🔼The name Jerubbaal: Summary
- The Lord Contends, Baal Contends
- From (1) the verb ריב (rib), to contend, and (2) the verb בעל (ba'al), to be lord.
🔼The name Jerubbaal in the Bible
There's only one man named Jerubbaal in the Bible, and he is better known as Gideon, the son of Joash the Abiezrite (Judges 6:11). When Israel was suffering from Midianite invasions, an angel of YHWH appeared to Gideon and instructed him to chop down the altar of Baal that night and the adjacent effigy of Asherah while he was at it (Judges 6:25).
When the locals arose and found their shrines wrecked, it didn't take them long to figure out who the culprit was. They marched over to Joash and demanded of him to surrender his son Gideon, in order to execute him. But Joash cleverly responded by saying that if Baal wants his revenge, it would be foolish to ruin his pleasure by killing Gideon before he could get to him. If Baal was truly a god, Baal would contend with Gideon, and if he were not, then Gideon would contend with Baal.
And so Joash named his son Jerubbaal, although after Jerubbaal's death the people went straight back to Baal and Baal-berith (Judges 8:33). The author of 2 Samuel 11:21, however, couldn't contain his disgust and edited the reference to Baal out of the name Jerubbaal and dubbed him Jerubbesheth.
🔼Etymology of the name Jerubbaal
The name Jerubbaal consists of two elements. The first part of our name comes from the verb ריב (rib), meaning to contend:
The very common verb ריב (rib) means to strive or contend and ranges from a mere bickering to full scale combat. Noun ריב (rib) means strife, dispute or plea. Noun יריב (yarib) denotes an opponent or adversary. Noun מריבה (meriba) refers to a place or agent of strife or contention.
The second part of the name Jerubbaal is the same as the name Baal, which comes from the verb בעל (ba'al), meaning to rule over:
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 Jerubbaal, NOBSE Study Bible Name List adopts the explanation given in Judges 6:32 and reads Baal Contends. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes the more proper He Will Contend With Baal or Let Baal Plead. BDB Theological Dictionary does not interpret this name.