Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
There are two roots of the form בלה (bala), and although these two are formally completely separate, they both express a decisively negative state of behavior. One root describes using something up until it's completely wasted, and the other one describes instilling terror upon people:
The root-verb בלה (bala I) occurs sixteen times in the Bible. It generally denotes the process of using something until it's so worn out that it serves no more purpose (Deuteronomy 8:4, Nehemiah 9:21, Joshua 9:13). As such it indicates items that are temporal (Isaiah 50:9, Psalm 102:27). In a way it can be said that the ultimate function of temporal things is to be destroyed, to be undone or to be brought to nothingness. This becomes immediately clear through this verb's derivatives:
- The adjective בלה (baleh), meaning worn out (Ezekiel 23:43, Joshua 9:4).
- The masculine noun בלוא (belo), meaning worn out things, rags. This word occurs three times in the Bible; all three times in Jeremiah 38:11-12.
- The feminine noun תבלית (tablit), meaning destruction (Isaiah 10:25 only).
- The adverb בל (bal), meaning not. This word is the lesser used particle of negation. More common is לא (lo'). Perhaps this adverb may have to do with the adverb of negation אבל ('abal)
- The substantive בלי (beli), literally meaning a wearing out, and thus figurative of destruction (Isaiah 38:17). It's also used in the sense of defect or failure and as such becomes an adverb of negation (Genesis 31:20, Hosea 8:7)
- The masculine noun בלימה (belima), meaning nothingness. This word occurs only once, in the much debated statement of Job 26:7, that the earth is suspended on . . . nothing(ness). Some argue that the author of Job realized that the earth floats in space. Others state that whether the author knew this or not isn't expressed in Job, but merely the depressing statement that the whole earth is steeped in decay and folly.
- The masculine noun בליעל (beliya'al), meaning worthlessness (2 Samuel 25:25, Nahum 2:1, Psalm 18:4). This noun also serves as the semi-name Belial.
- The construct בלעדי (bilade), meaning apart from or except (Genesis 14:24, Job 34:32). Scholars propose that this word is a compound of the adverb בל (bal) and the preposition עד ('ad); literally meaning not until or not even.
- The substantive בלת (bilet), meaning not (Genesis 21:26) or except (1 Samuel 20:26).
The root-verb בלה (bala II) means to trouble and it occurs only once, in Ezra 4:4. Its one derivative is the feminine noun בלהה (ballaha), meaning terror (terrors - Job 18:11) or calamity (Isaiah 17:14, Psalm 73:18).