🔼The names Shobai and Shobi in the Bible
The names Shobai and Shobi occur both only in one context in the Bible:
- Shobai is the ancestor of a group of gatekeeping Levites, who returned from the Babylonian exile together with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:42, Nehemiah 7:45).
- Shobi, son of Nahash of Rabbah, was a kind local lord who was among the men who provided humanitarian help to king David of Israel and his people when they were on the run from Absalom (2 Samuel 17:27).
The names Shobai and Shobi are spelled the same in Hebrew but for some unexplained reason, the authors of the Septuagint decided to transliterate the name Shobai with Σοβαι and Shobi with Ουεσβι (Ouesbi).
This may either be because the authors of the Septuagint were working off compromised original texts, or else that the texts we have are compromised, or that the Septuagints we have aren't the original but are compromised.
Jerome, who translated the Septuagint into Latin (the Vulgate), seems to have had a text that spelled the names Shobai and Shobi both with an Σ, because the Vulgate reads Sobai for Shobai, and Sobi for Shobi.
Long after Jerome, the Masoretes began to punctuate the Hebrew texts with their famous vowel symbols, and deemed the names Shobai and Shobai to both start with the letter שׁ (dot to the right; pronounced as "sh") and not שׂ (dot to the left; pronounced as "s"), and that is why we read about Shobai and Shobi in our English Bibles.
🔼Etymology of the names Shobai and Shobi
The names Shobai and Shobi consist of two elements, but there's controversy about both. The first element of our name appears to have to do with the following root group:
The letter י (yod) upon which our names end, may either create an adjective (returning or captured), a possessive form (my return, or my captivity), or may be a remnant of יה (Yah) = יהו (Yahu) = יו (Yu), which in turn are abbreviated forms of the Tetragrammaton יהוה, YHWH, or Yahweh.
🔼Shobai and Shobi meaning
For a meaning of the name Shobai, the authors of the NOBSE Study Bible Name List appear to have found a verb that means to be glorious. Although we congratulate NOBSE on their find, no member of a Hebrew audience would probably see these names that way. The final yod of the name Shobai, NOBSE sees as the mark of an adjective, but the yod of Shobi, NOBSE deems a mark of the divine Name. Hence NOBSE reads Glorious for Shobai and Yahweh Is Glorious for Shobi (but note that this final explanation utilizes the final yod twice. A proper rendering along these lines would be Glory Of Yahweh).
Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names takes both names from the verb שוב (shub), meaning to return, and reads Recompense Of The Lord for both.
BDB Theological Dictionary doesn't interpret either name but lists both under the verb שבה (shaba), meaning to take captive.