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Meaning and etymology of the name Bildad

Bildad Bildad

There's only one man named Bildad in the Bible. He's one the three (or rather four) friends of Job, who discuss with him the finer points of existence. The other two are Eliphaz and Zophar. Friend number four is a young man named Barachel, who waits to speak until the other three are done, and that takes thirty-one chapters.

The name Bildad consists of two elements, but there's no consensus on which ones those are.

According to BDB Theological Dictionary and NOBS Study Bible Name List, the first part of the name comes from the Babylonian divine name Bel, which is closely related to the name Baal, and means Lord.

BDB and NOBS further agree that the second part of the name Bildad comes from the verb yadad (yadad), which probably means to love, judging from its three derivatives:

The noun yadid (yadid) means beloved or lovely. HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament claims that the basic meaning of this noun is "one greatly loved" by God, and it's "primarily employed to describe the nation of Israel (or Judah) and individuals as those who are greatly loved by the Lord." The noun yedidot (yedidot) means love song (Psalm 45:1). And the noun yedidut (yedidut) means beloved one (Jeremiah 12:7).

Our verb yadad is also likely to be related to the root dwd (dwd), which also means to love. It is the root of the name David.

Hence, for a meaning of the name Bildad, NOBSE and BDB both read Bel Has Loved.

Other names that make use of the roots ydd or dwd are Bildad, Dodo, Dodai, Dodavahu, Eldad, Elidad, Iddo, Jaddai, Jedidah, Jedidiah and Medad.

The venerable Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) does not agree with NOBS and BDB, quite possibly because it's beyond awful that a friend of Job and a defender of the faith in the only true God would be named after an idol. Jones refers to a certain procedure that also produced the name Bidkar, and claims that the name Bildad comes from (a) the word ben (ben), meaning son (see the name Ben), and (b) the verb ldd (ldd), which doesn't exist in Hebrew but which means to contend or to strive in a cognate language (Syriac?). Thus Jones renders the name Bildad the meaning of Son Of Contention, and assumes that this man was named as such "from the powers of his contention."



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