🔼The name Chisloth-tabor: Summary
- The Well Of Folly, Unbacked Confidence Of Tabor
- From (1) the verb כסל (kasal), to be thick or stupid, and (2) the name Tabor or the verb ברר (barar), to purify or clarify.
🔼The name Chisloth-tabor in the Bible
The name Chisloth-tabor occurs only once in the Bible. It's the name of a city that marked the boundaries of the territory of the tribe of Zebulun (Joshua 19:12).
This town was probably situated at the foot of mount Tabor, and mount Tabor sat between the territories of Zebulun and Issachar (Joshua 19:22).
Some scholars insist that Chisloth-tabor of Zebulun is the same as Chesulloth of Issachar (Joshua 19:18), but it seems more likely that there were two towns with similar names.
🔼Etymology of the name Chisloth-tabor
The name Chisloth-tabor obviously consists of two elements. The first element of our name comes from the verb כסל:
The verb כסל (kasal) means to have no skeletal strength or engage in pareidolia (falsely recognizing images in random patterns, such as Mickey Mouse in a cloud). It describes muscle- and boneless body parts, or a "belief" in the systematic link between uncorrelated events. It typically describes stellar constellations, which are obviously as fantastic as useless.
Nouns כסל (kesel) and כסלה (kisla) mean stupidity or (misplaced) confidence. The former may also describe a body part, probably the loin or lower belly (or blubber butt). The feminine noun כסילות (kesilut) means stupidity.
Noun כסיל (kesil) means fool or dunce; someone who "sees" structure in uncorrelated events. This is also the word for stellar constellations in general, and more specific the constellation Orion.
The second part of our name is the same as Tabor, but it's not clear where that name comes from. Some scholars believe it comes from the verb ברר (barar), meaning to purge, purify or clean:
The verb ברר (barar) essentially means to clean, purify or clarify. Usually, whatever needs to be purified is first pulverized and then sorted: the useful elements are gathered and stored, and the fluff, chaff, dust and other garbage is either blown away by wind, washed away by water, burned with fire or simply scooped up and physically dumped somewhere. In the case of metal ore, the material is heated so that the good stuff flows out and separates by its nature from the bad stuff and its nature.
Derived adjective בר (bar) means pure or clean and identical noun בר (bar) denotes a kernel of grain or corn. Noun בר (bor) denotes a kind of material that was used in the metal purification process, and identical masculine noun בר (bor) means cleanness or pureness. Feminine noun ברית (borit) denotes a kind of soap (and is spelled identical to the word meaning covenant; see below). Noun בר (bar) describes a field (perhaps a freshly plowed, cleaned and ready-to-sow one?), and the masculine plural noun ברברים (barburim) denotes a kind of bird known literally and for unknown reasons as "cleany-cleanies."
Verb באר (ba'ar) describes writing on tablets of stone. Nouns באר (be'er), באר (bo'r) and בור (bor) mean well or pit, and obviously not merely refer to physical cisterns but rather to centers of learning and information technology (because yes, writing is information technology and then as hip as blockchain is now).
Verb ברא (bara' I) denotes the creative activity of God, which (as we know from modern cosmology) predominantly has to do with giving elements the freedom to sort themselves into constructions that are deemed stable by the laws that govern creation (and which ultimately describe freedom). Noun בריאה (beri'a) denotes a creation, "an entirely new thing".
Verb ברא (bara' II) means to be fat, and since fat is essentially an organic storage of energy, this verb is in modern terms neatly explained by relativity theory. Since anything unstable falls apart when exposed to energy, only stable compounds can gain mass. Likewise, a fat guy is clearly at peace and well provisioned (and not on the run or forced to labor half starving). Adjective בריא (bari') means fat and consequently healthy and prosperous. Verb ברה (bara) means to eat. Nouns בריה (birya) and ברות (barut) mean food.
Noun ברית (berit) means covenant and occurs all over the Bible. Although it's not wholly clear how it technically relates to the above, the gist of it is clear. A covenant clears up a working relation between parties and leads to peace, prosperity and ultimately more clarity and cleanness between said parties. Note that it is spelled the same as the word for soap (see above, and see our article on Soap in the Old World).
It's not clear what kind of impression the name Chisloth-tabor would leave behind on a Hebrew audience; The Well Of Folly? or Purifying Confidence?
For a meaning of the name Chisloth-tabor, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads The Flanks Of Tabor and BDB Theological Dictionary proposes Loins or Flanks Of Tabor, apparently assuming that a word that means "soft underbelly" can also mean "flank".
Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names suggests Confidence Of Tabor, which would probably be more complete as: Unbacked Confidence Of Tabor, that is: Library Without System Or Consistency.