BEL , the name of achief deity in Babylonian religion, the counterpart of the Phoenician
See also:Baal (q.v.) ideographically written as En-lil . Since Bel signifies the "
See also:lord " or "
See also:master "
See also:par excellence, it is, therefore, a title rather than a genuine name, and must have been given to a deity who had acquired a position at the
See also:head of a
See also:pantheon . The real name is accordingly to be sought in En-lil, of which the first
See also:element again has the force of " lord " and the second presumably " might," " power," and the like, though this cannot be regarded as certain . En-lil is associated with the
See also:ancient city of
See also:Nippur, and since En-lil with the determinative for "
See also:land " or "
See also:district " is a
See also:common method of writing the name of the city, it follows, apart from other evidence, that En-lil was originally the
See also:patron deity of Nippur . At a very early
See also:prior to 3000 B.c.—Nippur had become the centre of a
See also:political district of considerable extent, and it is to this early period that the designation of En-lil as Bel or " the lord " reverts . Inscriptions found at Nippur, where extensive excavations were carried on during 1888–1900 by Messrs Peters and Haynes, under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, show that Bel of Nippur was in fact regarded as the head of an extensive pantheon . Among the titles accorded to him are "
See also:king of lands," " king of
See also:heaven and
See also:earth " and "
See also:father of the gods." His chief
See also:temple at Nippur was known as E-Kur, signifying "
See also:house," and such was the sanctity acquired by this edifice that Babylonian and
See also:Assyrian rulers, down to the latest days, vied with one another in embellishing and restoring Bel's seat of worship, and the name itself became the designation of a temple in general . Grouped around the
See also:main sanctuary there arose temples and chapels to the gods and goddesses who formed his
See also:court, so that E-Kur became the name for an entire sacred
See also:precinct in the city of Nippur . The name " mountain house " suggests a lofty structure and was perhaps the designation originally of the staged tower at Nippur, built in imitation of a mountain, with the sacred
See also:shrine of the
See also:god on the top . The tower, however, also had its
See also:special designation of "
See also:Khar-sag," the elements of which, signifying "
See also:storm " and " mountain," confirm the conclusion
See also:drawn from other evidence that En-lil was originally a storm-god having his seat on the top of a mountain . Since the
See also:Euphrates valley has no mountains, En-lil would appear to be a god whose worship was carried into Babylonia by a
See also:wave of
See also:migration from a mountainous country—in all probability from
See also:Elam to the east . When, with the political rise of
See also:Babylon as the centre of a
See also:empire, Nippur yielded its prerogatives to the city over which
See also:Marduk presided, the attributes and the titles of En-lil were transferred to Marduk, who becomes the " lord " or Bel of later days .
The older Bel did not, however, entirely lose his
See also:standing . Nippur continued to be a sacred city after it ceased to have any considerable political importance, while in addition the rise of the
See also:doctrine of a triad of gods symbolizing the three divisions—heavens, earth and water—assured to Bel, to whom the earth was assigned as his province, his place in the religious
See also:system . The disassociation from his
See also:local origin involved in this doctrine of the triad gave to Bel a
See also:independent of political changes, and we, accordingly, find Bel as a factor in the religion of Babylonia and
See also:Assyria to the latest days . It was no doubt owing to his position as the second figure of the triad that enabled him to survive the political eclipse of Nippur and made his sanctuary a place of pilgrimage to which Assyrian
See also:kings down to the days of Assur-bani-
See also:pal paid their homage equally with Babylonian rulers . See also BELIT and BAAL . For the apocryphal
See also:book of the Bible, Bel and the
See also:Dragon, see DANIEL: Additions to Daniel . (M .
BALTHASAR BEKKER (1634–1698)
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