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Meaning and etymology of the name Heth




Heth Heth


Heth is a son of Canaan, son of Ham, son of Noah (Genesis 10:5), and probably the ancestor of a group of Hittites (Genesis 15:20).

BDB Theological Dictionary declares etymology and meaning unknown, but for the slightly more creative reader, the name Heth comes from a root rich in meaning, namely hatat (hatat). According to HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, "the basic idea is to be broken," but here at Abarim we see very little proof of that. Judging from the many occurrences of this verb and its derivates, the most general idea of this verb is to deplete of strength, to deflate, or rather to take away an essential support or support structure, most often that of courage or willpower (Jeremiah 14:4 or 50:2, Isaiah 7:8 or 31:9, Job 32:15).

It should be noted that the verb hata (hata), to which our verb hatat may not be etymologically linked but which looks a lot like it does anyway, denotes a snatching up or away, mostly of fire or coals.

The derivatives of the verb hatat are:
hat (hat), which is commonly translated with terror or fear and which is identical to the name Heth (Genesis 9:2, Job 41:25);
hat (hat), which is identical to the previous word and also to the name Heth, and is commonly said to mean shattered or dismayed (1 Samuel 2:4, Ezekiel 32:30, Jeremiah 46:5);
hatat (hatat), meaning terror as used in Job 6:21;
hitta (hitta), meaning terror as used in Genesis 35:5 - note how this noun resembles the verb hata (hata);
hathat (hathat), terror as used in Ecclesiastes 12:5 - basically twice the name Heth in a row;
hata (hittit), terror;
mehitta (mehitta), destruction, ruin, terror (Psalms 89:40, Proverbs 10:14).

The word hat, which is identical to our name Heth, often occurs together with the word yare (yare), to fear or be afraid (see for instance Genesis 9:2). This latter word means besides simply be afraid, also to revere, an intellectual anticipation of evil (as HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament puts it), and even righteous behavior and formal religious worship. In other words, the Hebrew understanding of fear and terror wasn't as simple as that of ours but also encompassed the source and the consequence of fear. From that we deduct that the name Heth doesn't simply mean Terror, but much rather something like Depleter or Exhauster. In our day and age mister Heth would probably earn the nickname Leech. Also see Hittite.

For the meaning of the name Heth, NOBS Study Bible Name List reads Terror. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Dread, Fear.

Possibly related names are Hathath, Jahath and Mahath.







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