🔼The name Ethbaal: Summary
- With The Lord
- From (1) the particle את ('et), with, and (2) the verb בעל (ba'al), to be lord.
🔼The name Ethbaal in the Bible
The name Ethbaal occurs only one time in the Bible, namely in 1 Kings 16:31, where we learn that the proverbially disastrous king Ahab of Judah married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians.
Politically spoken, a marital alliance with the Phoenicians would have been a slick move for any local lord, but Ahab also adopted the deity of the Phoenicians, namely Baal, and that plunged his country into a spiral of draught and demise. It also attracted the anger of Elijah the Tishbite, who challenged Jezebel's Baal priests to a kind of prayer duel, which ended with hundreds of dead Baal priests near the brook Kishon.
When Jezebel had Naboth killed over his vineyard, Elijah told Ahab that he had finally gone too far, but the picture he painted was so impressive that Ahab repented. What Jezebel thought of that isn't told, but her influence didn't wane until general Jehu had her tossed out a window and feral dogs ran off with her body.
🔼Etymology of the name Ethbaal
The name Ethbaal consists of two elements. The first bit probably comes from the particle את ('et), meaning with:
The ubiquitous particle את ('et) usually marks the accusative (the subject of a sentence) but often has an unclear function. Sometimes it (or an identical second particle) indicates a close relationship between the words that surround it, and can be translated with "with" or "near."
The form את ('et) is also the base of the four second person pronouns, meaning "you": (אתה, you man; את, you woman; אתם, you men and אתן, you women).
The verb אתה ('ata) is closely similar to the masculine singular pronoun (you man) and means to come. It has no extant derivatives.
A fourth instance of the form את is the masculine noun את ('et), which denotes an iron cutting instrument like a ploughshare, mattock or axe head.
The second part of our name is the same as the name Baal, which means lord or master:
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).
For a meaning of the name Ethbaal, NOBSE Study Bible Name List, BDB Theological Dictionary and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names read With Baal in a rare display of unity.