🔼The name Bildad: Summary
- Beloved Lord, Bel Has Loved
- From (1) the name Bel or the noun בעל (ba'al), lord, and (2) the verb ידד (yadad), to love.
🔼The name Bildad in the Bible
There's only one man named Bildad in the Bible. Bildad the Shuhite one the first three, then four friends of Job, who discuss with him the finer points of existence. The other two are Eliphaz and Zophar. Friend number four is a young man named Barachel, who waits to speak until the other three are done, and that takes thirty-one chapters.
It seems plausible that the Book of Job is more than a fictional discussion between five fictional friends. Job may in fact be an ancient piece of comparative theology, weighing against each other the five dominant theologies of the Levant during the patriarchal era. Job would then obviously be an early form of Yahwism, and Bildad might represent the various Baal and Bel cults.
🔼Etymology and meaning of the name Bildad
The name Bildad consists of two elements, but there's no consensus on which ones those are.
According to BDB Theological Dictionary and NOBSE Study Bible Name List, the first part of the name comes from the Babylonian divine name Bel, which is closely related to the name Baal, and means Lord:
The verb בעל (ba'al) means to exercise dominion over; to own, control or be lord over. The ubiquitous noun בעל (ba'al) means lord, master and even husband, and its feminine counterpart בעלה (ba'ala) means mistress or landlady.
God is obviously called 'lord' all over the Bible and the sin of the Baal priests (1 Kings 18:40) was not that they called upon some other deity but rather their incessant howling of the word 'lord' without any further responsibility or effects (see Matthew 7:21 and 11:4-5).
BDB and NOBSE further agree that the second part of the name Bildad comes from the verb ידד (yadad), which probably means to love:
The root ידד (yadad) has to do with love, and that mostly in the affectionate, physical sense. Adjective ידיד (yadid) means beloved or lovely. Noun ידידות (yedidot) means love, as in "a song of love" and noun ידידות (yedidut), meaning love in the sense of beloved one.
Curiously, an identical verb ידד (yadad II) means to cast a lot and instead of being kin to the previous, it appears to be related to the verb ידה (yada), which originally meant to cast but which evolved to mean to praise.
That our root has to do with physical fondling and love-making is demonstrated by the verb דדה (dada), which means to move slowly. Noun דד (dad) denotes a women's nipple or breast specifically as object of one's husband's interest.
Unused verb דוד (dwd) probably meant to gently swing, dandle, fondle. Noun דוד (dod) or דד (dod) means beloved or loved one, and may also describe one's uncle. The feminine version, דודה (doda), means aunt. Noun דודי (duday) literally means a "love-bringer" and describes a mandrake. Noun דוד (dud) refers to a kind of pot or jar (perhaps one that was rocked or stirred?).
It may or may not be that the noun יד (yad), meaning hand, also has something to do with this root.
Hence, for a meaning of the name Bildad, NOBSE and BDB both read Bel Has Loved.