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
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."
However "sons of" phrases are a common semitic idiom such as "sons of destruction" "sons of lawlessness".
The etymology of the word is traditionally understood as "lacking worth". 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. (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, to calamitous circumstances, and most frequently, to worthless
men of the lowest sort for example, men who would induce worship of other gods; those of Benjamin who committed the sex
crime at Gibeah; the wicked sons of Eli; insolent Nabal; opposers of Gods anointed, David; Rehoboam's unsteady
associates; Jezebel's conspirators against Naboth; and men in general who stir up contention. 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
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