🔼The name Libnah: Summary
- From the verb לבן (laban), to be white.
🔼The name Libnah in the Bible
There are two towns named Libnah in the Bible:
- A place in the wilderness where Israel camped on their Exodus journey. It was situated between Rimmon-perez and Rissah (Numbers 33:20-21).
- A Canaanite city close to a town called Makkedah. At the cave of Makkedah, the five allied Amorite kings led by Adoni-zedek cowered in hiding while their troops fought in vain against Joshua, the Israelites and YHWH himself at the famous battle of Gibeon (Numbers 10:16). After the battle, the five kings were retrieved, humiliated and executed, and the people of Makkedah were slaughtered. The next order of business was the massacre of every living soul in Libnah (Numbers 10:29).
When the conquered land was divided among the tribes, Libnah fell within the boundaries of the territory given to Judah (Joshua 15:42), but later it was passed on to the Kohathite Levites to live in (Joshua 21:13). If the Levites still lived there in the time of the kings isn't clear, but for some reason the people of Libnah saw fit to revolt against king Joram. How this revolt ended isn't reported, but Edom, which revolted at the same time, was swiftly subdued (2 Kings 8:22). Some time later the Libnathites took up arms against the king of Assyria (2 Kings 19:8), but the result of that conflict is also unclear (apart of course from the ultimate outcome of the deportation).
A famous Libnathite is Jeremiah of Libnah, whose daughter Hamutal was the mother of king Jehoahaz of Judah (2 Kings 23:31).
🔼Etymology of the name Libnah
The name Libnah comes from the verb לבן (laben), meaning to be or become white:
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.
For a meaning of the name Libnah, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Whiteness. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Whiteness as well but adds Transparency, which appears a bit amiss. There is no evidence that the verb לבן was used to indicate transparency. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't interpret our name but does list it under the verb לבן (laben).