Oreb in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
o'-reb, ze'-eb, zeb (`orebh, "raven," especially "crow"),
and (ze'ebh, "wolf") (Jdg 7:25; 8:3; Ps 83:11, and Isa 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 Jdg 7:25
implies. If so, we must take the names to be originally two
places, apparently in Ephraim, for the words "beyond Jordan"
in 7:25 contradict 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 Wady 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 Isa 10:26, a
verse which mentions the "rock of Oreb," and suggests that
the great defeat of the Midianites took place there (compare
Isa 9:4). The passage in Isa 10:24-26 is prose, however, and
is said to be late editing (see G.H. Box, Isa, 65). In Ps
83:11 (Hebrew 12) there is a prayer that God would make the
"nobles" among the Psalmist's enemies as Oreb and Zeeb.
David Francis Roberts