🔼The name Nebaioth: Summary
- High Places
- Seen, Regarded
- Having Prophesied
- From the verb נבה (nabah), to be high or prominent.
- From the verb נבט (nabat), to look, regard.
- From the verb נבא (naba'), to prophesy or to be a spokesman.
🔼The name Nebaioth in the Bible
The story of the sons of Ishmael doubtlessly functions to convey the political situation of and between the Arabic tribes, directly to Israel's east. The Ituraeans (who in Roman times gave their name to Ituraea) were personified in Jetur, and Jetur's brother Nebaioth most likely personified the Nabataeans (see our article on the name Aretas).
Our name is mostly spelled נביות, but in Genesis 25:13 it occurs as נבית.
🔼Etymology and meaning of the name Nebaioth
It's not clear what the name Nebaioth might mean, or even where it comes from. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names insists that it is the plural of a noun derived from an unused root נבה (nabah), meaning to be high or prominent:
The unused verb נבה (nabah) probably meant to be high or prominent (it does so in other languages).
Hence Jones reads High Places as meaning of the name Nebaioth.
BDB Theological Dictionary seems to suggests that our name is really an ethnonym and not a personal name, that it was originally spelled with a teth instead of a taw: נבטו, and that it has to do with נבט (nabat), to look, regard:
The verb נבט (nabat), means to look, regard or consider. Noun מבט (mabbat) literally means a thing looked to: an expectation.
Perhaps the unused root that means to be high and the verb that means to look have something to do with each other and Nebaioth means Visions or rather Scopes.
Another verb of interest is נבא (naba'), meaning prophesy (our name's secondary form occurs in Jeremiah 26:9, meaning "you have prophesied"):
Root נבא (nb') means to speak on behalf of, or in the stead of, some authority. Noun נביא (nabi') means spokesman or speaker and is also the Biblical word for prophet. Verb נבא (naba') means to prophesy or speak for some authority. Noun נבואה (nebu'a) means prophecy. Noun נביאה (nebi'a) means prophetess.
The noun that means prophet is identical to the Niphal or 'incomplete passive' form of the verb בוא (bo'), to come or bring.
Neither BDB Theological Dictionary nor NOBSE Study Bible Name List translates the name Nebaioth.