Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible Online

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Subject: Religious Studies

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.

More information: Brill.com

Dagon דגון

(2,252 words)

Author(s): J. F. Healey
I. Name Dagon is the Hebrew form of the name of the god Dagan, who was an important Mesopotamian and West Semitic deity. Dagon occurs as a Philistine deity in the Hebrew Bible, specifically as the god of Ashdod (1 Sam. 5.1–7 and 1 Macc. 10.83–84; Judg. 16.23 [Gaza]; 1 Chr. 10.10 [Beth-Shan?]). The LXX also reads the name Δαγων instead of Nebo (Nabû) in Isa. 46.1. The etymology of the name Dagan is uncertain. Etymologies based on dāg, ‘fish’, dāgān, ‘grain’, and on a root meaning ‘be cloudy’ (Arabic dajj or dajana) are all equally dubious and there is no contextual evidence from the…


(9 words)

see BLOOD ← previous entry          next entry →

Daniel דניאל

(889 words)

Author(s): J. J. Collins
I. Name The name Daniel occurs in three contexts in the Hebrew Bible: (1) It occurs twice in the Book of Ezekiel. Ezek. 14.14 says that when a land sins, “even if these three Noah, Daniel and Job were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness”. Again in Ezek. 28.3 the prophet taunts the king of Tyre (Melqart) by asking: “are you wiser than Daniel?” (In both instances, the name is spelled דנאל, without the plene yod) It seems clear from these references that Daniel was already the name of a legendary figure, famed for righteousness and wisdom, in the time of Ezekiel. (2) Ezra

Daphne Δάφνη

(606 words)

Author(s): K. Dowden
I. Name Daphne, metamorphosed into Apollo’s laurel tree (Gk.: Daphnē) to escape his amorous intentions, gave her name to a suburb of Antioch ( 2 Macc. 4.33). The name can also result from the spelling in Greek of Hebrew placenames—the fortress Tahpanhes in the LXX (e.g. Jer. 2.16) and a source of a tributary of the Jordan (Jos., BI 4:3 and Tg. Num. 34:11). II. Identity Stories involving Daphne are variously sited, but seem to go back to a tale focussing on the River Peneios or its tributary the River Ladon on the fringes of Elis and north-western Arcadia. She…


(9 words)

see dedan ← previous entry          next entry →

Day יום

(1,251 words)

Author(s): B. Becking
I. Name The Hebrew noun yôm, ‘day’, frequently occurs in the OT (2304 times; the Aram. cognate yôm occurs 16 times in Dan and Ezra). The noun has a common Semitic background and is not derived from a verb (von Soden, Bergman & Saebø 1982:561–562). At some instances in the OT ‘day’ is personified. This use of ‘day’ indicating a malevolent being construed as acting in history has some parallels in Mesopotamian texts. In Ugaritic, ym, to be distinguished from ym, ‘Sea’, is attested as a deity in the Baal-epic and occurs in a syllabic god-list. In the Old Aramaic Sefire-treaty ywm occurs as a dei…

Day Star

(10 words)

see helel ← previous entry          next entry →

Dead מתים

(5,857 words)

Author(s): T. J. Lewis
I. Name The Hebrew Bible uses the word mēt/mētîm to refer to the dead as well as the related term rĕpāʾîm‘Rephaim’. Several words ( nepeš mēt, nepeš ʾādām, peger, gĕwiyyâ, nĕbēlâ, mappēlâ, gûpâ) are used to refer to the corpses of humans and/or animals. On occasions, the word ʾĕlōhîm, literally ‘gods’, is used to denote the preternatural character of the dead (cf. 1 Sam. 28.13; Lewis 1989:115–116). Shades of the dead are referred to by such terms as ʾôb/ʾōbôt (Spirit of the dead) and yiddĕʿōnî/ yiddĕʿōnîm (‘knowing ones’?) (Wizard). The exact etym…


(9 words)

see mot ← previous entry          next entry →

Deber דבר

(464 words)

Author(s): G. del Olmo Lete
I. Name The accepted meaning ‘pestilence’ may be a specific Hebrew development with scarce support from other Semitic languages (cf. Ug. dbr ‘pestilence’ [?], Ar. dabr ‘death’, dabara ‘ulcer’); Akk. dibiru ‘misfortune, calamity’ is probably a Sumerian word, having no connexion with Hebr deber ( CAD D. 134–135). Deber is one of the three proverbial causes of death on a wide scale. It is attested some 50 times in the Bible along with war (sword, blood) and famine (mainly in Jer and Ez). Besides this empirical meaning, it seems to be used a number of times in a personified sense as a demon or…

Dedan דתן

(508 words)

Author(s): K. Spronk
I. Name Dedan is one of the ancestors of the royal families of Ugarit and Assyria. According to Ugaritic texts he was deified. In both Ugaritic and Akkadian texts he is also named Datan or Ditan. This name can be related to Akk. ditānu, didānu, ‘bison’ ( AHW 173) or to Akk. datnu, ‘warlike’. It also appears as a personal name in the OT, viz. dātān ( Num. 16.1; Deut. 11.6; Ps. 106.17). II. Identity Didanu, Ditanu, or also Tidanu, is the name of a tribe living in the western part of ancient Mesopotamia first mentioned at the end of the third millennium bce. The name Ditanu appears as a componen…

Demeter Δημήτηρ

(1,472 words)

Author(s): L. J. Alderink
I. Name Demeter is the Greek deity known and worshipped for her power over grain and thus the fertility of the earth, the food supply for human beings, and mystery rites that provide a happy afterlife. Acts 19.24, Acts 38 refers to a man named after her, Demetrius, a craftsman who made shrines of Artemis; another Demetrius is mentioned in 3 John 1.12 as a reliable Christian. II. Identity Daughter of Kronos and Rhea, sister of Zeus, and mother of Kore-Persephone, Demeter was often called the Corn Goddess. Through her close relation to Persephone, Demeter has stron…

Demon Δαίμων

(3,695 words)

Author(s): G. J. Riley
I. Name The term ‘demon’ is the rendering of the cognate Greek words δαίμων and its substantivized neuter adjective δαιμόνιον; post-classical Latin borrowed the words in the forms daemon and daemonium. The original meaning of the term δαίμων from the time of Homer onward was ‘divinity’, denoting either an individual god or goddess (of Aphrodite in Il. 3.420), or the Deity as an unspecified unity ( Od. 3.27 “the Deity will put it in your mind”). Δεισιδαιμονία means ‘reverence for the Divinity’, or simply ‘religion’ ( Acts 25.19; cf. Acts 17.22). Plato derived the word from the ne…


(9 words)

see way ← previous entry          next entry →

Destroyer משׁחית

(2,511 words)

Author(s): S. A. Meier
I. Name ‘Destroyer’ is the designation of a supernatural envoy from God assigned the task of annihilating large numbers of people, typically by means of a plague. The noun is a hiphil participle of the root šḥt which is not attested in the OT in the qal. When the root appears in the hiphil, hophal, piel, and niphal stems, it describes the deterioration, marring, disfiguring, damaging and destruction of people and things, such as textiles ( Jer. 13.7), pots ( Jer. 18.4), vineyards ( Jer. 12.10), trees ( Deut. 20.19), cities ( Gen. 13.10) and buildings ( Lam. 2.6). It represents the kind of…


(9 words)

see qeteb ← previous entry          next entry →

Devil Διάβολος

(3,849 words)

Author(s): G. J. Riley
I. Name The term ‘devil’ is a rendering of the Greek word διάβολος, used as a loan word by Latin Christian writers as diabolus. As a proper noun in intertestamental Jewish texts and Christian writers the word denotes the great Adversary of God and righteousness, the Devil. It is so used in the Septuagint as a translation for the Hebrew śāṭān (Satan) (e. g. Job 1 and Job 2; 1 Chr. 21.1), and appears often with this meaning in the New Testament (e.g. Matt. 4.1). In ancient Greek usage, however, διάβολος was an adjective generally denoting something or someone ‘slanderous’ and ‘de…

Dew טל

(811 words)

Author(s): J. F. Healey
I. Name ‘Dew’ (which, for the ancients, included very fine rain and mist and even exudations on leaves and was caused by the stars; cf. ARTU 7–8, note 38; Isa. 26.19) has a special significance as a prerequisite of fertility in areas of the Middle East where rain is limited and there is no possibility of river-irrigation. It is especially important in the summer on the Palestinian coastal plain and nearby sea-facing slopes. Some specific crops depend on it. The withdrawal of rain and dew leads to drought (cf. e.g. 1 Kgs. 17.1; Hag. 1.10). The normal Hebrew word for ‘dew’ is ṭal. This has cognat…