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

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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.

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Laban לבן

(390 words)

Author(s): K. van der Toorn
I. Name On the assumption that he was originally a semi-divine hero or a god (Meyer 1906), Laban, the son of Bethuel ( Gen. 28.5) and father of Leah and Rachel ( Gen. 29.16) has been connected with the Old Assyrian god Laba(n) (E. Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament [Berlin 1903; 3rd ed. by H. Winckler & H. Zimmern] 363). The name of the latter deity has been interpreted as a shortened form of Labnān, which would mean that Laban was “originally an ancient West-Semitic deity venerated in the Lebanon” (Lewy 1934:45). II. Identity Laban occurs already in Old Assyrian persona…


(9 words)

see adat ← previous entry          next entry →


(9 words)

see lagamar ← previous entry          next entry →


(761 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name The name kĕdār-lāʿomer, ‘Chedorlaomer’ king of Elam ( Gen. 14.1, Gen. 4, Gen. 5, Gen. 9, Gen. 17; 1QGenAp 21:23), is to be interpreted as a combination of the noun kudur (Akk.) or kutir/kut.e.r (Elamite), ‘protector’ (see R. Zadok, The Elamite Onomasticon [AION Sup 40; Napoli 1984] 25 for names containing this noun), with the name of the Elamite underworld deity Lagamal/Lagamar (Böhl 1916:67; Astour 1966:78; Weippert 1976–1980; Astour 1992:893). The name Lagamal means “No mercy” (Lambert 1980–83:418). II. Identity The name of the deity is written La-ga-ma-al/mal or La-ga-ma…

Lah לח

(542 words)

Author(s): W. G. E. Watson
I. Name The element laḥ has been interpreted as a divine name in certain Hebrew proper names. These are the place names Beer-Lahai-roi ( Gen. 16.14; Gen. 24.62; Gen. 25.11), Ramath-lehi ( Judg. 15.17; 2 Sam. 23.11) and Bethlehem, and in particular, the Hebrew personal name Methu-selah ( Gen. 5.21, Gen. 22, Gen. 25, Gen. 26, Gen. 27; 1 Chr. 1.3). It has been suggested that the personal name Methu-selah is not to be analysed as mt, ‘man’ + šlḥ, ‘(the god) Shelah’, but rather as mĕtu, ‘man’ + še, ‘of’ + laḥ, ‘(the god) Laḥ’. Similarly, lḥy has been interpreted as a theophoric element i…


(9 words)

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Lahai-Roi לחי ראי

(900 words)

Author(s): A. de Pury
I. Name The name Laḥay Rōʾî appears only three times in the Hebrew Bible: always in the combination of the toponym Bĕʾēr Laḥay Rōʾî: Gen. 16.14; Gen. 24.62; Gen. 25.11. In Gen. 16.14, Lahai-roi (or Hai-roi) could be construed as a divine name in accordance with the versions. Yet the interpretation is speculative and not supported by extrabiblical evidence. II. Identity In the three biblical occurrences, Bĕʾēr Laḥay Rōʾî designates a well or a locality somewhere in the Negeb ( Gen. 24.62). Its localization is unknown. Gen. 16.14 locates it “between Kadesh and Bered”. …

Lahmu לחם

(477 words)

Author(s): G. C. Heider
I. Name Laḫmu has been proposed as a divine name or theophoric element in the OT in certain especially old texts and names, particularly the Song of Deborah ( Judg. 5.8) and the place name Bethlehem. II. Identity Laḫmu is clearly (albeit rarely) attested in Sumerian and in the Akkadian literature of the Old Akkadian, Standard Babylonian and Neo-Assyrian periods and at Mari. As a divine name Laḫmu appears paired with Laḫamu in the theogony of Enuma Elish, begotten by Apsu (Ends of the earth) and Tiamat (the waters) and begetting Anšar (sky) and Kišar (earth). Later …

Lamb ἀμνός, ἀρνίον

(961 words)

Author(s): P. W. van der Horst
I. Name In the NT Christ is designated 31 times as a lamb. In John 1.29, John 36 he is called the lamb (ἀμνός) of God; in the Revelation of John ( John 5.6, John 8 et passim [29x]) he is depicted as a heavenly lamb (ἀρνίον) that receives honour and worship as if it is God himself. II. Identity There is much uncertainty and debate about the religio-historical background of the image of Christ as a lamb. There seems to be partly an OT background to this imagery, if one regards Isa. 53.6–7 as the source of the remark in John’s Gospel that Jesus is the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world ( Isa. 1.2…


(9 words)

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Lamp נר

(907 words)

Author(s): Lipi$ski
I. Name The Hebrew noun nîr or nēr, denotes a light-giving body and is never used as a divine name, but it may occur as a surname of a deity or as the name of a being participating in the divine sphere, such as an angel. Its Akkadian equivalent nūru, as well as Ugaritic nrt and nyr, are used metaphorically as epithets of the Sun-deity called “the lamp of the gods” or “the lamp of heavens and earth” ( AHW 805b; CAD N, 348–349; KTU 1.2.iii:15; 1.3.v:17; etc.). Similar epithets are attributed also to other gods, even to Yahweh in 2 Sam. 22.29, where the poet addresses the Lord: “Thou, Yahweh, art my l…


(9 words)

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Leah לאה

(513 words)

Author(s): M. Dijkstra
I. Name Leah, the name of Jacob’s first wife is traditionally explained as ‘ defatigata, weak’ (Wetzstein 1876). Stade (1881) connected her name to Ar. lāʾā ‘Wildkuh’ (a kind of antilope) and Nöldeke (1886), Haupt (1909) and others to Akk. littu ‘cow’ ( AHW 557–558). Along these lines, the name lēʾâ came to be understood as a reminiscence of a goddess, or a tribal totem (Gray 1896; Smith 1894). Recently, her name has been quoted as the female counterpart of an epithet given to YHWH: lēʾ ‘victor’ (Aliyan). II. Identity In ancient Near Eastern religions goddesses often received th…

Lebanon לבנון

(804 words)

Author(s): W. Röllig
I. Name Lebanon is the name of a mountain range in Syria (Ar. Ǧebel al-Lubnān), which stretches ca. 170 km from the North ( Nahr al-Kabı̄r) to the South ( Nahr al-Qāsimı̄ya), and rises from the Mediterranean Coast reaching a height (at Qenāt al-Saudā) of 3083 m; breaking off to the East it joins the long Biqāʿ-Valley. Opposite, to the East, we find the lower mountains of the Anti-Lebanon. This prominent range is mentioned in cuneiform documents from Old-Babylonian times on, often written Lab-ni-ni (cf. RGTC 5, 175), but also La-ab-a-anki (RIMA 1, A.O.39.1, 84), La-ab-la-na/ni (cf. R…

Legion λεγίων

(870 words)

Author(s): H. D. Betz
I. Name Legion as a name of a demon occurs only in Mark 5.9, Mark 15 and the parallel in Luke 8.30. The meaning is explained in the context, when the demon replies: ‘Legion is my name, for we are many’ ( Mark 5.9). A somewhat different explanation occurs in Luke 8.30: ‘Legion, for many demons entered into him’ (sc. the Gerasene demoniac). The form of the name may also vary in the manuscripts, but legiōn seems more original, while legeōn is mostly the result of correction. The name is derived from the Latin legio, the designation of the largest unit in the Roman army (between 4,200 and …

Lel לל

(2,014 words)

Author(s): E. Puech
I. Name The identification of a deity Lel in the West Semitic world is a very difficult subject for the historian of religions. The existence of the deity as such has been questioned and the meaning and etymology of the name are a matter of debate. The deity has been related to lyl-lylh ‘night’ (hence the conventional pronunciation ‘Lēl’) (Dietrich & Loretz 1980: 403), but also to the Akkadian lil(lu) known in Old and Standard Babylonian as a god and as a demon, meaning ‘fool, simple’ (Thureau-Dangin 1922, but cf. Krebernik 1987:20). The god has to be distinguished from lilû, fem. lilîtu (fr…

Leviathan לויתן

(2,624 words)

Author(s): C. Uehlinger
I. Name Liwyātān is the Heb. name of a mythical monster associated with the Sea (or Yam). First attested in a Ugaritic text ( KTU 1.5 i:1 || 27) where it occurs as ltn (to be vocalized lı̄tānu, as convincingly argued by Emerton 1982), the name is related to a root lwy. Etymologically it might be interpreted either as ‘the twisting one’ (cf. Arab. lawiyā) or ‘the wreath-like’, ‘the circular’ (cf. Heb. liwyâ), both possibilities pointing to an original concept of Leviathan as a snake-like being. The second alternative should not, however, lead to the opinion that…