HIEL (Heb. אֲחִיאֵל ,חִיאֵל; "the [divine] brother, or kinsman, is God"), the Bethelite (see *Beth-El), who fortified *Jericho in the reign of King *Ahab of Israel (I Kings 16:34). The Hebrew verb employed in the Bible (בנה, bnh) commonly means "to build"; but when its object is the word for "town" or the name of some town, a town wall or other fortification is meant. Since no archaeological remains of city walls of that period have been discovered at this site but a granary of that period has been, the verse may refer merely to the construction of a fortified public building. The verse goes on to say that Hiel "laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram and set up its doorleaves [see *door] at the cost of his youngest [or younger] son Segub," and this was a fulfillment of the curse of Joshua (Josh. 6:26) upon anyone who fortified Jericho. It has been suggested that Hiel offered his sons as foundation sacrifices, but that can only have been the case with the first-born, and even that is not the natural implication of either of the two scriptural passages. Both of these imply merely that the fortifier's two (or more?) sons perished successively, in the order of their birth, in the course of the work. Their deaths are understood by the writer as the fulfillment of Joshua's curse on anyone who would rebuild Jericho or any part of it.
[Harold Louis Ginsberg]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.