🔼The name Beth-shittah: Summary
- House Of (The) Acacia
- From (1) the noun בית (beth), house, and (2) the noun שטה (shitta), acacia tree.
🔼The name Beth-shittah in the Bible
The name Beth-shittah occurs only once in the Bible, namely in Judges 7:22, where it serves to mark one of the far points to which Gideon and his 300 men chased the Midianites: as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah.
🔼Etymology of the name Beth-shittah
The name Beth-shittah 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 is the noun שטה (shitta), which denotes the acacia tree:
The noun שטה (shitta) denotes the acacia tree, a thorny shrub with great mythological significance in ancient Egypt. In the Bible it's mentioned most often in connection to the wood used in the tabernacle. Both the burning bush and the crown of thorns bring to mind this tree.
The verb שטה (sata) means to turn away from virtue, and specifically from fidelity in marriage. Note the similarity with the noun שטן (satan), meaning adversary.
The letter ה (he) that sits in front of the second word may be the definite article, the, but it may also be a particle of motion: to or onto.
For a meaning of the name Beth-shittah, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has House Of Acacia and NOBSE Study Bible Name List has the similar House Of The Acacia. BDB Theological Dictionary reads Place Of The Acacia.