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Zarethan meaning

צרתן
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🔼The name Zarethan in the Bible

The name Zarethan (or Zarthan as some translations have it) belongs to a village on the river Jordan and close to a place called Adam (Joshua 3:16). It's the site of Israel's miraculous crossing of the Jordan, when upon touch of the Ark of the Covenant, the waters upstream heaped up at Adam, near Zarethan, and the waters downstream flowed away, leaving a dry patch for the people to cross.

After the conquest of Canaan, Zarethan became situated in the territory allotted to the tribe of Manasseh. We hear again from this town when Baana, son of Ahilud, became one of king Solomon's twelve officials in "Taanach and Megiddo and all Beth-shean, which is beside Zarethan" (1 Kings 4:12).

This was a pretty important post because much of the bronze utensils that Hiram made for Solomon's temple were cast in the plain of the Jordan, "in the clay ground between Succoth and Zarethan" (1 Kings 7:46). The Chronicler reports of the same but tells of Huram-abi who did his metallurgy between Succoth and Zeredah (1 Chronicles 4:16-17).

🔼Etymology of the name Zarethan

It's not overly obvious where the name Zarethan may come from, but many scholars readily assume that Zarethan is the same as Zererath (צררת) mentioned in Judges 7:22. If that is true, but even if isn't, the name Zarethan may very well be derived from any of the following, but particularly any of the words spelled צרה:

In names that are older than the Hebrew the Bible was written in, the letter ה often alternates with the letter ת, and the final נ (nun) may be attached to a word to create a diminutive form, or a "place of" kind of word (this is usually done by adding ון, see the list of ון-names to the left).

🔼Zarethan meaning

For a meaning of the name Zarethan, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Cooling but NOBSE appears to make a string of errors. It assumes that Zeredah and Zarethan are the same place, but then sticks the meaning of the name Zeredah to Zarethan, and translates Zeredah with The Fortress, possibly from the verb צור (sur II).

Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names goes with צר, meaning narrow, and assumes that the final nun comes from אן, a particle of inquisition that asks "where?" and translates our name with Narrowness Of Dwelling Place (and generously admits that the etymology is uncertain).

BDB Theological Dictionary does not interpret the name Zarethan and lists it under צרר III (but this probably because that's where this name would go alphabetically).

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