Succoth Benoth

SUCCOTH BENOTH (sŭk'ŏth bē'nŏth, Heb. sukkōth benôth). A pagan god whose image was worshiped in Samaria after Assyria had captured it and put foreign rulers over it (2Kgs.17.24-2Kgs.17.30). It may be a title of Marduk, the guardian deity of Babylon.


SUCCOTH-BENOTH suk’ əth be’ nŏth (סֻכֹּ֣ות בְּנֹ֔ות, tabernacles of girls). The name of a deity. After defeating Samaria and carrying away hostages, the Assyrians brought in peoples of various regions of Upper and Lower Mesopotamia and settled them in Samaria. There were Babylonians among these peoples who had “Succoth-benoth” as their god (2 Kings 17:30). In non-Biblical sources Sarpanitu occurs as the name of Marduk’s consort; Sarpanitu appears also as Zir-banitu, “seed-creating one.” It is thus possible to observe an etymological similarity between -benoth and -banitu (as well as -panitu); difficulty arises in explaining or relating Succoth to the first element of the Babylonian elements, Sar and Zir. On the basis of limited non-Biblical and Biblical evidence, “Succoth-benoth” appears to be a corruption of Sarpanitu or Zir-banitu. The literal meaning is impossible to determine.

Bibliography

J. A. Montgomery, Commentary on Kings, ICC (1951), 473, 474; J. Gray, I and II Kings, “Old Testament Library” (1963), 595.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

suk’-oth, suk’-oth-be’-noth, be’-noth (cukkoth benoth; Rhochchothbaineithei, Codex Alexandrinus (better) Sokchothbenithei):

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 (2Ki 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 Zer-panitum (= Zer-banitum), whose name was probably pronounced Zer-panith, 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 ban wath, i.e. ban’(i) mati, "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’ wat(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 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" (2Ki 17:26).