🔼The name Zeboim: Summary
- Speckled, Multi-Colored, Fingers
- From the verb צבע (saba'), to paint or dab.
🔼The name Zeboim in the Bible
🔼Etymology of the name Zeboim
As with Zeboiim, the name Zeboim probably originates in a root meaning hyena, which appears to have existed in Hivite. This root did either not survive or never existed in Hebrew, and to a Hebrew audience, it must have meant something else.
In Hebrew, Zeboim, contrary to Zeboiim, is spelled as a clean plural; the plural of either assumed roots צבע (sb'):
The unused verb צבע (saba') probably meant to paint or dab or something to that extent. Noun צבע (seba') denotes dyed stuffs. Adjective צבוע (sabua') probably meant colored or variegated.
Noun אצבע ('esba') is the word for finger, which is of course the instrument with which our ancestors applied paint until someone invented the brush.
Apparently, a noun צבע (seba') came to denote the hyena, whose pelt indeed looks like it was dabbed with paint. In the Bible, though, hyenas are known by another word.
To a Hebrew audience, especially those who didn't speak Hivite, the name Zeboim probably meant either Speckled, Multifariously Colored, or Fingers.