🔼The name Abijah: Summary
- Yah Is (My) Father
- From (1) the noun אב ('ab), father, and (2) יה (yah), the shortened name of the Lord.
🔼The name Abijah in the Bible
Some translations make a distinction between the names Abiah and Abijah, but in the Hebrew no such distinction exists.
In the Bible, the name Abijah is assigned to two women and six men. The women named Abijah are:
- One of the wives of Hezron and the mother of Asshur (1 Chronicles 2:24).
- The mother of King Hezekiah and wife of king Ahaz of Judah (2 Chronicles 29:1 — in the parallel text of 2 Kings 18:2 she is called Abi).
The men named Abijah are:
- The youngest son of Samuel, who worked as a judge in Beersheba. He and his brother Joel are openly corrupt. This causes Israel's elders to stand up and demand a king (1 Samuel 8:2);
- The son of king Jeroboam and Maacah (2 Chronicles 11:20). This Abijah is the first of the family of Jeroboam to die, as God sweeps them away "like one would sweep away dung" (1 Kings 14:1-18). In the New Testament this man is listed in the genealogy of Christ as Αβια; Abia (Matthew 1:7 and Luke 1:5)
- A son of Becher, who was a son of Benjamin (1 Chronicles 7:8);
- The head of the eighth division of the sons of Aaron. Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, is a member of that division (1 Chronicles 24:10; Luke 1:5);
- King Abijah of Judah, also known as Abijam. When king Jeroboam of Israel attacks Judah, the army of king Abijah slays 500,000 Israeli soldiers. In those days, that's enough to bankrupt a nation, as Abijah probably understood, as he married fourteen wives and fathered twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters (2 Chronicles 13:1-20).
- A signer of the national constitution of Ezra's new Judah (Nehemiah 10:7), who is probably the same Abijah mentioned among the returnees together with Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 12:4 and 12:17).
🔼Etymology of the name Abijah
The name Abijah consists of two elements. The first element is the common 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 central yod may be considered a remnant of the possessive yod of the compound אבי meaning my father, or father of. If so, then it overlaps with the yod of the second part of the name Abijah.
That second part, namely, is the appellative יה (Yah) = יהו (Yahu) = יו (Yu), which in turn are abbreviated forms of the Tetragrammaton; the name of the Lord: YHWH.
BDB Theological Dictionary allows the yod to be possessive, and reads Yah Is (My) Father. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names does too, and reads Father Of The Lord (which is theologically only possible if the father denotes a figure of authority, who's been placed in office by the Lord — a rather inelegant translation). NOBSE Study Bible Name List thinks the yod is not possessive but part of יה, and reads Yahweh Is Father.