🔼The name Meraiah: Summary
- Rebellious, Myrrh Of Yah
- From (1) the verb מרר (marar), to be bitter or strong, or מרה (mara), to be rebellious, and possibly (2) יה (yah), the shortened name of the Lord.
🔼The name Meraiah in the Bible
🔼Etymology of the name Meraiah
It's not quite clear how the name Meraiah is constructed, but the final bit may be יה (Yah), an abbreviated form of the Tetragrammaton יהוה, YHWH, or Yahweh.
Where the first part comes from isn't clear, but what is clear is that this name is highly similar to one of two versions of the name Moriah (and please see our article on that name for a look at its multiple meanings).
Alfred Jones (Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) believes that our name derives from the verb מרא (mara'), but makes the rather bold assumption that this verb means to lift up, which is probably incorrect:
The verb מרא (mara') means to be fat or well-fed (and thus of a high social rank). Noun מריא (meri') denotes a fatling or fattened animal. The noun מראה (mur'a) denotes a part of a bird, obviously a fatty part.
Other scholars believe that the yah-part of our name is not a remnant of the name YHWH, but is rather due to a verbal expansion of an expression of the verb מרה (mara), meaning to be contentious or rebellious, or any of the related verbs:
The verb מרר (marar) means to be strong or bitter and can be used to describe tastes and smells, and hard or difficult situations.
Adjectives מר (mar) and מרירי (meriri) mean bitter. Nouns מרור (maror) and מרורה (merora) refer to any bitter thing, the former specifically to a certain bitter herb, and the latter to gall or poison.
Noun מררה (merera) also means gal. Nouns מרה (morra), מרה (mora), מרירות (merirut), ממר (memer), ממרור (mamror) and תמרור (tamrur) mean bitterness. The latter noun is spelled identical to the noun תמרור (tamrur), meaning marker or sign post, from the root תמר (tamar), meaning to be stiff or erect.
And speaking of such, the nouns מר (mor) and מור (mor) mean myrrh, a bitter and fragrant spice that was originally used to mark the tabernacle, but which came to be used to proclaim, olfactorily, the consummation of marriage. Hence, despite its links to words that mostly describe hardship, myrrh oil was known as the "oil of joy."
Verb מרה (mara) means to be contentious or rebellious, particularly against God. Noun מרי (meri) means rebellion.
The verb מור (mor) means to change. Perhaps the connection between the previous is coincidental but perhaps these words are indeed linked, as change is often reaction to bitterness or opposition. The noun תמורה (temura) means exchange.
NOBSE Study Bible Name List appears to equate the name Meraiah with Meraioth, derives both from the verb מרה (mara) and translates them both as Rebellious.
Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names goes with a more difficult to defend verb מרא (mara' I) and reads Lifted Up Of The Lord. It's very doubtful that a Hebrew audience would have interpreted this name as such.
BDB Theological Dictionary offers neither an interpretation of this name, nor a hint at its possible etymology.