🔼The name Bul: Summary
- From the noun בול (bul), produce, from the verb יבל (yabal), to bring forth.
🔼The name Bul in the Bible
The name Bul occurs only once in the Bible. It's the Canaanite name for the eighth month, which was the month of harvest, corresponding to our months October-November.
It's mentioned only in relation to the building of Solomon's temple which commenced in the month Ziv (the month of the blossoms) and was completed seven years later, in the month Bul (1 Kings 6:38). This obviously reflected both the Sabbatical cycle and the agricultural year.
Note that the names Ziv and Bul are Canaanite names. In Hebrew these months would be called Iyyar (איר) and Marcheshvan (מרחשון) or Cheshvan (חשון), but these Hebrew names don't occur in the Bible.
See for the rest of the names of the months our deep-dive article on the Mysterious Hebrew Calendar.
🔼Etymology of the name Bul
Some scholars have proposed that the name Bul (בול) may have something to do with the name Baal (בעל) but although in English these names seem similar, in Hebrew they really aren't (the name Baal has actually two syllables, and should be pronounced Ba'al). Although Baal was a fertility and agricultural deity, it's more plausible that the name of the month of the harvest derives from the verb יבל (yabal), meaning to bring forth, and particularly the identical noun בול (bul), meaning produce or outgrowth:
The verb בלל (balal) means to mix something with oil, usually flour products, usually as ritualistic food preparation. The emphasis of this verb lies on saturation and overflowing: to fill something with oil until it can absorb no more and begins to reject an excess of oil. Noun בליל (belil) describes a very rich mix for animals to eat. Noun שבלול (shabbelul) describes a snail, or an animal that looks saturated with oil. Nouns תבל (tebel) describes sexually incompatible partners, and noun תבלל (teballul) tells of insoluble material that obstructs a person's eye.
The verb יבל (yabal) speaks mostly of a flowing along some course, which of course requires the bottom of the course to be saturated and reject any further absorption. Noun יבל (yabal) means water course or conduit, noun יובל (yubal) means stream and noun אובל ('ubal) means stream or river. Adjective יבל (yabbal) means suppurating (discharging pus from a wound). Noun יבול (yebul) denotes produce from the soil and noun בול (bul) means produce or outgrowth. Noun יובל (yobel) or יבל (yobel) describes "a carrier" or "a producer" or "something that drives a flow" (e.g. a trumpet, or the principle of Jubilee). Noun תבל (tebel) refers to the whole world-economy.
Verb אבל ('abel) is like the previous ones in that it describes a drive of liquid or semi-liquid elements along some collective course. It's often used to describe a collective mourning, which either happened in a procession or else contagious enough to drag others along. Nouns אבל ('ebel) and אבל ('abel) both mean mourning, but the latter is also the word for actual water stream or brook. In cognate languages this verb is used to describe the driving of camels. There is even a sporadically used adverb אבל ('abal), which in older texts expresses solemn affirmation (verily, truly, yes indeed I'm totally going along with you there) but later texts appear to put somewhat of a breaking force on the momentum ("yes!... but").
The name Bul as name for the month of the harvest means Produce or Outgrowth.