🔼The name Baal-shalishah: Summary
- Lord Of Three
- From (1) the verb בעל (ba'al), to be lord, and (2) the noun שלש (shalosh), three.
🔼The name Baal-shalishah in the Bible
The name Baal-shalishah occurs only once in the Bible. During a famine, the prophet Elisha takes care of the people by providing them with food. An unnamed man from Baal-shalishah brings Elisha twenty loaves of barley and some grain (2 Kings 4:42). With that, Elisha miraculously feeds a hundred men, and after it there is food left over.
🔼Etymology of the name Baal-shalishah
The name Baal-shalisha consists of two parts. The first part is the familiar word בעל (ba'al), meaning lord or master:
The verb בעל (ba'al) means to exercise dominion over; to own, control or be lord over. The ubiquitous noun בעל (ba'al) means lord, master and even husband, and its feminine counterpart בעלה (ba'ala) means mistress or landlady.
God is obviously called 'lord' all over the Bible and the sin of the Baal priests (1 Kings 18:40) was not that they called upon some other deity but rather their incessant howling of the word 'lord' without any further responsibility or effects (see Matthew 7:21 and 11:4-5).
The second part of our name comes from the root שלש (shalosh), which pertains to the number three:
The noun שלש (shalosh) or שלוש (shalosh) or שלשה (shalosha) means three and is also the base for the words for thirteen, thirty, third, and so on. The number three may represent confirmation (of two witnesses), the smallest form of "many," i.e. a few or some, or the smallest possible cycle.
It's probably prudent to note that the contemporary idea of a Divine Triad or Trinity stems from the Roman Capitoline Triad and not in the least from anything remotely Biblical. Of course there are Father, Word and Spirit but they are one and not at all three, or five or a hundred. Nobody within the Jewish tradition associated God with any number other than one.
For a meaning of the name Baal-shalishah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Lord Of Shalisha (probably because there is also a town named Shalisha).
Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes Having A Third, but that's a touch liberal. The name Baal-shalisha is indubitably part of the cluster of names dedicated to Baal.
BDB Theological Dictionary does not interpret the name Baal-shalishah.