🔼The name Beth-anath: Summary
- House Of Answer, Business, Affliction, Singing or ... Temple of Anath
- From (1) the noun בית (beth), house, and (2) either the divine name Anath or the verb ענה ('ana), to answer, be busy, afflict or sing.
🔼The name Beth-anath in the Bible
The original inhabitants of Beth-anath were enslaved by their new landlords, and turned into a forced labor force (Judges 1:33).
Note the highly similar name Beth-anoth, which belonged to a city in Judah.
The second occurrence of this name in Judges 1:33 is spelled without the maqqep (בית ענת).
🔼Etymology of the name Beth-anath
The name Beth-anath consists of two elements. The first part is identical to the common Hebrew word בית (bayit) meaning house:
The noun בית (bayit) means house. It sometimes merely denotes a domestic building, but mostly it denotes the realm of authority of the house-father, or אב (ab). This ab is commonly the living alpha male of a household, but may very well be a founding ancestor (as in the familiar term the "house of Israel"). The אב (ab) may also be a deity, in which case the בית (bayit) is that which we know as a temple.
In the larger economy, a house interacts with other houses. These interactions are governed by the אב (ab), or "father" and executed by the בנים (benim), or "sons": those people living in the house, irrespective of any biological relation with the אב (ab). The "sons" combined add up to אם ('em), which means both "mother" and "tribe".
The second part of our name comes from the root group ענה, meaning to answer, be busy, afflict or sing:
There are four verbs of the form ענה ('nh), or perhaps one verb with four distinct usages:
Verb ענה ('ana I) means to answer, respond or correspond, and since in the old world time was considered a cycle, noun עת ('et) means time. Temporal adverb עתה ('atta) means now; adjective עתי ('itti) means timely or ready, and conjunction יען (ya'an) means on account of. Noun מענה (ma'aneh) means an answer and noun ענה ('ona) means cohabitation.
Verb ענה ('ana II) means to be busy or occupied with. Noun ענין ('inyan) means occupation or task, and noun מענה (ma'ana) means place for or agent of a task.
Verb ענה ('ana III) means to afflict, oppress or humble. Noun ענו ('anaw) refers to the poor, afflicted or needy. Noun ענוה ('anawa) means humility. Noun ענות ('enut) means affliction. Adjective עני ('ani) means poor or afflicted. Noun עני ('oni) means affliction or poverty, and noun תענית (ta'anit) means humiliation.
Verb ענה ('ana IV) means to sing.
There's no way to be sure what meaning the Hebrews gave to the name Beth-anath. It may have meant House Of Answer, or House Of Business, or House Of Affliction, or House Of Singing. The anath-part may even have come from the widely known female deity named Anat, but then, that name points at the same root group אנה.
For a meaning of our name, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads House Of Anath (the goddess), and BDB Theological Dictionary proposes the similar Temple Of Anat. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names says House Of Response, "i.e. House Of Echo".