🔼The name Abital: Summary
- Father Of Dew, My Father Is (The) Dew
- From (1) the noun אב ('ab), father, and (2) the noun טל (tal), dew.
🔼The name Abital in the Bible
Abital is one of king David's lesser known wives. She's mentioned only once in 2 Samuel 3:4 and once in the mirror text of 1 Chronicles 3:3. We don't know where she is from or who her parents are. All we know is that she is the mother of David's fifth son Shephatiah.
🔼Etymology of the name Abital
The name Abital consists of two elements. The first part comes from 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 letter yod probably turns the word ab into a possessive form: אבי (abi), meaning either my father or father of, depending on the context.
The second part of the name Abital comes from the verb טלל (talal):
The root טלל (talal) has to do with being small, thin or widely dispersed or spread. Noun טל (tal), means dew. Verb טלל (talal) means to overcast (with a roof or with mist or dew). Derived verb טול (tul), means to extend or disperse widely, and its noun טלטלה (taltela) denotes a spreading out. Noun טלה (taleh) describes the young of sheep, goats or deer: lambs and fawns, and the verb טלא (tala') describes the patterns of spots spread out on a fawn. The plural noun טלאים (tal'im) collectively describes young ones or spotted ones.
For a meaning of the name Abital, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads The Father Is Dew and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Father Of Dew. BDB Theological Dictionary sees the yod between the words ab and tal as possessive and reads My Father Is (The) Dew.
This name is rather poetic and may seem somewhat odd, but a kindred and slightly odder name is Hamutal, meaning My Father-In-Law Is The Dew.