🔼The name Gabbatha: Summary
- Heap, Haughtiness
- From the verb גבה (gaba), to collect.
🔼The name Gabbatha in the Bible
The name Gabbatha occurs only once in the Bible. It's the name of the location where Pontius Pilate had his judgment seat, also known as Lithostrotos, meaning stone-strewn (John 19:13). Pilate tried to reason with the Jews with the objective to let Jesus go, but was left little choice when they began to evoke Caesar's sovereignty. It was from Gabbatha that Pilate delivered Jesus to be crucified (John 19:16).
🔼Etymology of the name Gabbatha
The name Gabbatha comes from a plural form of a word from the גבב (gabab) group:
The verb גבב (gabab) doesn't occur in the Bible but it appears to have meant to be concave or convex; to be bulbous or hollow. Noun גב (gab) denotes anything that is bulbous (hills, buttocks).
The verb גוב (gub) means to dig. Noun גב (geb) means pit or ditch. This verb appears to be associated with the verb יגב (yagab), meaning to till (what a farmer does). Noun יגב (yaqeb) probably refers to the field where the farmer tills.
Noun גבא (gebe') appears to describe a hollow in which water collects and is commonly translated with cistern, pool or marsh.
Verb גבה (gaba) means to collect. Nouns גב (geb), גוב (gob), גבי (gobay) and גובי (gobay) refer to locusts. Possibly a whole other verb גבה (gabah) means to be high, exalted or lofty, although this verb could actually describe a person who collected a heap, or who plunders a society like a swarm of locusts. In the Talmud the word for tax collector was derived from this verb. Adjective גבה (gaboah) means high or haughty. Noun גבה (gobah) means height or haughtiness. And noun גבהות (gabhut) means haughtiness.
Verb גבע (gabay) appears to mean the same as גבב (gabab), to be concave or convex. The very common noun גבעה (gib'a) means hill.
The unused verb גבן (gaban) probably meant to be curved, contracted or coagulated. Adjective גבן (giben) means humpbacked. Noun גבינה (gebina) means curd or cheese. Noun גבנן (gabnon) means peak or rounded summit.
A certain grammatical construction that creates a sort of continuous tense of the verb גבב (gabab) is formed from prefixing a נ (nun) and making the double ב (beth) a single one. The result, a verb נגב (nagab) would mean to undulate, to wave, to have shifting dunes. That verb doesn't exist, but a mysterious noun נגב (negeb) does. This noun would thus denote a region with rolling hills, and came to be synonymous with "south".
The name Gabbatha literally means Heap or Haughtiness, and was probably named such because it described an elevated podium. Why John stressed the Hebrew name of this place (which in meaning obviously differs from its Greek name) isn't clear, but perhaps he meant to make a covert reference to the battle of Gibbethon, at which the unrightful king Jeroboam was killed (1 Kings 15:27-28), or the proverbially awful atrocities committed at Gibeath which resulted in the decimation of the tribe of Benjamin (Judges 19), or perhaps the chain of events that started with the temporary storage of the Ark at the house of Abinadab at Kiriath-jearim slash Gibeath, and ended with the atonement-sacrifice of the two sons of Rizpah and the five sons of Merab at Gibeath of Saul (2 Samuel 21:6).