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Meaning and etymology of the name Laban

Laban Laban

Laban is a son of Bethuel, son of Nahor with Milcah. Laban is also the brother of Rebekah and father of Leah and Rachel, the wives of Jacob (Genesis 24:29).

The name Laban comes from the unused root Laban (lbn), and is identical to the word Laban (laban), meaning white. In our modern sense of symbolism, white is often associated to goodness and black to badness but in the Bible this difference is far less pronounced. In the Bible, whiteness may simply be a hue (Genesis 30:35), and it may denote moral purity (Psalm 51:7; washed "whiter than snow") but it's also the color of judgment (Joel 1:7) and skin disease such as leprosy (Leviticus 13, Numbers 12:10, where Miriam turns leprous and "white as snow").

Some other derivatives:
The verb Laban (laben), meaning to be white;
The noun lebana (lebanah), meaning moon (a name derived from another word for moon is Jerah);
The noun lebana (lebonah), frankincense (a white powder);
The name lebana (lebanon), Lebanon;
The noun lebana (lebneh), meaning poplar;
The noun lebana (lebenah), brick;
The verb Laban (laban 1074h), meaning to make bricks. The latter two are used in succession in Genesis 11:3, where the tower builders say,

"Let us laban labans and burn them thoroughly."

For a meaning of the name Laban, both NOBS Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names read White.



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