The name Ahinoam in the Bible
There are two women named Ahinoam in the Bible:
- One is the daughter of Ahimaaz who married king Saul and had sons named Jonathan, Ishvi and Malchi-shua, and daughters named Merab and Michal (1 Samuel 14:49-50).
- The other Ahinoam is a Jezreelite and one of the first three wives of David (1 Samuel 25:43), and one of the two who were abducted from Ziklag by Amalekites (the other being Abigail). Ahinoam gives birth to David's first born son Amnon (2 Samuel 3:2), but he doesn't become crown prince as he obviously has a screw loose. He rapes his younger half-sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13:14-20) and is subsequently put to death by order of her full brother Absalom (2 Samuel 13:19).
Etymology of the name Ahinoam
The name Ahinoam is member of a vast cluster of Biblical אח-names, and the ah-part is usually translated with "brother." Often that works fine but in some cases (feminine names) it doesn't. The name Ahinoam seems to be a case in which ah is unlikely to mean brother, unless the 'ah'-part was in fact a reference to a deity named Brother:
The second element of the name Ahinoam comes from the root verb נעם (naem), meaning to be pleasant or sweet:
For a meaning of the name Ahinoam, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and BDB Theological Dictionary read My Brother Is Delight. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names too derives of the verb נעם but offers the rather divergent Brother Of Grace.
A Hebrew audience would probably have interpreted this name as something like: Kindred To Sweetness, or A Delightful Ally.