Beri'ah (Heb. Beriah', on the signif. see below), the name of four men.
1. (Sept. Βαριά) The last named of the four sons of Asher, and the father of Heber and Malchiel (Ge 46:17). B.C. 1856. His descendants were called BERIITES (Nu 26:44-45).
2. (Sept. Βαριά v. r. Βεριά.) A son of Ephraim, so named on account of the state of his father's house when he was born. "And the sons of Ephraim; Shuthelah, and Bered his son, and Tahath his son, and Eladah his son, and Tahath his son, and Zabad his son, and Ezer, and Elead, whom the men of Gath [that were] born in [that] land slew" [lit. "and the men . . . slew them"], "because they came down to take away their cattle. And Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brethren came to comfort him. And when he went in to his wife, she conceived, and bare a son, and he called his name Beriah, because it went evil with his house" [lit. "because in evil" or "a gift" "was to his house: כִּי ברָעָה הָיתָה בבֵיתוֹ; Sept. ὅτι ἐν κακοῖς ἐγένετο ἐν οἴκῳ μου; Vulg. "eo quod in malls domus ejus ortus esset'" (1Ch 7:20-23). With respect to the meaning of the name, Gesenius prefers the rendering "in evil" to "a gift," as probably the right one. In this case, בּרָעָה in the explanation would be, according to him, רָעָה with Beth essentiae (Thes. s.v.). It must be remarked, however, that the supposed instances of Beth essentiae being prefixed to the subject in the O.T. are few and inconclusive, and that it is disputed by the Arabian grammarians if the parallel "redundant B'e" of the Arabic be ever so used (comp. Thes. p. 174, 175, where this use of "redundant B'e" is too arbitrarily denied). The Sept. and Vulg. indicate a different construction, with an additional variation in the case of the former ("my house" for "his house"), so that the rendering "in evil" does not depend upon the construction proposed by Gesenius. Michaelis suggests that, בּרָעָה may mean a spontaneous gift of God, beyond expectation and the law of nature, as a son born to Ephraim now growing old might be called (Suppl. p. 224, 225). In favor of this meaning, which; with Gesenius, we take in the simple sense of "gift," it may be urged that it is unlikely that four persons would have borne a name of an unusual form, and that a case similar to that here supposed is found in the naming of Seth (Ge 4:25). First (Heb. Handw. s.v.) suggests what appears a still better derivation, namely, a contraction of בֶּןאּרָיעָה for בֶּןאּרָעָה, son of evil, i.e. unlucky.
This short notice is of no slight historical importance, especially as it refers to a period of Hebrew history respecting which the Bible affords us no other like information. The event must be assigned to the time between Jacob's death and the beginning of the oppression. B.C. post. 1856. The indications that guide us are, that some of Ephraim's sons must have attained to manhood, and that the Hebrews were still free. The passage is full of difficulties. The first question is, What sons of Ephraim were killed? The persons mentioned do not all seem to be his sons. Shuthelah occupies the first place, and a genealogy of his descendants follows as far as a second Shuthelah, the words "his son" indicating a direct descent, as Houbigant (ap. Barrett, Synopsis, in loc.) remarks, although he very needlessly proposes conjecturally to omit them. A similar genealogy from Beriah to Joshua is given in ver. 25-27. As the text stands, there are but three sons of Ephraim mentioned before Beriah-Shuthelah, Ezer, and Elead, all of whom seem to have been killed by the men of Gath, though it is possible that the last two are alone meant, while the first of them is stated to have left descendants. In the enumeration of the Israelite families in Numbers four of the tribe of Ephraim are mentioned, sprung from his sons Shuthelah, Becher, and Tahan, and from Eran, son or descendant of Shuthelah (26, 35-36.) The second and third families are probably those of Beriah and a younger son, unless the third is one of Beriah, called after his descendant Tahan (1Ch 7:25); or one of them may be that of a son of Joseph, since it is related that Jacob determined that sons of Joseph who might be born to him after Ephraim and Manasseh should "be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance" (Ge 48:6). SEE BECHER. There can be no doubt that the land in which the men of Gath were born is the eastern part of Lower Egypt, if not Goshen itself. It would be needless to say that they were born in their own land; but as this was not Gath itself, they must have been called "men of Gath" (q. d. Gittites) as being descended from natives of that place. At this time very many foreigners must have been settled in Egypt, especially in and about Goshen. Indeed, Goshen is mentioned as a nonEgyptian country in its inhabitants (Ge 46:34), and its own name, as well as nearly all the names of its cities and places mentioned in the Bible, save the cities built in the oppression, are probably Semitic. In the Book of Joshua, Shihor, the Nile, here the Pelusiac branch, is the boundary of Egypt and Canaan, the Philistine territories apparently being considered to extend from it (Jos 13:2-3). It is therefore very probable that many Philistines would have settled in a part of Egypt so accessible to them and so similar in its population to Canaan as Goshen and the tracts adjoining it. Or else these men of Gath may have been mercenaries like the Cherethim (in Egyptian Shayratana") who were in the Egyptian service at a later time, as in David's, and to whom lands were probably allotted as to the native army. Some suppose that the men of Gath were the aggressors, a conjecture not at variance with the words used in the relation of the cause of the death of Ephraim's sons, since we may read "when (כִּי) they came down," etc., instead of "because," etc. (Bagster's Bible, in loc.), but it must be remembered that this rendering is equally consist, ent with the other explanation. There is no reason to suppose that the Israelites at this time may not have sometimes engaged in predatory or other warfare. The warlike habits of Jacob's sons are evident in the narrative of the vengeance taken by Simeon and Levi upon Hamor and Shechem (Ge 34:25-29), and that the same traits existed in their posterity appears from the fear which the Pharaoh who began to oppress them entertained lest they should, in the event of war in the land, join with the enemies of his people, and thus escape out of the country (Ex 1:8-10). It has been imagined,according as either side was supposed to have acted the aggressor, that the Gittites descended upon the Ephraimites in a predatory excursion from Palestine, or that the Ephraimites made a raid into Palestine. Neither of these explanations is consistent with sound criticism, because the men of Gath are said to have been born in the land, that is, to have been settled in Egypt, as already shown, and the second one, which is adopted by Bunsen (Egypt's Place, 1, 177, 178), is inadmlissible on the ground that the verb used, יָרִד, "he went down," or "descended," is applicable to going into Egypt, but not to coming from it. The rabbinical idea that these sons of Ephraim went to take the Promised Land needs no refutation. (For these various theories, see Poole's Synopsis, in loc.)
3. (Sept. Βεριά v. r. Βαριγά.) A Benjamite, and apparently son of Elpaal; he, with his brother Shimea, were founders of Ajalon, and expelled the Gittites (1Ch 8:13). B.C. prob. 1612. His nine sons are enumerated in ver. 14-16.
4. (Sept. Βαριά v. r. Βεριά.) The last named of the four sons of Shimei, a Levite of the family of Gershom (1Ch 23:10). B.C. 1014. His posterity was not numerous (ver. 11).