🔼The name Deuel: Summary
- Invocation Of God
- Knowledge Of God
- From (1) the verb דעה (d'h), to invoke, and (2) the word אל ('el), God.
- From (1) the verb ידע (yada'), to know, and (2) the word אל ('el), God.
🔼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:
In names אל ('el) usually refers to אלהים ('elohim), that is Elohim, or God, also known as אלה ('eloah). In English, the words 'God' and 'god' exclusively refer to the deity but in Hebrew the words אל ('l) and אלה ('lh) are far more common and may express approach and negation, acts of wailing and pointing, and may even mean oak or terebinth.
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:
The verb ידע (yada') means both to know and to have intimate relations (Genesis 4:1, Judges 11:39). Knowledge equals familiarity with truth, which in turn is the only thing all people can agree on, which in turn promotes the search for agreement and modes of expression (rather than mere data). The Bible holds all knowledge in the highest regard. God, after all, is both a God of knowledge (Jeremiah 3:15) and love (1 John 4:7).
Since all truth relates to the Word of God, wisdom begins with the reverence of the Creator (Proverbs 1:7) and learning equals love-making within a marital relation with the Creator (Isaiah 54:5).
Nouns דעה (dea), דע (dea') and דעת (da'at) all mean knowledge. Nouns ידעני (yidde'oni), מודע (moda') and מדעת (moda'at) describe familiarity or kinship. This root's Greek counterpart is γινωσκω (ginosko).
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.