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Baal-berith meaning

בעל ברית
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🔼The name Baal-berith in the Bible

The name Baal-berith features in the very sad story of the family of Gideon. It's mentioned twice.

When Gideon (now called Jerubbaal) dies after guiding Israel for forty years, the Israelites return to the idolatry that Gideon had freed them from, and erect Baal-berith, their god (Judges 8:33).

When Abimelech, the son of Gideon with his concubine from Shechem, persuades his fellow Shechemites that he should be their king, they give him seventy pieces of silver from the house of Baal-berith (in full: Beth-baal-berith; Judges 9:4). With that money Abimelech acquires a band of sordid thugs and proceeds to slaughter his seventy half-brothers, all on one stone. After the insurrection of Zebul and Gaal, Abimelech massacres the elite of Shechem by setting fire to the temple of El-berith, which was probably the same deity as Baal-berith (Judges 9:46).

🔼Etymology of the name Baal-berith

The name Baal-berith obviously consists of two elements. The first part is the familiar word בעל (ba'al), Baal, meaning lord or master:

The second part of our name is the same as the feminine noun ברית (berit), meaning covenant:

🔼Baal-berith meaning

For a meaning of the name Baal-berith, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads the rather awkward Lord Of Covenant. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names properly concludes that a construction like this is best translated with a plural, and reads Lord Of Covenants. BDB Theological Dictionary appears to omit this name.

It's quite possible, and probably even insinuated, that Baal-berith was devised after the covenant Joshua renewed for the people of Israel, at the end of the conquest of Canaan (Joshua 24:6). To commemorate that event, Joshua erected a stone. Close to Shechem was also a place named Beth-millo, or the House Of The Monolith, and Beth-baal-berith may in fact be the same as Beth-millo.

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