🔼The name Ebenezer: Summary
- Stone Of Help
- From (1) the noun אבן ('eben), stone, and (2) the verb עזר (azar), to help or support.
🔼The name Ebenezer in the Bible
The name Ebenezer (or rather: Eben-haezer) appears three times in the Bible, and appears to apply to two separate locations:
- The place where Israel camped just prior to the fateful battle with the Philistines in which the Ark of the Covenant was abducted (1 Samuel 4:1 and 5:1).
- A memorial stone which Samuel erected between Mizpah and Shen when the Lord defeated the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:12). Samuel named the stone Ebenezer and said, "Thus far YHWH has helped us".
It was not uncommon for the Israelites to erect memorial stones, or even to name these stones. There were also an Eben-bohan-ben-reuben (Joshua 15:6), an Eben-gedula (1 Samuel 6:14), an Eben-haezel (1 Samuel 20:19) and an Eben-hazoheleth (1 Kings 1:9). It is, however, not clear why modern translations insist on consistently omitting the "Eben"-part of these names, except that of Eben-haezer, which most translations insist on transliterating as Ebenezer (the Dutch Statenvertaling is one of very few that do it right and reads Eben-haezer).
🔼Etymology of the name Ebenezer
The name Ebenezer (or rather Eben-haezer) consists of three elements. The first part of our name is the noun אבן ('eben), meaning stone:
The noun אבן ('eben) is the regular word for stone. Stones were considered not only as the units of buildings and cities but also as units of permanent records. They were used as memorials, weapons, furniture, means to execute unwanted social elements, and even idols.
This word for stone seems akin to the verb בנה (bana), to build, and in turn to the noun בן (ben), son. There are several stones with names mentioned in the Old Testament.
The final part of our name comes from the verb עזר (azar), meaning to help or support:
The verb עזר ('azar), means to help or support, and is often used in military contexts, or to describe God's proverbial help. The nouns עזר ('azar) and עזרה ('ezra) both mean help. A much rarer but identically spelled noun עזרה ('azara) means enclosure and comes probably from an other root.
And in between these two elements sits the particle ה (he) — which is either the definite article ("the"), or else a particle of direction ("towards the") or ascription ("of the").
NOBSE Study Bible Name List and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names agree: the name Eben-haezer means Stone Of Help.