🔼The name Deuel in the Bible
The name Deuel belongs to a Gadite, whose son Eliasaph assists Moses and Aaron (and eleven others) in taking the first census of Israel (Numbers 1:14). This same Eliasaph, son of Deuel, represents his tribe when Israel makes donations for the tabernacle (Numbers 7:42), and he appears to also be its army leader when Israel sets out from Mount Sinai (Numbers 10:20).
According to some manuscripts and early translations, this man is called Reuel in Numbers 2:14, but other sources refute this. It's not at all uncommon for a Biblical character to have two names, but since the difference between the Hebrew letters ד and ר may diminish by the unsteady stroke of a sleepy scribe, some scholars fear a text error (and proclaim Deuel to be this man's one and true name), while others have constructed elaborate legends to explain why this person went from Deuel to Reuel (which, after all, is not unlike going from Saul to Paul).
Depending on the leanings of the translators, several modern versions read Reuel in Numbers 2:14 (Young, JSP, ASV, KJV, Darby) while others stick to Deuel (NAS, NIV). Here at Abarim Publications we don't put much stock in the sleepy scribe theory but since the source texts aren't in agreement we feel it must remain unclear where the error lies, or even whether there is an error in the first place.
🔼Etymology of the name Deuel
The name Deuel consists of two elements, the final one being אל (El), either the prominent Canaanite deity whose name became applied to the God of Israel, or the common abbreviation of Elohim, the genus God:
About he origin of the first part is also no agreement among scholars. Some (NOBSE Study Bible Name List, Alfred Jones, Gesenius) derive it from a hypothetical verb דעה that's not used in the Hebrew narrative of the Bible, but may very well have existed since it exists in Arabic. And in Arabic it means to call or invoke.
Others (BDB Theological Dictionary, Jerome) see relations with the much more familiar verb ידע (yada'), meaning to know:
For a meaning of the name Deuel, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) read Invocation Of God, although Jones also lists the interpretation of Jerome, which is Knowledge Of God. BDB Theological Dictionary does not interpret our name but does list it under the verb ידע (yada'), meaning to know, and thus clearly favors the solution proponed by Jerome.