🔼The name Beth-lebaoth: Summary
- House Of Lionesses
- From (1) the noun בית (beth), house, and (2) the noun לבי (lebi), lioness.
🔼The name Beth-lebaoth in the Bible
The name Beth-lebaoth occurs only once in the Bible. It's listed as one of the cities that became occupied by the tribe of Simeon (Joshua 19:6). Simeon received cities in Judah, but in the list of cities of Judah no Beth-lebaoth is mentioned, only a Lebaoth, which most scholars appear to equate with Beth-lebaoth (Joshua 15:32).
And to add even more to the confusion, the Chronicler, who habitually changes and garbles names for reasons that are not always immediately clear, lists the "same" list of Simeonite towns but changes Beth-lebaoth into Beth-biri (1 Chronicles 4:31).
🔼Etymology of the name Beth-lebaoth
The name Beth-lebaoth 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 appears to be a feminine plural form of the noun לבי (lebi), meaning lioness:
It's not known what the unused verb לבא (lb') might have meant, but a good bet would be: to be courageous (after the noun לב, leb, heart or courage).
More generally, our verb surely had to do with being lion-like: nouns לבי (lebi), לביא (lebiya'), and לביא (labi') all mean lion or lioness.
For a meaning of the name Beth-lebaoth, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads House Of Lionesses. Both Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names and BDB Theological Dictionary propose Place Of Lionesses.