HIEL (hī'ĕl, Heb. hî’ēl, probably, God liveth). A man of Bethel during the reign of Ahab. He rebuilt Jericho and thereby brought on himself and his sons the curse that Joshua had pronounced half a millennium before (1Kgs.16.34; cf. Josh.6.26).
HIEL hī’ əl
, God lives
). A Bethelite who in the days of King Ahab rebuilt the city of Jericho, and the loss of whose sons was interpreted as the fulfillment of a curse uttered by Joshua (Josh 6:26
; 1 Kings 16:34
). When Joshua destroyed Jericho, he pronounced a curse upon any one who rebuilt it. It is uncertain whether Hiel sacrificed his sons or whether they died a natural death; but prob. the former.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
A Bethelite who according to 1Ki 16:34 rebuilt Jericho, and in fulfillment of a curse pronounced by Joshua (Jos 6:26) sacrificed his two sons. This seems to have been a custom prevalent among primitive peoples, the purpose being to ward off ill luck from the inhabitants, especially in a case where the destroyer had invoked a curse on him who presumed to rebuild. Numerous instances are brought to light in the excavations of Gezer (Macalister, Bible Side-Lights from the Mound of Gezer, chapter x). At first the very best was claimed as a gift to the deity, e.g. one’s own sons; then some less valuable member of the community. When civilization prevented human sacrifice, animals were offered instead. The story of Abraham offering Isaac may be a trace of this old custom, the tenor of the story implying that at the time of the writing of the record, the custom was coming to be in disrepute. A similar instance is the offering of his eldest son by the king of Edom to appease the deity and win success in battle (2Ki 3:27; compare Mic 6:7). Various conjectures have been made as to the identity of this king. Ewald regarded him as a man of wealth and enterprise (unternehmender reicher Mann); Cheyne following Niebuhr makes it Jehu in disguise, putting 1Ki 16:34 after 2Ki 10:33; Winckler explains as folklore.