🔼The name Rehoboth-Ir: Summary
- Wide City
- From (1) the verb רחב (rahab), to be wide, and (2) the noun עיר ('ir), city.
🔼The name Rehoboth-ir in the Bible
The name Rehoboth is assigned to two different locations in the Bible. In the wake of a quarrel between the men of Gerar and those of Isaac, the latter dug a well and named it Rehoboth, saying, "At last the Lord has made room for us..". (Genesis 26:22).
Rehoboth-ir is a city in Assyria, built by Nimrod (Genesis 10:11). The author of the story lists Rehoboth-ir between Nineveh and Calah, but then mentions that Nimrod built Resen, the Great City between those cities. Judging from the similarity between the meaning of the name Rehoboth-ir and the epithet of Resen, this is probably not a coincidence.
🔼Etymology of the name Rehoboth-ir
The name Rehoboth comes from the verb רחב (rahab), to be wide:
The verb רחב (rahab) means to be or become large or wide — mostly of territory but also of fame, abilities, courage, trouble and so on.
This verb's derivatives are: the nouns רחב (rahab) and רחב (rohab), width or wideness; adjective רחב (rahab), broad or wide; noun רחוב (rehob), a broad open place or plaza, and noun מרחב (merhab), a broad or roomy place.
According the context, the name of Isaac's well, Rehoboth, means something like Space or Room.
The name Rehoboth-ir consists of the name Rehoboth plus the word עיר ( 'ir), the regular word for city:
The root ערר ('arar) describes an accumulation in one place that results in an emptiness or barrenness everywhere else — both cities and clouds form from this principle, and indeed any sort of commercial or intellectual fortune. Adjectives ערירי ('ariri) and ערער ('ar'ar) mean stripped, childless or destitute. Noun מערה (me'ara) literally means "place of being stripped" and is the Bible's common word for cave. Noun ערוער ('aro'er) denotes some kind of tree or bush (probably one without leaves).
Noun עיר ('ir) is the Bible's common word for city, which constitutes an accumulation of people and goods, usually in the middle of a wide area without remaining trees. Noun עיר ('ayir) came to specifically denote the wild ass, but apparently stems from the more common behavior of standing around in clusters in the middle of a field that's been grazed clean (in other languages this word also denotes gazelles and such).
Verb עור ('awar) means to be or make blind, and blindness occurs most commonly due to a cataract (which looks like a skin forming over the eye, and is due to a cloudy accumulation of protein in the ocular lens). Adjective עור ('iwwer) means blind. Nouns עורון ('iwwaron) and עורת ('awweret) mean blindness.
Verb עור ('ur I) means to rouse oneself — literally to collect and bundle one's feelings. Noun עיר ('ir) means excitement.
Identical verb עור ('ur II) means to be exposed or laid bare. Noun מעור (ma'or) means nakedness and noun מערם (ma'arom) means naked one. Adjectives עירם ('erom), ערם ('erom), ערום ('arom) and ערם ('arom) mean naked. Noun עור ('or) means skin or hide.
Verb ערה ('ara) also means to be naked or bare. Nouns ערה ('ara), מערה (ma'ara) and מער (ma'ar) refer to bare or exposed places. Nouns ערוה ('erwa) and עריה ('erya) mean nakedness or exposure. Noun תער (ta'ar) denotes a thing that makes bare: a razor or sheath of a sword.
The name Rehoboth-ir means City Of Room, or Big City. NOBSE Study Bible Name List translates this name with Broad Places, Streets. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Streets, Wide Spaces.