🔼The name Obal: Summary
- Bulky, Bare
- Not Clouded, Not Covered
- From an Arabic verb meaning to be bulky or to be bare
- From (1) the verb עוב ('ub), to becloud, and בל (bal), not.
🔼The name Obal in the Bible
The one and only Biblical Obal is one of many sons of Joktan, the brother of Peleg (Genesis 10:28). Peleg becomes the ancestor of Abraham. The Joktanites are the last mentioned Shemite generation before the tower of Babel is built.
🔼Etymology and meaning of the name Obal
The etymology and original meaning of the name Obal are unclear. BDB Theological Dictionary lists an unused root that HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament skips all together, namely עבל, a verb that in Arabic means to be bulky or stout. BDB's Obal would thus mean Bulky or Stout.
Fuerst's Hebrew & Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament gives this verb a meaning of to strip off (leaves), to make naked (trees), or to be bare (of a mountain, rock). Both Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names and NOBSE Study Bible Name List agree with Fuerst; NOBSE reads To Be Bare, and Jones reads Stripped, or Bare Of Leaves.
Then there is the possibility that to a Hebrew audience, the name Obal may appear a compound of עוב ('ub), meaning to becloud:
The verb עוב ('wb) appears to have meant to be hidden or absent. Noun עב ('ab) describes a thick, dark cloud cover, and the derived verb עוב ('ub) means to becloud. A second noun עב ('ab) describes an architectural term and probably specifically some sort of projecting roof.
And בל (bal), meaning not:
Verb בלה (bala) means to wear out, annul or use until worthlessness. Adjective בלה (baleh) means worn out. Noun בלוא (belo) describes worn out things or rags. Noun תבלית (tablit) means annihilation or destruction.
Adverb of negation בל (bal) means not. Noun בלי (beli) describes a wearing out, a destruction or a worthlessness. Noun בלימה (belima) meaning nothingness. Noun בליעל (beliya'al) means worthlessness.
Noun בלהה (ballaha) means terror or calamity, but some scholars insists that this noun stems from a second, yet identical verb בלה (bala II), to trouble. If this verb is not a whole other one, it evidently describes trouble of a courage draining and strength depleting nature.
The name Obal may originally have meant To Be Bare, but for a Hebrew audience it may have sounded like No Cloud / Clear Skies.