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Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The Hebrew word: בעל
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Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary

בעל

The verb בעל (ba'al) means to exercise dominion over, or to be lord over. One group of usages deals with a man "marrying" a woman, and it should be noted that men marry women by means of the verb בעל (ba'al) but not the other way around (Genesis 20:3, Isaiah 54:1). The other, smaller, group of usages deals with owning or ruling something (Isaiah 26:13).

The derivatives of this verb are:

  • The ubiquitous masculine noun בעל (ba'al) meaning owner (Exodus 21:28, Isaiah 1:3), husband (Genesis 20:3, Hosea 2:18), citizen (of Jericho: Joshua 24:11; of Arnon: Numbers 21:28; of Shechem: Judges 9:2), ruler (Isaiah 16:8). The noun בעל (ba'al) is also used in a kind of proverbial sense, in playful constructions that emphasizes a certain characteristic of someone: בעל אף (ba'al ap), literally meaning lord of the snort: someone who easily gets angry (Proverbs 22:24), or בעל החכמה (ba'al hahochma), lord of the wisdoms (Ecclesiastes 7:12).
  • The feminine noun בעלה (ba'ala), pretty much the female equivalent of the masculine counterpart, except that it can never mean wife. It's used once in the sense of lady-boss (1 Kings 17:17), and twice in constructions: בעלה אוב (ba'ala ob), "mistress of the ghost" or necromancer (1 Samuel 28:7), and בעלה כשפים (ba'ala keshepim), mistress of the witchcrafts (Nahum 3:4).

Associated Biblical names

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