🔼The name Beth: Summary
- From the noun בית (beth), house.
🔼The name Beth in the Bible
Whether the name Beth is actually a Biblical name is disputed. In our day and age we use the name Beth as truncated form of Elizabeth (meaning either God Is Oath or God Is Seven — please see our article on the name Elizabeth for more info), but in the Bible this doesn't happen.
The prophet Isaiah writes that 'they' have gone up to בית (Beth) and to Dibon (Isaiah 15:2). Jeremiah uses the same name Dibon in Jeremiah 48:18, and again in 48:22, now in conjunction with a town named Beth-diblathaim. Most exegetes translate the בית (Beth) of Isaiah 15:2 with "the temple" but the authors of BDB Theological Dictionary are not so sure, and point at the eminent theologians Ewald, Bredenkamp and Dillmann, who take this occurrence of בית to be a shortened form of Beth-diblathaim. And that makes Beth a (disputed) Biblical name.
🔼Etymology of the name Beth
The name בית (Beth) 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 name Beth means House or Family.