Tabor meaning | Tabor etymology

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Tabor in Biblical Hebrew
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The name Tabor in the Bible

The name Tabor is ascribed to one mountain and three towns in the Bible. Tabor the mountain is situated on the border of Zebulun and Issachar, south-west of the Sea of Galilee (Joshua 19:22). Towns named Tabor are:

  • A town of unknown location (Judges 8:18).
  • A Levitical town in Zebulun (1 Chronicles 6:77).
  • A place near Bethel, known for a famous oak (1 Samuel 10:3).

Etymology of the name Tabor

It's not clear where the name Tabor comes from or what it means. There's no word in Hebrew that comes close to this name. The letter taw with which the name begins may be a remnant of a grammatical form, namely the imperfect of a verb. The question is: which verb?

Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names takes the name Tabor from the verb ברר (barar), meaning to purge, purify or clean:

Abarim Publications Theological Dictionary

Then Jones translates the verb ברר (barar) rather liberally with to sever, and the name Tabor with Stone-Quarry. Perhaps Jones is aware of a otherwise unknown verb, or the verb exists in other languages and neither Jones nor BDB Theological Dictionary nor any of the other sources used mention it, but in the Bible and to a Hebrew audience, the name Tabor wouldn't bring to mind a stone quarry.

Another possibility is the verb באר (ba'ar), meaning to declare, make plain. This root curiously yields derivations that all have to do with pits or water wells. Derivation באר (bor) means pit, cistern, well. A possible by-form of this verb is בור (bur) meaning declare, explain, prove.

Tabor meaning

The name Tabor may mean Stone Quarry in the language in which it was conceived, but to a Hebrew audience it probably sounded like Purifying or Declaring.

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