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bible dictionary online
Biographies of Bible Characters, People and characters in the Bible
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A | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | Z | Introduction

Baa | Bal | Ban | Bar | Bat | Bec | Bee | Bel | Ben | Ber | Bet | Bi | Bl | Bo | Bu

Names beginning with B

This guide is intended for visitors who want to learn more about the Bible. Please use the hyperlinks in the table above to navigate this page. If you have any comments or suggestions to make about this guide, please e-mail me by clicking on this link.


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Baalhanan (1) was the son of Achbor, an Edomite chieftain. Genesis 36.38, 39; 1 Chronicles 1.49, 50

Baalhanan (2) was a Gederite, an official in David's administration and supervisor of the royal plantations in the Shephelah region, according to the Chronicler. 1 Chronicles 27.28

Baalis was an Ammonite ruler; a contemporary of Gedaliah and Jeremiah, and instigator of the plot on Gedaliah's life, according to Johanan. Jeremiah 40.14

Baana (1) was the son of Ahilud, an official of Solomon, a rural steward supplying food for the royal household for one month annually, and overseer of the districts of Taanach, Megiddo, Bethshean, Abelmeholah and Jokmeam. 1 Kings 4.12

Baana (2) was the son of Hushai, an official of Solomon, a rural steward supplying food for the royal household for one month annually, and overseer of the region of Asher and Bealoth. 1 Kings 4.16

Baanah was the son of Rimmon, a servant, and later murderer of Ish-bosheth. During Ish-bosheth's war with David, Baanah and his brother, Rechab, killed their master in his sleep, taking his head to David. Instead of rewarding them, as they hoped, David had them executed and their bodies mutilated and exhibited in public. 2 Samuel 4.2, 5-12

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Baasha was the son of Ahijah, a king of Israel (ca. 900-877 B.C.). He succeeded Nadab whom, with his children, Baasha killed following his siege of Gibbethon. Though this was seen as a fulfilment of a prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, yet another prophet, Jehu, for his own apostasy, soon condemned Baasha. In his continual wars with his neighbour, Asa, he was initially successful, but the tables were turned by Asa's bribing of Ben-hadad of Syria to take his part, and Judah gained ascendancy. After a reign of some twenty-four years, Baasha died and was succeeded by his son Elah, whose assassination two years later seemed to fulfil Jehu's prophecy that Baasha's dynasty would not last. 1 Kings 15.16-16.13; 2 Chronicles 16.1-6; Jeremiah 41.9

Balaam, the son of Beor, was a priest and diviner, hired by Balak of Moab to curse the invading Israelites. Divinely inspired, Balaam pronounced four oracles predicting the future ascendancy of Israel over Moab. A separate tradition, mixed with the first, tells of how Balaam's way was barred by an angel, invisible to him, but not to his ass, which stopped. When Balaam struck the beast to move it, the ass spoke and rebuked him for his harsh treatment, after which the angel appeared to Balaam, and told him to continue on his way, but only to speak the words divinely given to him. This is one of the two stories in the Bible which represent animals as able to speak (the other is the snake which speaks to Eve in Genesis 3.1-5). A third tradition, evident in the New Testament, held that Balaam was responsible for Israelite apostasy in Moab. Numbers 22.5-24.25; 31.8,16; Deuteronomy 23.4, 5; Joshua 13.22; 24.9,10; Micah 6.5; 2 Peter 2.15,16; Jude 11; Revelation 2.14

Balak was the son of Zippor, and King of Moab. He tried, unsuccessfully, to gain victory over the invading Israelites, by hiring Balaam to curse them. Numbers 22.2-24.25; Joshua 24.9; Judges 11.25; Micah 6.5; Revelation 2.14

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Bani (1) was a member of David's bodyguard, from the tribe of Gad. 2 Samuel 23.36

Bani (2) was the name of two (or perhaps three) of the Levites enlisted by Ezra to explain the book of the law to the people of Jerusalem. Nehemiah 8.7; 9.4, 5

Bar-abbas (also known as Jesus Bar-abbas, that is "son of Abbas") was a revolutionary whom Pontius Pilate imprisoned for various offences, including insurgence, murder and theft. At Jesus' trial, Pilate tried to thwart the attempt on Christ's life, by releasing him, according to a traditional amnesty. The chief priests and their agents appealed to partisan elements in the crowds assembled for the festival, and demanded that the procurator's tradition should be fulfilled by releasing, not Jesus, but Bar-abbas, who was duly freed. Matthew 27. 16-21, 26; Mark 15.7-15; Luke 23.18-25; John 18.40; Acts 3.14

Barak was the son of Abinoam, one of the “judges” of primitive Israel. Called by the prophetess Deborah from his native town of Kedesh in Naphtali, to deliver Israel from its vassalage to Jabin and Sisera, Barak led a force some ten thousand strong from Zebulun and Naphtali, to a vantage point on Mt. Tabor. From here he attacked, and routed, the Canaanites. Judges 4.6-5.31; 1 Samuel 12.11; Hebrews 11.32

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Bar-jesus was a false prophet also known as Elymas. When he tried to dissuade Sergius Paulus, the Cypriot governor, from accepting the gospel, Paul cursed him and he was temporarily blinded. Acts 13.6-11

Barnabas was a prominent member of the first Christian community in Jerusalem. He was originally called Joseph but named Barnabas (which Luke, in Acts, glosses as “son of encouragement”) by the other disciples. A Levite and native of Cyprus, he first appears in Acts in an account of his sale of a field and donation of the proceeds to the disciples' common purse. Subsequently he was responsible for introducing Saul (Paul) to the Christians of Jerusalem. After the martyrdom of Stephen, when he was sent to the Cypriots seeking refuge in Antioch, Barnabas persuaded Paul to assist him in his ministry there.

Next he and Paul were sent on a voyage that would prove the first of several for Paul but not for Barnabas. In public speaking, Paul took the lead, while Barnabas gave him support. After the two returned from this successful mission the prospect of another such journey led to a dispute between the friends: Barnabas wished John Mark to accompany them but his early withdrawal from the first expedition made Paul oppose his joining the party. As a result of the fierce argument which followed, Barnabas, in the company of John Mark, returned to Cyprus. The dispute may (in the light of Paul's comment in Galatians 2.13) have been in part caused by Barnabas's copying of Peter in shunning the company of Gentiles at meal times, in deference to Jewish conservatism. Though he is thrice referred to in Paul's letters, Barnabas does not reappear in Acts after his departure to Cyprus. Acts 4.36; 9.27; 11.22-30; 12.25-14.28; 15.2-4, 12, 22-39; 1 Corinthians 9.6; Galatians 2.1, 13

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Bartholomew was, according to the synoptic gospels and Acts, one of the twelve apostles. Matthew 10.3; Mark 3.18; Luke 6.14; Acts 1.13

Bartimaeus was a beggar of Jericho, whom Jesus cured of blindness. His name appears in Mark's version of the story, but not Luke's. Mark 10.46-52; Luke 18.35-43

Baruch (1) was the son of Zabbai, a helper of Nehemiah in the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah 3.20

Baruch (2) was the son of Neriah, and secretary to Jeremiah, the prophet. His name first appears in an account of a business transaction in which Jeremiah purchased a plot of land in Anathoth, while Baruch kept the deed of purchase and a copy for reference. Later Baruch wrote down the oracles dictated to him by Jeremiah, transcribing a second copy after Jehoiakim burnt the first. The king ordered the arrest of Jeremiah and Baruch but both avoided capture. Baruch was subsequently accused of having influenced Jeremiah in the composition of his prophecy. Jeremiah 32.12-16; 36.4-8, 13-19, 27, 32; 43.3, 6; 45.1

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Barzillai, a wealthy Gileadite from Rogelim, was an ally of David. At the time of Absalom's rebellion Barzillai brought provisions for David's forces. After his victory the king invited the eighty-year-old Barzillai to live with him, but he declined on the grounds of his age, and instead sent Chimham (apparently, either his son or his favourite servant). 2 Samuel 17.27-29; 19.31-39; 1 Kings 2.7; Ezra 2.61

Basemath was the daughter either of Elon the Hittite, or of Ishmael, and one of the two wives of Esau, to whom she bore Reuel. Genesis 26.34; 36.3, 4

Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah and later of David, the mother of Solomon. During Uriah's absence, on military service, David seduced Bathsheba. The king recalled Uriah from battle (ostensibly to ask for news of the army's progress) and tried to persuade him to spend the night at home and have intercourse with Bathsheba, who had informed David that she was pregnant. Uriah's insistence on ritual abstinence led David to resort to desperate means and arrange that Uriah would fall in battle. This done, Bathsheba was duly married by David.

The prophet Nathan condemned the marriage and predicted that Bathsheba's child would die. This happened, but her second child, Solomon, was especially favoured by God, and became David's heir instead of his elder half-brother, Adonijah. When Adonijah wished to take Abishag the Shunnamite as his wife, he asked Bathsheba to act as an intermediary, and put the request to Solomon. Bathsheba did so, but Solomon refused the request, and executed Adonijah for his presumption. 2 Samuel 11.2-12.25; 1 Kings 1.11-31; 2.13-25; 1 Chronicles 3.5; Ps. 51

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Bavvvai was the son of Henadad, and ruler of half the district of Keilah. He helped Eliashib in the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah 3.18

Becher (1) was the second son of Benjamin, a grandson of Jacob and Rachel, according to Genesis and Chronicles (but not Numbers). Genesis 46.21; 1 Chronicles 7.6, 8

Becher (2) was the son of Ephraim, an ancestor of the Becherite clan. Numbers 26.35

Beeliada was the son of David, the twelfth born in Jerusalem, according to the Chronicler. 1 Chronicles 14.7

Beeri was a Hittite, the father of Judith and father-in-law of Esau. Genesis 26.34

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Bela (1; the king of) was an ally of the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. With them, he was defeated in battle by the kings of Shinar, Ellasar, Elam and Goiim. Genesis 14.2-15

Bela (2) was the son of Beor, an Edomite king, who ruled from the city of Dinhaba. Genesis 36.32, 33; 1 Chronicles 1.43, 44

Bela (3) was the first son of Benjamin. Genesis 46.21; Numbers 26.38; 1 Chronicles 7.6, 7; 8.1, 3

Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus, the last neo-Babylonian ruler. Belshazzar, who was occasionally viceroy, during his father's absences, appears nonetheless in the book of Daniel as a king who held a great feast, using as wine-goblets the sacred vessels from the temple in Jerusalem. During the feast, a hand appeared, writing on a wall, foretelling the end of Babylonian rule. According to the narrative, the same night the kingdom passed into the hands of Darius the Mede (though in fact the Babylonian empire fell to Cyrus). Daniel 5.1-30

Belteshazzar was the name given to Daniel by the chief eunuch of Babylon. Daniel 1.7; 2.26; 4.8, 9, 18, 19

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Ben-abinadab was Solomon's son-in-law, married to Taphath. One of twelve stewards who each provided supplies for the royal household for one month in the year, he was responsible for the region of Naphath-dor. 1 Kings 4.11

Benaiah (1) was the son of Jehoiada, the commander of David's army after Joab. One of the king's younger followers, he was an ally of Nathan and Zadok in their rivalry with the established officials, Joab and Abiathar. Benaiah led the Cherethites and Pelethites (foreign mercenaries serving as the king's bodyguard). When Joab supported Adonijah, Solomon's rival, Benaiah replaced him. Soon afterwards Solomon ordered him to kill Joab. Benaiah was also later, on Solomon's orders, to kill Shimei for violating the terms of his house arrest. 2 Samuel 8.18; 20.23; 23.20-22; 1 Kings 1.8,10, 26, 32-39, 44; 2.25, 29-35, 46; 4.4; 1 Chronicles 11.22-25; 18.17; 27.5, 6

Benaiah (2) was a Pirathonite, a warrior of David's bodyguard. 2 Samuel 23.30; 1 Chronicles 11.31

Benaiah (3) was an assistant of Conaniah, a Levite appointed by Hezekiah to oversee the collection of tithes, according to the Chronicler. 2 Chronicles 31.13

Benaiah (4) was the name of several Levitical musicians of David's court, according to the Chronicler. 1 Chronicles 15.18, 20, 24; 16-5, 6

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Ben-ammi was the son of Lot by his younger daughter, traditionally an ancestor of the Ammonites. Genesis 19.38

Ben-deker was one of twelve stewards appointed by Solomon to provide supplies for the royal household for one month in the year. He was responsible for Makaz, Shaalbim, Beth-shemesh and Elonbeth-hanan. 1 Kings 4.9

Ben-geber was one of twelve stewards appointed by Solomon to provide supplies for the royal household for one month in the year. He was responsible for Ramoth-gilead and Argob. 1 Kings 4.13

Ben-hadad (1) was a Syrian king, an ally of Asa, by whom he was paid to fight Israel. During Baasha's reign in Israel Ben-hadad captured various cities, but later was defeated by Ahab, who made a peace treaty with him. In the time of Elisha, a ruler called Baasha (who may be the same person) besieged Samaria. The siege being ended by supernatural means, Ben-hadad returned to Syria. He fell ill and sent Hazael to ask Elisha whether or not he would recover. The prophet told Hazael to inform the king that he would recover, but added that he knew Hazael would in fact rule when Baasha died, as he duly did, when Hazael suffocated him. 1 Kings 15.18-20; 20.1-34; 2 Kings 6.24; 8.7-15; 2 Chronicles 16.2-4

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Ben-hadad (2) was the son of Hazael and king of Syria. He lost to Jehoash of Israel the territory won by his father. 2 Kings 13.24, 25

Ben-hail was one of a number of princes sent by Jehoshaphat to teach in the cities of Judah, according to the Chronicler. 2 Chronicles 17.7

Ben-hesed was one of twelve stewards appointed by Solomon to provide supplies for the royal household for one month in the year. He was responsible for Arubboth, Socoh and Hepher. 1 Kings 4.10

Ben-hur was one of twelve stewards appointed by Solomon to provide supplies for the royal household for one month in the year. He was responsible for Ephraim. 1 Kings 4.8

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Benjamin (1) was the twelfth son of Jacob, his second by Rachel (who died after giving birth to him). He was the father of Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard. The name his dying mother gave him was Ben-oni (“son of my sorrow”). Jacob changed this to Benjamin (“son of the right hand” or “son of the south”). After Joseph's disappearance Jacob became especially fond of Benjamin, whom he thought to be the only surviving child of Rachel. Jacob refused to let him accompany his brothers to Egypt, during a famine, to buy grain. However, conditions imposed by Joseph ensured that Benjamin went to Egypt when the brothers returned for more grain, and Joseph tested his brothers by concealing treasure in his belongings, and then arresting him for theft. Subsequently, Joseph disclosed his identity and was reconciled to his (half) brothers, treating his full brother, Benjamin, with especial favour.

Benjamin became the ancestor of a warlike tribe, frequently at odds with the others. Notable Benjaminites included Ehud, Saul (first king of Israel) and Saul (Paul) of Tarsus. Genesis 35.18, 24; 42.2-45.14; 46.21; 49.27; Exodus 1.3; Numbers 26.38-41; 1 Chronicles 2.2; 7.6; 8-1-40

Benjamin (2) was an assistant of Eliashib, during Nehemiah's governorship in Jerusalem. He restored the section of the city wall adjacent to his house. Nehemiah 3.23

Ben-oni was the original name given (by Rachel) to Benjamin. Later Jacob changed it. The name means “son of my sorrow”. Genesis 35.18

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Bera was a king of Sodom, defeated in battle, with his four allies, by a rival alliance of four eastern kings. Forces led by Abraham liberated him and his allies. Bera tried without success to persuade Abraham to take the spoil he had won in the battle. Genesis 14.2-24

Berechiah (1) was a Levitical gatekeeper, a guardian of the Ark of the Covenant in David's court, according to the Chronicler. 1 Chronicles 15.23

Berechiah (2) was a son of Meshillemoth, an Ephraimite chieftain who, with others, prevented Pekah from enslaving the soldiers of Judah, captured in his (Pekah's) defeat of Ahaz. Berechiah and his associates provided the prisoners with clothing, food and drink, and transport for the fatigued, before liberating them. 2 Chronicles 28.12-15

Berechiah (3) was the son of Iddo, the father of the prophet Zechariah. Zechariah 1.1

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Beriah (1) was the fourth son of Asher, a grandson of Jacob and father of Heber and Malchiel. Genesis 46.17; Numbers 26.44, 45; 1 Chronicles 71.30, 31

Beriah (2) was the son of Elpaal, a descendant of Benjamin. 1 Chronicles 8.13

Bernice was the daughter of Herod Agrippa I, the sister of Herod Agrippa II, in whose company she heard the case against Paul, and the apostle's defence of himself. Acts 25.13, 14, 23; 26.30, 31

Bethel (the king of) was a tribal chieftain defeated by Joshua during Israel's conquest of Canaan. Joshua 12.16

Bethuel was the eighth son of Nahor, a nephew of Abraham and Rebekah's father. Genesis 22.22, 23; 24.15, 24; 25.20; 28.2

Bezalel was the son of Uri, a craftsman. On Moses' instructions, Bezalel made the tabernacle, which held the Ark of the Covenant, its hangings and furnishings, and various objects to be contained in it. Exodus 31.2-11; 35.30-39.31; 1 Chronicles 2.20; 2 Chronicles 1.5

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Bidkar was an aide to Jehu, who, having killed Jehoram, charged Bidkar with depositing the body on the plot of ground seized from Naboth by Ahab, Jehoram's father; This task was intended to be a fulfilment of a prophecy of Elijah. 2 Kings 9.25,26

Bightha was one of the seven eunuchs who attended Ahasuerus as chamberlains. Esther 1.10

Bigthan (possibly identical with Bigtha) was a servant of Ahasuerus. A eunuch who served as chamberlain, he was executed when Mordecai discovered and disclosed a plot he and his fellow servant Teresh had made, on the king's life. Esther 2.21-23; 6.2

Bildad was one of the friends of Job. With his two companions, Eliphaz and Zophar, Bildad tried to reason with, and to comfort, Job, at the time of his various misfortunes. Job 2.11-13; 8.1-22; 18.1-21; 25.1-6; 42-7, 9

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Bilhah was a maid in the service of Laban, who gave her to his daughter, Rachel. She persuaded Jacob to have children by Bilhah, who bore Dan and Naphtali to her master. Later Reuben was condemned for having sexual relations with Bilhah (“his father's concubine”). Genesis 29.29; 30.3-8; 35.23-25; 37.2; 46.25; 1 Chronicles 7.13

Bilhan was the son of Ezer, a descendant of Seir the Horite. Genesis 36.27; 1 Chronicles 1.42

Binnui was the son of Henadad, an assistant of Eliahshib in the rebuilding of Jerusalem, during Nehemiah's governorship. Nehemiah 3.24

Birsha was a king of Gomorrah, an ally of Bera and three other kings defeated and captured in the rebellion against Chedor-laomer and his associates. The forces led by Abraham later freed Birsha and his allies. Genesis 14.2-16

Bishlam was a Persian official of Jerusalem during the reign of Artaxerxes 1 (464-423 B.C.). He wrote a letter of protest to the king, concerning the rebuilding of the Jews' temple. Ezra 4.7-22

Biztha was one of seven eunuchs who attended Ahasuerus as chamberlains. Esther 1.10

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Blastus was a chamberlain of Herod Agrippa I, a go-between for the king, in his negotiations with Tyre and Sidon. Acts 12.20

Boanerges is the Greek transliteration of a nickname (meaning "sons of thunder") that Jesus gave to Zebedee's sons, James and John. Mark 3.17

Boaz was the son of Salmon, the husband of Ruth and a great grandfather of David. After her return from Moab the impoverished Ruth took the opportunity of gleaning in the fields of Boaz, who told his servants to leave plenty of grain for her. Advised by Naomi, her mother-in-law, the widowed Ruth wooed Boaz, who married her and became by her the father of Obed. Ruth 2.1-4.21; 1 Chronicles 2.11,12; Matthew 1.5; Luke 3.32

Bukki was the son of Jogli, a representative of Dan in the division of the Promised Land under Moses. Numbers 34.22

Bunni was an assistant of Ezra, a Levite who helped explain the book of the law to the people of Jerusalem, after Ezra's celebration of the feast of booths. Nehemiah 9.4

Buz was the second son of Nahor, a nephew of Abraham. Genesis 22.21

Buzi was the father of the prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel 1.3

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