🔼The name Bamoth-baal: Summary
- High Place Of The Lord
- From (1) the noun במה (bama), high place, and (2) the verb בעל (ba'al), to be lord.
🔼The name Bamoth-baal in the Bible
The name Bamoth-baal occurs once or twice in the Bible. When Moses divided Canaan into territories for the tribes of Israel to live, Reuben was allotted Heshbon and all its cities which were on the plain. Bamoth-baal is among them (Joshua 13:17). Most scholars equate Bamoth-baal with the city simply called Bamoth, but that is not necessarily correct.
The other time this name occurs is in Numbers 22:41, where Balak took Balaam in order to show him a portion of the Israelites, and where they built seven altars. Several modern English translations of the Bible (including the KJV and the NAS) don't speak of Bamoth-baal here but of the "high places of Baal".
🔼Etymology of the name Bamoth-baal
The name Bamoth-baal obviously consists of two elements. The first element is the same as the name Bamoth, and is either a normal plural of the feminine noun במה (bama), meaning high place, or else the same as that noun but written in a form of Hebrew that is older than the Hebrew of the Bible:
The noun במה (bama) is of unclear pedigree and it describes high places such as mountain tops or ridges. High places were much in vogue to serve as places of worship, and control over them was essential for control over a land by military force.
The second part of our name Bamoth-baal is the same as the name Baal, which means lord or master:
The verb בעל (ba'al) means to exercise dominion over; to own, control or be lord over. The ubiquitous noun בעל (ba'al) means lord, master and even husband, and its feminine counterpart בעלה (ba'ala) means mistress or landlady.
God is obviously called 'lord' all over the Bible and the sin of the Baal priests (1 Kings 18:40) was not that they called upon some other deity but rather their incessant howling of the word 'lord' without any further responsibility or effects (see Matthew 7:21 and 11:4-5).
For a meaning of the name Bamoth-baal, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names read High Places Of Baal. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't treat Bamoth-baal separately, but translates the name Bamoth with High Place or Great High Place, and customarily translates ba'al with Possessor.