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By Witchipedia, Deities

Bel in Mythology and Religion: Mesopotamian God

Updated on:

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Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)

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Reviewed by: Tina Caro

The name Bel comes from the Akkadian bēlu meaning “lord” or “master”. It is a title, and an epithet applied to many Gods who may be identified as “Lord” including Enlil, Marduk and Malak. The Feminine form is Belit. Bel seems to be cognate with Ba’al.

The Greek form of Bel is Belos which has been applied to Zeus and the Latin Belus, which has been applied to Jupiter. Also, the names Bel and Belanos are often used interchangeably among modern Pagans.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

God Bel, also known as Baal, is a deity found in various ancient Near Eastern and Semitic mythologies.

He represents nature, fertility, and storms, often depicted as controlling essential elements like rain and thunderstorms crucial for agriculture.

Baal is symbolized by the bull, signifying strength and fertility.

Different regions had their own variations of Baal, each with distinct characteristics and stories.

His worship sparked conflicts with monotheistic religions like Judaism, which considered him a rival to their one God, Yahweh, and mentioned him as a symbol of idolatry in the Hebrew Bible.

Bel is identified as the name of a God in several contexts, particularly in the Bible. Whether “Bel” is the name of the God or His title is sometimes difficult to discern. Bol is identified as the sky God and King of the Gods of ancient Palmyra and Syria with the eagle and lightning bolts as his symbols. His companions were Yarhibol and Aglibol. He was identified with Bel-Marduk and came to be called Bel, which is probably cognate anyway.

It is possible that the name of the all high God was unknowable or unspeakable and so he was called Bel “Lord” or that this is actually the name of a most ancient God that came to be attached to the names of new Gods who showed up on the scene, to elevate their status. (This is all speculation on my part.)

According to Myths of Babylonia and Assyria, Bel was the son of Ea and Damkina and the creator of mankind. But much of what is said of Bel can more specifically apply to Marduk or Enlil and I will record their stories on their own pages. I will return here to give Bel better treatment then.

Mentions of Bel in Ancient Texts

The famous Code of Hammurabi begins with an invocation Anu, Bel, Marduk (mentioned separately from Bel, but perhaps interchangeably, you read and judge) and Ea and declares that Hammurabi is chosen and called upon by Bel to create this code of laws and bring order to the land: “to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak; so that I should rule over the black-headed people like Shamash, and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind.”

Bel as Mentioned in the Bible

Bel is mentioned in the extended book of Daniel, as a Pagan God and idol worshiped by the Persian King Cyrus who erroneously believes that the idol in his temple actually eats the offerings left for it. When Daniel reveals that the priests and their families actually consumed the offerings (a very common practice in all temples, Pagan, Christian and otherwise because priests gotta eat!) the King had the priests put to death.

In Isaiah, the idols of Bel and Nebo are mentioned, scornfully comparing the Gods to beasts of burdens and making fun of their idols.

In Jeremiah, the prophet declares that the idols Bel and Merodach will be destroyed and Babylon conquered.And issues more severe threats and trash talk against Bel and Babylon (on behalf of Yahweh).

According to the Chronicles of Jerahmeel (Apocrypha), Bel was a descendant of Noah who was so beloved by his son that, after his death, he built a statue in his honor and encouraged people to honor it, thus the God Bel, and Ba’al and all the others came into being.

Footnote References

About Morningbird (Witchipedia's Founder)

I am a homesteading hearth witch who grew up along the shores of the Hudson River and has lived among the Great Lakes for the past 20 years. Together with my musical husband and youngest child, I steward a one-acre mini homestead with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits, and areas reserved for native plants and wildlife. 

I have three children; two are grown, and I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years.

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