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Succoth-benoth meaning

סכות בנות
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🔼The name Succoth-benoth in the Bible

The name Succoth-benoth occurs only once in the Bible, although it may be an expansion of the name Sikkuth, which may or may not occur in the Bible at all. But both these names belong to either one or else two separate Babylonian/Assyrian deities (where Sikkuth probably had to do with the planet Saturn).

Succoth-benoth was one of the pagan gods that were introduced in Canaan by Babylonian settlers who came to the region after king Shalmaneser V of Assyria had deported much of the Israelite population (2 Kings 17:30). We don't exactly know to which known deity the name Succoth-benoth refers. It's not uncommon for Hebrew authors to mutate or mutilate names of pagan gods to express their disgust with them, but the result is that we have a hard time estimating which original name they actually mutilated.

Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) assumes that Succoth-benoth is an extension of the name Sikkuth, which would refer to a specialized form of its cult (namely something to do with little booths, not unlike those used by the Israelites during the Feast Of Booths). BDB Theological Dictionary relates the belief of some scholars that Succoth-benoth is a corruption of Zir-banit, a.k.a. Zarpanituw, the wife of Marduk . Other scholars assume that the name Succoth-benoth reflects both characters of this divine couple, where the Succoth-part is a corruption of Marduk and the benoth-part refers to Zir-banit.

🔼Etymology of the name Succoth-benoth

The name Succoth-benoth obviously consists of two elements. A Hebrew audience would probably recognize the first part of our name as derived from the noun סכה (sukka), meaning booth:

The second part of our name is the regular plural of the word בת (bat), meaning daughter:

🔼Succoth-benoth meaning

Since we don't know which theological folly the name Succoth-benoth was supposed to infer, it's hard to pinpoint what it literally means. BDB Theological Dictionary argues that our name is a corruption of Zir-banit, which apparently means Seed-bearing or Seed-creating in Babylonian. But to the Hebrews (also because of the deliberate verbal mutilation) our name meant something completely different:

For a meaning of our name Succoth-benoth, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Tabernacles Of Girls and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has the similar Tabernacles Of Daughters. But the Hebrew word for tabernacle is אהל (ohel), and a more precise translation of Succoth-benoth is Booths Of Daughters.

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