🔼The name Zibeon: Summary
- Hyena, Variegated
- From the verb צבע (saba'), to paint or dab.
🔼The name Zibeon in the Bible
Most commentators will state that there is one man named Zibeon in the Bible, but here at Abarim Publications, we believe that there were two. See for a discussion of this problem our article on the name Horite:
- Zibeon the Horite, son of Seir the Horite and father of Anah, and grandfather of Miss Oholibamah; all Horites (Genesis 36:24-25). Seir the Horite supplied the world with the last of the Horite chiefs.
- Zibeon the Hivite, father of Anah, and grandfather of Miss Oholibamah; all Hivites (Genesis 36:2). Oholibamah the Hivite became the wife of Esau, the brother of Jacob, and the mother of Jeush, Jalam and Korah.
🔼Etymology of the name Zibeon
The name Zibeon comes from the root cluster צבע:
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.
Our name is constructed from a noun צבע extended with the ון couple that personifies or localizes its root meaning.
For a meaning of the name Zibeon, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and BDB Theological Dictionary read Hyena. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes Versicolor, Variegated.