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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


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suk´oth , suk´ōth - bē´noth , - nōth ( בּנות סכּות , ṣukkōth benōth ; Ῥοχχωθβαινειθεί , Rhochchōthbaineitheı́ , Codex Alexandrinus (better) Σοκχωθβενιθεί , Sokchōthbenitheı́ ):

1. The Meaning According to the Hebrew:

The name of an idol made by the Babylonians sent into exile at Samaria by an Assyrian king (Shalmaneser), and mentioned among the deities of the various nationalities there assembled (2 Kings 17:30 ). In Hebrew, Succoth-benoth means "booths of daughters," and has been explained as the chambers wherein the Babylonians placed women for prostitution; or booths or tabernacles in which images of certain goddesses were worshipped.

2. Sir H. Rawlinson's Identification of the Name:

The parallelism, however, requires a deity, like the Nergal of the Cutheans, the Ashima of the Hamathites, etc., and not a chamber or shrine. This consideration caused Sir H. to suggest an identification of Succoth-benoth with the Babylonian Zēr - panı̂tum (= Zêr - banı̂tum ), whose name was probably pronounced Zēr - panı̂th , the spouse of Merodach (the god of Babylon), as the "seed-creatress." The difference in the first component, zer, was regarded as due to its possible Hamitic (= Sumerian) equivalent, or to a Semitic mistranslation, both of which explanations are now known to be untenable.

3. Is Succoth the Babylonian Sakut?:

As the people who made Succoth-benoth were Babylonians, we should expect here either a name of Merodach, the god of Babylon, or one of the deities identified with him. At present the only suggestion which can be made is that Benoth is for ות בּן a, ban wāth , i.e. ban' ( i ) mâti , "creator of the land." Both the Semitic and the bilingual creation-stories speak of Merodach as the creator of the world, with its products, and the great cities of Babylonia; and "father Enlil," who bore the title "lord of the world," bestowed the same upon Merodach at the creation, thus identifying Merodach with himself. Now there is a group which may be read either Dikut , "the Judge," or Sakut , "the Counselor," and if we can read Succoth-benoth as Sakut ( h ) ban' wāt ( h ) , "the Counselor, creator of the land," a satisfactory explanation of this puzzling name will be furnished. The terminal - i of the Babylonian has been preserved in the ει , ei , of the Greek. The adoption of such a descriptive name of Enlil-Merodach would form a compromise between abandoning their old objects of worship and accepting "the god of the land " ( 2 Kings 17:26 ).

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Succoth-Benoth'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 1915.

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