🔼The name Beth-shean: Summary
- House Of Security, House Of Perpetuity
- From (1) the noun בית (beth), house, and (2) the verb שאן (sha'an), to be undisturbed.
🔼The name Beth-shean in the Bible
Beth-shean was a city apparently in the south of the territory of Issachar, but it wasn't assigned to Issachar. The older books of the Bible report that Beth-shean was assigned to the tribe of Manasseh (Joshua 17:11, Judges 1:27) but the Chronicler places Beth-shean (and adjacent towns) in Ephraim, on the border with Manasseh (1 Chronicles 7:29). The reason for this confusion is possibly because none of the tribes could take possession of Beth-shean and environs because the indigenous Canaanites, who had iron chariots, wouldn't budge (Joshua 17:16).
By the time of king Solomon, control over Beth-shean appears to have been established. One of Solomon's twelve deputies, namely Baana son of Ahilud, held sway over Beth-shean and environs (1 Kings 4:12).
🔼Etymology of the name Beth-shean
The name Beth-shean 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 verb שאן (sha'an), meaning to be undisturbed:
The verb שאן (sha'an) literally means to be undisturbed. In practice it denotes being comfy, relaxed and at ease. Adjective שאנן (sha'anan), means unmoved in the sense of being perpetual, inattentive or complacent.
For a meaning of the name Beth-shean, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads House Of Security, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has House Of Rest and BDB Theological Dictionary proposes Place Of Quiet.