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

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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(1,238 words)

Author(s): K. A. D. Smelik
I. Name The association of צדק and צדקה (‘righteousness’) with the base of the king’s throne in Ps. 89.15; Ps. 97.2; Prov. 16.12 and (after emendation) l has been compared with the hieroglyphic representation of the important Egyptian concept of ‘order’: m3ʿt. The hieroglyph for m3ʿt shows that the original meaning of the word must have been ‘base’, to wit the base of the divine throne connected with the Primeval Mound. But the hieroglyph was not used as a designation for ‘base’ but for m3ʿt. An etymological connection of this noun with the verb m3ʿ (‘to lead, guide, direct’) is plausibl…

Magog מגוג

(998 words)

Author(s): J. Lust
I. Name Magog ( māgôg) is known from the Bible only ( Gen. 10.2; Ezek. 38–39; 1 Chr. 1.5). Together with Gog, Magog came to be used in traditions harking back to Ezek. 38–39 as a symbol of the superhuman adversaries of God and his people at the end of time. II. Identity The etymology of Magog is uncertain. The word is almost certainly related to, and maybe derived from, Gog. The ma at the beginning of the word may be understood as representing the Assyrian determinative mat ( status constructus of matu, ‘country’), indicating that …

Makedon Μακεδών

(903 words)

Author(s): K. Dowden
I. Name Makedon (‘Macedonian’) is the eponymous hero of the inhabitants of Mace-donia in northern Greece. Macedonia and Macedonians figure in both Apocrypha and NT. II. Identity Macedonians particularly need an eponym (Thessalos), as Macedonia had only marginal claims to Greek status before the conquests of Philip II (359–336) a…

Malʾak Meliṣ

(11 words)

see mediator i ← previous entry          next entry →

Malʾak Yahweh

(12 words)

see angel of yahweh ← previous entry          next entry →

Malik מלך

(2,492 words)

Author(s): H.-P. Müller
I. Name The divine name Malik, once probably the absolute state of Mal(i)kum, must originally have been an epithet meaning ‘prince, king’ or ‘advisor, counsellor’, signifying an aspect of another god, perhaps Dagan, the chief god of Ebla and of the old North-Semites. Consequently, we find it in cuneiform script with and without determinative, the latter especially when it is a theophoric element of a personal name. Since Old Babylonian times, Malik and Malku(m) were used with case endings and in the plural forms Mālikū and Malkū. The character of the formation as an absolute s…

Mammon μαμωνᾶς

(631 words)

Author(s): P. W. van der Horst
I. Name Mammon (Aram. status emphaticus mamōnāʾ), the etymology of which is not completely certain, probably is a maqtāl form of the root ʾmn with the meaning of ‘that in which one puts trust’, with ‘money, riches’ as a derivative meaning (J. A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel according to Luke II [New York 1985] 1109; for other etymologies see Hauck 1942:390 n. 2 and Rüger 1973:127–131; on problems of spelling see Mastin 1984). It occurs in both Hebrew and Aramaic texts of the post-biblical period (Hauck 1942:3…


(9 words)

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Marduk מרדך

(4,125 words)

Author(s): T. Abusch
I. Name Marduk was the god of Babylon and the supreme ruler of the Mesopotamian universe. Normally, the name Marduk is written damar.ud. The name has been treated by some as pre-Sumerian and the writing understood as a folk-etymology, whereby an unintelligible name is rendered understandable in Sumerian. It seems better, however, to treat the name as an original Sumerian name: amar.uda.ak. This agrees with the fact that the name possesses a long form:


(2,423 words)

Author(s): M. F. G. Parmentier
I. Name Mary, the mother of Jesus, is mentioned by name only in the four Gospels and once in the Acts of the Apostles. The name, which occurs as Maria or Mariam in the Greek NT, and as Mariamme in Josephus, Ant. Iud. 3, 54, corresponds with the Heb. name Miriam (cf. Exod. 15.20; Num. 26.59). Because of Mary’s symbolic role in the ascetic, dogmatic (especially christological) and ecclesiological reflection of the Church, mariology was developed in patristic times, which in its turn prepared th…


(9 words)

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Mastemah משׂטמה

(860 words)

Author(s): J. W. van Henten
I. Name Mastemah appears as a noun meaning ‘hostility’ in OT ( Hos. 9.7–8) and Qumran writings. In Qumran lit…


(9 words)

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Mediator (I) מלאך מליץ

(1,852 words)

Author(s): S. A. Meier
I. Name The two Hebrew words appearing together only in Job 33.23 are not in a construct or genitive relationship (as is true of malʾak yhwh, Angel of Yahweh), for they are either in apposition, function as poetic parallels, or the first noun is modified by the second adjectival participle. Malʾāk means simply messenger or angel. On the other hand, considerable difficulty has hindered the reconciliation of the negative connotations of the root lwṣ/lyṣ (‘scoff, scorn, mock’; cf. Ps. 119.51; Prov. 3.34; Prov. 9.12) with the positive interpretations of the five biblical appea…

Mediator (II) μεσίτης

(2,083 words)

Author(s): R. Feldmeier
I. Name The term mesitēs originates from Hellenistic legal terminology and was usually a technical term for a mediator or intermediary between two or more parties, such as the peace negotiator, the arbitrator between two legal parties, the witnesses in a legal transaction, the neutral party with whom a disputed object could be deposited, or the guarantor (see Schultess 1931 and Oepke 1942). Especially in the Hellenistic-Jewish sphere mesitēs is also used figuratively for the mediator between people (cf. Josephus, Ant 16, 24), and between mankind and God. In the NT mesitēs occurs 6 times, twice ( Gal. 3.19–20) in reference to Moses as a mediator of the law, and four t…

Melchizedek Μελχιζεδεκ

(2,198 words)

Author(s): J. Reiling
I. Name The name of Melchizedek appears twice in the OT, viz. Gen. 14.18 and Ps. 110.4, and eight times in the NT, viz. Hebrews (where Ps. 110.4 is quoted or al…

Melqart מלך צר

(1,546 words)

Author(s): S. Ribichini
I. Name The meaning of the name Melqart is generally acknowledged to be ‘King of the City’. Since Melqart appears as the city god of 1st millennium bce Tyre, the ‘City’, qrt, in question is mostly identified as a designation of Tyre. However, in view of the chtonic character of Melqart (the deity is equated with Nergal, cf. RAAM 194–195), the ‘City’ could also be interpreted as a euphemism of the underworld, called “the great city”, iri.gal, Akk. Irkallu, in the Mesopotamian …

Menelaos Μενέλαος

(836 words)

Author(s): K. Dowden
I. Name The name of Menelaos, the husband of Helen, is borne by the emissary of the hellenising high priest Jason at 2 Macc. 4.23 who supplanted him ca. 172/1 bce. He precariously maintained a successful relationship with Antiochos IV Epiphanes and subsequently Antiochos V Eupator until finally, around 163 bce, the latter had him executed ( 2 Macc. 13.3–8). Menelaos’ name is of a common Greek type: he who puts ‘might’ (μένος) into the ‘army’ (λαός). II. Identity The story of Menelaos centres on the Trojan War. He exists in order to have Helen stolen from him by Paris and…
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