🔼The name Tebeth: Summary
- Muddy, Perpetual
- From the verb טבע (taba'), to sink down, or טבב (tabab), to be perpetual.
🔼The name Tebeth in the Bible
The name Tebeth is the Jewish (post-exilic) name of the Babylonian calendar. The Canaanite (pre-exilic) name for this month was Pagrim, which does not occur in the Bible. For more, read our riveting article on the Hebrew Calendar.
🔼Etymology of the name Tebeth
In Assyrian literature the month of Tebeth is clearly associated with rain and mud. Its name is thought to derive from the Assyrian verb tebu, to sink in or dip, which corresponds to the Hebrew verb טבע (taba'), to impress, stamp or sink down particularly in mud or clay:
The verb טבע (taba') means to impress, stamp or sink down in order to make an imprint. The noun טבעת (tabba'at) describes a signet that men of power would commonly keep on their person, particularly on a ring on their finger.
However, the Jewish scribes who transliterated our name, spelled it the same as the name Tabbath, which probably comes from a verb טבב (tabab), to be perpetual, and is kindred to the familiar word טוב (tob), good:
The verb טוב (tob) means to be good or pleasant, and ultimately to be sustained or sustainable, first relative to society but ultimately to the universe at large. Adjective and noun טוב (tob) means good; noun טוב (tub), describes a good thing or goodness, and noun טובה (toba) denotes welfare.
Closely related verb יטב (yatab) means to be or do good (to do sustainable things). Noun מיטב (metab) means the best.
A proposed root טבב (tabab) may have meant something like to keep forever, to be perpetual, to be stable.
Neither NOBSE Study Bible Name List nor Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names nor BDB Theological Dictionary translates this name, but to a Hebrew audience it would probably have sounded like either Perpetual or Muddy (or even Impressive).