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Meaning and etymology of the name Jehoshaphat

Jehoshaphat Jehoshaphat

Apart from the men named Joshaphat (a contracted form of Jehoshaphat), in the Bible there are three men and one valley named Jehoshaphat. The first Jehoshaphat we come across is a son of Ahilud, who works as a recorder under kings David and Solomon (2 Samuel 8:16, 1 Kings 4:3).

The second Jehoshaphat is the son and successor of king Asa of Judah and his wife Azubah (1 Kings 15:24). King Jehoshaphat is generally considered a good king, except for his failure to do away with pagan centers of worship, and his allegiance to the evil king Ahaziah of Israel, with whom he tries to set up a gold trade with Tarshish (1 Kings 22:43-48).

Jehoshaphat number three is the father of king Jehu of Israel, the son of Nimshi (2 Kings 9:2).

The prophet Joel makes mention of a valley of Jehoshaphat, where God will gather all nations, saying, "For there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations" , and the harrowing, "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!" (Joel 3). It seems clear that the valley of Jehoshaphat is the same as the valley of Armageddon.

The name Jehoshaphat consists of two elements:

1) The name Jah, Jah or Jehu, which in turn is an abbreviated form of the Tetragrammaton; the name of the Lord: YHWH.

2) The verb shapat (shapat), meaning to judge or govern. This verb is much more common than the more poetic equivalent din (see the name Dan), and covers a wide range of legislative, executive and judicial functions. The nouns shepet (shepet) and shepot (shepot) both mean judgment in the penal sense, but the much more frequently occurring noun mishpat (mishpat) denotes a ruling in a general sense, having been translated with words like justice, ordinance, custom or manner. The ultimate ruling of God that starts at "Judgment Day," is therefore not simply a division between the lost and the saved, but rather the commencement of humanity directly under God's permanent government (separated from the humanity that rejects justice). That government will feel as perfect freedom, as God's righteousness is much more akin the natural laws that "governs" the universe than any human law that restricts or burdens human citizens.

For a meaning of the name Jehoshaphat, NOBS Study Bible Name List reads Yahweh Has Judged, and BDB Theological Dictionary has the similar Yah Hath Judged. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names translates Yah and suggests The Lord Judges.

Related names are Elishaphat, Joshaphat, Shaphat, Shephatiah and Shiphtan.



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