🔼The name Abir: Summary
- Mighty One, Protector, Shield
- From the verb אבר ('br), to be strong or to protect.
🔼The name Abir in the Bible
The name Abir is one of the titles of the Living God. For some reason it's usually translated (for some reason all God's names are usually translated and usually not very accurate), and the translation of choice is usually Mighty One, which isn't very accurate. Our name occurs six times in the Bible but never alone; five times it's coupled with the name Jacob and once with Israel.
In Isaiah 1:24 we find four names of the Lord in rapid succession as Isaiah reports: "Therefore Adon YHWH Sabaoth Abir Israel declares..". Another full cord occurs in Isaiah 49:26: "All flesh will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Abir Jacob," and the identical is noted in Isaiah 60:16.
The full name Abir Jacob was first spoken by Jacob himself. At the end of his life, Jacob blessed his sons, and when it was Joseph's turn he spoke to him of blessings from the hands of Abir Jacob (Genesis 49:24). Many years later, the Psalmist remembered king David, who swore by Abir Jacob that he would not sleep until he had found a place for YHWH; a dwelling place for Abir Jacob (Psalm 132:2-5).
🔼Etymology of the name Abir
The name Abir comes from the root אבר ('br), which roughly means to be strong:
The verb אבר ('br) means to be strong or firm, particularly in a defensive way (rather than offensive). The derived nouns אבר ('eber) and אברה ('ebra) refer to the pinion(s) that make up a bird's wings, which in turn means that the ancients saw avian wings as means to protect rather than to fly with (the signature trait of angels, hence, is not an ability to fly but a tendency to protect). The verb אבר ('abar) describes activities done with pinions, which is to fly or to protect. The adjective אביר ('abbir), meaning strong in a defensive way; protective.
The name Abir reflects protection more than strength, although one obviously has to be strong to be any good at protecting. Still, although all modern translations universally translate this name with Mighty One, it's probably best translated with Protector or Shield.
Abir Jacob was to Israel what the national lamassu was to the Assyrians and the Babylonians, namely a dedicated spiritual force of unity, safety and strength. And in that limited sense was Abir Jacob to Israel what Marduk was to Assyria and Babylon.
The idea of a personal protector spirit is not as unbiblical as it may sound; both Matthew and Luke refer to this phenomenon (Matthew 18:10 and Acts 12:15), and the idea of Israel having a national protector spirit clearly comes from God himself (Exodus 23:23).