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PUTIEL (Heb. פּוּטִיאֵל). The name Putiel occurs only once in the Bible (Ex. 6:25), where it is stated that Eleazar the son of Aaron married one of Putiel's daughters, and that their son was Phinehas.

The rabbis identify Putiel with Jethro and give two homiletical interpretations of the name, one praiseworthy and the other derogatory. The first one, connected with the view that he became converted to Judaism, is that he "emancipated" (patar) himself from idolatry (Mekh., Amalek 1) and the other that he fattened (pittem) calves for the purpose of idolatrous worship. The same passage, however, also makes it refer to Joseph, who overcame (pitpet) his passion, and concludes that Phinehas was descended from both (Sot. 43a). It has been suggested that Putiel is in fact a Hebraized version of Poti-Phera, the "priest of On" whose daughter Joseph married (Gen. 41:45), "ph" being the definite article in Egyptian, and Ra the Egyptian god.


Kohut, Arukh, 6 (19262), 310f.