🔼The name Ben-abinadab: Summary
- Son Of A Generous Father
- From (1) the noun בן (ben), son, (2) the noun אב ('ab), father, and (3) the verb נדב (nadab), to willingly give.
🔼The name Ben-abinadab in the Bible
There's some controversy on whether the name Ben-abinadab is a name or not. But this Hebrew construct occurs in 1 Kings 4:11, where Ben-abinadab is listed among the twelve deputies of king Solomon. In addition it's noted that this fellow married Taphath, the daughter of Solomon.
🔼Etymology of the name Ben-abinadab
The name Ben-abinadab consists of three elements. The first part is the common Hebrew word בן (ben), meaning son:
The noun בן (ben) means son, or more general: a member of one particular social or economic node — called a "house", which is built upon the instructions of one אב ('ab), or "father" — within in a larger economy (hence: the "sons of the prophet" are the members of the prophet-class; the prophets). This noun obviously resembles the verb בנה (bana), to build, and the noun אבן ('eben), stone.
Our noun's feminine version, namely בת (bat), means daughter, which resembles the noun בית (bayit), meaning house. Sometimes our noun is contracted into a single letter ב, whose name beth comes from בית (bayit) and means "house" as well. As a prefix, the letter ב (be) means "in." The word for mother, אם ('em), is highly similar to that of tribe or people, אמה ('umma).
The final part of the name Ben-abinadab is equal to the name Abinadab, which in turn consists of two elements, the first of which being the common noun אב ('ab), meaning father:
The noun אב ('ab) means father, but describes primarily a social relationship rather than a biological one. That social fatherhood was the defining quality of the community's alpha male, the one around whom all economy revolved and from whom emanated all instructions by which the 'sons' (בן, ben) operated. It's unclear where this word אב ('ab) comes from but the verb abu means to decide.
The second part of the name Abinadab comes from the Hebrew verb נדב (nadab), meaning to willingly give, make willing, incite:
The verb נדב (nadab) means to give, donate or volunteer, and by implication to be noble. From it derive the noun נדבה (nedaba), freewill offering, the noun and adjective נדיב (nadib), generous or noble, and the noun נדיבה (nediba), generous deed.
Most traditional translations assume that this man is "the son of Abinadab," and that his own name isn't given. But modern translations acknowledge that this may be a bit hard to believe, especially since he is a son in law of the king, and list him as Ben-abinadab, meaning Son Of Abinadab, or Son Of A Generous Father.
A similar controversy happens with the maybe-name Ben-hur.