The name Bezalel in the Bible
There are two Bezalels mentioned in the Bible:
- One Bezalel is among those who divorced their foreign wives (Ezra 10:30).
- The other Bezalel is the artist who was chosen (actually: called by name) by God to create much of the tabernacle. He is teamed up with Oholiab (Exodus 31:2, 6).
Etymology of the name Bezalel
Traditionally, this name is considered a combination that starts with the common Hebrew particle ב (be), meaning in, at or by:
And in between the beth and el there would be a derivation of the not so positive root group צלל (sll):
This way the whole name may mean any combination of the above, but favored is In The Shadow Of God, which is then explained to mean In The Protection Of God. This explanation coincides marvelously with the name of Bezalel's colleague Oholiab, whose name has a secondary meaning of Father's Shine.
The fun, however, continues:
The fragment בצל (basal) means to strip off and yields the identical derivation onion! Hence the name Bezalel also means God's Onion. Another name derived from the verb basal is Bazluth.
And if that wasn't enough, the fragment בצ (bos) means mire, as used in Jeremiah 38:22. Hence, combined with the particle ל (le), meaning to or towards, the name means Swamp To The Lord.
For a meaning of the name Bezalel, BDB Theological Dictionary, NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names all read In The Shadow (Protection) of El / God.