🔼The name Belial: Summary
- Worthlessness, Obsolete, Beyond Purpose
- From the noun בליעל (belial), worthlessness, from the verb בלה (bala), to wear out.
🔼The name Belial in the Bible
The word belial originally shows up in phrases such as "sons of belial" and that's why it became treated as a personal name in later texts, although it isn't a name really. It's applied to satan (Βελιαλ; 2 Corinthians 6:15, see also 2 Thessalonians 2:3), Hannah (daughter of Belial — 1 Samuel 1:16), David (2 Samuel 16:7) and a handful of others (Deuteronomy 13:13, 1 Samuel 2:12, 1 Kings 21:10).
🔼Etymology of the name Belial
The word בליעל (belial) comes from the verb בלה (bala), meaning to wear out:
Verb בלה (bala) means to wear out, annul or use until worthlessness. Adjective בלה (baleh) means worn out. Noun בלוא (belo) describes worn out things or rags. Noun תבלית (tablit) means annihilation or destruction.
Adverb of negation בל (bal) means not. Noun בלי (beli) describes a wearing out, a destruction or a worthlessness. Noun בלימה (belima) meaning nothingness. Noun בליעל (beliya'al) means worthlessness.
Noun בלהה (ballaha) means terror or calamity, but some scholars insists that this noun stems from a second, yet identical verb בלה (bala II), to trouble. If this verb is not a whole other one, it evidently describes trouble of a courage draining and strength depleting nature.
Because Belial is not really a Biblical name, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names doesn't treat it. NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Worthless, Wicked, but wickedness is not implied by this word or name. What is implied, however, is that this worthlessness came about because all the worth has been gratefully spent. A better rendering would be Obsolete, Beyond Purpose, Beyond Function or (a bit forced) Purposelessness.