Sometimes names in Tanakh are just names, but sometimes they're descriptions. Are there any commentaries that talk about whether Lavan is called Lavan because he's an oddly white man in the middle east during a time when there probably weren't a lot of white men around?

  • I've seen brought down that he was so-called due to his trickery and deceit and that is what the 'white' reference is.
    – Dov
    Jul 25 at 15:37

The Medrash Rabbah brings Rebbi Yitzchak who writes that Lavan was a pardachsus. According to the Sefer Ha'Aruch's understanding of the word Pardachsus Lavan was extremely white (albino) .

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  • Here is the text of the Midrash. (Bereishis Rabba 60:8) There are 2 explanations רַבִּי יִצְחָק אָמַר לְשֶׁבַח, פַּרְדּוֹכוֹס. רַבִּי בֶּרֶכְיָה אָמַר לִגְנַאי, מְלֻבֶּן בְּרֶשַׁע
    – Chatzkel
    Jul 23 at 21:12
  • I understand that ,main text is the Aruch
    – sam
    Jul 23 at 21:19
  • Is albinism a praiseworthy thing that it would be described as לשבח?
    – Double AA
    Jul 23 at 21:35
  • Could be people appreciated the novelty
    – sam
    Jul 23 at 21:39
  • 1
    I don't believe you have this down entirely accurate. It appears to me that the Arukh is not defining paradoxus (παράδοξος) to mean exceedingly white. Rather he is citing the Midrash's uses the term פרדוכוס, to explain that it means paradoxical/strikingly-enigmatic (sunderbar, auffallend). What is so strange about Lavan? The Arukh offers that he was exceedingly white, like a lavqan (albino). Although the Arukh's reading is reasonable, it is possible that he is correct about the meaning of the term פרדוכוס but wrong about what precisely it was about Lavan that was enigmatic. Jul 23 at 21:49

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