🔼The name Terah: Summary
- Breather, Delay, Wanderer
- From the verb תרח (tarah), to patiently breathe, from רוח (ruah), wind, breath or spirit.
🔼The name Terah in the Bible
There are one man and one town named Terah in the Bible:
- The father of Abram (later Abraham), Nahor, Haran and Sarai (Genesis 11:24; later Sarah). Not Abram (as is commonly believed) but Terah initiated the move away from Ur of the Chaldeans and to Canaan (Genesis 11:31). Since this Terah is an ancestor of Christ, his name also occurs in the Greek New Testament, in the Lucan genealogy, spelled as Θαρα, Thara (Luke 3:34).
- A town that Israel encountered during the wilderness years (Numbers 33:27).
🔼Etymology of the name Terah
The name Terah is identical to a verb that is not used in Biblical Hebrew but which occurs in Aramaic as תרח (tarah), literally to breathe; a denominative verb from the noun רוח (ruah) meaning wind, breath or spirit:
Verb רוח (rawah) means to be wide or spacious, or unrestrained and unconfined. Note that the Bible considers freedom the most precious commodity and ultimate objective of all humans. In fact, "it's for freedom that Christ has set us free" (Galatians 5:1). Noun רוח (rewah) means space, or respite or relief. Noun רוחה (rewaha) too means respite or relief.
Noun רוח (ruah) means both wind and spirit, and a spirit is an invisible but wholly natural force that moves independent living creatures in the same direction. Noun ריח (reah) means scent or fragrance. Denominative verb ריח (riah) means to detect or produce a scent or fragrance.
In Aramaic, the denominative verb תרח (tarah) does not emphasize breathing, but rather only breathing, i.e. waiting, standing somewhere just breathing. As such it came to denote delaying some specified event (like an announced departure or procedure), and even the aimless wandering that might precede one's focused decision on where to deliberately go.
For a meaning of the name Terah, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names renders Delay and NOBSE Study Bible Name List renders Wanderer. BDB Theological Dictionary mentions cognates denoting a white mountain goat (ibex; a goat antelope).