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BOSHETH ("shame," "disgrace"):

Used concretely by the Prophets as "the shameful thing" to designate the Baalim and their images. (See Hosea ix. 10 and Jer. iii. 24, xi. 13, where the word is parallel with "the Baal" [compare Jer. iii. 24]). Later usage adopted the epithet to such an extent that "Bosheth" became a sort of euphemism for "Baal," as is learned from the proper names "Ish-bosheth" (with which Jastrow [see Bibliography] compares a Babylonian name, "Mati-bashti") and "Mephibosheth," the former being written "Esh-baal" in I Chron. viii. 33, ix. 39, and the latter occurring as "Meri-baal" in I Chron. viii. 34 and ix. 40. The manuscript of the Septuagint, known as 93 Holmes, has εἰσβααλ, and the old Latin version has "Isbalem" for "Ish-bosheth." So also in II Sam. xi. 21, "Jerubbe[o]sheth" is given for "Jerubbaal."

The opinion now so prevalent that the name of the god Molech was changed from "Melek" in imitation of the vowels of "Bosheth" is not altogether acceptable. It is possible to regard "Molech" as the regularly formed Hebrew equivalent of "Mālik," the name of an Assyro-Babylonian god (Rawlinson, "Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia," iii. 7, 18), which is also a common epithet ("Decider") of several divinities. From this point of view the word is really a survival of the oldest form of "Malk" ("Melek"), king. Another explanation of "Bosheth," proposed by Jastrow, makes the name the distortion of a deity who bore the name "Basht" or "Bashta."

Bibliography:
  • Geiger, Urschrift, pp. 259-433;
  • idem, in Z. D. M. G. xv. 728-732;
  • Wellhausen, Text der Bücher Samuelis, 1871, pp. 30 et seq., 153 et seq.;
  • Stade, Geschichte, i. 260;
  • E. Nestle, Israelitische Eigennamen, p. 120;
  • Driver, Text of Samuel, pp. 186, 195, 279.
  • The hypothesis as to the form "Molech" is given in W. R. Smith, Religion of the Semites, 2d ed., p. 372, note.
  • Compare on the whole subject, Jastrow, The Element Bosheth in Hebrew Proper Names, in Journal of the Soc. of Bibl. Lit. xi. 30.
J. Jr. J. F. McC.
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