[from Akkadian, meaning “Owner; Master”].
The title Bel was first applied to the god Enlil. Bel was part of the original Sumerian triad of deities, along with Anu and Enki (Ea). When Marduk (Merodach) became the chief god of Babylon, he was also given the name Bel.—See GODS AND GODDESSES (Babylonian Deities).
When one considers the high esteem in which Bel was held, it becomes evident why Jehovah’s prophets, under inspiration, made reference to him as one of the deities to be humiliated at Babylon’s fall. Almost 200 years before Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians, Isaiah foretold that Bel would have to bend down and Nebo would have to stoop over in shameful defeat. Their idol images were for the wild beasts to carry off; unable to help themselves, they would be hauled away as luggage on beasts of burden. Bel and Nebo would not escape. “Their own soul,” that is, they themselves, would go into captivity. (Isa 46:1, 2; see also Jer 50:2.) Jehovah would force Bel to give up what he had swallowed by means of his worshipers, who attributed their victories to him. Especially would Bel have to give up Jehovah’s exiled people and the sacred utensils of His temple. No more would the people of the nations whom Babylon had conquered stream to the worship of Bel or surrender to his worshipers as if to the chief god of the world.—Jer 51:44; see MERODACH.