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Meaning and etymology of the Hebrew name Abishag

Abishag Abishag

Abishag is a pulchritudinous young Shunammite who David's servants hire for their king to keep him warm during Jerusalem's long and cold nights (1 Kings 1:1-4). David had six wives but apparently neither of them gave off any warmth anymore. The story doesn't mention whether the wives too required nocturnal heating and acquired the assistance of handsome male nurses.

David's son Adonijah, the son of Haggith, takes an instant liking to this pretty nurse, and when David dies and Solomon ascends to Israel's throne, Adonijah decides to ask his younger but royal half-brother for the hand of Abishag, through the intersession of Solomon's mother Bathsheba. Solomon perceives his request as a threat to his monarchy (2:22) and fiercely unsettled Solomon has Adonijah executed by Benaiah the son of Jehoiada (2:25). Abishag quietly exits the Biblical stage and is heard from no more (1 Kings 2:12-25).

The name Abishag consists of two elements. The first element is the common Hebrew word Abi, from the Hebrew word ab (ab), basically meaning father (see Abba), but with applications beyond the contemporary use of father. `Ab is frequently used to mean judge or counselor (Genesis 45:8; 2 Kings 2:12). Abi (with yod) appears frequently in connection with names of places to express the lord of a country, city or village.

The second part of the name Abishag comes from the important Hebrew verb shagag (shagag), meaning to go astray or to err. As verb this root occurs only four times (Leviticus 5:18, Numbers 15:28, Psalm 119:67 and Job 12:16) but the derived noun shegaga (shegaga) occurs more frequently. Originally this noun must have meant something like an error or deviation, but in the Bible it's one of the words for sin, occurring nineteen times. The principle word for sin is het (het), which occurs thirty five times. But the root of the latter, hata (hata), meaning to miss or miss the way, is used about 580 times. That means that in the Bible the concept of sin was seen as missing the point or missing your purpose, much rather than deviating from an ethical or moral standard, or making a blunder of some sort.

For a meaning of the name Abishag, NOBS Study Bible Name List reads a merciful The Father Wanders. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Father Of Error.



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