🔼The name El-bethel: Summary
- The God Of The House Of God
- From (1) the word אל ('el), God, and (2) the name Bethel.
🔼The name El-bethel in the Bible
The name El-bethel occurs once or twice in the Bible. It's how God introduced himself to Jacob, when he instructed him to leave Laban and return to Canaan (Genesis 31:13). It's also the name that Jacob gave to the place near Bethel, where he had seen the famous ladder from earth to heaven, when God sent him back there to commemorate that event (Genesis 35:7, see Genesis 28:12).
For some reason, while Jacob and his family journeyed, the locals were all terrified of them and gave them no trouble. But trouble came anyway when Deborah, Rachel's nurse, passed away, and they were forced to bury her there. Grief-stricken they named that place Allon-bacuth, meaning the oak of weeping.
🔼Etymology of the name El-bethel
In English it seems that the name El-bethel consists of two parts, but when viewed in Hebrew it becomes clear that El-bethel consists of three parts. It's the word בית (bayit or beth in compounds) sandwiched between twice the word אל.
The word אל (el) is either a semi-personal name of God, or the commonly accepted abbreviation of Elohim, the genus God:
In names אל ('el) usually refers to אלהים ('elohim), that is Elohim, or God, also known as אלה ('eloah). In English, the words 'God' and 'god' exclusively refer to the deity but in Hebrew the words אל ('l) and אלה ('lh) are far more common and may express approach and negation, acts of wailing and pointing, and may even mean oak or terebinth.
The word בית means house, but with a lot of footnotes:
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 El-bethel literally means The God Of The House Of God. For a meaning of the name El-bethel, NOBSE Study Bible Name List proposes God Of Bethel (and reads House Of God for Bethel). Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names suggests either The God Of Bethel or slightly more daring: Strong House Of God.