🔼The name Beth-barah in the Bible
The name Beth-barah occurs twice in the Bible, and both times in the same verse. When Gideon calls upon the men of Israel, after he and his 300 braves have the Midianites on the run, his message to his people is, "Come down against Midian and take the waters before them, as far as Beth-barah and the Jordan" (Judges 7:24).
🔼Etymology of the name Beth-barah
The name Beth-barah consists of two elements. The first part is identical to the common Hebrew word בית (bayit) meaning house:
The second part of our name is harder to place. Scholars seem convinced that the ברה-part of our name is really the word עברה ('abara), meaning ford or wadi. It comes from the familiar root אבר ('abar), meaning to pass over:
The valiant Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) reports that Beth-barah in "later times" was indeed called בית עברה (beth-araba), which he translates with Place Of The Ferry Boat. But to those upon whom these later times hadn't yet come, the name Beth-barah could hardly be associated with עברה. In stead, a Hebrew audience would probably hear something out of the following root-cluster:
To a Hebrew audience, the name Beth-barah would have meant something like House of Cleanness or House Of Food or even House Of Covenant Making.
Still, for a meaning of the name Beth-barah, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names read Place Of The Ford. BDB Theological Dictionary offers its signature prudent question mark, and the equation with the imaginary name בית עברה, which BDB translates with Place Of Ford.