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Biblical Archaeology Review 47:3, Fall 2021

Epistles: What’s In A Name?: Elisheba

Biblical Archaeology Review


El = “god,” “god ‘El” or “the God (‘Elohim)” | i = “of ” or “my” | shaba = “seven” or “to bind with an oath”

The feminine name Elisheba (Hebrew: אלישבע) is one of the many theophoric (“god-bearing”) biblical names built on the ancient noun ‘el, which is both the proper name of a Canaanite deity and a generic term meaning “god” in Semitic languages. It also became short for ‘Elohim, the Israelite God. Shaba (or sheba) is related to either “oath” or “seven,” where the number refers to the proverbial seven seals or seven bonds (of an oath). The letter yod in between joins the two words in construct or acts as the possessive pronoun “my,” resulting in these possible meanings of the name: “God of oathing,” “God of the seven,” or “(my) god is an oath.”

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