BETHEL (deity) bĕth’ el (בֵּ֥ית אֵ֖ל, house of El). A W Sem. deity attested in the onomasticon of the Aram. papyri from Elephantine, Egypt and Neo-Babylonian cuneiform texts by some 15 different names. The Biblical examples are
It was at the 6th cent. site of Elephantine where the papyri removed any doubts concerning this use of a divine name, for from this site Albert Vincent conveniently collected such names (pp. 564, 593, 622, 654) as Bethel-nātan, Bethel-nûrî, Anath-bethel, Eshem-bethel.
This deity is also known from the Phoenician Theogony by Philo Byblius where Ouranus (“Heaven”) and Ge (“Earth”) have four sons: Ilus (Cronus), Betylus, Dagon and Atlas. This pair is now attested in the Ugaritic pantheon as šmm and arṩ and possibly along with their four sons as ’il, ’il ṩpn, dgn, and ’ilib. The exact identification of the sons must wait until more complete texts are available; therefore one cannot place this deity in the second millennium in a Phoenician or Ugaritic pantheon as yet. In the meantime, the Ugaritic name N’bt’iL may be noted as containing this theophorous element and leads one to expect the presence of this god in the second millennium b.c.
The exegesis of
A. Vincent, La religion des Judéo-Araméens d’Éléphantine, (1937), 562-592; J. P. Hyatt, “A Neo-Babylonian Parallel to Bethelšar-eser,