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Ahab meaning

אחאב
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🔼The name Ahab in the Bible

The name Ahab is assigned two times in the Bible; both times to not very positive characters.

The less known Ahab is a son of Kolaiah. Together with a man named Zedekiah, this Ahab falsely prophesies and behaves contemptibly and is executed by Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 29:21). It may or may not be a curious coincidence that both Ahab and Zedekiah are names of kings of Israel.

The famous Ahab is the wicked king of Israel, son of Omri, husband of Jezebel and nemesis of the prophet Elijah the Tishbite (1 Kings 16:29-31, 17:1). According to the Bible, King Ahab introduces the worship of Baal in Israel (1 Kings 16:31). Archeological studies suggest that Ahab, rather than the earlier Solomon, was the great builder king of Israel.

The Oxford Companion to the Bible reads, "[...] deeply rooted north-south tensions and the Judahite perspective of the final deuteronomic history resulted in a critical treatment of Ahab in the Bible (1 Kings 16:29-22:40); narratives describing the antagonism between Ahab and the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17-19) constitute the sharpest polemic against him".

King Ahab dies in battle against the Arameans (1 Kings 22:35). Seventy of his sons (we don't know if that were all of them) were executed by king Jehu (2 Kings 10).

🔼Etymology of the name Ahab

The name Ahab consists of two elements. The first element of the name Ahab is the curious little word אח (ah), probably meaning brother. This word is pronounced with a ch as in Bach. The name Ahab is therefore to be pronounced as Achab, not ey-hab):

The final element of the name Ahab is the Hebrew word אב (ab), meaning basically father:

🔼Ahab meaning

For a meaning of the name Ahab, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Father's Brother and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads the similar Brother Of The Father. Even BDB Theological Dictionary takes a shot at it and reads Father's Brother, but notes that it would have to be an unexplained contraction of אחיאב (Ahayab).

All very well, and possibly puristically pleasing, but for any Hebrew audience the name Ahab probably didn't mean Ach Father! or Dad's A Firepot or Father's Jackal (even Father's Little Yelper). But it is quite possible that beneath the common word for brother hides a meaning that's been forgotten in time but which would make perfect sense of the name Ahab or any of the many Ah- and Ahi-names.

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