is called so solely because it was the name of the chief Greek goddess, and that she and Bel are the moon and sun. He refers for confirmation to Berosus (p. 50, ed. Richter), who states that the wife of Bel was called Ormorca, which means moon; and to Ammian. Marcell, 23:3, for a statement that the moon was, in later times, zealously worshipped in Mesopotamia. The classical writers generally call this Babylonian deity by their names, Zeus and Jupiter (Herod. and Diod. 1. c.; Pliny Hist. Nat. 6, 30), by which they assuredly did not mean the planet of that name, but merely the chief god of their religious system. Cicero, however (De Nat. Deor. 3, 16), recognises Hercules in the Belus of India, which is a loose term for Babylonia. This favors the identity of Bel and Melkart. SEE BAAL. The following engraving, taken from a Babylonian cylinder, represents, according to Munter, the sun-god and one of his priests. The triangle on the top of one of the pillars, the star with eight rays, and the half moon, are all significant symbols. SEE CUNEIFORM INSCRIPTIONS.

Bible concordance for BEL.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.