🔼The name Massa in the Bible
There is at least one man named Massa in the Bible, and perhaps a location as well:
- The man named Massa is one of the twelve sons of Ishmael, the son of Abraham and Hagar (Genesis 25:14).
- Whether the area called Massa is actually mentioned in the Bible is disputed. None of the popular English, German or Dutch translations of the Bible confirms it, yet BDB Theological Dictionary pronounces Massa the "realm of king Lemuel," the wise man whose proverbs we know as Proverbs 31. Why BDB can even suggest this will become clear below.
Note that the names Massa (משא) and Massah (מסה) are not as similar in Hebrew as they seem in English.
🔼Etymology of the name Massa
The name Massa comes from the root-verb נשא I (nasa' I) and is identical to the nouns משא (massa'), meaning load or burden, and משא (massa') meaning utterance or oracle (and so it comes to pass that king Lemuel of Proverbs 31:1 is either an oracle or he is king of Massa):
For a meaning of the name Massa, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Burden, and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads the elaborate Bearing Patiently.
BDB Theological Dictionary confirms our name is identical to the two words משא, but neither interprets our name, nor lists it under any of the roots נשא. In stead BDB lists our name alphabetically amidst the מ-words. What BDB's objection is against deriving the name Massa from the form נשא is not clear, but whatever it may be, a Hebrew audience wouldn't care much and promptly read the obvious meanings into our name.