🔼The name Zobebah: Summary
- Going Slowly, Going Together
- From the verb צבב (sabab), to be compact (?).
🔼The name Zobebah in the Bible
The curious name Zobebah occurs only once in the Bible. Zobebah is a son of Koz of Judah, and that's all we know about him (1 Chronicles 4:8).
🔼Etymology of the name Zobebah
The origin of the name Zobebah is not clear. It may have been imported from another language (Arabic?), and it may have been a regular Hebrew word that we don't know about simply because it didn't make it into the narrative of the Bible. But if it is Hebrew, its origin probably lies in the following word group, and particularly root צבב (sbb):
The verb צבא (saba') means to ally; to combine and integrate. It describes the formation of a distinct group, its inner economy and its interactions with neighboring groups. It's often used for military encounters but certainly not restricted to that use. Noun צבא (saba') describes a group that functions internally and externally as a distinct unit: a team, a league, a sodality, a collective, an army division.
Verb צבה (saba) means to swell up, but tends to describe the growing, getting better organized and more thoroughly engaging of the troop described by noun צבא (saba'). Noun צבה (sabeh) mostly describes a physical swelling. Noun צבי (sebi) mostly describes a swelling in the social sense: a becoming more honored or increasing in perceived beauty. In later parts of the Bible the verb צבה (saba) may be used to mean to wish. Noun צבו (sebu) means "desired thing."
Noun צבי (sebi) describes a gazelle, and is identical to the one meaning beauty but may also reflect the gazelle's herd behavior. Noun צביה (sebiya) also means gazelle.
Noun צב (sab) probably stems from an otherwise unused root צבב (sabab) and means cart. It's unclear how it fits in but perhaps as a thing upon which to pile things? Identical noun צב (sab) is thought to describe a kind of lizard (listed as unclean), possibly also because this animal tended to congregate.
The name Zobebah may be a feminine version of a noun derived from either of the verbs צבב and mean Lizard or Cart. NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads The Affable for this name but it's quite unclear how NOBSE arrived at that conclusion. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names appears to derive our name from צבב I and reads Going Slowly. BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't offer an interpretation of Zobebah.