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Meaning and etymology of the name Zebulun

Zebulun Zebulun

Zebulun is Jacob's son number ten, and Leah's sixth.

"Now my husband will be honored to dwell with me,
because I borne him six sons."
- Genesis 30:20, Abarim Publications translation.

The name Zebulun was probably around long before the Hebrew verb 'to dwell gloriously' was invented. HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament makes mention of Speiser's link to the Akkadian zubullu, which denotes a bridegroom's gift. Curiously enough, in Hebrew the word for gift of endowment is zebed (zebed), from the similar verb zabad (zabad), meaning to endow with or bestow upon. The only narrative occurrence of this verb and this noun in the Bible is in Genesis 30:20, where Leah names Zebulun, saying: "God has endowed me with a good gift..." This same verb and noun give rise to more than half a dozen of names: Elzabad, Jehozabad, Jozabad, Zabad, Zabbud, Zabdi, Zabdiel, Zabud, Zebadiah, Zebedee and Zebidah, but not Zubulun.

The name Zebulun itself, relative to the text of the Torah, is openly related to the verb zabal (zabal), meaning to exalt or honor. This verb is also only used in Genesis 30:20, so its meaning should be taken from its derivatives. The noun zabal (zebul), meaning habitation, height, occurs only five times:

In 1 Kings 8:13 Solomon gives his Temple initiation speech. He address God, and speaks of a lofty dwelling for the Lord. Isaiah portraits God looking down from His holy and glorious dwelling place (63:15). Hab 3:11 may refer to Joshua's longest day (Joshua 10:12) and tells of the heavens as dwelling place for the sun and the moon. The last occurrence is in Ps 49:14, where the authors exclaim that the form of the dead will be consumed in Sheol, so that they have no habitation .

The name Zebulun means Glorious Dwelling Place.

For a meaning of the name Zebulun, NOBS Study Bible Name List reads a rather reserved Dwelling. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Wished-For Habitation.



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