The name Sheba in the Bible
There are two completely different names in the Bible that both transliterate into English as Sheba: the names שבא and שבע. Something similar happens with the names אצר (Ezer I) and אזר (Ezer II), or נח (Noah I) and נעח (Noah II).
Sheba (I) שבא
The Sheba's-with-aleph mentioned in the Bible are:
- A son of Raamah, son of Cush, son of Ham, son of Noah (Genesis 10:7).
- A son of Joktan, who is the brother of Peleg (Genesis 10:28).
- A son of Jokshan, son of Abraham with Keturah.
- Sheba is also a region or nation of which the queen journeyed to Solomon (1 Kings 10:1; Matthew 12:42)
Etymology and meaning of the name Sheba I
This name Sheba is according to Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names comparable with an Ethiopic word meaning 'man'. And so, for a meaning of this name Sheba, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Man.
BDB Theological Dictionary sees relations with a verb that means to make campaign or expedition, but lists סבא (saba), meaning to imbibe (see the name Seba).
The name may even have to do with שבה (shaba) to take captive.
שבא is used in the Aramaic Talmud to mean splinter, a possible derivative (says BDB Theological Dictionary) from the unused שבב (shbb I & II), which yields שבבים (shebabim from root I), splinters, and שביב (shabib from root II), flame.
And then, there are scholars (those who compiled the NOBSE Study Bible Name List for instance), who seem to assume that the name שבא is nothing but the name שבע spelled slightly different:
Sheba (II) שבע
The name Sheba-with-ayin is ascribed to:
Etymology and meaning of the name Sheba II
This name Sheba is identical to the words שבע (sheba), meaning seven and שבע (shaba), meaning to swear (an oath):
This version of the name Sheba means either Seven or Oath.