🔼The name Merib-baal: Summary
- The Lord Contends, Baal Is An Agent Of Contention
- From (1) the verb ריב (rib), to contend, and (2) the verb בעל (ba'al), to be lord.
🔼The name Merib-baal in the Bible
Very curiously, in 1 Chronicles 9:40 our name occurs twice — the first time it's spelled מריב בעל (Merib baal), but the second time מרי־בעל (Meri-baal).
🔼Etymology of the name Merib-baal
The name Merib-baal consists of two elements. The first part of our name comes from the verb ריב (rib), meaning to contend. The letter מ (mem), with which our name begins, indicates place or agency:
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 Merib-baal 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 Merib-baal, NOBSE Study Bible Name List makes no distinction between this name and the name Jerubbaal, and reads Baal Contends for both. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Contender Against Baal. BDB Theological Dictionary proposes Baal Is (Our, My, His) Advocate, but adds a question mark, possibly to indicate that this much creativity borders on flippancy.
The secondary name מרי־בעל (Meri-baal) may be construed to contain the verb מרה (mara), meaning to rebellious or disobedient, or מרר (marar), to be bitter or strong, and would thus be related to the names Miriam and Mary.