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Bel

Bel an alternative form of the name of the god Baal, occurring most frequently in Bel and the Dragon, two stories included as a single item in the Apocrypha. The first relates how the prophet Daniel convinced the Babylonian king that the offerings of food and drink which were daily set before the image of Bel were not really eaten by the god but were secretly removed by the priests. As a result, the priests were executed and the image destroyed.

In the second story, which is apparently based on an ancient Semitic myth, Daniel obtained the king's consent to attack a dragon, and killed it by feeding it with cakes made of pitch, fat, and hair. This so enraged the people that they insisted that Daniel should be cast into a den of seven lions. With the help of the prophet Habakkuk, who was miraculously transported from Judaea to feed him, he was saved from death and freed. In consequence the king became a worshipper of Yahweh.


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bel

bel / bel/ • n. a unit used in the comparison of power levels in electrical communication or of intensities of sound, corresponding to an intensity ratio of 10 to 1. See also decibel.

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Bel

Bel (bāl, bĕl), deity of the Middle Eastern religions. The name is a cognate of that of Baal. For Bel in the Bible, see Bel and the Dragon.

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Bel

Bel / bel/ another name for Baal.

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BEL

BEL British Electrotechnical Committee

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Bel

BEL

Title of the chief god of Mesopotamia. The word (Akkadian bêl ) is a contraction of the older Semitic form baal (lord), which in West Semitic (Canaanite, etc.) retained its original form as baal, the Canaanite god of rain and fertility. In Babylonia the word Bel was first used as the Akkadian equivalent of Sumerian e n (lord) and in particular as the Akkadian name for Sumerian Enlil, the god of nippur, the most sacred city of ancient Mesopotamia, where he had his main temple, the É-kur (house of the mountain). Associated with Enlil (lord of the air) were the other members of the supreme triad of the Sumerian pantheon, An or Anu (the sky) and En-ki (lord of the ground, i.e., the nether world and the subterranean waters). According to Sumerian mythology, Anu, the father of all the gods, bestowed on Enlil kingship over all the land. When hammurabi made Babylon the leading city of Mesopotamia, its local god marduk received Enlil's title of Bel, and as such took over Enlil's function as divine king of all the land; see j. b. pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (2d, rev. ed. Princeton 1955) 164.

In the Bible, Deutero-Isaiah (Is 46.1) speaks of the downfall of Bel and the god nebo (nabu); Jeremiah, too, announces the punishment inflicted on Bel by Yahweh (Jer 51.44); and Baruch ridicules Bel as a deaf and dumb idol (Bar 6.40). But the most devastating OT polemic against Bel is in Dn 14.122the story of how Daniel showed that Bel's priests ate the food given to the god.

See Also: mesopotamia, ancient.

Bibliography: Reallexikon der Vorgeschichte, ed. m. ebert, 15 vol. (Berlin 192432) 2:282390. Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, tr. and adap. by l. hartman (New York 1963), from a. van den born, Bijbels Woordenboek, 220221.

[h. mueller]

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