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Meaning and etymology of the Hebrew name Debir

Debir Debir

There's only one person named Debir in the Bible, namely a king of Eglon whose allegiance Adoni-zedek, the Jebusite king of Jerusalem, seeks after Joshua has sacked Jericho and Ai (Joshua 10:3).

There are also a few towns named Debir: one in Judah, a.k.a Kiriath-sepher (Joshua 15:15). Caleb offers his daughter Aschah as a wife to whoever will conquer this town, and Otniel the son of Kenaz captures it and gets the girl (Joshua 17). This town also becomes one of the cities of refuge assigned to the Levitical priests (Joshua 21:15). Another town or region named Debir lies east of the Jordan which may actually also be spelled Lidebir (Lidebir; Joshua 13:26). And then there is (probably) another town in Judah named Debir, which may actually also be spelled dibra (Joshua 15:7).

The word debir is identical to a nickname of the Holy of Holies in Solomon's temple, and is derived of the magnificent root dabar. For an extensive look at that root see our article on the name Dabar; Word of God.

One of the towns called Debir was also known as Kiriath-sepher. Kiriath means town, and sepher (sapar), means book. Some translators render this name 'oracle' and perhaps for the king's name this may be. But the town whose name was first Town Of The Book, and whose new name is identical to the name of the Holy of Holies may certainly have become known as Place Of The Word.

NOBS Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names both read Oracle.



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