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BELA:

  • 1. An early king of Edom, having his royal seat at Dinhabah; son of Beor (Gen. xxxvi. 32, 33; I Chron. i. 43, 44). The name "Dinhabah" occurs in Palmyrene, Syria, and in Babylonia (Dillmann, "Genesis," ad loc.); and, since it has not been encountered in Edom, the conclusion has been drawn by critics that Bela was a foreigner who conquered Edom while retaining his own capital as the seat of government. Targum Yerushalmi calls him "Balaam ben Beor"; while the Septuagint reads "Balak." But while the close resemblance of "Bela" to "Balaam" is rather curious, there is no real reason for regarding the two personages as identical.
  • 2. A son of Benjamin (Gen. xlvi. 21, A. V., where the name is spelled "Belah"; Num. xxvi. 38; I Chron. vii. 6). The names of his children vary in the different accounts.
  • 3. A Reubenite, son of Azaz, living in Aroer and as far as "the entering in of the wilderness from the Euphrates" (I Chron. v. 8).
  • 4. One of the five cities attacked by the invading army under Amraphel, Hammurabi (Gen. xiv. 2). In the two passages where "Bela" occurs a gloss adds "it is Zoar" (Gen. xiv. 2, 8), which establishes its identity with that city. Its location was probably at the southern end of the Dead Sea. In Gen. R. xlii. 5 the name "Bela" is fancifully associated with the Hebrew stem "bala" (to swallow up), and explained as due to the circumstance that "her citizens were swallowed up," with reference, no doubt, to the convulsion which befell Sodom.
J. Jr. G. B. L.
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