🔼The name Gerar: Summary
- Dragging, Sojourning
- From the verb גרר (garar), to drag or drag away.
🔼The name Gerar in the Bible
When Abraham dwells there, Abimelech is king of Gerar, and when Abraham presents his beautiful wife Sarah as his sister (which was not entirely a lie because they have the same father — Genesis 20:12), king Abimelech has her picked up and delivered to him. Since God has the plan to make Sarah the mother of Abraham's son of promise (Genesis 17:16), Abimelech gets straightened out in a dream and returns Sarah to her husband (Genesis 20:1-18).
When a famine strikes Canaan, Abraham's son Isaac flees to Abimelech, king of Gerar (Genesis 26:1). When the men of Gerar see Isaac's wife Rebekah they like to know more about her, because she too is very beautiful. Isaac, true to form, explains that she is his sister. And that is a lie because Rebekah is a daughter of Isaac's cousin Bethuel, and a granddaughter of his uncle Nahor.
Isaac and Rebekah get found out when Abimelech looks out his window and sees Isaac and Rebekah having a good time (Genesis 26:8). The verb used to describe how good that time is, is צחק (sahaq), meaning to laugh, play, sport or mock. This verb is also the source of the name Isaac.
🔼Etymology of the name Gerar
The origin of the name Gerar can no longer be established, but there are a few words in the Hebrew Bible that look quite alike. The verb גרר (garar), meaning to drag or drag away, for instance:
The verb גרר (garar) means to drag or drag away, mostly in a circular or repetitive motion. Noun גרה (gera) means cud, or food that's dragged back up, chewed again and sent back down. The identical noun גרה (gera) denotes a unit of weight that served as currency. Noun גרגר (gargar) means berry and the plural noun גרגרות (gargerot) means neck, probably after their signature wagging motion.
The verb גרה (gara) means to strive or agitate strife, obviously not by means of one singular assault but rather by repeated provocations and withdrawals. Noun תגרה (tigra) means contention or opposition. Noun גרון (garon) is a second word for neck.
Verb גור (gur) means the same as the previous: to quarrel or stir up strife. Nouns גור (gor) and גור (gur) both denote lion cubs. Perhaps young male lions were named after the verb גור (gur) because they are expelled from the pride and are forced to roam adjacent territories.
The verb גור (gur), namely — or a second and identical verb — is also often used to describe to itinerate or temporary abide. Noun גר (ger) describes an itinerant; a stranger or foreigner. Noun גרות (gerut) may describe a lodging place for foreign travelers but may also be part of the name Geruth Chimham. Noun מגור (magor) means dwelling place or itineration. Nouns מגורה (megura) and ממגרות (mammegurot) describes storehouses, or places were goods were temporarily stored on their way to the market.
Perhaps a third identical verb גור (gur) means to dread, but perhaps it describes dread that is built up over time and from many little threats and suspicions. Nouns מגור (magor) and מגורה (megora) mean fear or terror, but note that the former is identical to the word meaning dwelling place, mentioned above. The verb יגר (yagor) appears to be a by-form of this third verb גור (gur), and also means to dread. The adverb יגור (yagor) means fearing.
To a Hebrew audience, the name Gerar would literally mean Dragging. For a meaning of the name Gerar, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Sojourning, or Lodging Place. NOBSE Study Bible Name List has Region, for no explicable reason.