Rehoboth is a place name that appears several times in the Old Testament of the Bible. It carries rich symbolism and spiritual meaning for believers. As we explore the biblical mentions of Rehoboth, we’ll uncover the significance this unique name held for people of faith in ancient times and what it continues to represent for Christians today.
In Hebrew, the name Rehoboth comes from the word reḥôbôth which means “broad places” or “streets.” It evokes images of wide-open spaces, room to spread out, and freedom of movement. When we look at the context surrounding Rehoboth in Scripture, these concepts prove highly relevant.
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- Rehoboth is first mentioned in Genesis 26 as a well dug by Isaac. It represents provision, room to flourish, and divine blessing.
- 1 Chronicles 4 links Rehoboth with the tribe of Judah and descendants of Caleb. It was a populated location residents identified with.
- In Genesis 10, Rehoboth is a city built by Asshur, indicating civilization, development, and human achievement.
- Figuratively, Rehoboth conveys openness, liberty, and space to grow. God desires His people to spread out and increase spiritually.
As we examine each narrative mentioning Rehoboth, we’ll gain insight into how this unique name worked as a point of identity, a symbol of blessing, and a picture of what God intends His people to experience as they follow Him.
Rehoboth the Well in Genesis 26
The first occurrence of Rehoboth is found in Genesis 26 as part of the story of Isaac’s time spent in Gerar during a period of famine:
Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him. The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him. Now the Philistines had stopped and filled with earth all the wells which his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father. And Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.”
Then Isaac departed from there and pitched his tent in the Valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them. Also Isaac’s servants dug in the valley, and found a well of running water there. But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water is ours.” So he called the name of the well Esek, because they quarreled with him. Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that one also. So he called its name Sitnah. And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, because he said, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.” (Genesis 26:12-22 NKJV)
This passage provides rich details surrounding the well named Rehoboth. As was common practice, Isaac retraced his father Abraham’s steps and re-dug wells that had been stopped up by the Philistines. Two wells he re-opened retained the original names Abraham had called them. But when Isaac’s men dug a new well, there was no contention over rights to the water. So Isaac deemed it fitting to give this well a fresh new name: Rehoboth.
He makes it clear the meaning behind this choice – “For now the Lord has made room for us.” After dealing with quarreling and strife over previous wells, finally here was a well providing an open space of provision for Isaac’s flocks and herds to drink their fill. The sense of contention and lack shifted to feelings of abundance and blessing. Isaac could partake freely of the well’s resources without hindrance.
For a man whose livelihood centered on raising livestock in a dry climate, this well was incredibly significant. It represented security, flourishing, and freedom from limitation. All because the Lord had granted them uncontested access to this fresh water source.
The name Rehoboth inherently conveyed this sense of blessing for generations to come. Every time they would return to this well, they would remember God’s goodness in bringing them to this spacious place of provision. Even into the Promised Land period when records indicate a settlement named Rehoboth existed in this area, it’s likely the original associations clung to the site (Genesis 10:11).
Rehoboth the well reminds believers today of God’s desire and ability to bring us into seasons and places of abundant blessings and freedom from contention. When we follow His lead, He guides us to Rehoboth experiences where we can flourish and spread out in the broad room He provides.
Rehoboth and the Tribe of Judah in 1 Chronicles 4
Rehoboth appears again in 1 Chronicles 4 as part of a genealogical record of the tribe of Judah:
The sons of Judah were Perez, Hezron, Carmi, Hur, and Shobal. And Reaiah the son of Shobal begot Jahath, and Jahath begot Ahumai and Lahad. These were the families of the Zorathites. These were the sons of Etam: Jezreel, Ishma, and Idbash; and the name of their sister was Hazelelponi; and Penuel was the father of Gedor, and Ezer was the father of Hushah. These were the sons of Hur, the firstborn of Ephrathah the father of Bethlehem. And Ashhur the father of Tekoa had two wives, Helah and Naarah. Naarah bore him Ahuzzam, Hepher, Temeni, and Haahashtari. These were the sons of Naarah. The sons of Helah were Zereth, Zohar, and Ethnan; and Koz begot Anub, Zobebah, and the families of Aharhel the son of Harum. Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested. Chelub the brother of Shuhah begot Mehir, who was the father of Eshton. And Eshton begot Beth-Rapha, Paseah, and Tehinnah the father of Ir-Nahash. These were the men of Rechah. The sons of Kenaz were Othniel and Seraiah. And the sons of Othniel were Hathath, and Meonothai who begot Ophrah. Seraiah begot Joab the father of Ge Harashim, for they were craftsmen. The sons of Caleb the son of Jephunneh were Iru, Elah, and Naam. The sons of Elah were Kenaz. The sons of Jehallelel were Ziph, Ziphah, Tiria, and Asarel. The sons of Ezrah were Jether, Mered, Epher, and Jalon. And Mered’s wife bore Miriam, Shammai, and Ishbah the father of Eshtemoa. (His wife Jehudijah bore Jered the father of Gedor, Heber the father of Sochoh, and Jekuthiel the father of Zanoah.) And these were the sons of Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered took. The sons of Hodiah’s wife, the sister of Naham, were the fathers of Keilah the Garmite and of Eshtemoa the Maachathite. And the sons of Shimon were Amnon, Rinnah, Ben-Hanan, and Tilon. And the sons of Ishi were Zoheth and Ben-Zoheth. The sons of Shelah the son of Judah were Er the father of Lecah, Laadah the father of Mareshah, and the families of the house of the linen workers of the house of Ashbea; also Jokim, the men of Chozeba, and Joash; Saraph, who ruled in Moab, and Jashubi-Lehem. Now the records are ancient. These were the potters and those who dwell at Netaim and Gederah; there they dwelt with the king for his work. (1 Chronicles 4:1-23 NKJV)
In the middle of this lengthy chronicle, we find a reference to the people of Rechah and the men of Rehoboth. They are grouped together as descendants of Judah’s son Hur through his grandson Chelub.
Once again, Rehoboth arises as a populated place people identified with as residents. It had developed into a thriving community that bore a connection to the lineage and ancestry of the tribe of Judah.
Seeing Rehoboth mentioned in this context helps us understand it as an established settlement in the land given to the ancestors of Israel. The wide open spaces and freedom Isaac experienced at the well extended into a region inhabited by his and Abraham’s descendants. The blessing of God upon Rehoboth continued through the generations that followed after.
For the faithful Israelites reading these records, Rehoboth would remind them of God’s faithfulness to prosper His people in the lands He promised. The name invoked shared history and identity tied to the patriarchs they looked to as examples of faith. Just as God provided richly for their forefathers, He could be trusted to lead them into broad, open places as they relied on Him.
Rehoboth: Asshur’s City in Genesis 10
The one other mention of Rehoboth comes in the Table of Nations record found in Genesis 10:
Now this is the genealogy of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And sons were born to them after the flood. The sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. The sons of Javan were Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. From these the coastland peoples of the Gentiles were separated into their lands, everyone according to his language, according to their families, into their nations. The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. The sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabtechah; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan. Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.” And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah (that is the principal city). (Genesis 10:1-12 NKJV)
Nestled in this detailed listing of Noah’s descendants, we find mention of Rehoboth again – this time identified as a city. Asshur, a son of Shem, established Rehoboth Ir along with several other cities in Assyria.
The specificity in naming Rehoboth Ir, or Rehoboth City, indicates this was a distinct place from Rehoboth the well. Asshur provided the leadership needed to develop Rehoboth into a livable city for civilization to dwell and thrive.
In the context of Genesis 10, Rehoboth stands as an achievement of human advancement and societal development. It was part of building stable cities where communities could grow. For the early readers of Genesis, this solidified Rehoboth as an established place and populated area known throughout the region.
Seeing Rehoboth in this light helps us understand how locations can shape identity and represent growth. As people of faith, our spiritual development also involves maturity and cultivating the areas God lays before us. He intends for us to build up communities of faith as we dwell in the broad spaces He provides.
Asshur’s building of Rehoboth as a city reflects God’s desire for His people to multiply and spread out. Settlements like Rehoboth and the other cities listed were part of filling the earth, just as Noah’s family was instructed to do after the flood (Genesis 9:1). When God blesses us with resources and room to increase, we respond in faith by putting down roots and developing the territory He’s given us.
The Meaning Behind the Name Rehoboth for Christians Today
Drawing these three biblical mentions of Rehoboth together, we gain a richer understanding of why this name held such significance for the people of God. As we’ve seen, it conveyed:
- Provision – Isaac found a well providing fresh water and resources without contention. God brought them into a broad place of abundance.
- Identity – The tribe of Judah inhabited the land around Rehoboth well. The name connected them to the shared history of their ancestors Isaac and Abraham.
- Development – Asshur built up Rehoboth into a city, indicating growth, civilization, and societal maturity.
For modern day Christians, Rehoboth prompts us to reflect on the room God provides for us to flourish spiritually and accomplish His will.
When we follow the Holy Spirit’s lead, He brings us out to broad places of blessing where our faith can thrive. Resources for spiritual growth abound when we walk in God’s purposes.
Rehoboth also reminds us that maturity in Christ involves cultivating settlements of faith. As the Church, the Body of Christ, we are to build up one another. This requires rooting ourselves in community with other believers. When we develop strong connections through ministry and service, we make room for faith to spread out.
Most importantly, Rehoboth points our gaze upward to recognize that God desires to enlarge our territory. He wants us to grow in influence for the sake of His Kingdom. As we dwell in the freedom and abundance Christ provides, He will guide our steps into new spaces to proclaim His goodness.
Just as Rehoboth left a legacy for ancient Israel, this unique name lives on to represent the broad places God opens up for His people. May we remain attentive to all He desires us to accomplish for His glory.