There are numerous places in the Old Testament where it says the God gave somebody or some place a new name because of the significance of an event that happened there. For instance a lot being allowed to go to a small town instead of the mountains with the angel’s fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah. In Genesis 1821 says says the angels said flee there quickly because I cannot do anything to Sodom and gamora until you reach it and then. In parenthesis says that is why the town was called Zoar. Is there a hebrew word that we are missing or is there some reason why he names these things what he does and what would the bible’s scholars say about this?
The Hebrew word for “name” is shem, which can also mean “fame,” “renown,” or “reputation.” In Hebrew culture, names were thought to have great significance and were often given based on the circumstances surrounding a person’s birth or life. Changing someone’s name was a way of acknowledging a new stage in their life or identity.
In the Old Testament, God often changed people’s names to mark a new beginning or a shift in their relationship with him. For example, Abram (“exalted father”) became Abraham (“father of many nations”) after he received God’s promise of descendants as numerous as the stars. Jacob (“supplanter”) became Israel (“one who strives with God”) after wrestling with the angel.
Similarly, God renamed places to mark significant events or to reflect their new status in his plan. For example, Zoar was named after Lot’s plea for a small sanctuary in the midst of destruction. Bethel (“house of God”) was named by Jacob after he had a vision of a stairway reaching up to heaven.
Biblical scholars would likely see these name changes as part of the larger pattern of God’s unfolding plan for salvation history. By renaming people and places, God was communicating his sovereignty and his desire to bless his people and bring them into closer relationship with him.
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