🔼The name Abihu: Summary
- He Is Father, (Whose) Father (Is) He
- From (1) the noun אב ('ab), father, and (2) הוא (hu'), the masculine third person singular pronoun: he.
🔼The name Abihu in the Bible
The only Abihu in the Bible is one of four sons of Aaron and Elisheba; the others being Nadab, Eleazar and Ithamar (Exodus 6:23). Abihu and Nadab are part of one of the most astonishing scenes in the Bible. They, and Moses, Aaron and seventy elders of Israel (among whom Joshua), are invited to approach YHWH on Mount Sinai. They do it and they see God clear enough to see that his feet are on a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky. "And they beheld God, and they ate and drank" — Exodus 24:11.
There is no fire pelting or thunder clapping. There are no angels shouting or winds howling. The seventy-four men meet God and have a picnic.
Afterwards God invites Moses and Joshua to come along, further up the mountain. Six days follow but we don't know how they are spent. But it seems likely that Moses and probably Joshua too, where not left to boredom for a week and perhaps they were entertained by God or God's staff. On the seventh day, God calls Moses to him and explains that he would like to dwell among Israel, and thus orders the building of the Tabernacle. While God is explaining Moses that the four sons of Aaron were to become kohanim, or priests (Exodus 28:1), down in the camp, Aaron builds the golden calf (32:4).
But the plans are executed, the tabernacle is built and the kohanim are instated. One day, when Abihu and Nadab are still so young that they have no offspring of their own (Numbers 3:4), they offer "strange fire" to God and God strikes them dead (Leviticus 10:1).
Apparently God desires to enter into a union with mankind that also results in picnics and week-long getaways. But, as pleasing as the result may be, this union with God is also mankind's only way to survive as a species, and this union can only be brought about in a very precise manner. Why it works like this can only be guessed at, but from Solomon we learn that "love is as strong as death; jealousy is as severe as Sheol. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord" (Song of Solomon 8:6).
🔼Etymology of the name Abihu
The name Abihu consists of two elements. The first element is the familiar Hebrew word 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 post-fixed letter yod makes it possessive: my father, or father of, depending on the context.
The second element of the name Abihu is הוא (hu'), third person singular pronoun, he, the singular version of המה (hemma), meaning they:
The masculine pronouns הם (hem) and המה (hemma) mean "they." The feminine versions are הנה (henna) and הן (hen). The singular versions (meaning he and she) are הוא (hu) and היא (hi).
The similar verb המה (hama) means to be noisy, and that particularly of a "them". The derived masculine noun המון (hamon) denotes a noisy multitude.
For a meaning of the name Abihu, both NOBSE Study Bible Name List and BDB Theological Dictionary read He Is Father. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names has (Whose) Father (Is) He.