🔼The name Lebanon: Summary
- Place Of Whiteness
- From the verb לבן (laban), to be white.
🔼The name Lebanon in the Bible
Lebanon is basically a district, and the Lebanon is a mountain or mountain range in north Canaan. The sources are a bit in conflict about what Lebanon actually denotes. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names keeps it simple and states that Lebanon is a mountain consisting of two ridges on the border of Syria and Palestine. But, says Jones, really only the permanently glaciated eastern ridge is called Lebanon; the southern ridge is called Hermon (Joshua 11:17).
The Oxford Companion to the Bible, however, reports that Lebanon denotes a range of coastal mountains, stretching from Sidon to Syria.
In the Bible (the) Lebanon is known as the source of building materials; wood for Solomon's temple (1 Kings 5:6), stones for Solomon's temple (1 Kings 5:14-18), and wood for Ezra's temple (Ezra 3:7). Lebanon is also known for its blossoms (Nahum 1:4) and wine (Hosea 14:7).
🔼Etymology of the name Lebanon
The name Lebanon comes from the root לבן (lbn), which yields a range of words that have to do with white or whiteness:
The verb לבן (laben) means to be or become white. Contrary to modern understandings of white as a symbol, in the Bible white either denotes a blank state (and thus emptiness or stupidity) or the state of greatest resistance to the absorption of light, which comes down to pride, stubbornness and more stupidity. Hence leprosy, or the "white disease" signifies unwarranted pride and arrogance.
Contrary to popular conception, black and white are both dark, but black things absorb light and become hot (or smart), whereas white things reflect light and stay cold (or stupid).
Adjective לבן (laban) means white (i.e. blank, un-written upon: stupid). Noun לבנה (lebanah) refers to the moon. Nouns לבנה (lebonah) and לבונה (lebonah) describe frankincense. Noun לבנה (lebneh) describes the poplar. Noun לבנה (lebenah) means brick, and the denominative verb לבן (laban) means to make bricks.
The name Lebanon is the name Laban extended with the waw-nun combination, which localizes or personifies the root. Hence, as Laban means White, Lebanon means White One. We may assume that this is because of its perpetual snow.
For a meaning of the name Lebanon, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Very White, or Mountain Of Snow. NOBSE Study Bible Name List does not translate.