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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Oreb and Zeeb

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ō´reb , zē´eb , zēb ( עורב , ערב , ‛ōrēbh , "raven," especially "crow"), and ( זאב , ze'ēbh , "wolf") ( Judges 7:25; Judges 8:3; Psalm 83:11 , and Isaiah 10:26 (Oreb only)): Two Midianite chieftains captured and beheaded by the Ephraimites, who brought their heads to Gideon.

1. Meaning of Names:

As to the meaning of the two names, both words are found in Arabic. Robertson Smith, Kinship , etc. (190 ff, 218 ff), says that the use of the names of animals as names of persons is a relic of totemism. But Noldeke ( ZDMG , XL, 160 ff) and others hold that such a use shows a desire that those so named should be as disagreeable to their enemies as the plant or animal which the name denoted. Some again (e.g. Stade, Geschichte , 189 ff) maintain that the two names here are borrowed from localities and not vice versa, as Judges 7:25 implies. If so, we must take the names to be originally two places, apparently in Ephraim, for the words "beyond Jordan" in Judges 7:25 contradict Judges 8:4 , where it is said that Gideon came to the Jordan and passed over. Moore (Jgs , 214) suggests that the two localities were near the junction with the Jordan of the stream that comes from Wâdy Far‛ah . The construction of the Hebrew allows of a translation "the rock (called) Oreb," and "the winepress (called) Zeeb."

2. The Battle of Oreb:

The account of a battle here is corroborated by Isaiah 10:26 , a verse which mentions the "rock of Oreb," and suggests that the great defeat of the Midianites took place there (compare Isaiah 9:4 ). The passage in Isaiah 10:24-26 is prose, however, and is said to be late editing (see G.H. Box, Isa , 65). In Psalm 83:11 (Hebrew 12) there is a prayer that God would make the "nobles" among the Psalmist's enemies as Oreb and Zeeb.

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Oreb and Zeeb'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/o/oreb-and-zeeb.html. 1915.

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