Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible Online

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Edited by: Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking and Pieter W. van der Horst

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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.

More information: Brill.com

Haby חבי

(537 words)

Author(s): P. Xella
I. Name In Isa. 26.20 the term חבי ( ḥăbî) is usually considered a Qal imperative (aramaizing: חבי = חבה) and translated ‘hide thyself’. Gordon (1985 & 1986) has proposed to understand it as a divine name, Haby, and to interpret this character as the forerunner of the Devil: lēk ʿammî bōʾ baḥădārêkā ûsĕgōr dĕlātĕ(y)kā baʿădekā ḥăbî kimʿaṭ-regaʿ ʿad-yaʿăbo(w)r-zāʿam, “Go, my people, enter into your chambers, and shut your door behind you, until Haby, the Wrath, in a little while will have passed”. Haby would occur also in Hab. 3.4, where חביוֹן is considered by Go…

Hadad הדד

(3,389 words)

Author(s): J. C. Greenfield
I. Name Hadad is the name under which the ancient Near Eastern storm god was known among various groups in the Mesopotamian and Syrian world. The god is also mentioned in a number of biblical texts and names. In this article, the biblical material will be dealt with in conjunction with the epigraphic data from the Near East. II. Identity Hadad makes his first appearance as Adad in Old Akkadian texts, and in this guise he is important in the Mesopotamian world through the neo-Assyrian and neo-Babylonian periods. Hadad in all likelihood means ‘thunderer’ a…

Hades Ἅιδης

(486 words)

Author(s): J. N. Bremmer
I. Name Hades is the Greek name for the underworld and its ruler, as is the case in the Bible. The spelling of the name sometimes varies (Aides/Hades, Aidoneus) and the etymology is debated. The most recent analysis sees a link with the root *a-wid-, ‘invisible’ (Ruijgh 1991:575–576, but see also Burkert 1985:196). Most likely, Hades first denoted a place name and was only later personified. Only the personification will be discussed here. Hades occurs 111 times in the LXX, most often as equivalent of Heb. šĕʾôl, and 10 times in the NT. II. Identity Hades is a shadowy god in Greece who…


(9 words)

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(9 words)

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Ham חם

(364 words)

Author(s): K. van der Toorn
I. Name Ham is the second son of Noah, and the brother of Shem and Japheth. His name occurs 17 times in the Bible. He is sometimes said to originally represent a (semi-) divine figure, either because his name is that of a supposed West-Semitic sun-god called Ḥammu (Lewy 1944), or because it is connected to Eg. ḥm, ‘(divine) majesty’ (Gordon 1988). II. Identity The evidence adduced by Lewy for a solar deity called Hammu is onomastic: the theophoric element Ḫammu or Ammu (as in Ḫammu-rabi, Aqba-ammu, and the like) would go back to the name ḥammu, ‘hot one’, a designation of the sun-god.…


(9 words)

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(657 words)

Author(s): J. Kellens
I. Name The personal name Hammadatha to be found in Esther. 3.1 represents the Iranian name *Haumadata, ‘given by hauma’ (or, in the Avestan form, ‘ haoma’), which is common in Achaemenid territory (Mayrhofer 1973). Iranian haoma is the equivalent of the Indian form soma, a name which simply means ‘juice’. Soma, to which the 9th book of Rigveda is devoted, is a liquor extracted from a plant which is ground in a stone mortar, then filtered and lengthily clarified through a horsehair sieve. The drink, offered to the gods and also consumed by sacri…

Haran חרן

(352 words)

Author(s): K. van der Toorn
I. Name It has been speculated that the city of Haran (7 times in Genesis; see also 2 Kgs. 19.12; Isa. 37.12; Ezek. 27.23) was named after a deity Haran (Lewy 1934). The available evidence does not support the contention. II. Identity The grounds on which a cult of a god Haran is postulated are not very firm. In an Old Assyrian letter (CCT 4 Pl. 35b:19–20), Lewy found a reference to a “priest of Ḫarranātum” ( ku-um-ra ša Ḫa-ra-na-tim; the alleged goddess is also mentioned in CCT 4 Pl. 48b:20). Lewy concluded that Ḫarranātum must have been a goddess, and deemed it likely that she sh…


(531 words)

Author(s): M. Heerma van Voss
I. Name Hathor (“Mansion of Horus”) is an Egyptian goddess. According to Clédat (1919), Hathor occurs as the second element in the place-name Pî haḥîrōt, Exod. 14.2, Exod. 9; Num. 33.7–8. The first part renders Eg. pr, “House (of)”, but was interpreted (KB) as Heb. “Mouth (of the Canals)”. II. Identity Hathor is often pictured as a woman in the prime of life. Sometimes, however, bovine ears, and frequently horns betray her original, non-antropomorphic shape. She is a cow from time immemorial. Hathor creates and sustains life in that capacity…


(553 words)

Author(s): K. van der Toorn
I. Name The word hyn occurs a number of times in Ugaritic texts as an epithet of Kothar-wa-Hasis (Kothar). It has been suggested that the same word is found in Hab. 2.5 (Albright 1943; 1968) and Job 41.4[ Job 12] (Pope 1965) as a divine title. II. Identity The word hyn occurs in KTU 1.3 vi:22–23; 1.4 i:23; 1.17 v:18, each time in a synonymous parallelism with Kothar-wa-Hasis. The interpretation of the term is based on comparative Semitic philology: Syr. hawnâ means ‘intelligence’, hence Ug. hyn is usually translated as ‘intelligent’, This meaning fits well with the name Kothar-…

Healing God

(10 words)

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Heaven Οὐρανοί

(2,174 words)

Author(s): M. Hutter (I-III) | M. de Jonge (IV)
I. Name The Hebrew word שׁמים ( šāmayim) is plurale tantum and occurs 420 times in the OT; only a limited number of these occurrences refer to heaven as being divine. It has its cognates in other semitic languages (e. g. Akk. šamû or šamāʾū, Ug. šmm, Aram. šmayyā, Ar. samāʾ); the equivalent in Sumerian is an, in Hittite we find the word nepiš for ‘heaven’. The etymology of the word is not completely certain; it is possible to derive it from Akk. ša mê (“of water”, CT 25, 50:17), but this can also be popular etymology. II. Identity The Sumerian cuneiform sign an means heaven and it i…

Heaven-and-Earth שׁמים וארץ

(662 words)

Author(s): M. Hutter
I. Name In accordance with Mesopotamian, Anatolian and North Syrian evidence we find the word-pair ‘heaven and earth’ also in the OT scriptures, mainly in deuteronomistic and prophetic texts, where the cosmos is called upon as a witness. Besides these occurrences we find heaven and earth in parallelism to describe the whole cosmos. II. Identity Outside the Biblical world the pair heaven-and-earth has different degrees of divinity. First of all we can find certain gods who bear epithets ( AkkGE. 54.64.81–82.133–134.236–237. 39) such as “lord/king of heaven and earth” ( bēl/šarri ša…

Heavenly Beings

(13 words)

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(479 words)

Author(s): K. van der Toorn
I. Name Hebat (or Hepat) is an important goddess venerated by the Hurrians as well as the Hittites. Her name is found as a theophoric element in the biblical anthroponym Eliahba ( 2 Sam. 23.32 = 1 Chr. 11.33), written אליחבא, and originally pronounced *Elli-Heba, ‘Elli of Hebat’ (Maisler 1930). II. Identity In the Hurrian pantheon, the goddess Hebat occupies a high rank: she is the wife of the weather-god Teshub and the mother of Sharruma (Danmanville 1972–75:326). Her epithet ‘Lady of heaven’ or ‘Queen of Heaven’ underscores her celestial character. In the course of tr…


(9 words)

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Helel הילל

(1,419 words)

Author(s): W. G. E. Watson
I. Name The astral being Hê lēl, occurs as a divine name only in Isa. 14.12: “How you have fallen from heaven, Bright Morning Star ( hêlēl ben-šāḥar), felled to the earth, sprawling helpless across the nations!” (NEB). However, translations of this verse vary. After the opening words, the RSV continues: “O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!” Alternatively, in view of Gilg. XI 6, where the hero is described as lying on his back doing nothing, the second half of th…

Helios Ἥλιος

(4,678 words)

Author(s): R. L. Gordon
I. Name The word ἥλιος, sun, like šemešShemesh, is ambivalent between a true name and a common noun. Only the context can determine which aspect—stellar, religious, cosmic, political—is predominant in a given text. The standard etymology (H. Frisk, Griechisches etymologisches Wörterbuch [Heidelberg 1954] 1:631–632; P. Chantraine, Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque 2 [Paris 1970] 410–411) appeals to the psilotic epic form ἀέλιος and a Cretan (Hesych.) or Pamphylian (Heracleides of Miletus) form ἀβέλιος to postulate an original *σαϝέλιος, cognate with S…

He-of-the-Sinai זה סיני

(416 words)

Author(s): H. Niehr
I. Name Occurring twice in the OT ( Judg. 5.5; Ps. 68.8–9) zēh sinai ‘He-of-the-Sinai’ is to be understood according to the analogous Nabatean divine name ‘Dushara’ as the ‘God (Lord) of the Sinai’ (H. Grimme, ZDMG 50 [1896]:573 n. 1). II. Identity The divine epithet ‘He-of-the-Sinai’ appears in Judg. 5.5. Here ‘He-of-the-Sinai’ is a qualification of Yahweh, and stands in parallelism to the epithet ‘God of Israel’. Before becoming the god of Israel Yahweh was the lord of the Sinai who came from Seir/Edom to fight for Israel ( Judg. 5.4–5; cf. Deut. 33.2; Hab. 3.3). The Hebrew construction Yah…

Hera Ἥρα

(606 words)

Author(s): D. E. Aune
I. Name The name Hēra (the form of her name in Mycenaean Greek is Era), perhaps a feminine form of the Greek noun hērōs (‘hero’, meaning ‘master’), or hōra (‘season’, see Pausanias 2.13.3), was genealogically linked with other Greek deities as the daughter of Kronos and Rhea (Hesiod, Th. 454), and sister of Zeus. While the name Hera itself does not occur in either the Bible or the Apocrypha, nevertheless the theophoric name Herakles (Heracles) does occur in 2 Macc. 2.19–20. This name is composed of two elements, ‘Hera’ and ‘-kles’. Though the -a-is problematic, since t…

Heracles Ἡρακλῆς

(1,866 words)

Author(s): D. E. Aune
I. Name Heracles was undoubtedly the most popular mythical hero of ancient Greek mythology; he was also one of the most complex. Etymologically the name derives from Ἥρα (Hera) and κλέος (fame). Though he is explicitly mentioned only in 2 Macc. 2.19–20, there is evidence to suggest that Heracles traditions were incorporated into the cycle of Samson legends found in the Old Testament and in certain aspects of the depiction of Jesus in the Christology of Hebrews. II. Identity Ancient mythographers divided the exploits of Heracles into three groups: (1) The Twelve Labours ( athloi or erga)…


(9 words)

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Hermes Ἑρμῆς

(3,839 words)

Author(s): L. H. Martin
I. Name Hermes was one of the most popular and frequently represented, if most complex, of the Greek Olympian deities. Identified by the Romans with Mercury, he was associated from the archaic through the Hellenistic periods with cunning and theft, music and eloquence, travel and commerce, and (especially as the Hellenistic Hermes Trismegistus) magic, alchemy and astrology. In the Bible, Hermes occurs as a divine name in Acts 14.12, and as the name of an otherwise unknown Roman Christian greeted by Paul in Rom. 16.14. II. Identity The name, Hermes, is attested from three palace ar…

Hermon חרמן

(768 words)

Author(s): W. Röllig
I. Name Mount Hermon is mentioned several times in the Hebrew Bible (e.g. Deut. 3.8; Josh. 11.3, Josh. 17). The prominent mountain at the west-end of Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon rises to a height of 2.814 m above sea-level. Its modern name is Jebel eš-Šeḫ “Mountain of the Hoar” or Jebel et-talǧ “Mountain of Snow”, both designations pointing to the long-lasting snow-cap on its summit. The etymology of Hermon ( Heb. ḥermōn) is disputed: a) The root ḥrm I Niph. means “to be split”, cf. Ar. ḥarama “perforate”. This may describe the situation of the mountain massif separated fro…

Heros ἥρως

(1,765 words)

Author(s): F. Graf
I. Name Heros (ἥρως) is a word of uncertain etymology, perhaps related to the name Hera (Augustine, CD 10, 2; Adams 1987). It has two main semantic fields: in Greek myth and epos, a heros is a human warrior of the heroic age; in religion, he is a (real or fictitious) dead person who remained powerful also in death, and who therefore received cult. Religious theorists defined heroes as intermediate beings between man and God (ἡμίθεοι, half-gods). In the Bible Heros occurs only in the toponym ‘City of the Heroes’, which is the LXX rendering for Goshen in Gen. 46.28–29. II. Identity Greek relig…
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