🔼The name Bera: Summary
- Son Of Evil, In Evil
- From (1) either ב (be), in, or בן (ben), son, and (2) the noun רע (ra), evil.
🔼The name Bera in the Bible
There's only one Bera in the Bible and he is the king of Sodom, featured in the War of Four Against Five Kings (Genesis 14). Bera is one of the coalition of five kings who arise against kings Amraphel, Arioch, Chedorlaomer and Tidal. The fight takes place in the valley of Siddim and ends poorly for the five. At least two of the five, including Bera, fall in one of the many tar pits in that area and we may assume that they subsequently perished (14:10).
🔼Etymology of the name Bera
According to BDB Theological Dictionary, the root and meaning of this name are unknown.
Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names, undeterred as ever, thinks that our name Bera belongs to a small group of names that start out with a truncated form of the familiar noun בן (ben), meaning son:
The noun בן (ben) means son, or more general: a member of one particular social or economic node — called a "house", which is built upon the instructions of one אב ('ab), or "father" — within in a larger economy (hence: the "sons of the prophet" are the members of the prophet-class; the prophets). This noun obviously resembles the verb בנה (bana), to build, and the noun אבן ('eben), stone.
Our noun's feminine version, namely בת (bat), means daughter, which resembles the noun בית (bayit), meaning house. Sometimes our noun is contracted into a single letter ב, whose name beth comes from בית (bayit) and means "house" as well. As a prefix, the letter ב (be) means "in." The word for mother, אם ('em), is highly similar to that of tribe or people, אמה ('umma).
The second part of our name could then be construed to come from the word רע (ra), meaning evil:
Most broadly, the root רעע (ra'a') describes compartmentalization: to break some continuum apart into separated elements. Human minds are designed to be nodes of a much greater network of exchange, and must continuously interact to maintain a liquidity of wisdom — hence the noun רע (rea'), meaning friend or companion (and hence too the story of the Tower of Babel).
All wealth requires liquidity and that requires units of economy to go around. This explains why "evil" — רע, ra', evil — is not the opposite of "good" but instrumental to it: hence the perfect Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the heart of perfect Paradise. Despite popular misconceptions, in the Bible, all רע (rea') comes from God (Isaiah 45:7) and has a specific and wonderful function in any naturally evolving system.
Verb רעה (ra'a I) means to pasture or feed and the participle רעה (ra'a) means shepherd. Nouns רעי (re'i) and מרעה (mir'eh) mean pasture. Noun מרעית (mar'it) means pasturage.
Verb רעה (ra'a II) means to associate with. Nouns רע (rea'), רעה (re'eh) and מרע (merea') mean friend, associate or "neighbor". Nouns רעיה (ra'ya), רעה (re'a) and רעות (re'ut) describe a female attendant, mate or friend.
There may or not be an unused verb רעה (ra'a III) or else the following belong to the previous: noun רע (rea'), aim or purpose; nouns רעות (re'ut) and רעיון (ra'yon), longing or striving.
Verb רוע (rua') means to produce a sudden burst of sound. Nouns רע (rea') and תרועה (teru'a) describe a collective rallying cry, a war cry.
Any Hebrew audience may have heard a compound of either of the instances of the form רע listed above and the very common Hebrew preposition ב (be) meaning in, at or by:
Prefix ב (be) means in, within or by means of.
Judging from the context this name is probably meant to mean Son Of Evil (according to Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) or In Evil or Through Evil. The name of Bera's comrogue Birsha seems to be formed from the same idea and means something similar.