🔼The name Beth-ezel: Summary
- A Place Near, House Of Joining
- From (1) the noun בית (beth), house, and (2) the verb אצל ('asal), to join or be near.
🔼The name Beth-ezel in the Bible
The name Beth-ezel occurs only once in the Bible, namely in the curious paragraph of Micah 1:10-16 in which the prophet rattles off a collection of premonitions and exhortations directed to cities that are mostly unmentioned in the rest of the Bible (Micah 1:11).
It's certainly possible that Micah addressed a few unremarkable hamlets and settlements in Judah but it seems more plausible that he used these names (or even invented them) to compose statements that were applicable to any reader. Many scholars assume that Beth-ezel is the same as Azel, mentioned by Zechariah as the furthermost point of a corridor of escape that YHWH will create through mount Olivet (Zechariah 14:5).
Micah's message to Beth-ezel is difficult to translate, but it appears that Micah agrees with Zechariah that Beth-ezel or Azel will have some kind of function in the evacuation of Jerusalem during the final conflict. Right before Micah mentions Beth-ezel, he submits that the inhabitants of Zaanan will not escape.
🔼Etymology of the name Beth-ezel
The name Beth-ezel 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 אצל ('sl), which expresses proximity:
Unused verb אצל ('sl) probably meant to join. Noun אצל ('assil) means a joint or joining.
Preposition אצל ('esel) means beside and denominative verb אצל ('asal) means to approximate or disintegrate — i.e. to move toward a position just next of a solid state. Noun אציל ('asil) describes an item, condition or status that sits just next to another (greater, better, higher) item, condition or status.
In front of the ezel-part occurs the letter ה (he), which is quite common in beth-names. It probably denotes a motion towards, and the whole name could be interpreted as House On The Way To Nearness.
For a meaning of the name Beth-ezel, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads A Place Near and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has A Place Of Nearness. BDB Theological Dictionary does not offer an interpretation of our name but does list it under the root אצל ('sl).