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

Taboo חרם

(2,155 words)

Author(s): M. Malul
I. Name ḥērem occurs 29 times in the OT (Lohfink 1982:193–195, for distribution) and has been variously translated ‘ban’, ‘excommunication’, ‘taboo’, ‘a consecrated or contaminated object/person’. It appears in Jewish Aramaic as ḥirmāʾ, in Syriac as ḥermāʾ, and in Arabic as ḥaram, meaning ‘a consecrated and prohibited area’. (Note also Arab. ḥarı̄m ‘wife’, ‘harem’, Nabataean mḥrmh ‘sanctuary’, Sabaean mḥrm ‘sanctuary, temple’.) Grammatically, Brekelmans (1959:43–47) understood ḥērem to be a noun expressing a quality, like qōdeš and ḥôl. Others see it as …

Tabor תבור

(790 words)

Author(s): G. Mussies
I. Name Tabor is the name of a mountain in Lower Galilee (1,700 ft above sea-level, 7km SE of Nazareth). It occurs three times in Josh. 19, in the descriptions of the boundaries of respectively the tribes of Zebulon, Issachar and Naphthali, and is thus a point where the three tribal territories met ( vv. Josh. 12; Josh. 22; Josh. 34). Moses’ blessing of Zebulon and Issachar, which may date back to the heyday of Jeroboam II’s reign, mentions “(the) mountain” to which they call the peoples to participate in rightful sacrifices ( Deut. 33.18–19). In all likelihood, therefore, this is a ref…


(9 words)

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Tammuz תמוז

(4,016 words)

Author(s): B. Alster
I. Name Tammûz is a deity of Mesopotamian origin whose cult, according to a vision reported in Ezek. 8.14, was introduced into the temple in Jerusalem, where women are said to wail over the death of the god at the north gate of the temple. Heb. Tammûz derives from Sum. d Dumu-zi. The Sumerian name means “the good son”, or “the right son”. In Akkadian the name is mostly written with the Sumerian ideogram and pronounced Dumuzu, or Duwuzu, Neo-Assyrian Duʾuzu or Dûzu. The month named after him was rendered as Duʾuzu (MSL 5, 25:225). The late Akkadian form is reflected in the Greek Daô…

Tannin תנין

(1,716 words)

Author(s): G. C. Heider
I. Name Tannin occurs in the OT in reference to a sea monster subdued or slain by Yahweh (whether as a proper name or as a common noun meaning “sea monster” or “dragon” is unclear). The term is found also in the sense of “serpent” and (arguably) “crocodile”; further, it appears five times in the plural ( tannînîm) with the meaning “sea monsters/dragons” or “snakes”. The etymology of Tannin is uncertain. BDB suggests a derivation from tnn-I, perhaps to be linked with tnh-II (“recount, rehearse”) as “lament, i.e. howl”, although this appears to work much better with tan (“jackal”) than with tan…

Tartak תרתק

(600 words)

Author(s): M. Cogan
I. Name Tartak is one of two gods (the other Nibhaz) worshipped by the Avvites whom the Assyrians settled in Samaria, some time after the city’s fall ( 2 Kgs. 17.24, 2 Kgs. 31). A god by this name is unknown in extra-biblical sources. In addition, the location of Avva is uncertain. II. Identity Two identifications of Tartak, both problematic, have been suggested. The first associates the Avvites with Elam. Avva is taken to be identical with the town Ama on the Uqnu River on the Babylonian-Elamite border, occupied by Aramean tribes (Zadok 1976:120, Becking 1992:98). The transfer of Avvite…


(9 words)

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Ten Sephirot עשׂר ספירות

(3,779 words)

Author(s): M. A. Sweeney
I. Name The term ‘ten sephirot’ first appears in Sepher Yetzirah (Book of Creation), a third or fourth century ce cosmological and cosmogonic treatise, where it refers to the ten primordial numbers or utterances by God on which creation is based (cf. Gen. 1.1–2.3). In later Kabbalistic literature beginning in the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries (e.g., Sepher ha-Bahir [Book of Brilliance]; Sepher ha-Zohar [Book of Splendour]), the term refers to the ten emanations or abstract qualities of God by which the infinite God is known and manifested in the finite…

Terah תרח

(594 words)

Author(s): K. van der Toorn
I. Name In biblical tradition, Terah is the son of Nahor and the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran ( Gen. 11.24–27). Originally from Ur, where he worshipped gods other than Yahweh ( Josh. 24.2), Terah died in Haran where he had settled after his migration from Ur ( Gen. 11.31–32). Attempts have been made to connect Terah with a deity Trḫ supposedly mentioned in Ugaritic texts, and with the moon-god Teri or Ilteri; such identifications have now by and large been abandoned. II. Identity Soon after the discovery of the alphabetic texts of Ras Shamra, the figure of Terah was connec…

Teraphim תרפים

(4,271 words)

Author(s): T. J. Lewis
I. Name The word tĕrāpîm is found 15 times in the Hebrew Bible, occurring only in the plural even when it denotes one image (1 Sam. 19.13, 1 Sam. 16; cf. A. R. Johnson, The Cultic Prophet in Ancient Israel [Cardiff 1962] 32 n. 3, who suggests that some forms of the plural may be occurrences of the singular with mimation). For the most part the Septuagint translators chose to simply transliterate the term, yet on occasion they associated it with idols ( eidōlon;Gillulim) or a carved image ( glyptos). There is even some attempt to connect it to healing (Hoffner 1968:61 n. 2). The Targumic ma…

Terebinth אלה

(867 words)

Author(s): K. Nielsen
I. Name אלה, Pistacia terebinthus, has been explained by W. F. Albright as a Hebrew form of Canaanite ʾēlat, goddess, the feminine of ʾēl, which is also applied to Asherah as El’s consort (Albright 1968:165). The concept of the terebinth as a holy tree is well-known in the OT, but the terebinth is never seen as a representative of Yahweh. Sometimes the terebinth is connected with idolatry in a way that presupposes a relationship between the terebinth and a foreign deity, probably Asherah. In these cases, the attitude is clearly polemic. But whether the word אלה itself connoted the meani…

Terror of the Night פחד לילה

(1,878 words)

Author(s): M. Malul
I. Name Paḥad laylâ is hap.leg. in the OT, in Ps. 91.5, where it appears in close conjunction with several terms referring to various demons (see below). Another combination of the word paḥad, lit. ‘terror, dread’, and laylâ, lit. ‘night’, occurs in Cant. 3.8 where it also refers to a certain type of demon (see already the Targumîm and Krauss [1936] for references to other rabbinical sources). See also Deut. 28.66. The understanding of paḥad in Ps. 91.5 as ‘terror’ is not the only one. M. Dahood has suggested e.g. the meaning ‘pack (of dogs)’ on the alleged basis of Ug. pḫd ( Psalms II [AB 1…