🔼The name Oboth: Summary
- Lunacy, Adoration Of One's Teacher, Entertainment
- From the noun אוב ('ob), immature or seductive tutor.
🔼The name Oboth in the Bible
The name Oboth occurs in Numbers 21:10-11 and 33:43-44, and describes one of the stations where Israel camped on their trek out of Egypt and to Canaan. Probably significantly, Oboth was the first camp away from the debacle involving the bronze serpent, or Nehushtan (Numbers 21:7-9). The first station after Oboth was Iye-abarim.
🔼Etymology of the name Oboth
The name Oboth is the same as the plural of the difficult noun אוב ('ob), loosely meaning immature tutor, or more specific, a teacher's seduction of a pupil, and his failure to tell the latter that he is a mere moon without any light of his own, that receives all its light from the sun:
The difficult word אוב ('ob) has to do with feelings of adoration that a young pupil might feel for their older teacher. These feelings are entirely natural and stem from a person's sex drive, but the obvious responsibility of the older teacher is to tell the student that their perfectly fine feelings should be directed toward God, from whom all wisdom comes, not to some teacher who happens to have reflected some of God's majestic and life giving nature (a senior's predatory abuse of a pupil's adoration is told in the story of Aquarius, the water-bringer, the boy who goes to the well to get water for the people back home).
In literature, this same dynamic is often metaphorized as the light that comes from the sun, that gives life on earth and enlightenment to men, whereas the moon has no light of its own and is only a reflector of the light that is from the sun. Someone who adores the moon for its light is a lunatic. And any moon that proclaims to be the sun is satanic.
Our noun אוב ('ob) was also the word that described the spirit of a witch or medium (1 Samuel 28:7). A parallel in our modern world would be entertainer (including prostitutes and narcotics) who dazzles his audience but not to have them contemplate the wonders of the laws of physics.
The singular occurrence of our word in the Bible is mostly associated with witchcraft, and specifically with the witch of En-dor. But the plural of our word, our name אבת ('obot), which is spelled identical to the plural of the word for father, namely אבת ('abot), occurs only in Job 32:19, where Elihu says: "Behold, my belly is like unvented wine, like new 'obot it is about to burst." Translators grappling to make sense of this statement have opted to translate this plural word as "wine skins," but that fails to relate to the context. Our word tells of what the moon does: reflect light that isn't its own but from an otherwise invisible solar source, in order to beguile any naive pupil.
Ultimately, the place called Oboth may have presaged the circus: the place where skilled entertainers show their craft for the sole purpose of dazzling the audience, but without any hint to the greatness, the sovereignty and non-preferential natural law that reflects the qualities of God (Romans 1:20, Hebrews 1:3).
For a meaning of the name Oboth, NOBSE Study Bible Name List and BDB Theological Dictionary both have Water Skins, but that probably because in cognate languages and adjacent cultures our word appears to relate to Aquarius (the story that served to justify pederasty in Greece). Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has Oracular Serpents, which is rather creative but not wholly without merit. Ultimately, the name Oboth simply means Entertainment: the enchantment of an audience by any advanced skill (that would certainly be derived from knowledge of natural law and many years of training) but for the sole purpose of the artist's self-glorification and enrichment.