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The term belial is a Hebrew adjective meaning "worthless" from two common words beli- ( "without-") and ya'al ( "value"). It occurs twenty-seven times in the Masoretic Text, in verses such as the following:

"A naughty person (Hebrew adam beli-yaal)" Book of Proverbs 6:12[3]
Of these 27 occurrences, the idiom "sons of Belial" beni beliyaal) appears 15 times to indicate worthless people, including idolaters (Deuteronomy 13:13), the men of Gibeah (Judges 19:22, 20:13), the sons of Eli (1 Samuel 2:12), Nabal, and Shimei. In the King James Version of the Christian Bible, these occurrences are rendered with "Belial" capitalised:

"the sons of Eli were sons of Belial " (KJV)
In modern versions these are usually read as a phrase:

"the sons of Eli were worthless men " (NRSV, NIV)
In the Hebrew text the phrase is either "sons of Belial" or simply "sons of worthlessness."[4][5] However "sons of" phrases are a common semitic idiom such as "sons of destruction" "sons of lawlessness".[6]

The etymology of the word is traditionally understood as "lacking worth".[7] Some scholars translate it from Hebrew as "worthless" (Beli yo'il), while others translate it as "yokeless" (Beli ol), "may have no rising" (Belial) or "never to rise" (Beli ya'al). Only a few etymologists have assumed it to be an invented name from the start.[8] (Beli·al) [from Heb., meaning "lacking benefit"; a compound of beli, "not, lacking," and ya·al, "be of benefit; be beneficial"]. The quality or state of being useless, base, lacking benefit. The Hebrew term beli·yaal is applied to ideas, words, and counsel,[9] to calamitous circumstances,[10] and most frequently, to worthless men of the lowest sort for example, men who would induce worship of other gods;[11] those of Benjamin who committed the sex crime at Gibeah;[12] the wicked sons of Eli;[13] insolent Nabal;[14] opposers of Gods anointed, David;[15] Rehoboam's unsteady associates;[16] Jezebel's conspirators against Naboth;[17] and men in general who stir up contention.[18] Indicating that the enemy power would no longer interfere with the carrying out of true worship by his people in their land, YHWH declared through his prophet: "No more will any worthless person pass again through you. In his entirety he will certainly be cut off."[19]

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