Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible Online

Get access Subject: Biblical Studies and Early Christianity
Edited by: Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking and Pieter W. van der Horst

The Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible Online contains academic articles on the named gods, angels, and demons in the books of the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint and Apocrypha, as well as the New Testament and patristic literature. This online version contains the second extensively revised edition.

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(9 words)

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El אל

(3,962 words)

Author(s): W. Herrmann
I. Name The name El, ʾēl, il( u), is, with the exception of Ethiopic, common Semitic and originally means God. Etymologically the origin of the appellative cannot be determined with certainty. Most likely, the noun can be derived from the verb ʾwl (the root ʾlh has also been suggested) ‘to be strong’ also ‘to be in front, dominate’ (Dahood 1958:74). The substantive (formed as a stative participle or adjective; Pope & Röllig, WbMyth. I:217–312) denotes ‘strength, force, power, might, mana’. Related to a personal god, the noun has as meaning ‘the strong one; mighty o…


(10 words)

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(792 words)

Author(s): W. Röllig
I. Name The second element of the name of the deity ʾl qn ʾrṣ can etymologically be connected with the verbal-root qny ‘create, acquire (a property)’, which is used for example, in Ps. 139.13 ( ʾattā qānîtā kilyōtai ‘you created my kidneys’). The interpretation of the god as ‘El-Creator-of-the-Earth’ therefore seems highly justified. Contrast E. Lipiński ( TWAT 7 [1990–1992] 68) who preferred a derivation from qny ‘to keep, to possess’ and translated: ‘El-the-Owner-of the Earth’. The God is mentioned in Gen. 14.19, Gen. 22. II. Identity The name of the deity first occurs ou…

Elders πρεσβύτεροι

(867 words)

Author(s): J. Reiling
I. Name The noun presbyteros, usually meaning ‘older’, or in a technical sense ‘elder’ (Jewish) or ‘presbyter’ (Christian), occurs 12 times in Rev referring to beings in heaven. They are always identified as ‘the twenty-four elders’. II. Identity Twenty-four elders appear for the first time in the vision of heaven in chap. 4 and are described as sitting on 24 thrones situated around the throne of God, dressed in white garments and with golden crowns on their heads (4.4). Also around the throne, probably in the area between the thron…

Elemental Spirits of the Universe

(13 words)

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Elijah Ἐλίας

(1,878 words)

Author(s): C. Houtman
I. Name Elijah = “Yahweh is God” (cf. 1 Kgs. 18.36, 1 Kgs. 37) is the name (surname?) of an Israelite prophet (9th century bce), and occurs 68 times in the OT (62x in 1 Kgs-2Kgs 2), 29 times in the NT and further in 1 Macc. 2.58; Sir. 48.1, Sir. 4, Sir. 12. On account of his ascension ( 2 Kgs. 2.11) he is considered to have been transferred to heavenly existence and accordingly his return could be expected ( Mal. 3.23, Mal. 24). II. Identity Stories about men who have been transported bodily from the realm of humankind to a domain inaccessible to ordinary mortals (heaven, paradise…

Eloah אלה

(2,101 words)

Author(s): D. Pardee
I. Name The Hebrew word ʾĕlōah is derived from a base ʾilāh-, perhaps a secondary form of the Common Semitic word ʾil-, ‘god’. Cognate terms are known from Ugaritic, Aramaic, and Arabic/Arabian. The relationship between the common noun and the divine name is complicated and it varies considerably from one language to another. In Aramaic and in the epigraphic Arabian dialects, it is primarily a common noun, while in Ugaritic, Hebrew, and Arabic (Allah < al-ʾilāhu, ‘the god’) the usage as a divine name is clearly attested. There can be no doubt that the more common b…


(10 words)

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El-Olam אל עולם

(1,982 words)

Author(s): A. de Pury
I. Name In the Old Testament, the divine name ʾĒl ʿôlām is attested in Gen. 21.33, i.e. in the conclusion of the story of Abraham’s encounter with the Philistine king Abimelek in Beersheba ( Gen. 21.20–34). After having attested—by the token of seven ewe lambs—that he himself has dug the well of Beersheba (vv 28–30) and after the conclusion of a covenant with Abimelek and the departure of his visitor (vv 22–24, 27, 32), Abraham plants a tamarisk ( ʾešel) in Beersheba and invokes the name of yhwh ʾēl ʿôlam. The two vv 33–34 are often held to be an addition to an already composi…

El-Roi אל ראי

(1,009 words)

Author(s): A. de Pury
I. Name The name ʾĒl roʾî (El/god of seeing/vision) is attested only once in the OT, in Gen. 16.13. It is best interpreted as a pseudo-archaic divine name inserted by a later redactor of Gen. 16. II. Identity The name El-roi is given by Hagar, Sarah’s runaway and pregnant maid, after her flight into the desert and her encounter with a divine messenger. The messenger foretold the birth of a son whom she is instructed to name Ishmael (v 12), a theophoric name of a common type constructed with El and the imperfect of šmʿ (‘may El hear’). Vv 13–14 introduce a new sequence which is not rea…

El Rophe אל רפא

(679 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name The enigmatic line in Num. 13.19 ʾēl nāʾ rĕpāʾ nāʾ lāh, traditionally rendered as “O, God, do heal her”, has been construed as containing originally the divine name ʾēl rōpēʾ, ‘El Rophe; Healing God’ (Rouillard 1987). This divine name has been compared with the Ug. epithet rpu, ‘Saviour’, occurring in the expression rpu mlk ʿlm and mt rpi, and with the Rephaim (Rouillard 1987:35–42). II. Identity The expression rpu mlk ʿlm is generally translated as ‘the Saviour, the eternal King’ (e.g. de Moor, ARTU 187) and interpreted as an epithet either of Baal seen as the …

Elyon עליון

(4,032 words)

Author(s): E. E. Elnes | P. D. Miller
I. Name Derived from the Hebrew verb ʿālâ, meaning ‘to ascend’, ʿelyôn in the OT may be used either as an adjective, describing something that is spatially higher than something else (‘upper’, ‘highest’), or as a substantive, used primarily in reference to the ‘most high’ deity. In Ps. 89.27, however, it is used in reference to the king. As a divine name, ʿElyôn appears either on its own (e.g. Ps. 9.3; Isa. 14.14), in combination with other divine names (Yahweh, Elohim [God], El e.g., Pss. 7.17; Pss. 57.3; Pss. 73.11) or in association with lesser divine elements ( bĕnê ʿelyôn, Ps. 82.6…


(9 words)

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Emmanuel עמנו אל

(754 words)

Author(s): M. de Jonge
I. Name In Isa. 7.14, the prophet Isaiah announced the birth of a child whose name will be ʿImmānûʾēl (‘God with us’); its mother is designated as ‘the young woman’. This birth will be a sign to the wavering King Ahaz of Judah at the time King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah of Israel had gone up to attack Jerusalem. The name returns in Isa. 8.8, whereas in Isa. 8.10 the expression ‘God with us’ is used as an assurance of God’s protection for Israel. Isa. 7.14 reappears in Matt. 1.23 as one of the formula quotations characteristic of this gospel. Isaiah’s prophecy will be fulfilled …

Ends of the Earth אפסי ארץ

(764 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name The expression ʾapsê ʾereṣ, ‘The ends of the Earth’ occurs 16 times in the OT, mainly in poetic texts (e.g. Deut. 33.17; Isa. 45.22; Isa. 52.10; Mic. 5.3; Zech. 9.10; six times in the Pss). The first element of this construct chain, ʾepes, denotes the end or limit of space or time. The noun has cognates in Ug. ʾps, ‘upper edge’, ( KTU 1.6 i:61); Phoen. ʾps, ‘end’, adverbially used as ‘finally; even’ in KAI 26 IV:1, and in the Canaanite noun upsu, ‘extremity’, (EA 287:70; 289:50; 366:34; R. Degen, WdO 6 [1971–72] 60). Not convinced by a Semitic etymology for ʾepes, some authors have sugg…

Enoch חנוך

(1,908 words)

Author(s): C. Rowland
I. Name The enigmatic reference to Enoch in Genesis. 5.24 has generated a welter of speculation about his person and a range of literature attributed to him which is found in a variety of forms. Our knowledge of its early form has been transformed by the discovery of the fragments from Cave 4 at Qumran, many of which correspond to what we know as 1 Enoch. This apocalypse is extant in its complete version in Ethiopic and includes a variety of material from different periods (the chapters 37–71, which speak of the Son of Man and Enoch’s identification with this…