🔼The name Berothai: Summary
- Wells, Wells Of Yah
- From (1) the noun באר (be'er), a well, and possibly (2) יה (yah), the shortened name of the Lord.
🔼The name Berothai in the Bible
The name Berothai occurs only once in the Bible. Betah and Berothai are two cities of Hadadezer, son of Rehob, king of Zobah of Moab, from which king David looted huge amounts of bronze (2 Samuel 8:8). The Chronicler calls these cities Tibhath and Cun and adds that Solomon used this bronze to make the temple's pillars, great sea and utensils (1 Chronicles 18:8). For a discussion on why these accounts may differ, see our article on the name Harodite.
Some scholars demand that the prophet Ezekiel refers to Berothai as Berothah, but these two may very well be different cities (Ezekiel 47:16).
🔼Etymology of the name Berothai
The name Berothai probably comes from a plural form of the noun באר (be'er), meaning well:
The verb ברר (barar) essentially means to clean, purify or clarify. Usually, whatever needs to be purified is first pulverized and then sorted: the useful elements are gathered and stored, and the fluff, chaff, dust and other garbage is either blown away by wind, washed away by water, burned with fire or simply scooped up and physically dumped somewhere. In the case of metal ore, the material is heated so that the good stuff flows out and separates by its nature from the bad stuff and its nature.
Derived adjective בר (bar) means pure or clean and identical noun בר (bar) denotes a kernel of grain or corn. Noun בר (bor) denotes a kind of material that was used in the metal purification process, and identical masculine noun בר (bor) means cleanness or pureness. Feminine noun ברית (borit) denotes a kind of soap (and is spelled identical to the word meaning covenant; see below). Noun בר (bar) describes a field (perhaps a freshly plowed, cleaned and ready-to-sow one?), and the masculine plural noun ברברים (barburim) denotes a kind of bird known literally and for unknown reasons as "cleany-cleanies."
Verb באר (ba'ar) describes writing on tablets of stone. Nouns באר (be'er), באר (bo'r) and בור (bor) mean well or pit, and obviously not merely refer to physical cisterns but rather to centers of learning and information technology (because yes, writing is information technology and then as hip as blockchain is now).
Verb ברא (bara' I) denotes the creative activity of God, which (as we know from modern cosmology) predominantly has to do with giving elements the freedom to sort themselves into constructions that are deemed stable by the laws that govern creation (and which ultimately describe freedom). Noun בריאה (beri'a) denotes a creation, "an entirely new thing".
Verb ברא (bara' II) means to be fat, and since fat is essentially an organic storage of energy, this verb is in modern terms neatly explained by relativity theory. Since anything unstable falls apart when exposed to energy, only stable compounds can gain mass. Likewise, a fat guy is clearly at peace and well provisioned (and not on the run or forced to labor half starving). Adjective בריא (bari') means fat and consequently healthy and prosperous. Verb ברה (bara) means to eat. Nouns בריה (birya) and ברות (barut) mean food.
Noun ברית (berit) means covenant and occurs all over the Bible. Although it's not wholly clear how it technically relates to the above, the gist of it is clear. A covenant clears up a working relation between parties and leads to peace, prosperity and ultimately more clarity and cleanness between said parties. Note that it is spelled the same as the word for soap (see above, and see our article on Soap in the Old World).
The letter י yod upon which our name ends can have all kinds of functions. It may turn the beroth-part into an adjective (wells-like) or a possessive (my wells). Or it may be a remnant of יה, the shorter form of יהוה, or YHWH, the name of the Lord.
For a meaning of the name Berothai, NOBSE Study Bible Name List appears to ignore the final yod and simply reads Wells. Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) sees in the final yod a remnant of YHWH and proposes Wells Of The Lord. BDB Theological Dictionary does not interpret Berothai but does list it under the noun באר (be'er), meaning well.