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Goʾel גאל

(782 words)

Author(s): E. T. Mullen, Jr.
I. Name In ancient Israel, the gōʾēl, ‘redeemer’, acted within the social system as the protector and defender of the interests of the kinship group. Metaphorically, gōʾēl occurs as an epithet for Yahweh; besides, in Job 19.25, gōʾēl indicates an independent deity. On a societal level, several functions are attributed to the gōʾēl in the Hebrew texts: he acted as the next of kin to buy up or buy back property to prevent its being lost from the group ( Lev. 25.25); he could redeem, or pay off, the debt of a kinsperson who had fallen victim to debt slavery ( Lev. 25.47–49); he bore the re…

Baalat בעלת

(772 words)

Author(s): E. T. Mullen, Jr.
I. Name Baʿalat, ‘mistress’, ‘lady’, ‘sovereign’ ( Heb. baʿălāt; Phoen./Ug. bʿlt; Akk. bēltu), is attested as both a divine name and an epithet in the ancient Near East from the middle third millennium bce. Though the term is attested in the MT as a place name ( Josh. 19.44; 1 Kgs. 9.18; 2 Chr. 8.6), it does not occur in the biblical text as the designation of a divinity. II. Identity In Akkadian, the epithet is applied to a number of goddesses, most often associated with fertility and birth, as d bēlit ilı̄. In addition to being a common designation of Ishtar, this epithet is also…

Witness עד

(874 words)

Author(s): E. T. Mullen, Jr.
I. Name As utilized in the biblical materials relating to the legal sphere, the ‘witness’ ( ʿēd) was a person who had firsthand knowledge concerning an event or fact and who could provide either an affirmation or a refutation of testimony presented (i.e. Gen. 31.45–52). The application of the role of ‘witness’ to members of the divine realm is especially relevant to the biblical metaphor of covenant. Ancient Near Eastern international treaty forms, from which the biblical ideal of covenant is derived, invoke extensive lists of deities or elements of the natural world, e…