🔼The name Beriah: Summary
- In Evil
- From (1) the prefix ב (be), in, and (2) the noun רע (ra'), evil.
🔼The name Beriah in the Bible
There are four different men named Beriah in the Bible:
- One of the sons of Asher, son of Jacob and Zilpah, and father of Heber and Malchiel (Genesis 46:17, 1 Chronicles 7:30-31). These men were among the sixty-six proto-Israelites who made the trek to Goshen in Egypt, where they formed the clan of the Beriites (בריעי; Numbers 26:44, not to be confused with the Berites, ברים, who are mentioned in 2 Samuel 20:14)
- A son of Ephraim who was named Beriah in commemoration of the death of probably two of his brothers, namely Ezer and Elead, who were killed by a gang from Gath (1 Chronicles 7:23).
- A descendant of Benjamin, son of Jacob and Rachel, who headed his family living in Aijalon and who ran off the men from Gath (1 Chronicles 8:13, spelled ברעה).
- One of four sons of a Gershonite Levite named Shimei (1 Chronicles 23:10). This Beriah and his brother Jeush didn't have much offspring so they joined into one clan.
🔼Etymology of the name Beriah
There is no root ברע (br') and this name is most likely a compound. The idea behind the naming of three out of four Beriahs isn't told, but for the son of Ephraim we have an explanation: "and he called his name Beriah because with evil (ברעה) was his house" (1 Chronicles 7:23).
Ergo: the name Beriah consists of two elements, the first one being the particle ב (be), meaning in or with:
Prefix ב (be) means in, within or by means of.
The second part of our name comes from the noun רע (ra'), meaning evil or calamity:
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.
For a meaning of the name Beriah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Evil (which omits the ב, be, for no reason), and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes In Calamity.
Despite the explanation in 1 Chronicles 7:23, BDB Theological Dictionary declares the root of this name unknown and lists it in its alphabetical place.